Sunday, December 30, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies :
O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).
O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).
O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).
O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).
O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).
O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .
O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
This tradition is also practiced by the Anglican Church. They are so important that should the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) fall on the 17th the O Antiphon replaces the antiphon for the Evening Prayer.
Friday, November 30, 2007
"In hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us" so begins Pope Benedict's second encyclical, following Deus Caritas Est, God is Love.
Like the his first encyclical letter I found it very easy to read, full of deep Christian wisdom, filled with quotations from the Epistles and the writings of the Doctors of the Church and other philosophers both divine and diabolic.
Though not directed particularly at Liberation Theology the encyclical makes it quite clear that
The critique of Heaven is transformed into the critique of earth, the critique of theology into the critique of politics...Striving for perfection on Earth, be it for social justice or economic fairness is a task which never ends
Thus Biblical hope in the Kingdom of God has been displaced by hope in the kingdom of man, the hope of a better world which would be the real “Kingdom of God”.
What this means is that every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs; this task is never simply completed.Our hope is not hope for this world but for the hereafter:
Christians here on earth do not have a permanent homeland, but seek one which lies in the future.In this future homeland, made available to us through Jesus Christ is where our hope lies.
Let us say once again: we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain.
The translation of the encyclical itself is very good. Better than some of the translations of the Holy Father's writings which have been professional published. It is posted on the Vatican web site here.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Have no doubt some supporters of embryonic stem cell research will fight tooth and nail to continue their research, even in the face of evidence that it is scientifically unnecessary as well as morally bankrupt. Most competent scientists will look at what the research has shown and abandon this line of work. Of course morally ethical scientists will have been working on this alternate process or another field of research all along. Thank God that He has rewarded their efforts so quickly. And may he bless those who have stood the line against the used of embryonic stem cells from the unborn.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The warnings on the Golden Compass have reached my local parish. It's nice to see that word is getting around. I fear that unless people stay away in groves that New Line Cinema will not get the message. The worst part is that the film maker deliberately down played the anti-Christian message of the story. Was this done in an effort to subvert our children or simply a callus effort to prevent bad publicity which might affect movie gross? If it's the later they have obviously failed.
As with many movies of questionable value I have to make the decision on whether to see the movie, so as to review it, or to simply count on other bloggers to review the propaganda piece. This is most likely what I'll do, so as to minimize New Line's profit.
So pass it on. With any luck the Main Stream Media will pick this up eventually, though I don't count on a friendly hearing from them.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This might actually be a trend that is related to the fact that I'm old as dirt. I can remember a time when I had read every Science Fiction book in the stacks of the Chicago Public Library, which was effectively every Sci-Fi book which had been published in English up to that time. The number was not really that large. Likewise there was a time when I at least tested out every Role Playing Game, and a good percentage of the commercially produced wargames on the market.
Those times are long past. The Science fiction section of Barnes and Noble has more selections than I would ever have time to read. While Role Playing Games are in a decline, with only one or two companies still making enough to exclusively publish them as a full time business, there are still dozens of hobby companies who turn out hundreds of games a year which are available via the Internet, if not from stores locally.
As for Internet technology. I don't have the time to investigate trends like Second Life, World of Warcraft or Facebook, each of which could take months of use to actually get proficient with.
In some ways it might seem that the Christian is in a similar boat. We have two thousand years of supporting documentation for the twin pillars of Scripture and Tradition. Everything from St. Clement of Alexandria to Benedict XVI is available to us. How can anyone possibly expect to read what has been written?
Well you can't. Does that mean we should sit back and leave it to the theologians? Not hardly. To start with we should realize that striving for a greater appreciation of our faith, through the reading and study of the great teachers of Christendom, The Fathers of the Church, the Doctors of the Church, the writings of the Saints, and even the works of present scholars, is the work of a lifetime. We will never be able to read them all, but we should read what we can.
Start with the Church Fathers. Much of what we believe was defended and explained by them. Not all were Saints, and a few were even heretical at some portion of their lives. The combined wisdom of these men are the basis upon which much of the scholarship of the succeeding generations were built.
Certainly the Doctors of the Church should also be included in your reading list. As given by Wikipedia: "The Doctors' works vary greatly in subject and form." Some were mystics, others systematic theologians, some defenders against heresy, others illuminators of doctrine.
The easiest way to actually accomplish this study is not to go it alone. Reading Aquinas as a book club selection seems much more useful to me than spending time on a sleazy bestseller. Many of these volumes have study guides available to assist a group in reading them.
So gather together a group of like minded friends and set out to explore the foundations of our faith. Just remember there's always more to explore and you'll never see it all this side of the vale.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
What you may have seen if you follow the entries at St. Blog is the controversy being generated by the sale of what is an obvious anti-Christian/anti-Catholic movie to our children. As more than one person has pointed out, how many clueless parents who have never heard of Phillip Pullman, a supporter of the British Humanist Association and an Associate of the National Secular Society, will take their children to see the movie, and not seeing the subtle anti-Christian message in the movie, will procure for their children the His Dark Materials trilogy, with its blatant anti-Church message?
The third book of the trilogy depicts the afterlife as a Hell for all the dead, who at best can look forward to a eastern religion like "oneness of/with the universe" as the best fate possible. Pullman, through his characters, calls the establishment of the Church a mistake and the Christian view of the afterlife a lie. One of the main characters in the later books is Mary Malone, an ex-nun turned atheist, whose job is to be the second serpent, corrupting the new Adam and Eve, Pullman's main characters Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, except in Pullman's universe this is a good thing.
One of the few Christian leaders who seem to have no problem with Pullman is the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury , who has suggested His Dark Materials be used in religious education. Consider the source.
I would recommend that any parent who thinks there are reasons to have their children read these books read them first. If you feel your children are mature enough in their faith to allow them to read this book then be prepared to discuss it with them. In any case I would never recommend that young children be exposed to this kind of indoctrination. So if your children are old enough to drive themselves to The Golden Compass they are probably old enough to understand that this movie is nothing more than secularist propaganda. If they are not old enough to drive themselves they should probably skip this movie until they are older.
In the long run it is probably better to skip this movie all together, whatever the age of your children. Why should we want to reward New Line Cinema for making this kind of movie?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The Holy See's reason for allowing this Indult to expire is that the purification of the vessels is by right a function of the clergy and therefore is relegated to the priest, deacon (or in places that have them) an instituted acolyte. It is not required that this be done during Mass. It is perfectly acceptable that the vessels be purified after Mass in the sacristy.
The reason I'm bring this up is that I attended a conference recently where the revocation of the Indult and enforcement of the standing practice was referred to as the action of "isolated bureaucrats in Rome who are out of touch with the real world because there is a priest behind every pillar in Rome." The idea being that all Masses in Rome are concelebrations with lots of priest present to do the purification of the vessels. The lack of theological understanding in the statement is staggering.
Even more recently I was discussing the habits of a particular visiting priest who both broke the host during the consecration and turned over the purification of the vessels to the EMCs. He was from outside the U.S. so I don't know if these are norms in his country of origin or just bad practices on his part. But in the discussion one of the other participants stated, "Yeah he let us do the dishes, that's how it should be anyway, after all we're priests too"
As in the above statement the complete lack of theological basis for such a statement is fairly staggering. The sacred vessels which hold the Blood of the Savior referred to as equivalent to dinnerware and the act of purification, based in the priestly office, relegated to starting the dishwasher shows a lack of real appreciation of what is happening at the alter.
As is required by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
All, therefore, whether they are ordained ministers or lay Christian faithful, in fulfilling their office or their duty should carry out solely but completely that which pertains to them.This is pretty clear. Purification of the Vessels is a duty of the ordained ministers. It is a abuse for a member of the lay Christian faithful to carry out that duty.
As it says in Redemptionis Sacramentum:
The Priest, once he has returned to the altar after the distribution of Communion, standing at the altar or at the credence table, purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the chalice in accordance with the prescriptions of the Missal and wipes the chalice with the purificator. Where a Deacon is present, he returns with the Priest to the altar and purifies the vessels. It is permissible, however, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them, covered as may be appropriate, on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table, and for them to be purified by the Priest or Deacon immediately after Mass once the people have been dismissed. Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way.The source for this is the Roman Missal:
163. Upon returning to the altar, the priest collects any fragments that may remain. Then, standing at the altar or at the credence table, he purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice then purifies the chalice, saying quietly, Quod ore sumpsimus (Lord, may I receive), and dries the chalice with a purificator. If the vessels are purified at the altar, they are carried to the credence table by a minister. Nevertheless, it is also permitted, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them suitably covered on a corporal, either at the altar or at the credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people.The requirements are extremely clear. They were set when the Ordinary form of the Rite was established and are not the result of some recent bureaucratic decision. Anyone who supposes that is misinformed of the facts.
193. When the distribution of Communion is completed, the deacon returns to the altar with the priest and collects the fragments, if any remain, and then carries the chalice and other sacred vessels to the credence table, where he purifies them and arranges them in the usual way while the priest returns to the chair. It is also permissible to leave the vessels that need to be purified, suitably covered, at the credence table on a corporal and to purify them immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people.
192. Likewise, when the distribution of Communion is completed, a duly instituted acolyte helps the priest or deacon to purify and arrange the sacred vessels. When no deacon is present, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes, and arranges them in the usual way.
It's true that there are some mysteries that have not been revealed to us, and so are only known to God. This particular question did not concern one of these cases. As a matter of fact Church teaching on this matter is clearly stated in the CCC. It was not a case of grave matter, so probably no great lasting harm was done. However it was quite obvious that the other person was either unfamiliar with the answer or simply unwilling to tell the teen, perhaps because they saw going down that road as counterproductive to the lesson that was suppose to be covered.
This method of dealing with this kind of issue is generally unsatisfactory for a number of pedagogical and catechetical reasons. First it was poor classroom practice. If the catechist did not know the answer or the Church's stand on the subject then he should have informed the teen that he would get back to her with the answer. If he felt that the discussion would hijack the intended lesson then it would have been far better to tell the teen that he would be glad to discuss it after the meeting. Second it did not fulfill the catechist's responsibility to represent the Church. Though not a matter of grave sin the teen was now misinformed. The Church has a teaching on this subject which the teen and indeed the whole class now believes is open for debate, because if only "God knows for sure" then my opinion on the matter is just as valid as yours.
There is a third option for the catechist's vague answer, and that is perhaps he thought the teen would not like the Church's position. This, unfortunately, was allowed to distort catechetical teaching for many years. Catechist did not talk about the Church's stand on truly grave issues because they feared teens or their parents would react in a negative way to those teachings. This has been true of abortion, remarriage, chastity, and contraception.
I give the catechist the benefit of the doubt, while still pointing out the ultimate problem with this kind of response.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
It also includes the kind of modern worship music some people find is not their preference. Good enough. We also have silent adoration for the entire day before XLT. Of course it isn't an either or kind of thing and many people spend time at both.
Now some modern Catholics believe that adoration is something of the middle ages, even that the Real Presence is either not a holy truth or an unimportant one.
At a recent liturgy conference the speaker asked: Where is Christ in the Mass? In the people someone said. In the priest, who acts In persona Christi, especially during the Eucharistic prayer, said another. He is in the Word of the Gospel, said a third. He is at Calvary, said another, realizing that in the Holy Mystery the sacrifice on the alter and that on the cross are the same. He is in the Body and Blood, said someone finally.
Now all of those are true. Christ promised us that where ever three or more are gathered in his name He would be. Certainly as the Word come down from Heaven he is in the Gospel. The hands of the priest are the hands of God. All good answers.
But in the Eucharist Christ is present in a way that transcends his presence in those other ways. He is not just present in spirit, as the omnipresent God who is present everywhere. He is present in the flesh, as he was with the Apostles. That is why we use the term Real Presence. No long is the substance of the bread and wine the 'fruit of the Earth and the work of human hands" but rather the "body which will be given up for you" and the "the blood of the new and everlasting covenant." The substance no longer matches the accidents we see as bread and wine.
In the Eucharist Christ's presence is different than it is in our neighbor, or even in Scripture.
I have attended many Ecumenical Christian praise and worship services. I am a Charismatic Catholic Christian by temperament and often listen to the same songs which one might hear at Christian concert. But, no matter how joyful and spiritual the music, no merely Christian praise and worship service will ever compare to a Eucharistic Adoration, because no matter how much Christ might be present in spirit, He is not present in the way that He is in the Real Presence of the Host.
So no matter how wonderful and important it is that Christ is present in the people attending Mass, in the priest, through whom God invokes the sacred mystery, or in the Word, proclaimed to all those present, none of these ways are equivalent to Christ's presence in the Eucharist.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
This is an immensely complex subject. I have no doubt that eventually the Vatican will weigh in on this. Meanwhile the best course for the catechist at the parish level, is probably to explain that the issue is still theologically unresolved. If you don't understand the issues involved read Jimmy Akin's post. He is not advocating a position, but explaining, as best he can, the probable thought processes of the bishops.
Remember, as a catechist your job is to convey the teachings of the Church, and the teachings of the Church in detail on this matter are still unresolved. If you think my statement is untrue please read the linked articles to see why I believe what I've stated.
Remember if moral issues were easy we would not need saints the caliber of Thomas Aquinas to teach on them.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
At one time this might have been justifiable. Catholic workers of the nineteen century were generally satisfied to leave matters of theological importance to the priest. Society reflected a general Christian, if not Catholic, set of moral principals, and though in most working class Catholic homes one of the few books likely to be found was the bible, actually reading the bible was not a well practiced trait among the laity.
That a good number of the laity, as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth century, had the fortunate exposure to Catholic parochial schooling also meant a large exposure to resources like the Baltimore Catechism during the formative years, meant that most retained at least a solid base of knowledge of Catholic doctrine.
The post Vatican II period changed that. Note I am not blaming Vatican II for the change. The cultural shifts that took place in the 1960's-1970's were not the result of Vatican II. The lack of Vatican II could no more have prevented those shifts than the existence of Vatican II caused them.
No matter the stand on that subject the reality is that a large segment of the Catholic adult population lacked a fundamental foundation of knowledge of Catholic doctrine. At the time the Church seemed unprepared for dealing with the problem. The beloved Baltimore Catechism was banished, but no authoritative document replaced it. It was not until 1997 that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published. Unlike the Baltimore Catechism, which was written in a question and answer style, the CCC was written in a style more reminiscent of a textbook. While unquestionably authoritative the CCC was not conducive to casual reading.
Meanwhile in parishes there was a move afoot to reach out to adults. This was often in the form of bible study classes, and small Church Community groups. These groups were most often lead by the laity, and while very enriching for the participants often failed to move beyond the Sunday readings into wider Church doctrine.
Today there is a another trend, which if not sweeping the country, is at least widely found. That is the move toward parish wide faith formation. These programs bring in families, as well as young adults to cover a wide range of topics relevant to Church doctrine. They are often enriched by the participation of priest and deacons (especially deacons) who are knowledgeable in theology, but they also bring in members of the laity to act as catechists, not of children or catechumenates, but to adult Catholics seeking to increase their knowledge of the teachings of the Church.
The success of these programs hinge on the ability of parishes to get their parishioners to spend more than fifty-five minutes a week on God. How to do it? Some suggestions coming.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
It almost certainly will mean that in the future it will be expected in most places, and certainly at basilicas and cathedrals, that liturgists will have familiariarity with the Mass in both its forms. And not just both its forms, but in all its permentations. After all there is a great difference between a low mass and a Missa Cantata, not to mention all of the possible options permissible in the Mass of Paul VI. A well trained liturgist will have to be familiar with the requirements for all of these, as well as having a passing familiarity with liturgical music, even if there is music minister, because both forms of Mass have versions in which some or most of parts can be sung.
As with seminary programs which will train future priest, programs in which liturgist are trained will have to change. Meanwhile those presently working as liturgist will have to find their own resources and programs to get up to speed. It is not unreasonable to expect that there will be more support in some diocese than others.
Meanwhile where does the catechist stand in all this? One of the biggest problems that faces catechist in general, and especially those who deal with teens, especially young teens, is the sacramental student. That is the student who is only sent to formation when it is "time" for them the receive one of the sacraments. So we see second graders who once they have received First Reconciliation and Eucharist do not darken our doors again until eleventh grade when they go into confirmation classes.
Such students do not typically attend Mass regularly. Their parents typically do not attend Mass regularly. Their understanding of the liturgy is often stuck at a second grade level.
That makes it important that we include liturgical formation in our programs, no matter what other subjects we are also covering. We'll only get adults with adult understanding of liturgy if we catechize our teens before they become adults. (Addressing the present adult population is a problem for another post.)
Sunday, September 2, 2007
And on Sunday the priest in persona Christi offers the bread and wine to God, bread which the earth has given and human hands have made, and wine, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. He then speaks the words that Christ himself spoke the night before he died, recorded by the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke and so fulfilling the words recorded by John in the bread of life discourse.
As it says in the Catechism:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says, This word transforms the things offered. (CCC,1375)So no Sunday, or any other day is ordinary, because through the Eucharist we are joined to that moment on Calvary when our God sacrificed himself for us.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
How deep her spiritual torture was is only now been revealed in the new book based on letters to her spiritual councilor Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.
Anyone familiar with Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) Dark Night of the Soul, will appreciate that this was not an experience unique to Blessed Teresa, but it must be said that hers was one of the longest known instances of this phenomenon, extending for some fifty years in all, broken by a single three week long period apparently the result of direct intercession by a deceased Pope.
I can't but personally feel that such a cross to be born by one who was so honored by the world was the equivalent of the ancient Roman practice. When a conqueror in Ancient Rome returned to the city victorious he would be given a parade, crowned with wreaths, and where all the populous would cheer him as he rode through the streets in his chariot. Behind him stood a slave, who whispered in his ear, "you are only a man."
So publicly devoted to Christ and the Eucharist, Blessed Teresa was called upon by God to perform her ministry under not only the most strenuous physical conditions but also the most demanding spiritual conditions. In her own words I expect she will "...continually be absent from Heaven — to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth,"
Sunday, August 12, 2007
"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.--Gloria Patri(Trinitarian Doxology)
If one works in the world today it is almost inevitable that eventually one will meet an atheist. I say eventually because though many seem to live as if they believe God does not exists when the rubber meets the road they acknowledge some type of belief in a higher power, though they may not call it God. Finding someone who really believes there is no higher order creator of the universe is harder than secular media, which does seem to attract a larger than statistically significant number of these people, would have us believe.
The number of regular church goers is also not reflective of how many atheists there are. Many people who do not attend church regularly believe there is a God. Some doubt organized religion. Some have problem with God, but believe that he does exist. Some few believe that a creator exists, but believe his existence is irrelevant to them. None of these people are atheists.
Secularism is the bastion of those atheists who do exist. Most seem to think that science will vindicate their belief, or rather their lack of belief. On the few occasions when I have had the opportunity to discuss God with one of them their approach seems invariably to be..."You're a scientist, how can you believe in a god?"
To which I answer, "How can I not?"
To me, who has, perhaps, a view of the universe that is somewhat broader than the man in the street it is quite clear that there must be an underlying force, a designer, who created existence. If I walk through the forest and find a watch I don't have to see him to know there was watchmaker. If I analyze the equations of relativity or thermodynamics I don't need to see Him to know that there is something which stitches together these mathematics which the human mind can comprehend and these forces of the universe: space/time or entropy, which we humans on a gut level cannot.
Can any human truly comprehend the distance to the nearest galaxy or the core temperature of the sun? Can we truly appreciate the incredibly narrow parameters of physical laws which allow matter to exist at all? Yet through God's language of mathematics we can leverage the power of aerodynamics to fly or the power of the atom itself for power.
What are humans that you are mindful of them,Long before Einstein, Newton and even St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, through Platonic logic, perhaps informed by the Holy Spirit, wrote on the nature of time. In the fourth century, long before clocks or calculus, St. Augustine in his Confessions, puts forth the principle that God, having created time as well as all that fills the universe is beyond time. God did not create the universe, he is creating the universe. He is an active force, by which the carefully orchestrated laws of the universe, natural law, holds the universe together.
mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god,
crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at their feet
Before the universe existed He was. He is present always as long as the universe exists. When the universe no longer exists, when all we now know has passed away, still He will be. To Him it is all the same. He exists beyond time and beyond space, while the universe only exists in Him and through Him.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
It speaks to the great depth of our Catholic faith and the great depth of history, tradition (small "t") and culture that we have. We must remember that such a broad culture extends not only backward into the past, but also throughout each and every historical era. So from the very beginning there were those with charismatic leanings, those who were more comfortable in contemplative payer and those who ministered at table. As Paul says in Romans 12:
For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
- So it is still today.The Church needs both defenders of the faith who seek to ensure that her sacraments and liturgy are celebrated according to the forms set down, with reverence and piety. And she needs spirit filled charismatics who, in the words of John Paul II,
...can play a significant role in promoting the much-needed defense of Christian life in societies where secularism and materialism have weakened many people's ability to respond to the Spirit and to discern God's loving call.We must also resist the urge to believe that any one Catholic individual is incapable of accepting and living in the full breath of our Catholic faith. Attending, and relishing, XLT does not prevent one from also putting aside time for silent adoration. Appreciating the reverent mystery of the Mass celebrated in Latin according to the extraordinary rite, complete with chant, does not prohibit one from also appreciating the ordinary rite celebrated with modern instruments and music. If it does then perhaps the accidents are thought to be more important than the reality of the sacrament.
The way to really tie into your Catholic roots is to spend more time in the midst of your Catholic culture. That means considering that one hour spent at Mass on Sunday is not sufficient. It means spending at least as much time actively being Catholic as spent being a member of secular society. What do I mean by that?
If you spend two hours watching an appropriate secular blockbuster or television event it would make sense to spend at least that much time reading the writings of a Catholic saint or theologian. If you can spend an hour playing Ultimate Frisbee, how about an hour handing out food at the soup kitchen or shelter. Two hours surfing on Facebook. A like time surfing the blogs at St. Blog or reading whats on the Vatican's site or the website of your own diocese. When you go out with friends sometimes do activities that aren't just morally neutral, but that are actively Christian.
Spend less time in the secular world and more time in the Catholic world.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
In his old age Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel. ... His sons did not follow his example but sought illicit gain and accepted bribes, perverting justice. Therefore all the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”So as can be seen by asking for a human king the Israelites were rejecting God as their king. But before he gives them a king God has Samuel describe to the people the rights of the king.
Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them. He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king. As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too. Now grant their request; but at the same time, warn them solemnly and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them.”
This, the rights of monarchy, is a concept that we in the modern west do not understand well. It has been said, about America anyway, that here every man is a king, every woman a queen. Who hasn't heard the old saying, "A man's home is his castle?" The perceived notion is that a man is king in his own home.
And we act in the way of nobility of the past. We stand for our rights, we stand for the rights of others. Our motto might be said to be, "I respect all men and bow to none."
In ancient times it was thought that people were not all equal. The king was, as in scripture, thought to be appointed by God. People had a duty to give the king his due. And the king had a divine right to this authority, because this authority did not come from the consensus the governed, but by the authority of God.
When men marched into battle they did not, generally debate the right or wrong of the act, they answered the call of the king. That was why great dynastic wars, such as the War of the Roses, were such long bloody things, because generally once a person pledged their service to their monarch they were committed for life.
We in the modern world find the concept of such unthinking, mindless devotion alien. But in many ways that is what God asks of us. Its not that we can't discern the truth of many Church teachings from inquiry, St. Thomas Aquinas did that, but of the Great Mysteries, we must give ourselves over to God and trust with our whole heart. We must not be our own little king or queen but pledge ourselves to the Great King of all.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Even today the Society contains solid orthodox priests who have done great things, as well as those who are not so orthodox and have caused confusion to the faithful and discredit to their order. In this they are like all other institutions which contain people.
The Society of Jesus is the largest religeous order in the Church, with over 14,000 priests. Jesuits serve God in almost every nation on Earth, even in ones where Catholics and Chrsitians in general are persecuted, something which is not unusual for the order which has had many martyrs in its history.
The founder, St. Ignatius was a member of the aristocracy who was a knight, soldier, hermit, student, teacher and order founder. Born in the castle of Loyola Ignatius, the youngest of 13 children, became a soldier. Wounded in battle he hung his military vestments before an image of the Blessed Virgin and devoted the rest of his life to service to God. A worthy model for the members of his order.
My God bless all the members of the Society of Jesus and may our prayers joint the prayers of their founder for them.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Remember, you can go to praise and worship on Thursday and still attend a Mass of John XXIII on Sunday. It ain't an either or proposition. For tickets send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So while I'm at it let me encourage those who have XLT in their diocese to spend an hour in silent adoration before they attend XLT. Remember Peter, James and John were at both the wedding at Cana and the Garden of Olives. So spend an hour with the Lord before you celebrate with Him.
Coming in November Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church and in October The Blessings of Christmas, a book of seasonal meditations.
The Holy father is nothing if not prolific. Right now he is on vacation and is working on the next volume of his work on Jesus.
I hope to be facilitating a course using The Apostles and Amy's wonderful study guide, once the book is actually out.
Friday, July 20, 2007
“Questions will have to be answered such as: what constitutes a “stable group of the faithful” requesting a Tridentine Mass, and which priests possess the minimum linguistic and rubrical abilities to celebrate this rite.It is quite what one might expect from a diocese with the liberal leanings of Richmond under its previous bishop, but one hoped would not be seen under the present ordinary.
Certainly the term “stable group of the faithful” is rather vague, but how it is interpreted will tell the tale. In the southeastern portion of the diocese, in Hapton Road there is a large military population, which by definition is highly mobile. Will requesters have to be in the diocese for 5 years before they can be considered stable? Will they have to submit requests for that time to show they are really a stable group?
Certainly the priests who are to celebrate under the rite must by proficient at it. Will the diocese take steps to ensure its priest are properly trained or will it attempt to impede the necessary training, and then claim no one is proficient?
The Holy Father wants a report in three years. It will be interesting to see if the diocese has any additional locations where the Mass of John XXIII is celebrated by that time.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We painted rooms, repaired roofs, built handicap ramps and even demolished and rebuilt a room extension. We also prayed, did daily praise and worship, and conducted a retreat when we were not working. We also did minor repairs around the Catholic Church which was our headquarters.
I was so prod of our teens, who worked long hours without complaint, to the probable astonishment of the parent/chaperones , who no doubt have difficulty getting them to even clean their rooms (if my experience is typical.)
One team spent two days building a trench so that a house whose foundations were sagging could be jacked up and its foundation repaired. Other teams spent hours removing trash from a number of homes. One spent days helping the owners deal with a major pest infestation. All followed the advice of St. Francis, and preached the Gospel through their actions instead of their words.
Monday, July 9, 2007
We may also be doing perpetual adoration for the week, provided the local pastor agrees. Not as easy as it sounds. I doubt the church has a monstrance, they tend to be rather expensive and the church is very small with not a huge number of families to support it. Combine that with the fact that it is a clustered parish, with out a full time priest or even a deacon and it's quite likely adoration is not typically done there.
Adoration was suggested by one of the program leaders. I've been a strong supporter of getting youth involved in adoration as well as XLT, so was quite excited that it was even suggested.
I pray that father is receptive to it.
Well Summorum Pontificum, the long awaited Motu Proprio on the "freeing" of the Mass of John XXIII is out. The question now is how many people outside the blogoshpere are going to hear about it. Summorum Pontificum , a blog devoted to response to the MP, has a list of the various American diocese along with links to their responses, if any. The USCCB has already posted on it, as have about a dozen bishops. In the Ecclesiastical Province of Baltimore, which includes diocese in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia not one bishop has yet seen fit to post anything. In my own diocese there is not even a link to the document, or its accompanying letter. I wait with bated breath to see if it's mentioned in an upcoming issue of the diocesan newspaper.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
For those who have stumbled to this site from outside the St. Blogosphere, the Holy Father is preparing to "liberate" the old rite, that is allow it to be more widely celebrated alongside the new rite, which was the fruits of the post Vatican II liturgical reform.
Tomorrow is the day the MP will be released to the public. A number of bishops have already seen it. So if Catholic sites seem to load a little slower tomorrow, especially the Vatican site, now you know why.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Shorter Christian Prayer contains the four week Psalter used for Morning and Evening prayer, a selection of the Proper of Seasons and and the week of Night Prayer readings. It is much simpler to pray than the multi volume Liturgy of the Hours or even the Christian Prayer single volume. It is small enough to slip into your backpack or messenger bag ne attache case and carry with you.
Like the larger Christian Prayer it does benifit from being kept in a bible cover if you primarily lug it around every day. I found a cover at Barnes & Noble which fit my Christian Prayer book perfectly. They also had thinner covers meant for paperbacks that should accomodate the Shorter Christian Prayer book. I suspect many Christian or Catholic bookstores would also have them, though you are likely to pay a bit more.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
For those unfamiliar with them, the Steubenville Youth Conferences are events which bring together thousands of teens from all over the United States (and Canada) for a weekend of Mass, Adoration and talks from some of the most knowledgeable speakers on Catholic teen issues.
Yes, guitars are in evidence, but the worship music is anything but irreverent. Much of it is hardcore Catholic by such artist as Sean Forrest and Kelly Pease. No one who knows them could consider the Franciscans as anything but orthodox Catholic, and the conference shows it.
The adorations are famous for their charismatic nature, but Mass is promoted as the crown jewel of the weekend. Reconciliation is promoted, with dozens of priests present to hear the teens confess and grant absolution.
The keynote talks are the separate men and women talks. Each of these speaks to issues which are vital to teens.
This year the subject for the guys was the importance of having Christian male friends who can "cover your back." Too many males think they have to go it alone. Our society pushes and rewards individual effort so much that teen males are made to feel that if they can't handle it all themselves they are weak and inferior. The talks turned that notion on its head. Strong men have a group of male friends they can count on to tell them when they are over the line. Guys who can help them live a Christian life. And, of course, help them to treat our Christian sisters with the respect they deserve. Because a real man is one who protects the dignity of woman, both collectively and individually.
I, of course, did not attend the woman's talks, but am told they concentrated on building self esteem. If isolation and sexual objectification of woman is the major failing of teenage males in our society, then lack of self esteem is the major difficulty young woman face.
So the message? Christian men give women the respect they are entitled too. Christian woman demand and expect that respect. That respect includes living a chaste life.
The effect I have seen on the teens that I been blessed with accompanying to the various conferences is nothing less than amazing. While I'm not claiming that every participant is a candidate for sainthood, I have seen teens who are only lukewarm in their faith become highly spiritual practising Catholics, continuing their active participation in activities into their college years and beyond. None of them confused about subjects like Real Presence or what's a mortal sin.
Now I just have to get ready for our mission trip in two weeks.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The prayers of the liturgy are available in several forms. On line there is Universalis and Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate. The former is free, but lacks all of the Antiphons, while the latter is a paid subscription service. There is a multi-volume set, costing ~ US$150 and a single volume, Christian Prayer, which contains the office. Each diocese in the United States, at least, also publishes a booklet listing all of the readings for each day of the specific year.
Using one of the online services is easy. the proper set of readings for each day is delivered to your computer, or mobile device. Using the single volume Christian Prayer can be quite challenging.
The full set of hours number seven. They are:
- Matins, also called the Office of Readings
- Lauds or Dawn Prayer
- Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer
- Sext or Mid-Day Prayer
- None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer
- Vespers or Evening Prayer
- Compline or Night Prayer
My copy of Christian Prayer has five ribbons to help mark readings. The book itself is divided into a section of Seasonal readings, a four week cycle of Morning and Evening Prayer, a Night Prayer section, a two week cycle of Day Prayer, a section of readings based upon the Calendar called the Office of Saints, a section of Common readings and an Ordinary, which contains rubics for Morning and Evening prayer.
So how do you use this somewhat complicated volume to actually pray the hours?
Start by deciding how much of the Office you're going to pray. Since I'm neither a priest nor a lay member of a specific order I typically only say Lauds, Vespers and Compline. The first step is to decide where on the Liturgical calendar today falls. If the day is during Lent, Advent or the Easter season then the readings will be found in the Proper of Season section of readings. If the day is a feast day or a solemnity then readings will be found in the Proper of Saints section, which is arranged by day and month.
So say today is Monday May 1st, which is dedicated to Mary. So go to the Office of Saints section and you'll find readings for Morning and Evening prayer (as well as the Evening Vigil i.e. the day before, because it is a major feast day.) If this is your first reading of the day start with the Invitatory. There will be an antiphon, which is in the Proper of Saints section followed by Paslm 100, which you'll find in the Ordinary.
After the Invitatory there will be a doxology. Glory be to the Father Son and Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be . Amen This is also said after each Psalm or Cantical.
Then there are three Psalms readings. Before and after each Psalm reading there is an antiphon. The antiphons come from the Proper of Saints or from the Common readings. This section has readings for Pastors, Doctors of the Church, Apostels, Holy Men, Holy Women, Martyrs, and Marian Feasts. So start in the Proper of Saints and it will direct you to the Common readings for Mary. The Psalm readings come from the four week cycles of Psalms. On a Feast day these Psalms are typically from Sunday of Week 1.
After the Psalms there is a Reading, typically from one of the Epistles. Then a Responsorial verse. The Benedictus, from the Ordinary. Intercessions. The Lords Prayer. The closing, from the Ordinary.
If the day is a memorial instead of a feast then the proper for the saint, from the Office is used, while the other parts come from the weekday cycle.
Suppose it is not a saint's feast day? Then all of the readings, except those from the Ordinary come from the weekday cycle. So if Tuesday May 2 is not a feast then use the weekday. How do you know which of the four Tuesday weekdays to use? It's based on the Sunday reading. If April 30 was the Third Sunday after Easter then it would be the Third Week Psalms, and Tuesday's readings would come from Tuesday of the Third week.
Evening Office is done using the same day as morning readings, unless the day is the vigil of another feast. Saturday evening readings always come from the Proper of Seasons for the following Sunday.
Night prayers have a single week of readings. Two for Sunday, one after the first evening office and one after the second evening office, none listed as Saturday.
So how does one maintain continuity while jumping from place to place? That's where the colored ribbons come in. I mark the week in the Proper of Seasons with a ribbon, the nearest day in the Proper of Saints with a ribbon. The Night Prayers for the day with a ribbon. The Ordinary with a ribbon, etc.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
The celebration of Corpus Christi can be traced to 1208 when a sixteen-year old orphan named Juliana received a vision. Raised by the Augustinian nuns of Cornillion the young novice while at prayer saw the moon, whose disk was darkened in one area.
Years later the Holy Spirit blessed her with the interpretation of her vision. The moon was the Church. The darkened area a missing feast, required to complete the glory of the liturgical year.
Juliana confided her vision to her superiors, but not her inspired explanation, not for another eighteen years.
One of the people that she finally revealed it to was the archdeacon of Liege, Jacques Pantaleon. In 1261 he became Pope Urban IV, two years after her death in 1258. In 1264 Urban made Corpus Christi a feast of the universal Church.
The establishment of a new feast required that a new office be created for it, a selection of psalms, readings, etc. for use in the Mass and the Divine Office. Urban asked the brilliant Dominican scholar Thomas Aquinas to compose the office. The Hymn St. Thomas composed for use at Vespers is still sung today. It was the Pange Lingua:
- Pange, lingua, gloriosi Corporis mysterium...
- Sing my tongue the Saviors Glory, of His flesh the mystery sing;
Friday, June 8, 2007
Certainly Eucharistic Adoration received wide acceptance in the Universal Church in the Middle Ages. The monstrance appeared in the second half of the thirteenth century, before that the consecrated host was most commonly kept in a pyx.
The most important aspect of the celebration of XLT in a parish is that it does not replace the more conventional silent adoration, but supplements it. XLT draw teens and young adults into the presence of Christ. They should also be encouraged to spend time in silent adoration. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to arrange for a period of silent adoration during catechism.
It is common practice in many parishes to have adoration monthly. Sometimes this is nocturnal adoration, sometimes it is only from morning Mass until the evening. Most times there is a list to ensure that the Blessed Sacrament is never left alone while exposed. Often this list is filled by pensioners or others who have free days. Challenge teens to sign up for a block of time during the summer or after school.
Remind teens that often we spend time with friends partying; listening to music, dancing and talking. With really close friends we sometimes just sit silently. Being in each other's presence is enough. For adults and older teens this kind of quiet intimacy is most often practiced by loving couples, who often sit together for hours in silence.
Just so, it is possible to meet Christ in the charismatic experience of XLT and also find him in the quiet of silent Adoration. Neither venue is exclusionary.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:This passage is in the section most often related to the rule of Immanuel, God with us. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for fear of the Lord and so lists the Seven Gifts of the Spirit.
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
As can be seen the Gifts can be divided into two groups. Those which apply to the mind or intellect and those which apply to the will.
In the minds of most American Catholics the gifts are associated, in some respect, with maturity of faith, which is why in many dioceses the Sacrament of Confirmation, which bestows these gifts, is seen as a "right of passage" or affirmation of Christian adulthood. This is a mis-reading of the sacrament which in other rites and overseas is often given to very young children.
One benefit of waiting to Confirm until late high school, at least in the United States at this time, is that so many parents were badly catechized, and so few children attend parochial schools that the preparation for Confirmation at least allows a structured opportunity for catechisis which is often missing in the home. We spend so much time in high school catechism teaching social justice that we often don't get enough time to teach doctrine and tradition on an advanced level.
Not that items like Just War Theory, Abortion and charity aren't subjects that need to be taught, but when you consider that the parts of the Liturgy is usually taught to a cradle Catholic before First Communion when they are all of seven years old, it is easy to see why some adults have a seven year old understanding of the Liturgy, as opposed to an adult understanding. This holds for many other Church teachings, conveyed in elementary catechism, but never expanded on later, at least not until Confirmation preparation.
Of course n mature acceptance of the gifts can go a long way toward inspiring a desire to increase one's depth of knowledge of Christian teaching, no matter the age.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Many of the stories recorded in scripture were about young people. David was a youth when he slew Goliath. Mary, Mother of God, was a youth when she said yes to the angel Gabriel. Jesus was young when he met with the priests in the temple and amazed them with his knowledge of scripture and wisdom.
Many of you are heroes in the face of violence, drugs, turf-holding, status-seeking, and other ugly things. It is a sign of God's favor that so many of you stand up against this! - Bishop James P. Lyke, OFM
Bishop Lyke was the Fourth Archbishop of Atlanta and at the time of his death in 1992 the highest ranking African American in the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church. A member of the Franciscan Order he was an untiring supporter of civil rights and defender of human dignity.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Followed up by an equally great Life Teen '50s sockhop based session.
Amazing revelations by the teens. Some of them so much seem to get it. Of course it's always the few who don't that keep you praying they will find the way back when they fall.
Very nice that so many of our young women and men seem determined to practice chastity until they are older (hopefully unto marriage.) Unfortunately I always fear there are some for who this conversation is too late.
We need to do a night aimed at them, without turning off those who haven't fallen, and requiring those that have to call themselves out. It so hard to do something like that. I'm hoping Life Teen or someone way smarter that me has found a way to do it that we can steal.
Deep in conversation one young lady mentioned inappropriate dress. Another complained about how she regarded the use of the word "sexy" by a male to describe her as demeaning. I asked which part of her did she want her boy friend to be looking at and was not surprised at her answer.
Years ago, while wooing my wife I was asked by her a question that was certainly a go-no go for the continuance of our relationship. The question? "What color are my eyes?"
The window of the soul, they are sometimes called. So guys if you don't know her eye color then you are probably not concentrating on her most important part, her soul. Because that's the part which is closest to God and which will fulfill the need your soul really craves. All else is fleeting.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Today our confirmation candidates received the Holy Spirit. The bishop was wonderful, the church was too hot and the Mass was at a neighboring parish, as four local parishes sent their candidates.
Besides problems with the air conditioning there were little inconsistencies which I hope the bishop noted and will act upon. Though I've gone to events at this parish, this was the first Mass I've attended there, for a variety of reasons.
The music was good. They have a very nice modern pipe organ, which remained unused. But as this was a youth event I have no problem with the modern instruments.
The lack of kneelers did bother me. The pews are set so close together as to make kneeling difficult even without kneelers.
I also noted a glass chalice used. I will have to check but am under the impression that glass is not considered a suitable material for the Holy Blood.
They also make their own unleavened bread, as opposed to the more standard wafer host. Licit as far as I know, but I feared it would become caught between my teeth, since it does not quickly melt as does a wafer host.
The alter was also "dressed" at the offertory, a practice which I am not familiar with.
While I am not crazy about the modern design of my own parish church, from a liturgical architecture point of view, this parish church was of a design I particularly don't like, with pews on each side facing each other and the alter in the middle perpendicular to the pews. So the celebrant sits facing not the people, but looking down the aisle between them. This is also the way he faces at the alter.
In my local parish church the tabernacle is in the back in a chapel contiguous with the church, though a partition can be placed between the church and the chapel. At this church the tabernacle is in a separate room down the hall.
There is no doubt in my mind that the original designer did every thing possible to ensure that a Mass which follows the Tridentine rite could never easily be said there. Even saying the NO according to the proper form is difficult, due to the lack of kneelers, and since the celebrant can face neither ad orientem nor ad populum, but only thataway.
Sorry to be so negative. Maybe the heat made me less tolerant than I should be?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
The Old Testament is considered by biblical scholars to be collections of books from both the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. Knowing this it is not so unusual that God might be referred to by different names in books written in either the north or south.
The name of God that appears most often in the bible is the Tetragrammaton, that is the word with four letters יהוה translated as YHWH or more commonly seen as Yahweh. A modern corruption of this is Jehovah.
Another name that appears quite often is Elohim, which is related to the concept of divinity and divine power. Elohim is not used uniquely for God, but also is used to refer to other gods, such as "You shall have no other gods before me."
Now the Israelites did not say the name of God. Indeed YHWH contains no vowels, and so is technically unpronounceable, so when reading Scripture aloud the reader would instead say "Lord", that is Adonai.
Modern Christians have different names for God. He is called the Three-In-One, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Deus which is Latin for Lord. Abba is how Jesus himself referred to God. It means quite aptly "Father." Jesus himself is often called by many names. Iesus, Joshua (which is the same a Jesus), the Lamb of God. The Way, the Truth and the Light. The Living Water. The Vine. The Apostles called him Rabbi, which is teacher, and Master.
The Holy Father has said the most appropriate name for God is אהיה אשר אהיה that is ehyeh-asher-ehyeh or in English "I AM that I AM." That is because it encompasses the concept of the eternalness of God.
There's an old joke told by and about St. Augustine. A man walks up to St. Augustine and asks "What did God do before he created the World?" Augustine answered, "Nothing, He didn't have the time."
Okay, Okay. Geek joke.
But what the philosopher meant was that before the world existed there was no time. Modern physicists recognize this as a scientific concept. In order for time to exist space must exists. The two are linked. If there is no space there is no time. So when God created the Heavens and the Earth he also created time. So in a real sense God existed before there was existence, before there was time. So he is not bound by time.
This opens up all kinds of interesting concepts.
We pray to God to ask for something for tomorrow and to thanks him for yesterday. But we can just as validly pray to ask for something in the past. This is most commonly done when we do not know the outcome of something, say the state of a soul at death and its disposition in the afterlife.
Since God is not bound by time, yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same to him. Easy to see why and how he would know the future. It is the same to God as the past. And since the way we mark time is by the changes that occur, the moving of a hand, the growth of a tree, if God is unbound by time he will never change.
So HE IS, always. He will be as unchanged at the end of the world as he was at its beginning, and beyond. For though we know that there was no time before existence began, was also believe that there will be a time after the end of the world, where we will live in a new Heaven and a new Earth for eternity. So time, now that it exists will go on forever to the future, a future during which God will always exist.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Most languages have different words to describe different kinds of love. In Latin caritas means affection, amor describes romantic love. Like wise in Greek, the language of the Gospel, there are different words for different kinds of love, as the Holy Father discusses in Deus Caritas Est. There is eros, which is passionate love, filius, which is brotherly love, and agape which is the all encompassing love between a husband and wife.
In today's Gospel reading, in the original Greek, different words for love are used. I've replaced the English with the Greek in the following translation. See if you can guess what it means.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you agape me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I filius you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you agape me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I filius you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you filius me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I filius you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.Now a deacon I know is fond of saying, "Peter, God love him, is not the sharpest pencil in the bunch."
One interpretation of the above passage relates it to Peter's three denials of Christ on the night he was betrayed. Three attestations of love to counterbalance the three denials.
This is also one of the passages that gives Peter the supremacy as the vicar of Christ, giving him authority over the Church.
But we also have to remember when this happened and what had happened just before. This was the third time that Jesus appeared to the Apostles after his resurrection. They knew he had risen, but had not yet been visited by the Holy Spirit.
So Peter, seemingly in forgetfulness of what the Lord had told him, "You will now be fishers of men," decides he is going to go fishing. They catch nothing all night, until the Lord appears on the bank, and as he had before, told Peter where to cast his net.
In this way the disciples recognized it was the Lord.
So after they eat, Jesus asked Peter to attest to his love for him, but not the love of friendship. Jesus ask Peter to profess the complete love which humans only resolve for their spouse, or for God. Peter doesn't get it yet. He answers, attesting his friendship and affection. So Jesus asks again. And again Peter answers. So finally Jesus, knowing Peter is not yet ready, asks him to attest to his friendship and affection. He wants Peter's total love, but he will take his friendship, for the time.
Then Jesus prophesies.
"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”Which is a description of Peter's death, on the cross.
The first reading today happens after these events. In it Peter and another disciple are called before the Sanhedrin. This time Peter does not flinch. It is after Pentecost, and he is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Eventually Peter will end up in Rome, where he will be hung upside down on a cross, perhaps the best testament to his agape.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I pray for the students, both living and dead, their parents and the parents of the killer. I should be more charitable and extend prayers for the disturbed young man who carried out these acts, but I'm not that far enough along my journey to be like my savior yet.
The young man was disturb, obviously. But many people are disturb. many people are angry, and do not kill perfect strangers because of it. I believe Satan's hand is in this, as it is so much in things that we modern westerns Christians refuse to acknowledge because we fear our secular friends would thinks us superstious or simple minded.
It is Satan's greatest feat, convincing the modern secular world that he does not exist. But he does, and this week he visited Blacksburg.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Assumption 1: The Tridentine Mass is said in Latin. The Novus Ordo is said in the vernacular. A special indult is required to say the Mass in Latin.
Not necessarily true. The Novus Ordo is contained in the Roman Missal, whose most recent revision was promulgated in Latin in 2002. In the United States there is an English translation approved by the USCCB. A priest may, at the present time say the entire Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, only say the entire ordinary (that is the Creed, Kyria, Our Father, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc.) in Latin and the rest in the Vernacular or only say part of the ordinary in Latin.
At the present time an indult is required to say the Tridentine Mass.
Assumption 2: In the Tridentine Mass the priest faces away from the people. In the Novus Ordo he faces toward the people.
Again not necessarily. In the Tridentine Mass the priest faces Liturgical East (ad orientem.) As part of the post Vatican II liturgical renewal in many church buildings the altar was moved. In most places this results in the priest facing (versus populum) toward the people, but not always. Some modern church buildings have their altar placed in the center, which means the celebrant faces some of the people, but has his back to others. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not specify either ad orientem or versus populum. So an individual celebrant can pray the Mass in either orientation.
Assumption 3: The Tridentine Mass is boring. The Novus Ordo is lively and interesting.
A well celebrated Tridentine Mass. especially a High Mass, at which chant or polyphone is sung to God's glory can be incredibly beautiful. A Novus Ordo at which bad music is played or the celebrant allows liturgical abuse to occur can be an affront to both God and man. Conversely a Tridentine Mass can be badly celebrated, especially if the faithful do not participate fully, as they are required to do, by being prayerful and attentive to the Mass. And a Norvus Ordo Mass can be very prayerful and have beautiful music, sung in either Latin or the Vernacular or a combination of the two. A poorly written and delivered homily can make any Mass no matter how well celebrated substandard.
Assumption 4: There can be only one or the other. There cannot be two Missals and two rites of the Mass.
This is the silliest assumption of them all. There are already more than two rites of the Mass in the Western Church. Besides the Novus Ordo there is the Anglican Use, which was instituted in the 1980's, plus the ancient Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Bragan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Carthusian rites. This does not even encompass the Eastern Rite Churches in communion with Rome.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
And then there's Easter. A few eggs are hidden, a rabbit delivers chocolate and many businesses don't even close for the day.
So which is the greater Christian holiday?
Before Christmas we prepare during Advent. Before Easter we celebrate Lent. Advent is a time of preparation. Adventus is the Latin word for "Coming." We prepare to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, but more so we prepare for Christ's Second Coming.
Lent is also a time of preparation, but it is a more solemn, longer period, which includes fasting, and in the modern age abstinence of Fridays, a practice which use to hold throughout the year. The word Lent derives from the German word for spring. In the old Latin the word quadragesima was used, literally "the fortieth day" before Easter.
Lent ends with the Easter Triduum, which consists of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
A Christian realizes that important as Christmas is, there can be no Christ the man with out the birth, it is the Easter season during which our salvation was effected. We spend Lent preparing for Easter, yet many skip some of the most meaningful of our Catholic worship traditions, by skipping the services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
No, they are not holy days of obligation. And it's true some who think of themselves as Catholic manage to skip every day accepting Christmas and Easter, as is evident by the time one must arrive at Church on those days to actually get a seat one occupies the whole rest of the year. So how bad could it be to skip three days of long services in a row. And long they generally are. On Thursday and Saturday, the day of the Easter Vigil Mass, many ceremonies not usually done at Mass are added. Saturday's Easter Vigil Mass at my parish starts at 8:00 pm and usually runs at least three hours. But these days include traditions which go back to the beginnings of our faith.
On Thursday we turn to John, who does not explicitly mention the initiation of the Eucharist, but instead tells us of Jesus' lesson of humility to the Apostles. The priest, who stands in the person of Christ in the Eucharist, washes the feet of some members of the laity, as Christ washed the feet of the Apostles. And We read the Passion, with the priest speaking the words of Christ and we the words of the crowd, because in the end it was not the Jews or the Romans who put Jesus on the cross, but us.
On Good Friday we do not celebrate Mass. It is the only day of the year on which no consecration takes place. Instead we venerate the cross, the instrument by which Jesus secured our salvation. We do receive Communion, consecrated on Holy Thursday.
On Holy Saturday, after sundown we celebrate Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the liturgical Year. It marks the start of the Octave of Easter and the beginning of the fifty day long Easter season. By deep historical tradition it is when adults are baptized and catechumens are received into full communion with the Church.
Too late for Holy Thursday or Good Friday this season. Catch Easter Vigil if you can.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Also brings up a few points that I will cover in future Vertical vs. Horizontal discussion.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Now I must admit from the outset that I have horizontal inclinations. I enjoy hearing the Mass in my native tongue. I like being able to say the creed in a language that I can understand, so that I can cognitively attest to what I believe.
But I also realize that those who talk about bringing "balance" to the Mass are missing the point. There should never be balance in the Mass. It should always be more about God than it is about us.
What many fail to realize, though, is that reform of the Mass predated Vatican 2. Many thinking members of the Church were already concerned that the Mass had become too vertical, that it was too much a prayer between the priest and God, with the rest of us unnecessary to the worship.
The alter boys would say, usually from rote, the parts that in centuries past all the people said.
The reform of the Mass was suppose to result in more scripture being read at Mass, and it did. It reintroduce practices, such as the responsorial psalm, which had been part of the Mass in the centuries before Trent, but had fallen out of use. It was intended that some of the Mass would be said in the vernacular, not that the use of Latin would be abandoned.
As often happens it seems that the reform went too far. The Mass became too horizontal. Somehow the fact that some things were changed caused some, many of them priests or other higher ranking celebrants, to believe that they had license to make their own changes to the Liturgy. Thankfully that period slowly seems to be ending.
We have a faith and a Church that measures its history in millennia. In such a time scale the Church can afford to be methodical in its actions. So what is the Church doing to ensure that they keep the horizontal without losing the all important vertical? What do you think?
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Certain members of the Catholic Church have problems with the the N.O. and requested from the Vatican an indult to allow them to continue celebrating Mass using the Tridentine Missal. Most people who prefer the Tridentine Missal do not deny that the Novus Ordo is a valid Mass in and of its self. The criticism of the N.O. generally falling into two categories.
The first criticism is that the N.O. lends itself to liturgical abuse. What is liturgical abuse? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) is pretty specific about what is and is not allowed in the celebration of the Mass. Unfortunately some celebrants and parishes ignore the requirements of the GIRM. Because some parts of the N.O. allow the celebrant to choose from different authorized rites some people feel that it is easier to a priest with the inclination to ad lib or substitute during the liturgy when a Mass is celebrated under the new rite than it would be if the Tridentine Missal was used. After all how many people can ad lib in Latin?
A much more theologically based criticism is whether the Mass should be horizontal or vertical. What does this mean? Vertical worship is concentrated exclusively on God. We say the Mass to worship God. Primarily only the priest speaks during the Mass. He speaks in God's language, Latin. The priest stands before the people, with his back to them, because he stands in Jesus's place, representing the people to God. When the host is concencrated and becomes the body of Christ only the priest may touch it, he delivers it directly to the tongue of the recipient. Certain types of music, primarily organ and certain types of song, chant and polyphone primarily, are reserved for use in worship and other types of music, which also have profane uses, are not used. Because we are worshiping God we should dress in a manner that is respectful, as if we were going to meet the president or going to some other very special occasion.
Now proponents of a more horizontal form of worship see the Mass as community. We come together as a community to worship God. So God is not only present in the Real Presence of the host. He is also present in the community. The Mass is said in the language of the people, most often in English or Spanish in the Unites States, but sometimes in other languages. The priest faces us because he stands in the place of Jesus, and just as the Apostles sat at table with Jesus when he said the first Mass, so do we sit at table with Jesus in the person of the priest. Music is performed for God's glory and sung by both the choir and the community assembled at Mass. We dress as we would when going to a friends house or to an informal celebration with out family.
So if there are so divergent opinions on the proper way to celebrate Mass which side is right? Not a simple answer and one for another day.