Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday was instituted to honor the Most Holy Trinity by John XXII in A.D. 1334. Until 1960s it was celebrated as part of the Octave of Pentecost and marked the end of a three-week period during which weddings were forbidden.
Feasts to honor the Trinity, though not part of the liturgical calendar used for the Mass, were included locally in the Divine Office from the time of Gregory the Great as the Office of the Holy Trinity, with their own canticles, responses and hymns.
The doctrine of the Trinity is a central tenant of the Catholic faith and is excepted by most, but not all, of the other Christian faiths. This is revealed Truth which man could not come to through understanding of natural law. Though in Scripture there is no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together, they are separately described in several places. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus tells the disciples:
...go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke (1:35) Scripture tells us:
And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
The Most High is the Father, described by a phrase used in the Old Testament, as in Sirach(Ecclesiasticus) 24:
Wisdom sings her own praises, before her own people she proclaims her glory;
In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth, in the presence of his hosts she declares her worth:
"From the mouth of the Most High I came forth..
The references to the Holy Spirit and the Son are clearly stated.
The early Church from Apostolic times taught the doctrine of the Trinity. The baptismal formula is ancient. It had its origin in the oral tradition that became Scripture and it's use predated Scripture.
At the time of the Arian Heresy in the fourth century, the Trinitarian dogma was already encapsulated in the doxologies in use:
Glory to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Ghost.
carried through to the present day as
Glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
There are many passages in the ante-Nicene (that is before the Council of Nicene) Church Fathers which attest to the wide spread belief in the dogma of the Trinity; St. Basil tells us that when Christians lit the evening lamp it was their custom to give thanks to God with Prayer
We praise the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God
This is the consistent teaching of the Church Fathers.
In theological terms the Trinity can be described as a mystery. Theologically a mystery is a Truth which we are not only incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which even when revealed remains hidden. That is it is a fact so enveloped by an aspect beyond our understanding that even when revealed it is necessary that it's acceptance be a manifest matter of faith. It is, in short, impenetrable to reason, although it contains no intrinsic impossibility which violates the laws of nature. It is incomprehensible, as God will alway be incomprehensible to us on a fundamental level. I leave you with St Jerome who said:
The true profession of the mystery of the Trinity is to own that we do not comprehend it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Marian Prayers

For the Lent and Easter season this year I used a book called Lent and Easter with Mary by Thomas J. Craughwell. A day by day guide through the Lent and Easter season this book includes a different prayer every day, many seldom prayed in today's Church. It also contains many stories of Saints throughout the ages with particular attention given to their Marian devotion.
I would highly recommend it.

Excuses and liturgy

A very bad month for blogging. I am determined to blog more regularly, especially as I feel it will be more important as we in the United States and throughout the English speaking world are introduced to the new English translation of the Mass.
It seems almost certain that the USCCB will set Advent 2011, that is the Advent after next as the official date that the new translation of the Mass will begin being used in Catholic Churches in the United States.
I've discussed the new translation several times, as well as why the catechist should be interested and involved in this change.
It is important that the catechist understands the framework of the change. Beyond the very good reasons for a new translation, the facts of the translation itself should be known and be able to be explained by the catechist.
To begin with the previous ICEL translation is of the Roman Missile promulgated in 1975. In the United States the actual translation used is not the final approved translation, but still contains some parts, the creed for example, where a different translation based on an earlier draft was used.
In 2000 the original Latin edition, which contains some minor revisions, was approved. It was issued in 2002 and is called the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. In 2008 an amended version of this missile was issued which corrects some misprints in the original years 2000 version. This is the version from which the new translation is taken.
There are significant changes to some parts of the Mass prayed by the people and many parts of the Mass prayed by the priest. Without proper preparation many of the faithful will be unnecessarily confused by these changes. It is the responsibility of each pastor, using the resources provided by their bishop and with the help of his parish catechists to prepare the faithful for the use of this new translation.
We have what appears to be a long time to accomplish this catechisis. It will be many month before official volumes of the Sacramentary are available (though parishes should start thinking about budgeting for the new books they will need, as well as the training materials they will need.) However if we don't prepare for the tasks we will have to face next year in the preparations we will not be in a position to ensure a smooth transition.
So if you are a catechist seek out training on the new translation. many diocese have already started to hold training classes of their priest and catechetical leaders. Lots of information is available on line. Start with the USCCB site.
Get to work, time's fleeting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The first Novena

Novenas have, unfortunately, become rare in some corners of the Catholic Church in America. Along with kneeling, confession and a host of other ancient Catholic practices novenas somehow seemed to have gone "out of fashion" in the post Vatican II Church.
Certainly moving the celebration of the Ascension from its traditional day of the Thursday forty days after Easter to the following Sunday has confused the issue.
What does the day that the Ascension is celebrated have to do with novenas?
Far from being a practice originating in the Medieval Church the concept of the novena is based on the nine days of prayer and meditation practiced by the Apostles in the time between Christ's Ascension into Heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, a period of nine days.
Pentecost itself was a day which pre-dates the founding of the Church associated with the Jewish festival of Shavuot which commemorates the deliverance of the Ten Commandments to Moses, which occurred fifty days after the Exodus, and so fifty days after the celebration of the Passover.
In the later Church the practice of the novena often centers on Mary and in this period of the Early Church Mary was indeed present with the Apostles in the upper room during this period, and on Pentecost itself.
So movement of the date of the celebration of the Ascension does obscure the significance of this nine-day period and this relationship to later practice.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

St. Landry Catholic Church Bell

For hundreds of years the Church set the rhythm in villages, towns and cities through out the civilized world. In answer to the Holy Father's call to integrate the new media into the culture of our faith St Landry Catholic Church in Louisiana is once again tolling the Angelus, the hours and the call to prayer via the Internet!

St. Landry Catholic Church Bell

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Over at National Review Online Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Sister Mary Prudence of the Religious Sisters of mercy of Alma. A very good interview which you should read.
One part which I found enlightening was the result of a question by Lopez:
And you did this of your own free will? Chose to be subservient in a patriarchal church?

Sister Prudence: The first part of this question is important. A simple answer is: “Yes.”

The sister then continues:

The second part of this question is framed within a feminist political ideology. As we say in Catholic philosophy, the mind receives according to the mode of the receiver. If the mode of the receiver is a political feminist ideology, then that is how he or she will perceive the Catholic Church. The word “subservient” as used in your question seems to imply serving in an inferior way, which is not what we do. We serve as Christ, who came “not to be served but to serve.”

The difficulty is that, throughout history, there has been a struggle between basically three different positions about the relation between women and men: 1) traditional gender polarity, which viewed men as naturally superior to women, and its modern counterpart, reverse gender polarity, which views women as naturally superior to men; 2) unisex positions, which claim that there are no significant differences between women and men; and 3) complementary positions, which argue for the simultaneous fundamental equality and worth of women and men and their significant differentiation.
Sister Prudence has a PhD in philosophy, and it shows. Read the whole article and you'll understand why, while some orders are dying others prosper.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Red Tape???

So recently I was fortunate enough to hear a talk by a speaker from a pro-life organization which really opened up an area of the pro-life struggle of which I was unaware. I touched me so deep in my soul with its importance that I felt it an imperative that others in my parish and region be made aware. While my ability to play Paul Revere is as good as the next obnoxious loudmouth often when the message is important enough it is best to get it from the horse's mouth. So, I thought, why not invite this speaker to come to the parish and speak on the subject?
A quick inquiry to the Director of Religious Education(DRE) and I found myself routed to the diocesan theologian. So I found I needed a letter from the speaker's bishop, a CV (curriculum vitae), concurrence with the USCCB Dallas Charter on the protection of young people, etc.
Why so much red tape???
Well for good reasons actually. The bishop as the pastor responsible for all of the teaching in the diocese has a responsibility to ensure that every person who teaches anywhere in a Catholic facility under his control is a orthodox teacher. That is they must teach what the Church teaches. They must also be qualified to teach or speak on the subject that they are presenting. And the bishop must be sure of these facts, hence the requirements.
So many requirements might make some unenthusiastic about bringing in speakers from outside the diocese. But on important matters the extra effort is worth it. So I'll be rolling up my sleeves and working out the details of getting all of this information to the diocese. As an added benefit the next time my speaker is invited to speak in the diocese all of this will have been done.