Sunday, August 31, 2008

Towards Today's Readings

Perfect love means putting up with other peoples shortcomings,
feeling no surprise at their weakness, finding encouragement
even in the slightest evidence of good qualities in them.
-- St. Therese of Lisieux

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Holy God-

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How I hold the Mass-

It's no secret, that I believe in transubstantation, and that the Mass is a true, real, substantial, and mystical sacrifice, as taught by the council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council. This being the teaching of the church, that the Mass is an event which transcends both time and space, an expression of out belief in the communion of saints, Truly, you can learn the faith from the Mass. The Mass is so awesome. It should be treated as the awesome mystery, the gift that it is.

So I hold the Mass in highest esteem, but many do not. People lose the fact that the Mass is primarily vertical: we offer our sacrifice of praise to God, and the Eucharistic sacrifice. However, the community, somewhere along the way, became the focus. So, I see traditional worship, worship where God is truly the focus in more ways than one, as an expression of fidelity to the church.

Two Marriages-

I was talking to a friend about the fact that the priesthood, and marriage are very much alike and practically the same thing--And how one can choose either to be married to a woman, or be married to the church. In the priesthood, the priest gets the opportunity to multiply Jesus in the Holy Eucharist; while in a regular marriage, the couple produces children to grow and love God in the Catholic Faith. It seems as though both are equal in importance. Then you can also relate a woman to the tabernacle. Think about that one for a minute.. The fruit it bears.. That's why Catholics respect women so much. Then I started saying to my friend that if the Church is like a spouse to priests, that's one heck of a wife the Pope has!!! I mean, that's why you have to be the Vicar of Christ to be involved in that marriage!

Inside a Catholic Church

I apologize about putting this on again, I had to delete the post earlier for various reasons, and felt as though I should put it back up. Sorry for any confusion....

Catholic vision assigns symbolic meaning to the various parts of the church building, as it does to pretty much everything else in the world. The roof symbolizes charity, which covers a multitude of sins; the floor symbolizes the foundation of faith and the humility of the poor; the columns represent the Apostles, Bishops, and Doctors; the vaulting represents the preachers who bear up the dead weight of man's infirmity heavenwards; and the beams represent the champions of ecclesiastical right who defend it with the sword. The nave symbolizes Noah's Ark and the Barque of St. Peter, outside of which noone is saved. The direction of the East represents the Heavenly Jerusalem, and the direction whence the Messiah will return in glory; West represents death and evil. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Narthex (or "Vestibule"): A true narthex is either an outside, covered porch-like structure or an inside area separated from the nave (the "body" of the church) by a screen, but this word has come to mean "entry" or "foyer." Originally, penitents and Catechumens were confined to this area until their reconciliation with or initiation into the Church. A westwork (or "westwerk") is the front of a large cathedral that has a tall facade and, usually, towers and an upper chamber (imagine the front entry of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with its towers and sculpture).
Nave: Referring to the "barque of Peter" and "Noah's Ark," the word "nave" is derived from the Latin word for ship, navis, and has come to mean the area where the parishioners sit or stand (pews are a very late addition to the nave area, and, even today, parishioners stand during the liturgy in many Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches). In Gothic architecture, the nave had an aisle (or two) on both sides.
Crossing: The place where the nave, chancel and transept intersect. This area is often domed.
Transept: The transverse arm of a cruciform church is called the transept. Because the liturgy is supposed to be celebrated ad orientem (facing East), the left side of the transept is called the North transept and the right side of the transept is called the South transept. This is so even if the actual orientation of the Church is other than with the Altar at the East side. Some churches have transepts at the West end of the church, too -- especially English Gothic churches.
Sanctuary and Choir (Chancel): The word "chancel" comes from the word cancelli, meaning "lattice work," once used to rail off the choir, where the religious would sit on long benches to sing the responses at Mass and chant the Divine Office, from the nave, where the people sit.
Medieval churches often had "rood screens" ("rood" means "cross") separating the Sanctuary and choir from the body of the nave. The rood screen had the rood -- the Crucifix -- often flanked by images of the Virgin and St. John and by oil lamps. This screen totally separated the sanctuary from the place the people sat so that the sanctuary was truly treated as the Holy of Holies. (In Eastern Catholic churches and in Orthodox churches, the sanctuary is separated from the congregation by a lovely iconostasis -- a screen or wall with at least two icons (some are covered with them). The iconostasis has three doors: the Door of the Proskomide (preparation for Liturgy) on the left; the Royal Door in the middle which leads directly to the altar; and the Deacon's Door at the right (from the parishioner's point of view).
The rise of Renaissance architecture saw the disappearance of the choir area, the bringing forward of the sanctuary, and the general disappearance of the rood screens. The sanctuary was, instead, separated from the nave (as they should be today if there is no rood screen or iconostasis) by altar rails at which communicants must kneel to receive the Eucharist.
Aside from being the place of the Altar, the sanctuary is the place where the Tabernacle, which holds the Blessed Sacrament, is kept and over which there should always be burning a tabernacle light. The other place where the Tabernacle might be kept is a separate, conspicuous, well-adorned side chapel in churches in which the Altar area is used for the solemn conduct of the Divine Office or for Pontifical ceremonies. When we see the Tabernacle, we genuflect. If the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, we kneel on both knees.
Apse: As the term is commonly used in church architecture, "apse" denotes the often domed, semicircular or polygonal termination where the altar is located.
Altar: The High Altar (the main altar) is the place where the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered (in a single church, there should be more than one Altar). While ancient synagogue liturgy was oriented toward Jerusalem, Christian liturgy is supposed to be celebrated with the priest and the congregation facing East ("ad orientem"), the direction whence Jesus, as symbolized by the rising Sun, will come again; the High Altar , therefore, has traditionally been at the East side of the church. In older churches, you might still see gorgeous altar screens or "Altar pieces" behind the Altar. The more fanciful, ornate ones are called "reredos" and can be quite exquisite, full of sculpture and with different panels.
The High Altar should: be fixed, of natural stone (bishops conferences have some leeway here), and contain a relic of a Saint (martyrs are favored). The Altar is venerated because it is the place of sacrifice, and because it is the place of Sacrifice, the Tabernacle is usually kept on it. (there will be more on this whole altar talk later on)
Pulpit: The podium on the left side of the church as you face the Altar (the "Gospel side"), from where the Gospel is read (and which is reserved for clergy). Not all churches have both a lectern (see below) and a pulpit; some just have one single speaker's podium called an ambo. Note that the Gospel side of the church is also informally referred to as the "Mary side" of the church because it is there a statue of her is often placed.
Lectern: The stand on the right side of the church as you face the Altar (the "Epistle side") from where the Epistles are read (and which can be used by lay-people). Not all churches have both a lectern and a pulpit (see above); some just have one single speaker's podium called an ambo. Note that the Epistle side of the church is also informally referred to as the "St. Joseph side" of the church because it is there a statue of him is often placed.
You can remember which side of the Church is which by taking the vantage point of Christ on the Crucifix: His right is the Gospel/Mary side of the Church; His left is the Epistle/Joseph side of the Church. Mary and the Gospel are greater than Joseph and the Epistle so are at Jesus' right. This will be so unless there is a statue of, say, our Lord, in which case it will be placed to the right of Jesus' vantage point from the Crucifix while Mary is to the left.
Ambulatory: An ambulatory is basically a sort of walkway which can be either inside or outside of a structure. In Gothic architecture, ambulatories often had projecting chapels and were especially common around the apse. If an ambulatory is outdoors and is built such that one side is wall while the other has columns or arches, especially opening onto a courtyard, it is often called a cloister (the word "cloister" also refers to the area within a monastery to which some religious are confined).
Sacristy (or "Vestry"): The Sacristy is where sacred vestments, liturgical vessels, etc., are stored. When the sacristy is behind the chancel and has two entrances, the priests enter on the Gospel side and exit through the Epistle side door.
In the sacristy you will find the sacrarium -- a special sink with a pipe that bypasses the sewer, unlike an ordinary sink, but instead goes straight into the earth. This sink is made thus to preserve the dignity of sacred things which can no longer be used. For ex., the sacred vessels are rinsed there so that no particle of the consecrated Host or no drop of the Precious Blood will end up in the sewer. The first rinse used to clean Altar linens, old baptismal water, sacred oils, blessed ashes, etc., all these are disposed of in the sacrarium, returning those substances to the earth.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Attitude at Mass-

There's an attitude that is very disturbing to me, and it SHOULD be disturbing to us all.

The attitude in which people, sit there, waiting at the end of Mass, glancing over their shoulder and as soon as Mass has ended they dart from their pew, not even bothering to bow or even genuflect, not even seeming to realize that the King of Kings was present, not giving Him another thought.

Maybe it's unfair for me to assume they don't know He is present, but then again; we tend to pay attention to those things we think are important. Is it fair to suggest, that, given the lack of reverence, perhaps people don't realize that Christ is Truly Present in the tabernacle? I won't say it's a deliberate rude gesture towards Our Lord; but the behavior of all too many Sunday-Mass-attending Catholics simply suggests that if they have any faith at all, it is something they do not understand at all.

I say this because even a small understanding of what happens at Mass and WHOM is present is a life-changing realization, and the first thing we tend to do once we realize that Jesus is really there is to do things as a signal of what has gone on inside of us. As in genuflect, or bow, or make the sign of the cross. It may be small, and doing this might make us feel weird; for we might wonder what our friends or family will think of us if we suddenly realize that we've been ignoring Christ and experience even a small change in behavior that signals an even greater change in our hearts.

But, I have learned, it's not easy to be Catholic, even in a Catholic church! Those who actively pursue holiness are often regarded as being "odd" or even "a fanatic”.

It is for this reason I question why people don't genuflect; is it that they don't believe or don't understand, or is it that they are afraid of being seen as a “fanatic”?

I suspect that the answer leans more towards the former, although I'm certain there are a great number of Catholics afraid to practice their faith out loud, the idea that surrounds them and tells them (and all of us!) that "faith is personal".

Yes, faith IS personal...and it is also social. For if the social aspect isn't expressed then faith dies from the act of showing and professing our Love to Our Lord. If we're afraid to even genuflect because of what other Catholics might call us or think about us, then how can we possibly take the next step and be willing to verbally proclaim Christ?

The culture of the lukewarm is in charge. The "lukewarm" are those who claim to be "good Catholics" because they attend Mass "most Sundays and some Holy Days if convenient", send their children to Catholic school, support the school and church sometimes and if it's fun (and convenient socially!), but pick and choose what they want to believe. Because of their high status as "church-going Catholics" they also get to sit in judgment and gossip over those Catholics who spend more time working hard to BE Catholic as opposed to talking about or thinking about what good Catholics they are.

In reality, most Lukewarm Catholics aren't so vile; and so they go about their lives, not even considering that they should be genuflecting when they arrive at Mass and when they leave...for they don't even realize Jesus is Present. They don't go to Confession because they think Vatican II "did away" with the sacrament.

We also ALL have the responsibility to educate ourselves (Biggy!); we all have questions. The bad news is that the Church is over 2,000 years old, with theology that goes back to the beginning of time. The GOOD news is that all of the questions we have, in reality, have been asked before. The most common questions are those too many people are afraid to ask...yet if they did, they would be changed forever.

There's a lot of fear out there among the Lukewarms. It's ALL ABOUT fear for them; about what their friends and family will think, about having to change, about those questions they have about the answers they think they should know...but have never been taught.

Catechesis needs to happen, but we have a couple of lost generations out there, adults running around knowing that they should go to church, wanting to raise their children Catholic, but having NO IDEA what it really MEANS to be Catholic! The result is a sort of spiritual standstill as these adults struggle to live a life of faith in a culture that says faith (and life! Did you see a dig there?) has no value.

It's an outright battle for the souls of Catholics and those on the frontlines are taking a beating most people can't even imagine. How do we inspire conversion in those we love, those who can't seem to break out of the relativism that holds them bound? Some get ticked off and leave the Church if they are provided with authentic teaching. Some get ticked off and, through argument and discussion, eventually convert. Others simply disconnect and practice their faith with all the passion and understanding of a headless zombie.

I don't know what the answers are; I'm constantly stressing out my brain trying to figure out how to reach people through the barriers they've put up. Yet, I'll keep trying; over and over again.

I can't help but think of the early martyrs, and all the martyrs throughout the history of the Church, even those of today. They were and are Catholics like all of us, but whose practice of the faith led and leads to death in horrible ways. They were men and women who stepped forward even as their bishops were torn apart by lions, and there, in the face of that reality, in that very presence, they were not afraid to declare themselves to be Christians and follow the bloody footprints into the arena.

Do I think I'd be strong enough to be one of those martyrs? I don't know. I hope so. Because I think a larger persecution is coming and those of us who believe all that the Church teaches and try to embrace it, and seek to preach it and live it...I think we're going to suffer. And I believe that that needs to happen.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Litany In reparation to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Christ, have mercy on us.Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, offered for the salvation of sinners,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, annihilated on the altar for us and by us,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, despised by lukewarm Christians,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, mark of contradiction,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, delivered over to Jews and heretics,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, insulted by blasphemers,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, Bread of angels, given to animals,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, flung into the mud and trampled underfoot,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, dishonored by unfaithful priests,Have mercy on us.
Sacred Host, forgotten and abandoned in Thy churches,Have mercy on us.

Be merciful unto us,Pardon us, O Lord.Be merciful unto us,Hear us, O Lord.

For the outrageous contempt of this most wonderful Sacrament,We offer Thee our reparation.
For Thine extreme humiliation in Thine admirable Sacrament,We offer Thee our reparation.
For all unworthy Communions,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the irreverences of wicked Christians,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the profanation of Thy sanctuaries,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the holy ciboriums dishonored and carried away by force,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the continual blasphemies of impious men,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the obduracy and treachery of heretics,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the unworthy conversations carried on in Thy holy temples,We offer Thee our reparation.
For the profaners of Thy churcheswhich they have desecrated by their sacrileges,We offer Thee our reparation.

That it may please Thee to increase in all Christiansthe reverence due to this adorable Mystery,we beseech Thee, hear us.
That it may please Thee to manifest the Sacramentof Thy Love to heretics,we beseech Thee, hear us.
That it may please Thee to grant usthe grace to atone for their hatredby our burning love for Thee,we beseech Thee, hear us.
That it may please Theethat the insults of those who outrage Theemay rather be directed against ourselves,we beseech Thee, hear us.
That it may please Thee graciouslyto receive this our humble reparation,we beseech Thee, hear us.
That it may please Thee to make our adoration acceptable to Thee,we beseech Thee, hear us.

Pure Host, hear our prayer.Holy Host,hear our prayer.Immaculate Host,hear our prayer.Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Spare us, O Lord.Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Graciously hear us, O Lord.Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Have mercy on us.Lord, have mercy on us.Christ, have mercy on us.

Altar Stones

Responding to your question about altar stones-

Before the Second Vatican Council, Mass could only lawfully be celebrated on a properly consecrated altar. This consecration was carried out by a bishop, and involved specially blessed "Gregorian Water," anointings and ceremonies. The relics of at least two saints, at least one of which had to be a martyr, were inserted in a cavity in the altar which was then sealed, a practice that was meant to recall the use of martyrs' tombs as places of Eucharistic celebration during the persecutions of the Church in the first through third centuries. Also in the cavity were sealed documents relating to the altar's consecration. The tabletop of the altar, the "mensa," had to be of a single piece of natural stone (almost always marble). Its supports had to be attached to the mensa. If contact was later broken even only momentarily (for instance, if the top was lifted off for some reason), the altar lost its consecration. Every altar had to have a "title" or "titulus" in Latin. This could be The Holy Trinity or one of its Persons; a title or mystery of Christ's life (Christ the Good Shepherd; the Holy Cross); Mary in one of her titles (Mother of Christ; Our Lady of Good Counsel); or a canonized saint. The main altar of a church had to have the same title as the church itself (for instance, there are many "side altars" in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, but the "high altar" in the center is dedicated to St. Patrick). This reflected the idea that the altar was the key element, and the church was built to house it, as opposed to the church being built and simply supplied with an altar as part of its furniture.

Obviously, these regulations would have made it impossible to celebrate Mass anywhere but inside of a Roman Catholic Church. To provide for other circumstances—for chaplains of everything from military to Boy Scout units, for priests while traveling alone, for missionaries, or for large outdoor celebrations of Mass on pilgrimages, just to name a few situations—"portable altars," popularly called "altar stones," were used. These are usually blocks of marble either square or rectangular, often about 6 inches by 9 inches or so and an inch deep, and are consecrated the same way as altars described above. A priest with a field kit could simply place this stone on any available surface (the tailgate of a Jeep, for instance, or the stump of a log at a campground) to celebrate Mass, or it could be inserted in a flat frame built into the surface of a wooden altar. Many Roman Catholic schools, for instance, had a full-sized, decoratively carved wooden altar (which, being wood, could not be consecrated) in their gym or auditorium that could be taken out and set up for temporary quarters for Mass, with an altar stone placed in the "mensa" space.

The privilege of using a portable altar was not automatically conferred on any priest. Cardinals and bishops normally had such rights under canon law, but other priests had to be given specific permission—this was, however, easily and widely obtained.

Today, a consecrated altar is no longer necessary for the lawful celebration of Mass, so priests offering Mass in the field or schools or elsewhere may simply use any table. Parish churches and chapels often have wooden altars today, which may be blessed (as opposed to consecrated). Parish churches and cathedrals should have a consecrated altar, however, still made of stone, though the ceremonies for the consecration are somewhat simplified.

(I hope this answers your questions)