Saturday, February 28, 2009

Prayer

Lately I've been meditating on prayer. I am wanting to pray more and more frequently, in a much more deeper manner. I try to meditate when I pray. Always keeping in mind that with deep prayer, and opening that cosmic doorway with God also opens up opportunities for the devil to intrude in with all of his evil works and temptations. I have far more to say to this, but I am tired, and am going to go to bed. More on this later.

May God grant us a peaceful night, and a perfect end. Amen.

Novena of Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI




One Our Father, three Hail Mary, Glory be.


V. Let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI:
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. You are Peter.
R. And upon this Rock I will build my Church.
Let us pray.
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, the pastor of your Church. Grant that his word and example may inspire and guide the Church and that he, and all those entrusted to his care, may come to the joy of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Figuring It Out

Tonight my dad and I were figuring out the differences between the "Christian Prayer Book",






and the actual "Four Volume set of the Divine Offices."





We figured out that the "Christian" is the smaller version where the hymns, and such are recycled year round. While the "Four Set" has individual prayers for each day. I've been praying the "Four Volume" set for some while now. My dad is going to order the "Christian" because it has the psalm tones in the back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lenten Mission!

Tonight at vespers Father decided to close with the Salve Regina. We began ok, but after a few lines we crashed and burned. Let's just say it's FAR easier to sing it when it's written in front of you. =D So it's the Ford family's Lenten mission to memorize it. (We have it posted on our fridge right now.)






Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Smack Down

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Today I was pretty down, in general, and my dad noticed. So he pulled out a missal and showed me today's gospel. Well.... lets just say that I wasn't so down anymore. It pretty much gave me the smack down. =D This is really a great gospel passage. It shows that fasting, praying and alms giving isn't all just about the actual actions, but about how you go about doing those actions. God calls us to do God's works in secret, and to not show it to others. Otherwise we are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Vespers Through Lent

Tonight my parish started praying vespers for the first time. We are praying them every night throughout Lent. Father couldn't make it to tonight's vespers (He was saying Mass at a missionary parish) so my dad led it. There were about 20 people who came, and I think more will tend to come as the days go on. Anyways--it was really beautiful. I've been praying vespers alone for some while now; it was very nice to pray them with others while before the Blessed Sacrament. This was just a low vespers too. We are going to begin saying "high" vespers (I think) on Sundays. With incense, and everything. I'm excited, it's so great for our/any parish to begin saying vespers. Small steps...

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter.


Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the priest who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his own forehead and then on each of those present who kneel before him at the altar. As he does so, he recites the words:



Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris

(Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return)



The ashes used in the service of worship or Mass are sacramentals, not a sacrament.In the Catholic Church, ashes, being sacramentals, may be given to any Christian as opposed to Catholic sacraments, which are generally reserved for church members, except in cases of grave necessity.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday," has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of streetsweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home.

What is less known about Mardi Gras is its relation to the Christmas season, through the ordinary-time interlude known in many Catholic cultures as Carnival.

Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to the flesh." Like many Catholic holidays and seasonal celebrations, it likely has its roots in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. Some believe the festival represented the few days added to the lunar calendar to make it coincide with the solar calendar; since these days were outside the calendar, rules and customs were not obeyed. Others see it as a late-winter celebration designed to welcome the coming spring. As early as the middle of the second century, the Romans observed a Fast of 40 Days, which was preceded by a brief season of feasting, costumes and merrymaking, "Fat Tuesday."

Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday" in French. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival. Before people would give meat up and fast through Lent.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Emptiness

I am empty, and won't be filled until I rest in God.


Our whole lives we spend searching for something to fill us. As human beings, I find more and more myself feeling low, and unfulfilled. I am at a constant longing for something, for God. God is the only "thing" that will ever fill us. But we cannot completely be filled with God until our death. Even the holiest of saints have struggled with this. They become overwhelmed, and are in torment at the constant longing for God-- Yet, they can't completely obtain Him due to their human limitations. This is very frustrating to me. I long for God, and am compelled to be with him whenever I can-- but I can't. I want to rush through it and devote myself as much as possible to Him. But I know that even if I were to get there, there would still be longing. There will be no rest in our souls until we reach our death. What a test God gives us! What a cross He gives us to bear.




Thursday, February 19, 2009

Worshiping with our Hands

We need to promote not only crossings, genuflecting, and bowing, but breast-beating especially. I do all four. Ritual breast-beating, at any of the points during Mass when our sins are mentioned, expresses the sense of sin in such a way as to help open us to the hope of God's mercy. It is a physical sign to remind us of our sins, and is something that I feel is very important to today's culture. Come to think of it, perhaps that's why it has all but disappeared in the Novus Ordo. The sense of sin has become something no one wants to hear about. All the more reason to bring it back!

Busy-Busy-Busy

I don't have too much to write on here for the next few days. I am SWAMPED with school work, and my jury coming up. I have barely a free moment to think. But, that's what God is calling me to endure at this point in time (day by day). I just wish I had more time to devote to prayer--but hey--I'll offer it up. Sorry for the lack of posting.


In Christ-
Nate

Books

Any of you have any suggestions as to books I should look into? I know I've asked this before. But I've already read so many you've suggested, and more. So I'm hungry for more to read! Gives me something to do while I'm at school-- instead of reading "catcher in the rye" (yuck!!!! Oh public schools...). Thanks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Updated Music

Yesterday I updated my music player, down below. There are quite a few more songs I added-- One's that should've been on there a while ago =D. I'll be adding more on eventually-- just need to have the timeto sit and search for them. Enjoy!


Thanks-
Nate

Monday, February 16, 2009

Awesome.

I heard somewhere that almost everyday, the Pope will play the piano for about 30 minutes. His Holiness usually plays Haydn, Mozart or Bach. That is pretty awesome if you ask me!






NLM Post

Yesterday NLM posted a list of things to check to see if your parish is moving in a forward motion-- in dealing with the "reform of the reform". I think our parish is just right where it needs to be (and frankly, way farther along than others---PRAY!!!).





1. Liturgical Orientation. Have you instituted ad orientem yet in any of your Masses? Are you planning to? Have you created resources to catechize the faithful? Have you begun to use "the Benedictine arrangement" for your other Masses? Yes, Fr. faces liturgical east whenever he says Mass, and we have used the Benedictine altar arrangement since Midnight Mass, last year.


2. Sacred Music. Have you instituted chant or polyphony in your liturgies and in what degree? Have you considered implementing things such as the Adoremus Hymnal? What about the proper chants in place of hymns? We have used polyphony many times before (are actually working on a polish Mass setting =D), and have already bought the schola "Adoremus Hymnals"--are waiting on buying them for the congregation when the new translations come out (...like they were supposed to several years ago...). Our schola has also used chants for the day in place of hymns; such as the communion hymn.


3. Sanctuary Ordering and Beautifications. Plenty of considerations here which I think are fairly self-explanatory, some of which also relate to orientation. Yes, our entire church has been moved around to focus more on what is truly important in the Mass (i.e. the organ being put up high, and not out front, Ad Orientem, Altar of Repose being put in... etc.)


4. Ars Celebrandi. What have you done to create a more reverential atmosphere? How have you trained your altar servers to serve competently and reverently as well? Well, the list could go on and on here... We have trained our altar servers in explaining to them what we are doing. What is ACTUALLY going on in the Mass--what they are being a part of in their help. In this, they become more reverent and serious when it comes to serving Mass. Altar serves receive on the tongue (most kneeling), and pray before Mass, so as to focus, and thank God for the opportunity to serve at His altar. (as a side note-- since all of this catechises has gone on, and boys have stuck with it, it has become something "cool" or at least, something "respectable". It isn't made fun of, and it has a meaningful purpose. We have over 15 servers altogether (male--I might add).


5. Liturgical Catechises. Have you been pursuing the promotion of liturgical catechetics, explaining the nature of the Mass as worship of God through the Sacrifice of the Son? What are you doing to foster a liturgical piety? Yes. Father hasn't started up any Catechism classes in the past--besides the adult class, but has talked about it in his homilies in correlation with what is said in the Gospel. Our church (whether they know it or not) is a very well educated parish.


6. Summorum Pontificum. Have you added any usus antiquior Masses to help in the project of continuity and enrichment? Not yet. But we do offer a low Latin Mass-- which is EXTREMELY reverent, and a high, English, Novus Ordo (also-- made reverent--"in other words", what the Mass when it was reformed should have been like). "Brick by Brick" my friends... =D

7. The Divine Office. Is the public celebration of sung parish Vespers -- for example -- anywhere in sight yet? Father is going to start offering Vespers every night, starting on Ash Wednesday.


A goal..

One of my goals by the end of high school is to be able to play the organ really well. I can already mess around on there, playing some melodies, but that's about it. Really, I want to learn to play piano, and the organ (which are completely different instruments to play!). Our church has a really nice electric organ, sounds great! But wouldn't be awesome to have a real pipe organ-- Like the one shown above!! ... Then again, I guess it isn't the building, (or the organ) that make a church holy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lent is coming

Lent is almost here! Only like, ummm... 10 days! I can't wait. I always love lent. I love all of the stuff we have going on, and how much adoration we have towards the Blessed Sacrament. (I know we should have it whenever, all around the year. But, "brick by brick" my friends!) This year, Father is beginning to say vespers, starting on Ash Wednesday--every night at 6:30. That is something I feel more parishes need to look into doing (all year long!). Parishes are begging to focus on the liturgy, and the music, and what is most important. While we still need a BIG push for that, we also need to remember to give opportunities for the faithful to worship, pray before the Lord outside of Mass. Not just more Masses, but things such as; benediction, rosary, vespers, lauds, etc. Also, people need to be taught, and have the opportunity to ask religious questions, and to learn. Adult Catechism classes would be a wonderful addition to any parish!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Catholicism is The Truth

Basically, I am a Catholic because I believe that Catholicism is true.

Just to be clear, what I don't mean by this is that Catholicism is true for me. This is because religion is about more than just me -- it is about reality, the actual truth. The facts are what they are, whether I believe them or not. Catholicism, or any other religion, states what it thinks is true or false, whether or not I -- or anyone else -- believe them, or like them. So, it wouldn't make any sense (nor would it be honest) for me to say that Catholicism is true for me but not necessarily true for someone else. It's either true or it isn't.

The fact is, everything the Church teaches, is true. It just is. I mean, Jesus said--"I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father except through Me." What more do you need?!

Happiness

On earth we do not know happiness; we only know bits and pieces of happiness. This explains why those who seek God always find joy, while those who seek joy do not always find God.

Man is lowered to only looking for "quantity joy": chasing down more intense pleasures and emotions, or adding pleasure to pleasure -- just as drug addicts need bigger and bigger doses to get the same level of pleasure.

Only God is happiness--and makes happiness. With him even the joys of the secular life keep their pleasure. I am not only talking about spiritual joys but of all human joy: friendship, health, creativity, art, nature, music. In God is found all of that man thinks the word 'happiness' means and more, since "eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has it entered the heart of man that which God has prepared for those who love him"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Panis Angelicus--

I've decided to sing "Panis Angelicus", by Cesar Franck, for my High School Jury. I didn't know too much about it except for some loose translations, but I loved how it sounded. So I went to look it up, and decided that I would share its origin and history with you.

"Panis angelicus fit panis hominum;Dat panis coelicus figuris terminum.O res mirabilis! Manducat DominumPauper, pauper, servus et humilis."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRse4B9i2ig

What is it's purpose/history? Well, in fact it is used for the celebration of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is a song used to teach people Catholic Catechism! (just like "Ave Verum Corpus", for example.)


In St John's Gospel, Jesus says "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you". This was not easy to understand. Early medieval philosophers in the twelfth century began discussing how this might happen, and the term "transubstantiation" came about. They decided that the Eucharistic bread is not merely a symbol, but really becomes Christ's flesh. The "accidents" of the bread (its shape, color, texture and taste) remain the same, but its "substance" (its real nature) changes. This was accepted as an official church dogma (at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, and reconfirmed at the Council of Trent in 1545-63).






To celebrate this doctrine, Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi ("the Body of Christ"). He asked St Thomas Aquinas to compose some hymns in honor of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and St Thomas wrote five; one of which is Sacris Solemniis ("our solemn feast"). The words of "Panis angelicus" form the sixth stanza. They can be translated as follows:


"The bread of angels becomes the bread of man;This bread of heaven does away with symbols.What a marvel! The poor, the servant and the humbleMay feed on their Lord."


Lord Jesus Christ, pierce my soul with your love so that I may always long for you alone, who are the bread of angels and the fulfillment of the soul’s deepest desires. May my heart always hunger and feed upon you so that my soul may be filled with the sweetness of your presence. May my soul thirst for you, who are the source of life, wisdom, knowledge, light and all the riches of God our Father. May I always seek and find you, think upon you, speak to you and do all things for honor and glory of your holy name. Be always my only hope, my peace, my refuge and my help in whom my heart is rooted so that I may never be separated from you.

--Saint Bonaventure







Kraut commentary on Lefebvrist controversy



Go here! This essay, by Martin Mosebach, appeared in Der Spiegel in recent days, and is the most intelligent commentary I have read on the subject.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How do they do it?!

I've been reading quite a bit about self reflection, and our counter-cultural place in the world. In my thinking I have begun thinking about saints, such as St. Francis. How do they do it? Why do they do it? Why/how do these men and women physically torment, and spiritually test themselves? In my studying, I come closer to relating to this idea (on a WAAAAY smaller level-- for sure!). The lives of these saints are made from their own humility, prayer, fasting, and the imitation of Christ. When completely centering themselves fully on this, they begin to see things differently and to live differently. Their lives get turned upside down.

I can personally see how this happens. The more you pray, and the more you put yourself in TRUE meditation of Christ, the more you begin to think and see things like God, and how utterly dependent we are upon Him for everything. That vision eventually sets them free and allows them to live in an entirely new way. The more we "buy" into this, the more we just keep "going", until (the strong) make it where the saints were. We open up a "channel" per-say, with God, that (I believe) is always there; we just need to pray, and concentrate both our physical and spiritual selves in such a manner to open this.

In doing so, we also get the bad side. When we open up this "channel", Satan sees this, and will attack with all of his might. He always will go after those closest to God. That's why there are countless stories of saints that have (literally) spiritual battles with the devil. One can see how saints live in such torment; they see all of the good in the deep meditation, but along with that comes evil. The real test is our strength to keep our eyes fixed on God.

Parents Discipline in Love

There is no love like the love between parents and their children. For most of us, as we age we begin to see more and more the wisdom of our parents. When we were children and our parents disciplined us, it was perhaps seen only as punishment, or as suffering given to us for no particular reason, but when we grow older we begin to see that our parents disciplined us so that we might learn the difference between good and evil. So, discipline wasn't meant to inflict punishment, but to teach us and to show us the proper way to live. If we understand discipline in this way we will see that our parents disciplined us because they loved us, because they cared enough to teach us about love. As children, this can be a very hard thing to understand, but maturity can help us to understand the reasons why.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Something Interesting

At schola practice tonight my dad (who is the schola director) talked about the cross that is made in the music when we sing the Credo. I haven't heard about this before. I don't know if you have either, so that's why i decided to share it with you. What it is, is when we sing the Credo III (Mass setting) we come to the line, "Crucifixus et-i-am pro no-bis", the "Crucifixus" is sung in the pattern of a cross. beginning at one point, going up, then down, then back to the original point. You can see this below:


Or, more easily seen here:

This is why being Catholic is SO awesome! I also heard a story about Bach, who would play his "name" in his music. Since back then there was a note called "H" which would be, today, a B natural. A "B" back then was a Bflat. Which means that Bach was able to play "B,A,C,H" notes. While he played his music using the crucifixus patern that I talked about above, he would be playing his name in the other hand. Meaning that we all have to bear our own cross/ that Bach was carrying his cross. Cool huh?! I find that stuff fascinating. =D

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pope Benedict exhorts Catholics to rediscover fasting this Lent

Tip from a friend/reader--Thanks! (btw: If any of you have articles, thoughts, comments, please! email--or leave a comment I love to hear from you!) I strongly support fasting. I find it self cleansing and another direct sacrifice we can physically make. During lent I try to abstaining from meat, and fast entirely on Fridays. I want to begin abstaining on every Friday around the year, but it is difficult with a family of 6 to be the one refusing certain foods. But I think I can manage to start. =D

Now listen to what the pope (who tends be more persuasive than I am) has to say about fasting-


Vatican City, Feb 3, 2009 / 11:49 am (CNA).- As Catholics around the world prepare to begin the Lenten season in just over three weeks, Pope Benedict XVI has published his Lenten Message for 2009. This year the Holy Father focuses his message on the meaning and value of fasting, emphasizing that it helps believers to prepare to do the will of God.

The message, which the Pope penned on December 11, 2008, has as its title, a verse from the Gospel of St. Matthew: "He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry."

The Holy Father traces the practice of fasting all the way back to God’s command to Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Walking through salvation history, the Pope points to his Lenten message’s theme: "The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food', which is to do the Father's will."

Pope Benedict also acknowledges that fasting has become fashionable for people concerned with their bodily health, but he explains that for believers the primary benefit of fasting is as "a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God." "Denying material food, which nourishes our body," the Pope adds, "nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word."

The final dimension of fasting the Holy Father mentions is that turns one outwards and thereby keeps alive a "welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters." In order to encourage this he writes: "I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving."

Speaking at a press conference to introduce the Pope’s Lenten Message, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, explained how Christian fasting does not entail a dualistic approach that views all material things as bad.

Yet, the cardinal warned, "the body can become a tyrant" and "the desire for wellbeing and pleasure can reduce freedom and become unmanageable by the human will."

Thus, "fasting in this Lent has no negative connotations. How could we scorn our own flesh if the Son of God took that flesh upon Himself, becoming our brother! Depriving oneself and denying oneself are positive acts: they aim at the encounter with Christ," said Cardinal Cordes.
The full Vatican translation of Pope Benedict’s message is reproduced below:

"At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition - prayer, almsgiving, fasting - to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God's power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, 'dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride'. For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord's fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: 'Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry'. Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law and Elijah's fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb, Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.

"We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die'. Commenting on the divine injunction, St. Basil observes that 'fasting was ordained in Paradise', and 'the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam'. He thus concludes: ' 'You shall not eat' is a law of fasting and abstinence'. Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that 'we might humble ourselves before our God'. The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah's call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: 'Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?' In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

"In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who 'sees in secret, and will reward you'. He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'. The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food', which is to do the Father's will. If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord's command 'of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat', the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

"The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community. The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the 'old Adam', and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. St. Peter Chrysologus writes: 'Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself'.

"In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterised by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one's body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical wellbeing, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution 'Paenitemini' of 1966, Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to 'no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave Himself for him, he will also have to live for his brethren'. Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel.

"The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. St. Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as 'twisted and tangled knottiness', writes: 'I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness'. Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

"At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, St. John admonishes: 'If anyone has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him - how does the love of God abide in him?' Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother. By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up, the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast. This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

"From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetic practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: 'Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia' - Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.

"Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God. May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, 'lectio divina', recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, 'Causa nostrae laetitiae', accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a 'living tabernacle of God.' With these wishes, while assuring every believer and ecclesial community of my prayer for a fruitful Lenten journey, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Septuagesima!

Hey! In the old rite, today is a BIG day! 70 days before Easter! We HAD to use incense at Mass today! Right?!? In the words of father, "Oh! Nathan LOVES smoke!" =D


I also am teaching the altar servers to genuflect when we process in and out of the altar space. Right now they are mostly bowing. Really, you're supposed to genuflect in reverence to the tabernacle; and bow in reverence to the altar. Unless, that is, you are holding something, or can't genuflect, so you bow deeply. Just a small shift. But just another step in orienting ourselves properly towards what is truly the focus of the Mass.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Quiet lately

I haven't wrote a bunch on here, mainly because there isn't a whole lot to write about. Which I'm not saying is bad. It's just everything is just low right now. Not a whole lot going on in in the news, or in the church. Plus, I am involved with school a lot right now. My minds been distracted by school work, and trumpet solo and ensemble. I've been so busy! So I haven't had many thoughts, or ideas, or things to share with you. Everybody is sort of in this right now. But hey-- I'm going to go read some Aquinas! To get me back in a theological mood. =D

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Candelmas- Presentation of Christ in the Temple

(sorry- it's a few days late, gimme a break =D)


Presentation of Christ in the Temple-

According to the Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a boy was considered unclean for seven days. She was to remain thirty three days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed.

Forty days after the birth of Christ Mary went with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just.



What I think is sad, is how we have hardly any feast days that we take observance of. In the old Latin rite one would be filled with feast days, and holy days. Now, we have diminished all of those away...

________________________________________________________


Blessing of the Candles and Procession-

According to the Roman Missal, the celebrant after Terce, in stole and cope of purple color, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, while the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, "Nunc dimittis". The antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel" is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon "Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion". The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem.