Friday, July 31, 2009

Patience

Please forgive me for my lack of posting these past few days. My mom is currently taking some online classes to renew her teaching degree. So, I haven't been able to get on to write anything. I will be back soon...

Check back in soon and I'll have more posts up!! (Like Saturday or Sunday! =D)

Thank you for your patience!

In Christ-

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ascension and the East Homily

"Ascension and the East" homily
Fr. Dennis Kolinski, SJC
25 May 2006
St. John Cantius

Until recent years, the debate about which direction the priest should be facing when celebrating the Mass was usually about the difference between the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass. But more and more one is hearing this discussion even in reference to the post-Vatican II Mass. There is growing concern for a return to the sacred and a return to this traditional orientation in the Mass is a significant part of it. Our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI is among its notable proponents.

Many people talk of celebration of the Mass in the traditional manner as Mass celebrated facing the tabernacle or as Mass in which the priest's back is to the people to conceal the Sacred Mysteries. But neither of these descriptions gets to the core of why we celebrate Mass in this manner.

Mass in the traditional manner is called "ad orientem", which literally means "to the east", and from the very beginning of Christianity orientation of worship to the East held a profoundly mystical significance. It was the ancient and universal practice of all Christians. They didn't worship in that direction because of the tabernacle because it wasn't until the Middle Ages that the tabernacle was put at the back of the altar as it is now. Worship facing the east had a great cosmological significance because of the great event we commemorate today. Christians believed that when Christ ascended into heaven, He ascended toward the east and that when He would return in His Second Coming, He would come from that same direction. By always facing to that direction in worship, they were, therefore, always standing ready for the return of their Lord. The East represented the anticipated Second Coming of Christ, the King.

The first Christians were Jews and the orientation of prayer to the east was a concept that was not at all foreign to them because Jews believed that Eden was located to the East. (1) Christians worshiped to the east not because it pointed to the earthly paradise as the Jews did, but because it now pointed to the new paradise in Heaven to which Christ had arisen on Ascension Day.

Early Christian literature has many references to worship facing east. The Apostolic Constitutions state that a church should be built "with its head to the East". (2.) St. John Damascene wrote that while we wait for the coming of the Lord "we adore Him facing East" because it is a tradition that was passed down to us by the Apostles. St. Augustine wrote, "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where Heaven begins." (3.)

The rising sun in the east as an image of Christ the Light of the world was also a potent symbol for the early Christians. In the third century, Origen wrote that we ought to pray in the direction of the rising sun because it is an act which symbolizes the soul's gaze towards the rising of the true Light, Jesus Christ. The writings of other Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and St. Basil, confirm this practice.

This symbol of the sun as an image of the Divine Light is found throughout the Bible. In the Book of Psalms we read about "The sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber". (5.) In the book of the prophet Malachi we read that the "sun of righteousness shall rise." (6.) In his mystical vision, Ezekiel saw "the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east" and it "entered the Temple by the gate facing east." (7.) And in the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Christ's face "shone like the sun." (8.)

The sun is a cosmic symbol of the light of the resurrected Christ, who dispels the darkness of sin and death. When the sun sets in the west, the world sinks into darkness, which we equate with death. That is what happens when a souls shuts out the Light of Christ. Darkness envelops the soul and leads to spiritual death. The east, on the other hand, brings the rising sun and its energy for a new day. So, by turning toward the rising sun when we worship, we turn toward Christ, whom it symbolizes.

The east is the same direction to which Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives on the day of the Ascension and is the direction from which He will return on the Last Day. (9.) In the book of Revelation we read that the east will be the direction from which the Angel of the Lord will come in the end time "ascending from the rising of the sun." (10.) And Christ Himself told us that "as the lightning comes from the east so will be the coming of the Son of man" (11.) and his face will be like "the sun shining in full strength." (12.)

The structures in which Christians traditionally worshipped were not just functional buildings as they often are today. The church building and everything in it reflected a very deep symbolism. We call the body of the church the "nave", which is a word derived from the Latin word for ship - navis. So, we can say that during our short time on earth, we are on a journey and the church building in which we worship is, so to speak, the ship by which we sail to the east to the port of our eternal rest in heaven. It is in this sacred space that the Christian body constantly voyages to the East (13.) to the Heavenly Paradise and to the Rising Sun.

The early Church believed that it was from the east that Christ would return in glory. For Christians the east has historically always been the direction of heaven, so that by facing east, Christians - both priest and layman alike - would be able to participate in the mystical liturgy of Heaven. Both priest and laity looked toward the East in unity as if in procession because it was the gateway to heaven, their destiny. The altar was the place where heaven is opened up, leading the Church into the "eternal liturgy." (15.)


NOTES:

1. Gamber, Msgr. Klaus, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its problems and background (Una Voce Press, 1993, and Kocik, Father Thomas "Re(turn) to the East?", Adoremus, November 1999
2. Hassert, Maurice M. "History of the Christian Altar", Catholic Encyclopedia, 1999
3. Augustine "De sermone domini in monte" , p. 80
4. Kocik, "Return"
5. Psalm 19
6. Malachi 4:2
7. Ezekiel 43:4
8. Matthew 17:2
9. Acts 1:11
10. Revelation 7:2
11. Matthew 24:27
12. Revelation 1:16
13. Jungman, Joseph "The Mass of the Roman Rite", p. 180
14. Ratzinger, "Spirit of the Liturgy", 70-71

Excellent--Cathy (a reader of my blog) sent this to me after she read my earlier post on "ad orientem."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sancta Missa

Ever since Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius have been hard at work in educating priests how to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Their multi-media website, www.SanctaMissa.org, has already given assistance to priests throughout the world learning to offer the usus antiquor. The web site has also provided education to so many of the faithful to learn how to pray the Mass with greater devotion and fervor.

Since many approach the Canons Regular to learn more about the Extraordinary Form, it is advantageous to offer group workshops for priests, deacons, seminarians, and for the lay faithful so that Catholics will better appreciate the celebration of the Classical Roman Rite.

(Explained more HERE)

For anyone, priests or laity, who want to learn more about the Traditional Latin Mass you should check out the website!! This is a website started and maintained by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. It is excellent!! I'm sure many of you already know about the site, but for those of you who don't--it is a very good source to read and to reference.

It has online tutorials, books, videos (DVD's to purchase), FAQ's, and written explanations of everything pertaining to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It also has explanations of every item used during Tridentine Mass, and video's talking about the

One can visit the Canon's web store to buy all of these Latin Mass resources. They have books, DVD's, 1962 Altar Missal, Altar cards, and so much more.

-Here is a letter to priests and faithful (on the website) from the order's superior Fr. Phillips:


Dear Brother Priests and Faithful,

In thanksgiving for Our Holy Father's recent Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, we are pleased to have the opportunity to train priests to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. We hope that this tutorial, which provides a study of the the rubrics in a multimedia format, will assist priests in praying the Mass of the Ages with deeper reverence and love, so that the faithful attracted to this venerable rite might more profoundly enter into the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Those devoted to the study of the rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum will notice that, according to local custom, there are some variances in the expression of the rubrics. In this tutorial you will see the Tridentine Latin Mass offered according to the customs of the Archdiocese of Chicago as practiced in 1962. As other dioceses or religious communities may have other customs, I hope that these differences will not cloud the purpose of guiding priests in praying the Traditional Latin Mass.

As a seminarian, I had the privilege to work with Monsignor Martin B. Hellriegel, P.A., who was a noted liturgical giant of his time. He taught me that while rubrics are vital to offering the Mass with reverence and devotion, one must not act robotically and mechanically in their execution. The rubrics are the shell protecting the kernel.

By the diligent study of the rubrics, priests will be able to grasp the structure of the Mass and perform well the many intricacies of the sacred liturgy. Moreover, the external ceremonies of the Mass should always lead the priest to discover its rich treasures.

Finally, this presentation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will form the laity, both intellectually and spiritually, to understand its sacred ceremonies, and to be transformed by its inestimable beauty.

In Christ,

Rev. C. Frank Phillips, C.R., Superior
The Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius
Chicago



--I have the Canon's website, their web store, and Sancta Missa linked on the my right side bar for anyone looking for quick access!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prayer of Trust

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
--Thomas Merton

I love this prayer!! My dad showed it to me today. He came across it while looking in our "Manual of Prayers" book. It says exactly what most of us feel or think, and puts us in a place where we can do nothing but trust in God. We follow Him even if we don't know where or what we are doing. We should desire to do good, and to love God in everything we do. If we do, He will always be there as our help and our shield. I'm going to be saying this prayer much more often!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home Altars

Each Christian family is considered a Domestic Church, being the smallest unit of Christian community, faith, and practice. It is in the Christian home that one lives out the Catholic faith. Each family, being part of the Church, is charged with much the same ministry as the parish church; namely worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy. (Orthodox Wiki)

The "religious life" is not limited to those who have taken monastic or priestly vows. Rather, this shows that all Christians are called to religious and prayerful life.

Worship in the traditional home generally centers around the "Icon corner" (or sometimes called a "home altar"), which is typically placed in a prominent place in the living room or dining room of the home. This usually consists of one or more icons and often a shelf or table on which are placed various devotional items.

A Home Altar is a place where the focal point of a Catholic home should be -- a place where the family can gather to offer up their prayers to the Most Holy Trinity and to ask the Saints to pray for them. Morning Offerings, family Rosaries, prayers for special intentions, family novenas, Lectio Divina, etc., can all be made here. Family altars, ideally, should be on the Eastern wall of a home, in the same orientation as church buildings. The altar can be as simple or as elaborate as one desires.

A home altar is not intended to be used for Mass. Although, Mass can be said anywhere--so Mass could be said there. Rather, a home altar is a shrine that allows a family a quiet place to keep relics, icons, and other prayerful objects on display in one area. This area is used for prayer. What better place to contemplate and pray than among images of our Lord, and the saints around us?

Many Catholics have sacred images or icons all over their house. All a home altar does is take most of those objects and put them into a prayerful and sacred area. It is not uncommon for Catholics to have a home altar in their house. It is the same as having a crucifix in every room, or a small shrine in your bedroom where you pray.
I love the idea of a Home Altar.

Here are some pictures of our family's Home Altar:



We have a gold crucifix with two candles, and another wall mounted votive candle that can be changed out for different feast days, along with an incense burner and holy cards set on the table. On the right wall we have a small Holy Water Font below an icon of St. Anthony along with a relic of St. Anthony. The left wall has a few shelves holding statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Charles Borremeo, and St. Padre Pio. We are looking for a statue of Mary, but haven't decided on one yet.

Here is a closer picture of our home altar....




We just recently added St. Padre Pio to our shrine. We bought him a few days ago when we went to visit "Cross in the Woods." He is a wonderful addition! I personally have a special devotion to the pious friar too.



Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Birthday Present

It says:
"What part of HOC EST CORPUS MEUM don't you understand?!"



I love it!!! I think I'm going to wear it everyday! ;D



Monday, July 20, 2009

Purification of dropped or spilt Species

A reader has asked me to explain the exact procedure after the Host falls to the floor during Communion. There is not much written in the Roman Missal, but I do know what should be done.

This subject is addressed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 280:

"If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently. If any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy."

I know that the fallen host should be consumed by either the priest or the communicant (whoever can get to it) as quick as possible. Afterwards the priest (or servers) should cover the spot of the fall with a purificator (preferably two and lay them over each other in the shape of a cross). Same goes with the spilling of the precious blood (only you can use a corporal to cover a larger area so that the blood isn't trampled on). Then the priest will clean the area removing all fragments and washing it with holy water.

I do not know about the priest prostrating himself to kiss the area in which the Body or Blood had fallen. Yet, it is a wonderful gesture!! As you said, "Those priests established a firm belief that Christ is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament!"

We should pray for priests to have such faith in the Blessed Sacrament as the ones you have described! It all comes back to whether or not we really believe that we are dealing with the True Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Updated Music

I just 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-- I just need to have more time to sit and search for them. If you get tired of hearing the same series of songs over and over again there is a shuffle button down there that will mix them up for you.

Any other suggestions for me to add on there??

Enjoy!!!

Ad Orientem

Before you start…

Use the restroom, get a cup of coffee, then put your feet up-- this one’s gonna take a while to read!


In most major religions, the position taken in prayer and the layout of holy places is determined by a "sacred direction." In the Catholic Church it is a place in which both congregation and celebrant face a central goal that all strive for throughout the actions and liturgy of the Mass.

Fr. Uwe Lang is a published author who wrote “Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer” explaining the need for our proper orientation in the Liturgy of the Mass. Fr. Lang explains how the practice of celebrating the liturgy "ad orientem," or "facing east," developed in the early Church in an interview with the online Catholic news source, Zenit:

“The sacred direction in Judaism is toward Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. Jews pray toward Jerusalem, Muslims pray toward Mecca, and Christians pray toward the East.

The early Christians no longer turned toward the earthly Jerusalem, but toward the new, heavenly Jerusalem. It was their firm belief that when the risen Christ would come again in glory, he would gather his faithful to make up this heavenly city.

They saw in the rising sun a symbol of the resurrection and of the second coming, and it was a matter of course for them to pray facing this direction. There is strong evidence of eastward prayer in most parts of the Christian world from the second century onward.

In the New Testament, the special significance of the eastward direction for worship is not explicit.

Even so, tradition has found many biblical references for this symbolism, for instance: the "sun of righteousness" in Malachi 4:2; the "day dawning from on high" in Luke 1:78; the angel ascending from the rising of the sun with the seal of the living God in Revelation 7:2; and the imagery of light in St John's Gospel.”

One can see this when the priest consecrates the host upon the altar, hidden from the view of the congregation, and then he suddenly elevates it after the consecration. The elevation reminds us of something wondrous, like the sun suddenly rising.

There are two forms of worship which we are dealing with here: versus populum (facing the people), and ad orientem (facing liturgical east).

Many people believe that Vatican II specifically mandated the use of versus populum in the Novus Ordo Liturgy (The Mass most people are familiar with since the Second Vatican Council.) and that it “did away” with the Old Mass (The Tridentine Mass celebrated before Vatican II), and ad orientem worship. These assumptions are completely inaccurate.

Rather, the documents of the second vatican council gave no mandate about the direction of the celebrant during Mass. Vatican II only gave priests the option to say Mass versus populum, but never mandated it.

The cause of this change is attributed to the way Mass is celebrated at the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. There, to face physical East the Holy Father must face the congregation. There is no tabernacle behind the pope either, so there really is no direction of orientation in that church except to look to the pope and the altar.

People and the media misunderstood this and pushed for a renewal in which priests could face their congregations from behind the altar.

Doing such seemed to cause an “open dialogue” between the priest and the congregation. Rather than the priest going to God on behalf of the faithful and speaking to God directly, he became a “show man.”

This is where I think the priest lost his purpose in the Mass. He was no longer a man put up by the faithful to go before God and act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) carrying out the sacrificial actions of the Mass. The priest became a “personality,” who in essence becomes the main focus of the Liturgy.

Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has this to say in his “Spirit of the Liturgy” (Ignatius Press, 2000) about the priest facing versus populum:

“Everything depends on him (the priest). We have to see him, to respond too him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing..... Less and less God is in the picture. More and more is done by human beings that meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a “predisposed pattern.” The turning of the priest to the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself.”

The Mass then becomes filled with distractions to the faithful, who are distracted by the priest’s “shtick”, and the priest, who feels compelled to put on a show and has to face the people and their reactions to what he does. All this does is cause distraction and blatant disregard for what is actually going on at Holy Mass. Even when the priest has best intentions, he still feels pressure to cater to the emotional needs of the congregation.

The way to fix this problem (that we have created) is to re-orient ourselves to our Lord, toward our ultimate goal. We, as priests and congregation, focus ourselves on the sacrificial actions occurring before us and look to see the second coming of Christ at the end of this world(the eschatological aspect of Mass).


One of the main problems people mistakenly have is their claim that the priest "is turning his back on the people." This statement misses the crucial point that the Mass is a common act of worship in which priest and people together reach out for a God, who reveals Himself through the Eucharist. By facing the same direction as the faithful when the priest stands at the altar, the priest leads the people of God on their journey of faith.

Fr. Lang says, “Looking out for the Lord keeps the eschatological character of the Eucharist alive and reminds us that the celebration of the sacrament is a participation at the cross at Cavalry and the second coming of Christ. The Mass occurs outside of time, linking both past, future and present into one action.

Churches have traditionally been constructed facing the rising sun as explained above. Facing east we are turned in expectation toward the Lord who is to come (eschatology) and we show that we are part of an act that goes beyond the church and community where we are celebrating, to the whole world (the cosmos). In churches not facing geographical east, the Cross and Tabernacle become ‘liturgical east’.

This gives the Eucharist its greatness, saving the individual community from closing in upon itself and opening it toward the assembly of the angels and saints in the heavenly city. We are not alone in our worship at Mass. All of the saints and angels join with us in Mass.” (Zenit interview)

The whole point of facing east is to emphasize the essential character of the liturgy: that of a procession out of time and into eternity in Heaven. The priest, standing in the person of Christ, leads the way, but we are all moving together, as a community and as the people of God, as part of the same procession that begins at the Introit, continues through the Offertory, and culminates with our reception of Holy Communion.

An example of this is how the military sends forth a general to lead his army into battle. The people appoint someone that is trained to go forward and lead the faithful (the Church Militant) toward their goal.

The main principle of Christian worship is the dialogue between the people of God as a whole, including the celebrant, and God, to whom their prayer is addressed.
French liturgist Marcel Metzger argues that the phrases "facing the people" and "back to the people" exclude the One to whom all prayer is directed, namely God.

In the document of the second Vatican council, Eucharisticum Mysterium (May, 1967) the expression “active participation” is discussed. Since then, many have maintained that this "active participation" by the faithful demanded celebration toward the people.

Recent critical reflection on the concept of "active participation" has revealed the need for a theological renewal of this important principle. In his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy," then Cardinal Ratzinger drew a useful distinction between participation in the Liturgy of the Word, which includes external actions, and participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where external actions are quite secondary, since the interior participation of prayer is the heart of the matter.

The practice of ad orientem offers a psychological and spiritual benefit as well. It permits the worshipper to contemplate the purely sacramental character of the Mass and focus less on the personality of the celebrant. From the celebrant's point of view, it permits a more intense focus on the mystery of the sacrifice taking place rather than on the personalities of the worshippers.


I think there is great aesthetic beauty when the priest says Mass facing the Lord. Everything comes together up at the altar: the beautiful backs of the vestments used as a living iconostasis; the elevation of the Host in front of the crucifix, calling to mind the sacrifice of Christ; the unity of the priest, servers and entire congregation praying and orienting themselves towards the mystery being accomplished on the altar.

The priest acts as a living iconostasis. The back of his vestments are even covered in icons. His vestments are those icons that the Eastern Church has on their walls. He serves as a living wall, he serves as that iconostasis between congregation and God. (To read more on revelation and iconostasis go to another of my posts HERE.)

The combination of all of these elements makes the experience something transcendent – takes our attention from the face of the priest, and refocuses it on the sacrifice of Christ. This reminds us that the Mass is not about the priest or his “performance,” but about Jesus’ offering of Himself to God the Father. The point of liturgy is to create an encounter with mystery. If liturgy doesn’t do that, it has failed.



I ask for your forgiveness in making such a long and drawn out post. But this is something very important. It’s a piece of our Liturgy that many parishes are missing. I have witnessed the transcendence of ad orientem worship personally in the Mass, in both Ordinary and Extraordinary forms (both the "old" and "new" Masses). It is something that changes the entire tone of the whole Mass. I don’t think we can understand its role, importance, and beauty in the Mass until we experience it. When one does, however, one must experience it by setting aside all personal “bug-a-boo’s” and “issues.” One needs to take a deep breath and focus on the fact that the Mass ISN’T ABOUT US- it’s about GOD!

No one can sum it up better than Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI:

“The Lord is the point of reverence and reference. He is the rising sun of history. That is why there could be a cross of the passion, which represents the suffering of the lord who for us let his side be pierced, as well as a cross triumphant, which expresses the idea of the second coming and guides our eyes toward it. For it is always the one Lord: Christ yesterday, today and forever.” (Spirit, p. 84)

For any more reading on this topic please read the two books I have been quoting throughout this post:

Spirit of the Liturgy” by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Turning Towards the Lord” by Fr. Uwe Lang

(Thanks to Fr. Doctor for the great pictures of the stained glass windows!!)

Holy Father Falls

I'm sure many of you already know this ...

The Holy Father fell and broke his wrist and has had some surgery. It sounds as if the Holy Father’s fracture wasn’t that bad… He went to the hospital the next morning after he said Mass and ate breakfast. There he found out he had a slight fracture to his wrist and would have to have surgery. He was on vacation too!!! Poor guy!



Please pray for the Holy Father and his swift recovery!



Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Visit to St. John Cantius

Last Wednesday my family took me on a day trip to Chicago to visit St. John Cantius Parish run by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, for my birthday. It was truly amazing, breathtaking, and overwhelming.

We arrived there just after vespers; entering into this beautiful church to the sound of about twelve men singing the prayers of the church.

Afterwards they all left for dinner, and our family stayed to take a look around. We got a chance to meet briefly with the Pastor of the parish and Superior of the order, Fr. Phillips, until he left to eat.

The church is such a testament to what their order's mission is: to bring back the sacred in every aspect of our Liturgy. The place is just gorgeous. It contains many different pieces rescued from closing churches and parishes throughout Europe- including a "pieta" from Bavaria and statues of Padre Pio, St. Therese, and so much more.

After we had a look around (the church was empty while we were there) we sat in the first few rows of pews to pray. I picked a row off by myself, and my parents gave me some extra time to go and pray by myself.

At this point I was feeling very overwhelmed. The thought of being colleagues with these men, and possibly spending the rest of my life here was too much. I felt so tiny and insignificant compared to the church and the order. How could I be worthy enough to stay there? I asked God to give me some sort of sign or something to make me not feel so overwhelmed.

When I was done praying we went back to the car to relax a little before Mass (which was in only half an hour). Then we came back in for Mass. On our way in we met a priest who heard from Fr. Phillips that we were from Michigan; he talked to us and my dad told him why we came to visit.

The priest immediately took me for a tour in the sacristy to show me all of the vestments and sacred vessels stored there. We entered into this giant room to the left of the altar and the room is just filled from floor to ceiling with wooden shelves and closets holding vestments of all sorts. He showed me beautiful sets of vestments from Italy and Poland that are over a hundred years old, with beautiful lace and gold details. He showed me the chalices and ciboriums held in a special shelf and we met another priest setting vestments out for Mass (low Tridentine Mass).

Then he took me to a small door that led behind the altar. There was a small dark hallway that led right behind the tabernacle. The tabernacle is double sided and opens up into this hallway where any priest can come and get Holy Communion and go on a sick call, or whatever the circumstance is, while Mass is being celebrated. There is also a flip up table back by the tabernacle and the priest joked that if anyone were to attack Chicago they could still say Mass back there in secret. =D

We kept following the hallway into another sacristy that had even more closets and shelves holding more vestments, surplices and cassocks (but not as nice as the ones in the first room). Then afterwards we talked a little bit and I told him how I was interested in the order. He talked to me a little bit about it, and then I left because he had to go prepare for Mass (he was serving).

While I was back out praying in the pews before Mass, Fr. Phillips came over to me and talked to me, asking me about my interest in the order and telling me that if I ever want to take a "vocational visit" I should just contact him and he'll work it out. Not much more I could ask for than that!

If I thought getting a tour of the sacristy and meeting talking to Fr. Phillips were the only signs from God that I was going to get that day, I was wrong!

Two minutes later Fr. Phillips came back out and thumped me on my shoulder (I was praying with my hands over my face so I didn't see him coming). He had a book that was just released showing and explaining the art and architecture of St. John Cantius. He handed it to me with a smile and said, "Now don't say I never gave you nuthin' on your birthday!"



The Mass was beautiful. The most beautiful Tridentine Mass I've ever been to. I didn't want it to end. It is something that cannot be described, but has to be experienced and lived. Something I wish to share with every person I come into contact with, but few seek or even know this feeling. The feeling I'm talking about is Love. It is God.

Whether I will join the order or not, I leave the whole experience and visit all up to God.

His will be done.



Monday, July 13, 2009

St. John Cantius!!


Tomorrow my family is taking me to St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago! We are going to attend Tridentine Mass at 7:30 (after a dinner at Giordano's! ;D) and visit the seminary there. I'm really excited! I've heard of this order before, but I never really looked into them...

Now that I have looked into them, and are going to visit them, I find the religious community VERY appealing!! The parish is run by the Canons Regular of St. John Catius. They are something that I'm looking into entering. My dad also knows Fr. Phillips, the Superior there.

They look wonderful! The priests and brothers of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius serve in parishes and help Catholics to rediscover a profound sense of the Sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art and music, as well as instruction in the heritage of the Church, catechetics and Catholic culture.

You can find the Canons website here at... http://www.canons-regular.org/

I don't know too much about them, except what I've read on their website. Do any of you have any comments about them, and info?

Here is an overview of the order from their website written by Fr. Dennis Kolenski SJC;


One of the guiding principles for canons regular is the common life, which finds its inspiration in the common life of the early Church described in the Acts of the Apostles: “Before all else, live together in harmony, being of one mind and one heart on the way to God. For is it not precisely for this reason that you have come to live together?” Canons, originally groups of clerics gathered around a local bishop, were an ancient phenomenon and theirs is the oldest form of clerical religious life in the West. St. Augustine was the first to do this, and in order to help his clergy, who lived the common life together with him, he wrote a Rule of Life for them to follow.

Another element that is essential to this type of religious life is the clerical state of life. Although some communities of canons regular include religious brothers, the majority of its members are normally destined for the priesthood in fulfillment of the Church’s duty to give praise to God through liturgy, which is central to the concept of a priestly vocation in the Church. And although religious brothers cannot serve at the altar as priests do, the liturgy is also central to their vocation, which they fulfill by means of other non-sacerdotal roles in the sanctuary. Therefore, because the spiritual life of canons regular centers on the service of the sanctuary in the solemn celebration of the Mass and the Divine Office, the solemnity and liturgical splendor of their service in the sanctuary was especially important for them.

In keeping with the tradition of canons regular, which have their roots in the earliest centuries of the Church, the spirituality of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius is therefore essentially liturgical by means of the solemn celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office in the full richness of the Church’s liturgical heritage. For us, these two official liturgies of the Church are the perfect fulfillment of the church’s unceasing obligation of praise due to our God who is the source of all life. They are the center of our spirituality and religious life by being for us the primary means by which we are daily drawn closer to God. An essential aspect of this liturgical apostolate of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius is the celebration of the Church’s liturgies in conformity and faithfulness to Her directives, as well as in their full richness as found in the Church’s liturgical tradition.

In a broader sense, the mission of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius is to help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art and sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechesis and Catholic culture in the context of parish ministry. Because the Eucharistic Sacrifice “is the summit and the source of all Christian worship and life,” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 897) members of the Canons Regular order their own lives, as well as their pastoral work, above all to the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours and the sacraments—the primary sources of life and grace within the Church. The sacrament of Penance plays an especially prominent role in the pastoral ministry of the Canons as a rich source of grace, particularly for those approaching the Eucharist (from the Constitutions of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius).

The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius feel that the call to holiness is addressed to all people in all ages. It is a radical call to not only follow Christ in His teachings but also to follow His example—to “be holy as [He] is holy.” They answer this call and seek personal sanctity by imitating Christ in radical opposition to the values of this world. They wish to Restore the Sacred in the Church, in the world and in their own lives in pursuit not only of their own sanctification, but also the salvation and sanctification of all. They desire to be faithful to the call they have received from God to “Restore the Sacred” and seek to nurture a continuing renewal of the Christian life as fed by the mysteries of the liturgical patrimony of the Church (from the Constitutions of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius).



Wonderful! I'm excited to visit! I'm going to be camping after my visit so I won't be home until Saturday. But when I do get home I will be sure to write about my visit and impressions.

I think next summer I will attend a "Vocational Visit" there for several days!!!

Rather than attend a vocational retreat, young men visit the community and participate in the “restoration of the sacred” by praying and working with the members of the Canons Regular according to the daily schedule.

During this “Vocational Visit,” applicants meet with the Superior to ask questions and learn more about the community, its formation, charism and apostolate.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do We Really Believe?

Do we really believe that what we consume and what some handle at Mass is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? If so, then why do we approach it with such an informal manner and even touch the species and consecrated vessels that contain God without any sort of reverence or knowledge of what we are doing?

_____________________________________________________


The Sacred Species or Sacred Vessels are not to be touched by anything that isn't consecrated, including the lay people. We are not priests!!

That is the whole purpose of having a priest in the first place! We put forth a trained and ordained man, to go before God and act in persona christi consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.



The priest's hands were consecrated at his ordination Mass, allowing him to touch and hold the Sacred Species and Vessels. We, as lay people, are not consecrated to do such tasks. So then comes the question, "Why do we receive Jesus in our hands?" The answer is, we shouldn't.

Some are thinking, "well, our tongue isn't consecrated either, so it doesn't matter what we receive from." But this has an explanation! (I love being Catholic) In the old rite, at a child's' baptism, the priest would exorcise salt, and put it on the infant's tongue, thus consecrating the communicant's tongue so that it could receive Holy Communion. Sadly, we've done away with this tradition.

Not only are we not consecrated to hold the Sacred Species and Vessels, but it is also impractical (clunky) and disruptive to receive in the hands. People don't take reverence in what they are receiving, when they see the physical actions of walking up the aisle, and putting their hands out like they are entitled to receive something (Do we really believe?). Some communicants even go to an extent of putting out only one hand, or don't pay attention, and fumble around with the Host, and almost (and in some cases) dropping it.

There has also been an increase in the Host being stolen, to be sold, or desecrated, since receiving in the hands was allowed. I'm not blaming the desecration entirely on receiving in the hands, but it is a major contributor to that act. Instead of people being physically oriented (educated or not--- which is the faithful's responsibility, whether it be privately, or contacting your priest) to receive our Lord and having the priest put Him where He needs to be, and not have the chance of something sacrilegious occurring, we put ourselves in a position for spiritual failure.


One point from my own observation as a altar server is that in using the Paten, it is hard to catch or prevent dropping the Host, when people are fiddling around with it in their hands. Part of this is due to the faithful's orientation when receiving. If one were kneeling, and receiving on the tongue, then there would be NO question as to where the Host was going, and prevent the Host from being dropped as often. There should be no question or worry about where the Host is to be or how it is to be handled at all times. But I digress...

Another issue is lay men and women touching the Sacred Vessels, whether it be in the role of Eucharistic Ministers, or in removing the Vessels, uncleaned, from the altar. In both cases of Eucharistic ministers distributing and cleaning the vessels it becomes a more serious issue.

The lay take it upon themselves to touch (with their unconsecrated hands) Jesus, and distribute Him to the faithful, as if they were ordained. This is where one would see how priests lose focus in the meaning of their role. If any Joe-schmo can walk up on the altar and handle Jesus, then what is the purpose of a priest? It becomes confusing for the priest to know where his role is in the Mass...-- This is one reason why I feel that deacons (permanent) are very important to the Mass. They can help distribute Communion in place of lay men and women if done correctly and appropriately.

(And if you really think about it, it wouldn't take that long for a priest and deacon to distribute communion-- if it did take a longer period of time, isn't it worth it to take that time in distributing our Lord in a worthy and exact manner?)

Not only is touching the Host an issue, but also touching the Sacred Vessels before, during and after cleaning is an issue. Every fragment of the Host and Precious Blood is 100% God in all of His divinity. This not only gives a reason as to why receiving in the hands is discouraged--because, if you do, you will have thousands of tiny particles on your hands, going wherever your hands touch-- but also touching the sacred vessels, which contain our Lord. Who are we as lay men and women to touch the very consecrated objects which carry God?

It just isn't our place.

Rather it is the place of the clergy. The priest and deacon (if serving at Mass) should be the ones who handle the Sacred Vessels and clean them properly and accordingly. The priest is the one ordained to clean those vessels, and to remove the fragments from them. He is the one ordained to do such, and no one will question whether they have been taken care of properly.


The priest will then wash his hands afterwards to remove all fragments of the Host. That is why we see priests keeping their index fingers and thumbs together after the consecration. This way no pieces of fragments fall. Each of these tiny microscopic fragments are 100% of Jesus's soul and divinity. If we really believe that, then we won't let it fall or be handled improperly.


This is MY opinion. It is what is most respectful to our Lord, Jesus Christ.



To Jesus hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament;
Saint Faustina Kowalska


"I adore You, Lord and Creator, hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I adore You for all the works of Your hands, that reveal to me so much wisdom, goodness and mercy, O Lord.

You have spread so much beauty over the earth and it tells me about Your beauty, even though these beautiful things are but a faint reflection of You, incomprehensible Beauty.

And although You have hidden Yourself and concealed your beauty, my eye, enlightened by faith, reaches You and my souls recognizes its Creator, its Highest Good, and my heart is completely immersed in prayer of adoration."

Father's Homily

Here is a copy of Father's Homily from last weekend. I missed the Mass because we were in Grand Rapids. We went to a Tridentine Mass at Sacred Heart Parish. It is wonderful and beautiful! Anyways, I love this homily. A sample of what's to come. Enjoy!!!

Homily: 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

How well do we suffer?
How well do we handle disappointment or pain?
How do we act when we don’t get our way?
What would we do if everyone we knew was gone?
What would we do if everything we owned was taken from us
and we were imprisoned or enslaved?
How would we survive?

How well would we handle the situation
if everything we thought we deserved,
everything we had - everyone we loved - was taken from us…

Throughout the centuries this is how Christians
have been treated for believing in Christ
and practicing their faith…
Throughout the 2000 years of Church history
those pages have become red-
stained with the blood of the martyrs…

Do we think our faith is strong enough that when everything is gone…
everyone taken from us and we are questioned…
“Deny Christ!!!” “Deny your belief in this fake God or die!!”
what would be our answer?

Or maybe it won’t be so traumatic.
Maybe it will be something small,
almost unnoticeable…
a little whisper…a little temptation;
Something small – a little sin
chosen time and time again
until it becomes a habit-
it becomes something we cannot live without
and then we begin to choose our own wants and desires
over a relationship with an infinite God.

God is quite scary in the first reading,
and we don’t like to think of him this way.
We want God to be loving and kind, and He is…
But He is also just and “no one to be playing with”…
we don’t like when God acts this way.

God is sending Ezekiel to a “rebellious house” as he called it…
Rebellious – disobedient – resistant…
but Ezekiel is not told by God
“Oh, don’t worry – they won’t listen so you don’t have to go to them.”

That is the politically correct God we wished existed!
The false God who wants us to stand for nothing
and be stupid enough to fall for everything.

But the true God will show his power through this young weak prophet-
a power so amazing that the people will know
that a prophet is among them because
God is not with the strong.
He is not a part of this culture or the world
or with those who are powerful and prideful;
but as St. Paul says
he chooses the weak to make them strong.

It is not easy being a Catholic
in this culture, in this society,
in this day and age
and it is only going to get harder.

The world with its addiction to sin and vice is unquenchable
and this will only pull our American culture
into a living culture of death.

We as Catholics with the guidance of our Holy Father and Bishops
will have to make a choice-
What are we going to stand for?
And what are we going to stand against?

Because we can choose to be strong in our faith and
win a crown of glory like the saints and martyrs of old….
or we can sell-out and backslide our way into hell.

No one said it was going to be easy--
we believe in a God who was crucified;

The symbol of our faith is a man dead on a cross…

And as Wesley says to Princess Buttercup
in the movie, The Princess Bride:
“Life is pain, princess…and if anyone tells you different…
they are trying to sell you something.”

What have we been buying that has convinced us that:
Life is easy; its a party!
Salvation is simple…
Being a person of good character – virtuous - takes no effort…
Being holy is a piece of cake?

Well, if that is true….why aren’t we all saints?
Because the fact remains that it is hard and painful to be a good Catholic.
It is hard to have to learn new ways of thinking--
it is hard to be pulled and stretched into a conversion of heart.
It is hard to be obedient,
but we are called to be faithful-- not successful.

Being obedient and faithful isn’t silly or childish.
Being obedient is a choice.
Our culture teaches us that being faithful - being obedient
is a sign of weakness;
to be obedient is an insult to our freedoms,
a constraint on our freewill. We have rights!!

But St. Paul answers for us…
“I am content – with weakness, insults, hardship,
persecutions and constraints – for the sake of Christ.
FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG.”

We do it for Christ – it is an act of love…
I am not forced - I am truly free…
and I choose Christ - I choose his Church…
I choose to be obedient to the Pope, and my Bishop…
I choose to follow the moral teachings of the Church…
I choose to follow the liturgical norms,
and I am not weak in my act when I choose these, for
to be a faithful Catholic takes courage--
it is not for the fainthearted.

It is in the very act of choosing my faith,
it is in that action that I am strong
because I willingly suffer whatever may come for Christ!!

And there is no greater power than this.

This is why weakness, insults, hardships,
persecutions and constraints and even martyrdom
have no effect on the courageous Christian…
As soldiers of God they know that the one they serve can make them strong.

We do it for Christ!!!
Yes it is hard - but we do it anyway
and we offer it up because in the end we know that it will make all the difference--
because God’s grace is sufficient for us

“There is enough grace to make us all saints…!!”

We have been called to holiness--
we need to respond to that call from God.

In the gospel today, Jesus was amazed
at the lack of faith of those who were members of His extended family…

As members of His body let Him not be amazed at ours.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Precious Blood of Christ

July is a month that has been especially dedicated to our devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ. The traditional Roman calender states that the first Sunday of July is the feast of the Precious Blood. Let us take some time each day to reflect and meditate on the wounds suffered for our salvation by Christ.




"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Prayer Request:

Yesterday evening my dad slipped on some wet grass on the side of a hill and hurt his ankle very badly (an ankle he has had problems with since college). He went to get it checked out this morning, after enduring much pain and no sleep last night. Although it hurts him terribly, I know he is offering his pain to God. He doesn't utter a complaint about it. I only know it hurts him so badly because my mom gets it out of him. =D

He isn't back yet, so I will update you with his condition later. Would you please pray for him in the mean time?

Thank you.

Update:

He tore a ligament in his left ankle. He's on crutches, and will be off his foot for a week or two, whenever it stops hurting. Thank God it wasn't broken!!

Reform and Renewal

I was reading Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel's book, "The Reform of Renewal." In it he talks about how there is a clear and unequivocal call for personal reform as the basis of authentic renewal in society and in the Church, rooted in several different sources. It is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.

Anyways, I was reading it, and I came across a wonderful section I want to share with you. It explains why most of the Vatican II issues took place all in one paragraph.

"Consider the extreme confusion of our time and the scandal and discord in the Church. Consider the decline in piety and religious devotion. Recall that in our country the gap between rich and poor becomes wider everyday, and the number of people falling into the underclass increases. When we consider all of this, it is time to admit that we live in days that desperately need repentance. The word renewal has been used for the last twenty (wrote this in 1990, so since 1965 it will be 44 years). It is a good word. In the Pauline context it means to return to the power of the holy Spirit and let Him make us new again. But before that renewal can happen, reform is necessary. True spiritual renewal is not simply cultural or educational. It is not simply restating truths to make them compatible with a new age. True renewal is above all a return to God. It is a daily, ongoing repentance, an attempt to accept the the Good News in all its unthinkable and incomprehensible grandeur and to pick oneself up and try to respond to that call. Renewal without reform is spiritually devastating."

This is perfect! It shows completely what people were and are missing in this "Age of Renewal!" One cannot have renewal if one doesn't have reform. Isn't that exactly what Vatican II set itself up to do? Now, I'm not condemning Vatican II. It was, I believe, a good and holy thing that happened and many goods have come out of it. I'm just saying that over the course of all that happened during that time period, we missed a central key.

Everyone set out to "renew" the Mass (this same situation happened in many parts of our country and society as well). This renewal happened under no basis of reform. So thus it has crumbled beneath us, and has been spiritually devastating to many people.

Now, here we are with a lacking number of religious piety, reverence, good moral ethics, catechises and clergy. With the Church's numbers dwindling, we ask ourselves "why?"; because we have fallen into a secular position. In both moral, political, and liturgical matters. It is very easy to fall away from the true teachings of the faith, and make them fit our lives and this world when we have no immediate pressure or threat to turn us to our faith. We become "fat, happy, and lazy" catholics when "all's good."

What we need to remember is that we must always be in the form of reform then renewal. The church is constantly in that state because the world is counter to it, to us. So we too must renew our hearts to God, and repent. We as catholics, keep our eyes fixed on the second coming of Christ. We should be in a constant state of reform, and renewal from our repentance, because isn't that what repentance is? It's the renewal and reform of oneself to follow God and His will more closely.

But this is something that begins with the individual first. Then it will spread to the Church as a whole. There is reform happening, one that will help this "age of renewal" go in the right direction. One that is very good and derives from the grace of God. What a time to be living in.