Friday, July 31, 2009
Check back in soon and I'll have more posts up!! (Like Saturday or Sunday! =D)
Thank you for your patience!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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.)
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
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.
Rev. C. Frank Phillips, C.R., Superior
The Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius
--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
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
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?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
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
Any other suggestions for me to add on there??
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.)
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
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
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.
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
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.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
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."
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,
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
Sunday, July 5, 2009
He isn't back yet, so I will update you with his condition later. Would you please pray for him in the mean time?
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!!
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.