Saturday, April 17, 2010

Meeting Fr. Fessio

Last night I had the privilege of going to a lecture by Fr. Joseph Fessio held in Newman's Bookstore, in Downtown Kalamazoo.

Fr. Fessio's lecture was over the recent accusations against the Pope, along with an overview of his relationship with the Pope, and the Pope's book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy." He discussed aspects of the book such as: the need for the "reform of the reform," Ad Orientem worship, translations, and other various topics.

"The Spirit of the Liturgy" is an amazing book; one of the best books ever produced in dealing with the importance and the different aspects of the Mass. If you do not own a copy, I strongly urge you to obtain one. I have already read this book twice and will still refer back to it in my studies and writings.

For those of you who do not know of him, Fr. Fessio grew up in California and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1961. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga University, along with a M.A. in Theology (which he received in his studies in France). He was ordained on June 10, 1972.

In 1975 he earned his doctorate in Theology from the University of Regensburg, West Germany. His thesis director was Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI (with whom he has remained close friends with).

Fr. Fessio has taught at many different colleges and also had his share in founding many colleges and other programs. One of his biggest accomplishments was made in 1978 when he founded Ignatius Press. Ignatius press is one of the world's largest publishers of catholic books and articles.

Fr. Fessio is a very outspoken, and intelligent priest who holds the Mass very dear to his heart as his mentor and friend, Cardinal Ratzinger, has.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photos from Holy Week at St. Mary's Kalamazoo

Holy Thursday
The Holy Thursday Mass was celebrated by Fr. David Grondz, the associate pastor of St. Mary's Church and was concelebrated by Fr. Robert Sirico, the pastor of St. Mary's. The Mandatum (washing of the feet) took place after the homily. The Blessed Sacrament was taken, in procession, to the Altar of Repose at the conclusion of Mass. Then after the Mass the altar and sanctuary was stripped.

Good Friday

Fr. David Grondz said the service of our Lord's Passion. The congregation participated in the Veneration of the Cross, and some relics were put on display for veneration by the faithful afterwards.

Easter Vigil

Fr. Robert Sirico celebrated the Mass of the Paschal Vigil. The service began with the blessing of the Easter Fire out in front of the Church then a procession lead into the Church for Mass.

Throughout the triduum Mass was said Ad Orientem with Latin chant sung in various places of the Mass by a full choir. Fr. Sirico and Fr. Grondz celebrated the Masses along with eighteen (plus) servers (one cross bearer, two acolytes, one/two thurifers, one boat bearer, one M.C., six torches, and the rest in choir). Fr. Sirico said a High Tridentine Mass on Easter Day.

I am sorry to say that I do not have any more pictures of the triduum. Being that I served at all of the Masses I was not able to take any more pictures of the liturgies myself (those photos above I did not take). All of the Masses were beautiful and carried out with extreme reverence and piety towards the Blessed Sacrament.

Holy Week at SJC

Here are some photos of Holy Week from the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago Illinois who have also made a wonderful photo gallery of all of 2010 HolyWeek on their parish website.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Commiting Ourselves to God Amongst Our Sufferings

Now is the time in which we will have to prove our devotion to God, and trust in him. This suffering and dark valley that we may be amongst is for God's sake and of his will. Men of this time should embrace God, cling to Him, and trust in His just will.

God is love. Deus Caritas Est. So if God is love, and all that happens to us is of God, then all that happens to us is out of God's love for us. We may not be able to see His intention or purpose of His love for us in the middle of our uncertainty and sufferings, but in the end, "after we fail in the eyes of men and are wasted with sufferings and weakness, we will rise with Thee O God in the dawn of the new light, and be glorified in heavenly places." (Kempis 154).

We are not of the world. We are of another world, Heaven. So it is only fitting that we do not go through this world with complete happiness and ease. "Our souls aren't at rest until they rest in thee O God." It is for this reason that we should suffer and be troubled in the world for the sake of God's love, how often soever, and by whomever.

It is good for us that we be in trouble, and that we learn God's statues, and that He may cast away all pride of heart in us. It is profitable for us that confusion and darkness has covered our faces, that we may seek God for consolation rather than men.

This habit of embracing the Now and glorifying God through His demands is an act of our loving will. We do not need to know God's plan in order to accept it. We can be cured by a medicine without knowing its prescription or its ingredients. just our will to be resigned to Him and to suffering for Him will give us a far greater understanding of theology than anything else.

"Some souls will gain peace and sanctity from the same trials that make others rebels and nervous wrecks." (Fulton Sheen)

Neither the devil nor God can take our will. We are absolute owners in deciding whether we offer our will to ourselves or to God. Our will, operating under our own power, may be busy doing many things, but in the end they amount to nothing. But our will operating under God's will and power can amount to such great things we cannot even conceive until we reach heaven.

If we follow completely in God's will we should be able to escape from the accidents that caused us pain and anger. Our life will be carried out in accordance to God's will. No longer will things "Not go according to our plan." People of God's will utter no complaint; whatever comes along.

In God's divinity, there is nothing accidental. There is, instead, the meeting of a divine will and the offering of our own to God. In this, we become content, because we know that God knows what is best for us, and our family. So then the bitter and the sweet, the joys and the sorrows or each and every moment are viewed as sacred.

"Only God changes things for the better. But He does this through us if we give Him the opportunity to use us. There is no limit to how much God gives us except that which we put before ourselves." (Groeschel).

This entire process and complete trust in God is the center behind the entire meaning and purpose of life. It is a mentality and challenge that mankind has been grappling at since the dawn of Adam. It encircles every aspect of our actions, thoughts, deeds, way of life, and spirit into one, big, eternal battle for our soul.

We should be glad at the sufferings and trials that God has bestowed upon us. We should embrace these sufferings with open and loving hearts;! For they are sent to us from God, so that His will be done. Each suffering and temporary dryness or blindness to the future is from God, and contains His love for us. So why is it that we would approach such sufferings with despair and gloom?

Because we are human.

There lies the eternal conflict. To see God in everything, including our sufferings (maybe not at first, but to have faith in Him) is to die to ourselves; so that He may increase in us.

We must say, "Thanks be to you God! Because thou hast not spared my sins, but hast beaten me with stripes of love, inflicting pains, and sending troubles upon me and within. So that I may be sanctified to enter your heavenly kingdom," (Kempis 155). See the parallel to Jesus' suffering and death on behalf of mankind? We too must take up our cross and be purged.

But we must stay strong, for if we lack faith surely the fires of Hell will swallow us whole, and from there there is no means of escape. Have faith in God; He will provide. Our only job is to live each day in fullness of Him, and to bear our daily sufferings in accordance to His will.

God will always meet our needs (see Mathew 6:25-34). He will never give us anything we can't handle, or anything that is bad for us. All spiritual, or even secular setbacks and trials that He bestowed upon us are for the ultimate good. The real trial is not in overcoming those setbacks but in whether or not we kept faith in Him through those and remain to.

We should not fear. We should not hide and lay worried and afraid of what's to come.

God will provide.

All we need to do is to keep focused on Him, and remain faithful to His will.

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. (Merton)

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Earlier Post

When we see crowds of people rushing into theaters, charging into their local bars, or seeking new thrills, we see that they have not yet found happiness, otherwise they would not be looking for it.

The fact that we can think of a greater happiness than we posses now is proof that we are not happy. If we were perfect we would be happy all the time. At one time or another in our lives we have tried to obtain what would make us happy, but when we get it, are we happy?

Remember how we look forward to a vacation or Christmas, and we thought about how great a time it was going to be and how happy we were going to be? But then as our vacation ended, or we are falling asleep in our beds after Christmas day, we feel that somehow or other it did not meet our expectations.

We want to be perfectly happy, but we are not. Our lives have been a series of disappointments, shocks, trials, sufferings, and disillusions. The real question lies in how we reacted to our disappointments; either we became cynical, or religious.

If we decide to become cynical, we decide that, since life is a snare and a delusion, we ought to get as much thrill and fun out of it as possible! In a case such this we grab at any excitement we see, making our lives a consistent search for a "good time." This would be the right attitude if we were just an animal. But we have a soul as well as a body. So there are joys in life as well as pleasures.

There is a world of difference between these two. Pleasure is of the body; while joy is of the mind and heart. One can become quickly tired of pleasures, but you can never tire of joys. A pleasure can keep building until it reaches a point where it stops being pleasure it may even begin to cause pain if carried beyond a certain point. Therefore, if we live focused on pleasure we are missing the joys of life.

Have you noticed that as our desire for pleasure increases, the satisfaction from the pleasure decreases? The drug addict, to have equal pleasure from his drugs, must increase his dose or kind of drug. Otherwise the thrill runs off. Any addict deals with this. You keep searching for the next big thing because the pleasure of the last wore off.

On the other hand, one will react to disappointments in a religious manner. If we see that we haven't found the happiness we are looking for we come to the conclusion that, "If we want happiness, we must have been made for happiness." We realize that we have been looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. Therefore we look for happiness somewhere else, in God.

If our philosophy is always to have a "good time," we have already learned long ago that we will never really have a "good time," because we are always in the pursuit of happiness without ever capturing it. We will spend our whole lives searching for happiness, and what ends up happening is that we go through life without noticing how happy we could be if we look to God for our happiness. "We turn the pages of life, without ever reading the book." --Fulton Sheen.

This is why those who live for pleasure become cynical. They blame things, rather than their self, and they end up chasing mirages until death overtakes them.

Our whole lives will be disordered and miserable if we base them on the principal of always having a good time, simply because happiness is an end product, not a goal. One should not seek happiness, but rather seek good and happiness will come as a result. From all of this comes the question; "Why am I disappointed and unhappy?" The reason for this is simple; because we have such a large unbalance between our desires and our realizations.For example, one would look forward to some earthly pleasure, or position, but once they attain it, they begin to feel the large unbalance between the idea they desired and the reality of what actually happened. This causes disappointment. The more material and earthly our goals are the more disappointment follows; the more spiritual and "God-centered" our goals are the less disappointment there is. That is why, if we devote our lives to God and His will we can ultimately find happiness in everything.

Certainly we would never want this perfect life, perfect Truth, perfect Love unless it existed. The very thought that we enjoy these things to the best of our abilities means there must be a place where we can enjoy these things in complete happiness. That's heaven! Would there be an eye if there was no beauty to behold? Then would there be a craving for unending life, perfect Truth, and ecstatic love unless perfect Life and Truth and Love existed?

In other words, we are made for God. Nothing short of the infinite satisfies us, and to be asked to satisfy with anything less would be to destroy us. That's why there is a heaven!While we are on earth, we dream of heaven; we are creatures of time, and we despise it. We are constantly looking for the source of Life, Truth, and Love, and that something is God; and the times when we have been disappointed are when we have lost sight of Him!

It is God that we are looking for. Our unhappiness is not due to our want of a fortune, or a high position, or fame; it is not due to a want of something outside of us, but rather a want inside of us. We are made for perfect happiness. That is our purpose. No wonder everything short of God disappoints us!

But have you noticed that when you realize you were made for perfect happiness, how much less disappointing the pleasures of earth become? Once we realize that God is our end, we are no long disappointed! "This causes us to see that friendship, the joys of marriage, the sunset and the stars, masterpieces of art and music are all gifts from God! He dropped them into our life to remind us that these things beautiful. It is a small foretaste of His eternal kingdom in heaven!"

Life is not filled with disappointments- unless you expect more than what you have at that very moment. Disappointments are merely parts of life saying: "Perfect Happiness is not here." Every disillusionment, every destroyed earthly hope, every frustrated human desire points to God. Though our passions may be satisfied by things of this world, we are never satisfied until we are at peace with our One True God in His eternal Kingdom.

St. Mary's Altar of Repose

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia!

Rejoice heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God,
the all powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our Passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace
and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed
when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.