Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Joe Eszterhas, who wrote the memorable screenplays for Showgirls and Basic Instinct among others, has returned to his Catholic faith. Listen to an interview with him on NPR. He has a book out titled Crossbearer, and he has a new screenplay written about the life of St. Paul.
[H/T: Eric Pavlat @ Inside Catholic]
Monday, September 29, 2008
While I missed Mass (I had a late dinner and was finishing a Jolly Rancher as I pulled into the parking lot, anyway), I arrived just in time for the Agnus Dei. After it was done, I entered the nave and knelt behind the last pew as he held aloft the Lamb of God. After he had consumed the Host, it was a blessing to see the reverence with which he collected the particles from the paten into the Chalice. Once the congregation arose to receive Communion, I arose and went downstairs (to the parish hall, where the presentation would be).
I love the witness which priests and religious give by their very attire. Wearing his white habit with deluxe over-sized Rosary ;) is like walking with a cross on one's back, hunched over not in shame but in humility, not in pride but boasting in our Lord. Branson, a candidate in the RCIA program (for whom I am sponsor) asked me about the enormous wooden Rosary around his waist. The answer I gave -- and if I'm wrong about this, someone, please correct me! -- was threefold. First, it is a visible sign to others of his faith. Second, it is a visible reminder to himself of his faith. Third, it is a more traditional and historical form of the Rosary, since the original prayer "beads" were actually knotted ropes of considerable size.
His presentation was phenomenal, and not only did I take notes on his content, I also have some points on his demeanor and candor. I'm giving a presentation this Advent on Eucharistic Adoration and its link to the Incarnation (and how Mary is our guide in Adoration... hmm, a magnificat link is there...), so knowing how to give a presentation from paper without sounding like I'm just reading an essay out loud is important. (If anyone reading has advice in this regard, I will be eternally grateful, God-willing.)
There were a few things he said -- so casually! -- that pass as something of a Shibboleth in my book. Once such thing was when he recalled the recent instruction from the Holy Father (by way of the CDWDS and the CDF) which directs us to refrain from pronouncing the tetragrammaton (YHWH, usually pronounced "Yahweh") in the liturgy. Although I've seen that instruction, and I know Bishop Serratelli has (and thus, I would hope, all the Bishops in the USCCB), I do not know how many priests have had this latest prudential decision of the Church passed on to them. It's refreshing to hear it.
My growing Scriptural awareness, my fledgling fascination with Latin, and my steady diet of Church documents came in handy. He asked a few questions throughout his talk, some of which I was able to answer. What is the etymology of "companion", he asked? Com = "with", panion > pan = "bread", said I. Is being Christian the result of an ethical choice, he asked? Prompting us to recall the first paragraph of the Holy Father's Deus Caritas est, I recalled that His Holiness wrote that being Christian is the result of an encounter with a Person, Jesus Christ. It's more than that, even: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." And among others, when he asked about Jesus repeating someone's name ("Saul, Saul...", Acts 9), I proffered "Martha, Martha" (from Luke 10:38ff); he responded with an anecdote concerning the manner in which Jesus might have said that name once, and then a second time: "Martha..." -- no response -- "MARTHA!"
Finally, Fr. Cameron is very personable, not like a celebrity or performer, but in a genuine way which cannot be rehearsed -- at least, I haven't been able to rehearse it successfully -- and is most certainly the result of grace. I know some priests who have this personable quality about them -- and not sound biased, but my brother and my pastor are two of them -- and God is truly glorified by their conduct both within and without the liturgy.
Stay tuned for my notes on the presentation. Things fell so beautifully into place.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.Learn more at The New Liturgical Movement (including proposals for a reintroduction of this ancient practice into the Roman Rite) and Fr. Z's blog, WDTPRS.
The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks were known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."
Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Since the reorganization of the Roman calendar in 1969 after the Second Vatican Council, Ember Days are still retained in principle, but how and when they are to be observed is at the discretion of each country's Episcopal Conference. There is no longer set Mass readings for the Ember Days.
Another harvest feast is September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Before the revision of the calendar, this used to be only the feast of St. Michael. In many countries this day was referred to as "Michaelmas" and is celebrated with traditional foods and customs.
By Jennifer Gregory Miller, 2003 (on CatholicCulture.org)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Imitating Christ’s Humility
In nomine Iesu omne genu flectatur caelestium et terrestrium et infernorum!
Download this study [MS Word, 53 k, 4pp]
Listen to the Gregorian chant Christus factus est, the Gradual for this coming Sunday; it is being sung by the schola of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary and can be found on the CD In Cena Domine: Gregorian Chants for the Vesperal Mass of Maundy Thursday, produced by the Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP).
Here are the words (in Latin, with English translation) and the music:
Also, here are my answers from the study:
- What does Paul mean by “being of the same mind” (v. 2)?
See Acts 4:32, 1 Cor. 1:10, 2 Cor. 13:11, Phil. 1:27, 4:2. “An appeal to share a common outlook on Christian living and a common vision for Christian unity. This ideal can become real only if humility and service take the place of pride and selfishness among them.” (ISB, CCC 2842)
- The phrase “a thing to be grasped” (v. 6) is the Greek word harpagamos; this is the only place in the Bible where this word is used (known as a hapax legomenon, which means “said only once”). The word in secular Greek sources refers to “robbery”. What does it mean here?
(1) Latin Fathers: “something seized”, Jesus didn’t have to aggressively acquire it, because it belonged to him by nature and right. (2) Greek Fathers: “something held fast”, Jesus didn’t cling to it because he could not lose it. (3) Others: “something to be seized that is not already possessed”, Jesus (as a man) did not try to be an equal to God. (4) Another: “something to be exploited for personal gain”, Jesus was not like the ambitious world rulers who believed they had divine dignity. (cf. ISB)
Consider Also Genesis 3 (Adam and Eve “grasping” for equality with God).
- How does the description of Jesus (vv. 6-8) relate to the attitude which Paul wishes the Philippians to have (vv. 2-4)? What is “the mind that was in Christ Jesus”? (v. 5)
Jesus emptied and humbled himself, being a servant to others, being obedient to God. We should think of the needs of others, being humble and not selfish, discerning the mind of God for us.
- What does the description of Jesus say about who and what he is?
He was “in the form of God” but “emptied himself”, “taking the form of a servant”, born “in the likeness of men”. He pre-existed creation. He was “in the form of God” before the Incarnation. See Col. 1:15-16, 2:9, and Heb. 1:2b-3a.
- What does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself” (v. 7)?
Kenosis means “empty out” or “render void”. He didn’t lose his divinity, but his glory was concealed by his flesh (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12). He accepted human restrictions and limitations (cf. Luke 2:52). (cf. CCC 472)
- Paul writes that God “bestowed on him the name which is above every name” (v. 9). What name is that?
Lord, which in Greek is kurios (“kyrie”). This was used to translate Adonai in the O.T., which is rendered as LORD in English. Adonai was used in place of YHWH, the “tetragrammaton”, which was how Yahweh (we think) was written by the Jews. Because Jesus is called “Lord”, this is a statement of his divinity, his unity and equality with God the Father.
Even further, “Lord” was the title that a secular ruler (like Caesar) would take for himself. But there is only one Lord, and that is Jesus. Only by the Holy Spirit can we confess that “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3). (cf. CCC 446-450)
- Here is what God said through Isaiah the prophet: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’” (Isaiah 45:22-23) What does it mean that Paul applies this oath to Christ (vv. 10-11)?
Paul is making Christ the center of this prophecy, making Jesus the divine Lord destined to be revered by all creation. There is no other God and no other Lord. (cf. IBS)
- What was God the Father able to teach us by example, through His Son Jesus?
Obedience. God can give us rules and tell us to follow them, but in God the Son we see God teaching us how to obey Him.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Facilitator: Jeff Pinyan
Topic: The Letters of St. Paul to Us
(from the Second Reading at Mass)
St. David the King Church
1 New Village Rd., Princeton Jct.
Wednesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Study Notes Available Here
For the next several months, we'll be taking a weekly look at the letters of St. Paul that are read at Mass the following Sunday. The theme will not be "The Letters of St. Paul to the So-and-So's". It will be "The Letters of St. Paul to Us". I think it's especially poignant for young adults, because we are a lot like the church communities that Paul was writing to. They were fledgling, they were struggling, they had questions about their faith, they had temptations on every side... and Paul had the right words for them then. There's no reason to think that he doesn't have the right words for us now.
I'll be posting the study guide on my blog every Tuesday.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Here's where I shill my own free online products: How about a thoroughly indexed and multi-functional search tool for the Catechism of the Catholic Church? How about a search tool for several dozen Magisterial (and a few non-Magisterial) Catholic documents? I also have a search tool for the NAB and the RSV. Last, but not least, a six-translation Scripture excerpt tool.
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It's a bit exhausting! Prayer would be greatly appreciated.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Te precor, Spiritus Sancte,
in corde meo es et labiis meis,
ut competenter digneque Verbum
quod intra prophetas apostolosque [praesertim N. et N.] inspiravit annuntiem,
ad glorificationem Dei et sanctificationem populi sui.
O Holy Spirit, I beg you:
be in my heart and upon my lips,
that I might worthily and fittingly proclaim
the Word which you placed within prophets and apostles,
unto the glorification of God and the sanctification of His people.
"O Holy Spirit" = Spiritus Sancte
"I beg you" = te precor
"be" = es
"in my heart and on my lips" = in corde meo et labiis meis
"that I might proclaim" = ut annuntiem
"fittingly" = competenter
"and worthily" = digneque
"the Word which" = Verbum quod
"you placed" = inspiravit
"within prophets and apostles" = intra prophetas et apostolos
"unto the glorification of God" = ad glorificationem Dei
"and the sanctification of His people" = et sanctificationem populi sui
Monday, September 15, 2008
Modern science clearly proves that human life begins at conception. At the moment when DNA from the mother and the father combine, a new, unique human being, who will develop continuously until death, is created. From then on, the early zygote functions as a human being. It has specifically human enzymes and proteins, and, over time, it develops complex human tissues and organs. After this genetic transfer, it can never develop into any other kind of being. Even as it develops through the process of pregnancy, the human nature of the zygote, embryo, fetus, or baby never changes. It is this nature that directs and causes the miraculous physical transformation that takes place during the pregnancy. [Good paragraph. He shows the continuity of the human person, at different stages, from conception to natural death.]Excellent point indeed!
In fact, the desire of some persons to destroy embryos in order to harvest stem cells is dependent upon the reality that they are already biologically human. [Excellent point!]
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I will be leading an RCIA session after Mass tomorrow; the topic is "Who is Jesus?" For the opening prayer, I will use my own translation (with assistance from Fr. Z, of course) of the Collect for the Feast. Here it is as found in the 2002 Missale Romanum:
Deus,The ICEL translation we hear is pretty good, I must say:
qui Unigénitum tuum crucem subíre voluísti,
ut salvum fáceret genus humánum,
ut, cuius mystérium in terra cognóvimus,
eius redemptiónis praemia in caelo cónsequi mereámur.
God our Father, in obedience to you, your only Son accepted death on the cross for the salvation of mankind. We acknowledge the mystery of the cross on earth. May we receive the gift of redemption in heaven.That translation fittingly supplements the Latin with the phrase "in obedience to you", tying in the Second Reading (Phil. 2:6-11) which mentions how Christ was obedient to the Father, even to death on a cross. It doesn't make the precise connection between the "mystery of the cross" and the "gift of redemption" which the Latin does, though. Here is my translation:
O God, Who willed that Your only-begotten Son should endure the cross, so that he might save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have come to know the mystery of the Cross on earth, may merit to attain its prize of redemption in heaven.I like the structure of this prayer; first, take note of the phrases which are in bold. The opening clause mentions the cross and the ensuing salvation; the closing clause again mentions the cross (its mystery) and the prize of redemption. Second, note the words in red: they show the link in the Latin between the Cross and redemption. Third, note the words in green: as Christ's suffering on the Cross was earthly, and accomplishes our salvation by his offering of that sacrifice before his heavenly Father, so we come to know the mystery of the Cross on earth and only truly realize its prize of eternal salvation in heaven.
Here's the super oblata, the Prayer over the Offerings:
Haec oblátio, Dómine, quaesumus,Here is the ICEL:
ab ómnibus nos purget offénsis,
quae in ara crucis totíus mundi tulit offénsam.
Lord, may this sacrifice once offered on the cross to take away the sins of the world now free us from our sins.Here is my translation:
May this sacrifice, we pray, Lord, cleanse us from all sin, which on the altar of the cross took away the sins of the whole world.I wish the ICEL translation had retained the word "altar".
And the Post-Communion prayer:
Refectióne tua sancta enutríti,Here is the ICEL:
Dómine Iesu Christe, súpplices deprecámur,
ut, quos per lignum crucis vivíficae redemísti,
ad resurrectiónis glóriam perdúcas.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the holy bread of life. Bring to the glory of the resurrection the people you have redeemed by the wood of the cross.Here is my translation:
Having been nourished by your holy repast, we humbly pray, Lord Jesus Christ, that those who you redeemed by the wood of the life-giving Cross, you would lead to the glory of the resurrection.For our closing prayer, I will use the Introit and Offertory antiphons as found in the Gradual:
Nos autem gloriari oportet, in cruce Domini nostri Iesu Christi: in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra: per quem salvati et liberati sumus.Here's the translation I'll use, borrowing somewhat from the 1962 Saint Joseph Daily Missal my mother gave me at Christmas:
Protege, Domine, plebem tuam, per signum sanctae Crucis, ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium: ut tibi gratam exhibeamus servitutem, et acceptabile tibi fiat sacrificium nostrum.
It is right that we should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, and by whom we are saved and made free.And here's a YouTube video of that Entrance Antiphon... beautiful!
Lord, by the sign of the Holy Cross, protect your people from every snare of every enemy, that we may offer you worthy service and our sacrifice may be acceptable to you. Amen.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)
"I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Must remember to make some prayers of reparation...
Friday, September 05, 2008
I have noticed something interesting in certain parts of the Christian blogosphere. I have seen debates that degenerated into people trying to understand each others' positions. I have seen Christians praising members of other groups, a growing body of recognized common ground, and people with crossover appeal beyond their own group. Of course, I've seen nastiness and divisiveness too, but the opponents of nastiness and divisiveness are becoming bolder, more outspoken.Broadly stated, then, the purpose of the Carnival is to look at what separates one Christian confession from another, and approach the issue or division with an attitude of charity, peace, and sincerity.
To that end, I'm proposing a Christian Reconciliation Carnival. It's intended as a "Road to Reconciliation" Carnival, a place where we do not expect too much of ourselves except humility, and a Carnival that is a cease-fire zone.
The theme for the next Carnival is the liturgy. Here's how I presented it to the Weekend Fisher: "I guess I'd be interested in hearing perspectives on what obstacles are presented by the varying liturgies (high/low, sacramental/non-sacramental, rubrical/freeform) and how they might be possible to overcome. I don't necessarily want to get too doctrinal (although the law of prayer and the law of belief go hand-in-hand, as far as Catholics are concerned). And the issue of liturgical reform would be open for discussion as well."
It's a broad topic, so hopefully we will get plenty of submissions! My reason for choosing it -- apart from my deep love for it -- is because, as a Catholic, I accept the maxim that legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, more simply stated as lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the law of belief: the relationship between worship/prayer and belief is two-way.
Thus, since different groups of Christians believe different things, it is no small wonder that they also have different conceptions of liturgy, ranging from intensely liturgical (e.g. Orthodox, Catholic (esp. among those who adhere to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite), and "high-church" Anglican) to the absolutely non-liturgical (e.g. the "organic" church described by Frank Viola and George Barna). I am also interested in the similarities found between certain elements of liturgies of certain Christian groups despite their theological differences surrounding those very elements.
Anyway, that's the topic. The liturgy, and how it relates to reconciliation between Christian confessions. Submissions should follow the guidelines and be sent either to this address or this address. Submissions will be accepted through September 30.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The "Vortex" is, admittedly, rather scathing and smart-alecky (which I fear might lead to people discrediting the actual arguments the host makes), but otherwise the programming is thoroughly Catholic.
The Vortex (from September 2) does make an excellent point about the Democrats' desire for abortions to be "safe, legal, and rare". If abortion is a legal right, why shouldn't we be allowed to exercise it whenever we wish? Why shouldn't abortion be permitted at will?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Last spring I wrote a bulletin article and I got a letter from downtown: "I don't like your theology. Go to pages blah-de-blah to blah-de-blah in the Catholic Catechism and straighten yout theology out." Is that what it means to be Catholic, to believe everything in the Catholic Catechism? The Catholic Catechism is no more than a physician's PDR, a bunch of cerebral things about faith. That's not what it means to be Catholic. And having said all this, let me add this: I'm proud to be a Roman Catholic, and I'm proud to be a Catholic priest, and there's nothing I could have given my life to that would have been as congruent a calling as 35 years of being a priest.I think I understand what the priest was getting at. It's one thing to read the Catechism, but it's another to actually be Catholic. You can read everything in the Catechism, you can believe it (to some extent), but if you don't actually live what you believe, you're believing in vain. (For example, if you believe that murder is wrong, but go ahead and do it anyway, what good has your belief served you?)
But at the same time, the way this priest said it was a bit... harsh. It sounds like the Catechism is simply "cerebral things about faith" and not actually helpful to cultivating Catholic spirituality. Certainly, the Catechism doesn't replace experience, but it's not only helpful to brainiacs.
And the other issue of concern is that the priest wrote something in a bulletin at some point, and someone ("downtown", maybe from the diocesan office?) wrote to him and said that the theology represented in the article was not consonant with Catholic theology as portrayed in the Catechism. I would hope that content in parish bulletins is not contrary to that which is found in the Catechism.