Friday, January 30, 2009

Church Unity: SSPX to be regularized soon?

This would be phenomenal news. Just last week, the excommunication placed upon the four bishops who were consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 was lifted. But the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is not yet fully united to the Church.

But that could all be changing soon.

Diane of Te Deum laudamus has the roundup of posts. The blog Rorate Caeli is also likely to have up-to-the-minute updates on the matter.

More wit from Mother Angelica

Watching Mother Angelica this morning on EWTN, a caller asked about those who do not about the Eucharist or the Church at all. Mother Angelica said (roughly): "Oh, there's a good passage about that in Luke ... {flipping through the pages, unable to find it} ... oh, I'm looking like a good Catholic now ..."

She was referring, of course, to that typical Catholic stereotype of knowing excerpts of the Bible, but not knowing where those excerpts are located!

She did eventually find it. Luke 12, concerning the servant who knows his master's business.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Liturgy: Search the Lectionary

I've written yet another Scripture search tool. Now you can search the Lectionary by Scripture reference. If you want to know when we hear John 1:1-14 at Mass, now you can find out easily! Edit: As of noon on January 28, I've included the Lessons, Epistles, and Gospels of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I don't yet have the Graduals, Alleluias, and Tracts from the 1962 Missal, nor the propers for votive Masses.

This tool, like the Catechism and Magisterial Documents tools, is free to use. Please advertise it on your web site or blog if you find it handy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fr. Corapi on supporting the priesthood

I am listening (well, watching without watching) Fr. Corapi on EWTN this afternoon, and he had something to say about the great need the Church has to support her priests. He compares it to Exodus 17:8-13, in which Israel fought the Amalekites:
Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Our priests get tired! Our priests feel like quitting from time to time. They need our support, and they need to know they're getting it. Find a way to support your priests and the Church will prevail.

Forced payment for forced abortions

Because of President Obama's rescinding of the Mexico City Policy, US taxpayer money will now be given to organizations which force abortions on women in China who already have one child.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

God loves irony

I was the reader at Mass this morning. I got blindsided by God during the First Reading. As I read from Acts 22, I could feel my lips begin to quiver and I could hear my voice shake and falter. I broke down in tears as I read the final words: "Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name." (Acts 22:16) It was a good five seconds before I could say "The word of the Lord."

I wiped my eyes and face during the Psalm. I walked back up to the ambo to read from 1 Corinthians. I was well-composed this time, except for a smirk that crossed my face as I read what the Lord had prepared for me: "those weeping [act] as not weeping." (1 Cor 7:30)

Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lecture Notes from "The Splendor of Catholicism"

I just got back from the second day of the lecture series by Dr. Ted Sri. I'm making my notes freely available. You can download them here. His lectures were "Praying the Rosary Like Never Before", "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass", "Marriage and the Eucharist", "The Eucharist in Scripture", and "Entering Christ's Passion".

Morning Prayer was beautiful. The Mass was also beautiful. The chanting was wonderful, thanks to the cantor Geoff (who is studying liturgy at Mundelein) and his schola, and the rest of the music for Mass was wonderfully sung by the rest of the choir. The organist played wonderfully as well.

The homily on St. Francis de Sales and the universal vocation to holiness — 20 minutes at least, and that's the longest homily I've ever heard at a daily Mass — was exquisite. Fr. Timothy, God bless you!

Last but certainly not least, the church had some particularly interesting and moving decorations in the sanctuary. Two "icons" (I'm not quite sure what to call them), one of the Victory of the Lamb (sitting on a book with seven seals, all of which are opened), the other the Pelican feeding its young with its own flesh and blood. These are of course two ancient symbols for Christ. There was also a crucifix (as opposed to an empty cross or a "resurrectrix") suspended above the altar. There were three lights in the ceiling shining on it, such that on the back wall of the sanctuary, there appeared three shadows of crucifixes (evocative of Calvary). And the center shadow had, at its base, the tabernacle! And to top it all off, above the sanctuary were the pipes of the organ, and the center pipes were not standing straight up but sticking out horizontally, looking like trumpets... trumpets of the angelic host proclaiming the victory of Christ over death and sin.

God moved me today. It shall not be forgotten.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lecture series by Dr. Ted Sri

I'm attending a two-day lecture series by Dr. Ted Sri:
The Splendor of Catholicism:
Discovering Mary and the Mass in Scripture

Examining the scriptural roots of Catholic life, belief and liturgy in a five lecture series by Dr. Edward Sri.

Dr. Edward Sri, a nationally known dynamic Catholic speaker and author of several books, will present a two-part series of five lectures on January 23rd & 24th in Somerville and Flemington. This event is co-sponsored by Immaculate Conception Church, Somerville and St. Magdalen de Pazzi, Flemington.

On Friday, Jan 23rd, at Immaculate Conception Church, 35 Mountain Avenue in Somerville, Dr. Sri will give two lectures. Friday’s session will begin with evening prayer at 6:45 pm and conclude with prayer at 9:15 pm.

On Saturday, Jan. 24th, at St. Magdalen’s, 105 Mine Street in Flemington, Dr. Sri will give three lectures. Saturday’s session will begin with Mass at 9 am and conclude at 3:30 pm. A continental breakfast and a boxed lunch will be available.
This evening's lectures were great. I can't wait for tomorrow! The morning prayer will be done with chant tones, and Mass will have Latin chant! And there'll be three great lectures afterwards.

The Vatican is now on YouTube

The Vatican has its own YouTube channel now. The main page has a video showing the history of telecommunications at the Vatican. The channel's description is:
This channel offers news coverage of the main activities of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and of relevant Vatican events. It is updated daily. Video images are produced by Centro Televisio Vaticano (CTV), texts by Vatican Radio (RV) and CTV. This video-news presents the Catholic Church's position regarding the principal issues of the world today. Links give access to the full and official texts of cited documents.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Calling all Catechists!

I've recently begun volunteering as a catechist at my parish for the "level 8" students... the ones preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation this year. I co-taught a session this past Tuesday night (on "Who is Jesus?" in the Apostles' Creed), and I'm teaching a session next Tuesday night (on "Jesus' Message and Mission"). I've got a pretty good outline prepared (see it here — yellow highlights are questions, red text are the target answers) and I think it will engage the students in a way I didn't see this past week.

Classes are about an hour and fifteen minutes long. I'm pretty knowledgeable, so I'm good at answering questions, but I'm trying to make sure I ask a lot of questions, because I think these students know more than they think they know.

I'm also trying (in what short time I have) to bridge the gap between "information" and "formation". It's one thing to know when we celebrate the Immaculate Conception and that Mary is the Theotokos, and to know what these things mean... but it's another to be changed by that knowledge and to live differently because of those realities. So that's what I hope to bring to these students.

Any advice from my readers?

In Memoriam

Please pray and fast and make other acts of penance today. Today is the 26th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Pray for the mercy of God for all those involved (the victims, the mothers, the doctors, the families). Pray for an end to abortion.

From the GIRM 373:
In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass "For Peace and Justice" (no. 22 from "Masses for Various Needs") should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Liturgy: Blessings during Communion

The Adoremus Bulletin has a brief article online about a response from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) concerning the common practice (in the US, at least) of giving blessings to people who come up during Communion but are not receiving Communion.

While the response (Prot. N. 930/08/L) says that "this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation" and does not render a verdict, so to speak, the response does include several "observations", the first of which is that the "liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion."

It should be noted that the intention of giving blessings (especially to little children) is a good one; the placement of those blessings during the Communion procession is one of the issues, though. The Communion procession is for receiving Communion, and any blessing requested or received during that time is "out of place" and shouldn't be misconstrued as a "replacement" or "substitution" for Communion. Perhaps the traditional practice of staying in one's seat and making a "spiritual communion" could be promoted once more.

Another issue is whether extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (laypeople) are permitted (or even capable) of bestowing such blessings in the liturgy. EMHCs are commissioned for the distribution of Holy Communion, which does not involve a blessing. The response from the CDWDS made the observation that lay people (EMHCs included) "within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings" and that these blessings "are the competence of the priest".

(Side thought... The old formula for the distribution of Holy Communion was, I think, a blessing: "May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen." With such a formula, which is still found in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, I don't think a lay person could be a minister of Holy Communion.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pastor concerned with liturgical formation

The pastor of St. Mary's in Norwalk, CT, wrote a letter to his parishioners on the topic of liturgical formation. Here's how it began:
These past two Sundays I have dedicated my Pastor’s Column to New Year Resolutions. First I recommended that following Pope Benedict XVI’s lead, people no longer receive Holy Communion in the hand, and start receiving on the tongue. Secondly I recommended that people start correcting themselves when they use the Lord’s name in vain. This week I recommend that everyone in the parish make it a point to attend the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form of the Mass at least a few times during the coming year.
Read the rest at WDTPRS.

Update (2008-01-21): Fr. Z has posted the second part of Fr. Markey's letter. Here's an excerpt:
Yet beyond the lack of fidelity to the Vatican II liturgical norms there is still a deeper question which has only now begun to be addressed by Pope Benedict XVI: whether the liturgical reform of [read: after] the Second Vatican Council that we have today was what the Fathers of the Council intended. ... For example, today much of what Catholics think is the Second Vatican Council liturgical reform did not in fact come from the Council. ... For this reason Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to liberalize the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) is essential to reconnecting us with our lost tradition, and understanding what authentic worship of God is all about.
Part of me wants to make a "pilgrimage" to Norwalk... part of me wants to experience this in my own backyard.

Bible Study: Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul

1 Cor 7:29-31
Live as a citizen of the eternal Kingdom
Praeterit enim figura huius mundi.
Download this study [MS Word, 47 k, 3pp]

January 18 - National Sanctity of Life Day

One of the last things President Bush did in office was proclaim January 18th to be National Sanctity of Life Day. The use of the word "sanctity" (rather than merely "protection") speaks volumes. Here is an excerpt from his proclamation:
All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 18, 2009, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
It falls only a few days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (January 22). For National Sanctity of Life Day to be moved or suspended would speak volumes as well... but not loud enough to drown out the outcry, I think.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Mass as Exchange (Part III)

In the Introductory Rite of the Mass, we come to God, and receive His mercy and forgiveness. We speak to God in words of contrition, thanksgiving, adoration, and petition. In the Liturgy of the Word (or the Mass of the Catechumens), God comes to us in the Scriptures, and we receive His word. We affirm our faith in Him and intercede for His Church and the whole world.

In the Liturgy of the Eucharist (or the Mass of the Faithful), this exchange between God and man, this meeting between heaven and earth, is made present in the sacrament which the Church calls the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist.

Offertory Collection

As the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins, it is customary (on Sundays, at least) for the parish to take up a collection. Tithing is a traditional practice of the Church, which she received from Abraham himself. (Hebrews 7:1-2) The Church has done it since her first days (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35) and Paul encouraged it in the churches he wrote to. (Romans 12:13; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 2:10) These collections are done for the Church's needs as well as the needs of the poor.

In the Ordinary Form of Mass, this collection usually coincides with the presentation of bread and wine, by members of the congregation, to the priest. This liturgical action is richly symbolic, and it recalls a time in the Church when members of the local church would personally provide the bread and wine for the Eucharist. In this first stage of the most important exchange which takes place during the Mass, we offer bread and wine (which are themselves gifts from God, and which symbolize our very selves) to the priest.

Offertory Prayers

The Ordinary Form (OF) and the Extraordinary Form (EF) diverge here, as far as the actual prayers spoken over the bread and wine are concerned. The EF prayers concentrate on the imminent consecration of the host and chalice and their being offered for our salvation, whereas the OF prayers (modeled after a Jewish style of prayer) concentrate on blessing God Who is the source of the very bread and wine which are being offered back to Him to be consecrated and become the Body and Blood of His Son.

But the heart of the Offertory prayers is said in between the prayer over the bread and the prayer over the wine. When the priest or deacon prepares the chalice, he mixes a small amount of water with the wine, and as he does this he prays: "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity." (Liturgy of the Eucharist, OM 24; cf. Philippians 2:8; 2 Peter 1:4) This single prayer, while not the most important prayer of the Mass, sums up the life and mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, as well as our purpose on this earth.

The water represents the human nature which God the Son assumed when he was conceived in Mary's womb, humbling himself. The wine represents His divine nature which we are called by God to partake in: this is our divine destiny. (cf. CCC 1260) This participation in Christ's divine nature is only made possible by his perfect sacrifice which reconciles us to God.

After these prayers, the priest prays that the Lord would find us acceptable ("with humble spirit and contrite heart") and our sacrifice pleasing. (Liturgy of the Eucharist, OM 26; cf. Psalm 51:17)


The priest then washes his hands (praying Psalm 25 in the EF, or a verse from Psalm 51 in the OF). While the liturgical act is not as "functional" as it was in ancient times, when the offerings were presented along with all sorts of other gifts and donations, it is another spiritual reminder of our dependence on God to be cleansed of sin, as well as of the proper disposition for our sacrifice to be pleasing to the Father.

Orate Fratres

Now the priest invites us to pray "that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father." This prayer distinguishes between the sacrifice of the priest and the sacrifice of each of the faithful. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, offers the Eucharist (Christ himself) to the Father. The faithful spiritually join themselves to Christ, who is perfect in the eyes of the Father: in this way we make of ourselves spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God.

We respond by saying "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church." (Liturgy of the Eucharist, OM 29) Here we affirm that the sacrifice is presented to the Father by the hands of the priest, and we pray that He accepts it. The priest then prays over the offerings (the "Super Oblata" in the OF, the "Secreta" in the EF).


Now the priest calls us to enter into an exchange with Almighty God. He says: "Lift up your hearts" ("Sursum corda") and we respond with "We lift them up to the Lord" ("Habemus ad Dominum", cf. Lamentations 3:41). What does it mean to have our hearts with the Lord? First, our "heart" being with the Lord ... Second, it means we are stepping into that mystical intersection between heaven and earth.


At the end of the Preface (the prayer which leads into the Eucharistic Prayer), the priest recalls the unending hymn of praise being sung by all the angels and saints in heaven, and we are all invited to sing it with them. This hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of hosts..." (cf. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8) is part of the eternal heavenly liturgy which we have entered.




In the next installment, we will continue by looking at the greatest prayer of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer. Our model will be the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I), which has been the prayer of the Roman Rite since around the 5th century.

May the Lord bless us +, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

  • What, Source [LINK]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Liturgy: Fraction Rite in the Mozarabic Liturgy

The following is an excerpt from Archdale A. King's Notes on the Catholic Liturgies, pp. 311-318. It describes at length the "fraction rite" in the Mozarabic Rite. The "fraction rite" is that part of the liturgy when the consecrated bread is divided into parts.

The [bolded translations in brackets] are my own additions. The formatting of the book is retained. Certain portions (describing the Pater noster and the blessing and other intervening portions of the liturgy) have been omitted. Numbers in {braces} indicate page numbers.

{311} After the Creed or antiphon a unique fraction takes place, when the Host is divided into nine parts, arrange on the paten symbolically in the form of a cross. This Gallican practice, which is very similar to the old Irish custom, was referred to in Canon 3 of the second Council of Tours (657): 'ut corpus Domini in altari, non in imaginario ordine, sed sub crucis titulo componatur,' [that the body of the Lord upon the altar is to be arranged, not in some fancied order, but under the form of the cross] when nine parts of the Host were to form a cross. In the Stowe missal we read that the number of fragments varied from five on ordinary days to sixty-five on the three chief festivals of Easter, Pentecost and Christmas; while the complexity of the pattersn varried accordingly (five, ferial days; seven confessors and virgins; eight, martyrs; nine, Sundays; twelve, Kalends of January and Maundy Thursday; thirteen, Low Sunday and Ascension; sixty-five, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas). In 558 Pelagius I (555-560) maintained that each part was similar to the other. These devices, however, cannot belong to the primitive Church, when the faithful were accustomed to receive Holy Communion at every Mass, and Mgr. Duchesne, writing about this elaborate and intricate fraction, says 'A certain dose of superstition was introduced early in this (Gallican) rite.' As he breaks each particle the Mozarabic {312} celebrant says aloud the name of the mystery which it is supposed to represent: 'Corporatio,' 'Nativitas,' 'Circumcisio,' 'Apparitio,' 'Passio,' 'Mors,' 'Ressurectio,' 'Gloria,' and 'Regnum.' [Incarnation, Nativity, Circumcision, Epiphany, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Glory, Reign] Then, washing his fingers ('purget bene digitos') and covering the chalice, he makes the 'Memento pro vivis,' with these three words said aloud. Dom German Brado, in his description of the Mozarabic liturgy (Revisita Ecclesiástica, September 1926), speaks of the 'Memento' as for the dead, but the 'Devocionario' quite definitely states 'pro vivis.'

In the cross of the fraction five particles form the upright and two the arms, while 'Gloria' and 'Regnum,' the largest and the smallest of the pieces, are placed together on one side:






Various theories have been put forward at different times, purporting to explain the meaning of this intricate fraction. Apringius (c. 520), Bishop of Beja (Badajoz), in his 'Commentary on the Apocalypse,' and St. Ildephonsus and Beatus of Liebana, writing on the same book, declare that the 'seven seals' are 'Corporatio,' 'Nativitas,' etc., and therefore the Host was original divided into seven parts; while, in addition to this, Christ, through the mystery of His holy humanity, {313} opened and elucidated what in the Scriputres had been previously hidden and closed. At the beginning of the thirteenth century Jacobo de Vitry, Bishop of Tusculum, tells us that the Mozarabs divide the Host sometimes into seven and sometimes into nine parts, but he does not state that the pieces were laid out in the form of a cross. It is also said that, although the Host is divided up, the same Christ is present in every part, while 'Corporatio,' standing for the first particle, shows that the beginning of our salvation was the Incarnation of the Word, and the completion of the arm of the cross by 'Resurrectio' proclaims that the consummation of the Passion and our Redemption came through that mystery. Further, the two pieces 'Gloria' and 'Regnum' occupy their respective places, since Christ as the vanquisher of death is seated at the right hand of the Father; while His Kingdom will endure eternally, neither the 'Glory' nor the 'Kingdom' of Christ being limited to either place or time.


{315} Uncovering the chalice and making a genuflection, the priest takes the particle 'Regnum' and, holding ot over the chalice, says: 'Sancta sanctis, et conjunctio Corporis Domini nostri Jesu Christi sit sumentibus, et potantibus nobis ad veniam, et defunctis fidelibus praestaetur ad requiem.' [Holy things for holy people; and may the union of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ both be unto pardon for us, receiving and drinking, and guarantee rest unto the faithful departed.] [...] After the 'Sancta sanctis' the priest drops the particle ('Regnum') into the chalice, covers it with a pall, and then in a loud voice proclaims 'Humiliate vos benedictioni' — unless it is a high Mass, when these words naturally fall to the lot of the deacon. According to the 'Liber Ordinum,' a response of 'Deo gratias' was at one time made to the invitation. [...] {316} There is no Agnus Dei, but at the time of the Communion the choir sings a responsory known as 'Ad Accedentes,' [At the approaching] which the priest repeats silently and which begins, as in the East, with the Psalm {317} xxxiii. (I, 22, 'Gustate et videte' [taste and see]). [...] Having said the 'Accedentes', the celebrant uncovers the chalice and taking from the paten the particle 'Gloria,' which is the largest in size, he continues: 'Panem coelestem de mensa {318} Domini accipiam: et nomen Domini invocabo.' [I will take the bread of heaven from the table of the Lord: and I will call upon the name of the Lord] Then, holding 'Gloria' above the chalice, he says aloud the 'Memento pro defunctis,' and in a low voice the following prayer: 'Domine Deus meus, da mihi corpus, et sanguinem Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi ita sumere: ut per illud remissionem omnium peccatorum merear accipere, et tuo Sancto Spiritu repleri, Deus noster, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.' [Lord my God, give to me the body and blood of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ so to obtain: that by it I may merit to receive remission of every sins, and be filled by your Holy Spirit, our God, who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.]

This is followed by an ejaculation, popular in the Middle Ages (e.g. Sarum Rite), when, having made the sign of the cross with the same particle ('Gloria'), he receives it: 'Ave in aevum, + sanctissima caro Christi, in perpetuum summa dulcedo.' [Hail for all time, + the most holy flesh of Christ; (hail) for eternity, the greatest sweetness.]

After the celebrant has taken 'Gloria' into his hands he covers the chalice and consumes each of the remaining particles in inverse order, so that he finishes with 'Corporatio,' the result of the first fraction. God is thus represented as Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of all things, because our Redemption began with the Incarnation of Christ, and all the mysteries of His Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection were admirably ordered so that we might attain our eternal salvation. When this reception of the particles is finished the celebrant meditates for a while on the Holy Sacrament, with hands joined, and then, uncovering the chalice, genuflecting, and purifying the paten, he says 'Ave in aevum, coelestis potus, qui mihi ante omnia, et super omnia dulcis es' [Hail for all time, the heavenly drink, which to me is before all and surpassing all sweetness.] (cf. Sarum). Before receiving the precious Blood, together with the particle 'Regnum,' the priest makes the sign of the cross with the chalice, saying 'Corpus + et Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat corpus et animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen.' [May the Body + and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my body and soul to everlasting life. Amen.]

This is fascinating to me. If my Latin translations are in need of correction or adjustment, by all means, please leave a comment with a better translation!

Questions about the Mass?

2009-01-13 Update: I'm going to repost this at Critical Mass. If you have questions about the Mass... please, by all means, ask them there!

Do you have any questions about the Mass -- its parts, its origins, its basis in Scripture, its symbolism, etc. -- that you would like to share? I don't necessarily intend to answer them fully here, but I'm looking for additional thoughts and questions to address in my upcoming series on the Mass and Scripture.

Feel free to share comments about your favorite (or least favorite) parts of Mass, or what confuses you the most, or what seems most clear to you, or what produces the greatest spiritual response from you during the Mass. Also share any personal devotions you have during Mass; for example, when the Host and Chalice are elevated after their consecrations, I pray silently Dominus meus et Deus meus as did St. Thomas when he saw the risen Lord (John 20:28).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Music: Inclina Domine

Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) has released another album by the schola Cantores in Ecclesia. This one, Inclina Domine, is a complete Mass sung in Gregorian chant!

Bible Study: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit
Glorificate ergo Deum in corpore vestro.
Download this study [MS Word, 60 k, 4pp]

Corinth is a city in Rome west of Athens. It was a bustling commercial center for trade in the Mediterranean, the capital of Southern Greece, and located between two major seaports. It also had a reputation for shameless immorality, which was a problem for the early Christian community there (as Paul's letter makes clear).

Paul first went to Corinth during the same trip that took him through Macedonia with Silvanus and Timothy. Paul arrived in Corinth around AD 51 and stayed there for more than a year and a half. (Acts 18:1-18)

Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8), in what is now Turkey; it was probably written around AD 56 (more than four years after his stay), during the second part of his third missionary journey. Paul had learned through the associates of a woman named Chloe. (1:11) Corinth had many problems: internal divisions (1:12-15), a case of incest (5:1-5), frivolous lawsuits (6:1-8), sexual immorality (6:12-20), and even the denial of the resurrection (15:12)! They were not celebrating the Eucharist properly (11:17-34) and they were exercising their charismatic gifts in a manner that was more disruptive than edifying (14:1-40).

Paul addresses these issues, as well as others that were put forth in a letter from the Church to him, concerning marriage, celibacy, food offered to idols, and tithing (7:1, 8:1, 12:1, 16:1). The excerpt we will read is about sexual purity as it relates to worship of God.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Mass as Exchange (Part II)

The second section of the Mass, after the Introductory Rites, is called the "Liturgy of the Word" in the Ordinary Form (OF) and the "Mass of the Catechumens" in the Extraordinary Form (EF). This part of the Mass consists of readings from Scripture, along with a psalm and a homily (or sermon), followed by the Creed (on certain days) and the Prayer of the Faithful.

It is customary in the Ordinary Form, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, for catechumens (those who are preparing for baptism) to be dismissed after the homily and before the Creed.

As the Liturgy of the Word begins, the exchange between God and man has come this far: we have approached God at His altar, received His mercy, and responded by glorified Him in thanksgiving. This exchange continues as we hear the Word of God spoken in the liturgy.

Readings from Scripture

The Missal used for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass typically has two readings from Scripture: the Lesson or Epistle (depending on whether it is from the Old or New Testament) and the Gospel. Between these there is a Psalm (called a Gradual). The cycle of readings repeated each year, and the readings on weekdays are usually those of the preceding Sunday (except on certain feasts, during Lent, and at certain other times of the year).

The Second Vatican Council called for the "treasures of the bible ... to be opened up more lavishly" so that "a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years." (SC 51) In the reforms which produced the Ordinary Form of the Mass, this directive has been applied in three ways:
  1. On Sundays and certain feast days, there are three readings from Scripture: the first usually from the Old Testament (except during the Easter season when it is taken from the Acts of the Apostles), the second usually from the New Testament letters (except during the Easter season when it is taken from St. John's book of Revelation), and the third from Gospels. There is also a Psalm — called the Responsorial Psalm because it is a response to the first reading — between the first and second readings; this may be sung as a Gradual or in a responsorial style (between the cantor/choir and the congregation).
  2. The Sunday cycle of readings has been extended from one year to three years. In Year A we hear Matthew's Gospel, in Year B we hear Mark's (supplemented by John's), and in Year C we hear Luke's. The first reading is usually strongly related to the Gospel reading. The second readings are arranged, generally, to go through the letters chapter by chapter.
  3. On weekdays, a two-year cycle of readings has been introduced. This cycle is completely independent from the Sunday cycle. There are still only two readings (with a Psalm in between them), with the first reading taken from either the Old or the New Testament.
The First and Second Readings

In the beginning of the Mass, we have spoken to God and come to Him in prayer. Now God speaks to us, He comes to us in His Word. Sacred Scripture is proclaimed to glorify God as well as to sanctify and instruct those who hear it.

We say "Thanks be to God" ("Deo gratias") at the conclusion of the First and Second Readings. (Liturgy of the Word, OM 10, 12) Because God has spoken through prophets and apostles, and the Holy Spirit has inspired the very words they wrote, it is necessary that we respond to hearing His word with gratitude. In the Scriptures, God speaks to us in magnificent prophecies; He also reveals their fulfillment through the coming of His Son. In the words of St. Paul, "Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15)

While we thank God for the gift of His word, we must also remember that there are people in this world who haven't heard His word. That is why the mission of the Church is to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15), a gospel of "repentance and forgiveness of sins" (Luke 24:47).

The Psalm

The book of Psalms was the hymnal of the kingdom of Israel. It contains hymn-prayers of various types: penitence, worship, thanksgiving, and more. We respond to the First Reading with one of these Psalms, the words of ancient Israel; these words take on new meaning because they are fulfilled by Christ. Using these ancient prayers of Israel in the Mass reminds us that the mission of God began with His calling of Israel as a nation set apart for Himself.


To prepare for the proclamation of the Gospel, we sing "Alleluia", from the Hebrew phrase "Hallelu-Yah", which means "Praise the Lord!" (Liturgy of the Word, OM 13) We announce the coming of the Gospel with joy and praise for God.

During Lent, when the word "Alleluia" is not spoken, the Gospel is preceded with different words: in the Ordinary Form there there is either a verse from Scripture or an acclamation such as "Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory", while in the Extraordinary Form the Alleluia is replaced by a slow and mournful Tract (usually verses from a Psalm).

The Gospel

The gospels hold a special place among the Scriptures, because they recount the life of our Lord. When they are read in the Mass, we hear not only the word of God, but we hear that word from the Word-made-flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The priest or deacon asks for a blessing that they may worthily proclaim the Gospel. The priest blesses the deacon saying, "May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips..."; the priest himself prays similar words: "Cleanse my heart and my lips, Almighty God..." (Liturgy of the Word, OM 14; cf. Isaiah 6:6-7) As the Gospel begins, we sign our foreheads, our lips, and our hearts with the Sign of the Cross: this action is accompanied by a silent prayer that the Lord might keep the Gospel in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. This should be our prayer as we go out to fulfill the mission of the Church.

We also respond "Glory to you, O Lord" ("Gloria tibi, Domine"), and when the Gospel reading has ended, we say "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ" ("Laus tibi, Christe"), more expressions of gratitude. (Liturgy of the Word, OM 15-16) The priest or deacon kisses the pages of the Gospel and prays silently "Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away", again acknowledging the power of the Gospel. (Liturgy of the Word, OM 16)

How can we preach the word of God to the world if we do not know it? It is through these readings of Scripture that we receive the second gift of the Mass, God's word. This word, the Gospel, testifies to the Word, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Homily or Sermon

In the readings, God has given to us His Word, including the message of the Gospel which we are to preach to the ends of the earth. But we need to understand it and know how to apply it our lives and to the world in which we live. In the homily or sermon, the priest or deacon explains the Scriptures to us, instructs us in the faith, and exhorts us to live according to the Gospel. Having received God's word, we now know what to do with it.

The Creed

In the Ordinary Form, after the Gospel, any catechumens who are present are dismissed from the Mass. This was an ancient custom of the Church: the profession of the Creed (which follows the homily) was something which a catechumen was not yet able to profess, and something which he would first profess at his baptism. The Creed is the "doorway" between the first and second halves of the Mass.

In the Creed, which takes its name from the Latin word credo which means "I believe" (the first words of the Creed), we solemnly profess our faith in God and His Church. We can only profess this faith because we ourselves have received it through the instruction of our parents, pastors, and friends. We have been baptized into the faith of the Church because someone before us committed themselves to following the Lord's Great Commission.

The Prayer of the Faithful

After the Creed, in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, comes the Prayer of the Faithful. This consists of a series of intercessory prayers. This is the first liturgical act after the Creed, which means that it is the first liturgical act that a catechumen will perform after having been baptized: it is their first opportunity "as members of the faithful to exercise their [baptismal] priesthood" (PS 91) by interceding for others, speaking to God on their behalf.


The Liturgy of the Word is primarily a time of listening to God speak to us, and responding with thanksgiving, giving Him praise and glory, confessing our faith in Him, and praying to Him for His Church and the whole world. The exchange has continued: we have received from God His word, the Gospel we are to bring into the world.

In the next installment, we will look at the Liturgy of the Eucharist (or the "Mass of the Faithful" as it is known in the EF) where the exchange is brought to a deeper level in the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

May the Lord bless us +, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

  • OM - Ordo Missae I (English Translation) [USCCB]
  • PS - Paschale Solemnitatis (Concerning the preparation and celebration of the Easter feasts) [CDWDS]

Repost: God and Country

This comes by way of Brian Michael Page of Christus Vincit. He points out that all the constitutions of the fifty states of these United States of America mention God at some point.

Here is the excerpt from New Jersey's preamble (from 1844): "We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors."

Read them all.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Mother Angelica quote on Catholic devotions

Mother Angelica on this week's EWTN Religious Catalogue, regarding the How-To Book of Catholic Devotions: "Now some of you can name every single Satanic heavy metal rock group out there and all their songs... and you don't know a single Catholic devotion. That says something, because, let me tell you... that other stuff will get you nowhere."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Keeping the Catholic Faith

What, or who, do these people think they are fighting? A Jesuit priest, Fr. Roger Haight, had a book of his (from 1999) censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) four years ago, in December of 2004. In his theological work Jesus: Symbol of God, Fr. Haight put forth several ideas about who Jesus Christ is, what the Trinity is, and whether Jesus Christ is the unique savior of the world; these ideas attempt to redefine Christology in a way that the CDF considers unreconcilable with the Catholic faith. You can read about it in their notification on his book.

The seven primary points which the CDF says Fr. Haight calls into question are 1) the theological method, 2) the pre-existence of the Word, 3) the divinity of Jesus, 4) the Holy Trinity, 5) the salvific value of the death of Jesus, 6) the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus and of the Church, and 7) the Resurrection of Jesus. These are weighty issues! They are central to the whole teaching of the Church!

The "these people" I refer to in my link to the National Catholic Reporter (a source every Catholic should utterly avoid, excluding John Allen's column which is its sole Catholic perspective) are the people who claim in their comments that "Rome" is afraid of losing its power by having this priest question "Rome's" doctrines. It is as if just before Vatican II, "Rome" got together and defined Jesus' divinity, the Trinity, etc., and Vatican II was meant to free Catholics from such stuffy ways of thinking (as if God favored any one religion, one person says).

These people are evidently not aware that these doctrines were hashed out in the early centuries of the Church. And it was not "Rome" (as these people imagine it to be) that made these definitions, it was a Council of Bishops. One person actually attempts to contrast "the teachings of the Second Vatican Council" with the doctrines being questioned by Fr. Haight, saying that Vatican II's teachings "could actually be considered as definitive because of our Bishops meeting in a sacred Council". Where does he come up with this stuff? What of the sacred Council of Nicea? What of Ephesus? Does he know where the Catholic faith comes from? It comes to us from the Apostles, and through the Magisterium of the Church. It is defined and clarified through sacred Councils.

What did Vatican II say about Jesus' divinity, the truth of the Holy Trinity, the pre-existence of the Word, etc.? Long story short, they reaffirmed the Church's tradition teaching and theology. It wasn't concerned with challenging or changing any of these things; it's not in the Church's power to do so! Read Lumen Gentium 14-17 and see what the Church teaches about Christ as the Savior of the world. Read Lumen Gentium 22 and see what the Church teaches about the Pope as the supreme pastor of the Church.

How do people choose to remain this ignorant?! It appalls me.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, R.I.P.

Fr. Richard Neuhaus, a convert from Lutheranism, has died at the age of 72.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Discerning the Body with Augustine and John Chrysostom

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Cor. 11:27-29)

What did St. Paul mean when he wrote "discerning the body"? The Greek text for 1 Cor. 11:29 has a variant (followed by the King James Version as well as the Douay-Rheims) which qualifies "the body" with the phrase "of the Lord".

There are three ways I see of interpreting this, all of which seem orthodox (that is, proper to Catholic faith) to me. These three ways supplement one another, building upon one another, to the point that each must be considered as necessary to a proper "discerning [of] the body [of the Lord]".
  1. Acknowledging the Real Presence of the Body (and Blood) of the Lord under the appearances of the bread and wine
  2. Recognizing that the "body of Christ" is simultaneously (although in different ways) the Eucharist and the Church, of which we are members
  3. Being mindful of those other members of the body of Christ
I don't see much in Church Father literature touching upon this "discerning" of the body — Augustine and Chrysostom seem to focus more on what warrants an unworthy reception of Communion, rather than what is means to "discern" the body. But what I did find apropos to this discernment is primarily about #1; I provide the excerpts below with my commentary.

Augustine, The Correction of the Donatists 11, 50:
But those with whom we are arguing, or about whom we are arguing, are not to be despaired of, for they are yet in the body [I think he means by this that they are still alive]; but they cannot seek the Holy Spirit, except in the body of Christ, of which they possess the outward sign outside the Church, but they do not possess the actual reality itself within the Church of which that is the outward sign, and therefore they eat and drink damnation to themselves. (1 Cor. 11:29)
Augustine is pointing out that there are heretical divisions which have the "outward sign" — i.e., a communal meal whose elements are bread and wine — but do not possess the actual reality (the "substance") under that outward appearance. This seems to me to refer to a celebration of the Lord's Supper which is simply (and only) bread and wine, rather than the actual Body and Blood of the Lord under the appearances of bread and wine. In consuming a "mock" Eucharist (as a result of being outside the Church and thus deprived of its sacramental efficacy), they are eating and drinking judgment.

Augustine, Sermon 82, 1:
As we heard when the Holy Gospel (John 6:55ff) was being read, the Lord Jesus Christ exhorted us by the promise of eternal life to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. Ye that heard these words, have not all as yet understood them. For those of you who have been baptized and the faithful do know what He meant. But those among you who are yet called Catechumens, or Hearers, could be hearers, when it was being read, could they be understanders too? Accordingly our discourse is directed to both. Let them who already eat the Flesh of the Lord and drink His Blood, think What it is they eat and drink, lest, as the Apostle says, “They eat and drink judgment to themselves.”
Again, Augustine makes it clear that those who receive Holy Communion must "think What it is they eat and drink": they must "discern" that the Eucharist is the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, welling up to eternal life, as the Lord himself promised. Failure to accept this results in judgment.

Augustine, Sermon 52, 4:
He gave to the disciples the Supper consecrated by His Own Hands; but we did not sit down at that Feast, and yet we daily eat this same Supper by faith. And do not think it strange that in that supper which He gave with His Own Hand, one was present without faith: the faith that appeared, afterwards was more than a compensation for that faithlessness then. Paul was not there who believed, Judas was there who betrayed. How many now too in this same Supper, though they saw not then that table, nor beheld with their eyes, nor tasted with their mouths, the bread which the Lord took in His Hands, yet because it is the same as is now prepared, how many now also in this same Supper, “eat and drink judgment to themselves”?
Augustine links the celebration of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion with "that supper which [Christ] gave with His Own Hand"; he calls each celebration of the Eucharist "this same Supper". Furthermore, those who receive the Eucharist "without faith" are placing judgment upon themselves. What "faith" is that? As Judas betrayed Christ, so too we betray him in a way when we deny his Real Presence in the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist.

John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on 1 John, 1:
The disciples, then, knew Him not, save “in the breaking of bread.” And truly he that eateth and drinketh not judgment to himself in the breaking of bread doth know Christ.
Chrysostom says that one who "knows Christ" as did those disciples ("in the breaking of the bread") does not bring judgment upon himself when he receives Communion. This seems to me again to refer to belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament.

Augustine: Daily offering of the sacrifice of the Eucharist

From St. Augustine's letter 54 (to Januarius, II.2), circa AD 400:
There are other things, however, which are different in different places and countries: e.g., some fast on Saturday, others do not; some partake daily of the body and blood of Christ, others receive it on stated days: in some places no day passes without the sacrifice being offered; in others it is only on Saturday and the Lord’s day, or it may be only on the Lord’s day. In regard to these and all other variable observances which may be met anywhere, one is at liberty to comply with them or not as he chooses; and there is no better rule for the wise and serious Christian in this matter, than to conform to the practice which he finds prevailing in the Church to which it may be his lot to come. For such a custom, if it is clearly not contrary to the faith nor to sound morality, is to be held as a thing indifferent, and ought to be observed for the sake of fellowship with those among whom we live.

Homily on avoiding hypocrisy

Last night, I attended Mass at a local chapel. The priest, in his homily, spoke of being slow to judge others lest we fall into hypocrisy, using the words of Christ: "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye." (Luke 6:42)

That, only a matter of hours after I had written about hypocrisy. And, I am sad to admit, mere minutes after I had silently judged the people sitting near me who were wearing far more casual clothing than I was. I have great zeal and fervor for the liturgy, for reverence in the liturgy... and that, I am afraid, is where Satan is all too eager to strike at me. And he is successful too often.

God sees in the dark

Watching EWTN this morning, I saw a program by Mother Angelica on jealousy. At one point, she quipped: "That's why people sin in the dark; they think God doesn't see in the dark."

On the contrary, "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Epiphany Music: Tribus miraculis

This comes to you via The New Liturgical Movement. The St. Gregory Society, the "grand fortress of traditional Catholicism in Connecticut", has a CD available for sale; one of the free tracks is Tribus miraculis, a polyphony piece by the great Palestrina. It is absolutely beautiful... I've listened to it about five times this afternoon.

You can listen to it below. You can also see the music for this motet in a PDF (courtesy of the Choral Public Domain Library).

Here's the MP3 (3:48):
(Recycled from November 27, 2007)

Bait-and-Switch Religion (Hypocrisy)

We all hate false advertising. This past Christmas, I received a gift from my wife that we both thought we would love. I had mentioned interest in the product a month or so before Christmas and was sure it would be a time-saver. See, I'm good at ironing (or so my wife tells me), but it's a bit of hassle: it's difficult to position certain articles of clothing on the ironing board, and our ironing board is just about ready to fall apart. So I said I'd like one of those clothes-steamers that I've seen commercials for. It's a device that emits steam to remove wrinkles and odors from your clothing.

Now, maybe I'm just impatient, maybe the instruction manual should have included actual instructions for how to employ the device, or maybe I just haven't gotten the hang of it, but the darn thing doesn't work very well. It's not as effortless as I'd thought it would be (from the commercials) and it's frustrating (and dangerous!) to try holding a dress shirt on the hanger with one hand while effectively steaming it with the other.

False advertising leads to the "bait-and-switch" phenomenon: you're baited with one product and it is switched with another when you purchase it. We sometimes fall into the same trap as Christians, but the "product" here is our religion and our lives. There's an anecdote about an aggressive driver...
This driver is cutting people off in traffic, shouting obscenities and making rude gestures to other drivers, speeding through yellow lights to avoid red lights, etc. A police officer pulls him over, has him step out of the car, and proceeds to handcuff him. The officer tells the man he is under arrest for grand theft auto.

The man is livid. Sitting in the back seat of the officer's car, he yells at the officer to check his wallet for his license, and his glove compartment for registration and proof of insurance. The officer does so and sure enough, the man is the owner of the car. The police officer opens the door and helps the man out. Before releasing him from his handcuffs, however, he explains himself.

"I apologize for this mistake, sir, but after seeing your behavior while driving, I noticed a 'Choose Life' frame around the car's license plate, a magnetic "Jesus" fish emblem on the trunk, a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror, and a bumper sticker for the local Catholic school. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."
How many times are we like that? Would the average person on the street recognize us as Catholic by our daily behavior? How often do our actions betray our fallen human nature rather than our redeemed human nature in Christ?

It's nothing short of hypocrisy, and it's something we need God's grace to conquer. It has been plaguing Christians since the time of Christ. One need look no further than James 2:15-16, where the Apostle admonishes those who say "Go in peace, be warmed and filled" to a brother or sister who is ill-clad and lacking daily food... without giving them the things needed for the body!

What else does Scripture say about hypocrisy? Apart from the synoptic gospels (especially Matthew 6 and 23), the Psalms and the book of Sirach give us a clear picture:
Be not a hypocrite in men's sight, and keep watch over your lips. (Sirach 1:29; cf. 1:26 [NAB], 1:37 [DR])

He who seeks the law will be filled with it, but the hypocrite will stumble at it. (Sirach 32:15; cf. 32:19 [DR])

A wise man will not hate the law, but he who is hypocritical about it is like a boat in a storm. (Sirach 33:2)

I do not sit with false men, nor do I consort with dissemblers. (Psalm 26(25):4)

I hate double-minded men, but I love thy law. (Psalm 119(118):113)
And looking for "dissembler" and "double-mind" elsewhere in Scripture, I find:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-8)

He who hates, dissembles with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with guile, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (Proverbs 26:24-26)
Hypocrisy can be a great enemy of evangelization. If those to whom we are preaching the Gospel see that we ourselves are blatantly not living it, what will they think of that Gospel? Now, this is not to say we are utter failures when we sin, but we must realize what the Gospel calls us to. The Gospel calls us to that great enemy of hypocrisy, repentence. Confession of our sins and receiving God's mercy and forgiveness cleanses us, and it calls us out of that habit of hypocrisy.

The Catechism says this about hypocrisy: "Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy." (CCC 2648)

We must pray for an abundance of that virtue of truthfulness, so that by God's grace we can avoid and overcome hypocrisy and be better stewards and preachers of the Gospel.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Popes' Quotes

I got an email about a web site called with a feature called Popes' Quotes. Here's a rather poignant one: "The Christ who calls us to the Eucharist banquet is always the same Christ who exhorts us to penance." (Redemptor Hominis 20, Pope John Paul II, March 4, 1979)

Ten Rules for Handling a Disagreement like a Christian

A tip of the hat to Diane from Te Deum and to Bishop Vigneron (Archbishop-elect of Detroit). Diane has posted the Bishop's "10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian". They are fleshed out in his article, but here is a list of the names of the rules:
  1. The Rule of Charity - "Charity is primary"
  2. The Rule of Publicity - "Think with the mind of the Church" (sentire cum Ecclesia); with a corollary, "Measure everything against the authoritative documents of the Magisterium"
  3. The Rule of Legitimate Freedom - "What the Church allows is not to be disallowed"
  4. The Rule of Catholic Freedom - "There's something for everybody, but not everything is for everybody"
  5. The Rule of Modesty - "Not all of my causes are God's causes"
  6. The Rule of Integrity - "To do evil in order to accomplish good is really to do evil"
  7. The Rule of Realism - "Remember that Satan is eager to corrupt my efforts to build up the Kingdom, and he's smart enough to figure out a way to do it"
  8. The Rule of Mystery - Not all the habits and attitudes which belong to a society governed by a representative democracy are appropriate in the Church
  9. The Petrine Rule - "No one ever built up the Church by tearing down the pope"
  10. The Eschatological Rule - "The victory is assured; my job is to run out the clock with style"
I need to learn those by heart and learn to live by them...

Creed: Why do we say Jesus "rose again"?

In the Nicene Creed, as well as the Apostles' Creed, we say that Jesus "rose again" on the third day. Why again? When did he rise the first time?

Well, the illustrious Father Z has answered that question. Here's the core of the matter:
In the Creed, Latin resurrexit is from re- and surgo. The prefix re- conveys “again”. In English "again" can mean more than repetition. Check a good dictionary of English and you will find a nuance of “again” as “anew” without the concept of repetition. “He rose again” means “He rose anew". So, resurrexit does not mean Jesus rose twice. He returned to life “anew”.
Now it makes sense!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Epiphany: Adoration by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-11)

(The following is an excerpt from my Advent presentation on Eucharistic Adoration.)
The book of Genesis tells us that God created the stars “for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” (Gen. 1:14b) Some two thousand years ago, the most miraculous sign in the heavens was witnessed by foreign astrologers who read it correctly. They came and worshiped Jesus… why? They weren’t Jews. They weren’t subjects of a Jewish kingdom! These wise men from afar recognized in Jesus the prophesied King of the Jews, the perfect heir of David’s throne: they saw in him the Christ, the Messiah of the whole world.

Over the centuries, various Church Fathers — Irenaeus, Ambrose, Ephrem of Syria, Gregory Nazienzen, Augustine, Pope Leo the Great — have interpreted these priceless gifts the same way. The gold was a sign of Jesus’ kingship. The frankincense, a sweet-smelling resin used in incense, was a sign of his divinity, because incense was burned in an offering to God. And the myrrh, a resin which was used in the anointing and embalming of the deceased, was a sign of his humanity and mortality, dying for our sins.* As you behold and worship Christ with Mary and the Magi, lay your gifts at his feet as well.

Gold. Give the finest you have to the Lord, and hold nothing back. Just as the sacred vessels which hold the Body and Blood of our Lord should be made of precious metals, and not appear as common plates and cups; just as some monstrances are made of gold, fit to hold the King of Kings; just as Martha’s sister Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with costly perfumes: so too should we dedicate and consecrate that which is most precious to us to our Lord.

Frankincense. The book of Revelation tells us that the prayers of the saints rise like incense to the altar of God in heaven. So let your prayers rise before the Lord like sweet-smelling incense; make a PACT with the Lord, P-A-C-T, making prayers of petition, adoration, contrition, and thanksgiving. And let your thanksgiving be as fervent as your requesting; too often we pray and pray to the Lord for favors or graces and fail to thank Him with the same frequency and fervor when we receive them.

And myrrh. Place your sorrows and sufferings in the wounded hands of the Lord, and he will embrace you, holding you close to his sacred heart. Surrender to him the bitter sorrow that his Real Presence is veiled under the appearance of bread and wine, and pray for an increase of faith to believe what the Lord has said: “This is my body.” Pray the words of the man in Mark’s gospel: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Pray that you will one day see him as he is, in heaven.
* In the hymn "We Three Kings", the verses describe the gifts of the Magi in these ways, referring to Christ as "King and God and Sacrifice" (verse 5).

Thursday, January 01, 2009

St. David the King - Open Forum

This is an open forum for discussion stemming from the St. David the King high school Bible Study Q&A session.

Questions on the
liturgy should take place at Critical Mass.

Acts 9:31 is the verse which reads, in Greek, "ekklesia ... kata holos" ("the churches throughout all [Judea and Galilee and Samaria]"). The words kata holos are where we get "Catholic" from: "according to the whole; universal".

And the other statement I made that might lead to some interesting conversation was: "What Satan wants is for men to behave like animals, and women to behave like men." I explained it this way: "God made man — male and female — in His image. That means males are in the image of God, and females are in the image of God. We don't need to become something else to be in God's image, and when we forfeit our human nature, we are turning away from the image in which we have been made, even going so far as to claim that perfection as a person can't be found in the image in which God made us.

So when men act like animals — and you can take this to mean attraction to violence, unrestrained sexuality, insatiable appetites for power and wealth, etc. — they are trading the image of God for a mere animal. And when women act like men — and by this I mean that attitude whereby women are not "equal" to men unless they are identical to them in virtually every regard — they are denying that they are already in God's image as women, and equal with men before His eyes. They don't need to become "more".

(This entry is post-dated to January 1, 2009 to keep it up top.)