Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sisters of Life

The Sisters of Life are a relatively young (18 years) religious order of Catholic women. They were founded in 1991 by Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor (+ 2000). They are dedicated to the "protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life." They have two apostolates right now: ministry to pregnant women (including a house of holy respite and post-abortion healing for women and men).

I met two of them — Sr. Mary Gabriel and Sr. Miriam (Mariam?) — this evening at Princeton University's Aquinas House graduate student fellowship. These two women are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit for the protection of the precious lives created every second by our almighty and merciful and loving Creator, the Most Holy Trinity.

They have about 64 sisters throughout New York, as well as a mission in Toronto, Ontario. These two sisters I met are praying for me and the success of my personal liturgical undertakings, so please join me in praying for them and their order and apostolate.

Blessed Lord, Author of Life,
grant your faithful servants, the Sisters of Life,
a spirit of fortitude and of counsel
that they may courageously and faithfully
carry out your saving work
by ministering to pregnant women and those affected by abortion.

We ask this in your Most Holy Name, Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Update

My first five draft copies of Praying the Mass are in Perth Amboy, NJ. They'll be delivered on Thursday! Then I'll be sending a couple of them (with some additional changes) to some people for reviewing.

I've heard back from the ICEL: they're reviewing my request for permission to use the texts.

If I get the OK from the ICEL and the CDWDS, and the book is cleared for sale, you can get a free copy (and an acknowledgment) if you provide me a cover image. It needs to be a big, hi-res image similar to the present working cover. It should be a close-up of a person's hands in a prayer posture. Preferably, it should be recognizable that they are in a church, as if praying during Mass. You can email me your submissions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Brother's Keeper (part two)

I just did a small Latin exercise. "My brother's keeper" in Latin is custos fratris mei. "Our brothers' keepers" is custodes fratrum nostrorum. Either would be a good title for a Catholic Social Justice movement or organization.

Holy Communion: Quod es, es!

A delightful trick of the Latin language is that the verbs for “to be” and “to eat” are spelled same: esse. These verbs are irregular, and they are not always conjugated the same way; for instance, “I am” is sum, whereas “I eat” is edo (hence the word "edible"). However, “you are” and “you eat” are rendered the same way: es (for singular you) or estis (for plural you). That means the well-known expression “you are what you eat” can be said in Latin as “quod es, es” or “quod estis, estis.” This phrase takes on a whole new meaning when you consider what it is you are eating when you receive Holy Communion.

To that effect, I'd like to provide my translation of a delightful sermon of St. Augustine in A.D. 408 on the Feast of Pentecost to neophytes (newly-initiated Catholics). The Latin of this sermon was pretty easy to translate (or maybe I'm just getting better at it).
That which you see on the altar, is that which you saw last night: but what it is, what it meant, how great a thing the sacrament contained, you had not yet heard. Now, what you see is bread and a chalice [of wine]; that, indeed, is what your eyes declare to you: but that which your faith asks to be instructed about [is this], the bread is the body of Christ, the chalice [of wine] is the blood of Christ. That was stated quite briefly, which perhaps may suffice for faith: but faith desires instruction. For, as the prophet says, "Unless you have believed, you will not understand." (Isa. 7:9) That is, you could now say to me, "You have taught [us] that we may believe; [now] explain that we may understand!"

For instance, into the mind of any one of you might come such a thought as: "We learned whence our Lord Jesus Christ took flesh, of the Virgin Mary. The infant was weaned, nourished, grew up, came to to a youthful age, suffered persecution by the Jews, was hung on the tree [of the Cross], was killed on the tree, was taken down from the tree, was buried, on the third day he rose again, and on the day he willed he ascended into Heaven; his body, lifted up, is there, and from there he will come to judge the living and the dead; there he is now, sitting at the right hand of the Father. How, then, is the bread his body? And the chalice, or rather that which the chalice holds, how is it his blood?"

For just that reason, brethren, such things are called “sacraments” because in them one thing is seen, but another thing is understood. That which is seen has a tangible appearance; that which is understood provides spiritual fruit. Therefore, if you wish to understand the body of Christ, pay attention to the Apostle saying to the faithful, “You, moreover, are the body of Christ, and its members.” (1 Cor. 12:27) If, therefore, you are the body of Christ and its members, your mystery is placed on the Lord’s table: you receive your mystery. To that which you are (or: to that which you eat), you answer “Amen,” and, thus answering, you assent. That is, you hear “The body of Christ,” and you answer “Amen.” Therefore, be a member of the body of Christ, that the “Amen” may be true!

How, then, in the bread? Let us bring nothing here of our own [ideas], but let us continue to listen to that same Apostle who, while speaking of this Sacrament, said: "We, the many, are one bread, one body." (1 Cor. 10:17) Understand and rejoice: unity, truth, piety, love. “One bread” – what is that one bread? It is “the one body” which we the “many” are. Bring this to the forefront of your mind: bread is not made from a single grain, but from many. When you were being exorcised, it is as though you were being ground up. When you were baptized, it is as though you were mixed together [into dough]. When you received the fire of the Holy Spirit, it is as though you were being baked. Be that which you see, and receive that which you are! That is what the Apostle spoke concerning the bread.

Now what we should understand concerning the chalice, even though not said, he has shown well enough. As many grains are mixed into one that it might be the visible appearance of bread, just as if to bring about that which the Holy Scripture says concerning the faithful, “They were one soul and one heart in God” (cf. Acts 4:32), so too with the wine: brethren, recall from what wine is made: many grapes hang in a bunch, but the juice of the grapes is combined into one. Even thus Christ the Lord signified us, willed us to belong to him (cf. John 15:1-8), and consecrated the sacrament of our peace and unity upon his table. Who accepts the sacrament of unity, and keeps not the bond of peace, does not receive the sacrament for his good, but as a testimony against himself!
You can find the Latin of Sermon CCLXXII on page 133 of this PDF.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Brother's Keeper

A few more insights about Genesis 4:9. The Latin is:

Et ait Dominus ad Cain: «Ubi est Abel frater tuus?».
Qui respondit: «Nescio. Num custos fratris mei sum ego?».

That word custos came up earlier in Genesis 2:15.

Tulit ergo Dominus Deus hominem et posuit eum in paradiso Eden,
ut operaretur et custodiret illum.

This verse tells us that "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it." The Hebrew word used in both of these cases is shamar. Strong's Hebrew dictionary defines shamar thus:
properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard;

generally, to protect, attend to, etc. — beward, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep(-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch(-man).
Jeff Cavins, in the Great Adventure Bible Study, points out that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to till it and guard it. What did it need guarding from? Among other things, the serpent, that nachash of Genesis 3. Surely this serpent was a dangerous creature which posed a threat to Adam, his wife Eve, and the whole garden. This duty of guarding, of keeping, this obligation to shamar, would involve Adam laying his life down for the safety of his wife... unfortunately, Adam did not do his duty. We know what happened next.

Cain was supposed to be his brother's keeper. This duty to protect and preserve his brother should have involved laying down his life for Abel, but instead Cain took Abel's life.

Christ was truly his brother's keeper. Christ laid down his life for each of his brothers and sisters. And that is what we are called to do, if we want to be conformed to Christ.

Reflection on Matthew 25:31-40: Solidarity and Service

Reflection on Matthew 25:31-40: Called to Solidarity and Service
(cf. James 2; 1 Corinthians 12)

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9)

What does it mean to keep? Today, we would ask: What is service? Service, simply, is doing works of love: it is being conformed to Christ. St. Paul and St. James agree on the need for service in a faithful Christian life; St. Paul wrote to the Galatians that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” (Gal. 5:6) The words of St. James explain how faith works through love: “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (Jas. 2:15-17)

Who is my brother? Today, we would ask: What is solidarity? Pope John Paul II defined solidarity in one of his encyclicals on social justice. It “is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual because we are all really responsible for all.” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38)

Our Lord said that he came to this earth not to be served but to serve. He is the perfect King, a King who loves his subjects so deeply and truly that he serves them. We, who are baptized into his kingship, exercise it when we love as he loved, when we serve as he served. Our Lord returned to Heaven where now he is served, both in our worship (liturgical and otherwise) and in our service to one another. Christ tells us plainly that when we serve one another, especially the suffering, the poor, and the neglected, we are serving him.

These works of love call us to solidarity, they challenge us to recognize Christ in one another, where we might least expect to find him. In its final document, Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council boldly proclaimed that, because God took on human flesh in the Incarnation, Jesus Christ united himself in some way to every single human being, just because they’re human! (cf. GS 22) In our Lord’s solidarity with our human nature, we find the source of all human solidarity.

Hear the (paraphrased) words of a sermon of St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century:
Do you wish to honor Christ’s body? Then do not neglect Him when you see Him naked; do not while you honor Him with silken garments in here, neglect Him perishing of cold and nakedness out there. For the same Christ who said “This is my body,” … said, “You saw me hungry, and fed me not,” and, “Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” For in the Eucharist, Christ has no need of clothing, but a pure soul; but in our brothers and sisters, Christ requires much attention. (Homily 50 on Matthew, n. 4)
We’ve all heard this parable from Matthew before. This parable, like that of the Good Samaritan, is Christ’s clear answer to that selfish question of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes, Christ answers, and in this one word “Yes,” Christ confirms that we are brothers and we must keep one another: that is, that we are in solidarity with one another, and we are obliged by faith and love to serve one another.

Cleansing the Temple at every Mass

From Praying the Mass, chapter 4:
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the week of his Crucifixion (on the day we commemorate as Palm Sunday), he went into the Temple area and “caused a scene.” He drove out the money-changers, men who “helped” Jews on pilgrimage by trading their foreign currency for the coinage used in the Temple… at a lousy exchange rate. After chastising these dishonest bankers, Jesus turned his attention to the blind and the lame, and he healed them. We commemorate – and enter into – his cleansing of the Temple and his healing of the infirm at every Mass. It is called the Penitential Act.

The purpose of the Penitential Act, in the words of the Missal itself, is to “prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.” To do this in honesty and sincerity before God, we must examine ourselves and admit our sin and our sinfulness, asking the Lord for His mercy. Jesus tells us to be reconciled with one another before we present our offerings and ourselves at the altar. (cf. Matt. 5:23-24) In the words of the Catechism, “the first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness. … It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer.” (Catechism 2631) This is true both in the liturgy and in our personal prayer.

After the priest invites us into this act, there is a brief pause for silent reflection and examination. Make proper use of this silence by calling to mind your sins – the ways you have failed to live out the Gospel in your daily life – and repenting of them. There has been a loss of the sense of sin in our world, with dangerous effects: so long as we’re healthy, wealthy, and wise (in the eyes of the world) we think we’re “all right.” On the contrary, Fr. Thomas Kocik wrote in Loving and Living the Mass that Jesus might say in our contemporary language, “it is better to enter heaven with a guilt complex than to enter Gehenna brimming with self-confidence.” (p. 43)

So how is this anything similar to the wild-but-tender side of Christ that we see in Matthew 21:12-14? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” (1 Cor. 6:19) “We are the temple of the living God.” (2 Cor. 6:16) We are temples, but we are marred by the stain of sin, as guilty as the money-changers though our sins might be completely different. We are temples, but we are plagued with sickness, as in need of Christ’s healing touch as were the blind and the lame. In the Penitential Act, Jesus Christ comes to us to cleanse us and to heal us of our sins.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence

I got a copy of this book three years ago and never really read it. I received another copy as a gift at Christmas. I'm almost done with it, and I decided to compare it to my previous copy. I feel compelled to warn you about the first copy I got.

The 1982 publication by Whitaker House is not very good at all. It is a loose paraphrase. In the words of the publisher's preface: "In this abridged edition, we have sought to update and clarify the language of this Christian classic, paraphrasing where necessary, while keeping the essence of the message intact." It goes way overboard. It excises several passages, some of which are distinctly Catholic:
  • mention of praying at set times throughout the day (in his Carmelite monastery) in Conversation #2
  • a reference to receiving absolution through a confessor in Conversation #2
  • references in Conversation #2 to acts of mortification are corrupted; Br. Lawrence spoke of "bodily mortifications" as "useless, except as they serve to arrive at the union with God by love" and that "all possible kinds of mortification, if they were void of the love of God, could not efface a single sin." (pp. 21-22) The Whitaker version renders these two separate clauses as one, "that all possible good works or self-abasing acts of contrition we could possibly do would not erase a single sin." (p. 18)
  • a quote from Br. Lawrence at the end of Conversation #4 in which he mentions kneeling in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament
It also re-orders his 15 letters, damaging them in the process:
  • Whitaker's Letter #6 appears to be completely fabricated
  • Br. Lawrence's 11th and 13th letters are missing completely, probably because they praise the salvific quality of suffering and bearing suffering joyfully
  • Br. Lawrence's 14th and 15th letters are merged into one, retaining only the first sentence of letter #14
The new copy I have, from Spire, is far better.

Upon inspection of the original French text (which I haven't found online all in one place), the Spire translation is exceptionally faithful to the French:
  • "qu'il n'avait pas besoin de directeur, mais bien d'un confesseur pour recevoir l'absolution de ses fautes qu'il faisait" (Conversation 2)
  • "toutes les pénitences et autres exercices n'étaient utiles que dans la mesure ou ils servaient à amener l'union avec Dieu par amour" (Conversation 2)
  • "toutes les pénitences possibles, si elles étaient séparées de l'amour, elles ne serviraient pas à effacer un seul péché." (Conversation 2)
And Conversation 4 ends with a clear reference to the Blessed Sacrament:
On ne le voyait jamais agir en hâte ; mais avec une juste modération, il donnait à chaque chose le temps qu'il lui fallait, conservant toujours son air modeste et tranquille, travaillant sans lenteur et sans précipitation, demeurant dans une même égalité d'esprit et dans une paix inaltérable. "Le temps de l'action, disait-il, n'est point différent de celui de l'oraison, je possède Dieu aussi tranuillement dans le tracas de ma cuisine, où quelquefois plusieurs personnes me demandent en même temps des choses différentes, que si j'étais à genoux devant le Saint-Sacrement."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why does the priest turn to face us during ad orientem Mass?

C. Why should the priest turn round to the people when he is engaged in so solemn an act of communion with Almighty God?

P. To assure them continually of his good will toward them, to remind them that they are parties with himself in the great act he is performing, and to keep up their attention; even as our blessed Lord Himself broke off three several times from His prayer in the garden in order to sustain the fainting hearts of His Apostles: and hence the Church would have us remember that our life on earth is divided between the duties of devotion and charity, for on those "two great commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." But you will find that when the priest has once entered upon the more solemn parts of the Mass, he no longer salutes the people by turning toward them.

(Source: The Glories of the Catholic Church The Catholic Christian Instructed in Defence of His Faith by Richard Challoner, et. al.)

Bible Study: 3rd Sunday of Easter

1 John 2:1-5a
Jesus is the expiation for our sins
Et in hoc cognoscimus quoniam novimus eum: si mandata eius servemus.
Download this study [MS Word, 46 k, 2pp]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bible Study resuming

After taking two weeks off (Holy Week and Easter Week), the Young Adult Bible Study is resuming. This week, we're going to read 1 John 2:1-5. I'll post the notes (and the notes from the previous weeks) soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A sister who "moved beyond Jesus"

Check out this frightening look at a possible future for women's religious life in the United States: [warning: the preceding link goes to an article at the National "Catholic" Reporter web site, which is a mouthpiece of dissent]
The dynamic option for Religious Life, which I am calling, Sojourning, is much more difficult to discuss, since it involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus. A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to the spirit of the Holy in all of creation. Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian.


As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it. (Source: PDF)
What does Scripture tell us about those who "move beyond Jesus"?

"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22)

"Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son." (2 John 1:9)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Resources on Being and Becoming Catholic

If you are interested in books or "tracts" on becoming Catholic, I would suggest you first read Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth. You can read it online at Catholic Answers or you can order a copy. It is a very good introduction to the Catholic Church.

If you are curious what Catholics believe, I would suggest the Compendium to the Catechism. You can read it online or buy a copy. (It's probably better to buy than try reading online, but that's just my opinion.)

Finally, this brief web page describes How to Become a Catholic.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pope Benedict XVI!

I posted about this a year ago... April 16th is Pope Benedict's 82nd birthday! Say a prayer for him, please, and for the Church which God has put under his care. Wolves hunt not only the sheep, but the shepherd too, so that the sheep will be without guidance. Pray for his continued resolve and endurance in the face of a secularized world which looks at the Church has some man-made institution on its way out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Roundup

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!

Christ is risen! Indeed, he is risen!

Here are some homilies and addresses from this weekend:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Vigil in Rome

It's on EWTN. They made a request for no use of flash photography "so as not to disturb the liturgical proceedings," because the whole place is dark (and that's a particularly important element of the Vigil Mass!) except for the light of the Paschal Candle (and the Pope's candle). Not everyone seems to be adhering to this policy, but it's not too terrible.

As the flame from the Paschal Candle is shared with the candles of all the other candles in the church, the sign of the Light of Christ being shared with all men becomes clear.

Holy Saturday Reflection - New Names in Christ

Ever since man could speak in words, he has named things, and the names given to things have had meaning. In Genesis, we read that, before man was even created, God, the Creator of all, named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night,” the firmament “Heaven,” the dry land “Earth,” and the waters “Seas” (cf. Gen 1:5-10). When God breathed into the first “Man” His breath of life – the first living soul, the first human in communion with God – God gave to Him the gift of language that man might name the creatures which God had created.

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named (Eph 3:14-15) writes Saint Paul. Names, which are made up of words, are important in every culture. A thing is given a name for a reason, and words themselves have origins. The name Adam and the Hebrew word for man are one in the same: adamah, which means both “reddish” and “earth” and describes the complexion and substance of man.

My name, Jeffrey, comes from Geoffrey, which comes from the Germanic name Godfrey, meaning “the peace of God.” Branson, your name comes from an English surname meaning “Son of Brando;” brando comes from medieval German, derived from brand which meant “sword.” Cody, your name comes from the Gaelic Mac Oda, meaning “son of Otto.” And Ricardo, your name is the Spanish and Portuguese form of Richard, meaning “brave power;” it comes from the Germanic roots ric meaning “power” or “rule,” and hard meaning “brave” or “hardy.”

Biblical names are rich in meaning. The prophet Elijah was sent to Israel during a time when the king and his people followed many gods; the name Elijah means “the LORD is God.” Jesus’s name in Hebrew, Yehoshua, means “the LORD saves.” Several times in the Bible we read of people being given a new name by God: Abram and Sarai were renamed Abraham (“father of many”) and Sarah (“princess”) in light of their covenant with God (cf. Gen 17); Jacob was renamed Israel (“he struggles with God”) after contending with a messenger of God (cf. Gen 32:28); King David’s son Solomon was named Jedidiah (“beloved of the Lord”) in his infancy (cf. 2 Sam 12); and Simon was named Peter (“rock”) by Jesus (cf. Matt 16:18, John 1:40-42).

Paul wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come (2 Cor 5:17). It is in our baptism that we are made new – restored and refreshed – by God, who calls each of us by name. We choose a baptismal name, as well as a confirmation name, as a sign of this rebirth in Jesus Christ. We choose the name of a saint, one who set apart his or her life for God, as a sign of our earnest desire to live a holy life and be a child of God.

St. Victor of Marseilles was a 3rd century Roman soldier who was imprisoned when he would not worship pagan idols. While awaiting execution, he converted other prisoners to Christianity. His name, a common one among early Christians, comes from the Latin word meaning “conqueror.” As a given name, it has a profound connection to Jesus Christ. St. Paul asked the Church in Rome: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Rom. 8:35, 37) Christ himself endured tribulation, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, and the sword, but the Lord conquered death through them. In the book of Revelation, Jesus sends a message to seven churches; at the end of each message, he promises a reward to those who conquer: to eat from the Tree of Life, to not suffer eternal death, to taste the hidden manna, to receive power, to be dressed in white, to be a pillar of the temple of God, and to sit on his heavenly throne.

St. Peregrine Laziosi is the patron saint of cancer patients. In his youth, in the late 13th century, St. Peregrine was staunchly opposed to the Church. During one civil disturbance, the pope sent Philip Benizi to mediate a peace; Peregrine struck St. Philip on the cheek, and St. Philip did not retaliate but rather turned his face to let Peregrine strike his other cheek. Peregrine was so overcome that he repented and entered the Church. He was ordained a priest of the Servite order, and led many people to the faith by his fervent preaching and faithful witness to the Gospel. St. Peregrine’s name means “wanderer” or “pilgrim,” and at the Second Vatican Council, the Church identified herself as “present in the world, but as a pilgrim,” recalling the words of St. Paul to the Church in Philippi: our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we also await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. In his early life, he was a wanderer and a pilgrim, but he found his home, the Church, and from then on, he was on pilgrimage to the Temple of God in Heaven.

St. David the King was an ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the second King of Israel, beloved of God. God said of David, “I have found in David, the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22) The name “David” in Hebrew means “beloved.” And yet, David was a sinner. After he caused Bathsheba’s husband to die in battle to cover up his own adultery with her, David was utterly sorrowful; moved to repentance, he wrote Psalm 51. In words which prophesy the cleansing of Baptism, St. David cried out to God: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. / Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! / Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. / Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” When Jesus, a Son of David, was baptized in the Jordan, the voice of the Father came out of Heaven saying “This is my beloved Son” – His “David-son”, His “beloved Son”. In Baptism, in Christ, we become beloved of God.

The first Christian saints experienced the early form of baptism and confirmation. Baptism by water in the name the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit cleanses us from our sin; Confirmation seals us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, which manifested itself as tongues of flame at Pentecost. Water and fire, often seen by philosophers as contradictory and opposing, are understood in Christianity as united symbols of cleansing and purification. In being called by the Father, you will pass through the waters of baptism and the fire of the Holy Spirit, welcomed by so great a cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1): His Son, His Holy Spirit, His Saints, His Church.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Christmas and the Crucifixion

At Christmas, we sing Venite, adoremus! ("Come, let us adore him.")

On Good Friday, in response to Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit ("Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world"), we sing Venite, adoremus! (Come, let us worship.")

Coincidence? I think not.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pope St. Leo I, Quam laudabiliter (translation)

I have not found this Latin text translated into English anywhere, so I've given it my best shot. This is Pope St. Leo professing, in AD 447, that the Church's catholic faith professes, among other things, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. It comes from Quam laudabiliter, which can be found in the 1957 Latin Denzinger compilation, n. 284.

Primo itaque capitulo demonstratur,
quam impie sentiant de Trinitate divina,
qui et Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti unam atque eandem asserunt esse personas,
tamquam idem Deus nunc Pater,
nunc Filius,
nunc Spiritus Sanctus nominetur;

Thus, in the first chapter it was demonstrated,
how irreverently they think about the Holy Trinity,
who claim the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to be one and the same persons,
as if the same God is now called Father,
[and] now called Son,
[and] now called the Holy Spirit;

nec alius sit qui genuit,
alius qui genitus est,
alius qui de utroque processit,
sed singularis unitas in tribus quidem vocabulis,
sed non in tribus sit accipienda personis.

not even that They are the One Who begets,
the Other Who was begotten,
the Other Who proceeded from both,
yet a singular unity, in three names to be sure,
but not be understood in three persons.

Quod blasphemiae genus de Sabellii opinione sumpserunt,
cuius discipuli etiam Patripassiani merito nuncupantur;

Concerning the blasphemy they took up, its origin is of the beliefs of Sabellius,
whose disciples, furthermore, are rightly called "Patripassionists;"

quia si ipse est Filius qui et Pater,
crux Filii Patris est passio;

because if the very person is the Son who is [also] the Father,
the crucifixion of the Son is the passion of the Father;

et quidquid in forma servi Filius Patri oboediendo sustinuit,
totum in se Pater ipse suscepit.

and whatsoever the Son, in the form of a slave to the Father Who must be obeyed, sustained,
the Father Himself took up all of it in Himself.

Quod catholicae fidei sine ambiguitate contrarium est,
quae Trinitatem deitatis sic homousion confitetur,
ut Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum sine confusione indivisos,
sine tempore sempiternos,
sine differentia credat aequales:

Which is contrary, without ambiguity, to the Catholic faith,
which confesses the Blessed Trinity of the divine nature homousion in this manner,
that she believes the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [are] indivisible without confusion,
eternal without time,
equal without difference:

quia unitatem in trinitate non eadem persona,
sed eadem implet essentia.

because not the same person fulfills the unity in the Blessed Trinity,
but the same essence (substance).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sacraments in the Protestant communities

Here is an excerpt from a blog post of a pastor at a nearby non-denominational Christian community:
We will be looking at the two sacraments practiced by the Protestant Church - communion and baptism. Communion symbolizes the doorway to the church. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paves the way for personal cleansing and a relationship with God. Josh will be sharing this weekend and I ask that everyone be praying for a clear message and call concerning the sacrifice of Christ and the elements of communion that facilitate our remembrance of that event. We trust some will make a decision this weekend to enter that door they have only previously gazed at from a distance. Then we hope they will be baptized the following week.
I mean Pastor Boyd no disrespect, but I think he's got Communion and Baptism backwards. Maybe it's just him, maybe it's the tradition in which he was brought up, maybe it's much of Protestantism in general.

St. Peter and St. Paul did not speak of Communion as the doorway to the Church. They preached Baptism first. I'm curious if the ecclesiology suffers when these two sacraments of initiation are put in the wrong order...

Acting rashly, regrettably

My friend Philip at Unam Sanctam posted this quote from G.K. Chesterton. I like it:
Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down.

All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily.

Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil.

Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something.

And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark. (Heretics, I)
[H/T: Unam Sanctam]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Just heard on Catholic Answers Live

"We know television like 1st century Jews knew Scripture." (Tim Staples, referring to our ability to identify the theme to The Brady Bunch from the first three words as an analogy to a devout Jew's ability to identify a Psalm by its incipit (opening words))

Monday, April 06, 2009

Discovery Channel begins its annual heresy parade

This week, the Discovery Channel is airing all of its "Christianity is a big hoax" programs. The Shroud of Turin is actually the face of Leonardo DaVinci. Right now, I'm being educated about the real origins of the New Testament (specifically the gospels).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Another Anglican returns home

"I realized I can live without being Roman Catholic, but I couldn't die without being Roman Catholic."

Read the full story.

[H/T: Curt Jester]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Excellent video about the priesthood

This is a great video about the priesthood. This is the sort of message that needs to get out to the young men in the Church today!

Click here to view it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Today's Scripture quote

I just stumbled across this. Powerful words from Sacred Scripture as we approach Good Friday.

"For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed of a new generation. For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes." (Wis. 14:6-7)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Why so quiet?

Why haven't I made any major blog posts in a while? Where are the "Power of the Cross" posts? Where's the English Attende Domine?

I'm working on a super-secret project right now. It's very big. It's sort of blog-related (more related to Critical Mass than The Cross Reference). Once I've heard back from the USCCB CDW, I'll let you in.

And then I'll ask for volunteers!