Archive for January 2010

A prophet in his home town

January 30, 2010

It’s less than a year until the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (“At the Beginning of the New Millennium”).  In it, he challenges us with this:

…is it not the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make his face shine also before the generations of the new millennium?
Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face.
.                                                                                             — NMI, n. 16

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is an especially fertile passage for contemplating the face of Christ.  Here are some of the ‘faces of Christ’ that I found:

  • 1 – the face of Christ upon whom all eyes were fixed
    2 – the face of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit
    3 – the  face of Christ declaring truth
    4 – the face of Christ secure in the knowledge that the Father was “well pleased” with him (cf. Lk 3:22)
    5 – the face of Christ confident in his role as Son of God
    6 – the face of Christ faithfully revealing his mission
    7 – the face of Christ desiring that his people would embrace this news of their long-awaited restoration
    8 – the face of Christ hopeful that his people would recognize and accept their Messiah
    9 – the face of Christ sensing the doubt arising in the hearts of his hearers
    10 – the face of Christ recognizing the dissipation of their acceptance of him
    11 – the face of Christ hearing the doubt expressed verbally by some in the assembly
    12 – the face of Christ aligning himself with the great prophets rejected by Israel
    13 – the face of Christ delivering the hard word
    14 – the face of Christ reminding the people of how, when their ancestors were unfaithful, blessings were instead sent to Gentiles
    15 – the face of Christ being subjected to the anger and abuse of the crowd
    16 – the face of Christ being forced out of the city
    17 – the face of Christ devoid of even the slightest desire to return violence for violence, passing through the angry mob unharmed

A Catholic unfamiliar with Jewish law might not realize that when the mob “led him to the brow of the hill…to hurl him down headlong,” they intended to stone him to death, and this was just the initial step in that process.  This is explained by Henri Daniel-Rops in his book “Daily Life in the Time of Jesus“:

…the condemned man was to be taken to a cliff the ‘height of two men’ and one of the accusers was to throw him down backwards, obviously to stun him by the fall or to break his back; it was only after this that the stones were to be thrown, and the first was to be aimed at his heart.

Msgr Romano Guardini, commenting on this Gospel passage in his book “The Lord,” makes the following observation:

At the bottom of the human heart, side by side with longing for the eternal source and fulfillment of all things, lurks resistance to that source:  elementary sin in its lair.  Seldom does it confront holiness openly; almost always it strikes at the bearer of holiness: at the prophet, the apostle, the saint, the confirmed believer.  Such people do irritate.  Something in us finds the very presence of one dedicated to God unbearable.  We revolt against him, ‘justifying’ our distaste with his shortcomings (naturally, there are always shortcomings) or with his sins.  How could such a person be a bearer of sanctity!  Or perhaps it is only his weaknesses (which from our dour viewpoint of rejection immediately swell perniciously), or his eccentricities that are so maddening – nothing is more trying than the eccentricities of a saint!  In short, the fact that he is a human, finite being is too much to bear……And the sharpest criticism, the most impatient rejection of holiness is always to be found in the prophet’s own home.

In “Praying the Gospels,” Fr Lovasik includes these sentiments in his prayer based upon this passage of Sacred Scripture:

I can imagine what Your Heart feels as you are seized and led away to death through the streets of Your home town by those who were Your neighbors and townsmen, and to whom You had surely shown much kindness…Teach me to be patient in bearing the disappointments caused by my own friends. 

Bp Serratelli — Part 2

January 29, 2010

Last week I posted the first installment of an article on family life from Bp Serratelli’s weekly column.  The concluding episode is now available.

For husbands, fathers and sons…

January 28, 2010

…an article by Mike Aquilina (link on right sidebar) via Happy Catholic in which he honors — and shares lessons learned from — his father and grandfather.

Syracuse

January 27, 2010

One month from today our brethren in Syracuse will be gathering for their annual Men’s Conference.  Last year’s talks by Rick Santorum and Fr Stan Fortuna can be heard here.

The prayer of the poor in spirit

January 26, 2010

Six of the seven Offices of the Church’sLiturgy of the Hours” begin with this form of the invocation found in Psalm 70:2

God, come to my assistance;
      Lord, make haste to help me.

John Cassian, in his Conference Ten (“On Prayer”), extols the efficaciousness of this verse for our prayer life.  He begins with this:  (see the very bottom of Page 132 here)

To keep the thought of God always in your mind you must cling totally to this formula for piety: ‘Come to my help, O God; Lord, hurry to my rescue.’

It is not without good reason that this verse has been chosen from the whole of Scripture as a device.

He exposes the wealth and value of this Scriptural entreaty over the next few pages, and begins the conclusion of his consideration of this verse with these two paragraphs: (starting at the bottom of Page 135)

Our prayer for rescue in bad times and for protection against pride in good times should be founded on this verse.  The thought of this verse should be turning unceasingly in your heart.  Never cease to recite it in whatever task or service or journey you find yourself.  Think upon it as you sleep, as you eat, as you submit to the most basic demands of nature.  This heartfelt thought will prove to be a formula of salvation for you.  Not only will it protect you against all devilish attack, but it will purify you from the stain of all earthly sin and will lead you on to the contemplation of the unseen and the heavenly and to that fiery urgency of prayer which is indescribable and which is experienced by very few.  Sleep should come upon you as you meditate on this verse until as a result of your habit of resorting to its words you get in the habit of repeating them even in your slumbers.

This verse should be the first thing to occur to you when you wake up.  It should precede all your thoughts as you keep vigil.  It should take you over as you rise from your bed and go to kneel.  After this it should accompany you in all your works and deeds.  It should be at your side at all times.  Following the precept of Moses, you will think upon it ‘as you sit at home or walk along your way’ (Dt 6:7), as you sleep or when you get up.  You will write it upon the threshold and gateway of your mouth, you will place it on the wall of your house and in the inner sanctum of your heart.  It will be a continuous prayer, an endless refrain when you bow down in prostration and when you rise up to do all the necessary things of life.

Please pray now

January 25, 2010

I came across the following in our blog stats just now:

These are the search terms people used when clicking into our blog.   Whoever found us on that last search needs help. 

Today

Search Views
divine mercy 4
guardian of the redeemer 2
“guardian of the redeemer” 1
divine mercy image 1
clinic in st.thomas that do aborshion 1

There is a mother and child in great need of grace right now.  I’d ask that you take a moment right now, and pray.  Pray hard.

Meet the Ashley CMF group

January 23, 2010

Here’s a pic from this morning’s gathering of the Catholic men’s fellowship group that meets at St Leo’s parish hall in Ashley every Saturday at 7:30:

Clockwise from the left:  Christian, Fr Robert Kelleher, Jim, John, Pat, Joe, Miguel, Jay & Jeff.

New participants are always welcome!

Changes in family life

January 23, 2010

Here the first installment of a two-part article by Paterson NJ’s Bishop Serratelli, in which he discusses the downward spiral of family life in America.  What interested me was his description of a recent archaeological find:

Just four days before Christmas 2009, a Israeli archaeologists announced their discovery of a dwelling in Nazareth from the time of Jesus.
(…)
Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that the dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way village. It consisted of about 50 houses situated on four acres. The Jews living here were by no means wealthy. The absence of any remains of glass vessels or imported products shows that the people lived simple lives. The presence of clay and chalk vessels used by Jews at the time to ensure the purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels suggest the family was observant of Jewish tradition.

Simplicity of life.

I’m eager to see what he’ll say in Part 2.

Virtual March for Life

January 22, 2010

Can’t Get to Washington today?  No problem, join the virtual march for life with 69,700 other marchers as of this writing.

Psalm 74

January 22, 2010

During morning prayers today when I first opened up my Bible It fell open to Psalm 74: Plea for help in time of national humiliation. How appropriate.

Threnody for the Innocents

January 21, 2010

In his Space Trilogy, C.S. Lewis posits that the original language — that of the angels — is music.  Peter Kreeft continues the theme saying that language one step fallen from music is poetry, one further step is prose, one further step is mathematics.  Music has the power to convey much much more than ‘mere words.’

In thinking about tomorrow’s march for life, I was reminded of the movie Children of Men.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it as a very moving pro life movie.

It shows a world not too different from our own where for mysterious reasons, women are no longer able to become pregnant.  As the world ponders the cause from pollution and disease to God’s judgement, society devolves into a true nihilism, fully exploring what Josef Pieper outlines in theory in ‘Leisure: The Basis of Culture’ .    Anyway, I thought that there are books, images, and movies that try to convey the nightmare of abortion; but I’m not aware of equally powerful music written for the purpose.  And when I say music, I don’t mean lyrics.  Maybe the problem is that so many modern art music composers are very very liberal in their politics and philosophies.  That’s a shame, and another story.  So I thought I would comb my back catalogue and find some ‘classical’ music that really conveys the emotional impact the pro life movement is trying to spare us from.   This is not music to celebrate heroism or in most cases even hope.  It is the musical counterpart of ‘The Silent Scream’ and the Truth Trucks.  A word of caution, much of the music I reccomend here is very difficult to listen to, both because of the subject matter, but also because much of it is of a post modern composition.

A good place to start is the soundtrack from the film ‘Children of Men’.  Just about every piece will do, starting with the very hard to bear ‘Threnody of the Victims of  Hiroshima’ by Kryzstoff Penderecki.    The piece—perhaps as a nod to John cage originally called 8’37” . Penderecki later said “It existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way.” When he heard an actual performance, “I was struck by the emotional charge of the work…I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims”. The piece tends to leave an impression both solemn and catastrophic, earning its classification as a threnody. Since the piece was not commissioned for Hiroshima specifically, I think it serves equally well for the 40 million aborted since Roe v Wade.  Also of special note on this album are several compositions by John Tavener, including ‘Mother and Child’, ‘Song of the Angel’, ‘Fragments of a Prayer’, and ‘Mother of God Here I Stand.’

Another album that musically chronicles tragic and violent loss is ‘Black Angels’ by the Kronos Quartet.  The liner notes for ‘Doom A. Sigh’tell that the composer was writing an elegy to the innocent martyrs shot during the communist takeover of Romania.  In the background you can hear the folk recording of two Romanian women crying while trying to sing an elegy.  Periodically the instruments produce sounds like gunshots.  Other notable works on this album are the Spen in Alium by Thomas Tallis, eponymous Black Angels ; and Shotakovich’s haunting Quartet no 8.  Dmitri Shostakovich once said after a perofrmance of it that he wished he could write a piece of music for every individual who was murdered by Josef Stalin.

Another good album as a whole is Dark Wood by solo Cellist David Darling.  The entire album is one piece in several movements.  It is a masterful work of brooding ultimately ending in cautious hope.  At points throughout you if you listen close you can hear the Cellist (Darling himself) breathing heavy with the effort of playing the cello (although not, I think, in this example).

Finally, if we as a nation don’t correct our course on the dignity of all human life, we have this to face:

von Speyr on Familiarity

January 21, 2010

I was writing a letter to a friend on my thoughts about the TLM (see post from last week).  I came across this quote from Adrienne von Speyr which helped to illuminate my feelings rather succinctly.

To get used to things means merely to rob them of their deeper meaning.  Here is an example: your Sunday best was once an ornament, but later you began using it for everyday wear.  All it does now is perform a service; it no longer adorns you.

Waiting for the Giant

January 20, 2010

I just heard what has got to be one of the more interesting chance meetings in history. Recent history anyway. Well, let’s just leave it as interesting.

Samuel Beckett used to drive Andre the Giant to school.

Gotta wonder how those conversations went. “Samuel, why aren’t you driving the car?”

Wisdom from Wells

January 18, 2010

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

H.G. Wells, “The Outline of History” (1920)

I think that’s a pretty concise redux of the 20th Century, or even between the bookends of

How Obama hinders MLK’s dream

January 18, 2010

The election of an African American president sends a powerful and historic message that what was previously unthinkable can become reality.
(……)
The battle for equal rights has reached a major milestone, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of full equality remains just a dream as long as unborn children continue to be treated no better than property.
(……)
President-elect Obama has promised actions that will only increase the number of abortions.

               —- Dr Alveda King (niece of Dr Martin Luther King)
                         November 11, 2008

Why do we go to Mass?

January 15, 2010

(this post prompted by a brief discussion prior to our Service Team meeting this morning)

Here’s how I would answer if someone asked me why I go to Mass:

  • To give thanks (Eucharist) to God by offering and worship, and express my love to Him
  • To offer Jesus to the Father
  • To offer myself and all aspects of my life, in union with Jesus and my brethren, to the Father
  • To hear God’s word in Sacred Scripture (and be changed by it, through the power of the Holy Spirit)
  • To have the Paschal sacrifice of Jesus re-presented to me
  • To worthily receive the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion (and be changed by Him)
  • To unite myself with the heavenly liturgy, and remember with hope that Jesus will come again in glory at the end of history
  • To be sent forth (Ite, missa est) to proclaim by my life and words the love I have received, that the world might be imbued with Christian values

How would you answer the question?

Tips on how (not) to run your meetings

January 14, 2010

New book on JP2

January 13, 2010

Holy Bible — Chuck Norris Edition

January 13, 2010

A good friend of mine recently showed me the cross he wears around his neck.  It’s pretty neat, made of bent iron nails wrapped in wire, but the wire was painted red white and blue.  There’s a number of ways you could interpret that, but he is very sincere and respectful.

In light of that there was a recent ‘ad’ for a new version of the Bible that I came across.  With the myriad of protestant bible editions out there, I thought this made for a humorous start to the day:

Self recognition in Thomas Merton

January 11, 2010

I was reading a snippet from “The Seven Storey Mountain” today, and couldn’t help but see myself reflected in the words:

“Becasue of the profound and complete conversion of my intellect, I thought I was entirely converted.  Becasue I believed in God, and in the teachings of the church and was prepared to sit up all night arguing about them with all comers, I imagined that I was even a zealous Christian.

But the conversion of the intellect is not enough.  And as long as the Will did not belong completely to God, even the intellectual conversion was bound to remain precarious and indefinite.  For although the will cannot force the intellect to see an object other than it is, it can turn it away from the object altogether, and prevent it from considering that thing at all.

Where was my will?  “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and I had not laid up any treasures for myself in heaven.  They were all on earth.  I wanted to be a writer, a poet, a critic, a professor.  Of course, as far as my ambitions went , their objects were all right in themselves.  There is nothing wrong in being a writer, or a poet — at least I hope there is not: but the harm lies in wanting to be one for the gratification of one’s own ambitions, and merely in order to bring ones self up to the level demanded by his own internal self-idolatry.  Becasue I was wrting for myself and for the wordl, the things I wrote were rank with the passions and selfishness and sin from which they sprang.  An evil tree brings forth evil fruits, when it brings forth fruit at all.

I went to Mass of course, not merely every Sunday, but sometimes during the week as well.  I was never long from the Sacraments — usually I went to confession and Communion if not every week, every fortnight.  I did a fair amount of reading that might be called ‘spiritual,’ although I did not read spiritually.  I devoured books making notes here ad there and remembering whatever I thought would be useful in an argument — that is, for my own aggrandizement,, in order that I myself might take these things and shine by their light, as if their truth belonged to me.  And occassionally I made a visit to a church in the afternoon to pray or do the Stations of the Cross.

It took me time to find it out: but I write down what I have found out at last, so that anyone who is now in the position I was in then may read it and know what to do to save himself from great peril and unhappiness.  And to such a one I would say:  Whoever you are, the land to which God has brought you is not like the land of Egypt from which you came out.  You can no longer live here as you lived there.  Your old life and your former ways are crucified now, and you must not seek to live any more for your own gratification, but give up your own judgement into the hands of a wise director, and sacrifice your pleasures and comforts for the love of God and give the money you no longer spend on those things to the poor.

This one’s for you Jeff

January 9, 2010

Attended my first Traditional Latin Mass

January 9, 2010

Last night I went to see Mark Houck of the King’s Men give a presentation on Chivalry. It was hosted by a newly formed Knights of Columbus council in Scranton (led by EWTN and HLI’s Raymond de Souza).  The announcement on the flyer was that the talk would be preceded by Mass.  Ok, cool I thought.  I don’t often get take the opportunity to go to daily Mass.  Well, a fellow brother in Guardian of the Redeemer put 2 and 2 together, looked at the location of the Mass and said, “I’ll bet it’s going to be a Traditional Latin Mass.  The church (St. Michael the Archangel) is administered by the FSSP.  I’ll have more on the talk by Mark later, as it was strangely appropo for me.  Indeed the whole experience was.

First off, I consider myself a bi-ritual laymen in that I am canonically a Ruthenian Rite Byzantine but I regularly attend Latin Rite Masses.  So the ordinary form of the Latin Rite Mass (Novus Ordo) is not my only experience of Mass.

Well, from what I understand, this Mass at St. Michael’s was a ‘low mass’ the distinction of which is that there was no choir or sung responses during points within the Mass.  I am very very interested in experiencing a high Mass.  As a classical violinist I have often wondered why these beautiful Mass settings by Mozart, Verdi, and others are never used.  They are astoundingly beautiful.  I only recently discovered that it is becasue they were meant for the Trad. Latin Mass.  If you have never listened to one of these pieces of classical music — you will be astounded at the loss to the Christendom by exchanging them for Haugen’s Mass of Creation that we hear ad nauseum.

Before I get to the Mass — I want to say something that is more strictly related to the attitude of the laity there. This doesn’t have to be a fruit only of the latin Mass, and we can all learn.

1) Median Age : If I had to guess I would say the median age of the ADULTS in the Parish is about 38.  Lots of families.  Big families.  I thought my parish was young because we had 36 baptisms last year (1100 families).  There must have been 36 children under the age of 6 present in a church that seats maybe 200 tops — and again — on a Friday night!

2) Clothing:  This was a daily Mass on a Friday evening.  With rare exception, the men were in dress pants, shirt tie — often Suits.  The women were in very classy, modest, dresses (attractive ones, not frumpy things).  This includes the children as young as 4 and 5 from what I could tell.  Yes — little boys in suits!  It was a real statement that these people believe they are presenting themselves to God almighty and wanted to be at their best.  This morning I was talking with a fellow lector about how sometimes Father will call us up to lector due to the absence of the scheduled lector — and how at times we are dressed in a very innapropriate way to be proclaiming the word of God.  You know the deal — jeans and a sweatshirt maybe….  We feel comfortable enough wearing it in the pew, but we immediately sense it’s inappropriateness when called to the sanctuary.  I have some remedial work to do in this department.

3) Silence before Mass — it was absolute.

4) Altar Boys:  Oh my stars and Garters — Altar servers (boys) who KNOW WHAT THEIR DOING and do it with CONFIDENCE!  And there is A LOT for them to do and say.  At my Parish the Altar servers are seated in the first pew, and make about 4 appearances — tops including the procession and recession.  And with rare exception, they either don’t know what to do when; or do it lazily or with a lack of confidence.  This applies to the Girls too.  You get a real sense of them as being similar to the body’s coccyx bone, or appendix — a genetic holdover from an earlier age that serves no purpose in the present body, but there it is anyway.  Oh, and I need to mention that the two Altar boys were about 9 and 11 years old respectively.

5) After Mass:  NO ONE got up to leave.  Everyone stayed and prayed.  Since we were on a schedule, and were there for a presentation, the Grand Knight of the KofC got up and invited those of us visitors to come down to the church hall.

6)  The church bulletin;  I didn’t notice anyone picking one up before Mass, maybe that was becasue they already had them from the prior Sunday.  My latest pet peeve is people who take the bulletin and spend all their time beofre Mass reading the bulletin and chatting rather than preparing their hearts for the Mass.  Even if they did read the bulletin before Mass and bring it into the pew, the lion’s share of it is taken up with seasonal prayers 2 Full pages of Prayers, one and a half pages of Mass Schedules. There was only one small section with very brief announcements.  Oh, and related to the Altar servers — there is an Army of them judging from the schedule.  Apparently an army is needed because the High Mass evidently requires a platoon of 9 young men to serve.  Wow, I gotta see that.

Anyway, I don’t think much of that is too much to ask of ANY Catholic Parish regardless of Rite and Use.  It demonstrates a real appreciation for the Real Presence and what we are all there for.  I don’t think this is or should be a characteristic of TLM communities alone.  I bet that younger charismatic communities are very similar, for example.

Impressions of the Mass itself:

1)  Lack of Altar:  OK this is the first thing you notice.  Oooooooohhhhh, so THAT is what that big decoration on the back wall of the Sanctuary is for in old churches. LOL I knew that.

2) Priestly vestments:  I’m sorry but the Dude just looks like he is there for business.  As a Byzantine, this comes naturally.  I’m not a fan of the Novus Ordo Vestments you usually see.  I understand that even modern priestly vestments are very expensive, so it comes as no surprise to me that you don’t often see nice ones since most Parishes are tight for cash, and we can’t (why?) use the heirloom investments from the pre Vatican II period.  So even the nicesst ones are kinda plain in comparison.  The Altar boys also look dressed for action in comparison to the sloppy ill-fitting alb and rope with the sneakers or flip flops (in the case of Altar Girls) sticking out at the bottom.  Again, not that the Novus Ordo Altar servers make much an appearance anyway.

3)  Back to the people:  Shock and Awe — the Priest is ignoring us!  I have heard this many many a time, and having seen it now — I don’t understand that complaint.  I immediately grasped that we were ALL facing the Cross and the Lord on the Altar.  I think the people who emphasize that as being a problem are badly in need of Catechesis about what happens at ANY Mass or Divine Luturgy.  Just my $0.02.

4) Latin, Latin, everywhere not a drop of English:  I sat in the Third row, and I could hear most of the first half of Mass.  I only understood about 1 word out of 20, and so I gave up trying.  I got the idea that the Altar Boys verbal responses was meant to represent the people’s responses.  And for the most part I could Hear the responses made by two little boys speaking latin.  Again, kudos to the Altar Boys.  What really surprised me was the Gospel and reading (not sure if there was a reading other than the Gospel) were in Latin.  I thought this was just wrong.  Not much use in proclaiming the Good news of Jesus Christ if the laity does not speak the language.  I referred to my Magnificat, but I’m not entirely sure the TLM follows the same Reading schedule for Daily Mass.  Does this happen on Sundays and at High Mass too?

5) Homily: Father gave the Homily from the Altar, (the gospel too now that I think about it), not the Ambo.  And although he faced the Laity he kept his eyes closed for the entire thing.  Can someone enlighten me as to why that might be?  It became a bit distracting wondering what was up with that.  The homily was based both on the Gospel (I think, not being sure which one it was) as well as a little description of the role of the priest in certain actions within the TLM.  Very interesting.  Also, completely memorized due to the eyes being closed.  Kudos.

6)  Genuflecting:  Every single time the Altar Boys had to do something or change position, they went before the center of the Altar and genuflected.  I think the instruction in the Novus Ordo is that a server or Lector/Cantor has only to give a profound bow (or head nod in the case of the ladies) when passing the Altar.  It is done so casually in comparison to this…

7) Communion Rail:  What’s the problem again with kneeling and communion on the tongue?  This wasn’t hard, humiliating, or casual.

8) Silence/Active Participation:  Most of the Mass was very quiet.  I doubt the priest could be heard from the middle or back of the church during the audible parts.  Since there were very few opportunities for the Laity to say anything, AND since what little I could hear I could not understand, I thought about the whole ‘active participation thing.’  During the Novus Ordo there is a lot of things to pay attention to and say and sing.  Then of course, the whole break in the action at the Presentation of gifts (kind like a half-time performance) where you can fidget around and talk to your neighbor, and of course the sign of peace glad handing break in the action.  Lots to keep you occupied.  Not a lot of opportunity to pray.  No, let me change that.  In the Novus Ordo, I often find myself zoning out if the Mass is being done in a rather banal fashion (uh… Children or monotone lectors I’m looking at you!).  But when I am paying attention to everything that is gong on, I am often not really truly praying I think.  I guess, I’m saying that there is a lot of things to distract you.  In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Byzantine Divine Liturgy) there is an enormous amount of Laity response but the pace and amount of it keeps you in continual prayer without break.  Here, at this Latin Low Mass — the silence and , mystery of the latin led me to realize I had a choice.  I could zone out, or I could pray on my own and join those prayers to the laity and the priest directing them to our Lord.  But this would require concerted effort on my part.  Active participation I suppose you could call it.  It reminded me of one reason God remains somewhat hidden from us.  If he was obviously and commandingly present in our lives — his sheer glory would relieve of of some of the free will to choose NOT to adore him.  God wants us to love Him because WE want and choose to do so.  Free will requires choice and action on our part.  So here , in the Latin Mass I have again that choice to make, unfettered by the structure the Mass would present to me to ‘help’ me along in making that choice.

9)  How did we get to the current Celebration of Mass from here?  One other thing I thought about during Mass was how VERY different the experience was, and I am really stunned at how we got here from there.

Overall, I’m not sure if the TLM is ‘my cup of tea’.  I’d like to experience a high Mass soon.  But it has definitely given me new perspective on the Novus Ordo.

Something we all need more of

January 9, 2010

This Sunday’s Gospel reading includes the prophetic statement by St John the Baptist that

“…one mightier than I is coming……He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

Most priests will probably focus their homily on the day’s feast – the Baptism of Our Lord. That’s understandable, as that mystery – the First Mystery of Light proffered by Pope John Paul II – provides a wealth of teaching material.

But I encourage you not to overlook the Baptist’s prophecy. Take some time to read about what it means to be ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit,’ because it is so very important to the life and growth of the Church. Here are two links:

A 2003 article by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa

A 2007 sermon by the same papal preacher

There are six important things to remember about our being ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit’:

In May 2008, Pope Benedict said

“Today I would like to extend the invitation to all: let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit…”

Let’s take his advice!

Humanitarian progress

January 8, 2010

Mostly under the radar, we continue our relentless march toward becoming a more civilized world, as evidenced by this headline on Zenit today:

Jewish Leaders Denounce Spitting on Christians

End expectoration now!

400 years ago, this very night

January 7, 2010

400 years ago on the night of January 7th, 1610 a man from Pisa, Italy took a newly-made telescope with a magnifying power of 33X, pointed it at one of the brighter lights in the sky, and irrevocably changed our view of the physical universe. This man of course, was Galileo Galilei and he discovered that bright light — the planet jupiter — had four smaller lights that he detected orbiting it over the next few days.

Up until then the scientific view of the universe was based on the studies of Ptolemy where earth was the center of the universe with heaven above us.  A Catholic Priest by the name of Nicholas Copernicus came along and put forward a theory that the ‘universe’ was really heliocentric — wherein the earth circles the sun rather than the other way around.  Trouble was, Copernicus couldn’t definitively prove his theory.  Galileo was the first to provide evidence for the Copernican revolution.  If Jupiter had moons orbiting it, then what was to prevent the earth from orbiting the sun?

This is what he saw (and drew) this very night 400 years ago:

In the drawing the abbreviations are latin for east and west, the asterisks representing jupiters moons (later named Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto Io is behind Jupiter here) with the large disk being Jupiter.

A few days later he looked again and saw this:

Before Galileo went of the deep end, acting like an arrogant jerk and insulting the pope in some self published manuscripts, in a letter he quoted an Archbishop giving some good advice on science and the Bible: “The bible is a manual for how to get to heaven — not a handbook of how heaven goes.”

Much later on in the astronomical development, another Catholic Priest would posit a theory he also was unequipped to prove.  This theory contradicted the greatest theoretical physicist of his age, Albert Einstein.  Father Georges LeMaitre looked at Einstein’s work and realized that the Universe MUST be expanding.  If it was expanding– then how did it begin? Father posited it was a single event later nicknamed ‘The Big Bang.”  Einstein, realizing the theological implications of this, fought the theory and argued incorrectly, that the Universe was existing in a steady state, neither expanding nor contracting. It wasn’t until 1964 that two Bell Labs researchers trying to understand background static in radio transmissions realized they had stumbled upon the smoking gun of the creation of all things — cosmic background radiation.  Fr. LeMaitre learned of the proof for his theory shortly before he died in 1966.