A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence
He goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Today is Ember Wednesday. The Ember Days are four sets of days of prayer and fasting established to correspond to the start of the four seasons of the year. (In Rome this week, every day it warms up past 60° F/15° C -- clearly spring. In the American Midwest, the start of the new season is not quite so clear; snow still covers the ground. But even here the days lengthen and the squirrels and rabbits have started to come out of hiding).
The three days of Embertide are always Wednesday (the day on which our Lord was betrayed), Friday (the day on which He was crucified) and Saturday (the day on which He was entombed).
Holy Trinity parish in Boston and the Fisheaters.com websites have good explanations about the origin and purpose of Ember Days, and the Fish Eaters website has a separate page specifically for the Lenten Embertide.
From the sequence for the Mass for Pentecost:
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the wayward home once more!
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The media Lenten observance...
... of debunking Christianity has taken form for the year. Top Hollywood scienticians and filmmakers claim that they have found the tombs of Jesus, Mrs. Jesus, and their child. Our Lord's mother was also buried at the same location, but not His Father. As the only known living relative, His heavenly Father presumeably provided the tissue sample used for the genetic testing that helped prove this was not a goofy hoax, weird homage, or simple coincidence of names.
Hat tip to Gerald Augustinus and Jay Anderson for reporting this story, which for some reason is being ignored by most Catholic bloggers and most, but not all, of the "main-stream media".
Today would have been a good day for the restoration of the traditional Mass. For Eastern Catholics and schismatics, "The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy" is celebrated today, in remembrance of the overthrow of Iconoclasm in AD 843. This destroying impulse had periodically afflicted the east since 726. The Holy Roman Catholic Church in recent years has had its own destroyers of pious tradition to cope with, and it still reels from the effects of their pernicious influence.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, Quadragesima Sunday. Quadragesima means forty, and it is now forty days until Good Friday. Quadragesima is the name in Latin for the whole season of Lent.
It is not yet 8 am in Rome, so it is possible that the motu could be published today. But since no one hints that Pope Benedict will do anything today on this score, apparently the wait will continue. [The Holy Father will be on retreat with the Curia this week, starting today, so no news is likely this week].
I hope the Church will not have to wander for a full forty years in a liturgical desert of its own creating.
From the Novus Ordo first reading for today:
When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us,
imposing hard labor upon us,
we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers,
and he heard our cry
and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
He brought us out of Egypt
with his strong hand and outstretched arm,
with terrifying power, with signs and wonders;
and bringing us into this country,
he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.
From the traditional epistle for today:
We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful.
Both the old and new Gospel readings for today recount Jesus' temptation by the Devil, after His 40 days of fasting. The Anglican Reverend Dr. Peter Toon [who should really be Catholic] offers this meditation on the temptations of our Lord.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Lord's presence as comfort or torment
Nicholas just turned 6. I love this age; there are usually so many really wonderful questions and conversations. In Nicholas' case, he has to ponder something for a long time before he talks about it. And then he has to rehearse what he's going to say with himself. So, sometimes, at what might seem like an odd moment, he just bursts out with a question:
"Mommy, I think it's possible you can sin so much you never go to heaven, right?"
One week ago in the Catholic Herald, Elizabeth Foss explained to her six year old son how different people can experience the loving embrace of God differently - for some it is comfort and joy, while for others it is a relentless fire from which they would flee, if there were any place to hide.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent for most Catholics. I took the following from our parish's bulletin from last Sunday. Mostly, I was glad to hear some urgency in Father's call for us to do penance and reform our lives. I wish I had heard more of it these last few decades. Apparently, some parishioners had trouble adjusting to our pastor the first couple years he was here, and complained to the bishop about him being too harsh or legalistic, but it doesn't help anyone to keep the truth fuzzy and obscure. May God bless you with a Lent that is spiritually fruitful.
A Message from our Pastor
“Do not say, ‘Who can have power over me?’ for the Lord will surely punish you. Do not say, ‘I have sinned, yet what has happened to me?’ for the Lord is slow to anger. Do not be so confident of forgiveness that you add sin to sin. Do not say, ‘His mercy is great, he will forgive the multitude of my sins,’ for both mercy and wrath are with him, and his anger will rest on sinners. Do not delay to turn back to the Lord, and do not postpone it from day to day; for suddenly the wrath of the Lord will come upon you and at the time of punishment you will perish.” [Sirach 5:2-7]
During approaching days of Lent, these words written almost 2200 years ago sound through the depths of our hearts like a fire alarm or tornado siren. We are called “loud and clear” to look deep into our hearts and see how we stand before God now. As the Apostle Paul declared to the Christians at Corinth: “We urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” [II Corinthians 6:1, 2] Each of us without excuse must ask ourselves personally is there anything at all that makes me frightened at this moment, not tomorrow, not next week, not when I am older, to enter before the judgment of God. Am I ready at this moment to die?
One of the absolute “facts of life” is that every one of us is in a “terminal condition”. Every one of us – Caucasians, persons of color, Hispanics, Republicans, Democrats, rich and poor – yes, every one of us will die! But when and how is unknown to us. The “how” of our dying– a stroke, cancer, a car accident, war, etc. -- is rather secondary. The “when” is important, but hidden from us. We must be ready at all times.
“You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” [Matthew 24:44] As far as I know, today is the last day of my life. As far as I know, today is the last day that I have an opportunity to change my life, to repent of my sins. If, in fact, today is the day when I am called to judgment, I will not regret that I have come to the sacrament of penance too often, but perhaps once too seldom; that I have received the Holy Eucharist too often, but perhaps once too seldom; that I have forgiven my neighbor too often, but once too seldom.
As we reflect on those words of Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”, remember that Jesus has promised us His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, His word in the Scriptures, His guidance in His Church, and His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. But one thing that God has promised to no one: TOMORROW!!!
My brothers and sisters, let us intensely pray, sacrifice for the poor, and mortify ourselves. Lent is a time of interior violence: “The kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence.” [Luke 16:16] In the timeless words of coaching: “No gain without pain.” As the athletic “track coach” author of the Letter to the Hebrews declares: “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
[12:1-2] Okay, team; let’s go for it.
In Jesus & Mary,
Father (Coach) Jim
On a sillier note: "Ashes" Named Favorite Catholic Sacrament
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Happy Chinese New Year
Quinquagesima: Shrove Sunday
Today is Quinquagesima Sunday. Today, tomorrow and Tuesday are days when Catholics traditionally make a point of getting to Confession, to prepare for Lent which starts this week on Ash Wednesday (for Latin Rite Catholics).
[Break the name Quinquagesima apart syllable-by-syllable, and it is not hard to pronounce].
Traditional Epistle: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Traditional Gospel: Luke 18:31-43
New First Reading: I Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
New Second Reading: I Corinthians 15:45-49
New Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
In the first reading, David says that he would not harm the Lord's annointed. This was merciful and righteous. In the traditional Gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ [Christ means "annointed one"] goes to Jerusalem, knowing that His unrighteous enemies will kill Him there. But even with that dread time approaching, He is merciful to one who has faith and asks for His help: He opens the eyes of a blind man. The heart of Jesus is love and mercy. In the new Gospel, our Lord says to love every man, even our enemies, and to love with more than abstract good wishes, but to love with a charity made manifest in actions. In the traditional Epistle, our Lord says that this love is essential, and without it we have nothing. Such a supernatural love seems impossible, but with God all things are possible, and in the second reading we hear that we shall bear the image of the new Adam, the man of heaven, who calls us now to turn away from sin and follow Him.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Ask for the old paths
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The Screwtape Letters
Just read that the Screwtape Letters is going to be made into a feature film. I read this book by C.S. Lewis several years ago, during a slow turning back from atheism to the Catholic Faith. It helped. As I remember it, the humor and insight of the book entertains, even while it prods the reader to take a closer look at the ways people can justify their baser impulses. It is written as a series of letters from one demon to a lesser demon, who is trying to corrupt and capture a soul. Amy Schartz wrote a short sequel in the same style. And here is a briefer homage in the form of a single letter.
I imagine a very episodic movie, with a Greek chorus of devilish commentary. It will be interesting to see what the producers decide to do with the story.
A Prayer for the Day
Dear God, so far today, I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped, and I haven’t lost my temper.
I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish, and I’m really glad of that!
But in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed,
and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of help.
Thank you! Amen.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Today was Sexagesima Sunday, the second Sunday of three in the traditional short Septuagesima season of preparation for Lent. Una Voce of Orange County kindly provided liturgical Mass texts for the day here and here.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
"Consubstantial this, pal"
Some progressives are still fighting against a correct translation of the words of consecration in the novus ordo Mass, or as this blogger puts it: "the very tendentious 'which will be shed for you and for many' in the institution narrative of the Eucharistic prayer".
What a strange opinion, that the direct translation of our Lord's words, chosen, apparently, by every single translator of the Gospels into English, is "tendentious", while an inaccurate paraphrase, used in no Gospel translation, is to be preferred.
From the Gospel of Matthew in Aramaic:
Notice that "for many" is two words in Aramaic, not the single word that the blogger claims, and that translating directly from Aramaic to English, the correct translation is still "for many", not "for all".
Friday, February 09, 2007
Human-hide wallets and canibalized embryos
Was it a good idea for Nazis to try to make wallets and lamp shades out of the skin of killed prisoners? Ok, so killing people because of their ethnic background is against some people's ideas of traditional morality, but if they are going to die anyway, why should the bodies go to waste?
How about concentration-camp slavery? Sure, slavery is against some people's personal moral values, but if the prisoners are going to die anyway, why shouldn't society benefit by working them to death? At least some good would come out of a bad situation that way.
(Sorry, but these gruesome analogies do have a purpose).
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Die Tagespost interview with Cdl Castrillón
Gillibrand at the Catholic Church Conservation blog has translated an interview with Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos. The good cardinal is president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, whose purpose is to reconcile estranged traditionalist Catholics. The commission reportedly was given responsibility for revising the much anticipated motu proprio, which is expected to make the traditional Mass more available. The interview with Cardinal Castrillón was published earlier today in Die Tagespost. Two highlights:
The Motu Proprio does not mention figures.Earlier versions of the motu apparently mentioned a minimum number of parishioners required to petition the pastor for a traditional Mass, and perhaps the maximum number that would be allowed at a private Mass, before it would be considered a public Mass, and subjected to more restrictions. Whether the lack of figures indicates that the motu has been strengthened or weakened is not revealed in the interview.
The Bishops, Priests and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics.The label of schismatic causes many Catholics to avoid scorn or avoid members of the SSPX. Perhaps there is now some movement towards reintegration of the Society into the governance of the Church at large.
(2/9/07) Oops. Father Zuhlsdorf points out that Cdl Castrillón was talking about the old Ecclesia Dei Motu in his comment about "figures"; thoughout the interview the cardinal avoids providing any information about the expected new motu prioprio.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
What is essential is invisible to the eye
Posted by Diogenes in Off the Record:
... But worshiping the body of Jesus under the species of bread also coaches us in a particular disconnect between appearance and reality, where the underlying reality is infinitely more precious than the surface appearance. Now it's comparatively easy to minister to poor people when they're cooperative and grateful and make the minister feel a sense of accomplishment. But sometimes, we're told, they're cantankerous to the point of being positively repellent. That's the point at which the self-congratulatory do-gooders quit and go home and where the real charity kicks in. That's the point at which it's impossible to see the face of Jesus in the destitute (or sick, or deranged) except as a pure act of faith. And that's the point at which it matters whether Jesus is divine or not, because belief in the repulsively disguised spark of divinity is the only reason to keep on giving love in exchange for contempt.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
(Using the traditional Catholic calendar) today is Septuagesima Sunday, the start of the pre-Lenten season, a time of voluntary fasting and abstinence for some, a time of increased self-indulgence for others, all with an eye to the approach of the penitential season of Lent.The Masses start to take a more sorrowful tone; starting today, "Alleluia" will no longer be said during Mass until the Easter Vigil.
Quadragesima Sunday occurs 40 days before Good Friday. Quinquagesima Sunday occurs 50 days before Easter, if you count both the Sunday and Easter. So Sexagesima (60) and Septuagesima (70) could just be an extension of the sequence, used to name the Sundays leading up to Lent in a consistent way.
But Septuagesima has an appeal as a name for the start of the season. The number occurs several times in the Bible, and could have symbolic value. (Today is actually only 63 days until Easter). Dom Gueranger particularly points to the Babylonian Captivity, which lasted 70 years (Jeremiah 25:8-12; Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2, 2 Chronicles 36:14-23). Israel was in captivity, and we are in captivity, but with the hope of one day returning to our true home.
Besides the Babylonian exile, there are other occurrences of the number 70 which can be read symbolically. Seventy members of Jacob's family went to Egypt (Genesis 46:26). Ezekiel saw 70 elders adoring idols (Ezekiel 8). According to Jewish tradition, the 70 descendants of Noah through Shem, Ham, and Japheth named in Genesis 10 became the fathers of 70 nations after the fall of the tower of Babel, and the confusion of languages (Genesis 11). Jerusalem fell in AD 70. The Egyptians mourned the death of Israel for seventy days (Genesis 50:3). Seventy years is the ordinary length of life in the Bible (Psalm 90:10). When the chosen people began longing for the fleshpots of Egypt, Moses took seventy elders of Israel up the mountain with him, and the Holy Spirit came down upon them (Numbers 11:24-25, Exodus 24:9). Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:21-22). Jacob fathered 70 children (Exodus 1:5) The oasis that sheltered the chosen people in the desert had 70 palm trees (Exodus 15:27). Jesus chose 70 disciples (Luke 10:1-17). In a prophecy in Daniel, seventy weeks, or "weeks of years", are given for people to repent and atone for sin, in preparation for the last days of the present world.
There are a wealth of images in the Bible associating the number 70 with sin, punishment, mourning, repentance and blessing, which serve to turn our minds and hearts towards our Creator, Who wills to make us in His own spotless image, so that we might live with Him forever in Paradise.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Presentation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple:
And when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord: "Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord: "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him after the custom of the law, then he took Him up in his arms, and blessed God and said,
"Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,
according to Thy word;
for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,
which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles,
and the glory of Thy people Israel."
And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. And Simeon blessed them and said unto Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was of great age and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years. She departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Today is the traditional unofficial end of the Christmas season. This Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday, the start of preparation for Lent.
Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall:
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind:
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.
Robert Herrick (A.D. 1591-1674)