Friday, April 30, 2004

to the threshhold of the apostles

This month, our bishops will go to Rome for their ad limina visit/report/pilgrimage. A summary of their report can be found here, and is quite interesting, not least in the great hope it engenders. What with all the liturgy discussion of the last couple of weeks, here's what the summary says about the state of liturgy in our local Church. ["I" in this quotation is our archbishop, +Timothy.]

I have been pleased to find that our parishes believe that the joyful, reverent, proper celebration of Sunday Eucharist, with full participation of the people of God, is at the heart of our identity as a Church.

There is strong adherence to Vatican II principles regarding full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy. To me, this reflects the unity of the entire Body of Christ. I think the Archdiocese of Milwaukee can be proud of the efforts to provide liturgical education and formation to the faithful.

I am concerned, however, about the number of Catholics who do not attend Sunday Mass. Our weekly attendance rate hovers around 40 percent, which is simply not good enough. If I could issue one pastoral challenge to Catholics in southeastern Wisconsin for the upcoming season of Lent, it would be this: Go to Mass each Sunday!

I am also pleased that there seems to be an increase in participation in the sacrament of Reconciliation. What a great gift this sacrament is, and I pray that it remains readily available in our parishes and is often utilized by the faithful as a way of deepening their relationship with God through interior conversion.

Likewise I am pleased with a renewed devotional life among our people, evident in, for instance, the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and Scripture prayer groups.


I have seen nothing at all that contradicts this, and much that supports it and upholds its validity.

Do not believe all that one hears from the professionally outraged.
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Christ conquers death by death

Christ conquers death by death, and death does not hold Him, from St. Ephrem the Syrian in today's Office of Readings:

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew Him by means of the body which He had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

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A Marian prayer for the Eucharistic Congress

A prayer to Mary our mother for the Eucharistic Congress, by David, a contributor to the Rosary Army Forum. The Eucharistic Congress he's thinking of will be in Atlanta in just a couple of months, and Rosary Army's busily preparing for it, knotting hundreds of rosaries and printing hundreds of sets of instructions for distribution. There's a link to the forums from RA's News from Headquarters blog, but registration is mandatory to view the forums. (There's nothing intrusive that's mandatory, and we'd really enjoy the company.....)

Prayer to Our Lady for the Eucharistic Congress

Mother Mary, you willingly gave your own body as a vessel to bring the Body of God’s Son to the world;
Pray for us that we may always be willing to give ourselves to His service.

Mother Mary, you felt the beating of that heart which loves all humanity in your own heart;
Pray for us that our hearts may always beat with love for His heart.

Mother Mary you bodily nourished God made man at your breast;
Pray for us as we are nourished by His Body.

Mother Mary, you rejoiced as the magi came to adore the Holy Infant,
Pray for us that we may bring all peoples to adore Him.

Mother Mary, your hands baked bread and set the table in the humble home of Nazareth;
Pray for us as we raise our hands before the Table set by God’s Son.

Mother Mary, at your request Christ performed His first miracle at the wedding feast;
Pray for us as we are present to behold the miraculous feast of His Body on the altar.

Mother Mary, you beheld the King of king’s Body tortured and maimed;
Pray for us as we behold this Body now adored upon the altar.

Mother Mary, you received from the cross the Body of our Savior;
Pray for us that we may receive His Body with thanksgiving for His suffering and death, and joy in His glorious resurrection.

AMEN

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What I did for my name-day

I took myself and my tax refund to the WalMart, treated myself to dinner at the WalMart snack bar, and bought lots of little things I needed for the home sweet anchor hold --- clothes hamper, tuna fish, beans, dutch oven, soup bowls, a new cane to replace the one I lost two weeks ago, ink pen refills, and......

......a new optical scroll mouse!

I have it installed now, and it works so very much better than my old mice ever did, I'm just getting carried away being able to point and click and point some more, and cut and paste in only one try, and no spastic cursor behaviour at all, at all!

I really should stop playing and go to bed.
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Thursday, April 29, 2004

calling all Liturgy-heads

The Australian Broadcasting Servive brings to the internet a draft translation of the new Mass in English, in the form of 44 jpeg images ---- a bit unwieldy but worth the trouble to read. I got the tip-off from Fr. Jeff the new Gasparian.
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Happy name-day to me

[cue music] Happy name-day to me.....[/music]

Catherine Benincasa of Siena, one of those truly scary saints. Counsel-bound without convent, utterly focused on her Beloved, the One who Is, doctor of the Church, admonisher of Popes and curial bureaucrats.......

From today's Office of Readings, a passage from my name-saint's great Dialogues, which were between her and God, the one who ain't and the One who Is.

[from the Dialogue on Divine Providence}

Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.

I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.

You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!


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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The pure essence of veneration

See the image illustrating the veneration of images here at Paradosis. Blessings today on James of the Northwest and his family.
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as if it needed commanded......

.....yet more from Redemptionis Sacramentum

[186.] Let all Christ's faithful participate in the Most Holy Eucharist as fully, consciously and actively as they can, honoring it lovingly by their devotion and the manner of their life. Let Bishops, Priests and Deacons, in the exercise of the sacred ministry, examine their consciences as regards the authenticity and fidelity of the actions they have performed in the name of Christ and the Church in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Let each one of the sacred ministers ask himself, even with severity, whether he has respected the rights of the lay members of Christ's faithful, who confidently entrust themselves and their children to him, relying on him to fulfill for the faithful those sacred functions that the Church intends to carry out in celebrating the sacred Liturgy at Christ's command. For each one should always remember that he is a servant of the Sacred Liturgy.
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Monday, April 26, 2004

feedback earnestly requested:

Six Movements of the Eucharist: A New Tract for the Times

I: I will go unto the altar of God, the God who gives joy to my youth.

Before we begin, we call ourselves to attention. The heading is from the Mass of my childhood, and was the beginning of the penitential rite in those days, and, though the words have changed, what we do is the same. We are called to attention, and prepare ourselves, by begging the forgiveness of our sins. We place to one side for this time all the distractions and troubles and trials in order to do this timeless work. All liturgy is the work of the faithful --- that is what the very word "liturgy" means.

Knowing our weakness and faults, but knowing also the faithfulness and the mercy of God, we draw near, both because we love and because we are commanded to do so. As our bishop or our priest ascends those three steps that separate the altar from everywhere else, to reverence the altar; as we beg each other for prayers in the Confiteor and plead for the Lord's mercy; we prepare ourselves to participate in this great offering with the entire Church in all times, and outside of time in the eternal present.

II: Wisdom! Attend!

Now that we have prepared, we turn to the ambo, the table where we are nourished by the Lord's words in the Sacred Scripture. We are nourished, we are strengthened, we are enlightened; we learn of the Lord's works and glories, and give Him thanks for His great generosity in giving us the Word's words.

We give special honor to the Book of the Gospels. We stand. We sign ourselves, asking the Lord that we may be opened to hear and to proclaim. The risen Christ is truly with us in His holy Gospels.

Then our priest or our bishop teaches us, that we may more fully understand God's holy words, just as St. Philip explained the Scriptures to the Ethiopian on the road. We do not want to be ignorant. St. Jerome was correct when he said: Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

III: What earth has given and human hands have made

Even from the beginnings, there has been a collection as part of Mass. For, there's a necessity. The Eucharist is not only a gift granted, willy-nilly ---- though Eucharist would not be without the Lord's continual generosity. The Eucharist begins as the good that we gather and offer to God for Him to use. There is no Bread of Life nor Cup of Eternal Salvation, no body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ really present, without there first being bread and wine that we provide, our gift to God. Our God has chosen, in this case, not to create His gifts from nothing, but to transform the gifts, small as they may be, that we give to Him, into His great gift to us.

"He took the bread and blessed it." How did He bless it? The gospels don't tell us. They didn't have to say, because everybody knew that. Every time bread had been eaten, all their life from infancy, they had heard the blessing. "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." And so we bless and offer up that bread, and that wine, that we give and that the Lord will transform for us from ordinary food that nourishes this life to the true food and true drink that nourishes life eternal.

IV: The Mystery of Faith!

Now, after our offering is prepared, we are again called to strict attention: "Lift up your hearts!" "We lift them up to the Lord!"

And, kneeling at attention, or standing at attention, depending on whether it's a Sunday or a weekday and whether our parish is Nicea-ed or GIRM-ed, our priest, our bishop, prays, and us with him, our great Eucharistic prayer, our hymn of thanksgiving. And we know, by our own experience, that our Lord's one great offering did not only happen two millenia ago to our long-unremembered ancestors ---- that great offering is here among us, is always and forever now. Jesus promised us that He Himself would be our true foor and drink, and He is God, who always keeps His promises.

Christ is, now and forever, risen; not in the past but now. We dealt death to Him, and He eternally conquers.

And that which had been the plainest of bread and wine is now, by this great gift, His own body and blood, that we might eat and drink and live life true and eternal.

V: We become what we receive, amen, amen.

This is what St. Augustine taught his neophytes about Holy Communion. It's an old, old truism that "you are what you eat." Before us, appearing in the lowly form of bread, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and we are invited to come and eat. We know we are not worthy of such a great and awe-filled privilege, but we also know that it's not so much an invitation as it is a command --- we must eat and drink if we are to live. So, as we begged at the very beginning, we ask again, only say the word, my Lord, and I shall be healed. And we come, and bow, and eat. I, a member of the body of Christ, receive the body of Christ. Receiving the body of Christ, we become the body of Christ. And, just as Christ shared in our humanity, we shall share in His divinity.

We are filled with Him, and may be even overcome with awe; there's a reason that many of us bury our face in our hands when we return to our places and pray and await as the other members of Christ's body who are gathered here with us receive the body of Christ also. And in respect, when physically possible, we stay kneeling or standing, not sitting down, until everyone has received and any leftover Hosts have been reposed. And we abide in the closest personal relationship possible with the Lord Jesus Christ, in great recognition of His Body, and we give thanks.

VI: Go, you are sent.

Why do we call the Mass the Mass? Because "missa est". Now that we have received Eucharist, we are commanded to take Eucharist with us outside the walls, beyond the walls, to all and everywhere.

That command, "Ite, missa est" is clear enough in just plain translation, but it's even clearer when we remember that it was military jargon, a command roughly equivalent to the modern command "fall out". The military company comes together for morning roll call, receives the orders of the day, their duty assignments, and then they "fall out" to go do them. We, the members of the Body of Christ, have received the Body of Christ, and more deeply become the Body of Christ, our general orders to be holy; now there is a time where any "special orders of the day" can be presented --- the announcements. Then we are blessed for our further strengthening, and then we are sent, and we begin the adventure of being the Body of Christ outside the church walls, beyond the church realm, every place we are and in every situation we may be in, throughout the entire world.

The mission is ours; may we accept it and fulfill it with joy. Thanks be to God!


Please help: email, comments box, or link in the box to the fisking on your own site all welcome!

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

another wondrous passage

another wondrous passage from Redemptionis Sacramentum

1. Active and Conscious Participation

[36.] The celebration of the Mass, as the action of Christ and of the Church, is the center of the whole Christian life for the universal as well as the particular Church, and also for the individual faithful, who are involved "in differing ways according to the diversity of orders, ministries, and active participation. In this way the Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy people, a people God has made His own", manifests its coherent and hierarchical ordering". "For the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical Priesthood, though they differ in essence and not only in degree, are ordered to one another, for both partake, each in its own way, of the one Priesthood of Christ".

[37.] All of Christ's faithful, freed from their sins and incorporated into the Church through Baptism, are deputed by means of a sacramental character for the worship of the Christian religion, so that by virtue of their royal priesthood, persevering in prayer and praising God, they may offer themselves as a living and holy sacrifice pleasing to God and attested to others by their works, giving witness to Christ throughout the earth and providing an answer to those who ask concerning their hope of eternal life that is in them. Thus the participation of the lay faithful too in the Eucharist and in the other celebrations of the Church's rites cannot be equated with mere presence, and still less with a passive one, but is rather to be regarded as a true exercise of faith and of the baptismal dignity.

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What the Mass looks like, then and now

The Office of Readings has excellent timing! In today's Office of Readings, from St. Justin's first apology for the Christians, an excellent description of what Sunday Mass is and always will be.

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said:
Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

a nifty meme

A nifty meme, via Bene Diction

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence as a comment on my blog.

5. Post the text of the sentence on your own blog, along with these instructions.

My page 23, sentence 5 this morning:

Signs of being born again, of starting over, should find a ready echo in Christian worship.

Anyone else???
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Friday, April 23, 2004

document is out


Redemptionis Sacramentum

Click on the headline for the full text of today's document on "Eucharistic abuses."

I've given it a once-over read and will go back to it; so far there seem to be some wonderful things, some "oh, duh" type stuff, and some corrections that sound like somebody's been having delusions or could use a sermon on the evils of wildly exagerated or downright false denunciation.

A taste of one of the wonderful parts [and probably more in days to come]:

1. The Diocesan Bishop, High Priest of his Flock

[19.] The diocesan Bishop, the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him, is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life. For "the Bishop, endowed with the fullness of the Sacrament of Order, is 'the steward of the grace of the high Priesthood', especially in the Eucharist which he either himself offers or causes to be offered, by which the Church continually lives and grows".

[20.] Indeed, the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church is found whenever the rites of Mass are celebrated, especially in the Cathedral Church, "with the full and active participation of the entire holy People of God, joined in one act of prayer, at one altar at which the Bishop presides", surrounded by his presbyterate with the Deacons and ministers. Furthermore, "every lawful celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, to whom is entrusted the office of presenting the worship of the Christian religion to the Divine Majesty and ordering it according to the precepts of the Lord and the laws of the Church, further specified by his own particular judgement for the Diocese".

[21.] It pertains to the diocesan Bishop, then, "within the limits of his competence, to set forth liturgical norms in his Diocese, by which all are bound". Still, the Bishop must take care not to allow the removal of that liberty foreseen by the norms of the liturgical books so that the celebration may be adapted in an intelligent manner to the Church building, or to the group of the faithful who are present, or to particular pastoral circumstances in such a way that the universal sacred rite is truly accommodated to human understanding.

[22.] The Bishop governs the particular Church entrusted to him, and it is his task to regulate, to direct, to encourage, and sometimes also to reprove; this is a sacred task that he has received through episcopal Ordination, which he fulfills in order to build up his flock in truth and holiness. He should elucidate the inherent meaning of the rites and the liturgical texts, and nourish the spirit of the Liturgy in the Priests, Deacons and lay faithful so that they are all led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist, and in like manner he should take care to ensure that the whole body of the Church is able to grow in the same understanding, in the unity of charity, in the diocese, in the nation and in the world.

[23.] The faithful "should cling to the Bishop as the Church does to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ does to the Father, so that all may be in harmonious unity, and that they may abound to the glory of God". All, including members of Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life as well as those of all ecclesial associations and movements of any kind, are subject to the authority of the diocesan Bishop in all liturgical matters, apart from rights that have been legitimately conceded. To the diocesan Bishop therefore falls the right and duty of overseeing and attending to Churches and oratories in his territory in regard to liturgical matters, and this is true also of those which are founded by members of the above-mentioned institutes or under their direction, provided that the faithful are accustomed to frequent them.


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If only.....

......this little guidebook were available in 1975-76, I wouldn't be living canonically-incorrect today! An extremely valuable practical resource for anyone sensing the call to prayer and penance in an anchor hold.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Catholic takes no adjectives!

Listen to the wisdom of the Church:

It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words," out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

[Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, 24]

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A ten-point examination of our Catholic ethos

This week's homily connection [Real Audio needed, 22:40] for the 3rd Sunday of Easter-C is an excellent and enlightening examination about those things that make us uniquely Catholic, our faith and our oneness with the Church.

Be aware that the content of this link changes every Wednesday, for the coming Sunday, so you will only find this if you click before April 28th. But, still click if you are seeing this in the archives --- I possess the recordings, and have listened to most of the homilies and they are uniformly excellent. If you are also a sermon addict, you can own the CDs also, and help support the Cathedral outreach ministries, by going to the Cathedral link in the sidebar.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

We are one body in Christ

We must support each other in love.

Yesterday Mark Shea asked about the things we find most hopeful in the Church right now. I didn't post an answer there because he was already 60-something deep in comments and it had already gone the way of all hopefilled comment boxes on his site, but here is my answer:



the unity of the Church. The image is the iconographic label on our Cathedral's shrine of Our Lady, Mother of the Church --- the cathedral, with the bishop, the pastor, the heavenly patron, and the people of God gathered in prayer, worship, and instruction. [The image is a little controversial because it follows the ancient convention of using the faces of the actual people of the time of its making; real bishop and pastor, real parishioners.....] But, the hope isn't actually in the art; it's in the fact that this local Church insists on being this way in fact, not only in myth --- which always overwhelms me at the Chrism Mass, including this year. +Timothy, archbishop, teaching from his cathedra, with our two other bishops on one side and his deacon-attendant on the other, the presbyterium full of the priests of the archdiocese, dozens of vested deacons on the steps of the schola canticorum, the archdiocesan chorus in the schola, and the rest of the space, every crevice, full of hundreds of the faithful, gathered as one body in Christ.

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe writes about this in today's Office of Readings:

The spiritual building up of the body of Christ is achieved through love. As Saint Peter says: Like living stones you are built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And there can be no more effective way to pray for this spiritual growth than for the Church, itself Christ?s body, to make the offering of his body and blood in the sacramental form of bread and wine. For the cup we drink is a participation in the blood of Christ, and the bread we break is a participation in the body of Christ. Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, since we all share the same bread. And so we pray that, by the same grace which made the Church Christ?s body, all its members may remain firm in the unity of that body through the enduring bond of love.

We are right to pray that this may be brought about in us through the gift of the one Spirit of the Father and the Son. The holy Trinity, the one true God, is of its nature unity, equality and love, and by one divine activity sanctifies its adopted sons. That is why Scripture says that
God?s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us. The Holy Spirit, who is the one Spirit of the Father and the Son, produces in those to whom he gives the grace of divine adoption the same effect as he produced among those whom the Acts of the Apostles describes as having received the Holy Spirit. We are told that the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, because the one Spirit of the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is one God, had created a single heart and soul in all those who believed.

This is why Saint Paul in his exhortation to the Ephesians says that this spiritual unity in the bond of peace must be carefully preserved.
I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, he writes, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, with all humility and meekness and with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit.

God makes the Church itself a sacrifice pleasing in his sight by preserving within it the love which his Holy Spirit has poured out. Thus the grace of that spiritual love is always available to us, enabling us continually to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to him for ever.


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Monday, April 19, 2004

the Jesus prayer

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner."

At The Mercy Site (general link in sidebar) is this exposition on the praying of this ancient and deceptively simple prayer.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

I think it's time

to write a little about my overlong unscheduled hiatus this winter, and that strange species of place called "skilled nursing facility" or "nursing home".

1) If one is as persistent in asking as the widow with the judge, eventually even the most short-staffed skilled nursing facility will perform the treatments specified in the doctor's orders.

2) Patient endurance attains to all things.

3) Any outing is a good outing --- especially when it actually goes somewhere.

4) Occupational therapists have all kinds of interesting toys, some of which they are eager to give away. The same goes for physical therapists. All kinds of weird things can be done with a long piece of theraband.

5) GIRM warriors would have a field day with the nursing home Catholic congregation, and its Sunday Mass on Friday afternoon. The nursing home congregation is a powerhouse of prayer. However, _nobody_ kneels and _nobody_ stands except Father. Nothing is ever in unison, said or sung, ever, except "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." _Any_ priest is instantly beloved (because so rare). Also the catechist and the EEM. Eucharist is too precious to refuse.

a little piece of doggeral I found in my notes from my internment:

A Lady in Luxury

Hot cereal for breakfast every day.
Fresh fruit and green salad every day --- in January.
Used laundry disappears, and reappears, clean, three days later.
Food arrives, cooked; dirty dishes disappear.
Lounging in the penthouse, nibbling on a Twizzler, nursing a bubbly libation (diet dew).

The cost: enduring a total control institution.
Aides peeking to be certain that every bite of the hot cereal got eaten.
Dietitians scrutinizing a chart to decide which fruit one eats and which dressing, if any, goes on the salad.
No hot water, no hot pot it's against the law, only an aide can scoop ice you might put germs on it.
Wait, wait, beg, plead.
Name written on every piece of one's clothing.
Signing in, signing out, attendance taken everywhere and charted --- even for church.
Roommate one didn't choose, screamers all night down the hallway.

Damn the luxury, let me go home!
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Saturday, April 17, 2004

O Lord, show forth Your mercy

O Lord,
let me stay with the pariahs, please.

They are more kind, and more gentle.
They know Who has saved them
and from where their help comes.

I can't pretend I've been perfect all the time.
When I'm with the respectable people
I'm expected to pretend,
and I just can't anymore.

With the pariahs I don't have to pretend.
I can say, right out loud,
I hurt. I need help.
I've done wrong. I made a mistake.
I am weak and clumsy.
I can't do that by myself anymore.
And they put out their hands,
and they do not laugh and point.
They welcome and they do not ridicule,
they do not add shaming to shame.

They know Who has saved them
and from where their help comes.

Please don't make me go back to the respectable people.
I can't do proper and respectable any more.
I know I've been lost, and stuck, and fallen down.
I know Who has saved me.
I know from where my help comes.

Let me stay with the ones who know and love you, Lord.
Let me stay with the pariahs, please.
I want to know and love you, as do they.
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The Pearl's Price

The pearl we want so desperately is our Lord, Himself.
The price of the pearl is absolutely every thing.
But, the pearl itself is absolutely Everything, All in All.

As St. Teresa de Jesus said (in Nada te turbe):
The one who possesses God finds nothing is wanting.
God alone suffices.


The price is not just every thing one time,
but it's everything over and over again.
Just now we have a promise of the pearl,
we have a covenant about the pearl,
we get glimpses of the pearl.
If we are extraordinarily fortunate,
we have visitation with the pearl.

But the time will come when we take full possession of the pearl
(or it of us! )
and when that time comes,
we must arrive empty.
Having given everything over and over again ---
making installment payments on that pearl ---
we have to arrive empty of self-will, empty of self-pity,
empty of pride, empty of sin,
empty of our works and merits and deserving,
empty of all the trivia and stuff we collect and cling to.

The pearl is Everything.
There's no room in our selves for it
and for any thing else at all.

The other St. Therese, the Little Flower, said to God:
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands,
for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works....
I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice
and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself.


And a gentle, wise, and holy bishop had this to say to the Church he renounced the dearest friendship of his life to love and to serve with a single heart:
She [St. Therese of Lisieux] once wrote that she wanted to go to God empty-handed. I think I know now personally what she meant by that phrase. I have learned how frail my own human nature is, how in need of God's loving embrace I am. Empty-handed for me now means a willingness to accept my humanity totally, just as Christ accepted that same human nature out of love. But for me it also means to be fully receptive to whatever God wants to place in those hands, to be ready with empty hands to receive new life.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind. Each day I will try to leave room for God to enter into my life more and more. Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by His loving embrace and grace.


The price of the pearl is everything, over and over again;
it also requires all of the space in our hearts.
Yet the pearl is Everything: once we take full possession, there will be no voids and no thing lacking.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church,
as she's imaged in our wonderful Cathedral,
strides forward faithfully, determinedly, right off her pedestal,
to follow her Son, her Lord, her Beloved.

Lord, to whom can we go? There is no other way.
We have to dare to follow her example.
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The things Catholics do

(no, not the backbiting nor the bishop-baiting!): emulating our Father's never-ceasing mercy

Feed the hungry.
Give drink to the thirsty.
Clothe the naked.
Visit the imprisoned.
Shelter the homeless.
Visit the sick.
Bury the dead.
Admonish the sinner (but themselves first).
Instruct the ignorant.
Counsel the doubtful.
Comfort the sorrowful.
Bear wrongs patiently.
Forgive all injuries.
Pray for both the living and the dead.
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Friday, April 16, 2004

St. Cyprian's letter to a newly-illumined friend

St Cyprian's letter to a newly-illumined friend

If you click above, you will be led to yet more Bright Week light! [from the most numinous site in cyberspace, via Abayea Monica's site, Sacred Insomnia.]

BTW, Abayea Monica was just chrismated into the Orthodox Church on Saturday! God grant her many years!
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

And yet more light

And yet more light (it's not called Bright Week for nought!) from St. Ambrose to his newly-illumined: What was it you were given to eat?

The cleansed people, rich with these adornments, hastens to the altar of Christ, saying: "I will go to the altar of God, to God Who maketh glad my youth;" for having laid aside the slough of ancient error, renewed with an eagle's youth, it hastens to approach that heavenly feast. It comes, and seeing the holy altar arranged, cries out: "Thou hast prepared a table in my sight." David introduces the people as speaking, where he says: "The Lord feedeth me, and nothing shall be wanting to me, in a place of good pasture hath He placed me. He hath led me forth by the water of refreshment." And later: "For though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff have comforted me. Thou hast prepared in my sight a table against them that trouble me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and Thy inebriating cup, how excellent it is!"

We must now pay attention, lest perchance anyone seeing that what is visible (for things which are invisible cannot be seen nor comprehended by human eyes), should say, "God rained down manna and rained down quails upon the Jews," but for the Church beloved of Him the things which He has prepared are those of which it is said: "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." So, lest any one should say this, we will take great pains to prove that the sacraments of the Church are both more ancient than those of the synagogue, and more excellent than the manna.

The lesson of Genesis just read shows that they are more ancient, for the synagogue took its origin from the law of Moses. But Abraham was far earlier, who, after conquering the enemy, and recovering his own nephew, as he was enjoying his victory, was met by Melchisedech, who brought forth those things which Abraham reverently received. It was not Abraham who brought them forth, but Melchisedech, who is introduced without father, without mother, having neither beginning of days, nor ending, but like the Son of God, of Whom Paul says to the Hebrews: "that He remaineth a priest for ever," Who in the Latin version is called King of righteousness and King of peace.

Do you recognize Who that is? Can a man be king of righteousness, when himself he can hardly be righteous? Can he be king of peace, when he can hardly be peaceable? He it is Who is without mother according to His Godhead, for He was begotten of God the Father, of one substance with the Father; without a father according to His Incarnation, for He was born of a Virgin; having neither beginning nor end, for He is the beginning and end of all things, the first and the last. The sacrament, then, which you received is the gift not of man but of God; brought forth by Him Who blessed Abraham the father of faith, whose grace and deeds we admire.

We have proved the sacraments of the Church to be the more ancient, now recognize that they are superior. In very truth it is a marvellous thing that God rained manna on the fathers, and fed them with daily food from heaven; so that it is said, "So man did eat angels' food." But yet all those who ate that food died in the wilderness, but that food which you receive, that living Bread which came down from heaven, furnishes the substance of eternal life; and whosoever shall eat of this Bread shall never die, and it is the Body of Christ.

Now consider whether the bread of angels be more excellent or the Flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven, this is above the heavens; that was of heaven, this is of the Lord of the heavens; that was liable to corruption, if kept a second day, this is far from all corruption, for whosoever shall taste it holly shall not be able to feel corruption. For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ; water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity. The Jew drinks and thirsts again, you after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting; that was in a shadow, this is in truth.

If that which you so wonder at is but shadow, how great must that be whose very shadow you wonder at. See now what happened in the case of the fathers was shadow: "They drank, it is said, of that Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were done in a figure concerning us." You recognize now which are the more excellent, for light is better than shadow, truth than a figure, the Body of its Giver than the manna from heaven.

Perhaps you will say, "I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?" And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with. a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river. Again, at the prophet's prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned. The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves. Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream. Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock. Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marsh was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered. In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet's blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: "He spake and they were made, He commanded and they were created." Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the Incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. And this body which we make is that which was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.

The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: "This is My Body." Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.

Christ, then, feeds His Church with these sacraments, by means of which the substance of the soul is strengthened, and seeing the continual progress of her grace, He rightly says to her: "How comely are thy breasts, my sister, my spouse, how comely they are made by wine, and the smell of thy garments is above all spices. A dropping honeycomb are thy lips, my spouse, honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is as the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed." By which He signifies that the mystery ought to remain sealed up with you, that it be not violated by the deeds of an evil life, and pollution of chastity, that it be not made known to thou, for whom it is not fitting, nor by garrulous talkativeness it be spread abroad amongst unbelievers. Your guardianship of the faith ought therefore to be good, that integrity of life and silence may endure unblemished.

For which reason, too, the Church, guarding the depth of the heavenly mysteries, repels the furious storms of wind, and calls to her the sweetness of the grace of spring, and knowing that her garden cannot displease Christ, invites the Bridegroom, saying: "Arise, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, and let my ointments flow down. Let my Brother come down to His garden, and eat the fruit of His trees." For it has good trees and fruitful, which have dipped their roots in the water of the sacred spring, and with fresh growth have shot forth into good fruits, so as now not to be cut with the axe of the prophet, but to abound with the fruitfulness of the Gospel.

Lastly, the Lord also, delighted with their fertility, answers: "I have entered into My garden, My sister, My spouse; I have gathered My myrrh with My spices, I have eaten My meat with My honey, I have drunk My drink with My milk." Understand, you faithful, why He spoke of meat and drink. And there is no doubt that He Himself eats and drinks in us, as you have read that He says that in our persons He is in prison.

Wherefore, too, the Church, beholding so great grace, exhorts her sons and her friends to come together to the sacraments, saying: "Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my brother." What we eat and what we drink the Holy Spirit has elsewhere made plain by the prophet, saying, "Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopeth in Him." In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type: "Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink," for the Body of God is a spiritual body; the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read: "The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord." And in the Epistle of Peter we read: "Christ died for us." Lastly, that food strengthens our heart, and that drink "maketh glad the heart of man," as the prophet has recorded.

So, then, having obtained everything, let us know that we are born again, but let us not say, How are we born again? Have we entered a second time into our mother's womb and been born again? I do not recognize here the course of nature. But here there is no order of nature, where is the excellence of grace. And again, it is not always the course of nature which brings about conception, for we confess that Christ the Lord was conceived of a Virgin, and reject the order of nature. For Mary conceived not of man, but was with child of the Holy Spirit, as Matthew says: "She was found with child of the Holy Spirit." If, then, the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Virgin wrought the conception, and effected the work of generation, surely we must not doubt but that, coming down upon the Font, or upon those who receive Baptism, He effects the reality of the new birth.

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More light in Bright Week

from St. Ambrose's mystagogical teachings

Today: why the newly-illumined are dressed in white.

After this white robes were given to you as a sign that you were putting off the covering of sins, and putting on the chaste veil of innocence, of which the prophet said: "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed, Thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow." For he who is baptized is seen to be purified both according to the Law and according to the Gospel: according to the Law, because Moses sprinkled the blood of the lamb with a bunch of hyssop; according to the Gospel, because Christ's garments were white as snow, when in the Gospel He showed forth the glory of His Resurrection. He, then, whose guilt is remitted is made whiter than snow. So that God said by Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow."

The Church, having put on these garments through the layer of regeneration, says in the Song of Songs: "I am black and comely, O daughters of Jerusalem." Black through the frailty of her human condition, comely through the sacrament of faith. And the daughters of Jerusalem beholding these garments say in amazement "Who is this that cometh up made white?" She was black, how is she now suddenly made white?

The angels, too, were in doubt when Christ arose; the powers of heaven were in doubt when they saw that flesh was ascending into heaven. Then they said: "Who is this King of glory?" And whilst some said "Lift up your gates, O princes, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in." In Isaiah, too, we find that the powers of heaven doubted and said: "Who is this that cometh up from Edom, the redness of His garments is from Bosor, He who is glorious in white apparel?"

But Christ, beholding His Church, for whom He Himself, as you find in the book of the prophet Zechariah, had put on filthy garments, now clothed in white raiment, seeing, that is, a soul pure and washed in the layer of regeneration, says: "Behold, thou art fair, My love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are like a dove's," in the likeness of which the Holy Spirit descended from heaven. The eyes are beautiful like those of a dove, because in the likeness of a dove the Holy Spirit descended from heaven.

And farther on: "Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are shorn, which are come up from the pool, which all bear twins, and none is barren among them, thy lips are as a cord of scarlet." This is no slight praise. First by the pleasing comparison to those that are shorn; for we know that goats both feed in high places without risk, and securely find their food in rugged places, and then when shorn are freed from what is superfluous, The Church is likened to a flock of these, having in itself the many virtues of those souls which through the layer lay aside the superfluity of sins, and offer to Christ the mystic faith and the grace of good living, which speak of the cross of the Lord Jesus.

The Church is beautiful in them. So that God the Word says to her: "Thou art all fair, My love, and there is no blemish in thee," for guilt has been washed away. "Come hither from Lebanon, My spouse, come hither from Lebanon, from the beginning of faith wilt thou pass through and pass on," because, renouncing the world, she passed through things temporal and passed on to Christ. And again, God the Word says to her: "How beautiful and sweet art thou made, O love, in thy delights! Thy stature is become like that of a palm-tree, and thy breasts like bunches of grapes."

And the Church answers Him, "Who will give Thee to me, my Brother, that didst suck the breasts of my mother? If I find Thee without, I will kiss Thee, and indeed they will not despise me. I will take Thee, and bring Thee into the house of my mother; and into the secret chamber of her that conceived me. Thou shalt teach me." You see how, delighted with the gifts of grace, she longs to attain to the innermost mysteries, and to consecrate all her affections to Christ. She still seeks, she still stirs up His love, and asks of the daughters of Jerusalem to stir it up for her, and desires that by their beauty, which is that of faithful souls, her spouse may be incited to ever richer love for her.

So that the Lord Jesus Himself, invited by such eager love and by the beauty of comeliness and grace, since now no offences pollute the baptized, says to the Church: "Place Me as a seal upon thy heart, as a signet upon thine arm;" that is, thou art comely, My beloved, thou art all fair, nothing is wanting to thee. Place Me as a seal upon thine heart, that thy faith may shine forth in the fullness of the sacrament. Let thy works also shine and set forth the image of God in Whose image thou wast made. Let no persecution lessen thy love, which many waters cannot quench, nor many rivers drown.

And then remember that you received the seal of the Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, and the spirit of holy fear, and preserved what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you, and gave the earnest of the Spirit in your heart, as you have learned in the lesson from the Apostle.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Anoint the Anointed One

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Anoint the Anointed One: My father +Timothy's Chrism Mass Homily

[This is the homily we heard last Tuesday. Remember, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors' bishops! And, don't gripe at me --- I can't help it that we have three bishops with shepherd's hearts here, I can only give thanks for it!]

Like the eyes of all in the synagogue at Nazareth, our eyes are on Jesus.

Jesus is the “anointed one,” the Christ; Jesus is the oil, the balm, the ointment, the consolation, the healing sent by the Father to us.

This evening, with the celebration of His paschal mystery so near, we praise the Father that the anointing He gave His Son continues in His Church, sacramentally through the oil of catechumens, oil of the sick, and sacred chrism; ministerially through the apostolates of those who share in the sacrament of Holy Orders as bishops, priests, and deacons, and in those consecrated in baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist, who are called to service in the Church. Thanks be to God that Jesus, the “anointed one,” Jesus, the oil, the balm, the ointment, the consolation, the healing, sent by the Father remains alive and active through the faithful ministry of His bishops, priests, deacons, and people called to service in His Church.

While heartily praising God for this ministry, I also invite you this evening to anoint the anointed one; I invite you to join the repentant woman in pouring nard on the feet of the Master; I invite you to help Joseph of Arimethea anoint the body of the Christ; I invite you to accompany the women early that first day of the week as they approached the tomb to anoint His body........

I invite you to anoint the broken, bruised, bleeding mystical body of Christ, the Church.

Our worshipping eyes are on Jesus, the anointed one; our grateful eyes are on those priests, deacons, and faithful who minister in His holy name; our loving eyes are on the bruised, bleeding, broken mystical body of Christ, His Church.

Like His mother and His beloved disciple, our patron, we behold His mystical body, His Church, on the cross. The Church is bloodied by division, bruised by scandal, broken by those who taunt her to “come down off the cross.”

Thus does the Church He loves, as His bride, the Church we love and serve, need anointing: with the oil of catechumens as she humbly rediscovers and renews her conversion through dying with Christ in a baptism of blood and suffering so she may rise with Him to a fresh, new, innocent, purified vigor; anointed with the oil of the sick as her wounds are cleansed, salved, and bandaged; anointed with sacred Chrism as she gratefully and confidently rises to her prophetic role as lumen gentium, light of the world.

It is His Church, not ours;
She hands on the faith of the apostles, not the fads of today;
She is ever ancient, ever new;
She is the communion of saints and the assembly of sinners;
Some sneer at her as old, infirm, out of it; some as brash, naïve, too novel;
She can frustrate and confound us;
She can move and excite us.

For we love the Church! One, holy, Catholic, and apostolic ....... We love the Church. And we are called to anoint her.

We often find ourselves saying with Carlo Caretto,

“How much I must criticize you, my Church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer, and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. At times, I should like to see you destroyed, yet I so need your presence. You have scandalized me, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never have I seen anything more compromised, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful. Countless times have I felt like leaving you, yet every night I pray that I may die only in your warm, loving arms. No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you. Then, too, where would I go? To build another Church? I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects. It would then be my Church, not Christ’s. I am old enough to know better.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ: Love the Church! Anoint the bruised, bleeding, broken body of Christ! With de Lubac we ask, “For what would I know of Him without her?”

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A hymn I'd never seen

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A hymn I'd never seen or heard until I got a Sitemeter

It's always been interesting to me to peek in my referrer logs and see where folk come from and what kind of searches land people here. Of course there's the occasional really flaky search result having to do with "naked" (Pray Naked Experience, linked in the sidebar) and "raw" (Raw Faith, ditto) that I hope 1) don't find anything they're looking for here, and 2) maybe pick up a little spiritual itch from passing through.

But the most consistent "not here, sorry" search I get, every week at least once and some days a binge of them, is "will your anchor hold lyrics" and "hymn will your anchor hold". So, from now on, it'll no longer be "sorry, out of luck" because here it is:

Will Your Anchor Hold?

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

Chorus:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
Fastened to the rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.

Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers roar and the reef is near?
While the surges rage, and the wild winds blow,
Shall the angry waves then your bark o'erflow?

Chorus

Will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill your latest breath?
On the rising tide you can never fail,
While your anchor holds within the veil.

Chorus

Will your eyes behold through the morning light
The city of gold and the harbour bright?
Will you anchor safe by the heav'nly shore,
When life's stroms are past for evermore?

Chorus

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Welcome to Bright Week

when the Newly-Illumined, just a couple of days ago catechumens, find out just what's happened to them.

During the Vigil, when we dunked them in the baptistry, we threw them into the great deep Catholic sea, and they'd better learn how to swim in it. Sometimes it takes a while.

In the early times of the Church, it was even more so. In those days, only the baptised were allowed to know about or witness the Sacraments. The liturgy of the Word is also called the "Mass of the catechumens" because it was the only part they were allowed to be at. In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom one can still hear the command "The doors! The doors!" when the catechumens and other unbaptised were escorted out and the doors closed and guarded so no unbaptised would witness or intrude upon the Sacrifice.

So, after being instructed in the Christian life and moral living, the catechumen would be brought to the Vigil not knowing what was going to happen to them, and both witness the Eucharist and receive It for the first time that night.

Then, clothed in their baptismal white garments (that they would wear all week), the bishop would instruct them about what had just happened to them, and especially about the sacraments; this instruction is called the mystagogia.

Following is the very beginning of the mystagogia as taught by St. Ambrose of Milan:

We gave a daily instruction on right conduct when the readings were taken from the history of the patriarchs or the maxims of Proverbs. These readings were intended to instruct and train you, so that you might grow accustomed to the ways of our forefathers, entering into their paths and walking in their footsteps, in obedience to God’s commands.

Now the season reminds us that we must speak of the mysteries, setting forth the meaning of the sacraments. If we had thought fit to teach these things to those not yet initiated through baptism, we should be considered traitors rather than teachers. Then, too, the light of the mysteries is of itself more effective where people do not know what to expect than where some instruction has been given beforehand.

Open then your ears. Enjoy the fragrance of eternal life, breathed on you by means of the sacraments. We explained this to you as we celebrated the mystery of “the opening” when we said: Effetha, that is, be opened. Everyone who was to come for the grace of baptism had to understand what he was to be asked, and must remember what he was to answer. This mystery was celebrated by Christ when he healed the man who was deaf and dumb, in the Gospel which we proclaimed to you.

After this, the holy of holies was opened up for you; you entered into the sacred place of regeneration. Recall what you were asked; remember what you answered. You renounced the devil and his works, the world and its dissipation and sensuality. Your words are recorded, not on a monument to the dead but in the book of the living.
There you saw the levite, you saw the priest, you saw the high priest. Do not consider their outward form but the grace given by their ministries. You spoke in the presence of angels, as it is written: The lips of a priest guard knowledge, and men seek the law from his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord almighty. There is no room for deception, no room for denial. He is an angel whose message is the kingdom of Christ and eternal life. You must judge him, not by his appearance but by his office. Remember what he handed on to you, weigh up his value, and so acknowledge his standing.

You entered to confront your enemy, for you intended to renounce him to his face. You turned toward the east, for one who renounces the devil turns toward Christ and fixes his gaze directly on him.


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Sunday, April 11, 2004

"I have seen the Lord!"



An apostle is an eyewitness to the Lord's resurrection. The first one, the one chosen to make that proclamation to the Eleven, was St. Mary Magdalen. In this image, she is giving her witness to the Eleven.

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This is the night, Christ is risen!

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Saviour shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends, standing with me in this holy light, join me in asking God for mercy, that he may give his unworthy minister grace to sing his Easter praises.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father, and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers: you freed the people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O Happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says: "The night will be as clear as day: it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and men and women are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night, receive our evening sacrifice of praise, your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all humankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

This is our invitation

As we finish preparing to celebrate the Great Paschal Vigil, here is our open invitation, from St. John Chrysostom.

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.


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Mother of God, Light in All Darkness

One of the treasures of Milwaukee's Cathedral:



To all human appearances this day, hope has been crushed, the light extinguished, darkness is triumphant. But, this is only an appearance.

There is one who has guarded the light with her whole life, who knows that even this cannot be the end, and continues to guard and cherish the light in her heart as she always has. She waits, and gathers in the crushed and hopeless disciples and encourages them to wait with her and not despair; and so they wait.

Mother of God, Light in all darkness,
intercede for us.
Be a companion to us,
and bring to our confusion and darkness
the Light you bore,
the Light you guard and cherish.
Although we do not yet see light,
do not let us fall into the abyss,
and assure us that there is still light
until such time as the Light shall return.
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Friday, April 09, 2004

Very different Stations

some Stations very different than the ones I posted earlier today.

I have not mentioned these during this Lent, so I'll point the way to them now.

The Upside Down Way of the Cross
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the darkness descends, the earth is dark

XII. After between three and six hours of humiliating and shameful exposure and slow suffocation on the cross, having fulfilled all Your Father's will and having seen to the future care of Your mother, You handed over Your spirit to Your Father and died. Because it was the afternoon before Sabbath, there were orders to break the legs of the condemned so they would suffocate fast and not be left hanging there on Sabbath. Because You had already died, though, they did not break Your legs, only assured themselves of Your death by driving a spear through Your heart. Water and blood flowed out, the spring of salvation that I so often take for granted and fail to appreciate and give thanks for.

XIII. A wealthy and well-placed follower, Joseph of Arimathea, asked for and received permission to take down Your body and give it burial. Your mother, and John, and the other Marys, were already there at the cross, had been there the whole while. Joseph and Nicodemus came, and took Your body down from the cross, and laid it, for the last time, in the arms of Your mother, and she clung to it; but it was very near to sundown and Sabbath, so Joseph and Nicodemus had to take the body from her. Am I always as loath to let go of You?



XIV. Joseph and Nicodemus hurriedly wrapped Your body in linens and put it in Joseph's own tomb, not yet used for any burials, since it was not far away and Sabbath was very near. After Sabbath they would return and finish the rites and practices of burial, for there was no more time now, Sabbath was upon them.

And so we entered the one day in all of history when it can be said with any truth at all that God is dead.......

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via dolorosa

I. Jesus, true and total Innocent, you were condemned and sentenced to death, though You had committed no crime, by a cynical politician who simultaneously denied all responsibility for the decision. Oh, how often do I do what is expedient instead of what is best or most just? How often do I go along to get along?

II. Your cross, Your instrument of execution, is brought to You. You are not bound to it struggling and unwilling, but You take it up of Your own will. Lord, I know that for every one of us, not having a cross is not one of the options, yet how consistently I set out to avoid bearing it. I could bear it with You and offer it as gift, but so often I fight and struggle and am bound and dragged, crushed and broken by it.

III. Yet, You are very weak. Up all night, marched all over town then scourged until nearly dead, the cross is heavier than Your body can carry, and You fall down. Yet You got back up, picked up the fallen cross, and went on. How often do I fall down and just give up and stay there?

IV. You meet Your mother along the road. She shares one of God the Father's attributes --- You are her only-begotten Son. She loves You, and witnesses Your suffering, and can hardly help but suffer with You; yet she consents to this, and continues to follow You, all the way to the end and beyond.

V. Even the guards can see Your bodily weakness, and they want to get You to the execution grounds still alive so You can be crucified. So they grab a guy off of the street and force him to carry Your cross, so You only have to carry Yourself. The evangelist identifies this guy, Simon the Cyrenean, as "Alexander's and Rufus' father," a sign that the people the evangelist were writing for knew Alex and Rufus as fellow believers. Was this where Alex and Rufus first encountered Christ, coming in from the fields with their dad?

VI. A lady in the street, bold in her mercy, performs an alms-deed for You. Seeing You nearly blinded by sweat and blood, she of her own volition wiped Your face with one of her veils. Am I ever bold in mercy, or am I chickenhearted, only being merciful to the respectable and deserving, when it's easy and without risk?

VII. Even with help from Alex's and Rufus' dad, this journey is more than Your bodily strength can endure, and You fall down again. You do not stay down though, and the guards do not force You up by Your bindings; You get up Yourself, and continue on. How often am I not persistent in going towards the good, and I give up and wallow in my woes?

VIII. A group of women were touched by Your suffering and Your sentence, and they mourn for You. And You, who so loved all humankind, pitied them, and gave them a prophetic warning of the days to come for them. Not good tidings. But a true warning.

IX. Nearly there, the grade changes --- execution sites are up on hills to better make an example of what happens to those who breach the Pax Romana --- and You fall yet again. And You still do not give up, but rise and continue. No matter how many times I fail and falter and fall, I must continue to get up and go on. Do I?

X. You have finally arrived at the execution grounds. Your last few possessions are now taken from You, including Your clothes. The guards are none too gentle, and the forming clots and scabs from Your scourging come off with Your undertunic, opening all those wounds again. You are totally dispossessed, without even the dignity of being allowed to cover Your nakedness, absolutely exposed. When the day comes when I am Called, I must go to God empty in order to be filled totally with Himself; yet do I cling tightly to physical or psychic "stuff": money, houses, toys, honor, respectability, dignity? You were entirely disdignified; why would I be more deserving of dignity than You?

XI. And then You were crucified. You stretched out Your arms and the guards nailed then securely to the crossbeam. They took Your feet and nailed them also, and they raised You up from the earth. Not far, not nearly to the skies, let alone the heavens. They posted your name and crime above Your head: King of the Jews. And they left You there to die. You are all-good and deserving of all my love, and yet I have given You this.



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What we have done

We ran away and abandoned You.

We denied we even knew You.

We marched You all over town, from courtroom to courtroom.

We screamed for Your execution.

We beat You to within an inch of Your life.

We gave You the only crown You ever wore
and it was formed of thornbush;
and the only scepter, a stray stick lying about the barracks.
We pretended to pay homage.
When that wasn't fun enough, we beat You on Your crown with Your scepter.

We condemned You to death,
and tried to wash away the responsibility.

And yet, You loved us so very much
(and still and forever love us)
even while we did thus.



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Jesus is betrayed



and it is begun.

We also betray each other.

The Institution, by Lisa Basarab

Like a wrench turned inward
Flashing pain, and gone
Then squeezing, pounding
All of life

A grip of fear so real
That all becomes hell
Swirling, mashing black
In dreams

Nightmares without release
With jeering, fractured finger
Seeping unholy accusation
Pointing, pointing

Like a knife backstabbing
Like a serpent striking
Like a nail in my heart
A plea

To kill my God in me
To sever bonds with Him
And make of me a shade
Pulled so down

Down in mire so weak and pale
The squalid self abyss,
Marrow-deep fatigue (and
Endless night)

No light, no piercing stream of light
No hint of water
For me on a jury's slate
Only guilt

Of my own making, breaking a
Heart so cold from stone
Jabbing guilt, always guilt
Never mercy

Never.

Why no priestly absolution,
Just a toll to pay and pay?
A slim, tortuous road bending
So far, so far

You promised in His words to me
A feast on my return
A fatted calf
Not noose

To string along and up a swaying
Body in surreal ease
Poked like a child on a swing
Whee!

But the glee of games is gone
For my heart's hunt-ripped effigy
Searing, burning,
Flamed

On the spit of upright clerics
Turning folly into shame
Shame, shame!
(An ancient game.)

And so, alone, I hurt
Slipping into nowhere else to go
Except a shrinking Body
Tree-hung

Battered limbs, blood-splashed
Spittle-strewn and slung
With friends looking up
In misery

Save me, sweet Convicted One
In faint aches of rage I spew
that steal Your breath
From mine

Lift the noose away, heal the ache around
To squelch only every urge to bolt
And not Your pain
In me

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

On the night before He suffered, He took bread

and as the Passover made each generation of Israel actually present in the exodus from Egypt, so the Eucharist makes us truly present at the Lord's one Sacrifice through all the ages. It is the evil child who says, "The LORD brought our ancestors out of Egypt." Note, not himself, just his great-great-grands. We are as much present, as much implicated, as our ancestors in the first century AD.



[This image, by Giotto, is wonderful, but it is not the one I really wanted this evening. If anyone knows an electronic version of the Fritz Eichenberg Last Supper, please leave the link in the comments box or email me; thanks]
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and He humbled Himself......

Jesus was invited to dinner by a well-to-do gentleman, Simon the Pharasee, one day. The dinner party was crashed by a woman of rotten reputation. When Simon asked why Jesus did not rebuke this sinner-woman: Quit harrassing her! You invited Me to dinner, and didn't even provide a basin for Me to rinse My dusty feet, yet she has been washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair, and she has not stopped kissing them since she got in here. She loves much; she has been forgiven much. Those who are stingy with their love will receive stingy forgiveness .......

It wasn't all that much later



that Jesus brought His disciples together in a borrowed upstairs room in Jerusalem, not far from His mother's apartment. He took up a towel and basin, and got down on the floor, and performed that menial guest-service that was one of the less-enviable chores of the most junior house-servant, washing the dust and grime from their feet in those days of open sandals and dirt roads.

This is My command: that you love one another.

The one who would lead must be the servant of all, the slave of all.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Betrayer, denier, crucifier, beloved

Betrayer, denier, crucifier, beloved: facing my true self before God

The very first symptom of the Fall was the desire to hide from God. And from each other. And, even, from ourselves. Hiding from God is just futile and frustrating. Hiding from others and from ourselves, however, is death-dealing. Secrets bind and kill. Delusions make one stupid. Both are what makes up the wide and downhill superhighway to despair.

However, there is an infallible antidote to this mess.

I have to face, straight-on, exactly what I've done, precisely what my besetting problem is.

In the journey out of Egypt to the Land of Promise, the people suffered an invasion of poisonous seraph serpents, and many were bitten and died. The way of healing prescribed by the Lord was to look upon the image of a seraph serpent. Those who would look upon the bronze serpent, who could admit, "I have been bitten by the serpent", would be healed. Those who would not look, those who feared or panicked or denied that the serpent was their problem, would die.

In the same way, I must look at the cross of Jesus. I _must_ look. In fact, the cross of Jesus must be my only glory. But, what do I see when I raise my eyes to the crucifix above the altar, or finger the cross that dangles from my rosary? My Lord and Messiah, my true King and only true Love, is put to a torturous death, and submits to it freely, that I may be redeemed. And that death, the death of a true Innocent, is at my hands. I am a betrayer, an abandoner, a coward and denier, a crucifier. And the Crucified forgives me, and redeems me, and raises me up. All that is required is to gaze upon His cross, and to know and say, "This is what I have done to my Lord of Glory. He is All-Good and deserves all my love and I have given Him this." At that, the Lord will conquer death in me, and tear down the gates of the netherworld in me, and heal me, and, on that Day, call me to Himself. But if I refuse to look upon the cross, and deny that I had anything to do with that, and try to say that it's all Judas' problem or Peter's problem or Pontius Pilate's problem, then I will die, as surely as my fathers and mothers died in that desert when the seraph serpents came, and as sure as, before that, Adam and Eve took death for their inheritance.

Look upon the Cross, on which is hung Salvation Himself, and we will be healed and live!
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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Chrism Mass

Just home from Chrism Mass --- pray for your bishops and priests!



The promises we renewed tonight to God and each other:

[Archbishop queries the Laity]

As God's people, baptised and anointed in Christ, will you dedicate yourselves to spreading the gospel message wherever you go? [We will]

Will you continue to care for people in want and in need? [We will]

Will you continue to live in unity with one another; one with your bishop and one in the Body and Blood of Christ, as you listen to Christ's Word and share in the Eucharist? [We will]

May God renew in you the spirit of holiness. [Amen]

[then, (after the deaconate and the presbyterate had their turns), the Laity query the Bishops]

Do you renew your resolve as devoted pastors and teachers to sustain the people of God and to guide us in the way of salvation in cooperation with the priests, the deacons, and all who share your ministry? [We do]

Will you continue to be faithful and constant in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ together with the Pope and the college of bishops, and to pray for the people of God without ceasing? [We will]

Will you continue to show kindness and compassion in the name of the Lord to the poor and to strangers and to all who are in need, seeking out the sheep who stray and gathering them into the fold of the Lord? [We will, with the help of God. We pray that God who has begun the good work in us will bring it to fulfillment.]
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where I was tonight

Where I was tonight (and where I'll be the rest of the week)



The altar of God:
square, as the heavenly Jerusalem is square;
erected over the relics of the saints of God;
the center of the Church;
the center of life.
Stone, permanent, not to be moved.
Above it, a corona,
"a form of honor canopy suspended from the ceiling, without pillars."
And, in this case, truly a corona, a crown.
A crown of thorns to acknowledge our King,
our crucified Lord and Redeemer.
I look up and see
those golden nails that hold Him fast
as He gives His very spirit to His Father.
"Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
It flies away like a dove.
And those thorns, first meant for degradation,
yet becoming glory;
for He is the King, the Lord.
On the cross, and on the altar.
In the tabernacle, and in our own hearts.
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Creatures image God,

or, it's all about oil today

Tonight is the night of the Chrism Mass, where it's glaringly obvious that God mediates Himself through His creatures to His creature-children (=us).

Oil, the all-around medicinal and perfume, good for healing and for strengthening --- slather it on the dry skin, massage the muscle aches with it, dab it on the wound scabs --- is blessed and sent, and becomes effective in mediating God's healing of the entire person, body, mind, soul, and spirit, and imparting His strength and endurance on the catechumens and the newly-enlightened.

This is the way God normally deals with us. We are bodily creatures; we need to hear and see and touch and smell and taste in order to learn and know.

And, not just on this very oily day, but constantly. Water that washes, bread and wine that nourish, ashes, tree branches, things that used to belong to our dear departed, and even our actions toward one another are transformed and manifest our Lord to us in their various ways. Therefore we rejoice.
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Monday, April 05, 2004

He Stops

[used by permission, as always. Thank you very much, Pavel. For more of Pavel's poems, go to his website or to Amazon to buy his book, Lion Sun.]

HE STOPS

It rained forever on the earth
The seasons washed the land away
The continents dissolved in salt
A virgin to the Lord gave birth
How God divided night from day
I heard an old man say

Peter told the tale to Mark
Apostle doubling as a clerk
Of how he walked upon a lake
Till panic made the surface break
How Teacher set the demons fleeing
And made the blind become the seeing
Revived the dying and the dead
And multiplied the fish and bread
But one thing Peter did not see
The Master killed on Calvary
Mother Mary stayed and John
Two other women looked upon
The execution of her son
But of the rest there wasn't one
So only four would there remain
To hear the Rabbi groan in pain
And only four of them desired
To comfort him till he expired

No miracle dispelled the fear
That kept the rest from coming near
And though the Lord made time and space
He won't compel the human race
To wipe the blood from off his face

. . . . Pavel Chichikov
. . . . http://users.erols.com/fishhook

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

I had a GIRM nightmare this morning

I entered my beloved Cathedral --- but it wasn't. There were pleated drapes over the stained glass windows. About halfway down the nave there was a plexiglass partition (rood-screen? iconostasis?) with etched-glass panels. The corona and crucifix were gone, and a tacky wooden fish symbol was dangling over the altar in its place. Just past the altar was a screen like some women's convents have to mark enclosure in the chapel. Mater Ecclesiae was gone, and Blessed John; they were replaced by a large litho of the most simpering Immaculate Heart of Mary ever painted and an equally awful Sacred Heart print. There were heavy drapes on the Tabernacle also, and the Tabernacle spotlights were gone, so it sat in the gloom. The seats-with-kneelers were not there any more, but an assortment of ricketty folding and stacking chairs. Even the floor was carpeted.

Somebody with a crozier (but not +Timothy or +Richard or +Rembert or anybody else I recognised) came out of the gloom, sat in the cathedra, and began preaching about what a wonderful day it was in the neighborhood since we were being so faithful to Jesus and to the Tradition. Most of the congregation wept. One pious old lady pressed her face to the plexiglass as she cried. A few beefy ushers came to bodily eject the weepers. I grabbed an usher who was molesting the pious old lady, he clunked me over the head.

I woke with a start --- the phone was ringing.

Thank You, my Lord my Love, for softening my heart and allowing me a tiny glimpse of what life must look like for the Szewses and their Miniature Bishop Bashing Brigade. Lord, help and comfort them.
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