Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blessed Easter:It's All About This!

The Easter Vigil that ended in silence just a few hours ago opens us to this blessed morning--the darkness has ended, the Light of Life lives again! What we prayed in the Liturgy of the Word: Salvation History foreshadowed from the Creation and the Old Covenant and now fulfilled in the New Covenant, summed for us by St. Paul in the letter to the Romans 6:3-11 all leads to this!

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

The Triumph of the Cross:

For your consideration:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Passion of our Savior

"...the Passion of Christ comes out of its cold historical frame and stops being a pious 
consideration, presenting itself before our eyes, as terrible, brutal, savage, 
bloody...yet full of Love. And we feel that sin cannot be
 regarded as just a trivial error: to sin is to crucify the Son of God, 
to tear his hands and feet with hammer blows, 
and to make his heart break." 
--St. Josemaria Escriva

Although Christ knew what was before him in His Passion, he climbed the way willingly. It is a historical fact, but will we do more than simply consider the event as we enter the Easter Triduum?

We are Judas, but he is our Savior--Offering forgiveness and a way out of our choices when we betray him and take our lives from his eternal redemption. 

We are weak-willed disciples, but he is our Savior--Forgiving us when we refuse to stay with him in his hour of despair.  

We hide in fear, but he is our Savior--Loving us anyway as we turn our backs to him when his holy back is scourged, torn and bruised.  

We are Peter, but he is our Savior--Seeing into our souls with eyes of mercy when we deny him our loyalty and friendship.

We are the hands who pierced his Godhead with our mockery, but he is our Savior--Pierced for our sins, wounded for our transgressions. 

We are Veronica, he is our Savior--He consoled us in our despair as we consoled him in our own mourning for the impending doom.

We  are Simon of Cyrene, he is our Savior--sharing his cross with us so that we will learn of Him and carry his cross to every nation, tribe and tongue.  

We are his torturers, but he is our Savior--Absorbing the blows of our sin as his sinless body is nailed to the Cross.

He is our Savior--Naked and exposed for our sake. Our scapegoat: absorbing the violent humanity with his holy atonement for sin. 

He is our Savior--Taking the blame of his beloved Creations' Sin when we refuse to confess him as Lord and Savior by our apathy; our indifference to the Truth of his atonement for humanity.

We are the mob, but he is our Savior--Forgiving us when we knew not what we were doing to our Creator!

We are John, he is our Savior--Commanding us to honor his Blessed Mother; the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church in flesh.

We are the reluctant believers who finally believed that he is truly the Son of God.  He is our Savior--calling to all who doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fight for the Towel Not for the Place

"The night of the Last Supper the Apostles were quarreling. as to who would have first place at table among themselves. Our Blessed Lord then got down on his knees, washed their feet and 
wiped them with a towel. How few there are whoever fight for the towel."  
--Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Our thoughts today:

 We anticipate Holy Thursday this year as sinners who more often fight for power, posession, position, distractions, fascinations and attractions rather than fighting for the towel of Christ's humiliation, betrayal, denial, abandonment, suffering and crucifixion.

  • How much more could we serve our Risen Lord if we would respond to others by reaching for their feet instead of reacting with our own self-absorption?
  • How much more could we reflect the True Light of The Church if we would respond to our corner of the world by kneeling at its feet instead of showing our fists?
  • How much more could we redeem our society by carrying the towel of Christ's mercy and peace, forgiveness and love to the ones who we think are inferior to our position at the Table?
  • How much more could we incarnate Christ by kneeling and serving others with a fetched towel rather then fetching fears and pride as we compare ourselves to others?  
   We opened this season of Lent by offering ourselves to the Church as our priests crossed our forehead with ashes to remind us of our humanity--that we are but dust and to dust we will return. We've humbled ourselves with the penance of fasting as we walk the desert of Lent, preparing to walk with him in his His Passion for us! We cross our foreheads so that his Word will be the towel our spirits carry, so that his humility will wash and purify our souls. We cross our lips so that our tongue will speak his mercy, grace and love, so that our speech would cleanse our corner of the world with the hope of the Gospel. And we cross our hearts so that our Triune God will strengthen our heart, our very being, to bear his Cross to the world.
   If we do these actions because of our Catholic Christian Faith, then shouldn't we kneel to wash the feet of those we quarrel against in our drive for recognition and power.  Should we not allow the Lord to wipe away the "desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, the pride of riches" (I John 2:16) that keep us absorbed with our SELVES.

   Father, humble us as you are humble. Fill us with mercy as you are mercy. Fill us with grace as you are grace. May we love with the towel of your Love.  In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be. Amen


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pope Francis Homily for the Mass of Palm Sunday and Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph Today

How profound and humbling to know that we join Christians around the world to celebrate The Palm Sunday Mass.  The same Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist prayed in thousands of languages. "Oh, for a thousands tongues to sing..." never sounds sweeter to our ears than when we are praying the Mass with The Church here and in eternity!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Quotidian Apologetics--5: Eucharistic Sacrifice and The Eternal Priesthood of Christ

   We have written before on how the Old Covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant. The writer of Hebrews, writing to Jews (Hebrews) thoroughly examines how this was so.  We found the fulfillment of the New Covenant in Worship in the Mass of the Catholic Church.

  If perfection had been achieved through the levitical priesthood (on the basis of which the people received the law), what need would there have been to appoint a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, instead of choosing a priest according to the order of Aaron?
   When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law. Now he of whom these things are said was of a different tribe, none of whose members ever officiated at the altar. It is clear that our Lord rose from the tribe of Judah, regarding which Moses said nothing about priests.
   The matter is clearer still if another priest is appointed according to the likeness of Melchizedek: one who has become a priest, not in virtue of a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent, but in virtue of the power of a life which cannot be destroyed. Scripture testifies: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
   The former commandment has been annulled because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law brought nothing to perfection. But a better hope has supervened, and through it we draw near to God.
   This has been confirmed by an oath. the priests of the old covenant became priests without an oath, unlike Jesus to whom God said:
"The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: 
'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.'"
    Thus has Jesus become the guarantee of a better covenant.
  Under the old covenant there were many priests because they were prevented by death from remaining in office; but Jesus, because he remains forever, has a priesthood which does not pass away. Therefore he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercession for them.
  It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself. For the law sets up as high priests men who are weak, but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints as priest the Son, made perfect forever.   --Hebrews 7:11-28

  You have learned through your catechesis what The Church teaches on the Priesthood of Christ. You may want to revisit that section of the Catechism to refresh your gratitude for the worship that takes place during the Mass. You may want to revisit that section to remember why we as Catholic Christians submit to the Sacred Authority of The Church.  You may remember what we have written on how the Sacred Authority of The Catholic Church drew our hearts and minds (faith and reason) to the sure foundation of The Faith. (See our July 8 and 31, 2015 posts) To engage your Protestant friend in appreciation of the Sacred Authority of The Church, you may want to refer them to these links from the Catechism before you tell them of your own gratitude for the stability of The Catholic Church.

   The early Church Fathers' writings are often cited in the Catechism and there are many you may want to refer to while you read through the sections listed above.  We include another writing we were reminded of in today's readings of the Divine Office. Below is a treatise on faith by Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe. St. Fulgentius was named bishop of Ruspe, Tunisia, Northern Africa in 508 A.D. He was friend to St. Augustine of Hippo, and he wrote eloquent defenses of orthodox Catholic doctrines.  

   The sacrifices of animal victims which our forefathers were commanded to offer to God by the holy Trinity itself, the one God of the old and the new testaments, foreshadowed the most acceptable gift of all. This was the offering which in his compassion the only Son of God would make of himself in his human nature for our sake.
   The Apostle teaches that Christ "offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice." He is the true God and the true high priest who for our sake entered once for all into the holy of holies, taking with him not the blood of bulls and goats but his own blood. This was foreshadowed by the high priest of old when each year he took blood and entered the holy of holies.
   Christ is therefore the one who in himself alone embodied all that he knew to be necessary to achieve our redemption. He is at once priest and sacrifice, God and temple. He is the priest through whom we have been reconciled, the sacrifice by which we have been reconciled, the temple in which we have been reconciled, the God with whom we have been reconciled. He alone is priest, sacrifice and temple because he is all these things as God in the form of a servant; but he is not alone as God, for he is with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of God.
   Hold fast to this and never doubt it: the only-begotten Son, God the Word, becoming man offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. In the time of the Old Testament, patriarchs, prophets and priests sacrificed animals in his honor, and in honor of the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. Now in the time of the New Testament the holy Catholic Church throughout the world never ceases to offer the sacrifice of bread and wine, in faith and love, to him and to the Father and the Holy Spirit, with whom he shares one godhead.
   Those animal sacrifices foreshadowed the flesh of Christ which he would offer for our sins, though himself without sin, and the blood which he would pour out for forgiveness of our sins. In this sacrifice there is thanksgiving for, and commemoration of, the flesh of Christ that he offered for us, and the blood that the same God poured out for us. On this Saint Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles: "Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to rule the Church of God, which he won for himself by his blood."
   Those sacrifices of old pointed in sign to what was to be given to us. In this sacrifice we see plainly what has already been given to us. Those sacrifices foretold the death of the Son of God for sinners. In this sacrifice he proclaimed as already slain for sinners, as the Apostle testifies: "Christ died for the wicked at a time when we were still powerless, [and] when we were enemies we were reconciled with God through the death of his Son.  --St. Fulgentius of Ruspe

    As we enter into Holy Week this Sunday, may you again be thankful for the integrity of The Catholic Church that has never ceased to offer the sacrifice of bread and wine (Eucharist) in Worship of our Triune God.  What you may not know about the fallout of the Protestant Reformation is that when Martin Luther rebelled against the authority of The Catholic Church, the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass, was gradually removed as the Source and Summit of The Faith. Throughout the 500 years of the Protestant Movement's movement and fracturing, the biblically ordained worship of our Triune God diluted to suit the fashions and trends of those centuries.  It is because of that unfortunate, even tragic, trajectory that many of your Protestant Christian friends are searching for a firm foundation to stake their faith upon. Invite them to the beauty, goodness and Truth of The Catholic Faith by living your own life in humble adoration of the Triune God we worship!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity,
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virute of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day...

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seduction of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many...

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left...
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

--St. Patrick (5th century missionary bishop and patron saint of Ireland)

   When we say "Happy St. Patrick's Day" we are doing more than toasting his memory with green beer!  We are remembering the legacy of his evangelization of Ireland.  May we be so inspired by his missionary zeal to share The Faith with our world! St. Patrick pray for us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Easter Triduum, Part Two

   We took part in the Easter Triduum several years before making the journey home to The Catholic Church.  The resounding affect it had on us was because of our Protestant history.  Faithful Christians that are Protestant Christians know their Bible. We knew ours, we studied Old Testament history, New Testament history, we studied miracles, we studied characters, we studied topics, we did word studies on the Word of God.  You name it, we did it!  The Bible is the foundation the Protestant Movement stands on (sola scriptura), so Protestants that are serious about their faith are serious about knowing God's Word!
   In our latter years of Protestant ministry (see our July 2015 posts) we were searching for more of the historical Christianity that has steadfastly held the Christian Faith together over the 2,000 years since Christ's ascension back into heaven.  So we studied the Bible AND we studied the early Church writings.  We gradually came to the place of a deeper appreciation and understanding of Salvation History.  That appreciation grew into yearning that grew into the moment when we realized we had backed into The Catholic Church.  It was through our reading but also through "Catholic" experiences like the Triduum that helped to convince us to reconcile with The Church.  
   So back to our first few Triduums before our journey home.  As we worshipped with fellow Christians in three of the four masses of the Triduum, we were awed by how the liturgy profoundly expresses Salvation History!  We asked our friends if the average Catholic truly comprehended the gravity of the liturgies.  The response was, if they read the  Bible as much as Protestants do, they do. But just as in the Protestant Movement so it is in the Catholic Church--some Christians do not embrace their Christian Faith heritage as much as they can. 
   Now that we are a part of The Catholic Church, we come alongside our fellow believers, shake their shoulders, and say, "Don't you realize what you are taking part in here!?"  Not really.  However, we count it an honor when a curious parishoner seeks us out to ask us how the Scriptures are fulfilled by The Catholic Church. Recently we've (Jeff) had the privilege of sponsoring a former Muslim/now Christian as he made his own journey into The Church. Explaining the Sacred Traditions to our friend was different than explaining it to someone from a culture that had some Christian influence. He had none, but began his search anyway, eventually coming to the United States, moving in with his cousin's family 2 blocks from our apartment and showing up at The Cathedral of St. Joseph where we attend! (Another story for another time.)  We do not make any assumptions with M.K.'s knowledge of Christianity so we remain elementary in our explanations and rely on the internet because a picture is worth a thousand words in a thousand languages.  His native tongue is French, but he speaks English quite well. Following is some of our tutorial for him in preparation for Lent, Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum.
   These links expand our understanding and appreciation of some of the devotional practices of the Lenten season. Each link provides resources that go into deeper detail about the practices.

Palm Sunday: On Palm Sunday we remember and celebrate the time when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem.  All four Gospels record this event from the earthly life of Jesus.  You may read of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (or Palm Sunday) from the following Gospel passages:
     Gospel of St Matthew 21:1-11
     Gospel of St Mark 11:1-11
     Gospel of St Luke 19:28-44
     Gospel of St John 12:12-19
Palm Sunday gets its name from the fact that Jesus' admirers waved palm branches and placed palm branches on the road as he rode a donkey into Jerusalem.  They were hailing him as their king and deliverer from Roman oppression.  The Old Testament prophets also foretold of this event.  In Jesus' day, palm branches were a symbol of peace & victory.  Much like waving flags or banners today.

Easter Triduum/Holy Week celebrates and commemorates The Passion of Jesus.  The following passages from the Gospels contain the events of Jesus' final days before his trial, crucifixion and resurrection:
     Gospel of St Matthew 26-28
     Gospel of St Mark 14-16
     Gospel of St Luke 22-24
     Gospel of St John 18-21
In these Gospel passages you will read of:
    The Betrayal of Judas and Denial of Peter; Trial (the trial was a mockery) of Jesus before Jewish and Roman Officials (Remembered on Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday)
     The Crucifixion of Jesus (Remembered on Good Friday)
     The Resurrection of Jesus (Celebrated on Easter Sunday) 

We will worship at four masses: Thursday night, Friday afternoon, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. They are longer than our Sunday and weekday mass and you may have many questions. It might help you to view these links:

   On Saturday night before Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass.  This Mass is approximately three hours long and is filled with liturgical readings and singing, beauty and Truth. We recognize and celebrate our place in the story of Salvation History.  Much scripture (Old Testament and New Testament) is read, physical darkness and light are used to demonstrate the reality of Jesus being the Light of the World and the Light of Salvation.  When we reconciled with The Catholic Church, this was the mass where our confirmation vows were declared.  And it is at this mass were millions around the world who have made the same journey of fatih are confirmed in The Church--it is a profound mass.
    You will recognize that the liturgy of the Easter Vigil Mass is the expanded worship we join in at every mass during the year.  The Old Testament, Psalms and the New Testament readings we pray and sing at every mass culminate in the Easter Vigil Mass by recounting the outstanding deeds of Salvation History.    We are reminded by the solemnity of this mass of our humble place in God's salvation of creation. You may want to listen to Bishop Barron's homily on Salvation History before reading in more detail about the movement of the Easter Vigil.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Easter Triduum

   As we consider what we are privileged to take part in over these last weeks of Lent and the Easter Triduum, we first want to share an exerpt from one of Saint Athanasius' Easter letters.  He assisted his Bishop at the Council of Nicaea (325 A. D.). And was named patriarch of the Church in 326 A.D. We are quite familiar with that particular council because it was convened to put down the great Arian heresy that threatened the integrity of The Faith.  Each Sunday we declare the Nicaean Creed with Catholics around the world.  And if you are like us, each day we pray that very creed as a prayer of thankfulness for the constancy of the Christian Faith!  
   St. Athanasius was an intrepid defender of the Catholic Faith, he suffered exile and persecution. But in his exile and persecution he contined to encourage the early Church through his letters.  The following exerpt reminds us of the roots of our Catholic Faith.  And that is what we honor and memorialize in the Easter Tridiuum (more about that afterward).

"The Word who became all things for us is close to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who promises to remain with us always. He cries out, saying: See, I am with you all the days of this age. He is himself the shepherd, the high priest, the way and the door, and has become all things at once for us. In the same way, he has come among us as our feast and holy day as well. The blessed Apostle says of him who was awaited: "Christ has been sacrificed as our Passover." It was Christ who shed his light on the psalmist as he prayed: "You are my joy, deliver me from those surroundiing me." True joy, genuine festival, means the casting out of wickedness. To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness and, in the serenity of the fear of God, practice contemplation in one's heart.
   This was the way of the saints, who in their lifetime and at every stage of life, rejoiced as at a feast. Blessed David, for example, not once but seven times rose at night to win God's favor through prayer. The great Moses was full of joy as he sang God's praises in hymns of victory for the defeat of Pharaoh and the oppressors of the Hebrew people. Others had hearts filled always with gladness as they performed their sacred duty of worship, like the great Samuel and the blessed Elijah. Because of their holy lives they gained freedom, and now keep festival in heaven. They rejoice after their pilgrimage in shadows, and now distinguish the reality from the promise.
   When we celebrate the feast in our own day, what path are we to take? As we draw near to this feast, who is to be our guide? Beloved, it must be none other than the one whom you will address with me as our Lord Jesus Christ. He says: "I am the way." As blessed John tells us: "it is Christ who takes away the sin of the world." It is he who purifies our souls, as the prophet Jeremiah says: "Stand upon the ways; look and see which is the good path, and you will find in it the way of amendment for your souls."
   In former times the blood of goats and the ashes of a calf were sprinkled on those who were unclean, but they were able to purify only the body. Now through the grace of God's Word everyone is made abundantly clean. If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy the contemplation of that everlasting feast, like the blessed apostles, who in following the Savior as their leader, showed, and still show, the way to obtain the same gift from God. They said: "See, we have left all things and followed you." We too follow the Lord, and we keep his feast by deeds rather than by words.
--St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

It may be that it has been awhile since you contemplated the gravity of the Mass and Jesus as the Paschal Lamb. It may even be that you are going through the motions of the Sacred Mass and the Easter Tridiuum without contemplating the eternal significance of our worship and devotion.  When we pray the Liturgy of the Word and consume his body in the Holy Eucharist,  we are "standing as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem" where the everlasting Feast is now and forever will be celebrated through worship of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. .  
   The Catechism instructs us on how our worship in the Easter Triduum is a culmination of the entire Liturgical year (Sacred Mass, the Holy Days of Obligation, Feast days; and our participation in the Holy Sacraments). "Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the litury. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor." The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the ourpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and the kingdom of God enters into our time.
   Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter "the Great Sunday" and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week "the Great Week." The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, untill all is subjected to him." (CCC#1168, 1169)

   Let's now turn our attention to the Easter Triduum with St. Athanasius and the Catechisms' words in mind.  Part Two of this post will include some links and resources for your consideration as you prepare for the Triduum.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Going Into the Deep of Lent

Fellow desert travelers, how is it going for you? Modern day Catholics practice this Lenten aesthetic rule for 40 days a year but the early Church made a regular practice of aesthetical discipleship.  Most of the Early Church Fathers made it their daily practice to pray, fast and give alms.  The whole of their lives were spent giving away time, appetites and possessions.  We have much to learn from The Church's past, we have a long journey to travel toward a life that is marked by total self-denial and humbleness. May we learn well.

The scripture is full of places that prove fasting to be not the invention of man but the instituion of God, and to have many more profits than one. And that the fasting of one man may do good unto another, our Saviour showeth himself where he saith that some kind of devils cannot be cast out of one man by another 'without prayer and fasting.' And therefore I marvel that they take this way against fasting and other bodily penance.
St. Thomas More
(Patron Saint of Lawyers, Martyred 1535)

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the 
members of our bodies.
St. John Chrysostom
(Doctor of the Church, 4th Century)

Fasting is most intimately connected with prayer. For the mind of one who is filled with food and drink is so borne down as not to be able to raise itself to the contemplation of God, or even to understand what prayer means.
(Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1545-1563)

Bishop Robert Barron addressed the purpose of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness in a recent podcast.  We found it encouraging and thought provoking. We trust you will, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Take A Protestant to Catholic Mass, Part II

The Divine Office of Readings during these days in the Lenten desert invites us to consider a treatise by Saint Irenaeus. We share it with you because he eloquently described the beginnings, meaning and purpose of covenantal worship of the Triune God. 

"From the beginning God created man out of his own generosity. He chose the patriarchs to give them salvation. He took his people in hand, teaching them, unteachable as they were, to follow him. He gave them prophets, accustoming man to bear his Spirit and to have communion with God on earth. He who stands in need of no one gave communion with himself to those who need him. Like an architect he outlined the plan of salvation to those who sought to please him. By his own hand he gave food in Egypt to those who did not see him. To those who were restless in the desert he gave a law perfectly suited to them. To those who entered the land of prosperity he gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment. In so many ways he was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.

For this reason John in the book of Revelation says: His voice was as the voice of many waters. The Spirit of God is indeed a multitude of waters, for the Father is rich and great. As the Word passed among all these people he provided help in generous measure for those who were obedient to him, by drawing up a law that was suitable and fitting for every circumstance. He established a law for the people governing the construction of the tabernacle and the building of the temple, the choice of Levites, the sacrifices, the offerings, the rites of purification and the rest of what belonged to worship.

He himself needs none of these things. He is always filled with all that is good. Even before Moses existed he had within himself every fragrance of all that is pleasing. Yet he sought to teach his people, always ready though they were to return to their idols. Through many acts of indulgence he tried to prepare them for perseverance in his service. He kept calling them to what was primary by means of what was secondary; that is, through foreshadowings to the reality, through things of time to the things of eternity, through things of the flesh to the things of the spirit, through earthly things to the heavenly things. As he said to Moses: You shall fashion all things according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain.

For forty days Moses was engaged in remembering the words of God, the heavenly patterns, the spiritual images, the foreshadowings of what was to come. Saint Paul says: They drank from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. After speaking of the things that are in the law he continues: All these things happen to them as symbols: they were written to instruct us, on whom the end of the ages has come.

Through foreshadowing of the future they were learning reverence for God and perseverance in his service. The law was therefore a school of instruction for them, and a prophecy of what was to come."

Quotidian Apologetics--3: Worship


How can we explain the Mass to our Protestant friends? 
Schedule a Sunday or weekday mass with your friend as a "Take a Protestant to Catholic Mass" day. But before you take that step you may need to do some reading in preparation for the questions your friend will surely have.  We will recommend some books that will be very informative for you and helpful in initiating your friend in the ancient Church's "sacrifice of the Mass."

Gus Lloyd, author and radio broadcaster, provides a succinct answer to the "why?" of the sacrifice of the Mass. Protestant Christians may refer to Hebrews 10:9-18 that states that the "once for all" sacrifice of Christ is never to be repeated. Absolutely!   Here is what Gus Lloyd, as well as other Catholic apologists have to say in response to objections about the "re-presentation" of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. The prophet Malachi (1:10-11) foretells of a pure sacrifice being offered everywhere, from the rising of the sun to its setting. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) declared that Malachi's foretelling anticipated the "pure offering to be sacrificed in messianic times..." The universal Sacrifice of the Mass was foreshadowed in the Old Covenant (Old Testament) and fulfilled once and for all in the New Covenant (New Testament and forward in time--messianic period).

What began as Israel's story is humanity's story. The Old Covenant led to the New Covenant.  The old was not rejected for the new, the old was fulfilled in the new. And it is the worship in New Covenant that will continue through eternity.  We, as Catholics, participate in worship of the Triune God "according to the pattern [Moses saw] on the mountain."  This may help your Protestant friend understand why Catholics take the Mass so seriously. Catholic Christians are enculturated in what will remain forever--worship of the Lamb of God. And that is probably the best answer you can give to your friend about the Sacrifice of the Mass.

For your consideration, read what the Catechism states on the Sacrifice of the Mass.  through

Some excellent books are available to us on the subject of worship. Dr. Brant Pitre has written two enlightening books that pertain to this subject. Jesus and the Jewist Roots of the Eucharist and Jesus the Bridegroom.  Dr. Scott Hahn is a prolific writer, one of Dr. Hahn's books The Lamb's Supper may help to revive your own appreciation for the Sacrifice of the Mass.

The following blog post is actually a long quote from one of St. Iranaeus' treatise on worship. (St. Iranaeus lived in late first and early second century.  He was a disciple of St. Polycarp who was a disciple of the beloved disciple, St. John.) It's part II of this brief visit with history.