Originally posted 4/4/2012, but as with Holy Week's Missing Days, this has been a top search. Posting here for easier access!
During class last night, one of my students asked for a deeper explanation of why we use the term "Blood of the Lamb" when referring to the Eucharist.
Over the last few weeks, we've taken the story of Moses' Passover and applied it to the Passover / Last Supper of Christ. This is a very involved topic for adults let alone my sixth graders, but since they're a determined and bright bunch, I gave it a whirl.
I reminded them of the original Passover (that's still celebrated by Jews today). The Israelites had spent many years as slaves in Egypt, longing for God to rescue them from their suffering. God, in His Mercy, sent a final message to the Pharaoh in the form of the Angel of Death. In order to shelter His people from the Angel of Death, God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites to "take some of [the lamb's] blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb." (Exodus 12:7)
Moses had them use hyssop branches which they'd dip into the lamb blood and mark their doors. It looked something like this:
God promised the Israelites: "The blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you." (Exodus 12:13)
Thus, the blood of the lamb was a sign of God's Mercy towards the Israelites. Instead of striking out at them in judgement, God only struck out at the Egyptians who were not protected by this symbol of His Mercy.
Fast forward to the Last Supper, the feast of Passover in which the sacrificial lamb is offered up and its blood placed around the door frames of the Jews. Jesus not only fulfilled the request of God the Father by remembering the Passover through this act of sacrificing a lamb... Jesus established the "new and everlasting covenant" which was - for the very first time - all encompassing. No longer was this a mere covenant between God and the Israelites. This was a covenant between God and the whole of humanity, and Jesus offered HIMSELF as the Lamb.
When Jesus said "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28), He was accepting the role of the lamb. He, the Unblemished Innocent, was freely giving His Life so that those who partook of It would be cleansed of their sin, thus GAINING life. As such, His Blood - the seal of the New Covenant - became proof of God's Mercy.
God the Father's foreshadowing through Moses is completed through the Sacrifice of Christ at the Last Supper. Jesus truly shed His Blood in order to cover us, shielding us from the just punishments of God, just as the blood of the lamb over the doorposts shielded the Jews from the Angel of Death.
I then called to mind the words during the Mass, "Happy are those who are called to His Supper." We're specifically talking about the Eucharist... Christ's final, everlasting Passover meal in which He is the Paschal Lamb!
We are happy because we understand we accept Christ's Blood, fully present along with His Body, Soul and Divinity at Eucharist. We renew our covenant with God, re-pledging ourselves to follow His Will as He blesses us with the mark of Mercy - His Son. Our spiritual wounds healed, and our soul cleansed through His Presence, we are once more reunited to God through this most sacred, merciful mystery.
I sincerely hope they partake of the Eucharist with this in mind going forward!
Oh, and as an added bonus, the hyssop branches that were used by the Israelites during that first (and subsequent) Passovers were the same "reeds" used to offer Christ vinegar as He hung upon the Cross. God is certainly a stickler for the details. :)
This is incredible. I bowed my head in appreciation and reverence for the outpouring of solidarity, faithfulness and piety that was shown to the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the horrid mockery allowed to happen in Oklahoma City under the guise of religious freedom.
We must consistently show this sort of solidarity. We must consistently and unapologetically pour out our faithfulness and reverence for the God who created us.
Bless these folks and all who took part in supporting the reparation. <3
This, my friends, is how Catholics combat evil. We draw together as one Body and proclaim the Divinity of the One Who Loves Us. We adore our God within the humble Eucharist and refrain our thunderous "AMEN!" as the demons tremble in their hellish shackles.
THIS is the Church Militant as She armors Herself in the Blood of the Lamb.
Special thanks to Justin Bell (@ajustbell) for giving me permission to use the above photo for tonight's entry. He was present for the Procession and took some really incredible photos. Looking through them, my eyes truly began to well up with gratitude for the outpouring of love for Christ within the Eucharist.
Lord, You are loved. Forgive us for neglecting to show our love like this more often.
By now, you've all heard of the repugnant event that was to be hosted on the Harvard campus. I, like many of my Catholics, joined my brothers and sisters in Boston in a national show of solidarity through prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
There is nothing more I can possibly say on this matter that hasn't already been outline hundreds of times by others who have written about this. I will say, however, that I was incredibly hurt by such an event being promoted. Physically, painfully hurt.
So from 7pm until 8pm, I locked myself away and offered the hour in union with the entire Church. I offered it in reparation for the mockery of Christ, I offered it for the conversion and repentance of those responsible, and I offered it for the strength and clarity of those with the power to stop it.
There were no adoration hours available to me locally, so I chose to unite myself by reading about the Eucharist in a little booklet I picked up about a year ago. It's been sitting in my drawer waiting for this day. I pulled it out and spent the hour in prayerful reflection of the lessons contained within.
The booklet is titled The Most Blessed Sacrament and is written by Fr. Stephano Manelli, OFM. I thought it fitting. Fr. Manelli creates a quilt of reflections patched together by various saints who were entirely devoted to our Divine God hidden in the Eucharist.
Folks just don't understand how Catholics can adore what - to them - amounts to be a cracker. God would never, in their minds, appear as something so insignificant. God is majestic - divine! He would not stoop so low as to appear as bread and wine.
And yet this is exactly who we know God to be. This is precisely why we praise Him, honor Him and love Him. The Divine and Unencompassable God consents to become the most base staple of nourishment so that He can mercifully feed us in an intimate and personal way. That is how loving our God is. He is not this mythical creature who is too self-important to care for His children. Instead, He bends over backwards to be near to us. He cares not for golden ciboriums or tabernacles encrusted with jewels; He years to take refuge within the depths of our soul. He wishes to enjoin Himself to our deepest, truest essence so that He can fashion us to Him and make us more like Himself - divine.
This is why Satan hates the Eucharist. He can't stand that the Divine God humbles Himself so basely for the likes of humanity. It is why he seeks to mock and sully the truest, most blessed gift ever given to humanity.
St. Augustine once exclaimed of the Eucharist, "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."
Why is this? Because in the Eucharist, we are given God's Incarnate Son. Jesus comes to us fully (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) to feed us and nourish our souls with effusions of Divine Grace. God cannot give more than the gift of Himself in this humble form. This blessed gift is the summation of His promise to be with us always.
Methinks I'll be doing a lot more meditating on the Eucharistic Lord in the coming months. The media still isn't entirely sure if the mockery took place or not. Some reports are saying it happened in a Chinese restaurant across from campus, others are reporting that it has been pushed off indefinitely. Either way, evil is beginning to get increasingly brazen, and a more constant meditation and show of Christian love is necessary to combat this treachery.
Did any of you participate in the 7-8pm vigil?
The last few days had me on a huge pro-Pope Francis kick. His support of pro-traditional marriage rallies in the US, his strong statements defending life in the womb, and his suggestion that the Eucharist be received while kneeling - all of this had me going "WOO HOO! I was wrong! Pope Francis is actually EXACTLY what I was hoping he'd be!"
I read it, and then I re-read it. I e-mailed it to myself (and a friend), and then I re-read it again.
The premise is that Pope Francis doesn't give out Communion because he's basically afraid of being caught passing along the Eucharist to a sinner vying for a photo-op.
Am I the only one who has inner alarm bells going:
All popes are priests, right? The MAIN JOB of a priest, regardless of if he's called to be a pastor, cardinal or even Bishop of Rome is to "feed the sheep."
Remember that whole "Hey Peter, you're gonna feed My sheep, right?" business back in John 21:17?
Jesus stressed the importance of feeding His flock - the Church. Feeding and tending the flock is ensuring that we, the Church, are given Jesus in both Body and Spirit. The Eucharist is Christ, fully incarnate (that's what "Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity" means!). Priests were SPECIFICALLY created in order to consecrate and distribute this sacred Sacrament, and Pope Francis shirks this responsibility because he's afraid he might accidentally give the Eucharist to someone unworthy?!
By that rationale, I guess I should stop giving money to homeless people because one of them might use it for drugs!
Maybe I shouldn't donate money to the Starving Children fund, either, because I'm suspicious the administrators of that program are just using poor children as a front for their own greedy ends...
Do you see my issue with this terribly poor rationale?
I get that he doesn't want to be connected with distributing the Eucharist to those who would cause scandal by their reception. However, giving up his priestly duty is, in my mind, a very cowardly way to go about handling this situation.
He just urged his brother bishops in Argentina to withhold the Eucharist from known pro-abortion candidates. When I saw that, I again rejoiced thinking, "Right on, Pope Francis!"
So imagine my surprise when I see that instead of taking his own advice, he bypasses the entire problem by allowing others to preside over the issue for him. Is he saying that it's okay for other priests to distribute Communion to scandalous folks because they're not as important as him?
Look... no one is really worthy to receive the Eucharist. No one. By some extreme grace, God humbles Himself and allows us avenues with which we can use to prepare ourselves for this gift. Some of us make use of these avenues, some of us don't. As the pontiff has expressed, there's really no way of knowing who has prepared himself and who has not. It's not the priest's job to attempt sorting out the sinners from the saints. His job is simply to distribute the Eucharist in good faith to those who present themselves.
However, if he DOES know that a person is in the state of mortal sin and is presenting himself/herself for Communion, he's got a moral obligation to refuse for several reasons:
Yes, it takes a lot of guts to refuse Communion to folks like this. Obviously it's going to create an uproar, and yes, you're definitely going to take some serious heat for it.
But ya know what? That's exactly what we need right now.
We need priests like this to highlight the gift that is our Eucharist. Too often we turn a blind eye and allow the Eucharist to be sullied because we're not brave enough to stand up and say "No!"
Instead, we timidly hand over Christ to the wretched soul who abuses His purity and all for what? To spare ourselves the awkward moment of reflection? To spare ourselves the spotlight of social reproach?
Pope Francis, feed your sheep. Feed us with the Bread of Life, and feed us by your example. You're doing and saying some really wonderful things, but if you're not doing this most basic responsibility as our shepherd, there is something severely wrong.
My prayers, holy pontiff, and the prayers of all the faithful... may they surround you and lift you to the Throne of God.
In appreciation for the outpouring of love you fine folks offered for Michael's 1st Communion, his mom sent us some awesome photos of him decked out for his special day!
She also had this to say about how each of you worked together to create a beautiful spiritual hug for her and her family:
I absolutely can not put words to how I felt when I received your package on the DAY of Michael's First Communion... I called James over, handed him the envelope, and promptly started bawling my eyes out.
(Tears, in my mind, are a triumphant sign of victory. We did good, people. We did good.)
Generally speaking, I'm fairly stoic in matters of the heart. You and I have discussed various times about how the best way to avoid heartache of any kind is to be stony-hearted in all things. Well, the "trouble" with our Faith is that we must allow God to take our hearts of stone and replace them with living hearts; which are totally unable to remain stoic when faced with the onslaught of love and joy that was delivered last Saturday :-)
Michael was THRILLED to look at all of the photos of well-wishers...we were all incredibly touched. [I realize] this is a paltry and insignificant means of saying "THANK YOU!!" [but wow]... It's a wonderful thing to be a member of The Body. Countless, countless thanks!
And then she attached this sweet photo of Michael sending out a big thank-you to everyone in cyber-space. :)
Just as an add-on, I love that she said "It's a wonderful thing to be a member of the Body." It really is. This special project pulled together folks from all over the country (and several from overseas!). We came together as one to rally and support one of our own. I dunno about the rest of you, but I certainly felt the Spirit. <3 Bless you all again!
EDIT: I encourage everyone to read through the commentary as well. So many great points have been raised that are worthy of your attention. They are critical of my viewpoint, but deservedly so. I think this is an extremely worthwhile discussion, so please avail yourselves of the various perspectives. And as always - don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His Thoughts, either! *Grin*
Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, Pope Francis made the decision to have the Mass of the Lord's Supper outside St. Peter's Basilica this Holy Thursday.
I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
I can't help but think he's a little too gung-ho with this whole "Let's toss all tradition aside so I can prove to the public that as the newly elected leader of the Church, I turn away from finer things and ignore past traditions" in an attempt to regain the trust of a very jaded and unhappy world.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
Holy Father, I'm praying for you because you've got quite the job to do. I pray you're able to clean up the mess you've been left and I'm still hoping your intentions on this are pure and true. Your decision, however, has truly, truly unsettled me. My heart is not at ease.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
And also keep in mind Our Lord's appreciation for the woman's actions at Bethany. She poured the entire contents of extremely expensive perfume over Christ to anoint Him. Judas grumbled at her "wastefulness," but Jesus defended her for her actions. She was blessed with something special by God, and she wanted to give back without thought to cost. She simply wanted to offer the finest of what she had to He who had given her so much.
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.
I've been blessed with several artistically inclined friends. Being someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, having these artistic friends has always given me a bit of a boost. I can live vicariously through their skill set. Ha!
Long-time readers of this blog know that I absolutely adore paintings. I'll try to sneak them into most entries and sometimes I'll even go on wild tangents trying to figure out their layered symbolism. I just really, really enjoy that sorta stuff!
Anyway, an old friend of mine dropped me a line this weekend. (I've already had this discussion with her, so no worries about wading into a public battle of wits. We've reached an understanding and she gave me permission to post this.) This friend, "Lilly," is a pretty incredible painter. I've linked to her material on my page in the past, and I've attended two of her shows in the last year. We don't really talk much, but I tend to comment on her albums as she posts new work. Every now and again she'll comment on a pic or two of Vince, but that's about the extent of our communication.
I was thus happy (and surprised) to hear from her this weekend when she called. She said that she'd been reading this blog for about a month and has been debating asking for my help with selling her paintings. She said that in exchange for selling her artwork on my page, she'd share my blog with her friends.
Now at first glance, that's not a ridiculous offer. However, I admit that I took offense to it simply based on a conversation I'd recently had with John.
Let me explain:
I've been posting to Facebook about my husband's upcoming movie release. Many of my readers already know that he sold his first movie to Lionsgate and the release is this week. In my attempts to support him in his dream to make and sell movies, I not only agreed to be in the movie (with Vincent), but I helped make the food, solicited help from my best friend, Mary, and have been plugging the movie left and right for it's various screenings, releases, and news-bytes.
Now, what most of you don't know is the name of my husband's movie. The reason for this is that the content in the movie. It's rated R, but it should really be closer to NC-17. It's very "The Hang Over" in content. Thus, I've never promoted it on my page, even after John's begged me to write up a horrible review and rile all of you fine readers up into a tizzy so you'll buy it and yell about it, too.
*Shakes head* My husband - "No publicity is bad publicity." Ha ha!
Anyway, I've made the conscious choice NOT to promote his movie on this page based on principle. He was feeling slightly unsupported because I didn't want to use this medium to promote what I was already promoting through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
As I pointed out, however, I was supporting him in every other way known to man. I was telling folks about his project, I was linking to the various news articles about it, I cooked for the cast / crew, and I agreed - against better judgement - to take part in it. That's about as supportive as it gets, right?
Then, on top of that, I pointed out that for all the unsolicited support he got from me - publicly - he had yet to link to my jewelry page. So I really shouldn't hear word one about being unsupportive.
(Mind you, pointing this out promptly solicited a "Check out my wife's page" post to his feed; I was quite appreciative).
I go out of my way to support the various projects he or our mutual friends get involved with. I'll re-post teasers, I'll comment on promotions, I'll share tasting / jewelry events. Why? Because that's what friends do, right? Even with stuff I'm not entirely excited about because it's not about my excitement regarding a project - it's my level of excitement regarding the success of a friend.
So I re-post - ad nauseum, I'm sure.
Yet I have not received similar treatment and the answer is always the same. "I'd totally repost your stuff if it weren't so religious."
Now this is not an entry whining about how little my friends repost my store. I'm honestly not looking for that. You fine readers have done a wonderful job of spreading the word, and for that, you have my prayers and appreciation. However, I take offense to the fact that there are those among my group who have the audacity to claim I'm unsupportive or unwilling to help because I'm embarrassed by X, Y or Z when they refuse to help me out because they're embarrassed by God, or who would have no problem reposting my jewelry so long as they're getting something out of it. As Lilly pointed out, she'd "make the sacrifice" of posting about God in order to access my "audience."
Something just doesn't really sit too well with me when you put it like that.
I don't mind coupling up with others who want to reach a broader audience. I've had similar discussions with Dom, a wonderful artist, and even my friend, Mary. I don't mind sharing wonderful items that I think my readers would be interested in.
What I DO mind, however, is being used and then allowing my readership to be used. Looking to ride the coat-tails of the year and a half I've spent churning out entries, battling against mean-spirited trolls, and pouring out my personal life for what I hope will be the benefit of others... it amounts to being used.
Telling me that you'll "make the sacrifice" of sharing my hard work so you're able to make good off the readership I love, appreciate and respect? I'm sorry, but that just seems downright arrogant.
And I explained it in those terms. If my page isn't good enough for you to "like" or share on its own - or even just because you would like to help me find success - your artwork isn't going to make it any better. Your artwork isn't going to somehow change or overshadow the fact that this blog is Catholic, and everything about me and what I do is firmly rooted in that Catholicism.
So again - this isn't a pity party asking folks to share my page. I don't want it shared by those who simply feel guilted or shamed into sharing. I want it shared by those who either enjoy my work (both written and crafted), or who believe others will find value in this calling.
I apologize for the long vent. It's just that I've been approached by so many folks over the last week or so who were interested in utilizing this page either for ad-space, sales or information (and no, I never have and never will allow 3rd parties to take your information).
It just really drove me up a wall and I ended up feeling very frustrated. Since speaking with Lilly, she agreed that she hasn't exactly been the most stellar at recognizing that my work was just as valid and time-consuming as hers. And maybe that's what folks who don't blog / craft tend to forget.
One of my new favorite people in the world asked me a great question this morning.
We had been talking about using three fingers for the Sign of the Cross about a week ago. It's something a lot of people either don't know or have simply forgotten over time.
However, after talking about it, he's more aware. I told him to look out for the priest at the end of Mass to bless with his three fingers raised because the priest acknowledges that the blessing is actually coming from the Trinity (God) and he is simply an instrument of His Blessing.
My friend then said, "Well why do they use their whole hand when they bless the bread and wine at Mass?"
I said, "That's a great question! They use their whole hand because they aren't really blessing the bread and wine; Christ is."
Since the priest acts in persona Christi, we understand (as faithful Catholics) that the priest, though present, is simply a vessel through which Jesus, Himself, comes to Consecrate.
The priest calls Christ from Heaven to consecrate. Only God can make God. Thus, the priest, being endowed with the privilege and responsibility to call forth Christ from Heaven, doesn't create God from bread and wine. He calls forth Christ and gives himself over to Him for the benefit of his people. Thus, when the priest blesses using all of his fingers, we understand that it is really Christ doing the consecration. It is Jesus who creates Himself in place of the bread and wine.
And that, my friends, is why the hand gesture is different during consecration. THAT is why the priest uses his whole hand. It's because he's allowing Christ to utilize the physical form of his body to enable Christ to pass along His Sacred Blessing.
Ah - to be a priest is to consent to a daily form of the Annunciation. Each time he says Mass, he briefly contains within himself a bit of the divinity that Mary must have acknowledged when she said "Fiat" and opened herself to the mystery of the Incarnation. Her consent to allow God to use her physical body for His greatest blessing parallels nicely with that of the priest sacrificing his physical body to allow God to manifest the mystery of the Eucharist.
And upon completion of this mystery, he (again, in persona Christi) offers this Sacrifice up to God the Father to bear forth salvation (or more rightly, bear us forth to the gift of Salvation). This is why the priest lifts the chalice and patten (or ciborium, I guess). Christ, in the person of the priest, offers Himself to His Father at the Last Supper. It's why the priest suddenly changes to first-person pronouns, too.
Our theology is so deep - so beautiful - that I could happily meditate on it for hours. EVERYTHING is meaningful. EVERYTHING is a reflection of our faith.
Never forget that.
Fr. Eucharist gave another stellar homily this past weekend. He reiterated some points regarding the True Presence, but I learned something new this time!
Ya know that 1 hour fast we're supposed to participate in before we receive? I always thought it was to clear our bodies of frivolous food so we could better accept the True Food of the Eucharist.
Fr. Eucharist's explanation was WAY more enlightening.
He gave us a brief history of the Eucharistic fast. I was already aware that there was a time in which you couldn't have even a drop of water past midnight in order to adequately prepare yourself to receive Christ. Then it was lessened to three hours, and now we're sitting at one. What I DIDN'T know, however, was that the fast was actually meant to make the faithful hungry.
Mother Church WANTS us to go to Mass hungry. She wants us to feel a physical emptiness... a physical hunger for sustenance.
Why, Father Eucharist?
To remind us that we should be hungering for Christ, of course!
Being humans, we sometimes need something physical with which to remind ourselves of the spiritual. A fast does this in several key ways.
First, we gain that physical hunger which should remind us to always hunger after Christ. Next, it should remind us of our brothers and sisters who daily face physical hunger on account of poverty, neglect or famine. After all, we are all connected, and sharing in the physical manifestation of hunger is a way to develop empathy (and through that empathy, activism) for our spiritual family (meaning all humans since we are all children of God).
Finally, this fast does serve to clear our bodies (and hopefully, our minds) of the frivolous junk we tend to ingest on a daily basis. Much like we would do a quick clean of the house before a friend arrived, we use the time of fasting to clear ourselves of unnecessary "junk" to make room for God.
I really appreciated that insight as it's something I never really thought much about.
I found this through Spirit Daily this morning. It's taking all the charity I have within me not to start spewing horrible, nasty things about this pea-brain of an "artist."
He claims he made popsicles using the Blood of Christ after a priest "inadvertently" blessed it during a Mass.
For the record, a priest cannot "inadvertently" bless anything. He either does or he doesn't. The corporal isn't just there to act as a napkin to catch fallen particles. It's also a boundary for items that need to be included for consecration.
So in order for this fool to obtain the Precious Blood, he'd've had to do one of two things:
1) Sneak a cruet of wine onto the corporal (which is direct center of the altar) in the middle of Mass (since the priest opens and places it after the Liturgy of the Word), then somehow steal it away before Communion without ever being detected.
2) Steal the consecrated wine through taking a chalice that's being used during Communion (which would create some sort of commotion, I'd assume), or accepting the Precious Blood via Communion and instead of ingesting, commit an even greater sacrilege by spitting the now consecrated wine into a vial or some other container for later use.
It's not like he could hold his little bottle of wine under his pew during a Mass and have it consecrated (which is what he stupidly thinks he did). It's not like he could drive by a chapel and suddenly the wine in his cooler becomes Christ's Blood.
Seriously - how foolish does he expect people to be???
Apparently exactly as foolish as they are. This article ran on CNN and he's planning to sell them during NY's Design Week. Disgusting.
May God have mercy on us. We have no idea how tragic we are unto ourselves.
So yes, I've obviously been in quite the doom and gloom mood as of late.
The issues surrounding the Philadelphia Archdiocese hit home in a big way last week. I was asked to attend a meeting that was to finalize plans for a school farewell. The pastor had asked me to explain a memento book I'd been pushing for since 6 days after the closings were announced. To say the least, I was beyond floored by how unprepared and disorganized everything was.
While trying to get a handle on the situation (I was trying to figure out how to work the tiny number of volunteers we had for the number of stations we needed coverage for), the principal (a sweet, wonderful woman who is doing the best she can in a situation in which everything is stacked solidly against her) misunderstood my attempt to figure out man-power as an attack on her dedication.
Poor Sister. I honestly feel awful for her and all the other people both in our and other schools who are struggling with the same reality. Alumni are knocking down the doors for some sort of open house / farewell, but no one wants to actually take the time to properly plan things out. On top of that, current families and students tend to get shuffled aside.
It's just a sad, disheartening situation all around.
And then in Jersey, in my own parish, there's been an atmosphere of bubbling anger and indignation still seething from the mergers over the last few years. With the last several meetings we've had, I feel like I'm watching our wonderful pastor struggle harder and harder against the overwhelming tide of criticism and ineptitude overflowing from his own superiors (who, in turn, are probably struggling with much of the same). In our last meeting, I couldn't get the image of Atlas struggling to hold up the weight of the world on his shoulders out of my head. Instead of Atlas, though, it's our poor pastor. Eeps!
So yeah... I've been a miserable little bum. Everything was really getting to me because I felt like I couldn't do anything to make any of it better.
Until I remembered the following quote from St. Francis de Sales:
Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.
Ha! This quote is wonderful because it reminds us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how stressed or over-burdened we think we are, God never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is rely on Him through prayer, and all the craziness takes care of itself.
So I spent some time in Adoration. I normally don't go during lunch because I feel like I can't give Jesus the proper time He deserves. That, I've realized, is an excuse. Any time with Jesus is time well-spent, so I took my spare ten minutes and found myself in the adoration chapel.
I was absolutely miserable, so I wasn't really expecting much to come of it. I then said to myself, "So what if nothing comes of it? Adoration isn't supposed to be for us. It's supposed to be a gift to Jesus. So stop your whining and be grateful for the fact that He allows you to spend time with Him at all."
(I really do have these sorts of conversations with myself... don't judge me! Ha ha!)
So I went. I didn't even bother with the veil. I just went in to the lonely little chapel room and said "Hi" to Jesus. I didn't recite any fancy prayers, and I didn't even turn on the lights. I just knelt before the monstrance and said, "Hi Jesus. I love You. Help me to love You better."
I didn't know what else to say. I really didn't. I was sheepishly grinning at Jesus, because I knew He was enclosed in the monstrance and was probably hoping for something a little more profound than "Hi Jesus" over and over again.
But I quickly realized that wasn't true. Jesus was just glad I was there with Him... that I came to Him when I realized the flood of emotion was too much. Like any good friend, He was waiting patiently (no... EXPECTANTLY) for me to ask for help. As I acknowledged the truth of that, an immediately wave of relief came over me. I felt happiness and love. I actually put my arms out a bit because I knew in that moment, Jesus was hugging me. I don't care how much of a crazy person that makes me. Jesus was hugging me, and darn it - I was gonna hug Him back!
After that, I spent the last couple minutes just "hanging out" with Jesus. I repeated my prayer of "I love You, help me to love You better" a few more times, and then thanked Him for the opportunity to come see Him.
I left with the dopiest grin on my face. I had gone over my Best Friend's house in the middle of the day and snuck in a few minutes of chit-chat. It really made all the difference in the world.
I then took the advice of a dear priest friend who suggested that lunch / dinner might be a good option to cheer up our pastor. Armed with his suggestion, I began making plans to surprise him (Fr. Atlas - I'm totally going to call him that from now on) with a luncheon. After all, Mark Twain said it best: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Hopefully this will provide a morale-boost to Fr. Atlas in addition to those of us who are able to attend. I sincerely hope we draw a good sized crowd for him. He deserves to know he's appreciated and supported by his community. He's done so much for us, and it's be nice to acknowledge him for his love to remind me that even though he's facing a deluge of criticism, he has a deluge of appreciation to balance it out.
So yeah... Adoration, even for a few minutes, really can make a difference!
I apologize - I wasn't able to find a clearer image of this incredible sculpture, but no doubt you get the gist.
This photo is taken directly from Cross Ministries, a non-profit dedicated to reproducing Christ's life through life-sized sculptures. I want to go to Texas so bad now!!! Apparently that's where all their best stuff is. Ha.
Anyway, I have no idea if this ministry is Catholic or not, but considering the items in their gift shop (I saw rosaries and St. Benedict medals), I lean towards the "likely" side. Not that I care. Non-Catholics have just as much claim to Christ's Life as we do, right? :)
Seriously, though - check out their site. Though it's not very stream-lined, the photos of their work are breathtaking.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to post this image is because it's got the Last Supper strategically placed before the foot the Calvary so that at this angle, you can see Jesus offering up not only the bread of Passover, but His Sacrifice on the Cross as well. This is truly the meaning of the Eucharist (which, again, leads me to believe there's a Catholic SOMEWHERE on this ministry's council).
I also found the video below through Cam's A Woman's Place Facebook page.
Up for a paradigm shift?
Special thanks to Creative Minority Report for not only having the full ad, but the full text here.
Another special thanks to Nicole for dropping this off via FB. I'd seen it being talked about on a few blogs, but I hadn't gotten the full text until now!
I'll deal with the Catholic vs. Muslim NTY Ad issue at another time. Today I want to focus on the Catholic ad.
I'm all for free speech. I honestly don't mind that they paid for an ad that voiced their opinions. That being said, I'm unsurprised that they chose to exercise their freedom of speech by once again attacking Catholicism and seeking to muddy the real issues that surround US Catholics at present.
I'll take the text and respond - one at a time - to their ludicrous statements. My comments are in red.
Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic:
It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church.
It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?
Common ploy to polarize! You're attempting to juxtapose issues that don't actually exist. For example, in attempting to contrast our Bishops and "their wrongs" with women and "their rights" it appears that the two are at odds. In truth, Catholics are
attempting to continue
providing women with
the most comprehensive
And these are only a few examples - a very tiny sampling of the almost unfathomable amount of resources we dedicate to providing reliable, charitable healthcare to ALL people all over the world. But sure - this is simply a matter of us suddenly wanting to stop providing what is a vital part of our Catholic identity. Of course. That makes perfect sense. <sarcasm>
It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.
I didn't realize that practicing my faith somehow trampled on your rights. In speaking out against this mandate, I'm not stopping you from purchasing condoms, pills or even abortions. I'm simply attempting to keep myself from footing the bill for your lifestyle choices, especially when those lifestyle choices go directly against my faith. Isn't this what you've always wanted? This is the Church attempting to stay out of your bedroom. Stay out of my wallet, k?
Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club?
Your proof for any of those completely fallacious statements is where? And that whole sex-perversion comment makes me laugh. We're upholding sexual intercourse to be a holy, beautiful and intimate bond between husband and wife. You folks are the ones attempting to make it a free-for-all that is free from emotion, respect, and responsibility.
Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers?
Because the Church is correct in attempting to stamp out that which is morally bankrupt. We're NOT attempting to refuse women the right to choose whether / when to become mothers. They're perfectly capable of doing that on their own. It's as simple as saying "No, honey, not tonight." Or are you attempting to assert that women are ignorant and incapable of understanding their own bodies well enough to address this issue themselves without the aid of harmful chemicals /invasive procedures?
When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.
Oh really? Reproductive freedom goes both ways, dear. How about we call it Reproductive RESPONSIBILITY. Folks don't want to accept responsibility anymore. It has nothing to do with freedom. It has to do with a refusal of responsibility. Freedom is as simple as saying "No, I'm not ready for a child, thus I'm not ready for the act that goes into creating a child" or even "I'm not ready (or willing) to have a child, thus I need to be aware of my body's signals that I'm fertile."
In the eyes of the Church, birth control, abortion and sterilization are mortal sins. Our doctrine on this is not something that can become "antiquated." So regardless of how much public opinion is influenced by your liberal thrust, the Church will remain firmly rooted in the Truth of the Teachings of Christ. Thus, call us outdated all you want. Truth is timeless, and no matter how many times you try to say 1+1=7, the Catholic Church will always discern your folly and seek to correct that folly for the good of Her people.
A backer of the Roman Catholic presidential candidate says that if women want to avoid pregnancy we should put an aspirin between our knees?
Apparently we must take his word for gospel because he's a Catholic. Good thing there haven't been any folks who parade themselves as Catholic and do / say some REALLY anti-Catholic things (Pelosi, anyone? Cuomo? I could go on).
Catholic politicians are urging that the right to contraception should be left up to states?
Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld contraception as a privacy right, we’re going to have to defend this basic freedom all over again?
Back to that whole "Truth is timeless" point. Just because the SC said something's A-OK doesn't mean we have to agree. We'll keep plugging away until all life (even that within the womb) is viewed with the respect and dignity it deserves.
You’re better than your church.
Correction - we ARE the Church.
So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe?
To worship God in a way He specified was holy and good.
To join together as a community to renew our covenant with God as His family.
To listen to the Word of God and participate in His Death and Resurrection.
To partake of the Blessed Sacrament - something no other religion has.
To bear our petitions before the Throne of the Lord on the wings of our angels.
To unite ourselves more fully to the Church Triumphant, Penitent and Militant.
To express thankfulness for the blessings we've received through Divine Providence.
Annnnd, this list could seriously go on forever.
Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)?
Of course it's seen as brainwashing to you. And that's fine - no one's asking you to send your kids to Catholic school. However, I know I intend to send mine to a Catholic school so they gain a firm foundation for TRUE Catholic teachings - not the misinformation you spread as fact.
I also appreciate the comfort of knowing Catholic education does a much better job of helping children succeed academically than its secular counterpart. And for the record, that information was compiled using the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
For that matter, why have you put up with an institution that won’t put up with women priests, that excludes half of humanity?
This simply shows your ignorance of Catholicism. ALL people are part of the royal priesthood (men and women alike). However, only men can belong to the ministerial priesthood through Ordination, and that's because women are NATURALLY able to become vessels of life. Men can only gain that gift through the vocation of priesthood (in bearing Christ to the people through Consecration). But since folks like you can't seem to grasp that dignity is not something measured by things you can pat yourself on the back for, just read this and learn why we believe women cannot be priests.
No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith.
Again, you're attempting to polarize things that honestly have no reason being a part of this discussion. You're attempting to shame folks into leaving the Church because you view it as anti-feminist, stifled and archaic. The Church is none of these things. We respect our women, we revere tradition, and we are able to grow in spirituality courtesy of the Holy Spirit. Just because we aren't willing to fall into the muck you call "progress" doesn't mean we can't be progressive. We just think your version of "progress" is highly suspect and can be likened more to humanity slipping BACKWARDS into slime and filth.
As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings.
You have completely misunderstood the concept of Cafeteria Catholic, haven't you?
Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.
I agree that Cafeteria Catholics have to stop, but I think we differ on the reasons why, as these folks do nothing to cast ANY sort of respectability upon those of us who are faithful Catholics. And as for your talk of Enlightenment... well... that's obviously hogwash as Catholicism is a beacon of truth in your sea of folly. As much as you want to claim we're threatening women's health / liberty, we're probably the last bastion they've got that is willing to provide them the compassion and dignity they desperately need.
If you imagine you can change the church from within — get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research — you are deluding yourself.
For any Catholic that thinks they can change that stuff, you're not understanding the concept of dogma, and I'd agree with the statement of "you are deluding yourself."
If you remain a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights.
Not only is a non-Catholic attempting to tell me I'm being "bad" but an atheistic one who HATES Catholicism. No conflict of interest there, right? Excuse me, waiter... can I please have a heaping serving of salt to go with this garbage?
You’re kidding yourself if you think the Church is ever going to add a Doctrine of Immaculate ContraCeption.
I bet you thought you were hilarious with that one, didn't you? *Shakes head* That's pathetic.
It is disgraceful that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to the Catholic Church’s bizarre opposition to medically prescribed contraception.
No, what's disgraceful is that the current administration is attempting to dismantle our 1st Amendment rights and a portion of the population is perfectly content to stand by because they don't understand / care what's going on.
No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Again, while I'm sure you thought your imagery was hilarious, you fail to make any sort of substantial point. No one is expecting politicians to genuflect before a bishop. We (meaning faithful Catholics) want politicians to uphold the office they were elected for. We want them to hear our voice and protect our right to freedom of religion. If they fail to uphold the dignity of their office, we'll be sure to give them a good old-fashioned boot come next election.
(Question to ask your Bishop: Does he hold up an umbrella against the rain? Isn’t that just as “unnatural” as using a condom or diaphragm?)
Again, this foolish question makes no sense, but it betrays your view of sex. For Catholics, sexual relations are a renewal of wedding vows. It is the total giving of self by husband to wife (and vice versa). Exactly what sort of loving, self-giving exchange is occurring between a human being and rain?
Your Church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.”
It's not a hysterical claim, but I know you're trying with increasing fervor to make others believe that's all it is. This is a proclamation of TRUTH.
You are savvy enough to realize that the real assault is by the Church against women’s rights and health care.
I see what you attempted to do there. I know you're attempting to stroke my ego and make me go "Yeah! I AM smart enough to realize the Church is really anti-women!"
Unfortunately for you, I'm actually much more intelligent and knowledgable about my faith than you are. So how about you back off with attempting to tell me what my religion stands for and you go about your business of trying to prove to yourself that there is no higher power awaiting you at death.
As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt asks: Is it an offense against Jehovah Witnesses that health care coverage will include blood transfusions? The Amish, as Pollitt points out, don’t label cars “an assault on religious liberty” and try to force everyone to drive buggies. The louder the Church cries “offense against religious liberty” the harder it works to take away women’s liberty.
Mark Shea answers this way better than I ever could, so just read this.
Obama has compromised,
No, no he didn't. In fact, he outright lied.
but the Church never budges, instead launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition.
Yup. And I'm quite pleased that She's finally mobilizing the Church Militant in defense of Truth!
Look at its continuing directives to parish priests to use their pulpits every Sunday to lobby you against Obama’s policy, the Church’s announcement of a major anti-contraception media campaign — using your tithes, contributions and donations — to defeat Obama’s laudable health care policy.
Have you actually been to any churches on Sunday? That's an obvious "no."
The Church has introduced into Congress the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, ” a bill to place the conscienceless Catholic Church’s “rights of conscience” above the rights of conscience of 53 percent of Americans. That the Church has “conscience rights” to deny women their rights is a kissing cousin to the claim that “corporations are people.” The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to oppose contraception now wants to use the force of secular law to deny contraceptive rights to non-Catholics.
Wow - to be quite honest, you lost me at "conscienceless Catholic Church." Also, what is this "53 percent of Americans" you're referring to?
But is there any point in going on?
Plenty, as you've yet to give me any solid reasons to leave what I know to be the fulfillment of God's promise for salvation. We have the Sacraments, we have true, moral guidance, we have a community of good, charitable people who seek to extend their hands to help Divine Providence along. We have the Church Triumphant and the Church Penitent pulling for us, and we've got the guidance of the Holy Spirit to navigate us through your treachery.
You've got what? Pills and condoms? Moral bankruptcy? A hopeless future in which life amounts to nothing more than personal gratification and selfish ideas of how others can be utilized for your own ends?
Yeah... no thanks.
After all, your misplaced loyalty has lasted through two decades of public sex scandals involving preying priests, children you may have known as victims, and church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top.
Ah, there it is... I was waiting for this to rear its head. Yes, we've had our share of fallen leaders, same as everyone else. There really isn't much we can do to rectify all the hurt and pain we've caused, but good luck to the world in attempting to pay us back for all the good we've done. We are a sinful people, but in the end, our track record is much more golden than tarnished. Though this is an ugly scar we will bear forever (and rightly so), it doesn't diminish the humane, holy, and charitable good we've done all over the world.
Are you like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go?
Really? You seriously went with THIS imagery? I guess you're really trying to bring home your whole "the Church hates women" argument. Again - very sad.
But we have a more welcoming home to offer,
Like all those wonderful things I mentioned above??? Again - no thanks!
free of incense-fogged ritual,
Also free from holiness, blessings and God
free of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,”
Apparently free from common sense and knowledge of what Catholicism actually teaches, too.
free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority.
And to top it off, free from absolutes, tradition and reality. Again, no thanks!
Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.
You're confusing humanity for personal gratification and immaturity - a life free from responsibility, meaningful relationships, and most importantly, God. Pardon me if I don't come rushing over to sign up.
As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.
Again, I realize you think you're hilarious, but wow. It's like your puns get more cringe-worthy with each passing paragraph! I'll continue voting with my feet straight up the Communion line where I can kneel before my Lord and my God to accept Him with love and joy, content to bear Him forth to others.
Amen, dear Lord - never allow me to tear myself away from Your Heart.
Moses accepting the Word of God
So I was prepping for next week's lesson on the Exodus. I came across the following excerpt from Exodus 24:9-11:
"Moses then went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy elders of Israel, and they beheld the God of Israel... yet He did not lay a hand on these chosen Israelites. They saw God, and they ate and drank."
Basically, this portion of the story occurs after Moses delivers the Word of God to the Israelites. In "one voice" they consent to the Mosaic covenant linking them as a people to God. They follow the prescribed sacrificial offerings which solidifies them as a family through the physical symbol of blood. Then, Moses and the elders take part in the spiritual sign of family as they partake in a Heavenly feast in which they "saw God" and yet remained unharmed (important point because Jews believed that to see God was automatic death). God did not "lay a hand on these chosen Israelites" because they were now His family. They feasted together in the Presence of God which fully solidified their covenant with him.
Now, it took me a bit for this quote to register, so bear with me.
Since my class has been going over covenant history (we've gone through Edenic, Adamic, Noahic and mostly Mosaic), I was really trying to take them a bit more in-depth with the Mosaic covenant because of the 1st Reading for this coming weekend (Ten Commandments).
However, as I was putting together my lesson plan, I copied and pasted the "review" from last week (which consisted of Adoration since I had reminded them about why we'd be taking part in it during Lent). Here's where things get entertaining.
As I got midway through my lesson plan, having just highlighted Adoration for myself through the review, I started putting pieces together.
"Hey wait a minute! The Eucharist is the ratification of the New and Everlasting Covenant which fulfills the promises made throughout Salvation History! Not only do we feast WITH God, we feast on HIS FULL PRESENCE - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. So just as the Jews were able to "see God," we, too, are given this privilege and grace through our own spiritual feast (made visible through the physical sharing of the Eucharist).
Gotta love when things come full circle.
And then when I was looking up images to use for this entry, I came across the one you see at the top with Moses kneeling down to accept the Ten Commandments from God the Father. I had another little light bulb go off over my head. Moses was kinda receiving a precursor to the Eucharist. After all, what is the Word of God other than Jesus Christ, Himself?
Okay, I now have the cheesiest grin on my face. It's like all these little pieces are coming together and I can't help but shake my head in wonder. God is such an incredible Author. His foreshadowing simply cannot be outdone!
This image is incredible!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know I promised to answer Laura's question yesterday, but as soon as I buckled down to write, I got a call from Vincent's daycare. Poor little guy has a tummy bug, so I needed to pick him up and take him home.
Today, however, Daddy's with him. That means Mommy can answer Laura in peace!
Anyway, in order to understand the answer, I must first explain what the Triduum is. For Catholics, the Triduum is the holiest time in our Liturgical Calendar. It is the most important part of Salvation History as Christ, in those three days, fulfilled the promise of God when He said He would send a Savior who would reconcile humanity to Himself.
The Triduum, thus, becomes Holy Thursday Mass (when we remember the Last Supper), Holy Saturday (when we remember Christ's descent into Hell), through the Easter Vigil and Easter celebrations (when we remember His Glorious Resurrection and triumph over Death).
Anyway, since this is the most sacred part of the year for the Church - the finite point in linear history that somehow encapsulates the timeless Sacrifice of Christ - our Liturgy reflects our solemn, adoring and anguished spirit. We see ourselves, the Church, as dying WITH Christ.
This is also why throughout Lent, things are slowly removed from our Masses. Statues are draped (or even removed), fewer candles are lit, our beautiful "Alleluia" is laid to rest, and floral arrangements are typically absent.
As I explained to my children, something very special happens after Holy Thursday Mass. The priest removes Christ from the tabernacle and processes with Him to a place of repose. This signifies that Christ has begun His Sacrifice (which truly did begin with the moment of Consecration at the Last Supper - more on that in a bit).
The Mass on Holy Thursday does not "end." There is no "Go forth" or "Thanks be to God." There is only the procession of Christ to His place of repose and the silent, prayerful adoration of the faithful that stay watch with Him as He endures His Passion (akin to the Apostles as Christ led them to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch as He began His Agony in the Garden).
In fact, to further this point, after the Procession, the Church is stripped bare. Linens are removed from the pulpit, altar, tabernacle, etc. Furniture (like chairs, microphones, lecterns, etc) are taken into the sacristy. Candles aren't just snuffed out - they are removed entirely. Carpets are rolled away. Remaining statues may be taken down. Every movable object is taken away from our sanctuary and all lights (be they candles, spot-lights or chandeliers) are deadened. Our Church, symbolic of the spirit of all the faithful who create Her, dies with Her Master. He who is the Light of the World is consenting to become obscured and entombed.
As His faithful Spouse, we acknowledge our desolation... our mourning... our grief.
On Good Friday, there is "no Mass." Again, this is because technically, the Mass from Holy Thursday has not ended - nor will it until the close of the Vigil on Holy Saturday. Instead, we continue the Mass through Stations of the Cross, Adoration, communal and private meditation, recitation of the Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries), Tenebrae etc.
This is to signify that we, the Church, the faithful Bride of Christ, follow Him on His Path towards Salvation. We consent to die with Him in order to take part in His Resurrection.
This moves us to Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, we remember in a special way Christ's descent into Hell, Limbo and Purgatory. We remember His Triumphant opening of the Gates of Heaven that were closed against us as a result of Original Sin. There is actually no "liturgy" for Holy Saturday until the vigil. This is a continuation of Christ's Sacrifice which began during Holy Thursday.
Finally, we arrive at our Easter Vigil. This special vigil is held after sundown. This is significant because this darkness is indicative of the spiritual darkness we are experiencing as we await the Light of the World. Again, this vigil does not start with the typical "opening Mass prayers" we're used to. Instead, the priest blesses a special fire which is typically made of Holy Oils from the previous year, salt, and twigs. This special fire is the first light we see and is symbolic of the Resurrection. This light is what's used to light our brand new Paschal Candle (the Christ Candle), and after the Candle is lit, the light begins to spread throughout the Church, from member to member, as a flame is passed between individual candles all are given at the opening of Mass.
As a sacristan who has been at the front of the Church awaiting the Exsultet (when we flip on all the lights, light all the candles, and bust out all the finery we've got to offer), seeing this light slowly spread throughout the entire Church... it's incredible.
Anyway, this is the point in the Liturgical Calendar in which we celebrate and acknowledge Christ's Triumph over Death. The Sacrifice has been complete and Salvation has been granted to us. Through His Offering, we have become reconciled and all the promises of God the Father to His Creation regarding the Messiah have been fulfilled. We rejoice in being reborn through His Death and Resurrection.
As THIS VIGIL MASS commences, we finally are able to hear again the priest's command to "Go Forth" and respond with a jubilant "Thanks be to God!" We acknowledge that the sacred Triduum that marks Christ's Sacrifice has reached its fulfillment, and we take our charge to "Go Forth" with zeal. We are charged to take the message of Salvation to all people who still "live in darkness."
So that, dear Laura, is why the answer to number 11 on the test was "One." There is but one Mass celebrated over 3 days during the Triduum.
As these three days recall the three long days of Christ's consummation by the Fire of His Love, we, too, offer these three days in solidarity with Him.
So the last couple days have been a flurry of media activity regarding Barbara Johnson and her incredibly presumptuous attempt to partake of the Eucharist at her mother's funeral.
Unsurprisingly, almost every single news outlet paints Father Guarnizo as a heartless bigot who sniffed a gay and decided to make a political statement.
This woman then went on to whine about how she and her neice couldn't both eulogize her mother and how mean Father Guarnizo was by leaving the Church before she could finish waxing philosophical for her audience.
Pathetic - on so many, many levels - pathetic.
1 - You had just met this priest (for the FIRST TIME according to all accounts), and introduced him to your "partner." In two private accounts, supposed witnesses claim you used the word "lover." Considering you're self-proclaimed "Catholic upbringing" you know full-well living in an active homosexual relationship is a mortal sin. Don't be surprised when he bars you from Communion.
2 - The fact that you'd just met this man for the first time surprises me in and of itself. For being such a "devout" Catholic, how exactly did the funeral get put together without seeing him at least once? Sure, mom could've put arrangements together before her death, and sure, the funeral home may have gotten in touch with Fr. Guarnizo in order to ensure he was scheduled for the Mass, but really? You didn't attempt to meet with him beforehand to go over things like readings, share memories of your mother (for homily purposes) or express your desire for more than one eulogy (since eulogies aren't even a part of Catholic Funeral Masses except in cases where the pastor feels generous enough to allow one)?
3 - You attempt playing the martyr who really loves the Church but was just cruelly treated by one of her members in stating "I have gotten email upon email saying, ‘I’m not going back,’ and I say, ‘Please go back, because that man does not represent the Catholic Church.’"
Let me go ahead and stop you right there. This priest is more representative of the Catholic Church than you will ever be. He is not only representative of the Church, he is a hand-selected representative of Christ! He upholds the dogma of our Church and does not attempt bending the rules to suit his lifestyle choices, opinions or feelings. You'd do well to follow HIS example and not that of your own selfish, arrogant and misguided brain.
I wouldn't be nearly as angry with this if she was a non-Catholic. Non-Catholics wouldn't know any better and may very well assume that being in the Eucharistic line is just "what you do."
This woman KNOWS better but arrogantly defies Church teaching because she simply doesn't believe that her lifestyle is mortally sinful.
Fine - don't believe it. No one is forcing you to. But no one is forcing you to be in the Communion line, either. Find a church that opens its doors to perversions, untruths and errors. Don't expect the Church to bend Her teachings to give you warm fuzzies just because you don't agree with Her 2,000 + year old dogma.
THAT is what drives me up a wall. And the fact that this wonderful priest is now being thrown under the bus by his own superiors (because God forbid we hurt the feelings of the homosexual population!) also drives me up a wall. This is NOT a pastorally insensitive thing to do. Nor is it misguided. His duty is to protect the sanctity of the Eucharist and that's exactly what he did. God forbid he gave her the Eucharist (which would be a sacrilege according to our faith). That would be three-fold sin. First, the woman would commit an even graver sin by sullying the Sacrament. Next, the priest would commit the grave sin of comission by being a party to this sacrilege. Worst of all, the priest would then be sinning by leading those who saw this exchange into moral confusion (because they might think this sacrilege to be perfectly acceptable).
Oh, for shame that folks don't realize that the priest protected not only this woman, but himself and all present at the expense of his own person. Shameful, shameful, shameful!
Instead, this ungracious woman lashes out at him to anyone who will listen. Why? Because her over-inflated ego was bruised. Better her ego than her soul and the souls of those would have witnessed it.
Honestly, I hope that anyone who stands in solidarity with her DOES stop considering themselves Catholic. These types of folks do more harm than the atheists or agnostics who rally against us openly. These "Cafeteria Catholics" are the WORST because they spread fallacy and scandal from the inside.
Our beloved Church is heading for a schism. The more that superiors bend to trash like this, the more we hurt ourselves. Pretty soon, there's going to be a reckoning in which true Catholics stand up and say "NO MORE." We need to clean house and rid ourselves of these cancerous members (laity and clergy included). I wish such a step weren't necessary, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will come to a head within 10-15 years.
We also need to do a better job teaching our members the TRUTH of our faith and punishing those who wish to bend that truth to fit their own warped agendas.
Pieta - by Jason Jenicke
Brace yourselves for yet another of Bl. Anne Catherine's visionary stupifiers!
While delving into the days before Our Lady's death, St. Anne saw her giving directives on what should happen to her few worldly possessions. One cloth, in particular, drew Bl. Anne's attention. This cloth had a supreme light about it, was woven of the finest materials and stark white where there wasn't large amounts of dried blood.
She was given to understand that this cloth was used by Our Lady as she cradled her Son in her arms after He was taken from the Cross. She tenderly wiped at His Blood stained Body, using her tears as cleansing salve. She lovingly removed the spittle, the sweat, and the dirt away from His Face with this cloth, which she then safeguarded as a precious relic.
Our Lady made known to Bl. Anne Catherine that this cloth was the original purificator. All cloths used since to wipe chalices are used in a similar manner. I wonder how many priests realize this! As they wipe the Chalice of Christ's Blood, they take on the role of Our Lady as she accepted the Body of her Beloved Son from the Cross. Just as they wipe away the traces of Blood and spittle, Our Lady did first as she caressed His Face and Body, allowing her tears to fall as rain over Him.
At Mass today, I could have wept as I saw our pastor using the purificator. I never realized just what that action meant until seeing it through Bl. Anne's eyes... through Our Lady's eyes.
The thought is so humbling, so moving, so heart-breaking that I could think of nothing else as I knelt after receiving. I'm so glad I found the above artwork (by Jason Jenicke, an incredible artist I found by absolute accident!). It is simply the perfect summation of my feelings - I think I'll see this image every time I see purificators now.
Definitely filing this away under "That was Awkward, and Slightly Irritating." A friend of mine called me out on routinely going to my pastor's line for Communion. Apparently this "pattern of selfishness" made her feel disrespected and hurt.
I knew sooner or later this issue would come up, and I was even prepared to explain my position in a succinct manner. I didn't really get the chance, though, because I was chided the entire time. She had automatically assumed she knew my motives and lectured me on why those motives were incorrect.
I was surprised to learn that I:
- am being selfish
- think that reception of the Host from a priest makes me holier than those who don't
- think that I get an extra blessing because I receive from the priest
- belittle the role of EMs and their important role in the Church
- am setting a bad example for others who might get confused by my actions
- (apparently I'm also a lot more popular than I've given myself credit for)
- disrupt the flow of traffic by crossing the aisle
I explained that I believed EMs to be Extraordinary Ministers - only to be used in (*gasp*) Extraordinary circumstances. Sunday masses, especially with our congregation size, could not be considered "extraordinary circumstances" that require the aid of EMs.
Secondly, I believe that only an Ordinary Minister (Priest / Deacon) should be allowed to touch the Host. If EMs must be used, they should be relegated to Chalices as their unconsecrated hands never come into contact with Christ.
Next, I don't believe in getting an "extra blessing" or being "holier" than others. I simply choose to accept Christ in the way He intended us to receive Him - from the hands of His Ordinary ministers.
I believe that this over-use of EMs lessens people's understanding of the awesome Presence of Christ. If anyone is willy-nilly able to pick up the Host, are we really paying Him the proper reverence? I simply don't believe so, and that can be seen clearly in the obvious eroding of people's faith in Transubstantiation. Most folks believe the bread and wine merely represent Jesus.
I do NOT disrupt the flow of traffic - that's just non-sense. I also doubt anyone else is paying enough attention to me to gain a "bad example" though I could only HOPE to be so lucky that someone chooses to follow me in this regard. Again, though, absolutely DOUBTFUL anyone pays any attention to me.
I don't belittle the role EMs play, I simply view it as understanding the role as it was MEANT to be. It wasn't meant to be a troop of lay-persons rushing up to the altar at Communion time every Sunday. That, in and of itself, diminishes the role they are meant to play.
She pushed me further, attempting to defend herself (I guess my differing opinions came off as a vicious attack on her integrity) by saying, "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass. It is my calling to do this, and I believe those who look down on that choice are disrespectful."
... *sigh* ...
Maybe I shouldn't have needled, but I couldn't help myself on this point. The sentence "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass" REALLY got under my skin. I asked, "Oh, so because I'm not a Eucharistic Minister, I guess I'm not fully participating in the Mass?"
She said, "Well no, that's not what I meant. Some people just aren't called to do that."
I said, "Oh, okay, so if you aren't on the schedule for a particular weekend, do you feel as though your Mass experience was somehow sullied because you didn't participate to your fullest?"
She stuttered back that "I didn't mean that either. It's just I have a calling and you seem to resent that by always going to a priest."
At this point, I'm darting my eyes around for the closest wall to smash my head into - repeatedly.
"No, I do not resent EMs. I honestly don't pay them any attention. I'm too busy praying that Jesus puts me in the right frame of mind to accept Him lovingly into my heart. Apparently, however, while you should be busying yourself with begging God to make you worthy of distributing Him to the congregation, you're eyeballing the congregation to see who is choosing you over the other ministers. I didn't realize there was some sort of competition going on for who could get the most communicants."
ARGH - I was REALLY fuming at this point, and I realized I was starting to get snippy. As a result, I said, "Look, it is not my intention to hurt your feelings by not joining in with your line. I never thought it made any difference to the Eucharistic Ministers who showed up in what line. However, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS seek out a priest or a deacon as that is something I personally promised Jesus when I entered back into the faith. So if you've got a problem with that, I really don't know what to tell you."
She responded we would just have to be content to disagree with one another. I stopped myself from saying, "I WAS content with that well before you opened your mouth to me!" Ugh - I seriously cannot believe that conversation took place. I really can't!
I cannot possibly tell you how high my heart leapt at the title of this piece! How absolutely brilliant that Christ is being brought into the heart of the battle... to where He is so desperately needed.
The lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful keep repeating themselves in my head:
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
It seems that in so many places we've lost our recognition of Christ's True Presence within the Eucharist. We've lost our understanding and thus, our appreciation, for this gift. Movements like this instill hope that my generation is working to go back to our Catholic roots and seek out the treasures our God has granted us through the Church.
The greatest of these treasures is Christ, Himself, through the Eucharist. O come... let us adore Him. Let us adore He who Triumphs over despair, darkness and death itself. Let us adore Him and beg mercy for our transgressions against His Most Holy Will. His love is all encompassing - He would do nothing but grant us such grace.
This picture is exactly how I felt last night (and this morning... ha!).
I spent about 3 hours cooking for my husband's company party last night. The party was this morning, and I spent the better part of this morning running around like a crazy person.
The pulled pork had been ordered three weeks ago from a place I couldn't remember the name of. I had Googled it weeks ago and couldn't tell you the name or city it existed in. I thought I had saved the info on my computer, but no dice. With less than an hour until the party, I was in a panic. I still had to ready the other food, wrap the gifts, get Vince's daycare stuff in order (he had a party, too), and take care of a work emergency.
I called upon all my Purgatorial buddies and several saints (St. Anthony included) and even the Blessed Mother in an effort to help me remember the name of the shop. I even said, "Okay, Guardian Angel, I know you know what it is! C'mon... please, please, please help me remember!"
Finally, after a morning of dwelling in a half-heart-attack state, I said, "God, I fully know you're capable of something this tiny. I also realize you've probably got way bigger things to take care of. However, you're God, and you can handle it. I know you'll take care of this, too, 'cause I know all those saints / angels are praying, and the Blessed Mother never turns down intercessions. Just help me be patient as you sort through the paperwork."
Seriously - not even five minutes later and the answer comes to me as I'm scrolling through my computer.
I seriously dropped to my knees and started thanking God in every possibly way I could. Man... what a relief! John wasn't going to have to find someone to help covertly bury his murdered wife after all!
Everything else quickly started falling into place.
After picking up the pork and dropping off the food I made, I went straight to the Adoration Chapel I found a few weeks back. Unfortunately, the Eucharist wasn't exposed, but I didn't let a little thing like a tabernacle door stop me from adoring Jesus. :)
I really felt so happy and grateful to be with Him to properly thank Him for His help this morning. I gave shout outs to all my saint / purgatory friends, and spent some time meditating on Our Lady. I offered up couple chaplets for the Holy Souls as a thank you since I know that made both them and Jesus happy.
Mmmmm - even though I'm absolutely exhausted (it's not even 3pm yet!), I'm insanely happy that I was given such a gift today. We've got ourselves one swell God, huh? :)
The shirt you see at right is one that I'd like to give to a female lector I know. She's always impeccably dressed, ensures every hair on her head is in place, and quite probably gives her face the twice (or thrice) over before stepping out of the house.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to appear presentable in church, especially if you've been tasked with delivering the readings to the congregation. However, your external appearance means absolutely nothing when you exude arrogance.
Each time I've been at a Mass she's read at, I've been horrified at how she approaches the altar. She sits towards the back, so when it's time for the readings, everyone must wait for her to sashay down the aisle. When she enters the sanctuary, she stops in the center and simply looks at the wall behind the altar (at the tabernacle? at the light? at the bricks?). She gives an almost imperceptible nod, then moves towards the pulpit to deliver her reading. She then returns to her seat upon completion following the same ritual in reverse.
As she's walking back to her seat, she's nodding her head to folks with a big old smile, as if she's thanking them for their admiration.
Are you kidding me?
I am absolutely horrified, and I'm not altogether sure what to do. She's able to nod her head at others but is incapable of even bowing her head in the presence of GOD? When I was trained as an altar server, I was taught to genuflect before the Presence of Christ in the tabernacle (regardless of how many times I crossed in front of the altar / tabernacle). When I "graduated" to lector, I continued the practice, though sometimes I'd simply bow at the waist as the priests did. The point is, I was properly taught to pay reverence to the Blessed Sacrament, and I would assume EVERYONE is taught this. However, I honestly don't know if she's been taught that or not, and I don't really know how to approach the topic or whom I should approach it with.
From my standpoint, I was watching someone ignore Jesus. It's like going to a birthday party and never once paying any attention to the birthday boy except to thank him for giving her an excuse to get dressed up and have a good time.
It's just upsetting to me. I've always taught my children to genuflect before the Presence of Christ because it reinforces that Jesus, in His Divinity and His Humanity, is fully present. He is really there - not just symbolically. Jesus is waiting inside the tabernacle, excited to the point of bursting... waiting and waiting for the moment the priest unlocks the door and brings Him out to share during the Eucharistic Procession.
It's why I was so upset that my class was instructed "not" to genuflect when they approached the altar during the Christmas pageant.
Ugh - this is a big issue for me. If we're willing to neglect Jesus in the small things, how can we be assured of not neglecting Him in the bigger ones?
I don't lector anymore. In fact, I've been asked and I've declined simply because as I've returned to my more traditional roots, I no longer believe women should take part in the Mass as lectors (most especially not as Extraordinary Ministers). However, I'd like to find out who is training these lectors to stress the importance of what is apparently a very passe act.
I don't know about you, but genuflecting before my Lord and God won't ever be passe for me. I fully plan on getting on my arthritic knees until my body refuses to bend anymore in the presence of His Divinity.
Welp, apparently an entry on Father Z's blog and an entry on mine connected at some point yesterday, because I got few e-mails "reminding me" that taking my son to the priest's line for a special blessing is pointless since he gets blessed at the end of Mass anyway. Plus, some of these well-meaning folks feel as though I'm simply setting Vincent up to expect that Communion is about him and not about Jesus.
Firstly, thank you for your concern about my son's spiritual well-being. Another pair of eyes (or several) is always helpful, especially in this chaotic world we find ourselves in.
That being said, I'd like to explain myself a little more clearly.
I am fully aware that we all receive the same blessing from the priest at the end of Mass. In fact, at each final blessing, I am consciously aware of the guardian angels who bow their heads down with us as they, themselves, acknowledge the surpassing dignity of priests. Thus, I don't intend Vincent's communion line "blessing" to be an "bonus blessing" or anything different from the final blessing. Instead, I view it as a learning experience for a toddler.
He is much too young to understand that the Host Mommy receives is Jesus, but he IS aware that something different is happening in this line as opposed to the supermarket line. The blessing helps reinforce that. I want Vincent to understand there is a ritual to the Communion line. For him, that ritual consists of walking up with Mommy, stooping as Mommy genuflects before the Sacrament, and standing still as the priest makes the sign of the cross on his forehead. As he gets older, I will explain that since Jesus cannot come to him in the Eucharist, He comes to him in the form of the priest's blessing (after all, the priest is simply standing in for Jesus, Himself).
In effect, the blessing is not about Vincent but about Jesus wanting to communicate His Love to Vincent.
I imagine that's exactly what Jesus wants to do during Communion. He longs to tell us of His Love, and wishes us to reciprocate that Love. Thus, I doubt Jesus takes issue with a priest stooping to acknowledge a child through a blessing when that blessing reinforces Christ's desire to bless us abundantly in countless ways.
So again, while I appreciate the messages and "reminders" I assure you that I am aware of how things work. I will still take Vincent to Father's line when I'm able until Vincent is old enough to understand just what a blessing attending a Mass is, even without reception of the Eucharist.
***Been getting a large uptick in traffic to this particular page recently (as of May 2012). If you'd be so kind as to let me know where you're being linked from, I'd appreciate it. Would like to thank whoever is forwarding traffic my way. Blessings!***
Since making the decision to take Vince to Mass with me, I've gotten to see a much calmer side to him. Ha.
This weekend, he was gold for me. I was surprised, because he'll typically wanna get down and run around the cry room. Since we were the only family in there, he didn't have any bad examples to follow, so he calmly sat in my lap the entire time and watched the Mass unfold quietly. He didn't even want to read his books!
When I'd hold him in my arms during those parts where we stand, he happily played with my hair / veil, or he'd simply put his arms around my neck and lay his head on my shoulder. I could've snuggled him happily forever!
During the Offertory, we had a few folks come back to use the bathroom (which is in the cry room). Vince simply waved and said "Hi!" to everyone, but remained content in my arms. There was one little girl, probably about 6 years old, who entered with her family. She skitted all over the place and eventually hurt herself while her father tended the younger sister in the bathroom. I thought for sure Vincent was going to fight to get down and run with her, but to my happy surprise, he didn't! Soon they left and we were left to ourselves again.
For Communion, I led Vince to Father's line. We could've gone to the deacon's line (which was closer), but now that I've got Vince, I want the added bonus of his special blessing over Vincent. Until he's able to receive Communion himself, I want Vincent to understand that the Communion line is a special blessing, even for him. Vincent patiently walked up the aisle with me, beaming at everyone, calling out the occasional "Hi!" During his blessing, he smiled up at Father while trying to grab the altar server's robe. Ha ha.
Anyway, upon settling back into our seat, I kissed Vincent. It's something that I've done ever since reading about Little Nellie Organ, who wished that her "Mudder" would kiss her upon coming from Communion so she could pay reverence to the Holy Sacrament. Little Nellie, for those unfamiliar with her saintly story, was only 4 years old at the time of her 1st Communion. In fact, it was through Nellie that Pope St Pius X received the signal he was waiting for to drop the age of 1st Communicants!
Upon completion of Mass, I led Vincent to the back door, crossing the center aisle. As always, I genuflected and said to Vincent, "Say 'bye-bye' to Jesus! 'Bye, bye Jesus! I love you!'"
No sooner did I make that motion than Vincent, himself, stooped to the floor saying "Bye bye." Granted, he didn't genuflect, but he attempted to follow my lead, and it made me so proud of him. :) Our kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for, as I'm quickly learning. Ha ha ha. He's such a blessing, this one!
So yesterday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. My regular church didn't have a mass that I was able to attend, so I checked out a neighboring church that I had found on the way to my son's daycare. I'd been eyeing it for some time now, curious to know what the inside looked like (because the outside was unique to me). Also, since it's dedicated to the Blessed Mother, I felt her feast day was the best time to find myself there.
I am so glad I did! It is a beautiful church! Truth be told, it is very small and has more of a "modern" feel (something I don't typically like, but can appreciate when it's done tastefully). The artwork was beautiful, and their statues were different from those I'm used to seeing. For instance, as opposed to Our Lady of Grace (typically the version of the Blessed Mother seen on her side of the church), there was a large state of Our Lady cradling Baby Jesus. Actually, if you take the following two pictures and combine their poses, then add infinitely more beauty, you've got the statue I'm referring to.
Anyway, aside from absolutely loving that statue of Our Lady (so maternal towards and adoring of that angelic little God-Child she held in her arms), I really liked the statue of her Assumption that was used during the Mass. Again, it was as if a painting were somehow sculpted into life so realistic she was!
The Stations of the Cross were full (though muted) colored, large and adorning the walls. A few smaller statues of St. Rita, St. Joseph, and St. Anthony were present. A beautifuly little Infant of Prague held Vincent's attention for much of the Mass. Finally, and MOST exciting for me, was the Adoration Chapel in the back of the Church. An ADORATION CHAPEL!!!
I didn't think I had one anywhere near me!!! BUT I DO! I almost cried!
Again, truth be told, I was emotional anyway. It's a feast of thanksgiving for Our Lady - a gift I am endlessly grateful for. I realized it was fitting this feast is during Advent. The coming of Our Lady marked a true Advent of sorts. With the Mother of God on her way into the world, Jesus was not far behind. God is certainly a Master of time, right? :) I smiled at that realization.
This Mass also made my heart sing due to the love the priest had for Our Lady. He used much Latin in the Mass (something new for me, but I loved it!), and he spared nothing in his homily lauding this gift of the Blessed Mother. He praised her with such fondness, such gratitude, such conviction that folks were in the pews nodding their heads in agreement. When he solicited a Hail Mary at the close of the homily, folks really put their heart into the salutation. It is a true blessing to partake of a Mass with so loving and charismatic a priest.
Because of the feast, the priest also chose to distribute Communion under both species! BOTH! I haven't been so privileged in years. I hadn't realized that until last night. Also, I noted that Father relegated the two EMs to the chalice, only allowing himself and the deacon to distribute the Hosts. I LOVE THIS GUY!
I took Vince up during the Eucharist and Father was kind enough to impart a blessing. I then moved to take my place in the chalice line. I was the last person there, and luckily there was just enough left for me to partake of. Vincent was gold the entire time, and I almost cried again from feeling so honored to have been graced with such a gift. I said to Our Lady "This is YOUR feast day, and here I am getting all the gifts!"
An adoration chapel close to home, a traditional, Marian priest who truly teaches when he preaches, the Eucharist under BOTH species, and a son who was beyond exemplary for the first time during a Mass... I was beyond grateful!
I can't wait to take advantage of that chapel now. Goodness... I could even go for a half hour during lunch it's so close!
Anyway, what a wonderful celebration of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. I truly hope all of you who practice enjoyed a similarly beautiful experience!
I cannot properly describe the depths of pride and tenderness I have for my class. I really can't. Their behavior Tuesday night astonished me.
Let me back up a bit.
Last week I had hoped to spend the entire class teaching them about Eucharistic Adoration (in preparation for last night). A scheduling conflict forced the entire Religious Education department to set aside lesson plans in lieu of Christmas Pageant practice.
As a result, I was left with 15 minutes of class time with which to impart to them the importance and value of this gift. After that, we had to make our way across the lot to the Church where Father Piotr patiently awaited our arrival so we could begin.
As my children found their seats at the start of class, they found their "prayer packets" waiting for them on their desks. I explained that they were my personal "Thank You" for their stellar and exemplary behavior during last week's rehearsal. I explained their uses and advised them to keep their Divine Praises handy for Benediction later on. Finally, I gave myself a few moments to delve into the purpose and privilege of Eucharistic Adoration.
A couple children thought the Eucharist was a representation of Christ... simply a symbol of His Sacrifice. Sadly, many adults misunderstand this as well, so I did my best to correct that. Next, I then asked them to really think about what it would be like to see God face to Face. What would they say to Him? What would they feel like? Would they want to hug Him? Would they want to ask Him questions?
They came up with some wonderful responses, all of which provided meditative materials for their first Holy Hour. Finally, when questions were answered and my points were made, we quickly made our way into the church. Upon seeing my class seated, Fr. Piotr began.
Oh, to see my class willingly take part in this expression of love! They participated in the prayers, listened patiently as Father lead us in meditative thanksgiving, sang the two hymns slated for the evening, and knelt upright in their pews, looking nowhere but upon the monstrance and our God encased within.
When it was time to relax in our seats to contemplate Christ through personal prayer, my class continued their participation. Each of them could be seen paging through their new Pieta books. One boy, in particular, almost brought tears to my eyes. He was repeatedly blessing himself, over and over. It took me a second to realize why he was doing that - he was praying the Prayer Against Storms. I actually do the same thing when I pray that prayer because of the little crosses that follow each line. I was never sure if that meant to bless myself or not, so I always figure "better safe than sorry" and bless myself. He was doing the same thing! My heart just about burst I was so proud of his humble effort to ask God's assistance with the horrible weather we were having that night.
Another young man had his hands folded in prayer for most of the time. As he knelt and looked upon the Host, his expression was... I don't know. I can't even describe it. This particular child is special, indeed. In my heart I can't help but wonder if I'm not looking at a little priest-in-waiting. His grasp of things theological astounds me. His questions are astute and his understanding of the answers speedy. Even with that knowledge, however, I was floored by his piety during Adoration.
One of my young ladies, too, made me smile (truthfully, all of them did!). Normally one of my "rougher" children (not abrasive or rude... just more willing to test the waters), she was surprisingly willing to let her guard down and emphatically take part in the prayers. You see, in the beginning of the school year, I had to address this very issue with her. She was too "cool" to pray. Prayer was something the other kids did... not her. Prayer - at least of the public, communal variety - was embarrassing.
Instead of singling her out, the class and I had the following discussion:
"Do you think Jesus is your friend?"
"Do you talk to your friends?"
"Would you ever be embarrassed to talk to a friend?"
"Is prayer a way we can talk to Jesus?"
"And Jesus is your friend, right?"
"So why are some of you embarrassed to talk to your friend, Jesus, through prayer? Don't you think that hurts His feelings? Please don't ever let me see any of you refuse to pray because it is embarrassing."
After that, I never had a problem with her participating with the class. However, I didn't expect her to participate with such gusto at Adoration. It truly touched me to see her kneeling with her Pieta book, looking for prayers and then casting her eyes upon the Host as she completed them.
At one point, another class came in to take part. They were loud... very loud... and I was surprised to see that only two or three of my students turned to see the racket. The rest simply continued on in their private conversations with Jesus. Again... I was astonished by their maturity and gentle love. I doubt even they realize just how astonishing they were!
The other class left within minutes of entering. I don't know if it's due to the teacher's time restraint or realization that the class was unprepared for the privilege, but I think the congregation felt relieved at the return of peace. I couldn't help but wonder what Jesus felt like as He watched those students leave after having spent only a few moments there. No doubt He was somewhat hurt by their lack of reverence, but even a parent who is upset by a child's actions doesn't want to love them any less.
Anyway, upon completion of the Holy Hour (which also completed my class time), my class stood up and exited their pews, each one genuflecting towards the tabernacle, where they now understood God reposed. As we made our way to the back of the church, another parishioner commented on how well-behaved and prayerful they were. I positively beamed for them, and graciously thanked her for complimenting them in such a way. A few of them smiled, too, proud, I think, to have been commended in such a way.
Oh my... I am so beyond grateful for that experience. How kind of God to grant me such a special group of kids. I am beyond blessed. I really hope they understand just how much I appreciate them. May God grant me the grace to repay their kindness (and His) by continuing to help them develop spiritually. Oh, that I may help them love Him more!
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