August 31, 2009

Explanation of the Mass, Part 3


III Liturgy of the Eucharist

The major part of the Mass after the Liturgy of the Word and ending before the Concluding Rite. This part corresponds to the words and actions of Christ at the Last Supper. Christ took bread and the cup, gave thanks, broke, and gave them to His disciples saying: "Take and eat; this is My Body. Take and drink; This is the cup of My Blood. Do this in memory of Me."

Preparation of the Gifts (Presentation) - The priest prepares the altar and the gifts, prays over the bread and wine, and helps the assembly get ready for the tremendous Sacrifice that will take place in an unbloody manner. Includes the following:

Offertory Song Preparation of the Altar Preparation of the Bread Preparation of the Wine Washing of Hands Invitation to Prayer Prayer over the Gifts

Eucharistic Prayer - The center and high point of the Mass that makes Christ present for us in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. During it, the entire assembly joins Christ in acknowledging the works of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. Includes the following:

Introductory Dialogue Preface Sanctus Eucharistic Prayer Thanksgiving Acclamation Epiclesis - Ask God to consecrate the Host & Wine Institution - Narrative and Consecration Anamnesis - Command of Christ through the Apostles Offering Intercessions Final Doxology Memorial Acclamation Great Amen

Communion Rite - It is part when God gives a gift to Him. In both cases the gift is the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. Includes the following:

The Lord's Prayer Rite of Peace (Sign of Peace) Fraction Rite Breaking of the Bread Commingling Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) Personal Prayer Communion Silent Prayer Prayer after Communion

Join the Rosary Confraternity


Fr. Michael J. Woolley

Do you pray the Rosary daily?

Do you want hundreds of thousands of people praying for you?

Then join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Rosary Confraternity is a 500 year old, world wide, Papal approved movement entrusted to the Dominican Order.

Click here for more information and click here to enroll online. There are no meetings or dues, just lots of graces and blessings!

“If anyone has the happiness of being in the Confraternity of the Rosary, he has in all corners of the world brothers and sisters who pray for him.” - St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars

August 29, 2009

Edward Kennedy 1932-2009


The passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy is cause for reflection. He has been lionized in the press as a defender of the poor, the needy, the forgotten man. Kennedy fought admirably during his life for the disabled and for civil rights. The public had largely forgiven him for his personal excesses and indiscretions.

Still, for some the praise is overdone. So painful were the Kennedy families' tragedies, played out on the national stage, that Americans, and New Englanders in particular, were all too wiling to give Teddy a pass. In 1969, the tragic death of 28-year-old Mary Joe Kopechne in Senator Kennedy's car came barely a year after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. One wonders whether Teddy would have survived the scandal if not for the reserve of goodwill surrounding his family.

But the greatest missed opportunity of his distinguished career concerned the unborn. Prior to Roe v. Wade evidence suggests Kennedy was pro-life or at least sympathetic to the pro-life position. After Roe v. Wade, Senator Kennedy was pro-choice, turning his back on the most vulnerable of all, the unborn child.

Genesis, "In the beginning," Part IV


Last time we talked about the Protoevangelium or “first gospel” in which God promises to send a redeemer to save his people from the slavery of sin. Implicit in this is that sin will grow and spread bringing havoc on humanity.

The "fruits" of original sin begin with Adam and Eve's first born son, Cain, killing his brother, Abel. Cain comes from bad seed - Abel good. The murder is, of course, evil, but it also goes to show how human nature was altered and/or perverted by sin. Cain's children will grow numerous and flourish. Unfortunately, they will also spread their sinful ways. More on this in the next installment.

August 27, 2009

Thought of the Day

The Lord measures our perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.

-- St. John of the Cross

Explanation of the Mass, Part 2


II Liturgy of the Word

Liturgy of the Word - The major part of the Mass between the Opening Prayer and the preparation of the Gifts during which the Word of God is proclaimed, responded to, authoritatively explained, accepted and held fast, and appealed to. Includes the following:

First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Gospel Acclamation (Alleluia), Gospel Reading, Homily, Silence, Profession of Faith (Nicene Creed) or (Apostles' Creed - Children Only), General Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful), Church Public, Authorities Salvation of the World (Oppressed), Local Community

The reading of Scripture has always been an integral part of the Liturgy. When the first Christians gathered to "break bread", they kept the Jewish custom of the "breaking open the Word", as well. From the Hebrew Scriptures, they read the Books of the Law and the Prophets; they shared letters written by early missionaries like Peter and Paul; and they shared, of course, their own story - the Gospels.

How To Go To Confession


Fr. Phillip Neri Powell

The following is an excerpt from the article “Advice from Fr. Philip Neri’s Confessional,” by Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. It's quite long but well worth the read. Visit his website here. Go here for the previous post in this series.

II. The Sins (in order of frequency heard in the Box)

4. Lust. What gift does lust pervert? You might be tempt to say “love” or “sex,” but I would say “beauty.” We know from the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum) that God reveals Himself to us through His creation, His only Son, and scripture. As the rational members of His creation, we humans are particularly capable of revealing Who God Is, that is, of revealing Divine Beauty, Goodness, and Truth to others. In other words, you are a revelation of God to me and I to you. When you see a beautiful woman (or man) she is beautiful b/c God’s beauty is being revealed through her. She serves as an icon through which God shines His beauty and through which you receive His beauty. Your attraction to her is the attraction you know and feel for Beauty Himself. When you take that Beauty and pervert it for temporary pleasure (porn, masturbation), you sin against God.

Advice: Begin to habituate yourself to giving God thanks for the Beauty He reveals to you. When you see an attractive person lift them up in your mind and say, “Thank you, Lord, for showing me your beauty through this beautiful person!” Be truly grateful each and every time. Over time, it will become harder and harder to think of others as objects when you know that they are actually icons.

5. Envy: What gift does envy pervert? I would say that envy perverts the nature of giftedness itself. We are all created as graced creatures…THAT we exist at all is a grace, a gift of God. Beyond the gift of existence, each of us is gifted in some particular fashion—singing, writing, patience, piety, etc. These gifts are mixed and matched and combined in all sorts of odd configurations. Our job is to organize these gifts into a coherent “charitable personality,” to become the best possible version of ourselves that these gifts will allow. The way we do this is to use the gifts for others. When we do this God’s love is perfected in us. However, when I lust after the gifts of my friends and neighbors, ignoring my own gifts in favor of coveting theirs, I fail to use my own gifts and God’s love is not perfected in me. So, envy is a double-edged sin in that it promotes covetousness and makes us lazy in being charitable.

Advice: Being grateful is the key here. When you feel yourself becoming envious of another’s gifts, stop and give God thanks for that person’s gifts. Pray that they might use their gifts well and grow in holiness. Gratitude is one of the things that the devil can’t fight against. A truly grateful heart is well protected from temptation.

New US ambassador to Vatican arrives in Rome


The new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, arrived in Rome and said he was eager to help expand the "special relationship" between the United States and the Holy See.

Diaz, a 45-year-old Catholic theologian, arrived with his wife and four children at Rome's Fiumicino airport Aug. 27, six days after he was sworn in as ambassador in Washington. He was expected to present his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony later this summer.

From the Catholic News Service

EWTN to Air Special Holy Hour in Honnor of the Year of Priests




Irondale, AL (EWTN) – You and your friends are invited to join EWTN on the First Friday of each month at 3 p.m. ET as we air a special Holy Hour in honor of the Year for Priests. This program, with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, will begin airing Sept. 4 and will end in June 2010.

Explanation of the Mass


I Introductory Rites

The section of the Mass preceding the Liturgy of the Word that confers a quality of preparation and introduction on the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The intent is that the assembled group unite as a community properly prepared to hear God's Word and celebrate the Eucharist. Includes the following:

Entrance Antiphon, Greeting Penitential Rite (Rite of Blessing & Sprinkling), Kyrie (Lord, Have Mercy), Gloria (Glory to God), Opening Prayer

"'Liturgy' is the participation of the people of God in the work of God. Through the liturgy Christ, our Redeemer and High Priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through the Church." (CCC no. 1069) Since the Mass, the Church's highest form of prayer, is a gathering of the community, it stands to reason that ceremonies/rituals have developed over the years to set our Sunday gatherings apart from other kinds of assemblies.

Suffering as Stimulus


I believe that at times, God uses pain and suffering to stimulate our spiritual lives - to move us forward - to change us - even bring healing to our lives. Pain and suffering grab our attention and won't let us go until we deal with it and get our spiritual house in order.

Without a doubt, through the grace of God suffering can motivate us to change. By it we are transformed, not magically but mysticly, becoming the person God wants us to be.

In 1 Peter 4:12-19 it is written: "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the firey trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice to the extent you partake in Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

How To Go To Confession


Fr. Phillip Neri Powell

The following is an excerpt from the article “Advice from Fr. Philip Neri’s Confessional,” by Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. Visit his website here.

I Starting point:

1. Sin. When we sin we abuse a gift from God. Just about every sin we commit can be traced back to a disordered use of some grace we have received from God. Abusing God’s gifts is a dangerous practice b/c it is through the charitable use of our divine gifts for others that God perfects His love us. If you are not using your gifts for the benefit of others then God’s love is not being perfected in you.

2. Forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness we are not asking God to do something He has not already done. All of our sins are forgiven right now. All of them. Then why go to confession? God gives us forgiveness always, constantly, without ceasing. We go to confession to receive His forgiveness. Let’s say I call you up and tell you that I’ve purchased a nice Easter ham for you at Central Market. It’s a gift from me to you and your family. I give you this ham. For the ham to be a proper gift, you have to go get it. Once you have received the ham, it is a gift. The ham is no less real b/c you haven’t picked it up yet. The ham doesn’t materialize out of thin air when you go to Central Market and ask for it. The ham is just sitting there waiting for you to come ask for. The same is true for God’s forgiveness. Just ask and you will receive.

3. Charity. Once you have received your gift of forgiveness, you need to put it into action as a gift for others. We do not have the option of failing to forgive. We are commanded to love and when we love, we forgive; i.e., You give your gift of divine forgiveness away by forgiving me my sins against you. In this way, you enact your most basic ministry as Christ to me.

Thought of the Day — Pope St. Gregory the Great on Holiness



Thought of the Day

He who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps.
-- Pope St. Gregory the Great

August 25, 2009

Review: 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know


Patrick Madrid's 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know is a tremendous resource for the biblically challenged and the scripturally conversant alike. Sacred Scripture contains a wealth of information, insight and inspiration for daily life. The mined the Bible for one hundred and fifty gems of wisdom that address any and all circumstances we might encounter. This book is a real treasure, especially if you are new to the Bible.

I found 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know to be personally rewarding. One can open it on any page and read something worth while. It is the perfect antidote for difficult moments when life is difficult or we grow weak in our faith. I highly recommend it.

To purchase this book go here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

FYI: Bishops Offer Web Page to Clarify Health Reform


As the U.S. president and Congress continue to consider health care reform, the nation's bishops are offering a Web page to support a package that protects human dignity.

The site includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions, and links for contacting legislators.

Observations Of The World We Live In ...


By Stand For Life

1. If Obama doesn't care about the life of the unborn (and born baby), why should anyone think he would have a problem pulling the plug on grandma?

2. The backbone of the health care legislation is not health care, but control over people. What is abortion but total control over someone else's life? Obama is the most pro-abortion president ever, so this bill is just an extension of that belief.

[ ... ]

To view this article its entirety go here.

Obama Care = Publicly Funded Abortions


FactCheck.org has just confirmed what pro-life organizations have been saying all along: House and Senate legislation would allow a new "public" insurance plan to cover abortions, despite its supporters claims to the contrary.

Vatican official downplays report of planned liturgical reforms


VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican spokesman downplayed a report that major liturgical reforms are being considered by Pope Benedict XVI.

"At the moment, there are no institutional proposals for a modification of the liturgical books currently in use," the spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said Aug. 24.

From the Catholic News Service. To view complete article go here.

Marriage and Celibacy as Icons



Iconography, pictures of Divine Persons and saints, are signs, images, or likenesses that embody and make present what they portray. God, the author of creation, uses physical realities to make present spiritual realities beyond us. Sex is sacred because, as a life-giving exchange of persons, it images the exchange of persons in the Trinity. Husband and wife participate in the Divine Life of God by being a family. Human families are icons of the Divine Family.

Like marriage, celibacy is a total gift of self that points to a spiritual reality. Jesus’ answer: "At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage… " (Matthew 22:30, also Mark 12:25, and Luke 20:35), in response to the Sadducees’ question about the seven times widowed woman, reveals our life in Heaven.

Sex and matrimony are icons of Divine Love. In Heaven we will see God face to face. This intimate (re)union will be an unrivaled joy, surpassing even the ecstasy of sexual fulfillment. There will be no need for such signs, images, or likenesses in the life of the world to come. God will walk in our midst and be present to us. We will receive Him fully in glory without sin or selfishness.

The celibate is a witness to the happiness we will experience in Heaven. Those who are chaste for the Kingdom can still practice life-giving love in emulation of Christ. Whatever our vocation or circumstance, we are all called to be "midwifes to souls."

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Icon


Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The icon depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. To the left, the Archangel Michael, carries the lance and sponge of the crucifixion. To the right, the Archangel Gabriel carries a three-bar cross and nails. This type of icon where Mary is pointing to her Son is known as a Theotokos of the Passion. The Christ-child has been frightened by a pre-sentiment of His passion, and has run to His mother for protection. The facial expression of the Virgin Mary is solemn, looking directly at the viewer instead of her Son.

Blessed Mother Teresa Novena


(From Priests For Life)

Mother Teresa was called from this world on September 5, 1997. As we approach the anniversary of her death, I invite you to say this special prayer each day:

Father of Life, You always defend the poor and oppressed. In Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, You raised up a voice for the voiceless and a friend to the poorest of the poor, the unborn child. She brought women away from the despair of abortion clinics to the hope of a loving community that cared for her and her child.

She spoke the truth to men and women of power, asking them how we could tell people not to kill one another while allowing a mother to kill her own child.

Father, as we honor this humble and faithful woman, we ask you to give us the grace to follow her example. May we be bold in word and generous in action to love and serve the unborn and to awaken our world to know, as Mother Teresa said, that the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Fill us with love, bring us peace, and let us share your life forever. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

August 3, 2009

Perichoresis: The Inner Life of the Trinity

To the early Church Fathers the idea of perichoresis (the exchange of Persons in the Trinity), was indispensable to understanding God. This sublime, metaphysical concept is central to John Paul’s Theology of the Body. The inner life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Divine Love Itself, is dimly but unmistakably reflected in the beauty of the conjugal embrace, the nuptial meaning of our bodies, and the echo of original innocence that resides in the human heart.

The three-leaf clover used in religion classes to explain the mystery of three Divine Persons in one God does not begin to penetrate the incomparable majesty, boundless love, and total communion, which the Church in her Tradition and creeds ascribes to the Godhead.

Before continuing, the term "person" should be defined. A person has an intellect, with which to know and a will, with which to choose. As a result, a person is always a "someone," never a "something." Animals are not persons. Their intellects are governed by instinct and they do not have free will. Only persons can freely choose.

There are three types of persons: Divine Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), angelic persons (angels), and human persons (human beings). God alone possesses the Divine Nature that is the Divine Intellect and the Divine Will. As Persons, each member of the Trinity has a Divine Intellect and a Divine Will, separate from and in accordance with each other. Christ incarnate also possesses a human intellect and a human will. Angels are persons because they know and choose, as do human beings. This is what it means to say we are made in the image and likeness of God. Our personhood images the Divine Personhood of the Trinity.

Thought of the Day

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.

-- St Clare of Assisi

Catholic Theology 101: Phenomenology


At the beginning of the twentieth century a new school of thought, phenomenology, would reestablish the link severed by Cartesian philosophy between man and the world at large. Phenomenologists use the subjective experiences of persons to understand reality. Two in particular, Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, would influence later thinkers responding to totalitarianism, Marxist ideology, genocide, materialism, war on an unprecedented scale, and more.

Broadly speaking, phenomenology (from the Greek phainómenon, "that which appears" and logos, “to study"), sees objects and events around us as understandable only through the person’s consciousness. By examining human consciousness (the collective experience of persons), an awareness of the world (objective reality), in which persons exist and act could emerge. The result is that things viewed subjectively can now be studied objectively.

Descartes tears man out of objective reality, making moral absolutes impossible. Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II), restores man firmly at the center of reality, making moral absolutes essential. Like Augustine and Aquinas before him, Wojtyla confirms the fundamental harmony between faith and reason. Using phenomenology and Sacred Scripture, he affirms objective moral truth and the dignity of persons, who are shaped by and responsible for their actions.

The fruit of this synthesis, John Paul’s Theology of the Body, is a reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the beatitude to which every human being is called. This is the Holy Father’s catechesis for a culture where sex is an obsession, marriage and families are endangered, and the dignity of persons is denied. Teaching about human sexuality using language subjective, inductive, experimental minds can understand, the Theology of the Body is a light in darkness guiding us toward an authentic vision of the person as divine gift.

August 1, 2009

Italy approves abortion pill over Vatican objections


As Italy authorised the use of the abortion pill Mifepristone, the Vatican threatened to excommunicate doctors who prescribe it and women who take the pill. After a heated four-hour session, Italy’s drug regulation agency announced its decision on Saturday following opposition from the church and Catholic politicians, including many from PM Silvio Berlusconi’s centre- Right government.

"Cogito ergo sum," "I think therefore I am."


In the previous post we talked about the challenge Descartes posed to Catholicism. We continue today with his "Cogito"

"I think therefore I am."
 Descartes observes that sometimes our senses deceive us. When a straw is placed in a glass of water the water’s refractive properties make the straw appear bent. This optical illusion is precisely that, an illusion. How can we know what is real with certainty, Descartes asks, if we cannot always trust our senses? Because our senses are fallible in his search for certitude Descartes employs "hyperbolical doubt." In other words, for Descartes nothing is certain – not even reality itself.

The fact that he can doubt, however, means something or someone exists to do the doubting. His mind thinks, in this case about doubt. Consequently, Descartes arrives at the first certainty, his famous "Cogito ergo sum," "I think therefore I am."

Descartes goes on to prove that God exists and that He is benevolent. Nonetheless, the foundation of Descartes’ philosophical system is man. Man or man’s mind is the ultimate source of everything. Man determines morality, knowledge, meaning, and reality, to the extent it can be known. That natural law (God’s law written in our hearts), could be the source of civil law or a universal morality, an idea central to Augustine and Aquinas, is all but abandoned.

After Descartes, truth is no longer objective. It resides in and is established by the individual. Morality, therefore, cannot be universal. Each person decides for himself what is right. This helped to shape a new worldview.

That worldview, our own, is subjective (based on feelings and opinions), inductive (moving from specific instances to general assumptions), and experimental (proof is everything whether in the laboratory or our everyday lives). It would give rise to skepticism, existentialism, nihilism, Freudian psychology, and secular humanism, among others, affecting government, law, culture, and religion.

The "new Philosophy" called all in doubt, leaving nothing to give man his bearings, direction, or purpose. Moral relativism replaced moral absolutes. Science, technology, material affluence, sexual permissiveness, and the threat of nuclear annihilation brought new concerns. Increasingly, the person was seen as a "something," not a "someone," to be indoctrinated, exploited, or used. A new synthesis of faith and reason would respond to these developments.