Tonight after all the hysteria in Missouri over the meteor strike, I decided to finish up the movie “Risen”. In it , a Roman tribune encounters the disciples and Christ himself after the Resurrection. He goes from disbelief, to belief.
It made me think..how amazing it must have been to see Jesus..in person. Sure, as a Catholic…I see him every time I receive communion, but to encounter him…in the flesh… to have put my hand in his side as Thomas did.
These men weren’t anything special. In fact, they were probably what we might consider hoosiers, rejects, undesirables. If we saw a Peter…or James today, we might ignore them walking down the street. Yet our Lord privileged them above all others in history. They knew him on a personal, intimate level. I am in awe when I consider this
More so..I am in awe of those Jesus healed. Lepers, the blind, demoniacs. If nothing else… that gives me hope. Those are REAL issues, and if he can heal those… how much of a swifter stroke is it to heal mine, or anyone’s soul.
“Now Master, you can let your servant go in peace, for I have seen your salvation” – Simeon
They shall see the Lord face to face and bear his name on their foreheads. The night shall be no more. They will need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever.
One day all this stupidity will end
One day we won’t have to wait for orthodoxy to return…
One day man won’t kill man…woman won’t kill their own.
One day we won’t have to deal with this vale of tears.
Or St John’s revelation isn’t something to fear or frett over. Rather… It proclaims one simple truth. In the end… God wins…and all will be as it should be again
This week , I have noticed a few items that I wanted to chat a bit about. The Catholicsphere has been crazy over a couple items
The first item was Amazon, released a new commercial in which the in the background is playing the Ave Maria. Chaos is ensuing and a mother is desperately trying to keep order. Dad, is in the other room with his noise canceling headphones, that he just happened to get from Prime. You can see it here
The Catholic world has been losing their minds over this. How could we take a time honored prayer to Our Lady and commercialize it so much! What Scandal! What Heresy!
What pompous arrogance and ignorance honestly. Yes, the text of the Prayer to Mary, is overlayed – On something that originally WAS NOT a prayer, but written for something else
“The piece was composed as a setting of a song (verse XXIX from Canto Three) from Walter Scott‘s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake, in a German translation by Adam Storck [de] (1780–1822), and thus forms part of Schubert’s Liederzyklus vom Fräulein vom See. In Scott’s poem the character Ellen Douglas, the Lady of the Lake (Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands), has gone with her exiled father to stay in the Goblin’s cave as he has declined to join their previous host, Roderick Dhu, in rebellion against King James. Roderick Dhu, the chieftain of Clan Alpine, sets off up the mountain with his warriors, but lingers and hears the distant sound of the harpist Allan-bane, accompanying Ellen who sings a prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary, calling upon her for help. Roderick Dhu pauses, then goes on to battle.
Schubert’s arrangement is said to have first been performed at the castle of Countess Sophie Weissenwolff in the little Austrian town of Steyregg and dedicated to her, which led to her becoming known as “the lady of the lake” herself.
The opening words and refrain of Ellen’s song, namely “Ave Maria” (Latin for “Hail Mary”), may have led to the idea of adapting Schubert’s melody as a setting for the full text of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer “Ave Maria“. The Latin version of the “Ave Maria” is now so frequently used with Schubert’s melody that it has led to the misconception that he originally wrote the melody as a setting for the “Ave Maria”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_Maria_(Schubert)
SO looking at the article from Wikipedia (and honestly…reading history) – We really have nothing to be that angry about. Yet we Roman Catholics at times seem to let our Righteous Indignation, get the best of us. Honestly, if we get past our false insecurities for one moment, we can realize two important things. One… clearly Amazon is noting more the calming nature of the Schubert piece (which often is used at Funderals as a piece of comfort..I reference singing it at my Grandfathers funeral for that very reason, I digress)
The Second outrage..was the Holy Father – Disclaimer.. I am NO FAN of Pope Francis. I find his approach very confusing.. and lacking of leadership. Further disclaimer..Im a layman. Not a Priest..or Deacon.. Just a normal guy. So my opinion should be taken as such (And possibly carries its own unique weight, again I digress)
I have quite honestly watched my Traditional friends lose their minds this week. How could he criticize orthodox catholics. Damnit..we keep this ship afloat right now with Frank at the helm!
Well.. as much as I hate to say it.. I actually agree with the Holy Father for once. The biggest challenge to a restoration of tradition is not the Lavender Mafia, Its not the liberal bishops.. or the rogue priests, or the Holy Father. Our biggest challenge is other traditionalists.
Instead of with humility leading by example, we get offended at every little thing! Its pretty ridiculous to watch at times. We have a treasure beyond treasures with the liberation of the so called “Old Mass”…and we spend our efforts getting made and honestly proving “Frank” right.
Again…Im the last person to defend this pope… that said…right is right in this case. We waste energy on songs and off the cuff remarks, where in reality… those are actually very minor things. Our biggest struggle right now is catechism and liturgy. The Pope (whomever he is at a time) is a VERY small piece to that.
At the end of the day, our energies are better used on other more pressing items. If we dont wise up….and start showing WHY… people wont care about the what.
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Ezekiel 37 , 1-3
Today I finished Gateway Cup , “St Louis’s premiere Cycling event”. It takes place over Labor day weekend, and is featured in 4 iconic St Louis Neighborhoods, Lafayette Park, Francis Park (ni St, its named after a wierd dude with MR Peanut cane…not the Seraphic Minstrel of old, ) The Hill (The hub of Italian Neighbors in St Louis originally), and Benton Park, which sits in the shadow of Anheiser Busch (and the Cathedral of South St Louis, St Francis De Sales).
The final stage takes place in Benton. A lot of this neighborhood was originally Bavarian immigrants. There are other notable parishes besides SFDS (which is still a notable church, in that it is the center of so called”Traditional Worship” for the Roman Rite in St Louis, I digress)
For instance, St Agnes was the Parish of the Buschs and Lemps, and sits direct in the shadow of AB. Its been closed for some time now, However, it originally hosted a TLM community, one that introduced me to the TLM in my late teens. This parish like so many others was built out of pure love, and quite literally, with nickles and dimes, which very often was all the poor working class could afford
Down the road, we can find St Agatha the official “Polish Parish” of St Louis, after the once great St Stanislaus was sadly lost to an Apostate Priest and Board.
Still down the road, we find the quaint St Michaels Orthodox Church, once a Russian Orthodox Church, now of Serbian Orthodox affiliation (and, the parish of an Uncle that converted to orthodoxy, Bruno, I digress again)
Still there are countless other churches in the area. Many are closed and repurposed, often as homes or schools. I bring all of these to mind, because they very much remind me of the “dry bones” verse in Ezekiel. Once just like the Dry bones Ezekiel of old encountered, these folks, though hard workers who often had a very limited future, had one thing in common, one thing that kept them going. A devotion to their God, one that was manifest in the beautiful Churches our city, and many others are privy to. Many don’t understand that historical aspect, because frankly its been lost to time, and the people who have replaced it have swarmed the area both with struggle and deviance. Its a shadow of what it once was, despite often wealthier people moving in.
Yes, just like the dry bones, often those of us who are weary, find ourselves standing at a valley of death…praying for the day the dry bones might become warriors of God again. I find myself depressed in the fact of acknowledging how far things have fallen, especially in the municipal centers. Where as St Louis isn’t as malevolent in morals as say, a New York, its a very small nudge to go from where we are, to where they are.
However, the dry bones aren’t just those who seemingly are unwilling to change. Its you , me, and everyone who isnt courageous enough to stand up in the face of the evil which has corrupted our world, and that begins down the street. No, we shouldn’t be all crusader and leading the charge. There are little things we can do, examples of things we can do.
I really think this is why areas like the City have so much sadness, and struggle. Many people will blame it on one class, race, or creed abandoning a geographical region for another, but it comes down to realizing the foothold the Enemy gained… and knocked us out with a one two punch. There is a reason why the few churches that are left are flourishing – Its because Lucifer cannot get a foothold in there, and God’s grace abounds.
Make no mistake, these places are sick, and suffering. There can be no revival of the city, with out a revival of the Faith in almighty God that originally emboldened those folks who built it.
However, we Catholics are guilty of leaving our faith with the Chalice or Ciborium. We are so worried about being a contradiction, when the very nature of our faith, our walk, is a contradiction to the world itself. We have become so legalistic in our approach to sin and malice, that we have stopped meeting the Sinner where they are (and make no mistake, this is self reflection as well… Im the greatest of sinners I know). I know with myself, I struggle with even meeting myself at the door, and instead I write off myself as worthless to Him who put so much value in me
Right now, Im listening to “Oh my Soul”.. by Casting Crowns. The End of the refrain is “You’re not alone”. The first time I heard it…I cried like a baby. I still do. But the message is clear. NONE Of us are alone “There’s a place where fear, has to face the God you know”. Powerful. All of the time, sin and suffering are birthed in fear. That fear is rooted in listening to the false message that we arent valued, that we arent loved. If we dont believe we are valued or loved, then its easy to cast aside the 7th of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Reverence, or in more Antiquity “Fear of the Lord”… which doesnt mean God is something to be afraid of, but respected, both because of His power, but also, more importantly, his love and mercy.
Those are absolutely the most difficult concepts for even a person like me to grasp…mostly because my religious education, and scholastics, end up becoming a slap in the face. Again, that legalism will tell me, no, there is no point. Much like our church has often indirectly declared with her attitude toward the poor and suffering, while replacing it with a false sense of mercy for the “pop” causes of our times. Instead of dealing with the suffering that’s in our back yard, we write those poor souls off, because they absolutely convict us. Its a lot easier for our Bishops conference to make pontificating statements about immigrants a thousand miles away. Because just like me, the equation balances to them…because they ignore the stranger at their door, looking far off into the distance.
Fear of the Lord, is realizing that power, and that power first and foremost is trans-formative. Not just for ourselves, but the whole world. That begins with us, not writing people off as beyond help, but quite literally “Hate the Sin and Loving the Sinner”. The blight that’s in our Cities can be cured, and it begins with losing our pride, and embracing the humility that says, I dont have a damn clue what I am supposed to do with this mess… but HE does. The God of Miracles, of Wonders, of Mercies. He can fix this, and we as his instruments, and submitting to that power, can make it happen
Tomorrow I start a new company. After 2 years at a very demanding company, I am moving on. Whether or not the new place will be as demanding or less (or maybe even more) is undetermined.
Those who are close to me, know my life has been pretty , shall we say, dynamic over the past 10 years. That said, I definitely have a Morpheus or Qui Gon jinn approach to life, in that, everything happens as it has..and as it should. Thats not to say its a belief in pre-destination. Rather, its a fundamental understanding of the role of faith. Having faith isnt the same as having favor or having it right. It simply means… I DONT KNOW – for an engineer (of anything ), that’s a hard statement to make. I make a career out of I KNOW THIS, or I understand that. I can honestly say though, I have ZERO clue where my next step on a personal level is
What I do know, is that not only do I not know what will happen, but I do know, its not in my control, at all. What I know though is I have a God… who loves me beyond measure, and ultimately… He IS . That means he controls, everything. If we understood the WHY , we would have no need of a God..and there would be no God. A lot of people think they understand the why, but in reality, its all a beautiful lie. The one truth in life is that we don’t know – and that’s OK. Because HE knows, and believing in Him means that I know that not for but the grace of God I go.
I wish I would have lived in a time where I could have known Merton on a more personal level. He’s the ultimate mystic of our time, in that he thought and believed on a level few people will ever attain, some might even call it enlightenment. What ever it is, I think we can agree, its best embodied in his writings, and especially his faith based efforts, such as his prayer below. If there was one prayer that I think was tailored for a person like me, its that below
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Today, is the feast of the Immaculate conception of Mary. Time and the business of life, has added to some of the confusion surrounding this feast day of a profession of dogma (of which… there have only been 2 cases in the Church’s history).
In short, the church solemnly professes that Mary, from the very moment of her conception, was intended for a greater purpose, and as such, she was brought into time and creation with certain specifics.The most important of these, is her absolution from the stain of original sin, one we all carry and is only erased through Baptism and the Cross.
So how did this happen? How can we Catholics say this happened? Does not Christ save all people? Is not Calvary the quintesential event that harkens our salvation, and makes us worthy to be with God in heaven all the days of our lives?
Well, sure it does. However.. the Trinity has always existed, in fullness. The incarnation was the coming of God into time, but in Genesis, it is said “Let US make man in OUR image.” We need not think of Calvary in linear terms any more then we should think of the Trinity in such terms
The original Ark, was made with specifics – In Exodus we can read
“37 Next Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high.[a]2 He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it. 3 He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 4 Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5 He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.
6 Then he made the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.[b]7 He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover. 8 He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. 9 The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it.”
Just like the ark of the old covenant (that by which the People of God were reconciled with him) had specifics, so too did Mary – and, just like the Ark of the covenant was so pure, and so Holy as it Housed the Shekinah Glory of God, so too, Mary, who houses the embodiment of the living God, is also Holy –
This is why at the Council of Ephesus she was declared “Theo Tokos”, or God-Bearer . To refuse her the title of “Mother of God” is to deny the homeostatic Union of the incarnation, without which, nothing matters. Surely we wont say it was a lie, so why do we deny the attributes of Mary, held to her from the moment of her creation?
There was no other way for a fallen person to have carried the Holy of Holies, because scripture tells us of the Temple, that nothing unholy can enter it. The Holy spirit overshadowed Mary in such a way, that it remained with her her entire life (which is why we also believe in the Assumption…I digress)
Mary has been said to be the Highest in creation. She is “Blessed among women”, who by nature, hold a higher mystical state then men. Mary by her nature, is the only one worthy even in her life, to approach and petition our Lord. As such it is right and fitting for us to ask her intercession (as a good Jewish boy, Jesus always listens to mom).
Right now we need that intercession more then ever. She is the only person who we in our imperfect state can even dare to intercede for us. We need that right now – Man is in an evil state… we need someone truly worthy to speak on our behalf – If nothing else, the purity of her voice only adds to our help.
Today we celebrated (on the Julian Calendar…and new calendrists alike) the feast of St Nicholas. Nicholas was a bishop in the 4th century, and his extreme acts of charity helped to mold the eventual myth (I say myth as St Nicholas was very much a real man,, from turkey (Dont tell the greeks that part) of Santa Claus.
However there is more to Nicholas then a lot of people realize. Among students of patristics (that is… the roots of our Sacred Traditions), We know him to have been a Bishop who with others, attended the first eccumenical counil, at Nicea. Nicea specifically dealt with the first challenge to Christ’s nature, the Arian Heresy. Arius, a Bishop from Alexandria, held that while Christ was more then a Man, he was less then God. This was contradictory not only to sacred tradition, but also to the deposit of faith found in Holy Scripture. It is said that the debate got so very heated, that “Jolly old Saint Nick” reached over and struck Arius for his heresy, of which Nicholas quickly found himself imprissoned. Now, eventually the council came to its senses, deposed of Arius, exhonerated Nicholas, and formulated the Nicene Creed… which above all says that
“God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, Begotten, Not MADE, Consubstantial with the Father ……. By the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became MAN”
This is the absolute core to Christology, and leads us to Theosis. As St Thomas Aquinas said ” God Became man, so that man could become like God” (ironically… alot of orthodox dont like Thomas… ‘cus scholasticism… I digress) – If there is nothing else to know about the Man..its that He is God..and he loved us so much that he lowered himself to be with us…so that we could be raised to Him.
The bigger lesson here, and is most relevant to today, is the courage of Nicholas. He wasnt concerned (or perhaps in his angst didnt think) that he would have consequences for defending the faith. He was vocal, and strong about it – We might not have a church today, had it not been for St Nicholas.
I think someone who has the “power” should have declared him a Patron of Bishops a long time ago. Perhaps this is why he very much is a super patron to many orthodox flavors. There probably isnt a better embodiment of the Eastern orthodox mind then St Nicholas.
So, today as you recollect on the shoes, and chocolate coins, and so forth, perhaps also reflect on where the man himself came from, and what he did. Implore his intercession, and pray to have the courage that St Nicholas had, who despite all odds, stood for what was right, and orthodox, even at risk to his own life
For Latin Rite Catholic Christians, this week marks the beginning of another Advent – a word that quite literally means “The Arrival”. We await the arrival of our King… born in a stable, in all humility and quiet splendor.
Many of us are going through a hard time with our Church right now. Unless you have been under a rock the past year, you know the news, and its not good. For many of us the past year has been met with anger, disappointment, resentment. Once again men we trusted… led many astray, in pursuit of worldly pleasures. While it is epitomized in the sexual abuse crisis, it is equally exhibited in a broader sense in the relaxed characters of many of our clergy, who have opted for popularity out of pride, rather then as a great confessor of mine used to tell me “Following Jesus up the hill”.
Its easy to want to throw your hands up…run away. Some of us have even threatened to “Dox”… (in other words, head east). This isn’t the answer though either.
Jesus told us the church would never end… that Hell’s gates could never triumph – But he didn’t absolve us of being involved in that… He simply said…it would never end. Its up to us now, more then ever, to defend Holy Mother church. Those of us who are apologists (amateur or professional), need to teach. Those of us who can contribute, need to. Most importantly all of us need to be courageous, and our Bishops, Priests, Deacons need our prayers.. especially the “rotten” ones, but most importantly the pious ones.. who are mighty…but fewer.
Our Lord allowed the enemy 100 years to do his worst, and its easy to say.. that that has occurred… However its superficial. Even as we speak, rebirth and renewal is occurring. Though they are in small pockets, bastions of Orthodoxy are springing up.
Im truly convinced at this point it is manifest in the renewal of the Liturgy, that you see not in great Orders such as the FSP or the ICKSP – No they only paved the way. The real renewal is coming when the small oratories and parishes embrace the so called “Mass of Ages”.
How we worship, is how we believe – Ill take it a step further… How OTHERS SEE US WORSHIP… is how they know Who we believe in. When the Mass is completely rooted in sublime worship, our eyes cannot help but be fixated on our God.. who is living before our eyes.
This Advent.. I know I personally am going to try to make it about renewal, both in a deepening of my understanding of the liturgy, but also doing my part to bring about that renewal, which I again think is happening before us. We all need to take courage. While we can seem overwhelmed by an overwhelming complacency, in the end, all will be restored… All will be right, and all will know HIM in the liturgy.
“Come Lord Jesus, Come Quickly”
” Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these.” Luke 12:27
Earlier in the week, someone asked on a page I follow, if anyone knew of the music for “Amen”, from the movie “Lilies of the Field” – After some discussion,. we got into a great back and forth about the history of music… performance, and so forth
If you are unfamiliar with the movie, its a simple concept. Homer Smith, a contractor, stops by a Nunnery…that is VERY much in its infancy, comprised of German Immigrant nuns – The Mother Superior, gradually ropes the star (played by Sidney Potier) into more and more tasks, finally roping him into building a church. The locals (Mexican Americans, ) upon watching this one man try to build a church, eventually chip in. Together, through Homer’s leadership – they complete the church for the Nuns. In it, the whole town comes together to build this church. The Men, the women, the elderly – Even the business owner from outside of town.
It reminded me how the great churches of Christendom built in this country, often had VERY little physical involvement from the episcopacy, or the Holy See (even though their first job is to establish the kingdom of God…I digress) – Often, the poor, gave anything they could, because they knew that it was fitting for Almighty God to be worshiped with mind , body and soul.
Right now we have a real struggle, and its rooted in the false concept of the Church being owned and ran by the Bishops – Where its just the opposite. The Church is Centered on Jesus – The Bishops are there to lead…and to represent Christs Priesthood in its fullest- But its up to us to take ownership
Its up to us to know our faith, and to renew the church. We need to support our leaders…and challenge them to do better, not simply follow them without reservation. We are in spiritual warfare.
35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.
36 Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.”
A good friend of mine is a Methodist Elder (at the time, he was a provisional pastor), and when writing his Thesis, he decided to 1 – Do it on sacramental theology and 2 – Decided to hit up the Catholic. I jokingly said it was because we had more sacraments… so I was a likely choice.
That said, we talked, and we both agreed that Sacraments are more then simply symbols, that it is something tangible by which we know the Lord in our midst.
Thats a good middle ground – The classic definition is such
Pretty intense stuff. In Short, they are a sure fire way for us to know, and show how God works in our lives. We have the Sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Communion, Confirmation) The Sacraments of Service (Ordination and Matrimony) and the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and anointing of the sick (formally Extreme Unction or Last Rights)
These 7, while different, all exhibit one aspect. We have a God, who is very much present, and works in a rather manifest way, in our lives. This is why sacraments not only are Trans formative (a difference between Catholic/Orthodox understanding and mainstream Protestantism), but they are also indicative and s sign of God’s grace. Grace transforms us. It can embolden us, it can heal us, and it can very often use us (Marriage and Ordination, being on the same level, do this )
All of this matters because they are the chief conduant of a Living God, one who works through us, with us, and in us.
Its no surprise then , thats really the first thing that we started seeing go away if we look at things historically – The first thing the reformation contested was Sacraments. They became “Symbolic” for many, and “Ordinances (IE, Rites of Passage) for the more reformed theologians. When you take out the real presence that Sacraments show, you have taken away their effectiveness.
This has been exasperated the last 50 years. Even among us Roman Catholics, frankly, sacraments have become a circus. If its not parents shoving each other out of the way to get the perfect picture of their little one receiving first Holy Communion, Its the Bridezillas taking over churches and running both Pastor and musician crazy so they can have the perfect day. The Parents have no concept who their Children are receiving, and the “Happy Couple” has no idea who they are called to bring to the world.
We can go deeper and look at ordinations, which have become viewed as some sort of thing that is owed (particularly to a gender that has its own holiness; I digress). Its all the same though, instead of something that should be Christocentric, Its become anthrocentric, and thus has been profaned. Instead of praying for the dead (2 Mac 12), we instead are incredibly sensitive to the loss. So we create a fairy tale of how everyone instantly goes up, and why? Because it makes us feel good. We don’t realize the incredible spiritual assault that every soul goes through in transition, let alone the ones who actually GET to purgatory (sorry…not everyone even makes it that far).
Its all about US..rather then how WE can get closer to him. This is why every denomination out there is broken right now, and most of all..We Roman Catholics. We tout how we are the original…but we look nothing like we should.
So why shouldn’t we have problems? In order to claim God is with us, we have to first understand he is God, and instead we have made God’s of ourselves through our egos. Sacramental theology, in its purity, says ONE THING. We are helpless, and the only person who CAN help us, is Jesus.