Switching the light back on

Finally managed to figure out my blog with my new CenturyLink internet. (Sort of)

If you aren’t aware… I’m all nerdy and host it myself of a Raspberry Pi.

For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.
St John 3:20‭-‬21 DRC1752
https://bible.com/bible/55/jhn.3.20-21.DRC1752

Today’s scripture is striking in that it’s incredibly illuminating as to the current secularist mentalities towards people of faith. Even shows on the history channel…when they talk about faith history, are very tongue and cheek about how gullible people who believe in God are.

I think this is a mechanization. There is power and shielding in calling on Gods name. If you can get people to believe there is no God, then all sorts of other doors are opened wide, and you are an easy conquest for the enemy.

We truly are in the onslaughts of battle and would do well to remember that…not only for our own sake, but for those around us as well.

There are far deeper reasons people abandon faith then we or they let on, and there is a reason militant atheism is on the rise more then ever.

The Contradiction of Liturgy in today’s anthro-centric world

Today I went to the Solemn Mass organized by Juventutem St Louis, at the Church of St Anselm. If you don’t know who Juventutem is, read more about them Here . In short they are a young adults group, who is dedicated to the traditional mass.

Mass. That’s the one word that describes Catholics to most people – Those are the people who have mass. Get up. Sit down. Kneel. Repeat.

On my way home I realized I’m very much a contradiction. I’m 38, and have spent my life very much involved in the liturgy in some form – I was an Altar Server, and then involved in Choir and Music ministry. I grew up during the Pontificate of St John Paul II, a time of frankly bismal catechism, and people over all not knowing their faith. My First Holy communion was more akin to an assembly line than the conferment of a Sacrament, but I digress.

In 1969 the so called “Novus Ordo” or “New Order” of mass was promulgated. This mass was meant to shorten and make the Liturgy of the Latin Rite more relevant and accessible. However, the baby was definitely thrown out with the bath water,  and along with the Latin, smells and bells, we lost a lot of who we were as Latin Rite Catholics. Chiefly, How we worshiped was how we believed.

The Traditional mass, wasn’t just celebrated “Ad Orientem” or facing east… but was also celebrated  “Ad Deum” – Facing God.  This posture  alone reminded the believer who mass was intended for.

Along with the new mass, came a shift in posture – Now it was celebrated  “Versus Populum”. The concept of “Meal” was emphasized over “Sacrifice”, and suddenly mass, along with our faith, became more about “US” rather than Him. Music focused in on the We, and less about our God.

Growing up as a child.. like a lot of young boys, I wanted to play mass – Ironically though…I played Tridentine mass I had an  Alb, and my own Amice. My “High altar” was on a cedar Chest.. and I think I had at least 20 candles I didn’t actually light.   I would listen to my grand parents tell stories about how it was.. and find myself confused at how it is in front of me.

As I got older, I became more complacent, and found myself valuing the Church in Community. I thought the parish, being the center of the community, was vital, and that ANY way we could reach people… WE needed to. There’s that We word again.

That’s when a a lot of the “contradictions” started.  I am trained classically in music  (voice) , and have always loved Gregorian Chant.  However, we seemed to only chant when we wanted to be “extra holy” during Holy week, even though the Novus Ordo, has a plethora of chants arranged.

We hardly did bells – Why?  “Because bells went out with Vatican 2”.  Then there was the rather casual nature that not only people showed up for mass, but how they carried themselves during mass.

All of this points back to us losing an understanding of who we are encountering – and Holy Mass IS an encounter. In thinking on this, it very much reminded me of the Apostles who were walking on Emmaus Road (which just so happens to be the readings for this upcoming week), And they encountered a stranger. They had no idea who this man was, until the Breaking of the Bread, “for they knew him in the breaking of the Bread” ..  

Sometimes it takes us a moment to realize Jesus present in the mass , especially in our state of being and in this world. We, like the apostles, are more concerned about our worries and “Current Events”, rather than who we are, and where we are going, and who is there with us.

This is where I am the contradiction. Given my age, I have an affinity for traditional things that is uncharacteristic of my generation. At the same time, I still firmly believe in modern approaches to evangelization, however the mass is for God alone. I can go to a traditional mass, and then on the way home listen to Crowder or Maher. I wish more of the “Catholicsphere”  could get that.  Maybe then there would be more people at church, because they would realize that their faith life is dynamic, and can be expressed in a modern world, and the Timelessness of the liturgy,  is the summit of our faith. It is there that we know him in the breaking of the bread.

Thoughts on Low Sunday/Divine Mercy Sunday ..or whatever

Today marks the 1st Sunday after Easter. In modern times, its referred to as Divine Mercy Sunday. In ancient times, it was known as “Low, or  “Whit Sunday”, as this was the final day that the recently baptized would wear their white garments.

The Modern annotation, comes from the visions of one St Faustina, who gave to us the divine mercy chaplet. The novena of such, began on good Friday, at the hour of mercy, and completed today – in short, it is repeated over and over again, like a rosary or Jesus prayer

+Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, soul and divinity, of your Dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world

For the Sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy immortal one, have mercy on us, and on the whole world. +

 

Orthodox and those who are of the old form of Liturgy will recognize this as the text of the Thrice Holy, or in the east, know as the Trisagion. There are special graces attained with the recitation of this chaplet, most notably at the time of death.

To me, it all denotes the immensity of calvary. Mercy flowed from the Cross that day, and gave us all a second chance, but it is NOT without cost. His only Son, laid down his life.

We need to be careful that we dont treat this act as something disposable, as in something that we are simply owed. None of us are owed this, and it is only by grace that we receive it. It should NOT be taken for granted or with a sense of casualness.

 

I wandered into orthodoxy a year or so ago.. and quickly learned what I was moving towards, that being a more deep understanding of liturgy, and an acknowledgement of the immensity of the Godhead. That itself demands a certain purposefulness in our Worship. Where its true…we should find ways to engage the world through modern measure, the liturgy engages God himself, who is otherworldly.

Kneeling at the rail today.. taking in the incense.. and the beauty, reminded me of what we enter when we go to mass. We enter heaven, and from that, comes the mercy of forgiveness, if we approach with a contrite heart, and a comprehension of where we are, and what we are doing.

 

The Last 6 Hours before Salvation, And the 7 last “words”

Tradition Holds that After the Scourging, and the way of the cross, Christ hung for 6 hours before dying.

Many Musicians, and writers have noted, and it is noted in scripture, there are 7 last sayings or “Words” that Christ spoke from the Cross. For him to even speak.. when under the amount of pain that he was in, is mind boggling to think about.

His hands would have been pierced, as would his feet. He was very literally, beaten to a pulp. It is not without reason that certain bones would have been exposed.. given the flails that the Romans used. However one didnt die from lack of blood with this method, but by asphyxiation, brought on by both the fact you would have from your arms.. and at the same time, your insides would fill with fluids, to where to breath, you would have had to pull yourself up a bit, just to get a breath

Imagine then, how important these words were for our Lord to mention. I plan on throughout the day, Until 3 pm, The Hour of Mercy, to chronicle each one of these, both as informative, and penitential for my own self.

The First Word:
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
(Luke 23:34)

Consider how big of a step this was for him to say – Jesus was the Son of God, but he was also human. He would have struggle with hate, anger, feelings of rejection, just like any of us. Instead of condemning all of us, as he should and as we deserved, he instead shows us what Priest and Sacrifice is. He implores mercy on our part, for he is the Unblemished lamb, the only worth sacrifice that could satisfy our debt.

Jesus, Your hands and feet were pierced for me, the most unworthy. Thank you for going to the cross. Thank you for your sacrifice of love. Thank you for caring enough about me, that you would embark on the ultimate journey.

A35

Behold…all things made new

“5 And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true.

And he said to me: It is done. I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end. To him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely.

He that shall overcome shall possess these things, and I will be his God; and he shall be my son.” Rev 21 5-7

 

Its no secret to most people..if there is a hell, I have been through it, or maybe its purgations, who knows.

There was a point where my faith was all but extinguished. Like the Psalmist….I felt my God had forsaken me…left me to die..and I was broken beyond repair.

However…He Makes all things new..and further like the psalmist  “He will not suffer his servant to die”.

Servant…. Thats something most people struggle with, and I certainly am no exception. As I stated earlier today on social media, I don’t do anything half heartedly, and my errors seem to follow suit with precision.

For about 3 years I wandered spiritually. I even at one point fled to Orthodoxy, thinking, the only thing that could fix me was rigidity, and structure. What I needed was sublimity.

Im glad to have found my parish that I am at now. I always certainly walked the line of “contemporary” and conservative, both in my approaches and understanding, and in my worship. But, the liturgy and the Sacred space is timeless.

Its no mere coincidence I am where I am at. As this church rebuilds…so I am rebuilding…falling desperately in Love with a God who cares enough to let us ALL screw up, if nothing else…so that we can, in our darkness…search for the glimmer of light that is him.

That’s a good metaphor for lent… a walk through darkness. As the season progresses we will deny ourselves more and more. Food… vices… even the last couple of weeks the church will deny us of some of the sacramentals, statues, and other items. These ..like God sometimes being silent, are not to keep those things from us..as much as to force us to go deeper…and rather then finding God in the Storm or earth quake… but rather, in the gentlest of winds.

Spiritual Warfare

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  1 Peter 5:7-9

This scripture is at the end of the monastic compline. It is a call to the Brothers to always be on guard. For those that dont know, there are 7 liturgical hours to the day, Compline completes the day, where in the Monks/Nuns have prayed the psalsm and readings through the day  (More of Catholics not being deep in scripture…I digress). When the Compline is complete, the brothers will approach Father Abbot, and he will bless them before they retire into the Great Silence..which happens just before sleep time.

Sleep Time. That’s when we are most vulnerable to oppression. Sleep can be more then the physical act of resting though. I would argue right now, the world is very much asleep. We turn a blind eye to our fellow man. We parade mediocrity for leadership, and are complacent with moral relativism, accepting everyone on their own terms..rather then aspiring mankind to reach the glory that God the Father intended for us.

 

This past weekend at mass, we heard the reading of Jesus at Capernaum. Capernaum was a cultural center for the Jewish people, and it had a marvelous Synagogue. It truly was an epicenter of the Rabbinic Jewish movement that would replace the more temple based Judaism of the day. In the reading, he banishes a demon

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” Luke 4:33-37

Even demons recognize the authority of Christ. Because he is more then man… he is God in the person of the Son.  Father then went on to share an experience with us of his own spiritual awareness. The devil HATES that God can relieve us of our burden of sin, and will do everything in his power to deceive and destroy. He can make something something seem beautiful, perfect or right… when all the while it is leading us to damnation.

Sometimes… Life is hard, and the Message of the Cross is this is not the end for us.. but simply a beginning to an end. However, life’s struggles can weigh us down to the point of complacency and often ignorance. That is when we are most vulnerable. Just like in warfare, often the element of surprise can be vital, so too our Enemy uses that against us, and before we know it… we have gotten ourselves in a mess that snowballs into despair of God’s mercy.. which is right where Satan wants us. His greatest hate of us…is that WE are made in the image and likeness of God. So he prods…pries, corrupts us until we either hate our Maker… or are unrecognizable….even unto ourselves.

Now more then ever we are in a situation in life..in this world…where we need to be Sober and Ready. Our Enemy is working over time. Dont believe me?  Watch the news… Follow our government..  Be aware of the people around you..and the little things they might do or say.

There is hope though. That hope begins with trusting in Gods mercy above all else.  Often we westerners get into the rut of Cause Effect in our understanding of the relationship… but really…  its all effect, an effect of mercy. Trust in that mercy, and eventually all will be made right in the world.

Some of us are into “Pre Lent”… That might be Cheesefare and Meat Fare sundays… That might be Septuagesima and Sextuagesima Sundays..

Some might be thinking about lent, and what we might give up .

All of us will embark on a time and journey that will either make or break us.. and hopefully prepare us for easter. This is when we are vulnerable the most, so we need to be watchful and ready, and our eyes Fixed on going up the hill.

St Michael Defend us in Battle.

 

 

Ecce Agnus Dei – Behold the Lamb of God.

Many people know that the last 10 years of my life haven’t been without trials. Needless to say, it certainly has spiked and plummeted my faith. I have in the past 4 years, gone through 2 major life changes.

All the while… I kept looking for Him – Sometimes to find someone to just hold me, others… so I could give him a piece of my mind. I have been at times angry…desperate, and indifferent…often all the same time.

There was even a period where I wondered into the Orthodox Church. See, Im very much a structure person. When I get scared, I default to “procedure”. Procedure is safe.. its predictable… But Procedure doesn’t work with faith. Faith is unpredictable. Faith ISNT safe, at all. It can be down right terrifying for a person like me.. the simple fact that I DON’T have all the answers.

I often think that’s why many people go here… or go there. We have thousands of denominations, and every last one of them goes back to someone who thought he had the right answer.

Often we aren’t looking for the answers we seek.. we are looking for the confirmation of the answers we tell ourselves. So, we go where the answer makes the “most sense”…rather then where the answer is most accurate –  then we claim we have found our home. Why not?  Here is where it makes sense. Here is where it becomes easy. Here is where its “safe”.

I’ve always found eastern thought fascinating. It is on surface, less rigid then Western so called “legalism”. But scratch the surface, and there are incredible insecurities. Rigidness that is designed to desperately confirm ones place rather then necessarily allow the vulnerability that leads to the Dark Night of the soul… that point where all seems dark, and bleak..except He who comes.

Today, mass was at St Barnabas. It was in the Novus ordo, or  “New Order” of mass (as are many Roman Catholic Parishes these days), but with an out of the “Ordinary” kick, it was Celebrated Ad Orientem – Facing east.. Which.. with the orientation of Churches.. is designed to also Face us “Ad Deum” or  “Towards God”.

The ancient tradition of building churches, positioned them this way, to remind us that Christ, is the Rising of the Sun on the New Day, and also calls to mind the Ressurection, the Dawn of the new day. Over the years, both Eastern and Western Churches would build towards this direction – How We pray, is how we believe after all. This causes one perfect thing – We are ALL worshiping together in unison at that point, and being lead by the Priest..the presider of the liturgy, who offers sacrifice.. The Lamb, on ours and his behalf.

I have never lost faith. I can honestly say this. But I will honestly equate myself to Peter. When Peter denied Jesus… he hadnt lost faith.. BUT he had lied to himself as to what that faith was… and who it was in . Likewise.. Often and lately my faith has been lukewarm. Often..my own inequities.,..and my own failings.. have forced me back into a Dark night of the soul.. where the only thing causing me to hang on to my God…was that small light.

Our church has its issues right now, and it can be very easy to Fight or Flight. Many sadly, have a flight mentality.  Yet, there is also a solid group of “fighters” who want their answer, to be the right answer. IN reality…  the true answer is with Peace and acceptance, acceptance of where you are, and WHOSE presence you are in.

Years ago… I was in a similar “flight”. I had delved into Gnostic writings.,.. under the misguided belief that I WOULD FIND THE ANSWER.. Because I “Was smart” I told myself.. In my arrogance, I believed that I would find the answers others couldn’t. I was wrong… and it stared me in the face. This Mosaic Above… 

 

 

“This is my Beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased”

 

The words we here are from the Father. We hear them twice in Holy Scripture – Both at the Baptism of the Lord by his cousin John, and the Transfiguration on mount tabor.  IN both instances… people were thinking they had the answers already. Some Thought John was the messiah. In the case of the transfiguration, the Apostles thought they knew Jesus’s mission.

In Both cases…God set everyone straight. This wasnt a warrior.. this wasnt a king in the earthly sense. This WAS IS and ALWAYS will be the Son of God.

At Holy Mass… we hear the words  “Behold the Lamb of God”.. each and every time the sacrifice is offered. These are also the words of John the Baptist in Today’s reading… as he tells Andrew and others to follow a new teacher…  “Behold him who takes away the sins of the world”.

Ironically, father’s Homily was about people who go all over searching.. trying to find the answers.. and its always staring them right in the face. Behold the Lamb of God  – THIS IS MY SON. The words coursed through my body like a tidal wave.

It doesnt matter that I am scared.. or confused. There are constants. JESUS is always in the Eucharist.. and he is always in the Tabernacle.. waiting for me. The Lamb of God.. isnt bound or affected by the confusion of the world right now, Let alone my own insecurities.

 

 

That in itself.. is a beautiful process and procedure. Jesus is always there..and there is true safety in that.. and true consistency. I was humbled.. I was moved… and I was confirmed..not because I was certain..but because He is certain. Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today, and Forever.

Thoughts on The ark…Mary… Zionism

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.” Rev 11:19

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Rev 12:1

This is the eve of one of the High feasts of the Western Church, the Immaculate Conception – First what it ISNT – Alot of people think this has to do with Jesus… Only indirectly. Rather, it has to do with the Mother of God, the Theo Tokos… Mary. It is a Dogma of the Western Church (and really…we only have 2 of them…) That Mary, in order to be a fitting vessel, or Ark of the new Covenant… needed to be pure from the start.

I really wanted to talk about this, especially in light of a certain president and his Zionistic tendencies as of late. There is a real push among the Evangelicals, to restore the temple… and as such, they are very pro israeli state. This in itself isnt a bad thing. We all have a right to live peacefully with one another. However, the current state of Israel, did not start peaceful. The motivation here though, is to support Israel because of a failed, flawed understanding of the book I took both text from. I deliberately pulled the end of chapter 11, as it leads up to Chapter 12, which is ALWAYS the reading for tomorrow.

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] He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it. He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side. Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.

Then he made the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.[b] He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover. He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it.”

God gave a specific design to Moses, who Bezalel took and made the Ark. Anything else would not have been worthy. Inside the Ark, was held the Stone Tablets… The Manna from the desert, and the Rod of Aaron…the first High Priest of Israel. The Ark itself was so Holy..that no one could touch it…and the High Priest would only dare approach it once per year, on Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. It was a container of the Divine, and there was nothing like it. Later, Solomon would construct his Temple, to house it.

This was the Ark of the Old Covenant.. the Promise of God to be with his people… based on specifics they were to Carry out. But lets face it… people…can be rather lacking. Dare I say..people suck. No matter how many boundaries you give them.. they bulldoze right through..and you have to keep making rules..

This is exactly what happened with Israel. Eventually there were over 600 Mitzvahs.. to govern life… noting everything from diet to clothing.

IN short… The Old Covenant failed on the part of Man…because man is imperfect.

Enter the New Covenant. The Word Made Flesh. God would become man…so that man could return to God.

Mary, carrying the Word made Flesh, became the new Ark of the Covenant, the New Covenant… one that no longer would rely on legalism..but on relationship. Just like the old Ark.. the New Ark also had specifics of design. From the moment of her conception, Mary was protected from Sin…and remained sinless her entire life. This is why we call her the “Immaculate Conception”, She didnt carry the ancestral sin, that each and everyone of us carry.

We know what happens after Christmas. Jesus of Nazareth would walk the earth.. Die (and literally be held by his mother after the Cross)..and Rise again. Very often, in the gospel, He Refers to himself as the Temple…. and Rightly so. This is also why at his death…the veil…which separated the God Seat from humanity …was torn from Top to bottom. No longer were we separate… but we were now atoned for in a way that we could never do on our own.

No more Temple. The Temple was and is with man. The temple IS Jesus.. who is the Word…Thus, Mary having literally carried the Word made Flesh… is an Ark of the New Covenant. This is what the feast is about.

Tying this in with current events… this doctrine is needed more then ever.. because by understanding how very special Mary IS, we understand WHO Jesus Christ is.

The Old Temple, was a place specifically designed so that the sacrifice of Atonement (an imperfect sacrifice…) could be offered..so by the blood of a lamb..man’s many sins could be atoned for. Jesus became the new lamb..as such..there was no longer a need for  Temple. HE WAS the Temple. He IS the Sacrifice. A pure Victim, a Spotless victim, a Worth Oblation. 

Its a bit disturbing then… that people are SO very ignorant of Scripture… to the point that they very heretically, discredit scripture and the Word. If we need a Temple again…then Calvary means NOTHING… and that is heretical thinking of the highest level..

This same ignorance, lends itself to the arrogance that man has any power whatsoever, to bring about God’s plan… that being the Apocalypse, the reordering and perfection of the world. Some of you (all 5 who read my blog), probably consider me crazy for suggesting that the President is engaged in this, but consider for a moment… the people who backed him, and he confides in.

This move in Israel.. is not just a political move. I fear it has deeper intent then what is on the surface. Now, more then ever… Knowing the Immaculate Conception.. and what she brings, will help bring the world the clarity it needs..and God Willing, spares us the bloodshed that will happen over a very incomplete understanding the eschatology of current events.

Tomorrow…think about the immensity of God…and how different that is from your own place in creation, then you will begin to understand WHY we Celebrate the Immaculate conception.

 

Oh Mary Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

 

Will the Real St nick Stand up?

Tonight is the eve of the Celebration of St Nicholas of Myra. He is who we attribute “Santa Claus” to, which is a shortening of his name.

He lived in the 4th Century, and was a member of the 1st Eccumenical council, which would give us the Nicene Creed, which is the single most defining statement of faith that the Christian faith has.

One of the most enduring stories of Nicholas is as a Bishop, he would leave fruit and Gold on the door steps of the poor. This is where we get the traditions of both on St Nicholas day, leaving presents in our children’s shoes, and later, the tradition of Santa Claus (from the German for St Nicholas, “SinterKlaus”) bringing presents each Christmas.

A lesser known, and more important tale of St Nick, has to do with the Council of Nicea. IN 325 Ad, Christianity , only recently allowed to be practiced openly, was at a Crossroads. There was great debate on the Nature of Christ. Arius, a bishop of Alexandria, who held that while Christ was the Son of God.. he was Unique from the Father…and thus.. lesser then God.

This was contrary to the concept held by the church (and Scripture), which held that the Father Son and Spirit were all equal parts of the God head, the Trinity. Anyhow, during the debate… St Nicholas got so angry at Arius that he reached over and struck him. He would be jailed for a period of a month, only to be exhonerated when the council ruled against the Arian Heresy.

Arius would be deposed, and the Nicene Creed was professed by all for the very first time. In many ways…we owe our Church as it is in both East and West to Nicholas. If only today’s bishops had his courage.

St Nicholas is a Patron of Eastern Christians, Russia, Children. St Nicholas of Myra, pray for us  (and leave me some good stuff in my shoes)