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Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014 Faith Formation

V:  Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
R:  And kindle in them the fire of your love.
V:  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created.
R:  And you shall renew the face of the earth.
V:  O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord,
R:  Amen.

Pray together:

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit,
that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,
that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.

Sing:  Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest  443

Passage I

“…what is revealed is passed on by means of the tradition and therefore the virtue of faith requires that we give assent to what pertains to Sacred Tradition.  But at certain times in history and particularly in modern times, there has been a rejection of the tradition, and introduction of novelty and constant changing of everything from doctrinal formulations to the monuments.  Because the monumental structure of churches has changed, often what people believe has changed.  Since monuments manifest our faith (like the liturgy), if the monuments are modified too much, one can be left with the impression that the faith has changed.”  (Fr. Chad Ripperger:  The Binding Force of Tradition, pg. 45)

Before heading into Scripture, some things to consider:

 “But the records of the Last Supper contain few details concerning the ceremonial of the meal, probably because this ceremonial was not meant to be the lasting setting of the celebration.”  (Joseph A Jungmann, SJ: The Mass of the Roman Rite, pg. 7)

 “In Christ’s day the paschal meal was surrounded with a very complicated ceremonial.” (cf 8)

 “As the NT accounts intimate by their omission of nearly all details of the paschal feast, the setting of the paschal rite was not considered.” (cf 9)

“Besides the liturgy of the Old Law in which everyone regularly took part, there was also this new celebration, which was referred to only by suggestion, and to which the Christians had to come in smaller groups and in their own dwellings.” (cf 10)

Acts 2:42  “And they held steadfastly to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”  (CCC 950, 1329, 2624)

Acts 2:46  “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.”  (eg: 3:1, 20: 7, Lk. 24:53, CCC 584)

1 Corinthians 11: 17-34

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Focus on Jesus

For some time I have been trying to find a direction in which to head.  I look around and see so many Catholics who are lost, and I wonder how to reach them.  There are many "parish renewal programs" or books on "intentional disciples,"  but none of them have really grabbed me as the way to go.  They seem to focus on the wrong thing: either the priest, or the people, or the parish as a whole.  One of the more popular programs which I have seen is "Called and Gifted," and while I am sure it is a fine program, it seems to me that it is only relevant for an already evangelized parish; a parish which is already doing well, full of faithful Catholics, but just needs a little kick-start or some new energy.  But it is not a starting place. 

If we focus on the people of the parish or on the priest, any efforts at renewal, at evangelization, are bound to fail.  I am reminded of the one necessary thing:  hearing the word of God and living by it.  What is the word of God - or better yet, Who is the Word of God?  Jesus.  We need to bring our focus back to Jesus, for He certainly knows how to "save" or renew the Church much better than you or I do. 

My opinion for quite a while now has been that we as a Church need to bring back a renewed sense of love, of awe, of belief in the Eucharist.  To recapture what is an essential part of our Catholic faith: that the consecrated bread we receive is truly, substantively, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The percentages of people who call themselves Catholic but do not profess belief in the True Presence is staggering.  Is Transubstantiation taught anymore?  I have not heard (in person) a homily on the True Presence, nor one on Transubstantiation, nor on proper reception (disposition to receive) of the Eucharist. 

How do we as a Church begin to re-teach this Truth?  I think it must begin with the Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is easy to see how a loss of belief in the True Presence has come about if you observe how the Liturgy is celebrated in many of the parishes I have visited.  Just one example: what would a person who was not Catholic think if they came in and watched the Mass, watched people walking up and taking something into their hands from the priest, placing it in their mouths, then walking back to their seats to stand ... as if nothing had happened?  Contrast that with the same person seeing people receiving Communion on their knees, then returning to their seat and kneeling in prayer for several minutes?  What are the different body postures and attitudes telling them?  So simple, and yet just a simple change in posture can make such a difference.

I challenge  anyone reading this to observe what goes on during the Mass at their parish - the priest's actions, the people's actions:  do they show a belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?  If so, how?  If not, why not?

I am endeavoring to teach a course on the Mass to interested parishioners this summer.  I will try to post outlines and observations throughout the summer, and I always welcome thoughts and observations from others.  And don't forget:  before you can effectively evangelize others, you must first evangelize yourselves.  You must conform yourself to the Church - orthodoxy is required, obedience is required.  If you do not know something, take the time to learn it.  People are shocked when they see my "Catholic" bookcase - but there is so much I don't know, and the more I learn the more I realize how little I DO know. 

But begin simply:  immerse yourself in the Mass, go to regular Confession, prioritize prayer time.  From these three simple steps will come many, many fruits.  Not the least of which is beginning to hear God's Word, and a desire to live by what you hear.