Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Words, New Way to Pray, & New Questions

So, how do you like the new words we're praying at Mass?

It'll be a while before we get used to the 'And with your Spirit' and 'Lord, I'm worthy that you should enter under my roof...'

But, for here and now, what questions or comments do you have?  Insights?

Leave them here by writing a 'comment' or drop me an email and I'll do my best to answer your question or respond to your insight.

Peace to you,

Advent Daily Dose - 1st Wednesday

[The Feast of St. Andrew]

We pray + in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (4:18-22)

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, 'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there are saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Lord!

Reflection: St. Andrew, along with his brother Simon Peter, was the first of the apostles called by Jesus. What strikes me most about his calling is that Matthew says they left their nets at once. And then when Jesus calls James and John, they left their nets immediately. What did they see in Jesus's face, or hear in his voice that caused them to drop everything, right there on the spot, and follow Jesus?  Or, what was it in their hearts that connected with this man who now called them? Was there something simmering in the heart of Andrew, Peter, James and John that boiled over when they encountered Jesus?
Do I hear Jesus calling me everyday to follow him? Am I following him as closely as possible or is their junk in the way? What do I need to do, what do I need to leave at once, what do I need to drop immediately if I'm going to follow Him more closely?

We pray: We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Andrew, pray for us. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

In the name + of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Daily Dose - 1st Tuesday

We pray + in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.'

Turning to the disciples in private he said, 'Blesses are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.'

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Lord!

Reflection: Reflect back on the past year, has there been a time, either in a struggle or in a blessing, when you felt the Father, or the Son, was close to you?
Or, when you pray, do you approach your prayer as a son or daughter going to their Father and asking Him for what you can not give or do yourself?  When was the last time you cried out, 'Abba, Father! Hear my prayer!'?

We pray: Look with favor, Lord God, on our petitions, and in our trials grant us your compassionate help, that, consoled by the presence of your Son, whose coming we now await, we may be tainted no longer by the corruption of former ways. We ask through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

In the name + of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Daily Dose - 1st Monday

We pray + in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (8:5-11).

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.' He said to him, 'I will come and cure him.' The centurion said in reply, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go', and he goes, and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, 'Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.'

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Lord!

Reflection: "The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bring with him the riches of his grace" (St. Charles Borromeo- Archbishop of Milan, died in 1584).

We pray: Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God, as we await the advent of Christ your son, so that, when he comes and knocks, he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant with praise. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

In the name + of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Daily Dose - 1st Sunday

We pray in + The Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark (13:33-37).

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or a midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Lord.

Reflection: Jesus's command to watch is a command to watch for several things- or actually, only one thing but in several ways.  The one thing we are watching for is the Lord's coming!  On one level He is coming again, his Second Coming.  And when He comes then in that way, we'll know it!
But He also comes to us everyday, in ways big and small; and in many situations, experiences, relationships, and prayer.
We also have to watch out for those times of the Lord's coming to us too!
The reality is that the Lord is constantly coming to us, everyday. Reminding us: you are not alone!
The question Jesus asks us today: Are we watching out for all the ways I am coming to us?  And are we ready to respond?

We pray:  Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

In the name + of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Advent Daily Dose: Watch and Respond

Advent has begun!  Come, Lord Jesus!

For the Daily Dose this Advent, check this blog every day. Each day I'll post the daily Gospel reading followed by the daily prayer found in the new translation of the Roman Missal, a.k.a. the Sacramentary.

Let's all pray, each day, that the Lord will come to us again: in our hearts, homes, prayer, and relationships. May we watch and respond to Him who already comes to us everyday in ways big and small.

Peace to you,

Homily - 1st Sunday in Advent

[Audio of this homily will be available here(click) by Tuesday afternoon.]

Is 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64: 2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13: 33-37
When I was in the seminary, I had the opportunity to spend some time observing the chaplaincy work at Cardinal Glennon Children’s hospital. One day, I found myself in the PicU- the prenatal intensive care unit. Before the day was over, my life would change.

My first thought about priesthood was that of celebrating the sacraments- effectively and untiringly providing for the sacramental needs of the church: more than one Mass each day; weddings, funerals, baptisms, anointings in hospitals and such. And then I was to spend the remainder of my time efficiently administering the temporal needs of the parish: raise the money and pay the bills; keep the lights on and 
keep every seat in the classroom and church filled.

And then, even though I wasn’t looking at the time, He came to me.

I was in the PicU, sitting with a family whose new born was nearly 5 weeks premature and not expected to make it. I don’t know if the family was Catholic or not, it doesn’t matter. The nurse who was working with this little guy was an imposing woman. She was tall and fit and had the veins in her hands that I always thought meant that she worked hard. She wore no watch or rings; there was something about her hands.

She had to maneuver the baby to do some kind of procedure. I think she was checking vital signs or something. But the way in which she handled this very delicate child was so tender, so gentle that it contrasted very sharply against the institutional feel of the machines and the instruments you find in hospitals.

After she was done with the baby, she came into the glassed waiting room where the chaplain and I were sitting with the family, and we all stood. We had watched everything she did with the baby. She passed on some information to the family (I no longer remember specifically what she said), and the mother began crying, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the nurse. She stood and with those hands pulled the mother, who was a petite black women to her, and stood there embracing her for the what seemed like a very long time. I was behind the mother, and all I could see where the nurses hands. The veins were bulging now- I didn’t thing she would ever let go of her.

It was at that moment that the Father planted in my heart the second thought I had about the priesthood, and it’s the one that now supplants the first: Fr Craig, you will use your hands to celebrate the sacraments and no doubt, you will do it effectively and efficiently. More importantly though, you will use your hands to hold and heal and support and encourage and challenge and teach as Jesus, the Divine Physician, did. That will be your priesthood… I will take care of the rest. It was then that I knew I would being called to be a priest.

All that from watching her hands.

The command to watch is one that we need to heed everyday- for the Lord comes to us in ways big and small, and in varied circumstances. Make no mistake, He IS coming again, and when he does come, we will most certainly know it.

The command to watch then requires an openness to see God in the many experiences and circumstances of our life: the day to day routine, the beauty of creation, moments of profound blessings and of a felt presence of the Divine; but also in things like tragedy; illness; and even our own sinfulness. In every way, in some kind of way, God is present in all of that!

It’s one thing to watch, it’s another to respond. That’s the key to Advent I think, and the whole Christian life and journey of faith and prayer: watch, and then respond.

But the key to either one is always the response I think. Remember that Faith is ultimately a response to God the Father who has invited us to a relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ. But that is a response that has to be repeated with some frequency, once a week, at least.  That’s the obvious one- coming here to celebrate the Eucharist.

After the initial response of Faith, it then becomes the challenge to watch for the moments when God reminds us of our initial response. Some of these moments can be earth-shatteringly obvious like a tragedy or a windfall of blessings; other times, what we are watching and waiting for is not so obvious. My own personal experience has taught me that some times, they are barely noticeable and are only 
found after reflecting back.

But, no doubt, there are opportunities and experiences and situations that seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but are in fact moments when the Father is, once again, reminding us of our relationship with Him. It’s for these moments, that the Jesus is beckoning us today, Watch. And I would add, Respond.

Advent is a time to work on our watching skills. Some questions for our prayer this week: how good am I at watching to see where the Lord is present and working in my life? Am I quick to see Him in the smallest and most ordinary of things and people? Am I quick to watch others, to identify their needs? Am I watching out for the good of those I live with and Love? 

Advent is also a time to work on our responding skills. After we’ve watched, are we ready to respond? When we notice the working of the Lord, or the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my heart, do we respond with prayer and gratitude? When we see the needs of others, do I respond with generosity and compassion, even if there’s nothing I can do to help? When we see those we love struggling and maybe even wandering, do we respond with an open heart, and a shepherd’s care?

Watching and responding- may we do both well this Advent, and everyday.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mass Changes: Part VII

The Lamb of God
Priest: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
All: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

-“Behold the Lamb of God” – closer translation to the Latin and a scriptural reference to John 1:29.

-the word ‘blessed’ replaces ‘happy’ because being blessed can happen even when we’re not necessarily happy. There is also reference to Rev 19:9.

-“That you should enter under my roof” is almost a direct translation of Mt 8:8 and Luke 7:6. This is Jesus healing the centurion’s servant. The prayer is twofold here: (1) The roof, our mouth, is the top or capstone to our bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and to our soul; (2) it’s also an acknowledge of our sinfulness and unworthiness to receive this great gift, but also the reality that we are healed by our reception of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is a pure gift- we need only receive with pure hearts, consciences and intentions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mass Changes: Part VI

VII. The Eucharistic Prayer
-V. “Let us give thanks to the Lord.” R/. “It is right and just.”  Not only a closer translation to the Latin but it’s also a declaration strong enough not to need further explanation. This phrase, ‘right and just’ will also provide a transition to the preface that begins with these words too.

-“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts” – This hymn gives praise to God before we ask the Spirit to perform this miracle in front of us. This text is taken from Isaiah 6:3 and has to do with God’s supreme holiness.  It’s the song the angels sing in heaven, all the time. When we sing it, we join in the eternal and perpetual hymn of praise to God the Father. The word ‘hosts’ means army and it’s the word used in Latin. But the word indicates God’s providence over all creation, the creation that He created.

-The words of the Institution Narrative, said by the priest are changing too. They are to be closer to the Latin words.  The most noticeable change may be from “all” to “many”.  The universal dimension of Jesus’ salvation hasn’t change; it’s just a closer translation of the Latin. In this way, the proportion of many includes all- those now and before and to come: that is ‘many’.

-An Acclamation of Faith – “The mystery of Faith” – The priest makes the announcement and the people make the acclamation.  The actual acclamation are changed to closer to the Latin; the insertion of O and other words help with the rhythm and refocuses the lenses on Jesus’s roles as Lord and Savior

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Humility

A couple of weeks ago, we had the Gospel reading from Matthew about being a servant; about humility and about the exaltation the Father bestows on those who are humble and serve others in Love.  At the time, I promised St. Benedict's "12 Steps" to Humility. I got distracted... so better late than never. These steps come from The Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule is St. Benedict's vision for a monk's lifestyle and prayer life within a monastery.  So, while some of the rules are meant for monks living is silence and solitude, they really do apply to our modern life as well (and there are many, many books that discuss this; just tool around for a while if you're interested).

I'm going to use modern language to summarize the rule, but will try to retain the full meaning of what St. Benedict was trying to teach. I mean, after all, he was saint and the Father of Western Monasticism; I'm just a poor simple country farm boy trying to do the Lord's Will.

Click here for a description of St. Benedict's The Rule.

The 12 Steps to Humility
1. Remember that God is God and I'm not. He Loves us; He's Our Father and He wants wants best for us.
2. And He wants us to co-operate with Him. We need to try everyday to do not our own will, but that of the Father.
3. If we are in a position someone has authority over us, than we willing submit to that authority.
4. If, in that submission, we suffer, we accept  quietly and then pray to persevere.
5. Frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And, if we mess up at home, work, or among friends, we are quick to admit it and set things right.
6. When called upon to do something we might consider "menial", we willingly embrace it and do with joy and commitment.
7. With our words and actions, we confess that we are unworthy of any praise and that we constantly remind ourselves that ALL IS GIFT!
8. Always follow the rules: at work, home, on the road, on the ball field, etc.
9. With our words: just because we have an opinion doesn't necessarily mean we have to share it.
10. Be ready to laugh: laughter comes from Joy, and Joy is a sign of Hope.
11. Speak gently: yelling hardly accomplishes anything.
12. With our actions and body language: being overbearing, 'standing over' someone sends a message of control and power. Instead, be open and relaxed, and welcoming.

There you have it. St. Benedict's 12 Steps of Humility. It's not fail-safe but we can begin working at them and include them in our journey to Holiness.

Peace to you today,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Deafening Echo

As I continue my personal exploration of Carthusian spirituality, I came across this little gem in a book called They Speak By Silences (click here for book description). Again, written by an anonymous monk and in classic monastic form, the depth and seemingly paradoxical nature of this statements resounds like a deafening echo in my heart.

"Fear of not responding sufficiently to God's Love is the sign of a faithful soul."

I'll not say anything more about that but will encourage all of us to take that to prayer a little.

Peace to you,

Mass Changes: Part V

VI. The preparation of the gifts
Priest: Pray brethren (brothers and sisters, et al) that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
Congregation: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy church”.

The reality is that the Eucharist is both the priest’s and the layperson’s sacrifice to God- for it is a prayer of thanksgiving. There is connectivity between the sacrifice that will be offered on the altar and the prayers and interior disposition in the hearts of those gathered.  We not only want God to accept the bread and wine that the priest will over, we also want him to accept the contents of our hearts and minds. We want the Father to bless both, and make them holy.

The Church in Heaven is already Holy; the one on earth is still on the way.  Ultimately though, both ‘churches’, the one in Heaven and the one on earth, offer this Eucharist together, and God renews both in holiness and life and grace.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mass Changes: Part IV

V. The Creed
There are lots of changes in the Creed. Most of them are revisions that are closer to the original Latin text.  Furthermore, with the changes, comes an opportunity to discover and enter into the great mysteries of our Faith.

From “We believe” to “I believe”. The word in Latin is Credo, which is in the singular, meaning “my faith” and in this sense, “I believe”. Our faith is a personal response to the invitation from the Father to us to enter into a relationship with Him. Remember, faith is a response, and when I respond to God, I enter into a relationship with them. Therefore, I, personally believe that which God has revealed to me through His Son, Jesus Christ.

From “all that is seen and unseen” to “all things visible and invisible”.  He has created all things, those things that can be seen by human eyes and those things that can’t be, like angels. The word seen can denote a certain proximity or distance that would render an object ‘un-see-able’. The new translation means that there are certain things that can be seen, but are ‘invisible’ to the human eye- like angels.

“From Only Son of the Father” to “the Only Begotten Son of God”: this adverb/verb connection reinforces our faith that Jesus did not merely materialize as the Son of God, but that he was intentionally begotten; his presence has always been part of the divine plan.

From “eternally begotten of the Father” to “Born of the Father before all ages”. The reference here is to John’s Gospel, chapter 1.  The Word has been with the Father since the beginning of all time. The language is more precise and sets up the next point…

From “One in Being with the Father“ to “Consubstantial”. This is a theological term that is pregnant with meaning and nuance. The word describes the relationship between the Father and the Son and it means, in Greek, “having the same substance.” We don’t use it for anything other than describing the nature of Jesus Christ- he in unlike anything or anyone else.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus describes himself: “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30). The great mystery of the Incarnation is intimately and inextricably tied to the very mystery that is the nature of the Triune God.

Was Incarnate of the Virgin Mary”; or read another way he was “given flesh by the Virgin Mary”.  The previous translation makes it sound like the Word became flesh when Jesus was born. This is not our faith. Jesus was not only born by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was conceived in that way too. The revised translation makes it clearer that Jesus did not become a human when we born, he was incarnate, a human, in the womb, and in that event he became man.

From ‘suffered and died’ to “Suffered death”. The change here is intended to remind us that it is the death of Christ that sets into motion the Resurrection. It makes it clearer: he suffered death so that he might rise from the dead. It is His death, not limited to his suffering, that sets into motion the final stages of God’s plan of Redemption for his people.  

From ‘in fulfillment of the Scriptures’ to “In accordance with Scripture”. The change here is to reinforce the reality that the Resurrection fulfills Old Testament prophecies. Moreover, it professes that the New Testament proclaims the Resurrection that was foretold in the Old Testament. Both the New and Old Testaments work in tandem and form a unified whole.

From ‘worshipped’ to “adored”. This is a better translation of the Latin.

From ‘We believe’ to “I Confess”. In Latin the word ‘confess’ means not just intellectual assent, but a heart-felt conviction. The word is closer to the intended meaning: it is from this confession of Faith that springs our Hope.

From 'We look forward' to “I look forward to the resurrection”.  Not only is it a clearer translation of the Latin  but it also carries with it a confidence in God and in his promises on a personal level: God has made these promises to me!