A.I.M. | Analysis | Inklings | Metacommentary

''You do not mean by mystery what a Catholic does. You mean an interesting uncertainty: the uncertainty ceasing interest ceases also... . But a Catholic by mystery means an incomprehensible certainty: without certainty, without formulation there is no interest;... the clearer the formulation the greater the interest."—Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), British poet, Jesuit priest. Letter, Oct. 24, 1883, to Robert Bridges. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters, ed. Catherine Phillips (1991).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mystagogy


Carl Heinrich Bloch, The Resurrection, 1873.

1074 "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows." It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. "Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men."
The season of Easter—Yes, dear world, Easter is not merely one day but an entire season!—is a period of 50 joy filled days leading up to the great feast of Pentecost, the Solemnity when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. This is a time for mystagogy. Neophytes, those newly welcomed into the Church, now enter more deeply into the Mysteries, i.e., the realities communicated by the Sacraments, specifically Holy Mass.

What is mystagogy?
1075 Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ (mystagogy) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the "sacraments" to the "mysteries." Such catechesis is to be presented by local and regional catechisms. This Catechism, which aims to serve the whole Church in all the diversity of her rites and cultures, will present what is fundamental and common to the whole Church in the liturgy as mystery and as celebration, and then the seven sacraments and the sacramentals.
Neela Kale describes mystagogy this way:
The fourth stage of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is called “mystagogy,” from the Greek words meaning “to lead through the mysteries.” Traditionally, mystagogy extends throughout the Easter season, until the feast of Pentecost. This is a period of accompaniment for new Catholics as they discover what it means to fully participate in the sacramental mysteries of the Church. The newly baptized are called “neophytes,” from the Greek words meaning “new plant,” because the faith has been newly planted in them. Even though their catechetical preparation has been completed, they still have much to learn about what it means to live as Catholic Christians. Things often look different from the inside! Once they find themselves really on the inside, the neophytes often have more questions about living a life of faith. They need the ongoing support of the community so that the faith newly planted in them can grow deep roots.
Prior to reception into the Church, those in formation were not permitted to receive the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. Now, it's a whole new story. The neophytes are admitted to Holy Communion, a joy beyond description. For the newly baptized and those receiving the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) for the first time, the immensity of the joy and gratitude for such great gifts is typically overwhelming, and so it should be! Imagine having all your sins forgiven! Imagine receiving the Lord into your life and receiving His very Body and Blood! No, wait—don't imagine it, come and see! The Church welcomes you! Ask a priest about becoming Catholic.

Mystagogy is also a lifelong process of coming into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus. As we approach the altar to receive the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ, we who have been Catholic for a while, especially cradle Catholics who may have become comfortable in the Faith, benefit greatly from the witness of the newly baptized and confirmed. Their renewed innocence and fresh encounter with the sacraments are great signs and blessings inviting us all to renew our baptismal promises and thus enter ever anew into the ineffable mysteries revealed by Christ.

Mystagogy is a time when we can share with the newcomers the profound impact of Holy Mass on our lives, a time of liturgical catechesis which is more "caught" than "taught". When we share our experience about the Divine Liturgy, there will inevitably come a moment when all words cease and the Lord Himself speaks to the neophyte, often by completing our incomplete sentences in the silence of the heart. Indeed, the Lord has been speaking to the neophyte even before having been received into the Church, drawing the inquirer into a closer relationship. The Holy Spirit whispering in one's soul, through events that are graced moments such as the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, a conversation with a Catholic, a moment of honest reflection on the state of one's life, a recognition that one's heart is yearning for someone, etc. Our hearts will only find peace when we accept Jesus' invitation to know and love Him and His Church.

Mystagogical Catechesis, from Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis:
64. The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops asked that the faithful be helped to make their interior dispositions correspond to their gestures and words. Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate. Given the vital importance of this personal and consciousparticipatio, what methods of formation are needed? The Synod Fathers unanimously indicated, in this regard, a mystagogical approach to catechesis, which would lead the faithful to understand more deeply the mysteries being celebrated. (186) In particular, given the close relationship between the ars celebrandi and an actuosa participatio, it must first be said that "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, celebrated well." (187) By its nature, the liturgy can be pedagogically effective in helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery being celebrated. That is why, in the Church's most ancient tradition, the process of Christian formation always had an experiential character. While not neglecting a systematic understanding of the content of the faith, it centred on a vital and convincing encounter with Christ, as proclaimed by authentic witnessesIt is first and foremost the witness who introduces others to the mysteries. Naturally, this initial encounter gains depth through catechesis and finds its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist. This basic structure of the Christian experience calls for a process of mystagogy which should always respect three elements:
  1. It interprets the rites in the light of the events of our salvation, in accordance with the Church’s living tradition. The celebration of the Eucharist, in its infinite richness, makes constant reference to salvation history. In Christ crucified and risen, we truly celebrate the one who has united all things in himself (cf. Eph 1:10). From the beginning, the Christian community has interpreted the events of Jesus’ life, and the Paschal Mystery in particular, in relation to the entire history of the Old Testament.
  2. A mystagogical catechesis must also be concerned with presenting the meaning of the signs contained in the rites. (All the more reason liturgies should be beautiful and celebrated well according to the liturgical norms!) This is particularly important in a highly technological age like our own, which risks losing the ability to appreciate signs and symbols. More than simply conveying information, a mystagogical catechesis should be capable of making the faithful more sensitive to the language of signs and gestures which, together with the word, make up the rite.
  3. Finally, a mystagogical catechesis must be concerned with bringing out the significance of the rites for the Christian life in all its dimensions – work and responsibility, thoughts and emotions, activity and repose. Part of the mystagogical process is to demonstrate how the mysteries celebrated in the rite are linked to the missionary responsibility of the faithful. The mature fruit of mystagogy is an awareness that one’s life is being progressively transformed by the holy mysteries being celebrated. The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a “new creation”, capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.


Eugenè Burnand, The Disciples Running to the Sepulchre, 1898.

So, this Easter season, this time of a more intense mystagogy, this time of beauty, truth and goodness in which we are immersed, may we all surrender more deeply to Christ. Let us pray for the grace that opens our minds and hearts to the Holy Trinity as we hear the word of God proclaimed during the Mass. By God's grace, may we enter into a deeper communion with the Lord when we receive His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. During this glorious season, and always, may we discover the renewal of freedom that God offers us in the Sacrament of Penance.

May our 'yes' to God's gift of salvation be a confident Easter 'Alleluia'—praise to the Lord!

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!




St. Luke 24, 1-12

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.

They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?

He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus: Diplomat or Divine Judge?

Another word for 'diplomatic' in the lexicon of parish jargon is the word 'pastoral'. The use of the word 'pastoral' has become so broad as to include many attitudes and practices that are simply not Catholic, nor even reasonable: laity-designed liturgy that has 'the people' saying parts of the Mass properly belonging to the priest or the choir; use of the sanctuary as a stage for events not related to the Liturgy; a lack of decorum toward the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle; congregationalist type management of parish finances and properties; etc.

We should be diplomatic in the sense that we should be kind toward others in the mission of mercy, of extending to the downtrodden and repentant a helpful word or deed of encouragement and support as we share the saving message of Jesus Christ. Does a concern for diplomacy avoid the necessity of speaking the truth in love, even if the truth hurts? Criticized by low-informed self appointed "pontiffs" who confuse judging behaviour with judging the person, do we avoid judging wrong behaviour for what it is, i.e., sinful behaviour, simply to preserve a perception that Catholics are "nice" people? The understanding that Catholicism is a limp social welfare organization might be a better fit for Canadians who elevate niceness, it seems, above authentic virtue. However, if we put the name 'Catholic' first before 'Canadian', or 'American', etc., as we should, then we might better keep our priorities straight and better represent the Faith in the public square as faithful Catholics who accept and practice right judgement over, say, the non-critical acceptance of sin and indifference to the question of right or wrong.

Confrontation can be unpleasant. Who doesn't want to avoid confrontation, or at least avoid any unnecessary conflict in this day and age of litigious trigger fingers, "human rights" tribunals and pugilistic parishioners who, more congregationalist that Catholic, threaten to walk with their chequebooks when offended for some inane reason, e.g., to protest a priest putting a card in the pew that promotes Catholic teaching on who should and should not receive Holy Communion. As a religious work of art might confront the human condition and point the viewer/hearer toward God, the Liturgy—celebrated faithfully—should confront us with the drama of sin and redemption. Is it any wonder that Catholics, so poorly formed in a correct understanding of the Mass, tend to treat the Liturgy as a mere social gathering with religious overtones? The Liturgy, having been made banal by a distortion of its form and content, is in some parishes little more than a sideshow rather than the supreme drama of man's redemption, i.e., Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary, re-presented on the altar every time Mass is validly celebrated. If the "source and summit" of our faith is ground down from a lofty peak to a barren plain, is it any wonder that Catholics lack the identity to stand up for the Faith in the public square?

Jesus the diplomat?

If we are asking 'What Would Jesus Do?', we can be certain that His example, which led Him to be crucified, will require us to speak and act with kindness and conviction, a kindness that is not saccharine nor dismissive of someone's wrongdoing or ill-informed argument, but a kindness that considers the consequences of actions in light of the Four Last Things—death, judgement, heaven, hell. If we really care, we should find ways to engage people stuck in their sins to help save them from damnation. In sweeter words, we must find ways to engage others so that they may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to invite the lost to come home to the Catholic Church founded by Christ as a hospital for sinners, a nursery for saints.

So then, can we imagine a Jesus Who was timid and avoided confrontation? Is Jesus a virile messiah whose teachings and assertions that He is the Son of God led Him to the Cross, or is He the safe, inoffensive prophet of the religious communities that have embraced a culture of entitlement, hedonism and death, a culture that whines then dines on the blood of innocent unborn children in an attempt to sustain itself?

Can we imagine a Jesus Who, instead of confronting the money changers in the Temple with harsh words and a whip, waved His hand in a gesture of casual dismissal as if to say, "Oh well, they are only doing what they need to do to make a buck"?

Jesus, by His words or by His silence, gave people the opportunity to confront the tyranny of sin in their lives. He was gentle, firm, engaging, spoke with authority (How dare he!), and when necessary, showed His anger if only to reveal what is right and just in the precincts of the Lord, which is to say the sanctuary of any parish church and the sanctuary of the human heart.

Parish Priest—Pastor or Pushover?

Since when do the sheep have a vote on the Liturgy and the manner of its celebration? How many pastors, which is to say too many pastors, have become more "sheeplike" at the expense of their calling to shepherd the flock?

Instead of surrendering the Liturgy to the whims and trials of liturgists who lord a non-existent rubric of improvisation over the actual rubrics of the Mass, priests have the responsibility and privilege of conserving the rites so that the true story of the Faith is preserved and communicated to the faithful. The faithful can hardly be expected to remain faithful and grow in the Faith if the Liturgy itself is rife with abuses and excuses.

The Laity—disciples of the Lord Jesus or diplomats of the multicultural state?

Are we to excuse ourselves from the responsibility to mediate to others the saving message of Jesus by caving in to political correctness when an office manager demands we relinquish our beliefs in the public square? Is the demand to serve the public something the state can place above the consciences of civil servants who, desiring the development and well being of the common good, refuse to support state actions that impinge upon charter rights and freedoms?

On the occasion of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders, i.e., Holy Thursday, perhaps we might be even more mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted us with the Holy Gospel, to spread the message of hope by our lives for the salvation of souls.

Furthermore, the Divine Liturgy entrusted by the Lord to His Church requires our utmost respect. May the "source and summit of the Christian Faith" be celebrated with solemn and sober dignity.

A holy Triduum to all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bishop Watch

Since Bishop (now Archbishop) Gagnon's departure for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg in early January of this year, Catholics of the Diocese have raised prayers for our new shepherd at every Mass during the Universal Prayer. Until Ash Wednesday and Lent, most parish priests offered a Mass for a New Bishop every Thursday.

Other than the unsubstantiated and understandable chit-chat between members of the clergy genuinely eager for a new shepherd, there is nothing to report regarding a bishop for the Diocese of Victoria, BC.


Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, met with Pope Francis yesterday, April 14th, and today was announced the appointment of two bishops.

This blogger will be keeping an eye on the visits of the good Cardinal from Québec to the Holy Father in the hope their (next?) meeting presages the arrival of our new Bishop.

Meanwhile, the administration of the Diocese is in the capable hands of Fr. John Laszczyk, Rector of the Cathedral.

We've come so far, but... .

This...


Image Source: Deacon's Bench

.... not this... .


Image Source: WDTPRS

This...


Image Source: Socrates58 Blogspot

but definitely not this... .


Parish of St. Joan of Arc - Image Source Star Tribune Image

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blood Moon Rising



If you haven't heard, we are due for four Blood Moons, a lunar tetrad, at roughly six month intervals until October 2015.

What is a Blood Moon? When the moon passes through the darkest shadow of the earth, it takes on a deep red colour. In other words, we'll be watching a lunar eclipse of a most striking kind.

The first moon in the sequence arrives tomorrow, April 2015 at 2 a.m. EDT. On the west coast that's April 14th at 11 p.m. PDT.

Provided skies are cloud free, North America will have front row seats to the celestial event. Weather not permitting:
The planet Mars, yet another red body in the heavens, will be flanking the eclipsed moon tonight.

UPDATE: April 15th, 12:26 a.m. PDT

Sunday, April 13, 2014

News from the Nuncio | Peterborough

Peterborough

The Holy Father accepted the resignation of H.E. Msgr. Nicola De Angelis, C.F.I.C, from the pastoral government of the diocese of Peterborough, according to Can. 401, § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, and appointed Msgr. William Terrence McGrattan, presently Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, Bishop of Peterborough, on April 8, 2014.

Still no word on a bishop for Victoria, BC.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's Marini!

Wikipedia Image


You have probably heard it elsewhere first: Pope Francis has reappointed Monsignor Guido Marini as Master of Pontifical Celebrations. The news from Vatican Radio:
Il Papa ha confermato mons. Guido Marini come maestro delle Celebrazioni liturgiche pontificie. Nato 49 anni fa a Genova, mons. Guido Marini era stato chiamato a questo incarico da Benedetto XVI nell’ottobre del 2007.

The Pope has confirmed Msgr. Guido Marini as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations. Born 49 years ago in Genoa, Msgr. Guido Marini was named to this position by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2007.
Original report: Click HERE

Deo gratias!

Pray for the good monsignor!