So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

FSSP Ordinations - 8am Pacific Time Friday May 26th

Monday, June 1, 2015

Renew liturgical catechesis to aid the New Evangelization.

The New Evangelization is a term routinely appropriated to mean just about anything anyone wants it to mean, or so it seems.

Missing from the vocabulary of many a "New Evangelist's" apologetic is the absolute necessity and primacy of liturgical catechesis.

Point #1
Christ is encountered in communion with the Church He founded.
To be in perfect communion with Christ is to be in communion with the Catholic Church. The Church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.
The Second Vatican Council, in n.8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, stated that "this Church, constituted and organized as a society in this present, world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although (licet) many elements of sanctification and truth can be found outside her structure; such elements, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic unity".
As is well known this famous expression "subsistit in" was subsequently the object of many and contradictory interpretations. The notion became quite widespread that the Council had not wanted to adopt as its own the traditional statement according in which the Church of Christ is (est) the Catholic Church — as was stated in the preparatory schema — so as to be able to say that the Church of Christ subsists also in Christian communities separated from Rome.
In reality, however, an analysis of the Council proceedings leads to the conclusion that "[t]he phrase subsistit in is intended not only to reconfirm the meaning of the term est, that is, the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. Above all, it reaffirms that the Church of Christ, imbued with the fullness of all the means instituted by Christ, perdures (continues, remains) forever in the Catholic Church".
This meaning of the term subsistit coincides with the common language of Western culture and is consistent with classical philosophical language from Aristotle to St. Thomas; that which exists in itself and not in something else is said to subsist.
"Subsisting is a special case of being. It is being in the form of a subject standing on its own. This is the issue here. The Council wants to tell us that the Church of Jesus Christ as a concrete subject in the present world can be encountered in the Catholic Church. This can occur only once and the notion that subsistit could be multiplied misses precisely what was intended. With the word subsistit, the Council wanted to express the singularity and non-multiplicability of the Catholic Church".
Point #2
The gateway to an intimate loving communion with Christ and His Church is the Sacrament of Baptism.
CCC 1999. The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.
Point #3
The source and summit of the Christian life is the Holy Eucharist.
1329 The Lord's Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.
1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.158 The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.
The above points, in addition to orienting the believer/worshipper to God, also challenge the sense of aridity typical of a modern devotional mentality and embodied in so many modern "worship spaces". The sanctuary, as it is properly known, is the arena in which the most profound encounter with God takes place. To reduce it to a soapbox that elevates the presbyter above the one High Priest is an indecent marginalization of the holy of holies and the one Who comes to dwell therein. What was once protected by a communion rail from careless approaches is now frequently a playground for scantily clad liturgical dancers.

Feast and famine.

The wedding feast of the Lamb should not be routinely reduced to a caricature of the magnificent death Christ endured for us on Calvary. To reduce the Mass to a mere meal bereft of ritual meaning is to miss the transcendent dimension of the profound events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Resurrection to which we are all made present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”—Revelation (Apocalypse) 19:6-9.
If we think of the Mass as wedding feast, we will avoid the puritanical or iconoclastic mindset that has infected Catholic thinking for more than a generation.

A wedding has guests. The families to be united—bride and groom, parents of the couple, extended family, and friends too!—pull out all the stops. The wedding is truly a celebration, a feast for the heart, body and soul. Weddings can be simple, but even the simplest of celebrations can invite the senses into a comprehensive experience of a couple uniting in Christ. Consider the impressive adornments of such a celebration:
  • the wedding gown (symbolizing in principal at least the virgin bride who also symbolizes the virgin Bride, i.e., the Church).
  • the suit a man wears to honour his bride.
  • rings made of precious metal. Imagine giving one's spouse-to-be a lead or plastic ring with a plastic "gemstone"! Cheap is as cheap does. Let's see how far the 'price doesn't matter... it's the thought that counts' line gets you.
  • flowers.
  • sacred music (Nice Day for a White Wedding by Billy Idol).
At the reception:
  • good food and lots of it.
  • wine—a nice Malbec and/or Pinot Grigio perhaps?
  • champagne for the toast(s).
  • music and liturgical dancing.
  • speeches that connect families through the sharing of family stories.
  • kisses (hopefully with some sense of decorum).
People dress up in their best to show love and respect for the bride and groom and to honour the unseen Guest Who makes His home among the newlyweds. Guests bring gifts of one kind or another that help support the newlyweds. If people can do that for our fellow human beings, how much more so should we offer our finest efforts to God and our finest goods to demonstrate our love for God.

We are enfleshed souls and we create beauty because we are created in the image of God, the Creator. Why should we hang up our God-given talents outside the Church? Previous generations have left us a huge legacy of amazing art, music and architecture. What will we leave our brothers and sisters to remind them of the glory of God and the hope found only in Christ? Churches that look like shopping malls?
Matthew 22:1-14 
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Do we make light of God's sacred liturgy by not keeping the fast before Mass? Do we ignore the dress, both the inner (faith and love) and outward signs, required for those who intend to attend the wedding? Do we use the beautiful gifts God has given us to help us make a life for ourselves, but return to Him nothing?

Human beings are ritualistic creatures. We are nourished by God in and though ritual. Sacramental signs dispose us to God and the Sacraments which impart saving grace.

If the New Evangelization is to be "successful", it must be oriented to renewal of liturgical catechesis that disposes man to the mystery of Christ and His Church through ritual signs that are part of the poetry and text of the Mass. The poetry of the Mass has been simplified, to be sure, by the Pauline renewal. However, the Mass is so much more beautiful than many people currently allow it to be because they are, in a word or two, artistically challenged.

True, good and beautiful liturgy leads people to Christ because Christ is more clearly seen and heard in the Mass well celebrated!

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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