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).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mass-que. Unmasking the spirituality of the Mass.

Mass-qued Ball

Let's face it, most celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass tend to avoid or obscure Catholic Eucharistic piety and elevate an individualistic pipeline spirituality in its place. Many priests, not well formed in a Catholic ritualistic piety, reach toward the consumeristic, me+Jesus piety of evangelical protestantism to guide their preaching and praying (at the Universal Prayer).
Catholic - intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church
Protestant - personal relationship with Jesus
As Pope Francis reminds us:
In the Church there is no “do it yourself”, there are no “free agents”. How many times did Pope Benedict “describe the Church as an ecclesial ‘we’”! At times one hears someone say: “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care about the Church...”. How many times have we heard this? And this is not good. There are those who believe they can maintain a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and the mediation of the Church. These are dangerous and harmful temptations. These are, as the great Paul VI said, absurd dichotomies.
Pope Francis, General Audience (section 3), St. Peter's Square, Wednesday, 25 June 2014.

How many priests actually study the forms of the Universal Prayer recommended in the Missal in order to guide their collects at the conclusion of the Prayer? Judging from the typically awkward (improvised) transitions one encounters in most celebrations of the Ordinary Form, the answer to the preceding question would be few if any priests actually embrace a refined Catholic language of prayer. Lacking a Catholic vocabulary saturated with a deep embrace of Eucharistic sacrificial language, many homilies and priestly prayers (other than the presbyteral prayers mandated in the Missal) are trite, banal and distracting. Distracting—because the prayers and invitations to prayer are tacked on to the Mass like a bumper sticker with a tritely worded platitude is tacked on one's car. The problem is, when priests improvise their collects, which is a permitted practice in the rubrics for the Universal Prayer, and improvise transitions to the Creed (which are not necessary), they lack the skill of a true improviser who is fluent in the language of Catholic prayer. If there is anything a priest should be good at is liturgical prayer that makes use of a vocabulary consisting of words belonging to the magnificent treasury of Catholic devotion.

Beauty is as beauty does.

'God hears and answers all prayers offered with a sincere heart.' Actually, God hears all prayers, not just those offered with a sincere heart. The Holy Spirit perfects all prayers. The point is, prayer that is beautiful becomes an occasion for people to emulate the truth and goodness they apprehend in the prayers offered on their behalf. Dull prayers risk turning the Liturgy from a celebration to a mere task little different from doing one's laundry. Beautiful prayers become vehicles of wisdom that form Catholics in authentic prayer and piety. Beautiful prayers invite others to purify their hearts by allowing such prayers to infiltrate the bland recesses of their souls and to rise to the beauty of the Lover of souls, Jesus Christ. Beautiful prayer affirms the goodness of creation, a goodness established by God Who is all good, all truth and all beauty.

Ascending the Mount of Beauty.

The Catholic understanding of spirituality has its "source and summit" in the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ Himself has chosen for us the Holy Eucharist as the best way to encounter Him. Who are we to argue with the Lord of Hosts? The Catholic understanding includes the personal and communal dimension of discipleship. The Catholic Christian understanding of discipleship best preserves that sense of communion which flows from and ultimately into the communion of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

How do we reclaim and proclaim our Catholic Eucharistic piety and grow in authentic holiness, i.e., a holiness that has its origin and culmination in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ rather than mere emotionalism and entertainment (c)hristianity? We hold fast to the teaching of the Church, which is the teaching received from the Apostles, regarding the True Presence. That is, that the wine and bread really and substantially become the Body and Blood of Christ. We consume that Presence. How weirdly inappropriate, then, is it that so many Catholics, as soon as they have received Holy Communion, disappear from the congregation with little prayer offered in thanksgiving for such a magnificent gift?

Holy Communion is the opportunity to allow ourselves to be immersed in the Holy Spirit in order to be immersed in the Holy Trinity. That immersion begins the moment we surrender our weak attempts at a conversation to the silence of God's Presence, a silence wherein God offers his invitation to listen to His Word that He speaks at the centre of every soul docile to the teaching of Christ and His Church. If we fail at silence, God will use other means to attract our attention. Those 'other means' can be disconcerting to the soul who has little immediate room for God's agenda.

Personal faith; public faith. Plan a parade!

Looking ahead in the Church's wonderfully rich liturgical year, the Feast of Corpus Christi (Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) reminds us how to celebrate authentically the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.

What if the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ was made a holy day of obligation for the Universal Church? Surely such a feast as the celebration of the Bread of Heaven merits the Church's full attention as a day when all Catholics enthusiastically and faithfully celebrate the great Mystery which our Lord and Saviour gave to His Church for her salvation? Perhaps the rest of us should seriously consider following the excellent lead of Indonesia and Lebanon, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland in observing Corpus Christi as a holy day of obligation!
Canon 395 §3: (The Bishop) is not to be absent from the diocese on Christmas, during Holy Week, and on Easter, Pentecost, and the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, except for a grave and urgent cause.
In other words, unless for reasons permitted by Canon 395, a bishop should be at home in his diocese to host a Eucharistic procession on the occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Dear bishops, use your Charter right or lose it. Remind the state and citizens that Catholicism is a personal and public religion that belongs in the public square! Approach your local city council. Apply for a permit to host a parade and bring out all the fineries for Corpus Christi (canopy, monstrance, processional candles and cross, thurible and banners) and bring Christ to the streets! Follow up with Benediction!

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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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