Monday, May 17, 2010

A Beauty Crowned with Thorns and Crucified

Today in my Sacramental Aesthetics class I came across this amazing quote from Hans Urs Von Balthasar. I found it moving. Hopefully you will as well.

Both the person who is transported by natural beauty and the one snatched up by the beauty of Christ must appear to the world to be fools, and the world will attempt to explain their state in terms of psychological or even physiological laws (Acts 2.13). But they know what they have seen, and they care not one farthing what people may say. They suffer because of their love, and it is only the fact that they have been inflamed by the most sublime of beauties - a beauty crowned with thorns and crucified - that justifies their sharing in that suffering.

Yes, my friends, the crucifixion, with all its horror and shame is beautiful. Our wounds too, the ones we bear in our hearts, can be beautiful as well, if only we unite them to the sufferings of our Lord.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Consider Myself Consecrated

Today in Fatima, Portugal, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the priests of the world to Our Blessed Mother. Here is the prayer he used:

Immaculate Mother,
in this place of grace,
called together by the love of your Son Jesus
the Eternal High Priest, we,
sons in the Son and his priests,
consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart,
in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will.

We are mindful that, without Jesus,
we can do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5)
and that only through him, with him and in him,
will we be instruments of salvation
for the world.

Bride of the Holy Spirit,
obtain for us the inestimable gift
of transformation in Christ.
Through the same power of the Spirit that
overshadowed you,
making you the Mother of the Saviour,
help us to bring Christ your Son
to birth in ourselves too.
May the Church
be thus renewed by priests who are holy,
priests transfigured by the grace of him
who makes all things new.

Mother of Mercy,
it was your Son Jesus who called us
to become like him:
light of the world and salt of the earth
(cf. Mt 5:13-14).

Help us,
through your powerful intercession,
never to fall short of this sublime vocation,
nor to give way to our selfishness,
to the allurements of the world
and to the wiles of the Evil One.

Preserve us with your purity,
guard us with your humility
and enfold us with your maternal love
that is reflected in so many souls
consecrated to you,
who have become for us
true spiritual mothers.

Mother of the Church,
we priests want to be pastors
who do not feed themselves
but rather give themselves to God for their brethren,
finding their happiness in this.
Not only with words, but with our lives,
we want to repeat humbly,
day after day,
Our “here I am”.

Guided by you,
we want to be Apostles
of Divine Mercy,
glad to celebrate every day
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar
and to offer to those who request it
the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocate and Mediatrix of grace,
you who are fully immersed
in the one universal mediation of Christ,
invoke upon us, from God,
a heart completely renewed
that loves God with all its strength
and serves mankind as you did.

Repeat to the Lord
your efficacious word:
“They have no wine” (Jn 2:3),
so that the Father and the Son will send upon us
a new outpouring of
the Holy Spirit.
Full of wonder and gratitude
at your continuing presence in our midst,
in the name of all priests
I too want to cry out:
“Why is this granted me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).

Our Mother for all time,
do not tire of “visiting us”,
consoling us, sustaining us.
Come to our aid
and deliver us from every danger
that threatens us.
With this act of entrustment and consecration,
we wish to welcome you
more deeply, more radically,
for ever and totally
into our human and priestly lives.

Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth
in the desert of our loneliness,
let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness,
let it restore calm after the tempest,
so that all mankind shall see the salvation
of the Lord,
who has the name and the face of Jesus,
who is reflected in our hearts,
for ever united to yours!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Extraordinary From of the Roman Rite

The Servant of God, Pope Pius XII
offering the Extraordinary Form in St. Peter's Basilica

As some of you may know (particularly those who are my facebook friends) I have been learning how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. One of my priest-friends, Fr. S., is also doing the same and is offering some wonderful commentary on the Extraordinary Form on his extraordinary blog. Here is a taste of what he has to say:

Ad Orientem

In many Catholic minds today, this means, "turning one's back to the people." It is amazing to me how pride creeps into the mind! Somehow, if the priest is facing the same direction as the people, he must be intending to show his superiority as opposed to his unity. What insidiousness! I find that facing the same direction as the faithful is a great help in humility while offering the Holy Mass. When facing the people, ("ad populum") there is a constant temptation to make the Holy Mass about the presider and his own whims. When the priest faces the same direction as the congregation, that desire disappears because no one sees his face. It is far easier to speak to the Father.

This orientation has a second benefit, too. So often when one goes to Holy Mass, it seems that the priest is trying to tell a story or to be having a dialogue with the congregation. While there are certainly exchanges between the priest and the faithful, the Mass is primarily said by the priest, in the person of Christ, to the Father. I recall the first time that I offered the Ordinary Form ad orientem. After Holy Mass, people said, "Father, that was dramatic! It was so clear when you were speaking to us and when you were speaking to God!" Now, can this be clear ad populum? Surely. That being said, it seems easier to me to me ad orientem.

The third benefit of this orientation, it seems to me, is its intimate nature. When Holy Mass is offered ad orientem, the priest does not have the sense of being watched, of being on display. Rather, there is a great deal of closeness by virtue of having no one between the priest and the crucifix. This is, to me, the most important benefit of offering Holy Mass ad orientem.

If you want to read more of his commentary, check him out at his blog: Clerical Reform.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What is a Christian?

Ever wonder what a Christian is? Well, this is from Matins (the Office of Readings) for today, and gives a pretty good description:

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonour, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

- From a letter to Diognetus