Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Importance of Eucharistic Adoration to me

Fr. Richard McBrien recently posted his opinion on regarding perpetual eucharistic adoration. He said that adoration is a "a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward."  Then I suppose that I have stepped backwards?  I did not know that there was such a thing as Eucharist adoration until my Cursillo weekend in 2003. It was in finding out that there was such a place, that changed my life. 

Before I found out about Adoration, I thought I had to die to be present with the Lord, body, soul and divinity. I knew that he was with me when I received Communion, but I needed him more.  I did not know there was a place where I could go and spend time with him and give my cares to him. I did not know there was a place to praise him and love him for what he has done for me, outside of the Mass.  But, after I found out about Adoration chapels during my cursillo weekend, I know now Christ is there for me, anytime, day or night.

Adoration is not a step backwards as Fr. McBrien writes. Communion with Christ, through prayer, is always a step forward because we am closer by being into the mediator between God and man. I participate in Christ's reign in the earthly kingdom when I visit him exposed in the jeweled monstrance high up on the altar. The place that is fitting for our King.

Forget my needs, if it is worthly of a human king to sit on a throne, isn't it more appropriate and worthly to expose our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament upon an altar 24 hours a day?  Shouldn't he have that same respect as an earthly monarchial king?  At Mass our Lord is sheltered in the tabernacle as he was in the Holy of Holies in the Old Covenant.  In the Old Covenent the people were not allowed to touch or go into the tent where the tabernacle rested. But, now, in the New Covenant, the people are a priestly people and are able to offer up prayers and sacrifices, too.  Offering sacrifices is not limited to the ordained priesthood.  The Old Covenant has been fulfilled and the common priesthood of the people draws us next to and in front of the Body of Christ resting in the monstrance in the Adoration chapels.

It was the people who wanted Eucharist adoration.  Since, the priest was facing East, they could not see the host as it was consecrated by the priest. The priest would hold the consecrated host, now the Bread of Life, higher and higher and longer and longer, so that the communicants could adore and view it before receiving and so it began to be placed in the monstrance vessel and processed so it could be viewed.  The people of God knew their eyes were only seeing bread, their faith told them they were seeing the Body of Christ.

If Vatican II was a time for renewal and enrichment of faith and renewal of doctrine, adoration was one faith and doctrinal practice that needed to be brought back. Persecutions had squashed it, just like how it began hundreds of years ago, the people have brought it back.

G.K. Chesterton said to be "progressive" means that there was something right about doing something before, but now it is said that it isn't right to do it.  Those in the Church that consider themselves "progressives" are saying this.  They are saying that we have "progressed" beyond needing adoration.  Although, it was right for the people of God back then, it isn't any longer!  But, Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy, that progression should be simple and natural.  Adoration developed simply and naturally over 1,000 years, ago, and it has developed simply and naturally, today.  Chesterton says that we should not have to go to any trouble to improve.  It was much trouble to take away adoration.  People were killed to kill the practice of adoration. The progressives have gone to to alot of trouble to disavow what has developed naturally within the people of God, when their agenda is to elevate within parishes what they consider the desires of the people of God.  The desire of the people of God is to have adoration, so it is. So be it.

Sometimes after the conversion of heart in the soul of a person, they have to go back to the traditions and aestical devotional practices to help them be formed to Christ. Conversion was a going back and seeing one's sins and consequently a true repentence.  We meet Christ in seeing our sins, he joins us there, and moves us forward on a journey of communion. Going backwards has its place. 

In the "fullness of time" there is no time when sharing in Christ's Paschal Mystery, therefore, there cannot be any going backwards, really.  Really, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has always been and always will be outside of time.  "Backwards" is not a word that belongs in Catholic spirituality, doctrine or theology.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Name "Christian"

christiani - were members of Christ's band of conspirators. 
In Greek phonetics,the word chrestos (good) was, and is, pronounced christos.  The conspiracy of the Christos is a conspiracy of those who are chrestos, a conspiracy of goodness.

For a complete analysis from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, see "The Essential Pope Benedict XVI", edited by John F. Thornton and Susan B. Varenne and published by HarperSanFrancisco, 2007.  The content is full of the Holy Father's speeches and important Homilies before he became Pope.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Funeral controversary of Senator Ted Kennedy

Watching, perusing and listening to the headlines and commentaries in the national Catholic newspaper media and through audio on Catholic radio, struck me into thinking, ‘the commentators should have all gotten together before the senator passed away and told him what they were going to be saying about him." He is dead now. Why such a unified voice, now, regarding his disservice to the pro-life effort? Just think, with such a strong a unified voice as has been heard on Catholic radio the last few weeks regarding Senator Kennedy’s sins against the protection of the unborn, if it had been that way a few weeks before he died. If, the faithful united through Catholic media told the Senator, “this is what we are going to be saying about your legacy…”, “this is how we feel about what you have not done to protect the unborn…”, “we proclaim as your brothers and sisters in Christ, that you must repent of your choice to make it a woman’s right to kill her baby…”

I think that the commentator's unified voice to the Senator for his conversion and repentance would have made a difference, because a senator is supposed to listen to the voice of the people in his nation. How much more should he have listened to his spiritual brothers and sisters that make up the community of saints? It is the same community of saints that we will all be a part of for eternity, should that be each of our rewards. Alas, it is a imagery that did not take place, and cannot take place now in the temporal realm, in this earthly kingdom.

It is a matter to consider since we are a people of God striving to live a life centered on the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and center of our communion with one another within the Body of Christ. We must witness that to one another. Since, Senator’s Kennedy’s views on abortion were anti-life, unjust and sinful, he was not fully centered on the Eucharist and so the faith, hope and charity that flow from it, would not be sanctify his soul as much as God wanted to give him because his soul was not fully disposed to receive all the graces God had in-store for him.

The soul and its capacity for love and sanctification is a lesson that for those of us who understand the theology of the spiritual life, must teach to others. We are all called to evangelize, and I believe that to teach others about their soul, its faculties and its capacity to be built up in faith, hope and love, is of primary importance for our own sanctification. We have to share what we have been given.

Those who correct Senator Kennedy, now, after his passing, know about the soul, that is why they voice their concern of whether the funeral was a proper witness to his life and the unity of the Church. Let’s just try and reach those not living a Eucharist centered life about their soul while they are still alive, and the Holy Spirit with do the rest.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Give up "everything" or only "half"?

God worked a miracle through Peter by raising back to life a woman named, "Tabitha", from dead. My confirmation name, is "Tabitha".  Reflecting on this verse, the footnotes in the New American bible translation of scripture explains that in Greek and Aramaic, "Tabitha" translates to "Dorcas", which means "gazelle".  It comments that "gazelle" exemplifies the right attitude toward material posessions as expressed by Jesus in the Lucan Gospels: 6:30; 11:41; 12:33; 18:22; 19:8.  Here are the Lucan verses:

6:30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
11:41 But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.
12:33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an exhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
18:22 * When Jesus heard this he said to him, "There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
19:8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over."

As we can see, in verse 18:22, Jesus tells the rich young man to sell "all that he has", but in 19:8, Zacchaeus tells the Lord he will give half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus seemed pleased with Zacchaeus, although he was only giving half.  Why must the rich young man give everything and Zacchaeus only give half?  Keeping in mind the aspect of spiritual direction, and Jesus being the ultimate spiritual director, he is explaining to us through these verses that what each must do to enter the Kingdom of God, can vary.

To give away our possessions to the poor is a work that will help build up the Kingdom of God here on earth to the benefit of our eternal salvation.  But, most importantly, it glorifies God to the one that receives them.  Jesus knew the state of the soul of the rich young man and of Zacchaeus, thus he required different works from them.  He knew what they needed to do to grow closer to him, to continue to have an intimate encounter with him through the act of offering up and sacrificing possessions.  But, how do we know, personally, if our souls are in the state of the "rich young man" or Zacchaeus? 

Because Jesus did not leave us alone when he ascended to his Father in Heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to help us intepret the Good News.  The Holy Spirit teaches through the Church.  Looking up verse 19:8 in the catechism, it points out that Zacchaeus was also making reparation for the times he may have collected more in taxes than what was required by law.  He had stolen.

[CCC, 2412] In virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner:

Jesus blesses Zacchaeus for his pledge: "If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it - for example, those who ordered it, assisted in it, or received the stolen goods - are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.

Now, the Catechism does not have any commentary on Luke 18:22.  But, Pope John Paul II's Encyclical, Veritatis Splendor goes into detail about why the rich young man in the parable must give up everything.

6. The dialogue of Jesus with the rich young man, related in the nineteenth chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel, can serve as a useful guide for listening once more in a lively and direct way to his moral teaching: "Then someone came to him and said, 'Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?' And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. 'He said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me' " (Mt 19:16-21).13

7. "Then someone came to him...". In the young man, whom Matthew's Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality. For the young man, the question is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life. This is in fact the aspiration at the heart of every human decision and action, the quiet searching and interior prompting which sets freedom in motion. This question is ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man's life.

So, we can see from the Holy Father's commentary that, although, both of the verses seem to be only about how much of one's possessions to give up, to delve deeper, is to find Good News that can affect not only the soul of the individual who offers and sacrifices posessions, but their fullest meaning is found when applied from a social ethics or social justic perspective.  Because they help us order ourselves to living a Christian life, the story of the rich young man teaches us to order all of our choices to the good, or God, in order to live a moral life.

It is through prayer that we can know how much to give up and how much to keep.  But, relative to civil society and to follow the commandement to love our neighbor, like the Ethiopian Eunoch said to Saint Phillip the apostle (Acts 8:27):  "how can I understand the scriptures unless someone teaches me?"  It is through the teaching authority of the Church that the soul finds a deeper meaning in scripture that affects and is relevant for all of civil society in this earthly kingdom.

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