Sunday, December 21, 2008

Benedicite gelu et frigus Domino

(O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord)

I'm currently staying with my family, and we're iced in by freezing rain that fell last night. The Weather Channel says that it won't get above freezing until Monday, which means I won't get to Mass. (We live on a hill, and the roads are too steep to drive frozen, even with chains.) I find this rather disappointing, even though I know that it is not sinful to miss Mass in this circumstance.

Trying to make the best of the situation, I pulled up a pdf of the Liber that someone sent me last night, and I prayed the Mass at home in the EF using the Ordinary for a low Mass and the proper for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. I made a spiritual communion at the end and then did a brief thanksgiving. It was very intense: my Latin is just at the point that I can understand most of the prayers as I read them, but past the twenty-minute mark I struggled to be attentive. In spite of this, though, beauty remained in the prayers and buayed my mind through any linguistic dificulty. I hope and look forward to someday being able to celebrate this liturgy as a priest.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dei Verbum

This is a reflection I started for a Ministry in Catechesis class. Then I re-read the assignment and realized that I'd done the wrong reading. Anyway, it is a reflection on Dei Verbum, which you can find on the Vatican website.

Catechetics must participate and aid in God’s Self-revelation throughout time, imparting and explaining the stages of revelation, from the fundamental truth of God’s existence, (“ I am”), through the moral exhortations of the prophets (“I desire mercy and not sacrifice”), and into the Incarnation, Teaching, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. The agent of true catechesis must be the Church, the Bride of Christ born out of His side on Calvary.

Just as Christ gave both Blood and Water from His side, He left the two springs of living water, Sacred Scripture and Tradition, which, used in concert on the fertile soil of the faithful, cause it to bear abundant fruit. Because one cannot give what one does not have, however, those who would instruct others must themselves “hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study” (Dei Verbum 25).

In all of this, the catechist must remember that the goal is not to give people an intellectual understanding only of the two sources mentioned. Praiseworthy as memorization of scriptural passages and Traditional dogmas is, such knowledge alone is insufficient for Christian life: the Christian must be in relationship with the Word of God, Jesus Christ. This relationship is fostered through private devotions and by the example of priests, religious, and laypeople, but it is fundamentally a gift from God.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Non Est Bonum Esse Hominem Solum

(Title Translation: It is not good for man to be alone)

The most damaging effect of sin is that it makes the sinner alone. Even venial sin puts barriers and divisions between the sinner and the rest of the Bordy of Christ; though it does not cut him off completely. By mortal sin, the sinner cuts himself off from grace completely. Condemnation, then, is not the action of a vengeful God looking to satisfy his rage, but simply the natural result of a sinner who has destroyed his relationship with God and decided not to re-establish it. However, I want to focus on the non-damning damage of sin.

As I said, sin divides the sinner from the Body of Christ, the Church. One of Satan's lies is to tell the sinner that an action is "no big deal" before the sin and that it is irreparable afterwords. He wants to isolate the Christian and prevent repentance, lest the soul be saved and his plots come to nothing. The separation the sinner feels is real, but Satan wishes to make it permanent by telling the Christian that none of the others struggle in the same way, that the individual Christian is defective, will never make it, and should just despair.

The truth, on the other hand, is that "All have sinned." We all need God's mercy to reach heaven, and He intended for us to "Work out our salvation" in community. This, I believe is a crucial point in the creation account. As God is creating, He sees that a variety of things are good, but only once does He pronounce anything the contrary: "It is not good for man to be alone." The fact that He then creates woman may lead us into a reflection on marriage, but how then do we understand celibacy for the kingdom? Indeed, we should note that He does not say, "It is not good for man to be without wife."

The Sacrament of Marriage is a beautiful way for the spouses to minister to each other as a microcosm of the Church, but calls to celibacy in religious life are not calls to be alone. They are expressly calls to live in relationship with other members of a community. Diocesan priests must also minister to one another in the fellowship of the priesthood. Even the hermetical life is not one of loneliness but one of great intimacy with God. Indeed, I think hermits and anchorites should be envied for the fact that they love God to such a degree that He removes them from the distractions of the world so completely.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Providencia Dei

(Title Translation: The Providence of God)

Some background: The program that I'm in has an area which they call "Human Formation." This is always the hardest to explain of the areas. (The other three are Academic, Pastoral, and Spiritual Formation. Academic=classes; Pastoral=ministry placement; Spiritual=prayer, Sacraments, Spiritual Direction, etc.) Human Formation is similar to Spiritual Formation in that you sit down with a priest for an hour every couple weeks, but you don't get to choose your Formation Director. The Formation director essentially holds you accountable for growing into a better human being. During my first year, the big area I had to work on was being more comfortable socializing and maintaining friendships with a broad group.

Last year, on the other hand, I was concerned about my lack of growth. My director seemed to basically accept that I'd followed through on the requests made of me socially, was showing up where I was supposed to be, and had good grades. He wasn't asking me to stretch any more than I already had. Now, I was working on faults that I knew I had, such as grumbling, but part of the benefit of having a formation director is that he can point out flaws you don't notice. Being more social was such an area for me.

Now I've noticed that this lack of stretching during the school year served a double role in God's plan. First, it allowed me to concentrate on the other three areas. Secondly, it allowed me a respite to recover from the growth of the year before in order to be more ready to grow after the year ended, also known as now.

I'm living with my parents and working in a Church-related area. This means I "get" to explore and re-evaluate my relationship with my parents, my identity, interactions with a more diverse group (gender, age), and my work will also have interesting lessons, I'm sure. Broken people tend to gravitate to the Church, and this is true for people receiving services and those giving them. I think this summer will be a good growing experience, but it will also be hard.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cur clamo?

(Title Translation: Why do I shout?)

Over the last several days, I've felt the urge to share some of my reflections from spiritual reading. I'm not in a situation where I have people immediately on hand to do this with, so it occurred to me to create this blog and do it here. After about a week of discerning if this is the right thing for me to do, I decided to go ahead cautiously.