Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Mass is ended - where to from here?

Mark Shea has this wonderful little piece explaining more fully the final dismissal of the Mass - Ite Missa Est! He explains how a poor translation of this latin phrase has led us to lose sight of its forceful admonition to proclaim Christ and his Gospel in our daily lives.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - Irish Style!

The Irish Independent national newspaper has a front page caption today of a priest who is offering his parishioners a "quickie" Mass during Lent which he guarantess will take no longer than 15 minutes.
Fr. Michael Kenny of Kilconly parish in Co. Galway has introduced these 15 minute Masses to better facilitate his parishioners and their busy lives. Normally the Mass would be at 9am but that time proved to be inconvenient for many who had work and school to attend. And so he now offers the Mass at 7.30am for the duration of Lent.
(For those of you who are not Irish - it's important to understand that places in Ireland, like school and workplace, open soemwhat later than in many other countries.)
The move has seen a 10 fold increase in those attending daily Mass for Lent (30-40 instead of 3-4). Fr. Kenny says: "Now, more and more people are coming along to the Mass at 7.30am as they know they can be on their way to work or school 15 or 20 minutes later and it is far more suitable."
The paper (not the online edition) carries a breakdown of the 15 minute Mass and seems to join the parishioners (at least those who were interviewed) in their admiration for the Lenten Fast Mass. The "15 Minute Service", as the paper calls it, goes as follows:
7.30am (Sharp) Mass begins with the Entrance Antiphon
7.31am Opening Prayer
7.32am First Reading
7.35am Responsorial Psalm
7.37am Gospel
7.39am Communion. Lay Minister of the Eucharist speeds up the distribution of communion.
7.44am Prayer after Communion.
7.45am Fr. Michael wishes the congregation a happy day. Mass over and congregation disperse.
Now there are a number of problems with this timescale - not least how it is possible to pray the entire Eucharistic Prayer (even Eucharistic Prayer II) and the entire Communion Rite in 2 minutes - between 7.37am and 7.39. That seems to be an impossible feat. Perhaps I have misunderstood or perhaps the reporter mistook a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Holy Communion for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But Fr. Kenny assured the reportere that he wasn't "leaving anything out" of the Mass. It just doesn't seem possible to do it all in 15 minutes.
Quite apart from the fact that, with 40 people in the congregation, an Extra-Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion (in my experiencethe correct terminology is still almost unknown in the Irish Church) seems to be illicit; how can it take them from 7.39am to 7.44am to distribute Communion - unless of course Fr. Michael is very particular about the way he purifies the Sacred Vessels afterwards.
This story just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. First we had 'A La Carte' Catholicism, then 'Cafeteria' Catholicsim and now Convenience Catholicism.
One last sound bite from Fr. Kenny: "We are here to facilitate the congregation and if there are any further increases in numbers attending, then the more the merrier."
Respectfully I would disagree with Fr. Kenny on this point (among others). We priests are here to facilitate an encounter between God and his people, to facilitate the lifting of hearts and minds to the Lord in worship that is beautiful and edifying - both for the priest and the people. We priests are here to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as prayerfully and as lovingly as we possibly can. Fr. Kenny may well be able to do all that in his 15 minute Mass - if so then fair play to him. I couldn't do it in that time and still feel that I have given my parishioners a draft of the spiritual treasures that are in the Mass.
And one final thought: One of the parishioners interviewed expressed the hope that the cause of the 15 minute Mass would be taken up in other parishes. I pray sincerely that this does not happen.
From Sacrosanctum Concilium #7 & #10:
Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree...
Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Felix & Freddy - The Fighting Felines

This is just plain funny

Immaculate Heart, Oh Sacred Heart

This is a beautiful Consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Divine Mercy Chaplet - Musical Version

This is a wonderful version of the Divine Mercy Chaplet - quite haunting. And the World could sure use an enormous outpouring of Divine Mercy in our day.

Donna Cori Gibson - Divine Mercy Chaplet - Video - Catholic Online

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Importance of Meditation and Contemplation for Priests

The following is an extract from an Apostolic Exhortation on Priestly Sanctity given by Pope St. Pius X called Haerent Animo. It is a rather long extract but well worth a read.

Despite the high dignity of the various functions of the priestly office and the veneration which they deserve, frequent exercise of these functions may lead those who discharge them to treat them with less respect than is their due. From a gradual decline in fervor it is an easy step to carelessness and even to distaste for the most sacred things. In addition, a priest cannot avoid daily contact with a corrupt society; frequently, in the very exercise of pastoral charity, he must fear the insidious attacks of the infernal serpent. Is it not all too easy even for religious souls to be tarnished by contact with the world? It is evident, therefore, that there is a grave and urgent need for the priest to turn daily to the contemplation of the eternal truths, so that his mind and will may gain new strength to stand firm against every enticement to evil.

Moreover, it is the strict duty of the priest to have a mind for heavenly things, to teach them, to inculcate them; in the regulation of his whole life he must be so much superior to human considerations that whatever he does in the discharge of his sacred office will be done in accordance with God, under the impulse and guidance of faith; it is fitting then that he should possess a certain aptitude to rise above earthly considerations and strive for heavenly things. Nothing is more conducive to the acquisition and strengthening of this disposition of soul, this quasi-natural union with God, than daily meditation; it is unnecessary to dwell upon this truth which every prudent person clearly realizes.

The life of a priest who underestimates the value of meditation, or has lost all taste for it, provides a sad confirmation of what we have been saying. Let your eyes dwell on the spectacle of men in whom the mind of Christ, that supremely precious gift, has grown weak; their thoughts are all on earthly things, they are engaged in vain pursuits, their words are so much unimportant chatter; in the performance of their sacred functions they are careless, cold, perhaps even unworthy. Formerly, these same men, with the oil of priestly ordination still fresh upon them, diligently prepared themselves for the recitation of the Psalms, lest they should be like men who tempt God; they sought a time and place free from disturbance; they endeavored to grasp the divine meaning; in union with the psalmist they poured forth their soul in songs of praise, sorrow and rejoicing. But now, what a change has taken place!

In like manner, little now remains of that lively devotion which they felt towards the divine mysteries. Formerly, how beloved were those tabernacles! It was their delight to be present at the table of the Lord, to invite more and more pious souls to that banquet! Before Mass, what purity, what earnestness in the prayers of a loving heart! How great reverence in the celebration of Mass, with complete observance of the august rites in all their beauty! What sincerity in thanksgiving! And the sweet perfume of Christ was diffused over their people! We beg of you, beloved sons: Call to mind . . . the former days; for then your soul was burning with zeal, being nourished by holy meditation.

Some of those who find recollection of the heart a burden, or entirely neglect it, do not seek to disguise the impoverishment of soul which results from their attitude, but they try to excuse themselves on the pretext that they are completely occupied by the activity of their ministry, to the manifold benefit of others.

They are gravely mistaken. For as they are unaccustomed to converse with God, their words completely lack the inspiration which comes from God when they speak to men about God or inculcate the counsels of the christian life; it is as if the message of the Gospel were practically dead in them. However distinguished for prudence and eloquence, their speech does not echo the voice of the good Shepherd which the sheep hear to their spiritual profit; it is mere sound which goes forth without fruit, and sometimes gives a pernicious example to the disgrace of religion and the scandal of the good.

It is the same in other spheres of their activity; there can be no solid achievement, nothing of lasting benefit, in the absence of the heavenly dew which is brought down in abundance by the prayer of the man who humbles himself.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Recommended Reading (4)

The book I recommend today is a wonderful book written in the form of a retreat on the spirituality of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. It's a book I go back to time and time again and always come away with something new.
The details are as follows:
Author: Jean C.J. D’Elbee,
Title: I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St.Therese of Lisieux
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press, 2001

Sometimes it's good to just praise HIM!

This Video reminds us of the awesome power and goodness of God which can be seen in the things he has created.

And this Video is just another for good measure. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Act of Consecration of Children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Our Lady of Fatima, Mary our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we consecrate ourselves, our youth, our growth in faith and our future.

Mother Mary, keep us close to you and protect us from anything that leads us away from Jesus.

Keep us pure and teach us how to love God above everything.

In this consecration we place ourselves into the care of your Immaculate Heart, so that under your protection and through your intercession we will grow up to be happy holy and healthy young men and women, strong in the faith and with a great love for you and for Jesus.

Blessed Francisco of Fatima, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta of Fatima, pray for us.

Act of Consecration of the Family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady of Fatima, trusting in your motherly goodness and your great concern for Christian families, we come before you and we consecrate our family and every family to your Immaculate Heart.

To you we gladly consecrate our family, our children, our life together in the home, our marriage, our vocation as Catholic spouses and parents. Look kindly upon our home as we ask you today to defend, now and always, our family from everything that is not of God. Ask your Holy Spouse, St. Joseph, to guard our family home, that he may be the guardian and protector of our family as he was the Guardian and Protector of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Dearest Mother Mary, as we consecrate ourselves and our family to your Immaculate Heart we pledge to make greater room for you in our hearts and in our home, especially through the practice of family prayer together – in particular the Holy Rosary. Through this act of consecration we entrust all family to your intercession in the certain knowledge that Jesus our Lord will refuse nothing you ask of him.

Mary, our Mother and our Queen, may your Immaculate Heart triumph and reign in our home and in our hearts so that Jesus may be the true heart of our family and that our home may be filled with his heavenly blessing. Oh Lady of Fatima, obtain from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for our family and for every family that we may faithfully fulfil our Christian duties and that we all may be enriched with the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, Cause of our Joy – Pray for us now and always. Amen.

The Offering of Bread and Wine

Zenit has this scholarly article on the Offertory of the Mass, written by a porfessor of mine, Juan José Silvestre Valór, who teaches in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce) in Rome. Here is just a small quotation from a much longer piece:
"The bread and wine become, in a certain sense, the symbol of all that that the eucharistic assembly as such brings in offering to God and that it offers in spirit. This is the force and the spiritual meaning of the presentation of the gifts. In this light we understand the incensing of the gifts on the altar, of the cross and the altar itself, which signifies the offering of the Church and her prayer, which ascend like incense into the presence of God".
One particular practice that is widespread in the Church in Ireland is an offertory procession (usually during a Requiem Mass for a deceased person) in which anything and everything connected to the person is brought to the altar in procession along with the Bread and Wine - sometimes with, sometimes without a commentary. It's something I strongly disapprove of, though often when I con-celebrate at a funeral it inevitably happens. I've seen lots of different things in my time that have made their way to the altar: curling tongs, toys cars, paintings, reading glasses - and the list goes on...! Never have I seen a bible being brought forward or a Rosary Bead, nor anything that points to the person having lived their faith. Oh for the noble simplicity of the Mass according to the mind of the Church!!!!
But even if these things were acceptable for the offertory procession, they aren't really offered at all - since the family always takes these things back again after the Mass. So they aren;t really offered - more like given on loan and have absolutely nothing to do with the offertory and presentation of the bread and wine.
End of rant!
For an excellent explanation of the elements of bread and wine which are used for the Eucharist this Homily by Pope Benedict XVI on Corpus Christi 2006 is well worth meditating upon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Way of the Cross - 2nd Station

Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Matthew 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Hebrews 12: 2-3
Let us not lose sight of Jesus who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. For the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it.

To those who led him to the cross, it represented an instrument of inhuman torture. But to Jesus it is the key with which he will unlock the gates of paradise. Jesus lovingly embraces this Cross, for with it he will receive the baptism for which he longed to be baptised. Upon it He will be immersed in bitter suffering so that we can be immersed in the mercy of God. It is placed upon his shoulders, the heavy yoke of sin. He who said: ‘Come to me all you who labour and are over-burdened and I will give you rest… my yoke is easy and my burden is light’, now finds himself burdened by the immense weight of the cross. Physically it is a heavy yoke for his already bruised and battered body; spiritually it is an almost impossible burden, and who but the God-man could possibly support its insufferable weight.

Lord Jesus help us to support the daily crosses of all shapes and sizes that you ask us to embrace in our lives. You have shown us the way and, for the love of you and the reward you promise, may we endure it gladly.
Lord often we are reluctant to shoulder the cross, to touch it at all would mean suffering. Accept our meager efforts to accompany you in your passion. Allow us to unite our efforts with your incredible efforts so that like St. Paul we may be able to say: It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the suffering that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church’ (Col 1:24).

The Way of the Cross - 1st Station

As Lent is upon us once again, I've decided to post little reflection on each of the Stations of the Cross over the next few weeks. We begin with the 1st Station

1st Station - Jesus Is Condemned To Death

Mark 15: 12-15
Pilate said to them, "Then what am I to do with the man you call King of the Jews?" They shouted back, “crucify him" Pilate asked them, "What harm has he done?" But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" So Pilate, anxious to placate the crowd, released Barabbas for them and, after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

Acts 13:28
Though they found nothing to justify his execution, they condemned him and asked Pilate to have him put to death.

Even though Pilate asks that question of Jesus: What is truth?, he knows the truth, the truth that Jesus is innocent. And yet out of fear, out of a desire to please the crowd, he finds the truth to be inconvenient and so he condemns the Lord of life to a terrible death. His judgement is unjust; the most unjust judgement ever made and yet the Lord uses that great travesty of justice and from this condemnation will come the acquittal of the every sinner who is willing to lay bear the truth about himself to the Lord’s merciful judgement. God gave his only Son, Jesus Bar Abba, Jesus Son of the Father, so that we who are wayward sons like Barabbas could go free. We do not deserve it, we did not merit it, and it cost the Lord everything. “What proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. (Rom 5:8). We are the convicted offenders, the sinners, we are the ones who deserve to die, but the Lord desires to free us from this sentence. He presents himself as the accused, as the sinner, and he is condemned to death in our place. The Son of God is condemned by man and man is set free by the Son of God.

Lord, you yourself said: “I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”

Lord Jesus may we be always found on the side of truth. May our decisions be just, may they be merciful. Help us to show mercy in all the situations of our life so that we may be shown mercy in our turn. Lord you died to make us sons and daughters of the Father, may we always remain faithful to that high dignity, purchased by your intense suffering, and may we always be thankful for the freedom you purchased for us through your most bitter passion and death.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pornography Part II

As a continuation of a previous article on The Problem of Pornography I present the following:

The folks at Zenit recently had this interesting Article on the psychological effects on men who use pornography and on their marriages.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Now this is funny!!

The folks at Creative Minority Report have this rather amusing post, though the whole thing shows how tacky some church architecture can be(come).

The Cross and the Sins of the World


“I, when I am lifted up will draw all men to myself.”

With three powerful blows the first nail tears through Christ’s flesh and lodges itself in the wood of the Cross. Then follows the second, then the third; each with ruthless efficiency. The executioners couldn’t see that this was a defining moment for mankind – deicide, the murder of God. Had they known the importance of what they were doing at that moment then they would have known that such a moment demanded solemnity, time, ritual and they would have carried out each movement in this tragic turn of events with greater attention, with greater care allowing each atrocious wound the time and space to speak for itself. But they are completely ignorant of all this – they do not know what they are doing. Here is a criminal to be disposed of in the usual way. What they must do they do quickly and in a moment the Saviour of the world is lifted up and the full horror of a world gone mad is displayed for all to see.

The first wave of human sin is passed, but there comes another and yet another in a relentless onslaught crashing on the shores of that Divine Heart. Each wave foams with the sins of every human being of every generation. Every injustice, every lust, every infidelity, every angry word, every violent action, every gun fired, every bomb dropped, every life taken, every conceivable evil that ever was or will be flood his soul. Each presents itself to the eyes of Christ as one huge tsunami following another – a tidal wave of rejection that roars ‘no’ to the Father. Hanging on the cross the sins of the world wash over him, invade him and cause him the most unbearable suffering. He has asked for this, he has desired that it be this way because this is his Father’s will. And as each sin falls upon his head and his grief increases he utters no word of condemnation, no judgement. Silently he bears it all. No sin will every force him to say ‘enough – I will have no more, away with this cross!’

Amid all these thunderous waves there are small waves too. These waves do not crash violently over him, but timidly, humbly exhausting themselves at his feet. These are the waves of the Magdalenes of this world whose sins are not hurled at the Saviour, rather they are laid at the foot of his cross. They may be waves of sin – perhaps waves of the greatest possible sins, but they are waves which foam with repentance. These sins do cause him to suffer but as bitter as they are for him to swallow they leave a sweet taste as he gazes upon another soul saved for the Kingdom. While so many sinners would use their sins to crucify him – these sinners would have them crucified with him.

As he hangs there suspended between heaven and earth all of human sin flows to him. His open arms are an invitation to human wickedness and a sign of his vulnerability. And the sin which has perverted the human heart will flow ferociously out against him. All the depravity which the human heart is capable of will flow into his heart. The river of sin seems endless, how is it possible that one man could embrace it all. But that river of sin flows into the endless ocean of merciful love that has gathered in his Divine Heart. Sin will exhaust itself as it rages against love. The more it raises its voice to scream ‘no’ the more the Saviour will quietly repeat his ‘yes’. And as the fresh water of a river flowing into the sea becomes lost in the salty deeps so the foulness of our most vile sins disappears when it is conquered by infinite love. Our sins fall upon him and his blood falls upon us. The full measure of our sins draws forth the full measure of his life’s-blood. From our wounds flow waves of death and destruction - the foul-smelling rot of sin. From his wounds flow waves of the cleansing blood of the Lamb without blemish, the medicinal water that flows from the tree of life, from the side of the temple which is his body; the sweet-smelling ‘yes’ offered to the Father from a truly human heart – the heart of his Divine Son.

With each breath he takes the aroma of sin and death fill his soul so that the author of life itself, moves ever closer to death. And when the last wave of the last sin ever to be committed breaks upon the shore of his suffering and he breathes deeply the stench of that sin too, he lowers his head in death, breathing out the Holy Spirit over those raging waters. “Quiet now, be still.” “Behold I make all things new.” “It is accomplished.

The Suffering Servant

I adore you profoundly, Lord Jesus,
truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.
I adore you profoundly, Lord Jesus,
truly present in all the tabernacles of the world.

I adore your Most Holy Body, Lord,
which perspired tears of your most Precious Blood for me.
I adore your Divine desire to follow the Father’s will
and I adore your divine courage to follow this through.

Oh Divine and Merciful Master who,
out of love for sinful mankind,
underwent the most bitter and tormenting trial;
agonising in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I adore your Most Gentle and Sacred Heart
which was flooded with an unbearable sadness
when you did yourself exclaim:
“My soul is sorrowful even unto death!”

May you be always and everywhere
praised and blessed, Lord Jesus,
because of the great love and mercy you have shown us.
I adore you, my Jesus, now and forever.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SHROUDed Mystery

I personally tend to think the Shroud of Turin is authentic. Unfortunately I won't be among the millions(?) who will gather in Turin later this year to view it when it goes on public display - something which happens rather infrequently. CNS has the low-down on it.
The Legionaries of Christ in Rome have a wonderful exhibition on the Shroud which is very informative (and quite convincing I'd say). I've seen it a number of times during my time in Rome. It's in their University Building - the name of which escapes me at the moment.

Marmion on Death

This is a little word of advice from Blessed Columba Marmion on how we should treasure each day and end each night with a good examination of conscience. He is speaking to priests, but it can equally apply to everyone:
When evening comes, never lie down to rest without the intimate conviction that you are ready to appear before God.”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Putting on the Mind of Christ

St. Paul places before us some important criteria for what should dictate the direction of our lives and our actions.
“Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise.”

Imagine if we filled our minds, our lives, our home, our world with things which fit that bill. Imagine how much better off we would be. Imagine how much the peace of God would reign in our souls if we were to make a concerted effort to avoid all that is not true, not noble, not good, and downright impure.

But in today’s world that would mean making quite some effort to avoid these things totally. So I ask you – are you up to it. It’s certainly worth the effort – we all want to be at peace with God, we all want to lead the kind of existence that St. Paul places before us. But what are we willing to do to achieve it? Well a good start might be to ask ourselves a few questions:

Will the newspaper I read this day fill my mind with what is good and pure, will it present me with honourable and virtuous things, or will it corrupt my mind and steal my peace? There’s nothing wrong with reading the news, but what about all the stuff that comes with it? The intimate tell-all stories from the life of some star or other, the very impure and almost pornographic portrayal of the great gift of sexuality? Somehow the excuse – I only buy it for the sport – doesn’t seem to justify allowing that kind of thing sit on your coffee table, never mind filling your mind.

Another question: Are the programmes I will watch on Television this day wholesome viewing which promotes Christian values? Once again, will they fill my mind with what is good and pure? Would the values (or lack of them) promoted by these shows be acceptable to Christ? Will I switch off in disgust or will I allow it to fill my mind with what is so obviously not of God?

If the honest answer to these two simple question is that they do more harm than good, then maybe it’s time we bought a more reputable paper or that we changed our viewing patterns.

Thank God: Ireland is Pro-Life

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could. This took place right after the Angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to give birth as a Virgin to the Saviour of the world. It would have taken Mary, at the very least I'd say, a few days to get to Elizabeth’s house and so we can guess that when she arrived there, Jesus was no more than a couple of weeks old, quietly growing in her womb, at a stage of the pregnancy when many women wouldn’t yet know they were pregnant. And – small and all as he was – his presence; the presence of the Lord clothed in flesh, is felt by the six month old baby – John the Baptist - who leaps for joy in the womb of his mother. And Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit recognises as her ‘Lord’, what many in our world would class as a mere bunch of cells.

But this pregnancy and every pregnancy is much more than a bunch of cells – it is a living human being, growing and developing along the great path of life that we all have taken from the first moment of our conception to this day. Science tells us it is human life – that every pregnancy – no matter how conceived – means a human being is present and living.

And if it is a human being, and he or she is a human being, then it stands to reason that he or she has certain human rights which cannot and should not be overlooked – the most important being the right to exist – the right to life itself. As scientific progress advances our knowledge of the mechanics of life, and as the consciences of this generation and those of the future are awakened to the great evil of abortion, how will future generations judge our generation on how we treat human life at its most vulnerable, on how we stand up for the rights of living human beings at this most delicate stage of development. How will those future generations judge our world’s treatment of so many mothers who tragically feel they have to make the decision for abortion? Is that the best solution we have to offer them in difficult situations? A solution which leaves one dead and another seriously wounded on so many different levels. In Ireland, thankfully we haven’t yet completely sold out on our fellow citizens in the womb, although their brothers and sisters stored as excess embryos in labs fare less well.

Up and down this country in every parish, a high percentage of the baptism carried out are of children whose parents are not married. That’s not great news, it’s far from ideal, but I thank God that we live in a country that by and large cherishes the unborn – because in other countries, those same children have less of a chance of making it out of the womb alive, never mind being brought to the baptismal font. We are overwhelmingly a pro-life country and indeed our Catholic faith means that we can be nothing other than pro-life, because to be pro-choice (as benign and well-meaning as that title seems to be) is to be pro-death; pro the death of innocent human beings at their most vulnerable. Long may Ireland hold firm to its convictions and be a beacon of light – a sign of contradiction - to virtually the whole world. And when the world finally comes to its senses with regards to abortion – may history record that Ireland - and very few other places – was a place where that madness, that great evil, could find no inroads.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

News or Views?

Zadok the Roman has an interesting post on the kind of media coverage which the Vatican and the Holy Father receive and how it is very often skewed and with a particular agenda - which unfortunately is often quite strongly anti-Catholic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can I Live

This Music Video could be an anthem of sorts for the pro-life cause. It tells the true story of a mother who changes her mind about abortion at the last minute. The mother in question is the artist's own mother. The video is powerful and a powerful affirmation of the dignity and potential of every life.

Fr. Schnippel over at Called by name tells the tale of a similar case, but with a very different outcome.
We should pray daily for the many women who consider abortion for whatever reason, that the Lord will send them someone to speak his word to them, to change their hearts and minds, and to choose life - no matter what.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is Our Daily Bread?

When I was doing my studies I had one lecturer who insisted that every day we, as a class would pray the Lord’s Prayer in Latin, however the text we used differed slightly from what we were accustomed to in that, rather than speaking of the usual, ‘panem nostrum cotidianum’ (our daily bread) - the version used in the liturgy and in personal prayer when praying the prayer in Latin - we spoke of ‘panem nostrum supersubstantialem’ (more on this term below).
It is important to know that there are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the New Testament: One in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 6:9-13) and the other in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 2-4). Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer has 5 petitions, while Matthew’s account has 7 petitions. In the liturgy it is essentially Matthew’s version, as it appears in the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century, and used as the authorized version of the Roman Catholic Church), that is used. However, in the petition regarding the daily bread, the version used in Latin is that from the Vulgate translation of Luke which speaks of ‘panem… cotidianum’, rather than Matthew’s version which speaks of 'panem... supersubstantialem’.

Looking at the Greek text, however, we see that the word describing the bread in both gospels is the same: 'epiousion'. Nowhere else in Ancient Greek literature do we have this term, so there was much debate as to the exact meaning. The Fathers of the Church gave many interpretations, but seem almost unanimous that the bread referred to in the Lord’s Prayer is not solely the bread for bodily existence, but the heavenly bread of the Eucharist. St. Augustine added a third interpretation: that the bread was the Word of God as it is heard and lived daily by the faithful.

We must take all three meanings conjointly; that is to say, that we are to ask for all at once as daily bread, both the bread necessary for the body, and the visible hallowed bread, and the invisible bread of the word of God.” St. Augustine, On the Sermon on the Mount.

Pope Benedict XVI has the following to say on this petition:

"Today there are two principal interpretations. One maintains that the word means “what is necessary for existence”. On this reading, the petition would run as follows: Give us today the bread that we need in order to live. The other interpretation maintains that the correct translation is “bread for the future”, for the following day. But the petition to receive tomorrow’s bread today does not seem to make sense when looked at in the light of the disciple’s existence. The reference to the future would make more sense if the object of the petition were the bread that really does belong to the future: the true manna of God. In that case, it would be an eschatological petition, the petition for an anticipation of the world to come, asking the Lord to give already “today” the future bread, the bread of the new world — Himself. On such a reading, the petition would acquire an eschatological meaning. Some ancient translations hint in this direction. An example is Saint Jerome’s Vulgate, which translates the mysterious word epiousios as supersubstantialis (i.e., super-substantial), thereby pointing to the new, higher “substance” that the Lord gives us in the Holy Sacrament as the true bread of our life."
Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, pg.154

The different translations of this same word, epiousion, show that the Church would not confine itself to one single understanding of the multiple meanings which this phrase could have. The fact that the liturgy felt free to borrow the text of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew’s version while using the translation of epiousion, as found in the Vulgate version of Luke’s account, shows that the Church and her liturgy, while listening to, serving and drawing upon the scriptures, also has the responsibility and power to present those scriptures to the faithful in a way that she feels is better suited to them.
However, in choosing the term ‘daily’ for the Lord’s Prayer the Church does not mean to exclude the other deeper meanings connoted in this term, and a sound catechesis is needed to ensure that this is understood by the faithful. The Catechism does just this, and explains the multiple senses of the term (CCC 2828 -2837). The fact that the Lord’s prayer is prayed at the moment in the Mass immediately prior to the distribution of the Eucharist should reinforce the eschatological or other-worldly dimension of those words regarding our daily or super-substantial bread. We pray that the Father may grant us now a foretaste of that heavenly banquet to which we are called in Christ. And his response is to feed us with the body and blood of his Son.

"In the Eucharistic liturgy the Lord's Prayer appears as the prayer of the whole Church and there reveals its full meaning and efficacy. Placed between the anaphora (the Eucharistic prayer) and the communion, the Lord's Prayer sums up on the one hand all the petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the epiclesis and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates." CCC2770