O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Today I Have Seen the Sun of Love

Feast of the Nativity of the Lord - I Class with II Class Octave

Today the Newborn Nymphios appears. The Love of God appears compressed down in a Human Body, lying in a manger. He who wears the crown of thorns to atone for the sins of His Bride is born today. He who offers the sacrifice of obedience to the Father to purify His Bride and elevate Her to the dignity for which She was created by God appears today. All of Heaven exults in the victory over the life of sin Satan has built up in this world.





Troparion:
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, / hath shone forth the light of wisdom upon the world; / for therein those who worship the stars / have been taught by a star / to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, / and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. // O Lord, glory be to Thee!

Kontakion:
Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Trancendent One, / and the earth offereth a cave to the Unapproachable One. / Angels with shepherds give glory, / the magi journey with a star, // for our sakes, a young Child is born, Who is Pre-eternal God!

EDIT: In my hurry to get to Church this morning, I forgot to add the following antiphons:

Magnificat antiphon from 1st Vespers of the Nativity:
When the sun shall have risen * from heaven, ye shall see the King of kings proceeding from the Father, as a bridegroom from his chamber.

From the Divine Liturgy, right after Communion:
We have seen the True Light. We have received the Heavenly Spirit. We have found the True Faith. We worship the Undivided Trinity for having saved us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

King of Love

O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.
Today's Major Antiphon reminds me of marriage. What initially caught my eye is the line "lapisque angularis qui facis utraque unum" "the cornerstone that makes both one". I know that this is primarily about Christ the King joining all peoples as one Church, but it still reminds me of marriage. When marriage is being lived properly (as a sacrament) the love between man and wife is not natural. It is supernatural. It is not any human emotion that is between them, but the Love of God, joining them together. God' love is a desire to sacrifice yourself completely to get the beloved to the dignity for which she was created by God. It is the love with which Christ the Nymphios (Bridegroom) loves His Bride the Church. He sacrificed everything of Himself for Her sake. He gave everything of Himself to Her, even His very Body, which She receives in the Eucharist. The pious hymn rightly calls the Nymphios the "King of Love on Calvary".

The Sacrament of Matrimony is based on this union, where bride and bridegroom sacrifice themselves completely and give themselves to each other completely to get each other to the dignity for which they were created by God. Bridegroom gives himself to bride and bride gives herself to bridegroom in the Love of God, which is the foundation on which their entire life is built. God is the cornerstone that makes both one.

So then, God is the King of Love that rules over marriage and all relationships. However, most couples refuse to let the He Who is the Only Source of True Love rule over their relationships. The immediate and natural result of this is to sin. Upon seeing that they destroyed their lives by seeking physical and emotional pleasures instead of His Love, they seek after Him. He becomes "their desired One" and they beg Him to "come, and deliver man". We conclude with the image of God creating man "out of the dust of the earth", where-after God blessed man and his bride and bid them be fruitful and multiply.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Burn!


We are in the days of the Major Antiphons of Advent (the "O Antiphons"). Brief paraphrases of the antiphons were assembled as the hymn "Veni Veni Emmanuel" in the middle ages. The message is clear: the Burning Sun of Love is coming from the East to purge us of our sins and dispel the darkness in which we have been living our entire lives. He is coming and is already on His way to restore the life we had in His Love, long since destroyed by sin.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sodom & Gommorah's Ashes Finally Found...over 3,000 Years Later

Sodom and Gomorrah Excavated

By far the most interesting session at the recent Society of Biblical Literature Congress in San Francisco was one I wandered into by chance. I am always curious about what is going on in biblical archeology, so one afternoon I decided to skip the dozen or so sessions dedicated to Bakhtinian Decontextualization of Identity Construction in Persian Yehud (I had to tear myself away) and go hear about the excavations at a certain site called “Tall-el-Hammam.” I had no idea what I was in for. After about five minutes into the session, I realized that the archeological team assigned to this dig was convinced that they had found the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. After another half-hour, it seemed they had most of the participants convinced as well. The sites fit the geographical and temporal context into which Sodom and Gomorrah are placed in the biblical texts. The cities at the site were suddenly and completely wiped out in the Late Bronze Age, which makes a reasonably good fit with the biblical accounts of Abraham and Lot. The entire presentation was very convincing, but never once did they deal with the “elephant in the room”: what caused the sites to be suddenly abandoned? As soon as the session was over, I was the first to raise my hand. “Did you find any arrow heads? Signs of invasion? What happened to them?” The lead archeologist paused for a moment. “I didn’t want to go there,” he said. Another pause. “I’m preparing material for publication.” Pause. “All I want to say ‘on camera’ is, they appear to have been wiped out in a ‘heat event’.

A “heat event”!? What?!

“If you want to know more, I’ll talk after the session off the record.”

I wish I could divulge what he said to a small group of us clustered around the podium after the session was over, but it would break confidence. We’ll have to wait for the official peer-reviewed publications.
Biblical "scholars" pride themselves on questioning the authenticity of every passage in the Bible. It is a process that requires a real lack of faith. For all the pseudo-history that they make up, God responds by showing that the events in the Bible really did happen the way the bible says they did.
From the Book of Genesis (19:24-28):
And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth. And his wife looking behind her, was turned into a statue of salt. And Abraham got up early in the morning and in the place where he had stood before with the Lord, He looked towards Sodom and Gomorrha, and the whole land of that country: and he saw the ashes rise up from the earth as the smoke of a furnace.
V. And do Thou O Lord have mercy on us.
R. Thanks be to God.
If your wondering just what "brimstone" is, it's solid sulfur. We normally think of sulfur in its gaseous state. When it is solid, it is an actual rock. That rock is called brimstone. Various places around the dead sea are full of it. You can literally pick it up off the ground, set it on fire, and it will hold a flame.

If you back up in Genesis a bit, it is revealed that the twin cities were destroyed for sodomy. Homosexuality was so rampant there that it came to be named after on of the cities. Together with shedding innocent blood and defrauding workers of their wages, the sin of Sodom is one of the three sins crying out to Heaven for vengeance. God literally wiped Sodom and Gomorrah off the map for this sin. Only now has the remains of the two cities been found and their location re-discovered-over 3,000 years later. That's one offended Lord.

According to the findings, the cities are northeast of the Dead Sea. That squashes theories that they were on the plain south of the Dead Sea and that a certain famous pillar of salt shaped like a woman was Lot's wife. No one believed the story of that pillar anyway; it's far bigger than life-size.

This reminds me of the finding of the Red Sea crossing site. The Bible says that the Israelites crosses the Red Sea with the sea forming two sheer walls of water on either side-just like in the movies. "Scholars" came up with every half-baked nonsensical theory to dis-prove this, from saying that they crossed the Reed Sea and that "Red" was a mis-translation, to saying a tidal wave occurred causing the recession of the water before the wave killed the Egyptians, to claiming they crossed a shallow point at low tide. Then scientists found human and horse remains at the bottom of the Red Sea in a place far from where people had supposed in the past, with a large encampment off-shore. The Biblical account is litterally true, but people mis-located Mt. Sinai. It has been supposed that the Holy Mountain was on the Sinai Peninsula and that the Isrealites crossed the northwest branch of the Red Sea. Turns out that they crossed the northeast branch out of the Sinai Peninsula and into the Arabian peninsula, which is where St. Paul claims the Holy Mountain is located. Oops.

It's amazing how much sound science supports the Bible, whereas the Bible's critics need to resort to psuedo-science and outright speculation to support their claims.

The All-Consuming Obsession of Love

From In Sinu Iesu, via Vultus Christi:
"How it grieves my Heart when the unique love I offer a soul is spurned, or ignored, or regarded with indifference. I tell you this so that you may make reparation to my Heart by accepting the love I have for you and by living in my friendship. Receive my gifts, my kindnesses, my attention, my mercies for the sake of those who refuse what I so desire to give them."
The Nymphios is so hurt by seeing and knowing that His Bride, the Church, is living a life of sin, degrading Herself and wasting Her life on empty pleasures and sinful passions. He sacrifices His entire self to take care of Her and bring Her to the dignity for which She was created by God. He gives His whole Self, His entire life, even His very Body to His Bride, but He is left waiting alone at the altar next to the priest, because His beloved hasn't been to Mass in ages. She used to practice, but has become fallen-away. "I am become a stranger to my brethren, and an alien to the sons of my mother. For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." (Ps 68:9-10) He, in His infinite and all-consuming Love, will never abandon Her. That is why He was born, that is why He became Man, was to get Her to Heaven. He will not deny Who He is. But how does the world respond? By hating Him because He gets in the way of people's passions, which they regard as "rights" and "life choices". They call His Gospel "hate speech", "narrow-minded", and "stuck in the past". "They that sat in the gate spoke against me: and they that drank wine made me their song." (Ps 68:13) Evil lies and calls Him evil in a delusional attempt to defend itself.

He is waiting and watching from inside the tabernacle and says, "For I look out of the window of my house through the lattice, And I see little ones, I behold a foolish young man, Who passeth through the street by the corner, and goeth nigh the way of her house." (Prov. 7:6-8) The Nymphios sees His Bride wasting all her time and energy on a life without Him. Even when She does show up on Sunday, She spends the other six days of the week on everything but Him. This leaves Him grievously wounded, a lance in His side, piercing His Heart and the pain just won't end.

There is only one thing that can satisfy Him: Her. "For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Ps 50:18-19) All He wants is companionship, living their lives together, giving everything of Himself to get Her to Heaven. That is why He was born in Bethlehem, to get the souls He loves with an all-consuming love to Heaven. He wants companionship throughout our lives, changing our entire lifestyles, elevating us to the dignity for which we were created by God. He wants us to love Him with the Love with which He loves us. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important, as that is when He is able to be with Her intimately. He sacrifices Himself for Her, giving everything to Her, even His very Body, and demands that She offer Herself to Him the same way in return. We must give ourselves to Him. The only thing that can satisfy Him is our sacrifice of ourselves to Him.

Icon of the Nymphios (Bridegroom)

Monday, December 12, 2011

If Only Sinners Would Say This:


Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe - III Class

Some flowers I picked from today's Office:

Matins
1st Responsory:
R. I have seen her as beautiful as a dove, rising up over streams of water: The fragrance of her clothes was immeasurable: * As the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and as lilies by the rivers of waters, so did they cluster round about her.
V. Who is this, who ascends over the wilderness as pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
R. As the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and as lilies by the rivers.

from the 2nd Lesson:
I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. (Sir. 24:24-28)

2nd Responsory:
R. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, clear as the sun, fair as the moon, comely as Jerusalem?
* The daughters of Sion saw her and blest her; the queens also, and they did praise her.
V. As the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and as lilies by the rivers of waters, so did they cluster round about her.
R. The daughters of Sion saw her and blest her; the queens also, and they did praise her.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The daughters of Sion saw her and blest her; the queens also, and they did praise her.

3rd Responsory:

Vespers
Chapter:
Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

Hymn:

V. He hath not done in like manner to every nation.
R. And his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.

Magnificat antiphon:
Lift up thine eyes * round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise from thy side.

Finally, possibly my most favorite piece of music, Tomas Luis de Victoria's Nigra Sum:


I am black but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem.
Therefore the King hath loved me and led me into his chamber
and said to me: Arise, my friend, and come.
Now winter has passed, the rain has gone.
Flowers have appreared in our land,
The time of pruning has come.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Rejoice for Our Bridegroom Cometh

III Sunday of Advent - I Class

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing by prayer let your petitions be made known to God. (Ps) Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Glory to the Father. Rejoice in the Lord always.
We are joyful because we know that the Lord is coming to separate us from our sins and join us to Himself in the joy that is so great only He can give it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thou Art All Fair O Mary


Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - I Class

In the Eastern Rites, this feast is called the Feast of the Maternity of St. Anne, which I think is a better name because it keeps people from asking stupid questions about why we celebrate the conception of Christ only two and a half weeks before He was born. Anyway, here is the timeless antiphon in honor of the Immaculate Conception:





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Convert the Fallen!

Feast of St. Ambrose, confessor-bishop, III Class

St. Ambrose is famous for, among other things, converting St. Augustine. Let us pray that St. Ambrose will intercede for us and bring back fallen-away Catholics living St. Augustine's former lifestyle. Then we will be able to sing the famous hymn St. Ambrose composed:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Begging for Mercy

The Vespers hymn for Advent. The words serve as nice food for thought as to exactly what it is we are doing during Advent:


English (my translation):
Nourishing Creator of the stars
Eternal Light of believers,
Jesus, Redeemer of all,
hear the prayers of supplicants.

So that demonic deceits wouldn't
destroy the world, on the impulse
of an act of love, Thou became the
medicine of a languishing world.

To expiate the common sin
of the world, Thou went forth
from the intact tabernacle of
the Virgin as a victim to the cross.

Thou Whose powers, glory, and
Name sound from the beginning,
and Heavenly ones and infernal
ones trembling bend the knee.

We beseech Thee Great Judge
of the last day, defend us
from enemies with the
weapons of celestial grace.

Strength, honor, praise, glory be
to God the Father with the Son,
likewise the Holy Advocate,
through the ages of ages.
Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Bishop Who Was Ordered to Do His Job by a Whore Who Became a Nun

St. Nonnus praying to God for St. Pelagia's conversion

Commemoration of St. Nonnus of Edessa, confessor-bishop, IV Class

St. Nonnus is the bishop famous for converting the harlot St. Pelagia of Antioch. He was a monk in the 5th century who was made bishop of Heliopolis and later Edessa. He attended the council of Chalcedon. The story of St. Pelagia is related by Deacon James of Heliopolis. While Bishop of Heliopolis, St. Nonnus went with his deacon to Antioch for a synod with the Archbishop of Antioch and six other bishops. While there, St. Nonnus was asked to preach on the steps of the church one day after Divine Liturgy. Just then, Pelagia, the most notorious prostitute in Antioch, passed by with a crowd of foolish young men. The seven other bishops averted their gaze as to not be tempted by her appearance, but St. Nonnus stared intently at her, weeping that such great beauty was being wasted on such great sin and that she cares for her body even more than he cares for his soul. He spent that night in tears praying for her conversion saying, "O Lord, suffer not the work of Thy hands to perish, and permit not such beauty to remain in subjection to the demons. But do Thou turn her to Thyself, that Thy holy name may be glorified in her, for all things are possible for Thee.". During the course of this night, he had a vision that he was at the altar during the Divine Liturgy. A black dove flew in, circled his head, and smelled so foul that he could not abide the stench. When the deacon cried out "Catechumens depart", the dove left. After Divine Liturgy, the dove returned, still filthy, and St. Nonnus plunged it into the baptismal font. The dove emerged pure white and flew away.

The next morning, a Sunday, after Divine Liturgy, St. Nonnus was again asked to preach. St. Pelagia again happened by and was moved to tears by his sermon. She wrote with her own hand, "To Christ’s holy disciple from the devil’s disciple, a sinful woman. I have heard that your God has bowed the heavens and come down to earth, not to save the righteous but sinners. Such was His humility, that He ate with publicans, and He upon Whom the cherubim dare not gaze lived among sinners and spoke with harlots. Therefore, my lord, since you are a true servant of Christ (as I hear from the Christians), do not spurn me who with your help seek to draw near the Saviour of the world and to behold His most holy countenance." St. Nonnus arranged for a meeting in the presence of the other bishops. Upon meeting the 8 bishops, St. Pelagia flung herself at the feet of St. Nonnus, washing his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair, in the manner of the Magdalene. She begged to be baptized. St. Nonnus demanded a promise that she would not fall back into her former life as a condition for baptism. She replied, "You shall answer to God for my soul if you do not baptize me this day. God shall require my soul out of your hand and charge you with my wicked deeds. If you deny me Baptism, you shall give account for my impure and vile life. If you do not make me a stranger to my evil works, may your God reject you and may you become a worshipper of idols. If you do not make me today a bride of Christ and lead me to your God, may you have no portion with Him and with His saints." If only bishops were held accountable like that today...

She was (quickly) baptized, confirmed with chrism, and given Holy Communion. For the customary eight days she wore the baptismal garment, during which the devil appeared to her day and night, heartbroken that she had converted, begging her to return to her life of sin. Again and again she cast him away by making the sign of the cross on herself. She gathered all her riches and had them given to the poor. After the taking off of the white baptismal garment, she put on a hair shirt and went off to Jerusalem where she lived as a hermit, disguised as a man, on the Mount of Olives. St. Pelagia lived there three years in strict penance in a cell that had no door. She was able to meet visitors through a small window and became known as a wonder-worker. She was found dead in her cell by the same Deacon James and only after a wall was broken open to retrieve her body for burial was it discovered that she was a woman. She was buried honorably by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and many clergy before a immense crowd and praised for her virtue.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent: The Lord Cometh to Fix What We Breaketh

The Divine Office is full of reminders that the Lord is coming to restore the life that we destroyed through sin and empty pleasures. The life with which the Lord shall come is a life of joy that shall last forever. The life we have been living in so far is a life of passing pleasures that the world around us offers. Since that pleasure is passing, it leads only to death and destruction. Christ alone can survive death so only life with Him can last forever.

Three of the antiphons during the 1st Week of Advent:

"In that day * the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey. Alleluia."

"Behold, the Lord shall come, * and all His saints with Him; and it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall be great. Alleluia."-This one reminds me of a passage in Isaias: "And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days: in the day when the Lord shall bind up the wound of his people, and shall heal the stroke of their wound." (Is 30:26)

"Behold, a great Prophet * shall arise, and He shall build up a new Jerusalem. Alleluia."

From a responsory today at Matins
"His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."

These are all little encouragements along the way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That Feeling You Get When You Realize You're in a Mess You Can't Get Out Of.



We have many troubles afflicting us that are the result of our sins and the sins of those around us. During Advent, we ask God to come and restore what sin destroyed. In reply, He calls us to reject our sins and return to Him. We have hope that He will come and restore the paradise that our sins and passions destroyed.
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: * and he will save the humble of spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the just; * but out of them all will the Lord deliver them.
The Lord keepeth all their bones, * not one of them shall be broken.
The death of the wicked is very evil: * and they that hate the just shall be guilty." Ps 33:19-22

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why We Have Advent

During Advent we pray that the Lord will come and restore the life that sin destroyed. We are in a mess; a mess created by our own sins and the sins of those around us. Whenever we try to right all the wrongs, we are met with relentless resistance on the part of those who support the sin. This is why the Church gives us penitential seasons-to support us and help us remove the passions and pleasures from our lives and replace them with the life so great only God can give it.
"For I will declare my iniquity: * and I will think for my sin.
But my enemies live, and are stronger that I: * and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
They that render evil for good, have detracted me, * because I followed goodness.
Forsake me not, O Lord my God: * do not thou depart from me.
Attend unto my help, * O Lord, the God of my salvation."-Ps 37:20-23
No matter how much our enemies overwhelm us, always God can and will defeat them:
"And the enemies of the Lord, presently after they shall be honoured and exalted, * shall come to nothing and vanish like smoke."-Ps 36:20
Life is not about making yourself or others happy, it's about attaining the dignity for which you were created by God; both on the part of yourself and helping others reach the same. If you live like this, those who support empty and passing pleasures will attack you relentlessly. The only way to survive is to beg the Lord to come down and restore the life that sin destroys.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bring the Rain!

I Sunday of Advent - I Class


This is possibly my favorite chant. The Latin is in the video and here's the English:
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

Be not angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity : behold the city of thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert. Jerusalem is desolate, the house of our holiness and of thy glory, where our fathers praised thee.

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

We have sinned, and we are become as one unclean, and we have all fallen as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast crushed us by the hand of our iniquity.

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

See, O Lord, the affliction of thy people, and send him whom thou hast promised to send. Send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, from the rock of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion, that he himself may take off the yoke of our captivity.

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

Be comforted, be comforted, my people; thy salvation shall speedily come. Why wilt thou waste away in sadness? why hath sorrow seized thee? I will save thee; fear not: for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
Whenever life's problems get to be overwhelming, the Church has a way of giving you a penitential season just when you need it. By committing sin, we have degraded ourselves and destroyed the life God was trying to give us. We traded the love so great that only God can give it for passing pleasure, just because it felt good. We are like Esau who traded his entire inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup. Now we need Christ to come down and re-establish His Paradise after sin destroyed it. That's the entire focus of Advent: we destroyed our lives through sin and need Christ to come and fix it.

Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant justum!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Abbot and The Corpse

Feast of St. Sylvester, abbot - III Class

At the funeral of a nobleman, St. Sylvester remarked, "Ego, inquit, sum, quod hic fuit; quod hic est, ego ero." I am what this man was; what he is, I shall be. Let us repent now and make things right with God.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Felix Die Gratiae Agere

Gratias agimus tibi Domine pro omnibus beneficiis tuis.
We give you thanks O Lord for all your blessings.



Tomas Luis de Victoria's Te Deum (He's one of my favorite composers):



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Te Deum:



Marc Antoine Charpentier's Te Deum:



Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Most Painful Path is the Most Joyful

XIV and Last Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Col. 1:9-14 [Perseverance in suffering leads to glory.]
Gospel: Mt. 24:13-25 [Warning of the End Times]
Latin-English Propers

Today's Liturgy is filled with warnings that this life that we live in is filled with suffering. It is more than a "heads up" about suffering, because to say that this life is filled with suffering is a statement of the obvious. It is an admonition that the suffering we have now is something to be endured as the price of admission to the joy to come later. Now, we are weak and filled with passions and desires; we can never truly please God. Only Christ is strong enough and pure enough to pay the price of admission to the joy so great that only God can give it. Christ died, offering Himself as the sacrifice to open the door.

If we wish to enter into the joy of the Master, then the only way to do it is to join ourselves to Christ. We join ourselves to His death, that we might share in His Resurrection, as Blessed Paul admonishes the Romans. In today's Epistle, he admonishes the Colossians to bear the long sufferings of the present time with patience, because it is in resigning themselves to the Divine Providence through the bad times that leads to the good times. The more we resign ourselves to God through bad times, the more we open the door to let God give us good times when He so chooses. We need to let God be in charge and do it His way, as the life that God gives is far greater than any life we could ever do ourselves.

The only way to attain the greatest joy is to join ourselves to the Love of God, imitating Christ, who submitted Himself to the greatest torments, going silently as a sheep to the slaughter, so that God could use Him to sanctify His sinful Bride, the Church. He willingly and without any hesitation or complaint underwent the greatest tortures, because the joy of seeing His Bride living a holy life is so great, that the greatest suffering is an easy price to pay for it. Likewise, we resign ourselves to the most unpleasant tortures that God can give us without squirming or complaining, because first it is the only way to attain the joy so great that only God can give it and further, that joy is so great that it is worth all the suffering.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The East and West are One

Feast of St. Josaphat, martyr & bishop, III Class

There is no reason for the East and West to fight each other. The Latin and Greek Churches are the same religion. It is not like relations between Catholics and Protestants, who are two separate religions, with different origins and different belief systems. St. Josaphat was martyred by members of the Orthodox Churches for working towards union with Rome. This happened in the 17th century when many Greek Churches were returning to full communion with Rome. St. Josaphat's blood waters the union between East and West and it is because of people like him that we the unity we see today. Here is his bio:

"Josaphat Kuncewitz was born of noble Catholic parents at Vladimir in Volhynia. Once as a child, as he listed to his mother tell the story of the Passion, a dart came forth from the side of Christ on the crucifix and wounded the boy in the heart. Set on fire with love of God, he devoted himself to prayer and works of charity with such zeal that he became the admiration and the model for youths far older than he. When Josaphat was twenty years old he was professed among the cloistered followers of the monastic rule of Saint Basil. Almost at once he made remarkable progress in evangelical perfection. He went barefoot, even in the severe winters of that country. He never ate meat, and drank wine only when obliged to do so under obedience. He disciplined his body by wearing rough hair-shirts until the day of his death. He kept unspotted the flower of chastity which in his youth he had dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God. He became so celebrated for virtue and learning that despite his youth he was made superior of the monastery at Byten, and the Archimandrite of Vilnius. Finally much against his will, but to the very great joy of the Catholic people, he was made Archbishop of Polotsk.

"In the years following the promotion to this dignity, Josaphat did not relax in any way his austere mode of living. Nothing was so close to his heart as service to God and the salvation of the flock entrusted to his care. He was a vigorous champion of Catholic unity and truth. He laboured to the utmost of his ability to win back schismatics and heretics to unity with the See of blessed Peter. Both by preaching and writing he defended the Supreme Pontiff and the doctrine of the Pope's plenitude of power. He directed these works, full of piety and learning against most shameful calumnies and the errors of wicked men. Josaphat vindicated episcopal rights and restored ecclesiastical propterty seized by laymen. He won back an incredible number of heretics to the bosom of holy Mother Church. How successfully he laboured to re-establish communion between the Greek and Latin Churches is told in Papal commendations. He gladly spent the revenues set aside for his maintenance to rebuild God's house, to erect convents for consecrated virgins, and to carry on other charitable works. So generous was Josaphat towards the poor that in one instance when he did not have money enough to supply the needs of a certain widow, he pawned his omophorion, that is, his episcopal pallium.

"The great progress made by the Catholic faith so stirred up the anger of certain of its wicked enemies that they conspired to murder this athlete of Christ. In a sermon he foretold to his people what was about to happen. As he was setting out for Vitebsk on a pastoral visit, these enemies broke into the episcopal palace, attacking and wounding every one they found. Undaunted, this most kindly man hurried out to the assassins of his own free will and addressed them mildly. My little children, he said, why do ye strike my servants? If ye have any complaint against me, I am here. Thereupon they rushed at him, overwhelmed him with blows and pierced him through with spears. Finally they slew him a stroke of a great axe and threw his body into the river. This happened on November 12th, 1632, when he was forty-three years old. Later his body, surrounded by a marvellous light, was raised from the deepest part of the river. The blood of this Martyr benefited first of all those murderers of their spiritual father. Sentenced to die for their crime, almost all abjured their schism and repented of their crime. Because this wonderful high priest became famous after his death for many miracles, the Supreme Pontiff, Urban VIII, honoured him with the title Blessed. On the 29th of June, 1867, during the solemn observance of the centenaries of the Princes of the Apostles, in the presence of the college of cardinals, of about five hundred others, patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops of every rite from all parts of the world, assembled in the Vatican basilica, with all solemn ceremonies, Pius IX canonized the first eastern Christian to uphold the unity of the Church. The Supreme Pontiff, Leo XIII, extended his Mass and Office to the universal Church."

h/t to Ars Orandi

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christ Unites What Sin Divides

XXII Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Phil. 1:6-11 ["He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it"]
Gospel: Mt. 22:15-21 [Paying Taxes to Caesar]
Latin-English Propers

Many times people wonder why us faithful Catholics get so stressed out over sin. Sin degrades human beings. Original sin weakens and degrades human beings as a race. Personal sin weakens and degrades us individually. Sin, while giving us passing happiness, separates us from God, Who alone can give us lasting joy. Only Christ can survive death, so to survive our own eventual and inevitable deaths, we must be joined to Him. So not only is the happiness that sin offers passing, but it separates us from God, so when we die, it's forever. Thus we cry out in today's Introit, "If Thou shalt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?" Not only does sin separate us from God, but in our quest for it's happiness, we will take advantage of those around us and degrade them to objects of our own pleasure. The value of a person is measured on their ability and willingness to make you happy. Those who give you the physical or emotional pleasure you seek are seen as good and those who refuse to support your passing, sinful pleasure are seen as evil. Sin only divides and seeks to gain. It divides us from God and pushes us to use each other for our own pleasure.

Love is the extreme opposite. Love only unites and seeks to give. Love sees that sin degrades the person from the dignity for which God created them. Love is a grace from God that pushes you to give yourself completely for the good of another, that they might attain the dignity for which God created them. When you love someone, you don't care if you reach some sort of happy life, you only care if the person attains the dignity for which God created them. In today's Epistle, St. Paul pours forth with this love for his spiritual children. This is how God wants us to live, helping each other attain the dignity for which God created us, both in this life and the next. This only unites. This only elevates the dignity of all those involved in the love. This only gives for the good of the other. You don't care about your own happiness, but only the Divinely created dignity of the other. You don't feel like you have a right to anything or are entitled to anything, you only care about the Divinely-created dignity of the other.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go Get the Door, It's God

I was going to post this yesterday for the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Cathedral, but I ended up with too much to talk about. Yesterday's Gospel was that of Zacheus. In the same way that Our Blessed Lord wanted to stay with Zacheus to sanctify him, his family, and his home, so too the same He wants to stay with us to sanctify us, our families, and our homes. Like Zacheus, our homes become filled with sin and worldly pursuits and Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, wishes to enter to mold our families into the image of His love. The home is a reflection in miniature of the Church, just as the Sacrament of Matrimony is a a reflection in miniature of the union between Christ and the Church.

Husband and wife sacrifice themselves completely for the sake of each other. They give everything they have and everything they are, even their very bodies, to take care of each other and get each other to the dignity for which they were created by God. God uses this self-giving love as the environment to create new life. However, that is not the end of it. This new life needs to be nurtured and raised. The children remain the responsibility of the parents until such time that God calls the children to go do something else. At that time, they stop being the parents' responsibility and pass to whomever they pass. If He calls the children to be married, they become the responsibility of their spouses instead of their parents ("For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh."-Mt 19:5). If God calls them to enter a monastery, they become the responsibility of the superior. A man called to be a priest becomes the responsibility of his bishop. The child might grow up and remain a single layman who is simply his own responsibility instead of the responsibility of his parents. EDIT: I should mention that Divine love desires that the children grow up, go away to whatever place God calls them, and attain the dignity for which God created them. Human emotion contradicts love by desiring that the children never grow up, never attain anyone's dignity, never make any progress in any direction, and just remain frozen in time. He who operates on human emotion only cares about how he feels and his own happiness. He who operates on love cares only about the dignity and well-being of the other regardless of cost to self. 

However, while they are growing up, the children are always the responsibility of the parents. The parental vocation is quite simple: take these children that God produced for you from you mutual self-offering and turn them into saints; teach them how to lead holy, God-fearing lives. Any parent who reads that sentence will simply laugh. The problem is, if you want to turn anyone into a saint, you need the patience of a saint yourself. I hear the laughter getting louder. All this is just a reflection in miniature of what Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ, does with Her children. All the children that the Good Lord gives Her, She raises to become saints...or tries to anyway. That's Her vocation. So likewise, the same way that the Church building is designed to accomplish that end by having everything in it point towards God and away from the world, the family home is to be designed in such a way that it is filled with "holy reminders" of the faith, pointing those who dwell therein towards God and away from the world. Any home, if it wishes to be good, will let Christ rule over it, to polish it and mold it into the image of the loving union of He and His Bride and the children of Holy Mother Church.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When Your Sins Are Too Big...

XXI Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Eph. 5:15-21 ["Put on the Armor of God"]
Gospel: Jn. 4:46-53 [Parable of the Unforgiving Servant]
Full Latin-English propers here.

The book of Genesis calls the serpent the most shrewd of God's creation. An expert deceiver, he will play off of everything God does and everything that exists to distort the truth and mislead us. He hates us just because he hates God, so he hates all that God loves. The devil will never tell an outright lie, because then no one would believe it. It is always mixed with truth in order to make it more believable. It is always a distortion of truth. He is the most shrewd of all creatures and the epitome of all evil and vice.

One thing the devil especially hates is the Mercy of God, because by it he looses the souls that serve him by committing sins. When we realize that we have lived our whole lives in sin, unfaithful to what God told us to do, the devil will lie and say that we can never be forgiven. He will say that sure, sins can be forgiven, but that our sin, regardless of what it is, is always too large to be forgiven. It can never be completely eliminated. We can get rid of parts of it, but can never remove all of it. He says that this is how we have set up our lives. Our lives has been spent on sin to the point that to be forgiven, we would have to change so much of our lives. The devil says that no one could ever expect our lives to change that much without being crazy, could they? He says that our lives have already been lived and were spent completely on this sin. There is no way of getting that part of our lives back. The devil says that the only way to remove the sin completely would be to go back in time and prevent the sin from being committed, but that there is no way to go back and try again. We are stuck with our past and can't get rid of it or change it. We only live once and what we have done is permanent. If you wasted your life on sin, there is no going back and trying again. If your sin had been small, it would be possible, but your sin is too large to be forgiven.

The thing is, the devil always says that regardless of how big your sin was. It is always too big, and the only forgivable sins are always smaller than whatever you did. It is always the same lie, regardless of the size of the sin. It is always a lie, regardless of the size of the sin. He says that no one can expect us to change everything about our lives, but that's because he doesn't want us to change at all. God wants us to change our lives completely to serve Him. The devil counters with a lie that those who want us to change only want a personal gain. These attacks from the devil and relentless. He is literally merciless. The only way we can survive the devil's lies that he puts in our heads is to put on the armor of God as St. Paul tells us today that we "may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect."

The most vital part of this armor is trust in God's mercy. In the end, God will expose the truth. All will be revealed on the last day. The virtuous will go to Heaven and the sinner will go to Hell. All will be made clear. It will be revealed what was God's will for us all along. It will be revealed what God wanted from us as a whole and from us individually. What we believe by faith now, we shall see face to face then. Those who have been in sin, will all be exposed and cast into Hell. It will be revealed that they were wrong and living in their heads all along and their existence will be reduced to nothing but perpetual pain that has no end.

Those who left sin and made themselves clean in the Blood of the Lamb, will be revealed as having had all their sins removed from them and made clean. They were evil and sinful, but now the only thing that still exists is a pure and holy person. They were as scarlet, but were made white as snow. They are now clean. All their sins have been removed. God forgives even the greatest sin like the king in today's Gospel who forgave the greatest debt. They wasted their lives on sin, but that has been removed from them. They have separated themselves from evil and anyone who tries to say that the previously existing sin really is a part of their lives and who they are is just trying to re-attach their sins and living in the past. The past doesn't matter. It no longer exists. We are not judged based on our entire life. That is one of the devil's lies. To say that would be a denial of God's Mercy since we cannot change our past so thus could never convert. One mistake you would be guaranteed to go to Hell. We are judged based only on our condition right now. It doesn't matter how sinful your whole life was, but only how sinful you are the moment you die. God is always calling us to make ourselves more pure. God is always calling us to convert. We are always capable of changing. We are always capable of becoming better.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

May Almighty God Have Mercy on Them

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed - I Class Feria

May almighty God have mercy on them, forgive them their sins, bring them to everlasting life. Amen.

V. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.






Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't Build Your Own House, Get The Contractor

Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King - I Class
Epistle: I Col. 1:12-20
Gospel: Jn. 18:33-37
Full Latin-English propers here.

"Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it." (Ps 126:1) Many people go through their lives, building up their lives their own way, on the greatest strength they can muster, all to make themselves happy, their own way, on their own strength. They take the gifts that God gave them and use them according to their own, passions, feelings, and opinions. This only degrades God's creation down to a worldly level in accordance with the opinions of men.

The cross of Christ has two arms, the vertical and horizontal. He is both Ischyros and Athanatos. He is the Ischyros (Mighty One), capable of completely satisfying us. He is the Athanatos (Immortal One), Whose joy lasts forever. Unless Christ build up their life and then guard it, lording Himself over it (we don't call Him "Lord" for nothing), then that life will never fully satisfy them or last forever. It will never fully satisfy them because God designed them, their bodies, their minds, their souls, for a certain purpose and a certain dignity. To move away from that is to degrade yourself. We were created to know, love, and serve God. We are beautiful because we are created in God's image. We are designed to be perfectly beautiful because we are designed to reflect perfectly the beauty of God. We are designed to love as God loves. The love of God is the grace that pushes one to sacrifice oneself to attain the dignity for which the beloved was created. Love is the very presence of God, as God is love (1 John 4:8). A simpler definition of love is that love is when God teaches you to look at someone the way He looks at them. This is how Christ the Nymphios (Bridegroom) loves His Bride the Church. He sacrificed Himself on the cross to restore His Bride to the dignity for which She was created. This love is made present in the Eucharist, where the Nymphios, through the priest, comes down from Heaven to be with His Bride.

Icon of Christ Pantocrator (All-Mighty)
Marriage is the most perfect reflection of this love. Husband and wife give themselves to each other completely to get the other to the dignity for which he/she was created. This mutual self-giving is most perfectly expressed in the marriage bed, where they give even their very bodies to each other. It is the perfect expression of the relationship. The husband is over his wife, protecting her, giving everything to her to take care of her on the way to Heaven. The wife is under her husband, supporting him on his journey to Heaven. They hold back nothing from each other. They desire nothing for themselves, but only the good of the other; the dignity for which the other was created. This perfect union of man and woman is the environment of love God wills to use to create new life, which is then nurtured and raised by that same love, that same sacrificial desire for the Divinely-designed dignity of the other.

Apart from Christ, people are only distorting and perverting themselves. Sex is degraded to an act of pleasure, desiring whatever carnal pleasure or romantic pleasure. Of course God can bring new life out of this as well, but that is merely a show of His power, as He can bring good out of evil. Children are perverted by being raised not to attain the dignity for which they were created by God, but rather children are raised o have whatever they want to be happy. Parenting becomes nothing but passing pleasure. That's no surprise, as the relationship between the parents is only passing pleasure to begin with. If they build up their own lives, they are separating themselves from God by using themselves for whatever they want. They lower their gifts to a human level, using them based on human emotions for human pleasures. Joined to Christ, they attain the purpose for which they were created. They attain a joy that is infinitely powerful, satisfying them perfectly, and endures infinitely, satisfying them forever. Only with God is it infinite, as God alone is infinite. Everything besides God runs out as everything besides God is finite. We have everything to gain by letting Christ rule over our lives and deciding Himself how our lives will turn out. We have everything to loose by building our lives ourselves. Christ can make us happier than we can make ourselves, just because He's God. He alone is the Pantocrator (All-Mighty).

Icon of the Nymphios (Bridegroom)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Feel So Alive...and I Think I Can Fly.

Icon of the Nymphios (Bridegroom)
Many times people think that the love of God makes you happy; that if we are filled with the love of God we will be happy and not sad. However, the sad reality is that the love of God often causes us pain. Christ experienced great pain on the cross only because He loved us. If He didn't love us, He wouldn't have gone to Calvary or even have become man. When we are separated from someone (especially if the separation is caused by sin) the fact that we love them causes us great pain. If we didn't love them, then we wouldn't care that we are away from them and would be happy. 

Love desires to be with the beloved. Love desires to give oneself completely to the beloved to take care of her. Any separation causes great pain. Love does not seek to stay put and desire the beloved to come to you and make you happy. Love desires to get up and give himself for her good and her benefit. Love is about bringing the beloved to the dignity for which God created her. Love is not about pleasure or having fun. The devil (especially through society and the media) promotes going after pleasure and fun, simply because it is a distraction from God. Some people live their entire lives distracted from God by this filth and empty pleasure when God is calling them to love as He loves the entire time. Love is about getting the other person to attain the dignity for which God created them.

This is how Christ loves His Bride the Church. Christ is the Nymphios (Bridegroom). All marriage is based on Him. If it is not based on Him, it is not marriage. That is why "marriage" outside the Church is not marriage. That is why sodomite "marriage" is not marriage. Marriage is a Divine Institution, not a human institution. The Sacrament of Marriage is an imitation of the union between Him and the Church. The more a marriage mimics the union between Christ and the Church, the healthier it is. The less it imitates Christ and the Church, the more troubled and weak it is. 

If a marriage is being lived properly, one can see perfectly the love of Nymphios and Church in the husband and wife. The husband will give to his bride everything of himself, all he owns, all he is, even his very body, to take care of her, that she might attain the dignity for which she was created by God. He is willing to suffer anything for her sake, even the greatest pains. The wife receives his body in the marriage bed, where their union is most perfectly expressed. She reciprocates by giving him everything she has and everything she is, even her very body, that she might support him. She is willing to suffer anything for his sake. He is over her, protecting her, and she is under him, supporting him. He protects her that she might attain the beauty for which God created her and get to Heaven. She supports him that he might persevere in the Faith and reach Heaven. This is how God designed relationships to work; they are based on His relationship with His Bride. How does Christ treat his Bride? He gave all of Himself on the cross, all He owned, all He was, even His very Body to His Bride for her own good, that she might attain the dignity for which she was created by God. He is willing to suffer anything for Her sake, even death on a cross. The Church receives His Body on the altar, where the union of Christ and the Church is most perfectly expressed. The altar is the marriage bed of the Church, so thus it has four pillars and a canopy, like a marriage bed. She reciprocates His love by giving everything She has and everything She is to Christ, that He might take care of Her. She is willing to suffer anything for His sake, even martyrdom.

Anything that separates us from this love causes great pain. It feels like your limbs are being separated from you and a lance is perpetually piercing your heart. However, when that problem is resolved and the love of God pours back in to heal the wounds caused by sin, the joy is indescribable. Have you ever been on a plane as it takes off? The plane makes the last turn on the tarmac and straightens out. The plane moves forward a bit, then the pilot punches it. He goes full throttle and the plane shoots forward like a rocket and then goes up into the sky. The joy the love of God gives you makes you feel like you can easily outrun the plane when the pilot punches it full throttle. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

St. Raphael, Prune Us With Your Sword


Feast of St. Raphael, archangel - III Class

In the Book of Tobias, the angel St. Raphael slays the demon Azmodan (also called Azmodeus or Azmodai) on Tobias and Sara's wedding night. Sara had been married seven times previously and was still a virgin as the demon slew each man before the marriage was consummated. Each man was lustful, as St. Raphael explained to Tobias. They were all of the lot that seeks sexual pleasure and are willing to give the girl as much emotional pleasure as it takes to get sexual pleasure. An equivalent girl is the inverse: she demands emotional pleasure and is willing to give sexual pleasure to get it. This is how the world goes about relationships, with two types of lust interacting. It's all about being happy and making the other person happy just so they'll make you happy. It's mutual manipulation to get pleasure. You let the other person use you because you're using them. It's all a pursuit of pleasure.

That is not love. It is called love, that is a lie. The seven husbands all behaved that way seeking pleasure. Sara never "joined herself to them that play" She consented to take a husband, but with fear of the Lord, not human lust. (cf. Tob 3:17-18) The Book of Tobias sets up love as the antithesis to lust. In lust, one desires happiness from another. In love, one desires to give oneself completely to take care of another, in this case a spouse and children. Happiness is not desired in return, the only desire is to care for the other. Happiness is in never in any way necessary to love's survival. Lust is the extreme opposite: it absolutely cannot exist without sufficient happiness. Only if it is an addiction can it survive on even low happiness. In his prayer on the first night of continence, Tobias prays, "And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever." (Tob 8:9) He wants children. He does not want to have sex for pleasure, but rather to beget children. He desires only to give himself to his bride to take care of her, to conceive children, and take care of them. He gives her everything, even his very body. That is the intention of his complete gift of himself to his bride.

This is what St. Raphael defends, defeating the demon that promoted lust. The demon slew the perverts that lusted. St. Raphael describes the husbands by saying that they "shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power." (Tob. 6:17) Lustful pleasure is an addiction. You become a slave to it. Everytime you get a craving, you just have to have it. It controls you and you live at it's mercy. The demon promoted lust in the seven husbands and they all ended up dead. It consumed them. Death and eternal damnation is the natural end of lust. Even if you prolong your life, death and damnation is still inevitable. Those who instead love and cultivate self-control have as their lot Heaven after they die.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Party's Over; Sober Up and Get to Work

XIX Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: I Cor. 1:4-8 ["Put on the new man."]
Gospel: Mt. 22:1-14 [Parable of the Wedding Feast.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

The world tells us to pursue pleasure and whatever makes you happy. The success of your life is measured by how enjoyable it is. The more fun and satisfying your life is, the more successful it is. That is a fat crock of snot. That is a complete lie. Life is about attaining the dignity for which God created us. One who attains that dignity is successful and consequently enters Heaven. One who does not attain that dignity is a failure and is consequently cast into Hell. We are all born with some dignity, but our Divinely created dignity begins wounded and degraded by original sin and personal sin degrades our dignity further. Original sin wounds and degrades the dignity of all human beings (save Our Lord and Our Lady), where as personal sin wounds and degrades the dignity of individual human beings.

So while we begin with a severely damaged dignity, we must repair our dignity and achieve the level of beauty and dignity for which God created us. This too is on two levels. First, there is the purpose that all people serve: to know, love, and serve God. That is why God created us. That is why we exist. Second, there is the specific purpose that individual people serve. One man is to be married, another to be a monk, another to be a priest, and so on. Committing sin degrades our dignity and serving the purpose for which we were created restores our dignity. The things that degrade us can be counteracted by performing the opposite action. Each vice has a contrary virtue that repairs the damage it caused. Lust has chastity, pride has humility, anger has meekness, etc. That is what St. Paul tells us today: the liar is to henceforth tell the truth and the thief is to henceforth to labor honestly.

We must not put this off. We must not grow discouraged by the difficulty. We must not give up because of the impossibility. We will all die and we know not the day nor the hour. We must undo the damage that sin caused through the practice of virtue. We only have until we die to attain the dignity for which we were created by God. Those who attain it go to Heaven those who ignore God's purpose for them in favor of "having fun" and "living life their way" go to Hell. We have until death to choose which we want. The catch is that we don't know when death will arrive. It could be in a four minutes. It could be in forty years.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

God Laughs at Your Impossibility


XVIII Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: I Cor. 1:4-8 [The grace of God in us]
Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8 [Healing of a man with the palsy]

When we look at our neighbor, whom we are commanded to love, most of the time that neighbor is a grave sinner who does not consider God and isn't the slightest bit interested in Him. Now, we know that said person was created by God for a certain purpose, to know, love, and serve Him, and that this person was given a specific vocation. God ordered her to live a certain way in the Church, but she ran off into sin. She established her name as a horrible sinner and lived her whole life in sin. She degraded herself from the masterpiece of the Divine Artist to an object of passing pleasure.

Now, she still was created by God, still is meant to know, love, and serve God, still has her vocation (albeit long ignored). She still is God's creation and designed for a certain purpose. However, it seems impossible, ridiculous, and delusional to think that she can ever fulfill that purpose. You can't even say that-at least not to the people that know her. They defend her sin. They rebel against God by saying that if she wants to sin, she must be allowed to sin in peace and that it is wrong to stop her. Lying, they call her sin "good": "She is a sinner, she always was a sinner, and she always will be a sinner, because that is what she has chosen for her life, that is how she has built her life, and we need to respect her sins because sin isn't even a bad thing at all. Anyone who goes against her sins is intolerant of the legitimate path she has chosen and narrow-mindedly calls it sin. They are trying to force her into their own mold for her, delusionally thinking that she is someone she's not. The idea that she could be pure, pious, and devout, is absurd and goes against who she is. That's not her. You don't know her life so stop acting like you do."

It is then that God shouts, "ENOUGH! She is my creation! I created her to know, love, and serve Me! I am calling her to live a certain way and she degrades herself into sin, contrary to the purpose for which I created her!" The same way that God can easily heal a man paralyzed with the palsy and forgive his sins, whom the world says that there is no cure and that this is punishment for sins that none can forgive, so too He can heal a sinner and forgive her sins, for no word shall be impossible for God.


Friday, October 14, 2011

The Fire of Love


I recently "shared" this photo on Facebook and thinks it needs more exposure. This is what the Sacrament of Marriage is designed to look like. A man and a woman, after a period of discernment (called "betrothal") as to whether marriage is their vocation or not, present themselves to God in Church, that He might conform them to His love that they might take care of each other and lead each other to Heaven. It is not based on their emotions and desires toward each other, but rather on the love God places between them to join them together. It is not something the couple does themselves or accomplishes themselves, but rather something God does to them.

As to the picture itself, I love the canopy over the tabernacle. It is a bit peculiar that the altar seems to be set up for Benediction instead of Mass, but oh well. I'm sure the front of the altar is very beautiful when there aren't four people and an Apparition in front of it. On Fb I commented on the windows in the picture, which teach us a good bit about the Sacrament of Marriage (teaching after all is one of the main functions of Sacred Art):
I particularly like the two stained glass windows. On the Epistle side, there is what appears to be a vine with branches. That passage is read in the Rite of Betrothal (to remind the couple that with God they can do anything, but without Him they can do nothing).

On the Gospel side, there is a dove, two tongues of fire and two chalices. The chalice is a biblical symbol of suffering, and fire a biblical symbol of love and the Holy Ghost, Who is also represented by the dove. This reminds us that Marriage is a vocation from God, and love, if genuine, is a grace of the Holy Ghost. This symbolizes love far more precisely than the tacky symbol of two rings on a cross.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We Are Not Worthless

Scientes quod non corruptibilibus argento vel auro redempti estis de vana vestra conversatione paternae traditionis sed pretioso sanguine quasi agni incontaminati et inmaculati Christi.
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
We were saved by Christ from the destruction we brought upon ourselves by running away from God into sin. The price of our salvation was not just anything, but Christ Himself. We are not worthless. We are worth Christ. Christ the Divine Nymphios sacrificed Himself for His Bride the Church. We are never abandoned. We are always loved. How many ignore this Divine Love, going after corruptible gold and silver, as if they have no one to love them, when the Nymphios has been waiting for them all along?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I God You

XVII Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Eph. 4:1-6 [The unity of our faith]
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46 ["Love thy neighbor"]

The devout life is known for having many rules and regulations, often complicated. This was true in the Old Testament with the Law of Moses and it is true today in the New Testament with Church Law. In today's Gospel, Our Blessed Lord does something quite interesting, which makes life easier on us all: He summarizes the entire law in just two commandments. The 10 Commandments are reduced to just two: love of God and love of neighbor. The first three commandments regard love of God and commandments 4-10 regard love of neighbor. Everything in the Law of Moses and everything in Church Law falls under either love of God or love of neighbor.

It is sometimes easy to think that love of God and love of neighbor are two different things, after all God and neighbor are two different people and one (neighbor) deserves respect, while the Other (God) deserves much more respect. However, love of God and love of neighbor are ultimately the same thing. Love of God is the reciprocation of the love He has for us. He deserves to have His love reciprocated just because He loved us first and gave His life for our good. He, the Nymphios (Bridegroom) gave everything He had, everything He was to take care of us and save us from the destruction we inflicted on ourselves by running away into sin.

When we love our neighbor, the love we give them is not our own, but God's love for them, relayed to them through us. When we love our neighbor, we do not see them the way the world does, rather we see them the way God sees them. We act towards them the same way Christ acts towards them, giving ourselves for their greater good. Love then, is a grace. A grace (as any good catechism will tell us) is the presence of God the Holy Ghost. Love is the Holy Ghost, teaching us how to take care of the beloved, teaching us to see her the way He sees her. Love of God is God's love returned back to Him and love of neighbor is God's love passed on to her. God's love is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost binds together God the Father and God the Son, in a perfect inseparable unity of desiring Each Other and giving Themselves to Each Other.

Similarly, the Holy Ghost, through the seven sacraments, binds together Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church. This is accomplished most perfectly in the Holy Eucharist, where Christ sacrifices Himself on the Cross for the good of His Bride and She reciprocates this love by offering Herself up to Him, that He might take care of Her. The Holy Ghost binds husband and wife in the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony, in a union that imitates and is modeled after the union of Christ and His Bride. The husband gives everything he has, everything he is, to take care of his bride and she offers herself up to him completely that he might take care of her. He gives to her the love God gave to him and she does likewise. God makes Himself present to him through her and likewise to her through him. That essentially how all forms of love between to people work. The lover passes on to the beloved the love given to him so that God can make Himself present to the beloved through the lover.

St. Paul in today's Epistle and Our Blessed Lord in today's Gospel both state how we have One Faith and One God. There is but one Love Who moves in two directions: vertically between God and man, as well as horizontally between men. This forms a cross, the premier symbol of love, as it was on the cross that Christ suffered and sacrificed Himself for His Bride, giving us all the example we are to imitate. If we love someone, we are willing to suffer the worst torments for them. Any idiot can be with you when life is happy. Only those who love you will bear suffering and misery for your sake. Any idiot can have a heart dedicated to you. Only those who love you will carry a cross for you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This is What Makes Me Proud to be a Hockey Fan

Rocco Grimaldi is an ice hockey player drafted 33rd by the Florida Panthers in the 2011 NHL Draft. He plays center and this season has been assigned to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, a college team. For our non-north american readers, this essentially means he is owned by Florida and was sent on a year-long loan to a top-level youth team. He is an outspoken protestant and his faith caused his place in the draft to drop. Essentially, many teams didn't want him because he has morals. He gets in the way of people's sins. Co-incidentally that's exactly what makes me like him-even though he's wrong about protestantism and the Florida Panthers. Everyone knows that the Catholic Church and the Boston Bruins are correct.

He recently tweeted (@RGrimaldi23) these statements (my e&c):
"Ladies ur up 1st. Guys ur later on this evening. Sorry if anyone takes offense to what i post but i don't feel bad about saying it [I like how he has courage right from the start.] Ladies, you can help us guys out big time. Put your boobs [Don't approve of improper language. They're breasts.] away and everything else that is hanging out. Guys have a hard enough time with that temptation without u helping it along. When did being a beautiful girl become dressing with the least amount of clothes on? When did what u wear become a competition? Before you dress ask, “Does this outfit honor God, does it honor my body, does it help serve/love my brothers? If it’s a no to any of those questions, then u shouldn’t wear that outfit #ThinkBeforeYouDress" [The female body is the greatest masterpiece of the Divine Artist, designed for a certain purpose: to show forth His glory and love through the Sacrament of Matrimony. Lust is a degradation and abuse of that body. If the girl consents, that only makes matters worse as she is consenting to being degraded.]

"Guys u ready? [I would be shocked if any were.] Ur up next Guys, when did sleeping with every girl u can make u a man? [NB:] Anyone can lay with a woman. And don't blame the women for how they dress. Don't say it's because they want attention. Don't blame ur "curiosity" or that u just wanted a little taste of what it would be like. [NB:] Women are not an object for playing with. Sex is a gift from God. We have made it idolatry by how we use it. We blame the women for what they're wearing, we blame the media for what they're producing, but we never blame OURSELVES for how WE'VE twisted God's gift to only glorify ourselves. WE are the men and WE are to blame. [Here's the real way to be a man:]God put US in charge of this earth so WE are the ones who need to man up and lay down our lust. Don't fall into that temptation. If you don't do this, you may be a boy for the rest of ur life #ManUp" [Men were put on this earth to love and take care of women, not use them for pleasure.]

"Who is Rocco Grimaldi? I'm a NOBODY here to tell EVERYBODY about SOMEBODY who can save ANYBODY #Jesus"

These statements of course have caused him to get quite a bit of negative press. People have said everything from calling him a "puritan" to saying that the two statements to each men and women are contradictory, thus discrediting both, and even religion in general. Their "logic" is that he contradicts himself by blaming both men and women for the objectification of women, when anyone who doesn't live under a rock can see that both men and women are guilty of treating the female body like a piece of meat. People don't want to admit that he's right (at least in these statements), because they don't want to admit that they're wrong about sex and they certainly don't want to give up their sinful lifestyles. That is one of the basic rules of western society: "People with morals are in the way and must be silenced. No one can get in the way of empty pleasure." From abortion, to sodomite unions, to just being a harlot or a drunkard, that how this society works. Not even infants are spared. Even they are slaughtered in the womb because they are in the way of more pleasure.

h/t to RCTV

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pics: Pontifical Low Mass with Cardinal Arinze

Earlier today, I had the privilege of being at Holy Name Church in Providence, RI (which consequently is where I go to Mass most weeks) for a Pontifical Low Mass celebrated by Cardinal Arinze for the feast of St. Wenceslaus on the occasion of his visit to the parish and the diocese. Mass was "from the throne" (being a cardinal, he can do so anywhere outside Rome), even though he didn't actually go to it because it was a Low Mass. Only the priests serving as deacons of the throne went there. This was the first time that His Eminence has offered the Traditional Mass. The assistance of several priests serving as archpriest and deacons of the throne kept his mistakes to a minimum (being a Low Mass, they were simply in cassock and surplice). I think many a priest wishes he could have had an assistant priest helping him the first few times he offered the Tridentine Mass because then he would have made far fewer mistakes. Being a prelate has its advantages. Personally, I think that if a priest is new to the Traditional Mass (even if he has been ordained for some time) he should be allowed an archpriest for his first few Masses as if he was a newly ordained priest.

In his homily, Cd. Arinze juxtaposed St. Wenceslaus with modern day government leaders. St. Wenceslaus was Duke of Bohemia and lived from 907-935. He was highly devout, assisting at Mass daily and even prayed the Divine Office daily. He was also devoted to giving alms and made a point to take care of the poor. His brother hated him for ruling this way, so he killed him and made himself duke. So St. Wenceslaus was killed by his own brother at the age of 28. St. Wenceslaus put his faith on display in every part of his life. His Eminence went on to say that St. Wenceslaus is a role model for us in that we must put our faith on display always, in every part of our life. He said we are not Christians just one hour a week on Sunday morning. We need to put our faith on display at home, taking care of the family. We need to put our faith on display when we go to work, whether we are blue collar workers or Senators in Washington. No one can say that "I am a Catholic, but..." and then tolerate some position contrary to the faith. That is hypocrisy. Such a person is not practicing the faith. Practicing the faith means practicing the faith always, even when serving in the government. It reminded me of his statement here.

Now the part you all want to see, the pictures:

Wide-shot of the Sanctuary before Mass

Close-up of the altar. Notice how the crucifix has a
pontifical candle built into it for just such an occasion. 

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar 

Introit

Kyrie and Gloria

Epistle

Gospel. Notice the bugia was used.

Homily

Deacons of the Throne during the homily.

Offertory

Lavabo

Preface

Elevation of the Sacred Host

Elevation of the Precious Blood

Domine Non Sum Dignus

Ablutions

Communion Verse

Dominus Vobiscum

Final Blessing

Last Gospel

Leonine Prayers

Recessional

Recessional

His Emminence blesses some Brides of Christ after Mass