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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Come Home, Your Bridegroom Waits

Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent - III Class Feria

Jer. 7:1-7 [Let us pray to the Divine Physician, that He might cure the fevers of our passions.]
Gospel: Lk. 4:38-44 [Cure of Peter's mother-in-law and exorcisms (exorcisms of demons, not the mother-in-law).]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Today's collect makes it sound as if today were the feast of Sts. Cosmas & Damian. That's a dead giveaway that today's station is at the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas & Damian. The readings are about cures and doctors, since Sts. Cosmas & Damian were doctors. Their feastday is September 27, nine months to the day before my birthday, so I have a special connection with them.

In today's office, the homily at Matins is from St. Ambrose. He says,
I say that the passion which rageth in the mind is a lesser fire than that fever which burneth the body. Covetousness, and lust, and uncleanness, and vain desires, and strivings, and anger these be our fevers.
This is Lent. This is the time to pray and do penance to develop self-control over our passions. This is why Lent exists. Let us not forget to pray for those drowning in sin, who haven't been to Mass in many, many years. They live life according to their own rules. Their rules are made by their passions. They build a life based on their passions, but it is their passions that control them. They want lust. They want independence. They are like St. Margaret of Cortona. They seek to build a life on their passions, but, as the psalmist says, "Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." They long for a certain joy, a joy they have not felt since they were practicing Catholics, and lost for one reason or another. Now they look for it among the world, as the bride of the Canticle of Canticles searched for her Bridegroom within the world, unable to find them. Pray they they might realize that it is only at the Altar of God that they find that profound joy. Only through God do they find that joy, as it was God who gave joy to their youth. Christ is the only lover that can truly satisfy them. Sts. Cosmas & Damian, pray for them. St. Margaret, pray for them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2 for 1 special: Tradition Spreads

NLM has two posts of interest. The first is pics of a Low Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation at Hah-vahd University in Boston. The Traditional Mass at a liberal pagan university in a hotbed of liberal Catholics, if they can even be called Catholics. That's something to rejoice about. Mass was at the neighboring Church of St. Paul.

The second bit of eye candy is from St. Peter's Parish in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was damaged by flood in a hurricane and they decided that the repairs would undo not only flood damage but "spirit of Vatican II" damage as well.

Here's the church before:

It's about as iconoclastic as it gets. Plain, boring, does not elevate the mind to God. No wonder nobody goes to Mass anymore.

Absolute night and day. The walls have been painted with heraldic symbols of the faith, classier stations of the cross were added, the modern light fixtures gave way to gothic (including in the sanctuary), the reardos have cross and arch accents, the carpet in the isle has given way to a more dignified floor, Our Lady and St. Joseph switched places to their proper sides, statues of the Sacred Heart (I think) and St. Michael have been added, the tabernacle is in the center with a canopy (with the words of consecration and the dove on it with God the Father above it, thus depicting the Trinity), the altar is now on the proper number of three steps (with enough room for ad Orientem Masses and the Benedictine arrangement for the candles), and there is an altar rail, although it doesn't look like the gates have been attached yet. Night and day. MASSive improvement.

Christ Forgives Us So He Can Be With Us

Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent - III Class Feria

IV Kings 4:1-7 [Eliseus provides money for the widow's debts.]
Gospel: Lk. 4:23-30 [Teaching on forgiveness.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Et demitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Some people like to think that this phrase from the Pater is really two different phrases, one about being forgiven and the other about being forgiven. Actually it is only one phrase. We look at God and demand that He forgive us using the same measure we use to forgive others.

This is also a summary of our lives. Our lives are filled with sins we have committed against others, our debita, and the sins others have committed against us, our debitoribus. Our lives are so completely marked by our sins and the sins of those around us. Today we are told to forgive others. We are told to forgive seventy times seven times. St. Peter asks if we are to forgive seven times. Seven is symbolic of infinity. So St. Peter is asking if we should forgive infinitely. Our Blessed Lord says no, we are to forgive infinity times ten times infinity. Why? Christ loves us. He is Our Nymphios (Bridegroom, called Ecce Homo in the West). He loves the Church as a bride because she IS His bride.

When a man and a woman love each other (I don't mean infatuation or even deep mutual infatuation, I mean when it hits you like a ton of bricks that you love someone and the only thing you want is to give your whole life and your whole self to them, to marry them, not desiring to get anything out of it.), probably the main characteristic of that love is that they just simply want to be together. The man does not desire the woman's body, but rather the woman. He is willing to do anything to be with her and spend time with her. If she cheats on him, he is always willing to forgive her and to take her back as if nothing ever happened, because that is how much he wants to be with her. That is how much Christ loves the Church. That is how much Christ loves us. That is how much Christ wants to be with us. That is how much Christ forgives us. Our Nymphios said, "Love one another as I have loved you." This is how much we are to forgive each other, because we love each other so mush that we want to be together in Heaven.

Our Nymphios loves us so much, as a man loves his bride, that He just wants to be with us. That is why He gave us the Eucharist. He just wants to be with us. The same way that a man wants to be with his bride, not desiring her body but rather her, her very being, the same way Christ loves us. He wants us, our very being. He wants us in Heaven, so that He can be with us forever. He wants to be with us right now. So He gives us the Eucharist because He cannot stand to be apart from us the same way that a man cannot stand to be apart from his bride once it hits him like a ton of bricks that he loves her.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Norma Jean Coon's a Traddie

Rorate has broken news that Norma Jean Coon, the heretic woman who falsely claimed to be ordained, not only attends the Traditional Mass, but also had her automatic excommunication lifted (the excommunication for the attempted ordination of a woman is of course reserved to the Holy See). She also goes to daily Adoration.

Let's review: She's a traditionalist, goes to the Traditional Mass daily, goes to Eucharistic Adoration daily, and has no censure against her. Sounds like a true-blue traddie. This is a long shot from a raging heretic claiming to be a cleric despite the biological impediment of being female. It would be as if I, as a man, were to claim to be pregnant. She went from ultra-modernist drowning in heresy to a faithful traditionalist. That's the power of conversion. Pray for more of the same.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Prodigal Daughter

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Lent - III Class Feria

Gen. 27:6-40 [Esau is cheated out of his inheritance by his brother Jacob.]
Gospel: Lk. 15:11-15 [Parable of the Prodigal Son.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

We spend a lot of time praying for fallen-away Catholics to come home (or at least we supposed to). When will they come home? What will it take to convince them? Well, when did the prodigal son come home? He went home when the pleasure in his life ran out and he could not find more. Will I say that worldly pleasures are easier to attain than Godly pleasures? Both can be easy at times both can be hard at times, but worldly pleasures are more tangible and that's where it counts. That makes a huge difference. Worldly pleasures are easier to feel and perceive. Spiritual pleasures require that you pay attention to God. That makes all the difference in the world. That's why so few people experience spiritual pleasure: all the narcissism in the world (both the secular world and the Novus Ordo) prevents spiritual pleasures. You can't be intimate with God if you aren't paying attention to Him. Paying attention to yourself or to the people around you isn't paying attention to God; that's not intimacy with God.

So most people opt for the more tangible worldly pleasures. The problem with that is that they are finite. They run out. They end. They come from finite things, so there is a finite amount of pleasure that those things are capable of offering. Spiritual pleasures on the other hand come from God. God is infinite, so there is infinite pleasure to be had. The only thing that limits us is our own human weakness. Only when we come to this realization do we actually convert. Only then do we desire to enter the Catholic Church, or return to her, or take her practices seriously. When did the prodigal son return? When he saw that the pleasure he could have with his father are greater than those out in the world. Pray for the sons that they might return to their Heavenly Father. Pray for the daughters that they might realize that the pleasures they seek degrade the beauty God gave them. Only at the Altar of God will they find a Man that truly appreciates their beauty. Pray that they realize that the pride that fuels their quest to live life their own way, by their own rules, does not lead to lasting pleasure. Only by returning home to their Nymphios (Bridegroom; called Ecce Homo in the West) can they find pleasure with the ability to last forever. He waits in the tabernacle, looking out, waiting, and when He sees them coming down towards Him, He will run out to meet them and there will be much rejoicing in Heaven.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Christ Came to Suffer For Us and With Us

Feast of the Annunciation of the BVM - I Class

Is. 7:10-15 [Isiah's prophecy of the virgin birth.]
Gospel: Lk. 1:26-38 [The Annunciation.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

When we are suffering it usually feels like no one understands what it feels like to feel that suffering. If we suffer heartbreak, it feels like no one has ever gotten their heart broken, especially if the attraction was serious. If we get fired from our jobs, it feels as if no one has ever been fired. Suffering brings with it a certain solitude. It involves a rejection. The rejection might be clear to see, as in the case of a difficult break-up or dismissal from a job. The rejection might be more subtle, as in the case of physical pain. If we have broken leg or a woman is in childbirth, it feels like no one understands the suffering unless they are next to you feeling the same pain. You might have people for emotion support, but it feels like while they speak well, they don't really understand unless you see the suffering in them.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation. Today the Word takes Flesh and shares in our humanity in every way but sin. Christ knows what is like to suffer. He understands our suffering because He suffered on the cross. He in fact suffered more than any of us ever could. He felt more pain than any of us ever could because His Divinity gives Him a greater capacity for feeling pain. Christ's death was more painful than the deaths of the men next to Him because He had a greater capacity for feeling pain than they did. Further, Christ suffered emotional pain from all the sins ever committed, all the sins being committed while He was on the cross (there's a thought), and all the sins that ever would be committed. He was rejected in favor of sin. He knows what it's like to be rejected. All people (save His Immaculate mother) rejected Him after He created all of them. It is His death that destroys those sins that caused His death in the first place. It is easy to say that Christ's emotional pain on the cross was greater than His physical pain. The emotional toll caused by being rejected by the people He created in favor of sin made His death far more painful. His death was the greatest pain, both emotional and physical, that anyone has ever felt, greater than any break-up or childbirth, because His Divinity allowed His humanity to feel greater pain.

So the next time your suffer in one way or another, look at a crucifix. Look at the Nymphios, the Bridegroom (Ecce Homo). see Him scourged and crowned with thorns, the object of mockery. It puts our suffering in perspective. You can complain about your pain, but Christ knows what it's like. You can complain about how others make a mockery of you. Christ was mocked too. You can complain about physical pain. Christ's Divinity increased the capacities of His humanity, including His capacity to feel pain, so know that His pain was worse. Even childbirth: if you complain saying that it feels like liquid fire punching through you, remember that on the cross Christ had three nails punching through Him like liquid fire. Whatever your pain, be it emotional or physical, Christ know what it's like to suffer. He suffered even more than you because His Divinity allowed Him too. Go to Him. When you suffer, join your suffering to Him. Today He became man in every way but sin, so what ever you are experiencing, except if it's sin, Christ knows what it's like to go through it, simply because He's God. He even understands temptation to sin, as he was tempted. Today He became one of us, so He could suffer with us and lead us to that place of eternal rest.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Proclaim the Word

Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent - III Class Feria
Commemoration of St. Gabriel

Jer. 17:5-10 [Cursed is the man who trusts in the flesh & blessed is the man who trusts in God.]
Gospel: Lk. 16:19-31 [The Parable of the Rich Man & Lazarus.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

On this feast of St. Gabriel, let us pray for those who need the Word of God proclaimed to them: those who have fallen into great sin, those who put their trust in flesh and abandon God. Pray that they do not become  like the rich man, indulging in things of this life and forgetting things of God. They do not need anything extraordinary. Today's Gospel says that they won't listen to such things. Their lack of faith prevents them. What has already been revealed publicly by the Church is enough. We have all the treasures. We have all the beauty. We are the outpost of Heaven. We are the gate of Heaven, through which all the beauty of Heaven shines through. It is the innumerable sins of individuals in the Church that obscure this beauty. Tomorrow we celebrate the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tomorrow we celebrate she who is the gate of Heaven. Pray that she might reveal her Incarnate Son to those who have fallen away from the Church. Pray that the Archangel Gabriel might announce to them the Divine Lover waiting for them in the tabernacle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Abp. Dolan Defends Marriage

Via Catholic News Roundup on RCTV, Archbishop Dolan of New York makes his way into the faithful bishops file yet again:
"I have a strong desire to play shortstop for the Yankees. I don't have a right to because I don't have what it takes, and that would be what the Church would say about marriage."
Similitudes make it so much easier to understand. That's why Our Blessed Lord used them so often. I can think of various similar statements regarding sodomite unions and why they're not possible in reality despite the desire for them on the part of sodomites and sodomite sympathizers. For example you might have a strong desire to swim nude on the moon. You can say you have a right to swim nude on the moon all you want and that your critics are bigots, but that doesn't give you the ability to swim nude on the moon. The lack of liquid water would prevent the swim and the lack of a breathable atmosphere would make the nudity quite fatal.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Married Couples-This is the Reality of Your Relationship:

Vivificat has an absolutely beautiful piece about the reality of marriage. Here are some excerpts (my commentsemphases):
When two persons unite through the Sacrament of matrimony, a new possibility for supernatural love opens up for them: the spouse as a way towards God, as a place of encounter with God. [Pay close attention to the intimacy with God that is present here:] In that solemn moment of the wedding, Christ says to each one of them: From now on, I am going to love you especially through your spouse, I am going to convert him/her into a Shrine of my encounter with you. [NB:] With that I am left with the great challenge of seeking the Lord in the heart of the other where from now on He is waiting for me... [!!!] of discovering the face of Christ in the face of my spouse... [When two people fall in love, the face of the other is one of the most desired body parts and considered one of the most beautiful. I don't have any idea why that's true.] of embracing His love as a transparency and reflection of Divine Love. On the other hand, I should be Christ for the other... give him/her love, the light and the strength he/she needs to grow and to reach God. [You become priestly to a certain extent: it's your job to take the other to Heaven, even if it costs you your life.] Thus, each one accepts himself/herself and gives himself/herself to the other as a privileged place of encounter with the Lord.

Therefore, God is there as a third person in each Christian marriage. He is a bridge and a bond of unity between the spouses. [NB:] And precisely when God does not occupy that place within the marriage, then there is always room for “another” third person who destroys the marriage covenant. [Don't think that being in love is a guarantee of success; you still have to work to be successful. Waiting for things to improve in a relationship is the best way to guarantee failure-and it does not matter whether or not you're in love! You still need to put in the effort.]

Marriage is a saving community united by a supernatural attachment. The love of Christ and Mary seal our love. We are united like the vine and the vine shoots. Our salvation is united to the other and comes through the other.

My sanctity echoes in the other, and my sin does also.


Questions for reflection

1. Do we pray together as a marriage?

2. Do I see my spouse as a way towards God?

3. How do I receive his/her suggestions, criticisms...?

Go there to read the whole thing. This is something every married couple, every couple period, and everyone hoping to one day get married needs to know. That attraction you have for that someone (unless it is a sinful attraction) was given to you by God so that you will lead that person to Heaven and be led by him/her to Heaven.

Eye Candy: TLM in RI

I've been going to Mass at Holy Name Church in Providence, RI. They have Low Mass every Sunday at 7.30am and High Mass at 11.00am. The Church is beautiful enough that I had to take pictures and put them up on Facebook (The link should work even if you don't have a Facebook account.).

Here's some high-res samples:
The High Altar

The Sanctuary before Mass

Altar of the Sacred Heart

Finding and Tasting Pleasure

Second Sunday of Lent - I Class

Epistle: I Thess. 4:1-7 [Seek God and not the pleasures of the flesh.]
Gospel: Mt. 17:1-9 [The Transfiguration.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

The world offers us great pleasures. The greatest pleasure it offers is pleasure of the flesh. We know that this is the greatest pleasure or else it wouldn't be by far the most popular. The pleasures God offers us are far greater. You could learn this the hard way by going off into the world seeking love, use someone for lust under the pretext that you're in "love" (My foot you are, if you actually loved them you wouldn't be leading them into sin and therefore into Hell. Just because you care about each other, doesn't mean you're in love. Love hits you like a ton of bricks and makes you want to give yourself to that person. It doesn't desire pleasure, independence, experiences, security, or whatever it is you're looking for. Love doesn't want to receive anything, it only desires to give. Even then, it never desires to give anything harmful, the most extreme example of which is sin. Okay, I realize this is a long parenthetical side-note.), then realize the error of your ways that you were just being selfish and seeking your own pleasure and using "love" as an excuse, go to confession, experience spiritual pleasures, and finally realize that spiritual pleasures are greater than worldly pleasures.

Or...you could consider this: Carnal pleasures come thorough the body of a person. People's bodies are finite. Therefore, they can only give you finite pleasure. The human body is a finite source of pleasure. God on the other hand, is infinite. He can give you infinite pleasure. Sexual pleasure ends. The act lasts for only so long a period of time (usually just a few minutes...don't lie...). Then it must be sought out again. It is finite. Union with God lasts forever. The only way it could end is if we leave God in favor of sin. That would be equivalent to leaving your sexual partner during the sexual act. Puts a new light on the foolishness of sin doesn't it? Because God is infinite, there is always more pleasure be had. It never runs out. It never ends. The only way it could stop is if we go away and leave the pleasure behind. That's why spiritual pleasures are better than worldly pleasures. Everything in the world is finite and therefore can only offer finite pleasure, whereas God is infinite and offers infinite pleasure. That's exactly why St. Paul told us to go after God and not sins of the flesh in today's Epistle. There. I just saved you a decade or two off your life that you would have spent sinning. Now you can cut to the chase and be with God.

God's pleasures come in two doses. There is the limited dose in this life and the full dose in the next life. The dose of this life is limited by human weakness. It is only so much given at a time, even though it is an infinite supply, so it is already greater than worldly pleasures. In Heaven, the experience is far greater. Interestingly, to get to Heaven, you need to abandon the world's pleasures in favor of God in the first place. You can see this in today's Gospel. In the Transfiguration, we see God's glory revealed (that's the whole reason why it's important). However, it is only a limited display of His glory. It is a small taste of His glory. In Heaven we see the full thing. Let us go after only the pleasures of God, that we might get there.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adoration U.

From the Cardinal Newman Society (and apparently Fr. Z) via CatholicVote.org, comes this video promoting AdorationU, a program to get Eucharistic Adoration on college campuses:

AdorationU.com from Cardinal Newman Society on Vimeo.

Very powerful stuff. Desperately needed today. Not to mention a sexy monstrance too.

From those overwhelmed by the stresses of life, to those struggling with a porn addiction, to those putting up with difficult teachers (or bosses for those in the working world), to those who are pressured into having sex by the one they love, to those who are having a good life but realize that the happiness is fleeting and in the end empty, all young people need this. Whether it's high school or college, all young people need this. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I needed this when I was younger but just wasn't that into it. How much more beautiful my life would have been... Only after Summorum Pontificum did I convert to tradition and start taking the faith more seriously. When I think of the souls that are drowning in sin today because that burning Sun in the monstrance was never made to shine upon them... They were moving towards sin and no one did anything to stop them... It leaves me absolutely gutted to see people degraded by their lives of sin. Once beautiful, now notorious sinners. It's one thing when you hear about it or see images of people struggling with sin. When you see that these sinners are actual people with a great dignity given to them by God, the dignity of a human being, that they are destroying by going after sin and that these actual people actually will go to Hell for real for all eternity if nothing is done to stop them, reality hits you quick. We are the Church Militant. We are at war and this is as real as it gets. We need Eucharistic Adoration. Mass is nice, but adoration gives us extended time with Our Blessed Lord, with Our Nymphios (Bridegroom, called "Ecce Homo" in the West). We need this. This is the difference between Heaven and Hell. Souls, actual people, are at stake. As gutted as I am, He is even more gutted as He loves sinners more than I do:

Holy Regret: Go to Confession

Ember Wednesday in Lent - II Class Feria

Lesson: Ex. 24:12-18 [Moses fasts on the mountain for 40 days.]
Epistle: III Kings 19:3-8 [Elias is given food by an angel before fasting for 40 days.]
Gospel: Mt. 12:38-50 [The sign of Jonah & the Lord's brethren.]
Today's propers can be found in full here.

As the Ember Wednesday in Lent, today is the first day of spring on the Church calendar. It's time for the soul's spring cleaning: go to confession. We hear a lot about fasting today. Today is a very solemn call to do penance. The prayers and antiphons of this Mass call out to God for mercy, not to condemn us for our sins, which we rightly deserve, but to remember His mercy and grant us forgiveness. We look back on our lives and see our mistakes. We remember our lives up to this point and look with regret and remorse, on the times we fell into indulgences of the flesh and worldly pleasures, on the mistakes we made that hurt those around us, on the times we were negligent, choosing not to act when we should have. We see everything we have done wrong. We regret those sins, offenses, and negligences. We cry out to God "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy! And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity." The thought come to us that our lives would have been so much better and so much happier if we had never done those things. Upon seeing the right way, we know for a fact that our lives would have been so much better if we never made the mistakes we made. We join our plea to that of the Royal Prophet: "Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me." This is why we have Lent. We see, as the prophet Isaias told us yesterday, "For, as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts." We see just how happy we can truly be when we live with God and according to His ways and that causes us to regret everything we have done according to our own ways. We become contrite and we go to confession.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Living Life the Hard Way vs. God's Way

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent - III Class Feria

Epistle: Isaias 34:11-16 [God calls us to forsake our ways in favor of His ways. He comes to convert us and will not return to Heaven empty-handed.]
In those days the prophet Isaias spoke, saying: Seek ye the Lord while He may be found: call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He is bountiful to forgive. For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For, as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be, which shall go forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it: saith the Lord almighty.

Gospel: Mt. 25:31-46 [Cleansing of the Temple]
At that time, when Jesus was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers and the chairs of them that sold doves; and He saith to them: It is written: My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves. And there came to Him the blind and the lame in the temple; and He healed them. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: Hosanna to the Son of David, were moved with indignation, and said to Him: Hearest Thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise? And leaving them, He went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there.

Many people spend their whole lives looking for joy. They go to school to get a degree to get a job that will be as enjoyable as possible both during the work day and on pay day. They work so hard to build a relationship and find love. They go through a lot of anguish to develop a love relationship-not deep mutual infatuation, but honest, true, hits-you-like-a-ton-of-bricks love. They go through a lot of work to get the best possible life they can imagine. As great as what they can give themselves might be, what God can give them is much greater. They can script a great life for themselves, but God can script an even greater life for them. You can try to find a beautiful wife, but God can give you one that is even more beautiful. You can try to find a caring husband, but God can give you one that is even more caring. You can try to change your boyfriend or husband into a better person, but God can change him into an even better person. Whatever it is you want, God can do it better than you, just because He's God. He knows what will make you happy better than you do, just because He's God.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For, as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts." We can think up a great and holy life for ourselves, but eventually we need to just stop, abandon our desires, and let God give us a life instead of trying to make a life for ourselves. We can compose a very happy and saintly life for ourselves, but God can compose one that is even happier and saintlier. We can go live life the hard way trying to decide what we will have, or we can live life God's way and let Him choose for us. It's the letting go part that's difficult as we need to trust in God in order to let go. The more we trust in Him, the more we will allow Him to fill us with the life He wants to give us, which is far greater than any life we can give ourselves.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We're Being Court-Maritialed

Thursday after Ash Wednesday - III Class Feria

Epistle: Is. 38:1-6 [Ezekias' life is spared in a display of the Divine Mercy.]
In those days Ezechias was sick even to death, and Isaias the son of Amos the prophet came unto him, and said to him: Thus saith the Lord: Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live. And Ezechias turned his face towards the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight. And Ezechias wept with great weeping. And the word of the Lord came to Isaias, saying: Go and say to Ezechias: Thus saith the Lord the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: behold I will add to thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect it, saith the Lord almighty.

Gospel: Mt. 8:5-13 [Healing of the centurion's servant.]
At that time, when Jesus was in Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers, and say to this: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marveled, and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.

Every day of Lent has a station. A "station" is when the pope goes to one of the basilicas of Rome to say Mass on a day appointed on the Church calendar. Many older missals have them still marked, although only a few are observed these days. Many of them are on important feasts. Roughly half of them are on each of the days of Lent. Today's station is at the Basilica of St. George. At right is a peculiar image of St. George. Look at it one way, it is his bust. look at it another way, it is him on his horse slaying the dragon. The horse's front legs form his eye and the dragon's right rear leg forms his mouth. The ground forms his cape. Not surprisingly, we have the healing of the centurion's servant as the Gospel and today's Mass is filled with references to the enemy that attacks us, who is of course the dragon; the devil. This all serves as a reminder that we are the Church Militant. We are all soldiers against the forces of the burning hells. Many times we are wicked or lazy soldiers. We deserve to be court martialed. In the collect we beg our Supreme Commander, "turn aside the scourges of Thine anger, which we deserve for our sins." In the Lesson, Ezekias is told by the Lord, "Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live." He knew his guilt before the Lord and that he was a great sinner. We too are conscious of our sins. We know that certain actions of ours are displeasing to God and we did them anyway because we wanted to be happy. Like Esau, who traded his inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup, we threw away the possibility of reaching the joy of Heaven in order to experience a passing pleasure now. Realizing our grave error, we do penance, especially now in Lent. We deny pleasures to ourselves, mortifying ourselves, and do penance, saying to the Lord, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word and I shall be healed." We beg for mercy that we may hear the Lord say to us, "I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears...and I will deliver thee".

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Your Bridegroom Has Just Offered You Infinite Joy

Quinquagesima Sunday - II Class
Missa Esto Mihi

Epistle: I Cor. 13:1-13 [Faith is nothing without the works of charity.]
Brethren, If I speak wih the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy, and should know all mysteries and all knowledge: and if I should have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should disribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind: Charity envieth not, dealing not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner: but then face to face. Now I know in part: but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Gospel: Lk. 18:31-43 [Prophecy of the passion; healing of a blind man.]
At that time Jesus took unto Him the twelve men and said to them: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and scourged and spit upon: and after they have scouged Him, they will put Him to death, and he third day He shall rise again. And they understood none of those things, and this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said. Now it came to pass, when He drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the wayside, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto Him. And when he was come near, He asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight, they faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he saw and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

What does every single person do in life? What is the desire that every person has burning inside of them? Everyone is searching for joy. Whether it is success in romance, sports, a career, or whatever else, everyone is looking for joy, they just don't know where to find it; they're still searching. What's the first place you always look? It's always the area around you. So people look for joy in things of the world such as romance, sports, and careers. The things of this world are only capable of offering passing pleasure. It is fleeting; it lasts for a while but it runs out. At first, it seems as if it will last forever. That's what every girl says early in every last relationship: that this love will last forever. In due time, the pleasure runs out. Only in retrospect is it clear just how passing this pleasure really is. The devil loves it when we desire these things as it means we are not desiring God.

God alone can give us joy. Joy, unlike pleasure, lasts forever. Joy lasts beyond death. Joy comes from God. Joy can come from God directly, as is the case with prayer, especially the Holy Eucharist. Joy can come indirectly, through another person. Such is the case with marriage where the joy God gives you is through your spouse, whose duty it is to lead you to Heaven, and by giving you the gift of children. When you experience this joy, how could you ever run away to anything the world has to offer? Such an act would truly be among the most heinous of sins, rejecting the joy God offers after having tasted how good it is. Many people go through huge sections of their never having experienced this joy. They are born knowing that there is some lack of joy in their lives. They innately know there is something missing in their lives and go out searching for joy. There is a God-shaped hole left in them by original sin. God is that joy. Because of original sin, He is missing. Because of original sin, they don't know that He is the only One that can adequately fill the hole.

We spend so much time and effort in out lives searching for joy. We have no way of knowing that God is the only One that can give us joy that is adequate enough to quench our thirst for ever, lasting even beyond death. It is God who initiates the process. He, in the form of actual grace, acting outside the soul, pushes the soul towards Himself. The soul is free to accept or reject Him. If the soul accepts Him, the soul will seek the sacraments. If the soul rejects Him, the soul will reject the sacraments. The sacraments bestow sanctifying grace, God's presence in the soul, the foretaste of the joy of heaven. If used properly, it will lead to a joy much more profound than anything the world can offer. If neglected, it can only lead to sin, as negligence of grace is negligence of God is a form of rejection of Him, which can only lead to more complete rejection.

Knowing this, that God alone can give us joy and that our cooperation is necessary, we cry out to Him as one with the blind man: Domine ut videam! Lord, that I may see! Let me see you beauty. Let me see that joy which you offer: it is far greater than the pleasure anyone else can offer. God will give this joy according to His choosing. It is not up to us. He may choose to give His joy through the Sacrament of Marriage or the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Perhaps He will choose religious vows. This might change over time. He might say to be single and alone with Him for a while, but instead of consummating that though religious vows, He might use that love you have for Him as a foundation for nuptial vows and the family life. Don't be surprised if your life story has a few plot twists. It is not up to us to choose how God will give us joy, as it is a free gift He gives to us.

God wants very much to give this joy to us. He very much wants to give us a place in His plan (read: not our plan) that will give us tranquility, serenity, and peace, that is lasting even beyond death. God wants us to share in His joy. He is willing to do anything to get to us and us to Him. He is willing to annihilate everything that might stand in the way. We heard the prophecy today about the Passion and Death of Our Blessed Lord. When a man and a woman fall in love and the love is true, they are each willing to die for the other. No hesitation, each of them are willing to give their very lives to defend the other. That is how Christ loves His Bride the Church. The Nymphios (Bridegroom-known in the West as Ecce Homo) loves you so much that He was willing to give His life for you on the cross to destroy your sins, the sins that prevent your union with Him. He also loves you so much that He refuses to force you to do anything. He gave you free will. You are free to accept or reject that offer of love. How will you respond?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Abp. Dolan on Sodomy

I know this might surprise some, but add Abp. Dolan to the "faithful bishops" file. The Archbishop of New York (and USCCB President) recently released a statement reacting to President Obama's attack on marriage and the human body. He starts with a nice statement of the theology behind why heterosexual marriage is the only marriage that could ever possibly exist. It is not a matter of opinion or philosophy, it is a matter of biology. Homosexual unions are always and everywhere sinful because they are biologically incapable of reproducing, which therefore reduces such unions to lust. I've said this before and I'll say it again: lust is not a "right". The human body is God's greatest work of art and it is a sin to manipulate it for pleasure, even if the manipulation is mutual. Mutuality only makes it worse, as then there is two people sining instead of one. Such manipulation is a degradation and desecration of the greatest masterpiece of the Divine Artist. No one has the right to use God's creation for their own pleasure. Ergo, it is not “discrimination” to stop sodomites, rather we have the right to stop sodomites in the name of chastity. The homosexual "rights" movement is no more that lust that has spiraled out of control.

Without further adieu, here's the statement:
The announcement on February 23 that the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an alarming and grave injustice. Marriage, the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, is a singular and irreplaceable institution. Only a man and a woman are capable of the “two-in-one-flesh” union of husband and wife. Only a man and a woman have the ability to bring children into the world. Along with that ability comes responsibility, which society historically reinforces with laws that bind mothers and fathers to each other and their children. This family unit represents the most basic and vital cell of any society, protecting the right of children to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their mother and father. Thus, marriage represents the bedrock of the common good of society, its very foundation and future.

[...] But DOMA is not “unjust discrimination”; rather, it merely affirms and protects the time-tested and unalterable meaning of marriage. The suggestion that this definition amounts to “discrimination” is grossly false and represents an affront to millions of citizens in this country.

The decision also does not stand the test of common sense. It is hardly “discrimination” to say that a husband and a wife have a unique and singular relationship that two persons of the same sex—or any unmarried persons—simply do not and cannot have. Nor is it “discrimination” to believe that the union of husband and wife has a distinctive and exclusive significance worthy of promotion and protection by the state. It is not “discrimination” to say that having both a mother and a father matters to and benefits a child. Nor is it “discrimination” to say that the state has more than zero interest in ensuring that children will be intimately connected with and raised by their mother and father. [...]

The Administration’s current position is not only a grave threat to marriage, but to religious liberty and the integrity of our democracy as well. Our nation and government have the duty to recognize and protect marriage, not tamper with and redefine it, nor to caricature the deeply held beliefs of so many citizens as “discrimination.” [...]
Read the full statement here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Marriage as an Offering

I've been meaning to talk about marriage as an oblation, an offering, a sacrifice of self, for some time. Recently iPadre spoke about marriage (as a covenant) after putting it off for some time. That motivated me to finally say this. After putting it off for a few more days, now I am actually doing it.

I'll start by saying what I mean by the term "love". Love is important to understanding why marriage is a sacrifice, as love is what motivates that sacrifice. Many things in the world are called "love" when none of them are in fact "love". "Love" is used to describe any and every sort of passion anyone might have for anything. Whether it's love of sports, food, lust, or even an honest infatuation with a boyfriend/girlfriend, it get's called "love", when really it's just a passion. It is absolutely not "love" in the proper sense of the term. Lust is a passion. It seeks not the person, but rather pleasure through the person. This is not love. Love, in the proper sense of the term, is wanting the best for someone. "The best" refers to happiness in eternity. Love does not seek short-term happiness. Short-term happiness is good and fun to have, but it is not important to love. It is permanent, long-term, lasting beyond death happiness that the one you love absolutely must-have in order for you to be happy. Nothing else suffices. The one loved must be made happy in eternity, not just this life, but beyond it, forever. We can contrast "loving" someone with being "nice" to them. "Nice" seeks the short-term happiness of the other. They must be made happy this moment, this minute, this day, this month, this year, whatever length of time you are looking at, the other person must be made happy now, in this life. Eternal happiness is good and fun to have, but it is not important to niceness. "Love" and "nice" can both exist in any sort of relationship we have, whether it is with family, friends, or romance. It is plain to see the difference between "love" and "nice" in the Catholic Church. Traditionalists practice "love", emphasizing happiness in the next life at the cost of happiness in this life. Modernists practice "nice", emphasizing happiness in the this life at the cost of happiness in next life. It is at the root of much of the fighting in the Church. The two sides have very different priorities.

For now, let us stay focused on "love" vs. "nice" in romantic relationships. A romantic relationship can easily be void of both. If one person seeks to get pleasure out of the other, then this is neither loving nor nice. It is just manipulation. Here we get to the "economy of pleasure". In this economy, the male gives romantic pleasure to the female (doing all sorts of crazy romantic things to impress her) in the hopes of getting sexual pleasure. The female gives sexual pleasure to the male (whether it is by sexual acts or simply wearing arousing clothing) in the hopes of getting romantic pleasure. It is a "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" relationship. It is mutual manipulation. This is neither loving nor nice. It is just lust. Here there is only an attraction of some sort, neither really cares about the other. There is no sacrifice. Sacrifice is a giving. In such a relationship, there is only a taking. The action is going in the wrong direction.

Let us take a couple that is "nice". We have graduated from lust to infatuation. At this level the girl will insist quite stubbornly to everyone that they're in love. She will practically demand that the man say those "three little words". This isn't love. Here there is an attraction, similar to lust, but this goes further, to a higher level. Here there is not just an attraction, but the two honestly care about each other. Each wants the other to be happy, but only in the short-term. You want the other to to be happy, but only this moment, this minute, this day, this month, this year, whatever length of time you are looking at, the other person must be made happy now, in this life. It is a happiness that exists now and looks to continue forever. Infatuation seeks whatever it takes to make the other happy at whatever point of life the two of you are, be it in high school or adults looking to have children. The more serious and deep the infatuation, the more you want the other to succeed, whether it's getting your first car or a better job to provide for that baby. However, that desire is rooted entirely in the present moment. You want the other to be happy now, and you want that to last. That is the fatal law: it is just human. It is subject to human weakness as it is rooted in our fallen nature and mortality.

What we have been talking about so far in regards to romantic relationships is what love isn't. Now we get to the core of the issue. So far in the relationship, infatuation has been increasing steadily over the course of however much time God has willed. When you "fall in love" in the proper sense of the term, It hits you like a ton of bricks. It is a huge spike in the attraction to the person. This love is a completely different creature. Until now, while in infatuation, you have desired their happiness now, in the present moment, now you desire their eternal happiness. It is no longer a happiness that exists now and looks to continue forever. Rather, there is an eternal happiness and you want to come here to the present moment. Now God is at work. God is the source of the happiness, so it is much stronger than infatuation. Now God is trying to join the two. Grace is at work to join the two as husband and wife. At this point, there is little doubt that you want to marry the person. You "just know" as they say. There is a desire to give yourself to the person. Here is where the sacrificial mentality really begins to exist.

Now, as we all know sanctifying grace exists in the soul and is available only by the Sacraments. When "it hits you like a ton of bricks", that is actual grace, which exists outside the soul, pushing it where it needs to go. Actual grace can come from many different sources and even works outside the Church to induce conversions. The soul has the free will to resist and instead sin. Grace is of course the Holy Ghost (dwelling in us as sanctifying grace and pushing us as actual grace), so at this point, the Holy Ghost is trying to push the two together into a Sacramental Marriage. The "ton of bricks" is the moment of their vocation to marry. It is God operating in them looking to create a holy marriage. The two could marry outside the Church, they could both be non-Catholics, but the Holy Ghost is trying to join them together with this actual grace around their souls. He wants the actual grace to turn into sanctifying grace, working whatever conversions to Catholicism might be necessary to attain that end. This union has the end of the sanctification of the spouses. At this point, it is very much breakable, since the grace is outside the soul. When the two enter into a sacramental marriage, then the grace is sanctifying grace, inside the souls, joining them together. At this point the union is unbreakable.

In infatuation, you were attracted to various things about the other, assorted body parts, certain aspects of their personality, etc. As the infatuation became deeper, the number of things to which you are attracted increased. If the infatuation got deep enough, you were attracted to every part of the person, but even then it was still just a collection of parts. It is very easy to say this is love when you don't know what true love actually is. In love, you are attracted to the other as a whole. You desire not the body, but the whole person. You desire not this aspect of them or that part of who they are, you desire the whole of who they are. The desire is for the whole person. In infatuation you wanted to get pleasure from them, be it sexual pleasure or whatever good times you could have with them depending on where you are in life. Now, you do not seek to get anything out of it, but rather want to give yourself to them. You do not want sexual pleasure; it would be nice, but isn't a priority.

Rather you want the companionship of the person you love. This companionship is a deep and close friendship within the context of a romantic relationship, motivated by your love for that person. The romantic friendship has a mentality of going to the other, giving yourself to the other, a self-less act, an action away from yourself, to be companions through life. It is not a desire for the other to come to you, some sort of motion towards yourself, to profit something from it, as with lust or infatuation. Love gives you tranquility and serenity, it gives you true peace. Love gives; it does not desire to receive. Love is completely self-less and self-giving. For this reason pride is completely incompatible and kills love quite easily. Any relationship that wishes to survive must desire to develop such a friendship, or else it is doomed to fail. If a couple in infatuation seeks such a friendship, then it is much more likely that God will one day call them to the Sacrament of Marriage, but the vocation to marriage is entirely up to God, not them.

When we say that marriage is an "offering of self" to your spouse, this is what we mean. It is not simply doing sacrifices for their sake, to make them happy. That is infatuation. This is giving your very self to them. Marriage is a sacrifice of your very self offered to your spouse to make them holy, to get them to heaven. You do not seek to get anything out of it, but rather want to give up your life and give it to them. After "it hits you like a ton of bricks" that you love the person, you are willing to sacrifice your life to save them. You would take a bullet for them. No hesitation. You would risk life and limb and give your very life to save them. When you love someone, even if it is not within the context of a romantic relationship, there still exists this sacrificial mentality, that you would give your very life to ensure there salvation from any harm, to guarantee that they would be happy in eternity. They're happiness now is nowhere near as important as their happiness in eternity. We see this clearly when it this love exists in parents for their children. When this exists within the context of romance, the resulting joy is a preview of Heaven itself, because that call to the married life is from God Himself. I could go on trying to explain this further, but love is beyond description because God is beyond description. When one person loves another their union is the grace of the Holy Ghost at work trying to join them in the Sacrament of Marriage and get them to sanctify each other. If the love exists in some other type of relationship, then God is trying to unite them through some other aspect of the Church's sacramental life that they might help each other get to heaven, be it as parent and child, as friends, or whatever else might happen.