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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Way Out of This Miserable Life...

VI Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Rom. 6:3-11 [New life in Christ.]
Gospel: Mk. 8:1-9 [Feeding of the four thousand.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

"Why does God allow suffering?" "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" People constantly have asked through history why we have pain and suffering and why God does not stamp it out. The reason why God allows suffering is that it is our ticket out of the sufferings of this world. That sounds counter-intuitive, but God's plans often are and God often uses His enemy's own weapons to defeat them. We hear in the Preface of the Holy Cross, "et qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno vinceretur" (that he [Satan] who conquered on a tree [in the garden], might be conquered on a tree [the cross]). Through His sacrifice of Himself on the cross Christ purchase for us an escape route from the suffering and death of this world. An escape from this fallen world is the only thing that ultimately matters, as this world has hell as its natural end, thanks to the fallen nature we have as a result of original sin. Original sin causes our souls to naturally be in a state of sin (thus we all go to hell by default) and brought suffering into the world. From, working for our food, to childbirth, to death itself, every ill this world has was unleashed by original sin.

On the cross, Christ uses suffering to atone for sin. This sacrifice makes life available to a dead world. This life then, is made present to us through the Sacraments. If we are to have any hope of entering heaven, if we are to have relief from our suffering, we must join ourselves to this Holy Sacrifice of Christ. We do so in two ways. First and foremost we must join ourselves to Christ and His Supreme Sacrifice on the Cross through the Sacraments of the Church. Secondly, we can augment this union by offering up our own suffering up to Christ; giving Him our wounds, that He might heal them. At that point, our suffering is destroyed by suffering. Christ renders our suffering so weak, that it destroys itself. By offering up the pain and suffering of our lives, enduring the pain and letting Christ take charge of it and heal it as He chooses, the pain itself is destroyed. However, the offering up of suffering to Christ only works if we are joined to Him in the first place. We can't give Him anything unless we are connected to Him. Offering up our own suffering increases our union with Him. We must have a union with Him in the first place, or else there is nothing to increase.

Through this union, Christ heals all our wounds. The more we join ourselves to His self-sacrifice on the cross, the more we are healed and the more joy and peace He can give us in our lives. These gifts are not directly proportional. We do not get 10 units of healing for 10 units of penance. Christ loves us more than we can understand and is always generous in giving us medicine for the wounds of our lives. We destroy our lives through our own selfishness and He restores them better than they were before. This goes back to the concept of "God can make you happier than you can make yourself, so offer everything up to God and let Him decide what will happen." that I talked about last week. We see in today's Gospel how Christ multiplies the loaves and fishes to feed four thousand. Christ can bring sustenance from starvation and great things out of nothing. Christ takes what little we are capable of offering Him and multiplies it into a great gift beyond our imagining.

At this point, the old self, degraded and in pain because of sin stops existing and the new self, living in the joy and peace of God, which is far greater than any joy or peace this world can give us. That is why we suffer. St. Paul says in today's Epistle, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ." We share in Christ's suffering that we may share in His Resurrection. The only catch is that we have to let God be in charge of our lives and let Him decide how things will happen. For us humans that makes the task almost impossible as we have a very hard time letting go of what hurts us and entrusting it to someone else. Then again, this tendency of ours is a result of original sin, so offering it up heals it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It Was Only a Matter of Time...

It was only a matter of time until confession came under attack (first in Ireland, now in Australia, too). The world supports sin so much and even enshrines it in law (Gov. Cuomo of New York should have been excommunicated *ages* ago. Cohabitation and protecting sodomy by law? Each is a straight red card in my book.). With so much sin being supported, it was only a matter of time that the single most important tool for fighting sin would be targeted. We are in a spiritual war and Satan is a master commander. This was only a matter of time. The problem is that most of our commanders are not competent commanders (cf. the NY bishops' "fight" vs. the legalization of sodomite unions-come on! even the sodomites themselves were amazed that the bishops just keeled over and surrendered without a fight!). However, we can take some consolation in the fact that Our Supreme Commander in this war is a greater tactician than the enemy.

BTW, I like how the violet ribbon is made to look like a stole (it's even crossed ;) ).

Looking at That Giant Wound Caused by Sin...

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, penitent - III Class
Epistle: Cant. 3:2-5; 8:6-7 [Love of the sinner for God.]
Gospel: Lk. 7:36-50 [Mary anoint's Christ's feet.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Our Lord loved St. Mary Magdalene. He gave her the privilege of being the first person to see Him risen from the dead, in His glorious state which He holds forever. While she was a sinner, living a life of harlotry, Our Lord wanted to see her risen from her death of sin, in her glorious state. Our Lord created her to know and love Him and to love her neighbor with a love that mirrors Our Lord's love for her. Christ, as God, knew her sins and was greatly grieved by them. Here was this body, which He, as the Divine Word, created, designed to show forth God's glory through it's beauty and it's use in service of Him, being thrown to the dogs. Ravenous wild beasts, rendered human by their DNA, not their behavior, used her body for their own pleasure, degrading God's creation to something to be used for sexual pleasure and to express whatever emotions existed between her and the dog with whom she lay. She herself ran after this life, degrading herself to an instrument of pleasure.

She built up a reputation of living this life. She was known for living such a life and no other life existed. The problem is that God called her to live a life of sanctity, living in union with Him and whatever people He would decide to give her. She ran off into an illegitimate life. She had been living a lie and those around her, especially her (many?) lovers, believed and knew nothing about her except the lies that she was living. None of them knew her true self. Only Christ knew her true self. Christ could not stand her life of sin as that life is contrary to her purpose as His creation. He wanted her entire life to be a reflection of His Divine Love for her and all humanity.

Eventually, there came the time when she realized that the life she was living was just empty and passing pleasure. She realized that this whole time, God wanted to be with her. God's love is the extreme opposite of the human emotion in which she was living. God's love is a desire to give yourself completely for the ultimate good of another. It comes within the context of loving a spouse, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and many other contexts. In the context of marriage, love pushes you to give your entire life to someone to take care of them and lead them to heaven. Sex effects that union and expresses that Divine Love. When that Divine Love pushes you to have sex, He pushes you to want to give your self to the other person, that you might be united to your spouse, soul, heart, and even body, giving everything, even your body, even the most private part of your body to your beloved spouse. [EDIT: God then uses that union to create new life, which is why God promoted that union in the first place: so He can use it to create new life.] Divine Love pushes one to see the body as beautiful, in and of itself, just because God created it that way. However, the secular world contradicts each of these things. It says that marriage is just an agreement between two people about how they will live their lives or just the progression of human emotions. It says that sex is not about giving yourself, but about receiving pleasure. It sees the body as something to be used for sexual pleasure and that it is beautiful based on the body's capacity for giving pleasure. Sex is seen as an expression of human emotions, when it is really an expression about Divine Love, which is a grace given freely by God when He chooses and never deserved of worked for by humanity.

St. Mary Magdalene eventually realized this. She realized that her life was a misuse and perversion of what God gave her, degrading herself to a lower level. She also realized that the married life was not hers to have. Christ never intended to give her a life of marital love, sex, children, or anything else that's a part of the marital vocation. She, in her own pride had been taking aspects of that life and those things were not hers to have. God intended another life for her. St. Mary Magdalene retired to a cave in a mountain near Marseilles, France, where her brother St. Lazarus was the first bishop. She lived the rest of her life in penance, offering reparation for her sins, to make up for the damage her life of sin caused her body, her soul, and her reputation. Sin wounds the soul and those wounds need to be treated by penance. Sin wounds the emotions, and those wounds need to be treated by offering oneself and one's broken life to God. Sin wounds the body, by leaving it worn out and used. Some of this damage is permanent. The body needs to be offered up to God to be healed after it was offered to dogs for their own pleasure and happiness. Sin wounds the reputation, and that needs to be healed by living a life united with God and whichever people He wishes to give you to say, "This is my life. This is my only real life. I was running away from it into a false life I made up in my own pride. This is the life I was supposed to be living all along, but instead I lived a lie."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Wash me more and more from my sin."

OK, I realize that this is a God-less song that's about whatever it's about (so you don't need to remind me), but Evanescence unwittingly sang something that mirrors the cry of a repentant sinner to her Lord. Lets have a look (my comments):

How can you see into my eyes like open doors? [God knows the sinner and sees into the heart.]
Leading you down into my core where I’ve become so numb [The sinner feels dead because her soul (her core) is dead.]
Without a soul my spirit sleeping somewhere cold [Better: "Without life, my spirit (i.e. soul) is sleeping somewhere cold (i.e. lifeless)"]
until you find it there and lead it back home [Until God raises her from spiritual death, back home to His presence.]

(Wake me up) [Raise me from the death of sin.]
Wake me up inside [Raise me from the death of sin.]
(I can’t wake up) [Raise me from the death of sin.]
Wake me up inside [You get the idea.]
(Save me) [Save me.]
call my name and save me from the dark [There's a good bit packed in here. It should remind you of the Last Gospel (Jn 1:1-14) and the Benedictus (Lk 1:68-79). Both speak of God saving sinners, who are said to be in the "darkness" and the "shadow of death". We cannot save ourselves, so the only way out is if God calls us.]
(Wake me up) [Raise me from the death of sin.]
bid my blood to run [Give me life (i.e. grace). Only Your Blood can make my blood flow again.]
(I can’t wake up) [I, as a human, am not strong enough to save myself.]
before I come undone [before I go to Hell]
(Save me) [Save me.]
save me from the nothing I’ve become. [Save me from the sinner I've turned myself into.]

Now that I know what I’m without [That "what" is the joy and inner peace that comes only from being with God. Love comes from God alone. Everything else is just passing passions.]
you can't just leave me [you can't just leave me to rot in my own sin and fall into Hell]
breathe into me [Give me life.] and make me real [Restore the real version of me, after I destroyed myself and pretended to be someone I'm not by living a life of sin.]
bring me to life [Give me Your life to bring the real me, the person who I really am, into reality; that people may know that the holy version of me is who I really am and that the sinful version of me is a fake that people (including myself) made up in our own pride.]

(Wake me up) [This is the refrain, as above]
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
before I come undone
(Save me)
save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life [Give me grace. Restore the real me. My life is sin is a fake; it isn't me. Only my life with You is real.]
(I've been living a lie, [By living a life of sin, I lied to myself about who I am. The sinful version of me isn't the real me. It's fake. It's fictional. It's a lie. It was made up by man in a fit of pride, especially by myself in my own pride. This isn't who I am. I've been lying to myself and to everyone around me about who I really am. They need to completely re-learn who I am after knowing me for years because they've only known the false me I made up in sin. I myself need to learn who I am. I am someone created by You to love You and love my neighbor with a love that imitates and mirrors Your love of me.] there's nothing inside) [my life of sin is just empty pleasure]
Bring me to life [Give me grace. Make people know that the sinful version of me is not the real me. Show them my true identity, who I really am. I can't shake this fake version of me I made up in sin. "Wash me more and more from my sin." Get rid of the sinful version of me and make people know that it is fake and isn't real. Tell them who I am. They don't know who I really am. They only know the lie I've been living.]

frozen inside without your touch
Without your love, darling [My life is dead and empty without Your love burning inside me.]
only you are the life among the dead [You alone are Life among humanity. Brings up thoughts of the Resurrection.]

all this time I can't believe I couldn't see
kept in the dark but you were there in front of me [This entire time You have been right in front of my face calling me back, waiting for me to return, because You love me so much and will never give up on me. I, in my sin and pride, ignored You and refused to see that your desire for me was love and that sin's desire for me was empty pleasure.]
I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems [I've been in sin for longer than I can remember. It's embarrassing to think of how long it's been and how much of my life I've destroyed and wasted on sin.]
got to open my eyes to everything [Not only do those around me need to learn who I really am, but I myself need to learn who I really am. I need to learn everything about my life both in the present (to live my vocation) and in the past (to make up for my sins) because I was never paying attention and was wasting my life and destroying myself in sin.]
Without a thought, without a voice, without a soul [Sin has destroyed me to the point that I don't have the strength to think of You, or speak to You, or so much as be alive (again "soul" should be "life/grace")]
don't let me die here [you can't just leave me to rot in my own sin and fall into Hell.]
there must be something more [There must be more to my existence than this physical world with it's passing and empty pleasures.]
bring me to life [Restore me to the life I once had with you. Make me glorious, with your love shining through me, completely replacing the lie I have have been living with a complete replacement. Every last tiny detail of my sin must be exposed as fake and replaced by your love. "Wash me more and more from my sin."]

(Wake me up) [This is the refrain, as above]
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
before I come undone
(Save me)
save me from the nothing I’ve become

(Bring me to life)
I’ve been living a lie, there’s nothing inside
(Bring me to life)
If only sinners would come to this realization! The the angels would sing like this announcer:

How does God respond to such a cry? St. John tells us in his Apocalypse: "For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Ap. 7:17)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This is Love, This is Love Which Obtains for Us Infinite Joy.

V Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Missa Exáudi, Dómine
Epistle: I Pet. 3:8-15 [Love one another and God will be on your side.]
Gospel: Mt. 5:30-24 [Condemnation of anger and the offering of sacrifice without reconciliation.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

One lesson that I have learned time and again in my life is that if I let God choose how a given situation will turn out, then it always turns out far greater than if I had chosen the outcome myself. The gifts God offers us are greater than what we could ever imagine. We can sit and fantasize about how great life could be, but if we let God choose what will happen, the result is greater than our greatest fantasies. God ends up satisfying us far more than what we could ever satisfy ourselves. That is because God created and designed us, so He knows how to satisfy us more than anyone else, even more than we can satisfy ourselves. We struggle to understand ourselves and why we suffer, but God understands us and our sufferings perfectly. Because God understands us better than we or anyone else understands us, He can make us happier than we or anyone else can make us.

The Church today reminds us of this truth in the collect, "O God, Who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee in all things, and above all things, may obtain Thy promises which exceed all that we can desire." So we are reminded that God's gifts are greater than all our understanding and all our desires. Not only that, but we are also told how to go about getting these gifts: we must love God "in all things and above all things". Loving God "above all things" is the first commandment: to love God with your whole mind, heart, and strength. Loving God "in all things" is the second commandment: to love thy neighbor. This love is the price of being perfectly filled with joy. It is a joy that only comes from God because God alone completely understands us.

So what does this love entail? Love is a complete sacrifice of yourself for the good of another. This is the logical step that follows the realization that God can make us happier than we can make ourselves: God understand us better than we do, so He can make us happier than we can make ourselves, so we must give ourselves to Him so He can give us a better life. We then give everything to Him in order to receive a greater gift. We must offer our whole selves, everything we have and everything we are, so that God can mold our lives and choose what our lives will be like. This self-giving is what constitutes love.

This love is two fold. We give self to God first, for His own sake, loving God "above all things". God is so great, that He is worthy of our whole selves. God is love and joy itself, so if we are to enjoy these things, then we must give ourselves entirely through Him, and He will give us these things through whatever means He so chooses. It might come through being married and having a family or it might come through being cloistered in a convent. Either way, it is the same love, the same joy, the same God. He will choose how we shall receive His joy. While our joy comes through whatever means God chooses, we must still love God above those means. The only reason those means are important to us in the first place is because God's love and joy comes to us through those means, so God is rightfully placed ahead of them.

Secondly, we love neighbor. Love of neighbor is done for two reasons. We love neighbor primarily for the sake of God, loving God "in all things", that His love for us and for all humanity might shine forth through our love for each other. Whenever we love anyone other than God, we are to love them in a way that mirrors Christ's love: Christ's love for them, for us and for all mankind. The more our love of neighbor mirrors the love of Christ, the purer and greater our love is and the more Christ's love shines forth through our love. Secondly, we love neighbor for his own sake, sacrificing ourselves and giving of ourselves for his greater good. His ultimate good is Heaven. There will inevitably be many intermediate goods (be they large or minute) to help attain the ultimate good. This is how love operates. Love does not harbor hatred, rivalries, or anger. Love does not seek pleasure or anything for self, it only seeks to give for the good of the other. This sacrifice of self, to God first because His greatness makes Him deserving of it, and to neighbor second for God's glory and neighbor's good, purchases for us a share in the joy that God designs for us and gives us through His Son, who makes up for our failings.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Put on the Armor of God"

Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - IV Class

It is hard to be a faithful Catholic today. There are many enemies that surround us. People think there is something wrong with us when we condemn the sin of cohabitation or marriage outside the Church. They hate us when we call a spade a spade and sodomy a sin. We get called "old-fashioned" and "uptight" for condemning all sex that is done for pleasure. These are all affronts to marriage. Marriage is an imitation of the union between Christ and the Church. God designed love, sex and marriage to be a giving of your whole being, everything you have, everything you own, everything you are, to another person, desiring not good times for yourself with this person, but rather sacrificing yourself for this person's own good, to take care of them, that you might be together both in this life and the next. In this, there is no room for using the other person to make yourself happy. It is an imitation of Christ on the cross. Sex is the physical expression of this love, which is used by God to create new life. This love is a grace from God, not a human emotion, given to those whom God calls to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. *That's* what marriage is: a physical union that mirrors Christ's union with His Bride.

Everything outside of this is sin because it deviates from God's plan for love, sex, and marriage. This includes a *huge* array of sins. Sexual sins are possibly the most common in the world. All the pleasures the world embraces we condemn because they are a misuse and a degradation of the gifts God has given us. Therefore, the world hates us any time we open our mouths on any moral issue whatsoever. From cohabitation, to marriage outside the church, to sex outside marriage, to sex for pleasure, to abortion, to homosexuality, to euthanasia, to you name it, we are condemned as intolerant, old-fashioned, outdated, bigoted and every other condemnation in the book. Our evangelization and conversion efforts are called "brainwashing" and "manipulation" of those who are doing "nothing wrong".

We can look at the treasures God gives us (like the Sacrament of Matrimony-not to mention the Eucharist, which is the intimacy of the original Marriage, the one between Christ and the Church), and it leaves us so at peace. Then we can look at the world and all it does to persecute us, calling our faith "hate speech", passing laws against us, and killing us by the dozen. We can read the latest article or blog post on a church bombed by Muslims, or clergy taken prisoner by the Chinese, or congressmen promoting bills that would defend sin. It quickly becomes clear that we need help from God if we are ever going to survive in this world. This is why Our Lady gave us the scapular, because of all I just said. The scapular is spiritual armor, with a breastplate and a backplate. The rosary is our weapon. It is a machine gun firing off Ave's. Only with the help of God can we survive.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. To celebrate let's have a Te Deum and the Hymn of Ecce Homo:

The words:
Eternal Glory to Christ Jesus,
Our King and our firm Hope,
The Sovereign that rules the world
and the Inheritance of the nations.

With the demeaning cape and scepter,
You are cruelly crowned with thorns
King of Pain, once in the Pretorium
King of Love, forever adored.

Fighting for Your flag,
Which we carry on our chests,
We achieve true peace and victory
in the struggles of life.

So we serve you with internal obedience
and with a firm will,
Because in You is Justice and Clemency
Because in You is resplendence of Truth.

Grant us by Divine Grace,
That we become a chosen people,
Firmly believing Your Doctrine,
and following Your precepts.

Candeias, Ponta Delgada military band, 1870’s

The words just ooze with traditionalism and orthodoxy don't they?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Proper Role Model for Young Girls

St. Maria Goretti's incorrupt body
Commemoration of St. Maria Goretti - IV Class

St. Maria Goretti was an 11 year old girl who was killed because she refused the advances of an older boy who just wanted to take advantage of her for pleasure. He tried three times to rape her and three times she succeeded in defending her body. On the third time, he took a long kitchen knife and stabbed her over a dozen times in frustration. This was on July 5, 1902. She died in the hospital the next day. Today is her commemoration in the Martyrology.

How many girls today would defend their bodies? How many would say, "No! It is a sin!" How many would refuse to let a boy take advantage of them for pleasure? How many dress modestly to defend their body's dignity and help keep it from being used for pleasure? So few girls recognize the dignity God gave their bodies. The human body is God's ultimate creation, the masterpiece of the Divine Artist. It is beautiful and dignified just because God made it. On top of that, the female human body has further dignity as it is given the honor of a greater share in that same process of creation than the male body. Nowhere in this do we find a place for pleasure. The body is beautiful in itself because God made it that way. It exists to show God's glory and to participate in creation. There is no room for pleasure. Use for pleasure is a degradation of the body.

Far too few recognize this reality today. Contrary to everything God has said and done (which includes even creating the body) most girls treat their bodies as if they exist to give boys pleasure and they treat their bodies accordingly. They wear immodest clothes that invite boys to look at their bodies as sources of pleasure. They degrade their own bodies to objects of pleasure. They figure that if they keep the boy satisfied enough he will stick around to take care of her and the baby. This is mutual manipulation. This is not God's plan. God designed love to be a mutual total self-giving to one another, not some sort of compromise. The girl learns to act this way during puberty and continues this same behavior throughout her life, never respecting her God-given dignity at any point.

Why do girls act this way? They have been given the greatest thing in physical creation, their own bodies, created by God and they promptly throw them away to dogs in order to gain whatever romantic pleasure or type of support they seek. Why do they show their bodies such disrespect, by putting it all on display for boys to lust after and use for pleasure through revealing or tight fitting clothes? How can a girl be that disrespectful of her own body? Simple: she was never taught what dignity she has in the first place. No one ever properly catechized her, telling her that her body innately has great dignity and beauty, just because God made it so and that her body exists to show God's glory and to participate in creation. It does not exist for pleasure. So many young girls worry about their appearance, trying to turn their bodies into sources of pleasure, and completely ignoring the beauty they had from God Himself from the beginning.

So when we traddies gripe about poor catechesis and watered-down teaching on the part of modernists, this is why we get so worked up. We have seen the fruits of the "spirit of Vatican II" and this is it. Poor catechesis leads to Catholics, including our children, being absorbed into the sins of the world. No one ever properly taught them what God is trying to work in their lives. They get degraded down to the level of the world because no one lifts them up to the level of God. No one lifts them up to the level of God because those same people have lowered God to the level of the people in the "spirit of Vatican II". That's why we need practices and teachings that elevate God above us, not bring Him down to our level. If we elevate God, our union with Him will elevate us. If we lower God to our level, union with Him is powerless and has no effect.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

So You Want to Be a Priest?

III Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Missa Respice in me
Epistle: I Peter 5:6-11 [The devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour souls.]
Gospel: Luke 15:1-10 [Parable of the Lost Sheep.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Some people think that being a shepherd of souls is a pretty sweet job-after all the main feature of your day is to say Mass and hold God in your anointed hands; being able to go about as you please in the inner sanctum of God's Holy Temple. What is your most important task as a priest? It is to bring the lost sheep back into the fold. On the surface, that sounds like a nice warm thought: bringing people back to God after leaving the flock. It makes the priesthood look comfy and easy going: all the priest is supposed to do is bring people back into the fold and shepherd them to heaven. What a warm and cozy picture. However, once you look at the reality of it, it's not such a nice picture. Here is a person that was once a practicing Catholic, who went to Church, and tried to live a good life. She then was tempted by the world's ways fell into sin. The sin escalated and grew worse and worse until she ended up living in sin and not having been to Mass in years. The priest has to fix this. He is like a surgeon working on a person mangled in an accident. The surgeon in that situation is essentially a butcher in reverse, putting back together what a butcher would carve up. The priest similarly needs to be a tempter in reverse, putting back together what the devil destroyed.

The priest loves this sinner and wants her back. He does not want her back for his own benefit but for her benefit. He does not want to make himself happy but wants her to have a better life. That's what love really is: making sacrifices for the other's good, not seeking happiness and good times. The latter is infatuation and lust. The latter is why she needs penance in the first place. What makes her a lost sheep is this pursuit of pleasure and good times instead of self-less sacrifice for the good of another. He knows that the pleasures she is experiencing are passing pleasures. They are traps laid by the devil to trick her into going to Hell. She refuses to acknowledge this reality while the sins still offer her pleasure. Remember that the prodigal son did not become prodigal until he hit rock bottom. Only in hindsight or from a distance can one discern that a trap covered in pleasure is in fact a trap covered in pleasure. The priest loves this sinner so strongly that he wants her to have the everlasting and infinite ecstasy of Heaven instead of the passing and finite pleasures of this world which have Hell as their inevitable end.

The first thing the priest will find out when he seeks out his beloved sheep, is that the devil worked very hard (OK, he didn't work that hard because he's lazy, but he says he did because he's a liar. The devil is full of all vices like that.) to get her where she is today in the depths of sin and doesn't want this nuisance of a priest with his delusions about her alleged sanctity destroying his work and the life he has made for her. So the priest is his prime target. He patrols like a lion, looking to kill the priest. The lion has many allies. Those allies surround the priest tell him that he needs to be more tolerant of other people's lifestyles and that he can't go forcing his opinion on others. Often times the sinner says the same things. The priest looks at himself. He is just a man. There is nothing he can say to her to convince her to come back. He has nothing he can give her. Nothing he has, nothing he is, interests her. He is nothing. He is so weak because he himself turns to his own sins instead of God, who is the source of all strength.

Knowing his weakness and inadequacy, and feeling like the poor man that had his only beloved ewe lamb taken by the rich man (2 Kings [2 Sam] 12:1-4), completely unable to convince this soul to come back to the Catholic Church, he cries out to God in his Mass today: "Look Thou upon me, O Lord, and have mercy on me: for I am alone and poor. See my abjection and my labor and forgive me all my sins, O my God. To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, my God, I put my trust: let me not be ashamed." The Mass calls back: "Cast thy care upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee." He takes confidence that he shall win back his little ewe lamb. He knows that a day has been appointed by God for the lost sheep to be found and returned to life, rescued from the bowels of Satan. He is further told, "God is a just judge, strong and patient: is He angry every day?" and "He hath not forgotten the cry of the poor." Lost sinners will come back. God hears the prayers for their conversion and loves the sinners more than the people praying for them. Their love for sinners is only an imitation of God's love for sinners.

Eventually that blessed day comes when the lost sheep is found. The priest absolves her with his own hand. It is a great joy. However, the great event comes and goes. Now what? He needs to keep her holy. He already has a whole parish of people to take care of and various visiting people that come in from all over. He again turns to the Mass. He is told today that the Eucharist gives us life, purifies us, "and day by day, carry us on the observances of a heavenly life." That is the source of all things in the Church. The Eucharist gives life and sustains life. The Eucharist creates purity and maintains purity. The Eucharist is the Good Shepherd. The Eucharist takes care of the flock through the priest. Christ the Good Shepherd takes care of the flock through the priest. Here we can see just how transparent the priesthood is. The priest is God. The weak man disappears. God shines through and "illumines the Holy Church like the sun of each day." (from a traditional Portuguese Eucharistic hymn).

The only proper I haven't referenced yet is the collect. The collect always gives is a short summary of what we are remembering in that particular Mass. Today's Mass is about the Good Shepherd. The collect tells us today that God guides us through things temporal to things eternal. He is the Good Shepherd and we are His flock. The Good Shepherd makes Himself present through the work of the priest; through the Consecration at Mass and through all the work he does to bring the little ewe lamb back. So remember that warm, fuzzy picture from the beginning? Yea, that doesn't do the priesthood justice. The priest has to take care of souls that have been butchered by sin and put them back together while at the same time fight off the devil who is trying to kill him (remember the devil also works through the Church's internal politics), all the while trying to figure out how God wants it done and do all of it God's way and not his own. The reward in Heaven better be pretty damn good.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Arise, My Sister, My Bride, and Come

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - II Class
Missa Salve Sancta Parens
Epistle: Cant. 2:8-14 [The coming of the Bridegroom.]
Gospel: Lk. 1:37-47 [The Visitation.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Many people long for love. Many young girls long for a boy to come along who will love them and take care of them, acting as their companion through life. Well, today Christ the Bridegroom comes to visit us. Wait-isn't today the Visitation of Mary? Yes. What makes what she did important is that she, the first tabernacle, carried the Nymphios (the Bridegroom) in her womb. That is why Elisabeth was overjoyed. That is why the infant John was overjoyed. Today the Church, the Bride of Christ, sings as the bride of the Canticle of Solomon: "Behold my beloved speaketh to me, Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one; and come." Why is the Church so overjoyed at the coming of her Bridegroom in His Immaculate Tabernacle? Simply because of her love of Him and her knowledge that He loves her. The two lovers want to be together. She is overjoyed that her Bridegroom has come to be with her because she knows that He is the One who takes care of her.

The devil offers her happiness if she were to run away with him. They could live by their own rules on their own accord and seek their own pleasures. Such "love" seeks only good times with the other. The other person is only good insofar as they can make you happy. It's all about how much happiness people can give you.  She however, realizes that while the pleasures that the devil offers are easy to attain, they pass just as quickly. Such greedy pleasures are tricks and deceptions that lead only to Hell. She compares this with the love she has for her Divine Bridegroom. This love is selfless. It does not seek to receive happiness and good times; it only seeks to give self to the other.

She looks up at her Bridegroom, at the pain she put Him through on the cross by committing her sins. She sees how He did not respond to her offenses against Him with anger and frustration, that she did not give Him what He wanted. He instead patiently bore the offenses, offering the pain up to God to cleanse her of her sins and make her beautiful again. He offers Himself up to give her a better life. He sacrifices Himself for her good. This is what love really is. Love does not seek happiness; love is sacrificial. He puts up with all the pain that comes His way because He's doing this for her. The possibility of one day being together with her in perfect bliss makes it all worth it. Today the Bridegroom comes to visit us and be with us. Because of this love that exists between the two of them, the Church exalts at the coming of her Divine Lover in the womb of the New Ark of the Covenant. Even the unborn leap for joy at this sight.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Attempts at Explaining Love

Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus - I Class
Missa Cogitatiónes
Epistle: Eph. 3:8-12,14-19 [St. Paul's mission to preach the love of Christ.]
Gospel: Jn. 19:31-37 [The Piercing of Christ's Side.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

For as long as civilization has existed, man has struggled to describe love. From awkward young lovers just cutting their teeth in the world of romance, to those who have been married for decades, people feel love, but can't describe it. How can anyone wrap words around love? How can anyone understand love? What is love exactly? Love is a grace from God that moves you to sacrifice yourself for the good of another. Love does not seek any enjoyment or good times, but the greater good of the beloved. The one who is infatuated and lusts seeks to gain happiness from being with the other person. The one who loves on the other hand, seeks to give himself so that the other can have the best life possible.

This is how God designed marriage to work. You don't choose your spouse based on their ability to give you happiness. You choose your spouse based on your desire to give yourself so that your spouse might have the best life possible and God was the One who ignited that desire, since it is a grace from Him moving you to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Note this all-important distinction in those two desires: infatuation seeks to gain, whereas love seeks to give. That is the difference between human emotion in the former and Divine grace in the latter. One major effect of this is that in love you are able bear the other's offenses and seek to correct them, since you seek their good, not your happiness.

Since love is a grace from God, only God then can explain love. You can't understand love unless God reveals it to you. You can't describe it unless God gives you the words. It takes a grace to explain a grace. St. Paul tells us today that his mission is to preach the love of Christ. The only reason why St. Paul (or anyone else for that matter) was able to describe love is because love was revealed to him by God. Today we celebrate the largest revelation of love in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today we see Christ on the cross, His Heart broken by a lance, give all of Himself so that His Bride the Church might have a better life. In this we see the most perfect example of love. In this we see the exemplar for all married couples. This is the exemplar for all forms of love. Christ loves His Bride, but she ran away into sin. Her sins wound Him. He gave all of Himself in sacrifice to destroy those sins so that He could be with her in a better life. That's all love wants: is to be with the beloved in a better life. Love is willing to give himself entirely to make it happen. No pain is too great. Love puts up with the greatest pains for the sake of the beloved. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the Sacred Heart. I could talk forever trying to explain love, but you can't really understand love unless you dive into the Sacred Heart and swim around because He is Love Itself; the clearest expression of Love, which we are all to imitate.