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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

God Lifts You Out of Your Pit

XI Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: I Cor. 15:1-10 [The grace of God can work even the most extreme conversions.]
Gospel: Mk. 31-37 [Cure of a deaf-mute.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

In the Book of Proverbs, the story is told of a wise man beholding sinners (Prov. 7:1-27): A young woman "in harlot's attire, prepared to deceive souls" (v. 10) goes out to meet a young fool. She dresses in sexually appealing attire and lets him have her body. Why? Why do so many girls do this today? Why do they go about trying to be sexually appealing? The reason why they go about giving away their bodies so easily is to get men to respect them. They see that men care about nothing but sex, so they degrade themselves into objects, pieces of flesh to be used for pleasure, saying, "Come, let us be inebriated with the breasts, and let us enjoy the desired embraces, till the day appear." (v. 18) to get men to respect them and care for them. Now, this will never get men to respect them, it will only tell men to keep using her for pleasure. She degrades herself into a ditch and then gets stuck.

So the Scriptures state, "She entangled him with many words, and drew him away with the flattery of her lips. Immediately he followeth her as an ox led to be a victim, and as a lamb playing the wanton, and not knowing that he is drawn like a fool to bonds, Till the arrow pierce his liver: as if a bird should make haste to the snare, and knoweth not that his life is in danger." (Prov 7:21-23) The man wants only pleasure. He sees that this woman is easy, so he goes after her, degrading her from the purpose for which God created her, not knowing that God will one day judge him and that the curses of Psalm 108 will be upon him. The woman too is not innocent, as God gave her the gift of a body for a certain purpose, yet she degraded it to an object of pleasure. They both keep going and can't stop. They see how empty and passing the pleasure is, but can't say no to it and keep going back for more. They are addicted to their lives of sin, a far degradation from the purpose for which God created them.

What hope is there for such people? How can any of their lives be salvaged? They have already wasted the prime of their lives on sin. What can they possibly make of their lives now? It does not matter how degraded they are. It does not matter how used they are. God can always raise them up to the dignity for which they were created. We see a prime example of this in St. Augustine, a promiscuous and disgusting man with a bastard child who became a great bishop and Doctor of the Church. His feast would have been today if it wasn't Sunday. We see another example in St. Paul, who says in today's Epistle, "For I am the least of the Apostles, who am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am and His grace in me hath not been void."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Skinny on Living the Faith

Feast of St Bartholomew, apostle - II Class
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast granted us a reverent and holy joy in this say's festival of Thy blessed Apostle, Bartholomew, grant, we beseech Thee, that Thy Church may both love that he believed and preached what he taught. Through our Lord.
Full Latin-English propers here.

One thing people will notice at Mass (esp. if they aren't familiar with the Tridentine Rite) is that the Credo is said on II Class feasts, but only a select few. Those feasts are those of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Apostles. Why the apostles? Their faith is the Catholic religion. In order to practice it faithfully, one must love it. A man won't be faithful to his bride unless he loves her. If he does not love her, then once the relationship is no longer what it used to be, he will start interloping with other women in order to make it "feel like it used to". If anyone is to practice the faith, he must love the faith-not merely like it, or revise it so that it makes more sense to you or your society, but actually love it. However, loving the faith is not enough to live it faithfully. One must act on that love. If one loves the faith, then one must act like it every day. One must preach the faith through one's actions and daily lifestyle. If a man loves a woman, then it is not enough to love her, he must show her through the way he lives his life: everything is done for her, not so that he can get anything from her (esp. sex) but rather for her own good. His actions will show how much he really loves her, whether he really loves her or just wants her for pleasure. This is the only way the Church can ever be healthy: if the people in her both love what he believed and preached what he taught.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This Pompous Pharisee Sounds Awfully Familiar...

X Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: I Cor. 12:2-11 [The many gifts of the Holy Ghost.]
Gospel: Lk. 18:9-14 [Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

It is often said that God is merciful and forgives everything. Many people defend their actions, no matter how sinful and pleasure-seeking, by saying that God forgives everything, so they can get away with living however they want. For the sake of brevity, let's ignore the fact that such thinking is the sin of presumption (upon God's mercy). While God offers forgiveness to all people, we are not capable of receiving His mercy unless we actually open ourselves up. We open ourselves up to His mercy by regretting our sins and asking God to destroy them as if they never existed.

We see two men in today's Gospel. One, on the outside practices the faith. He claims to practice the faith, he goes around acting as if he practices the faith, does everything that the laws of the religion require of him, but he hates everyone who practices the faith in any way that is different, just because it's not his way, fancying the others to be either not with the times or just people who refuse to convert and believe in the truth. Anyone who thinks differently than him is considered to be an enemy and dangerous, too stubborn to admit he's wrong and refusing to "get with it" and enter in unity with the "people of God". He goes about living a lifestyle of whatever he can rationalize an excuse for, constantly modifying and revising his moral beliefs to be accepting of whatever he happens to have a passion for at that point of his life. If he wants it, it must be good right? God would never let him desire anything bad would He? He never humbles himself before God and never regrets his sins as he rationalizes an excuse for his sins, to claim that they are not really sins at all, at least not in his situation. He thinks that because he is holy he will automatically be forgiven without needing to be contrite and actually regret his sins. It's as if he can do as he pleases, as long as he fulfills the precepts of the law.

The thought no doubt crosses his mind often that all the other pharisees behave the same way he does and they are the people that show up every day and every week, so if all of them are committing these sins, then they can't really be sins, otherwise no one would go to Heaven. After all, they are the people of God, so if they are doing it, then it must be right, right? However, when we step out of this mentality (which sounds a awful lot like certain contemporary mentalities in the Catholic Church today, doesn't it? or is that just me?) and into reality, sin is sin no matter how many people are doing it. If everyone is doing it, then that means that our predicament is that much more dire and that we need that much more prayer to rectify the situation. This man exalted himself, putting all his strengths and accomplishments on display, showing his goodness, his abilities, and all his merits. God humbles him. He is the man that did not leave justified. The exterior display of holiness means nothing if you justify your sins using an exterior display of holiness.

The other man didn't dare defend himself. He didn't dare even look up at God. He simply and regretfully admitted that he was wrong to live the lifestyle he lived and shamefully and humbly asked God to take him back. God was right and he was wrong. He was wrong to live the life he lived, he knew he was wrong to do it, he regretted what he did, he admitted it, he asked to be taken back by God. He humbled himself and was exalted. He is the man that left justified. That is how we approach God: publically admitting that we are weak and can do nothing, that we degraded ourselves further by our sins, that God is the only one who is holy, God is the only one who is in charge, God is the only one who is strong and capable of doing anything, and that therefore (1) He is worthy of being praised for what He is and that (2) we need His help if we are to ever to do anything. We cannot even call upon Him without the help of His Holy Ghost.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spouse of Love, Save Us, For We Perish!

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - I Class
Epistle: Jud 13:22-25; 15:10 [The glory of the BVM]
Gospel: Lk 1:41-50 [The Visitation & Magnificat]
Full Latin-English propers here.

Her entire life, Our Lady was full of grace and free from sin. She was full of the love of God. The love of God is a grace He freely gives to those He chooses. The love of God is sacrificial and self-giving, not pleasure seeking and selfish like human passions. The one who loves seeks to give himself entirely to his beloved for her greater good. Of all human beings, none has received more of this grace than the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is rightfully called "the honor of our people" in today's Epistle. When a woman conceives a child, she sacrifices her body and gives it to take care of the child while he is in the womb, and even afterward as she nurses him. This sacrifice, within the context of a loving marriage created by God through the Rite of our holy Mother the Church, is a most noble sacrifice.

The Blessed Virgin offered her body up to God to take care of Him while He was in her womb and then to nurse Him. That is an even more noble sacrifice, since it is offered to God directly. For this reason, the Holy Ghost (Who is the Blessed Virgin's Spouse) in today's Epistle rightly says of Our Lady, "Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth." Her whole life, Our Lady remained in this state of grace that she had from her conception. Not once did she ever abandon that love for sinful pleasures. Never did she betray that grace in favor of a life of sin. Then, at the end of her earthly life, she was taken to Heaven where she is eternally united to that same love which filled her on earth. She was taken to Heaven, not just in soul, but in body as well, since it would be most inappropriate for a body so offered to God to be allowed to decay. Now she reigns in Heaven as Our Queen and Mother.

We on the other hand, did not even have grace at all until our baptism. Then filled with the Holy Ghost, we proceeded to betray this love in favor of the empty and passing pleasures of sin. We found a life with God to be too difficult. We ran away after the easy pleasures of the world. We degraded our bodies though sin. We wasted away our lives on sin. We only get to live life once and we wasted ours on sin. We separated ourselves from that love, and since Heaven is just simply union with Him, we separated ourselves from Heaven. We separated ourselves from the union that Our Lady has enjoyed so perfectly-at every moment and forever in Heaven. Between being born in a state of sin (original sin) and the many sins we have committed, it seems we have been in a state of grace only a few moments and have wasted so much of our lives on sin. That is time we will never get back, which only opens our eyes more to the severity of sin. 

Today is the day that we pray to Our Lady, Assumed body and soul into Heaven because she was so joined to God and offered herself, body and all, to God, that we might be re-joined to that grace that pours forth from God. We pray that we might be purified from our sins and that the effects of our sins might be destroyed. Today is the day we pray that we might be rejoined to God and His love that we one day might be in Heaven both body and soul, after the resurrection of the dead at the end of time; that we might share in the Assumption.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Priest and the Empty Church

Ever wonder why St. Jean Vianney looks dead in every
picture of him? He never let any images of him be
made during his life. The only image of him
we have is his death-mask.

Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney - III Class

What is the work of the priest? The work of the priest is to join God and man. The work of the priest is to offer sacrifice. The work of the priest is to gather the lost sheep and offer them up to God, offering up the Lamb of God and the sinners together that the union of Lamb and sinner might burn off sins. The work of the priest is to gather together the scattered flock. The priest joins sinners to God because God loves them. Love is a Divinely inspired desire to give yourself, sacrificing yourself, to care for another. It is in this way that God loves sinners and sacrificed Himself on the cross to destroy their sins. Because God loves sinners this much, sinners owe themselves to Him and He deserves to have them. The priest then offers up to God the sinners He rightfully deserves. The priest also offers the sinners up to God because, without union with God, the sinners have absolutely no way of avoiding Hell, no matter how much they go saying that they're "not really a bad person".

This is precisely the work done by St. Jean Marie Vianney. His parish was nothing but lost sheep. They were all fallen-away Catholics who slept in on Sundays, ate meat on Fridays, never went to Mass except for the occasional baptism or funeral, slept a round with whatever partner suited their lusts and passions, and were simply living a depraved, pleasure-seeking life. Everything they did was based on pleasure, which is selfish and manipulative, not on love, which is self-less and sacrificial. It took him 10 years of prayer and suffering, with everyone telling him he was crazy for doing this and the devil attacking his efforts to start to turn things around and eventually had everyone in confession, with people coming from great distances to have him hear their confessions. This work the Church desperately needs now much more that in St. Jean Vianney's time. Pray for more priests to do this work. It is this work that makes them priests. Pray for the lost sheep that they might return home. Many souls, both human and demonic, work very hard to discourage priests from this work. Support priests and their work by praying for the return of the lost sheep.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Transfiguration of the Sinner

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord - II Class
Epistle: II Pet. 1:16-19 [We believe in the One whom God revealed to be His Son.]
Gospel: Mt. 17:1-9 [The Transfiguration]
Full Latin-English propers here.

This is one of several feasts (together with the Ascension) that historically was used to celebrate Christ the King, since the actual feast of Christ the King in October was not established until the 20th Century. Why is today's feast about Christ the King? Today we see Christ as He truly is. Today we see His glory revealed. In the Divine Office today (at the Invitatory antiphon) He is called the "Summum Regem gloriae" (Most High King of Glory). That is what makes the Transfiguration important: We are seeing the glory of Christ the King revealed. Today Christ reveals His True Self to us and lets us see Him as He really is.

If only sinners could behold themselves the way the Church beholds her Bridegroom today! If only sinners could behold themselves as they truly are. They would be horrified that they used to have such great dignity, created by God for the specific purpose of knowing, loving, and serving His Truth. The truth about how God loves them with a Self-sacrificing love and wants wants them to be together with Him, joined to Him inseparably in Heaven. God knows that because He is infinite, He can make them far happier than anything else can. However, they have abandoned Him for everything else. They have left Him for pleasure that is easy to acquire and easy to pass, like the flame of a match. The match stays lit for a while, but it passes as easily and as quickly as it was lit. Upon comparing the finite pleasures of the world, it becomes clear that the life out among the secular world, away from God, is a waste of time. That time would have been better spent with God, who can satisfy you far greater than the worldly filth with which you wasted your time. You squandered your life on worldly pleasures when God was offering greater pleasures in the life He was trying to build for you. He created you to know, love, and serve Him and to love your neighbor and you degraded yourself down to the level of a common sinner by accepting the empty pleasures of the secular world and all the manipulation that comes with the pursuit of that pleasure. Sin sounds good, but when you compare it to the good that comes only from God, it becomes painfully clear just how evil sin is. Similarly a dirty plate doesn't seem that bad, until you compare it to a clean plate. Then it becomes clear just how dirty the plate is. Today we see Christ as He truly is: the Most High King of Glory. Let us pray that sinners see themselves as they truly are: created by God with a great dignity, at the pinnacle of creation, to know the love of God, only to have been greatly degraded by their own sins, contrary to their own nature. If sinners were to see themselves as they truly are, they would be horrified at how much they have degraded themselves.