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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't Build Your Own House, Get The Contractor

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

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

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

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

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

Icon of the Nymphios (Bridegroom)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

St. Raphael, Prune Us With Your Sword

Feast of St. Raphael, archangel - III Class

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

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

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Party's Over; Sober Up and Get to Work

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

God Laughs at Your Impossibility

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Fire of Love

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We Are Not Worthless

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

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I God You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

This is What Makes Me Proud to be a Hockey Fan

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

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

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

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

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

h/t to RCTV