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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why We Have Advent

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bring the Rain!

I Sunday of Advent - I Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant justum!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Abbot and The Corpse

Feast of St. Sylvester, abbot - III Class

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Felix Die Gratiae Agere

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

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

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Te Deum:

Marc Antoine Charpentier's Te Deum:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Most Painful Path is the Most Joyful

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

The East and West are One

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

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

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

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

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

h/t to Ars Orandi

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christ Unites What Sin Divides

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go Get the Door, It's God

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

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When Your Sins Are Too Big...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

May Almighty God Have Mercy on Them

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed - I Class Feria

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

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