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

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Why I Come to Church"

The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia produced the above video of members of the faithful answering the titular question "Why I Come to Church".

As one girl said in the video, we go to Church because we are looking for answers. If we already knew everything and were already perfect, we wouldn't need Church. The Church is a hospital for sinners and nothing more. The Church's only mission is to convert all nations. We exist to help people out of sinful and Godless lives and into the love with which God loved them before He created them. We neither condemn nor condone; we convert. That is all for which we were established.

Why do I go to Church? Because that is where I can encounter Divine Love, far more clearly than anywhere else. It's not like contemplating nature, where we can see a mere fingerprint or footprint of God; mere evidence of Himself that He left behind. The Holy Eucharist truly is God and He truly is there in the Church. We are there to be intimate with God. The Holy Eucharist is the Carnal Intimacy between Christ and His Bride the Church. We are there to help each other to attain that union with God. We are there to escape this world and go to Heaven. God wants to love mankind, but most people in the world run away from Him into the empty pleasures of the world. That is the problem we exist to solve: to bring people out of the world and into the Divine Love for which they were created by God.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Bridegroom Waiting for His Bride

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today we worship the Holy Bridegroom who sacrificed Himself on the Cross for His Bride, the Church, that all men might be saved through Her. He alone is Our Savior for He is the Creator of all men and the End for which all men were created and He sacrificed Himself to free us from the sins into which we had run away that through Him and His Church we all might live in the Divine Love for which we were created.

We belong to Him by right because He created us to live in Him. We ran away into sin, casting ourselves into death and vanity by our own stubborn will and selfishness. But since He has power over the living and the dead and Himself survives death, we, through participation in His Cross, find freedom from sinful passions that we may live in the Divine Love for which we were created. We participate in His Cross by accepting the suffering in our daily lives and giving ourselves to Him in the Sacraments, above all in the Eucharist, which is the Carnal Intimacy between Christ and His Bride. In the Eucharist we receive the Flesh and Blood of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross to be with us, that filled with Him, we might become a part of Him and dwell with Him in Heaven, having left all worldy passions and sins behind, being rendered pure again by His Blood. This is why we celebrate the Cross. We lament because Our Beloved is dead and rejoice because His surviving death raises us out of our sinful passions and back to our original purity in Him.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding Sanctity in Simple Housework

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Euphrosynos the Cook. He was the cook of a monastery in the 9th century that was mocked and looked down upon by the other monks as an incompetent fool. He prepared food for the brethren daily while enduring their abuse without retaliation or complaint as a sacrifice and thereby attained great humility and sanctity. A certain priest of that same monastery fervently and unceasingly implored God to show him the treasures that God has prepared for those that love Him. God granted him his request and in a dream showed the priest the Heavenly Garden of Paradise. The priest was awed and left speechless at the ineffable beauty of Heaven. He was shocked to see the Monk Euphrosynos walking casually through the Garden. He asked Monk Euphrosynos how was it that he was there. He replied that by the mercy and grace of God he was able to attain a place in Paradise. The priest then humbly asked the monk for some of Heaven's treasures. St. Euphrosynos picked three apples from a tree and wrapped them in the priest's handkerchief. Just then, the simandron was sounded to awaken the monks and call them to the chapel for Matins. The priest realized that it was all a dream. He looked over at his handkerchief and saw that it still contained the three apples, with an ineffable fragrance that filled the room.

In the chapel, the priest, with a frustrated tone, asked Monk Euphrosynos where he had been. He replied that he was in the place where they just met. The priest asked even more solemnly to tell what had happened. He told the priest that God granted him his request to see what God prepared for those who love Him and that he gave the priest three apples that the priest is now hiding in his cell. After Matins, the priest told the brethren of the dream and that he found the apples still in his handkerchief upon waking when the simandron was sounded. He took the brethren to his cell where they too were mystified by the ineffable fragrance of the apples. They went to seek their brother Euphrosynos, amazed by his sanctity and wanting to venerate him and seek his spiritual advice, but he was nowhere to be found. Knowing that he had access to Paradise, they figured that he couldn't be anywhere else. He was never seen again.

St. John Damascene on Fidelity to the Church

"Listen to me, people of all nations, men, women, and children, all of you who bear the Christian name: If any one preach to you something contrary to what the Holy Catholic Church has received from the holy apostles and fathers and councils, and has kept down to the present day, do not heed him. Do not receive the serpent’s counsel, as Eve did, to whom it was death. If an angel or an emperor teaches you anything contrary to what you have received, shut your ears."
- St. John of Damascus, Apologia of St. John Damascene Against Those Who Decry Holy Images