Posted tagged ‘Holy Communion’

HIS LIGHT IS LIFE

July 2, 2017

(Where I am on Sundays)

There are four Gospels in the Bible, each Gospel represented by an icon:  a man, an ox,  a lion, and an eagle.

Gospel 4

At the end of every Mass we are privileged to read and to hear  the first part of chapter one of the Gospel of John.   Every Sunday, over and over.      The words we hear each Sunday demonstrate why John is the Eagle, whose thoughts soar over and above this earthly life and point us to eternal things:

John 1: 4,5  (speaking of Jesus,  the Son of God,  the Word of God, come into the world)  (4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.     (5)   And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

His Life is the Light of men!

Heaven smaller

No other source for  our  Light-filled Life that enlivens and blesses our everlasting souls!

Made possible for us,  of course,  by the sacrificial  act of Jesus on His Cross,  which we can enter into, like refreshing nourishment for our souls  —

—  which is why I too enter into that sacrifice to the Eternal God –

ALTAR Only One Reason for the Mass

All for Him.

Sometimes there is an astonishing flood of holiness into a person during the Mass . . . a sense of that Light which Christ truly shares with us.

Verse 5  says   “. . .  and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Of course I cannot fully comprehend what happens.

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But that is very different from the world refusing to comprehend it.

A man can live in pleasure and ignore the great Source of Light and Life.  Men can turn churches into restaurants,   but it will not go well for the  world.

Things will end badly

Things will end badly.

In darkness,  confusion,   despair,  and death.

 

Gospel 4 in glass

( You can check with this guy.)

 

 

 

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FEBRUARY 2ND – A VERY FULL DAY

February 2, 2017

February the Second.    I actually had no idea, when I woke up this morning,  how many lovely and supernatural Mysteries are remembered on this day!

Of course,  first,   I woke up to the radio announcing  “the ground hog has seen its shadow.”   An extended winter –   yay!     Trivial, silly,  traditional,   fun —   but . . .  trivial.

ground-hog-in-sun

But there are deep and important Mysteries for us to attend to on this date, coming to us from Western Civilization, and the wisdom and knowledge of those who lived before us.

One is the three-fold remembrance of   (1)   the Purification of Mary,   (2)  the  Presentation of Christ in the Temple,  and (3)   Candlemas.       This is a part of Western Civilization;  it’s a part of our history, celebrated continuously from the time of the earliest Christians.    It was old when the first written account of this celebration was made just after 300 AD.

(1)   The Purification of Mary

purification

The Holy Family lived under the precepts of the Old Testament.    One of the precepts refers back to the Creation of mankind,  the Fall of mankind (and Original Sin falling upon everyone thereafter), the provision of sacrifice to “satisfy”  the infinite offense against the Creator – and His act of Creation that accompanies every “marital act.”

So, according to Mosaic Law,   Mary presents herself to the priest in the Temple  (there was only one Temple for the Jews) and provides two turtledoves for the sacrifices:  a sin offering and a ritual,  liturgical “cleansing,”  called “purification.”   (This does not refer to the worth of a woman.)

Mary needed neither.   If she had needed either,  she could not have contained the Holy Child,   the Son of God,  in her womb.   She had been prepared in such a  way so as not to actually have needed “purification,”  but   she humbled herself to the obedience of Old testament precepts.  Her holiness is all from her Holy Son.  Her salvation is all from her Holy Son – and His Cross.

(2)    2nd on this day,   the Holy Child is presented to the priest in the Temple. 

presnetation

Every human child  is from God.       He made it;   the child is His.   But in a charming and loving ceremony,  (written down in Leviticus),  the parents are allowed to “redeem”  the child,  to buy it back, so to speak, for a price, (today it’s usually 5 gold coins – or gold-type coins)   and they are then allowed to take the child back to their home and to love the child and raise the child in the knowledge of God.gold-coins

Two people present at the Presentation of Christ were Anna and Simeon,   both of whom waited in the Temple most of their long  lives for the coming of the Promised Child.   They were rewarded for their faithfulness by being allowed to see – and to know –  that this was indeed the long-promised Messiah.

Today, this “Presentation”   ceremony is  not necessary because Christ has redeemed all mankind on His Cross.  However . . .

pidyon-haben

. . . .  today’s Jews sometimes continue the practice in a ceremony called Pidyon Haben – you can look it up on any Search Engine. The intention is the same.  God created this child, the child is God’s,   we offer to redeem it back and raise the child in the knowledge of You, his Creator.

(3)      So,  we have on Feb. 2nd,  the Purification of Mary,  the Presentation of Christ in the Temple,  and now:  Candlemas.

Candles that are going to be used in the coming days are blessed on this day.   Were blessed on this day.    The twentieth century is a century of shortcuts,  drop-offs, and the evaporation of meaning.    But Candlemas is still practiced . . .  somewhere.

candles

 

Little Nellie of Holy God:

There is a second  “event”  that we can remember on this day,  and this event is the  death of a very young child whose whole life had supernaturally pointed to the Mystery of Christ’s Cross – and His coming to us in each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

This death brings us into modern times:   Feb. 2,  1908,  the day  “Ellen Organ”  died at age four years old.    Her life is one of hardship, poverty,  and pain,  not so uncommon among the Irish poor,   but also a life of extraordinary and unexplainable knowledge of the presence of  “Holy God.”     Her knowledge far exceeded whatever the nuns had ever taught her,  what they knew and what they could have perceived.

Little “Nellie” recognized a consecrated Host from an unconsecrated host.   She could tell whether or not someone had taken part in Holy Communion that day.     She spontaneously called her chapel the House of Holy God.      She knew, vaguely, in a childlike way    about putting men in prison lock-ups, and so when she saw the Tabernacle in her church which contained the consecrated Hosts,    she  thought that Jesus had been  “locked up in prison.”

Here is a commonly distributed photo of her, not long before tuberculosis of the bone painfully took her life away.

litle-nellie-of-holy-god

To the nuns in the convent-hospital where she lived out her last months,   she became known as “Little Nellie of Holy God.”      You can look her up – you can even go to Wikipedia,   where although they tell  her life story at arm’s length away from anything supernatural,  they do a fairly good job of summarizing her life.

The Spruce Tunnel would like to keep all this in memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What If He Asked YOU ?

March 6, 2016

Not quite completely over my computer repair ordeal — but I’m “recovering.”

And just in time for the FOURTH Sunday in Lent —  and a thought about poor Philip – one of Jesus’ close friends who managed to both ask a “bad”  question and give a “bad”  answer.

(Ever give an answer that you wish you could retract as soon as you realize how inadequate it was?)

Today we read about his “bad”  answer:

FEEDING the 5

The question Jesus was asking of Philip is:   “There are thousands of hungry people out there.  How can we feed them?”

Philip,  ever practical, ever concrete, replied:  “Feed them?!   200 days worth of wages would provide only a little bite for each person!”

(And who carries around that much money?)

St. John,  the narrator of this event, tells us that Jesus asked Philip that question just to test him, to get him to reveal how he was thinking —  to stretch his mind a bit, as well as ours.

Well, they had to get food from somewhere;  the people were about to faint from hunger – and there was an important object lesson coming.   They had an offer!

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The “offer”  was:   “Here is a little boy with five loaves and two fish but we know that’s  not enough.”

(What we can give to God is pitifully small;   it is His divine condescension to add His supernatural power to make our efforts “good enough.”     And that just happens to be my lunch after church today:  fish and bread.) 

We know what Jesus did next in this story.   He took the small amount of food, raised it up to heaven, and blessed it.    I don’t understand everything about what a “blessing” like this means,  but we know that the blessed food which Jesus intended to use proved to be adequate and more than adequate for feeding the 5,000 or so people on that hillside.

philip

It’s not recorded what  Philip had to say about this,  but the event is a goldmine for lessons that Jesus,  Our Lord,  would want us to know.   Among them:

1 . . . Jesus knows and cares about each hungry individual person.   (True?    Do you know that to be true for you?)

2 . . . The people had been “following” Him.    What did they mean by following Him?  What did they want?   What did they expect?  What were they really hungry for?   In this life, when we “follow”  Jesus,  we are following,  but having not yet arrived.    Close,  closer, closest of all . . .   but a loving union —  that desire will be fulfilled completely only after we die — if indeed that is what we want.

3 . . . There is the crowd.  It takes all kinds to make a crowd, even a crowd of followers.  Some follow more or less intently;  more or less quickly;  more or less from out of their own desire.  Some just “follow the crowd.”      With less quickness,  less attention,  less  intensity,  less focus, less effort —  less anything,  you lose ground and the distance between you and your Creator increases — and then you are walking on dangerous ground.

. . . . Then let me skip all the other more minor lessons –  what Jesus had in mind is that He will be food  indeed,  bread indeed,  Manna,  for countless thousands and millions:

He gives His Body the night before His crucifixion, which means  (evening and next daytime are a day,  so this was part of giving His life for us :

this is jesis giving first

And it continues down through the centuries,  feeding millions,  unchanged in understanding . . .

(Today,  March 6, 2016) –

this is at the mass

Even a child can understand:

this is a child

So, remember Philip’s answer?

Jesus wanted to teach what God taught people under the Old Covenant:  “Man does not live by bread alone.”

This crowd,  this humanity amassed before Jesus,  was not hungry merely for bread.      They are hungry for communion and union with their Creator,  the Son of God,  the Word,  the Messiah.

Nothing complicated.  “A little child shall lead them.”

The simple, needy child in all of us,  can know more than what Philip seemed to know.

 

So,   what if Jesus had asked YOU how we were going to feed all those people?   We know now why Philip’s  answer was “bad”  or at least it showed a lower level of understanding;   and so did his “bad”  question:

“Lord,  show us the Father.”

The answer:    “Oh, my goodness, Philip.  Have you been with Me so long and yet you do not know that he who has seen Me has seen the Father?!”

Heaven comes down to Earth;  God comes down to His own people — and does not leave them,  not ever.   He leaves 12 baskets of more food;   12 apostles to found the Church that will be His living Body;

this is jesus giving

and He leaves  the Church to continue to distribute our Food.

 

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Sundays ARE Different

July 20, 2015

“Remember the sabbath day,  to keep it Holy.”
There is such a thing as a “holy place”  where God meets man and man meets God.    

This Cathedral in Toledo, Spain  is an architectural representation of a holy place.

There is a Holy Place Toledo cathedral

You should be able to see seven steps up to the altar in the middle there at the back wall.    The steps represent the upward steps that Moses took to meet God, when God came down to the mountain to teach the Law and the Sacrifice.

At the top of the steps,is an altar,  and  there is the holy  meeting place between God and man, and something supernatural happens.

Something supernatural is going on here

The Son of God comes.  And because the Son of God   is   Eternal God,  then we, in our time,  can enter into that One Act of Sacrifice that made peace between God and man.

So we see that Offering, elevated upward towards Heaven  —

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Heaven is where our Creator is.  Although it is always and ever our duty as creatures to worship and adore our Creator,  in our  spiritually darkened world this beautiful, solemn ceremony (of worship and adoration) has powerful enemies.

Locally, we cannot worship like this in our own cathedral.   Shadows are rising.

Instead,  we must enter that door and go downwards into the dark basement-like place.

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The representation of an angel affirms to our minds that Heaven watches down on us.  Our ceremony is beautiful and holy even though our surroundings aren’t!
Our spiritually darkened world is going to get very much worse very soon.

Crossraguel Abbey  Ayrshre Scotland

But, see.     The Son of God eternally offers Himself to God in the Elevation.  That beautiful, solemn ceremony will still go on.

It may not be in a beautiful cathedral like the one in Toledo.  It may not even take place in a basement.    It might have to be in some ruins, like above.    Or catacombs, for a while.

But those who want to can still adore and worship their Creator by participating in that one Sacrifice offered up to Him.  Wherever this takes place,  the beautiful solemn Mass of all Ages,  wherever,  it will be a Holy Place.

Until Judgment comes and Creation is supernaturally restored, and those who have adored their Creator will be safe forever.

Malachi 1:11 –   For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.

PUTTING A LIMIT ON GOD, MAYBE?

August 24, 2014

(Taking a break – for Sunday.)

I’ll start and end with this statement:  A man cannot become God, but God can take on human nature, if He so chooses.

night  beth

And so we have in the age-old Mass a point where utter silence begins.   It’s a powerful reminder of the fact that nine months after God took on human nature, He was born  into this world — in the still, deep quiet of midnight.  “…in the quiet of silence and while the night was in the midst of her course the almighty Word came down from his royal throne…”  (The Bible, Wisdom 18:14,15)

The  Mass continues on in holy and almost unearthly silence, accompanied by our heartbeats and our awe.

Reverence and adoration well up in our spirits as we prepare to commune with this God-Become-Man.

Night mass

Can you tell Him He can’t do that?   Can you put limits on what He wants to do?   Can we understand that  this is something He wanted to do — and if He lived in Time, we could say He  eagerly anticipated doing?

And then after this first Silent Night, a few years later,  although His divinity and power burst forth  during times of healing and miracles, during the Transfiguration,  yet He concealed all traces of  His divinity, on His  Cross.

A  little later,  and  ten years later,  and centuries later,  nearly twenty centuries later, during every Mass He conceals even His humanity from us.

It has to be an act of faith and more importantly an act of our free will to commune with our temporarily hidden God.    Only the  God of Creation, of Abraham, of  Moses,  who took on human nature loves so powerfully and intensely and calls us to commune with Himself.

We are so small, and He is so powerful.    Could we put a limit on what God can do?

 A man could never become God,  but God can become like us . . . to reveal Himself to us.

LIGHT: LIGHT UNGODLY AND A GODLY LIGHT

August 6, 2013

glory-sunset cr

Today,  the world is given two events to commemorate.   We forget them at our peril.   Earthly peril.   Eternal peril.      I don’t want to forget either.

hiro b

And so light is on my mind today, Aug. 6, this day in 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated in an act of war.  I’ve read perhaps a half dozen books about this day, and even more eyewitness accounts.   They speak of the strange light that filled the sky  as the bomb detonated.

It was an eerie light, full of unearthly, ungodly colors.  They were colors that didn’t have names and colors that just shouldn’t be.   In an instant,  the light flashed as though it were going to be lightning,  but it was diffuse, filling the air around them, filling even human bodies, allowing the bones to be seen;  skeletons that fell to the ground or disappeared, sometimes leaving only a shadow.

shadow

I had a neighbor, once, who was on duty during one of the nuclear bomb testings, the one at Bikini Island.   On the day of the test the soldiers were told to turn their backs to the test site, close their eyes tightly, and put their hands over their eyes.   They did,  and when the bomb detonated,  they saw, with its light, the bones of their own hands, covering their eyes.

There was light from that spectrum at Hiroshima, on this day, and more.  Colors developed in the air and boiled and roiled around, changing to  something like  yellows and greens, purples and browns and nameless colors;  and the light seemed to move through the air and through things.

The ungodly light illuminated objects and gave the understanding that something is very, very wrong here.   Something harmful and deadly has just been unleashed into the world,  like the living personification and sum total of all human evil.   That impression has never changed.

And so the debate continues:   These were innocent casualties in a war fought against totalitarianism.   How many lives is freedom worth?   Or do we even really know what living without freedom means?   How do we defeat and contain evil without becoming evil ourselves? Or perhaps a better question should be:   What are the consequences of governing  and waging war when the Rulers (the leaders and decision makers)  are not subject to a Higher Authority?  

Which brings me to the second event we commemorate today – and we forget at our own peril.

That is the Transfiguration.    Christendom remembers the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on the top of a mountain in Israel, where he had taken three of His closest associates to be witnesses.

Transfiguration

The three friends had become drowsy but then woke to a light all around them, gentle yet penetrating, illuminating and sharpening their senses.   At the center of the light stood Jesus, now become a Being of Light.   “I am the Light of the World.”

In  words better than mine:  “They were enthralled and enraptured and carried out of life, and yet made to feel in the very essence of their own being the utter joy of living!  It was the Light that was the Light of Men, the Light shining in the darkness, the Light that enlightens every man that comes into the world.  Jesus Christ, the Light, the Life, the Son of the Living God…”   “….in Whom the fullness of the divinity exists, and which is meant to overflow into us…”

A Heavenly Light that is both powerful and benevolent, full of favor and goodness towards us,  the source of our own life and the End towards which we hope to obtain.   Eternal Light.

There is a “wrongness” to things and there is a “Rightness”  to things.

(Search Engine Key Words:   Hiroshima;  shadows;  8:15 a.m.;  physical effects of atomic bomb;  Bikini Atoll test site;  The Transfiguration;  Abp. Alban Goodier – The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ;  Blessed Abbot Marmion – Christ the Light of our Soul;  papal decree against crossbows. . . )

SERMON FROM MY OVEN

April 21, 2013

During the past weeks that I’ve been sick, I couldn’t eat very much….preparing food was a little above my energy level,  but occasionally I wished I had some of my good bread….mmmm.

So here’s a sign that I’m getting stronger:

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Cinnamon swirl bread.  It might not win any prizes for appearance, but it sure does taste good!   It’s just as I had been picturing;  just the taste that I’d been longing for.

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Bread means so much.   Bread:  the Staff of Life.    Symbol for physical and spiritual nourishment because we humans are both physical and spiritual.  A thoughtful person will see the need for both physical and spiritual things.

I thought about that bread as I sat in church this morning.    And it floated through my mind that as much as I had longed for my cinnamon swirl bread, so also do I – or I ought to –  desire the Bread of Life:   “This is my Body….”

“Grant, O Lord, that by these Mysteries it may be given us to subdue our worldly desires and learn to love the things of heaven….”    So said the priest today before the Mystery of Christ’s saving Sacrifice is offered up.

And so I pray, along with the Church, that I learn to love the things of Heaven more than the things of this earth;  that I learn to long for spiritual Bread even more than my good bread….ever more and more.

And I do.  I’m getting there.

Jesus offering  And I can feel the reality of the spiritual nourishment, and am still astonished by the Truth of it all.

His Body;   the Bread of Life;    Spiritual Food.

 

THE DAY OF THE (VERY) LAST PASSOVER

March 29, 2013

Why is this “The Last Passover”?

moon

A small fact, but an important one about the Last Passover.   That day on which the Last Passover occurs is two of our calendar days.   That is,  the Last Passover occurred from Thursday evening as the sun went down until Friday evening,  just as the sun was going down.  This 24-hour period was the last day of Our Lord’s life.

This Friday evening we enter  the period of time when the stillness of the Tomb spreads over us.  The reality of death, the horrible wrongness of death that any of us knows who have ever watched a loved one die.   It’s just wrong…it wasn’t meant to be.  The awful dark finality of death was sensed by all the friends and followers of Jesus.   And by Mary, His  Mother.

There is grief which fills them with invisible intense pain, but all is not still and dark within because at the death of a loved one, a needed one,  there is instead of swirl of thoughts, random, unconnected, each thought vying for a brief moment of attention before giving place to another thought and another….

And that’s why we remember these next 24 hours and designate every Saturday to try to sort out those thoughts with our hopes and our faith.   Skip over these Saturdays, these Last Passovers,  and our hope and faith lose a bit of their substance.

So what had happened on the Last Passover?

The disciples did not throw on their Sunday-Go-To-Meeting robes and walk over to the building that held the cenacle and seat themselves down at the Lord’s Supper.   Thursday of that year,  Thursday afternoon,  there was preparation:  announcing a suitable place, gathering the meal, recalling the purpose of this most unusual meal for the Night That Was Different From All Other Nights.   It was an afternoon of preparation, but also centuries,  more than a millennium of preparation in the hearts of the People of God.

Generations later this meal will be given the new name of “seder” – a “seder meal”  –  with different rituals, different meaning,  but at this particular time it was called Passover, the Pasch.

passover lamb

And it would be the very last one, because the Passover meal always pointed us back to the very first one, done in a hurry, standing up, and eating the roasted lamb who had given its blood to display on the door frames the faith of the people.   And then God’s just judgment on a wicked land would Pass Over the faithful People of God.

Each Passover pointed back to that first one, and also forward in time to the one in which it would be the Lamb of God sacrificed, offered to God on the altar called the Cross, and then . . . consummated:  Consummatum est, Jesus said….

Holding bread

And now we don’t have Passovers anymore because we re-enter the reality of that Last Passover by the exact means which Jesus taught us:   holding Himself in His own hands, He pronounced:  This is My Body.    He prepared His disciples, charged them, ordained them to do the same, throughout time, until he should come back to us.

Holding bread still

Every “Passover meal,”  every “seder meal,”  denies the meaning of the Last Passover.

Other things happened on this Last Passover:  the bewildered and ill-considered statements of the disciples;   the much neglected Last Wishes of Our Lord;   the misunderstood act of footwashing;  the fateful despairing decision of Judas;   the casual walk to the Garden for more prayer;   the sudden arrest by the soldiers with wobbly legs;  the sham trials;  the official pronouncement of the death sentence for the Innocent One;  the cruelest of deaths that completed all the remaining prophecies about the Messiah. . .

But there’s no hurry.   There’s more of Friday and all of Saturday to think about these things.    “The evening and the morning were the” next day.

 

HOW DID WE LEARN WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW?

April 11, 2012

It was Book Club tonight –

We didn’t meet at someone’s house tonight, we met at a public place, a comfortable book store cafe.    (Not the one in the picture!)

It was a bit noisier place to hold our meeting, but inspiring to be among books and book lovers and  conducive to discussion.      One very, very tiny bit of our discussion tonight was how we take in our information.   See, with all the technology today, we can choose from a wide variety of ways to “read” our selected book.

Since I’ve been busy this week,  I’ve been running around with our book in my Kindle.  I’ve been sleeping with my Kindle,  eating with my Kindle, and tonight I showed up still holding on to my Kindle –  97 % done with the book (according to Kindle!)    Some had read the book in book form.  One had brought abridged children’s versions, which was very interesting, since our book this time was David Copperfield, approximately 1,000 pages long.    We also talked about all the eBooks and audio books available.

Some of us confessed to be chiefly audio-learners;  some are visual learners.

Which got me to thinking:   How did you come to know what you know?   How did you learn what it is you think you know?  What’s the best way for you to come to an understanding of something?

Well, all the ways we can, I suppose.   All five senses.  Or six senses…(intuition, insights. . . . .)

Remember, it’s still the Octave of Easter?     And – I’m a couple days late, I know – but an important Reading for this time is the story of Jesus meeting the two disciples on their way home to Emmaus.    They’re walking together, right after the Day of the Resurrection, and a third Person joins them.     It’s  Jesus, but they don’t recognize Him, for some reason.

We speculate on the reason:   They were caught off guard.     Reason (and memory)  told them He was dead.    He was in His  resurrected body, which was different somehow.

But until this week I had overlooked a simple phrase written in the Bible about this:   “But their eyes were held so that they should not know Him.”        It was deliberate!     They could have known that it was He by the use of all of their senses,  but they were supernaturally prevented from knowing Him.

And then came His gentle questions:  “What’s going on with you two?”     And then came His explanation of the Scriptures about why the Crucifixion and Resurrection had to be.

But still they didn’t know!

And then – They invited Him to their home and urged Him to stay with them.

And then they prepared a meal.   The invitation into their homes included the intimate act of eating a meal – together.

And after He had come to them on the road, after He had talked with them and taught them,  after He had given them the choice to let Him “go  on” further by Himself, and after He had accepted their invitation to come into their home and eat with them,   then  He blessed and consecrated the bread and it was the Bread they needed, and they  no longer needed to see Him with their eyes and their other senses….

And then the Bible says:   “And their eyes were opened and they knew Him…”      And since they now had Him in the Bread,  and they no longer needed to see Him with their eyes and their other senses…He vanished.

How did they learn what they now knew and ran to tell the rest of the disciples so they could pass it on to others?

Sometimes our understanding of things is “held back”  until the right time, until we’re prepared to receive the dawning of the fullness of the Truth.

I suspect all of us at Book Club,  all of us friends,  are in a lifelong quest to figure out this world and our existence in it.  That’s part of the reason that we read books.   It’s part of the reason we have some lively discussions, sometimes, about what book we’re going to read for next time!      And  now we can decide which way we can reach out into the world, through that book,  to learn the best way we can,  to prepare ourselves for that precious Light of insight that we are ready for.

We know what we think we know now,  but some day we will really know.

 

 

 

2nd – SUNDAY GLORY STREAMING

September 5, 2010

I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to do this very well.

It’s what goes on in the Mass;  and it’s why I rarely can get past the Sanctus; Sanctus; Sanctus, the magnificent words that Isaiah heard when Heaven opened to him.   Today, the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, we were greeted with these words of the Introit:   “With expectation I have waited for the Lord. . .”  –

“. . .And He was attentive to me….” –

“. . . And He heard my prayer and He put a new canticle in my mouth, a song to our God.”

Isaiah saw the Heavens open and he looked into Heaven and saw Seraphims around the Throne of the Holy God, and they continuously sung out:  Holy!  Holy!  Holy!   the only words  fitting for these holy creatures of might and light to utter.

We’ve all seen the beautiful photographs taken by the Hubble telescope; we can see the images in books and anywhere on the Internet.   We are awed by the glories of this physical universe which is immense, beyond our imagining, and beautiful, beyond our imagining.   

Now, if you could look up to the skies above you and see with your physical eyes some of those beautiful images that are really there, and if you could take your two physical hands and tear apart the physical universe so that you could see past the heavens and into the Heaven beyond…

You would see the Glory of God-Most-High at the Center of Heaven…..and think on Him for a moment.   What is He?     So pure is this Being we call  God that His descriptions are what He is.   He is Holy, Glory, Might, Life, Love…  

And during the Mass, as we contemplate the reality of this Almighty Being who is All-in-All, we can get a slight  idea of what Isaiah saw, and a slight idea of the Love that came down to Earth centuries ago, and of the spectacular implication of these words of His that we heard in the Communion prayer:   “This bread which I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

This Majestic God of Life and Love Whom we praise with the Seraphim in the Sanctus comes down to Earth, then stays to commune with us….and as I’m still uniting with the Sanctus, I’m also hearing “Agnus Dei,”  O Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world….”  and I’m hearing “Panis, quem ego dedero IS MY FLESH…”   and then, so gratefully, so needfully, I join in the words:   “Lord, I am not worthy…Domine, non sum dignus….”     

Thrice Holy:  “Holy, Holy, Holy” – and thrice unworthy:  “Domine, non sum dignus…”

And all the parts of the Mass fit together:   the Heavens open, the Majesty is adored and worshiped, the  plea for mercy, the Holy Communion with Our Savior.

How do you get ready for an experience like this?     Each Sunday is preceded by a Saturday, the day of preparation and of cleaning and of expectation.  “With expectation I have waited for the Lord, and He was attentive to me….”

WHY I GO TO CHURCH

June 12, 2010

Because He wants me to.

2nd SUNDAY P.P. – IN DEED

June 6, 2010

Words and Deeds

I find myself writing the word “indeed” quite often.  And often I remove it from my writings as I edit myself for clarity and style.  I use it when I mean “this is actually true”;  indeed,  in actuality.    Usually the statement of the sentence should stand for its own truth, and “indeed” should be used only to emphasize to the reader (or to myself) the reality of what was just written:  please pause for a split second and pay homage to the truth in the words.

Well, this is what we’re being asked to do in today’s Epistle Reading.   We’re asked to pause for a moment, and consider how God showed real love for us, and how we can tell if we have real love for God and for others.

“In this we have known the Charity of God, because He has laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  (That is, we should “put ourselves out” for others, up to and including death itself.)  And then further, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

So here we have two reasons why this particular Reading is placed on this Sunday, which falls at the beginning of the season After Pentecost but still within the Octave of Corpus Christi.  First – the Love of God is manifested by the Sacrifice of Christ Our Redeemer.   “On the night that He was betrayed,” and mankind was arranging a way to get rid of Him from the earth  — on that same night, Jesus was arranging how He could stay here on Earth, with us, after He lays down His life for us.   That is, in the Eucharist:  Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – the Corpus Christi.   The Real Presence, indeed.

Second,  now begins the time when we’re directed to grow in faith and love, and this Epistle, early in the season, tells us to love truly, as He did, to love in deed, to love indeed.

Loving another is not a matter of knowing the words of the teachings, the doctrines, the Bible verses, the right way to behave.   Love is an act of the individual will, coming from that interior spiritual place that everyone has.  As such, love begins in our silence before God,  which is our humility and our willingness to be filled by His Spirit.   The individual, then, chooses to act, will-ing to show God’s love in our actions.  

True, some words may be an act of love, but Love itself is far above a matter of which “tools” we use.    Most loving acts can be done in silence, lest there be danger of Love boasting of itself.   Love doesn’t call attention to itself, St Paul says in I Corinthians 13.

 Love is a response to the Love of God.  Love is the quiet act of the will;  a deed, indeed.

SMARTER THAN THE WISE MEN

December 11, 2009

“Then He said unto them:  But Whom do you say that I am?”

Our Bible Study this morning ended with Jesus asking His disciples just who they thought He was (somewhere around Mark 8:27-30, with a little help from Matthew 16).  One of the ladies asked if I thought Peter really understood his answer, even though he was inspired to say it.   

I  told the class I thought not;  you can “know” something without fully comprehending all of its meaning and implications.    And we turned, then, to a group of men who, three decades before this incident in Mark 8, had come to visit the Infant Jesus.   They had three gifts which indicated their knowledge of Who this Infant really was.  At that time, these Wise Men, these scholars from the East,  probably knew more about Jesus than anyone else on Earth, with the exception of His immediate family.      

They knew he was the awaited King;  they gave Him gold.   They knew He was the One Priest, Who alone could offer the One Sacrifice necessary for peace between God and man;  they gave Him incense.    They knew He had come to be that Sacrifice, He had come to die;  they gave Him myrrh.  

That’s a lot of pretty accurate conclusions to reach, by studying ancient Scriptures from the surrounding cultures!    

But we can be smarter than they were!     We  know something else about Who this Infant was to be.    They had two hints that we know about that they had missed –  and we have them plainly before us: 

Here are the two hints:    The young parents swaddled their newborn Infant and put Him in….a manger.    What is a manger used for?      (It’s a feeding trough…a place where animals go to find the food that they will eat.)

The second hint:   What is the name of the village where this feeding trough was located?    (“Bethlehem,”  which means House of Bread .   Bread is a comon term for the food that sustains human life.)

We can know this now.   He comes as Bread of Life – to be eaten – John 6 – which by the very act of our participation takes us above and beyond the physical realm of bread and remembrances into union with  and into His Divine Life.

So…we can be “smarter than the Wise Men.”    But as a Bible Study teacher, I have to say again:   We can know something without fully comprehending all the implications.  We have the gift of Time on earth for that.   

 If we are among the Wise Men, could that be a worthy gift to give the Holy Infant:   our Time, our Selves?

 

6th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

July 12, 2009

Mark's Sheen Hands

The Gospel Reading today tells us of a second miraculous feeding, 4,000, not 5,000;   7 baskets of leftovers, not 12.  I was busy learning the reasons for the differences…

But quite simply, as I read and then heard in the sermon today, the meaning is that Jesus is sufficient.  Whatever is needful will be supplied.  He said, “I am with you until the end of the world..,”  seeing to it that our deficiencies, either collective or personal, will be filled up with what is needed.

Mark, chapter 8:  “I have compassion on the multitude….And they did eat and were filled.”

We are fed, by His hand.

ST PIUS I SPEAKS TO…SUNDAYS

July 12, 2009

St. Pius I, whom we honored yesterday, is associated with some very important matters that came up in the Church of his time – matters which “matter” to us today.

Yesterday, before I had to run off suddenly, I was speaking about the equality of all humans , all equally loved and called to become like our Creator, and all invited into His kingdom.   (A bit of a “messy” kingdom right now.  It needs weeding.  but the Lord hasn’t sent His harvesting angels yet.   Good thing…I’m a little “messy” yet myself.)

Black Glove Before

Another important thing Pius I accomplished is his correction of abuses that went on during worship in the churches, committed by the priests.   And this is that the material items of bread and wine that are used in the Mass were being handled less than reverently.   In fact, spilling of crumbs of consecrated bread and drops of the censecrated wine occurred with increasing regularity.   Pius I insisted on correct teaching and on 40 days of severe penance for further infractions.

Besides being disrespectful, does this matter?  How much does it matter?   WHY does it matter?

In the photo above, the Host is sitting in the palm of a gloved hand.  (I apologize to the photographer, I no longer know who you are.)   This is what we imagine the Host looks like during the whole process of Communion.   But it is only our imagination which makes it so.

Black Glove After

This is a second photo, taken just after the Host has been carefully handled by the priest….perhaps in some traditions, by lay people.

If one truly believes the words of Jesus, along with the testimony of St. John  (chapter 6), along with the teaching of St. Paul, and along with the consistent teaching of  all those who belong to the Kingdom of Christ on Earth, that the consecrated Host  IS the Body of Christ (and the wine, the Blood) — then what we see in the second photo will affect us deeply.

The reason for this  is clear from the Teachings:   This IS the Body and Blood of Christ – actually.   He has chosen this way to make it possible for us to participate in His Holy Sacrifice.  See, the when we divide the blood from the body, we are speaking of death, in this case the Death of a Sacrifice.   When we are communing in this way, we are co-uniting ourselves with His Death as He offers Himself to the Heavenly Father. …each moment in time joined to this One Eternal Sacrifice.

As Peter  (II Peter 1:4) and Iranaeus and Augustine and Aquinas and so many others have said:   The Son of God took on human nature so that by entering communion with Him, He could raise us up to take part in the Divine Nature.

It is a serious matter what you think you’re doing in Communion.    And serious consequences when you don’t know what you’re doing.   (See I Corinthians 11:23-31) 

Is it any wonder that we have the urge to make the sacred chalices as beautiful as we can to express this sublime, ineffable reality!