Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Candles

"She's almost brighter than the sun
Seems to me to be unfair
When you consider everyone
Who pales when they compare."

So says the lyrics to the Relient K song "Candlelight" from their album "Forget and Not Slow Down." Ever since I've heard the lyrics, I've always thought of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I doubt it was their intent, but there you go. At Mass on Sunday, I noticed these two statues of angels holding lit candles. During the Consecration, the servers lined up in front of the altar with their torches, candles and incense. Everyone seemed to be serving the King with light...

Consider this: God is Light....Jesus Christ...Light from Light. We are all made according to the image and likeness of God. We are all in our own way lights. "You are the light of the world." We each have our own light to offer God. In heaven, we shall worship him each to our full capacity...at our brightest. Even here on earth, we must accept our duties. We must our candle, no matter how small, forward and if the world will not see the light as it is, then they will not, but we must continue to carry, by the Grace of God we will carry our part, our torch and eventually present ourselves to the King.




Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi: Special Report




Today the Catholic Church celebrates one the most mysterious things ever: The Eucharist. My family and I went to St. Anthony's, as we usually do on Sundays, and let me tell you, it was amazing as usual. Fr. Cliff, in his homily, talked a lot about marriage. It was interesting because certainly the Eucharist should and does remind us of the priesthood. However, it is also the Marriage of the Heaven and Earth, the Marriage and Christ and His Church...the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Feast and the Consummation. A marriage is a contract, a covenant really of total self giving. God has deigned to bestow on us the gift of his whole self, his whole essence in the person of Jesus Christ continually present in the Eucharist. How can we not then give all of ourselves, insignificant as we are? And we are insignificant. We are less than a drop of water in the Ocean of God's love. We are less than a grain of sand on the seashore. But remember, God said that Abraham's descendants would number more than the sand on the seashore. We are a Communion of persons in Communion with God. We as a Church should be constantly offering ourselves to God. Even so, are we not almost nothing in comparison to God? Yes, which is why He came to earth. He participated in our humanity so that we might participate in his divinity. It is through the Incarnation that the Church, as Christ's body, is offered back to God as an acceptable sacrifice, as a "suitable partner" in the heavenly marriage vow. God grants us Himself through the Incarnate Christ and He offers himself back with our own meager offerings--we are merely the water in the wine. It is truly a marriage made in heaven. Let us then throw it all down at the feet of our King and worship. All our actions--let them be for Him. All our thoughts--may they give Him glory. All of our desires--let them ultimately be a desire for the good and therefore a desire for Him. And let us fall on our knees before the Lord knowing that He Himself has brought us to His throne.

Oh, God, who are you?

Notice, if you will, that I did not say "Oh, God, what are you?" I said "who" for a very specific reason, of course. It is interesting to look back on different conceptions of who/what God is. To the ancient pagans, the gods were basically forces in nature that were also personal in some way. We could interact with them on certain levels...that is they could, if they wanted, interact with us. Eventually, however, the philosophers rejected this idea of the divine and instead introduced an "idea" based god. God is conclusion that we reach, a concept that must be present in the universe. In his five ways, St. Thomas Aquinas, who is of course a Catholic, uses this conceptual idea to reason toward "a god". In the five ways at least, this is not the personal God that Thomas himself believes in.

I opened a book by Joseph Ratzinger called "God is Near Us." It's a collections of homilies etc. I had just opened it to the first page and started reading when I came upon a passage that addresses just this. God is a person. He is not an idea that can be proved. If I were to tell you that I had a brother (I have three) would you believe me? Could I prove it to you if you yourself had not experienced my brothers? I don't believe I could. A person is such that the experience is what matters. Now you could certainly believe me, but they doesn't mean I've proved to you that my brother exists. Proof is for statements. If God is True, he can not be proven like a true statement.

However, he is Reality Himself. All that is true is only true if he has created it that way. To say God is Good is a statement about God and can be proved....with the right premises. The thing is, one of the premises is the empirical experience of God. In the ancient Hebrew civilisation, they experienced God in many potent ways, but none more potent that the Incarnation of Christ. Since then, we can say that humanity has experienced God empirically and now since he is "with us always" we don't need proof, we just need to meet him.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Three Attacks of Holofernes: A Scriptural Rambling


Judith 4.

In Judith 4, the Israelites hear about the ravaging acts of the Assyrian general Holofernes. Obviously, they want to defend themselves against him and his horde. What they do is a great lesson for all of us:

Then the children of Israel[...] sent into all Samaria round about, as far as Jericho, and seized upon all the tops of the mountains: [4] And they compassed their towns with walls, and gathered together corn for provision for war. [5] And Eliachim the priest wrote [...] that they should take possession of the ascents of the mountains, by which there might be any way to Jerusalem, and should keep watch where the way was narrow between the mountains.

[6] And the children of Israel did as the priest of the Lord Eliachim had appointed them, [7] And all the people cried to the Lord with great earnestness, and they humbled their souls in fastings, and prayers, both they and their wives. [8] And the priests put on haircloths, and they caused the little children to lie prostrate before the temple of the Lord, and the altar of the Lord they covered with haircloth. [9] And they cried to the Lord the God of Israel with one accord, that their children might not be made a prey, and their wives carried off, and their cities destroyed, and their holy things profaned, and that they might not be made a reproach to the Gentiles. [10] Then Eliachim the high priest of the Lord went about all Israel and spoke to them,

[11] Saying: Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers, if you continue with perseverance in fastings and prayers in the sight of the Lord. [12] Remember Moses the servant of the Lord, who overcame Amalec that trusted in his own strength, and in his power, and in his army, and in his shields, and in his chariots, and in his horsemen, not by fighting with the sword, but by holy prayers: [13] So shall all the enemies of Israel be, if you persevere in this work which you have begun. [14] So they being moved by this exhortation of his, prayed to the Lord, and continued in the sight of the Lord. [15] So that even they who offered the holocausts to the Lord, offered the sacrifices to the Lord girded with haircloths, and with ashes upon their head.

[16] And they all begged of God with all their heart, that he would visit his people Israel. (D-R)


There is, in this passage, the obvious tension that is so often referenced nowadays. Should we trust God in prayer up to the point of doing nothing that is in our own power? Well, the Israelites certainly did not think so, and God heard their prayer. He wasn't like "Oh, you're preparing for war? Well you obviously don't trust me." In fact, they did trust him, and they showed it in their prayer and penances. However, they also trusted that He was the source of their own power and could act through them and their armies if need be. There was a need, for Holofernes comes later to destroy the House of Israel. He didn't end up doing it though, and that's the thing.

I was thinking about this and I realized that we encounter three attacks in our lives that require a similar response: The attacks of evil In the World, the attacks of evil In Our Lives and the attacks of evil In Our Souls. It's a triple attack, and it's kind of annoying. However, the Israelites show us the way in approaching these attacks. The one that struck me the most was the attacks In the World. Not only were the Israelites up against an attack In the World, but also this blog is about living in the world while not being of it. So here is my thought (finally) and I'd say it applies to all three:

There are many ways in which The Evil One attacks the world at large, whether through vile movements such as Playboy, evil regimes, such as Saddam, Quaddafi, or what have you. He just loves making the world a scary place to be. However, we must follow the example of the Israelites. We must judge what we ourselves can do to protect ourselves and our own from these disastrous things, and then pray and do penance. I'm sorry, but that last one is the hardest, I'd say, harder than even figuring out what to do. If we're honest with ourselves and each other, we can make honest mistakes, but we just don't want to do Penance. We hate mortification. We want to be the best looking, happiest, most successful people out there, and that is exactly contrary to a penitential attitude. So, just as Our Lady of Fatima called us to Penance, we should actually do it. The Lord hears our supplications if we trust in him, and what better way of trusting Him than to show that we are not that Big of a Deal?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Will you please translate that for me?

So, Rome approved of a new translation for the Missale Romanum a while back. Not to be terribly controversial, but I'm looking forward to it. I will not spend my time here defending it. Too many other places have done so almost ad nauseum. Instead I will just say that there needs to be new settings for the Mass parts, 'cause the old ones use the old translation.

Last night, I started writing one of my own. I hope I'm not just being another David Haas or Marty Haugen. Well, as the French say: c'est la vie!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

King of Kings, Lord of Lords...

...Fountainhead of Fountainheads.

Hopefully I will have the mental wherewithal to write a couple posts on my actual thoughts about the book The Fountainhead by the infamous Ayn Rand, but for now, I'll just have to say this: One of the main concepts in the book is the "second-hander", the un-original person, the person who just uses what others think to get on in life. Well, if God is The Architect, the Origin, the Fountainhead of Fountainheads, then Satan is the Ultimate Second-hander.

Wow, Satan, lame.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Beatles Series #1: I'm Looking Through You

There is usually one or two lines that stick out to me in every song I hear. The Beatles being one of my favorite bands qua band, I thought I would do a Blog Series about them and the lyrics, chord progressions and Philosophies of their songs. I will start with "I'm Looking Through You."

"I'm Looking Through You" or just ILTY, is the third track on the second side of the album Rubber Soul in both the British version and the American. This of course makes it the tenth song to the Brits and the 9th to the Americans. For more info, try the all knowing website of infallible information.

The line that struck me in this song was "Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight." For those who are interested, it has a chord progression of C--Dsus-D. It is the second line of the Chorus, which contrasts with the verses in that the verses, although also in the key of G major, uses the Am7 and Em chords to achieve a wistful and less-than-pleased sound.

The song, apparently written about Jane Asher, girlfriend of Paul, is a tale of a love that fell apart. Kind of sad, really. However, the line that stood out is quite fascinating. First of all, the "love" which is referenced is obviously eros and specifically the 60s version of it. It is not Agape. As far as I know, this song did not originate when Mary Magdelene did not find Love in the tomb, having disappeared overnight. Because it is eros, we know that it comes and goes easily from experience (at least I do.) However, usually when our love for someone disappears, even overnight, it is not generally thought of as a "nasty" habit. Yes, it's terrible for the other person, but you know, it's really relieving not to be head-over-heels for someone, right? I don't know if Paul intended this, but he's actually being pretty thoughtful of the other person, I'd say. For her, the loss of love is pretty bad. Maybe even experienced as a "nasty habit", who knows? Or Paul could just be being sarcastic. After all, he's almost saying "Oh, you didn't treat me right? You just might lose my love." Whatever the case, any song with the phrase "nasty habit" is all right with me.

People usually say that the later Beatles songs are much deeper and more meaningful. Maybe, but I really have a soft spot for the time when they just seemed to be having fun, finding joy in singing, even if it was about a disappearing love. It was a way of dealing with hardship that did not include Wallowing in Misery and Drinking Alone.