Archive for the ‘*Faith / Church’ Category

TM St. Charles's Church Vienna, Austria

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post in which I made the following comments:

As I approach more closely the end of my life, I am becoming less tolerant of mediocre Masses, less willing to subject myself to the goings on within them and depriving myself of the “Heaven on Earth” experience of an excellently celebrated “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”.

Someday I may express my personal reasons for preferring the Traditional Roman Rite Mass.

 

A very brief bit of background:

Most Roman Catholics today attend Holy Mass under the newer form of the Roman Rite, referred to as the Novus Ordo (New Order (NO)). This Mass of modern times has more recently been labeled as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The older form of the Roman Rite is widely referred to as the Tridentine Mass, but more recently has been labeled as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (EF). Too often it is referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Although the older form of the Mass is always recited in Latin, I prefer it simply be called the Traditional Mass (TM). I say this because the NO was initially intended to be recited predominantly in Latin (and still should be). Therefore the TM should not be described as being a Latin (language) Mass simply because the NO may be recited in Latin or in the local area’s vernacular language. Both forms are Roman Rite Masses of the Latin Church (the Church of Rome). There are many resources available in book form and online which thoroughly describe both forms of the Mass and detail their histories. That not being the intent of this post, I won’t elaborate any further.

Why I have I asked “Is attending Holy Mass an ordeal for you?”

I expect there are many Catholics who find attending any form of the Mass to be an ordeal. If that isn’t so, why do most of them refuse to attend? It is said that eighty percent of Catholics no longer attend Mass. Perhaps attending Mass is an ordeal for them because its timing interferes with their other interests, or they are no longer believing Catholics, or they carry a burden of guilt for sins they either think haven’t been forgiven or are unforgivable, or for some reason they are angry with the Church. I’m sure that during none of the few Masses they do attend during the course of a year does the priest celebrant remind them that those who, for no legitimate reason as defined by the Church, neglect to attend Mass on every Sunday and other day of obligation commit serious sin and must suffer the consequences.

Another possible reason for their lack of attendance is that they find Mass to be boring or dissatisfying, or much worse. Of course that is as much an illegitimate reason as all of the aforementioned excuses. But I must say that I feel their pain! Mine for reasons noted below.

Why do I suggest that perhaps attending Mass should be an ordeal for you?

I say so because if you don’t find yourself suffering through at least some portions of the Mass, you probably are unaware of what you’ve been missing by only attending the typical NO Mass.

If you have been blessed to have Traditional Masses available in your area and have made an effort to attend those Masses, you are aware of what others less fortunate are missing. You have experienced its extraordinary beauty and reverence, the depth of the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sincerity of the priest celebrant along with his assistants and all those in attendance, and you have come to love the TM and suffer at least to some extent when you must attend a typical NO Mass. [You may cringe during the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, or when the choirmaster strikes up another mediocre, superficial or banal ditty, or due to many other provocations.] Being deprived of the fullness of what God intends to offer us in the sacred liturgy is a cause of suffering. Worse yet is his suffering when we deprive Him of the highest level of glory, honor, praise and gratitude due Him.

Just because a Mass we’ve attended was valid in that the Eucharistic Host had been transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, doesn’t mean that the manor in which the Mass was celebrated wasn’t deplorable. It is Jesus Who makes Himself present in the Eucharistic Host. He makes this magnanimous gesture despite the deplorable way in which priests, those who serve other functions during Mass and many in the congregation conduct themselves.

I don’t wish suffering upon anyone, but I do wish all Catholics knew what they are missing. I don’t think we’ll ever get out of this liturgical rut as long as the majority of the measly twenty percent of Catholics who actually attend Mass are as happy as Protestants who don’t know what they’ve been missing by not being Catholic. Of course, their foremost deprivation – the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – pales in comparison. However, it has also been said that the liberals or progressives in the Church “do not really believe that the Mass is a true and proper sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Trinity; they do not really believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence; they do not believe that one is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of God; they do not believe that one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking his own condemnation, just as those who eat worthily are seeding their souls and bodies for a glorious resurrection.”

The excerpts below are taken from an article written by Peter Kwasniewski, which is posted here. I recommend reading the entire article over there. Being aware that most visitors to my site do not click on links that will take them to other sites, I offer the following excerpts.

Our Progressive Desensitization to the Most Holy Eucharist

We did not wake up one fine day in 2017 to find ourselves suddenly confronted with Eucharistic sacrilege being promoted from on high. There was a long, slow process that led to this moment. It consisted in the gradual dilution of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Blessed Sacrament at its heart, with institutionally tolerated sacrilege along the way. Fifty years of desacralization has ended in the temerity of contradicting the entire Catholic tradition about the most holy of all the Church’s mysteries.

The first major step was the allowance of communion in the hand while standing—a sharp break from the deeply-ingrained practice of many centuries of kneeling in adoration at the altar rail and receiving on the tongue… This change had the obvious effect of making people think the Holy Eucharist wasn’t so mysterious and holy after all. If you can just take it in your hand like ordinary food, it might as well be a potato chip distributed at a party. The feeling of awe and reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament was systematically diminished and undermined through this modernist reintroduction of an ancient practice that had long since been discontinued by the Church in her pastoral wisdom. Nor, as has been well documented, did the faithful themselves request the abolition of the custom of receiving on the tongue while kneeling; it was imposed by the self-styled “experts.”

The second major step was the allowance of lay ministers of communion. This reinforced the perception that the Church had given up all that stuff about the priest being essentially different from the laity, about the Mass as a divine sacrifice and the Eucharist as the Bread of Angels that only anointed hands are fit to handle.

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The effect of these “reforms” and others like them (the replacement of majestic and mysterious Latin with everyday vernacular, the substitution of guitar and piano ditties for pipe organ and chant, the turning around of the priest to face the people like a talkshow host, the removal of altar rails, the decentering of tabernacles, the uglification of vestments and vessels, and more) was to weaken and corrupt the faith of the people in the Mass as a true and proper sacrifice and in the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Jesus. No wonder that after this, the idea of the Eucharistic fast, and of preparing oneself for communion by going to confession, went right out the window for the vast majority of people. The Church’s own pastors didn’t act as if they really believed these things anymore, so why should their flocks?

In short, we have lived through, and suffered under, half a century of ritual diminishment and symbolic contradiction of the Church’s faith in the sublime mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ. As John Paul II and Benedict XVI lamented, there is scant evidence in our communities of any awareness of the distinction between worthy and unworthy communions—one of the most basic lessons children used to be taught in their catechism class.

Children in those primitive “pre-Vatican II days” were taught to practice virtue and avoid mortal sin because they should desire to be able to receive the Lord and be ever more perfectly united to Him, until they reached the glory of heaven where they would possess Him forever. They were taught that if one received the Lord in a state of mortal sin, one committed a further and a worse sin. They were taught that making a good confession, with sorrow for sin and an intention to avoid it in future, was enough to put this bad situation right and restore them to God’s friendship. Who could seriously assert that most Catholics believe any of this today, or that they would even recognize, much less understand, the concepts?

Today, at least in certain Western countries, nearly everyone goes up for communion when the time comes. It’s just “what you do at Mass.” Hardly anyone goes to confession; hardly anyone refrains from receiving, out of a consciousness of sin; and rare is the priest who ever preaches about having the right dispositions for communion.

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Thus was the ground devilishly prepared for the final stage, in which any impediments to communion are theoretically and practically dissolved. In a general situation where the few Catholics who still attend Mass all receive, it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to single out a handful of so-called “divorced and remarried” people for special treatment: “You are not allowed to go to communion, but meanwhile, the self-abusing and fornicating teens, the contracepting couples, the families who sometimes skip Sunday Mass for sports events—all are welcome to come forward, as usual!”

… [the liberals or progressives in the Church] … do not really believe that the Mass is a true and proper sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Trinity; they do not really believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence; they do not believe that one is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of God; they do not believe that one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking his own condemnation, just as those who eat worthily are seeding their souls and bodies for a glorious resurrection.

:::

the Mass has been stripped of its transcendent, mysterious, fearful and challenging sacrificial realism and pushed continually in the direction of an ordinary meal with ordinary folks doing ordinary things for a this-worldly end, with a forced spontaneity and embarrassing banality that has failed to attract the overflow crowds predicted by Paul VI. At such a Mass, is there anything to do but receive communion? Who would ever think of going just for the sake of adoring God and contemplating His beauty? Opportunities and incentives for adoration are practically non-existent in the Novus Ordo, and beauty has fared no better, or rather much worse. In such circumstances, to place a barrier between a free meal and a guest who thinks well of himself for being there is unthinkable.

In truth, the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross, made present in our midst; it is simultaneously the heavenly life-giving wedding feast of the now-glorified Christ. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the one-flesh union of a bride adorned with grace and a Bridegroom who is her sole happiness.

I am not surprised to find that, at traditional Latin Masses around the world, including in the United States, one sees two related phenomena: a large number of the faithful availing themselves of confession, before and during Mass; and a fair number of the faithful who remain in the pews and do not go forward for communion. The interior triumphs of the one, the interior trials of the other, are known to God alone. But this much is obvious: they all came to worship Him. They came in response to His majesty. They came to fulfill a solemn obligation of the virtue of religion. Whether they are personally disposed to receive or not is a question at a different level. This is the sanity that prevails in the realm of tradition; it is the sanity that paves the way for sanctity.

RELATED POSTS: https://fjdalessio.wordpress.com/category/liturgy

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If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

A Pre-Lenten Preparation for Priests and a Request for Prayers from the Faithful

by Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

[Text highlighted in red is not highlighted in the original source.]

Priests need to prepare for Lent too. The Book of the Prophet Malachi provides a kind of mini-examen for them.

As we consider the sins of the priests enumerated below, please understand that neither the biblical text nor my commentary should be construed as meaning that all or even most priests are like this. Sadly, though, sins and shortcomings are far too common among the clergy. As priests must strive to be better and more holy, so must the laity remember to pray for us.

With that in mind let’s consider the sins of the priests (as described by Malachi) in three basic areas.

Shoddy Sacraments

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? So says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, “How have we despised thy name?” By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, “How have we polluted it?” By thinking that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that no evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that no evil? Present that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh, that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire upon my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised (Malachi 1:6-12).

Those are strong words indeed. While the injunction regarding blemished and polluted animals has changed, the intrinsic problem remains: careless celebration of the Liturgy and the sacraments.

One of the most common complaints from the faithful regards priests who violate liturgical norms and/or allow others to do so. Few things offend charity and unity as much as the open, sometimes egregious violation of liturgical norms. Although some violations are minor, why not just celebrate the Liturgy as it is set forth in the books? There are of course options, and not every complaint of the faithful is accurate or fair, but God’s people have endured several decades of exotic and often egocentric liturgical experiments, which are not approved and which take the focus off God and the proper worship due Him.

A priest cannot be expected to clear up every problem in the Liturgy the day he walks through the door, but proper liturgical formation of the faithful with due regard to charity and patience is one of his essential tasks as pastor of souls—and he should begin with himself. The liturgy, both its mechanics and its spiritual significance, should be his study and his great love.

Another problem that can emerge is inattentiveness to the dignity and beauty of the Mass and the sacraments. Proper attire and decorum are important ways that we communicate our love for God and one another. Priests should be properly vested, prepare their sermons prayerfully, and avoid mannerisms that are inappropriate or overly casual. Opulence is not necessary, but priests should ensure that liturgical appointments are clean, in good repair, and of proper dignity.

Decades ago, poor immigrant communities sponsored the construction of some of the most beautiful churches. They also supplied some of the finest art and liturgical implement. It is important that we keep what they have bequeathed to us in good repair. Further, priests can and should teach the faithful to follow the example of these recent ancestors of ours by seeking to build and maintain worthy churches, erected for the glory of God and not just the utility of man. In the recent past, many of the faithful have been shocked and hurt by the senseless “wreckovation” of sanctuaries and altars. Thanks be to God, many people today are growing in their appreciation of older churches and are seeking to preserve them.

If God was offended by the offering of a lame or sick animal, why should we think He is pleased with just “any old stuff” in the Sacred Liturgy? God does not need our gold chalices or our tall churches, but He knows that the shoddy, perfunctory, “anything goes” celebration of the Sacred Liturgy says something about our hearts, our priorities, and what we value.

Priests must avoid all conscious violation of liturgical norms, make central the devoted study of liturgy, and inspire respect among the faithful for the Sacred Liturgy. St. Paul summarizes well his liturgical teaching of 1 Cor 11-14 by concluding with this: But all things should be done decently and in good order (1 Cor 14:40).

Burdens not Blessings? Behold your Barrenness!

“What a weariness this is!” you say, and you sniff at me, says the Lord of hosts … And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung upon your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him, that he might fear; and he feared me, he stood in awe of my name (Malachi 1:13, 2:1-5).

The priests of that ancient time had families, and God warned that if the fathers did not obey, their children would suffer many curses. While priests today do not have children of their own, many call us “Father”!

In our day, the sins and omissions of priests surely have brought trouble upon the faithful. We have been through a period in which too many priests have been rebellious, unfaithful to Church teaching, slothful, unprepared to preach, un-prayerful, and irreverent. Some have even been guilty of grave sins and violations of their state in life. In addition, far too many priests and religious have left the sacred call they agreed to live for life.

All of this has resulted in many troubles for the faithful. Some are discouraged and angry; most are poorly catechized and ill-informed on critical moral issues. Many are confused by priests and bishops who have openly dissented, who do not listen to God or lay to heart His teaching and stand in awe of His name.

In this way, the flock is often harmed by this poor priestly leadership and example. Eighty percent of Catholics no longer attend Mass. Many of those who do attend are barely in communion with the Church’s teaching and struggle to live the glorious vision set forth in the Gospel.

Sadly, this text from Malachi echoes a similar one from Zechariah: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered (Zech 13:7). This is why the sins of priests are so serious and why the faithful must pray for them fervently. Not only are priests subject to targeted attack by Satan, they are also especially susceptible to grandiosity, pride, and the sin of craving human respect.

Pray that priests do not become weary of exhortation or speak of their office as a burden. Pray, too, that they do not succumb to modern notions that the Gospel is too burdensome for the faithful and therefore fail to preach it or to encourage the faithful to live it.

Sacerdotal Silence

True instruction was in [Levi’s] mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction (Malachi 2:6-9).

Silent pulpits are all too commonplace in the Church today. Some priests prefer to “play it safe,” fearing to preach about the issues of the day out of human weakness. Others do not believe certain teachings themselves or think them impractical in modern times. Still others have turned aside from the truth, preaching and teaching outright dissent; by preaching corruption they cause many to stumble.

It is tragic as well that so many priests are permitted to mislead the faithful without being disciplined for it by their religious superiors.

The text says that a priest should guard knowledge. That is, he should protect it from those who would distort it; he should refute error. He must also guard it from misunderstanding and see that it is presented in balance with other truths in Scripture and Tradition. St. Paul says this of a presbyter: He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:9).

The text of Malachi also warns against partiality, wherein a priest chooses which truths he will teach or emphasize and which he will not. St. Paul said to the elders at Miletus, Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). Yes, the whole counsel, the complete truth, is to be taught by the priest.

Some of these rebukes concerning partiality must still be made today. Encourage your priests when they speak confidently and clearly. Thank them; give them support even if they challenge you. The job of a priest is not to be popular but to be a prophet. It’s tough work and it isn’t always welcomed. Even the prophets needed support from the 7000 who had still not bent the knee to Baal or kissed him (cf 1 Kings 19:18). Pray for priests and encourage them to announce the whole counsel of God.

These are some of the sins of priests that God sets forth, but let us not forget that the world has many hard-working, dedicated, loyal, and holy priests. Yet, as these passages remind us, priests can lose their way. They can forget the glory of the liturgies they celebrate, refer to their office and the gospel as burdensome, and grow silent out of fear or laziness.

Pray for priests!

Read Msgr. Pope’s earlier post:

‘Bad Catholics are something to fear’

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Is the Church’s past of no importance?

“Pope Francis has asked young people to write to him with their concerns. This is part of the lead up to October’s synod: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. Reading that text, you may be surprised that every papal document cited is by Pope Francis. No Paul VI, no John Paul II, no Benedict XVI? This somewhat narrows the catholicity of the Catholicism framing the upcoming discussions.”

Is the Church moving to become another liberal Christian denomination?

[If so,] “it will lose its essential allure. . .no, its charism, which is its uncompromising continuity with the Apostolic tradition, passed down from Jesus Christ, through Peter.”

Can the Church benefit by trying to conform to new societal beliefs?

“Catholics between the ages of 13 and 29 (and older) who believe in same-sex “marriage,” artificial contraception, pre-marital sex, and a “woman’s right to choose” are not going to reward the Church for kowtowing to their opinions, by trying to sweeten the message with a New, Newer, or Newest Evangelization…”

“… these un-Catholic opinions are rooted in a rejection of the very idea of sin, and the Church cannot abandon belief in sin. If it did, there’d be nothing to believe in, because there’d be no need for redemption.”

Many traditionally minded Catholics consider themselves to be “pre-Vatican II Catholics”. I think we are approaching an era wherein many others will consider themselves to be “pre-Pope Francis Catholics” (authentic Catholics).

Quotations above were taken from ‘The Apostolic Secession’ at The Catholic Thing.

 

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If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

A Portrait of Jesus the Preacher – A Homily for the 4th Sunday of the Year

by Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus models four aspects of powerful and effective preaching.

In using the word “preaching” we ought to be careful not to limit it to what takes place in a church. All Catholic parents should learn from Jesus’ example here for they have the church of their home in which to preach; they have the pulpit of the dining room table, the living room couch, and even the family car. We all must learn from Jesus’ model of powerful preaching and teaching. Note, then, four basic qualities of Jesus as preacher and teacher:

I. PERSONAL – The text says, Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

(The picture at the upper right is one of me and fellow parishioners standing in the ruins of the synagogue mentioned in this passage. It is quite moving to stand atop the ruins of the synagogue where Jesus preached both this sermon and the Bread of Life discourse. Some of the ruins are from later than Jesus’ era, but the foundations are clearly from that time. It’s amazing.)

Note that the text says that Jesus spoke “with authority.” The Greek word translated here as “authority” is ἐξουσίαν (exousia), whose root meaning is “to (speak) out of one’s being or substance.” In other words, one speaks of what one knows by experience. Jesus is not simply quoting what others have said nor is He merely quoting slogans or common sayings.

In this, Jesus is distinguished from the scribes, who were famous for quoting only one another and other reputable, safe sources. Quoting other sources is fine, but if it merely stops there, how is listening to a preacher any better than staying home and reading a book?

Too many Christians, including Catholic preachers, are content to live and preach by inference rather than experience. Too many are content to repeat what others have said rather than to speak out of what they know, have seen, and have experienced.

To preach with authority means to be able to proclaim the Word of God with personal knowledge and experience. It means to be able to say this: “What the Lord and the Church have always proclaimed, I know personally, for I have tested and experienced the Word of God in the laboratory of my own life and found it to be true. And now I speak to you not merely of what others have said but what I know and experience to be true. Out of the substance of my own being I announce this truth to you.”

This is what it means to preach personally and with authority. Jesus did not simply quote what others said; He said what He personally knew.

What of you and me? Are you able to speak with authority? Well, do you know what the Lord is doing in your life? Have you personally experienced the truth of what the Scriptures and the Church have always announced? Or are you just quoting slogans, passages, and what others have said? Of course the Scriptures and the authoritative teachings of the Church are the essential foundation of what we know, but do you personally know it to be true? How? Do you speak to your children of what you know or do you merely say, “The Church says … “? Certainly you should say what the Church says, but teaching with authority means knowing and having experienced the truth of what the Church says. It means being able to attest to it personally. This is the basis of preaching and teaching with authority.

II. PROVOCATIVE – To say that something is “provocative” is to say that it elicits a response. When Jesus preached His words did not leave His listeners unmoved. His preaching called forth a response, whether it made people mad, sad, or glad.

The text pointed out that many were glad, but there was one man who was mad. The text describes his reaction: In the synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Every experienced, authentic preacher knows that if he preaches effectively, a response will be forthcoming from his listeners. While it is natural to want a positive response, every preacher must be willing to accept that his word may incite anger or ridicule. The Church announces good news but she is also a sign of contradiction to a sinful world. Thus every preacher faithful to the Gospel must expect some degree of negativity and even persecution, ridicule, and anger.

Jesus’ Word angers a demon-possessed man in the congregation and he confronts Jesus, blaming Him with being hateful and causing hurt, saying that Jesus wants to destroy him. (Similarly, many today react with anger and call the Church hateful, bigoted, intolerant, and hurtful—even claiming that she destroys lives.) As we shall see, Jesus does not back down.

The problem in the synagogue is not the Word that Jesus proclaims; it is the man’s inner condition. When the authentic Gospel is proclaimed, the wrath that sometimes follows does not bespeak a problem with God’s Word but with the listener’s inner condition. Note that the man is demon-possessed. That is, his heart and mind are under the influence of Satan and the sin he inspires. The greatest obstacle to our being able to appreciate and understand the Word of God is our sin; the greatest help is a docile and humble spirit, granted by the grace of God.

A powerful preacher, priest or parent, preaches in order to provoke a response, whether one of joy and consolation or of repentance and godly sorrow. While no authentic preacher intends to incite a hostile response, he must be willing to accept such a reaction. When someone is accustomed to the darkness, he finds the light harsh, and calls it such. Anyone who preaches the Gospel authentically will both comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable; he will both console and confront (where necessary); he will reassure but also awaken the need for healing. He will speak the truth in love.

Good preaching provokes a response and one who hears the Gospel preached with authority cannot come away unchanged.

III. PRODUCING – Powerful and effective preaching brings results. As Jesus preaches, a man is set free. The text says, Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

The aim or point of the Word of God is not merely to inform but to transform. It’s not enough for the Word of God to be attractive, informative, or entertaining. Its full purpose is to, in power, drive out demons and bring God’s grace. Good preaching works to drive out the demons of ignorance, sorrow, rebellion, and sin. It works to give godly sorrow, joy, hope, confidence, knowledge, courage, and conviction. Good preaching changes people’s lives.

IV. PERSEVERING – Note that Jesus did not immediately back down in the face of opposition. He persevered with the opposing man and, by His Word, drove out the demons that were afflicting him. We see the man go through three stages:

  1. He is mad, for he confronts Jesus.
  2. He is sad, for he struggles and convulses as Jesus works to free him by His Word.
  3. He is glad, for he is set free and is able to rejoice with the others.

Every preacher, every parent, and every prophet must persevere, not giving up easily; it is often the case that people must go through these stages.

In my own life there was a time when, afflicted by the demons of ignorance and youthful rebellion, I would cross my arms and listen angrily to the priest. I was mad. I would often scoff at the “silly priest” who was trying to tell me what to do. After some years of hearing the preaching of the Church, however, I gradually understood that I had to change. Change does not come easily, though, and thus came the stage of sad; it was a time of struggle, learning new virtues, and forsaking old vices. Now I can truthfully say that I am glad, for the Lord has brought me a mighty long way. His preached Word is powerful. When effectively preached, it has the power to transform. I have experienced transformation personally.

I am glad that the Church persevered, that my parents persevered, that good priests and religious persevered in preaching to me and teaching me. I am glad that my parishioners continue to persevere in witnessing to me and preaching by their lives.

Here is reenactment of Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (on a different occasion).

 

JPII

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If your church or religion does not absolutely condemn abortion, you need to escape and convert to Catholicism. And then be an authentic Catholic. Not all of us are, even some among the clergy, but don’t let that deter you. You would have joined the one and only authentic Church of Christ Jesus and if you were faithful to her teachings despite the example of her dissidents, that in itself would bring glory to God, earning you favor in his sight and enabling you be an example to others by your honest and fervent discipleship.

To support abortion or not even oppose it is evil. How could any church or religion (claiming to be of God) that teaches or tolerates evil deserve your embrace? Even if you believe such a religion was of God, can you believe that it is still with God?

Excerpts from ‘ Where major religious groups stand on abortion‘:

The Roman Catholic Churchopposes abortion in all circumstances.

The Southern Baptist Convention, also opposes abortion, although it does allow an exception in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

Other sizable religious groups in opposition to abortion with few or no exceptions include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the Assemblies of God, the largest U.S. Pentecostal denomination. Hindu teaching also is generally opposed to abortion.

The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline (which lays out the denomination’s law and doctrine) stresses that abortion should be, in some cases, legally available.

On the other side of the debate, a number of religious groups, including the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the two largest American Jewish movements – Reform and Conservative Judaism – favor a woman’s right to have an abortion with few or no exceptions.

Many of the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denominations – including the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Methodists – also support abortion rights, although several of these churches temper this support with the call for some limits on when a woman can terminate her pregnancy.

There are several religious groups that have no public position on abortion. For instance, in Islam, which lacks a single organizational authority, there are a range of views among scholars about when life begins and thus when abortion is morally acceptable. Similarly, in Orthodox Judaism there is disagreement among rabbis and scholars about the issue. And for the National Baptist Convention, a historically black Protestant denomination in the U.S., church policy is to allow each individual congregation to determine its views on abortion.

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To view a portion of an interview with Fr. James Mawdsley in which he discusses the Traditional Mass fast forward 9 minutes:

Restart the video from the beginning to view the complete interview with Fr.Mawdsley

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If you read this post on Msgr. Pope’s blog, you will find many of his other outstanding reflections. For your convenience it is copied below with his kind permission.

Majoring in the Minors, as Seen in a Commercial

by Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

We live in times of great ingenuity; we have a lot of smarts. We’ve been to the moon and back. Our computers can do more and more amazing things, even as we are able to make them smaller and smaller. We can see farther than ever into outer space and look more deeply than ever into “inner space,” doing microsurgery and studying the human genome.

Yet although we have become technological giants, at the same time we’ve become moral midgets. Though able to solve complex technical problems, we can’t figure how to stay faithful to our commitments or keep our families together. The churches that once dominated our skylines are now dwarfed by buildings dedicated to banking, insurance, and other passing worldly affairs.

Our houses, with their great rooms, cathedral ceilings, and granite countertops, are monuments to our wealth. But inside, these houses are not homes; they are often filled with division and sterility.

Despite all our monetary wealth there is little wisdom; despite all our power there is little prudence.

From an eternal perspective our smarts amount to sandcastles on the beach that are sure to be washed away. Ultimately they cannot stand any more than can we.

Scripture warns of the human tendency to maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum. We are smart, but about the wrong things. Our priorities are misguided.

  1. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (Matt 23:22-24).
  2. But God said to [the rich man who built barns], “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in what matters to God (Luke 12:20-21).
  3. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light (Lk 16:8).
  4. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (Phil 2:21).
  5. But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people (2 Tim 3:1-5).
  6. How prosperous Israel is—a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more elaborate their pagan pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their pillars (Hosea 10:1-2).
  7. A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24).
  8. They are ingenious in their wickedness (Romans 1:30).

In other words, we humans tend to get smartest about the least important things, and are foolishly forgetful of eternal things—the things that matter most. Yes, we maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum. There are some who know everything there is to know about football, or who’s who in Hollywood or politics, but are at a loss when it comes to the most basic spiritual concepts, biblical stories, or moral teachings. Hours are consumed by sports, television, and politics, but there is no time for prayer.

Well, you get the point. We are smart, but about the wrong things. Meanwhile we remain foolishly out of touch with the things that matter to God and that last unto life eternal.

I thought of all this when I saw the following commercial, which appeared recently in my YouTube queue. It features men who have developed every talent imaginable related to beer.

Now I have nothing against beer in moderation. But allow the beer to represent the things of this world. And thus we see humorously illustrated our tendency and capacity to become very talented in worldly things. But at the end of the day, it’s just beer; it’s just the world, a world that is passing away.

Are we as talented and ingenious about spiritual things?

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