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Archive for November, 2011


Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.

Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop.

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Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.

Laura and I attended 10:30 Mass this morning at Sacred Heart Cathedral for the First Sunday of Advent, which was celebrated by Bishop Michael Burbidge. This morning also marked the first singing of the new Roman Missal, Third Edition, alluded to in a previous post.

The revisions of the collect had notable changes, emboldened in our bulletin. The bold letters helped, though the words, many of them so similar to the previous form, were often run over, as many, including me, naturally reverted back to the previous edition.

Most notably, The Lord be with you / And with your spirit

For many, the old response, And also with you, rolled off the tongue without a thought. In fact the five different exchanges were each a small collision of the old form and the revisions running headlong into each other.

Now, I can see some holding out, not changing the familiar for the revision. I could also see the same pride in those who had done their homework, holding their head up to say, ‘yes, we are doing this today, and you should, too.’

The Latin reads, Et cum spiritu tuo, which has been literally brought into the revision, “And with your spirit”. Having taught Latin for seven years, I note that the new translation is in fact more faithful to the Latin. But does it matter? What does “et cum spiritu tuo / and with your spirit” actually mean to the Laity? More importantly (?), what is it supposed to mean for the Laity to say back to the celebrating priest “and may the Lord be with your spirit.” Perhaps this is were good, sound catechesis must emerge to help the lay faithful.

Do the words matter?

In his thoughts on the Mass, Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread (1994), Father Francis Randolph said of the old Latin Mass: We may use the head during prayer, just as we use hands and voices, but the real business of prayer is at a much deeper level of our being… When we use words in prayer, they are only a preparation, a vehicle, a means by which God can speak to us. (195-96)

I’ve been Roman Catholic since Easter 2003, so I had learned a English mass, which has now been revised. I’ve studied the Latin Mass, and attended the Forma Extraordinaria a few times (the first Sunday of each month at Sacred Heart Cathedral).

My wife Laura has been attending Mass with me though she is not Roman Catholic; she’s Presbyterian (PC-USA). She had not memorized the previous Mass, and so it is unique to be saying a new translation with her. She even “struck her breast” during the mea culpa / through my fault.

We’re learning it together.

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Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve in my hairt, I am no nane better nor dunnering bress or a ringing cymbal. Gin I hae the gift o prophecie, an am acquient wi the saicret mind o God, an ken aathing ither at man may ken, an gin I hae siccan faith as can flit the hills frae their larachs — gin I hae aa that, I hae nae luv in my hairt, I am nocht. (I Cor 13.1-3)

The New Testament in Scots, trans. by W.L. Lorimer

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Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down!
Isaiah 64:1

Isaiah blurts out the frustration and longing that seem to be our inevitable portion as children of Adam and Eve. Frustration: in the midst of conflict and pain, we sense that something has gone terribly wrong, and we are powerless to fix it. Longing: we yearn for God to break into our stifling world and set things right.

William Butler Yeats gave words to our dilemma:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

(Yeats, “The Second Coming”)

In the rhythm of the church year, Advent reminds us that we live in a time of groaning along with a broken creation, a time of longing for what we do not yet see (Rom 8:22-25). We yearn for the long-delayed coming of God’s justice. But Advent also reminds us that our longing is not futile, for we await the consummation of a sure promise. In the coming of Jesus Christ, God has torn open the heavens and come down. For that reason, Advent recalls us to the discipline of hopeful waiting. Nothing now can separate us from the love of God, and so we wait with confidence for the healing of all creation.

Richard B. Hays, Dean and George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament
Duke Divinity School

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From The New York Times :

DENVER — They call him Big Mountain Jesus: a six-foot statue of Christ, draped in a baby blue robe and gazing out over the majestic Flathead Valley from his perch along a ski run at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.

He has been there for more than 50 years, erected by the local Knights of Columbus chapter in honor of the soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who told of seeing similar shrines in the mountains of Italy during World War II.

These days, though, Whitefish’s Jesus statue is at the center of an increasingly bitter battle over the legality of such symbols on federal land.

An atheist group says that because Big Mountain Jesus stands on United States Forest Service property, it is in violation of the constitutional principle separating church and state.

After receiving a complaint about the statue in the spring, the group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, has been urging the Forest Service not to reauthorize the Knights’ special-use permit for the memorial, which is up for renewal.

“This is a no-brainer,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the group. “A violation doesn’t become less egregious because it’s gone on a long time.” Ms. Gaylor said she would have no problem if the statue stood on private property.

[read the rest of the article here]


“The case can be made that the great social and political devastations of our [20th] century have been perpetrated by regimes of militant secularism, notably those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. That is true, and it suggests that the naked public square is a dangerous place. When religious transcendence is excluded, when the public square has been swept clean of divisive sectarianisms, the space is opened to seven demons aspiring to transcendent authority. As with a person so also with a society, the last condition is worse that the first. Nonethesless, the awareness of this truth does not alleviate our anxiety about forces that, no matter how much they deny it, seem bent upon establishing something like a theocracy.” (8-9)

Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (1986)

I rarely engage Church/State arguments or anything having to do with the First Amendment, because I do not believe therein lie my gifts. However, I do think there is a danger in the Church conceding the “public square” of society to the State, as if the Church never belonged there in the first place, or that the State was the sum wishes or hopes of that society.

The Church (i.e., the sacramental body of individual members professing the Crucified Jesus as Lord in a society) is a political body and thus should be allowed to express herself as such.

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Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat, [“have” / “cannot”]
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
[“so” / “thanked”]

Trad., attributed to Robert Burns

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Thanksgiving Prayer

For the earth who opens herself to nourish,
for the light and the dark and the passing of days,
for blisters that bring forth food from soil and toil,
for the plentiful gift upon our table,
let us say thanks.

For the strong shoulders that bear our sorrow,
for the gentle hands that heal our hearts,
for compassionate eyes and lips
that spread affirmation over doubt,
for the lavish gift around our table,
let us show thanks.

For the sharp words that test our compassion,
for tear-streaked cheeks and addled minds,
for the lost and the lonely who stretch or do not stretch their hand,
for those who lay challenge and joy at our table,
let us be thanks.

Amen.

Danielle Fenske, Colorado Vincentian Volunteers

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