Saturday, February 9, 2013

Devotion for today: when you’re down and troubled, turn to Psalm 42

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (the New Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - mosaic detail of deer
Mosaic illustration from Psalm 42, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.


As a deer longs for a stream of cool water,
    so I long for you, O God. I thirst for you, the living God.
    When can I go and worship in your presence?
 Day and night I cry,
    and tears are my only food;
all the time my enemies ask me,
    “Where is your God?”
My heart breaks when I remember the past,
    when I went with the crowds to the house of God
    and led them as they walked along,
    a happy crowd, singing and shouting praise to God. Why am I so sad?
    Why am I so troubled?

I will put my hope in God,
    and once again I will praise him,
    my savior and my God.
Here in exile my heart is breaking,
    and so I turn my thoughts to him.
He has sent waves of sorrow over my soul;
    chaos roars at me like a flood,
    like waterfalls thundering down to the Jordan
    from Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar. May the Lord show his constant love during the day,
    so that I may have a song at night,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
To God, my defender, I say,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go on suffering
    from the cruelty of my enemies?” I am crushed by their insults,
    as they keep on asking me,
    “Where is your God?”
Why am I so sad?
    Why am I so troubled?

I will put my hope in God,
    and once again I will praise him,
    my savior and my God.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Devotion for today: Interceding for ourselves and others…

We are looking today at the final stage of the Eucharistic prayer: the intercessions. It is a lovely thought that the Church, in her infinite wisdom, asks us to pause and remember all those for whom we need to pray: the living, the deceased, the Holy Father, our local Bishop, and  all of us who will soon be receiving the sacred body and blood of Christ. As with all things Catholic, the intercessions remind us that life is not about us. The Mass is not only about us – it is about us in union and communion with others. We must not forget to pray for the deceased, or for the living. It is important to unite ourselves with the intentions of the Pope so that the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church may thrive even in a hostile society, and our local Bishop is our link to the rest of the Church. It is he who will provide the guidance and decision making which all the priests of our diocese must follow. It just makes sense to pray for him. Take time as you pray the end of the Eucharistic prayer to place your beloved family and friends in here, and also ask God to keep your eyes and heart ever open to the awareness that your faith is not only personal, but united to millions of people around the world. We all share One Faith, one baptism, and we all confess one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!

Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 10:17: Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

Fr. William Saunders tells us (Straight Answers II, Cathedral Foundation Press, 2003): … since the beginning of the fourth century, the Eucharistic Prayer has included several petitions: “We pray for….” Here, the saints are invoked, especially the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and the apostles and martyrs. As a sign of unity throughout the Church, the intentions of the Holy Father and the local Bishop are remembered. Lastly, the living and deceased members of the Church are also remembered.

Fr. Edward McNamara tells us: The priest proffers the Eucharistic Prayer not in his own name but as representative of Christ and the Church. This formula therefore expresses a deeper theological reality in which the priest and the assembly manifest their belonging to the Universal Church through hierarchical communion with pope and bishop. The pope is the representative of this unity at the universal level; the bishop is this principle of unity at the local level. Communion with both pope and bishop are necessary if our Eucharist is to be authentically Catholic. Regarding mentioning the saints, each Eucharistic Prayer has its own characteristics and these must be respected. Before Pope John XXIII added St. Joseph, the Roman Canon traditionally listed 24 saints (12 apostles and 12 martyrs) in two separate groups. This list may now be shortened to seven by omitting the saints following St. Andrew in the first group and after St. Barnabas in the second. 
The full list is: 
First: Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude [apostles], Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, [5 Popes] Cyprian [bishop of Carthage], Lawrence [deacon], Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian [5 laymen]). 
Second: John the Baptist, Stephen [deacon protomartyr], Matthias, Barnabas [apostles], (Ignatius [bishop of Antioch], Alexander [Pope], Marcellinus [priest], Peter [exorcist], Felicity, Perpetua [2 married laywomen of Carthage], Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia [4 virgins], Anastasia [laywoman of Sirmium]. 
These lists thus represent the whole Church united in offering the most holy sacrifice of the altar insofar as Christians from all strands have been deemed worthy of martyrdom, the ultimate sacrifice for Christ. In this way the use of the full list, at least occasionally, can be very useful, among other messages, in illustrating the universal call to holiness. (Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Eucharistic Prayer VI Intercessions: Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have provided for your Church, and grant in your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory.
Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom we offer this sacrifice, especially your servant N>our Pope, N> our Bishop, and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart.
Remember also those who have died in the peace of your Christ and all the dead, whose faith you alone have know.
To all of us, your children, grant, O merciful Father, that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and with your Apostles and Saints in your kingdom. There, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death, may we glorify you though Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the whole world all that is good.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Devotion for today: We remember, we celebrate, we believe

We have just finished our study of the Consecration. What follows this is a series of prayers to God the Father telling Him that we are fully aware of what has just transpired before our very eyes: that we now are in full celebration of the sacrifice just offered to God:  the living and true sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross, the gift of Himself given freely for all, and the hope we find in His resurrection for an eternal life in heaven. We remind God, and ourselves in doing so, that sacrifices have been offered to Him since the Old Testament, with Abel who gave the best he had, Abraham, who gave the only son he had,  and Melchizedeck , who gave his  bread and wine as a foreshadowing  of what was to come. In Eucharistic Prayer 1 we ask God to be “pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance …” Don’t you love those words? I hope when I face God He looks at me with a serene and kindly countenance. I remember when my children were young and they had to tell me something that was a “no no” they would say, “Mommy, please don’t change your face!” We all know the bliss of a serene and kindly countenance, and the fear of the scowl. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and we ask that He accept ours. He rejected Cain’s, because it was not given with a sincere and loving heart. May we be able to say of ourselves that we have truly entered into the mysteries of the Mass so completely, that the prayers we now offer are expressions of our love and faith in God. Many of us zone out at this time. Don’t. Listen; join your heart into the prayer, and pray. The priest no longer uses the pronoun “I” as he did in the consecration, while operating “In persona Christi” but now uses “we” as this prayer is ours.

Fr. William Saunders tells us: The anamnesis is the remembrance. The whole Mass in a sense constitutes an anamnesis, a remembrance of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. This remembering is not just of the past, but a remembering of what happens now and of the living mystery of the Mass. The faithful also remember that the Lord will come again in glory. Here specifically the priest recalls the Lord’s mandate to remember Him, what He did, and His glorious return.

Pope Benedict XVI tells us: Thus we see how the Eucharist had its origin, what its true source is. The words of institution alone are not sufficient; the death alone is not sufficient; and even both together are still insufficient but have to be complemented by the Resurrection, in which God accepts this death and makes it the door into a new life. From out of this whole matrix – that he transforms his death, that irrational event, into an affirmation, into an act of love and of adoration – emerges his acceptance by God and the possibility of his being able to share himself in this way. On the Cross, Christ saw love through to the end. For all the differences there may be between the accounts in the various Gospels, there is one point in common: Jesus died praying, and in the abyss of death, he upheld the First Commandment and held onto the presence of God. Out of such a death springs this sacrament, the Eucharist.

Eucharistic Prayer I: Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation. Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once your were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high, in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. (this is so wonderful because it is taped at an International Mass in Taiwan, reminding us that all Catholics of all nations are united in the Eucharist)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Devotion for today: We proclaim your death, O Lord!

Immediately following the Consecration at Mass, the priest introduces the Mystery of Faith. The faithful respond with one of three possible responses. Here we take time to proclaim our belief that the body and blood of Christ, given to us at the Last Supper, bought for us at a price on the Cross, and offered to us through the promise of the resurrection and ascension, is truly present in front of us on the altar. St. Paul tells us that we must own the mystery. It is no good to watch the host and chalice elevated if we do not own the mystery of the transubstantiation. We must be willing to leave the Mass and proclaim our belief to others by living it in our daily lives.

Scripture for meditation: 1 Timothy 3:9…holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

 I Corinthians 11:26: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until He comes.

John 4:39-42: Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Edward Sri tells us in his book, A Biblical Walk through the Mass, (Ascension Press, 2011):
We have arrived at the supreme moment of the Mass. The priest has spoken the words of consecration over the bread and wine, and they have now become the body and blood of Christ. In reverence, the priest genuflects in silent adoration before Christ’s blood in the chalice and then rises and solemnly says, “The mystery of faith.” These words are not so much a ceremonial instruction for the people to say their part next. Rather, they express the priest’s profound wonder and awe over the mystery that is taking place. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose body and blood were offered for our sins on Calvary, is now really present on the altar under the appearances of bread and wine…. Joining the priest’s wonder over this mystery, the people proclaim the story of salvation summed up in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

“The Mystery of Faith”:

“We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until You come again.”

“When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”

“Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

Devotion for today: What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about the Eucharist?

Today we will look at what the Catechism says about the use of bread and wine, the heart of the Eucharist. These few selections from a large entry on this topic will show the connection to the Old Testament, in particular to the Passover, and to New Testament events such as the feeding of the crowd, and the changing of water into wine at Cana. Read, believe, and give thanks, for the word Eucharist means “thanksgiving.”
The signs of bread and wine
1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine. . . ." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.
1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God's faithfulness to his promises. The "cup of blessing" at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.
1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.
1336 The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?" the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life” and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.
The institution of the Eucharist
1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament."
1338 The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come down from heaven.
1339 Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover meal for us, that we may eat it. . . ." They went . . . and prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.". . . . And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood."
1340 By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.
"Do this in memory of me"
1341 The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words "until he comes" does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.
1342 From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord's command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.
1343 It was above all on "the first day of the week," Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection that the Christians met "to break bread." From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the Church's life.
1344 Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus "until he comes," the pilgrim People of God advances, "following the narrow way of the cross," toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.

Sweet Sacrament, We Thee Adore
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all!
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought?

Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.

2. Had I but Mary's sinless heart
With which to love Thee, dearest King,
Oh, with what ever fervent praise,
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!

3. Thy Body, Soul and Godhead, all!
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
For all Thou hast and art is mine!

4. Sound, then, His praises higher still,
And come, ye angels, to our aid;
For this is God, the very God
Who hath both men and angels made!
Refrain (William Faber, an English convert to Catholicism)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Devotion for today: Too Late have I loved You!

Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! 

You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. 

You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you!

 You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness.

 You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. 

You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace. (St. Augustine)