The whole Church is present at the Mass, where Heaven and Earth meet. (I don’t know where this image comes from, it’s all over the web with some variations.)

Today was Memorial Day. Too often we hear words without really hearing them. We think “memorial” has to do with simple memory, as when we remember to call a friend or we remember to pick up dog food on the way home from work. But there is a deeper meaning. In the Bible the word is used in this deeper way, in a technical sense. I suppose one disadvantage to reading the Bible in the vernacular (which is the only way I can read it) is that we take for granted that we understand it when all we grasp is the surface, most often not suspecting that there is anything deeper.

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Taking a break from collecting some thoughts for writing, watching this wonderful talk by Dr. Brant Pitre: Jesus & the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. This is a good video to watch during Lent, preparing for Passover. Will also be watching The Passion of the Christ with the study guide this time, a first for me.

Thank you for stopping by. Lent continues and I’m staying off of social media except for posting here at the blog and answering necessary emails. May this season of preparation bring you closer to our Lord. God bless you! Peace be with you.

PS: Hey, see that tabernacle? It’s empty during Dr. Pitre’s talk. Would that more parishes would take care to do this when holding non-liturgical events in the worship space, if no more suitable space is available, such as a parish hall.

emptytabernacle

Only Five Precepts of the Church(A post for the Year of Faith.) There are only five precepts of the Church and every Catholic should know them. Let’s take a look at them as found in the Catechism, second edition, Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3, starting with paragraph 2042, without the commentary, just the precepts. And notice that the subtitle of Article 3 is: The Church, Mother and Teacher. The Church is your Mother. She has something to say to you. Listen up!

  • You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  • You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  • You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  • You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  • You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

There. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Only five precepts and they’re brief, too. Blessedly. (Heh. A little Church humor. Very little. Ahem.)

Now why do you suppose the Church wants you to attend Mass on Sundays or to confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year? Because, like any good mother, she just wants you to drop in once in a while so she can see your face before she forgets what you look like? Well, maybe. But mostly to keep you spiritually alive! Read these words in paragraph 2041 right before the list of precepts.

“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor…”

You see, to keep alive spiritually you must attend Mass every Sunday, confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (Notice that you can attend Mass without receiving. This is important. If you’re not in a state of grace, you should not even think about presenting yourself for Communion. But you still must attend Mass!) You must also observe the days of fasting and abstaining, and help provide for the needs of the Church. This is the bare minimum for your interior, spiritual self to stay alive. If you are not meeting this bare minimum in your life, you may be in danger of dying spiritually. And if all you do is the bare minimum, then you’ll be barely alive spiritually, too.

When someone says, “Oh, I’m not religious at all but I’m very spiritual,” I have to say, “Oh, really?” Because I know that person is probably not spiritual at all. Most of the people who say things like that to me only concern themselves with things of the world and the body and the body’s appetites. They don’t go to church, don’t see why they should; don’t mortify their appetites, again, they don’t see why they should; they don’t practice self-control; they don’t confess their sins and they don’t receive the Eucharist. And, of course, they don’t give anything to their church because they don’t even have a church. Because…they’re “spiritual, not religious!”

Oy ve! Tell me how they can be spiritual! What do they even mean when they say it? Do they mean they believe in spirits? What kind of spirits? Spirits of good or spirits of evil? Do they mean that they practice spiritualism? Play with Ouija boards? (And why does that word end in an “a” instead of an “i” or an “ie” or “ee” or something? I never hear anyone pronounce it “Wee-ja”, it’s always “Wee-jee” board.)

Oh, they’re very spiritual. So spiritual that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid suffering. Mortification? Why, they’re mortified at the thought of it! And not in a good way!

He is the Vine, we are the branchesChrist said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. If we cut ourselves off from the Vine, we will shrivel and dry up. If we cut ourselves off from the Eucharist, we have no life in us. If we turn away from the ordinary means of grace in the sacraments, how do we expect to receive grace? If we don’t mortify our appetites, how do we expect to preserve or increase in grace? If we don’t confess our sins after sinning, how do we expect to get back into a state of grace so we can continue to grow and have a real and not imaginary spiritual life?

And that, I think, is all too often the problem: People imagine that they are spiritual and that they have a spiritual life when they don’t know the first thing about spirituality at all.

So stop imagining that you’re a very spiritual person and go to confession and get into a state of grace and get to Mass and and control your appetites and stay in the Vine and really be spiritual! Because your Momma says so. Momma Church, that is!

The full text of paragraphs on the precepts can be found online, paragraphs 2041 – 2043.

Vine passage from Gospel of John 15:5:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Well, this is helpful. Wish I’d known it was out there before now. I’m sure that in another place and time these things were noted in the rubrics. But somewhere along the way we tossed such helpful things and since then nobody ever knows what they’re supposed to do or when or how. Adoremus has a PDF file (from February 2010) called Gestures and Postures of the Congregation at Mass which is explains what we are to do, how and when. If I find an updated version, I’ll pass it along. See below for more from the Adoremus website:

**In response to reader requests,
“Gestures and Postures of the Congregation at Mass”, which originally appeared in the February 2010 Adoremus Bulletin, is now available in PDF format, or go to google document, especially formatted for printing on standard 8.5 x 11 paper (2 sides).

Permission is granted to reproduce this file for personal or parish use. For all other uses, please contact us.

**See also Church Documents page for official instructions and statements of the Holy See on these same topics.

[Edited Dec 6: At the end of this post I listed some related posts from around the web. Edited Dec 8: I’m making this a featured post since we’re still getting used to the new translation of the Mass. See the comments at the end for a discussion that represents two very different reactions to the translation.] I went to Mass this morning [Note: This post was originally written on the First Sunday of Advent.] at the chapel at EWTN. The first day of the liturgical season of Advent, the first day using the new English translation of the Roman Missal, and the first day using the new Mass cards showing the changes in the responses of the congregation. (See notes at the end for more resources.) Thank goodness we had these cards. Continue reading

Confession: A Roman Catholic AppI love to visit the blog Sonitus Sanctus and today I found an unusual treat, Confession: A Roman Catholic App. Imagine having an aid to the daily examination of your conscience, complete with various prayers and acts of contrition, and the ability to customize the whole thing for your state in life, your age, etc., for one user or several and with password protection. Well, imagine no more. Now you can have all this on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Get it at the App Store. I’m going to leave a little review there now because I like this app and I want it to do well. Gotta do my part, no matter how small.

Get Confession: A Roman Catholic App at the App Store.
Read the original post at Sonitus Sanctus.
The App Store on iTunes (requires iTunes).
App Store Downloads Mobile (iTunes not needed).

Christ is the True Manna from HeavenWho is to blame for the culture of death? Not atheists or progressives or democrats or republicans or pro-choice advocates. No, according to Dr. John Cuddeback in his talk, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for Life in a Culture of Death, we Christians have no one to blame but ourselves. For we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten to put on the mind of Christ. We have forgotten how to pray. We have forgotten that prayer is necessary to the life of the Christian. We have forgotten that the Eucharist, the highest form of prayer, is absolutely necessary to the life of the Christian. Prayer and reception of divine grace in the sacraments is not optional, not something extraneous to the Christian way of life but is absolutely central to it. Continue reading