Christian Unity – Vine and branch

+JMJ+ Welcome to Day 2 of a special series of posts for the Octave of Christian Unity.  I’m using one of my favorite meditation starters, In Conversation with God (ICWG hereafter), a seven-volume set published by Scepter, written by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal. I’ve used it for years and it never gets old. As always, you’ll find notes and links at the end of this post.

The first image Fr. Carvajal mentions in this day’s meditation is the image of the Vine and the branches. He says that there was a sculpture of an immense golden vine in the vestibule of the Temple. So Jesus here is using an image familiar to His disciples. If the branches remain on the vine, they thrive. But if they are removed, they dry up and wither. (ICWG, vol. 6, p. 27.)

Then comes the familiar line:

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

John 15:6

Union with Christ is the foundation for unity among the faithful. We are all bound together and strengthened in the Mystical Body of Christ…Faith in Jesus Christ should move us to act with brotherly love like the first Christians who were of one heart and soul.” (ICWG, v 6, 28. Emphasis mine.)

(There is no other foundation for unity. Union with Christ is THE foundation for unity among the faithful. Seems to me, this is why you see those without this unity so often tearing each other and themselves apart. There is love and unity, and there is, well, something else, and it ain’t love and it doesn’t produce unity.)

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Acts 2:42

We see there in Acts that already there is a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist. I did not see that before I began to study Catholicism. I’d never even heard of the word “liturgy” until then. I did not see that the Bible and the Liturgy go hand in hand. To me the Bible was something I held in my hand and read alone or sometimes in a group. But in the Church the Bible has always been part of worship. Not worshipped, but part of worship. The Bible contains the texts that are read, are shared in the Liturgy, in the Mass. The Bible is also the record of our family history. (I’m doing a series about that on Thursdays.)

I’m not saying that Bible is only for the Liturgy, but it is primarily for that. But of course it is also for us to read and study and pray with. Soaking in the Word is one of my greatest pleasures in the world. Even if sometimes, well, often it makes me downright uncomfortable. I can always find something to humble me in the Bible. 

Fr. Carvajal goes on to talk about the way people treat each other, especially the way the faithful treat each other. Before we can do much to promote unity with other Christians or anyone else, we have to have unity in the Church, unity among ourselves. (Ibid., 29.)

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35

“Fraternal charity acts like a cement that holds the living stones of the Church together, to use an expression of St Augustine.” (Commentary on Psalm 44)

The time of Roman persecution brought the faithful closer together and the “term brother acquired a deep meaning.” 

“If we ought to love those who are not fully incorporated into the Church, how much more charity should we exercise towards our brothers and sisters in the Faith?”

ICWG, v 6, 30.

His words about how to handle criticism and correction of others is something we should all read several times a day. 

“If we should ever happen to come across a Church leader who gives bad example, we should make an effort to pray for that individual and, if appropriate, give fraternal correction in a delicate and respectful manner. We should ask Our Lady to help us in this struggle.”

Ibid., 30.

Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+

PS: Be sure to subscribe below for updates from me about the Rosary Project, the ebooks, giveaways, new series and other things. :)


Notes and Links

  • In Conversation with God, by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal. 7 volumes, vinyl cover with dust jacket, in a boxed set. So excellent, I’ve used these since my early days of conversion, so since the mid-nineties, though I collected them one at a time.  (Amazon affiliate link. See Full Disclosure below.)
  • ICWT is not to be confused with that other set of books, Conversations with God, a set of New Age books. I always need to point this out because there’s always someone who gives me the side-eye when I mention ICWG. I am not a New Ager anymore and I never read those CWG books when I was. 
  • I’m mentioning Christian Unity especialy this week in the Live Rosary Threads: Follow me @disciple96 on Twitter at 7pm Central, Tuesdays and Fridays. See the Rosary Project Live Archives to see what the threads are like.

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Christian Unity Series TOC
All Series TOC

Vigil

Twenty-three years ago I experienced my first Holy Thursday liturgy. I remember parts of it, other parts are beginning to fade. I decided to record what I still remember and post it here tonight on this Holy Thursday. Technically, it’s Good Friday now but only by five minutes.

After the Holy Thursday liturgy a few people stayed in the pews to watch with Him. Fr. — had stripped the altar, had set up the tabernacle, palm fronds around it in the dimly lit, darkened nave. Hushed voices became softer and softer until they fell silent as the last stragglers left, leaving just three of us there. In the tabernacle the Lord was preparing to face the ordeal of ordeals. In the pews were His three disciples, fighting to stay awake, nodding off, not understanding what was taking place then, having no idea what would be taking place in a matter of hours. 

I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to take in everything, everything I saw or heard or felt. I wanted to hold onto it, to remember. I heard snores behind me. I grew more determined to stay awake and watch.

At nearly midnight, the priest entered the sanctuary with two altar servers, one on either side of him, holding long-handled candle lighters which, in the dimlit darkness, looked exactly like spears. They’ve come to arrest Him! I watched, unable to stop them. I looked around to see if anyone else saw what I did, but they were sound asleep. I was alone, beholding the unfolding scene. 

The altar servers stood holding their spear-candlelighters while the priest stepped forward and bent down to open the tabernacle door and lifted the Lord from His place of repose. Then he walked slowly away, the two trailing behind with their spears. They left through the sacristy door. The tabernacle door was left open, exposing the emptiness within. All was silent—except for the snores behind me. I wanted to turn and shake them awake. They arrested Him! They took Him away! Did you not see? Why didn’t you help me? Why didn’t we stop them, why didn’t we help Him?

Ah, get behind me, Satan! “Christ was obedient unto death.” And so must we all be. 

I’ve been Catholic now since April 1996 and all I can say is thanks be to God and praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ! Lord, have mercy on us. Make our hearts like unto Thine. Amen!

Image credits: The Agony in the Garden, Luca Giordano; The Taking of Christ, Caravaggio, c. 1602. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, a video by Dr. Brant Pitre

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

Counterfeit Catholics, A Little Comeuppance for the Rebellious and Ignorant

Michael Voris. A man not afraid to speak up and speak out and a bishop who is standing up to the counterfeit Catholics and in defense of the priests in his diocese. Thanks be to God! Good on ya both, Michael and Bishop Morlino. The Church needs many more like ya. Links provided below the video.

Published on May 10, 2012 by : The Church of Feel Good is finally starting to get put in its place .. starting to.

http://badgercatholic.blogspot.com/2010/11/bp-morlinos-letter-to-platteville….http://www.madisondiocese.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=H67WXKB7CA8%3d&ta
http://www.socon.ca/michael-voris-coming-to-town/
http://www.catholicchapterhouse.com/new-evangelization-michael-voris-toronto

Gestures and Postures of the Congregation at Mass

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.

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Baptism, Part 2

This is part of a continuing series of posts on the Mass, salvation and the sacraments. Acknowledgments may be found at the end of this post.

Why do we get baptized or baptize our children? Why do we even need to go to church? I often hear people ask these questions of various believers, some of them teachers of the faith. Rarely do I hear them receive a good answer. Even more rarely do I hear them receive a true answer. I’ve heard people say that we go to church because we need the fellowship of other believers in order to stay faithful on our walk with the Lord. I’ve heard people say that we get baptized to show the Lord that we’re serious and ready to commit our lives to Him. I’ve heard that we Catholics baptize children because of some silly notion that baptism actually does something when anybody can see that it is merely symbolic of a decision made by a person who can reason about such things; so obviously a mere child isn’t capable of benefiting from it, much less, a baby.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Baptism, Part 2”

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments – Baptism, Part 1

Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter
Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter

The following is part of a continuing series on the Church, salvation and the Sacraments. We’re beginning our exploration of the Sacraments themselves and where better to begin than with Baptism, the Sacrament by which we become members of the Body of Christ.

In the series to follow this one we’ll be looking more closely at the Old Testament background of the Church and the Sacraments, but I want to spend some time reflecting on the Church as the Barque of Peter, carrying the faithful safely across the crashing waves of the world, guiding them on their journey home to the Father. I’ll base these reflections mostly on the sources listed below in the acknowledgements. I offer the drawing below in the hopes that it will help you to visualize what I’m saying and will help me too.

Let’s look first at the entry into the Church, the Sacrament of Initiation par excellence: Baptism.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments – Baptism, Part 1”

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 4

Economy of Salvation, The Crucifixion

The following is Part 4 in a continuing series which began as a write-up of a talk by Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, but instead took on a life of its own and has become some rather broad reflections on salvation history as it leads up to the founding of the Church by Christ, and the Church’s role in salvation. In the next set of posts we’ll go deeper and into more detail.* Come along with me now as we join the disciples of the Lord at this, the darkest time of their lives. Acknowledgments at the end of this post.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 4”

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 3

Economy of Salvation, The Annunciation and Incarnation

The following is Part 3 in a continuing series which began as a write-up of a talk by Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, but instead took on a life of its own and has become some rather broad reflections on salvation history as it leads up to the founding of the Church by Christ, and the Church’s role in salvation. In the next set of posts we’ll go deeper and into more detail.* Notes and credits at the end of this post.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 3”

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 2

Economy of Salvation, The Fall

The following is Part 2 in a continuing series which began as a write-up of a talk by a talk by Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, but instead took on a life of its own and has become some rather broad reflections on salvation history as it leads up to the founding of the Church by Christ, and the Church’s role in salvation. Soon we’ll go deeper and into more detail.* In this part we are still looking at how mankind got itself into a situation wherein it needed to be saved. Acknowledgments at the end of this post.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, Part 2”

Diagrams for the audio of the Mass workshop

(Update May 22 2019: Links to the Una Voce audio of the workshop are currently broken, again.)

Fr. Nolan drew some diagrams on the whiteboard during his presentation last week (a workshop for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form). I’ve made some graphics of my own based on his drawings. If you’re reading the series on the Mass and salvation that began in the last post, or if you’re planning on downloading and listening to his talks, you might find these useful. I still have a couple more to go, but I’m posting what I’ve got so far. Just trying to be helpful, don’t you know. We’ll explore this more fully in the other posts, but here are some things to think on the next time you’re preparing for Mass:

At Baptism we enter the Church (both figuratively and literally) and then we are on the way to becoming eligible to receive the other sacraments, as far as we are able. We enter the long boat of the Church, the Barque of Peter, and start out on our journey toward God.

As members of the Body of Christ we participate in His Death and Sacrifice on the Cross and receive the grace (and graces) we need for salvation. As Fr. Nolan said, this is how it works. This is how we are saved. By the action of Christ on the Cross. And by His grace allowing us to participate in His action by allowing us to unite with Him in His sufferings and death. We die to ourselves and offer ourselves along with Him as He offers His sacrifice throughout all time and beyond all time as our Eternal High Priest.

Diagrams, revised set.

The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, first in a series

In the Beginning

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

(Updated again, May 22 2019, currently all links to the Una Voce Northern Alabama site appear to be broken. Updated: Aug 14 2017: Fixed broken image links. Updated links to the workshop audio as of Oct 19 2012.) The following is Part 1 in a continuing series which began as a write-up of a talk by Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, but instead took on a life of its own and has become some rather broad reflections on salvation history as it leads up to the founding of the Church by Christ, and the Church’s role in salvation. After we gain a broad overview, we’ll go deeper and into more detail.* Acknowledgments at the end of this post.

Sacraments: Rivers of Grace

Prayer and the sacraments (and the Eucharist, the Mass, among them) are the foundation of the serious Catholic disciple’s way of life. We don’t just go to church or go to Mass on Sunday or even daily. We pray the Mass. We study it, reflect on it, we try to live a life that pre-disposes us to receive Holy Communion worthily, which doesn’t mean that we consider ourselves worthy, far from it.** We learn about the faith to deepen our faith, to give God the worship He deserves to the best of our ability, so that, through our worship and active participation in the sacraments, God can give us, and we can receive, His sanctifying grace necessary for our salvation. As Fr. Nolan says, This is how we are saved. It all comes from God, from Christ Jesus, from whom all grace and graces flow as rivers of grace from His wounded side.

We need to go deeper now to discover the real meaning of the Mass, to explore and understand and develop this life of prayer and study and reception of Christ’s grace in the sacraments. This is the heart of Catholicism, of Christianity. Without this, the rest of it has no meaning whatsoever. So let’s go back to the beginning, to the creation story in Genesis.

Continue reading “The Mass, Salvation and the Sacraments, first in a series”