Monday, December 29, 2008

Poll-Release Monday #63

Here is your new poll question, the last poll of 2008:
  • True or false?: Since Confirmation gives the Holy Spirit to strengthen the believer in his witness to the world, the denial of one's faith requires a re-Confirmation to restore the Spirit of Witness.
What do you think? Vote in the poll in the sidebar.

As for the previous poll, here are the results:
  • True or false?: The liturgy is the work of Mary and all the saints, as well as that of Jesus.
    • True: 18 (64%)
    • False: 10 (36%)
The correct answer is:
  • TRUE, cf. CCC no. 1187: The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints, and the multitude of those who have already entered the kingdom.

    1139: It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the sacraments.
I think the part that confused a lot of people was the notion of liturgy being "the work of" the people. What does that mean? If you take it to mean that the liturgy is created by man or that it is an essentially (or solely) a human work, then that would be incorrect. The liturgy is God working with us to achieve our sanctification.

If by "the work of the people" you mean that the entire Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy and participates in it, then you would be correct, and I think that this is the sense that the Catechism is employing. Note that no. 1187 is from the "In Brief" section at the end of the article "Celebrating the Church's Liturgy." It is attempting to summarize nos. 1136-1144, which appear at the beginning and provide the necessary context for understanding no. 1187. They read as follows:

    1136 Liturgy is an "action" of the whole Christ (Christus totus). Those who even now celebrate it without signs are already in the heavenly liturgy, where celebration is wholly communion and feast

    The celebrants of the heavenly liturgy

    1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church's liturgy, first reveals to us, "A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne": "the Lord God." It then shows the Lamb, "standing, as though it had been slain": Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one "who offers and is offered, who gives and is given." Finally it presents "the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb," one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.

    1138 "Recapitulated in Christ," these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand), especially the martyrs "slain for the word of God," and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb, and finally "a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues."

    1139 It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the sacraments.

    The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy

    1140 It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates. "Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church which is 'the sacrament of unity,' namely, the holy people united and organized under the authority of the bishops. Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole Body of the Church. They manifest it, and have effects upon it. But they touch individual members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their role in the liturgical services, and their actual participation in them." For this reason, "rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately."

    1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices." This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:

    • Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people," have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.

    1142 But "the members do not all have the same function." Certain members are called by God, in and through the Church, to a special service of the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the Church. The ordained minister is, as it were, an "icon" of Christ the priest. Since it is in the Eucharist that the sacrament of the Church is made fully visible, it is in his presiding at the Eucharist that the bishop's ministry is most evident, as well as, in communion with him, the ministry of priests and deacons.

    1143 For the purpose of assisting the work of the common priesthood of the faithful, other particular ministries also exist, not consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders; their functions are determined by the bishops, in accord with liturgical traditions and pastoral needs. "Servers, readers, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function."

    1144 In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the "unity of the Spirit" who acts in all. "In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy."
I hope that helps to explain things better. What are your thoughts on this particular aspect of the liturgy? Leave a comment and let me know.

Pax Christi,

Wearing a Veil for Our Eucharistic Lord

My fiancée wears a veil. I have always highly regarded her decision to do that. Depending on where we go to church, there may be other women wearing one too, or she'll be the only one. While this latter scenario may make her a little uncomfortable, it is also an excellent opportunity to witness to people and invariably someone will ask her or me why she's wearing it, which gives us the chance to explain the rich meaning behind a woman veiling herself for Mass.

Recently, via my "Catholic Q&A" column in the Church bulletin, I provided such an explanation. I am particularly indebted to the following articles:
Now, on to the Q&A:

Why do some women wear a veil at Mass?

It has been a long-standing custom in the Church for a woman to wear a veil at Mass or in the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Although it seems to have gone out of fashion nowadays, there is certainly nothing that prevents a woman from continuing this practice, and it is a commendable one for many reasons.

For one, Paul tells us in 1 Cor 11:2-16 that when a woman veils herself at Mass, she is acknowledging the headship of Christ and the authority of her husband (or father, if she is single) who is called to represent the headship of Christ in her life. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Eph 5:23).

Paul also says that a woman’s long hair is “her pride,” or her glory (1 Cor 11:15), and rightly so. Women should celebrate all that makes them distinctly feminine, and often times, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman’s hair! But, in the Mass, where we are called to humbly present ourselves before the Almighty God, we must, as St. John the Baptist says, “decrease so that he may increase” (Jn 3:30). So, a woman veils herself so that all glory will be given to God and not to herself.

Thirdly, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, vessels of life are often veiled. In the Old Testament, the “Holy of Holies” – the place where the life of God in the Ark of the Covenant resided – was separated from the rest of the Temple by a veil. In Mass, the chalice that holds the Blood of Christ is veiled until the Offertory. In between Masses, the ciborium that contains the Body of Christ is veiled inside the tabernacle. These are, as Jesus himself tells us, the sources of our spiritual life (cf. Jn 6:53). Finally, Mary, who consented to bring the life of Christ to the world, is almost always pictured with a veil on her head.

Like Mary, women have been given the sacred privilege of being co-creators with God by bringing new life into the world. As such, they often veil themselves in Mass, as a way of promoting due reverence for their unique, God-given purpose as vessels of life. Wearing a veil is also a way of imitating Mary, who is the pre-eminent role model for all women.

Finally, you have to admit: nothing remedies a “bad-hair-day” like a veil!

Peace of Christ to you,
Nicholas Hardesty
Director of Religious Education

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Homily for the Fourth Week of Advent

From my twin brother, Matthew, who, as a seminarian, is practicing his homiletics:
  • Today we have finally reached the Fourth Sunday of Advent. During the tail-end of this season, from Dec 17 to 23, the Church observes the ancient custom of praying on each day one of the seven “O” Antiphons. They are called “O” Antiphons because each one addresses the Son of God with a different Old Testament title, beginning with the invocation “O”. These texts, traced back to seventh-century Europe, are drenched in biblical allusions offering a rich source for personal prayer and reflection during these final days of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. They also appear in the liturgy as the Gospel acclamations for each day and there is a verse for each one in the famous hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. So, for example, up until today we have prayed to God the Son “O Wisdom”, “O Root of Jesse”, and “O Key of David”. After today we will pray to Him “O King of Nations” and finally “O Emmanuel.” But today, we pray to Him “O Dayspring”.
For the rest of the homily, see Homily Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B. I think he's done a great job with all four of his homilies for Advent. Very catechetical :D

Pax Christi,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Scripture on the Fall of the Angels

Irecently answered the following question for my Church bulletin:

  • What is the “fall of the angels”? Is this in Scripture anywhere?
At the beginning of time the angels in heaven were given a choice: follow God or rebel against Him. That a resident of heaven would ever rebel against God is one of the great mysteries of our faith. At any rate, some of them decided to rebel and they were thus cast out of heaven by St. Michael and the faithful angels. This is “the fall of the angels” and the prince of the fallen angels is Satan. The scriptural witness to this is very interesting.

In Gen 3, we see that there already existed a spirit of evil who tempted man into pride. Thus, there must have been some type of fall among the angels that caused one of them to be evil. Job 4:18 says, “Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error.” Traditionally, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 are also seen as referring to the sin and resulting fall of the angels.

Jesus himself says, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Lk 10:18). Perhaps the most explicit reference is from the second letter of Peter, where it is written:
  • 2 Pet 2:4,9 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.
We see from these verses that there was a fall among the angels. That their expulsion was lead by St. Michael is one of the most enduring Christian symbols. In Christian artwork, he is seen with a sword, trampling the devil underfoot. In Scripture he is always fighting against evil (cf. Dan 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 1:9). His role in the fall is most clearly seen in the Book of Revelation:
  • Rev 12:7-9 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
That is why, as Catholics, we are fond of praying to St. Michael in moments of temptation or when we need protection from evil. Let us be more like the angels who announce the Lord’s coming and less like the angels who rebelled!

St. Michael the archangel … pray for us!

Pax Christi,

Trying Out a New Background Pattern

Check it out! It kinda looks like snowflakes, huh? It's from Evan Eckard via Din Pattern, if you're in the market for a background pattern. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Homily for the Second Week of Advent

Those of you who enjoyed my twin brother's homily for the first week of Advent may like to read his homily for the second week as well. Once he posts his homily for the third week, I will be sure to link to it.

Again, your prayers are most appreciated.

Pax Christi,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Introducing Dignitas Personae

To wet your appetite, here is the first article of the Instruction Dignitas Personae, released today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, twenty years after Donum Vitae, the Instruction it is updating:
  • 1. The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great "yes" to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today's world. The Church's Magisterium has frequently intervened to clarify and resolve moral questions in this area. The Instruction Donum vitae was particularly significant.1 And now, twenty years after its publication, it is appropriate to bring it up to date.

    The teaching of Donum vitae remains completely valid, both with regard to the principles on which it is based and the moral evaluations which it expresses. However, new biomedical technologies which have been introduced in the critical area of human life and the family have given rise to further questions, in particular in the field of research on human embryos, the use of stem cells for therapeutic purposes, as well as in other areas of experimental medicine. These new questions require answers. The pace of scientific developments in this area and the publicity they have received have raised expectations and concerns in large sectors of public opinion. Legislative assemblies have been asked to make decisions on these questions in order to regulate them by law; at times, wider popular consultation has also taken place.

    These developments have led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to prepare a new doctrinal Instruction which addresses some recent questions in the light of the criteria expressed in the Instruction Donum vitae and which also examines some issues that were treated earlier, but are in need of additional clarification.
For more see:Pax Christi,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Poll-Release Monday #62

Here is your new poll question:
  • True or false?: The liturgy is the work of Mary and all the saints, as well as that of Jesus.
What do you think? Vote in the poll in the sidebar.

As for the previous poll, here are the results:
  • True or False?: In the liturgy it is not only the Father who blesses us, but we who bless the Father.
    • True: 20 (69%)
    • False: 9 (31%)
The correct answer is:
  • TRUE, cf. CCC no. 1110: In the liturgy of the Church, God the Father is blessed and adored as the source of all the blessings of creation and salvation with which he has blessed us in his Son, in order to give us the Spirit of filial adoption.

    1078: Blessing is a divine and life-giving action, the source of which is the Father; his blessing is both word and gift (eu-logia, bene-dictio). When applied to man, the word "blessing" means adoration and surrender to his Creator in thanksgiving.
This may have been a difficult question because some people are probably unfamiliar with the notion of us blessing God. We usually think of it the other way around: God blessing us. I explained what it means to bless God in Poll-Release Monday #49:
  • What does it mean to "bless" God? Usually when I think of "blessing" I think of setting something apart for holy use or making something holy, like when a priest blesses oil or water. But, we can't set God apart for holy use or make Him holy, He's already holy!

    What I found is that blessing has a wider meaning than that. It can also mean "favor" as when God blesses us with every blessing (cf. Eph 1:3) or when he says that Abrahams descendents will be "blessed." This type of blessing is like a gift of joy and prosperity that God gives to us.

    When we speak of blessing God, we have in mind a gift of praise to God, usually in return for the blessings that he has poured out on us. The Psalms are full of examples of man blessing God, and there are examples in the NT as well:

    Psa 16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

    Psa 26:12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the LORD.

    Psa 34:1 A Psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

    Psa 68:26 "Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel's fountain!"

    Psa 103:1-2,20-22 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

    Psa 104:1,35 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty, 35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!

    Psa 115:18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD!

    Psa 134:1-2 A Song of Ascents. Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! 2 Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD!

    Psa 135:19-20 O house of Israel, bless the LORD! O house of Aaron, bless the LORD! 20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD! You that fear the LORD, bless the LORD!

    Rom 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

    Rom 9:5 to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.

    2 Cor 11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I do not lie.

    Pretty cool, huh?
I hope that helps. For more on blessings see the following resources:
  • Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Blessing
  • Modern Catholic Dictionary: Blessing
  • New Advent Encyclopedia: Blessing
Pax Christi,

Bobby Jindal Tells His Conversion Story

I haven't said anything about this on my blog, but if you keep up with me on facebook then you know that I'm a big fan of Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana. I think he is a new and exciting face for the Republican Party. At any rate, I recently watched an excellent speech he gave at New Chapel Hill Baptist Church. He was there simply to give his Christian testimony, and I was very impressed by it. Imagine if a guy like this was our next president!!!

Here's the speech, in 5 parts (unfortunately). Leave a comment and let me know what you think:

A politician preaching the Gospel. Pretty crazy.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Homily for Advent

My twin brother, Matt (who is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY) recently wrote a homily for Advent. I realize that it is for the first week instead of the second, but I thought you all might like to read it nonetheless. Here's his introduction:
  • Msgr. Ronald Knox, a famous early-twentieth century English convert to Catholicism and a brilliant homilist, characterized Advent as a traveler in the night who with bleary eyes squints at the faint light of his destination ahead. Because the darkness clouds his depth perception he plods forward hoping that the light is only a few hundred yards ahead rather than a few miles. The Hebrew prophets were very much like this traveler as they looked forward to the redemption of their people and the restoration of a true king in the line of David. They did not know how long it would take for this glimmer of light to break out into perfect day, they just knew that some day it would.
See Homily for First Week of Advent, Year B to read the rest. Please pray for my brother as he walks the slow and arduous path that leads to the priesthood.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Exposing Twilight: Critical Reviews of Stephanie Meyer's Saga

I have been disturbed for a while now by the recent craze over the Twilight books (and the new movie). My fears were first aroused when, browsing through the Facebook "Bumper Stickers" application, I found the following lovely works of art:

This, paired with the frenzied reactions of family and friends lead me to believe that perhaps the obsession over this series was getting out of hand (understatement), and I was curious to see if any Catholic or Christian writers had reviewed the book.

Below is a list of links to reviews and summaries of the Twilight series that bring to "light" it's various anti-Christian and truly harmful qualities. Perhaps this list will be a helpful resource for parents with swooning daughters, or youth ministers who can't get their group to calm down because they are too gitty over this stuff. When girls (and even their mothers!) start viewing Edward Cullen as the epitome of the "ideal man" then something is very, very wrong.

Any links to blog posts will be in chronological order.
More links to be added as I find them.

UPDATE (12/27/2010): I recently came across the following YouTube video that I would like to add to the collection as well:

UPDATE (11/17/2011): In honor of Breaking Dawn: Part 1, which hits theaters this Friday, I added at least a dozen or so links to the collection.

Check back regularly for updates. If you have any links that I have missed, please let me know in the combox.

Pax Christi,
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