Saturday, February 22, 2020

Getting Ready for Lent

The Bridegroom

This coming Wednesday, February 26,  is the beginning of Lent for all of us in the Latin Rite. We inaugurate Lent by fasting (one full meal, two smaller meals, no snacking) for adults from the ages of 18 to 59, abstinence from meat for all those over the age of 14 years, and many attend Holy Mass and are marked with blessed ashes as a sign of the desire to repent of sin, to renew the baptismal commitment to living the Gospel, and to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. 

 The Stations of the Cross are also a common prayer during Lent in order to meditate upon the Passion of Our Lord. I came across a new recording of J.S. Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion” which is a musical rendition of the account of the Passion and Death of Jesus. I have never really listened to it before and this particular setting by the King’s College Choir I found to be very moving. I asked someone on the YouTube channel to translate the German for me, which was done within hours of my request. And so, I offer this as a meditation to begin the Lenten season. I am including the English translation and an icon of the “Bridegroom”, as represented in the Eastern Christian tradition, Jesus crowned with thorns, wearing a purple cloak in mockery of His claim to be King, bound  and holding a reed as His scepter. 

May this bring you a deeper realization of His Love for you, help you to repent of your sins and live the Gospel more faithfully.

1. Chorus I and II and Chorale (Daughters of Zion and Faithful Souls)

Come, daughters, help me lament,
Behold!—Whom?the Bridegroom!
Behold Him!—How?—As a Lamb:
Behold!—What? Behold the patience, look! Where?—at our guilt.
See him, out of love and graciousness
Bear the wood for the Cross Himself,
O innocent Lamb of God, slaughtered on the trunk of the Cross, patient at all times,
However You were scorned
You have borne all our sins,
Otherwise we would have to despair.
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Women Doctors of the Church

Yesterday  marked the four hundred year anniversary of the beatification of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila). There will be celebrations throughout the coming year by the Discalced Carmelites throughout the world. The coming year of 2015 marks the five hundred year jubilee of the Saint's birth.

Saint Teresa is not only a saint, founder and beloved patron, she is one of four women doctors of the Church. Her teaching on prayer is classic and a universal guide for the Church. She is particularly interesting because she had no real formal training and yet her works along with those of Saint John of the Cross are what many consider to be the definitive works on prayer and mystical experience.

Today in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite we celebrate another great soul and doctor of the Church: Saint Catherine of Siena. Her mystical life did not keep her from a mission of charity and even a guide to ecclesiastical leaders. She is also an example of lay holiness; she belonged to the Third Order of Preachers (Dominican) and did not live in a convent.

The prayer, St. Teresa's Bookmark, is a powerful summary of her teaching and needed today more than ever:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Two images of Saint Catherine: the first, "The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena" by Giovanni di Paolo; the second, Saint Catherine of Siena by unknown artist.

H/T to Diane at "Te Deum Laudamus" blog for the Saint Teresa anniversary.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We are pilgrims

Jesus Taking Leave of His Apostles

Today's Epistle in the Extraordinary Form reminds us that we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth.

Jesus, in His Last Discourse to His disciples, reminds them that He will leave them and yet return.

During this Easter season, we have joy and the sorrow of being "in this vale of tears" awaiting our true home, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Is not this the real yearning of the human heart?

We are pilgrims and strangers as those who follow Christ; so much sorrow, so much pain, so many separations...and yet...

His Risen Life...His Easter the beginning of our life with Him in Heaven.

For wherever He is, Heaven is.

I read something to the effect that if the "signs and outer appearances" of the Sacred Host were made apparent to us we would see Heaven.

May we receive, in a deep way, the Easter Gift of our Lord's Presence, Heaven Itself,
to give us courage in the midst of all the sin, darkness, evil and suffering this present life offer us.

"I leave and yet I remain."


Come, Lord Jesus!

Image source:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Today is the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.
May we heed her call to pray the daily rosary, make reparation for sin and live the Gospel of Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!


Theology of the Body

Pope Benedict XVI extolled his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, for introducing the “theology of the body,” as he met on May 13 with participants in a conference organized by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

Offering his own reflections on the subject, Pope Benedict noted that with a proper knowledge of human nature “we can understand that our bodies are not inert, heavy material but, if we know how to listen, they speak the language of true love.”

With the Incarnation, the Pope said, “God takes on the body and revealed himself in it.” In his short talk, the Holy Father extended his predecessor’s meditation on the language of the body.


As an anecdotal aside, I was asked, when teaching at a Northeastern seminary, to teach a class on the the "Theology of the Body".

I opted for a focus upon the "foundations" of this particular teaching of Blessed John Paul II rather than the "popular" Christopher West material, which has come under critique and criticism from people such as David L. Schindler, a renowned theologian, and Alice von Hildebrand, a philosopher and wife of the heroic Dietrich von Hildebrand, a man that Pope Pius XII called "a 20th century doctor of the Church".

I am most grateful that Pope Benedict XVI has made the "authentic" teaching of his predecessor a positive thing. Unfortunately this whole issue has become polemical in the last two years because of a lack of proper understanding.

The Incarnation is truly the point of reference. The authentic interpretation of the "Theology of the Body" absolutely must be seen in the light of "The Word made Flesh";
every other interpretation fails when it is grounded in the mere material aspects of human existence. Christ reveals who man is (from Lumen gentium, Second Vatican Ecumenical Council). It is not the other way round. We do not know Who Christ Is from our human experience: He, and only He, reveals who we are. That is fundamental.

There are all kinds of "interpretations" out there...unfortunately, there are those who either dismiss this as some kind of "modernism" or those who try to make the love between man and wife in marriage something it is not meant to be.

Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Revelation reveals to us our inherent dignity, our mission/vocation to a love that is completely self-giving (in marriage or in virginity/celibacy) and He is the only reference-point. Marital union is an aspect of the Sacrament of Marriage; it must always be held within the moral law of God and in the sacred "reserve" of intimacy/secret (as the von Hildebrands emphasize) that upholds both the dignity of the partners and the dignity of the marital union.