A cradle Catholic, Jeremy Priest is a Campus Minister at the St. Mary's University Parish at Central Michigan University. After growing up in a "just Sunday Mass" Catholic home, Jeremy had a profound conversion at World Youth Day during his freshman year of college. As Jeremy puts it, "I was taught as a child and believed that Jesus was God, I just didn't believe in Jesus." Reading and encountering Jesus in the New Testament, especially the Gospels, was central to Jeremy's conversion and remains a deep part of his daily life.
After completing a B.A. in Theology from Marquette University in 2000, Jeremy earned another B.A. in Philosophy from the Pontifical College Josephinum in 2002. Jeremy is in the process of finishing his STL in Sacramental Theology at The Liturgical Institute of Mundelein Seminary. He enjoys speaking on occasion and loves to spend time reading theology and watching baseball.
Summer Time, Biblical Time, and Church Renovations, Oh My!
Summer goes by so quickly. It’s amazing to think that football will be starting soon, and for many school will be restarting! It’s a comfort to know that biblical time is somewhat different than these passing days of summer.
Biblical time stands out from the way other cultures understood time. This is contrasted with the ancient pagan idea that the cosmos was eternal and time was something cyclical, without beginning or end, doomed to repeat without end. It sounds strange and simplistic to say, but biblical time has a beginning and an end to it. Yet, it’s not so dull as all that.
St. Augustine said that he knew what time was until someone asked him what it was. Though there’s so much more to biblical time, I thought it would be beautiful to contemplate an aspect of it.
There and Back Again – an Architectural / Liturgical Journey
The Most Rev. Robert Carlson, now Archbishop of St. Louis, answered this question at a talk he gave at Central Michigan University in January of 2009. His answer: “because of the Eucharist.”
Jesus is made present to us in the liturgy in many ways: through His word proclaimed; through His priests in His Sacraments; through two or three fellow believers gathered together; and most profoundly through the Sacrifice of His Body and Blood made present in the Holy Eucharist. Yet, the Eucharistic presence surpasses the others. Pope Paul VI said it this way: “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” (CCC 1374; Mysterium Fidei 39)
Rediscovering the Eucharist
Midway through my freshman year of college I experienced a profound conversion where I came to know Jesus as so personally present to me as to be next to me or ‘in me.’ I never knew such closeness to God before. I came to know Christ so deeply while pursuing God in the Scriptures and asking Him to help me to believe in His Son (as I later discovered, He was pursuing me).
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
Pope John Paul II wrote those words almost 31 years ago, yet they still resonate with us today. But why? Why does love make the world go ‘round? Why do we sacrifice so much for even a glimmer of it? Why do we sell everything once we have found it? Why are we hard-wired for love?
It is not fear or lack of meaning that opens us out toward these ‘why’ questions. Love itself brings us to these questions, to this wonderment over our existence, what we are here for. It is only where “love is missing…[that] the question of meaning lacks the air it needs to catch fire.” Indeed, “the experience of love is the birthplace of wonder, the first step along a new journey toward the fullness of meaning…Wonder can be born only in the matrix of love. Even the amazement that fills us when we behold the marvels of creation makes sense only in light of the experience of love” (Called to Love).
When God the Father sent His Son into the world He sent Jesus forth with a plan. Yet, Jesus does not deal with us as a builder deals with blueprints, bricks and mortar. Rather, He deals with us personally and calls us to cooperate with Him and to relate to Him personally. So it is that Jesus came into the world through the personal fiat, the personal ‘yes’ of one woman.
May is the month where we celebrate Mary and her ‘yes’ in the life of Jesus. We celebrate the Annunciation to Mary by the Angel Gabriel on March 25th, so it is that in May the life of Jesus was beginning to flower in her womb. Why is it though that Catholic and Orthodox Christians accord her such a high place in the life of faith?
We can of course, never understand Mary without reference to Jesus. When the Father sent His Son into the world with a plan, it was a plan formed long ago. It was a plan that developed from covenants with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David. God was building a family from a holy couple, to a family, to a tribe, to a nation, and lastly to a kingdom with David. And it was from this final expansion of the family with David that we pick up with Jesus, who was the Son of David. So it was that the kingdom that Jesus preached was made concrete in its fulfillment of the kingdom given to David.
Since the transfer of what’s traditionally been called “Ascension Thursday” to Sunday its been a bit confusing as to how to celebrate this solemnity.
In some areas of the United States, bishops have decided to transfer “Ascension Thursday” to the Sunday immediately following. The bishops have given various reasons for this, but the most common one is because of the low numbers of people who attended Mass on Ascension Thursday. Also, it was said that it was sometimes harder to put together adequate resources to celebrate this feast with its due solemnity in the middle of the work week — music, food, etc. The bishops thought it would make for a better celebration if we could do it on Sunday when people could attend more easily and bring together more resources (i.e. choirs, music, etc.) to really celebrate the day. Yet, I think the reality in most parishes is that the Ascension tends to become ‘one more Sunday’ among the others, just with other music. Moving the Ascension to Sunday does gives into the secular culture of our day that would have us keep God confined to Sunday and leave the rest of the week to the world.