“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” -Blessed Mother Theresa
Wired with Sound
The average college-aged male spends between 4 and 14 hours a day in electronic media. If you add-in sleep, our time for work, and personal interactions, there’s not much time for anything else.
I often find myself having to really focus on paying attention to people in everyday surroundings; avoiding the temptation to multi-task while I’m around others.
Entering Into the Silence: Reflection
The silence of the church is so different than the constant sensation we find outside.
Coming from such a sound and media-saturated environment, it’s hard to get settled into the silence. Why do we find it so difficult?
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
Without a doubt, the voice is an integral part of the Divine Liturgy. Whether it be a response, a prayer, or singing, the voice is a part of the Mass. The human voice becomes, especially in the Holy Mass, an instrument through the ministry of the Mystical Body to participate in that beautiful and sacred “exchange of man’s (really Christ’s) homage and Gods life” . It only seems necessary, then, that the voice partakes in the Mass in the most proper way–the most beautiful and majestic way fit for honoring the King of kings. We can come to know what is best through the Spirit that works through the Church. It is this post’s purpose, thence, to present that the most authentic praise and song fit for the Divine Liturgy is founded in the form of Gregorian Chant–as has been taught and continues to be affirmed by Mother Church.
Pope Pius X writes, in his Motu Propio Tra Le Sollecitudini promulgated in 1903, that
[Gregorian Chant is] the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity.
In the letter to the Philippians, there is a beautiful passage, a hymn and prayer of the early Church that confesses faith in Jesus Christ:
[T]hough he [Christ] was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth. (cf. Phil 2:6-11)
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).
Saint Claude la Colombiére is a 17th century Jesuit saint. It is unfortunate that there are not more of his writings in English translation, yet. However, of what we have, a small book of excerpts, there is a great deal of spiritual wisdom and depth to be found. In this post, I would like to highlight and briefly examine a few of the beautiful passages of such a reverent and intelligent servant.
In an excerpt of some retreat notes, the Saint writes on the power and beauty of prayer:
[Prayer] is the only means of purifying us, of uniting us to God, and of allowing God to unite himself to us and be glorified in us. We must pray to obtain the apostolic virtues; pray that we may use them to help others, and pray also that we may not lose them while serving others.
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.
In Part I of this post, we left the Holy Father’s homily at the point where he touched upon the elements of the sacraments as being elements of creation. For the rest of the homily, then, the Pope focuses primarily on olives and olive oil, for indeed the Chrism Mass is about the blessing of the oils for the sacraments. First, the Pontiff explains the early Christian meaning assocaited with olives. The olive tree and oil itself were recognized as symbols of peace; early Christians often decorated tombs with olive branches, knowing that the “Christ conquered death and that their dead were resting in the peace of Christ. They knew that they themselves were awaited by Christ, that he had promised them the peace which the world cannot give”.
Living in the Eternal City for a semester of studies has been and continues to be an incredible opportunity. Particularly, experiencing Holy Week here will always be a memory. While every event of the week—especially within Easter Triduum—is worth reflecting over in words, Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday touched me in a special way: to be precise, I was touched anew by, in the first place, Pope Benedict XVI’s love and wisdom, and secondly, by the reverence, simplicity, and power of the Catholic Liturgy.
This will be the first of a two-part post. Both posts will incorporate parts of the Mass, but their overall focus will be on the theology of Benedict XVI, in his Chrism Mass homily. Thus, the content of this post is a synthesis of reflection and theological analysis.
As I sat in my seat in the grand basilica of Saint Peter’s, I awaited the entrance of the Supreme Pontiff and the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. The music began, the choir of–what sounded like–angels filled the cosmic space of the temple with heavenly sound. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI began to walk down the nave of the basilica to approach the sacred altar, the place of the feast of feasts. Before him were seminarians, some priests, and the initial object that began the procession: Christ on the Cross, the center of the Mass. As he walked down the aisle, the whole congregation experienced a sort of joyful anticipation, as they were about to experience the synthesis of the local church and the universal church headed by the Bishop of Rome.