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UNRAVELING OUR FAITH




UNRAVELING OUR FAITH



“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

– Isaiah 55:8

We don’t always understand everything there is to know about our Catholic Faith. We often struggle to get a grip on exactly what it is that God is asking of us. Unraveling Our Faith is an attempt to look at some of the precepts, dogmas, documents, and other “good stuff” of our Catholicism. Stop, reflect, and hopefully get a little deeper grasp of God’s Ways.

[Reflections will be posted weekly. Please feel free to interact by writing down your thoughts and sending them to: egervais@arch-no.org]

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All too often we take our Catholicism for granted, we forget, or we don’t truly appreciate what a beautiful faith it truly is. We often go to mass, the single most important mystery of who we are and why we are, and just go through the motions, not really letting the actions of the Eucharist fill our hearts. In this unraveling, we will take a closer look at what our Catechism, and other defining Church documents have to say regarding the Eucharist, and the many aspects of this beautiful gift from God that we call CATHOLICISM. The format will be as follows:


·       I will start with a statement of one of the Church Fathers, or from those that we all know can bring us a deeper understanding of God.



·       Then I will take a slice from the Catechism, or maybe one of the significant works. Read it slowly, allow its mystery and beauty to dance around in your soul for a bit.



·        To end things I will write, and share with you an original prayer.


I will post the reflections weekly. (The most recent will always be the first that you see. If you miss one you can scroll down to find each week.) 

MGPJ&LBEAYSWTJL

Earl Gervais, DRE

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The 19th Week of Ordinary Time
The Didache now seems to be becoming a deep prayer of  thanksgiving to God for all that He has done through the life, death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
9:1 But as touching the eucharistic thanksgiving give ye thanks thus.
9:2 First, as regards the cup:
9:3 We give Thee thanks, O our Father, for the holy vine of Thy son David, which Thou madest known unto us through Thy Son Jesus;
9:4 Thine is the glory for ever and ever.
9:5 Then as regards the broken bread:
9:6 We give Thee thanks, O our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou didst make known unto us through Thy Son Jesus;
9:7 Thine is the glory for ever and ever.
9:8 As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and being gathered together became one, so may Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom;
9:9 for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
9:10 But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord;
9:11 for concerning this also the Lord hath said:
9:12 {Give not that which is holy to the dogs.}


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The 18th Week of Ordinary Time
Continuing our look at the Didache (early Apostolic teaching) we see what might be our first look at THE LORD'S PRAYER, even before it's recording in the Gospel.
8:1 And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week;
8:2 but do ye keep your fast on the fourth and on the preparation (the sixth) day.
8:3 Neither pray ye {as the hypocrites,} but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, {thus pray ye.
8:4 Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name;
8:5 Thy kingdom come;
8:6 Thy will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth;
8:7 give us this day our daily bread;
8:8 and forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors;
8:9 and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one;}
8:10 for Thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever.
8:11 Three times in the day pray ye so.

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The 17th Week of Ordinary Time
In the 7th Chapter of the Didache, Baptism take on an all important role. It appears that this was very important to the apostles for it did not seem to matter what kind of water was used. It seems that it was IMPORTANT TO BAPTIZE! As we reflect on it, we have carried that importance with us throughout the life of the Church.
7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.

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The 16th Week of Ordinary Time
In the 6th Chapter of the Didache, the Apostles are quite brief, but I sense their should be one particular item to reflect on - see 6:2. I wonder what is called of us to bear the whole yoke of the Lord?
6:1 See lest any man lead you astray from this way of righteousness, for he teacheth thee apart from God.
6:2 For if thou art able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou shalt be perfect;
6:3 but if thou art not able, do that which thou art able.
6:4 But concerning eating, bear that which thou art able;
6:5 yet abstain by all means from meat sacrificed to idols;
6:6 for it is the worship of dead gods.
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The 15th Week of Ordinary Time
In the 5th Chapter of the Didache things get a little intense, for the apostles remind us of all the things that can cause death, and I believe it means a death of our chances at salvation.
5:1 But the way of death is this.
5:2 First of all, it is evil and full of a curse murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magical arts, witchcrafts, plunderings, false witnessings, hypocrisies, doubleness of heart, treachery, pride, malice, stubbornness, covetousness, foul-speaking, jealousy, boldness, exaltation, boastfulness;
5:3 persecutors of good men, hating truth, loving a lie, not perceiving the reward of righteousness, not {cleaving to the good} nor to righteous judgment, wakeful not for that which is good but for that which is evil;
5:4 from whom gentleness and forbearance stand aloof;
5:5 loving vain things, pursuing a recompense, not pitying the poor man, not toiling for him that is oppressed with toil, not recognizing Him that made them, murderers of children, corrupters of the creatures of God, turning away from him that is in want, oppressing him that is afflicted, advocates of the wealthy, unjust judges of the poor, altogether sinful.
5:6 May ye be delivered, my children, from all these things.

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The 14th Week of Ordinary Time
In the fourth Chapter of the Didache, the line which jumps out at me, is 4:3. "Seek out day by day the person of the Saints..." That seems a very prudent exercise to undertake. I have even provided an opportunity for you to do just that. If you go to the page THE REASON WE ARE, you will find that currently, I am offering a Saint of the Day. There we are reflecting on the Doctors of the Church. Check it out, you might get something from it.

4:1 My child, {thou shalt remember him that speaketh unto thee the word of God} night and day, and shalt honour him as the Lord;
4:2 for whencesoever the Lordship speaketh, there is the Lord.
4:3 Moreover thou shalt seek out day by day the persons of the saints, that thou mayest find rest in their words.
4:4 Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify them that contend;
4:5 thou shalt judge righteously, thou shalt not make a difference in a person to reprove him for transgressions.
4:6 Thou shalt not doubt whether a thing shall be or not be.
4:7 {Be not thou found holding out thy hands to receive, but drawing them in as to giving.}
4:8 If thou hast ought passing through thy hands, thou shalt give a ransom for thy sins.
4:9 Thou shalt not hesitate to give, neither shalt thou murmur when giving;
4:10 for thou shalt know who is the good paymaster of thy reward.
4:11 Thou shalt not turn away from him that is in want, but shalt make thy brother partaker in all things, and shalt not say {that anything is thine own.}
4:12 For if ye are fellow-partakers in that which is imperishable, how much rather in the things which are perishable? Thou shalt not withhold thy hand from thy son or from thy daughter, but from their youth thou shalt teach them the fear of God.
4:13 Thou shalt not command thy bondservant or thine handmaid in thy bitterness, who trust in the same God as thyself, lest haply they should cease to fear the God who is over both of you;
4:14 for He cometh, not to call men with respect of persons, but He cometh to those whom the Spirit hath prepared.
4:15 But ye, servants, shall be subject unto your masters, as to a type of God, in shame and fear.
®LA1¯4:16 Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy, and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.
4:17 Thou shalt never forsake the commandments of the Lord;
4:18 but shalt keep those things which thou hast received, neither adding to them nor taking away from them.
4:19 In church thou shalt confess thy transgressions, and shalt not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience.
4:20 This is the way of life.

And we pray...
Loving God,
I want to know Jesus, as intimately as did those who walked with him, when he took on his humanity, to show me, and the world how to live. Give me what I need to live as Jesus lived, to love as Jesus loved. Amen.

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The 13th Week of Ordinary Time

Have you chosen an apostle yet to be your guide? Which Apostle would you like to have sat down with and had him teach you. Let's look at Chapter 3 of the Didache, and see what it has for us to chew on...

3:1 My child, flee from every evil and everything that resembleth it.
3:2 Be not angry, for anger leadeth to murder, nor jealous nor contentious nor wrathful;
3:3 for of all these things murders are engendered.
3:4 My child, be not lustful, for lust leadeth to fornication, neither foul-speaking neither with uplifted eyes;
3:5 for of all these things adulteries are engendered.
3:6 My child, {be no dealer in omens,} since it leads to idolatry, nor an enchanter nor an astrologer nor a magician, neither be willing to look at them;
3:7 for from all these things idolatry is engendered.
3:8 My child, be not a liar, since lying leads to theft, neither avaricious neither vainglorious;
3:9 for from all these things thefts are engendered.
3:10 My child, be not a murmurer, since it leadeth to blasphemy, neither self-willed neither a thinker of evil thoughts;
3:11 for from all these things blasphemies are engendered.
3:12 But be meek, since {the meek shall inherit the earth.}
3:13 Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and {quiet} and kindly {and} always {fearing the words} which thou hast heard.
3:14 Thou shalt not exalt thyself, neither shalt thou admit boldness into thy soul.
3:15 Thy soul shall not cleave together with the lofty, but with the righteous and humble shalt thou walk.
3:16 The accidents that befal thee thou shalt receive as good, knowing that nothing is done without God.

NOTE: 3:10 is the one that hit me, which one got to you?

Let us pray...
Oh my Jesus,
You sent your word to us through your Apostles
Open our eyes
Open our hearts
Open our souls
Fill us with the fire of your love.


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The 12th Week of Ordinary Time
Continuing with our walk through the Didache, we take a look at the second chapter. Remember, as you walk through this little exercise of faith, imagine that you are sitting down with one of the Twelve Apostles. He is sharing with you the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Prayerfully read through the lines. Allow the words to swirl within your heart. (If you are visiting for the first time, scroll down and read the first step of this exercise.)

2:1 And this is the second commandment of the teaching.
2:2 {Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery,} thou shalt not corrupt boys, thou shalt not commit fornication, {thou shalt not steal,} thou shalt not deal in magic, thou shalt do no sorcery, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born, {thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods, thou shalt not perjure thyself, thou shalt not bear false witness,} thou shalt not speak evil, thou shalt not cherish a grudge, thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued;
2:3 for the double tongue is a snare of death.
2:4 Thy word shall not be false or empty, but fulfilled by action.
2:5 Thou shalt not be avaricious nor a plunderer nor a hypocrite nor ill-tempered nor proud.
2:6 Thou shalt not entertain an evil design against thy neighbour.
2:7 {Thou shalt not hate} any man, {but some thou shalt reprove,} and for others thou shalt pray, {and others thou shalt love} more than thy life.

Give me the strength my God to follow your commands
the courage to proclaim your word
and the will to live as Jesus, your Son, called for. Amen

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The Church is that one wherein the true word of God is preached, which Christ left to his Apostles, which the same Church hath always observed, the doctors preached, and martyrs and confessors witnessed. This is the Church I believe to be true. - St. Margaret Clitherow
We have just recently completed the Easter Season by celebrating the Church's Birthday - PENTECOST. I thought it might be good to take a small break from the Catechism, and take a brief look at the CATECHISM. Huh? Well that's what the Didache has been referred to, the First Catechism. Have a look at this brief description:

Jonathan Draper writes (Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269):
Since it was discovered in a monastery in Constantinople and published by P. Bryennios in 1883, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has continued to be one of the most disputed of early Christian texts. It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree (c. 50 AD) and a late archaising fiction of the early third century. It bears no date itself, nor does it make reference to any datable external event, yet the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church's order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the NT, while at the same time posing questions for many traditional interpretations of this first period of the Church's life. Fragments of the Didache were found at Oxyrhyncus (P. Oxy 1782) from the fourth century and in coptic translation (P. Lond. Or. 9271) from 3/4th century. Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt. It was used by the compilator of the Didascalia (C 2/3rd) and the Liber Graduun (C 3/4th), as well as being absorbed in toto by the Apostolic Constitutions (C c. 3/4th, abbreviated as Ca) and partially by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, after which it ceased to circulate independently. Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable.

REFLECTIVE EXERCISE:
  • Find a comfortable spot in the room. Have a seat
  • Now, close your eyes. Let your soul be taken back to that time period shortly after that "First Pentecost." You have heard about this new WAY - that was how the Church was first referred to, The Way (for Jesus proclaimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the light"). 
  • You come upon one of the Apostles, pick one, any one. Now, imagine he begins to teach you.

The Didache or Teaching of the Apostles

APOSTOLIC FATHERS (trans. and ed., J. B. Lightfoot)
1:1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between the two ways.
1:2 {The way of life} is this.
1:3 First of all, {thou shalt love the God} that made thee;
1:4 secondly, {thy neighbour as thyself.}
1:5 {And all things whatsoever thou wouldest not have befal thyself neither do thou unto another.}
1:6 Now of these words the doctrine is this.
1:7 {Bless them that curse you, and pray for} your enemies and fast for {them that persecute you;
1:8 for what thank is it, if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles the same? But do ye love them that hate you,} and ye shall not have an enemy.
1:9 Abstain thou from fleshly and bodily lusts.
1:10 {If any man give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,} and thou shalt be perfect;
1:11 {if a man impress thee to go with him, one mile, go with him twain;
1:12 if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also;
1:13 if a man take away from thee that which is thine own, ask it not back,} for neither art thou able.
1:14 {To every man that asketh of thee give, and ask not back;}
1:15 for the Father desireth that gifts be given to all from His own bounties.
1:16 Blessed is he that giveth according to the commandment;
1:17 for he is guiltless.
1:18 Woe to him that receiveth;
1:19 for, if a man receiveth having need, he is guiltless;
1:20 but he that hath no need shall give satisfaction why and wherefore he received;
1:21 and being put in confinement he shall be examined concerning the deeds that he hath done, and {he shall not come out thence until he hath given back the last farthing.}
1:22 Yea, as touching this also it is said;
1:23 {Let thine alms sweat into thine hands, until thou shalt have learnt to whom to give.}


Let us pray...
Mighty God, Compassionate God
Teach me, lead me, guide me
That I might be a willing observer and participant
Of all that You desire Your world to be.



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The Seventh Week of Easter

One faith, St. Paul writes (Eph. 4:5). Hold most firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church ... We must hold this for certain, namely: that the faith of the people at the present day is one with the faith of the people in past centuries. Were this not true, then we would be in a different church than they were in and, literally, the Church would not be One.    - Thomas Aquinas

In this week's glance at how the Catechism describes the Church we look closer at the "mark" that claims the Church to be ONE.

I. THE CHURCH IS ONE
"The sacred mystery of the Church's unity" (UR 2)
813 The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit." The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body." The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity." Unity is of the essence of the Church:
What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church."
814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions." The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. and so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."






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The Sixth Week of Easter
"It must constantly be repeated; every part of a church and every material object used in divine worship is representative of some theological truth. In the script of architecture everything is a reminiscence, an echo, a reflection, and every part is connected to form a whole."
- from "The Cathedral" by J.K. Huysmans


In our upcoming weeks' glance into the Catechism, I want to take us into the understanding of Church. I want to not just look at the physical aspects of Church, but to dig deeper, as Huysmans did, to dig into the representation and the reflections of theological truth. We will start with a look at how the Catechism explains the origin and foundation of the Church. Then we will move into (week by week) the "marks" or attributes - One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. It is a process of better understanding who we are, and why we are.


Article 9

"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"



750 To believe that the Church is "holy" and "catholic," and that she is "one" and "apostolic" (as the Nicene Creed adds), is inseparable from belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Apostles' Creed we profess "one Holy Church" (Credo . . . Ecclesiam), and not to believe in the Church, so as not to confuse God with his works and to attribute clearly to God's goodness all the gifts he has bestowed on his Church.



II. THE CHURCH'S ORIGIN, FOUNDATION AND MISSION



758 We begin our investigation of the Church's mystery by meditating on her origin in the Holy Trinity's plan and her progressive realization in history.

A plan born in the Father's heart
759 "The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life," to which he calls all men in his Son. "The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ." This "family of God" is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father's plan. In fact, "already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Advance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time."

The Church - foreshadowed from the world's beginning

760 Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church." God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the "convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. the Church is the goal of all things, and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world:
Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."

A Prayer on Ephesians 4: 14-16

We are no longer infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Through You oh Lord we speak in truth and in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, the Church is joined and held together by every supporting ligament, growing and building itself up in love, as each part does its work.


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First Week of Easter

EUCHARIST

“Everything we believe and do, including our work for justice in the world, culminates in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.” ― Cardinal Francis George
1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'"
1324 The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”
1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."
1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.
1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.”
And we pray...
How can I be worthy oh God          
To take into my being                                                                                      
The Life of Your Son                                     
Yet You deem me worthy                                       
Through His Most Holy Sacrifice                                     
 May every Eucharist I take                                                            
Set my heart on fire with Your Love



Second Week of Easter

II. What is This Sacrament Called?

What Christ gives us is quite explicit if his own words are interpreted according to their Aramaic meaning. The expression 'This is my Body' means this is myself.  - Karl Rahner

1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called: Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. the Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim - especially during a meal - God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.

1329 The Lord's Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meal when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.
The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.


If we truly think about that translation - "this is myself" - and we understand it to mean that it is Jesus, in His entirety, then we are getting it all. And, if we are getting HIM, all of HIM, should not we act in the same manner. Shouldn't He get ALL of us? Let us pray... (the Anima Christi of St. Ignatius of Loyola seems very fitting here...

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.

From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee.
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee.
Forever and ever. Amen.

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Third Week of Easter
I have a question for you; do you take the mass for granted? Consider the following as this week's reflection. Imagine you were on a trip to a foreign country, and somehow you got separated from your tour group, and you wandered around for a few hours not knowing where you were, when you came upon a Catholic Church. You step inside, and mass is just beginning. While you cannot understand the words being spoken - you can understand fully what is taking place. For this process has been used since the First Christians gave thanks. Read carefully the selection below from the Catechism. Then ask yourself the question again: Do I sometimes take the mass for granted?

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
   


IV. The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist

The Mass of all ages

1345 As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.

1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;
- the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form "one single act of worship"; The Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.

1347 Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them."



Now you have returned home from your trip, and just as mass is starting you notice a stranger, someone you have never seen before at mass, and they appear lost.  What are you going to do...



My God, my God

Your loving Son gave us Himself

On the Cross and in the Eucharist

When I receive the Sacred Body and Holy Blood

May it stir in me the fire of Your love

That I might go out each and every day

Proclaiming Your glory to all I see. 



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Fourth Week of Easter

As we enter the fourth week of Easter, we continue to explore the Catechism's explanation of the nature of the Eucharist. This week we take a look at the "Banquet" that is offered to us. Jesus calls for us to take and eat His flesh, to take Him - ALL OF HIM!


"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude."
- St. Angela of Foligno


VI. The Paschal Banquet
1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.
1383 The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord. This is all the more so since the Christian altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present in the midst of the assembly of his faithful, both as the victim offered for our reconciliation and as food from heaven who is giving himself to us. "For what is the altar of Christ if not the image of the Body of Christ?" asks St. Ambrose. He says elsewhere, "The altar represents the body [of Christ] and the Body of Christ is on the altar." The liturgy expresses this unity of sacrifice and communion in many prayers. Thus the Roman Church prays in its anaphora:
We entreat you, almighty God,
that by the hands of your holy Angel
this offering may be borne to your altar in heaven
in the sight of your divine majesty,
so that as we receive in communion at this altar
the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace.
"Take this and eat it, all of you": communion
1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

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Fifth Week of Easter

When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
The Eucharist is God's presence with us NOW, and also His display of what awaits us.



VII. The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"

1402 In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: "O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us." If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace," then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory.

1403 At the Last Supper the Lord himself directed his disciples' attention toward the fulfillment of the Passover in the kingdom of God: "I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist she remembers this promise and turns her gaze "to him who is to come." In her prayer she calls for his coming: "Marana tha!" "Come, Lord Jesus!" "May your grace come and this world pass away!"

1404 The Church knows that the Lord comes even now in his Eucharist and that he is there in our midst. However, his presence is veiled. Therefore we celebrate the Eucharist "awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ," asking "to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our Lord."

1405 There is no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth "in which righteousness dwells," than the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, "the work of our redemption is carried on" and we "break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ."