Lent is a time when we are conscientious of growing in holiness. We give something up or we do something positive. While these activities are all good, I think it might be helpful to hear some words from St. John Henry Newman's on perfection (another way of saying holiness):
We all know how Chuck-E-Cheese works: you play games, earn tickets, and then, at the end of your time, use those tickets to redeem a prize. It's a fun place, but hopefully the concept is not something we maintain in our spiritual lives. That is, hopefully we don't see our spiritual endeavors as simply means to an end.
During this season of Lent, the Church proposes to us three special devotions: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These are like the games at Chuck-E-Cheese. The temptation is to "do" these "things"—or anything in our faith lives, i.e., going to Mass, Confession, etc.—so we can get enough tickets to get to heaven. What a strenuous proposition! Does that mean if we eat a chicken McNugget on Friday we go to Hell?
Today, February 11th, is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and it was worth reflecting a bit on this Marian apparition. Briefly, in 1858 the Virgin Mary appeared to a fourteen year old girl in the small town in southwest France. A spring of water miraculously formed where the Blessed Mother spoke, and to this day pilgrims travel to Lourdes to drink and bathe in this healing water.
In Ancient Israel, an individual with leprosy or any other skin malady was seen to be spiritually unclean. It was thus required for the infirm to go before a priest, be quarantined by the priest, and then ultimately be declared by the priest fit for worship. This is what we hear in our first reading from Leviticus, chapter 13.
Jesus continues this injunction when orders the healed leper to report to the priest (cf. Mk 1:40-45).
These readings can be seen as foundational for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today's responsorial psalm also sets up the Catholic sacrament: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD’, and you took away the guilt of my sin” (Ps 32).
How I wish we had the problem today that is present in our Gospel this Sunday! “The whole town was gathered at the door” (Mk 1:33). Jesus is so successful preaching and healing that he can barely move. He has no time for himself. He runs off early in the morning to a quiet place to pray. But even this doesn't work. “Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’” (Mk 1:36-37).
These people wanted Jesus so badly. They pursued him relentlessly. Why? Because Jesus is good for them. He is good for us. Jesus makes us whole. He heals us. He inspires us to be better people. He unites us to the Father, which is our ultimate purpose and fulfillment. “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted (Ps 147).”
Towards the end of his life Mark Twain wrote The Diaries of Adam and Eve. The first part of the book is written by Adam; the second by Eve. Accounts of God's creation, life in the Garden of Eden, the fall, and life outside of Eden are given from two different perspectives. Adam's writing is simple and obtuse. He is annoyed at first by Eve's constant pursuit of him. He writes, “This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don't like this; I am not used to company...I wish it would not talk; it is always talking.” Later on Adam cannot figure out what new animal his sons, Cain and Abel, are. “I was going to stuff one of them for my collection,” he records, “but she is prejudiced against it for some reason or other; so I have relinquished the idea, though I think it is a mistake.”
My name is Hank, short for Henry, Lyon. My parents are both converts to Catholicism. My father converted from Judaism. My mother is "double-convert", she first converted to Judaism and after ten years, converted to Catholicism before my father.
I grew up in Buffalo Grove and call St. Mary’s my home parish, where I attended kindergarten through 8th grade. I went on to Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, where developed my skills in fine arts. After graduation, I attended Iowa State University to study graphic design. Quickly, I fell out of love for working behind a computer and not a canvas. Instead of returning to the canvas, I felt the Lord calling me to be a priest. After my second year at Iowa State, I transferred to St. Joseph’s College Seminary, located on the campus of Loyola University. It was there that I got my degree in philosophy and found life to be a lot sweeter. I finished my junior and senior years of college there, and then went on to Mundelein Seminary.
The third part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In my previous article, I talked about an aspect of this, particularly the Eucharistic Prayer. Today, I’m going to focus on the Communion Rite, which begins with the Our Father.
3. Liturgy of the Eucharist (continued)
The Lord’s Prayer: The priest gives the invitation to prayer and all the faithful say the “Our Father” with him. Then the priest alone says the embolism, which is a prayer asking for deliverance from the power of evil for the whole community. Afterwards, the congregation concludes this prayer with the doxology, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever."
Students looking for purpose can learn from the life of Winston Churchill. Arguably the greatest political figure of the 20th Century, they may not realize, had a difficult upbringing. Born prematurely, suffering from a speech impediment, and inclined to depression, Churchill was essentially rejected and scorned by his parents. He performed poorly in school and passed the entrance examination into the Royal Military College only after his third attempt. When his father, Lord Randolph, died when Winston was 21, he left only debts. Yet the ‘Last Lion’ persevered. Churchill did not let his family and environment hold him back. He did not allow the wounds he suffered as a youth handicap him. He pushed himself, believed in himself, and would not accept defeat. He made himself bound and determined, like a bulldog. Here is a quote from Lord Churchill:
Notice the demon in today's Gospel refers to himself in the plural. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” (Mk 1:24).
When we are not in union with Jesus Christ—when we are separated from him—we are divided internally. We eventually disintegrate.
Practicing our Catholic faith unites us. Our faith makes us whole, or holy. Saint Paul writes in our second reading, “I should like you to be free of anxieties” (1 Cor 7:32). What's one way to be combat anxiety? Pray and have a relationship with God!
Baudouin of Belgium abdicated the throne in 1990. It was not for any ignoble cause or selfish pursuit that the King stepped down from his position of authority. King Baudouin abdicated because he was pro-life. The Belgian Parliament had passed a law allowing abortion and he could not add his signature to the bill as required by procedure.
If you remember the Gospel from last week, we had the calling of the brothers Andrew and Peter. It was from the Gospel of John, and a slightly different version than what we have this Sunday from the Gospel of Mark. In John, Jesus simply walks by and Andrew follows him. Andrew then finds his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus. In Mark, Jesus approaches Andrew and Peter, who are fishing, and says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They drop their nets and follow. Jesus is more proactive in today's version. So, which version is accurate?
It could be both. Historically speaking, John's version might have occurred first and then Mark's been a further occurrence. That is, after being introduced to Jesus (John), Peter and Andrew might have gone back to fishing and then Jesus called them again (Mark).
Today, I’m going to talk about the third part of the Mass.
3. Liturgy of the Eucharist
Presentation of the Gifts: Representatives of the congregation bring forth the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ. The ushers bring forth the collection.
Preparation of the Altar: The altar servers bring the Roman Missal (book with prayers), chalices (cups for wine), ciboriums (vessels with hosts), bread, wine, and water to the altar. The deacon or the priest pours wine into the chalices and adds a drop of water into the celebrant’s chalice. This mingling of water and wine signifies the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity.
Eucharistic Prayer: This is the center and high point of the entire celebration. In this prayer, the celebrant acts in the person of Christ as head of his body, the Church. It includes the following eight elements:
As a priest leaves the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, processing to whatever altar he is going to celebrate Mass, he is immediately confronted by a very large mosaic. The work was completed in 1604 by Cristoforo Roncalli and is titled "The Punishment of the Couple Ananias and Saphira." The scene is a portrayal of what occurred in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias lies to St. Peter about money he had obtained from the sale of property and, because of that lie, immediately drops dead. His wife Saphira, not knowing what has happened to her husband, likewise lies to the Apostle and she too dies. It is almost a scene out of Greek mythology.
More in this category:
- Is he calling you?
- Parts of the Mass (2)
- Parts of the Mass (1)
- Railroad Ties
- Day of Threes
- Lincoln and Mary
- The Perfect Woman
- Find Your Meaning
- Cave-Man Christmas
- Chapter Five
- Silent Night
- Borderline of Salvation
- Holy Days of Obligation
- Season of Advent
- On Being Useless
- Get Shocked!
- Immaculate Conception
- The Liturgical Year
- Happy Advent!
- Christ the King
- Burr and the Final Judgment
- Kings and Queens
- Thanksgiving Homily
- Daily Mass Homily
- The Naming of Cats
- Buried Treasures
- This is the end, my only friend.
- Looks can be deceiving.