All men are vain in whom there is not the knowledge of God; and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand Him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman. (Wisdom 13:1)
February 24, 2018 ~ Saint Matthias, opn!
1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
2. Second Sunday in Lent
3. Saint Walburga
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
During the month of February, since Lent has started and it is dedicated to the Passion of Christ, Holy Mother Church has us meditating upon the Redemption.This past week I was given a paper on the subject of Mary as co-redemptrix to review by a priest in Slovakia. As Catholics we have heard of Mary being called co-redemptrix, but we know that it has not been a direct teaching of the Church. We need not go into the arguments raised at the Second Vatican Council, or that it was rejected because of the push to have Protestants join Catholics in a syncretic Religion (which we know removed the Catholic Faith from hundreds of millions of the faithful)—that would be a red-herring. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, and guided by the Holy Ghost, tolerates the title with caution. In other words, due to the title itself, people misunderstand the intended meaning and instead assign a co-equal function to Mary in the act of redemption. However Christ, being both God and man, is the only one who is capable of redeeming mankind absolute sense.
Co-, according to the Webster-Merriam Dictionary (7th ed), has these meanings: 1) with, together, joint, jointly (coexist) (coheir); 2) in, or to the same degree (coextensive); 3) a. fellow, partner (coauthor) (co-worker) b. having a usually lesser share in duty or responsibility: alternate, deputy (co-pilot); 4) of, relating to, or constituting the complement of an angle (cosine) (codeclination).
As one can reason, the general use that implies equality or dependence or ability to replace to replace, all negate the use of the term co- to that of Redeemer. To take co-redeemer in the absolute sense (true) would place Mary as equal to her Son and make redemption dependent upon her in the absolute sense. None of these ideas are to be articulated in the common parlance of the expression co-redemptrix; but in its absolute sense the interpretation does mean exactly that: equality and dependence. There needs to be another expression that conveys the meaning that is desired, but no one has introduced another expression, and that of the expression co-redemptrix is rather new.
In the next Newsletter I will address the Catholic understanding of the title as also errors that erupt when titles are mis-understood. As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?
by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
The Prophecies Concerning the coming of the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament
In considering the Old Testament, the prophecies concerning Christ and His coming to re-establish the throne of David, which would be His kingdom, are joined with the promise of God’s Spirit being with Him and bestowed upon all (who would receive Him). Isaias says in reference to the Christ:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. (Isa. 11:1-3)
In referencing the types of Christ, that is, those that typified some characteristic of the Christ, each have that of receiving in a special manner the Spirit of God.
Joseph is announced as having the Spirit of God when he counseled Pharao: And he said to them: Can we find such another man, that is full of the spirit of God? (Gen. 41:38)
Moses is said to have the Spirit of God, when God told him to choose seventy judges: That I may come down and speak with thee: and I will take of thy spirit, and will give to them, that they may bear with thee the burden of the people, and thou mayest not be burthened alone. (Num. 11:17). And when God commands the Ark of the Covenant to be built, He tells Moses: Behold, I have called by name Beseleel the son of Uri the son of Hur of the tribe of Juda, and I have filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom and understanding, and knowledge in all manner of work. (Exod. 31:2-3)
In the Book of Judges, God is also seen giving individuals His Spirit to perform specific tasks. There is Othoniel:
And the Lord being angry with Israel, delivered them into the hands of Chusan Rasathaim king of Mesopotamia, and they served him eight years. And they cried to the Lord, who raised them up a saviour, and delivered them, to wit, Othoniel the son of Cenez, the younger brother of Caleb: And the spirit of the Lord was in him, and he judged Israel. And he went out to fight, and the Lord delivered into his hands Chusan Rasathaim king of Syria, and he overthrew him. (Judges 3:8-10)
Gideon, who defeated the Madianites: But the spirit of the Lord came upon Gedeon, and he sounded the trumpet and called together the house of Abiezer, to follow him. (Judges 6:34)
Jephte, who vowed to offer his only child to God:
Therefore the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephte, and . . . He made a vow to the Lord, saying: If thou wilt deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, Whosoever shall first come forth out of the doors of my house, and shall meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord. (Judges 11:31ff)
Samson, with whom we associate Delia: And she bore a son, and called his name Samson. And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the spirit of the Lord began to be with him in the camp of Dan, between Saraa and Esthaol. (Judges 13:24-25.)
Saul, when he was chosen to be king over Israel, was transformed:
And the spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be changed into another man. When therefore these signs shall happen to thee, do whatsoever thy hand shall find, for the Lord is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Galgal, (for I will come down to thee,) that thou mayest offer an oblation, and sacrifice victims of peace: seven days shalt thou wait, till I come to thee, and I will shew thee what thou art to do. So when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave unto him another heart, and all these things came to pass that day. And they came to the foresaid hill, and behold a company of prophets met him: and the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied in the midst of them. (1 Kings 10:6-10)
The same made be said especially of David:
And the Lord said: Arise, and anoint him, for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward: and Samuel rose up, and went to Ramatha. But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And the servants of Saul said to him: Behold now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. (Ibid. 16:12-15)
As with Samson, it indicates the possession of the gift of God’s Spirit of God in the Old Testament was a permanent gift, but one that could be taken away. Later, one reads of Elias and Eliseus having God’s Spirit:
And when they were gone over, Elias said to Eliseus: Ask what thou wilt have me to do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Eliseus said: I beseech thee that in me may be thy double spirit. And he answered: Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless if thou see me when I am taken from thee, thou shalt have what thou hast asked: but if thou see me not, thou shalt not have it. . . And he struck the waters, and they were divided, hither and thither, and Eliseus passed over. And the sons of the prophets at Jericho, who were over against him, seeing it said: The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus. (4 Kings 2:9, 10, 14, 15)
The Prophets are also expressed as having the Spirit of God: Isaias: Come ye near unto me, and hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: from the time before it was done, I was there, and now the Lord God hath sent me, and his spirit. (Isaias 48:16) And again: The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me: he hath sent me to preach to the meek, to heal the contrite of heart, and to preach a release to the captives, and deliverance to them that are shut up. (Ibid. 61:1)
Micheas: But yet I am filled with the strength of the spirit of the Lord, with judgment, and power: to declare unto Jacob his wickedness, and to Israel his sin. (3:8)
Ezechiel: And the spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said to me: Speak: Thus saith the Lord: Thus have you spoken, O house of Israel, for I know the thoughts of your heart. (Ezech. 11:5)
That this gift was asked can be seen in the Canticle of Judith: Let all thy creatures serve thee: because thou hast spoken, and they were made: thou didst send forth thy spirit, and they were created, and there is no one that can resist thy voice. (Judith 16:17) It is also voiced by the Psalmist: Thou shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the earth (Psalm 103:30.); and in the Book of Wisdom: And who shall know thy thought, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above.
Finally, this giving of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Lord, was to be bestowed universally after the Messias came as seen in the prophecy of Joel:
And it shall come to pass after this, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Moreover upon my servants and handmaids in those days I will pour forth my spirit. And I will shew wonders in heaven; and in earth, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood: before the great and dreadful day of the Lord doth come. And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Joel 2:28-32; cf. Isa. 44:3 and Acts 2:17-21.)
The reception of the Holy Ghost in these passages cannot be viewed as that of receiving the sanctification or justification, for this was granted through the acceptance of circumcision and faith in the promise of the Coming Redeemer. Therefore, especially the Prophets, the aforementioned would already have received justification. It is clear that there was a special action of the Holy Ghost in these particular persons that was not granted to all nor was able to be received without God’s direct bestowal as a gift, a grace.
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1953)
The design. God is pronouncing judgment, Dominus iudicat populos. The tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew consonants for Yahweh) takes the place of Cross and royal insignia found on parousia thrones. As in Psalm 7, the punishments meted out are the misfortunes caused by the sword and burning arrow.
THE SECOND WEEK IN LENT
In ancient times the Sunday after Ember Saturday was aliturgical. At a later date when the Ember service was shifted to Saturday morning, a Sunday Mass was composed of texts from the preceding week (chants from Wednesday’s Mass, Gospel from Saturday’s). Accordingly, it would be misleading to take this Sunday’s Mass as the guide or norm for the coming week. After the experience of Tabor during the Ember night, the Church leads us deeper into the theology of suffering. In the three oldest Masses of the coming week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) the theme of suffering is given special prominence. This corroborates our view concerning the transfiguration.
Main thoughts of the Masses during the coming week. Monday: Christ prepares for His suffering (“I go. . . When you shall have lifted up the Son of Man. . . .” Daniel, the mediator, a type of the Messiah). Wednesday: the Church (in the person of St. Cecilia) presents us Christ’s “chalice to drink,” while Esther (a type of Mother Church) intercedes in our behalf. Friday: the passion of Jesus is suggested by the Joseph story and the Gospel about the wicked vinedressers. The Tuesday liturgy features Christ as the teacher of self-abasement and humility. Thursday and Saturday are devoted to the penitents (Parables of Lazarus and the Prodigal Son).
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Station at St. Mary in Dominica
This is the will of God, your sanctification
Today’s liturgy should be regarded as a summary or a kind of appendix to the Ember days. Mother Church wishes to give all those who were unable to participate in the celebration of the Ember days during the week a last opportunity to do so. Sunday, moreover, should provide further encouragement in our Lenten struggle. Showing us His and our goal of Easter transfiguration, Jesus invites us to imitate Him through suffering.
1. The Transfiguration. We have already seen how the Gospel of the transfiguration is a lesson on the Mass as well as a figure of the Mass. It teaches us the purpose of our Lenten work. The mystical Christ now fasts forty days and thereby receives strength for a victorious onslaught against the devil. In all things the members follow the Head.
But the Gospels do not merely give instruction: they are spiritual dramas, i.e., they portray in symbol and express in sign what the holy Sacrifice effects in actuality. In the Mass drama Christ appears, the transfigured Christ who “sits at the right hand of the Father.” To be sure we can see Him only with the eyes of faith. In the Mass drama Moses and Elias also have roles, for the Law and the prophets bear witness to the fact that the holy Sacrifice is the fulfillment of all they prefigured and prophesied. Moses and Elias speak of the Lord’s death, an event that is being realized before our eyes. Like Peter we stand on the mystic mount of transfiguration and say, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
Nevertheless, we are not merely witnesses of the transfiguration, through holy Communion we are sharers in it. By means of the Eucharist we are helping to build the tabernacle, heaven’s eternal temple, in which, with Christ, Moses, and Elias we shall dwell forever in unity and bliss.
2. Holy Mass (Reminiscere). Since the Mass is of a more recent origin the choice of the station church, St. Mary in Dominica, fell on one of the newer edifices. This church is one of the old Roman “deaconies,” i.e., houses for the poor, at which in the course of time a church was always erected. Today, then, we make the stational pilgrimage in honor of the Mother of God, in whom the bright light of Christ’s transfiguration is reflected perfectly. In its present form the Mass presents three lines of thought: a fervent De Projundis (from the Introit to the Collect), a voice from above which summons us upward (Epistle and Gospel), and a cheerful acceptance of this call (Offertory and Communion).
a) De Profundis. A strong sense of sin pervades the first section of the Mass formulary (Intr., Coll., Grad.). The Introit is a heartfelt appeal to a merciful God. The enemy of the human race controls our lower nature. On all sides there is trouble, we stand in greatest need of God’s grace. The prayers at the foot of the altar harmonize well with this fervent penitential prayer, especially the Confiteor which comes from the penitent’s part in the ancient services. The pleading sentiments of the Kyrie also belong to this sphere of thought.
The Collect expresses similar petitions; we feel utterly helpless, but the consciousness of weakness is always a premise to conversion. So we ask God to shield us against a twofold attack, from within and from without; within the citadel of the heart the Ego attacks, and from without the world and the devil. Especially dangerous is the enemy in our very heart. To this chain of thought add the Gradual as the final link, “Agony has laid hold of my soul; deliver me from my troubles, Lord! Look upon my misery and my suffering, pardon all my sins.”
b) In reply to our De Profundis comes a clear, strong voice from heaven in the Epistle and Gospel. The Epistle is from the beautiful letter to the Thessalonians. The community at Thessalonica was one of St. Paul’s favorite congregations and his letter shows his special affection for them. But now it is Mother Church who speaks to us with the same loving spirit. She admonishes, she begs us to lead a life pleasing to God and to advance constantly in virtue and perfection. One sentence in particular should echo in our souls the whole week: “This is the will of God: your sanctification!”
Your personal holiness is the goal of redemption, the reason for the Church’s existence, for baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation; yes, all the sacraments and the various means of grace were ordained to make you a saint. What is a saint? A saint is one who now possesses the grace of sonship, who shares the divine life of Christ, one who will some day pass from grace to glory. We became saints by baptism. We become ever more holy through the Eucharist. Holiness is primarily God’s work; He alone can sanctify and preserve us. But we must also make smooth His ways. Two such ways are pointed by the Epistle: purity and justice. The soul that God desires to sanctify must live purely and chastely; impurity destroys holiness. But God also looks for justice and truth in our actions.
This program of reform which the Church lays before us occasions a twofold response. First a regret: Oh, why am I still so far from the ideal? Look, Lord, upon my misery and my suffering (Grad.). Then lifting ourselves up from the depths, we praise God, who gives us the grace of rising from sin and attaining to holiness. Therefore, in the Tract, we joyfully sing, “Happy are they who observe His commandment and exercise justice at all times.” Of course we can attain holiness only through Him for whose coming at Easter we are longing, through Jesus Christ. On this account the Tract closes with, “Visit us with Your grace!” And God’s answer follows in the Gospel. Yes, Christ here says to me: I shall lead you to holiness and transfiguration like that in which I Myself stand before you.
c) I cannot remain deaf to God’s appeal from heaven. As the eagle entices its young into the sunlight, so the Church beckons us. What response can I give? Joyful assent. In the Offertory I bear to the altar my readiness to obey and my love for God’s precepts, “I lift up my hands to Your commandments, I love them exceedingly.”
From other Masses we are acquainted with the ideas expressed in the Secret, viz., may the gifts we bring increase our devotion and effect our salvation. In the holy Sacrifice the transfigured Christ appears, and in holy Communion He unites Himself with my soul, transfiguring it with the brilliant glory of His holiness. He is “my king and my God.” The Eucharist gives me the power and grace to do my best to become transfigured, that is, to “serve God worthily by pleasing conduct” (Postc.).
3. Scripture Reading. During Lent the Breviary contains no Scripture lessons except on Sundays. In past times the books of Moses were read daily, with great devotion. Today the only Scripture lessons left are those on Sundays. In these readings the Church pursues a special goal; beginning on Septuagesima she presents one of the great patriarchs each Sunday: Adam (Septuagesima), Noe (Sexagesima), Abraham (Quinquagesima), Jacob (2nd Sunday of Lent).
Today Jacob occupies the stage. From the sacred Book we hear how Jacob, on the advice of his mother Rebecca, deceived his aged father Isaac by pretending to be the first-born and thus stole the birthright blessing from his brother Esau (Gen. 27:1-28). We will not quote the story here since it is so well known. But a short explanation is in place.
First we must distinguish between two things, God’s plan and man’s response. God had decided to make Jacob the ancestor of the Jewish people and of the Redeemer. By his unworthy life Esau forfeited the Messianic blessing. But the action whereby Jacob and Rebecca outwitted Isaac was reprehensible. God does not need man’s wily ways to accomplish His plans for our salvation. He needs no lies. These faults brought much sorrow and grief to Jacob. By many trials God was purifying him, until at the end of his life he stands before us as a venerable old man, sanctified and proven in the fiery furnace of suffering. According to the fathers Jacob is a symbol of Christ, “The goatskins denote sin. When Jacob disguised his limbs with skins, he prefigured the One who bore not His own sins, but those of others.”
4. Through the Day. The scene of the transfiguration will occupy our minds, if we are filled with a liturgical spirit, through the whole day. At Lauds, the sunrise Hour, we ascend the mountain as disciples, and behold our Lord and Master transfigured. The next three Hours are designed to retain this precious moment. They say with Peter: It is good for us to be here, let us build tabernacles. From Prime to Sext, therefore, we remain overawed by the vision of our transfigured Savior.
Remember that this is the usual time for the celebration of Mass, and each Mass means another hour of transfiguration. Not until sunset do we descend the Mount of Transfiguration and sing again yesterday’s vesper antiphon, “Tell no one about the vision you have seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (None and Vespers). Meditate on these mysterious words. Do they refer to the coming paschal feast? Does the liturgy mean to mark Sunday as an Easter day? Is the Sunday of the transfiguration an anticipation of the Lord’s resurrection?
5. The Lenten Preface:
Through bodily fasting
You suppress vice,
elevate the mind,
bestow strength and merit.
Thus the Lenten preface which is sung daily at Mass from Ash Wednesday until Passion Sunday. These few words contain the whole wisdom of the Church on the value of fasting.
Let us continue the explanation with a parable. St. Paul once said, “What a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows in the flesh, from the flesh also he will reap corruption. But he who sows in the spirit, from the spirit he will reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8). What does this parable mean? If the farmer plows, drags, and sows a field, if he cares for it in the best way possible, he will reap the harvest he desires. A good crop depends upon two things, the field and the seed. The farmer can reap only from the field he has sown; he can reap wheat only if he has sown wheat. All this is obvious.
Now we pass from the parable to its lesson. Man has two fields. St. Paul calls one the flesh, we may call it human nature; the other field he calls spirit, we may call it the soul or supernatural life. Now it is clear that the field which receives better care will produce the greater harvest. If a Christian devotes himself to good works, persevering prayer, the practice of virtues, and reception of the sacraments, he will reap a rich supernatural harvest.
Certain strains of plant life are affected by similar types with the result that the crop in one field affects the seed in a neighboring field. Again I will put it more concretely. If you plant the field of the flesh, that is, if you give yourself up to the luxuries of life and sinful enjoyments, then your harvest will consist of bad habits and evil passions; you will not be able to abandon such pleasures. Furthermore, the field of your soul will be so exhausted that it will lie fruitless and barren. To an even greater degree your soul will become incapable of raising itself to supernatural values. The reverse is also true; the virtuous person, the person who lives in the realm of the spirit, will lose his desire for sensual, earthly pleasures. The field of the flesh will lie fallow.
I would like to stress this opposition between spirit and flesh, a topic treated by our blessed Savior in the Parable of the Two Masters. One cannot serve two diametrically opposed leaders, or (to remain with our parable) one cannot attend adequately to two different fields. Generally the neglect or care bestowed on one is intimately related to the care or neglect given the other.
Now we understand the Lenten preface better. It too speaks of two fields, though it treats the field of the flesh more briefly than that of the soul or spirit.
The first point is that bodily fasting exercises a great influence upon the condition of these two fields. Fasting renders the field of the flesh sterile and barren, but makes the field of the soul fertile and fruitful. In brief this is the message of the Lenten preface, and the ultimate significance of fasting.
Let us look a little closer. We are told, “By bodily fasting You suppress vice.” By vice (Latin vitia) we are to understand sins of sensual pleasure. Earthly pleasures are in league with each other, one spurs on and leads to another. This fact can be observed innumerable times in daily life. Many a youth has lost his innocence while drunk. The ancients said, “Bacchus (god of wine) and Venus (goddess of sensuality) are friends.” On the other hand abstaining from and suppressing one desire often has the salutary effect of deadening other sensual desires. Thus it is with fasting. Withholding food and drink is a mighty weapon against the urges of the flesh, against the attacks of sensuality. From a strictly natural viewpoint, therefore, it is true that sensual passions are suppressed by fasting.
A number of applications would be in place. Temperance advocates have a very strong argument when they say: outlawing liquor means outlawing vice. How much sin and moral evil has its origin in immoderate indulgence in alcohol! The validity of this assertion cannot be questioned. The denial of a pleasure normally allowable accustoms one to self-denial and gives the power to forego illicit pleasure. Without any qualification we may say that fasting (in the broadest sense, i.e., depriving oneself of some lawful pleasure) is the best training for chastity.
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