Friday, August 01, 2014

Homily Annotations from A Laymen - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An%C3%B3nimo_-_Inferno_(ca._1520).jpg
Jesus said to his disciples:“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,which a person finds and hides again,and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price,he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace,  where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. (MT 13:44-52)

When the priest at the Mass I attended that week repeated this Gospel reading as a preface to his homily, he ended with a paraphrase "will be cast aside/off" and then skipped the last four lines above about the "fiery furnace."

Keeping with my personal opinion that the general Catholic population lacks a serious understanding of sin - that is connecting their behaviors with the Commandments and the Gospel - or ignores Catholic teachings about sin and penance,  it was a huge mistake to not mention the "fiery furnace."  The fiery furnace is real folks!  Catholics could do with a lot less pandering of the faithful in this regard.

I think I understand where the typical middle-of-the-road, indirect manner of preaching comes from. First,
In his infinite goodness he desired the free love of humanity over forced obedience to his will. For love cannot be forced, it must be given by desire and choice. (http://www.saintaquinas.com/belief_in_God.html)
This notion is pervasive throughout Catholicism.  In a question I asked Ask A Priest about why the Catholic Church only required confession once-a-year, here was his response:
[Your "Ask a Priest" Question has been answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC.  God bless, RC Spirituality Center]

Dear Dan, The requirement for once-a-year confession and communion is a minimum standard. The ideal, as you mentioned, is for frequent confession and frequent communion. But it’s one thing to hold out an ideal, and another to require it. Put another way, the Church isn’t contradicting itself by recommending frequent confession and communion on one hand, but only legislating their reception once a year on the other. The Church in effect is leaving room for the faithful to voluntarily choose to make frequent use of the sacraments. Things done voluntarily are usually done with more genuine piety (not always, but often enough). I pray that you make frequent use of these great sacraments. God bless.  

I think the thinking goes like this: It's hard to try to bring someone to a closer understanding, to seek a deeper meaning, or to voluntarily chose to make more frequent use of the Sacraments when you are more direct - you might scare them off.

You might ask, can't you be more direct without scaring them off?  I think so, but, here's the real concern I think behind this soft-peddling of the faith: pastors are concerned about parishioners leaving the parish.  This is a very real concern. For so long what I would call a indirect, middle-of-the-road, soft-peddling of the faith approach has been taken. Suddenly or even if it was done over a period of time (with a warning) a more direct, calling-a-sin-a-sin (especially sins of the flesh) homiletic approach is taken.  People will leave in droves! But I think eventually people will come back - in droves!  We have Jesus ministerial approach to leverage.

Lastly,
There are two types of men, those who are afraid to lose God, and those who are afraid that they might find Him… --Blaise Pascal, philosopher and scientist



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Homily Annotations from A Laymen - Corpus Christi


In no way by these periodic posts of "Homily Annotations from A Laymen" is it my intention to disparage any Catholic priest or deacon.  I merely want to add some prayerful thoughts to the homilies presented to me.
While my experience with Sunday homilies are mostly local, I have attended Mass at enough parishes in many locations in this country to feel that the homily structures are very similar across the United States, mostly because our Catholic church suffers from modernistic and liberal approaches to saving souls.


Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), June 22, 2014

I was happy to hear our newly ordained Deacon speak about how the Feast of Corpus Christi was first established as well as referring to the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in Lanciano, Italy in the 8th Century A.D.

He also made reference to a recent survey about Catholics belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I found this chart on the to substantiate what he said.

I believe that there are several factors that contribute to the results of this survey:

  • While the Memorial of the Real Presence is celebrated each week at Mass, points made at today's homily are really repeated throughout the year.
  • The elimination of the communion rail which affords the reverence of kneeling has resulted in the loss of faith in the Real Presence.

  • Most importantly - receiving Communion in the hand has resulted in a HUGE loss of faith in the Real Presence.
As noted by Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.tv's excellent series Sleight of Hand - Reception Deception, "Pope Benedict started distributing Christ's Body exclusively in this manner, directly on the tongue, since 2009 on the Feast of Corpus." 

Back in the early 60's when the abuse of communion in the hand was beginning in Europe, Pope Paul VI in Memorial Domini (Par 10) says:
...this practice [receiving Holy Communion on the tongue]... ensures more effectively that Holy Communion is distributed with all due respect, decorum, and dignity, so that the danger of profanation of the Eucharistic species is prevented, in which in a unique way, Christ, God and man, is present whole and entire, substantially and continually, so that finally the diligent care is preserved, which the Church always recommended regarding the fragments of the consecrated bread: What you have allowed to fall, think of it as though one of your own members were amputated.
These points should have been stated in his homily.  However, to do so would put himself in conflict with his Pastor and his Bishop.

I urge you to study Memorial Domini and return to receiving Communion on the tongue.

God bless.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thinking Beyond The Bare Minimum During Lent


I recently read a pastor's comments on the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion.  His comments reflected the Catholic Church's once-a-year requirement for both.

Why only ONCE a YEAR?  I don't know about you, but I can walk out of a confessional and see a beautiful woman in line, and have to immediately turn around and go back to confession.  I can also be cut off by a fellow parishioner while trying to leave the church parking lot and have to turn around and go back. Lastly, I can get home, get into an argument with my wife and have to turn around and go back to confession.

So, I decided to look it up and found this within the Canon Law:
Can. 920 p. 1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year.
Can. 989. After having reached the age of discretion, each member  the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.
p. 2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season [Ash Wednesday through Trinity Sunday] unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.
Still curious about what Canon Law states the bare minimum, I "Asked a Priest" at www.RCSpirituality.com. Here's the response I received:

[Your "Ask a Priest" Question has been answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC.  God bless, RC Spirituality Center]
Dear Dan, The requirement for once-a-year confession and communion is a minimum standard. The ideal, as you mentioned, is for frequent confession and frequent communion. But it’s one thing to hold out an ideal, and another to require it. Put another way, the Church isn’t contradicting itself by recommending frequent confession and communion on one hand, but only legislating their reception once a year on the other. The Church in effect is leaving room for the faithful to voluntarily choose to make frequent use of the sacraments. Things done voluntarily are usually done with more genuine piety (not always, but often enough). I pray that you make frequent use of these great sacraments. God bless.  

The key here is "it’s one thing to hold out an ideal, and another to require it." 

Pope John Paull II said in his groundbreaking work "Theology of the Body" that "prayer, Eucharist, and Penance. These, he says, are the 'infallible and indispensable' means for living the truth of love that God has inscribed in the theology of our bodies (see TOB 126:5)."1 This is the reason why I try to take advantage of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, especially Confession.  It is the best self-improvement plan on earth!

http://www.tobinstitute.org/newsItem.asp?NewsID=88

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Year of Faith Resources Missed the Mark

Heavenly Father,

Pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture.

Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.   
Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.  
In moments of hesitation, remind me:
If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel?
If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?
If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?
God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.  
Prayer of New Evangelization, http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers/new-evangelization-prayer.cfm


We have completely lost our understanding of sin.  We look at the Ten Commandments and justify our behavior to meet our own made-up criteria for Heaven.  When I half-jokingly make references to the Sacrament of Confession to family and friends, the responses I hear are "Hey, I haven't killed anybody" or "I think I'm fine."

Over the past year during the Year of Faith, priests in the churches I have attended have had numerous occasions to more completely define sin in our modern culture.  I was rooting them on.  Many times they would get close - I was ready to stand and applaud! But, alas, they would back off, and I found myself shrinking in the pew.  I'm hungry to hear it.  I'm anxious for all of us to hear it.

Read carefully the Prayer of New Evangelization from the USCCB's web site above. There are plenty of theological truths that are worthy praying for.  But there's no mention of a better understanding of sin.  This is a huge, huge oversight.  In fact, it strongly demonstrates how progressive relativism has cannonball-ed into parishes and most unfortunately chanceries.

Sex  before marriage (fornication), co-habitation, adultery (looking lustfully at another is committing adultery in the heart; see Matt 5:28), contraception, abortion, drunkenness, poor church attendance, taking Jesus Christ's name in vain (blasphemy),  lying, cheating, and stealing (we all do it usually in very small ways) - do we ever, ever hear a priest remind us of these sins, with practical examples?

We are all lying, cheating, blaspheming, fornicating, drunken adulterers. We are raising our children this way.  We are catechizing this way.  We have to vigilantly present, be presented with, and be reminded of the realities of death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell.  And not our own made up definitions but the truths from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.  Amen!
 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Sign of No Peace




I absolutely cringe at the Sign of Peace.  Next to the "meet-and-greet" social before Mass starts (see General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)  paragraph 45: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/girm-45-silence/),  it is the most Protestant part of the Mass.  It seems to come at the worst time - just after the Doxology and the Our Father and right before the Lamb of God - solemn prayers at most solemn points.  I experience very little eye contact and flabby handshakes.  I get the occasional two-finger peace sign from folks who don't want to bother leaning forward or claim to have a cold.  I also get ignored. It's awkward and out of place.

GIRM 84 leaves it to the Conferences of Bishops to establish, in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples, the manner in which the sign of peace is given.  Recall how during some of the worst flu seasons in the past where the handshake was suspended during the Rite of Peace?  How peaceful that was.