Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Lord's descent into hell

 "What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.
‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.
‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.
'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.
`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.
‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.
"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mandatum Abuse

As the evening of Holy Thursday draws ever closer here in the Eastern Time Zone, we will in but a few hours time be celebrating the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.  Traditionally, within that Mass, we see the practice of the washing of feet carried out.  In most parishes in North America you will likely see a mixed bag of men, women, and children.  An appeal to inclusivity no doubt, but a very problematic liturgical abuse.  The Roman Missal uses the words, "chosen men", (in Latin, viri selecti), this is the only place in the Missal where the Latin word vir is used, a word that is exclusive of male persons, rather than the word homo/homines which is often rendered in English as "men" but more properly means "people".  The washing of the feet is intrinsically connected to the priesthood, it is not a sign of Christian service or of being nice to everyone as it has come to be interpreted.  In the scriptures those coming from heaven (cf. Gen. 18:4, Gen. 19:2, & Luke 7:38) have their feet washed.  Before being consecrated as priests, the chosen men are ritually washed (cf. Lev. 8:5-7).  Christ is ritually washing the feet of his apostles, his viri selecti, to symbolize that the priesthood he is inaugurating at the Last Supper is no longer a priesthood of men, as in the old law, but is a priesthood from heaven, a sharing in his own divine priesthood.  The foot washing or mandatum is only recently returned to the rites of Holy Week, before 1955, it was restricted to washing the feet of priests, and so usually only seen in cathedrals, as the bishop washed the feet of 12 priests.  After the reforms to the rites of Holy Week it was permitted to parishes, but was meant to carry out the same symbolism.

For those who think that the rite has changed, or the washing of anyone's feet is permitted, the Congregation of Divine Worship issued an interpretation in 2008, in response to an inquiry.  The letter is given above, the text, which is a little hard to read in the image is given here with my emphases:
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments gratefully acknowledges your letter dated 12 April 2008, in which you enquire about the rubrics for the washing of feet during the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday.

According to the Missale Romanum (tertia edito typica 2002), Feria V in Cena Domini, Ad Missam vespertinam, no. 11, the washing of feet is reserved to “chosen men” (viri selecti), that is, male persons. This is also stated in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum (editio typica 1984, reimpressio 1995), no 301. This Dicastery considers this legislation clear and wishes to add nothing further.

Should your problems persist, the Congregation would remind you that you write again to the Diocesan bishop who is the moderator, promoter and guardian of the liturgical life of the diocese (cf. canon 835 #1). He would be the appropriate person to contact.
With every prayerful good wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ

Fr. Anthony Ward, S.M.

The Sacred Triduum Begins

This evening the Sacred Triduum of Our Lord's Passion, Death, and Resurrection begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.  As I write this our Holy Father is preparing to celebrate this Mass in Rome.  The Mass traditionally concludes with the transfer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose away from the main altar, in preparation for the stripping of the altar and commemoration of the Passion tomorrow.  The faithful are invited, like the apostles in the garden, to keep vigil with the Lord.  For your reflection, here is the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament from last year:

The Gauntlet has Been Thrown Down

LifeSiteNews is today reporting comments from the Ontario Government's minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Glen Murray, who has openly told the bishops of Ontario what they can  and cannot teach in Catholic schools, specifically that they are not allowed to teach the Church's doctrines on homosexuality:
“I have to say to the bishops: ‘You’re not allowed to do that anymore,’”
Here we see the tolerance of the left, you can do what you will, as long as you do what we say.  Essentially this in my mind amounts to the beginning of the end of religious freedom in this province, in the same way the raging debate of the Obamacare initiatives in the U.S. have signaled an attack on religious freedoms in our neighbour to the south.

Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics, has observed that the minister's statements:
“amount to a declaration of war against the Catholic Church and all people who support traditional moral values.”
No longer is the separation of Church and State being respected from the side of the state, so perhaps it's time to respond in kind on the part of the Church.  I hope and pray that our bishops in Ontario will realize what is happening, that the provincial government may be talking cooperation, but it's actions are a blatant attempt to stifle religious freedom in our schools.  A rally was held by parents at Queen's Park last week, but I think the faithful need to see leadership from the top, to see their bishop's responding.  Hopefully, the bishops of Ontario will responds as vigourously to this attack as the American bishops have to the attacks on religious freedom in the U.S.

Read the rest of the article over at LifeSite: