Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lent--Transformation in Christ

Is Lent just a time of obligatory sacrifice grumblingly undertaken? The chatter about what to give up for Lent can be humorous, but all too often masks what this season of grace is all about. It isn't about self-actualization in the worldly sense. It is about conversion, transformation in Christ. The grappling with temptation allows us to touch on eternal things, to focus our eyes on those above and not the transitory life here on earth and its delicacies. Our truest freedom comes from surrender to Christ. In him, we find our happiness. Our interior restlessness finds its peace in union with Him. Not because of peace for its own sake, or transformation for its own sake, but for the love of Christ. Here is an excerpt from a book by Dietrich von Hildebrand Transformation in Christ. He is contrasting youthful tendencies toward change for the novelty and seeming vitality and the rigidity of maturity, or what appears to be rigidity. (paragraph breaks added for ease in reading)

But if we envisage the vital phases of youth and old age from a supernatural point of view, the picture will be different. Here, in fact, an inverse law will appear. The readiness to change, the wax-like receptiveness towards Christ will tend not to vanish but to increase as man grows into a state of maturity. Accidental concerns and complications recede into the background; the pattern of life wins through to simplicity; the great decisive aspects of life become more clearly accentuated.

The unrest incident to youth, the vacillating response to disparate appeals, the insatiable hunger for whatever appears attractive or beautiful will subside, and a steady orientation towards the essential and decisive become dominant.

This progress towards simplicity, which is part of the spiritual significance of advancing in age, is linked to a "consolidation" in Christ. A number of vital tendencies, longings of all kinds, and a certain ubiquitous unrest fostered by the expectation of earthly happiness, recede before that supernatural unrest which attends the supreme yearning for Christ. A liberation from one's own nature becomes apparent. The scriptural words, "Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a long time" (Wisd 4:13-14), refer to this true meaning and value of maturity.

Yet this attainment of full maturity also implies "eternal youth" in a supernatural sense. It implies that the readiness to change, the determination to become a "new man," and unconditional willingness to crucify the old self should increase; that the impatience for Christ should not abate. As he draws nearer to the gates of eternity, such a person will direct his attention to "the one thing necessary," with ever increasing concentration. It is this supernatural youth which is referred to in the gradual of the Mass, by the words, "qui laetificat juventutem meam" (Who giveth joy to my youth).

Here is, paradoxically speaking, a spiritual intactness increasing with age, inasmuch as throughout the status viae we continually enhance our alert readiness to change towards greater proximity to God, so that His features may be engraved upon our souls. And this is equivalent to becoming more and more free from ourselves: ridding ourselves of everything which, though it be rooted in our own nature, stands between our souls and Christ. It may be said without exaggeration that the degree of our inner "fluidity" in relation to Christ, our readiness to "put off our own nature in order to put on Christ," constitutes the standard criterion of our religious progress.

May you in this Lenten season begin to resemble more and more the features of Christ. And at Easter, that you may rise as new creatures.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stand Up!

Yesterday, around the country, the Rite of Election took place in preparation for the initiation of catechumens and candidates into the Holy Catholic Church. What was your diocesan one like? Here's San Jose from last year.

Rite of Election 2009 video, Diocese of San Jose (hi-res) from Diana Macalintal on Vimeo.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Morales Music

Parce mihi, Domine nihil enim sunt dies mei.

Preparing for Lent

Yesterday, the choir and some friends buried an Alleuia Strawman in the church courtyard garden. The schola chanted the Easter Vigil Alleluia.

Later that afternoon, Father came to me with terrible news. Some neighborhood children heard some screams. They followed the sounds which brought them to the burial site of the Alleluia man. I should have known he was teasing when he could barely keep a straight face.

In the Extraordinary Form, we've been preparing for the holy season of Lent during the Septuagesima time. The Introit for Septuagesima was Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis....the sorrows of death surrounded me. A rather stark transition from the happy time of Epiphany, but lent a wealth of meditation for me in dying to self, following the footsteps of our Lord, carrying my daily crosses.

Here's Cristobal de Morales' setting of the text.

Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, dolores inferni circumdederunt me.

The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrow of hell encompassed me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


A slight dusting of snow was what was predicted overnight. But instead, we got six inches. Now, I know that doesn't seem like much to my friends up north in the frozen tundra, but for us, it's a heap of snow!

Backyard woods

 Front yard trees

 Mary Garden

Monday, February 08, 2010

Another rant

...it's Monday, bear with me. The past few days at work have been intense with training for 40 Days for Life. We had a marvelous speaker, Fr. Lawrence, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Thrown into the mix was Catholic Schools Week (when we finally had school after a few days of snow cancellation) and Catholic Underground. It was an intense four days. Oh, and it rained and rained and rained. Catholic Underground became Catholic Underwater, quipped one friend.

I opened my e-mail Inbox this morning and lo, and behold, I received an email from RCIA resources for Lent. Don't get me wrong, it's good to know what the resources are out there for the Lenten season. Lent is a mysterious time. And if your liturgy is same old, same old (like emptying holy water fonts and replacing water with cacti and stones, etc.) it will be hard to sustain the interior meaning of Lent.

One of the terms that has always grated on my nerves in RCIA lingo is "breaking open the Word". What in the heck is that? It always invokes images of a sledgehammer on concrete. Who wields that sledgehammer? Is there some secret power that this person receives? From whom?

Breaking open the Word....that is so lame! Is there some Rosetta Stone that somehow is the key to understanding scripture? RCIA should be a time of studying the Bible anyway. Shouldn't RCIA leaders and participants be opening Scripture and the Catechism at the weekly sessions? Shouldn't the texts be side-by-side? You know those footnote thingies in the Catechism? They're full of scriptural references. It is a great idea to actually read them in context. Toss out the silly Catholic Updates and Powerpoint presentations.

If you're not doing this at your parish, you're missing out! AND, you should also have the Church Fathers handy. RCIA should be a time when you are training catechumens and candidates to grapple with primary texts. Seriously. Really. Teach them to think in the mind of the Church. This isn't about "faith sharing" or "personal improvement". This is about Truths Revealed. You might not get the "numbers" but you'll get solid Catholics. The kind that actually, after RCIA, keep going to Mass and Confession.

What are we doing for Lent in RCIA? Studying Catholic Moral Theology. We've already lost some people during the year, but this is about conversion, not parading people during the Scrutinies as prize monkeys. Each person that is still in RCIA has had to wrestle with serious theological issues. A couple of them have been through RCIA before. One thing that I've learned in teaching RCIA is that it is the Holy Spirit who does the actual heavy lifting in conversion. I am a tool. It is my job to first of all, be a faithful Catholic. Second to study. Third to be converted myself. Daily dying to self and living for Christ. That way, I can have the eyes of faith to recognize that the enemy does not like Lent and steps up attacks against the persons who are coming closer to initiation into the Church.

Pray, pray, pray. If you're not involved in the adult catechesis in your parish, consider offering a Holy Hour or praying the rosary or fasting for the catechumens and candidates. Your RCIA team will thank you for it. Even if they don't know that you're doing it, nevertheless, your prayers are essential. Pray for the team members that they each may grow in charity and fortitude. They get attacked, too.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Silence of the Host

I've been reading Bl. Columba Marmion's Christ, The Ideal Priest during this Year for Priests. My spiritual director loaned it to me months ago. I've relished reading slowly which in Bl. Marmion's case is a good thing. Every page has a wealth to ponder upon. Last night, during the Elevation of the Host, it struck me how true this following passage is:
In heaven, the liturgy will strike no note other than those of reverent praise, of love and of joy. The sacrifice of Jesus will certainly be ever present in its effect: it is He alone Who saves and beatifies the elect; but expiation, and the petition for pardon, as such, will no longer exist. In Revelation, St. John describes this glorious liturgy of heaven: he has seen the Lamb immolated, standing before the throne of God; it was surrounded by the ancients and the innumerable multitude of the elect redeemed by His precious blood, and they sang: "To Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb benediction and honour and glory and power for ever and ever". Through the veil of these symbols we must try to catch a glimpse of the splendours of the reality that lies beyond.

Every Mass celebrated here on earth is united to the liturgy of heaven. In the silence of the Host, the Son of God, as the Word, renders to His Father boundless glory. It is beyond our understanding, it is inscrutable; but we can offer this praise, for the Father is pleased with it: Is not the Son the very splendour of His glory?
...in the silence of the Host the Word renders to His Father boundless glory. There we were, in the silence of the Canon, adoring the elevated Host. There is no human sound that can equal that offering. In fact, any sounds at the moment distract from that moment of utter love given and returned.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Happy Candlemas! Here's a polyphonic setting of the Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israel by Francisco López y Capillas. Notice that he expanded on the Gregorian chant.

A rant follows...

To my detriment, I was on another forum today where Candlemas was being discussed and someone mentioned that today's Feast is now called the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple. The person went on to say that this was because of the de-emphasis of the purification of Mary in favor of the prophecy of Simeon.

Pardon my crabbiness, but what were they talking about? The traditional rite is steeped with Simeon and Mary, but most of all, God's mercy bathes the whole liturgy. And why do we need to de-emphasize Mary's Purification? Are we modern people squeamish about blood? She and Joseph offered two turtledoves, but the Child whom they brought was the worthiest and sublimest offering to God the Father. Why do we need to remove this emphasis? It is Him through whom we receive our purification. This Marian Feast is inherently about God's Salvation, pointing in a deeper way to the Eucharistic Offering of Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Body. Blood. Soul. Divinity.

Take a look at the Propers. You cannot get more sublime than this on this earth. I defy you to read them and then tell me exactly what needed improving.

Okay, done with my rant. I will enjoy this Feast for many reasons. One other reason is the second anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of our parochial vicar. He left this earthly life early in the morning and his last words were..."Now you let your servant go in peace...."

Propers for Candlemas

Blessing of the Candles:

O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God who created all things out of nothing, at Your creative command this honey was transformed into wax by the industry of the bees. On this day on which You granted just Simeon his request, we invoke Your most holy name and ask You through the intercession of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary -- whose feast we reverently observe today -- and through the prayers of all Your saints, graciously to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of men, and for the health of bodies and souls of all on land and on the sea. From Your throne of majesty in heaven, hear the voices of Your people who hold these lights in their hands to honor You and praise You with song. Be merciful to all who call upon You, all those whom You have redeemed with the Precious Blood of Your Son, who lives and rules with You. Amen.

Let us pray. O almighty and everlasting God, who this day didst present Thine only-begotten Son in Thy holy temple to be received in the arms of holy Simeon: we humbly entreat Thy clemency, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless, and sanctify, and to kindle with the light of Thy heavenly benediction these candles, which we Thy servants desire to receive and to carry lighted in honour of Thy Name: that, by worthily offering them to Thee our Lord “God, we may be inflamed with the holy fire of Thy most sweet charity, and deserve to be presented in the holy temple of Thy glory. Through the same our Lord.

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light who enlightenest every man that cometh into this world; pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire, dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendour of the Holy Spirit, may be free from every blindness due to vice: so that with clear sight our midns may discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation; so that after the darksome perils of this life we may deserve to attain to never fading light: Through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Saviour of the world, who in the perfect Trinity, livest and reignest, God, world without end.

Let us pray. O almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy servant Moses didst command the purest oil to be prepared for lamps to burn continually before Thee: vouchsafe to pour forth the grace of Thy blessing upon these candles: that they may so afford us light outwardly, that by Thy gift the light of Thy Spirit may never be wanting inwardly to our minds. Through our Lord...in the unity of the same Holy Ghost…

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst appear among men in the substance of our flesh and this day wast presented by Thy parents in the temple: Whom the venerable and aged Simeon, his mind flooded by the light of Thy Spirit recognized, received into his arms, and blessed: mercifully grant, that the grace of the same Holy Spirit may enlighten and teach us to recognize Thee truly and faithfully love Thee: Who with God the Father in the unity of the same Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end.

Distribution of Candles:

Ant. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles: and for the glory of Thy people Israel.
Cant. Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace. A light…
Because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. A light…
Which Thou hast prepared, before the face of all peoples. A light…
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. A light…
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. A light...

Let us pray. We beseech Thee, O Lord, hearken unto Thy people, and grant that by the light of Thy grace, we may inwardly attain that which year by year we outwardly venerate. Through our Lord…

The Procession:

V. Let us go forth in peace.
R. In the Name of Christ. Amen.

Adorn thy bridal-chamber, O Sion, and welcome Christ the King: with loving embrace greet Mary, the very gate of heaven; for she bringeth to thee the glorious King of new light: ever Virgin she remaineth, yet in her arms doth bear the Son begotten before the day-star: that Child whom Simeon did take into his arms and proclaim to the nations as Lord of life and Saviour of the world.

Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord; and when they brought the Child into the temple, he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace. When His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him into his arms.

They offered for Him to the Lord a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons: As it is written in the Law of the Lord. After the days of the purification of Mary, according to the Law of Moses, were fulfilled, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. As it is written in the Law of the Lord. Glory be to the Father….As it is written...

At Mass:

We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth: Thy right hand is full of justice. Ps. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God, in his holy mountain.
℣. Glory be to the Father.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy majesty; that as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so too Thou wouldst grant us to be presented unto Thee with purified souls. Through the same our Lord.

The Prophecy
Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I send My Angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face; and presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the Testament, whom you desire, shall come to His temple. Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of Hosts; and who shall be able to think of the day of His coming? and who shall stand to see Him? for He is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb; and He shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years; saith the Lord almighty.

The Gradual
We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple: according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth. ℣. As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of our God, and in His holy mountain.

The Tract
Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace. ℣. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation. ℣. Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. ℣. Light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.

The Gospel
At that time, after the days of Mary’s purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Je-rusalem, to present Him to the Lord; as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; and to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him: and he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he also took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.

The Offertory Antiphon
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee for ever, and for ages and ages.

The Secret
Graciously hear our prayers, O Lord; and that the gifts we offer in the sight of Thy majesty may be found worthy, extend to us the help of Thy mercy. Through our Lord.

The Preface for Christmas
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God. Because by the mystery of the Word made flesh the light of Thy glory hath shone anew upon the eyes of our mind: that while we acknowledge Him to be God seen by men, we may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen. And therefore with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominions, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:

The Communion Antiphon
Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, until he had seen the Christ of the Lord.

The Post-Communion Oration
We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, Thou wouldst make the most holy mysteries, which Thou hast conferred upon us for the preservation of our spiritual life, both a present and future remedy. Through our Lord.

Monday, February 01, 2010


We don't do well with this white precipation.