quod pro nobis traditum est

Monday, September 18, 2006

Liturgy and Tradition

Flying the Flag, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the National Anthem serve not only to demonstrate one's allegiance but also they serve to keep alive the national consciousness and the memory of who we are as citizens of the United States of America and how the United States got to where we are today. This national support, or "patriotism," is passed down from generation to generation in the United States and in other countries around the world through certain traditions such as the ones mentioned above.

Praying the historic liturgy of the Church serves not only to confess the faith but also to keep alive the Church's consciousness and the memory of who we are as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and citizens of the kingdom of God. The liturgy also demonstrates how we share the same faith held by the early church which is also the faith of the saints in heaven. This deposit of faith in Christ and in the Holy Trinity is handed down from generation to generation in the Scriptures and in the historic liturgy of the church catholic.

If freedom of religion comes to mean freedom from religion we can see how "Tradition" becomes a bad word. Constant revision and "creativity" erase the Church's memory and consciousness and re-defines the faith. On the contrary, we have a lot to be thankful for, including the Tradition that we have been given and that which we have received. This Tradition is not just the faith but Christ Himself and we would not know Him except for this Scriptural tradition carried on within the Church. By His holy incarnation, His suffering and death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension into heaven He has prepared the future for us. This future is given to us and received at certain times and places in the holy Word and Sacraments which we receive in the historic liturgy. In the historic liturgy we are brought into the long line of the faithful throughout the world who have been buried and raised with Christ and have received the name of the Triune God in Holy Baptism. These same have also remained in Christ and in His life in His Body and Blood at the altar. In the historic liturgy the Church continues to sing the new song of her life in Christ as she sings with the angels and archangels not only from where she has come from but also to where she is going.

So Tradition is not something we hold on to simply to fly one's flag. Liturgy and Tradition are simple means by which we are united with the Church of all times and places in the Lord's ongoing work in this world, which is, at the same time, united in Christ with the saints in heaven.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

for your reading

Here is a recommendation to read an excellent blogpost on prayer for the dead:

13 September 2006
"Prayer for the Dead"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Homily for Trinity 13

Trinity 13
Luke 10:23-37 Who Is Our Neighbor?
10 September 2006

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today’s Gospel is like when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer and Jesus saw the Spirit descend on Him like a dove and He heard the voice from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At this time however, before Jesus speaks the parable of the Good Samaritan, He “rejoices in the Spirit” after the seventy returned with joy announcing that even the demons were subject to them in His name. He rejoiced because these things were hidden from the wise and prudent but were revealed to babes. This is about knowing the Father and the Son. Only the Father knows the Son. Only the Son knows the Father. Only those can know the Father if the Son reveals Him to them. Our text continues saying, “Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.’” This is like Jesus’ baptism for, on both occasions, the Spirit is involved and, on both occasions, there is revelation of who Jesus is, the beloved Son. His disciples are blessed to see the things that they see.

There is another similarity. After Jesus was baptized the devil drove Him out into the wilderness to tempt Him concerning what was written in the Scriptures. On the occasion recorded in today’s Gospel Jesus having just rejoiced “in the Spirit,” a lawyer tests him about what is necessary to inherit eternal life. The Church is also tested and tempted about what it means to be “blessed” and this even after having been blessed in Holy Baptism or in the hearing of the Holy Gospel or in the Holy Supper. Immediately after these works of God take place and the gifts are received we are back in the world in our daily lives, thinking about and worrying about money and other things. We quickly forget the eternal benefits we receive in Christ. It is no surprise then that blessing loses its spiritual meaning and becomes equated with physical and material success, even within the Church. Others, after baptism or confirmation, fail to see the importance of God’s means of grace for their lives or what it means to be part of Christ’s Body and to remain steadfast in His Word and they fall away from His Church. Jesus told His disciples not to rejoice that the demons were under their control on account of His name but that their names were written in heaven. In Baptism our names are written in heaven and this means that we have God’s faithful promise but it also means that we will be tested.

On this occasion a lawyer tests Jesus with a good question. His question is of real spiritual value for it deals with eternal life. Blessing does come from what one sees and what one hears but what is it that you see and hear? What is daily before your eyes? What is it that you daily listen to? Jesus directs the lawyer to what is written in the Law. What is the Law? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” The man answered Jesus correctly. Jesus told him, “Do this, and you will live.” The man knows that we are to fear, love and trust in God above all things. He knows that he is to love his neighbor as he loves himself. Yet he asks, “Who is my neighbor?” It is the same sin of Adam that leads Cain to ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” These and other questions we come up with to justify ourselves before God, to cover up our sin and to question God’s knowledge. The lawyer knows the answer but he is wrong. He knows the Law yet he fails to find his life in it. If he keeps and does what the Word of God says he will live. This is brought out more clearly for him and for us in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.

A man falls victim to robbers who strip and beat him and leave him half dead. A priest sees him but passes by on the other side. A Levite also sees him but passes by on the other side. A Samaritan sees him and has compassion. He binds up his wounds, “pouring on oil and wine.” He puts him on an animal and takes him to an inn leaving money with the innkeeper to care for him. Who is the neighbor to the man? The lawyer is right again. “He [says], ‘The one who showed him mercy.’” He is right but he does not have eternal life. Jesus says to him, “‘You go, and do likewise.’” Of the three it is the Samaritan who is the outsider. He is neither a priest nor a Levite. Of the three it is the Samaritan who has compassion on the man. He “showed him mercy.” The lawyer must do the same to inherit eternal life. “You go, and do likewise.” “Do this and you will live.”

The psalmist writes, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” The one who is blessed is not the one who tests God to cover up his own sin but he who delights in the law, the TORAH, or Word that God gives to him. He is blessed by the hearing, keeping and doing of this Word. It is a Word that encompasses his whole being, his whole life, his every moment. This blessed one is not one who has need to test God but rather one who sees and hears what God has to give him – His mercy. Jesus, therefore teaches the lawyer of the mercy of God. “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps. 1)

True blessing is not dependent on keeping one’s promises but on seeing and hearing what the prophets and kings desired to hear and see but did not hear and see. The lawyer knew the answers but he did not hear and see the Blessed One who stood there before his eyes. The Good Samaritan was there to show him the way of the righteous, the way to eternal life. He came and bound up the wounds and carried the sin of the lawyer and the sin of every man as He suffered and died on the cross. He is robbed of his dignity, beaten and stripped. “By His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53) “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) God is merciful in giving eternal life to sinners who are unable to love God and their neighbor. In Christ we are given the forgiveness of sins for we have been reconciled to God. The blessing is that in the Law, in the Word of God we are given words of eternal life.

The one who shows mercy in this world is our Neighbor. He is the one who walks in the way of the righteous and leads us in the way of everlasting life. We in the Church will always be tempted to seek God’s blessing where it is neither given nor found. Eternal life is not something that can be gained by testing God or failing to see Him when He is there before us. God’s blessing is placed before our eyes and it is not here for our entertainment. Rather, Jesus shows us what is written in the Law. He speaks His words of forgiveness of sins into our ears. He gives to His Church His very body and blood. Here at the altar we are given His mercy for here He gives us life and salvation. Jesus is our Neighbor and He comes to us at this altar today. Blessed are you and the Church throughout the world who sees and hears of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How can the Church get it wrong?

Some thoughtful commentary on the Church in England that applies
directly to the Church here too:

CHURCH TIMES 01 September 2006

How can the Church have got it so wrong?
By Juliet Hole

The Government has reportedly shelved plans to tackle light pollution
- excessive artificial light that can obliterate the night sky. One
does not need to be an addict of hidden-agenda theories to see why an
aggressively atheist political establishment does not mind if we
cannot see the stars.

The stars are a constant reminder that there is an "outside" to the
social systems being constructed around us - to the "world" in the
biblical sense - as they help us to see ourselves in a different
light, and in relation to something else.

A society that denies God must set itself up in his place, and provide
secular answers to all our needs and questions. To do this, it must
secularise us as well, control our concerns, and, if necessary,
manufacture ones to which there are political and commercial answers
ready. The stars are no help here.

That otherness that sets us free and nourishes our souls is
encountered pre-eminently in prayer and worship; also in nature, and
in art. This can take place, though, only if we can escape the
intrusive packaging that so often obstructs the real encounter that we
need: packaging that is frequently intended, consciously or not, to
suggest that the experience is given its significance by the people in

THEN there are churches. To enter a country church is to enter a
different dimension, and be completely at home in it; enfolded in a
community of prayer, faith, and love.

I mean the church when it is empty: the "building", so often nowadays
referred to as if it were a nuisance rather than God's house.

These buildings, with their silence and spaces, speak to the heart
like no others. Entering, we can leave the world behind. This is an
escape, not from reality but to reality. Broken connections are
restored, and some are moved to pray, perhaps for the first time.

The church where I was brought up is, like many others, under attack.
"Developments" are planned for the west end - if I say lavatories,
kitchen, meeting rooms, welcoming area, you will get the idea.

The proposals are architecturally and aesthetically disastrous, but it
is not just a matter, as sometimes in the past, of carelessness and
poor judgement. It is a deliberate move to import precisely the
secular chatter and clatter, busyness and corporate self-importance
that these churches, uniquely, have always enabled us to leave behind.

Visitors must no longer slip in during the week and find themselves at
peace in the silence and emptiness. (Look through any visitors' book
if you doubt the nature and value of such experience.) Visitors and
parishioners alike must negotiate apparatus designed to make them feel
"welcome" - even protect them from "embarrassment" (no reverence,

ONE CAN understand how an atheist establishment is driven to market
experience so as to block the way to the transcendent, and keep our
minds on the here and now, so that, for instance, before we can walk
in the woods, we are directed to information in which context nature
becomes "nature" - an artificial rather than a real experience.

It is harder to see why influential churchpeople seem to want us to
encounter their God rather than God. Several factors suggest
themselves. The Church of England is in love with manageralism, and
has adopted its very conformist mindset, forgetting that the Church is
supposed to represent something different.

It fails to grasp that modernisation, as now practised, is identical
with secularisation; that the whole point of destroying the
traditional and familiar is a totalitarian one: to disorient, and
create dependence on an imposed political or commercial culture, with
no sign of an alternative, or outside.

The technique was known in the old Communist states. Conniving with
this process is the direct opposite of what the Church should be
doing. When a church building is de-sanctified, a real answer to a
desperate need is lost - reduced to the sort of thing that can be
found in any community centre.

OUR CHURCH is having one of its regular attacks of the fidgets. It
knows that the nation desperately needs to be re-evangelised, but it
keeps losing its nerve in the face of materialistic mockery and
politically correct disapproval. But it has got to be seen to be doing
something, and has gone for the soft and futile option of chasing
popularity through modernisation.

Yet this approach has been failing for so long, and so spectacularly,
that it should be obvious that more of the same is not the answer.

These pretentious and destructive developments are, needless to say,
staggeringly expensive. It is almost beyond belief that nobody in the
Church can think of better and more truly faithful ways of spending
money. We - the people, insiders and outsiders alike, and perhaps most
of all, the young - need our churches as they are.

Juliet Hole is a schoolteacher and PCC member in Worcestershire. This
is a shortened version of an article that appeared in Faith and Worship.

The Danger of Being Too Busy

The following column, written by a high school senior, is a good follow-up to an earlier post on this blog entitled "not busyness but prayer." :

The Danger of Being Too Busy
By Michelle Bauman *

Two weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a crowd of the faithful who gathered outside his summer residence to pray with him. (See the CNA news article for August 21, 2006). He spoke to them about the danger of excessive busyness and the importance of taking time to slow down in our lives. The Pope’s words are important for all Catholics. In today’s busy world, we all need to slow down. The Pope quoted St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church who lived in the 1100s and warned that being too busy can result in spiritual suffering, loss of intelligence, and the loss of grace. If we become too busy physically, we can hurt ourselves spiritually.

In today’s world, we are constantly busy. Technology has given us nearly-instant communication and transportation. We are always doing something – we have continuous access to entertainment at our fingertips. Our world is also filled with noise. Radios, i-pods, and cd players give us constant access to music, while cell phones ensure that even when we are alone, we always have someone to talk to. People today spend very little time in silence, whether they are waiting to catch a flight at the airport or stuck in traffic. We are surrounded by a busy, noisy society that places very little value on peaceful silence and reflection. But the more we fill our lives with noise and activity, the fewer opportunities we give ourselves for quiet prayer and reflection.

When people are too busy, they tend to be irritable and get stressed out easily. They are in no condition to glorify God through their lives, and they are too busy to see the grace of God at work in the world around them. That is why it is important for us to slow down and take some time to grow closer to God. Instead of thinking of God for just a few minutes when we wake up or fall asleep, our prayers to God should be constant throughout the day. Slowing down will give us more time for reflection in our daily lives. We will be able to see God in the small things that happen every day, to recognize God in the beautiful creation that surrounds us and in the people that we encounter in our lives. We will be able to spend more time throughout the day thinking about God, and as a result, we will be more fully able to offer our entire day and everything that we do to glorify Him.

In addition, the more time we spend in silence, the better we are able to hear God. God does not speak to us loudly over a megaphone; rather, He speaks to us in the quiet stillness of our hearts. Therefore, it is important that we know how to listen to Him and hear His voice. In today’s busy, chaotic world, we can easily miss His voice if we do not slow down long enough to listen. Only in silence and prayer can we truly hear what God is saying in our hearts. It is important to our spiritual health that we do not become exceedingly busy to the point that we are never able to hear God speak in our lives. We need to make sure that we are able to spend an adequate amount of time in reflection and prayer.

I see the problem of excessive busyness as being a major problem among teenagers as well as adults. Many young people are involved in school, sports, clubs, and other activities. They are often busy from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. This way of life can become dangerous for teenagers, as it can for anyone. A schedule that is overly busy is not healthy physically or spiritually. We need to remember to allow ourselves enough time to see the goodness of God in our lives. The Lord tells us, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Ps. 46:11) and this is important advice for us to follow as we strive to live as Christians.

* Michelle Bauman is an honor student in the 12th grade at Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver.

(Source: "Today's Column" Catholic News Agency, September 8, 2006)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mother of God

Some notes on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in its ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints." ("Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary",

"In Catholic theology there is a clear distinction drawn between the worship of latria (adoration, which may be offered only to God), and veneration and praise, or dulia. Catholicism has traditionally accorded to the Virgin Mary the veneration of hyperdulia, which rests in part upon the angelic salutation, "Hail, full of grace" (Lk 1:28), a phrase with momentous theological impact. Over the centuries, according to the Catholics, the nature of Mary within theology became clearer. By 403 we find Epiphanius refuting a sect called the Collyridians who adored Mary, telling them: "Mary should be honoured, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost should be adored. Nobody should adore Mary" (in Ott, Bk III, Pt 3 Ch. 3, §8). Thus we find, from the third century Church, veneration of Mary. Later, the belief that Mary intercedes for us with her Divine Son, and a clear distinction between latria and dulia together with a rejection of the notion of giving latria to Mary. The saints, for their part, receive dulia. This distinction between latria, hyperdulia, and dulia, is key to understanding Catholic Tradition (the Orthodox do not distinguish hyperdulia from dulia)."
("Blessed Virgin Mary",

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

because of His goodness

"Since the divine nature is far superior and above our human nature, the command by which we are to love God is distinct from our love of our neighbor. He shows mercy to us because of his own goodness, while we show mercy to one another because of God's goodness."
- St. Augustine, Christian Instruction 33 (cited in Ancient Christian Commentary volume on Luke, p. 181)