Thursday, May 21, 2009
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
- St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 3:16
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
In discussing the historic liturgy online (as I used to do much more often than I do today) I have noticed by reactions to posts various emphases or positions toward the liturgy and/or its parts that are seemingly missing in my posts on this topic. This tells me two things. First, I do not discuss every aspect of the liturgy in any one post for obvious reasons. Second, I do not approach the liturgy as a specialist although I have learned much about specific liturgical aspects over the years. Usually my posts are simply "thought of the day" type of remarks or quotes from others in support of the historic liturgy. These past ten years have been an eye-opening experience and I have learned first, a greater appreciation for the liturgy and its relation to God in Christ Jesus. Second, I appreciate more the liturgy's wholeness or catholicity in terms of both its historic nature and in its ability to draw together people of all nations.
This is not an apology for specialization. Rather, I find, that it is specialization that has been and is most responsible for furthering the distance between people and the liturgy or between people and God in Christ Jesus in the Mass. One notices, for example, that the altar vanishes when a screen or rock band is placed in front. The liturgy is turned into entertainment as a form of Sunday escape from heavier themes or is turned into a springboard for various political and social agendas. These are but some examples of many changes in recent years that are really symptoms of a more broad departure from the center and reason for the existence of the liturgy. Many are noticing that the liturgy has been or is being engineered or left out altogether and that those things that are missed reflect a break in the continuity of the faith. Much has been written on this phenomena already. Basically, such changes reflect more focus on the horizontal rather than on the vertical dimension of the liturgy. This raises questions about the faith itself, which is beyond the scope of this one post.
The faith is upheld rather by the continuity of the historic liturgy or by its restoration to its rightful place. The liturgy is not in competition with theology, biblical studies nor dogmatics nor is it opposed to academic pursuits. All inform the faith or explain further the faith that seeks understanding. Nor is the spirit of the liturgy diminished by the learning of rubrics. Rubrics are important for many reasons, some of which are the development of discipline, continuity in the greater tradition and the cultivation of a sense of reverence among both priests and people.
Words cannot adequately express or teach the sense of holiness and reverence that are included in liturgical worship. The liturgy leads people through God's Word toward the altar and to the Holy Eucharist, which is the crucified and risen Lord Himself. The wholeness of the liturgy is dependent on the one Lord who comes to us and gives Himself to us. Efforts to uphold that unity between God and people in Christ in the liturgy are not fruitless. On the contrary, once worship is bound by horizontal concerns the wholeness can no longer be appreciated and passed on and the overall unity, both vertically and horizontally becomes questionable.
The wholeness of the liturgy bases its existence on and is most fruitfully and centrally located on the altar in the Holy Eucharist.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
"Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.
"Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; 2 Corinthians 8:9 He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours."
- St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 1:IV,V (source: www.newadvent.org)
Saturday, May 02, 2009
"Many before this Man have been kings and tyrants of the world, many are on record who have been wise men and magicians, among the Chaldæans and Egyptians and Indians; which of these, I say, not after death, but while still alive, was ever able so far to prevail as to fill the whole earth with his teaching and reform so great a multitude from the superstition of idols, as our Saviour has brought over from idols to Himself? The philosophers of the Greeks have composed many works with plausibility and verbal skill; what result, then, have they exhibited so great as has the Cross of Christ? For the refinements they taught were plausible enough till they died; but even the influence they seemed to have while alive was subject to their mutual rivalries; and they were emulous, and declaimed against one another. But the Word of God, most strange fact, teaching in meaner language, has cast into the shade the choice sophists; and while He has, by drawing all to Himself, brought their schools to nought, He has filled His own churches; and the marvellous thing is, that by going down as man to death, He has brought to nought the sounding utterances of the wise concerning idols. For whose death ever drove out demons? or whose death did demons ever fear, as they did that of Christ? For where the Saviour's name is named, there every demon is driven out. Or who has so rid men of the passions of the natural man, that whoremongers are chaste, and murderers no longer hold the sword, and those who were formerly mastered by cowardice play the man? And, in short, who persuaded men of barbarous countries and heathen men in various places to lay aside their madness, and to mind peace, if it be not the Faith of Christ and the Sign of the Cross? Or who else has given men such assurance of immortality, as has the Cross of Christ, and the Resurrection of His Body? For although the Greeks have told all manner of false tales, yet they were not able to feign a Resurrection of their idols—for it never crossed their mind, whether it be at all possible for the body again to exist after death. And here one would most especially accept their testimony, inasmuch as by this opinion they have exposed the weakness of their own idolatry, while leaving the possibility open to Christ, so that hence also He might be made known among all as Son of God."
- St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word (source: newadvent.org)
Friday, May 01, 2009
Philip said to Him: "Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him: "Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me? Philip, he who sees Me sees also the Father." (John 14)