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Archive for January, 2015

Why Go To Church

Timothy Radcliffe O.P.

The Greek word for ‘church’, ekklesia, means ‘gathering’, and Eucharist is the foundation of all our gathering. Jesus sat at supper with the disciples on the night before he died. The community was breaking up. Judas had betrayed Jesus; Peter was about to deny him; the rest would be scattered. At this moment of dispersion and disintegration he gave the community his body. So every Christian assembly implicitly is founded on this moment which is remembered at the Eucharist…. In the words of the old Latin saying, ‘Unus cristianus, nullus cristianus’, ‘The single Christian is no Christian.’

But what community? Why should I drag myself out of bed to go to a parish church with a congregation of people whom I do not know, and to whom I feel no attachment? In our society one chooses those to whom one belongs. Our ancestors were born into given communities. They lived and died surrounded by people whom they had not chosen but who were there neighbours…. The local church was the gathering of one’s natural community.

But today our neighbourhoods have nothing to do with geography…. Why cannot I belong to a virtual Christian community too?…

I wish to argue … that the ‘huge event’ of the Eucharist works in our lives in ways that are profound but often barely noticeable and hardly register as experiences at all…. The liturgy works in the depths of our minds and hearts a very gradual, barely perceptible transformation of who we are, so quietly that we might easily think nothing is happening at all….

Our transformtion by God’s grace is a slow business. A generation used to the immediacy of cyber communication might find it hard to believe in…. The Eucharist is indeed a drama; it enacts the fundamental drama of all human existence…. a drama in three acts, through which we share God’s life and begin even now to be touched by God’s happiness. Each act prepares for the next…. Going to the Eucharist is not like going to see a film…. The Eucharist is the drama of one’s whole life – birth to death and beyond….

One’s average church may not look much like heaven; its statues may be tatty and in embarrassingly poor taste, and the stained-glass windows ooze Victorian sentimentality, but it is still a reminder that we are on the way. We drag ourselves out of bed and leave our house because they are not our final homes….

By faith, hope and charity we belong to the community of saints and sinners, the living and the dead. In the Middle Ages these dead were often buried all around the church. When the parish gathered to celebrate the Eucharist, the dead were the outer ring of participants, our brothers and sisters in the resurrection.

Even in a secular age, churches remain signs, question marks against the assumptions of our time.
From Why Go to Church (2008)

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2015-01-26
In his Monday morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about the gift of faith. The Pope explained that Christians are called to protect faith and to reflect on how to best live it out on a day to day basis.
POPE FRANCIS
“If we don’t pay attention, every single day and if we don’t renew this God given gift of faith, it becomes weak and diluted. Faith ends up being just about culture. ‘Yes of course, I’m Christian, they say. But it ends up being culture or just knowledge. The question is, ‘How do you live your faith? That’s why it’s important to renew the gift of faith. To bring it to life.”
He then added that often times, it’s women-mothers and grandmothers who transmit the faith from generation to generation.
SUMMARY OF POPE’S MASS
(Source: Vatican Radio)
“It is one thing to pass on the faith, and another to teach the matters of faith. Faith is a gift: it is not possible to study Faith. We study the things of faith, yes, to understand it better, but with study alone one never comes to Faith. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which surpasses all “academic” formation”.
“If we do not have this care, every day, to revive this gift of God which is Faith, but rather let faith weaken, become diluted, Faith ends up being a culture: ‘Yes, but, yes, yes, I am a Christian, yes yes,’ – a mere culture – or a gnosis, [specialized kind of] knowledge: ‘Yes, I know well all the matters of Faith, I know the catechism’. But how do you live your faith? This, then, is the importance of reviving every day this gift: to bring it to life”.
“Faith, moreover, is a gift that passes from generation to generation, through the “beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers, the fine work of the women who play those roles,” in a family, “whether they be maids or aunts,” who transmit the faith:
It occurs to me: why is it mainly women, who to pass on the faith? Simply because the one who brought us Jesus is a woman. It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: the gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary.”

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God Loves Us thumbnail St Bernard of Clairvaux   The believing soul longs and faints for God; she rests sweetlyin the contemplation of Him. She glories in the reproach of the Cross, until the glory of His face shall be revealed. Like the Bride, the dove of Christ,that is covered with silver wings (Ps. 68.13), white with innocence and purity, she reposes in the thought of your abundant kindness, Lord Jesus; and above all she longs for that day when in the joyful splendor of your saints, gleaming withthe radiance of the Beatific Vision, her feathers shall be like gold, resplendent with the joy of your face.

Rightly then may she exult, ‘His left hand is under my head and His right hand embraces me.’ The left hand signifies the memory of that matchless love, which moved Him to lay down His life for His friends; and the right hand is the Beatific Vision which He has promised to His own, and the delight they have in His presence. The Psalmist sings rapturously, ‘At your right hand there is pleasure for evermore’ (Ps. 16.11): so we are warranted in explaining the right hand as that divine and deifying joy of His presence.

Rightly too is that wondrous and ever-memorable love symbolized as His left hand, upon which the Bride rests her head until iniquity be done away: for He sustains the purpose of her mind, lest it should be turned aside to earthly, carnal desires. For the flesh wars against the spirit: ‘The corruptible body presses down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weighs down the mind that muses upon many things’ (Wisdom 9.15). What could result from the contemplation of compassion so marvelous and so undeserved, favor so free and so well attested, kindness so unexpected, clemency so unconquerable, grace so amazing except that the soul should withdraw from all sinful affections, reject all that is inconsistent with God’s love, and yield herself wholly to heavenly things?

No wonder is it that the Bride, moved by the perfume of these gifts, runs swiftly, all on fire with love, yet reckons herself as loving all too little in return for the Bridegroom’s love. And rightly, since it is no great matter that a little dust should be all consumed with love of that Majesty which loved her first and which revealed itself as wholly bent on saving her. For ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3.16).

This sets forth the Father’s love. But ‘He has poured out His soul unto death,’ was written of the Son (Isa. 53.12). And of the Holy Spirit it is said, ‘The Comforter which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ (John 14.26). It is plain, therefore, that God loves us, and loves us with all His heart; for the Holy Trinity altogether loves us, if we may venture so to speak of the infinite and incomprehensible Godhead who is essentially one.

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