Sunday, December 04, 2016

Second Sunday in Advent

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT
On this day the Church not only makes mention in the office of the priest, but also in the Mass, of the two different Advents of Christ, that by His first gracious advent may be gladdened, and by His last terrible coming at the day of judgment we may be impressed with salutary fear. With this intention she cries out at the Introit:
INTROIT People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard in the joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His advent we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds; who livest and reignest with God the Father, in union with the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
EPISTLE (Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and magnify him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What does St. Paul teach in this epistle?
The Jews and Gentiles who had been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among themselves at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain kinds of food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted that the Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation, thus claiming Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached the Jews for their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore harmony St. Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles alike, to praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all; that each had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for salvation; and he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope by contentions. By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too, have great reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us, whose forefathers were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to guard against losing our salvation by pride, envy, impurity, etc.
Why should we read the Scriptures?
That we may know what we are to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our sufferings, and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To derive this benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them by the light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into existence, who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is, the light of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may be
read according to the sense of the Church and not be explained according to the reader's judgment. For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his own private judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity diverge from the right path, become entangled in manifold doubts, and at last, lose the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic Church has very properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as has been falsely asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she allows the reading of those editions only, which are accompanied by notes and explanations that the unity of faith may not be disturbed, and that among Catholics there may not be the terrible bewilderment of the human intellect which has taken place among the different heretical sects who have even declared murder, bigamy and impurity to be permissible on the authority of the Bible. We are to consider also, that Christ never commanded the Bible to be written or read, and that not the readers but the hearers and the followers of the word of God by which is meant those who hear the word of God in sermons, and keep it, will be saved!
Further instruction in regard to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the "Instruction for Easter Tuesday."
Why is God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of hope?
He is called a God of patience because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because He gives us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so consoles us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope, because He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be Himself the reward we are to expect after this life.
ASPIRATION O God of patience, of consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts with peace and joy, and grant that we may become perfect in all good, and by faith, hope and charity, attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL  (Mt. 11:2‑10). At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
Why was John in prison?
He was in prison, and lost his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous marriage with his brother's wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb says, is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a very ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the truth very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let us learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it, even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with St. John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become martyrs for truth.
Why did St. John send his disciples to Christ?
That they should learn from Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles, that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, whom they should follow.
Why did Christ say to the disciples of St. John: "Go and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk, etc."?
That they should, by His miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had predicted that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). "Christ," says St. Cyril, "proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur as well as by the number of His miracles."
Why does Christ add: "And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in me"?
Christ used these words in reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though "man," as St. Gregory says, "owes all the more love to the Lord, his God, the more humiliations He has borne for him."
What was our Lord's object in the questions He asked concerning St. John?
His object was to remove from St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise the perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened with death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus constituting him an example to all preachers, confessors and superiors, that they may never be deterred by human respect, or fear of man, or other temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling their duties. Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited by St. John's coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn, from his example, penance and mortification.
Why does Christ say that John was "more than a prophet"?
Because St. John was foretold by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all the prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ and could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.
How did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?
By his sermons on penance, and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts of the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true repentance.
ASPIRATION O Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy forerunner St. John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our hearts with love to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that we may never do anything to please man which may be displeasing to Thee; grant us also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may have those who are confided to our care, instructed in the Christian doctrine.

CONSOLATION IN SUFFERING

"The God of patience and of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:5,13).
What gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?
The strong and fervent belief that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the will or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received good things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in his affliction, "why should we not receive evil?"
We should be fully convinced that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to us by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence that if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings, if it be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands (Is. 49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the future life, which we will merit by patience in our sufferings, for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17); we should remember that all complaints and murmurs against the dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm and shame; Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4) we should have a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have long since deserved the eternal punishments of hell - hence the well-known saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn, but spare me in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven than the way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother, and all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21). And we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs of God's love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).
PRAYER IN SORROW O almighty, kind and merciful God! who hast said: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 49:15), behold relying upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give honor to Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to Thee and beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only help. Amen.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Scott Is Back...

Well, for a few weeks anyhow... My first semester in the masters program through ASU is complete and I have a break until January 9th.  This will afford me some time to get back into apologetics and catch up on emails. I look forward to interaction with everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Suggestions

With the beginning of Advent, I wished to post this now as it is a great tradition in our Catholic Faith, one which we should continue and observe and though not practiced until the Octave Before the Christ Mass, I want to give you time to prepare and be ready for December 17th.

The Great O Antiphons

The history of the Great O Antiphons dates back to as early as the third century (1) as an ancient part of our liturgy.  Boethius, who was around in the late 5th to early 6th century, makes reference to them (2).  The actual existence of the O Antiphons may go back to the earliest days of the Church.  They are part of the Vespers Liturgy of Hours during the octave before the Christ Mass (Christmas) which begins on December 17 and goes through the 23rd.  One December 24th the vespers are for Christmas Eve.

December 17 - O Wisdom
December 18 - O Adonai
December 19 - O Root of Jesse
December 20 - O Key of David
December 21 - O Dawn
December 22 - O King of Gentiles
December 23 - O Emmanuel

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf's ("Fr. Z") page on the subject:
Here are two more interesting notes about these O Antiphons.

The first is not apparent in English, but it can be seen clearly in the official language of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin. The Latin versions of each of the titles of the Messiah are: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root), Clavis (Key), Oriens (Dawn), Rex (King), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel).  Take the first letters of each of the titles, starting with the last and working back to the first. You spell: EROCRAS or "ero cras... I will be (there) tomorrow".

The song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is simply a reworking of the seven O Antiphons. When you sing it, you are joining yourself to a vast throng of Christians stretching back across centuries and spanning the whole of the earth who prayed as all Christians do, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20)  (3)
 Perhaps the "backwards" acrostic can be related to the earlier language of Hebrew, as it is read from right to left?

According to hymology, the English form of the hymn, which most of us know and sing during Advent, comes to us from an Anglican priest who discovered the medieval antiphons, which were chanted in Latin, and he translated them into English in the mid 19th century.  The melody is actually taken from a funeral rite and the words "Bone iesu, dulcis cunctis" were used.  That funeral rite dates back to the 15th century.  It is also possible that the funeral rite borrowed from the Advent rite which had not been recorded/written or perhaps just not discovered yet - which is quite possible since some of what we know of this hymn has come to light as recent as the 1960's. (4) and (5)

Practices / Traditions

1) The Jesse Tree 
A special tree, for Advent, many start with December 1 and have 24-25 ornaments for this tree.  Each ornament speaks of the history of Jesus' roots - in the line of Jesse (the father of King David).  December 17-23 you use ornaments specific to the O Antiphons.  (6)  This is nice, but the O Antiphons may get "lost" in the shuffle of all the other ornaments and not have as significant impact.  There's still the tradition of the Advent Calendar too, typically it has a "window" you open for each day of Advent with a special picture and/or Bible verse for the day.  Some use a shadow box and place a special ornament in each opening for each day of Advent (see examples below).

Personally, I would prefer a tree specific to the O Antiphons...
It's simple, but direct and as we pray and sing as a family the antiphons from O Come, O Come Emmanuel each day - the song and the season has deeper meaning.

2) The O Antiphon House
There are several variations of this one.  One of my favorites is a shadow box frame in the shape of a house with the seven openings, each to contain an ornament or a block with the antiphon of the day on it.

3) Be Creative!  
Perhaps you have an idea of your own or a tradition celebrated in your family.  If so, please feel free to share it here!  Here's another idea, using candles: (7)


Sources:
(1) https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=958 
(2) http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/what-are-the.html
(3) http://www.wdtprs.com/JTZ/o_antiphons/ 
(4) http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/12/truth-about-veni-veni-emmanuel.html#.Vn7aJVngRx8
(5) https://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2015/dec/16/veni-veni-emmanuel-original-setting-two-voices/ 
(6) https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545 
(7) http://familyatthefootofthecross.blogspot.com/2011/12/oantiphon-candles.html 

Other Advent Calendars:




Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Rapture


The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain interpretations of end-time studies where all true Christians are taken from Earth by Jesus Christ at His secret second-coming.  Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are ‘saved’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term ‘rapture’ is usually applied specifically to those theories saying the Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven.  These Christians believe they will be secretly translated, in the blink of an eye, into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the persecutions by the Harlot Church and before the Antichrist.  This period of time is called the Tribulation.  According to this view, the Church has no vital role of witness during this seven-year Tribulation.



This view is a recent addition to end-times interpretations.  In fact it is only about a few hundred years old.  Therefore the burden of proof rests on them.  The dramatic end-time scenario proposed by these pre-tribulation rapture theorists is heavily based on a few verses such as Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).



“With a shout of command…and the trumpet of God”, kind of goes against a ‘secret’ rapture doesn’t it?  And we can see here that Paul conjures up images of an emperor, a king or a distinguished person visiting a colony or province.  As was the custom at the time, the citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world.  This verse taken into context is found to show that the ‘saved’ will be taken up for a time and brought back down to Earth.  But when did Paul believe this event takes place, before or after the Tribulation?  We find the answer to that in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10



“…it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed…”



For the apostle Paul, the punishment of the wicked and the reward of the righteous are to occur on the same day, immediately following the second coming of Christ.  Are the elect taken before the Tribulation as the Rapture theory says?  Take a look at John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 


So, those who are saved will be raised up at the last day.  Now look at John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”



As we can see the ‘saved’ will be raised up on the last day and those who reject Him will be condemned on the last day.  Therefore, if the saved are raised on the day before the start of the Tribulation, then those condemned will be sent to Hell on that same day.  It begs the question, who will be left to suffer through the seven-year Tribulation? 



This means that the ‘saved’, the believers in Christ will go through the Tribulation with the unbelievers.  We find support for this in Matt 13:24-30



“Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'  'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "No, he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”



Jesus’ explained what this parable meant at the apostles urgings. Here is His answer a few verses later in Matt 13:36-43



“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”



The good seed, which stands for the sons of the kingdom, the ‘saved’, will be living together with the weeds until the harvest where the weeds will be harvested first and thrown into the fiery furnace.  You will find an even clearer picture of this event in

Matt 24:37-41



As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”



Noah and his family were left behind, those who listened to the word of God were saved, they were left behind.  Those who didn’t believe Noah or knew nothing of the incoming flood were taken, the unbelievers were taken.  As you can see, we find here also that the unbelievers are taken on the same day as the elect and are saved by being left behind.



In conclusion, I personally believe as the Church does that there is a rapture, but it will only come at the end of the world, at Christ’s second coming where the weeds and the wheat will be living together until Christ shall separate the ‘saved’ from the un-‘saved’ on the last day, that is the last day of the known world.



God Bless

Nathan

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

America's First Thankgiving

Well, it was not in Plymouth, MA! 
From NCR:
America’s First Thanksgiving Was in Florida — Seriously. It Was!
COMMENTARY: More than 50 years before the (Calvinist) Puritans landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spanish Catholics gave thanks to God with a Mass and meal in St. Augustine.
See the rest of the NCR article here:
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/americas-first-thanksgiving-was-in-florida-seriously.-it-was