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 

 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

True Love is Not Rigid?

So says Pope Francis, according to an interview posted on the Rorate-Caeli Blog:
[Interviewer:] The simplicity of children makes me also think of adults, with a rite that is direct, participated intensely [translator's note: reference to notion of 'actuosa participatio'], of parish masses experienced with so much piety. What comes to mind are proposals that encourage priests to turn their backs to the faithful, to rethink Vatican II, to use Latin. I ask the Pope what he thinks of this. The Pope answers:
[Pope:] "Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture [translator's note: the motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum'] to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception. That is why one speaks of an 'extraordinary' rite. The ordinary in the Church is not this. It is necessary to approach with magnanimity those attached to a certain form of prayer. But the ordinary is not this. Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium must go on as they are. To speak of a 'reform of the reform' is an error."
[Scott:] While I understand why the term "extraordinary" is used, I actually like it! The fact is, the Mass celebrated in the traditional form, in Latin and ad orientum (facing liturgical east) is, historically speaking, the ordinary way of celebrating the Mass. The Novus Ordo Missae, (New Order of the Mass) has been with us for less than 50 years in our nearly 2000 year history! Still, I appreciate the label of "extraordinary" - for there is nothing "ordinary" in ANY validly celebrated Mass! In the Mass our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ manifests Himself, physically, in the form of bread and wine. THIS is "the mystery of faith" (mysterium fidei) of which we speak of in the Mass. 

Traditionally the mysterium fidei is part of the consecration of the wine into Christ's blood; in the New Order this was moved to just after the consecration leading most modern Catholics to mistakenly believe "the Mystery of Faith" is "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" (or some variation of those words). My friends, "the Mystery of Faith" in this context is the Consecration! The bread and wine BECOME Jesus Christ, in His body, blood, soul and divinity while still having the appearance of bread and wine through this divine mystery! Let us remain "rigid" in that belief!

When the priest faces "ad orientum" (liturgical east) he is not "turning his back on the people!" Quite the contrary! Rather, he is facing the SAME WAY as the people, putting all the focus upon the Sacrament of the Altar. The people should never be focused upon the priest, but upon what is going on at the Mass - and again, the primary focus of the Mass is the Eucharist. What's more, "Vatican II" never stated the priest should face the people - this is something which came out AFTER the council.

As for the use of Latin, this too is strongly supported by Vatican II! In the documents of Vatican II, regarding the celebration of the Mass it CLEARLY states:
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM
[Scott:] So, the use of the Latin language is not only recommended, it is DEMANDED by Vatican II. The complete obliteration of Latin, as was "ordinary" after 1969, is CONTRARY to "the spirit of Vatican II." Thankfully, many parishes are putting Latin BACK into the Mass. It should also be noted at this time that nowhere does Vatican II abrogate the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, nor has the Church since then officially abrogated the Traditional Latin Mass, and this fact recent popes have acknowledged and are allowing for and even encouraging freer exercise of the "Extraordinary Rite." 
[Interviewer:] "Other than those who are sincere and ask for this possibility out of habit or devotion, can this desire express something else? Are there dangers?"
[Pope:] "I ask myself about this. For example, I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless. I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else... [sic] The rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid."
[Scott:] Rigidity, with all due respect, does not "always hide something!" I would also state that true love IS rigid! It is contrary to true love to allow too much free-play with our traditions. As a parent of six (now grown) children, and the eldest of six siblings as well, the more "rigid" the upbringing, the closer to God these children are. The freer you are with them, the less likely they are to follow our Christian roots and practices. Rigid doesn't equate to being mean or overbearing, it means "holding fast to the traditions we were taught." (2 Thes. 2:15).

Consider the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, what if "true love" were not "rigid" there? "Honey, I love you, but do not feel like you're rigidly bound to me." Does that make any sense? How long do you think such a "free" marriage would last? But wait! There's that "rigid" thing called The Sixth Commandment and "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Should we be less "rigid" there - or in relation to ANY of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments)? 

I conclude this article in saying, I do not wholly oppose the Novus Ordo Missae, in fact, I participate in it frequently. My primary participation is in the "Extraordinary Rite," as I believe this is the highest form of worship we can offer the Lord. While there are some Novus Ordo parishes I would never go back to due to the "abuses" I've witnessed - there are several which I can, have and do go back to. I also would not put a whole lot of weight upon this "interview" with Pope Francis. The interview is not official Church teaching nor is he officially stating faithful Catholics cannot or should not participate in the Extraordinary Rite.

(Yes, I took a little break from my studies to write this).