Friday, May 30, 2008

Excommunication for attempted ordination of women

In a post at at Catholic World News, the Church has formally declared that all who attempt to ordain women, or all women who attempt to be ordained, are excommunicated. This declaration comes as a definitive statement and, as the article states, clears all ambiguity. In the very act of attempting ordination, the excommunication is received. It has to do with the simulation of the sacraments.

Vatican, May. 30, 2008 ( - The Vatican has announced that any Catholic bishop who attempts the ordination of a woman to the priesthood, and any woman who participates in such a ceremony, is subject to automatic excommunication.

The decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in the May 30 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, takes effect immediately and applies throughout the universal Church. The document was signed by Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation. ...

Sadly, I am certain that this will not quickly put an end to the 'debate', since they seem to be placing themselves at odds with the Church to begin with. The declaration of excommunication is the Church's last nail - the final attempt to bring people back into the fullness of the Church. May all come to understand the purpose of the declaration and understand the theology of the priesthood that undergirds the doctrine of the male priesthood.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reflection on Corpus Christi

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. We remind ourselves that the Eucharist makes us the Church, and that the Eucharist stands at the heart of our faith. In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ himself, who lays down His life for us. In the Eucharist, we receive what we are to be - the Body of Christ. St. Augustine in an beautiful homily on the Eucharist, told his congregation to be aware of what they receive.

We may not perceive with our senses the presence of Christ, but He is surely there. Our senses fail us, but faith informs us.

I offer the Sequence for Corpus Christi, in a a more 'exact' poetic translation that helps us to more readily see the beauty of the theolgy it contains.

ZION, to Thy Savior sing,
to Thy Shepherd and Thy King!
Let the air with praises ring!
All thou canst, proclaim with mirth,
far higher is His worth
than the glory words may wing.

Lo! before our eyes and living
is the Sacred Bread life-giving,
theme of canticle and hymn.
We profess this Bread from heaven
to the Twelve by Christ was given,
for our faith rest firm in Him.

Let us form a joyful chorus,
may our lauds ascend sonorous,
bursting from each loving breast.
For we solemnly record
how the Table of the Lord
with the Lamb's own gift was blest.

On this altar of the King
this new Paschal Offering
brings an end to ancient rite.
Shadows flee that truth may stay,
oldness to the new gives way,
and the night's darkness to the light.

What at Supper Christ completed
He ordained to be repeated,
in His memory Divine.
Wherefore now, with adoration,
we, the Host of our salvation,
consecrate from bread and wine.

Words a nature's course derange,
that in Flesh the bread may change
and the wine in Christ's own Blood.
Does it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of light transcending,
leaps to things not understood.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
priceless things, to sense forbidden;
signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
yet is Christ in either sign,
all entire confessed to be.

And whoe'er of Him partakes,
severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:
all entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousand eat,
all receive the selfsame meat,
nor do less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
eat of this celestial Food:
but with ends how opposite!
With this most substantial Bread,
unto life or death they're fed,
in a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
when they break the Host in twain,
but that in each part remain
what was in the whole before;
For the outward sign alone
may some change have undergone,
while the Signified stays one,
and the same forevermore.

Hail! Bread of the Angels, broken,
for us pilgrims food, and token
of the promise by Christ spoken,
children's meat, to dogs denied!
Shown in Isaac's dedication,
in the Manna's preparation,
in the Paschal immolation,
in old types pre-signified.

Jesus, Shepherd mild and meek,
shield the poor, support the weak;
help all who Thy pardon sue,
placing all their trust in You:
fill them with Your healing grace!
Source of all we have or know,
feed and lead us here below.
grant that with Your Saints above,
sitting at the feast of love
we may see You face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reflection on Trinity Sunday

God is Trinity - three Persons in one Being. It is a mystery to be sure. While we cannot understand it fully (due to the infinity of the mystery and the finiteness of our understanding), we can say some things. God the Father is eternally begetting the Son - the Son is eternally begotten. The Spirit proceeds from them both. The Trinity is not created, and there was never a 'time' when He was not. Even to say this is a confusing thing, since God exists outside of time, which He created! This doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine of who God is in Himself, His internal relationship.

In every action of God, each Person of the Trinity is at work. This is what God does for us. In Creation, the Father spoke the word, The Son was spoken, and the Spirit hovered over the waters (read Genesis in light of John 1). In redemption, Christ offers His life and death to the Father, and the Spirit assists. In the Resurrection, the Son is raised from the dead, the Father and the Spirit both assisting. In our sanctification, the Spirit lives and moves in us, bringing us the holiness given to us in Christ, and restores us to a proper relationship to the Father. This understanding influences our understanding of the Sacraments, as well.

For these two reasons, we must hold fast to the formula that we have received - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other formula (such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier) denies both who God is in Himself, or who the three Persons all work together in every act of Salvation.

Practically, what does this mean? In responding to the call of God, we are responding to the Trinity, all three are calling. We, who are created in the image and likeness of God, are called to communion, to give our lives and selves to those around us in love. May we live in Love, and know each Person of the Trinity more!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost reflection

This Sunday is Pentecost - the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit. So often, the role of the Holy Spirit is overlooked. Yet, we need the Holy Spirit, and most especially to ask for His presence in our lives. We should remember that the Greek word for Spirit is pnuema and can be translated spirit, wind, air, or breath. Yes, the Spirit of God lives and moves among us! Yes, the Wind of God drives us into action! Yes, the Air of God surrounds us and sustains us. Yes, the breath of God gives us life, just as breath in the body is a sign of life. May we all grow in our love and awareness of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

For our prayer, I offer the Sequence for Pentecost:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come Father of the poor!
Come source of all our store!
Come within our bosoms shine!

Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine
Shine within these hearts of Thine.
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, man has naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sev'nfold gift descend;

Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them Thy salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia

Sunday, May 4, 2008


In most parts of the US (with the exception of the Northeast and Nebraska), this weekend marks the Ascension of Christ, moved from its traditional Thursday. In the Gospel passage given to us for Cycle A, we hear something amazing from Matthew's Account. The Apostles are gathered on the mountain (some suggest that it is the Mount Tabor, the mount of the Transfiguration). They see Jesus, and they worship, though 'they doubted'. All the same, Jesus commissions them to go and proclaim the good news, to bring others into loving relationship through baptism. In Luke's account from Acts of the Apostles (the first reading), Jesus gives them the map for how they are to proceed - starting in Jerusalem (the city), Judea (the country/area around Jerusalem, then to Samaria (with the Samaritans), and finally the whole world. Starting 'at home', moving out.

There is comfort for us in this - we are first called to worship. Despite the doubt we may feel, we are called to be faithful. We are trusted with the same commission, even if we don't have it all figured out. If we waited until then, we may never get anything started, much less done! No, we start at home and move out, responding in love to Jesus Christ who loves us!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Update on Archbishop Nienstedt

Congratulations to Archbishop Nienstedt who is now Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis, and to Archbishop Flynn, whose retirement has been accepted. We continue to pray for a good Bishop to be appointed to our Diocese!