Tuesday, April 26, 2011

USCCB Newly Ordained Survey

Thanks to CARA (The report is from them), the USCCB has gathered statistical data on the new priests of our country (this is the executive summary). It is eye-opening. Of those responding to the survey, 66% responded that they were encouraged to consider a vocation, while another 20% were discouraged... Truly sad, then, that fewer priests are actively inviting men to consider the priesthood, and some are actually discouraging a vocation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vocation Boom

I want to highlight a great website for those discerning a vocation titled Vocation Boom. It provides Resources, encouragement, mentors and friends to aid in discernment of the priesthood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, 2011

Happy Easter! Jesus Christ is truly raised, and we are given the hope of eternal life!

Enjoy this piece, the Exultet, from the Easter Vigil!

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday, 2011

From the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday:

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Empty Tabernacle

David G. Bonagura, Jr., has authored a beautiful meditation on The Empty Tabernacle of Good Friday...

I learned at a young age about the importance and uniqueness of Good Friday. It was the only day of the year that my father worked only a half day: “Jesus died at 3:00 p.m., I came home early in honor of Him.” Each year we attended the Good Friday liturgy as a family, which was memorable for its nuances in the standard ritual, but it never captivated my imagination. It was not until I was an undergraduate that I discovered, thanks to a kind professor, a sort of Good Friday devotion to center my contemplation of the incomprehensible: the empty tabernacle.

It’s a striking image: the doors of the tabernacle are wide open, exposing a gaping void. Therein our Lord once dwelled in his body, blood, soul, and divinity, beckoning the wearied and burdened to throw their cares upon Him. On other occasions, before entering and exiting our pew, we did Him homage by genuflecting toward this abode, perhaps catching a glimpse of the sanctuary lamp that burned as a reminder of His presence. But not today. The lamp has been extinguished, the doors thrown open, the tabernacle emptied, the church stripped. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:13) The empty tabernacle declares to all what happened on this day: our Lord has died to save us from our sins.

All morning the tabernacle lays open, for Jesus is no longer present there. He has given Himself over to cruel men who are leading Him to death. It’s a familiar but always fresh story: the trial and interrogation, the scourging, the jeering and spitting, the crowning of thorns, the hysteria of the crowds, the vacillations of Pilate, the slow march to Golgotha. There at high noon Jesus was nailed to a cross, the electric chair of ancient Rome, between two bandits. For three hours, His body was suspended from the hard wood, pouring out His blood for our salvation. Then, at the very moment that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple, the true Lamb of God cries out one final time and breathes His last.

Our Good Friday liturgy takes its start at this moment, as the priest prostrates himself in an act of mourning and sorrow. Our solemn prayers and recollections continue as the tabernacle remains open and empty. The previous night Jesus gave us His body and blood in the Eucharist so that, in communion with Him always, we might have life, and have it abundantly. Today we are reminded that the gift of the Eucharist is a real sacrifice that cost our Lord His life. There is no Mass – no sacramental re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice – because today we commemorate the actual sacrifice. The Mass applies the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice to our souls, but today in our grief, we instead relive Christ’s sacrifice along with Him.

The drama of liturgical anamnesis – the mysterious reliving of past events in the present – reaches its height as we receive Holy Communion. Even though our Lord has died, He still provides for us, still longs to unite with us, still comes to us through the sacrament of His body and blood. Today, perhaps more than any other, “[t]he Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving” (Deus Caritas Est 13).

The Good Friday liturgy ends in silence, for we still mourn the death of our Lord. As we look around the barren sanctuary, the tabernacle remains open and empty, mirroring the state of our hearts. The Eucharist is the summit and source of Christian life, and in the tabernacle it awaits us. But today the opposite is the case: we await the return of the Lord to the tabernacle so that we can again eat the Bread of Life.

We must wait still longer. First, we have to accompany Christ spiritually on His final mission: His descent into hell to free the souls of the just who had gone before Him. As we continue our contemplation into Holy Saturday, the tabernacle is still open and empty, as Christ’s soul and divinity have temporarily separated from His body and blood. We cannot adore Him in the Eucharist now; He is present elsewhere. But He will return.

The empty tabernacle is the visual expression of the drama of the passion. On the third day, adorned with flowers and full of newly consecrated hosts from the Easter triumph, the restored tabernacle will point to the glory of the resurrection. God again will be fully present among us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

It must happen this way, to fulfill Scriptures... Jesus declares this, but all the same asks the Father that if it is possible, to let this cup of suffering pass, but the Father's will, not His, be done. This is the alignment of His human will to His divine will. He willingly goes to the Cross, dying for the salvation of the world.
We must do the same thing, align our wills to the Father's will for us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fifth Sunday of Lent

"Lazurus, come out!" Jesus Christ calls to the dead man, and he hears and obeys. It was for the glory of God that he should experience this death, that Christ could display His authority on earth. But Christ's authority does not end with His power over the physically dead... He stands in front of those spiritually dead and calls out to us, to come out of the places of sin and darkness. Some might object like Martha, initially... Lord, there is a stench there. But He longs to heal us, and perfume us with the odor of His sanctity. Lazurus, though dead, could not resist the call of Christ, but can we?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Archbishop Sheehan's Document on Marriage and Cohabitation

Marriage, as a vocation, is under attack. Achbishop Sheehan of Sante Fe has released a beautifully written document on the three forms of cohabitation: Without civil marriage, married civilly, and divorced and remarried. It is worth a read; I highlight here the following:

The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel, and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.

First of all, we ourselves must be firmly rooted in the Gospel teaching that, when it comes to sexual union, there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is no “third way” possible for a Christian. The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Lent

A blind man is given his sight by the Lord, and the 'Jews' (those in leadership) are shown to be blind. Jesus heals the man, and is given faith in the Lord at the same time. The means of the healing is interesting: The Lord made mud, and put it on the blind man's eyes - Jesus is re-creating him, giving new eyes. As we continue our Lenten journey, we are called to be like this man - to let Christ give us the eyes of faith.