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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 8 (Part Two, Chapter 5)

Everything that lives especially has a time; it lives and dies, according to its purpose. There is a sense in which certain kinds of time pass beyond the control of people. The purpose of the Incarnation, (and thus, the Cross and resurrection) is to re-orient human history and cosmic history around the saving acts of God.

Man overcomes the futility of his short life by enfolding it into the "forever" that the victorious risen Christ ushers in. There is no warrant for changing the liturgical calendar based on the seasons in certain parts of the world, for example. It would make the liturgy subject to creation, and not the other way around.

Jesus sees no contradiction in coming in the flesh to a particular place and time, but by His work, being the summation of everything. That is a worthy thing to ponder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Black People, Muslims, Illegal Mexicans? Sounds Like A Good Time

I took the Pew survey on political identification. I'm right in the middle. I didn't know fear of outsiders and people of color was a conservative value. (Actually, it's not.) So there's that.

I mean, I guess I did join the Catholic Church. You can't get any more "ethnic" than that.

Forgive me, I may be inclined to think the lot of you are unhinged.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Reading Psalm 22

I had the privilege of reading it for the members of our Bible study last night. Verses 27-31 will take your breath away:

"All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the LORD to the coming generation,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it."

About 1000 years later, St. Paul wrote something.

Jesus, I trust in You!

Friday, September 16, 2016

This Isn't Middle School

There are people rejoicing that somehow Donald Trump has broken the monotony and stability of our political system. Put down your Rand, and your supply of illegal drugs, and come to your senses. You should never rejoice that an intellectual amoeba is within a breath of the presidency, even if the alternative is Hillary Clinton. She may well be uniquely corrupt, but Democrats haven't changed that much. If indeed the judiciary is so far gone that only Trump can save us from doom, it's been a nice country. Not my problem.

Even though the executive has accrued much more than symbolic power, the president is a symbol. And he's not a symbol I want representing me. Politics has always been imperfect, but its drama and its theater demonstrate even now that we aspire to things in politics, and through politics.

It's one thing to remember that politics is only earthly; it's quite another to go to the gutter, and congratulate yourself for your alleged detachment.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 7 (Part Two, Chapter Four)

Ratzinger is concerned here to defend eucharistic piety from charges that it is superstitious. Such a charge proceeds from the premises articulated by things said previously: if the focal point is the community, then anything which distracts from the community and its self-awareness is to be abandoned.

On the contrary; the community and its purpose is made by the self-gift of the Lord, one which is extended to the unique eucharistic mode. Ratzinger argues that to distinguish the gift from the Person diminishes the magnitude of Him, and what He offers. Though we also recall that reception of Holy Communion is not obligatory on every occasion, he makes a bold argument to the claim that adoration and Communion are opposed: he says that to eat is to adore; it is to accept the covenant it signifies.

He argues that the same liturgical primitivism (and an uncritical one, at that) that views the medieval liturgies with suspicion also cannot abide deepening eucharistic piety and architecture.

If he is correct, then we realize a profound truth: through our deepening theological reflection and piety, we understand that God has given us a new Holy of Holies with the tabernacle.

Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 6 (Part Two, Chapter Three)

Ratzinger begins this chapter reminding the reader that everything Christians did architecturally served a liturgical purpose; that is, all such decisions are driven by the understanding of what God has revealed, and therefore, the proper response of the faithful is thus determined.

God's ubiquity surprisingly affects liturgical posture, in that it doesn't eliminate a kind of spatial awareness, but causes it to be even more centered on the central saving event: the resurrection of Christ. He thus strongly advises the priest face ad orientem, that is, turned with his back to the people, facing east.

It has been his opponents, who, while claiming he suffers from an irrational nostalgia, disallow any liturgical development, and chase a kind of liturgical primitivism.

He gives one example of the negative impact of the partial truth of the Eucharist as meal: the focal point becomes the community, rather than God, whose saving action called the community into existence.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 5 (Part Two, Chapter 2)

Even in the Old Testament, the synagogue in the time of the Temple was never simply a place of instruction that was intellectual only; everything that took place evoked the Temple and its worship. Facing toward the east meant toward the Temple in Jerusalem.

As they came together to worship, to sacrifice, they were always the people redeemed and set apart by God. Because of God's determination to be present with His people, their place of worship could never be merely functional; the liturgy bore witness to God's saving acts. Therefore, the church building of the New Testament doesn't serve the people meeting, as such. Rather, it serves the liturgy, which is the proper response to what God has done and said.

Facing east in the New Testament indicates an expectation of the return of the risen Lord. The "seat of Moses" becomes the bishop's throne, and all draw near to the Holy of Holies, the Eucharist upon the altar.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 4 (Part Two, Chapter One)

There is an inherent tension between the completed work of Jesus Christ, the action of the liturgy, and the hidden spiritual realities to which the sacramental signs point. Ratzinger reminds us that the liturgy utterly depends upon the death and resurrection of Christ as a past event. But what is still to come in us and in our world depends on him making his priestly work present to us, and us making an offering of ourselves to the Father through Him.

The liturgy is not a play-act, but neither is it--as Dr. David Anders might say--a time-travel adventure of a crude sort. Ratzinger asks, "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols?" Yes, he says. Answering his own question prior to asking it, Ratzinger says, "The theology of the liturgy is in a special way "symbolic theology," a theology of symbols, which connects us to what is present but hidden."

One reason why this is fitting for us to commune with God through symbols is our frailty, but also the recognition that we are not what we shall be. The truth of presently journeying to the City of God is not altered by the confidence of reaching it, in the mercy of God.

It's only prudent to say that this is a great mystery, especially in light of Christ's substantial presence in the Eucharist.