EXPAND YOUR READING!!

"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

BENEDICTUS MOMENTS

Google+ Badge

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

CORPUS CHRISTI : ADORATION AND THE NEW EVANGELISATION -1


INTRODUCTION:

The Word did not become words: he became flesh; and thus he was available to ALL the senses for those whom he met. The revelation of Christ has all the dimensions of the world around us.  Of course, it took the gift of faith, given by the Holy Spirit, for Simeon to "see" God`s salvation in the little baby he held in his arms, or for St John to be able to say with certainty, "It is the Lord," as looked at Christ from the boat.   Nevertheless, they were expressing more than an opinion when they said what they believed: they were seeing beyond the evidence of their eyes to the reality behind the evidence; and this ability to see beyond was an immediate contact with that reality, brought about by the Holy Spirit.    It is the same today; which is why the  the Scriptures alone are an insufficient vehicle for Christian revelation: they need to become flesh, to take on the dimensions of the world around them, to appeal to all the senses. 

 As with the Incarnation, this process of turning the words that reveal the Word into flesh is the work of the Holy Spirit; and his tools are Word and Sacrament.  In doing so, he turns people into Church, transforming them from within so that they become Body of Christ together.


The Gospel message is transformed into liturgy which, in the words of Pius XI, is "the chief organ of the ordinary magisterium of the Church," and is understood to the degree that it is lived and celebrated. This understanding by members of the Church who live it and celebrate it, in so far as it is guided by the Holy Spirit, is one with the understanding of   those who first listened to Christ and with his disciples down the ages and and one with all across the world who are moved by the same Spirit. 

The name for this is Tradition: not the passing down of dead credal formulas, but the sharing across time and space of an understanding always enlightened by the Holy Spirit who is particularly active in the Liturgy.   It is  in keeping with new paradigms, new insights,  ideas and devotions, as long as they are all coherent with one another,  reflecting the unity that is a characteristic of all that eminates from the same Holy Spirit. 


   Only then does Scripture reach its full potential as Christian revelation. Only then does it achieve its purpose, when it is understood and lived by the Church.  Revelation takes concrete form in the Church and, in this form appeals to all the senses.   Hence, the First Letter of St John could say, long after Christ had ascended into heaven:
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us - we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us.  

That is why the New Evangelisation is as much about seeing as hearing.   The world will not just hear that God is love: it will see that love at work in the love of the Christian community; it may be challenged by this love through the actions of a St Maximilian Kolbe; it may be touched by this love in the caresses of a Mother Teresa of Calcutta;  it may even taste this love in food banks through the generosity of ordinary Christians.   The revelation is reflected in the lives of a multitude of Christians with different but coherent vocations, like light reflected from the many facets of a diamond and receiving the source of their unity in the liturgy.

 However, and  above all, this happens when the Church is really united in love, in a love that transcends all human divisions because its source is from within the life of the Holy Trinity, then the Gospel will be proclaimed by our lives, and the world will understand enough to be challenged by the revelation contained in Scripture.  

The people who wander confused without a shepherd will see that there is a valid alternative to a secularism that leaves the world devoid of meaning and to Islam which appears to many as an alternative for ex-Christians who have lost their way..   

Hence the first step in any New Evangelisation is to be evangelised ourselves, so that we freely love one another.   Jesus says in his priestly prayer to the Father: 
I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf  of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.    As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.   The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
THE EUCHARIST:

In between our becoming Christians and being maturely Christian enough to bear testimony to the world as members of Christ's body, there are the sacraments and, above all else, the Eucharist.   As St Paul says, "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor. 10: 17)    

In every Mass, the unity of the Church across time and space and between heaven and earth is made manifest in the community celebrating: they are like the visible top of an iceberg because, in being united to Christ, they are united by the Holy Spirit to all who are united to Christ, both human beings and angels, and with them they are brought up into the presence of God the Father (Hebrews 12). 

To understand this we must concentrate our attention on the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.   His death was an historic event which took place two thousand years ago.   However, he was connected in the Incarnation by the Holy Spirit both to his Father and to the whole human race across time and space, and, indeed to the whole cosmos.   By his death, resurrection and ascension, his death, a temporal event, was brought into eternity.   It was not only a temporal event: it was a personal event that lived on in the resurrection.   Thus the lamb in the Apocalypse as though slain but standing (Revelation 5: 6).  The death, resurrection and ascension of Christ have become, through the activity of the Holy Spirit, a kind of black hole through which the human race must pass from time to eternity: we must die with Christ and rise with him and ascend with him; and, on the Last Day, the whole cosmos will be so transformed, heaven and earth will become a single whole.  The process of approaching the Father is called by St Paul dying and rising with Christ.   In the Eucharist, the Church already anticipates, celebrates and shares in this event of time entering eternity through Christ`s sacrifice, and in the unity between heaven and earth.  In the Holy Sacrifice of the altar, we offer Christ's death as our sacrifice so that we may share in his resurrection-ascension.

However, there is another aspect of the Eucharist  that is absolutely invaluable both in our personal lives and as an evangelisation tool.   The Spanish discovered this in the conversion of Latin America.   On a certain date very close to Corpus Christi, the Inca king publicly manifested his presence to his people in Cusco.   After the Conquista, this procession was replaced by the Corpus Christi procession, and it was a major element in the conversion of the Peruvian native population.

I have come across many people who became convinced of the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.   One was my own father who was a practising Anglican.   He fell in love with my mother, and she took him into a Catholic church for the first time.  He was totally surprised by the sense of Christ's presence, a sense he never lost when entering a Catholic Church.  

 A young officer who survived the First World War, having experienced the horror of the worst battles, was wounded and invalided back to England.   He belonged to the Southern Irish Protestant aristocracy; and, although their servants were Catholic, he knew absolutely nothing about their religion.  Having come out of hospital, still in uniform, he was walking aimlessly down an English street when he came across a Catholic church.  He had never been in one.   Out of sudden curiosity, he entered and was immediately bowled over with a sense of Christ's presence; something he had never experienced before.   There was a priest kneeling and praying in the church, so he went over and asked him how he could explain it.   The priest pointed to the tabernacle and told him what it contained.   The officer became a Catholic, a monk, and a priest.

I know other examples.   I remember Archbishop Anthony Bloom, a well known Orthodox metropolitan, who spoke of his conversion after experiencing the presence of Christ while reading the Gospel of St Mark from cover to cover.   He later became a scientist, but could never even doubt the authenticity of this experience.   I have met many converts to Catholicism whose experience of Christ was every bit as convincing, an experience they connected with the Blessed Sacrament.

There are Orthodox who deny any Catholic practice that is not found in Orthodoxy.  I believe that this is because they are on the defensive: they feel threatened by the Catholic presence.   However, there have been happier times when, in places like Cyprus where Orthodox and Catholics rubbed shoulders, Orthodox priests joined Catholic processions of Corpus Christi with lighted candles.


THE THEOLOGICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

     It was given by the Holy Spirit to the Catholic West, not because of its strength, but because of its weaknesses.   It is proof that the Church is Catholic, not because of our merits, but because of God`s merciful love.   It would probably never have come to light if the tradition of receiving communion at Mass had been faithfully observed or if the Church in the West had faithfully and enthusiastically accepted the whole doctrine of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea on icons.   Both the falling away of frequent communion - only rectified by Pope Pius X - and the lack of enthusiasm for icons, due to anti-Greek feeling and suspicion, left a vacuum in Catholic devotion which was filled by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

20th century liturgists, even revered ones like Jungmann, could not see how the liturgical piety that they were advocating could have any room for "individualistic" devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.   They could not have been more wrong. Hardly anybody is in favour of the "old" Mass, now called the extraordinary rite, in Lima where I live; but the number of chapels is growing  dedicated to Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day and every day, and some even have twenty four hour adoration organised by the parishioners  The most successful new religious families are also advocates of Eucharistic devotion, even if they are formed in the "new" post-Vatican II liturgy. & This needs an explanation.

   Where did Jungmann &Co. go wrong?   I am talking about my own heroes whose understanding of theology and liturgy I greatly admire and accept.  However, I must admit they had a blind spot.   I think they were victims of their own skills.   It was enough for them to show that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was a substitute for receiving communion for them to believe that the practice would wither away once holy communion was given its rightful place. They over-estimated the study of texts to reveal the fulness of Catholicism and under-estimated the activity of the Holy Spirit which cannot be a direct object of scholarly enquiry.

Let us start by quoting from the epiclesis of the Liturgy of St Basil.


That thy Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon these gifts here set forth, and bless them and hallow them and show this bread to be itself the precious Body of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, and this cup to be itself the precious Blood of Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ… 

I choose this text because it is Eastern Orthodox, but also a Catholic liturgy which is, according to Pius XIth, "the chief organ of the ordinary magisterium of the Church": it is an expression of the universal Catholic/Orthodox Tradition.  It is as succinct and as accurate as any doctrinal definition, and comes directly from the Church of the Fathers.



This epiclesis is a part of a prayer expressing the humble obedience of the Church, obeying in faith the command of Christ at the Last Supper.   Christ, in making intercession to the Father, makes this prayer his own.



He and the Church ask for the Holy Spirit to come down on us and on the gifts in order the show the bread to be the body of Christ and the cup to be the precious blood of Christ.   In the Liturgy of St Basil, the consecration is a theophany.


For Symeon to have seen the salvation of Israel in a little baby, he needed an insight which goes beyond what he saw with his eyes, an ability to "see" that comes from the Holy Spirit.  For Peter, James and John to see Christ transfigured in light on Mount Tabor, they needed to have their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit to see the effect of the divine Presence which, in fact, was always there, but was invisible to eyes unaided.

For the consecration to be a theophany, the Holy Spirit needs to change the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood; but he also needs to allow us to see the bread and wine, so consecrated, with the eyes of faith, and to recognise them to be vehicles of Christ's divine /human presence.   That is exactly what the epiclesis prays for.

Hence,:  just as the continual presence of Christ as body and blood is the direct result of the continual activity of the Holy Spirit,  every time we recognise the consecrated elements to be the body and blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit is at work. It is a pentecostal moment to simply adore Christ in the host!  All types of Eucharistic devotion outside the Mass are nothing else than the extension of that moment between consecration and communion to different times and places, so that we may grow to appreciate all that we receive at Mass.   We have also discovered it to be a wonderful way to project Christ's presence among people who do not know him.   The Mass, besides being Sacrifice and Communion, is also  Theophany; and we have been taught by the Holy Spirit to extend that aspect of the Eucharist to all kinds of situations, wherever the Spirit may lead.



THE BLESSED SACRAMENT AS AN EVANGELISTIC TOOL.

,


New monastic communities and ecclesial movements are prominent in their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, especially those who also use icons: they show how compatible they are because both the Eucharistic monstrance and the icon make grace VISIBLE without threatening anyone, or requiring a certain status or the observance of any rules or conditions: it does not even require even that the person is a Christian.   That is why the Blessed Sacrament is such a wonderful evangelistic tool.   Watch this video:
   

  
De Lubac explained the loss of faith in the city on there being no opportunity in the lives of a great number of city dwellers to encounter the sacred.   It was for this that the ressourcement theologians wanted liturgical reform, but were terribly disappointed when togetherness took the place of a sense of the holy in the way so many celebrated Mass.  They saw the drop-out from the practice of the faith to be a direct result of this.  The New Evangelisation aims to give people just this sense of the holy; and, in this video you see it being done.

Another example is "Nightfever".


Idea

The idea behind Nightfever is simple and brilliant at the same time: we want to open the church during the night and invite everyone to a moment of tranquility to find their inner peace.

First church, then dance club? Or rather the other way around?

Nightfever particularly invites Teenagers and Young Adults to encounter with God. Young people nowadays usually don’t relate to the Christian faith and even less with the Catholic Church. Therefore we would like to try out a new way of approach to hand out invitations to them in the pedestrian zone.

Whoever goes out on a Friday or Saturday night usually have other destinations like pubs, dance clubs or cinemas on their mind. For this reason we want to address these people to pause for a moment, to put aside their initial plan and to come into the church. We offer the guests a candle and invite them to light it up in the church.    

Feel free to come and leave as you want!

Whoever enters the church is usually surprised by the nice atmosphere, since the church is illuminated almost exclusively by candles, and there is quiet Live Music that goes on throughout the night. Inside the church you are welcome to light up a candle, to receive a paper with a quote from the bible or simply just take a seat and write down a prayer intention or to speak with a priest.

It is entirely up to you what you feel you are comfortable with. You can either take a long walk through the church or simply just stay at one spot where you want to be. You are also free to stay as long as you want: for a few minutes, half an hour or even the whole evening.      

How did we come up with the idea of Nightfever?


The idea of the Nightfever evenings was born right after the World Youth day 2005 that took place in Cologne, Germany. In the beginning, there were only two students from Bonn who initially planned a one off evening on the 29th of October 2005. However it has become an international initiative today.

Nightfever includes many different elements. Those elements can help you to grow closer to God and to reach a good level and basis for communicating with Him.

Prayer

Prayer is the center of Nightfever. We come together in front of the altar in order to adore Jesus in the form of the bread. Adoration means talking to and with Jesus, to enter into a relationship with Him.
We do not have to pretend and disguise ourselves for Jesus, we do not need a special technique in order to pray properly and we certainly do not need to be accomplished individuals.

We may talk to Jesus just as we are, about everything that makes us happy or depresses us. Even if our thoughts are chaotic and unstructured, this time of silence can help us to gain a clear and peaceful mind again.

Enkindling candles

We invite passerby, young and old, to come into the church for a few minutes, to light a candle and to put it in front of the altar, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Even when these people leave, their candles burn on as a symbol of their concerns and thoughts.


Within the dark church those candles bring light and spread/shine forth hope and faith in God. They also create the special atmosphere of Nightfever.

Biblical sayings


On the steps in front of the altar you can find baskets with biblical sayings. You are invited to take one for yourself. Often the drawn saying fits perfectly to our life, almost like it was meant especially for us. They can give us impulses for our prayer, for our conversation with God.

Conversation and reconciliation

Many things concern and occupy us in our lives. Oftentimes a conversation can help us to find an orientation again. During the Nightfever-evenings, priests sit at the sides of the church. They are there for these conversations. They listen, give advice and are absolutely closemouthed and discreet.


You also have the possibility of receiving the sacrament of penance (confession) and thus to experience the liberation from many burdens. In the sacrament of penance, Jesus gives us his love and mercy. The liberation from the burden of sin enables us to happily start anew and to continue on our path to God.

Blessings


The priest can also give you a blessing. For these blessings the priest puts his hands on the head of the faithful/visitor. This action can be an amazing opportunity to feel God's presence. In the blessing we can experience God as the one who is present in the lives of us humans. God himself is the originator and guarantor of this blessing

Prayer Request

Besides praying for oneself, there also is the possibility of letting someone pray for you and for certain concerns and requests. These requests one can write on a piece of paper and put it into a red box which is also placed near the Blessed Sacrament. Nuns of a monastery are then going to pray for your concerns.


Workshops and talks

Sometimes Nightfever also offers workshops or talks about some interesting topics on faith in everyday life. These talks are offered because even though Christian mysteries of the faith cannot be proven, faith needs to answer to our reason, needs to live up to our reason.

In those talks we think about how our faith and the teachings of the Church can be lived and practised in our everyday life.

This post is a repetition of last year's. I have repeated it because I don't think I can do better. However, the second that will be published on Saturday is new.
HERE IS ONE VERY GOOD WAY TO CELEBRATE THE CORPUS CHRISTI MASS
Post a Comment

Search This Blog

La Virgen de Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Followers

My Blog List

Fr David Bird

Fr David Bird
Me on a good day

Blog Archive