Laudetur Iesus Christus!
*thick Bavarian accent* “Did I just hear some strains of Haugen-Daaz? Not on my watch!”
Memorial of Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Memorial of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary)
It’s been a while since I posted something so I figured I would grace you all with my wonderful written presence once again. I know you all have missed me terribly.
Just let me think that.
Saint Aloysius’ Feast Day is coming up on 21 June. Saint Aloysius is my homeboy (aka patron/name saint). How does that work? How did I figure that out?
Well, I was looking through my grandmother’s antique Bible a few years ago. This was one of those nice old-school Bibles that has a section of traddy devotions and a HUGE section (relative to the size of the book) of Catholic names for boys and girls. Of course, being the curious child of God that I am, I looked up my name: Allison.
When I came upon mi nombre, it said that it was the Scottish derivative of “Louise.” “Louise” being the feminine form of “Louis.” I then looked up “Louis” in the boys section. “Louis” is the French form of the Italian “Luigi” which in turn is derived from the Latin …
Wait for it …
Saint Aloysius FTW!
Holy Mother Church! Aloysius is my name saint! I had always had a great love for Aloysius since I found a short bio on him in this book but now I saw why. He had adopted me as his own! And I am very blessed to under his prayerful guidance and protection.
Well, as I said, his feast day is coming up very soon on 21 June and I intend to celebrate it! Much like what I did for the feast of Saint Joan of Arc on 30 May, I hope to do something here as a means of preparation for his feast. I’ll probably do a novena to him and put little bits about his life here each day. I have his biography that was written at the turn of the twentieth century by a Jesuit. Yeah, I think I’ll do that.
Moving on …
Tomorrow is one of my absolute favorite feasts in the Church’s calendar next to Triduum and some others: Corpus Christi or as it is called nowadays “The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.” Both are good but I prefer Corpus Christi. Both describe the same reality: the Real Presence.
Since I was a little one I have always loved Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s one of the reasons (one of the primary reasons) I became an altar server: I wanted to be close to the Lord. I wanted to assist the priest, the alter Christus, in his offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on behalf of the people. I did it not to break the “stained glass ceiling,” I did it to grow closer to the Lord. And I did. My discernment was greatly aided even in my younger years by my serving Mass. Serving also helped me grow in my devotion to the liturgy. To this day it remains one of my very favorite areas of study. When I had to choose a topic for my class on the Theology of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, I chose to write about his liturgiology (yes, that’s a word, my prof looked it up to be sure).
When I would train the kids, I would ALWAYS reinforce the importance of reverence in the church. The church is not just a gathering place for the people. The church is the dwelling place for the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The church should not be treated like any old building. When we are in church, we are in the physical Presence of Christ Himself. He is looking onto each one of us individually from the tabernacle as if we were the only ones there. Trust me, I’ve felt it and it’s beautiful. I tried to teach the kids how to conduct themselves with dignity and reverence. To not schlep, slouch, or saunter around. I like to think that I helped them develop their virtue of piety but only by the providential grace of God.
The total lack of reverence shown the Real Presence breaks my heart every time I see it. When I would assist at funerals and weddings, I would always dread the almost inevitable person/s who would purposely or unthinkingly try to take the Lord away *cough* end Communion on the hand *cough*. Sorry, did I say that? My bad. But it does have its perks. I have had people try to sneak Him in their hand. I have had people hold Him in their mouth and not consume Him. One time, someone held Him in their mouth until the end of Mass when the priest approached them and they SPIT HIM INTO HIS HAND! All I remember is the priest coming into the sacristy with an enraged look on his face. I got a chalice, put some water in it, and he deposited the Lord into the water to dissolve in the safety of the sacrarium. I have found Him under pews. I have found crumbs of Him on the floor (this happened whenever I attended Mass on campus … all of three times).
That was caused by the homemade altar bread that I was repeatedly assured by staff that it was valid matter. If it was valid matter, why was it always sweet when I received? Not to mention the times I was chided publicly for kneeling and wearing my veil. I did darken the chapel door to make a visit to the Lord who was stored in a glorified closet in a tabernacle that looked like a golden Simon game. I used to irreverently joke that one did not need a key to open it but rather to follow the pattern correctly to gain access to the Lord. I would also go there to study. I would sit in the closet with Jesus and do homework (always got an A on those papers, I wonder why?). I figured He must get lonely there with no one visiting Him very often.
I kid you not.
Why do people treat the Lord so horribly? Of course, there are even Catholics who deny the Real Presence so can we really be surprised? To so many, the Host is just a piece of bland unleavened bread that some backwards antiquated Catholics believe is the Presence of Christ (Who wasn’t God but in reality just a really nice guy). It breaks mah heart that people reject this most precious Gift.
But getting back to topic though that tangent was not really off-topic but just away from where I wanted to go. Oh well, God wanted it.
I am a daily Mass person. I started going to Daily Mass the summer I graduated from high school. Once I started college, I was not as faithful as I ought to have been to my daily Mass attendance but whenever I was home you could guarantee that I was at morning Mass. In fact, my job at the parish was such that my workday began after Mass so I never had to miss Mass unless there were extenuating circumstances. I remember my supervisor would reassure me on those rare occasions when I had to come in before Mass that I would not go to Hell (she meant it jokingly, of course). I would still pray my Office at the desk though in between tasks and phone calls.
When I graduated from college, one of the things to which I looked forward most was the fact that now I will be able attend Mass everyday! When I was in the convent, we went to Mass every day. Most of the week, we were to be ready by 6:40 to be in church for 7am Mass. Good Lord, and I think sometimes that being up at 6 is a penance. I used to get up at 5ish to get myself ready in time. How did I do it? Love makes us do ordinary things in the most extraordinary ways.
Now that I am home once again, I still go to Mass everyday. My day feels totally off-kilter if I do not attend Mass. The Mass roots me. The Mass orients everything. The Mass gives me grace, solace, and joy. Though I do not deserve it out of any merit of my own. All of the grace, love, joy, solace, etc. comes purely and completely from the goodness and generosity of God.
Whenever I am dealing with something, I always know that I can come to the Lord and lay it before Him. When I pray, I don’t have to use pious terms if I am not feeling particularly pious. I can just tell Him straight. He’s God. He can take it because nothing is too much for God. Much like how He cannot be outdone in generosity so too can he NOT be overwhelmed by our problems. He will always give us the grace to overcome them. All we have to do is come to Him, ask, and trust. The last one can be the hardest one. Trust me, I know all too well.
One thing that I think is very intrinsically connected to my love of the Real Presence and the Mass is my love for and devotion to the priesthood. Actually, some of my favorite pictures are those of my dear priest-friends holding the monstrance aloft. In all the pictures, their eyes are fixed on the Savior. The priest is an alter Christus and it is through the priest that the Lord becomes present in the Blessed Sacrament. Without the priest, there is no Eucharist, no Eucharist, no Church. Such is the importance of the priest in the life of the Church. They are objectively connected in a most profound way. That is why I love those pictures. Their eyes are fixed on Christ, Him after Whose life they wish to model theirs.
That is why whenever people talk about womynprysts and other attacks on the priesthood, it tears my heart out because not only is it wrong but it also demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the role of the priest. The priest is not to be a power-mongering man who is rooted in the world. To be a priest is to be a servant. To be a priest is to be a victim. To be a priest is to be a spiritual father of souls. To be a priest is to be rooted in the transcendent and to be one who leads others to that transcendence: the Triune God.
All of that is probably a major contributor to why I LOVE the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. In fact, this is what I am watching as I write this:
While it is present in the Novus Ordo (so you can put that stake away), I think it’s more apparent in the TLM. In the TLM, the priest is the people’s mediator to God. The priest is a priest. So often in the Novus Ordo, he can be seen as more of a Master of Ceremonies who is just one among the community. In the TLM, his role as alter Christus is more apparent in how he faces the same direction as the people (NOT with his back to the people as some ignorant/ill-informed people think). Some would call the actions of the priest in the TLM “rigid” and “choreographed” but then they are missing the point. The complex ritual in the TLM is not to confuse people, it is to demonstrate the solemnity of what is happening. This is not some glorified presentation of “Godspell” or “Jesus Christ Superstar” … at the Mass, we are at the foot of the Cross with Mary and John. At the Mass, we are participating in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross which leads to our redemption from our own sinfulness. This solemnity can be sadly lost in how some “do” the Novus Ordo where it becomes a free-for-all where anything and everything goes because it’s “how the Spirit compels them.” *rolls eyes*
I think we all need to develop a healthy love and reverence for our priests. Now, I am not saying that we should (as someone much more cynical than I said) cow-tow to them. But we should treat our priests with a certain degree of love and respect. But we should not put them on pedestals. I confess I am guilty of that to some degree but having a priest in the family and many friends who happen to be priests teaches you many things that while they seem obvious can be lost.
Priests while they are alter Christi (not sure about the Latin there), they are human and thus prone to concupiscence as much as we are. Sure, they are ordained and thus have an indelible mark on their souls that “separates” them from everyone else but that ordination does not suddenly make them impeccable. Even the most holy and fervent priest can fall. We should not condemn him. He has fallen like Christ did on His Via Crucis. Are we going to be like the bystanders ridiculing and deriding him or are we going to be like Veronica and wipe his face or Simon and help him back up?
Our priests are our spiritual fathers in that through them we receive the Lord in the Eucharist and we are forgiven our sins through the Sacrament of Penance. They are also one of the Evil One’s first targets for those very reasons. That is why we need to pray for them everyday. That is why we need to offer penances for them. That is why we need to support them with love and encouragement.
I have always seen spiritual motherhood of priests as an intrinsic part of my vocation (w/e that may be). For the past few years, as a part of that spiritual motherhood, I have been a part of a movement that is actually out of Detroit called Opus Sanctorum Angelorum Crusade for Priests. Opus Sanctorum Angelorum is Latin for “The work of the Holy Angels.” Every year, around the Solemnity of Sacred Heart (15 June this year) I receive a prayer card with the names of a priest and seminarian for whom I am to pray everyday and offer penances. I also have a few priests that are always on my list.
If you are interested in this, please do visit their site. They have an order of priests, an order of sisters, and a confraternity. I will be putting their links in the side bar soon.
Well, I think I have blogged enough for today. I still have some things I want to get done before the hockey game tonight! GO KINGS!!!
Have a blessed Solemnity of Corpus Christi!