Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Open Forum 2

Welcome to Barque of Peter's second Open Forum. I'm going to be taking an intentional break (as opposed to all those unintentional ones that have caused the Luminous Mysteries to take so long to appear) and start the Sorrowful Mysteries in Lent, and hopefully finish them then, too, so that I can do the Glorious Mysteries during the Easter Season. However, the best laid plans of mice and me...

Anyway, this Open Forum will have to tide you over until then. It is an Open Forum, so if you want to address something I've written in the last five posts, fire away. If you want to wrangle over doctrine unrelated to anything ever discussed here before, fire away! Whatever's on your mind, state it. And if you just want to use the comments section as a place to discuss things with each other, and leave me out of it altogether--that's great too!

I'll just give three disclaimers:
1st--If this goes well, I'll do them a lot more often!
2nd--I reserve the right to use anything in the comments as fodder for future posts.
3rd--Let everything you say be said in a spirit of charity.

Other than that, have fun! Let the good times roll!

(Category: Miscellaneous: Open Fora)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Fifth Luminous Mystery

Jesus' Institution of the Holy Eucharist

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou amongst women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (22:14-20)
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.

On the night before He died, Jesus sat in the Upper Room with His disciples, in order to celebrate the Passover with them. But this Passover would be different than any other that they had celebrated. For at this celebration, Jesus' disciples would partake not of an ordinary lamb, but of The Lamb who would take away the sins of the world.

I could use this post to launch into a defense of the Catholic Church's teaching of Transubstantiation--and I may end up making comments to that effect throughout, and more likely, in the comments section if others bring it up--but this series was not intended to be, strictly speaking, an apologetic series, but simply my reflections on meditating on the Rosary. And when I meditate on Jesus' Institution of the Holy Eucharist, my mind is not caught up in sorting out how Jesus becomes truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in what was once bread and wine. Instead, I reflect in awe and wonder that He does in fact make Himself truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in what was once bread and wine. With all due respect to Aristotelian Physics, Thomistic Scholasticism, and Tridentine Dogma, the entire point of Jesus' coming to us in the Bread and Wine is not to become an academic abstraction, but an utterly concrete experience.

In my meditation on the Transfiguration, I cautioned against an over-familiarity with Jesus that accentuated His friendship and minimised His kingship. Yet we can, many times, swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, making Christ a lofty transcendent King on His Throne "up there", infinitely distant from us, His lowly serfs. We can so easily miss what He said to His disciples at this very Last Supper, "You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master's business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father" (John 15:14-15, NJB). Consider, then, Jesus' friendship. We are not servants, nor even acquaintances, but as He tells the Disciples, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you" (Luke 22:15). He "eagerly desires", or as the New Jerusalem Bible puts it, He "ardently longs". And, knowing that that Last Supper was, in fact, the First in which He comes to us hidden in the Host, shall we not understand Him to have that same eagerness and longing to spend that time with us?

Let us again marvel at this Gift, which the Church rightly calls the Source and Summit of our Faith! The Hidden Jesus (as the children of Fatima to whom our Blessed Mother appeared, called Him) Who full of humility came to us originally as a Baby so that we might lovingly cuddle Him in our arms; Who suffered horribly so that we could, as redeemed children, be held in His loving arms; now even more humbly shows us His love, and bundles His infinity up so that we may welcome Him into ourselves, in an utter act of mutual surrender. He Himself becomes "our daily bread" for which He taught us to pray; the Living Bread which came down from Heaven and gives us eternal life. And though He is Hidden, He is as physically, tangibly present as He was when He calmed the sea, cured the sick, suffered, died, and rose again! He truly is Emmanuel: God with us--who promised to be with us even to the end of the age, and who keeps that promise, abiding with us in every Tabernacle throughout the world, inviting us to participate in Calvary and make His sacrifice our own.

And that is precisely the flipside of the blessing of His Presence. Through His gift of Himself in the Eucharist, He makes His sacrifice present to us. We participate in His sacrifice of two millenia past by making it literally, spiritually present on the altar. Just like the ancient Hebrews participated in the lamb's saving passover blood by eating it, so we too participate in the Lamb of God's saving Passover blood by eating Him in Holy Communion. We bring Him into our very being, and His grace transforms us to be more and more like Him!

Just as with His Apostles of two thousand years ago, Jesus ardently longs to be with us. He has made Himself readily available to us. All He asks is for the faith to respond to His invitation: "Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side" (Rev. 3:20).

Jesus said, "This is My Body...This is My Blood..." Let us have the faith to take Him at His Word, and receive Him, truly present, as often as we can. Let us take the time to adore Him as He remains present in the Tabernacle, or in the Monstrance, remembering that He is also in our hearts and our bodies. Let us love Him with the same selfless abandon with which He has loved and continues to love us.

Adeste, fidelis.
O come, let us adore Him, truly Present: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: The Rosary.)