March 17, 2007

In practice and in attitude, are we forgetting that the Eucharist is a covenant?

[I originally posted this in March 2006. I am repeating it now following on the Pope's new exhortation concerning the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis.]

Our Lord gave us his Eucharist by referring to his Blood as "the Blood of the new and everlasting Covenant." With that declaration he echoes Moses' words in ratifying the ancient Mt. Sinai Covenant. "Behold the blood of the Covenant!" [Exodus 24:8]

The Mt. Sinai Covenant took place with God DEMANDING reverence for his untouchably holy mountain at whose foot he decreed an altar of piled stones unmarked by human tools.

The Mt. Sinai Covenant— just as any covenant— is a life-and-death mutual transaction, by which both parties in the Covenant vow to lay their lives on the line for each other.

By our casual liturgical manners today, we fail to let the New and Everlasting Covenant speak of the implicit, solemn and dangerous demand Christ is requiring of us by giving us his Eucharist AS a covenant.

We do not "receive" the Eucharist with right intention if we fail to understand that it is a COVENANT, that is, a binding two-way "faithful-unto-death" vow. One never “receives” a covenant. A covenant is always agreed to and entered.

ALL SOLEMNITY is owed to the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass, simply by the very nature of a covenant.

The Language of Brotherhood and Affection between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church

Pope John Paul II himself joined in calling the Assyrian Church of the East “The Church of Martyrs”, because no church has suffered as high a degree of martyrdom as that Church.

- - - -
Address of John Paul II to the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
Thursday, 8 November 1984
Click HERE for it.

- - - -
The Discourse of His Holiness, Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Church of the East, to John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, November 11, 1994
“. . . . To you our brothers we offer the hand of fellowship and our unfeigned fraternal affection, and to the Holy Trinity we commit these our labors toward unity. Amen.”
Click HERE for it.

- - - -
Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East
November 1994
Click HERE for it, or HERE.

In that “Declaration” both Church leaders affirmed:
Whatever our Christological divergences have been, we experience ourselves united in the confession of the same faith in the Son of God who became man so that we might become children of God by his grace. We wish from now on to witness together to this faith in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, proclaiming it in appropriate ways to our contemporaries, so that the world may believe in the Gospel of salvation. […] Living by this faith and these sacraments, it follows as a consequence that the particular Catholic churches and the particular Assyrian churches can recognize each other as sister Churches.

The Pope and the Patriarch also pledged themselves “to do everything possible to dispel the obstacles of the past which still prevent the attainment of full communion between our Churches, so that we can better respond to the Lord’s call for the unity of his own, a unity which has of course to be expressed visibly”. For this purpose they established a joint committee for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.


I saw this on the blog of St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton, U.K.
Click HERE for it.

March 16, 2007

Keeping up with the Von Nazareth's

I saw this on the blog of Happy Catholic.

She got it from "Inherit the Mirth."
Click HERE for it.

The Family Tree of the Eucharistic Liturgy

Click on the chart for a larger version.

(I first published the following last year. The Holy Father's new exhortation concerning the Eucharist contains a passing reference to the historical development of the rites of the Eucharist. I think it is a good occasion for me to republish the following.)

Development of the Rites of the Eucharist

The Catholic Church acknowledges basically six great liturgical rites of the valid Eucharist in Christianity. Each of these rites is tied to a great city of antiquity. From these cities the rites traveled elsewhere, and gave rise to the development of variations within the individual rites.

In the Western half of the former Roman empire, we have Rome as the cradle of the LATIN (or Roman) Liturgy, the Mass.

In the Eastern half of the former Roman Empire, three rites arose. The city of Constantinople (Byzantium) is the home of the BYZANTINE Liturgy. The ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy developed in the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria. The city of Antioch (in what is now modern Syria) gave the world the ANTIOCHENE (or West Syrian) Liturgy.

Outside the borders of the Roman Empire, two places developed authentic Eucharistic liturgies. In Persia or Chaldea (modern-day Iran and Iraq) the East Syrian or CHALDEAN Liturgy evolved. The ARMENIAN Liturgy developed independently in the Church of Armenia.

All six of these Liturgies for celebrating the authentic Eucharist have roots or are connected to roots in the city of Antioch.

Here is a streamlined history of the growth of the Eucharistic Family Tree.

Sometime around A.D. 33, outside the walls of Jerusalem, Christ Jesus dies, rises and ascends.

In the years that follow, St. Peter transfers to the city of Antioch where he serves as its first bishop and patriarch.

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, 11:26, tells us “in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.”

Rites and prayers for celebrating the Eucharist evolve in Antioch. This is the genesis of the ANTIOCHENE Liturgy. These usages pass to other Christian communities, including in Rome, giving rise there to the LATIN (or Roman) Liturgy.

St. Peter dies a martyr in Rome about A.D. 69.

The Romans destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The city of Alexandria, Egypt, received Antiochene Eucharistic usages, and developed the ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy.

Christianity developed in Edessa (today’s Urfa in southeastern Turkey) within the city’s Jewish population. Eucharistic usages from Antioch evolved in Edessa into the CHALDEAN Liturgy.

Antiochene rites made their way to both the city of Constantinople (or Byzantium) and the region of Cappadocia (and its “Liturgy of St. Basil”). The BYZANTINE Liturgy is the child of both the Cappadocian and Constantinopolitan rites.

The Church in Armenia began to use the “Liturgy of St. Basil” from Cappadocia. However, Armenia borrowed further from the BYZANTINE Liturgy, and developed the distinctive ARMENIAN Liturgy.

- - -

Doctrinal Subdivisions within the Eucharistic Rites

Within the individual Rites there are doctrinal subdivisions.
ANTIOCHENE Catholics versus ANTIOCHENE Monophysites

ALEXANDRIAN Catholics versus ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites

CHALDEAN Catholics versus CHALDEAN Assyrians and Indian Mellusians

ARMENIAN Catholics versus ARMENIAN Monophysites

BYZANTINE Catholics versus BYZANTINE Orthodox

Put simply (perhaps too simply), Catholics and Orthodox differ in the degree of emphasis they each give to various points of doctrine. Both Catholics and Orthodox see Monophysite and some other beliefs as erroneous (heretical).

- - -

Ethnic Subdivisions within the Doctrinal Subdivisions

The BYZANTINE Liturgy has adherents who profess Catholic doctrine and are Greek: Greek Catholic BYZANTINES. However, there is also the Greek Orthodox BYZANTINE Liturgy or Greek Orthodox Church.

Besides the Greeks, other ethnic groups have members on both sides of the BYZANTINE Catholic versus BYZANTINE Orthodox divide:
Albanians, Bulgarians, Georgian, Greeks, Hungarians, Italo-Albanians, Melkites, Romanians, Russians and Ruthenians.

The following ethnic groups have self-governing BYZANTINE Orthodox Churches (and no corresponding BYZANTINE Catholics):
Chinese, Estonians, Finnish, Japanese, Latvians, Ugandans.

Three ethnic groups are BYZANTINE Catholics, with no corresponding BYZANTINE Orthodox:
Ukrainians, White Russians, Yugoslavians.

Under the umbrella of the ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy, the doctrinal opposition is between ALEXANDRIAN Catholics and ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites. ALEXANDRIAN Catholics are either ethnically Coptic or ethnically Ethiopian. ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites are also either ethnically Coptic or ethnically Ethiopian.

The doctrinal divide among adherents of the ANTIOCHENE Liturgy is between Catholic doctrine and Monophysite doctrine. ANTIOCHENE Catholics fall into three ethnic groups: Malankars, Syrians and Maronites. ANTIOCHENE Monophysites fall into only two: Malankars and Syrians.

Those who observe the CHALDEAN Liturgy are divided doctrinally between Catholics on one side and, on the other side, Assyrians and Indian Mellusians. Among CHALDEAN Catholics there are ethnic Chaldeans (Iraqis) and ethnic Malabars (Indians). Though both are liturgically CHALDEAN, and both are doctrinally Catholic, they are usually terminologically distinguished as Chaldean Catholics and Malabar Catholics. The non-Catholic CHALDEANS are in two ethnic groups, the Assyrians and the Indian Mellusians.

Ethnic Armenians all use the ARMENIAN Liturgy. However, they are divided doctrinally between ARMENIAN Catholics and ARMENIAN Monophysites.

- - -


G. O. K.


Some persons think the Church is changing

One anonymous visitor to Fr. Erik’s blog thinks so.
The Church is also moving towards a more enlightened and accepting understanding of homosexuality, though in a reactionary cyber-community such as this, that movement is probably difficult to perceive, much less appreciate and celebrate.

I pointed out that the reality of the Church is otherwise.

The published official teaching of the Church regarding homosexual acts remains the same.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

As a group, the priests ordained in the U.S. since the 1980's are faithful to the official published teaching of the Church; priests who disagree with that teaching are a vanishing breed.

In 1998, here (in the following link) is what the New York Times observed.
Click HERE: Orthodox Seminarians

In 2004, the Los Angeles Times (in the following link) observed the same thing.
Click HERE: New Breed of Priests

Click HERE to see what’s happening in a “pro-gay” denomination.

March 15, 2007

The Latin Controversy

In paragraphs 61 and 62, both referring to large, international celebrations of the Mass, the Holy Father’s new exhortation says that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, aequum est— “it is advantageous” or “it is favorable”— that such celebrations be done in the Latin language.

= = = =
62. . . . . exceptis lectionibus, homilia et oratione fidelium,
aequum est
ut huiusmodi celebrationes
fiant lingua Latina . . . .
= = = =

Several European languages have translated aequum est with words that mean “it is good”.

However, the published English version says, “such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin.” That is an incomplete translation, a half-truth, and misleading.

Catholic Church the Fastest-Growing Church in the U.S.

[Click on the image to see a larger, clearer version.]

In 2005, the Catholic Church in the U.S. grew to 69.1 million members, making it the fastest-growing church in the country. The Assembly of God is in second place, and the Mormons are in third.

According to the 2007 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, in 2005:
the Catholic Church grew by 1.94 percent;
Assembly of God membership grew by 1.86 percent;
Mormons grew by 1.63 percent.

March 14, 2007

2007 National Catholic Family Conference

July 28-29, 2007
Anaheim Convention Center

Promoting the Church's faith, liturgy, morality, and prayer
Click HERE for it.

Give away seven cents ... keep $9.93

"Almost all of the deaths from hunger ... can be stopped. The cost to do this is about $195 billion a year, according to the United Nations. Recently, 22 developed countries ... pledged to work towards each giving 0.7% (a little less than 1%) of their national income in international aid, which would raise the $195 billion. Some countries are slow to meet their pledge."

That would be merely seven cents out of every ten dollars.

What can you do?
Click HERE for it.

Apostolic Exhortation, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, "On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission"

By the Holy Father Benedict XVI

The Vatican has just published it.

Towards the end of his exhortation, the Holy Father says the Vatican will be putting out a compendium of helpful texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, explanations of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal and other sources.

He gives several reasons for the compendium.
To help the faithful “believe, celebrate and live ever more fully the mystery of the Eucharist”

To provide “a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar”

To “help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission”

To “encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship”

Those seem to be the same reasons for the Holy Father’s exhortation.

The complete text of the exhortation is online.
Click HERE for it.

March 13, 2007

A Good Question for the Good Lord on Good Friday

I recently told a Church group about incidents of priests receiving bigoted slurs from passersby in public. [Slurs such as the following. "Child molester!" "How many children have you molested today?"]

Members of the group have written me messages of solidarity and appreciation.

However, though receiving slurs is not desirable, it doesn't push me down.

In all the sacraments, you and I— who are sinners— have all signed on with the entirely innocent Christ who was "slurred" with the sins of all humanity.

For a priest or any Catholic to receive public slurs because of the sins of some priests is a small, Small, SMALL participation in the mission of Christ.

Furthermore, the Rite of Priestly Ordination expresses and gives the mission of the Son of God to a Catholic man, making him into a sacramental instrument of Christ the Priest, Christ the King, Christ the Prophet of the Father. Jesus said, "Much is to be demanded from those to whom much has been given." Those who have received priestly ordination in Christ ought to be held to a higher standard of responsibility. It does not matter if those holding priests responsible are Catholic or not.

Are innocent priests to pay for the sins of the guilty? Ask the Holy Son of God that question on Good Friday.

To choose to eat vegetables and meat is to choose that plants and animals should die so that you can live.

To choose to eat the Body of Christ and to drink the Blood of Christ is to choose that Christ should die innocently for your sins. By DARING to receive the Eucharist, we are the Good Friday mob, shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Since we are in Christ, what are we to do now?

We are to work to purify the entire Church, to deepen our individual and collective conversions. As a part of that, we are to imitate Christ who did penance (even unto death) for the sins of others.

You may not be guilty of child molestation. I am not guilty of it.

However, are we "guilty" of imitating Christ who— though he was innocent— suffered for all the guilty?

If we receive unjust treatment in the media and the courts of law, we may rightly denounce the injustice. If the injustices can be remedied, then thanks be to God.

If not, then we take up the Cross and offer it up for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

March 12, 2007

Justin Cardinal Rigali on "Living Lent"

More on
Click HERE for it.

The Church in A.D. 2030

On his blog, “The Cafeteria Is Closed,” Gerald has posted, “A CONVERT’S MANIFESTO: Three Years into Metanoia.”

I wrote him something in a private response, and he has invited me to modify it for public consumption. Here it is.

- - - -

The Council of Trent was a response to Protestantism and to corruption in the Church. Consistent, organized, and methodical training of diocesan priests did not exist before the Council of Trent. Although universities taught theology long before Trent, diocesan seminaries for the training of priests did not exist until after Trent.

Long after the Council of Trent, and long before Vatican Council II, the Church’s seminary systems had “mummified” the rich scholastic theological heritage into formulaic manuals.

When the “multi-heresy” called modernism reared its head in the time of Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914), an ecumenical council might have been a larger, more participated, and more effective response than the saintly pope’s list or catalogue of the propositions of modernism. As it turned out, modernism continued anyway; it grew inside and outside the Church. Our formulaic theology manuals were not entirely adequate to train priests to deal with the world as it had become and was increasingly becoming.

Vatican II opened up some risky vulnerabilities (modernism took advantage of those vulnerabilities). However, how do you face a new world without opening up vulnerabilities? How is there to be a resurrection, if there is not also an apparent defeat and death?

Up to Vatican II, we had a largely scholastic theology, and we had the “Tridentine” Mass. However, the roots of the Mass and scholastic theology were much older than Trent. Their roots were patristic. The selecting and composing of the proper prayers and texts of the Mass was a work of the patristic age. The roots of scholastic theology were also patristic roots. St. Thomas Aquinas did not suddenly appear in a vacuum: he was a student of patristic theology. Vatican II added its official conciliar weight to the already developing recovery of patristic theology. While Vatican II again validated St. Thomas Aquinas, it also encouraged us to return to the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas: patristic theology.

Let’s recall that the early patristic era was the era of Christianity displacing paganism in Europe— but that the patristic era also created and fought the great Christological heresies WITHIN Christianity.

Trent did not displace Protestantism; rather, Trent was “in-house” cleaning. Vatican II was a kind of repeat of the patristic pattern: a new strategy for confronting challenges both out in the larger world and inside the Church. The post-Tridentine, pre-Vatican-II, manual-style, scholastic theology methods and books were not enough.

I repeat:
“Vatican II opened up some risky vulnerabilities (modernism took advantage of those vulnerabilities). However, how do you face a new world without opening up vulnerabilities?”

As he was about to ascend, the Lord told the apostles to go out— vulnerably— into the hungry and hostile world. Matthew 28:18-20.
And Jesus came and said to [the eleven disciples],
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Up until then, Jesus had restricted his presence to the land of Palestine— home of the only people who believed in the true God. Now he sent the Church outside those borders, and he went with them— “I am with you always”— into that uncharted territory. The Lord himself opened the Church to new “vulnerabilities”. Ten of the eleven suffered death at the hands of enemies of the truth, and some Christians later went on to invent something new in the history of the world: Christological heresies. Would it have been better for the Church to stay “pre-Ascensional” and locked up inside Palestine?

One last time:
“Vatican II opened up some risky vulnerabilities (modernism took advantage of those vulnerabilities). However, how do you face a new world without opening up vulnerabilities?”

Not possible!

One visitor to “The Cafeteria Is Closed” added the following comment in reference to Vatican II.
One of my Theology professors recently mentioned that if you go back and look at the history of the Church, there were periods of about 50 years of turmoil after each of the councils.

I then contributed the following.
Yes, that is the consistent historical pattern of all the major councils of the Church. However, the remainder of the consistent historical pattern has always been that after those fifty post-conciliar years the Church was more alive and vigorous than it was before each council.

Vatican Council II took place in 1962-1965. My life expectancy will probably permit me to live about fifteen years beyond the fifty post-conciliar years. God-willing, I’ll live to see the consistently repeating pattern of Church history blossom again: the Church in A.D. 2030 more alive and vigorous than it was before Vatican Council II.

March 11, 2007

20th century's first case of genocide: Muslims killed 1.5 million Christians

[I had originally posted this for April 26 last year. I'm republishing it today after learning that the government of Turkey has now blocked access to because of a video criticizing the founder of Turkey's present form of government.]


Valencia, Apr. 26, 2006 (Catholic News Agency) - This week, the Armenian community in Valencia, Spain, commemorated the 91st anniversary of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian Christians who were killed by Muslim Turks in 1915 during a massive religious persecution.

The commemorations took place April 24th at the Church of St. Monica in Valencia and were organized by the Armenian Apostolic Church and Pro-Commemoration Committee. Among those in attendance, was the Armenian Republic’s Honorary Consul in Spain, Luis Barbera.

Beginning on April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire ordered a crackdown on Armenian Christians, which resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people.

Although modern-day Turkey has never acknowledged that it took place, the persecution became the first case of genocide during the 20th century.

- - - -

P.S. from Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

California has the world's largest population of Armenians. California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared April 23-29, 2006, "Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide."