June 08, 2007

PRAYERS AND ALTARS

In Scripture, our prayers are understood as rising to God from the altar. In the following verses, the word "saints" refers to all who belong to Christ.
Revelation 5:8
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints

Revelation 8:3-4
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.
For this reason, at Mass the "Prayers of the Faithful" or "General Intercessions" take place just before the priest prepares the altar to receive the bread and wine that the people present to him. Together with the bread and wine (representing all of creation plus all of human activity), all our prayers are also spiritually placed on the altar.


June 07, 2007

I've always recommended the Roman church of San Clemente as the most archaeologically interesting one in Rome

Here's something about it from Zenit.org today.


The Basilica of Many Levels


Not only was it a week to remember forgotten martyrs but it was also a week to commemorate the rediscovery of forgotten origins. On June 3, San Clemente, one of most interesting churches in the city, organized a concert in its 12th-century atrium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its excavations.

The Basilica of San Clemente was dedicated to St. Clement, the third Pope after Peter, and author of the Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians, one of the oldest pieces of Christian writing after the New Testament (roughly circa A.D. 90).

From the Renaissance era to the 19th century, however, everyone believed that the elegant basilica with the 13th-century mosaic decoration was the same place mentioned by St. Jerome in 392 as preserving "the memory of St. Clement to this day," although the relics were not brought until 500 years later by St. Cyril, who died in Rome in 869 and was also buried in the church.

In the 17th century, when the Dominicans were expelled from Ireland, they sought refuge in Rome. They were given the Basilica of San Clemente, and they have been in that church ever since.

In June 1857, Dominican Father Joseph Mullooly, prior of San Clemente, began an excavation under the present day church. In 10 years, he discovered a fourth-century basilica directly under the floor level and, pressing further, he found two buildings dating from the first century.

Modern explorations have uncovered some charred remains of structures under that level, identified as buildings destroyed during the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64, the same fire that the early Christian community was blamed for, and the cause of St. Peter's arrest and martyrdom. With three layers of Christian history in a single structure, San Clemente literally became a time elevator for the vicissitudes of Christianity in Rome.

From the cold embers that brought about the death of St. Peter, the next level brings us to polytheistic world of imperial Rome. One structure was a "domus," a single family dwelling with faint traces of once-lavish decoration in the moldy plaster carving on the vault. This home was donated to the cult of Mithras, a Persian god popular among the Roman military. In the ancient dining room, visitors can see the couches arranged around an altar for the ritual sacrifice to the god.

Next door, another religious group was meeting discreetly. Although many scholars claim the other first-century edifice under San Clemente was some kind of public structure, other archaeologists have put forward another intriguing theory.

It has been suggested that the large and austere building was owned by T. Flavius Clemens, a wealthy senator who was killed together with his wife Domitilla by his cousin the Emperor Domitian for being a Christian. In A.D. 96, Christians could not own land, so wealthy Roman converts bought land, keeping the titles in their names, but allowing the Christians to use the property. This is the origin of the titular Churches.

Since the first Popes were all Jewish converts, and Jews in Rome were generally freedman who took the names of their former masters, Clement may have been a former slave of T. Flavius Clemens. And the modest building 75 feet below ground level may have been Clement's home as Pope.

With the legalization of Christianity, the old makeshift Christian buildings were transformed into capacious churches ready to house the large congregations of Christians -- some estimates suggest that there were as many as 250,000 in Rome by 313.

Climbing up the narrow mildewed stair from the lowest level of San Clemente, one is forced to recall the first moment the Christians came out from underground and were able to step into the light.

The first basilica was built in the fourth century, hard on the heels of St. John Lateran, the first Christian church built in Rome. It was a big, almost ungainly building, covering the entire space of the older building below. The walls of the ancient titulus still support the church today.

The Basilica of San Clemente lasted for almost 800 years. It was given beautiful liturgical structures as well as artwork. The sixth-century marble choir can still be seen in the topmost level, and beautiful frescos, narrating the lives of St. Clement and other saints, brightened the walls. But this church was sacked by the Normans in 1084 at the height of the Investiture Controversy.

The ancient church had been destroyed, but undaunted, the Romans filled in the debris and built a new church on top of it. The elegant Basilica of San Clemente still stands today, and the splendid décor was enhanced by the magnificent concert held to celebrate the Church's constant commitment to stand by its flock through persecutions, disasters and destruction.


At Mass: the Priest's Private Prayer of Preparation to Receive Holy Communion

He breaks the Eucharistic Host, places a particle of it into the chalice, and returns the rest of the Host to the paten. Then he says the following quietly for himself.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the Living God,
by the will of the Father
and the work of the Holy Spirit
your death brought life to the world.
By your holy Body and Blood
free me from all my sins and from every evil,
keep me faithful to your teaching,
and never let me be parted from you.


He then genuflects, picks up the Host, shows it to the people, and says, "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." He then consumes the Lord's Body, and then drinks the Lord's Blood. Then he goes to give Holy Communion to the people.

I take the occasion of the Solemnity of the Lord's Body and Blood ("Corpus Christi") to again highly recommend this prayer to everyone.


THE COVENANTS AND THE DEATH PENALTY

THE ANCIENT COVENANT
Infidelity received the death penalty.

No forgiveness of sins.

THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT (as Jesus calls his Eucharist)
Infidelity still receives the death penalty.

Jesus chooses to take the place of the unfaithful, and he receives the death penalty.

Jesus says this Covenant is "so that sins may be forgiven".

For our infidelity to this covenant we can STILL receive the death penalty.
1 Corinthians 11:23-30.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks JUDGEMENT upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have DIED.


In my monastery: THE SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

My monastery still keeps Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. So, Thursday, June 7, is it.


A BRIEF SUMMARY CONCERNING THE EUCHARIST


Paragraphs 1406-1419 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church



1406. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; ... he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and ... abides in me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:51, 54, 56).

1407. The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.

1408. The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord’s body and blood. These elements constitute one single act of worship.

1409. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the liturgical action.

1410. It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

1412. The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: "This is my body which will be given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood...."

1413. By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

1414. As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.

1415. Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.

1416. Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

1417. The Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion when they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a year.

1418. Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is ... a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66).

1419. Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.


June 06, 2007

The status of my monastery's access to the internet

We're still on dial-up.

I wish we could put some prunes in it. Or cyberlaxatives.

As you may have noted, my blogging has lessened. I don't even bother to surf the net for news and information anymore.

The good news is that we are actively investigating our high-speed possibilities.

Anything through land lines is absolutely out. There are no lines or cables for DSL near our property. The only one company that has lines anywhere in our vicinity is AT&T that told us they would need to dig trenches and lay cable to our property line and then up our hill to our buildings ... to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

The only possibility for high-speed internet access for us is satellite. We're looking into the offerings of several internet service providers. We need the capacity for several users to be online simultaneously.


June 05, 2007

Thanks to St. Boniface, the deep roots of Christian civilization in Western Europe are Benedictine roots

Today is the memorial of St. Boniface who died in the year 754.
He was an Anglo-Saxon monk of an English, Benedictine monastery.

Centuries before St. Boniface, the Roman emperor had abandoned the city of Rome, and moved north to Ravenna.

Barbarians had already begun to sweep into central Europe from the East.

The Roman emperor eventually abandoned Italy and Western Europe, transferring his capital to Byzantium, later named Constantinople.

That transfer amounted to the collapse of Western imperial culture, leaving the Church to light the way and lead in the West.

St. Boniface left England and went as a missionary into north-central Europe.

He won converts, and established monasteries that served as centers of religion, education, and cooperative endeavors between monks and laity in agriculture, industry, and economy.

Monasteries following Benedictine regulations were the centers and roots of most ancient European towns and cities.

The pope soon ordained St. Boniface bishop.

St. Boniface then continued to establish monasteries and organize the Church in Central and Northern Europe.

He died a martyr.

Through his efforts, the Benedictine monastic regulations and culture had planted and spread itself so widely and deeply that, sixty-three years after St. Boniface died, in the new “Holy Roman Empire” of Western Europe, Emperor Louis I enacted legislation effectively making Benedictine monasticism the only form of religious life in the Church and Western Europe.


June 03, 2007

The Brief Summary on the Trinity in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”

[The Sunday after Pentecost is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.]


Paragraphs 261 through 267


The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Incarnation of God’s Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God.

The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn. 14:26) and by the Son “from the Father” (Jn. 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. “With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified” (Nicene Creed).

“The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son” (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15,26,47: PL 42:1095).

By the grace of Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG § 9).

“Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed; DS 75; ND 16).

Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.