Hidden Jewel: An Advent Hymn Often Unheard

I have published on this Hymn before but want to post on it again at the beginning of Advent in hopes that a few of you who have the influence and ability may see that this hymn in used in your parishes for Advent at some point.

For my money the best Advent hymn ever written is Veni Redemptor Gentium (Come Redeemer of the Nations) written by St. Ambrose in the 4th Century.

One of the beautiful things about the ancient Latin Hymns is how richly theological they are. Not content to merely describe the event in question, they give sweeping theological vision and delve into the more hidden mysteries of each event.

So here we are beginning Advent and Jesus is coming, get ready! Well yes, but he is not just coming, he is redeeming, dying, rising, ascending and reigning at the Father’s Right Hand!  But how can we get all that into an Advent Hymn?  Well, just below you can read the text and see how.

But for now ponder the theological point that hymns like this make. And it is this:  that no act of God can merely be reduced to the thing in itself. Everything God does is part of a sweeping master plan to restore all things in Christ, to take back what the devil stole from us! Too often we see the events of our redemption in a disconnected sort of way, but it is all really one thing and the best theology connects the dots. It is not wrong for us to focus on one thing or another, but we must not forget it is all one thing in the end.

Without this we can develop a kind of myopia (a limited vision) that over-emphasizes some aspect of redemption and thus harms the rest by a lack of balance. In the 1970s and 80s we had all resurrection all the time, but no passion or death. Christmas too has its hazards as we get rather sentimental about the “baby Jesus” but miss other important aspects of his incarnation. The passion and death are present in his birth in homeless poverty, the swaddling clothes, the flight into Egypt and so forth. The Eucharist is evident in his birth at Bethlehem (House of Bread) and his being laid in a manger (feed box for animals). His glory as God and his ultimate triumph are manifest in the Star overhead and the Angels declaration of glory! You see it is all tied together and the best theology connects the dots.

So with that in mind I present you to this wonderful Advent hymn so seldom sung in our Catholic Parishes. It can be sung to any Long Meter tune but is usually sung to its own melody (Puer Natus – see video below). I give here only the English translation but the PDF you can get by clicking here: ( VENI REDEMPTOR GENTIUM) contains also the Latin text. I think the poetic translation reprinted here is a minor masterpiece of English literature and hope you’ll agree. Enjoy this sweeping theological vision of the mystery of advent caught up into the grand and fuller vision of redemption.

Among the theological truths treated in this brief hymn are these: His title as Redeemer, his virgin birth, his inclusion of the Gentiles, his sinlessness, his two natures but one person, his incarnation at conception, His passion, death, descent into hell, ascension,  his seat at the Father’s right hand, his divinity and equality with the Father, his healing and sanctification of our humanity so wounded by sin, his granting us freedom and eternal life, his renewing of our minds through the light of faith, his opening of heaven to us.

Not bad for seven verses!   St. Ambrose, Pray for us!   And now the hymn:

  • Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
  • Come testify thy virgin birth:
  • All lands admire, all times applaud:
  • Such is the birth that fits our God.
  •  
  • Forth from his chamber goeth he,
  • That royal home of purity,
  • A giant in twofold substance one,
  • Rejoicing now his course to run.
  •  
  • The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
  • Its virgin honor is still unstained.
  • The banners there of virtue glow;
  • God in his temple dwells below.
  •  
  • From God the Father he proceeds,
  • To God the Father back he speeds;
  • Runs out his course to death and hell,
  • Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.
  •  
  • O Equal to thy Father, thou!
  • Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
  • The weakness of our mortal state
  • With deathless might invigorate.
  •  
  • Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
  • And darkness breathe a newer light,
  • Where endless faith shall shine serene,
  • And twilight never intervene.
  •  
  • All laud, eternal Son, to thee
  • Whose advent sets thy people free,
  • Whom with the Father we adore,
  • And Holy Ghost, for evermore.

 This video gives you an idea of what the hymn tune for Veni Redemptor Gentium sounds like. The words in this version are slightly different but the hymn tune is perfect. Try not to dance as it is sung. You can find the melody for this hymn tune in the hymn tune index of most hymnals. This hymn tune is called “Puer Natus.” The words to this hymn however can be sung to any Long Meter (LM) hymn tune.

The Scripture in Stone and Wood and Stained Glass – A Church Revealed

Catholics have often endured the charge that we are an unbiblical Church. Strange accusation, really, for the Church that collected the Scriptures, determined the canon of Scripture and preached it for 1,500 years before there ever was a Protestant denomination. The fact is we are quite biblical and often in ways that are stunningly powerful.

For the Church, the Scriptures are more than merely ink spots on a page. The Scriptures are manifest in how we live, how we are organized hierarchically, our sacraments, our liturgy and even in our buildings. Long before most people could read, the Church was preaching the Gospel and to do so she used the very structure of her buildings to preach. Many of our older builds are a sermon in stone and stained glass. The Scriptures come alive in our art, statues, paintings, and majestic stained glass windows that soar along the walls of our Churches like jewels of light. Even the height and shape of our older churches preach the word. The height draws our sights up to heaven as if to say, Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, seek the things  that are above where Christ is seated at God’s right hand (Col 3:1).  And the shape of  most of our older churches is the shape of a cross. As if to say, May I never glory in anything, save the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14).

My own Parish Church is a sermon in stone and wood and glass. It is designed around the book of revelation, Chapters 4 and 5 in which John is caught up into heaven and describes it in detail. The fundamental design of the sanctuary drawn from Revelation 4 and 5 includes the throne-like altar (Rev 4:2), seven tall candles around the throne (Rev 4:5), the four living creatures in the clerestory windows above the altar (Rev 4:6-8). At the center of the altar is the tabernacle wherein dwells the Lamb once slain who lives forever, Jesus (Rev 5:6). Around the throne (altar) are seated the twenty-four elders (Rev. 4:4) symbolized by the 12 wooden pillars on the back sanctuary wall and the 12 stained glass windows of the Apostles in the transept windows. The multitude of angels who surround the throne (Rev 5:11) are symbolized by the blue and gold diamonds on the apse wall.

In effect the builders of my Church (built in 1939) were saying, when you walk into this church, you have entered heaven. Indeed, it is a replica of the heavenly vision of John. And when we celebrate the liturgy it is more than a replica for we are taken up to heaven in every Mass where we join countless angels and saints around the heavenly altar. There we worship God with them. We don’t have to wait for some rapture, we go there in every Mass.

I have assembled pictures of these details along with the scripture texts from Revelation in the following PDF document:

Holy Comforter Church in Washington DC and the Book of Revelation

Perhaps your own parish buildings also speak to you in stone and wood and glass. It is sad that many more modern Church buildings have little to say or teach as ancient traditions of church building were set aside in the 1960s. But I think that is beginning to change. Some of the very newest churches have returned to the more ancient practices. I pray it continues. Our buildings are meant to be a testimony to our faith.

Here’s a little video I put together on the architectural details of Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian Church:

The Hidden Mass in Today’s Gospel and the Perfect Thanksgiving – A Meditation on the Gospel for the 28th Sunday of the Year

One of the great human inadequacies is rendering proper and adequate thanks to God. Perhaps the biggest problem is that we don’t even know 90% of what he does for us. It is hid from our eyes. A further problem is that we tend, in our fallen condition, to be wired to magnify our distresses and problems and minimize or discount the enormous blessings of each moment. God sustains every fiber of our being and every atom of creation, his hidden blessings  are countless. But we get angry if our iPod is malfunctioning or if one or two out of the trillion blessings he gives is withdrawn.

But in the end an old gospel song says it well:

 I’ve got so much to thank God for; So many wonderful blessings  and so many open doors. A brand new mercy along with each new day. That’s why I praise You and for this I give You praise. For waking me up this morning , For starting me on my way, For letting me see the sunshine, of a brand new day. That’s why I praise You and for this I give You praise. So many times You´ve met my needs, So many times You rescued me. That’s why I praise You.

For every mountain You brought me over  For every trial you’ve seen me through.  For every blessing, For this I give You praise

Fundamental Question – So here is the question at the heart of today’s Gospel. It is best asked in the Book of Psalms: What return shall I make to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The same psalm goes on to answer the question in this way: The cup of salvation I will take up and call on the name of the Lord. (Psalm 116:12)

The Mass is signified – Yes indeed, how can I possibly thank the Lord for all the good he has done for me? Notice that the psalm points to the Eucharist in saying, The cup of salvation I will take up….”  As you know the word “Eucharist” is a Greek  word which means, “thanksgiving.” We cannot thank God the Father adequately, but Jesus can. And in every Mass we join our meager thanksgiving to his perfect thanksgiving. Jesus takes up the cup of salvation and shows it to us at every Mass through the priest. This is the perfect and superabundant thanks that only Jesus can offer the Father. And he joins us to his perfect sacrifice of thanks in every Mass. This is how we give thanks in a way commensurate with the manifold blessings we have received.

Hidden Mass! – Now the Gospel makes this point, that the Mass is the perfect offering of thanks to the Father, in a remarkable and almost hidden way. But for Catholics it is right there for us to see if we have eyes to see it. For the Gospel today contains all the essential elements of Holy Mass. In so doing, this Gospel about giving thanks reminds us once again that it is the Mass which is the perfect thanksgiving, the perfect  “Eucharist.” Let’s look and see how it is a Mass:

  1. Gathering – Notice first that there is a gathering. Ten lepers (us) have gathered and Jesus comes near as he passes on his way. We do this in every Mass, we gather and the Lord draws near. Indeed, in the person of the priest, who is the sacrament, the sign of his presence, Jesus walks the aisle of our Church just like he walked those ancient roads.
  2. Kyrie – Next they cry out for mercy just like we do at every Mass: Lord have mercy! Jesus, Master, have pity on us!
  3. Liturgy of the Word – Next Jesus quotes Scripture and then applies it to their life  just like he does for us at every Mass. In saying, “Go show yourselves to the priests”  Jesus is referencing Leviticus 14 which gives detailed instructions on how the priests of old were to diagnose leprosy and also its having been cured. Jesus quotes this scripture and applies it to their life. This is what we do at every Mass wherein God’s Word is proclaimed and then the Lord Jesus, speaking through the priest or deacon, applies the text(s) to our life.
  4. Liturgy of the Eucharist – Next, the text says that one of them: fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. This is what we do during the Eucharistic prayer, we kneel and thank Jesus, and also, with Jesus,  give thanks to the Father. As we have noted, the word “Eucharist”  comes from Greek and means “to give thanks.” Here is the perfect thanks rendered to the Father. To those who say they can stay home and give adequate thanks to God, there should only be the rebuke that they are prideful. Only Jesus can give perfect thanks to the Father. And we can only give adequate thanks to Jesus by following his command to “do this in memory of me.” We have to be at Mass.
  5. Ite Missa est – Finally, Jesus sends him on his way, saying  Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.  We too are sent forth by Jesus at the end of every Mass when He speaks through the priest or deacon: “The Mass is ended, God in peace.”

So, there it is. In this Gospel that very clearly instructs us to give thanks to God is the very structure of the Mass. If you want to give proper thanks to God and you made it to Mass this morning, you’re in the right place. Only here is perfect and proper thanks given to God.

It was all prefigured in the psalm long ago:  What return shall I make to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?  The cup of salvation I will take up and call on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:12).  It is the very cup of salvation, the chalice containing Christ’s blood that is held up at every Mass. It is the perfect sacrifice of thanks. It is the prescribed sacrifice of praise. It is the proper sacrifice of praise.

This video is of the Song I quoted above:

The Rosary-a tool for evangelization

The Rosary and other religious symbols worn as jewelry  or tattoos are getting a lot of attention these days. In a recent blog post in the Washington Post, the author opined that this  is part of a growing movement of separating the spiritual from the religious. Religious jewelry “caters to people who are expressing their personal spirituality rather than an affiliation with organized religion.”

Putting my jewelry to work

I am someone who owns a rosary bracelet, that though it can easily be mistaken for a silver beaded bracelet, is for me, my traveling rosary, always within easy reach if the opportunity to steal a few minutes of prayer presents itself.

For a recent talk that I was giving, I re-read Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, The Most Holy Rosary. I had forgotten how beautiful it is. I recommend you celebrate today’s feast of the rosary by reading it!  The Pope speaks about how in the rosary we learn Christ through Mary. We don’t just learn about Christ, we learn Christ.  “The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ. When the recitation of the Rosary combines all the elements needed for an effective meditation, especially in its communal celebration in parishes and shrines, it can present a significant catechetical opportunity …. In this way too Our Lady of the Rosary continues her work of proclaiming Christ.

This Saturday, October 10 at 2:30 p.m., the archdiocese hosts its annual pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We make a pilgrimage to “Mary’s House” to ask her intercession on our behalf for a particular intention that is on the heart and in the mind of the church at this time.

Mother of the Church and Mother of Families

As part of our commitment to the New Evangelization, we will ask Mary, Mother of the Church to pray with us that our work will bear fruit in our parishes. As Mother of Families, we ask her to join with us in our pray for the people we love most who are inactive in the practice of their faith or alienated from the church. We will ask Mary, to intercede with her son, Jesus, to give us courage to speak about our faith and to be bold in inviting family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to take a second look at the church– to come home– and join their church family.

The right first step

Do you have someone in mind whom you would love to invite to join you at church or with whom you would like to have a serious conversation about their faith or their participation in the life of the church? Are you wondering how to begin a conversation? Do you need a little more courage to be bold? Why not make the commitment to join us for the rosary and for Mass? Make this your first step –to pray on behalf of the person– and to entrust the person to Mary’s care.

A tool for the Evangelizer

 Pope John Paul II writes “The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable pastoral resource for every good evangelizer.”

More on”Spiritual Cross Training”

Getting into Spiritual Shape

About two months ago, I did a blog entry on “spiritual cross training.” I made an analogy between my goal of training for a 5K and training for spiritual fulfillment. I also mentioned that the friend I was training with rarely went to church and when I invited him to a Mass, he went once and commented that it did nothing for him. At that time, I told him, “Neither of us had run a yard in 10 years. What if we tried to run 3 miles in 24 minutes, failed miserably and then concluded ‘running does nothing for me?’” Really, if I haven’t run in years, how can I expect to be able to benefit from the sport in the first workout? Can I run around my neighborhood for five minutes and get on a scale and lament – “I haven’t lost any weight yet!”? I analogized that, “the practice of our faith is a spiritual workout. If you only go to church on Easter and Christmas, how could you possibly expect to be in good spiritual shape? If you don’t make prayer a habit, how can you expect to benefit from the exercise?”

3.1 miles in 36 minutes

Well, yesterday was the race for which we had been training and I am proud of this rather unflattering picture of me approaching the finish line. I am proud because four months ago, I was really out of shape. I was proud that my friend and I stuck to our training. But, I was most proud because one week prior, I had strained my back severely (I am not the twenty-something-blogger named Laura!). My physician said I would be in pain but running wouldn’t exasperate the injury. I was determined to do this race. My friend knew I was in pain as the race started but keep encouraging me to run through the pain.

So that his affliction may glorify God – John 9:1-41

We finished the race – I trailed him by a few minutes and we felt euphoric having finished with respectable times. Since the race was on a Saturday I asked him, “So, what are you doing tomorrow?” hoping the word “church” was somewhere in his answer. Glory to God, he said he was going to Mass adding, “You did not let a lower back strain get in your way, I shouldn’t let a boring homily get in mine.”

Staying motivated

Training for and running in a road race is not always fun. But the reward of crossing the finish line eclipses all of the pain and setbacks. The true reward comes in overcoming all of the obstacles that get in the way, including a lower back strain. Frankly, attending Mass regularly can have its setbacks as well, such as a boring homily or two. But, if you can see past the occasional disappointment, the reward that awaits, namely the worship of God in the form of the Eucharist, certainly eclipses all pain, suffering and sin.

Staying committed

We are now committed enough to running that we have already entered in a race scheduled for September. Next time, our goal is not to simply finish but to improve our time. Let’s pray that my friend finds that same commitment to God‘s command to keep holy the Sabbath. Also pray that he and others who have fallen away from the Church not only attend Mass regularly but that they integrate Christian spirituality into their entire lives, despite an occasional disappointment.

Liturgy at the End of an Era

Author’s note: I am away this week preaching a retreat for priests in Connecticut. I may post some new material this week but I also thought in my absence to re post some of my older articles that some newer readers may have missed. Here is one I posted back in Sept 2009:

I received my First Holy Communion in 1968 on my knees at the altar rail in our parish church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help  in a suburb North of Chicago called Glenview. I received from a very elderly pastor, Fr. Dussman, whose hands shook from Parkinson’s. It was an awesome and fearsome event. I was more nervous since Father’s hands shook and receiving communion from him could be a challenge, especially for the first time.

I remember well how seriously we took Church in those days. We had special Church clothes (always a coat and tie), special Sunday shoes and approaching the altar rail was something quite wonderful but very formal: hands folded before the chest, fingers straight, right thumb crossed over left. Kneeling and waiting for the priest and altar boy to pass by was a time of anticipation, a kind of distracted prayer, alert and ready, don’t make the priest wait! Suddenly a altar boy slid a Paten under your chin. Head back, tongue out (not too far!) just over the lower lip! The priest spoke in an ancient language (Latin). Only years later did I learn exactly what he said. I am sure the Sisters taught me but I couldn’t remember(I was only 7 going on 8): Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul unto life eternal). And suddenly there he was, Jesus in Holy Communion. Pretty awesome, very special, beyond my comprehension but no doubt this was holy, this was serious and sacred.

But little did I know I was at the end of an era. Within a year strange things began to occur that I did not understand, things that did not comport with my training. I remember my mother telling me that we were going to a special youth mass. I had heard of a school mass, but not a youth Mass. We got there early and I noticed something that confused me. “Mom!” I whispered, (you always whispered in Church in those days), “What are those drums doing there? Right in front of the Mary Altar, behind the rail too, were electric guitars, a drum set and chairs. Then out came these guys I had never seen before, a couple of them were wearing jeans too (a major no-no in the old days). After Church my mother asked me if I liked it. I said no and she was surprised. “But Mom, I don’t know those songs and they were so loud.” I was confused. The sisters said we should dress well, be very quiet in Church so others could pray and only talk or sing when it was time to do that. It all seemed “a violation of my training.” But an era had ended. Something was taking its place. Little by little the familiar gave way to the new. The transition was at times startling, at times exciting.

I do not write this post to “bash” the liturgical changes. Just to document an experience. I have become quite accustomed to the “new” Mass. I am also privileged to say the Traditional Latin Mass. I guess I am blessed to enjoy the best of both worlds. I am proud of the glory of the new Mass as it is celebrated in my parish. We have a wonderful gospel choir which also does classical very well. There is great joy at every Mass. I am also  so happy to be able to celebrate ancient Latin Mass that reminds me of the joy of my youth (qui laetificat juventutem meam).  I merely document here, I leave the judgements to you my faithful readers.

The following video depicts a Mass in the year 1969. It is from an Elvis movie entitled “Change of Habit.”  What an amazing little video for me! It’s just as I remember it as the changes set it. Notice the still strong presence of traditions: people all dressed up for Church, nuns in traditional habits, the priest at the high altar facing east. But notice too the guitars and “informality”  of the musicians. The music is up front not back in the choir loft. And many struggle to understand the new lay of the land. It was 1969. It was the end of an era.

Seven Habits of Divinely Inspired Evangelizers

In the  Gospel today the Lord shows forth that his plan for Evangelization is not just some sort of haphazard, shoot from the hip program where he wanders about aimlessly. Rather he had a plan to visit specific cities at specific times. And, in order to prepare for his visit, he sent an entourage ahead of him to prepare the town for his visit and also to arrange for the necessary preliminaries. The texts says quite clearly: At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.  (Luke 10:1).

Now these lead teams, these evangelizers,  received seven basic instructions from the Lord on how to effectively evangelize. These seven basic habits are also for us who have receive the mandate to evangelize (cf Matt 28: 19). Let’s look at them briefly:

1. Supplication – Jesus said, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Hence before any effective evangelizing takes place there must be prayer. In my own parish we are preparing to go out two by two in the Fall. Prior to this we have prayed for over a year, holding Eucharistic holy hours, praying at Mass and Bible study for a fruitful team of laborers sent, not by man, but by God. On Pentecost Sunday 50 people signed up to walk door to door. They are the fruit of prayer. So step one for effective evangelization is to have a praying community asking for laborers. When we go door to door fifty others have signed up to stay in Church and pray as we walk. Habit one: Pray!

2: Sobriety. The Lord tells them Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) We do have to be sober about the fact that we are in world that is both critical of and hostile to our faith. We are bound to experience persecution, ridicule, anger, being ignored,  misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentations and just plain missiles. That we experience the world’s hatred or anger does not mean we have done anything wrong. The Lord was clear that the hatred of the world was a sign of true discipleship: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20). Too many Christians today want the world to like them and think that holiness is about winning a popularity contest and being nice. Well the fact is that Jesus did not end up on the cross by winning a popularity contest and just being nice. He had enemies and so do we. We are not to hate them. We are to love them but we have to be sober about accepting some degree of hatred from the world. And to those who have won the popularity contest and have no enemies Jesus warns: Woe to you when all men speak well of you,  for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26). The true disciple and true evangelizer will experience some degree of hatred, anger and scorn. We must be sober about this. We do not look for a fight, but hatred will come. An old spiritual says, “I been ‘buked and I been scorned. I been talked ’bout sures yo’ born…..” Habit 2 is sobriety

3. Simplicity – The Lord tells us to travel light: Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way (Lk 10:4) We are to bring nothing along that will weigh us down or hinder our task. The fact is we all have a lot of baggage in this life that hinders us from the more important work of Evangelizing our family and others. Too many parents barely know their kids because they work long hours at jobs to pay for a life style that is too expensive. On top of this we add endless projects and pursuits that keep us running all over God’s green acre. Perhaps good in themselves, they become too much of a good thing and we end up barely knowing the first people we are to evangelize, our children. The Lord says, lighten up, less, is more, simplify and do with less. Do what is more important first: God, family, parish and community. Learn to prioritize and say “no” when necessary. Bottom line is that we have too much baggage, too many distractions and the Gospel goes unlived and unpreached. The unusual instruction “Greet no one along the way” means that we ought not allow any relationship to hinder us either. There are folks who can sidetrack us hinder our progress and we ought to limit such contacts charitably.

4.  Serenity – The Lord says, Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household’ (Luke 10: 5) Though the world may be hostile at times, the Lord tells us, upon entering into any place to say “Peace to the his household.” We do not go forth with hostility but with a serene joy and love. We must love those to whom we announce the Gospel. We are to radiate a serene confidence, joy and peace. We are not picking a fight or trying to win an argument. If we need to clarify a misunderstanding someone has we ought to do so peacefully and with serene confidence.  Because we are confident in the truth we are serene in it. Shalom, peace is at our core, not hostility or aggressiveness.

5.  Stability– The Lord instructs us Stay in the same house…..Do not move about from one house to another. (Luke 10:7) Thus the Lord tells us to find our place and stay there. In the end, the best evangelization takes place where there are deeper relationships. But deep relationships cannot exist when we are running all over the place and relating to others only superficially. We ought to stay put more with family, parish and community and have deep roots. Too many people barely know their own family. No wonder the faith is not passed on in the diffuse, rushed and sporadic climate of the family. Find home and stay there routinely. Build deep relationships.

6. Sensitivity – the Lord says Eat and drink what is offered to you,…..cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’  In other words the Lord counsels simple human kindness where we do not criticize about unnecessary things like the quality of food, or matters of preference. Further he counsels that we have a charge to bring healing and help to others. We may cure the sick by physical cures but the kind of healing necessary is often more emotional and spiritual. We ought to manifest care for others. Even the simple act of listening to someone can bring great healing. Without simple human kindness, declaring that the Kingdom of God is at hand can not only be empty but it can make the kingdom seem odious. The say to others that the Kingdom of God is at hand means that they can start living a whole new life. We ought then to manifest kindness, bring forth cures by helping people find wholeness and healing from the many blows this world inflicts. The Kingdom of God is not only about doctrine, it is about healing, holiness, and the wholeness that comes from both as well as from true doctrine.

7. Soulful Joy– The disciples returned with great joy and the Lord celebrates with them and helps to deepen their joy. There is nothing worse than a sour-faced saint or a bored believer. In the end, the greatest evangelization is to manifest a joy at what God is doing in our lives. This joy is not a sentimental emotional joy necessarily but a deeper serene joy rooted in confidence, hope and love. Do people see you in this way? If they do the ground is fertile for evangelization. St. Peter says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). Now of course giving an answer presupposes that someone notices the hope and joy in us and noticing this they ask. Does anyone notice this about you?

So then here are seven habits of divinely inspired evangelizers as taught by the Lord himself.

Is the Old Latin Mass Charismatic?

Some of you know that I am pastor in an African American Parish. Our liturgies are dynamic and very celebratory. We don’t rush the Holy Spirit and so the masses often go well beyond an hour and our principle liturgy is often two hours. People respond during the homily with “Amen” and “Yes Lord!” They often clap hands during many of the songs. Over all it is a very charismatic experience.

I also celebrate the Old Latin Mass on a monthly basis, usually in the Solemn High Form where in there is a Priest, Deacon and subdeacon, six torch bearers, incense Gregorian Chant and a polyphonic choir that usually sings a Mass from the Renaissance period by Palestrina, Victoria, Viadonna et al.

Now both communities wonder about me. “How can you celebrate Mass THAT WAY?!” they both say. The attendants at the Gospel Mass think the Latin Mass to be a bit stuffy. The Latin Mass folks think the Gospel Mass is off the hook, far too exuberant and some even think irreverent.

But having lived in both worlds as a priest for over twenty years I see more similarities that you might at first imagine. “Similarities?!?!” you might say, “Impossible. These forms of the Mass are worlds apart!”  Not really. Let me explain.

The Latin Mass became very formalized over the centuries. What I am about to explain really has to be done in a spoken format. You can’t actually just read it. So I hope you might view the video I have made at the bottom of this post. But here is my point: the origins of the Old Latin Mass show forth a very exuberant and charismatic quality. Consider the following:

1. Gregorian Chant has an ecstatic quality. Long melismas extend syllables sometimes for more than an page. Al-Le……….Lu……….ia………….. Some have likened Gregorian Chant to singing in tongues. While it is true that these sung texts were eventually written and formalized it seems clear that their origin emerged from an ad libitum (free) improvisation by the cantor who was (ideally) moved by the Holy Spirit. It is a kind of ecstatic praying, a yielding to the Holy Spirit who, although we do not know how to pray as we ought makes but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. (Rom 8:26).

2. Many of the Prayer of the Latin Mass are quite exuberant, almost flowery and exhibit a kind of charismatic enthusiasm:hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctam vitae aeternae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.(!) (this pure sacrifice, this holy sacrifice, this spotless sacrifice! The holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of perpetual salvation! An exuberant and almost charismatic sense of joy at what lies upon the Altar. Earlier the priest said: Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas + haec dona haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata (You therefore most loving Father, through Jesus Christ you Son, Our Lord, we humbly ask and beg that you might have as acceptable and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unspotted sacrifices(!)) There is a vigorous enthusiasm and ecstatic joy in these prayers. Where five words might have sufficed 25 words are use. Surely these prayers emerged from a very enthusiastic and charismatic experience.

3. One of my favorite forms of music is Renaissance Polyphony and it is often quite exuberant and written in dance time. I’ve posted an example of it in the videos below. And don’t tell me that the Church music from the Baroque period isn’t  toe-tapping. Mozart’s several Regina Caeli’s, his Church Sonatas, A Scarlatti Mass, Beethoven’s Mass in C….all wondrous and exuberant in their way.

Over the Centuries the Latin Mass came to be very strictly regulated and some of the spontaneous and charismatic qualities were codified and formalized. But such was not always the case. In each era the Church showed forth joy and exuberance in ways often subtle to us now. But when they were first experienced, before they were formalized there was a kind of charismatic quality to it all.

To those who think the Latin Mass dull, I tell these things. To those who think the Gospel liturgies too exuberant I tell these things. I hope to build bridges. There are more similarities in the roots than we might think. One of the fruits of the Spirit is Joy. And when God is truly encountered in the sacred liturgy, joy can’t be far behind.

As I say this post is better heard than read and here is a humble(!) video version I made.

Another video follows that illustrates the exuberance of Renaissance Polyphony often written in dance time: Byrd’s Haec Dies (This is the Day the Lord has Made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it). You may note that the director of the choir is having entirely too much fun as she directs 🙂

The third video is the opening movements of the Gloria from Scarlatti’s St. Cecilia Mass.