Church History for your Ipod

wittOn my last vacation (back in February) I listen to the first ten episodes of a Church History Series by Fr. Michael Witt Assoc. Professor of Church History at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. The whole series has over 40 hours of listening where he systematically goes through Church History in a very conversational manner. The talks are entertaining and memorable and given by a priest who clearly loves the Church. They can found here:

Early Church History by Fr. Michael Witt

To get to the talks click on the upper left square. The talks are then listed on the left hand side of the screen and if you click on the talk  you are given the the notes and the audio begins. You can right click on the sound horn and select the option “Save Link as” to download the talk to your computer. The talks are in mp3 format.

Interview with Ron Howard

The following video is an interview with Ron Howard by Stephen Colbert. Of course Colbert is a comedian so don’t take any of this too seriously. But what I find most interesting is how uncomfortable Ron Howard seems to be. Most guests on Colbert’s show seem to know that he is playing a role of sorts as an obnoxious and egotistical medialogue. It’s his shtick. Most of the guests know this going in and play along quite well. Howard though, seems unprepared for it or ill at ease. I wonder why? I also find Howard poorly spoken. I had been led to believe by others in the general media that he is some sort of “genius” but here he seem not to know much about what he is speaking. Even when he talks about his own movie it seems more to be memorized talking points that he recites rather than a real discussion. Even Colbert has a hard time trying to get him too lighten up. See what you think.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ron Howard
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Stephen Colbert in Iraq

Corpus Christi Procession

I think I’ve posted this video before. But it powerfully shows the glory of Eucharistic Adoration and of the way processions can take Christ to the people who need to see Him, to catch a glance or to reach out and touch. Behold the Lamb!

In Christ Alone

As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi today (and on Sunday in most dioceses) we ought to mediate how Christ is our source and strength. Here are some quotes from John 6:  and then a video to meditate. Consider well the promises associated with those who faithfully receive the Eucharist. Read these words of Jesus slowly, as if for the first time. Consider their power, rejoice in their promises, heed their prescription:

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…..”I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…..I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”… Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The Mass in Slow Motion – The Creed

If an outsider knowing nothing of Catholics were to walk in during the creed. He might think we are pretty smart. After All we say some pretty sophisticated stuff: Begotten not made, one in being with the Father and so on... We can sound pretty smart. But truthbe told there is often a lot of day dreaming going on during the Creed and many a Catholic would be hard pressed to say what the phrase above really means. But we ought to shake off the daydreams and pay attention to what we are doing. We are confessing our faith, a faith that many died for. The creed stands at the center of the Liturgy and fundamentally declares: I believe what we are celebrating here. I believe what we have just heard proclaimed in the readings and the homily. I believe in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe what God has done for me and that it is possible for me to be saved, sanctified, and share in God’s glory. I standing here declare that I believe these things which we declare and celebrate.

The history of the Nicene Creeditself is a bit complex. The basic outline of the creed as we know it today was given at the Council of Nicea(325 AD). This does not exactly coincide with our present Credo. The text we have today was actually formally approved by the Council of Chalcedon(451 AD With one exception: the word, “filioque” which was added by the Council of Toledo in 589. The Eastern Church never accepted the insertion of this word ). Until this time there were slightly different versions in existence. With the approval of Chalcedon, the one version that we have today gained wide acceptance and use. Hence the creed at mass is a summary of faith expressed by the Councils of Nicaea (325) and of Constantinople (381) as ratified by the Council of Chalcedon (451).

The use of the creed was originally associated primarily with baptismal liturgies. At first it was in the form of questions. Later the whole creed was memorized and recited just before baptism. (One vestige of this is that the Creed is recited (at least in the Latin) in the first person singular: Credo (I believe)). It entered the Mass first in the East in the early 6th Century at least indirectly due to difficulties with heresies. It was ordered recited at every liturgy by the Timotheus, Patriarch of Constantinople between 511 and 517. This example was copied everywhere in the East.

Its entrance into the western Church came through Spain which was strongly influenced by Byzantium. It was recited just before the Our Father so that, before the Body and Blood of the Lord were received, the hearts of all might be purified by faith. Thus, with the Our Father, it was considered a prayer of preparation for communion. By the 8th Century is appeared in the Gallican (French) liturgy. Once again, a struggle against heresy seems to have been behind its adoption. Charlemagne obtained permission form Pope Leo III and introduced the Creed into the Mass at his palace and, largely through its influence, its use slowly spread throughout the Carolingian empire. From here it spread to England and Ireland, slowly.

Still, by this point it was not in the Liturgy at Rome. This greatly surprised the Emperor Henry II who, in 1064 heard Mass in Rome without the Creed. The Roman priests explained that, since heresy had never been a problem in Rome, it was not necessary to profess the Credo so often. But for some reason, Henry pressured to have the Credo included and Pope Benedict VIII directed it be included but only on Sundays and certain feasts.

The creed was recited by the whole congregation at first. But the text came more and more to be sung. Even so, simple melodies were employed. But they grew in complexity and gradually slipped from the people; especially as polyphony came more into use. Today, the preference is expressed in the norms that the people ordinarily be able to recite the Creed together. But, this does not forbid it’s being sung; even elaborately. However, as we have seen with other texts, a balance between congregational participation and preserving the rich musical heritage of the Church is presumed.

Pastoral Reflections. –

In contrast withthe Apostles’ Creed (in which the faith is asserted simply and forthrightly) the NiceanCreed is a characterized by its theological clarity and richness. It is a theological and polemical profession giving orthodoxy a clear exposition. But it must be recalled that the Creed’s purpose is not so much to oppose heresy as it is to unfold the contents of our faith. Hence the Creed, occurring as it does at the end of the Liturgy of the Word is seen as the joyous “yes” of the congregation to the message they have received. Tapering with this text, a text that martyrs died for is surely uncalled for.

The profession of faith is said by the priest and the people. At the words: “By the power of the Holy Spirit, etc” all bow. On the feasts of the annunciation and Christmas all genuflect. Despite this rather clear directive, this is not often done in the average parish. Once again, it is good to appreciate that the mystery of the incarnation is so wonderful that we, in reverence are to bow. Until the recent past, a genuflection was always called for, now a bow is the directive. Nevertheless, we are to indicate by our posture our awe of the mystery.

The English translation is basically pretty good but there are a few problems. In particular, the English translation seems to imply that Jesus became man only at his birth (which is not what the Latin says). This is no small error in an age which allows abortion. 

Notice the basic structure of the Creed: We believe in One God:

  1. The Father Almighty
  2. In Jesus Christ
  3. In the Holy Spirit
  4. The Church.

This structure shows figuratively how the Church under-girds the teaching about the Trinity. The Church is an object of faith! It is through the Church that the faith is given and hence she is the foundation of and the safeguarder of the Faith.

This Video is the Creed sung in Latin (Creed Setting V)

Reflections on Recent Statistical Trends in the Church – Smaller, Stronger, Younger

The bad News: According to separate reports from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the American Religious Identification Survey, fewer Americans now call themselves Catholic, and those who do aren’t attending church or praying as often as they used to.

The good news: The Catholics who remain, Church leaders will tell you, are far more devoted and involved — particularly young adults.

Read more here and see a good video: YOUNG ADULTS LEAD THE CHARGE

Reductio Ad Absurdum – Host in the Post!

The following article appeared in the  UK Guardian and was written by Riazat Butt, Religious affairs correspondent.  My remarks are in red.

In recent years the communion wafer has been made available in a variety of forms – including patterned, wholemeal, crumb-proof and gluten-free – to satisfy the demands of modern life. Soon, altar bread will become even more convenient and accessible with the advent of the “host in the post”. That’s right they are offering to mail your Holy Communion to your house!

The new service, from the Open Episcopal Church, (Thank God such a crazy idea would never be allowed in the Catholic where the True Presence is so powerfully experienced.) is aimed at people who either cannot attend Eucharist, through age or ill-health, or those who have drifted away from church. (What about visiting the sick? One of the corporal works of of mercy is to visit the sick, not mail them communion. A spiritual work of mercy is to correct the sinner not mail communion to drifters)

Although the pre-consecrated wafer is free, there will be a charge for postage and packing. Receiving one host costs £2; receiving 500 costs £10. (Oh come on, how stingy, can’t you afford the price of a little stamp to mail out Jesus?)

Jonathan Blake, the Open Episcopal Church bishop… said the initiative was also designed to reverse the way the church presented itself to people. “The sense they have to go to places to worship is something their parents did. The churches we work with have got respect for the fact that we’re taking the church to places it hasn’t been before. (No you aren’t. To presume that the Church is just some sort of mail list is absurd. Go to the sick, talk to them, listen to them, anoint them. Reach out to drifters and the unevangelized.  Actually meet them. Talk, listen, invite. Jesus said, Go into the town and villages, sure the sick and summon people to faith. Physical proximity IS important. Jesus didn’t say mail letters, he said GO (cf Matt 28)

“It is a mistake to locate a church as those who gather in a building. There is a large population who have haemorrhaged away from church but regard themselves as committed Christians.” (So mail Jesus to them? What about correcting their mistaken notions that Sunday communal worship isn’t essential to being a “committed Christian” ? What about teaching that God commands that we keep holy the Sabbath. Maybe people drift away because you don’t teach them anything or expect anything. Just a thought. )

He said the organisation was taking “care and concern” over appropriate packaging for the wafer, (well that’s a relief!) which is no more than a millimetre thick, to ensure it remained intact on arrival, before adding that anyone – including atheists and even satanists – could avail themselves of the service.  “Jesus did not make these distinctions. He gave himself to anyone and everyone. It makes no difference, the body of Christ is redeeming.” (That’s right, Jesus doesn’t care about desecration…uh wait a minute…maybe he does read Matt 7:6…. and while you’re at it read what his Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write: ! Cor 11:27-31)

News of Blake’s latest innovation did not elicit a response from the Church of England, which, as a rule, does not comment on the internal affairs of other churches. (sigh…)

_____________________________________End of Article

Well, there you have it. A horrible loss in sacramental theology as well as ecclesiology. Theoretically the Episcopal Church has some belief in the true presence, though we as Catholics do not accept that they have it…but set that aside for a moment. How can someone who believes in the true presence ever put the Eucharist in the mail.? It is unthinkable but the unthinkable has happened. As Catholics we are preparing to celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday wherein we reaffirm our belief in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and make atonement for disbelief in this sacrament. Consider well what you have just read and the thinking behind it. Reaffirm your faith in our Lord’s True Presence and pray for all to return devotedly to this most Blessed Sacrament found truly in the Catholic Church.

Consider too the faulty notion of the Church operative in this silly idea. To presume that the Church can or does exist only as a mail list is absurd. Christ wants to gather us together in a true communion that includes our physical presence to others in the Body of Christ. The Church does not exist in the “ether”  or in some sort of vague togetherness but in an actual communion of persons with each other and with Christ. The Church is gathered, not scattered. The Church may communicate to the broader world through mail or in other ways but ultimately a Church that does not gather is no Church at all. Communion CANNOT be received alone. It must be ministered to us and received in communion with others. Jesus celebrated the First Communion with the Apostles gathered. He did not tell them to go to their houses and there they would find a little gift he had sent them. He gathered them, prayed for them taught them and fed them. This is true Charity. To go out and gather the lost and the drifted, the unevangelized and gather them together in the unity Christ intends, and to feed them with his body and blood.

This video is a musical setting the ancient hymn “Ubi Caritas” by Durufle. The text is Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. (Where there is charity and love, God is there. The Love of Chirst GATHERS us in one). So the love of Christ wants to gather us, not have us remain scattered. That is why he sent us out to gather in disciples of all the nations (not just send them mail).