The Introductory Rites of Mass

vigilmasslife

This week for bible study we began going over the Mass.

The sign of the cross.

This is something that we try to hide or do really quick sometimes. It is actually a prayer in and of itself. We invoke God’s presence and invite Him to bless us. Tertulian (160-225AD): In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross.

It can also be used to help souls fight temptation and protect them from evil. St. John Crysostom (347-407AD) : Never leave your house without making the sign of the cross. It will be to you a staff, a weapon, an impregnable fortress. Neither man nor demon will dare to attack  you, seeing you covered with such powerful armor. Let this sign teach you that you are a soldier, ready to combat against demons, and ready to fight for the crown of justice. Are you ignorant of what the cross has done? It has vanquished death, destroyed sin, emptied hell, dethroned Satan, and restored the universe. Would you then doubt its power?”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem echoed these words himself.

Biblical roots of the sign of the cross:
Check out the book of the prophet Ezekiel. In his vision in Ezekiel 8 (p.879), he saw many leaders of the Jews committing idolatry. But not everyone was committing idolatry in his vision: the righteous ones received a mark that looked like an X or cross on their foreheads, it was to set them apart from the rest of the corrupt culture and be a sign of divine protection, as we see in Ezekiel 9:4-6 (p.880). Similarity with the Passover? Also Rev 7:3 (saints in heaven have a seal on their foreheads) and 9:4 (the seal separates the righteous from unrighteous).

The early Christians saw the mark on the foreheads as a prefiguring of the sign of the cross.

By crossing ourselves, we are expressing our desire to be set apart from the corruption of this world. We are also invoking God’s protection in our lives.

In the sign of the cross, we are also calling upon God’s name. Calling upon God’s name means to invoke His presence and power. Check out Psalm 105:1 for example.

It also reminds us of the doctrine of the trinity. So let’s not be ashamed of the sign of the cross or to do it hurriedly, but do it with reverence.

The Lord be with you.

It’s more significant than “good morning.”

Conveys the reality: “When two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” -Matthew 18:20.

The priest is praying that the divine life that we received in baptism continues to grow in us.

God promises to be with us in many parts of salvation history, like with Moses in Exodus 3:12 and with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Luke 1:28. They received this assurance at significant points in their lives. They were called to do great things, and God didn’t just give them the talents to do it, He merely assured them of His presence, which is all that they need. They would fulfill their missions not because of their own talent but because of  God’s help.

Hearing this should remind us of our high calling, and inspire us with the reminder of God’s desire to be with us and help us on our journey.

We respond: “And with your spirit.”

This is very similar to Galatians 6:18. It’s not just a polite response. It is acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s unique activity through the priest in the liturgy by virtue of his ordination. So we are addressing the spirit of the priest- the deepest part of him- and asking him to be our priest.

Sometimes the Priest gives the apostolic blessing that St. Paul loved to give in his letters: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Check out Romans 1:7 for example.

Penitential Rite:

When God immediately appeared to people, they often threw themselves down on the ground and covered their faces in acknowledging their unworthiness. But when He gave them warning, the people made sure to prepare themselves beforehand. In Exodus 19:9-19, we see that Israel, with 3 days warning, consecrated themselves to the Lord and washed their clothing.

We also need to prepare for the coming of God during mass. We not only see God but receive Him sacramentally, so it’s an even bigger deal for us.

So it’s the perfect time for us to confess our sinfulness and ask for God’s mercy. We also have regular confession, which is required at the very least once a year, so that we are worthy to receive the Eucharist. Confessing ones sins was done in groups (Nehemiah 9:2, p.421) or privately in the Old Testament (Psalm 32:5). This continued after Jesus. Of course, Jesus instituted the formal sacrament of confession, which we can cover in more detail some other time, but John wrote in his first letter, 1 John 1:9. St. Paul expressed the importance of the confession of sins before partaking of the Eucharist in 1 Cor 11:27-28. The Didache, 14, said, “Assemble on the Lord’s Day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one.” We confess our sins not only to God but to each other, as we see in James 5:16. Our sins not only affect our relationship with God, but our relationships with each other. How have you guys noticed the affects of our sin in these ways?

In this prayer note how there are four areas to examine: our thoughts, our words, our actions, and the actions that we should have done. It’s more than just avoiding doing bad things, we have to also strive to do all we can for others. The story of the rich young man highlights this reality, in Matthew 19.

Why do we repeat and strike our heart? It is an opportunity to show our true sorrow.

*We didn’t even get to the Kyrie, Gloria, or Opening Prayer. This might take a while..

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Hints of the Mass in the OT; the Church on Abortion

The plan for now is to post my bible study notes up here, in case anyone else is interested in what we are covering. This semester the main focus will be on the mass in the beginning.

Some background to the Mass:

Names:
Eucharist means “thanksgiving”. I believe that it is a Greek wordMass comes from the Latin word “Missio” which is actually used at theend of mass, to “go forth” – so mass is all about worshiping God and receiving grace so that we can “go forth” into the world and share it!

Hints in Salvation History:
Q: What are some of the signs and hints of the Mass that we see in the Old Testament?

Gen 14:18-20 the priest Malchizedek “Prince of Peace”, the king ofSalem (the future Jerusalem! “City of Peace”), offers a sacrifice of bread and wine to God in thanksgiving. Notice tithing. Psalm 110:4-5 also talks about Malchizedek and someone who “is a priest forever”.. well, Jesus fulfills this prophecy! Check out St. Paul’s commentary on these passages in Hebrews 7:1-17.

Malachi 1:11 A sacrifice everywhere from the rising of the sun to the
setting- just like how there is a Catholic Mass being said at any point of time
around the world

The sacrifices of the Patriarchs of Israel:
Q: Where did we see sacrifices in the Old Testament?
Q: Why would God want people to sacrifice things?
It shows God’s sovereignty, it is an act of thanks, it seals an
agreement or oath, and it could be an act of renunciation and sorrow
for sins.
Cain+Abel- Gen 4:3-4
Noah- Gen 8:20-21
Abraham- Gen 15:8-10 and Gen 22:13
Jacob/Israel- Gen 46:1
The Passover- Exodus 12
The Manna from Heaven- Exodus 16:4

Three features of the Eucharist:

Sacrifice
Q: How is the mass a sacrifice?
We don’t sacrifice animals. Instead we follow Christ’s lead at the
last supper by making present Christ as He sacrificed Himself on the
cross.
“In the divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same
Christ who offered himself once in a bloody matter on the altar of the
cross is contained and offered in an unbloody matter.” -CCC

Real Presence
Christ is present in many ways: in the poor, in His Word, in the
sacraments, when two or more people are gathered in His name, but most
uniquely in the Eucharist
The Eucharist isn’t just a symbol but truly is Jesus Christ: body,
blood, soul, and divinity.
Q: Does anyone know what transubstantiation means? How does it make
sense when describing the Eucharist?
Jesus said “This IS my body, this IS my blood”

Holy Communion
In the original Passover, not only did you need to sacrifice the lamb
and sprinkle the blood on the wood- notice that, just like the wooden
cross- of the door, but you had EAT the lamb too. In the same way,
with the “new Passover,” we need to participate in the sacrifice.
1 Cor 10:16-17
The main purpose of the Eucharist is so that the faithful can be
united as one with Christ. Think of it as a “spiritual marriage.”
The Eucharist completes Christian initiation, it is “communion” with God.
The goal of the Christian is to be one with God in heaven. Mass brings
us closer to that goal literally. Just as “we are what we eat,” by
receiving the Eucharist we become more like Christ.

Pro-life in Catholicism:

This is rare opportunity for us to talk about the FAITH based reasons
why the Catholic Church is against abortion. So as important as they
are, let’s leave the scientific reasons for another day.

The Catholic Church absolutely has a stance on abortion. “Human life
must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of
conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must
be recognized as having the rights of a person- among which is the
inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” -CCC 2270

Bible-
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born
I dedicated you.” -Jeremiah 1:5 (p. 804)
“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise
you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very
self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being
made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. Your eyes
foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were
shaped, before one came to be.” -Psalm 139:13-16 (p. 628)
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb” -Luke 1:41

Church Fathers-
The Church has always been against abortion from the 1st century, as
we can see from the Church Fathers.
“You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the
newborn to perish.” -Didache (the teaching of the 12 Apostles, written
sometime from 40-60 AD)
Thus, you read the word of God, spoken to Jeremias: “Before I formed
thee in the womb, I knew thee.” If God forms us in the womb, He also
breathes on us as He did in the beginning: “And God formed man and
breathed into him the breath of life.” Nor could God have known man in
the womb unless he were a whole man. “And before thou camest forth
from the womb, I sanctified thee.” Was it, then, a dead body at that
stage? Surely it was not, for “God is the God of the living and not
the dead.” -Tertulian
Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness,
and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some,
when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to
procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their
offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of
adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder. -St.
Jerome
Therefore brothers, you see how perverse they are and hastening
wickedness, who are immature, they seek abortion of the conception
before the birth; they are those who tell us, “I do not see that which
you say must be believed.” -St. Augustine

Catechism-
The right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive
element of a civil society and its legislation. -CCC 2273
Just because abortion wasn’t something that Jesus explicitly talked
about doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about. He called us all to
care for the “least of these,” so we should do all that we can to
defend the right to life of all.

Also, check out Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (human life),
written in 1968. It’s really not a hard read, so I’d highly suggest going straight to the source here if you have any questions on the Church and life issues.

Boys to Men

I talk a lot about people in general and the universal call to holiness, but it is very important that us guys become the men that our society needs.

George Bailey

We need men because:

  • Men stand up for what’s right, even if nobody else is– As a society, we are better than “do whatever makes you happy.” No, there is purpose in life, and as men we need to make sure to do the most virtuous thing in all situations, even if it means doing what’s harder. Other guys might be watching porn or eyeing up girls, but we are better than that (and women certainly deserve better!!!). Don’t do it, AND have the courage to let them know what you think.
  • Men are not afraid of leadership– Where are the Abraham Lincolns and Martin Luther King Jrs today? We need leaders who have the backbone to stand up for what they believe in, whether it is popular or not. The truth does not depend based on a popular vote. And lead spiritually as well, especially if you are a father. From a study I remember seeing, kids whose father takes them to church are 4 times more likely to continue going to church than those who only go with their mom. Lead your family in prayer, teach them the faith. You don’t have to know everything, just share what you do know and make an honest effort to learn more.
  • Men work hard– whether at work or at school, too many guys take the easy way out by being lazy and just getting by. We see it every day. Life matters, we should work hard because what we do can help others. Also, we can glorify God through our work by offering it up, as  St. Josemaria Escriva showed us. Being a lazy father is right up there, too. Help your wife. Spend lots of time with your kids. Sitting around, drinking beer and watching sports isn’t as manly as lazy guys would like you to think. Ask their wives how manly they think that is..
  • Men protect women’s hearts– It kills me (The Catcher in the Rye anyone?) when guys are flirty with no intentions of committing to a relationship. Do you have any idea how much more girls think about that stuff? Being a flirt is for boys, for 6th grade. If you want to be a man, you’re going to have to commit to a girl. Ask her out. None of that hooking up stuff- that just leads to regret anyways. It means making a sacrifice, it means loving someone. Take her out on dates. It’s real people that we’re talking about here, real hearts and real feelings, so stop treating it like some sort of video game. Treat her right, and it’ll be so worth it.
  • Men stand up for those who can’t defend themselves– Do you ever catch yourself thinking “oh dang, I wish someone would help them..”? If so, you’re in the perfect opportunity to help that person. We have the ability to help people, let’s take use it. This means putting yourself second to others. Care for the sick, stand up for the rights of all people, whether they look like you or not, born and unborn, sick and poor.
  • Men support each other– Use positive encouragement instead of ragging on every guy who is “so much worse than you”. Support the other men in your life by helping and encouraging them when they are down.

I have a strong conviction that the devil wants to rid the world of upright men. Without good fathers, society will crumble. (The same thing goes for women, of course, and the family in general. See the pattern: he’s taking them all down!)

I’d love to see men that hold each other accountable, so that we can all strive for virtue together. Stop settling for mediocrity, and start striving for excellence.

Some of my favorite male role models:

St. Joseph- The “quiet” foster father of our Lord. We can learn from him to trust God and our wives and put our family before ourselves in all things, even if it means escaping through a desert to a different country to save them.

St. Maxmillian Kolbe- The “selfless” man. This priest was in a nazi concentration camp when another man with a family was going to be killed. St. Maximillian offered to take the man’s place and died by starvation. We can learn from him how we must always put others before ourselves, even complete strangers.

St. Peter- The first pope that always messed up. St. Peter was bold and brash, and often made foolish decisions, like denying Jesus THREE times. But despite his mistakes, he had a strong faith and always strove to do what was right. He died a martyr for the faith by being crucified upside down in Rome. We can learn from St. Peter that we all mess up, but we must cling to our faith in Jesus first and foremost before everything else.

#SEEK2013

Seek 2013

“If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze.” – St. Catherine of Siena

For the past week, I had the privilege of joining over 6,000 other students at SEEK Conference 2013. This was a Catholic conference for college students striving to grow in their faith and share it, especially on the college campus. Has anything even remotely similar ever happened in America? Of course, there was World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 with about 500,000 participants: that’s what happens when the pope shows up. But what is so special about this conference is that it is self-sustaining and growing, right here in America. This isn’t just a one time thing, but a movement of people committing themselves to living for Jesus. In 1998, when FOCUS was founded, the “conference” had only 20 people. The next year there were 70. Then 120. And so on. In my years in college I saw the national conference in 2010 with 4,000 people grow to 6,000 people this year. It got to the point where for the keynote addresses, we had to split ourselves between two different rooms, where the speaker was in one room, and the other room watched on the projection screens.

Some of my favorite parts:

  • Chris Stefanick was an excellent emcee. My favorite moment was the song he wrote for his daughter’s potential boyfriend..
  • All of the students from non-focus campuses. They have it much harder that we do at focus campuses, so I was really happy that I’m joining the movement as a missionary so that more students will have a solid Catholic community to back them.
  • It was only sunny one day in Orlando, but we made the most of it, playing this massive game of “keep the beach ball up out of the water” and then a whirlpool in this giant pool!
  • The talk by Dr. Reyes blew me away, on Jesus’ question to us all: “Who do you say that I am?” It was very challenging for me and all of us men as he encouraged us all to live completely for Jesus in lives of sacrifice.
  • Fr. Mike Schmitz sharing with the eager youth the truth about the beauty of sexuality in his theology of the body talk. The youth who are searching are tired of the lies fed to them by the government and media.
  • During adoration, I was praying with my face on the ground for a while, when all of a sudden some girl tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Jesus is coming!” Only to a Catholic would this make perfect sense, I looked up to realize that the procession of the Blessed Sacrament was coming up right behind me. How beautiful it is to know that Jesus has never left us, as He promised in Matthew 28:20.
  • Seeing lives changed by their encounter with Jesus over this conference, especially with fallen-away Catholics finding their faith again. Lots more guys to get involved in a bible study! 🙂

“Change the world not only in what you do but who you are.” -Chris Stefanick