Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday in Houston

Good Friday at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston

The photo above is provided courtesy of Fr. Joseph Huneycutt. We are fortunate this year in that the dates of Catholic and Orthodox Easter from both calendars coincide.

A reading from St. John Chrysostom from today's Office of Readings:
If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

There flowed from his side water and blood. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the holy eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh! As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy "Maundy" Thursday

Tomorrow is Holy Thursday, also known as "Maundy Thursday". First and foremost, Holy Thursday is the feast at which we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist. In Church Latin, which numbers weekdays from Sunday (the 1st day of the week), Holy Thursday is actually Feria Quinta in Caena Domini, or Thursday (5th day) of the Lord's Supper. It is also the feast on which we commemorate Our Lord's washing of the Apostles' feet.

But why "Maundy"? Its use is common among traditionalist Catholics as well as Christians of other liturgical churches (e.g. Lutheran, Anglican). I actually haven't heard a complete explanation for the name. There are a few competing theories as to its derivation. The most common explanation seems to be that it derives from the first word of the Latin antiphon from John's Gospel that is sung during the washing of the feet: Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos. In English: I give to you a new commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.

However, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod disagrees:
The explanation usually given for the word "Maundy" is popular, even in most dictionaries. But, it is incorrect. According to the popular notion, the term "Maundy" is from the Latin, "mandatum," which means "commandment." Most dictionaries say the same thing, thus proving that there is only one book without errors, and, as you shall shortly see, that one inerrant book isn’t one of most dictionaries.

If the name of this night were to have come from the "mandatum," it would Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday. But, the term comes to us from the Medieval English royal practice of given alms to the poor on this Thursday. There is an English term from the Middle Ages, maund. It is both a noun and a verb. The verb, to maund, comes from the Old French, mendier, which in terms comes from the Latin, mendicare, to beg. To "maund" is to beg. And the noun, maund, refers to a small basket, held out by maunders as they would maund. On Holy Thursday, the extended Royal Family of Great Britain would give alms to the poor prior to attending Holy Thursday mass. These alms were presented to each of the gathered poor in a small velvet bag called the "maundy purse." You see, term Maundy Thursday refers to this practice, and we get this name from the Anglicans, not the Romans, who also now call this day Maundy Thursday as well as Holy Thursday because of the influence of English-speaking Roman churches!
Either way, it's coming!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

RIP Jaime Escalante

Jaime Escalante of "Stand and Deliver" fame died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Requiescat in pace.

The Pope and the New York Times

It now appears to be clear that recent attempts on the part of the New York Times to link Pope Benedict with the horror of what has happened to children under the influence of priest-abusers have been woefully misdirected. I think Jimmy Akin has the clearest portrayal of the facts of the situation involving the horrible Fr. Murphy in Wisconsin, including the actions of the archdiocese, the local authorities, Rome, and what role Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) actually had. Read Jimmy here. What the New York Times has attempted to do is capitalize on abuse cases in order to launch a smear campaign. How can this possibly be considered honest journalism?

And one more thing: Just yesterday, Fr. Thomas Brundage, JLC, who was Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and who presided over the case of Fr. Murphy, has now spoken out to clear things up with the facts of this case that have been completely distorted by the New York Times. Smear campaigns do nothing to bring justice to abuse victims:
The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.

My intent in the following paragraphs is to accomplish the following:

-To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;

-To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;

-To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;

-To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.
And there is still much work to do.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Scientific Study, a Hymn of Praise to God

Last week, Pope Benedict spoke about St. Albert the Great, Dominican scholar and bishop. St. Albert is one of my influences as a Dominican involved in science. Benedict said:
Above all, St. Albert shows that between faith and science there is no opposition, notwithstanding some episodes of misunderstanding recorded in history. A man of faith and prayer, as St. Albert the Great was, can cultivate serenely the study of the natural sciences and progress in the knowledge of the micro and macro cosmos, discovering the laws proper of matter, because all this concurs to feed the thirst for and love of God. The Bible speaks to us of creation as the first language through which God — who is supreme intelligence, who is Logos — reveals to us something of himself. The Book of Wisdom, for example, states that the phenomena of nature, gifted with grandeur and beauty, are as the works of an artist, through which, by analogy, we can know the Author of creation (cf. Wisdom 13:5). With a classic similarity in the Medieval Age and the Renaissance one can compare the natural world with a book written by God, which we read on the basis of several approaches of the sciences (cf. Address to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Oct. 31, 2008).

How many scientists, in fact, in the wake of St. Albert the Great, have carried forward their research inspired by wonder and gratitude before a world that, in the eyes of scholars and believers, seemed and seems the good work of a wise and loving Creator! Scientific study is transformed then into a hymn of praise. It was well understood by a great astrophysicist of our times, whose cause of beatification has been introduced, Enrico Medi, who wrote:
Oh, you mysterious galaxies ... I see you, I calculate you, I understand you, I study you and discover you, I penetrate you and I am immersed in you. From you I take the light and I do science, I take the motion and do science, I take the sparkling of colors and make poetry; I take you stars in my hands, and trembling in the unity of my being I raise you beyond yourselves, and in prayer I hand you to the Creator, that only through me you stars can adore (The Works. Hymn to Creation).
St. Albert the Great reminds us that between science and faith there is friendship, and that the men [and women] of science can undertake, through their vocation to the study of nature, a genuine and fascinating journey of sanctity.

Deus, fons et origo totius sapientiae, qui in illam exquirendam sanctum Albertum effecit magnum, gratiam vobis concedat, benedictionis suae largitatem infundat, atque suae tribuat sapientiae abundantiam.

Blueberry Wine

Last weekend, we were given a bottle of blueberry wine from Teixeira Ranch winery in the Santa Maria Valley of California where we grew up. They call it Heavenly Blue. Let me say right up front: this wine is good, friends. An excellent dessert wine. Great with ice cream. Ok, so it was a tiny splurge before Holy Week. I reasoned that this dark blue wine was appropriately close to the penitential purple of the Lenten season, and since I was still in a mood after observing the Solemnity of the Annunciation last Thursday, I also reasoned that this pleasant blue wine called forth meditation on the Blessed Mother and her beautiful Fiat. Of course, you believe me, right?


Related Posts with Thumbnails