Chair of Peter – February 22, 2018: Unity Trumps Doctrine Transforming it

Christ willed the Church that we be “One;” not that we think the same.

Notice below: the Truth of being “One,” and therefore Christ, depends on unity with the Pope and with each other.

 “The Catholic Church, both in her praxis and in her solemn documents, holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is – in God’s plan – an essential requisite of full and visible communion. Indeed full communion, of which the Eucharist is the highest sacramental manifestation, needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognize that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith” (Ut Unum Sint” # 97).

         “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt. 16, 18)

  • “God Wills the Church, Because He Wills Unity… The Faithful are One because, in the Spirit, they are in communion with the Son, in him, share in his communion with the Father.” [John Paul II; “Ut Unum Sint” #9]
  • “The communion of all particular Churches with the Church of Rome: a necessary condition for unity [Idem. #97]
  • “The Catholic Church, both in her praxis and in her solemn documents, holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is—in God’s plan—an essential requisite of full and visible communion. Indeed full communion, of which the Eucharist is the highest sacramental manifestation, needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognize that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community—all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples” [Idem. #97]

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          “Where Francis’ Statesmanship Trumps Burke’s Doubt”

Mattias A. Caro
January 9, 2017

The touchstone of the Petrine office is unity. Above all other things Peter’s successor is the rock upon which the Church is built. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church because, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the pope as the visible head shall remain faithful to her invisible head, Jesus Christ. Popes can be weak. Popes can also be immoral. But above all they cannot fail to keep the Church—as much of the Church as possible—united.

Unity is a tricky thing. How exactly is it measured? While we can point to teachings and practices that place someone outside the bounds of the Church, heterodoxy and heteropraxy don’t always lead to separation. Take the liturgical upheavals of the 60s and 70s. I heard stories of priests celebrating masses with pizza and Coke. I saw the remnants of women aspiring to be priests through monthly homilies at my campus ministry. Though extreme, these are among many anecdotes and examples that show so-called Catholics practicing and acting in ways that violate the church’s law.

Yet, curiously enough, none of the pizza-mass priests were formally expelled from the Church. Rather, it was traditionalists, the Lefebvrites, who found themselves on the outside looking in. They were branded separatists. They were the ones whose unity with the Church was ruptured. Ultimately, I’m not certain we got it right. But the observation is worth noting for effect: Today you rarely hear of pizza-celebrating priests. But the extraordinary form has found a secure home in the Church for the foreseeable future.

Could it be that schism and separation, rather than being salutary for schismatics, has the effect of simply galvanizing the exiled? That is, had the pizza-mass priests been expelled in the 70s and 80s, might we today see separatist churches devolving toward some sort of non-liturgical protestant sect? It’s too curious a phenomenon to ignore, one that suggests the best way to deal with heterodoxy and heteropraxy is simply to let it die a slow, natural death within the safe harbor of the Church.

In that light, Holy Father Francis’ flirtation with communion for the divorce and remarried might make sense under his duty to the Petrine office.

Don’t mistake, I am saying this as a casual observer, not one studied or stooped in curial and episcopal politics. But it seems we have two competing claims. On the one hand, the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and the consequence that has for sacramental admittance for the divorce and remarried. On the other hand, a group of prelates (mainly German) who seem intent to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. The former is an unchanging position; the latter is heterodox.

So Francis has concluded, better to keep the dissenters within the walls of the Church than risk, half a millennium later, another schism out of Germany. The judgment is one of a statesman. It is a risky and hard decision. But the reality is that in the long-run the Church outlives the lineage of any heresy that crops up within her. The Holy Father knows that the house always wins.

This leaves the likes of Cardinal Burke on the outside looking in. He, too, like Francis wants unity for the Church, but he believes the ultimate move against heterodoxy is expulsion, if there is no amendment. If the lesson of the 60s and 70s is any guide, though, Francis is making the right move. He is marginalizing Cardinal Burke by ignoring his dubia and keeping the heterodox at arm’s length. He is guaranteeing that Cardinal Burke’s vision for an orthodox and faithful Church lives on and that the German bishops’ quest for change dies a slow, natural, but ultimately unfruitful death. The disagreement between Francis and Burke is not one of vision but one of strategy. This, of course, forces us to ask:

What if Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis are really on the same side? (Ethica Politica)

 

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The Real World of Conscience, Not The Less Real World of: Yes/No [chop/chop]. Here is the workshop of Amoris Laetitia! Try to Slow Down to Read This!

February 15, St. John Lateran: Francis and the Priests of the Diocese of Rome

Pope Francis

Good morning.

I will try to say something on the questions you asked me, the questions posed by the group.

Monsignor Angelo De Donatis

Some priests prepared questions that I took to Pope Francis and now he illustrates them, according to the different ages of priests: so, those that are young, those that are older and up to the age of the elderly.

Pope Francis

The group of the youngest: “So many vocations are born well but then cool down, they become accustomed, they are spent. How does one pass from falling in love with Love in the priestly life? That is to say, how can we expect the whole humanity of a priest to be involved around this center, which is a new love for the Lord? How are the desires, the aspirations, the limitations also involved? How to live in freedom a priestly life, which is requested of us to assume with love, but in the concrete <reality> unravels in a thousand rubrics and duties? Sometimes we feel inside a great train that proceeds to do without us. How to feel chosen by God and fulfilled as men outside a career and alien by comparisons? In this, our city, we often feel we aren’t incisive: can we be a significant humanity, that is to say can we fulfil life choices that indicate an evangelical way on how to live in the dehumanizing urban reality of our time? Can a priest today become a small but luminous human sign that invites his flock to freedom? When the efforts of young priests are dictated by the little strength, by the little prophecy, by the little transparency, or when instead a style of the Church weighs <on them>, which is not yet renewed? Common life, a sober style, less worshipful prayer and the abandonment of the structures, when they don’t touch the concrete life of the priest, because he hasn’t been renewed, or, on the contrary, when the ordinary life that is requested of the priest, doesn’t respond to a renewal of his heart?”

This is the question – so many questions in one question! But I was pleased that there are so many, because there is something in common in these questions: there is the abundance of circumstances. If this is like this, and that is like that. And so and so . . . : questions of circumstance. The accent is on the circumstances. “When this happens, if things are like this and are like that and go like this, how can one cope with these circumstances that are limitations, which don’t let us go forward?” In face of these circumstances or with so many circumstances, there is no way out. It’s a trap. When circumstances become so strong, it’s a trap. It’s a trap because it doesn’t let you grow, it’s looking too much at the circumstances. Instead, the right way is key to live the priestly commitments, and to look for the style that helps to offer in peace and fervour. Let’s leave aside the circumstances, which are so many, but let’s look at how to go forward. I’ve said the word “style”: to seek one’s own priestly style, one’s priestly personality, which isn’t a cliche. We all know how a priest should be, the virtues he must have, the path he must follow  . . . But the style, your identity card . . . Yes, it says “priest,” but yours, with your personal stamp, with the motivations that push you to live in peace and fervour. On one hand, so many circumstances in this world that are like this, like that, like this . . .; on the other, your style. Each one of us has his own priestly style. Yes, the priesthood is a way of living, it’s a vocation, an imitation of Jesus Christ in a certain way; however, your priesthood is unique, in the sense that it’s not the same as another’s. I would say, in face of these questions: seek your style. Don’t look so much at the circumstances that close the exits. Seek your style: your style as priest and <your> personal <style>.

And this style moves in an atmosphere. I would like to say this: it’s not a cliche to continue to say that we will not be able to live the ministry with joy without living moments of personal prayer, face to face with the Lord, talking, conversing with Him about what I’m living. This isn’t a cliche. [To live] the ministry with joy, with moments of personal prayer, face to face with the Lord, to talk with the Lord, conversing with Him what I am living — the circumstances, your own style, to the Lord. Do I talk of this to the Lord? All these questions? Or do I talk with myself, with my impossibility in face of so many circumstances that close the door and drag me down? “Ah, it can’t be done, it’s a disaster . . . , one can’t be a priest in this secularized world . . .” And the complaints begin, the limitations. The question says: “How are the desires and the aspirations, the limitations also involved? “ This is a beautiful question: how are limitations involved in your priestly vocation, in your style. Identify the limitations: the general ones –  the fact that I’m here – and also your personal ones. Dialogue with the limitations, in the sense of what can I do with this limitation, how <can I> bear this limitation. Discern among the limitations. And the question can scare us because there are so many limitations, so many circumstances that drag us down and “I can’t be a priest.” No! The answer is: there is a way; it’s your priestly style, the dialogue with your limitations, the discernment of limitations also with these circumstances. Don’t be afraid of this. Discern also your own sins, because sins are forgiven, it’s true, the Sacrament of Confession is for this; but it doesn’t all finish there. Your sin is born of a root, of a capital sin, of an attitude, and this is a limitation, which must be discerned. It’s another way, different from asking forgiveness for a sin. “No. Yes, I have this problem, I went to confession, it’s finished.” No, it’s not finished. The forgiveness is there, but then you must dialogue with that tendency, which has led you to a sin of pride, of vanity, of jealousy, of gossip, I don’t know . . . What leads me to that? Dialogue with the limitation I have inside, and discern. And the dialogue with these limitations, always – must be ecclesial – must be done before a witness, with someone who helps me to discern. And there, confrontation is so important: to confront this, which happens to me, with another. The need for confrontation, not so much for sins, I’d say that it’s necessary to make a distinction here: sins are to be confessed and to ask for forgiveness, and the thing ends there; then, I go forward with the Lord. However, the limitations, the tendencies, the problems that lead me to this, the spiritual sicknesses I have, this yes, I’ll never be able to overcome this or solve the problems that lead me [to sin] without the confrontation, the confrontation. And here it’s about finding a wise man, a wise man. It’s the ecclesial figure of the spiritual Father, which begins with the desert monks: the one who guides you, who helps you, who also dialogues with you, who helps you in discernment. If you have sinned, this is a limitation, it’s true: look for someone who is merciful and, if he is deaf, <all the> better. Ask for forgiveness and go forward. However, the thing doesn’t end there. What led you to sin? What is the tendency, what is the problem? Look for a wise man for the confrontation, to dialogue with the limitations, with one’s weaknesses, to dialogue and try to resolve the way. I tell you truthfully: the priest is celibate and in this sense one can say that he is a man alone; yes, one can say it up to a certain point. However, he can’t live alone, without a companion on the way, a spiritual guide, a man who helps him in the confrontation, in discernment, in dialogue. It’s not enough to confess one’s sins: this is important, because there – and I have always felt it, is one of the most beautiful things of the Lord – there is the humility of the sinner and the mercy of God that meet and embrace; it’s a most beautiful moment of the Church, that is, the forgiveness of sins. But it’s not sufficient. You are responsible also for a community, you must go forward, and that’s why you need a guide. I say to you not to be afraid, also to young people: begin as young people with this. Seek. There are wise men, men of discernment who help so much, and who accompany so much.

Therefore, summarizing: on this question, there is too much accent on the circumstances, and this can become an alibi, because if you only look at the circumstances, there is no way out. You must seek your own style, the right way to live your priestly vocation; and for this, it’s not an old thing, it’s not a cliche to continue to say that we won’t be able to live the ministry with joy without living moments of personal prayer, face to face with the Lord, talking, conversing with Him about what we are living. These things must be taken to prayer with the Lord. Without dialogue with the Lord, you can’t go forward. Dialogue with your limitations, discern the limitations and for this, help yourselves in a confrontation with a spiritual Father, with a wise man who helps you in discernment. And young people help here so much – and they do so! – this is also a plus, and even adults do it – small groups of priests who accompany one another: priestly fraternity. They meet, talk and this is important, because loneliness doesn’t do one good, it doesn’t do one good.

This is what comes to mind on the first question. However, I would like to stress this: be careful not to get embroiled with the limitations. “Oh, it can’t be done, look at this, that, the world is a calamity, this, that, the television, this , that . . . “ they are cultural or personal limitations, but this isn’t the way. The way is the other I’ve said, and the Lord Jesus always at the center, prayer <at the center>.

We pass to the second question: ”For a priest, the age that goes from 40 to about 50 years is decisive. Often moralistic perfectionisms fall, one is [experientially] conscious of being sinners – and this is very good about that age. So many apostolic ideals are re-dimensioned , the support of the family of origin fades, parents get sick, often even one’s health begins to cause problems. It’s a propitious time to choose the Lord, but often we don’t have the instruments to re-orient the middle age crisis – this one is called so – toward a joyful and definitive choice. The super-work – sometimes is suicidal – the dispersive super-work has made us unaccustomed to take care of ourselves precisely in the moment in which we have greatest need. Father, can you give us some indications in this regard? How can one prepare for this stage of life? Which are the indispensable helps?

Um, the noon demon! The midday demon . . . In Argentina we call it the “cuarentazo.” At forty, between forty and fifty, this happens to one.  It’s a reality. I’ve heard that some call it “now or never.” One rethinks everything and[ one says] “now or never.” There are two writings that I know – which are so beautiful, of the Desert Fathers, you will find in the Philokalia so many things on this –: there is a modern book, closer to us, also a dialogue with psychology, of that Austrian monk psychologist Anselm Grun, The Middle-Age Crisis, this can help. It’s a spiritual-psychological dialogue on this moment. And there is another written book, this one, yes, I’d like all to read: The Second Call, by Father Rene Voillaume. It would be lovely to give this, somehow, to priests. It’s a beautiful exegesis of Peter’s vocation, the last, at Tiberias: Peter of the second call. As the Lord called us the first time, He calls us continually, but strongly the first time. Then He accompanies us, calling us every day, but at a certain point of life, this becomes a second strong call. It’s a moment of many temptations; it’s a moment in which one needs a necessary transformation. One can’t continue without this necessary transformation, because if one continues this way, without maturing, taking a step forward in this crisis, one will end badly; one might end in a double life, perhaps, or leaving everything. One needs this necessary transformation. There are no longer those first sentiments: they are distant, I don’t feel them like those I had as a boy, to follow the Lord, the enthusiasm . . .” these have gone; there are other sentiments. There are also other motivations, not those. And it happens – because this is a human problem – as it does in marriage: there is no longer a falling in love, entering in love, in the youthful emotion . . . things have calmed down, they go another way. However, this one does remain, something we must seek inside: the relish of belonging. This remains. The pleasure of being together with a body, of sharing, of walking of struggling together: this, in marriage and also for us. Belonging. How is my belonging to the diocese, to the presbytery? . . . This remains. And we must become strong in that moment to take a step forward. As for spouses: they have lost all that was most youthful, but the relish of conjugal belonging, this remains. And what must one do there? Look for help, immediately. If you don’t have a prudent man, a man of discernment, a wise man to accompany you, look for one, because it’s dangerous to go on alone, at this age.  So many have ended badly. Look for help immediately. Then, with the Lord: say the truth, that you are somewhat disappointed because that <first> enthusiasm has gone . . . However, there is the prayer of donation: to give oneself to the Lord, a different way of praying, donation. It’s a rough moment, a rough moment, but it’s a liberating moment: what has passed, has passed; now there is another age, another moment of my priestly life. And I must go forward with my spiritual guide. The time that remains of life, is to live it better, for a better donation of oneself. It’s the time of children – I like to say it thus –, to see the children grow. The time to help the parish, the Church, to grow, it’s the time of growth, of children. It’s the time that I begin to diminish. The time of fruitfulness, true fruitfulness, not feigned fruitfulness. It’s the time of pruning: they grow, I help and I stay behind, helping to grow, but they are the ones <who grow>. And there are such awful temptations in this time, temptations that before one never thought one would have. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, they are temptations: it’s the tempter’s problem, not ours. There is nothing to be ashamed of, but they must be unmasked immediately. And it’s also the time of childishness, when the priest begins to do childish things. They are the seed of a double life. They must be picked up immediately and also with a sense of humor: “Behold, I who thought I’d given my life totally to the Lord, but look, how bad I look!” I said it was the time of fruitfulness. What figure comes to my mind? Childish things, double life . . . but, but that which comes to me more, taking it from the family, to describe the priest who unable to overcome this, to mature in this time, is the figure of the “bachelor uncle.” Bachelor uncles are good, because – I remember – I had two, who taught me bad language, gave us hidden cigarettes , always . . . but they weren’t parents; they weren’t parents! It’s the time of fruitfulness: with sacrifice, with love, this is a lovely time, it’s a time . . . It’s the second act of life. The first act is the act of youth, but this one takes you to the end. Don’t lose this opportunity to mature in this time of pruning, of trial, of different temptations . . . The time of fruitfulness. It can also happen that they come at this time – because the devil is astute – some temptations of one’s early youth, but they come isolated. Don’t get scared. “But look, Father, at this age . . . Well yes, son, go on!” They make us be ashamed, but are proper of this time; we thank the Lord who makes us be somewhat ashamed. But don’t stay there! No,that’s a circumstance, the thread goes on the other side: the pruning, the fruitfulness and the time to guard the good wine, so that it ages well. And I would also say that it’s the time of the first goodbye, the time when the priest realizes that one day he will say goodbye definitively. And this is the time of the first goodbye. Many “goodbyes” must be said in this time” “Bye, I won’t see you again.” This will never happen again, this situation, this way of feeling the things, which I won’t have any more. Goodbye to this part of life, to begin another. And thus we learn to take our leave. There comes to mind, and this makes one laugh, because I <wrote> a Motu Proprio in these days that begins with these words: “Learn to take your leave.” It’s for those that at 75 must tender their resignations. However, it is meant to learn to take one’s leave, because we’ll have to do so one day. It’s a science, a wisdom that must be learned over time, which is not improvised.

This is what I would say, like this, somewhat disorderly, on this second question of the “midday demon.” However, try to read Father Voillaume, The Second Call; also the other one, Grun’s is good, but Voillaume is a classic. It’s curious: Voillaume is a spiritual author who became a classic still in life, one of the few who was already classic, he died very old, but was classic when he was still in life.

[He takes the next question, of elderly priests]

This one is that of the Vicar. I’m well!

[He reads the third question] “Holy Father, we priests with 35, 40 or more years of ministry, began our service to the Church at a very different time from that of the present. We have passed through rapid phases of change, at times violent.  Youth and adult age succeeded one another rapidly, without giving us the time to understand and adapt ourselves. Having arrived at full maturity – in the proper time of full maturity – and even having exceeded the threshold, not unusually do we feel our exhaustion and inadequacy. In fact, even when there is energy and we are guided by a sincere desire to serve, we can’t always draw from experience to correspond to the new questions and demands of the ministry.” He who wrote this is very curious, because, he continues: “we would like to know how you have lived the passage to the mature stage of your priestly ministry, so much more as for you it coincided with important and unforeseen turns. In fact, you were called to the episcopal ministry at 56 and, 20 years later, in 2013, you lived a new radical turn with the election as Bishop of Rome. What are, then, the solid points of the spiritual life, to live in an integrally peaceful way this very complex stage, which for us should be that of mature fruits?”

So many of us are at this age. Let’s say the truth: it’s the last stage of life. The midday crisis has passed and this one comes. And in this age one can’t find the proper language of today’s world. I don’t know how to use the networks and these things . . . no, not even the mobile phone, I don’t have a phone. I don’t know. I don’t know how to use that language. The Internet and these things, I don’t know how to use them. When I have to send an e-mail, I write it by hand and the secretary does it. One might not have the ability to use the new technologies; one might not find the pastoral methodology that is needed today. This is true; it’s an experience. Today the reality goes so far ahead, that I’m unable to do it. However, the most important thing at this age is what can be done: what people need today. And this age – that of before was one of pruning; perhaps the first of all  was that of hope, of having all one’s life before one – and this one, instead, is the age of the smile. To offer a kind look, and this can be done; this can be done. How beautiful it is when confessors receive a penitent with this kind look. And immediately, the heart of the penitent opens, because he doesn’t see a threat. It’s a look that welcomes the person, a kind look — this in regard to the confessor. However, so much good can be done at this age with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so much good. I believe that in past years some <persons>  gave me that book of the confessor: Don’t Tire of Forgiving. The Sacrament of Reconciliation at is one of the most beautiful ministries that can be done. One can be available – a new availability: “Yes, of course . . . can you do that thing? Yes, go ahead . . . “ It’s the age of the priesthood of multiple use. One can have the closeness, the compassion of a father. Elderly priests, who know life, are close to human miseries, close to sorrows. They don’t speak too much but, perhaps, with a look, with a caress, with a smile, with word they do so much good. One can listen so much, there are so many people that need to talk about their life, to speak, To listen; it’s the time of the ministry of listening, the pastoral of the ear.  And today people are in need of being heard. Then, the fruit, whatever it is, but: “I found a man who understood me.” Perhaps the priest doesn’t realize he has understood him, but he received that person in such a way that  . . . It’s the time to offer unconditional forgiveness. Grandparents are able to forgive, they have wisdom. The confessor of that book – he was a Capuchin friar –, sometimes had the scruple that he had forgiven too much. He came to me at 80 – now he is 92  and has a queue of people, which doesn’t end – and he said to me: : “But, do you know, I have this problem, I don’t know . . . You tell me, as Bishop, what I should do” – “And what do you do when such a scruple comes?” I said. I knew him, I knew he was clever . . . And he said to me: “Well, I go to the chapel and I look at the Tabernacle, and I say to the Lord: Excuse me, Lord, today I’ve forgiven too much. But mind you: it’s You who gave me the bad example. And this is wisdom: unconditional forgiveness.

What thing can you also do? Give witness of generosity and joy. The witness we see in the elderly: the testimony of “good wine,” generous and joyful. And you can give good humour, a sense of humour. A good gift, if one who knows how to relativize things in God, but with that wisdom of God.

The figure that comes to mind is the Father of the parable (Cf. Luke 15), who relativizes everything: the son begins his discourse and <the Father> embraces him, doesn’t let him speak, forgives him. However, the son knows that there is great strength there. It’s the time of grown up children and of grandchildren. A priest has grandchildren. Not nephews, no, because there is that saying which states ”to those that God doesn’t give children, the devil gives nephews,” — no, grandchildren. It’s lovely to see elderly priests play with children: they understand one another; they understand one another. And here I come to a topic that I consider very important; that passage of Joel, chapter 3, verse 1, gives me so much strength: “The old men shall dream dreams, and the young men shall prophesy.” It’s the time of this joy in the relationship with young people. And this is one of the most serious problems  that we have now. We are still in time, because it’s about giving roots to young people. It’s curious: young people understand themselves better with the old than with the parents, because there is [in young people] an unconscious search for identity, for roots, and the elderly give give it to them, the grandparents do.  But <this matter> of generosity, of the “good wine” helps them so much: it’s the dialogue with grandchildren, with young people. And what is the greatest temptation of this age? To return to some temptation of youth.  I don’t know if this expression exists in Italy, but in Spain, it exists in Spanish, and the same in Argentina: it’s the moment of the “green old man” [“viejo verde”], namely, the immature old man who returns to the temptations of his youth. It’s awful, it’s the defeat of a life: to end up an immature “green old man”  . . . And they make fools of themselves . . . They feel themselves the eternal fiances — fools. I’m not speaking of priests. However, a priest can fall into this temptation of returning to the temptations of youth. It’s an awful thing, to end this way.

I return to the dialogue between the elderly and young people: it’s a meeting of generations. The evangelical passage of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple  is clear; it’s very strong and gives us so much light. Young people are in need of roots, today, when this very virtual world, a virtual culture without substance that rips off the roots or doesn’t make them grow; it makes them lose. And this is an urgency of the time, to which elderly priests can respond: to help young people find the roots, to rediscover the roots.  And the influence is mutual, because when some youthful group — I have in mind some experiences — goes to play the guitar, for instance, in a Rest Home, in the beginning the elderly are somewhat [hesitant] but then they begin to move, enter into dialogue, begin to dream  — as Joel says.  And these dreams make it so that the young people go out differently, differently. What I say isn’t poetry; I believe it’s a revelation of the Lord for our time. It’s a special vocation for us, priests, who are in this age – with young people, to be dreamers with young people.

I also have a question, here: “We would like to know how you lived the passage . . .” But who would like to know this? You aren’t gossipers, I don’t think that you like . .  [he laughs, they laugh]. It’s curious, this stage found me in a moment of leaving an office of government. Just ordained, I was appointed Superior the following year, Master of Novices, then Provincial, Rector of the Faculty . . . A stage of responsibility, which began with a certain humility because the Lord was good but then, over time, you feel more sure of yourself. “I can do it, I can do it . . .” is the word that comes most <to mind>. One is able to move, do things, manage . . . And all this ended, so many years of government . . . And a process began there of “but now I don’t know what to do.” Yes, <I can be> be a confessor, finish the doctoral thesis – which was there, and which I never defended –. And then begin to rethink things.<It was> a time of great desolation for me.  I lived this time with great desolation, a dark time.  I thought it was already the end of life, yes, I was a confessor, but with a spirit of defeat. Why? Because I thought that the fullness of my vocation  — but without saying it, now I remember it – was in doing things, these <things>. But no; there is something else! I didn’t leave off prayer; this helped me a lot.  I prayed so much during this time, but I was as “dry as wood.” Prayer before the Tabernacle helped me so much then. And then, a telephone call from the Nuncio  opened another door.  However, the last times of this time  — of the year, I don’t remember if it was the year ‘80 . . . ‘83 to ’92, almost 10 years, nine full years – in the last time my prayer was much <more> in peace, it was with much peace, and I said to myself: “What will happen now?” – because I felt differently, with much peace.  I was a confessor and a spiritual director in that time: it was my work. But I lived it in a very dark way, very dark and suffering, and also with the infidelity of not finding the way, and compensation, to compensate [the loss] of that world made of “omnipotence,” seeking worldly compensations. And again the Lord, at the end of this time, prepared me for that telephone call that put me on another path. So dark, not easy, yes much prayer, much prayer, and compensation. [Remembering always God has put me here]

And then, the last question: “The Presbyter spends himself totally (and can’t do otherwise) because he belongs to the Kingdom: he loves the earth, which he recognizes visited every morning by the presence of God.  He is the man of Easter, of the look turned to the Kingdom toward which he feels human history is walking, despite the delays, the darkness and the contradictions.”  This is a quotation. “Holiness, you have described the presbyter to the Italian Episcopal Conference as one who belongs to the Kingdom, who is able to receive the presence and action of the Spirit of God in the world and, in particular, in the cultures that are forged in our cities. Can you help us, Pope Francis, to discern the signs of the times, because often our look is tempted to see in this, our world,  only negative realities, far from the Gospel. What dimensions, expectations and openings aroused by the Spirit do you see in the men of our time,  which represent great opportunities for evangelization?  Help us to reconcile with them, not to just see enemies but companions of the way with whom to engage in a fruitful dialogue or, as you wrote in Evangelii Gaudium, “a holy pilgrimage, a solidary caravan.”

Discern the Signs of the Times. This is what Jesus reproached the Doctors of the Law of for not knowing how to do, because the reality always hides something of the sublime: to see the reality, not to be afraid of the reality.  The reality, — I like to say –, is greater than the ideas, always. The reality is superior to the ideas. Don’t be afraid of the reality. Yes, there is behaviour, even moral conduct, that we are not used to seeing. We think only of matrimonial life: today many don’t get married; they prefer to live together. And how do I take this reality? How do I accompany it?  How do I explain it and help it to mature and to go forward? I don’t know. It’s a pastoral reality that we can’t forget or leave aside. And what do I do so that this couple, that love each other, take the step towards great spiritual maturity?  Or how do I respect this? There are challenges, but there are also good realities. And on this there comes to mind an article of an Argentine priest that is entitled “The good things of living in this time,” [by Victor Manuel Fernandez]. There are good things in this time; there aren’t only calamities.  There aren’t only negative realities: there are good things.  And he makes one see some <of them>: a greater consciousness of human rights and of one’s dignity. Today no one can impose ideas; today people are more informed; today so much value is given to equality; today there is more tolerance and also freedom to manifest oneself as one is; today social coexistence is more sincere, more spontaneous; today there is great appreciation for peace; the human value of solidarity has also come up . . . And thus, so many good things that are in the world of today and that we must take up. And try not to be scared of the difficulties, of the “new values” – new values in quotation marks. Things are so: what can I do with this? That thing has this that is good; that one isn’t good . . . discern. Discern the signs and take up what can be taken forward, help others.

I don’t know. These are the things that come to mind. I don’t want to close in the negative but, please, to young people: don’t get lost in the circumstances but go to the kernel; to those of middle age: don’t fall into “childishness”; to those of our age, older, of maturity: please don’t be “green old men”; and to all: in dialogue with today’s world, discern the signs of the times and the good things, the things that come from the Spirit. It’s true, the world is sinful in itself and makes so many things worldly, but perhaps the kernel comes from the Spirit and one can take this. Discern thoroughly the signs of the times.

I thank you for your patience, for listening.

What Does “Priestly Soul” Look Like?

  • Interested in the interest of others
  • Be positive
  • Don’t complain
  • Get the topic off yourself and onto the others
  • Pay attention – give full attention
  • Don’t top the other’s story – two sailors at the bar (Far Side)
  • Search for ways others can speak about themselves
  • Don’t use sarcasm
  • Take humiliations when they don’t damage justice. It’s good for you.
  • Don’t be defensive. It exposes you insecurity
  • If familiar, always with respect
  • Don’t fish for compliments
  • Love the freedom of the others. Don’t try to control
  • Don’t use silence to punish others
  • Don’t harbor resentments and grudges
  • Accept what others say on face value instead of always chefking the smart phone to contradict the inaccuracy
  • Don’t always have to be right
  • Let someone tell you something you already know
  • You don’t have to speak on all topics
  • Let the point to. Don’t insist!
  • Be generous
  • Take the last place
  • Admit being wrong
  • Say, Thank you!
  • Smile
  • Let your conversation style be receptive rather always counter punching
  • Bring attention to success or positive point in the others
  • The goal: to bring people out
  • Also: to put people at ease.

 

Lent – A Major Text from an Early Father of the Church on the Priesthood of the Faithful: the  Source of the Gift of Self: St. Peter Chrysologus

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop – d. 450
Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest

I appeal to you by the mercy of God. This appeal is made by Paul, or rather, it is made by God through Paul, because of God’s desire to be loved rather than feared, to be a father rather than a Lord. God appeals to us in his mercy to avoid having to punish us in his severity.

Listen to the Lord’s appeal: In me, I want you to see your own body, your members, your heart, your bones, your blood. You may fear what is divine, but why not love what is human? You may run away from me as the Lord, but why not run to me as your father? Perhaps you are filled with shame for causing my bitter passion. Do not be afraid. This cross inflicts a mortal injury, not on me, but on death. These nails no longer pain me, but only deepen your love for me. I do not cry out because of these wounds, but through them I draw you into my heart. My body was stretched on the cross as a symbol, not of how much I suffered, but of my all-embracing love. I count it no loss to shed my blood: it is the price I have paid for your ransom. Come, then, return to me and learn to know me as your father, who repays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds.

Listen now to what the Apostle urges us to do. I appeal to you, he says, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. By this exhortation of his, Paul has raised all men to priestly status.

How marvellous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same. Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed.

The Apostle says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Brethren, this sacrifice follows the pattern of Christ’s sacrifice by which he gave his body as a living immolation for the life of the world. He really made his body a living sacrifice, because, though slain, he continues to live. In such a victim death receives its ransom, but the victim remains alive. Death itself suffers the punishment. This is why death for the martyrs is actually a birth, and their end a beginning. Their execution is the door to life, and those who were thought to have been blotted out from the earth shine brilliantly in heaven.

Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy. The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

 

Lent: Priesthood of Jesus Christ – “Priestly Soul”

Lent is the priesthood of Christ freely giving Himself to death in obedience to the Father and thus destroying all sin of disobedience. The point here is: The Levitical priesthood of the Jews was (“functional,” “cultic”) that consisted in reminding the wilderness generation of their sin of idolatry of worshipping the Golden Calf. The priesthood of Jesus Christ

               The meaning of priesthood is to be a bridge between persons. The priesthood of Adam consisted in being a bridge between the Creator and creation. Adam was asked to till the Garden and to name the animals which in both cases consisted in ruling and dominating. Adam’s priesthood was passed to his progeny in spite of the original sin until the most grave sin of idolatry which consisted in the worship of the golden calf. Scott Hahn wrote that this was “the first rebellion” of the Jews against God, “and the first punishment was to take the priesthood away from the firstborn, which had been theirs for centuries, and to give it to the Levites temporarily.” But St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews begins to suggest “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is righteous enough to restore the original pattern of the father-son family priesthood, because this a divine family that God, through Christ, is adopting usinto through the sacrifice of Christ.”

               Hahn continues: “He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek… It means after the manner of Melchizedek’s priesthood. The writer goes on to make a big, sharp contrast between the Levitical priests who had to sacrifice millions of sheep, millions of goats and millions of cattle with millions of gallons of blood running down through the temple. Why? It was all after and because of the Golden Calf, whereas before all of that, you had a father and a son and a clean priesthood that Melchizedek represents. ‘After the manner of Melchizedek’ suggests that Melchizedek’s manner of priestly sacrifice was bread and wine. This how all the early Fathers understood this, as well.” St. Paul makes a sharp distinction between the priesthood of the Levites and that of Melchisedech. He writes: If then perfection was by the levitical priesthood … what further need was there that another priest sould rise, according to the order of Medlchisedek, and said not to be according to the order of Aaron (Levite).” Paul then writes: “Now the main point in what we are saying is this. We have such a high priests, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8, 1-2). And then, he writes: “But when Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, he entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands… nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of his own blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption, sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ – who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblelmished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead wroks to serve the living God?” (Hebr.9, 11-14).

               The priesthood of Christ is the very Christology of being God-Man. Chalcedon gave us the metaphysic: One Person, two natures. In 2 Cor. 5, 21, Paul writes that “he made him to be sin who knew nothing of sin…” The human will of Christ is truly human and created. It alone, in the Christology of Chalcedon and Constantinople III could receive the burden of all the sins of all men of all time. Sin is always disobedience to the will of God. We are talking of the human will that is the will of the divine “I” of the Logos of the Father. But it is created and could become toxic with all sin. The manifestation of that toxicity is the Agony in the Garden where Christ goes through the internal contradiction of being the Sinner. He is guilty. He has taken on our sin as His own. God the Father looks and cannot recognize Him. “My God, my God,why have you forsaken me” (“Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My Godmy God, why have you forsaken me?” It is the only saying that appears in more than one Gospel, and is a quote from Psalms 22:2.).

Jesus is not killed on the Cross. He dies as an action of His divine Self. Being Creator of the world, He could not be killed by any creature. If He dies, it is because He wills it as His free action. Newman wrote. Hs passion was an action; He lived most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the will; for He bowed His head, in command as well as in resignation, and said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirir; He gave the word, He surrender  ed His soul, He did not lose it.[1]

               This is the so-called “priestly soul” that St. Josemaria Escriva characterized the penitential life in the spirit of Opus Dei. “Priestly soul, lay mentality” are the co-ordinates of the spirit of Opus Dei whereby all are called by divine vocation to “turn all the circumstances and events of my (secular) life into occasions of loving you” (the Lord). This is Lent. It is not to be understood as giving up this or that, but freely handing over the self in service of God and the others in ordinary secular life          In a word, LENT is living “priestly soul.”

 

Priestly Soul:  This nomenclature has nothing to do with priests and laity as such, but represent one or another aspect of the Christological anthropology that applies to both. The first thing to establish is the architecture of the anthropology. It is subjective and dynamic. Hence it is of a phenomenological nature and dynamic. It begins with the “I” mastering self to get possession of self and governing self so as to be able to make the gift of self as indicated in Hebrews 9 where St. Paul describes Christ as not entering the Holy of Holies with the blood of bulls and goats but with His own. Hence, the meaning of the priesthood transcends the received meaning of mediation as between this part and that part. Rather, the priesthood of Christ appears as mediating between self and another. One makes oneself to be gift to another.

 

This is possible because of the dogmatic determination of Christ by the Council of Chalcedon which declared the metaphysical architecture of Christ to be one divine Person with two natures (understood from Greek philosophy as principle of activity). Chalcedon (451) made an insuperable ontological determination of the ontic structure of Jesus Christ. Ratzinger commented: In my view, Chalcedon represents the boldest and most sublime simplification of the complex and many-layered data of tradition to a single central fact that is the basis of everything else: Son of God, possessed of the same nature as God and of the same nature as us. In contrast to the many other approaches that have been attempted in the course of history, Chalcedon interpreted Jesus theologically. I regard this as the only interpretation that can do justice to the whole range of tradition and sustain the full impact of the phenomenon itself. All other interpretations become too narrow at some point; every other conception embraces only one part of the reality and excludes another. Here and here alone does the whole of the reality disclose itsel.”[2]

 

[1] John Henry Newman. Discourse 16 to Mixed Congregations:  Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion

[2] J, /Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching” Franciscan Herald Press, (1985)

Lent – Scott Hahn on Priesthood Before Christ. To Come: Your Lent as the Priestly Soul of Christ.

The Meaning of Priesthood before Christ:  Scott Hahn:

 

The Eucharist as the Meal of Melchizedek

from a talk by Scott Hahn

Another key foreshadowing of the Eucharist — the sacrifice and food of the New Covenant — is the bread and wine offered by the priest Melchizedek. Let’s see what this means for our understanding of the Eucharist.

I’d like to call your attention to the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews, chapter 6 describes how God had made a promise [Covenant] to Abraham and then he changed the promise to an oath [Testament]. When God swears an oath to Abraham, he makes a covenant. In Genesis 22:18, right after Abraham went to Moriah to sacrifice his firstborn through Sarah, God prevented it and then swore an oath saying, “Surely all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your seed.”

The New Testament begins, “This is Jesus Christ, the seed of the son of Abraham, the Son of David.” Jesus Christ is the one in and through whom God fulfills that oath he swore to Abraham. Where did he swear it? On Moriah, where the temple was later built and where Christ, the New Temple was later destroyed and rebuilt three days afterwards. It talks about this oath and then it goes on to talk about the priesthood of Melchizedek. In chapter 7, the first ten verses, it describes how Abraham met Melchizedek. It talks about the meaning of his name. He’s the king of righteousness, that’s what Melchizedek means in Hebrew. He is the King of Salem, which means peace, shalom. He is the priest of God Most High and he blessed Abraham, so he was superior to Abraham. Everything is mentioned about the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek except one thing, the bread and the wine.

Now we are going to ask a question. Is that because the bread and the wine was the only thing that was unimportant about Melchizedek and Abraham meeting, or is it because the importance of the bread and the wine is so great but so obvious that it goes without saying? Let’s study the next few chapters.

For one thing we already saw back in Hebrews 5, verses 5 and 6 where God has sworn an oath to Jesus Christ. He says, “Thou art my Son. Today have I begotten thee.” And he also says in another place, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” To be God’s Son is like the same thing as being a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Remember way back in the Old Testament before the Golden Calf, fathers[1] were high priests and firstborn sons were priests under their authority. This seemed to be the natural family pattern of Melchizedek. This is how the ancient Jews as well as the ancient Church Fathers understood it.[2]

Jesus Christ is not a Levite so Old Testament Jews might be tempted to say, “Well, he can’t be a priest, then.” But Hebrews is talking all about the wilderness generation under Moses and how they committed idolatry and rebelled against God and how God sent all these punishments. The first rebellion was the Golden Calf, and the first punishment was to take the priesthood away from the firstborn, which had been theirs for centuries, and to give it to the Levites temporarily. What the writer of Hebrews is suggesting is that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is righteous enough to restore the original pattern of the father-son family priesthood, because this is a divine family that God, through Christ, is adopting us into through the sacrifice of Christ.[3]

He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. The word “order” does not mean order like the Dominican Order. It means after the manner of Melchizedek’s priesthood. The writer goes on to make a big, sharp contrast between the Levitical priests who continue to offer these animals in sacrifice. They had to offer. They had to kill. They had to sacrifice millions of sheep, millions of goats and millions of cattle with millions of gallons of blood running down through the temple. Why? It was all after and because of the Golden Calf, whereas before all of that, you had a father and a son and a clean priesthood that Melchizedek represents. “After the manner of Melchizedek” suggests that Melchizedek’s manner of priestly sacrifice was bread and wine. This is how all the early Fathers understood this, as well.

Now, it says in Hebrews 7 in verse 18, “On the one hand a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God.” And it was not without an oath and it talks about how God swore this oath, and the oath that has been talked about is the oath that was sworn by God on Moriah where Christ was slain. Verse 22: This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; whereas Jesus is one. There’s the single priesthood, and he lives forever up in heaven. But he holds his priesthood permanently because he continues a priest forever. Consequently, he is able for all times to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need like those high priests to offer sacrifices daily.” In other words to kill and to have blood shed continuously. “…first for his own sins and then for those of the people. He did this once for all when he offered up himself (my emphasis). Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests.” That is the Levitical law that was given after the Golden Calf, “…but the word of the oath which came later than the law appoints a son who has been made perfect forever.”

Now the point in what we are saying is this. We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. Notice that the Lamb is the one enthroned in Revelation. The Lamb and the firstborn Son of the Passover is the priest who ministers in a sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary. He is a minister in a sanctuary. It isn’t complete. He is ministering in the heavenly sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up not by man but by the Lord. “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Hence it is necessary for this priest to have something to offer.”

In fact, we’re going to be offering this sacrifice forever in and through and with Christ. Not bloody animal sacrifices but our hearts and our souls and our bodies in union with the One whose body and blood, soul and divinity are perfect and pure — the only acceptable sacrifice which makes our otherwise unacceptable sacrifices perfectly acceptable. “Holy and righteous,” Paul says. He goes on talking about the superiority of the New Covenant that Christ established. “The days will come says the Lord when I will establish a New Covenant with the House of Israel” (Jer. 31:31). Verse 9, “Not like the covenant I made with your fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. That covenant, they broke.” When? At the Golden Calf. The covenant that he made with them out of Egypt they broke at the Golden Calf.

It won’t be like that covenant because this firstborn Son won’t break it, and that’s what makes it new. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Verse 13, and in speaking of the New Covenant he treats the first as obsolete and what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. The Old Testament only uses “New Covenant one time. Jesus in the gospels only uses the phrase “New Covenant” one time. When? At Passover time. Where? In the Upper Room. Why? To institute the Eucharist.

And so he goes on in Hebrews 9 to talk about the superiority. Back in the Old Testament, verse 9, we read, “According to this Old Testament arrangement, gifts and sacrifices were offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper. What is the contrast implied? Back then sacrifices were offered which couldn’t perfect the worshipper’s conscience, implying that in the New Covenant, what? Sacrifices are offered which do perfect the conscience of the worshipper.

That’s what the Eucharist does. It cleanses our soul. It wipes away all venial sin. These Old Testament sacrifices, verse 10, deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, baptism is, in the Greek, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Do you know when the real Reformation came? Not in 1517. The real reformation came in the Upper Room when the Eucharist was instituted, when the Catholic Church was formed. The time of reformation wiped away the weak ineffective Old Testament sacrifices. To do away with all sacrifices altogether? No. To initiate a new sacrifice which has intrinsic power to cleanse our consciences.

Verse 11, now, “The one Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things that have come. Then through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with human hands, that is not of this creation, he entered once and for all into the holy place, that is heaven, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” He took his own blood up there. He’s not bleeding in the sense that he’s suffering and dying, but he’s up there as a Lamb looking as though he’s been slain, offering his own blood. That’s a Eucharistic Passover sacrifice and that’s why the entire structure of Revelation is a Passover liturgy.

And it goes on to talk about the Old Testament’s weakness in comparison with the New Testament’s power. “For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God purify your conscience?” The body was cleansed externally in the Old Testament sacrifices, but with Christ’s Passover sacrifice which he continues to administer up in the heavenly sanctuary, our consciences are cleansed as we offer and receive that down here below on earth.

“Therefore,” verse 15 says, “he is the mediator of a New Covenant.” He only said that word covenant one time. “This cup is the blood of the New Covenant,” when he instituted the Eucharist. That fulfilled Jeremiah 31. That’s when he offered what appeared to be bread and wine. That’s when he became a new Melchizedek, feeding the new children of Abraham so that through Abraham’s seed, Jesus, all the nations of the world, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Something which God had sworn but had not performed until Christ, the son of Abraham, was sacrificed on Moriah on the peak called Calvary.

And he began it in the Upper Room when he instituted the Eucharist which goes on and on and on here on earth and in heaven above forever and ever. He is the mediator of this new, everlasting covenant so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance which goes back to the promise that God gave to Abraham. Verse 24, “For Christ has entered not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”[4]

[1] The fathers of families are Levitical priests of the Trive of Levi

[2] Priest

The Heb. kohen, Gr. hierus, Lat. sacerdos, always denote one who offers sacrifices.

At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the head of the family, as in the cases of Noah ( Genesis 8:20 ), Abraham ( 12:7 ; 13:4 ), Isaac ( 26:25 ), Jacob ( 31:54 ), and Job ( Job 1:5 ). N.B. Every man was his own priest and his own victim.

The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek ( Genesis 14:18 ). Under the Levitical arrangements [which occurs only after the worship of the golden calf] the office of the priesthood was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the qualifications of priests are given in Leviticus 21:16-23 . There are ordinances also regarding the priests’ dress ( Exodus 28:40-43 ) and the manner of their consecration to the office ( 29:1-37 ). And the mission of the Levitical priesthoos is to slaughter the animals in the temple to remind the Jews of their idolatry.

Their duties were manifold ( Exodus 27:20 Exodus 27:21 ; 29:38-44 ; Leviticus 6:12 ;10:11 ; 24:8 ; Numbers 10:1-10 ; Deuteronomy 17:8-13 ; 33:10 ; Malachi 2:7 ). They represented the people before God, and offered the various sacrifices prescribed in the law.

In the time of David the priests were divided into twenty-four courses or classes ( 1 Chronicles 24:7-18 ). This number was retained after the Captivity ( Ezra 2:36-39 ;Nehemiah 7:39-42 ).

“The priests were not distributed over the country, but lived together in certain cities [forty-eight in number, of which six were cities of refuge, q.v.], which had been assigned to their use. From thence they went up by turns to minister in the temple at Jerusalem. Thus the religious instruction of the people in the country generally was left to the heads of families, until the establishment of synagogues, an event which did not take place till the return from the Captivity, and which was the main source of the freedom from idolatry that became as marked a feature of the Jewish people thenceforward as its practice had been hitherto their great national sin.”

The whole priestly system of the Jews was typical. It was a shadow of which the body is Christ. The priests all prefigured the great Priest who offered “one sacrifice for sins” “once for all” ( Hebrews 10:10 Hebrews 10:12 ). There is now no human priesthood. (See Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.) The term “priest” is indeed applied to believers ( 1 Peter 2:9 ; Revelation 1:6 ).. All baptized into Christ are priests of Jesus Christ [ministerial (by the addition of the sacrament of Order) or common] to make the gift of themselves in ordinary work and family life. The sacrifice is the very gift of themselves on the occasion  of work and family. The self-gift is the meaning of human freedom and “secularity” where the secular world becomes the occasion of exercising the priesthood of Christ and becoming Christ Himself. This is the meaning of the universal call to holiness by the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium #31]

 

[3] Therefore, notice Hebrews 9: “But when Christ appeared as high priests of the good things to come, he entered once for al through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands (that is not of this creation), nor again aby virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of hs own blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ – who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And this is why he is mediator of a new covenant, that whereas a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the former covenant, they who have been called may receive eternal inheritance according to the promise” (Hebrews , 9, 11-16),

 

[4] J. Ratzinger: “Of great importance for our question is the fact that Jesus gave His power to the Apostles in such a way that He made their ministry, as it were, a continuation of His own mission. “He who receives you receives me”. He Himself says to the Twelve (Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16; Jn 13:10). Many other texts in which Jesus gives His power to the disciples could here be cited: Mt 9:8: 10:1: 21:23; Mk 0:7: 13:34; Lk 4:6: 9:1; 10:19. The continuity between the mission of Jesus and that of the apostles is once again illustrated with great clarity in the Fourth Gospel: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (20:21: cf. 13:20; 17:18).

The weight of this sentence is evident if we recall what we said above concerning the structure of the mission of Jesus. As we saw, Jesus Himself, sent in the totality of His person, is indeed mission and relation from the Father and to the Father. In this light the great importance of the following parallelism appears: “The Son can do nothing of His own accord” (Jn 5:19-30). “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

This “nothing” which the disciples share with Jesus expresses at one and the same time both the power and the infirmity of the apostolic ministry. By themselves, of their own strength, they can do none of those things which apostles must do. How could they of their own accord say, “I forgive you your sins”? How could they say, “This is my body”? How could they perform the imposition of hands and say, “Receive the Holy Spirit”? None of those things which constitute apostolic activity are done by one’s own authority. But this expropriation of their very powers constitutes a mode of communion with Jesus, who is wholly from the Father, with Him all things and nothing without Him. Their own “nihil posse”, their own inability to do anything, draws them into a community of mission with Jesus. Such a ministry, in which a man does and gives through a divine communication what he could never do and give on his own is called by the tradition of the Church a “sacrament”.

If Church usage calls ordination to the ministry of priesthood a “sacrament”, the following is meant: This man is in no way performing functions for which he is highly qualified by his own natural ability nor is he doing the things that please him most and that are most profitable. On the contrary, the one who receives the sacrament is sent to give what he cannot give of his own strength; he is sent to act in the person of another, to be his living instrument. For this reason no human being can declare himself a priest; for this reason, too. no community can promote a person to this ministry by its own decree. Only from the sacrament, which belongs to God, can priesthood be received. Mission can only be received from the one who sends, from Christ in His sacrament, through which a person becomes the voice and the hands of Christ in the world. This gift of himself, this renunciation and forgetfulness of self does not however destroy the man; rather, it leads to true human maturity because it assimilates him to the Trinitarian mystery and it brings to life the image according to which we were created. Since we were created in the image of the Trinity, he who loses himself will find himself. But here we have got somewhat ahead of ourselves. In the meantime we have acquired a number of conclusions of great importance. According to the? Gospels, Christ Himself handed on the essential structure of His mission to the apostles, to whom He grants His power and whom He associates with His power. This association with the Lord, by which a man receives the power to do what he cannot do alone is called a sacrament. The new mission created in the choosing of 12 men has a sacramental nature. This structure flows, therefore, from the centre of the biblical message.

It is obvious that this ministry created by Christ is altogether new and is in no way derived from the Old Testament, but arises from Jesus Christ with new power. The sacramental ministry of the Church expresses the novelty of Jesus Christ and His presence in all phases of history.:”The Nature of the Priesthood,” L’Osservatore Romano, Editorial and Management Offices, Via del Pellegrino, 00120, Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390. (1 October 1990)

 

 

John Henry Newman – “The Mental Sufferings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” – Jesus Was Not Killed; He Died As Creator Of The Action of Dying – Full Freedom

Christ crucified (28)

 

Recollect that our Blessed Lord was in this respect different from us, that, though He was perfect man, yet there was a power in Him greater than His soul, which ruled His soul, for He was God [the Divine “I”]. The soul of other men is subjected to its own wishes, feelings, impulses, passions, perturbations; His soul was subjected simply to His Eternal and Divine Personality. Nothing happened to His soul by chance, or on a sudden; He never was taken by surprise; nothing affected Him without His willing beforehand that it should affect Him. Never did He sorrow, or fear, or desire, or rejoice in spirit, but He [the Divine “I”] first willed to be {330} sorrowful, or afraid, or desirous, or joyful. When we suffer, it is because outward agents and the uncontrollable emotions of our minds bring suffering upon us. We are brought under the discipline of pain involuntarily, we suffer from it more or less acutely according to accidental circumstances, we find our patience more or less tried by it according to our state of mind, and we do our best to provide alleviations or remedies of it. We cannot anticipate beforehand how much of it will come upon us, or how far we shall be able to sustain it; nor can we say afterwards why we have felt just what we have felt, or why we did not bear the suffering better. It was otherwise with our Lord. His Divine Person was not subject, could not be exposed, to the influence of His own human affections and feelings, except so far as He chose. I repeat, when He chose to fear, He feared; when He chose to be angry, He was angry; when He chose to grieve, He was grieved. He was not open to emotion, but He opened upon Himself voluntarily the impulse by which He was moved. Consequently, when He determined to suffer the pain of His vicarious passion, whatever He did, He did, as the Wise Man says, instanter, “earnestly,” with His might; He did not do it by halves; He did not turn away His mind from the suffering as we do—(how should He, who came to suffer, who could not have suffered but of His own act?) no, He did not say and unsay, do and undo; He said and He did; He said, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God; sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou fitted to Me”. He took a {331} body in order that He might suffer; He became man, that He might suffer as man; and when His hour was come, that hour of Satan and of darkness, the hour when sin was to pour its full malignity upon Him, it followed that He offered Himself wholly, a holocaust, a whole burnt-offering;—as the whole of His body, stretched out upon the Cross, so the whole of His soul, His whole advertence, His whole consciousness, a mind awake, a sense acute, a living cooperation, a present, absolute intention, not a virtual permission, not a heartless submission, this did He present to His tormentors. His passion was an action; He lived most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the will; for He bowed His head, in command as well as in resignation, and said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit;” He gave the word, He surrendered His soul, He did not lose it.

Thus you see, my brethren, had our Lord only suffered in the body, and in it not so much as other men, still as regards the pain, He would have really suffered indefinitely more, because pain is to be measured by the power of realising it. God was the sufferer; God suffered in His human nature; the sufferings belonged to God, and were drunk up, were drained out to the bottom of the chalice, because God drank them; not tasted or sipped, not flavoured, disguised by human medicaments, as man disposes of the cup of anguish. And what I have been saying will further serve to answer an objection, which I shall proceed to notice, and which perhaps exists latently {332} in the minds of many, and leads them to overlook the part which our Lord’s soul had in His gracious satisfaction for sin.

Our Lord said, when His agony was commencing, “My soul is sorrowful unto death”; now you may ask, my brethren, whether He had not certain consolations peculiar to Himself, impossible in any other, which diminished or impeded the distress of His soul, and caused Him to feel, not more, but less than an ordinary man. For instance, He had a sense of innocence which no other sufferer could have; even His persecutors, even the false apostle who betrayed Him, the judge who sentenced Him, and the soldiers who conducted the execution, testified His innocence. “I have condemned the innocent blood,” said Judas; “I am clear from the blood of this just Person,” said Pilate; “Truly this was a just Man,” cried the centurion. And if even they, sinners, bore witness to His sinlessness, how much more did His own soul! And we know well that even in our own case, sinners as we are, on the consciousness of innocence or of guilt mainly turns our power of enduring opposition and calumny; how much more, you will say, in the case of our Lord, did the sense of inward sanctity compensate for the suffering and annihilate the shame! Again, you may say that He knew that His sufferings would be short, and that their issue would be joyful, whereas uncertainty of the future is the keenest element of human distress; but He could not have anxiety, for He was not in suspense; nor despondency or despair, for He never was deserted. {333} And in confirmation you may refer to St. Paul, who expressly tells us that, “for the joy set before Him,” our Lord “despised the shame”. And certainly there is a marvellous calm and self-possession in all He does: consider His warning to the Apostles, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”; or His words to Judas, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” and, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” or to Peter, “All that take the sword shall perish with the sword”; or to the man who struck Him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?” or to His Mother, “Woman, behold thy Son”.

All this is true and much to be insisted on; but it quite agrees with, or rather illustrates, what I have been observing. My brethren, you have only said (to use a human phrase) that He was always Himself. His mind was its own centre, and was never in the slightest degree thrown off its heavenly and most perfect balance. “My soul is sorrowful even unto death,” He said. It has been said of that dreadful pestilence which now is upon us, that it begins with death; by which is meant that it has no stage or crisis, that hope is over when it comes, and that what looks like its course is but the death agony and the process of dissolution; and thus our Atoning Sacrifice, in a much higher sense, began with this passion of woe, and only did not die, because at His Omnipotent will His Heart did not break, nor Soul separate from Body, till He had suffered on the Cross.

No; He has not yet exhausted that full chalice, from which at first His natural infirmity shrank. The seizure and the arraignment, and the buffeting, and the prison, and the trial, and the mocking, and the passing to and fro, and the scourging, and the crown of thorns, and the slow march to Calvary, and the crucifixion, these are all to come. A night and a {341} day, hour after hour, is slowly to run out before the end comes, and the satisfaction is completed.

And then, when the appointed moment arrived, and He gave the word, as His passion had begun with His soul, with the soul did it end. He did not die of bodily exhaustion, or of bodily pain; at His will His tormented Heart broke, and He commended His Spirit to the Father.

 

The Two February 14ths in Opus Dei

The dynamics of February 14 in the Founding of Opus Dei:

Ministerial priests and lay women (as well as men) are equal but not the same as “priests/mediators of their own existence.” They are equal because they share equally in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. In Opus Dei, as in the Church, there is only one Christian vocation, to be Ipse Christus. The dynamic of sharing in the “ipse Christus” is the gift of self on the occasion and in the performance of ordinary work and social life.

Women in Opus Dei:

 

“A short time later, on February 14, 1930, I was celebrating Mass in the little chapel of the elderly Marchioness of Onteiro, Luz Casanova’ mother, whom I took care of spiritually while I was chaplain of the Foundation. During the Mass, right after Communion, the whole women’s branch of the Work! I cannot say that I saw it, but intellectually, in detail, I grasped what the women’s branch of Opus Dei was to be. (Later I added other elements, developing this intellectual vision). I gave thanks, and, at the usual time, I went to the confessional of Father Sanchez. He listened to me and then said, ‘This is just as much from God as the rest.’”           

“The participation of women in Opus Dei had been something already implicit in the general vision of October 2. Now his hesitations and investigations into similar institutions came to an end.

            “I noted down in my “Catalinas,” the event and its date February 14, 1930. Later I forgot the date, and I let some time go by, but never again did it occur to me to think, with my false humility (that is, love of comfort, fear of struggle), of becoming a little soldier in the ranks. It was, beyond any doubt, necessary to do some founding.

            “The events of both October 2 and February 14 caught him unprepared, but especially the latter, which flew in the face of his conviction that there was no room in Opus Dei for women. As he saw it, this made the Work’s divine origin all the more clear.

              “I always believed, and I still believe, that our Lord, as on other occasions, ‘managed’ me in such a way that there would be a clear, external, objective proof that t he Work was his. I said, ‘I don’t want women in Opus Dei!’ and God said, ‘Well, I do.’

            “That was not the end of the surprises. Speaking about the paradoxes of the founding, he would say one day:

“The foundation of Opus Dei happened without me; the women’s branch, against my personal opinion; and the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, when I was seeking it but unable to find it.”[1]

Ministerial Priests in Opus Dei

“‘Time went by,’ he says. ‘We prayed. The three who were to be ordained as the first priests of the Work were studying very hard, putting their hearts into it. Then, one day…’

“On the morning of February 14, 1943 – already a day of thanksgiving for the Work as the anniversary of the founding of the women’s branch on February 14, 1930 – Father Josemaria left early to say Mass for his daughters in the oratory of Jorge Manrique. They all participated with great devotion, and he was immersed in God throughout the Holy Sacrifice.

            “As soon as Mass was over, he took out his notebook and wrote on the page for February 14, feast of Saint Valentine, ‘In the house of the women, during Holy Mass “Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis” [The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross].” And then, on that same page, he made a little drawing, of a circle with a cross inside it. After making his thanksgiving, he went downstairs, asked for a sheet of paper, and went into a small reception room, while his daughters waited for him in the vestibule. Encarnita later wrote:

“A few minutes later he reappeared in the vestibule, and it was clear he was deeply moved. ‘Look,’ he told us, pointing to a sheet on which he had drawn a circle with a cross of special proportions in its center, ‘this will be the seal of the Work. The seal, not the coat of arms.” Opus Dei will not have a coat of arms. It represents the world, and in the very heart of the world the Cross.”

            “Next day Father Josemaria went to El Escorial, not far from Madrid, where Alvaro del Portillo, Jose Maria Hernandez de Garnica, and Jose Luis Muzquiz were preparing for their theology exams. With a great sense of unworthiness, almost with shame, he told Alvaro of the grace he had received during Mass the day before. The necessary documents needed to be prepared quickly. Alvaro would be the one to go to Rome to seek approval for the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.

 The Second Vatican Council

The Radical and Fundamental Equality of the People of God

            “(There is) one incontrovertible fact, emphasized with unprecedented vigor by the Second Vatican Council, namely that all persons who belong to the Church have a common fundamental legal status, because they all share one and the same basic theological condition and belong to the same primary common category. All the faithful, from the Pope to the child who has just been baptized, share one and the same vocation, the same faith, the same Spirit, the same grace. They are all in need of appropriate sacramental and spiritual aids; they must all live a full Christian life, following the same evangelical teachings; they must all lead a basic personal life of piety – that of children of God, brothers and disciples of Christ – which is obligatory for them before and above any specific distinctions which may arise from their different functions within the Church. They all have an active and appropriate share – within the inevitable plurality of ministries – in the single mission of Christ and of the Church. Therefore it follows logically that within the Church all members have certain fundamental rights and obligations in common.”[2]

[1] Andrés Vázquez de Prada, “The Founder of Opus Dei,” Vol. 1 (1997) 243-244..

[2] Ibid 19.

Explanation: How One?

FOUNDATION of Opus Dei Being ONE Reality, ONE Vocation: Priesthood of Jesus Christ: Christ is the meaning of priest in that as God-Man He mediates between Himself and the Father. According to Eph1, 4, all were created in view of the Christology of God-man. That is, Christ is the meaning of man. All are created on the blueprint and DNA of Christ. That is, we are all priests as mediators between self and God in the service of others.

Adam was priest and therefore he felt alone in a creation of non-priest (garden and animals). Another priest (Eve) was created so Adam would not be alone. Their priesthood consisted in the self-gift to each other.  This priesthood was removed from man because of the sin of worshipping the golden calf. The priesthood was given to the Levites (Aaron) and became a function to kill the animals and sacrifice their blood in the temple. This changed with Christ and was restored to the fathers of families (Melchisedek). By Baptism and Confirmation, all enter into the priesthood of Christ  which is not functional (offering the blood of bulls and goats (Hebr. 9, 11-14) but prophetic as self-gift. Christ enters before the Father with His own blood, not that of bulls and goats. This is the priesthood that is the ONE of the man, the woman at the foot of the Cross of Christ. All are called to be Him. I add Scott Hahn here:

The Eucharist as the Meal of Melchizedek: Christ’s Self-Gift of Himself. And This is How the Vocation for all in Opus Dei is ONE

From a talk by Scott Hahn

Another key foreshadowing of the Eucharist — the sacrifice and food of the New Covenant — is the bread and wine offered by the priest Melchizedek. Let’s see what this means for our understanding of the Eucharist.

I’d like to call your attention to the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews, chapter 6 describes how God had made a promise to Abraham and then he changed the promise to an oath. When God swears an oath to Abraham, he makes a covenant. In Genesis 22:18, right after Abraham went to Moriah to sacrifice his firstborn through Sarah, God prevented it and then swore an oath saying, “Surely all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your seed.”

The New Testament begins, “This is Jesus Christ, the seed of the son of Abraham, the Son of David.” Jesus Christ is the one in and through whom God fulfills that oath he swore to Abraham. Where did he swear it? On Moriah, where the temple was later built and where Christ, the New Temple was later destroyed and rebuilt three days afterwards. It talks about this oath and then it goes on to talk about the priesthood of Melchizedek. In chapter 7, the first ten verses, it describes how Abraham met Melchizedek. It talks about the meaning of his name. He’s the king of righteousness, that’s what Melchizedek means in Hebrew. He is the King of Salem, which means peace, shalom. He is the priest of God Most High and he blessed Abraham, so he was superior to Abraham. Everything is mentioned about the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek except one thing, the bread and the wine.

Now we are going to ask a question. Is that because the bread and the wine was the only thing that was unimportant about Melchizedek and Abraham meeting, or is it because the importance of the bread and the wine is so great but so obvious that it goes without saying? Let’s study the next few chapters.

For one thing we already saw back in Hebrews 5, verses 5 and 6 where God has sworn an oath to Jesus Christ. He says, “Thou art my Son. Today have I begotten thee.” And he also says in another place, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” To be God’s Son is like the same thing as being a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Remember way back in the Old Testament before the Golden Calf, fathers were high priests and firstborn sons were priests under their authority. This seemed to be the natural family pattern of Melchizedek. This is how the ancient Jews as well as the ancient Church Fathers understood it.

Jesus Christ is not a Levite so Old Testament Jews might be tempted to say, “Well, he can’t be a priest, then.” But Hebrews is talking all about the wilderness generation under Moses and how they committed idolatry and rebelled against God and how God sent all these punishments. The first rebellion was the Golden Calf, and the first punishment was to take the priesthood away from the firstborn, which had been theirs for centuries, and to give it to the Levites temporarily. What the writer of Hebrews is suggesting is that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is righteous enough to restore the original pattern of the father-son family priesthood, because this is a divine family that God, through Christ, is adopting us into through the sacrifice of Christ.

He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. The word “order” does not mean order like the Dominican Order. It means after the manner of Melchizedek’s priesthood. The writer goes on to make a big, sharp contrast between the Levitical priests who continue to offer these animals in sacrifice. They had to offer. They had to kill. They had to sacrifice millions of sheep, millions of goats and millions of cattle with millions of gallons of blood running down through the temple. Why? It was all after and because of the Golden Calf, whereas before all of that, you had a father and a son and a clean priesthood that Melchizedek represents. “After the manner of Melchizedek” suggests that Melchizedek’s manner of priestly sacrifice was bread and wine. This is how all the early Fathers understood this, as well.

Now, it says in Hebrews 7 in verse 18, “On the one hand a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God.” And it was not without an oath and it talks about how God swore this oath, and the oath that has been talked about is the oath that was sworn by God on Moriah where Christ was slain. Verse 22: This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; whereas Jesus is one. There’s the single priesthood, and he lives forever up in heaven. But he holds his priesthood permanently because he continues a priest forever. Consequently, he is able for all times to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need like those high priests to offer sacrifices daily.” In other words to kill and to have blood shed continuously. “…first for his own sins and then for those of the people. He did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests.” That is the Levitical law that was given after the Golden Calf, “…but the word of the oath which came later than the law appoints a son who has been made perfect forever.”

Now the point in what we are saying is this. We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. Notice that the Lamb is the one enthroned in Revelation. The Lamb and the firstborn Son of the Passover is the priest who ministers in a sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary. He is a minister in a sanctuary. It isn’t complete. He is ministering in the heavenly sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up not by man but by the Lord. “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Hence it is necessary for this priest to have something to offer.”

I read that a hundred times before the obvious meaning hit me like a brick in the face. He is a priest in heaven ministering now in the sanctuary and he’s got something to offer and he’s continually offering it. He’s just not bleeding and dying and suffering any more. He’s not killing any more animals, but he’s continually offering the once and for all sacrifice which is himself; but it’s a continual sacrifice. It’s a perpetual offering. He’s not dying, but he’s still offering. That’s exactly what the Catholic Church teaches about the Mass.

In fact, we’re going to be offering this sacrifice forever in and through and with Christ. Not bloody animal sacrifices but our hearts and our souls and our bodies in union with the One whose body and blood, soul and divinity are perfect and pure — the only acceptable sacrifice which makes our otherwise unacceptable sacrifices perfectly acceptable. “Holy and righteous,” Paul says. He goes on talking about the superiority of the New Covenant that Christ established. “The days will come says the Lord when I will establish a New Covenant with the House of Israel” (Jer. 31:31). Verse 9, “Not like the covenant I made with your fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. That covenant, they broke.” When? At the Golden Calf. The covenant that he made with them out of Egypt they broke at the Golden Calf.

It won’t be like that covenant because this firstborn Son won’t break it, and that’s what makes it new. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Verse 13, and in speaking of the New Covenant he treats the first as obsolete and what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. The Old Testament only uses “New Covenant one time. Jesus in the gospels only uses the phrase “New Covenant” one time. When? At Passover time. Where? In the Upper Room. Why? To institute the Eucharist.

And so he goes on in Hebrews 9 to talk about the superiority. Back in the Old Testament, verse 9, we read, “According to this Old Testament arrangement, gifts and sacrifices were offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper. What is the contrast implied? Back then sacrifices were offered which couldn’t perfect the worshipper’s conscience, implying that in the New Covenant, what? Sacrifices are offered which do perfect the conscience of the worshipper.

That’s what the Eucharist does. It cleanses our soul. It wipes away all venial sin. These Old Testament sacrifices, verse 10, deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, baptismois, in the Greek, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Do you know when the real Reformation came? Not in 1517. The real reformation came in the Upper Room when the Eucharist was instituted, when the Catholic Church was formed. The time of reformation wiped away the weak ineffective Old Testament sacrifices. To do away with all sacrifices altogether? No. To initiate a new sacrifice which has intrinsic power to cleanse our consciences.

Verse 11, now, “The one Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things that have come. Then through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with human hands, that is not of this creation, he entered once and for all into the holy place, that is heaven, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” He took his own blood up there. He’s not bleeding in the sense that he’s suffering and dying, but he’s up there as a Lamb looking as though he’s been slain, offering his own blood. That’s a Eucharistic Passover sacrifice and that’s why the entire structure of Revelation is a Passover liturgy.

And it goes on to talk about the Old Testament’s weakness in comparison with the New Testament’s power. “For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God purify your conscience?” The body was cleansed externally in the Old Testament sacrifices, but with Christ’s Passover sacrifice which he continues to administer up in the heavenly sanctuary, our consciences are cleansed as we offer and receive that down here below on earth.

“Therefore,” verse 15 says, “he is the mediator of a New Covenant.” He only said that word covenant one time. “This cup is the blood of the New Covenant,” when he instituted the Eucharist. That fulfilled Jeremiah 31. That’s when he offered what appeared to be bread and wine. That’s when he became a new Melchizedek, feeding the new children of Abraham so that through Abraham’s seed, Jesus, all the nations of the world, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Something which God had sworn but had not performed until Christ, the son of Abraham, was sacrificed on Moriah on the peak called Calvary.

And he began it in the Upper Room when he instituted the Eucharist which goes on and on and on here on earth and in heaven above forever and ever. He is the mediator of this new, everlasting covenant so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance which goes back to the promise that God gave to Abraham. Verse 24, “For Christ has entered not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”

When East and West Come Together Again –  Split since 1054 – the Broken Mirror of the Face of Christ Will Become Visible To Islam and the World. Then — ONE!

When East and West Come Together Again –  Split since 1054 – the Broken Mirror of the Face of Christ Will Become Visible To Islam and the World. Then — ONE!Universal Conversion to Christ as Alpha and Omega of the Created Universe.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible,… All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together…. For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1, 15-20.).

Bp Robert Barron: “Individuals, societies, cultures, animals, plants, planets and the stars – all will be drawn into an eschatological harmony through him. Mind you, Jesus is not merely the symbol of an intelligibility, coherence, and reconciliation that can exist apart from him; rather, he is the active and indispensable means by which these realities come to be. This Jesus in short, is the all-embracing, all-including, all-reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of the time and space”

“The Word became flesh” (Jn. 1, 4)…The assertion of Christ’s absolute ontological priority remains the same: this Jesus is the Word that was with God from the beginning and through whom all things that exist came to be and cointinue in being.

“Now what follows from these breathtaking descirtions is a centrally important epistemic claim: that Jesus cannot be measured bay a criterion outside of himself or viewed from a perspective higher than himself. He cannot be understood as one object among many or surveyed blandly by a disinterested observer. If such perspectives were possible, then he could not be the all-grounding Word or the criterion that which no more final can be thought. If we sought to know him in this way we would not only come to incorrect conclusions but also involve ourselves in a sort of operational contradiction. To be consistent with these accounts, we must say that Jesus determines not only what there is to be known (since he is the organizing principle finite being) but also how we are to know what is to be known (since the mind itself is a creature, made and determined through him

“A Christ-illumined mind in search of Christ-determined forms seems to be the epistemology implicit in Colossians and the Johannine prologue. Further, as Bruce Marshall has argued, this primacy implies that the narratives concerning Jesus must, for Christians, be an epistemic trump, that is to say, an articulation of reality that must hold sway over and against all rival articulations, be they scientific, psychological, sociological, philosophical, or religious. To hold to Colossians and the prologue to John is to have a clear negative criterion concerning all claims to ultimate truth: whatever runs contrary to the basic claims entailed in the naratives concerning Jesus must certainly be false” (R. Barron, “The Priority of Christ” Brazos (2007) 134-135.