Monday, 27 February 2012

What Does The Prayer Really Say?

WDTPRS  Fr. Z's Blog

1st Sunday of Lent – Lent is a transforming mystery, a “sacrament”

Engaving of several events, see Response
  • There is an intimate bond between the Lent and Easter cycle with the Person of Christ.  The cycle makes present for us, and draws us into, Our Saviour’s “Paschal Mystery” (pascha from Hebrew pesach, Passover) in a sacramental way.
  • Remember!  Sacramental reality is no less real than the sensible reality to which we normally pay attention and by which we are so often distracted from what is above.
  • Each year, our Holy Church conforms herself to her dying and rising Lord.
    Traditionally during Lent the Church strips our liturgy of all its ornaments: music and all decorations such as flowers.  She liturgically fasts, nay rather, dies throughout Lent.  Increasing deprivation should characterize Lent’s liturgical worship so that our Easter celebration is that much sweeter, the flowers more florid, the music more tuneful, the candles even brighter.  Ancient liturgical customs, usually persevered where the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is enjoyed, can help us recover a deeper observance of Lent.  The “Alleluia” is suppressed from Septuagesima onward. On Passion Sunday (the Sunday before Palm Sunday) statues and images are draped, taken from sight.   During the Triduum, which for St Leo the Great (d 461) is totum paschale sacramentum - the “whole paschal sacramental mystery” (tr. 72.1), bells fall silent on Holy Thursday, there is no Mass on Good Friday, though there is at least Communion.  On Saturday she is still in liturgical death, without Communion.  At dusk and the Easter Vigil everything returns ten-fold with her resurrection.
    Let us see the Collect for this 1st Sunday:
  • Concede nobis, omnipotens Deus,
    ut, per annua quadragesimalis exercitia sacramenti,
    et ad intellegendum Christi proficiamus arcanum,
    et effectus eius digna conversatione sectemur
  • Quadragesima, “fortieth” for the fortieth weekday before Easter, is the Latin term for the season of Lent.  Exercitium indicates military and other practices for preparedness, “exercises”.  Arcanum is something “closed” and thus “a sacred secret, a mystery”.  Conversatio means “conduct, manner of living”, not just “conversation.”
  • Early Christian writers lacked specialized vocabulary for their new theology. They made up new words or adapted existing terms and gave them new meaning.   Sacramentum, perhaps first used in a Christian context by the ecclesial wild-child Tertullian (d c. 225), rendered Greek mysterion.  Its root is sacer, “dedicated or consecrated to a divinity, holy, sacred” (like sacerdos, “priest”).  In the Roman military, sacramentum was the oath taken by a soldier.  In the Christian context, sacramentum referred to the profession of faith made by catechumens when they were baptized, to the Eucharist, the marriage vow, the laying on of hands, etc.  In our Latin prayers, for sacramentum we can say almost interchangeably “sacrament”, “sacramental mystery” or “mystery”.
    Grant to us, Almighty God,
    that, through the annual exercises of the forty-day Lenten sacrament,
    we may both make progress in understanding the hidden dimension of Christ
    and by worthy conduct of life imitate the consequences
  • Get that? Lent is sacramentum: a material sign by which God bestows spiritual effects.
    Grant, almighty God,
    through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
    that we may grow in understanding
    of the riches hidden in Christ
    and by worthy conduct pursue their effects
  • Christ Jesus took our human nature into a bond with His divinity in order to save us from our sins and also to reveal to us who we really are (cf. GS 22).
    Christ is a Person, not a topic of study.  Christ can only be known through an ongoing relationship with Him in which He increases and we decrease.
  • During Lent the words of the Baptist must ring in our ears daily, even hourly: “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30).   When He increases in us, we are more who we are supposed to be.  Thus, we have to make “room” for Him by our self-denial, the extirpation of bad habits and desires, and the cleansing of our soul.  Lent (the quadragesimale sacramentum) is the mystery during which we learn things about Christ, and therefore about ourselves, that we can learn in no other way.
  • In our Collect, Father humbly asks God to make this annual series of disciplines and exercises effective in our lives so that we can have the joy our deprivations and our decreasing promise: the joy of the state of grace after falling – happiness in heaven with our God, our Blessed Mother and all the angels and loved-ones and saints – resurrection.
  • Lent is a transforming mystery, a “sacrament”, during which our physical and spiritual practices have real effects: they bring us into the mystery of the dying and rising Jesus.  This transforming bond with Christ is brought about through denial of self, spiritual and corporal good works for others, examination of conscience, confession of sins, reconciliation with God and neighbor, and full, conscious and active participation in liturgical worship.


Response to WDTPRS 1st Sunday of Lent –Temptation of Christ
 the engraving includes several events ...

  1. Patricia Cecilia says:
The engraving, like many older depictions, includes several events. In the foreground is the temptation of Christ, as Satan tempts Our Lord to make bread of ‘these stones’, whilst in the distant heavens are the angels ready to come and minister to Him. In the middle-ground on the right side is the Baptism of Our Lord, Who can be seen kneeling just to the left of the River Jordan with God the Father approving of Him, and a ray of light from God the Father to God the Son illustrating that approval. At the very far right, below Our Lord, one can see St. John the Baptist on the edge of the Jordan, his hand cupped to hold the water of baptism. In the right background is Jerusalem, brooded over by a very jagged mountain (which may be suggestive of Calvary or just an artistic descendent of the mountains in Eastern icons). Note the demons who almost look like they are rejoicing in Our Lord’s temptation, as if they think that the powers of Hell could win. I have forgotten if the animals mean anything specific, or if, like in illuminated manuscripts, they are just part of the border. But the animal leaping at the upper left looks like a hart (“as the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so panteth my soul after Thee, O Lord”) which is also a medieval symbol for Christ; or perhaps it is the gazelle leaping on the heights from the Canticle.
I think these older illustrations are a reflection of the Mass itself, unfolding the mysteries of Our Lord progressively as one looks more intently with an open heart (actuosa participatio, anyone?).

Sunday, 26 February 2012

COMMENT Lent William

Feast of Saint Bernard 2010
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: William W ….  
To: Fr. Nivard.. . .
Sent: Sunday, 26 February 2012, 14:18
Subject: Re: [Blog] Lent Community Chapter Sermon

Dear Fathers,

Just a comment, if I may, in response to Fr. Nivard's sermon, for his words are full of observations!

Togetherness usually has no formal agenda (except perhaps in Chapter), and it is in the refectory - rather than in the Offices - that personalities are revealed in the mode of love.

When I come amongst you on my [longed-for] cloistered retreats, there is one place in particular in which I see all the instances of which Fr. Nivard writes: the concern for other brethren, the reciprocity and mutual 'correction' with encouragement, and instances of personal holiness - and that is when the Community are gathered together in the Refectory.

In the Refectory I have witnessed 'the hand on the shoulder' of the other in an expression of concern; the shrug that is followed by a wry smile over the helping taken, or at the crumbs left for another to wipe-up, or at the wet tea towel abandoned for another to solve - all simple 'confusions' so well illustrated by each response without any of the 'worldly attempts' to counter or conceal, revealing a wonderful honesty one to the other; and the quite unconscious loving acknowledgement at the time of personal prayer for the sufficiency granted by Our Lord at table.

I am currently reading a fascinating commentary on the Cloud of Unknowing written by William Johnston SJ which focuses on the contemplative experience. Goodness me, if I feel a sense of distraction, even frustration, of being drawn away from my focus, then how will you not experience the distractions in even greater measure: the life of shared community might otherwise be a testing ground but for the wonderful honesty, humility and simplicity of manner that I see amongst you.

You live the life of Fr. Nivard's commentary, and how I love to witness it.

A joy to share my reflections,
With my love in Our Lord,

Homily 1st Lent Sundat

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Fr. Raymond . . .
: Sunday, 26 February 2012, 14:19

DRIVEN BY THE SPIRIT  (Mark 1:12 -15)
There are two key words in this short passage about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. The first is the word ‘driven’ and the second is the word ‘forty’.  The word driven is a very strong word: Jesus wasn’t just asked to go into the desert; he wasn’t just inspired, even commanded to go to the desert; he was driven, he was forced to go into the desert. There is something about the word ‘driven’ that implies a reluctance or  a fear on the part of Jesus.  There seems to be here a sort of foreshadowing of the Gethsemani experience for Him here.  We can almost hear the human nature of Jesus crying our here in much the same way as he did in Gethsemani:  ‘No Father, No. Please, No!  Let this ordeal pass from me!’  He had indeed to be ‘driven’ to go into that desert, that fearsome desert.  He was well aware of its significance for his mission.
Another episode in salvation history that’s surely related to this temptation of Jesus is the contrast between it and the temptation of the first Adam.  The first Adam’s temptation took place in a beautiful garden, the garden of paradise, and Adam failed and the paradise was turned into a wilderness, a wilderness of thorns and thistles.  But for Jesus, Our New Adam, his temptation took place, not in a garden, but in a wilderness, this wilderness that Adam’s fall had made of it.  But Jesus didn’t fail us. He triumphed, and his triumph over the tempter was destined to restore that wilderness into a New Garden, a Paradise, a Paradise of Grace.
 Now, if we come to consider the significance of the ‘forty days’.  The number 40 is one of the most significant and frequently occuring numbers in the history of God’s people.  From the 40 days and 40 nights of the deluge to the 40 years of wandering in the desert.  From the 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent on the mountain receiving the commandments to the 40 days and 40 nights his spies spent reconnoitering the promised land.  And there are many other examples of this occurrence of the number forty in the OT. It seems to express the completion of a certain stage in the life of God’s people or the fullness of some aspect of their history.
The number 40 seems to have some primeval significance for our human nature. This may come from the fact that we spend the first forty weeks of our existence being formed in our Mother’s womb.  It is the very first and most fundamental stage of the existence of each and every one of us.
But to get back to Jesus forty days and forty nights in the desert --- We could well understand this as signifying an experience that should be part and parcel of the lives of each and every one of us.  We are all destined to be confronted by Satan in our own particular lives. We are all destined to be put to the test in difficult circumstances.
And, surely we can understand too from this story how God has compassion for us all in our struggle.  There is a beautiful and very meaningfulconclusion to this story too, a detail that we learn from Matthew’s account of it: there we read that after the temptation ‘the devil left him and angels came to minister to him’.
 And so, surely, we are all promised the comfort and support of God’s angels in our trials.   God is always ready, as the psalmist puts it: to give us joy to balance our afflictions.

Lent Community Chapter Sermon

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Fr. Nivard . . .
Sent: Sunday, 26 February 2012, 8:00
Lent Sermon.

Pope's Lenten Message Focuses on Fraternal Correction.
By Kathleen Naab,

Introd: Scripture says that even the upright fall seven times. (It’s unlikely that we will ever all be down at the same time). Every-one is weak and imperfect. To help others and allow them to help us see the whole truth about ourselves is a great service. We must not remain silent before evil."
   The Pope reflected on three elements of Christian life: 1. concern for others, 2. reciprocity (and 3. Personal holiness.
   Concern for others
Benedict suggests that we look at others with the eyes of Jesus. We are to be concerned for one another. We should not remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters."  "All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite. Our indifference and disinterest is born of selfishness and masked as a respect for 'privacy.'  This concern for others means desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual."
   We are indifferent to the material needs of others because we do not look on our brothers and sisters with a humane and loving gaze. Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency. But it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else."
   Turning then to the need to look out for the spiritual well-being of others, the Holy Father continued: "Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten: fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.
   (The old chapter of faults had the right idea behind it. But we are glad it has disappeared. It could be good, hurtful or farcical. As a novice I once solemnly confessed, in that awesome assembly, “Rev Father, I accuse myself of not keeping custody of the eyes.” I was surprised and delighted at the light-hearted response.)
   "The Scriptures tell us: 'Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it.' Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. We must warn our brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and goodness. Christian admonishment is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy. It springs from genuine concern for the good of the other.
   "In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness. It is a great service to help others and allow them to help us. In this way we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord's ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives. God has done so and continues to do so with each of us."
   Regarding Reciprocity we recall that the Lord's disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension."
   3. And regarding the last point, Personal holiness. The Holy Father recalled that there is always "the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others."
   The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters let us accept the invitation to aim for the high standard of ordinary Christian living.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Star who became nun
Star who became nun to attend Oscars
Star who became nun to attend Oscars | Dolores Hart
Dolores Hart - screen shot
A Hollywood star who became a nun.  is the subject of a documentary film up for an Oscar this week.  Dolores Hart was the first film star to kiss Elvis Presley. She went on to perform in several more films in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1961 she played St Clare in Francis of Assisi. That year she met Pope John XXIII. She told him: "I'm Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare." The Pope said: "No, you are Clare!" Those words were prophetic,  as a few years later Dolores entered the Regina Laudis Benedictine Abbey in Connecticut, and took her final vows there in 1970.

As a Benedictine Sister she has lived a very quiet, structured life, praying the Office every day. The community is very self-sufficient and has its own 400 acre farm, pottery and foundry.  Through the years, Mother Dolores has been  instrumental in developing the abbey's connection with the community through the arts. Paul Newman helped her with funding for a lighting grid, when she decided to start a year-round arts school and a better-equipped stage.

Another friend, the Academy Award winning actress Patricia Neal also helped support the abbey's open-air theatre and arts program.

Every summer, the abbey's 38 nuns help the community stage a musical -  shows have included West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man and My Fair Lady.

In 2006, Mother Dolores visited Hollywood again after 43 years in the convent,  to raise awareness for peripheral idiopathic neuropathy disorder, a neurological disorder which she now suffers from.  In April 2006, she testified at a Washington congressional hearing on the need for research on the painful and crippling disease.

Reverend Mother Dolores Hart became Prioress of the Abbey in 2001, but she remains a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, having in recent years become the only nun to be an Oscar-voting member.

This year, she will be attending the Oscars herself, because she is the subject of the short documentary:  God is Bigger Than Elvis, which is up for an Academy Award.
To see a short film about Mother Dolores -
go to:  

Mother Dolores Hart is interviewed inside the Abbey of Regina Laudis monastery in Bethlehem, Conn., Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. Photo: Jessica Hill / AP

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

COMMENT 'The Paralytic at Capernaum'

Hi, William,
Thank you for the Email COMMENT.
Your reading from Sacra Pagina and Knox Translation.
Your thougts resonant as I came to the account of the Paralytic.
And "Its interpretation section concludes with a glorious reflection" comes wonderfully on this Eve of Ash Wednesday.

A Question. "Jesus' five reasons of the conduct of the disciples. Mt 2:28 escapes me.  One reference to the disciples plucking the ears of corn.
Greetings for Lent.
PS. Shrove Tuesday, I had the task to burn the last year's Palms for the Ashes of Wednesday, powefully wrapping up the symbols the Paschal Mystery.

----- Forwarded Message ----- 
From: William . . .
To: Fr Donald
Sent: Monday, 20 February 2012, 14:13 
Subject: Re: [Blog] The Paralytic at Capernaum

Dear Father Donald, 

Your post on the Gospel story of The Paralytic at Capernaum draws me in desire to enter even more deeply into its meaning. 

The passage has a quite involved analysis in the fine "Sacra Pagina" NT commentary, even to the scholarly interpretation of the subtle Greek word ['forgive']. It examines the meaning of the Greek very finely as to whether Jesus actually forgives the sins or whether he acts as an agent of divine forgiveness, confirming the former and (with delight!) acknowledging the reaction of the scribes in their understanding! This is again wonderfully confirmed in the "Gospel Story" (Knox-Cox), which says that this is the most explicit claim to divine power that our Lord makes during his Galilean ministry: "He is not claiming delegated power from God, he claims authority in his own right as the Messias ('Son of Man') during his earthly life - this can only mean that he is God incarnate".

Sacra Pagina also focuses on the words 'Son of Man' which "stress his power on earth and prepare the readers for the proper understanding of the authority of Jesus - a paradoxical authority given to a 'Son of Man' that is not based on dominating power but achieved through suffering, and is to be at the service of others".

Its interpretation section concludes with a glorious reflection: "This short narrative provides a rich field for contemporary actualization of fundamental Christian themes. In it faith is not simply intellectual conviction but boundary-breaking activity; the faith of the litter bearers who disrupt the assembly is praised. The text also encourages reflection on the relation between sin and "paralysis." Sin can exercise such force that people are unable to move or to change. They may, like the paralyzed man, be dependent on others on the journey to health and restoration. The word of Jesus is restorative and forgiving. And following as a disciple of Jesus, the one who acts as the agent of God's forgiveness and liberation may be not only misunderstood but also may evoke great opposition; and those touched by God's forgiveness may become public witnesses to others so that they in turn can glorify God".

It is one of those passages in the Gospel that can quite fill one's mind, both at rest and along the path of life...

Thank you for challenging my attention on your Blog!

. . . in Our Lord,


Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Paralytic at Caparnaum

Seventh Sunday of Ordianary Time, 19th February.

Christ healing the paralytic at Capernaum.
Bernhard Rode 1780

Healing the paralytic at Capernaum

Christ healing the paralytic at Capernaum by Bernhard Rode 1780. on Right.

Healing the paralytic at Capernaum is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels in Matthew (9:1-8), Mark (2:1-12) and Luke (5:17-26).

"And now, to convince you that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins while he is on earh ... ."  Mark. 1:10. - Knox Translation.
See: The Amplified Bible
Below KJV+ Mk 2:10 powerG1849 Strong    "authoirty" .... 

Harmony KJV+
46. Thronged in Capernaum, He heals a paralytic lowered through the roof of Peter's house

Mat 9:1-8
Mar 2:1-12
Luk 5:17-26
1  AndG2532 he enteredG1684 intoG1519 a ship,G4143 and passed over,G1276 andG2532 cameG2064 intoG1519 his ownG2398 city.G4172  . . .
6  ButG1161 thatG2443 ye may knowG1492 thatG3754 theG3588 SonG5207 of manG444 hathG2192 powerG1849 onG1909 earthG1093 to forgiveG863 sins,G266 (thenG5119 saithG3004 he to theG3588 sick of the palsy,)G3885 Arise,G1453 take upG142 thyG4675 bed,G2825 andG2532 goG5217 untoG1519 thineG4675 house.G3624
1  AndG2532 againG3825 he enteredG1525 intoG1519 CapernaumG2584 . . .

10  ButG1161 thatG2443 ye may knowG1492 thatG3754 theG3588 SonG5207 of manG444 hathG2192 powerG1849 onG1909 earthG1093 to forgiveG863 sins,G266 (he saithG3004 to theG3588 sick of the palsy,)G3885

17  AndG2532 it came to passG1096 onG1722 a certainG3391 day,G2250 as(G2532) heG846 wasG2258 teaching,G1321

24  ButG1161 thatG2443 ye may knowG1492 thatG3754 theG3588 SonG5207 of manG444 hathG2192 powerG1849 uponG1909 earthG1093 to forgiveG863 sins,G266 (he saidG2036 unto theG3588 sick of the palsy,)G3886 I sayG3004 unto thee,G4671