Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christ the King Altar, San Juan Bautista Church, Tabaco City, Albay


MY REFLECTION ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING

In the New Order of the Mass it has been customary to put this important solemnity on the last part of the liturgical calendar.  In the Roman Catholic Church we demonstrate in our liturgy (the public worship of the church), the eschatological nature of the history of salvation.  By words and actions through the sacraments we celebrate, we demonstrate the saving work of Christ in the Church and in the world.  For Christ said when He ascended into the heavens, “I am with you always till the end of the ages.” 

It is only proper and just that the end of the liturgical calendar should find the solemnity of Christ the King.  The kingship of Christ is made manifest into two ways: (1) through our personal lives and ecclesiastical life on earth, as a pilgrim church, and (2) in the fulfilment of His promise that in the end He shall come again to judge the living and the dead, as judge and King, to reign forever in a world without end.  I have observed that in our modern world there are two errors as far as the kingship of Christ is observed.  The first one is the belief that the church should hold on to political power (triumphalism) and must control politics and civil government.  Secondly there are also those who believe that Christian liberation involves the political struggle against the oppressor, against politics and a militant approach towards social injustice (liberation theology).  Both of this are errors because they misunderstood the nature of Christ’s Kingship, much in the same ways that the Jews of Christ’s time misapprehended the messianic kingdom promised by the Scriptures.  Both err in the sense that they saw this world as an end has failed to grasp the reality of this world being a transition period to the one which is eternal.  St. Paul said we look for a kingdom not of this world, but a kingdom of righteousness and without end.  It is a matter of faith that Christ will come again in glory.  But even as we wait for that Kingdom to come we must renew the face of the earth.  We should demonstrate that we are worthy inheritors of that eternal kingdom by being holy, living just lives and doing justice.  This is what it means to be a Christian and to believe in the Kingship of Christ.   Christ did not establish an earthly kingdom, but He will come again and establish an eternal kingdom.  This is our hope and this is our expectation.  That is why we cry to heaven, “maranatha”, Lord Jesus Come again in glory.  For Christ now sits at the right hand of God, waiting for everything to be subdued under His feet.  For when he ascended into heaven He brought with Him a train of captives.  For now we can hope that we have a High Priest in the heavens, in the holy of holies, who in the last days will come again to be the King, let us lift our eyes unto heaven.  But when the Son of Man shall come, will He find faith on the earth?  Amen.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

THE ROLE OF LATIN IN CONTEMPORARY CHURCH


THE ROLE OF LATIN IN CONTEMPORARY CHURCH

My comments: The self-arbiters of liturgical reform in the name of Vatican II has done our church a disservice by totally eliminating Latin and Gregorian Chant in our liturgy. The total elimination of Latin and Gregorian chant was never mandated nor envisioned by the Vatican Council II Fathers. And today some people think that Vatican II mandated the elimination of Latin and Gregorian Chant. All of a sudden the things that were considered beautiful and sacred in the past were now quietly considered by some as taboo. This is what we call the heremeneutics of discontinuity. There is a disjoint from the past and with the present. There is a gap. People do not understand that the liturgy epitomizes the unity of thread in the experience of the church. Liturgical development must be organic. The liturgy is not a property of a group but it is the property of the church. Today with Latin and Gregorian Chant out of the picture, our contemporary Liturgy is so impoverished because of too much minimalism. This becomes more noticeable when we cannot even have a good repertoire of sacred music. Every Sunday every season we always hear new songs, always new songs and seems after learning the other we shelve the others. Where is now the wealth of experience arising from liturgical life? Priests are now talking about the need to be silent in the mass...the need to be reverent and solemn...these are the very elements present in the Latin Mass that in the 70s the self appointed arbiters of liturgical reform eliminated. Today what do we have? a liturgy which is impoverished. Minimalism in vestments, sacramental, and even the sacred vessels lack the accessories that made it appear sacred, eg. chalice veil. Priests don't wear proper vestments and the vestments does not even inspire because of impoverish art.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I MUST DINE IN YOUR HOUSE

"I must come to your house". Poignant words from our Lord addressed to Zacchaeus the publican. Zachaeus must have been surprised to have heard this word from Jesus. These words were like spell of magic that captured the whole attention of Zachaeus. For he welcomed the Lord at his house, dined with him and his guests and while hearing from the words of the Lord, he was moved to repentance and a strong resolve that whatever he took from others he will return it fourfold. How can this great sinner, a publican (publicans in Jesus times were considered by Jews as sinners, dirty and traitors because the collect taxes for the Romans and they become rich by cheating and by commissions coming from the tax collection), despised by all received such attention from the Lord. Sometimes and I think in many occasions the GRACE OF THE LORD is unfathomable. It comes at most unexpected times. Showing the tender mercies of our God. Without difficulty it moves the human heart to repentance. Obviously the very sign of repentance is the desire to repay and return what has been defrauded because of sin and wrong doing. Restitution comes easy when the grace of God moves us to repentance. This is the meaning of true repentance. The repentance that brings salvation. And Jesus declared to everyone, "Salvation has come to this house, for this man Zacchaeus is also a son of Abraham." Lord Jesus that your grace may touch our hearts, is my prayer. Amen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A REFLECTION ON PURGATORY




THE PAINS OF PURIFYING LOVE: A Reflection on Purgatory

By Herbert B. Rosana

Today we commemorate the souls in purgatory. In a solemn manner we are led to remember the memory of our departed loved ones.  The Holy Scriptures, the teachings and customs of the Church teaches us that there is a soul that after the physical death of the body this soul continues to exist and awaits the resurrection of the body and  the last judgement day.  Some people especially those who are not Catholics cannot imagine the idea of purgatory.  But I would think that the Holy Scriptures has given ample proof of the existence of place, as something of an interregnum before the last judgement day.  In I Peter 3:18-19 it says:

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,"[i]

It was also reported that after Jesus’ death on the cross, many who were dead have been seen again in Jerusalem, “They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”  Matthew 27:53[ii]

This interregnum between life and the last judgement day is a continuation of life.  Jesus rebukes the Sadducees for their unbelief in the resurrection of the body.  In fact Jesus said that they were in grave error as far as their views on the the resurrection of the Body was concerned.  The scriptures would have not referred to God as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob if these were dead men.  Jesus revealed to us that God is not the God of the dead but of the living.   Thus to an extent the Scriptures teaches us about punishment, temporal and eternal.  Temporal punishment refers to the natural consequence of wrongdoings.  God forgives us and saves us but as a natural consequence we have to pay for the consequences.  And the parable of Jesus aptly describe this thus:

Luke 12:59 –“I say to thee, thou shalt not go out thence, until thou pay the very last mite.”[iii]

Our prayers for the dead will benefit only those who are in purgatory and this prayer that we offer for their relief in some way open the door for the prayers of this souls to help us too as we walk in this perilous journey of life.  Since the early days of the Church, this idea has been supported as we read in 2 Timothy 1:16 – “The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou very well knowest.”[iv]

Here are also some quotes from the early church fathers that shows us that prayers for the dead were practiced by the early Christian Church:

St. Basil the Great [+379] “O Christ our God...(who) on this all-perfect and saving Feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in hades, promising unto us who are held in bondage great hope of release from the vilenes that doth hinder us and did hinder them ... send down Thy consolation... and establish their souls in the mansions of the Just; and graciously vouchsafe unto them peace and pardon; for not the dead shall praise thee, O Lord, neither shall they who are in Hell make bold to offer unto thee confession. But we who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls”[v]

"The Holy Sacrifice (Eucharist) of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come."[vi]


As we honor and commemorate the memories of our dead, let it not simply be a social event of meeting friends in the cemetery but let it be a solemn moment of prayers and quietness.  A wish and prayer that the souls of the departed will find peace.  Let us offer our masses and our sacrifices and pains for the relief of the souls in purgatory. For we all die in hope and in faith.  This is our assurance.  But for those who died in the absence of faith, let us hope that in the recesses of their hearts they should have found the light of God.  For God is a merciful God and we can never set a limit to His Generosity and Mercy.  Amen.



[i] NASB

[ii] New International Version

[iii] Douay-Rheims Bible

[iv] Douay-Rheims Bible

[v] Isabel F. Hapgood, Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, Englewood, New Jersey, 1975, 5th edition), p. 255.

[vi] Dialogues IV, 57.