31 December 2007

Check out the archives

If you're a new reader of this blog, welcome. I encourage you to check out the archives to see previous posts. They're full of encouragement for those seeking a deeper experience with the triune God of the universe through His Church and His Saints.

You'll find prayers, devotions, and musings about the Christian life. Best of all I hope that you see how the Holy Spirit never left the Church founded by Jesus Christ on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and continues His work today.

Have a happy new year!

29 December 2007

Hung Between Two Thieves

The church is always God hung between two thieves. Thus, no one should be surprised or shocked at how badly the church has betrayed the gospel and how much it continues to do so today. It has never done very well. Conversely, however, nobody should deny the good the church has done either. It has carried grace, produced saints, morally challenged the planet, and made, however imperfectly, a house for God to dwell in on this earth.

To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul within every time, country, race and gender. To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of the soul ... because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.

28 December 2007

Guardian Angels

Ever stop to think about your Guardian Angel? The historic Church has always taught that each of us has an angel given by God at conception. Not only does it protect us from danger, but instucts us and guides us through life. And when we die, our angel will be there with us.

That said, let's go a step further... our Guardian Angels fought Satan and his rebels in the battle of heaven. We have war veterans on our side who know how to fight against the devil!
Our guardian angels have seen the face of God! They've been in His presence and worshipped at His throne!

ANGEL OF GOD, my guardian dear,To whom his love commits me here; Ever this (day, night) be at my side, To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

ANGELE DEI, qui custos es mei, Me tibi commissum pietate superna; (Hodie, Hac nocte) illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen.

Not only should we call upon our Guardian, but we can ask the archangels for assistance as well:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

O heavenly doctor and most faithful companion, St. Raphael, thou who didst restore sight to the elder Tobit, and didst escort the younger Tobias throughout his appointed journey and kept him safe and sound, be the doctor of my body and soul. Dispel the darkness of my ignorance, and assist me in the dangerous journey of this life always, until thou leadeth me to my heavenly homeland. Amen.

O God, who from among all your angels chose the Archangel Gabriel to announce the mystery of the Incarnation, mercifully grant that we who solemnly remember him on earth may feel the benefit of his patronage in heaven, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Just think of all the things your Guardian must listen to, look at, and put up with because God put you in its care. My poor Angel! No wonder the Byzantine prayer to one's Guardian Angel includes an apology:

O Angel of Christ, holy guardian and protector of my soul and body, forgive me everything wherein I have offended thee every day of my life, and protect me from all influence and temptation of the evil one. May I nevermore anger God by any sin. Pray for me to the Lord, that He may make me worthy of the grace of the All-holy Trinity, and of the Most Blessed Theotokos, and of all the Saints. Amen.
The Byzantine Rite also sets apart Monday to remember the Holy Angels. During the hours of prayer you will hear this troparion:

Supreme Leaders of the Heavenly Hosts, we implore you that by your prayers you will encircle us, unworthy as we are, with the protection of the wings of your immaterial glory, and guard us who fall down I before you and fervently cry: Deliver us from dangers, for you are the commanders of the Powers above.

The Roman Catholic Church dedicates the month of October to the Holy Angels since they are celebrated on the second.
Let us thank God for these ministering spirits.

27 December 2007

Queen of Prophets

Queen of Prophets, help me to imitate the prophets and your own example. They never sought the world with its pleasures, but God alone. They were willing to suffer for Him in their zeal to save souls. Teach me to be zealous for the honor of God and for the salvation of my soul and that of my neighbor. Help me to realize that the most divine thing is to labor with God for the salvation of souls. Amen.

Another one of my favorite titles for the Blessed Virgin Mary is "Queen of Prophets".

The word of God came through the mouth of the prophets, finally the WORD became flesh through Mary.

Like the prophets of the Old Covenant she leads us to Christ.

She is the means by which the prophecies were fulfilled.

By saying yes to the archangel, Mary became the first to receive Christ. She is our example, our leader, our Queen.

She was there on Pentecost, and would have been the one that the disciples looked to when the Holy Spirit came. I imagine them asking her, "Is this Him? This sound like wind, these tongues of fire?" She nodded, lifted her hands, then danced at this reunion with the Spirit she experienced three decades before at the Annunciation--but this time the Spirit would remain with her, the disciples, and the Church.

26 December 2007

God in the Flesh

On Christmas Day billions of Christians worldwide join together with one voice to celebrate the Word become flesh. But when did the incarnation begin? Not on Christmas, but at the Annunciation (celebrated March 25, see Luke 1:26-38).

Think about it. Life begins at conception, thus the incarnation began when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the blessed Virgin. For nine months, wherever Mary went, God went. Jesus took His flesh from Mary and He dwelt among us in the womb of His Mother before appearing in Bethlehem. The Blessed Virgin was the Lord's throne before the manger.
No wonder all generations call Mary blessed just as she prophesied in Scripture.

25 December 2007

Happy ChristMass

Christ is born; glorify Him!
Christ comes from heaven; go to meet Him!
Christ is on earth; be exalted!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
And praise Him with joy, O people,
for He has been glorified!

~ St. Cosmas the Melodist, Nativity Canon, Ode 1

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
~ Adeste Fidelis

Whom have we, Lord, like you?
The Great One who became small,
the Wakeful who slept,
The Pure One who was baptized,
the Living One who died,
The King who abased himself to ensure honor for all.
Blessed is your honor!
It is right that man should acknowledge your divinity,
It is right for heavenly beings to worship your humanity.
The heavenly beings were amazed to see how small you became,
And earthly ones to see how exalted.
~ St. Ephrem the Syrian

E sursum Agnus mittitur
laxare gratis debitum;
omnes pro indulgentia
vocem demus cum lacrimis.

The Lamb descends from heaven above
to pardon sin with freest love:
for such indulgent mercy shewn
with tearful joy our thanks we own.
~ Prudentius, Vox Clara

24 December 2007

Church on Christmas Eve

For me, going to church on Christmas Eve is a must. When I came back to Christ (after 6 years of running, I wanted to find a service in San Francisco where I was living at the time. A friend and I drove around the city for two hours until we came upon an unlabelled church around 11:30. It turned out to be Catholic, but I put my Romophobia aside and went in.

What struck me was how reverent it was. The piety of the people was inspiring. Everything had a purpose--the candles, the procession, the music. We did our best to follow along. That was my first midnight Mass on Christmas.
Another memorable service came a few years later when I was the assistant at an Assembly of God. My mom wrote an avant-garde Christmas performance art piece for "living Christmas Tree" and childrens choir.

I started out alone in a black turtle neck while we sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Next, the green tree frame was added and the kids sang another carol. With each carol the kids added different ornaments that represented something about the incarnation and salvation.

Very minimalist and quirky, yet instructive and fun.

Be sure to make a church service part of your Christmas Eve. Keep the MASS in Christ-Mass.

23 December 2007

Two attitudes

How can we understand the supernatural things of God?

One attitude is to be a humble disciple who considers the Catholic Church as the Body of Christ illumined by the Holy Spirit and created by the Father to preserve the Faith.

The other attitude is the innovative explorer who considers himself as the supreme judge of what is. This person takes the ground that man can teach himself with just a Bible and conclusions that he hopes are from the Holy Spirit.

If the Bible and not the Church was meant to be the revealer of truth, then why write books or preach sermons? Why have ordination and Bible Colleges? All someone would need to do is read or hear the Bible and come to the correct conclusion by the power of the Holy Spirit without any human intervention. Everyone would believe the same thing miraculously simply by the words of Scripture.

But what do we see? 22,000 denominations all claiming to read the same Bible. Children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Every heresy started with private interpretation of Scripture.

The Church empowered by the Holy Spirit spread among the nations before the New Testament was written. Even after the Epistles and Gospels appeared, not every community had a copy—the Faith spread by word of mouth under the authority of Bishops taught by the Apostles and annointed to safeguard the Truth. Her Liturgy and Sacraments were established four-hundred years before the New Testament Canon.
The Church was established by the blood of martyrs not by ink and paper. Wherever the early Church went, she went not as bearer of the New Testament, but as authoritative teacher of the truth. She was charged by Christ to go into the world and make disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit.

So what attitude do you have? Will you come to the Temple of the Spirit built with living stones on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets with Jesus as the Cornerstone? Will you trust in the Lord with all your heart or lean on your own understanding?

22 December 2007

Why don't the Fathers say much about tongues?

"As we know it (the gift of tongues) was abused; but this from its nature was, when once given, possessed as an ordinary talent, and needed no fresh divine influence for subsequent exercise of it. It may besides be viewed as a medium of conveying the message, as well as being the seal of its divinity, and as such needed not in every instance to be marked out as a supernatural gift."

~Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Two Essays on Biblical and on Ecclesiastical Miracles (1890)
How often I hear the comment that the gift of tongues must have ceased in the Church because it is not mentioned explicitly after Apostolic times. We hear of healing and deliverance wrought at the hands of the saints throughout the centuries. They experienced visions, "raptures", and apparitions. But what of tongues?

In the quote above, the blessed Cardinal explains that tongues was so common that it ceased to be considered miraculous, thus wasn't mentioned. It was an ordinary talent.
Think about it... if it weren't for the abuse of tongues in Corinth, we might not know much more than what is in the Acts of the Apostles.

Something else to ponder... miracles aren't really a big deal. Christians should expect them and thank God when they happen. Our lives should be naturally supernatural.

21 December 2007

Like Finding an Old Friend

Damian Stayne, the founder of Cor et Lumen Christi, mentioned in an interview that one of his inspirations was the early 20th Century Pentecostal Smith Wigglesworth. It’s been fifteen years since I read his books when I was in the Assemblies of God. So I Googled his name and found two pdf E-books available:

"The secret for the future is living and moving in the power of the Holy Ghost. One thing I rejoice in is that there need not be an hour or a moment when I do not know the Holy Ghost is upon me. Oh, this glorious life in God is beyond expression; it is God manifest in the flesh. Oh, this glorious unction of the Holy Ghost — that we move by the Spirit." (1920 Sermon)

20 December 2007


St. Cyril of Jerusalem says that the sign of Christ’s resurrection is the descent of the Holy Spirit:
In the words of the Prophet that follow in the same context, He says plainly, For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language (Zeph. 3:9): since, after the Resurrection, when the Holy Ghost was sent forth the gift of tongues was granted, that they may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord. (Catechetical Lecture 14:7)

“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not” (1 Cor. 14:22) Those who do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead will be convinced because He ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit as a witness.

The “tongues of angels”, the heavenly language, is given as a sign to those who surrender to the Holy Spirit. It is a reversal of Babel according to many Church Fathers. Where God once brought confusion and discord, He now brings unity (Eph. 4:4).

Salvation is confirmed with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will (Heb. 2:4). The Holy Spirit is a sign that Christ abides in us (1 John 3:24).

When we don’t know what to pray the Spirit can call on the name of the Lord (1 Cor 14:14). “For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) Speaking in tongues is speaking to God (1 Cor. 14:2). Through the Spirit we cry “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6) and we have access to the Father (Eph. 2:18).

Again, hear what St. Cyril says about the Holy Spirit:

A mighty ally and protector, therefore, have we from God; a great Teacher of the Church, a mighty Champion on our behalf. Let us not be afraid of the demons, nor of the devil; for mightier is He who fighteth for us. Only let us open to Him our doors; for He goeth about seeking such as are worthy (Wisdom 6:16) and searching on whom He may confer His gifts. And He is called the Comforter, because He comforts and encourages us, and helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26.), that is, makes intercession to God. (Catechetical Lecture 16:19-20)

“And may the God of peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, count all of you worthy of His spiritual and heavenly gifts—To whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” (C.L. 16:32)

Incarnation: The Holy Spirit & Mary

Christianity is a union of two loves in the one person of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the love of God come down to earth. Mary is human love rising to meet God.

Jesus Christ is the heart of this union: the intersection of a two-fold love.

We must try to understand the meaning of this union between the Holy Spirit and His instrument, the Blessed Virgin. We must try to plumb the depths contained in this truth: that Christ is the fruit of this mutual love.

At the heart of the Credo are the words: “And Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.”

~ Cardinal Suenens

19 December 2007

Discern your vocation online

Are you hearing God's call but unsure of where that might call is leading you? Check out the Vocation Network. By answering a few questions you will be given a list of monasteries, apostolates, and organizations that match. As a married guy with a family, nothing came up, but who knows what you'll find out.
Discernment retreats have long been a way of getting direction for your Christian vocation. This traditionally meant spending some directed time at a monastery. Well, now you can do this online thanks to the Benedictine Sisters, Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho. Check out their online retreat.
Maybe it will open your eyes to some possibilities you never considered.

18 December 2007

Mother Cabrini & the Holy Spirit

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini started a camp for poor immigrant children here in the foothills above Golden, CO which is now a shrine. I came across this mediatation on the Holy Spirit by her that I thought I’d pass along:

Oh! If only devotion to the Holy Spirit inflamed the world, then should we see the face of the earth renewed, and Faith and Charity would triumph over everything.

"Send your Spirit and create us. Renew the face of the earth."

If you desire to correct faults, and you feel you cannot; if you languish with tepidity and it seems you can do no good, but, still you wish to be fervent, try to be devout to the Holy Spirit, invoking Him often and with your whole hearts. Excite in yourselves strong desires to receive Him, repeat often to Him,

"Place your own heart in me God, pour your own Spirit in me. Ready me and I will be made right, and strong and holy."

If you invoke Him with a humble and trusting heart, filled with good desires, He will descend with His blessed light and inflaming fire; He will come and penetrate into the very core of your heart, purifying it, changing it, enlightening it, enflaming it and comsuming it with the flames of His holy and divine love.

As soon as we begin to desire Him, He begins to favour us, because pious and holy desires are like the forerunners of God in the soul, and as soon as we, by the grace of God, form a holy desire, the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says, will work in us with ineffable sighs. Let us suplicate Him, then, to inspire us with ardent desires which will prepare us to receive Him.

~St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, May 26, 1895

14 December 2007

Ave Sponsa Spiritus Sancti

Bless me, O Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and do not permit me ever to offend my good God in deed or omission. But make me always to love Him with my whole heart, and to cause Him to be loved by others! So be it, O sweet, O pious, O loving Virgin Mary!

I venerate you with all my heart, O most holy Virgin, as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit; and I consecrate to thee my heart with all its affections: obtain for me of the Holy Trinity the graces necessary for salvation.

O sacred Virgin! Spouse of the Holy Spirit, whose pure soul was the chosen tabernacle of that heavenly Spirit, and who above all creatures was plentifully enriched with His choicest gifts and graces, intercede for me, and by your powerful prayers prepare me for the happiness I so sincerely desire.

O Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, your holiness and obedience changed the course of history through the redemptive power of your Son. You give us the example of discipleship and what it means to witness to the Way, the Truth and the Life—Jesus.

Mother, help me; spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for me the great gift of the Holy Spirit. Let me be filled with the Holy Spirit; let me be inflamed with love; let me be filled to overflowing with the sweet Spirit of God.

Mother, spouse of the Holy Spirit, through whom we receive the Holy Spirit, pray for us, that we may live in light in this world, and come hereafter to the eternal light of heaven.

О Магу! You are that most happy and most highly-lauded Spouse in the Canticles, whom the Heavenly Bridegroom introduced into His wine cellar, you are replenished with the wine of charity, but more especially with the spirit of prophecy, with which you were enlightened above all the other saints, not only to foresee future events, but to attain to the knowledge and intimate acquaintance of the most sublime mysteries. Ah! I earnestly supplicate you, obtain for me the light of understanding, that I may fully comprehend the malice and heinousness of sin, and the dangerous condition of the sinner, and that, by this knowledge, I may attain to an amendment of life. O Mary, Queen of the prophets, pray for us!

Since you are the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Dispenser of His treasures, and his sweet Stewardess; since you have been enriched beyond all other creatures with his heavenly gifts, obtain for us, as you obtained it for the Apostles, His coming into our hearts; and for this end obtain for us the grace to imitate, so far as in us lies, the examples of your humility, your purity, and your charity.

Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit, House of Gold, obtain for me the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Since prayer is the key to God's Heart and draws down upon us every good and perfect gift, teach me to pray frequently for these gifts. Keep me humble and pure of heart so as to make myself worthy of receiving them.

Obtain for me also, O blessed Virgin, that I may so ravish the heart of your Spouse that He may inflame my heart with Divine love, and render it the scene of His merciful operations.

Heavenly Father, who hast Mary for Thy daughter, Have mercy on us.
Eternal Son, who hast Mary for Thy mother, Have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit, who hast Mary for Thy spouse, Have mercy on us.

13 December 2007

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

We should reverence our souls and bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Ghost. As fire springs up from earth, so let your heart soar towards heaven. Let this celestial flame consume your earthly attachments, and draw you to the love of eternal things. Ask help from our Lady, spouse of the Holy Ghost.
~ La Vie de N. S. Jesus Christ Meditée

"The power of the Most High overshadowed the Virgin, that she might conceive; and her fruitful womb made a fertile meadow for all desiring to reap salvation as they chant: Alleluia."
~Akathist, Ode 4

"When the Holy Spirit finds His Spouse in a soul, He flies to that soul, to communicate Himself to it, to fill it with His presence, in proportion as He discovers there the presence and the fullness of His Spouse. One of the major reasons why the Holy Spirit does not now work blinding wonders of grace in our souls is that He does not find in us a sufficiently strong union with Mary his indissoluble Spouse."
~ St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary 1:1:2

"The Immaculate is united with the Holy Spirit in an ineffable way, by the fact that she is His Spouse, but she is in an incomparably more perfect sense than this term can express in creatures. What kind of union is this? It is above all interior; it is the union of her being with the being of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, in fact, dwells in her, lives in her, and does so from the first instant of her existence, always and for all eternity."
~St. Maximilian Kolbe

"We stand in great need of an immediate interior strengthening of the will, which no one save the Holy Ghost can afford us; and then, too, some sudden exterior relief from the threatening danger can avail us, such as the good spirits and angels are wont to bestow. Both Mary can and will obtain for us ; for she is the spouse of the Holy Ghost and the queen of angels. Omnipotent by her intercession with God, she can obtain for us grace sufficient and efficacious to stand and conquer in the battle of salvation. Her mighty protection suffices to suppress interior temptations, to strike down the enemies that attack us from without, and to keep us from sin."
~ Bp. John Theodor Laurent, 1901

"Gabriel was sent to prepare the worthy chamber for the pure spouse; Gabriel was sent to wed the creature with the Creator;"
~Gregory Thaumaturgus, Homily On The Annunciation (3rd c.)

"Our example is the Mother of Jesus, the spouse of the Holy Ghost. It is the duty and high privilege of every one of us, “to form Jesus Christ in our hearts to the praise and glory of God,”—so Holy Scripture teaches. Each one of us in his degree is summoned to this high calling. "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father, Who is in heaven," our Master said, “he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” The Holy Ghost, by Whose overshadowing power God was made man in Mary's womb, effects this mystical work of grace in the souls of men."
~S.L. Emery, Inner Life of the Soul

"O Mary, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, who received in such abundance His most precious gifts, have compassion upon me, your child, and obtain for me, by your intercession, those special graces of which I stand the most in need. You corresponded so faithfully to His inspirations, that you were worthy to become the Mother of our Saviour. By the remembrance of that mysterious hour when the power of the Most High overshadowed the you, and of the Day of Pentecost when He indicated by an emblematic sign that you should be the central Light—to attract and to illuminate souls—in His Holy Church, I beseech you to pray for me, that the Holy Spirit may ever dwell in me; and make me to imitate your own fidelity to His grace."
~Abbe de Brandt, Growth in the Knowledge of the Lord

Devotion to the Holy Spirit

The devotion to the Holy Ghost has always been one of my favorites; it does not necessarily require practices that would occupy much time, an occasional “Gloria” during the day in thanksgiving for all His benefits. We do not thank God enough; the Psalmist says: “His praise shall be ever in my mouth.” Nothing is so gracious as thanksgiving. The Holy Ghost is the author and inspirer of grace. On His motion do we depend for every meritorious thought, word and action. To Him we owe all the Sacraments and all His seven-fold gifts. Are not these motives for special devotion?

~Fr. Henry Van Rensselaer, S.J.
Protestant Convert to the Catholic Church &
19th Century Missionary to the Native Americans

Read the Word of God with the Church

A big kiss on the hand for the Vatican Congregation for Clergy and their online Biblia Clerus. The entire Bible is presented with commentary from the Doctors of the Church, Councils, Encyclicals, teachings of the Popes, Catechisms, as well as commentaries from secular literature. You can read it online or download it to your computer. The Biblical text appears in the New American Bible and Revised Standard versions, and you can read it in Latin too.
This resource is definately worth exploring.

11 December 2007


The Holy Ghost provides sufficiently for the Church in matters profitable unto salvation, to which purpose the free graces are directed. Now just as the knowledge which a man receives from God needs to be brought to the knowledge of others through the gift of tongues and the grace of the word, so too the word uttered needs to be confirmed in order that it be rendered credible. This is done by the working of miracles, according to Mark 16:20, "And confirming the word with signs that followed": and reasonably so. For it is natural to man to arrive at the intelligible truth through its sensible effects. Wherefore just as man led by his natural reason is able to arrive at some knowledge of God through His natural effects, so is he brought to a certain degree of supernatural knowledge of the objects of faith by certain supernatural effects which are called miracles. Therefore the working of miracles belongs to a free grace.

Just as the prophet's mind is moved by divine inspiration to know something supernaturally, so too is it possible for the mind of the miracle worker to be moved to do something resulting in the miraculous effect which God causes by His power. Sometimes this takes place after prayer, as when Peter raised to life the dead Tabitha (Acts 9:40): sometimes without any previous prayer being expressed, as when Peter by upbraiding the lying Ananias and Saphira delivered them to death (Acts 5:4,9). Hence Gregory says (Dialog 2:30) that "the saints work miracles, sometimes by authority, sometimes by prayer." In either case, however, God is the principal worker, for He uses instrumentally either man's inward movement, or his speech, or some outward action, or again the bodily contact of even a dead body.

~ St. Thomas Aquinas

10 December 2007

Titles of the Holy Spirit

He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Mind of Christ, the Spirit of The Lord, and Himself The Lord, the Spirit of Adoption, of Truth, of Liberty; the Spirit of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Counsel, of Might, of Knowledge, of Godliness, of the Fear of God. For He is the Maker of all these, filling all with His Essence, containing all things, filling the world in His Essence, yet incapable of being comprehended in His power by the world; good, upright, princely, by nature not by adoption; sanctifying, not sanctified; measuring, not measured; shared, not sharing; filling, not filled; containing, not contained; inherited, glorified, reckoned with the Father and the Son; held out as a threat (blasphemy against Him hath never forgiveness); the Finger of God; fire like God; to manifest, as I take it, His consubstantiality; the Creator-Spirit, Who by Baptism and by Resurrection creates anew; the Spirit That knoweth all things, That teacheth, That bloweth where and to what extent He listeth; That guideth, talketh, sendeth forth, separateth, is angry or tempted; That revealeth, illumineth, quickeneth, or rather is the very Light and Life; That maketh Temples; That deifieth; That perfecteth so as even to anticipate Baptism (As in the case of the Centurion Cornelius, Acts 10:9), yet after Baptism to be sought as a separate gift (in Confirmation); That doeth all things that God doeth; divided into fiery tongues; dividing gifts; making Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers; understanding manifold, clear, piercing, undefiled, unhindered, which is the same thing as Most wise and varied in His actions; and making all things clear and plain; and of independent power, unchangeable, Almighty, all-seeing, penetrating all spirits that are intelligent, pure, most subtle (the Angel Hosts I think); and also all prophetic spirits and apostolic in the same manner and not in the same places; for they lived in different places; thus showing that He is uncircumscript.
~St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Fifth Theological Oration: On the Holy Spirit, Chapter 29)

06 December 2007

Attending to Salvation

“It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation than to neglect it and work miracles.” ~Thomas a’ Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

It seems like the Holy Spirit has been trying to drive this point home with me and I share it here since it may benefit others, especially among Charismatics. We believe in miracles, but are we attending to the miracle of our own sanctification?

"In truth it is a greater miracle to root out from one’s own flesh the incentives to wantonness than to cast out unclean spirits from the bodies of others, and it is a grander sign to restrain the fierce passions of anger by the virtue of patience than to command the powers of the air, and it is a greater thing to have shut out the devouring pangs of gloominess from one’s own heart than to have expelled the sickness of another and the fever of his body. Finally it is in many ways a grander virtue and a more splendid achievement to cure the weaknesses’ of one’s own soul than those of the body of another. For just as the soul is higher than the flesh, so is its salvation of more importance, and as its nature is more precious and excellent, so is its destruction more grievous and dangerous." ~St. John Cassian, Second Conference of Abbot Nesteros, Chapter 8

Our Lord would retreat to pray and prepare before he faced the crowd. If the God-man needed such time, how much more do we feeble sons of Adam and daughters of Eve need to prepare before praying for the healing and deliverance of others?

Damian Stayne, the founder of Cor et Lumen Christi and the initiator of worldwide “charism schools”, to train Catholics in the use of the gifts of healing and prophecy says that, “I had to spend time in real repentance and go to confession. I felt strongly the need to be right with God for him to use me, as sin can get in the way to hearing God and moving in the anointing.”
Even in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen, Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God) preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. Work out your salvation through prayer, confession, and purity of heart--this also sets us free to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus equipped, let us listen for the Spirit and see what miracles happen to us and through us.

05 December 2007

Liturgical Language & Style

“The fact that we are called upon to be the guardians of tradition does not mean that we are committed to immobility.” ~ Cardinal Suenens

If you get the opportunity to attend a full-blown Latin Mass go for it. We have a beautiful old parish downtown Denver that does it for their early Sunday service. WOW!

That said, I was watching EWTN and saw a show about the Misionaries of the Poor down in Jamaica. The sermon was enthusiastic and the Mass was joyful with people clapping and playing tambourines, raising their hands in worship. Would the brothers be able to reach these people if they came out chanting in Latin?

This is what Vatican II had in mind. Giving local congregations the freedom to adapt the Mass to their culture and personality. Critics say that this ruined the Liturgy, and dumbed it down. Sure, there were some goofy experiments in the seventies like the Polka Mass. But now the dust has settled.

One thing that bugged me when I was Eastern Orthodox was how some churches tried to “out orthodox” each other. Some felt that the Liturgy had to be in Greek or Church Slavonic to please God. I prefer “Thee” and “Thou” when referring to God in prayer and song and found myself looking down on the Greeks and OCA who used “You” and “Your”. Maybe because it sounds more like “Theos” or “Dei”? Of course, one finds the same silliness among Evangelicals—I remember when a “prophecy” that wasn’t in Elizabethan English wasn’t considered as being from the Holy Spirit!

I love chant whether it be Gregorian, Sarum, Byzantine, Znammeny, or Ruthenian. I also love a good worship band. And let’s throw in a few 19th century hymns for good measure, especially John Mason Neale or Edward Caswall.

How wonderful that Mother Church embraces them all. One community here in Denver embodies what I’m talking about. The Community of the Beatitudes has Byzantine Vespers, Latin Vespers, a Charismatic prayer group, and Jewish folk dancing. Talk about the Universal Church!

The true worshippers do so in spirit and in truth. Wherever you are I hope you experience both—the Holy Spirit touching you as you worship and the Truth handed down the the Apostles through the Church in her Liturgy.

Thus I continue to declare myself a Charismatic Byzantine Anglo-Catholic!

04 December 2007

The Publican's Prayer

I know of at least two musical arrangements of the “Jesus Prayer” in English that I like: one is from the City on a Hill CD "The Gathering" arranged by Phil Madiera (an Anglican) and one by the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox kid’s choir. The goal of prayer without ceasing, however, was best achieved for me when I set the Latin translation of the prayer to Sarum chant.

When I became Eastern Orthodox thirteen years ago I heard about the "Jesus Prayer". I read "Way of the Pilgrim" and the Philokalia. I bought a prayer rope. The prayer is simple "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Its origin is the prayer of the publican from the parable of Jesus. But I never saw the "Uncreated Light" that Gregory Palamas talked about.

The "Jesus Prayer" or "Prayer of the Heart" is a mantra used by Eastern Orthodox Christians along with special breathing techniques and bodily posture, in order to reach the place of the heart where God's uncreated light dwells. The practice is part of the Hesychast teachings found in the Philokalia and is, for the most part, the only mystical tradition in the Orthodox church.

The Western Catholic Church has never fully accepted Hesychasm because it makes a distinction between the energies or operations of God and the essence of God. In western Catholic theology as it has developed since the Scholastic period, there can be no distinction between the energies or operations and the essence of God (see, e.g., the Summa Theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas). So really, it's an issue between Greek Platonist philosophy and Latin rationalist Aristoteleanism.

Controversy aside, the prayer itself is a simple and potent devotion.