Category Archives: Roman Catholicism

The Domestic Church

350. Why is the Christian family called a domestic church? (CCC 1655-58, 1666)

The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family manifests and lives out the communal and familial nature of the Church as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with their own role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes toward making the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and Christian virtue and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to children.

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

+ 2356hrs

Ash Wednesday 2011

Lord almighty and God of our ancestors, you who made heaven and earth in all their glory: All things tremble with awe at your presence, before your great and mighty power. Immeasurable and unsearchable is your promised mercy, for you are God, Most High. You are full of compassion, long-suffering and very merciful, and you relent at human suffering. O God, according to your great goodness, you have promised forgiveness for repentance to those who have sinned against you. The sins I have committed against you are more in number than the sands of the sea. I am not worthy to look up to the height of heaven, because of the multitude of my iniquities. And now I bend the knee of my heart before you, imploring your kindness upon me. I have sinned, O God, I have sinned, and I acknowledge my transgressions. Unworthy as I am, you will save me, according to your great mercy. For all the host of heaven sings your praise, and your glory is for ever and ever.
– The Prayer of Manasseh 1a, 2, 4, 6, 7a, b, 9a, c, 11, 12, 14b, 15b

Collect for Ash Wednesday (from the CoE’s Common Worship)
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+ 0750hrs

Early mass

Advent 3 – Monday
Feast of St. Lucy (Luciadag/Festdag av Sankt Lucia)

So I woke up at 5am this morning. And was wide awake. So I decided to go into the city early today. And begin my day (apart from a train ride) with 7am Mass at the Cathedral.

My old headmaster was the celebrant at mass this morning and my high school alma mater was on the cycle of prayer for today. So it was somewhat nice for Fr. Paul to pray for all the old boys of my high school. The way Mass went, it was almost like Wednesday morning chapel before the school day commenced. Even back in high school (an Anglican Church school), there was only a small congregation that gathered for chapel on Wednesday mornings when Fr. Paul or one of the other chaplains celebrated the Eucharist. It was that small, homely, festive and intimate congregational feel of a bush parish. It was in those moments back then when, with hindsight, the first tugs on my heart arose with wanting to be an ordained priest (or during my ardent evangelical years, an ordained minister). Who knows whether that’ll come to pass now.

There is a certain something about starting a day off with worship. Even though there were only five of us in the congregation this morning, it certainly got my day off to the right start. As the day progressed and certain frustrations cropped up, I couldn’t help but remember the words we prayed this morning in the prayers of the faithful. About going about our tasks to the best of our ability, learning to listen to and even like those whom we dislike, for grace and forbearance in doing the tasks we don’t like doing and for grace in our daily Christian witness.

One thing I am not liking though is this humidity. I can’t even go for a quick powerwalk in the CBD at lunch time without arriving back in the office with perspiration dripping from my head. C’mon rain, humidity go away.

And given it’s St. Lucy’s Day today, here’s a poem by John Donne (priest, lawyer and poet):

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day

‘TIS the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world’s whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
Of all, that’s nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know ; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s and the day’s deep midnight is.

It’s probably more appropriate for the Northern Hemisphere given the lack of daylight compared with us here on the other side of the equator though.

+ 2035hrs

Quote of the week

Advent 2 – Thursday

Jeez, there’s been a lot of feast days this week. St. Nicholas on Monday, St. Ambrose on Tuesday and then yesterday was the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you’re Roman Catholic, that’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s been a strange week too. Earlier on in the week it felt like something or someone I couldn’t see was stalking me everywhere I went. I’ve still got that same feeling (albeit less) now even. While sitting here in my room. The lines by St. Peter in one of his epistles about being sober and vigilant have been on my mind along with prayers that echo the words of Ps 90(91):11 …

On another note, Chrome 8 beta isn’t rendering the admin pages for WordPress that correctly, but that’s a minor issue.

======================================

It’s Advent and this season is supposed to be a time of reflection. Reflection on both the coming of Christ that first Christmas morn but also on his second coming in the future. And given the liturgical calendar that has been a formative influence in recent years on my Christian spirituality, I’m reminded of those who have died in faith (the saints triumphant) who are awaiting the resurrection. Especially given that in the breviary I use for devotions, the period between All Saints Day and the beginning of Advent is a mini liturgical season where the remembrance of those who have gone before is linked with the second coming of Christ.

Tonight I was looking back at some coffee table books I have. OK, not so much coffee table books, but books with a lot of photos and text in them. I nearly cried this evening when I was looking at a book on the life of the late Pope John Paul II. A photo of him standing hunchbacked in his papal vestments for celebrating Mass but clutching on ever so tightly to his pastoral staff as age and weariness take its toll on him. A pastoral staff of the Cross, with Christ crucified.

And then a photo taken at his final General Audience on 30 March 2005. All looks well on the photo on the left with him waving a palm branch while grasping onto the clear plastic of the lectern. On the right, a heartrending photo of the late Holy Father as he tries to speak but no sound comes out. And the look on his face says it all: “I want to tell you something, but it hurts me to not be able to!” A few days later, the Holy Father was called back to be with the Lord, with Our Lady and with all the company of heaven.

I just can’t help but be taken back to a time when my grandfather was alive. Standing hunchbacked in a suit wearing his bishop’s violet rabat and clerical collar, one hand with a Methodist ritual and Bible in it and the other clutching tightly to his tongkat (his walking stick) while waiting for me to assist him in walking back to a waiting car after a Sunday service had concluded. And from that scene, I jump to the last time I ever saw him.

Bedridden at home on the day Dad and I were about to leave Malaysia after what was to be our final visit back home while he was alive. Wanting to say something to me but nothing could come out. All that was left was a gesture to come closer to him, a smile at me that followed by a ruffling of hair my head, a silent blessing from him and then a final kiss on my forehead while I tried my best to keep myself from crying. All I could say in response to him was,

“I will be reunited with you soon Ah Kong, I will be reunited with you soon…”

A few months later, his soul was committed back into the Lord’s hands in a strange and mysterious manner that was very typically of him. He passed from death into life eternal at a time that was very much in line with a personal preference of his: doubles. As I recall my aunt telling me, he passed on at 11:44pm on 5/5/2002.

Dammit, I’ve teared up now.

*attempts to stifle back tears and a runny nose*

Anytime I see photos of the late Pope John Paul II, I am reminded of my late grandfather. Two bishops (let’s not get into an argument on denominational and theological lines here), both from a generation where war, suffering and hardship were part of their early lives, both who dearly loved the Lord and continued serving Him even as age and illness ravaged their physical bodies. And they remain as an inspiration to me in my life’s journey, both spiritually and personally. In this Advent season, I can’t help but remember both of them and thank God for their lives.

+ Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, may your light perpetual shine upon them, and bring us to joys everlasting with them when you come again in glory. Amen.

======================================

A quote that has stuck with me today has been the following one:

“My life is not composed of random chance incidents: rather there is One who looks and thinks ahead of me and guides my life.” – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI)

This week, the strangeness of it must be for some purpose. And while I do question these events, the more important thing is how I keep living my life in the face of them occurring.

+ 2332hrs

One of my favorite days

Collect for Reformation Sunday (31 October), derived from the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 Edition)

O gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Church catholic, that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

======================================

So it’s one of my favorite feast days of the liturgical year: All Saints’ Day. And on a day like today, I can remember the whole body of the faithful departed who now are in the closer presence of our eternal God. And I will be especially remembering the souls of my grandfather, Bishop Emeritus C.N. Fang and my baby brother, Quentin.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Others may call this feast day something that is non-biblical. But I find this particular feast day to be one that is profoundly biblical.

The entirety of Holy Scripture talks about the lives of imperfect human beings whom God calls into fellowship with. Some respond to this call (like the heroes in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures and the faithful in the New Testament/Greek Scriptures like St’s. Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, etc, etc). Others reject it. It’s the former of these two groups that are the ones who I hope and pray to be a part of when I am long gone from this earth.

The ones who St. John the Evangelist, when in exile on Patmos, described in his Revelation of the Apocalypse. The ones who surround the faithful and cheer them on from heaven as described by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (traditionally ascribed to St. Paul) in the twelfth chapter.

As Christians living on this earth, our sainthood while we are here is an imperfect one. We bear an imprint, as Martin Luther so described, as being simul justus et peccator (both justified and sinful). By the merits and death of Christ alone is our sanctity derived. Both imperfectly here on earth and perfectly in heaven.

As a creedal Christian (among other descriptions such as Scripture-shaped, Jesus-shaped, Evangelical Anglo-Catholic and lay Benedictine that I use to describe myself as a Christian), I affirm that “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholick Church, the Communion of Saints…” (emphasis mine) each time I pray the words in the Symbolum Apostolorum (the Apostles’ Creed). Celebrating All Saints’ Day is a way in which I affirm my faith and I remember that death is not the end of life, but simply the beginning.

Next Sunday at Evensong, it will be special. Apart from being the first All Saints’ Day (given it is translated from 1 November to the first Sunday in November) that I will celebrate with the community at St. John’s (given that EMP doesn’t follow the traditional Methodist calendar), I hope to hear the names of my grandfather and baby brother read out in amongst the many names of those who are dear in memory to those in the St. John’s community. And that the sounds of Faure’s Requiem will assist us all in remembering the dead and looking forward to life eternal spent with them in the presence of God: Father, Son & Holy Ghost.

======================================

Background to All Saints’ Day, taken from Exciting Holiness: Collects & Readings for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of the Churches of England, Ireland and Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church

From its earliest days, the Church has recognized as its foundation stones those heroes of the faith whose lives have excited others to holiness and has assumed a communion between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven.

Celebrating the feast of All Saints began in the fourth century. At first, it was observed on the Sunday after the feast of Pentecost; this was to link the disciples who received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the foundation of the Church, with those who were martyrs, giving their lives as witnesses to the faith. In the eight century, a pope dedicated a chapel to All Saints in St. Peter’s at Rome on 1 November. Within a century, this day was observed in Britain and Ireland as All Saints’ Day.

======================================

Collect for the Vigil of All Saints’ Day (31 October),
taken from Exciting Holiness: Collects & Readings
for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of
the Churches of England, Ireland and Wales
and the Scottish Episcopal Church

Almighty God, in your mercy we prepare to celebrate the solemn feast of all your saints: grant that their example may increase our devotion and lead us in the way of salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer for All Saints’ Day (1 November), taken from the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 edition)

O Lord our God, we praise thy holy name for the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and for all who have served thee faithfully in thy holy Church throughout the world. We bless thee for all who by their speech, their writings, and their lives have enabled us to see more of the light of the knowledge of thy glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and for all who have helped and comforted, strengthened and encouraged us our way. For all whom thou hast called to be saints, and through whom thou dost manifest the riches of thy grace, we praise thee, O God; and we beseech thee that with them, and with all the host of thy redeemed, we may perfectly praise thee in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for All Saints’ Day (1 November), taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 edition)

O almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

======================================

A sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.

+ 0001hrs

St. Teresa of Avila

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila – Anglican Calendar

My oh my, this saint was a tough cookie. She reminds me a lot of Blessed Mary Mackillop.

Which kind of makes today’s first reading at Evening Prayer rather appropriate.

Ecclesiasticus 27.30 – 28.9

Anger and wrath, these also are abominations,
yet a sinner holds on to them.

The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance,
for he keeps a strict account of their sins.
Forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done,
and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.
Does anyone harbour anger against another,
and expect healing from the Lord?
If someone has no mercy towards another like himself,
can he then seek pardon for his own sins?
If a mere mortal harbours wrath,
who will make an atoning sacrifice for his sins?
Remember the end of your life, and set enmity aside;
remember corruption and death, and be true to the commandments.
Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbour;
remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.

Refrain from strife, and your sins will be fewer;
for the hot-tempered kindle strife,
and the sinner disrupts friendships
and sows discord among those who are at peace.

It’s always nice to be able to have readings from the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books (or as they are called in Greek parlance, the Anagignoskomena within the Septuagint). In readings like that above, the fuss that most non-scholarly Protestants make about this group of books as a whole is a bit over the top. But in some places of some of these books (like in 2 Maccabees 15), then things get a wee bit more sketchy.

As Article 6 in The Thirty-Nine Articles says:

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; …

Personally, I’ve enjoyed reading through Sirach/Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, Baruch, the Prayer of Manasseh and Wisdom over the last few years in addition to the rest of Holy Scripture. I’m not really all that keen on the other books in the Anagignoskomena, but when they come up in the lectionary readings, one can’t be choosy. OK, one can if one so desires.

On a completely different and techy note, I’m quite enjoying this new gadget of mine: a WD TV box. =)

+ 2048hrs

Coincidence maybe?

[ now playing? ] Emilíana Torrini – Me & Armini | Sally Seltmann – Heart Still Pounding

Some days I head to Mass at lunchtime entirely unplanned. That is, I think that I’m going to be busy through that time period when Mass is on and then my schedule at work clears up. So I end up being able to go to Mass after all.

And I don’t know how many times it is now that this happens, but when a short homily is preached, more often than not, it is on something that is directly pertinent to what is going on in my life at that time.

So when Rev. Hynd (or Mother Pam if one wants to get narky) preached today on the lectionary’s Gospel text, it was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me. Deo gratias. This has happened too often over the last 3 years for it to be mere coincidence. Honestly. And just to clarify: No, I do not plan my lunchtime mass attendance by looking at what lectionary readings are assigned for that day.

=============================

On a weird note, I’m cracking out my books on exorcism again. I remember seeing one particular book called The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio in Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City earlier this year. It was something like SGD$35 for a hardback or SGD$24 for the paperback. I had luggage weight issues at the time: my stockup on shirts from Uniqlo and taking back some of my grandfather’s earthly possessions from Malaysia left me with little room for much else. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it on a book remainder table for A$7.95 here in Brisbane not that long ago.

Then again, why shouldn’t I be really surprised? It’s a freaking book on exorcism and the training a Catholic priest undergoes once he has been appointed by his bishop as an official exorcist of his diocese. Not exactly something that most people would consider light reading, nor even something that is could conceivably be the basis of a non-fiction book.

Not quite as full on accounts as Fr. Malachi Martin’s Hostage To The Devil, but this one is more pastoral and memoir-like. Much easier to read. Though still not as good (if you can call such a book on this topic that) as Fr. Gabriele Amorth’s books (An Exorcist Tells his Story and An Exorcist: More Stories) and a book by David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna called The Dark Sacrament that I read a couple of years ago after I picked it up from Dymocks (and now a paperback copy is available as a book remainder for A$7.95 at the BookStars clearance centre at Macarthur Central).

But to continue on with the weird theme, the last few weeks have seen me be on “strange evil around me alert” more often than usual (y’all don’t laugh now, y’hear). All I’ll ask of you dear readers is: pray for me.

+ Vade retro satana / + Numquam suade mihi vana
+ Sunt mala quae libas / + Ipse venena bibas

+ 2126hrs