Category Archives: Uncategorized

In Persona Christi

From the very beginning of the Mass to the end, the priest acts in persona Christi. By this, it is understood that the priest is not acting as his own person, but as the person of Christ. It is Christ, not the priest, who affects the Sacrament. The priest is empowered by the Church through apostolic succession to celebrate the Mass, but it is Christ who makes the miracle.

“Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species [of bread and wine]. By his power he is present in the Sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”

“Christ, indeed, always associates the Church with himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. the Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the eternal Father.” . . . which participates in the liturgy of heaven

“In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory.” CCC; ⁋ 1088-1090

True Christian Doctrine

Very early in the history of the Church confusions and disagreements were plentiful regarding the nature of true Christian doctrine. We see this even in the New Testament epistles written by the Apostles as they tried to clarify the true teachings of our faith. After the death of the Apostles, those trained by them and appointed to lead the Church into the future continued the task of keeping the faith true to the teaching of the Apostles. Bishop Irenaeus worked hard to keep Christianity true to the teachings of the Apostles. He was trained and appointed by Saint Polycarp who was himself trained and appointed by St. John the Evangelist. In this excerpt from his work, “Against Heresies” he explains the true Christian doctrine with great clarity and precision.

 

The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good news of the truth announced by an angel to Mary, a virgin subject to a husband, undid the evil lie that seduced Eve, a virgin espoused to a husband.

As Eve was seduced by the word of an angel and so fled from God after disobeying his word, Mary in her turn was given the good news by the word of an angel, and bore God in obedience to his word. As Eve was seduced into disobedience to God, so Mary was persuaded into obedience to God; thus the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve.

Christ gathered all things into one, by gathering them into himself. He declared war against our enemy, crushed him who at the beginning had taken us captive in Adam, and trampled on his head, in accordance with God’s words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.

The one lying in wait for the serpent’s head is the one who was born in the likeness of Adam from the woman, the Virgin. This is the seed spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Galatians: The law of works was in force until the seed should come to whom the promise was made.

He shows this even more clearly in the same letter when he says: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman. The enemy would not have been defeated fairly if his vanquisher had not been born of a woman, because it was through a woman that he had gained mastery over man in the beginning, and set himself up as man’s adversary.

That is why the Lord proclaims himself the Son of Man, the one who renews in himself that first man from whom the race born of woman was formed; as by a man’s defeat our race fell into the bondage of death, so by a man’s victory we were to rise again to life.

 

Fishers of Men

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him with fear. Also, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon were awestruck. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Luke 5:8-10

I was raised in the Methobapticostal tradition that emphasized the concept that Jesus had given us a job to do. Go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When you read the Acts of the Apostles that is exactly what they did. Peter and Paul carried the gospel into the Roman provinces of Northern Africa, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece and the Italian peninsula. Thomas carried the gospel into Chaldea and as far as India. Tradition has Joseph of Arimathea taking the gospel to the Celts of the British Isles. Of the apostolic churches, it was only the Roman Catholic Church that continued the apostolic zeal to carry the gospel into regions of China, Japan, Polynesia, and the Americas.

But culturally there is a different attitude toward evangelization today. Early Catholic priests like Junipero Serra lived to evangelize the Native American population. But as immigration brought thousands of Catholic immigrants into this country, the Catholic Church in America made a conscious decision to avoid evangelization. When the first seminary was established in Baltimore the bishops decided to not have any classes on evangelization as it might hurt the very fragile relationship between Catholics and Protestants.

Today, there is a pervasive attitude that religion doesn’t matter. You can be Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Animist, or Atheist. It doesn’t really matter as long as you don’t hurt anyone. Evangelization is viewed as being rather rude. Recently, an evangelical missionary was killed trying to preach the gospel to an isolated tribe in the Indian Ocean who were protected by law from contact with the modern world. Rather than being hailed as a martyr, he was denounced as a criminal and those who assisted him were imprisoned.

I see this as an over-correction of the evangelical attitude of the 19th and early 20th century, in which preachers and missionaries taught that converts must become like them, embrace American and European cultural mores and beliefs to be Christian. Or else, they were all simply going to hell. Even within Christian nations like ours Catholics generally believed the Protestants were going to hell and Protestants believed the Catholics were going to hell. Being raised protestant I can tell you that various groups of Protestants were convinced other Protestants were going to hell. Even many Southern Baptists believed the Northern Baptists were going to hell and I presume vice versa. Since few today even believe there is a hell, the whole impetus for evangelization seems to have gone away.

According to a recent Pew Research Group Poll, the most popular religious group for Americans under the age for 40 is “None.” Now, as in the days of the Apostles, we need to take the call to be fishers of men seriously.

To understand what Jesus was calling Peter and the apostles, and us for that matter to do when he said, “I will make you fishers of men,” we must look at how Jesus fished for souls. How did Jesus evangelize?

  • He went about doing good and teaching others to do good.
  • He healed the sick and delivered those who were oppressed.
  • He called all people to live lives of authentic faith.
  • To be accepting and not judgmental.
  • To extend mercy and not condemnation.
  • To extend assistance to the poor.
  • To visit the lonely.
  • To encourage the fainthearted.
  • To build faith and belief in him, the Son of God.

That is evangelization, Jesus’ style. Let’s not think about saving the world right now. Let’s just think about saving ourselves. Do we dare ask ourselves the question, “How authentic is our faith? Do we experience the love and peace Jesus promised? Especially in the Eucharist? Do we invite others to share in our joy?”

Many Catholics see our faith as a religion of guilt. God as an angry judge which we try to imitate. Like the Islamic morality police, we sit comfortably in our certainty of rightness as we avoid, judge and condemn those who do not fit in or measure up. Mass is an obligation, not a healing fountain. If that is how we see our religion, no wonder we don’t invite others to join in. Perhaps, we think we are doing them a favor.

We come to mass. We sing, we pray, we receive the bread and the wine, but do we recognize it is the Holy God who is in our midst that drives us cry “I am a sinful man,” as Peter did? Are we sufficiently moved by what we experience here to take Jesus outside to our family, friends, co-workers, associates and bring them the gospel of Christ?

Jesus calls us to be fishers of men.

Why? Faith in Christ properly understood does not bring guilt and fear but delivers from guilt and fear ushering in the forgiveness, freedom, and healing of Christ. If we have experienced forgiveness, freedom and healing then we should be compelled to invite those we love to experience the same. A phrase heard repeatedly in the Gospels is “Come and see.” Too often we think evangelization is telling people that they are wrong. They need to clean up their act and come to church. But evangelization is simply directing people to Jesus. “Come and see.” You don’t need to clean up your act to meet my expectations or anyone else’s. Invite Jesus into your problems, your weaknesses, your failures. Let Jesus be Master. Let Jesus be Lord. “Come and see.”

How do we do that?

  1. First, by caring.
  2. Second, by listening.
  3. Third, by praying.
  4. Finally, by inviting.

When it becomes evident to your friends and coworkers that you care about them, they will start taking off their Facebook face and start sharing with you, their struggles. Take time to listen. Give compassion as Jesus did. Pray with them and for them. Invite them to come to mass with you. “Hey, I’m going to mass at___ this weekend. How about I pick you up. We can go to mass then I’ll take you to lunch/dinner and we can talk about it.” What if they say, I’m not Catholic? Well, tell them you actually don’t have to be Catholic to attend mass. What if they say, “I’m Baptist, or Methodist.” “Do you attend church? Where do you go? I bet we can find a service time there that doesn’t interfere with my mass time. I’ll go to mass and still pick you up and go with you to your church?” Yes, it will not hurt you to go to church twice in the same day for the sake of your friend. And if you are able to help a fallen away Baptist become an on fire, fully saved, holy rolling Baptist you have done good for the Kingdom of God. It is not about church membership. It is about connecting hurting people with Jesus who alone can heal their pain.

God calls from his throne, “I love you. Will you take my message of love to a hurting world?”

I think we want to see God on his golden throne, judging the world, giving those who irritate us their comeuppance. We get confused because in this fallen world God’s throne is a cross. His crown is a weave of thorns. His scepter of iron is a nail driven through his hands and feet. And his judgment is “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Are we willing to share in that throne? To be a fisher of men, we must be willing to make personal sacrifice in the effort. It cost Peter and Paul their lives. If you are going to be the gospel to the lonely, it will cost you some time. You will sacrifice some convenience.

We can evangelize our world not because they might go to hell, but because they are already in their personal hell of their own making, and you can be the one who can show them a way out.

The voice of the Lord is calling from his throne, “Whom can I send? Who will go for us?” Will we answer, “Here I am. Send me.”

What do you want most out of life?

We begin our relationship with God when we reach out to him not for what we want from him, but for his sake alone. For the sake of his presence. For the sake of his name. We abandon our selves to love God for who he is.

 

Our relationship with God is to be so intensely loved by Jesus in our unworthiness, that his love makes us worthy.

 

You have counted us worthy to stand in your presence and minister to you. Eucharistic Prayer of Hippolytus 250 ad

 

Who or what do you love above all else? God is love, and for our love to be true, it must find its source ad its sustenance in God.

 

Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a song in the heart. Bernard of Clairvaux

 

The true measure of loving God is to love him without measure. Bernard of Clairvaux

 

Marilyn Monroe is a tale of sadness as she repeatedly left those she loved behind to pursue her number one love of worldly fame. I do mention the tragic story of Marilyn Monroe to judge her. Surely her life of enduring an abusive step-father and being raised in an orphanage as well as a dozen foster homes left an injured soul, not knowing how to find healing. At sixteen she married a sailor during the second world war, but caught the eye of a photographer who offered fame and fortune. She divorced her husband to pursue her modeling and acting career. Her career was indeed the stuff of legend. Beginning as a pinup model she became the sex symbol of the 1950s. She starred in 29 films and became a cultural icon. During her career she married twice, first to baseball great, Joe DiMaggio and later to playwright, Arthur Miller. However, both marriages dissolved as she kept returning to fame and applause. Eventually she died alone by committing suicide.

 

Jesus asked the question, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Mark 8:36

On Loving God

Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs as well as the book, Loving God in which he wrote: there are four degrees of love:

  • Love of self for self’s sake.
  • Love of God for self’s sake.
  • Love of God for God’s own sake.
  • Love of self for God’s sake.

 

These four degrees of love are a journey through which we discover the true love of God.

 

The first degree is the human condition. It is where we all begin our journey. We love ourselves. We want our toys. Others exists as a means of giving us attention, affection, and a sense of significance. We use others for our own purposes. We enter relationships only for what we can get out of them not for what we can give. I have met with many married couples on their way to divorce. One common theme I hear is “He/she no longer meets my needs.” That is a sure indication they are living in the first degree of love, seeking self-satisfaction and not sacrificially giving themselves to the other.

 

This is not as the precept ordains but as nature directs: “No man ever yet hated his own flesh” (Ephesians 5:29). But if, as is likely, this same love should grow excessive and, refusing to be contained within the restraining banks of necessity, should overflow into the fields of voluptuousness, then a command checks the flood, as if by a dike: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Bernard of Clairvaux. On Loving God

 

The second degree is basic religion. We love God only for what we can get from God. We go to church and receive the sacraments so we can go to heaven. We look down on those who do not measure up to our religious standards. We are very public in our religious practice because we want others to think of us as good god-fearing people. We seek positions of control in our religious group so our authority over others can make us feel good about ourselves. Surely, God is taking notice of how good we are and how much we do for him. These were the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who did all the religious thing right but didn’t recognize God when he was at their dinner table.

 

His goodness once realized draws us to love Him unselfishly, yet more than our own needs impel us to love Him selfishly. Bernard of Clairvaux. On Loving God

 

The third degree of love is true faith. We love God for who he is, not what he can do for us. We go to church to worship, to pray, to seek fellowship with other so we can discover ways to help them. We volunteer for the jobs no one wants. We are servants as Christ was a servant. Our prayer life is characterized by worshiping God for his goodness and his character. We pray for the needs of others. We give our own needs to God as well, but always seeking God’s will in our lives, not our own. “Thy will be done.”

 

No longer do we love God because of our necessity, but because we have tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is. Bernard of Clairvaux. On Loving God

 

The fourth degree of love is empowering gratitude. We are grateful to God the good and the bad we see in ourselves. For our gifts as well as our weaknesses. For our successes as well as our failures. We are grateful to God for our relationships, even those we find difficult. We go to church to give thanks God for his limitless goodness and love, to truly participate in the Eucharist of the Mass. Our gratitude releases the power of God in our lives and the lives of others. We see miracles follow us, but few notice. That is okay because we live only to please God alone and in secret.

 

I would count him blessed and holy to whom such rapture has been given in this mortal life, for even an instant to lose yourself, as if you were emptied out and lost and swallowed up in God, is no human love; it is heavenly. Bernard of Clairvaux. On Loving God

Pray for the Nation

I am writing this before dawn on Inauguration Day. If our parish is a reflection of the general population, half of you are happy and half of you are disappointed. At times like these, I encourage everyone to shift their gaze heavenward. Do not look to the men and women who sit in seats of government. Look to God who sits upon the throne of power.

Our lives are not dictated by the congress, or the senate, or even the president. As Christians, our lives are guided and fulfilled by the presence of God. Think of the first Christians who lived under the Roman Empire. They were unimpressed by an Emperor who declared himself to be a god. They intimately knew the True God. They lived their lives fully, in peace and love. All was joy for them. Even when called to martyrdom, they rejoiced to share in Christ’s sufferings.

During this time, Saint Paul offers us an admonition.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

In the Book of Common Prayer, the first prayer listed is a prayer for those in government.

MOST gracious God, we humbly pray the people of these United States and especially for those in civil government; that you would be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations:

  • to the advancement of your glory
  • the good of your Church
  • the safety, honor, and welfare of your people

that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavors, upon the best and most solid foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and goodness, may be established among us for all generations. These and all other necessities, for them, for us, and your whole Church, we humbly beg in the Name and mediation of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Lord and Savior. Amen

This past weekend we celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Hope. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Our Lady an apparition in Pontmain France in which the Blessed Mother appeared to children in order to bring the Franco-Prussian War to an end. Her words to the children were, “Keep praying. God will hear you in time. My son always allows himself to be moved with compassion.” On that very night, the general of the Prussian army halted his advance saying, “We can go no further. There is an invisible Madonna blocking the way.” What that story teaches us is this: Victory does not go to the strong. It goes to the one who prays.

As our nation moves into a new administration, we should pray earnestly for all those in authority, not that they should listen to our opinion and follow our agenda, but that we would be able to live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. It is not the job of our government to make things better for us. Rather it is our job to lead our culture into godliness and dignity.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Alleluia

We are an Alleluia people, and Alleluia is our song.

Alleluia is the song of Easter. We silence the Alleluia during Lent as we prepare for Christ’s Passion. And we proclaim it loudly and often when we celebrate the Resurrection throughout the Easter season. But what exactly is Alleluia? Where does it come from? What does it mean? And how should be best proclaim it?

Alleluia (sometimes spelled “Halleluiah”) is a Hebrew word usually translated, “Praise the Lord.” However, its roots go even deeper than the Hebrew language itself. It is an onomatopoeic expression of ululation. Ululation is that high pitched trill made by a coordinated chorus of vocal cords, tongue, teeth, and uvula. It is practiced by a number of tribes in Africa and the Middle East. Even though I have spent time in the Middle East, I have only heard the sound on movies, usually used to celebrate a tribal victory or rescue from certain death. It is a sound of rejoicing. It is both exciting and penetrating.

Alleluia is a word of excitement and unrestrained joy. It is a word to express the thrill victory and of being saved from certain death. That is why it is the Easter word. In the Resurrection, Christ wins the victory and saves all of us, in fact all of mankind, from certain and eternal death. We become sharers in His victory as we look forward to our own resurrection on the last day. And so, we rejoice in exultant praise, “Alleluia.”

Too often, we say it because it is the liturgy beginning and ending of the Gospel proclamation as a sort of bookend. We say it with little more enthusiasm than the period that preceded it and follows it. But saying or even shouting the Alleluia is not what Christ calls us to do. He calls us to live it.

In the Book of Common Prayer, there is a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving that includes the line, “We show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days.”

Alleluia is our song of praise. But it is not just something we say or sing. It so permeates who we are that it affects the way we live.

We are an Alleluia people and Alleluia is our song.

I Confess

In both daily and Sunday Masses, worshippers are called upon to make a confession of sin. This is called the Confiteor. In the Roman Missal it occurs in the introductory rites. In the Ordinariate service, following the Eastern tradition, it is said by the priest and servers before the service with a Confession of Sin for the congregation following the homily.

The Confiteor is an act of self-purification before approaching the Altar of the Lord. The tradition goes back to Moses who required ritual purification before serving in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is echoed in the New Testament, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts.” James 4:8

The Confiteor is begun by a call to confession and a moment of silence for self-examination. It is sometimes difficult for worshippers to shed all the stress of getting to church on time to pause and reflect on their lives and mentally bring their sins to God. A silent utterance of the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Have Mercy on me a sinner.” May be helpful to foster an attitude of repentance.

First, we confess six categories of sins.

  • Thoughts of ill will against God, our neighbors, or against ourselves.
  • Failure to be thoughtful of the commandments of God or the needs of others.
  • Unkind words spoken against others. Passing malicious rumors. Speaking injurious lies.
  • Failing to speak words of praise to God. Failing to speak well of others in need of encouragement.
  • Overtly committing sins against God or our neighbor.
  • Failing to act in such a way that glorifies God. Failing to perform deeds of service to our neighbors in need.

We compress all this into a simple statement. “in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.”

We then take full responsibility for our sins. Mea culpa. Through my fault. Our sins are not the fault of our parent’s shortcomings, misguided teachers, or sinful priests & bishops. Our sins are through our own fault alone.

Finally, we profess our confidence in God’s forgiveness. “My Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life.” This is not an absolution as in sacramental confession, but a proclamation of trust. For the Scripture promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Reflection on Psalm 27

Psalm 27 1 The psalm of David before he was anointed.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 While the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh.

My enemies that trouble me, have lost their strength and fallen.  

3 If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.

If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.

 4 One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after;

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.  

5 For he has hidden me in his tabernacle; in the day of evils.

He has protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle.

 6 He has exalted me upon a rock, and now he has lifted up my head above my enemies.

I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation,

I will sing and recite a psalm to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to you.

Have mercy on me and hear me.

8 My heart has said to you, “My face has sought you.”

Your face, O Lord, will I still seek.

9 Turn not away your face from me.

Decline not in your wrath from your servant.

Be my helper. Do not abandon me.

Do not you despise me, O God my Saviour.

10 For my father and my mother have left me,

But the Lord has taken me up.

11 Teach me, O Lord, how to walk in your way.

Guide me in the right path, because of my enemies.

12 Do not hand me over to the will of those that trouble me.

For unjust witnesses have risen up against me.

My enemies spread malicious lies to harm me.

13 I believe I will see the good things of the Lord

In the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord,

Be stouthearted, and let your heart take courage.

Wait you for the Lord.

As I said I want to reflect once again on the psalm on the Psalter of the day. So this Psalm which is actually not a very long song. Still, we have just a little bit of it in the lectionary, and that’s okay because the lectionary is going to reflect on something that relates to the readings. We’ll talk about that in just a minute. In me Septuagint version of the Psalms, that being the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, which was the most common and popular version of the Bible read and in Jesus’ time, there’s a note at the very beginning of this Psalm that says that this song was written before David was anointed king.

Well, that’s an interesting timing for the dating of the psalm, because before David was anointed he very young. Although it was there was still years before he actually took the throne. But he was anointed when he was just a shepherd boy. But he was a shepherd boy who had known his share of trouble. And as a shepherd boy he would sit there as he watched over his sheep and cared for his sheep. He used to play on his on his lute or his harp and he would sing. He would create songs to the Lord. So I see this Psalm as being one that is a kind of like a journal. It is very likely this psalm was begun at this time when David was caring for his sheep as a young man, but yet later in his life he would add verses to it so you can actually see a progression in David’s life from being the simple shepherd boy to being on the run from Saul. And finally having to deal with the affairs of state as king.

You can see this progression taking place. I can really see these first six verses as part of David as a shepherd boy here’s a shepherd boy who had faced trouble. He was a shepherd boy who had killed a lion and killed a bear who had come to kill his sheep. They would have killed David himself. David says that the enemies be they people or animals, seeking to take his life. But he said the Lord was his helper. “with the Lord, whom shall I fear. The Lord is my light and my salvation. David had a very keen understanding of God’s presence in his life and of God taking care of him. The Lord is my light the Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear? What shall I fear? Shall I be afraid of the lion? Afraid of the bear? And you can almost see the musings of a young child. Even if there’s an army coming against me, I will have no need to be afraid.

Perhaps David didn’t realize how prophetic that was going to be in his life. He learned at a very young age to trust in God – to know that God would protect him. God would give him strength. God would give him courage to face whatever came before him, be it a lion, a bear, or even an army. God would give him victory. There in these first few verses, which according to my interpretation would come from early in David’s life, he talks about his visit to the house of God, which at this time is the tabernacle at Beth-El. David longs to be in the tabernacle. He longs to pray.

Now many of us remember how in our earlier lives the feelings of God would stir within us. I don’t know how many people I have talked to who relate to me the stirrings of God that affected them when they were young. Maybe they’re active Catholics. Or maybe they’re inactive Catholics. Maybe they’d given up on the church. But often they make this comment, “I was an altar boy and even thought about becoming a priest.” Or, “when I was young woman about12 I thought I was going to grow up to be a nun. I just so appreciated my teachers. They were wonderful, and I thought I’m going to grow up to be a nun.”

You see in many of our lives we have these inner stirrings of the Holy Spirit within us when we’re young, before we get so distracted by puberty and by adulthood. When we start thinking about other things, and start wanting to accumulate stuff. We get a job. We get a car. You know we get an apartment or a house. All the world, all the stuff of the world begins to distract us. It’s not that the things of the world are evil. Are bad in and of themselves, but we can’t let them distract us. Now it’s very likely that David’s own life got distracted. When he was Saul’s general, and he was being triumphant and praised, but the troubles in his life – I think the troubles in his life were key to keeping his focus on God being his light and his salvation. On God being his source. Because when after being the King’s son-in-law, he became a brigand. He became an outlaw, living in a cave. Often when we have nothing else left in life, those of the times when we seek God. And we call on God.

Indeed, I think David, because he faced so much trouble in his life, that he did call on God often. He learned to know God. But he had a longing to seek the face of God. Now it’s interesting, he says the doesn’t seek desires. Instead he seeks the face of God. “come says my heart come says my heart seek his face your face Lord do I seek.”

Now one of the peculiarities of Hebrew is that an imperative verb specifies whether it is speaking to one person or to many people. And even though David is praying this alone the imperative verb is in the plural. So it’s not just David who is being called to seek the face of God. It’s all people, all of us are called to seek his face. And that’s exactly what we do in adoration. We seek Christ in his Eucharistic face. We gaze upon the face of Christ. And even though adoration is a time of silence, that’s when God speaks to us. I mentioned we’re going to go back to the readings, and in fact that was Elijah’s experience when he was in the cave. He knew God wanted to speak to him. Sometimes in our lives we know God wants to speak to us. We don’t know how, and we tried all these things to make God talk to us. Yet we can’t hear him. Elijah, in fact he went out and he saw the wind. And he saw the earthquake. And he saw the fire. But he couldn’t hear God. He couldn’t find God in any of those things. We look at all kinds of distractions in our life. We can’t find God in any of them. But then, in most common translation, that still, small voice, the whisper of silence. Simon and Garfunkel got it right when they use coined that phrase, the sound of silence. That whisper of silence is how God speaks. I got quoted Thomas Keating not long ago when I said, “God speaks in silence, and everything else is a bad translation.”

And that’s what we do when we come to adoration in silence. We gaze upon the face of Christ. Christ’s Eucharistic face. And in that gaze, as in the gaze of two lovers, nothing has to be said. It just is that communication of love. The communication of sureness, of a surety that Christ is with us as we gaze upon his Eucharistic face and allow our Lord to minister within our spirits. We don’t necessarily hear in our minds, but we are built up and encouraged and made strong in that time. As we spend more and more time in adoration, we begin to notice that a change is happening in our souls. We have greater confidence. We have greater certainty in life, because God has spoken into our spirits as we gazed upon his face.

As this psalm comes to an end, David speaks as a man who is completely forsaken. He says “even if my mother and father forsake me, O Lord you will take me in.” I will belong to the Lord. I will go to the tabernacle of God, the tent of God, to the tabernacle of God, and there I will seek your face. You will receive me, and in the strength that he gets from that encounter, he says. “be strong. Be courageous. And wait for the Lord.

David waited many years between his anointing to be king and him actually taking the throne. In those years God strengthened him. Taught him. In one place David says The Lord has trained my hands for war. God made David strong to be the king that God needed him to be. As David waited for the Lord to fulfill his purpose, and that purpose was fulfilled David when became a strong King. But the strong King ad David was also there to speak prophetically of the King of Kings, the son of David, who wants to come to be our true strength, and to be the face that we seek in his Eucharist.

Heavenly father we give you thanks that we were able to come to you to seek your face. Give us strength to wait on you. And as we wait on you give us strength. We know you will fulfill your purpose in this life for us. And sometimes we may feel forsaken, but you will always take us in. Sometimes we seem to be at a loss for words, but in silence we wait and gaze upon your face. Lord, give us strength to always seek you and to always wait for you. Amen.

A Reflection on Psalm 98

Psalm 98 1 A psalm for David himself.

Sing you to the Lord a new song,

Because he has done wonderful things.

His right hand has formed salvation for him,

And his arm is holy.

2 The Lord has made known his salvation,

He has revealed his justice in the sight of the Gentiles.  

3 He has remembered his mercy and his truth

Toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.  

4 Sing joyfully to God, all the earth;

Make melody, rejoice and sing.  

5 Sing praise to the Lord on the harp,

On the harp, and with the voice of a psalm,

6 with long trumpets, and sound of of the horn.

Make a joyful noise before the Lord our king,

7 let the sea be moved with all its fullness,

Even to the world’s end and all who live there.

8 The rivers shall clap their hands,

The mountains shall rejoice together

9 at the presence of the Lord,

Because he comes to judge the earth.

He shall judge the world with justice,

And the people with equity.

As I’ve been doing in these last few days I will be reflecting on the Psalm of the day, which is Psalm 98. As we’re going through this the Psalter and learning from these beautiful hymns

Book of praise was the hymn book really of ancient Israel This Psalm starts off with a familiar phrase very familiar to us and that is “Sing to the Lord a new song. Now that’s an interesting phrase. We see this a lot. It occurs many times in scriptures, not just in the Psalms but also in the book of Revelation and in other places. What does that mean? What is the new song?

The new song is a symphony in three movements.

The first movement is obviously a song of praise. It is a song that reflects on what God has done. Even now, in this particular Psalm, we see that this psalmist says you have saved us through your mighty arm because it’s a reflection upon what God has done. Many times, you see sing to the Lord or new song and the psalmist will go through the whole history of God’s interaction with Israel. In the Book of Revelation, the new song is mentioned regarding the 144,000 that are before the throne of God, representing the believers of all time and all places. They are singing a new song to the Lord, and no one knows the song but them, because it’s their personal song. It’s the song of their own relationship with God. They sing of what God has done for them in their lives. So, the first movement of a new song is a reflection upon what God has done for us

The second movement is a meditation on what God is doing for us today. It’s easy to see God as someone who acted in the past. Jesus healed many, and the Apostles proclaimed the Gospel, taking it to the ends of the earth. But what is God doing for us today? What is God is doing in us today? How is he transforming us? How is he making us more into the likeness of Christ today? How is he shaping our hearts? How is he increasing our love? Our compassion? Our patience? Sing to the Lord a new song. Reflect on what God has done for us in the past, but also meditate on what God is doing in us and for us today

The third movement is that hope of what God is going to do for us in the future. God is bringing us bringing ultimate salvation as we were all brought into what the church refers to as the beatific vision. That’s a fancy theological term for when we will see God face to face. And when we see him, we will be made like him. And that’s the beatific vision, that blessed vision of us seeing God and being transformed in his very presence. In this particular Psalm, the psalmist goes on to talk about how God has revealed himself to the nations. God is bringing about his justice in the earth. Those are prophetic statements that God is going to bring to fulfillment in the future. He brings those to fulfillment first in Christ – in his passion, in his resurrection and ascension, and in the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It’s there that God pours reveals himself reveals his justice to the world. All the nations were gathered there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when God revealed his justice. And what is his justice? It is the Holy Spirit of love. We as Catholics talk a lot about justice. We have justice ministries. We talk about justice in the earth. And what is justice? It’s the love of God. Justice flows from the realization that God loves all humanity. And he loves all humanity through us.

As the introduction to the gospel today calls us to “love one another as I have loved you.” And he longs to love the world through us. He has made his salvation known.

Another couple of quick reflections upon this psalm. I love the reference to instruments: the harp the trumpet and the horn. In the Greek translation of the Psalms knows as he Septuagint, which was used actually more than the Hebrew version of the Psalms at the time of Christ, the word there for harp is guitarra, from which of course which we get the word ‘guitar’. So, the psalmist is saying let’s praise the Lord with the guitar. I know that in the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution on Liturgy said that the organ was the proper instrument for liturgical worship. Well, okay. That’s fine. But for thousands of years it was the guitar that was the proper instrument for liturgical worship. Long before the organ was ever invented. And the psalmist says praise the Lord with the guitar with the horn and with the trumpet. Then we can bring all instruments to praise God in fact there are a few verses to this song that aren’t in the lectionary and I want to mention those here, because they’re really very beautiful and very wonderful.

In these last verses “Let the sea and what fills it resound. Let the rivers clap their hands. Let the mountains shout with them for joy in the presence of the Lord who comes who comes to govern the earth.” This reflection upon all of nature all of creation praising God with the various sounds that nature makes. With the Thunder of the oceans and the wind howling through the mountains and the rivers lapping water over rocks. The psalmist likens these to shouts of joy and clapping of hands, singing of songs. All of nature, everything that creation does is to praise God. That’s pretty awesome.

I want to again go back to reflect the new song. Reflect on what God has done for you. Meditate on what God is doing in and for you right now. And hope for what God will ultimately fulfill in your life.

Let us go to God now in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

We give you thanks and praise that you have gathered us here. Help us Lord. Give us hearts to sing that new song: as we reflect upon what you have done for us, as you inspire us in this very day in guidance, and as Lord we hope that you will be bringing us to that beatific vision – to that time when we will see you face to face and be transformed in your mercy. Let the new song be on our lips this entire day and every day forward

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray to the

Lord Heavenly Father we pray for all