All posts tagged: Easter

A Letter to the Newly-Baptized

To the Newly-Baptized: You may already feel it—the fact that this journey you are on made a significant transition when you were baptized. Though you remain on the same path towards Christ, your landscape and means for getting there have radically changed. In this post I will discuss three ways in which your Baptism marked a significant moment in your journey, changing you irreversibly, and then speak to the continuing nature of your journey. First, in Baptism you were adopted into a new family, one of choice. Though you were born into a birth family many years ago, Robin Jensen in Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity notes that “unlike a birth family, this was a family one chose” (57). Tertullian exhorts the one being baptized saying: When you come up from that most sacred washing of the new birth and for the first time you raise your hands with your brethren in your mother’s house, ask of your Father, ask of your Lord, for special grants of grace and attributions of spiritual gifts. (58) You now have …

Advent Eschatology

Oh I’d be waiting with quiet fasting, Anticipating A joy more lasting. —Madeleine L’Engle, “The Birth of Wonder” Advent—like Lent—is a liturgical period when we mark time according to what is still hidden. The Easter Hope is shrouded in sin and suffering, it has not yet broken open the world in Resurrection; the Christmas Hope of Christ’s glory is shrouded in the womb of the Virgin, it has not yet breached into the waking world of man. But Advent—unlike Lent—is not a season of penitential sorrow. Rather, Advent is a period of deep anticipation of the lasting joy that is coming into the world. To keep Advent is not to pretend, in a facile suspension of belief, that Christ has not been incarnated, that his great Nativity never occurred. Rather, to keep Advent is to walk in liturgical solidarity with all humanity’s forebears who lived in the pre-Incarnation world and to commemorate their anticipation of a Savior. As we walk with them along their journey of anticipation, we sense that we ourselves are a people …

The Mass for Millennials: the Solemn Blessing

 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”[1] In the Jewish tradition the Levites, the sons of Aaron, had two main functions – to offer sacrifice to God in the Temple and, as we read in Numbers, to bless the Israelites using the name of God. Through this sacrifice and blessing they carried out their task of sanctifying the people and keeping them in union with the Lord. The triple blessing found in the Book of Numbers continues to be used right to the present day, found in the Roman Missal as one of the optional Solemn Blessings to be given at the end of Mass. It has always been a powerful …

The Mass for Millennials: The Communion Hymn

St. Augustine famously said that he who sings prays twice. Commonly seen on choir t-shirts and tour booklets, a reapplication of Augustine’s phrase taken out of context elevates the skill of those able to sing as being more accomplished at prayer. Yet, this isn’t quite true. Reading the whole text which this blurb is taken from leads to a deeper understanding. Augustine writes, “For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation (praedicatio) in the praise of someone who is confessing/acknowledging [God], in the song of the lover [there is] love” (Enarratio in Psalmum 72, 1: CCL 39, 986). There are multiple ways of looking at this, yet I’m interested in one specific application of this.  Augustine’s passage is concerned with love. An apt parallel can be drawn to the Song of Songs, which Origen describes as, “a drama of love is that of the Bride hastening to consummate her …

Tales from the Crypt

I spent Easter in a cemetery. No, I wasn’t exactly visiting the graves of my blood relatives. Nor was I trying to get a part in an episode of CSI. I was at Mass—the Easter Vigil to be exact. Out in the far right corner of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama is a town called Holy Trinity. There, a little Catholic community founded by the Trinitarian order has a parish church. The Trinitarians also have three cemeteries on their grounds—one for the sisters, one for the priests and brothers, and the one for the public. On Holy Saturday night, I found myself, along with 40 parishioners, there in the public cemetery, standing somewhere between the living and the dead. I’d like to tell you about some of the people buried there as well as how we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus in their midst on that night. Here lies Leon Domingo—a 23-year-old African American from Jersey City, a former soldier. He rests here after being falsely accused of raping and murdering a White girl in …

The Mass for Millennials: Holy Communion

“I want so much to be yours, and there is only one thing constantly in my way–that I am myself.” —Monica, The Jeweler’s Shop, Act III.3 For the first two acts of Karol Wojtyla’s The Jeweler’s Shop, the play follows the paths of two married couples. In the third act, we find that the children of these two couples–Monica and Christopher– are now in love, and on the verge of marriage. Because of her parents’ strained union, however, Monica takes pause at the thought of marriage. Monica fears that to be drawn into relationship means the inevitable loss of one’s self. When I read the dialogue of Monica and Christopher, I find that Monica’s doubts and misgivings resonate deeply with me. Monica seems to dwell on her own shortcomings, and on all the uncertainties the future holds. “Will it not be a mistake, my dear, will it not all come to an end?” she asks Christopher. Monica is terrified of herself, of her ability to withdraw into her own ego, to drift apart from her beloved. Particularly …

The Mass for Millennials: Sign of Peace

As a Cradle Catholic it is safe to say that I am more than familiar with going to Mass on Sundays: it has been a part of my weekly routine since day 6 (I was born on a Tuesday. Nobody’s perfect). My understanding of and attentiveness to what happens during the Mass has changed over the years as I’ve grown up and taken more interest in my own faith. There were some parts that just didn’t make any sense to me, and others that I thought were secretly hilarious when I was younger but have today become some of the most meaningful prayers in my life. I find every time I go to Mass something different sticks out. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” is probably my favorite line of the Mass right now and I only feel like I started to understand it within the last few months. And be honest: when you were ten “The Mass is ended” “Thanks be to God” was comedic gold. I’ll admit it, sometimes …

The Mass for Millennials: Communion Rite

The first time I attended Mass while studying abroad in Italy six years ago, I was nearly trampled in the sudden surge forward at Holy Communion. The nice, familiar, genteel, orderly lines cultivated through years of practice back home in the States? Totally abandoned. At first, I thought it was just an Italian thing, like the frenetic and bewildering rush for one’s daily cappuccino e cornetto in the cramped, boisterous cafes of Rome; but it happened again, in Berlin, London, Jerusalem, Paris, and Sydney, and I continue to see it on a daily basis in my current parish in Wexford, Ireland. Initially disoriented and slightly put-off by the unceremonious, mad dash towards the altar, in time I became struck by the same sharp and visceral tug towards the sacrament that the rest of assembly felt. I began to understand–sure, why wait and go through the rigmarole of polite, solemn procession, faux-patiently waiting in line, eyes piously cast downward, when you can go and receive the Lord in the very instant you wish (although preferably while …

The Mass for Millennials: The Eucharistic Prayer

A few months ago, I was stuck in the deep trenches of service options on the Catholic Volunteer Network website. Simultaneously, I was overwhelmed when thinking about the enormity of social, political, and economic issues affecting real people’s lives inside and outside the U.S. Would I be choosing one community over another? What are the implications of that? Who is my brother, sister, mother? However, the priest’s words in my dorm’s Mass serendipitously intercepted me at a crucial moment of my post-graduate discernment process. The words were nothing out of the ordinary, but resonated loudly: Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ. As I heard that line in my dorm’s chapel, I felt the deep call to see what a just world might look like when shared across religious, national, …

Christ’s Sacrifice of Mercy

Jesus, because he remains forever, has a high priesthood which does not pass away. Therefore he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercession for them. It is fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7: 24–27 Of the many words that describe Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrews, Son, Lord, heir, first-born, the great shepherd of the sheep, and mediator, the most distinctive description is high priest. Starting with this description, this passage from Hebrews invites us to explore what sets Jesus apart from other high priests, in particular, his unique lineage and the nature of his sacrifice. The first distinction comes in the earlier verses of chapter seven, that Christ’s priesthood is …