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All posts in December, 2007

Hope the celebration of advent is producing a fruitful Christmas season. Now that it is the Christmas season we have to try to stay in the spirit even though society wants Christmas to be over. Our family tries to stay in the spirit by still playing music and movies of the season. Since during advent we lit a candle each week in anticipation of Christmas, we continue to light a candle before dinner, but it is a white candle for the Christmas season. We also use the reading from the Liturgy of the Hours instead of the advent candle prayer. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the daily readings for Mass is the best way to stay focused on this season of Christmas.

The word “Advent” means “coming”. During this season we prepare for Christ’s coming in three ways. We celebrate His coming at Bethlehem, we await His coming again at the end of the world, and we thank Him for coming to us through the sacraments. The readings for the first Sunday of Advent urge us to “stay awake” and “be prepared” because we do not know the day or hour the Lord is coming.

I used to always want to know how these traditions came about or got started, but the more I researched, the more different stories I heard. So I guess as with most traditions, they tend to change slightly over time. It is also possible that since each person is different, each person will view the purpose and meaning a little different. So if we have the basic idea of preparation for the coming of the Lord and sincerely pray that he comes into our hearts and change our lives we can make the world a better place.

I have an Advent Wreath Prayer on my Saint Telemachus web site.

For Further spititual reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1042-1050

In our church recently, as I’m sure has happened in other churches also, we had the commissioning of lay ministers in the church. I have always had a problem calling the lay people that help out “ministers”. Most bishops were also concerned about this during their 1987 Synod of Bishops as they said in the post-synodal Apostolic Exortation “Christifideles Laici“. They said in paragraph 23: “a person is not a minister simply in performing the task, but through sacramental ordination.” Later in the same paragraph it says: “a critical judgment was voiced about a too-indiscriminate use of the word “ministry”, the confusion and the equating of the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood, the lack of a observance of ecclesiastical laws and norms, the arbitrary interpretation of the concept of “supply”, the tendency towards a “clericalization” of the lay faithful and the risk of creating, in reality, and a ecclesial structure of parallel service to that found on the sacrament of orders.”

I’ve always looked at it like this, the priest’s role is to fix/nourish the lay faithful so we can go fix the world. Our role does seem to be as such as stated in paragraph 15 of Christifideles Laici: “The “world” thus becomes the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfill their Christian vocation, because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ.” This means that we need to participate and make society better. They seem to think it means to sit in the church and do ministry. Calling laypeople ministers confuses the distinction between the ordained and non-ordained. As Vatican II said the difference is in essence and not degree.

Paragraph 10 of Vatican II document Lumen Gentium states: “Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ.(2*) The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.(3*) They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.”

This seems to mean to make it pretty clear that the priest’s role is acting in the person of Christ in the sanctuary, and teaching and ruling his priestly people. By our royal priesthood, our role is the offering of the Eucharist in the pew, prayer, thanksgiving, holiness, self-denial, and charity. We need to receive Jesus in the Eucharist during Mass so we can go and be sent out to the world to make it a better place. If people are doing what they call “ministry” in the mass, it seems that it may be harder for them to “receive” something when they’re the ones that are “doing”. Thus it seems harder that they will be able to change the world. I also believe it could be one factor in the priest shortage in some dioceses. Young people see that the lay faithful are able to do the priest’s work, so why would they need to become priests?

Another excellent document on this subject is, ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDINGTHE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINEDFAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST . Article 8 section 2 is particularly helpful on the subject of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion: “Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion.(99) They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion.” Then this article ends with this pretty forceful language: “To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:
— extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants;
— the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful”.”
As I see it, this should have ended the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion on every Sunday.

I believe all this begins with the unintentional minimizing of the liturgy. I’m sure they’re trying to do their best in trying to get people to do charitable works. Our bulletin today had something that is a common thread that I have noticed in this wrong view that they have the liturgy. It starts out with “The “liturgy” – literally, common work of the people – is of primary importance in the life of the Catholic Church.” Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does basically say this in paragraph 1069: “The word “liturgy” originally meant a “public work” or service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” The words “originally meant” tell me that this was used in regular society, which the church is not. But, as with most confusions or misunderstandings, this is taken out of context, and the paragraph actually says the opposite of what they claim. The next sentence in paragraph 1069 confirms this: “In Christian tradition it [liturgy] means the participation of the people of God in “the work of God”. Through the liturgy Christ, our Redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his church.” So the church appropriated the word liturgy and gave it a new and different meaning than the way was used in common society, which is the way they are using it. The way they use it makes it seem that we are doing the liturgy. In paragraph 1070 of the catechism, their view is contradicted where it says: “The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.” Now I am not saying, and the catechism isn’t saying, or am I saying that the catechism is saying, that it’s all Jesus and we don’t have to do anything. On the contrary, it is all Jesus, but we have to enter into it and participate in it. Not as lay ministers, but as the bride awaiting the bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have started the Advent Season and We need to take care not to make it into Christmas as the rest of society does. As Christians we are in the world but not of the world, so we need to not let the society force us to abandon our faith. Christmas starts on Christmas Day and ends on The Baptism of the Lord. Our family loosly came up with a tradition, mainly by my behest, to put up the lights and tree around Gaudete Sunday since it is a feast of rejoiceful anticipation of Christmas. We also try to keep Christmas music and movies at a minimum during Advent.

To be able to fully celebrate any feast we need the time to prepare. We need that time of getting ready. When a couple gets married they have a time where they need to prepare themselves for the biggest moment of their lives that is coming. So too, we need a time to prepare for the celebration of one of the biggest, best events that ever happened in the world. The incarnation of our Lord and Savior.