Thursday, November 20, 2014

People Look East - No, Really, Look East!

The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of the word orient is: To cause to face or point toward the east.  For centuries the Church had her priests facing east during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, signifying our perpetual readiness and yearning for the return of the Lord.   Sacred Scripture tells us that when Christ comes again He will come from the east in the same way that the sun rises in the sky. While not always an actual facing of the east (which could or could not be done depending on the structure of the church building), at least a spiritual intent to face the east was accomplished by facing the altar.  

The priest wasn't the only one facing east.  The people in the congregation were "oriented" in this direction as well (again, perhaps not physically, but spiritually by facing the same direction as the priest).  This was the practice of the Church until a liturgical movement of the 20th century literally turned things around.  What was lost in this "re-orientation" was a physical manifestation of the yearning for and expectation of the second coming.

Ad Orientem

As Advent approaches, Bishop James Conley of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, is embarking on a new practice in his cathedral of offering Mass "ad orientem" or toward the east during this season of anticipation.   Bishop Conley writes in the Southern Nebraska Register:

Jesus Christ will return in glory to the earth.
We do not know when he will return. But Christ promised us that he would return in glory, “as light comes from the east” to bring God’s plan of redemption to its fulfillment...
In the early Church, Christians expected that Christ would come soon—any day.  There was hopeful expectation. They were watchful—they looked to the sky in the east to wait for Christ. And because they did not know when he would return, they proclaimed the Gospel with urgency and enthusiasm, hoping to bring the world to salvation before Christ returned.
It has been nearly two thousand years now since Christ ascended into heaven. It has become easier to forget that he will come again to earth. It has become easier to forget that we must be waiting, we must be watching, and we must be ready.
Bishop Conley's  column can be read in its entirety at the Southern Nebraska Register site.  It's worth reading in its entirety.  Perhaps "turning eastward" can help us to more deeply anticipate the Lord's return and what His first coming meant for all people.

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cardinal George: "The Church is About True/False, not Left/Right"

There has been a lot of turmoil churning around in the press lately over the Vatican's synod on the family that recently ended in Rome.  Next year will be the final meeting of the synod and in between will come the World Day of the Family in Philadelphia.  So there is a lot of time to chew on what has been accomplished and what needs to be done to address the enormous deterioration experienced by the family in recent years.

Unfortunately for the Church, and for all of us, the discussion on the family has been sidetracked by a dispute over Communion for the divorced and remarried.  The chief publicist for this notion seems to be Cardinal Kasper, an older German cardinal who has written a book on mercy that was praised by Pope Francis.  Cardinal Kasper writes that there should be a way for Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside of the Church (without a declaration of nullity) to be able to receive Holy Communion while still preserving the Church's perpetual teaching that marriage is indissoluble.  I won't go into all of the gyrations of this proposed accommodation, but the unintended or perhaps intended, result is that the attention of the world was pulled away from the problem of the family in modern culture and directed toward this one aspect of marital life.

Another consequence of the debate over Cardinal Kasper's thinking is the seemingly endless squabbling over who is the better Catholic - those who hold to traditional teaching or those with a more progressive bent.  In a case of what might be viewed as "you never know what you've got until it's gone" - I recently read an incisive interview with Cardinal George, the newly retired archbishop of Chicago.  I never really knew much about Cardinal George, but after reading this interview I wished I had paid more attention to him.  Yes, your eminence, the Church is about truth!  It is so tiring to read the press accounts trying to portray Church leaders and the pope as fitting into one political mold or another.  The faith does not work that way.  It is not a political institution, it is a religious institution tasked with the work of spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The entire interview with Cardinal George can be found at the CRUX website.  The interviewer is John Allen, someone who has been attacked by both those in the "traditional" and "progressive" camps.  It must mean he's doing something right.  The interview can be found here.

A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving

A little something to put a smile on your face :-)

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.