Populus tuus populus meus

Today’s Readings:

Quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam, et ubi morata fueris, et ego pariter morabor. 
Populus tuus populus meus, et Deus tuus Deus meus.
For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. 
Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16B
Ruth says this after being married to Naomi’s son for quite a while. Ruth is familiar with Jewish practices, Jewish piety, and Jewish oddness by this point. She is, certainly, “the stranger dwelling among” God’s people. She’s willing to make this step because she knows God’s people will care for her, will support her in her journey, but also because she knows Naomi will need her help, will need her support, will need her (Ruth’s) strength on the rest of the journey. This is a conversion out of love for the Jewish people and for the Jewish faith. This was not a conversion out of fear, or out of obligation. This was not a conversion running away from Moabitish religion, but rather a moving towards family, towards community, even perhaps towards the relative freedom a woman might have in Judaism compared to the more pagan sorts of religion practiced in the area.
Adults who come into the Catholic faith, likewise, may come for many reasons: some good, some bad. But once you’re here, there’s some things you need to be honest about, realistic about, truthful about. When you converted you got this – not “also”, not “as well”, but this is what you converted to.

Community: the Catholic Church is huge. I don’t mean large. I mean huge. There are catholics everywhere and in large numbers. There may not be enough to fill up a pew in your local parish right now… but come Easter, there are a lot of Catholics. There are Catholics at work, you just don’t know it. There are Catholics on your softball league, in your bowling alley, at your bank, in your kids’ scouting groups, on the bus in your commute. In fact, the only group noticeably larger than Catholics in all these areas is going to be people who call themselves “ex catholics”. The Catholic Church is HUGE. Cross yourself at a diner. You may project a bit of self-conscious embarrassment, but the largest feedback you’re going to generate will be, “I’m Catholic. Wait, should I/Why didn’t I/I’m glad I didn’t cross myself like that guy.” When I started to cross myself at work for lunch so many Catholics “came out of the sacristy closet” and started to cross themselves too! In fact, I was Orthodox at the time and doing it backwards.  Nobody cared: they started to do it.
Do it, and see what happens: these people are now your people.
Struggles: my church has been classed as one of the “most beautiful in America”. But the parish I worshipped at in Columbus, GA, was compared (by their now late Bishop) to a Pizza Hut. God’s still there. The Holy Father yesterday said that we should celebrate Vatican II by “overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions and the practices that disfigure it.” I’m down with that, because following the documents of V2, we should all face East, be using chant and not guitars, and taking communion on the tongue not the hand.
But some people think it means exactly the reverse. shrug These people are now your people. No family is 100% harmonious 100% of the time. And this family is huge and you’re going to need to wear a flame-retardant suit sometimes, online and off.

When you’ve journeyed far and yet have come home, you know, somehow, you may have betrayed someone along the way. Somewhere some person or other may feel hurt at your joy. So what can you do? Ruth knew her obligations were not in Moab. She had to wait. Because this God was now her God. Naomi was a Jewish woman, faithful daughter of Israel. Ruth, though, was a Gentile.

That’s your job now – my job – for the Church is Israel and yet we are those Gentiles recently come in. This God is now our God. Whither the Church goes, whither Naomi goes, we go with her. Where she lodges, we lodge. Her people are now our people. Her God is our God.

In love you stand up and profess that what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, this is what you accept, follow, and live. You don’t get to dine a la carte, either. You’re stuck with the whole nine yards. (Else, why are you here?) You can’t say you didn’t know. Ruth may have had pork as a child, but I’m sure she gave it up long before saying, Populus tuus populus meus. You need all of the commandments before the two greatest make sense.

We’ve known for a while that this was right, but now we have to live it. We’ve known that this is God’s house and the Gate of Heaven. Loving God and neighbor means living this way now.

Now we are here. On this road of wandering with Israel, we are now home.

It’s your choice, really…


Today’s Readings:

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” 
John 6:52-53

You may know that the laws of Kashrut, or how to make and keep food Kosher, require all blood to be drained from the meat. The Blood is the life force and it is sacred to God. For the life of all flesh is in the blood. Therefore I said to the children of Israel: you shall not eat the blood of any flesh at all, because the life of the flesh is in the blood, and whosoever eateth it, shall be cut off. Leviticus 17:14

Jesus would have known that law. Would have know blood is not allowed, and eating human flesh? Never! We can be reasonably certain, therefore, that Jesus never would have said this, right? Someone made it up later to justify their liturgical life.

So the Sophists and game players would have us say. They reject the love of God given to us in the Mass because to accept it… they know: they have to accept the whole package. So they play games with the text. They make up their own mythologies about how the text came to be and why we can ignore it. Having eliminated all the texts they don’t like (moral teachings, miracles, etc) they are left with a politician who sounds remarkably like Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders: somewhat boring, left of center, and oddly anti-religious. The people who buy it are, themselves, remarkably like Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders: somewhat boring, left of center, and oddly anti-religious. Amusingly, the reverse is also true: it’s possible to edit the Bible in such a way as to end up with Donald Trump.

Neither side wants to admit that they are doing what the other side is also doing. Neither side can stand to look in a mirror. The Jesus Seminar is no better than Westboro Baptist Church: both equally fundamentalist, both equally committing idolatry before the mental ejaculations of their theological onanism.

They both reject the literal truth of today’s Gospel.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

Here, at this table in the forms of bread and wine, is God himself; the very flesh of God, the very blood of Him who even now, in full ambient perichoresis with the Father and the Spirit, reigns in caelestium, terrestrium et infernorum, in heaven, on the earth, and in hell. Here, on this altar. Now.

Here, though you cannot see, the entirety of heaven sings in awe, the entirety of hell quakes in fear; angels on either side of you are in awe of our God and of you whom he has blessed to stand in his presence. Demons running in fear, turn in wonder to see you in flesh and blood come near.

Here are your loved ones gone before, here are those whom we would most dearly love to see also standing unseen with us. In this very moment all of heaven and earth, all of eternity and infinity, meet here.

All space and all time which cannot contain him, all universes, all eternities too small. Is here: in a bit of bread the size of a quarter, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Can you see the humility of our God?
Can you bear the love of our God?
To lay flat and silent before all, to be chewed – the Greek says “gnawed” – like a child getting the last bit of Popsicle off a stick, or a man ripping the meat off of spare ribs.

This is our God.
We consumer our God.
Yet…
Our God is a consuming fire.
This meal will not leave you alone.
You may come to it as you are.
But you may not leave it unchanged.

God will get into you. God will tear you limb from limb, passion from flesh, soul from body, spirit from will, and will remake you into his own lover, someone who cannot be without him, as a fish cannot be without water, as a song cannot be without air.

God will gnaw on you, will find the savor in you, will suck the very marrow of life from your old shell of death and will make you anew into the living members of his body.

You.
YOU.
Will become this bread

This meal consumes you.

You are what you eat.

And you will give yourself to others as living bread.

Wine will pour forth from your heart like love and all will come and drink.

Your life will be sacrificed so that they may live. You will discover love in you. Because God is in you and you in him.

Or, maybe Jesus never said this and we can all have sex, and die.

Your choice.

Supper’s ready.

Grok?

Fourth Petition – Jesus Psalter


To see all the other notes in this series, click on “Jesus Psalter” or in the labels below. To see the first post click here.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus comfort me. (x10)

Jesus comfort me and give me grace place my chief, my only joy in thee.
Send me heavenly meditations, spiritual sweetness, and fervent desires of thy glory; ravish my soul with the contemplation of heaven where I may dwell everlastingly with Thee.
Grant me, sweet savior Jesus, contempt of all damnable pleasures full of sin and misery.
Bring often to my remembrance Thy kindnesses, Thy great gifts, Thy unspeakable goodness often shown me. When Thou bringest to mind the sad remembrance of my man sins whereby I have so ungratefully offended Thee, comfort me with the assurance of obtaining Thy grace with the spirit of perfect repentance, which may purge away my guilt and prepare me for thy kingdom.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.

Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.
O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.
Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)
This petition asks that we realize and live as though all joy is in God – and so in pleasing him.  A friend of mind throwing away his past sins told me he chanted, “It’s not a loss because it was never a gain.” If Aquinas is right and all sin is either a lack of love or a misdirection of love, then throw away the former and fix the latter. The first was never really important, and the second is not gone. As Kansas sings in, The Wall, “There is no loss.”  What we give up or sacrifice in our God-ward journey is not us and what really is us (as God created us to be) can never go away.

Third Petition – Jesus Psalter


To see all the other notes in this series, click on “Jesus Psalter” or in the labels below. To see the first post click here.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus strengthen me. (x10)

Jesus strengthen me in soul and body to the performance of all virtue for thy pleasure, whereby I may attain to thy everlasting joy and felicity.
Mercifully grant me firm purpose to amend my life, doing penance for all the years I have misspent to thy displeasure in the practices of impious thoughts, enjoyments, words, deeds, and evil customs; in breaking thy commandments for which I deserve damnation and thine enmity.
Make my heart obedient to thy will and ready, for love of thee, to perform all the works of mercy.
Grant me the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the eight Beatitudes, the four Cardinal virtues; and, by the frequent and pious reception of thy Holy Sacraments, dispose me to thy devotion.
Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.
O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.
Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)
These petitions engage in one of the best pious customs of the period: making lists. This one is actually a meta-list, a list of lists! Contra the “impious thoughts, enjoyments, words, deeds, and evil customs; in breaking thy commandments” the writer posits the 14 Works of Mercy (7 corporeal, 7 spiritual),  the seven fruit of the Holy Spirit, the Eight Beatitudes, and the 4 Cardinal Virtues. Then the prayer invokes the Seven Sacraments. This pray asks for a lot! Again there is the realization that what went before Grace was sinful, take away my stoney heart and give me a heart of flesh set on fire for love of you.

The Second Petition – The Jesus Psalter

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me. (x10)

Jesus help me to overcome all temptation to sin and the malice of my ghostly enemies.
Help me to spend my time in virtue and in labors acceptable to thee, to repress in my flesh the motions of sloth, gluttony, and lust.
Help me to have a heart fully in love with virtue and the holy desire of Thy glorious presence.
Help me through pious and peaceful living with my neighbors to have and to keep a good name, to Thy honor, and to my consolation.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.
O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.
Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)

Here (and in the first petition) we see the general themes laid out, of taking things one has – sloth, gluttony, lust – and exchanging them for things one should have: a love of virtue and a desire for God’s presence. In this prayer “a good name” assumes that all one’s neighbors are more-pious, holier Christians than oneself and that to have their good judgement is to have become more like them. This is very orthodox thinking in the Christian East as well as the West: I am the only sinner I know. Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short, but I am the only sinner I know. The state of your soul is not for me to judge, but rather something for which I should intercede and always assume the best.

The prayer to “haue my hart enamored of vertue, & the glorious prefence of thee” as it is printed in the 1599 text, is one of a sort that will be seen often: my heart is drawn away from you, God, but give me a heart, rather, that is drawn to you that I can become more like you.

The First Petition – Jesus Psalter

This whole series can be found under Jesus Psalter Series in the sidebar. The reader is referred there for “how to” and any historical notes. To the latter I will add more as I find them. Each petition will be posted in the same format: the petition itself, which is to be said ten times, followed by a collection of prayers compiled from my available sources, including in bold, the ones that see to be “the original” prayers, to differentiate them. (It will be noted that the first prayer is always the Petition plus an embolism which clarifies the intention. Then the closing prayer, Pater Noster, and Ave. 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me. (x10)

Jesus, have mercy on me, O God of compassion, and forgive the many and great offenses I have committed in Thy sight. 
Many have been the follies of my life, and great are the miseries I have deserved for my ingratitude.
Have mercy on me, dear Jesus, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, who am unable to help myself.
Deliver me from setting my heart upon any of Thy creatures, which may divert my eyes from continually looking up to Thee.
Grant me grace henceforth, for the love of Thee, to hate sin: and out of a just esteem of Thee, to despise worldly vanities.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.

O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.

Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)

A comment on the common concluding prayer, of course, “All Sinners” includes the person praying. The subtext of “change their vices into virtues” is that all vices are only misdirected virtues. There is no positive evil: only a deficiency of good in some area. One fails to love God enough and loves other things instead. But it is still love.

Liturgical Doodles

I’m given to understand that “back in the day” there were no “Vigil Masses” on Saturday Night and that proper piety in the West (as in the East) involved attending Saturday Vespers where one might also make confession. I’ve no idea if this “day” was 100 years ago or 1,000, but Saturday Vespers leading into Sunday seem a good thing.

I know also from my Anglo-Catholic days that at one time (up until the mid 20th Century) Sunday also included a parochial Sung Vespers (Evensong) service together with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  The snarky queens in Seminary would call it Evenscreach and Cookie Worship before going out to serve the pious of whom they made such fun.

The Slavic Orthodox tradition serves something called “the All-Night Vigil” on Saturdays. Although it is usually only 2.5 hours long at the fullest, it can be made torturously into nearly eight hours of worship. Liturgically, though, it is “all night” in that it is Vespers and Compline of the previous evening, together with Matins and the first hour (Prime) of Sunday. So leaving Church at some late evening point on Saturday, it is already Sunday at Dawn, in liturgical time, anyway.  This is not done in other Orthodox traditions, perhaps because the long Russian Winter Nights required the whole parish to pray together for warmth.

Read as a package, all of these events from the Slavic Vigil service to the Anglo-Catholic Benediction, with Sunday mass in the middle, of course, can be seen to be ways of “extending the Sabbath”, of letting the weekly Feast of the Resurrection be longer than just one midmorning Communion service. This is, it seems to me, a laudable practice. Yet if one were to try to attempt sch a thing in a modern, Novus Ordo parish there would be a mass on Saturday night, and probably two more on Sunday afternoon and evening that would get in the way. Vigil Masses and multiple Sunday Masses are pastoral necessities, dictated by the cruise-ship size of many parishes as well as the work schedules of many people for whom 9-5 M-F is a middle class, mostly White, largely Suburban possibility. What follows, therefore, is only a doodle, a sort of Fantastic Liturgical Voyage, using the tools available to a parish of a certain size, in a way that would be fully within the Western, Catholic tradition and using it to the fullest.

Saturday Evening: A seemless wedding of Vespers with the Office of Readings, including the Vigil Canticles, Resurrection Gospel, and the Te Deum.

This is done by moving the intercessions from the end of Vespers to the end of the Office of Readings.

The Psalms and Canticles could be chanted by the congregation and the choir, or else a little of both: with the choir doing fancy versions, whilst the Congregation sticks to antiphonal chanting and/or reading. There are hymns appointed, although there are many available. Using the Psalm Prayers and adding a Homily would make this a fuller experience, as would laying on of incense at the Magnificat and at the Te Deum. Venite optional…

Early Low Mass on Sunday w/Morning Prayer.
This is currently done at my Dominican Parish on Saturday. The Psalms of Saturday Morning Prayer are chanted before the Penitential Rites, with the Benedictus sung as a post communion. This could be done as easily on Sunday.

Pull out all the stops for High Mass on Sunday.

Then, Sunday evening, once again with the Psalms, serve Evening Prayer and Benediction, followed by Sunday Compline. Incense at the Magnificat, at Benediction, and at the Nunc Dimitiis in Compline.  Again, take the intercessions from the end of Vespers and add them to the end of Compline.  If needed a Homily or reflection could be done after the Benediction.

I would, fantastically, add shared parochial meals before the evening services and after the High Mass.  This also comes from Byzantine practice, and as a community building tool it cannot be underestimated. Let the men’s club do Sunday night, the Women’s club Saturday, with the Youth doing a perpetual Pancake brunch on Sunday.

Again, just dreaming.  But if you got a Liturgy of the Hours book handy, you can see what all it could be.