Detroit Institute of Arts

We took Terry to the DIA for her birthday. We got to participate in Drawing in the Galleries for Adults in the African Collection! 🙂 I only had my phone camera with me and I quickly ran out of battery, so I’ll have to go again with my camera! It was a lovely evening.

Even with only a phone camera, I managed to capture this picture of the building on the way in:
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I really like how it turned out! 🙂

Terry is the artist in our group. Phyllis and I went along for fun. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to draw a thing and have it be recognizable… I think I’ll just show you and let you decide for yourself how I did.
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After we had finished our drawing session, we took some time to wander around the museum. This painting of the Seven Sacraments is one of my favorites. 🙂
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Amen!

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible,[644] ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with “Amen.”

1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word “believe.” This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why “Amen” may express both God’s faithfulness towards us and our trust in him.

1063 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the expression “God of truth” (literally “God of the Amen”), that is, the God who is faithful to his promises: “He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth [amen].”[645] Our Lord often used the word “Amen,” sometimes repeated,[646] to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching, his authority founded on God’s truth.

1064 Thus the Creed’s final “Amen” repeats and confirms its first words: “I believe.” To believe is to say “Amen” to God’s words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the “Amen” of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian’s everyday life will then be the “Amen” to the “I believe” of our baptismal profession of faith: May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.[647]

1065 Jesus Christ himself is the “Amen.”[648] He is the definitive “Amen” of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our “Amen” to the Father: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”:[649]
Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

How many of us say “Amen” in a thoughtless or empty fashion? Do any of us really understand what it means when we say this?

I think paragraph 1064, of all of these, is most important for us to reflect on today. For God calls us all to live with integrity. That means that if we say something, we should mean it.

So what does it mean?

I think that when you say, or pray, “Amen,” you are saying a few different things:
1. I believe and adhere to my baptismal profession of faith and to the Creed.
2. I believe and am faithful to the entirety of the Truth that is God.
3. I am saying “Yes” to all that God is asking of me.
4. I pledge my faithfulness.
5. I consecrate my life. [Meaning that I set myself apart for the service and worship of God.]

We should be putting our entire selves into that word and offering ourselves as a gift back to the Father. Especially in our prayer. Prayer is not supposed to be a quick listing of all the things in my life that I want God to fix for me, with a quick “Amen” at the end. It should be a dialogue, a conversation, an encounter with the Father/Son/Holy Spirit who LOVES ME.

Yes, we should have all confidence and trust in God as the only one with power. Yes, we should know that He is all good and that He loves us and that this means that He always has our best interests in mind [even if those best interests may be painful or cost us]. Yes, we should remember that He always hears us.

But this is a love relationship.

I cannot see myself as disengaged from this. Prayer is never a one-sided affair. You can never think of prayer or encounters with God as a disconnected transaction, as an impersonal withdrawal from God’s Bank of Grace.

We need to give our entire selves back to Him in return. We need to engage our hearts. We need to enter into the relationship with the persons of God. Because God *is* a person — or, rather, three persons — and not a vending machine to feed my whims and desires.

We need to have integrity when we pray “Amen.” We need to recognize that it is an affirmation of our adherence to and reliance upon Him, the Almighty, who has done, is doing and will continue to do great things for us.

Our “Amen” should be an “I love You.”

A Difference in Relationship?

In Genesis 4:1, Adam “knew” his wife and she bore Cain. (NAB translation, “had relations with”).

In Genesis 6:4, the sons of God “came in to” the daughters of men, who bore them children. (NAB translation, “had intercourse”).

Both translations appear to show a difference in relationship. The sons of God appear to be merely using their partners for physical pleasure, rather than engaging in a rightly ordered marital union.

Reconciliation

This is in follow-up to my last post.

I went back to SS. Cyril and Methodius tonight at 8 pm, to try again to go to Confession. There were about 12 people already there, scattered around the room. I was difficult to keep track of who was next. Over time, new people would come in. One woman asked if she could go ahead of everyone, since she had a small child. Another older woman just cut in line. The man sitting next to me looked over and said, “Don’t worry, we will get in there eventually!” and we had a short conversation about this. I tried to be patient, but in my head, I pictured myself jumping up and down shouting, “Me! Me!” Obviously, I really *needed* to go to Confession. I spent my time reviewing what I was going to say. Not to make it sound better, but to try to be as accurate as I could and minimize the rationalization and contextualization that I often try to stick in there to make it sound as if I really wasn’t as bad as I was.

When I got in, my confession was kind of like a series of bullet points. I committed sin X, Y, Z…. Bare and hanging out there, with no justification for why I committed them. The priest stops me for a minute to ask a question, then says this:

“You are a young person, you could be such a blessing to others…. But you need to make a routine, or you will never go anywhere in your spiritual life.”

I hadn’t said anything yet about feeling like I have been slacking off in my prayer life, or feeling disconnected from God this week, but here he is! Speaking about that very thing! You need no further proof to know that when you confess, you are confessing to Christ himself working through that priest! And that is so true. I really do need a routine in my life when it comes to spiritual matters. I am so haphazard about it and that bothers me.

After confession, I went back to St. Anastasia and spent some time with the Lord in the chapel. I took the Bible off the shelf and sat there for a moment, thinking of where I should start reading. It popped in my head to start reading in Hosea. So, I opened to Hosea and started reading at the first page I came to:

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When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and burning incense to idols.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of compassion,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one,
who raises an infant to his cheeks,
and I bent down to them and fed them.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim!
How can I hand you over, O Israel!
How can I make you like Admah!
How can I treat you like Zeboiim!
My heart recoils within me,
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger,
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come to destroy. — Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9

Basking in God’s love and God’s forgiveness, I knelt down to pray. A minute later, I felt a warm glow on my face and opened my eyes. The light from overhead was reflecting from the gold of the cover of the Bible.

God’s Word was shining on me.
Such a lovely way to end the evening.

Sacrifice and Love

I have to confess that lately my prayer life has really stunk. I mean, I pray every day, especially intercessions for the people I care about. But I haven’t felt that I am growing in my relationship with the Lord. I just feel disconnected in a way. And this is upsetting to me because I am used to having, or feeling that I have, a close connection to Him. So, I have been floundering quite a bit. Which also means that I have been sinning more often and in worse ways than “normal” (if sin can ever be called normal). Which is also irritating, because I really have no desire to do the sins I do, yet I find myself doing them anyway.

I know the problem is me. All me. And I need Reconciliation. I need to stop what I am doing in my life right now and re-order everything — making God my center. This morning, I got up early and went to Adoration before the exposed Eucharist in our chapel. I started by reading the Pope’s book, “In the Beginning,” but was soon interrupted. Something was bothering me; what was it?

I looked up. The Lord was present in the center flanked by 4 candles. In the niche to the right was the tabernacle. In the niche to the left was the Book of Gospels.

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However, the Book of the Gospels wasn’t lit as brightly as the tabernacle. You could see that the light was on, but it was as if the dimmer switch was turned very low. This is what was bothering me. We are fed from both tables. We should revere the Word of God as we revere His Body. I wanted the lighting for the two niches to be equal.

I looked back to the book in my hands. It is a great book, and I was enjoying reading it. However, I was still unsettled and I felt an urging, a nudge, to read His Word. So, I got up and grabbed a Bible and sat back down, reading Genesis 3-5.

After Benediction, I got a Pumpkin Spice Latte at my local Starbucks. Instead of leaving right away as I usually do, I settled into a comfy armchair and continued reading the Pope’s book. At one point, I stopped reading…because he said something that made me review my week.

In my last post, I talked about fractioning using a large vs. medium sized host and I included a quote about the Altar of Sacrifice, which gave us a graphic image of the Lord’s Blood and Body splashed all over the altar — for us.

Two days after that post, I was at Mass during lunch at the hospital. Our priest told us that there was a priest upstairs who had been declared brain dead, and that our Transplant team was going to be harvesting his organs for Gift of Life later in the day. I work for the Department of Surgery. That was my team that was going to be in that OR. I was involved, in a way, with this. I thought about what this meant. This priest, whom I didn’t know personally, was giving of himself — one final time here on Earth — for the benefit of another person. Talk about sacrifice. Talk about self-gift. All priests lives flow from and return to the sacrifice on the altar. This news, this realization of what he did and was doing, was a powerful image for me of that visceral, close connection that our priests have to the Mass, to the Lord’s Passion, to the Eucharist. So beautiful.

When I go to Mass, at consecration when the Body of our Lord is elevated, I pray in a particular way. Usually, it goes something like this,

This is Your son, who has You in his hands. I see him looking up at You, and I feel You looking down on him with such love. Please Lord, bless and protect him. Strengthen him to be able to do Your work. Refresh him and support him and give him comfort and encouragement, as only You can do. Keep him healthy in mind and body. Help him to turn his heart ever more towards You. Let him know of the incredible love that You have for him.

I hear back the words the Father spoke at the Baptism of the Lord, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

As I finish my recollection of these events of the past week, I return to the Pope’s book. What had given me pause was where he was speaking of the greatest love there is: “I will for you to be.” I think, in context, he was speaking of the incredible love that God has for each one of us that he not only called us into being, but is continually sustaining us in being. For me, I think that this is the best kind of love, one that we should all aspire to have towards the people around us. They are not objects to be used, but people to be loved. Just because they are. Their existence alone gives such joy…or it should.

I am blessed, blessed, blessed by the people I have around me. I love them and I love our Lord who gifted me with them. And I realize that even though I have felt like I’ve had a bad week in my relationship with the Lord, he has been there through it all, giving me grace and love.

After Starbucks, I headed to SS. Cyril and Methodius for Reconciliation prior to Mass. I was to be the next person into the confessional when the priest stopped hearing confessions in order to pray Mass. I looked at the Lord in the tabernacle for a while, “Now what?” After a bit, I headed to St. Anastasia for the 10:15 am Mass. During his homily, Fr. JJ was talking about the Prodigal Son, saying that most people think that they have to reconcile with the Father in order for him to bestow his grace and love upon them, but in fact it is the reverse: it is the fact of the Father’s love which leads to reconciliation.

So, now that I have been graced with this reflection and with the beauty and power and gift that is the Mass…. I will try again to get to Reconciliation this evening. Because God has given me everything which is good in this life.

And I love Him.

The Fractioning Question

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There was a link to a discussion on what happens during fractioning posted on XT3.  The referenced link with commentary by Fr. Z posted here.  The original post by Fr. Allan McDonald can be found here.  

What they are basically saying is that the larger hosts used during Mass scatter lots of pieces of the Lord’s Body during fractioning and that they can no longer in good conscience use the larger hosts, and have switched to using a smaller host.  Fr. McDonald’s trial with the larger host did show the pieces which broke off from it in detail; however, a similar trial was not done using the smaller hosts.  It is possible that they scatter a larger number of pieces, which are smaller in size and harder to detect.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand Fr. Z and Fr. McDonald’s concern over the unnecessary and avoidable scattering of the Body of our Lord.  However, I absolutely LOVE this reply to the discussion:

I have always felt that the Altar is a table of sacrifice. It is enough to imagine the priest of the OT accomplishing the sacrifice of the lamb by dismembering it in the ritual manner and see the pieces of flesh and blood splattered allover the altar of sacrifice as he divides the different portions. I had a view of the butcher’s shop to see how much blood and small pieces of flesh are scattered all over the place as he cuts them to small pieces.That reminded me about what happens when the sacrifice is offered each day at the Altar. I imagine the flesh and blood of the Lord splashed all over the place. Mercifully the Lord has concealed Himself in the form of Bread and Wine, that we may continue to celebrate the Mass. But how much care is needed in the fraction and cleansing of the holy vessels. And as I kiss the alter to depart, to remember that the table is soaked with the Blood of the Lord spilled to save me and mankind.  — Fr. Jose Sebastian, posted on XT3 website 9/6/10

Jellyfish?

“Quite a number of people have the abiding impression that the church’s faith is like a jellyfish: no one can get a grip on it and it has no firm center,” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, In the Beginning, p. 7.

For how many of us is our faith like this idea of Catholicism? Pretty to look at, nice to be able to point out to our friends, but nothing with substance that can cause us to have to reform our lives?

Are we like the jellyfish? Swimming without eyes in the great ocean of life? No vision, but just reacting according to our instincts and desires as sensations come our way? No direction, no community, each jellyfish out for whatever nourishment he or she can obtain from those weaker than him or herself?

Psalm 147:8

He covers the heavens with clouds, he prepares rain for the earth, he makes grass grow upon the hills.

What a great day!
The last few days have been particularly trying for me. It is a comfort to be able to go outside and look up to the sky and know that you are not the one in charge — that there is a God who loves you and is present in our lives. Perhaps also relevant today is:

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:3, 5)