In the Trinity, there is no self-concern. Each Person is self-offering, dying, for the other two. And each Person receives that same self-offering back from the other two. This is divine love. It is, in fact, the basis of all love; there is no love other than that which mirrors the love of God.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. In becoming human, there was a self-offering, a dying to the limitlessness that was his as the eternal Son and taking on the limitations of mortal flesh. Once in the flesh, Christ loved humanity to the end, that is, unto death. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (or enemies—see Romans 5:6-11). Such is the divine love.
Wherever self-giving love is shown by human beings in any degree at all, God must be said to be present in the transformation of human character into God’s own moral and spiritual likeness. There redemption is happening, as people are being set free from self-regard and self-interests. There salvation is being tasted, for salvation is precisely growth into that self-giving which is also God’s character and which is exercised in communion between God and humanity and among human beings.
A privileged place for this revelation is in the liturgy, which is specifically designed as a participation in Christ by the laying down of our lives on the altar with him. Thus, the presence of Christ is not only in the consecrated bread and wine, but even more powerfully in those who are willing to participate in his death, his self-offering. Yes, there is singing and responding, processing, genuflecting, standing, sitting, kneeling; but these are only tools to facilitate the real participation, which is self-offering.
This liturgical participation is actually a participation in God’s life. It is to be transformed into God, a process described from earliest times as divinization. So, participation in the liturgy is not merely a pious exercise. It is not there to make one feel good or holy, much less to entertain. Liturgy exists to transform humans into Christ’s body.
~ Fr. Frank Coady
Are you dealing with the death of your spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child, or a friend? Come to any or all of a series of meetings to help you understand, cope, and heal through a process called GriefShare. Whether it's been one month, one year, or ten years, GreifShare can help you heal from the loss of your loved one. Each week the group will watch a video seminar on DVD. The GreifShare videos cover topics essential to your recovery from the hurt of grief and loss. A new series is beginning this Fall.
COAR (Community Oscar Arnulfo Romero) will be asking for your donations, prayers, and interest as part of the Mission Coop at all Masses the weekend of June 17/18. COAR is located in Zaragoza, El Salvador. It was founded in 1980 by a Cleveland Diocese Mission Team priest, Fr. Ken Myers, during El Salvador's brutal civil war. Fr. Ken and fellow Cleveland Mission Team members Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, and Jean Donovan (murdered December 2, 1980) began gathering orphans from refugee camps and bringing them back to the Mission's parish of Zaragoza. COAR is now known as the "Children's Village" in El Salvador with 800 day students, 100 in foster car, a medical and dental clinic, pharmacy, trade shops (such as baking and tailoring). It is administered directly by the Archbishop of San Salvador through his Vicariate of Human Development. COAR's motto is Women and Men for God and Culture; the curriculum educates the entire person. With over 30 employees, COAR strengthens the regional economy. One of the first orphans of COAR served as mayor of Zaragoza from 1998-2002. COAR buzzes with optimism and vitality. However, El Salvador remains an impoverished country, as are COAR's students. To protect the most vulnerable simply requires food, shelter, and house mothers. To educate the children to modernize their economy requires updated computers and new classrooms. To get the best teachers and treat them fairly requires wages near the Salvadoran national average. Please help us respond to the needs of the most impoverished among us and help them build a better future. More information about COAR.
Mary Stevenson is the Executive Director of the COAR Peace Mission--the US fundraising and outreach arm of the COAR Children's Village in Zaragoza, El Salvador. She was a student at Beaumont High School in Cleveland Heights when Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, left to begin her five-year assignment on the Cleveland Diocese's Latin American Mission Team. Prevented from visiting the mission in the 1980s because of the civil war, including the murder of Sr. Dorothy, Mary first visited COAR in 1990 and experienced the anguish of El Salvador's civil war through the orphans at COAR. Repeated visits through the years revealed the deep, healing, vital nature of the care, education, and vocational training that COAR gives its children. Won over by COAR, Mary left a business career to become Executive Director in 2004.
Confirmation Mass, January 28, 2018
Front Row: Corinne Gates (adult confirmand), Meredith Comas, Morgan Day, Elizabeth Hohn, Hayley Smith, Madelyn McCollough, Jocelyn Korenek, Tegan Gagnon, Hannah Heger, Sophia Comas, Sabrina Johnson
Row 2: Malary Tajchman, Payton Day, Megan Keenan, Emily Ostermann, Hailey Robinson, Shelby Goscha, Kira Schartz, Imary Ahorro, Anna Swanson, Mallorie Reimer, Aloera Ostermann, Dcn. Buzz Harris
Row 3: Lauren Erickson, Adrian Kaus, Brady Foltz, Chase Erickson, Blake Disberger, Collin Devane, Tucker Bylkas, Hunter Wise, Bryan Dudley, Jerin Ugrin, Dcn. Wayne Talbot
Back Row: Fr. Frank Coady, Matthew Culbertson, Mitch Munsen, Colton Haug, Chandler Marks, Brendan Mummert, Paul Irvine, Jacoby Kerr, Roman Talbot, Casey Gritton
MCS Class of 2016 - Celebrated 1st Communion at MCS & Confirmation at STM Together
We had an unusually large group of MCS alumni confirmed here at STM. Margaret Ryan, their 2nd Grade teacher who prepared them for 1st Communion was also a confirmation sponsor.
Front Row: Margaret Ryan, Megan Keenan, Meredith Comas, Jocelyn Korenek, Tegan Gagnon, Sophia Comas, Anna Swanson, Mallorie Reimer, Sabrina, Johnson.
Back Row: Tucker Bylkas, Matthew Culbertson, Mitch Munsen, Colton Haug, Chandler Marks, Paul Irvine, Jacoby Kerr, Roman Talbot
Liturgy is a Participation in the Church’s Life!
Continuing on with our discussion about “liturgical participation,” this is not only participation in God’s life, but also participation in the Church. To experience Christ, to be in union with him, is also to be in union with his body. His body is no longer present in Jesus of Nazareth; since the Ascension, it is present in the Church.
There is a sense that in the liturgy we are connected to both past and future such that the Christian life we celebrate not only attempts to make the present world better, but is also connected to all such activity in every age and is a participation in the future kingdom of God. We experience a oneness with the saintly people of the past and feel their love and support. We experience the kingdom as more than a utopian dream; it reaches back into our present moment and offers both challenge and hope. Because of the liturgy, we find a solidarity with all God’s people that keeps us from falling into a pitfall of hopelessness as we minister in a darkened world.
Taking its cue from the biblical account of creation, the Church sees the world in a positive light. All reality is graced, and even sin cannot alienate the world from God’s love. Liturgy, then, is not a window through which the grace of heaven enters temporarily into a secular world. Rather, it celebrates the grace of God active, always and everywhere, in the world. The liturgy is optimistic about the world because of divine grace, yet it is realistic about human sin. It celebrates the end times even in the present moment, yet it prays constantly for the strength to combat sin and live the kingdom life now. It celebrates the divine-human relationship in Christ and his body, yet it recognizes that the union is not yet complete.
~ Fr. Frank Coady
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a statement in late October about burial and cremation that reaffirms Catholic teaching on the subject. It was approved by Pope Francis. It does not change any official teaching for American Catholics, who have had similar guidelines on this subject since 1997. The CDF instruction contains some practical dos and don’ts. Cremation is permitted, but scattering of ashes is not; keeping ashes in private homes is generally prohibited; making jewelry and keepsakes out of cremated remains is totally forbidden. Nothing new here, but practices coming from the secular culture may have seemed attractive for some Catholics as well.
Let’s look at the theology that underlies the document. Catholic traditions about death and burial are shaped by what Catholics believe about Christ and what they believe about the human person. About Christ: his death has infused death itself with new meaning for those who believe; denial of death or avoidance of reminders of death is out of place. About human beings: the human body is part of the person and so is to be treated with reverence even after death. The body is not a “prison” of the soul, nor can it be reduced to a token or a memento of the deceased. We believe in the resurrection of the body, not in reincarnation or the dissolution of the person into the cosmos.
It is also about the Church. Prayer with and for the dead is part of the Church’s tradition. Having sacred spaces set aside for burial or entombment encourages and reminds us to pray for those who have gone before us. It is communal: the death of a Christian concerns not only the individual and any living relatives, but is linked with the Communion of Saints that reaches beyond this present generation. In addition, burying the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy.
The Funeral Liturgy, done well and according to the Church’s tradition, is meaningful and healing. It brings closure. No one does it better. And burying the dead in a cemetery provides a place where loved ones can go when they feel the need to visit and pray. Even if they never visit, there is the psychological benefit of knowing that there is a “place” where the person’s body lies. There is also the spiritual benefit of knowing that, as part of the Rite of committal, the priest or deacon blessed the ground in which the person is buried.
The instruction comes at a good time. In an age when “memorials” are conducted in place of funerals, and scattering of ashes has become commonplace, the emphases surrounding death have begun to change for Catholics. Nowadays sharing memories of the deceased is all important; praying for them is less so. Deciding where to scatter ashes seems like a chance to express the personality of the deceased; laying them in a grave marked with a name, less so.
It is, therefore, a service to the faithful that the CDF should remind us of the underlying principles of Catholic faith that can and should guide our practice. Fond memories and beautiful places that evoke those memories are fine, but they are not all that matters.
Liturgy is a participation in the Church’s life: past, present, and future.
We said last time that participation in the liturgy is a participation in the life of the Trinity. But we cannot participate in the Triune God without participating also in the Church. Ever since the Incarnation, God has a body. The risen and ascended body of Christ is no longer Jesus of Nazareth; it is the Church. The same Holy Spirit who gave the Son a body through Mary now joins the Church to the Son, making it his body. And anyone who is joined to the Son is also joined to the Father.
So worshiping God in the liturgy cannot bypass his body, the Church. When we come into a Catholic church, we leave our individuality at the door. Our signing in the baptismal water is a gesture of acceptance that we belong to the body. We have died to ourselves and have become one with him—in his body.
When we participate in the liturgy, we are connected to the global Church: not only in the present, but also the past and future. The mystical body of Christ transcends time and space. It includes the entire cosmos, all of God’s creation in every age. Christians live in between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Kingdom of God. This is the eternal NOW of the liturgy. Time collapses. There is no distance between 2016 and the Last Supper, nor is there any distance between 2016 and the Second Coming of Christ.
The Christian life we celebrate not only attempts to make the present world better, but is also connected to all such activity in every age and is a participation in the future kingdom of God. We experience a oneness with the saintly people of the past and feel their love and support. We experience the kingdom as more than an utopian dream; it reaches back into our present moment and offers both challenge and hope. Because of the liturgy, we find a solidarity with all God’s people that keeps us from falling into the pitfall of hopelessness as we minister in a darkened world.
Liturgy is participation in God’s life…
The Christian life is more than just believing certain truths or imitating Christ or obeying his mandates of love and service. For Christians, truth is not a philosophy; it is a person. Christians do not live in obedience to laws, they live in obedience to the person of Jesus Christ. Christians see Christ everywhere. They experience a connection with everyone, sensing Christ in one another. This is not an emotional bond, but a bond of charity. Christ himself gave wonderful examples: the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son’s father.
John’s gospel takes the bond of charity a giant leap further. In Christ’s last discourse, he tells his disciples that they who do his commands actually live in him and he in them. Obedience to Christ means to share his life, to be filled with his Spirit, to be joined to the life of the Triune God. Christians live similar lives to those of other good, philanthropic people, but their motivation is different. Christians want the world to be better, like the others. Christians experience the joy and satisfaction of “worship,” defined in the generic sense as giving themselves over to something larger than themselves and losing any excessive self-concern in the process. What makes Christians unique, though, is that they “worship” also in the liturgical sense: they give themselves over not just to goodness, but to the persons of the Triune God and become one with them.
So, to participate in the liturgy is to participate in God. It is more than just singing/saying the right things and performing the right body postures. Those are done precisely because they can lead us into participating in God’s life. They help to prepare us to receive God’s life into our lives.
Article 14 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, from Vatican II, considers the full, conscious, active participation by all the faithful as the principle goal of the liturgical reform. We have spent the last 50 years since the Council coming to a gradual understanding of what that participation should be. Early on, it looked like a series of “get-tos.” I get to carry something; I get to read something; I get to distribute something. But if that were participation, it would leave out most of the assembly at any given Mass.
So what does participation mean, and how does one do it? Parishes do not provide training workshops for the assembly like they do for lectors, cantors, musicians, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Perhaps that is not possible, but something needs to be done.
I would like to devote a series of these Musings to discuss the full, conscious, active participation by all. Here is the first installment.
The first thing to know about participation in the liturgy is that it involves more than just the time spent in church. Liturgy is the ritual celebration of the whole Christian life. Liturgy presumes that the people celebrating it are actually striving to live in holiness, justice, and truth.
Any number of people in the average assembly have not prayed all week long. What makes them think they could then be good prayers at Sunday Mass? Some people in the assembly have ignored the mandates of love all week long. How are they, then, capable of celebrating the greatest gift of love on Sunday?
This is not to say that perfection must be achieved before one is capable of participating in the liturgy. Far from it. Liturgy celebrates that very patience of God that forgives human failing and calls people back from their sin toward divine grace. Liturgy is not only the summit of Christian life; it is also its principle source.
What is being said here is that liturgy is connected to life and that any false separation of the two negatively affects one’s spiritual existence. Failure to live the Christian life affects one’s participation in the liturgy. Similarly, failure to participate in the liturgy affects one’s ability to fully live the Christian life. Asking which comes first is a moot question. Begin doing both, and both will improve.
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