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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Everyone stands at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The celebrant invites the people to pray with him.  There is a dialogue. The priest says, “The Lord be with you.” The congregation responds, “And with your spirit.” There is a profound unity and mutuality.  The priest greets the people at various stages in the liturgy.  He does so at the start of Mass. Again, he greets us with the Word prior to the Gospel.  Now he greets the people at the beginning of the Eucharistic action.  He will do so again at the end of Mass with the dismissal or sending forth. Next the priest says, “Lift up your hearts” and the people respond, “We lift them up to the Lord.”

The exhortation “Lift up your hearts!” constitutes the movement into the third “offering” or part of the Mass along with the penitential rite and the preparation of the gifts.  We must love as the Lord loves. We need to avoid divided hearts, enmity and grudges.  We must be the people we claim to be.  We need to acknowledge Jesus as our great treasure. We are mindful of the warning in the Gospel of John that if we say we love God whom we cannot see while we hate our brother whom we can see, then, we are liars.  The Eucharist is Jesus. The Eucharistic prayer is the center of the Mass. We put aside all the worries of the day.  Everything pales in comparison to this offering or sacrifice.  As we remember the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we align our hearts with the Immaculate Heart of Mary and seek to have hearts that beat in harmony with the Lord.         

The priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” and the people answer, “It is right and just.”  Giving thanks is what the liturgy is about.  We are forever mindful of our reliance upon the Lord. We respond to the generosity and mercy of God with unbounded and enthusiastic gratitude.  If people really want to be at Mass and are disposed for Holy Communion, then this is where such faith is demonstrated or professed. 

The priest-celebrant will pray the Preface alone. It is one of the longest prayers in the Mass and the wording varies with the celebration.  It is selected according to the week of ordinary time or other season or type of celebration or saint in the sanctoral calendar. At the end of the Preface comes the Sanctus or “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

It is the dominate acclamation by the people in the liturgy.  Our hearts are full and we cannot contain ourselves.  We join the song of angels in exultation of the Lord God.  The Preface has given some of the reasons for our joy.  The text is divided between the three announcements of “Holy” and the Blessing (in this context, a form of high praise). Each part concludes with “Hosanna in the highest.”  The benediction is taken from psalm 118:26: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD.” Jesus uses this benediction in reference to himself as the stone rejected by the builders having become the cornerstone. We are entering into the mystery of salvation. Each utterance of “Holy” points to Almighty God as Trinity:  God the Father is Holy; God the Son is Holy; and God the Holy Spirit is Holy.  God comes to extend something of himself upon us, making us holy or saints.  

Ours is the Lord “God of Hosts” or the king over the army of heaven. Just as Israel of old is urged to trust in divine power even as they are outnumbered and facing fantastic odds; the Church is urged to trust that this power can overcome all difficulties and even force the hand of Satan and death.  There is an eschatological element.  The same Lord that lays down his life will take it up again.  When he comes again, he will do so with throngs of angels in the sky; the Lord Jesus will come to judge the living and dead.  All will be consummated.  God’s glory fills heaven and earth! 

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