• Our Blogger

    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.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Jon on Ask a Priest
    Kris on Ask a Priest
    Talei N on Ask a Priest
    Ann on Ask a Priest
    Mar on Ask a Priest

What is with the Angels in the Cherubic Hymn?

QUESTION:  The Catholic Melkites include in their liturgy a Cherubic Hymn where the Cherubim are called “many eyed” and the Seraphim are “six winged” and soaring on their “pinions”. Can you please take some time and explain some of the meaning?

ANSWER:

As for the Cherubic Hymn, the emphasis is that we enter into the angelic praise and glory to Almighty God. The Sanctus serves a similar purpose in the Roman Catholic liturgy: Holy, Holy, Holy. The more traditional Trisagion is found in our Good Friday Liturgy and is a component of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“We, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and chant the thrice-holy hymn to the life-giving Trinity, let us set aside the cares of life that we may receive the King of all, who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts.”

Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.

While the gravity is with God and not the angels, the description of the angels is taken from Isaiah 6:1-3.

“In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, a with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered. One cried out to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!’”

The references to wings and eyes are all symbolism. Seraphim are pictured with six wings and are associated with the purification that comes from fire. Cherubim are imaged as with four wings and many eyes or faces. They are understood as all seeing. Catholic tradition places seraphim at the first rank of the angelic hosts and cherubim at the second. St. John of the Cross writes that the seraphim covering its face with its wings symbolize “the darkness of the intellect in God’s presence.” He continues that the covering of the feet symbolizes “the blinding and quenching of the affections of the will because of God.” It thus constitutes humility of the creature before the Creator.

“With the two remaining wings they flew, indicating both the flight of hope toward things that are not possessed and the elevation above all earthly or heavenly possessions that are not God” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, II, 6.5).

VIDEO – Guide to the Mass

Responding to the Call to Worship

When I look at the depth of Catholic faith, I wonder why anyone would ever look anywhere else. Everything we need for spiritual meaning and salvation is here. Nevertheless, some inquirers dismiss the Church and others walk away. Speaking for myself, I would not want to forfeit the Eucharistic sacrifice or presence for anything. Why is it then that so many abandon or refuse to come home to the Catholic Church? I think the answer has to do with people wanting to feel wanted and the consolation that comes with close fellowship and the acceptance of others. Catholicism is a ritualistic church. Like the Jews before us, we have our traditions, priesthood, cultic oblation, and authority. We have formulas for everything. We dip our fingers into the water fount, we genuflect, we sit quietly, we cross ourselves, we pound our chests, we touch our foreheads, lips and hearts, we say, “Amen,” “And with your Spirit,” and offer a hand with the words, “Peace be with you.” There is no unnecessary talking in church. We do our duty, try not to snore during the homily, are careful not to drop the wafer and then head out the door. The first one to get to his or her car and start the engine wins. At least, this is what we imply by our mad race to the door.

Incense

Rev. 8:3: And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

Psalm 141:2: Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!

Incense is only one of the many ceremonials in Catholic ritual and worship that are validated by the Bible. The fragrant smoke proved quite practical in outside processions against the pungent smells of the city streets. Sanitation not being what it is today, incense was very helpful on this account in old Rome. While there are references to the use of incense in the Bible, some of the early Christians avoided it because of cost and because it was also used by the pagans. After paganism was extinguished, this was no longer a concern. The smoke of the incense is a symbol of our prayer and our offering. It rises into the air just as we hope that our prayers will be taken up to the throne of God for a hearing.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

Catholic Worship

Malachi 1:11: For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Hebrews 13:10: We have an altar from which those who serve the tent [the tabernacle of the Jewish temple] have no right to eat.

The Bible tells us that there is a priesthood and sacrifice under the new covenant of Christ. There is no way that a service of the Word or a Protestant communion service can be considered the sacrificial act that prophecy and St. Paul speaks about. However, we do find such elements in the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church. We have an altar of sacrifice and a pure offering, nothing other than the body and blood of Christ in the sacramental species.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

Only the Real Presence Demands Worthy Reception

1 Corinthians 11:27-29: Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

St. Paul tells us that the unworthy reception of Holy Communion is a sacrilege; indeed, it desecrates the real body and blood of Christ. It is the ultimate in hypocrisy and blasphemy. Such an assertion that the sacrament might bring damnation instead of salvation must be seriously considered. Catholics in mortal sin should not receive the sacrament until that time that they have repented and the sin is absolved. If Holy Communion were no more than bread and wine, this assertion from St. Paul would make NO sense. How can a piece of bread or a sip of wine damn you for all eternity? How could such an empty symbolic gesture desecrate Christ, himself? They could not, unless Catholics are right and the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

Jesus Meant What He Said About Eucharist

John 6:52-58: The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food [meat] indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who eats me will live because of me. This is that bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

John 6:60: Many of his disciples, when they had heard it, said, “This is an hard saying; who can listen to it?”

John 6:66-69: After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

The Jews murmured (John 6:41) and abandoned Jesus just as certain so-called Christians (Protestants) reject the Eucharist today. They did not believe that Jesus was God; obviously God could do all things.

Nevertheless, Jesus did not compromise or explain away his teaching in any manner. He insisted upon a literal understanding of the real presence in the Eucharist. There was no misunderstanding. Jesus allowed the Jews (who would prefer a Protestant view of Eucharist) to abandon him. It is bizarre that Protestants can assail the Eucharist and claim that certain disciples misunderstood him when Jesus acted and spoke this way. The truth is that Jesus would even have allowed the twelve apostles to forsake him rather than to give the impoverished Protestant type of Eucharist. Peter responds correctly. Like his many successors, Peter steers the Church toward the truth of Christ. Jesus is God and whatever God says is true, no matter how fantastic and deep a mystery.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.