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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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Stuck Between the Rock & a Hard Place

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Who are we going to punish? I worry about this as a priest in reference to the distribution of Holy Communion, absolution in the sacrament of Penance and in terms of preaching a faith message from the Scriptures that might immediately be interpreted as “hate speech.” Passivity and toleration is not enough to appease certain people… it is being demanded that conventional Christians become advocates for sinful behavior. If a priest gives the sacraments to anyone, no matter what their views and lifestyle, then does he not become an accomplice in their sin? Would he forfeit his own immortal soul for causing scandal and violating conscience, the commandments and his sacred duty? For the sake of accompaniment, can a bishop or even pope force a priest to say or do something that he views as sinful and wrong?

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The Low Regard for Anglican Orders

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“The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.” Pope Leo XIII had the same verdict about Anglican orders back in 1896 in the papal bull “Apostolicae curae.”

SCRIPTURAL LITANY OF MERCY #1

Litany Composed by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P.  (MAGNIFICAT)

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Offered at the 12 Noon Mass at Holy Family 12-13-15

Throughout the ages, almighty God has manifested his unfailing mercy.
Oh infinite, divine mercy, you are:

Response: Lord, have mercy on us.

Beauteous Creation brought forth from the abyss of nothingness.
The breath that turned muddy clay into a living human being.
The leather garments that clothed sinful man and woman.
The ark that saved Noah from the cataclysm of the flood.
The rainbow—sign of your covenant with the earth.
The halt put to building the haughty Tower of Babel.
The everlasting covenant made with Abraham.
The angel who stayed Abraham’s knife above his son Isaac.
The stairway shown to Jacob in a dream.
The forgiveness Joseph offered to his treacherous brothers.
The hope of liberation promised in the burning bush.
The miraculous passageway through the parted Red Sea.
The authority of Moses and the attained Promised Land.
The manna in the wilderness for those facing famine.
Flowing water to drink from a rock in the desert.
The gift of the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments.
The Ark of the Covenant.
The certainty that filled Joshua to serve God alone.
The strength of Samson.
The tenderness that moved Ruth to stay with Naomi.
The voice that beckoned Samuel in the nighttime.
The kingly anointing of Saul.
David’s defeat of the Philistine Goliath.
The Temple built by Solomon.

Third Sunday of Advent
December 12 & 13, 2015

Celebrant: What is mercy? Mercy is the experience of God’s love that forgives faults, heals hurts, and connects us more deeply to God and each other. Pope Francis describes mercy as “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness” (MV, 2). This Advent as we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus and to share His love, reflect on how you can open your heart to God’s mercy and share that mercy with friends, family, and those most in need.

(Archdiocesan Resource Prayer)

LITANY OF THE MERCY OF GOD

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Prayed on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (7:30 PM Mass)

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Response: We trust in You.

Mercy of God, supreme attribute of the Creator,
Mercy of God, greatest perfection of the Redeemer,
Mercy of God, unfathomable love of the Sanctifier,
Mercy of God, inconceivable mystery of the Holy Trinity,
Mercy of God, expression of the greatest power of the Most High,
Mercy of God, revealed in the creation of the heavenly Spirits,
Mercy of God, summoning us to existence out of nothingness,
Mercy of God, embracing the whole universe,
Mercy of God, bestowing upon us immortal life,
Mercy of God, shielding us from merited punishments,
Mercy of God, raising us from the misery of sin,
Mercy of God, justifying us in the Word Incarnate,
Mercy of God, flowing from the wounds of Christ,
Mercy of God, gushing from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Mercy of God, giving to us the Most Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Mercy,
Mercy of God, shown in the revelation of the Divine mysteries,
Mercy of God, manifested in the institution of the universal Church,
Mercy of God, contained in the institution of the Holy Sacraments,
Mercy of God, bestowed upon mankind in the Sacraments of Baptism & Penance,
Mercy of God, granted in the Sacraments of the Altar & the Priesthood,
Mercy of God, shown in calling us to the Holy Faith,
Mercy of God, revealed in the conversion of sinners,
Mercy of God, manifested in the sanctification of the just,
Mercy of God, fulfilled in the perfecting of the saintly,
Mercy of God, font of health for the sick & the suffering,
Mercy of God, solace of anguished hearts,
Mercy of God, hope of souls afflicted with despair,
Mercy of God, always and everywhere accompanying all people,
Mercy of God, anticipating us with graces,
Mercy of God, peace of the dying,
Mercy of God, refreshment & relief of the Souls in Purgatory,
Mercy of God, heavenly delight of the blessed,
Mercy of God, crown of all the Saints,
Mercy of God, inexhaustible source of miracles,

Lamb of God, Who did show us Your greatest mercy in redeeming the world on the Cross, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who mercifully offers Yourself for us in every Holy Mass, Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world through Your inexhaustible Mercy, Have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

V. The tender mercies of the Lord are over all His works.
R. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Whose Mercy is infinite and Whose treasures of pity are inexhaustible, graciously look down upon us and increase in us Thy Mercy so that we may never, even in the greatest trials, give way to despair, but may always trustfully conform ourselves to Thy Holy Will, which is Mercy itself. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Mercy, Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit doth show us Mercy forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The Penitential Rite & Forgiveness at Mass

MARK:

I’m having a difficult time understanding the Penitential Rite at Mass.

If we have gone to confession and confessed our sins, why are we supposed to call them to mind at Mass?

Aren’t we forgiven and isn’t that an invitation from the Evil One for us to continue to dwell upon our sins?

Didn’t the Psalmist say that our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103)?

FATHER JOE:

Catholics do not believe in the notion of “once saved, always saved.” We return to Confession again and again to have sins forgiven. Similarly, the Mass forgives sins, although we are generally asked to refrain from taking Holy Communion if we are in a state of mortal sin. The Penitential Rite does indeed have a type of absolution and we often speak of it as forgiving small slights or venial sins. The movement of the liturgy parallels the outreach of John the Baptist and later Christ and his apostles. The pattern established is a simple but important one: REPENT and BELIEVE.

At the beginning of Mass we want to spiritually prepare ourselves. Unlike Confession, where we acknowledge particular acts of personal sin; at the beginning of Mass, we reflect upon our general sinfulness and continuing need for conversion. Sins may be forgiven, but sometimes the bad habits, selfishness and weakness of the flesh causes us to sin again. In any case, we are not yet the Christians we are supposed to be. The Mass is a powerful instrument in our transformation ever more and more into the likeness of Christ. Further, while the absolution of Confession forgives sins, we still owe God penance to appease for the temporal punishment due to sin. The Mass possesses infinite graces to assist in this regard.

It is the true that the devil would have us deny the Lord’s mercy. We should not doubt the power of the priest’s absolution and the truth that sins are forgiven in Christ. However, we could also sin by presumption, supposing that we no longer needed divine mercy and grace. We are called to be counted among the saints. But the truth be told, most who walk the earth are still sinners who struggle daily with the world, the flesh and the devil.

As for the psalms, remember that they were written long before the coming of Christ and his redemptive work. They could offer a limited foreshadowing or anticipation of what was to come, but that is all.

Psalm 106:4-5: “Remember me, LORD, as you favor your people; come to me with your saving help, That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, rejoice in the joy of your people, and glory with your heritage.”

The forgiveness and salvation often beseeched by the Hebrews was more connected to the nation than individuals. If God looked with favor upon you, it was interpreted through prosperity, land and children. Jesus brings a different kind of mercy. He is the Messiah who conquers the devil, sin and death— not the Romans. He tells us to pursue the imperishable treasure of heaven. The New Jerusalem or New Zion is not the political state of Israel, but the kingdom of God— a kingdom that breaks into the world first through the person of Jesus and later through the Church.

C. S. Lewis & Transubstantiation

Cynthia G writes:

Concerning CS Lewis, Father, I read that he was contemplating joining the Catholic Church when he died, and he never wrote anything about having a problem with Mary, although in one of his books, The Great Divorce, I think, he said that he couldn’t “get” the concept of transubstantiation.

Father Joe responds:

The issue about transubstantiation comes up in his Letters to Malcolm, my least favorite of his works. He personally found the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accidents difficult to grasp. I suppose it sounded too cold for him and removed from the perception of the apostles, although he admits it is unclear how they conceptualized the Eucharist. Lewis certainly believes that there is something significant about the Eucharist, far removed from a mere empty symbolism. He thinks of the veil being the thinnest in its regard. I suppose one might say that he preferred a mystical awareness, one probably better befitting his literary approach. Critics remark that it represented a divide with Tolkien. However, it should be noted, that Lewis was an Anglican. While many of his views are very Catholic, it remains that Anglican orders had been declared null-and-void by Catholicism. If there is no valid priest then there is no genuine Eucharist or REAL PRESENCE. The stumbling block might have been this objective reality. The Anglican Eucharist feigned being something that it was not. A man with a sensitive soul about such things might on some level, even if unconscious, register this shortcoming.

It reminds me of a Catholic friend who used to delight in his visits to the area of first going to the Episcopalian Washington Cathedral and afterwards to the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. When I asked about it his response was both rude and funny. He said he went to the Cathedral to experience the gothic beauty and the REAL ABSENCE. Then he went to the Shrine with its many conflicting styles so as to encounter the REAL PRESENCE.

Liturgical Question: Sacrifice from Your Hands

WARRINGTON’S QUESTION:

Dear Fr Joe, thanks for your blog. It’s very useful even in my part of the world!

I had a query about the words, “may the Lord accept the sacrifice from your hands…” so I went to Catholic Answers and read the explanation (attached below). But my query remains: Is not “the sacrifice” Christ himself? If so, did not God send His Son to be the “sacrifice (Lamb)” for our sins? So why are we requesting God to accept “His” Son back to Him?

Unless the “sacrifice” referred to here is “our sacrifice (good works)”? Rather than “good works” (i.e., charity), I would like to think this reference to sacrifice might refer to “our life,” particularly a call to go outside our comfort zone to live a life for Christ.

Would you please clarify whether either of these is on the right track or am I completely missing the point?  Cheers!

CATHOLIC ANSWERS

Question

Why do we pray in the third person instead of addressing our pleas and praises directly to God? For example, the priest says, “Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father” and we answer, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church.” Could we say instead, “Lord, accept the sacrifice offered for the praise and glory of your name, for our good and the good of all of your Church”?

Answer

We don’t pray in the third person. The Church’s liturgy is its official public worship of God. Since it is not private worship, the members who are present are acknowledged throughout the service. So every so often, the priest-presider will address them with, “The Lord be with you,” and the people respond, “And also with you.” We are communicating with each other. This is not a prayer.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church is not a prayer. It is addressed to the priest as an acknowledgement of the sacred action he is about to undertake. It is a response to his request: “Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” Even though he has just asked the people to pray, their response is to him and is not meant to be a prayer.

The ultimate offering prayer comes later: “Through him, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.” Only the priest says this, and the people affirm the prayer with “Amen.” Both the priest’s words and the people’s words are prayer and are addressed directly to God.

FATHER JOE:

I would take exception with the assertion that the words in question are not prayer. Even the dialogue sections between the priest and people are parts of the great prayer of worship that is the Mass. The Mass is the Church’s most important communal prayer and it contains within it all other forms of prayer: praise, thanks, contrition, petition, and in a unique manner, propitiation. Let us look at the words that confuse you:

Facing the people, the priest says: “Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”

The congregation responds: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

The priest then says his prayer over the offerings to which the people respond, “Amen.”

The priest is calling everyone to focus on the Eucharist. Implicit in the dialogue is the hope and expectation that God will accept us and our offering.  The celebrant addresses the people but he knows full well that our offering will only be received if God sees it as pleasing and desires to accept it.  We cannot force the hand of God.  The people respond to the celebrant by acknowledging his priestly work in union with Christ.  Yes, they are talking to the priest, but as with any intercessory prayer, its proper object is almighty God.  They are making the priest’s prayer and the work of Christ into something of their own.  This sacrifice is to the honor and praise of God.  It is also deemed efficacious for the local church at prayer and for the universal Church.  The corrected translation makes a distinction between the priest’s sacrifice and that of the people. It does not represent good works as such but targets the work of the Mass. This segment no more stands alone than any other part.  It leads us to the meat of the oration, the Prayer Over the Gifts.  The great High Priest of the liturgy is Jesus Christ. However, the celebrant at the altar participates or shares in this one priesthood through his ordination. While they cannot preside at the Mass, the laity is connected to Jesus and his sacrifice through their baptismal priesthood. Priests may take a stipend for a Mass they offer each day. The fruits that come to the priest may be applied to this intention, for anyone living or dead. You may note these names in the bulletin for the Masses said. This reflects the sacrifice and its benefits that come to the priest at the altar. The laity may come with their own intentions, which they are to bring to mind at the beginning of the Mass prior to the Opening Prayer or Collect. The people participate with their priest who makes possible the Mass and they benefit with fruits of grace. The reference to sacrifice is a direct acknowledgment that the Eucharist is a re-presentation of the bloody oblation of Christ on Calvary, albeit in an unbloody or clean manner upon the altar. The sacrifice of Jesus is not locked into time and place. At the words of consecration, Jesus is made REALLY present in Holy Communion— both in his full identity and person as well as in in saving activity. The only difference between Calvary and the Mass is OUR participation. Now we can offer ourselves grafted to Christ (the Lamb of God) as one perfect sacrifice to the eternal Father. The Mass surrenders to the heavenly Father the only gift that makes a difference and that earns our redemption, his Son, Jesus Christ.

The Mass enters us into Christ’s one-time offering of himself.