Monday, December 29, 2008

The Holy Family. And Mass.



Yesterday was the Feast of the Holy Family.

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit.


Fr.'s homily at Mass centred on sanctifying our families and specifically on the role of the husband and wife.

This inspired discussion at lunch wth one son. And added to my ponderings.

We are very blessed in our parish. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated reverently.

Yesterday's Mass being a prime example. The prayers of the Canon, the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the beauty of the liturgy.

Josef Cardinal Ratzinger ( now Pope Benedict XVI) has often remarked that today the priest must, like John the Baptist, "decrease." The show is not about him. He is not there to call attention to himself, expound his own ideas, or entertain the people,.... The Mass is not a staged drama at which we applaud the talent of the performers. There really is room for quiet and awe. The priest is there to do what the Church asks in the way the Church asks.
"The authority of the Pope is not unlimited," Josef Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy; "it is at the service of Sacred Tradition. Still less is any kind of general ‘freedom’ of manufacture, degenerating into spontaneous improvisation, compatible with the essence of faith and liturgy. The greatness of the liturgy depends — we shall have to repeat this frequently — on its unspontaneity" (p. 166). Reflections on Saying Mass

Quiet and awe . The awe of receiving Our Lord. Within a liturgy of prayer and reverence. This we experienced yesterday during Mass for the the Feast of the Holy Family.

As I said, we are blessed in our parish.

Blessed in the celebration of Mass. But also in our catechesis. Catechesis during homilies.

"The entire Liturgy is catechesis -- the homily may be the only time some Catholics receive instruction in Scripture, Tradition, or moral instruction relevant to current events......What the laity is missing -- and what we thirst for! -- is concrete instruction in the Faith and the significance of the Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the ten commandments, the latest writings of the pope, ....the perennial issues of contraception, homosexuality, abortion, and the marriage covenant ... just to name a few topics. The homily or sermon is probably the single-most effective way to significantly boost the laity's understanding of and love for our Faith."
Adoremus Survey Report

The homily yesterday at Mass was on one of those perennial issues. Marriage. I mentioned above that Fr. discussed the vocation of marriage, of what it means to be a good wife, a good husband. Fitting discussion for the Holy Family. Fitting for me, as I have been thinking about this lately. Yet again. What is a good wife? One who makes her husband happy?

But that is another post.

Suffice to say that I am given strength and hope and peace and joy and am provoked to love more and to think, by the celebration of the feast days of Chritmastide in our local parish.

I am encouraged in my vocation as a wife.

The Feast of the Holy Family gives one hope. And help.

As does praying at Mass. And listening to the priest's instruction.

What do priests know about marriage?

One may ask how a priest might be capable of giving marriage instructions. After all, he is not married. How does he know the joys, the sufferings and the problems in marriage? To answer this objection, may we point out that a priest is capable because of four factors: 1) his training, 2) his experience, 3) his objectivity and 4) the grace of Holy Orders.

1. His Training: During his minimum of 8 years of college and seminary, he was given a well-rounded education, including an in-depth study of marriage.
2. His Experience: During his lifetime, a priest comes into contact with a countless variety of marriages. He has known newlywed couples as well as golden jubilarians. He sees the young and the old, the rich and the poor. He sees the happy homes and the unhappy homes, the successful marriages and the failed marriages. Thus, whereas the priest does not personally experience the joys and problems of this sacred union, he does obtain a wide understanding about it. One must realize that it is not necessary to experience intimately every phase of life in order to understand people and their situations. Certainly surgeons do not need to have gone through the experience of, let us say, a brain tumor operation in order to understand its ramifications. A client who hires a lawyer does not require that the lawyer have been convicted of a crime or have spent time in prison. Personal experience is not the only teacher, and in fact, it is not necessarily the best teacher. For example, criminals often do not learn from the experience of arrest, trial and incarceration. Many fall back into the same crimes despite repeated punishment. The experience that the priest possesses is vicarious, but richly varied and is buttressed with a knowledge of human nature and a grasp of true religious teaching.
3. His Objectivity: The priest is neither husband nor wife and is able to look at marriage from an objective point of view. He can step back, in effect, to get an overall view of the institution of marriage. One cannot always see the forest because of the trees. That is, when one is caught up in a situation, he or she often loses perspective. A famous monastic once said that in order for him more clearly to understand religious life, he would from time to time walk to a hill about one half mile from the monastery. From that vantage point, he could grasp the whole picture of monastery life and its purpose. Similarly, the priest is able to “step back” and examine the nature of marriage in an objective and detached manner.
4. The grace of Holy Orders: On the day of ordination, a great Sacrament is conferred upon a man. He is given Holy Orders. Not only does this Sacrament elevate Him to the status of Alter Christus— “Another Christ”—but it guarantees him the graces to fulfill the various functions of his state of life. One very important function is to instruct and counsel couples before and during marriage. The priest is given many graces from God, as part of his very priesthood, specifically to enable him to perform the duties of his exalted state of life.
Husband and Wife

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow Leonie, thanks for those 4 points... never learnt that in the seminary... now I can quote them when the need arises!!! Thanks for a great blog as always... we are blessed to have you... and the whole family! FrB

Leonie said...

lol - doubt that you can learn anything new here but thanks for reading - and for yur comment!

Beate said...

Father B, perhaps you'd like to do a stint in the TX hillcountry?

Reverence, awe, and not changing words to suit...WOW!

Okay, Leonie, we could always just move to your neck of the woods ;-)

Leonie said...

Heu Beate - come here, come here!

Continuing in prayer for Michael, and thanks to you and Sabine for the Cambridge Journal updates.