DISCUSS: (updated with a second letter I wrote for our bulletin in mid January)
In the last several bulletin letters I have been writing about Catholic identity. I would say that the basis of our Catholic identity, its foundation, is Jesus Christ and following the two greatest Commandments (which sum up all 10) the love of God (first three) and love of neighbor (last seven).
For Catholics, our identity is tied to the Sacraments beginning with Holy Baptism. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic identity. It is for this reason the Church in her wisdom mandates that Catholics attend Mass each Sunday, even if they are not free to receive Holy Communion, and to keep holy the Lord’s Day by avoiding unnecessary labor. It should be a day of rest in other words.
Of course keeping Holy the Lord’s Day is based on the 3rd Commandment.
Pope Francis recently gave a marvelous homily at one of his daily Masses on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as it relates to the eternal High priesthood of Jesus Christ. This is what His Holiness said in part:
Traditionally, the Catholic Mass has been noted for its sobriety in the manner in which it was celebrated. The personality of the priest and congregation were deemphasized in order to make Christ central. Music of the chant form was simple as well all meant to direct us to Christ whom we worship alone as He offers Himself to the Heavenly Father as both priest and victim once and for all.
I pray that all of us understand and appreciate the true nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the redemption God accomplishes for us in the great Sacrifice of Christ, His Passion and Death. God bless you.
Father Allan J. McDonald
This Sunday we return to Ordinary Time with its green liturgical color. I have never liked the term “ordinary” to describe sacred time in the Catholic Church. Time after Epiphany or after Pentecost seems better to me.
But in Ordinary Time, we simply focus on the basics of our Catholic Faith as the liturgy presents it to us each Sunday. But way more importantly, we experience in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the means by which God makes possible our salvation from sin and damnation. That in and of itself should be sufficient for us during all sacred times of the year.
We live in a consumer culture and often we drag that consumerism into the Church. We expect to be satisfied with our relatives, our friends and our parishes. If we aren’t we shop around for something else that satisfies us. If we don’t like the music, we search for better music. If we don’t like the congregation, we look for people we do like.
I find it sad when we approach our Catholic faith as consumers. I know I am dating myself, but I was taught that no matter how poor the priest was in his mannerisms and way of celebrating the Mass, no matter how boring the homily or horrible the music, that in the Mass, Jesus Christ, the Son of God was present and His one Sacrifice of the Cross was made available to us in the present, in a timeless, eternal way. What more do we want!!!!?????
Don’t get me wrong. I think the priest should be good looking, hip, relating to everyone and always giving great homilies and in touch with the deepest needs of his congregation. He should run a parish that attracts the multitudes and satisfies all their needs.
But you know what? St. Utopia doesn’t exist in the Catholic Church or any of the myriad of non-denominational churches that exist here and elsewhere no matter how much they satisfy the consumer mentality. When we become like Walmart trying to attract customers by what we offer rather than present Jesus Christ who suffered and died for us and who calls us to take up our cross and follow him, we cease to be Catholic, we become bogus.
I pray that during the Ordinary Time of the Church’s calendar, we Catholics won’t be consumers of Catholicism but servants of Jesus Christ who leads us to eternal life. God bless you.
Fr. Allan J. McDonald