Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Eighth Day, Not Our Own

The 8th Day: I read a man who said it was very clever for the Church to say it was a grave sin to deliberately miss Mass on Sunday. He suggested, somewhat cynically, that it was a "control" issue. But the scriptures and fathers remind us that the first day of the week, through the saving acts of Jesus, became known as the Lord's day, the day of the Lord's resurrection and the first day of the New Creation; it replaced the old sabbath, the last day of creation, yielding in salvation history to something even greater, something even more transformationally wonderful.

At the same time, the Church understood from the beginning that this 8th day, as it was called, fulfilled the commandment because it was the Lord's "Rest," His new Sabbath, fulfilling the whole law which was a type of what was to come. This commandment beautifully reminds us that we are not our own. We are His, God's own possession.

And He calls us to assemble on this New Day to break Bread, the Lord's Eucharist. He calls us to gather before Him to render the worship that is due our Maker, and also to refuel our spiritual life with Eucharistic grace, lest we drift and begin to confuse the contingent things that are made for what is ultimate, and in the process lose the truth about ourselves.

Resurrection appearance to Mary at the empty tombThe apostles and disciples knew that after the resurrection, when the Lord appeared to them sacramentally, he vanished from before their mere physical eyes, assuming His wondrous sacramental Presence, seen with eyes of Faith; even before He returned to the Father. This was and is the Mass.

This assembly, we have received, is not optional, barring illness or any other valid reasons, because we belong not to ourselves, but to Him, forever; and it is He who calls us to gather to hear and receive the Word. And love responds to Love.

Note: A grave sin is not something the Church invents or imposes like a penlty. It is simply the state of a soul's harm when it exists in a person by virtue of our own deliberate, knowing choice in a grave matter.

--->John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ngô Đình Diệm, and the Buddhist Crisis of 1963. Two Catholic Presidents... James W. Douglass casts an entirely new light on the pivotal events of that year in Orbis Books' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

--->New RU-486 data points to telemed abortion complication cover-up

--->Thomas Merton Was Right. The Root of War is Fear: "At the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill them, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill themselves. They cannot trust anything, because they have ceased to believe in God. It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves ---Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Press, 1961): 112

I have known some (even young) laypersons who in good faith are so other-worldly or one-sidedly theological that they seldom if ever give much of a thought to matters of war, peace, justice, engaging the times, etc. But that has never been the Catholic way. For them, all of this is dismissed as a "social gospel," or some such thing; it is an overreaction to liberalism. But loving our neighbor and families means we need to "Strive for peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see God" (Heb 12:14). That is a two-pronged striving we see there.

Nagasaki Catholic Church, WWIIThe Popes always reminded us that the lay calling is a calling to the temporal sphere in the interests of effusing it with the principles of Christ and the commandments, for the good of all, not only for ourselves. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second of the greatest commandments. For we are all affected by the deeds of all, for good or ill, and even the righteous are not spared the effects of evil, the Psalmists tell over and over.

I have often thought that doubtless in Japan's largest Catholic population during World War II, Nagasaki, there must have been people in prayer and at Mass at the very moment they were---in one instant---annihilated from this world in the evil flash of unthinkable conflagration. JFK was right, then, to remind us that "here on earth God's work must truly be our own". We must at least try, and leave all results to God.

--->Watch PBS' "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers". Here was a man of conscience and consequence, who put his life at risk to stop the slaughter in Vietnam where 2 million Vietnamese died and some 50,000 American servicemen. This was a most remarkable program for PBS to air. It showed that Freedom of the Press is still a vital force here in the states.

--->Another remarkable development: Chinese dissident Liu wins Nobel Peace Prize. "Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for using nonviolence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland. The award ignited a furious response from China, which accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of violating its own principles by honoring "a criminal."

--->Corporate Cash Floods US Congressional Elections by Patrick Martin

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you"---James 4:8

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