Monday, May 25, 2009

a question of service

Today is Memorial Day and I found myself pondering the question, how far are we willing to go to serve? Men called to serve our country give their lives to "serve and protect" and are proud to do so. It is so much a part of who they are and says much about them, their character and personality. The disciples who followed Jesus served him and others knowing their fate could well be that of Jesus himself, death on a cross. They were not afraid to stand up for their faith in Christ and what they knew to be the truth. This truth had become so much a part of them that to deny Christ and all He asked of them would be to deny themselves. Which brings me back to my question, how far are we willing to go to serve Christ? Are we willing to serve at all cost or only for the convenience to ourselves. Paul reminds us by our Baptism we are called to serve one another and to go and make disciples of all nations. When we are marked with the chrism oil at Baptism we are marked as children of God. Like Christ then are we willing to carry that cross to the end, no matter what the price?

Friday, May 22, 2009

the question of the 4th cup

Last night I attended a talk about the 4th cup. Interestingly was the fact that this question was put to my theology professor one day in our class not long ago. I had never thought about a 4th cup before or what it signified. I was raised in a Protestant community and converted to Catholicism some 15 years ago, and had no idea what the Jewish association of a 4th cup had to do with anything. I have since been enlightened and once again am blown away by God's plan for our salvation. It turns out that the 4th cup used in the Jewish seder meal at Passover signifies the Passover being completed with the words, "It is finished". Now put your thinking caps on, where have we heard those words before? The words that Jesus speaks on the Cross after drinking the wine offered from the sponge of hyssop, the 4th cup, "It is finished" He is the Paschal Lamb of the New Covenant. The Passover into new life is complete. A coincidence, I think not. God's plan for our salvation is fully realized in Jesus. Once again we can see the New Testament revealing the mystery prophesied in the Old. I love this stuff, you can't make this up. I could go on and on but for now I leave you to ponder this incredible gift of revelation that God has given to us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why do we use "smoke" in Church?

One of the most frequently asked questions from my second graders is why do we use incense or "smoke" in Church? They complain it smells and makes them cough. In fact I often notice many people begin to cough as soon as they see the thurible and it hasn't even been lit. The explanation is so magnificent and represents such majesty in giving glory and honor to God, I get very carried away when given the opportunity to answer this question. I hope this sheds some light on the subject. The incense reminds us of the "shekinah", the Glory Cloud of God coming down in the Temple of Jerusalem to accept the sacrifices made to God in the Temple. I remind the children of the visible signs of an invisible reality that we have learned with the sacraments. In using the incense, a visible sign, we are reminded of the sacrificial offering of Christ on the altar and God accepting the sacrifice. When the sanctuary fills with smoke from the incense it reminds us of God coming down and accepting our offering. We know that God in Heaven has come down to sit on the Glory Seat. What an incredible moment at that time of the Mass. No wonder we are bowed down in awe and prayerful worship. Aleluia!