Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liturgy, prayers and the Divine

Traditional prayers, especially memorized prayers, and the liturgy have a lot of value. For one, they bring us together and unites our minds in the same moment, speaking, declaring, thinking, the same things. I had a glimpse of what this means for us today in a Communion service. A communion service is much like a Mass, in that there are readings, petitions and Communion, but a priest isn’t present and many elements are missing (such as the Liturgy of the Eucharist). One thing, among others, that remains is the response right before Communion, “Lord I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Today, as I was saying this, I heard everyone else say it too, and it hit me: we are uniting our minds and attitudes before the Lord. We are acting as one body.

I have read why the liturgy is important, but the idea of liturgy has always seemed vague and intangible. But now I see that it is the means to unite the Church. That is why the liturgy is so important. Every element in it has the purpose of this end. We come to Mass to worship together, and through the liturgy we are together but we also worship. I think the liturgy, as one reason, remains hard to change (and many are very passionate about never changing it) is that it leads us to worship in a more perfect way. The movements, gestures, symbols, words, they all guide us to somewhere we can’t take ourselves. Even the phrase, I’m not worthy, can put us in a more proper mindset for Communion, the mindset we are supposed to be in. In a way, I think the liturgy sloughs off the world from us. We say, along with everyone else, all the responses whether we believe them or not, and whether we understand them or not, and either way, that does something to us. We aren’t the same. We submit, even if just a little, and truly begin to praise God. We no longer have to try to impress others by our prayer, for it is the same one everyone else is praying. We can concentrate on the words and the meaning and on God Himself, instead of what “sounds right” and making sure we didn’t leave something out. Memorized and unified prayers eases the mind of worldly concerns.

I also thought about how we can know (and surely that it has to be) that the liturgy is from God and not man. If the liturgy is something that man, prayerfully or not, wrote or constructed or developed, then it would be limited. Limited in Truth and in worship and in what we gain from it. If man wrote it, any other man, theoretically, can reach the summit of it, and be left unfulfilled, because they have received all that can be received from it. However, this has never been the case. With every Mass, and memorized prayer, there is always something else to discover, something else to learn. As in Scripture (which is also inspired by God), one can never reach its depth of wisdom and insight. This would be impossible for a man-written text or screenplay. The liturgy however, always has something more to tell us, in whatever stage of life we may be in. This can only be attributed to the divine. This is only another benefit of the liturgy and traditional prayers.

The last point on this follows from the second. Since these prayers and liturgy is given to us instead of created, it is then more perfect than something humans could ever produce. This is how God wishes to be praised. This is how He wants to be thought of. This is how He wants us to pray. When we participate in this, our minds, hearts and souls are raised to this new level, which is unachievable by human efforts. Our very selves are offered to God. We are united to Christ, and not Christ uniting to us. This is not to say God doesn’t offer Himself to us, for He surly does (through the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist) but that He has come to us to bring us to Him. We cannot stay here; we must go to the Magnificent One. The liturgy allows us to do this.

I am still amazed that years and even decades of going to the same Mass and listening to the same prayers, that it doesn’t grow old. It is these very things instead, that are a fountain of newness. No other thing I’ve ever experienced claims this and no other has ever come close to what I’ve described here.

Check out Fr. Longenecker’s commentary on the Lord’s Prayer.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Random things

Some tidbits from the week:
I have always liked P!nk. She is a rocker who doesn't mindlessly follow trends. She has true depth and I've always been attracted to her honesty. Anyway, this song has started playing on the radio. I've always loved it. (I don't know how to upload a song, so just listen to it here.)

Today I finished a class. It feels good to be done with another class. Maybe I will actually graduate one day. Two left to go for the summer!

This week, my roommates had a lot of bonding time. We took a left-handed test, and I taught Ashley how to sweep properly and how to use a power drill. That was fun. Today, we had our last roommate dinner. Tomorrow will take Taylor away from us, and Erin not much later. It was a bittersweet night.
Ashley, Erin, Taylor, Me

I found another gem in my bible today. It's from Phil 3:2-3, which says, "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh". True circiumcision refers to the spiritual circumcision of the heart, which happens at Baptism. This spiritual circumcision is obviously prefigured with bodily circumcision, but is no longer neccesary (because we now have the true circumcism). Deuteronomy 30:6 tells us that God will circumcise our hearts so that we will love God with all our hearts and souls. VERY COOL!

My family is on an Alaskan cruise right now. I couldn't go because of my classes, but last I heard they watched a lumberjack show.

I've been thinking a lot lately about judging. When did I come to think I am the one who has everything so figured out that everyone should listen to every preference of mine like it's fact? It makes sense to want to agree with and like everything you believe, but some things just don't matter. I have a duty to correct sin, or in the least pray for those I see sinning. I also have a duty to strive for holiness myself, and going around as if I'm perfect, with all the answers and that everyone eles is simply wrong, is not a promising path. I think this thinking also leads into the idea that you can choose what to believe, or that you can disagree with the church or what it allows. I need to work on my humility.

Here's a quote from http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/2010/06/just-thought.html:
"What if you were the reason a person refused to come back to Christ? What if your self-righteous, judgmental, dogmatic, theologically correct attitude repelled a soul from accepting Church teaching, from reconciling with the Church, from faith itself? What if they were just on the edge of conversion and one of your contemptuous sneers, caustic remarks, or hostile snubs drove them away?"
I also read this, which talks about emptying ourselves of what we think we know.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interesting findings

Some things I found interesting today:

The word porn (I assume) comes from the Greek word porneia. (By the way, I'm getting this tidbit from my new Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament!) It is used by Jesus as the "exception" for divorce, and is translated there (Matthew 19:9) as unchastity. In other instances, it is translated as adultery and harlotry, and can also refer to incest. Bascially, one should want nothing to do with porneia (or porn).

The Manutergium was once used during the ordination of priests. Check out this cool tradtion and watch the video of hands becoming beautiful!

Being a woman

I went to a bible study today. We were talking about the dignity of womanhood. The question, what does it mean to be a woman, was asked, and silence followed. No one quite knew what to say. I suppose it could be answered in a lot of ways, but most answers, I suspect, involve doing something. Caring for children, going to work, “inspiring”. These all are alright, but I don’t think these make someone a woman.

By birth, I am female, and so I can say God wanted me to be a woman. I say to be a woman is to be who God made me. I shouldn’t have to worry about what is “feminine” (which is defined by someone else). I shouldn’t have to fulfill a role imposed on me (including going to work). I should strive for holiness, and to become the person God made me to be. By doing this, I will not only be a woman, but the woman God wants.

After the rise of feminism, and embracing the awesomeness of being a woman, many women are left wondering just what that means. I think it isn’t too complicated. Discern, like anything else, your vocation, and boldly live that out. Then you will BE a woman!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Year in review (roommate edition) and a peep ahead

My conclusion for the year: The people I think I know well, I really only barely know. Living with someone is a growing experience. Not just in the surface, “I will learn more” and share a lot of experiences with a person, but that I will realize things about a person I never saw before, or would never expect. It’s both good and bad.

This past year has been my first true roommate situation, in that I’ve lived here (and not simply slept here) and that we have all grown together (and not simply avoided each other). Yes, I’ve learned a lot about them, but even more about myself. I now dare call myself an introvert, and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that all three of my roommates are extroverts. Although I try to avoid the trite classification of people, I think this particular distinction has also led me to learn some things about myself.

For instance, I don’t communicate with many people on a day to day basis. I see my friends, and particularly, my roommates, always texting someone, receiving calls, making calls, meeting up with tons of people, and comparatively I hardly do any of that. This, at first, bothered me. But on the days I do text many people, or have to make a lot of calls, I’m relieved when I’m done with it. It seems to be a case of seeing others happy and trying to mimic the outside doings. But really this won’t contribute much to my own happiness because that is not how I respond to those things.

Also, my roommates are one thousand times better than me at always having something to discuss. They are much more interested in fashion, and how people interact with other people than myself, and thus always have something to say. Again, realizing this has helped me not get overwhelmed when I seem to be lacking.

I’ve grown to like myself a whole lot more. I have seen how others process information, communicate to others, and make decisions, and I’ve been able to analyze how I do these things too. It’s made me more confident in my decisions and get a good understanding of why I think and do certain things. And these “whys” aren’t necessarily needed for me to explain to others. I’d actually rather have them for myself so that I can retain peace in my heart.

Although this year I’ve gotten very close with all of them, I have had to struggle for my place here and for them to understand me. If you get me going, I will talk on and on about things. I like to think about things from different angles, test ideas, play around with solutions. None of my roommates are very good to do this with. I think it is because I seem to contradict myself. This sort of discussion also requires a lot of time and participation. Normally, someone breaks in and explains something to me (that I understand already), offers a solution (which isn’t really what I was after), or completely misses what I’m talking about at all. It can be frustrating. Even with these few differences in personality (and maybe because of them), I couldn’t have dreamed of better roommates. I have had a great year with them and will miss living with them.

I also miss blogging. It provides a place where I can be confused, and no one will offer suggestions or comments until I’ve got it all out. I’ve seen, especially this year, that the world is moving much too quickly for the heart’s needs to be met. My heart needs quiet, simple things, a listening ear (be that God’s or a friend’s), adventure, and a whole lot more time than I will probably ever get.

I hope in the next year, I can use this blog to focus on these things. Traveling has always provided a quick way to get all of them, and I have some great trips planned. In August, I’ll be going to Maine with my mom. We’ve never been before, and look forward to exploring Acadia National Park and the Catholic history there. She has also booked a hotel in Mexico for December! We will be staying in Merida and seeing Mayan ruins! Not much else has been planned yet for the trips, but I can’t wait!