Altars, Pagan and Christian

First of all, let me say this: To see LeBron get sat-down was…SWEET!

…At Holy Mass, after Communion, when the deacon or priest cleanses the chalice, he says this prayer quietly to himself:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munera temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.

The translation of this Latin sentence which appears in the current English Sacramentary is an utter mush.

But soon we will have a new English-language Missal! This is how the prayer will be translated:

What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.

Beautifully put. Speaking of well-written sentences: I have seen Hamlet many times. I have seen all the movies, and I have seen it on stage probably a half-dozen times.

The other night I saw the best Hamlet I have ever seen. At the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Not the Folger Shakespeare Theatre Company downtown, which is to be avoided like a noxious cesspool.)

The Hamlet at the Library was great. Seeing it restored my faith in the art of Thespis. Ophelia stole the show. The play made sense to me in a new way–as the story of ruined love. Do whatever you can to get a ticket.

…Here is a short Ascension Day homily:

Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by hands, but heaven itself, that He might now appear before God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:24)

St. Paul traveled the world to teach the Good News. When he went to the pagan city of Athens, he observed the many shrines to the many pagan gods. This moved him to explain the difference between pagan worship and Christian worship.

Continue reading “Altars, Pagan and Christian”

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The supreme goodness of Him who controls heaven and earth

As you may recall, this year is the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of Father Matteo Ricci.

Father Ricci advanced the Kingdom of Christ in China. He was probably the most brilliant and creative missionary ever.

One thing he did to teach the Chinese the truth about God was to prepare a map of the world for them.

The Library of Congress has been displaying this map. I wish I could tell you to hustle down and see it. But your foolish servant waited until the last day of the exhibition to see it himself.

Let me tell you this: It is an impressive work.

It is particularly interesting in this way: The most accurate parts of the map depict those areas of the world where Father Ricci’s Jesuit brethren had traveled. For instance, the map of Brazil is precise and realistic.

The problem is this: The Library of Congress did not do a good job of displaying this map. It is in a poorly lit room. This afternoon, two of the five bulbs that should have been illuminating the map were burnt out. Not good. Plus, the display offered no translation of all the interesting Chinese legends on the map.

Hopefully some day this amazing evangelical map will be back in Washington, presented by someone who cares enough to display it in a worthy manner.