Mass on New Year’s

El Greco Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus
El Greco, “Adoration of the Holy Name”

To start the new year of by going to Mass! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name, and celebrating the Octave as an act of rebellion against the idea that Christmas is over!

This is what Catholics do.

Rebelled against the dreary idea that Christmas ends when Walmart says it ends. I visited a Walmart bright and early this past Saturday morning, the 26th, to buy my nephews some light sabers. Walmart already had Valentine’s candy out in the seasonal aisles.

That’s ok. They had moved on from Christmas. So I got a life-size talking Yoda at half price!

My point is: We rebel. We say Christmas doesn’t end until Holy Mother Church says so. Which means we still have another eight days of loving baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph. WalMart thinks it’s time for Valentine’s Day, and the wise men haven’t even arrived yet from the East. Please!

…“God saves.” How do you say that in Hebrew? Come on people. This is a really easy one. How do you say “God saves” in Hebrew? The Lord shed the first drop of His Precious Blood on Jan. 1, beneath the knife of circumcision, as He received His name. God saves.

…We can’t love and honor the son without loving and honoring the mother.

Can we make a deal for 2016? That we Catholics will stop apologizing to Protestants for honoring our Lady. Ever since Vatican II, we have fallen all over ourselves… “We don’t worship Mary! We’re not Mariolaters! We’re just like you!”

How about saying—in a friendly way, of course—“Can’t understand why anyone who loves the Lord Jesus wouldn’t love His Mother also, and honor her, and carry her rosary and pray it daily.”

And we start the new year off with Mass. Someday, Mass will never end. Not that it will become oppressively boring ad infinitum. But we will, please God, have entered the heavenly liturgy. We will gaze with rapture upon the infinite glory. Until then, while we continue to make our pilgrim way, it’s a good thing to start each new year off right.

Resolution at the Circumcision

Circumcision of Christ

Tomorrow is the day our Lord was given His Holy Name, Jesus.

Let’s turn to our Blessed Mother. Let’s see her holding the eight-day-old baby. The first drop of His Precious Blood has just been shed by the knife that circumcised Him.

Our Lady is contemplating the destiny that lies ahead of her newborn son. She does not know exactly what His mission will require. But somewhere deep in her unimaginably pure heart, she knows that this little drop of His blood that just fell to the earth is just the beginning.

On the other hand, she also knows this: The brightness of the Holy Face in front of her will never be dimmed. She sees that a new light has come into the world, and the darkness will not overcome it.

ihs1How do we know, then, what resolution to make for AD 2015?

If we make a lot of New Year’s resolutions, we won’t follow any of them. Neither does it make sense to resolve to do something that is too hard, or something that is too easy. This narrows down the possibilities.

Of the remaining possible resolutions that I could make, there is one which is both the most difficult and the most full of hope. There is one which will cost me more than I think I can give, but fulfilling it will give me great happiness. If I really can do it, with God’s help, I will be a better man.

Let’s think of our Lady holding her baby on the eighth day–His name day, His circumcision day. Let’s contemplate that moment, and try to imagine all that she had in her heart, and then make a good resolution for 2015.

…If I might, a couple suggestions (if you are drawing a blank):

1. In 2015, I will pray every day, no matter what.

2. In 2015, I will go to Confession every month, no matter what.

3. Every month, I will give away something that I have—time, money, stuff—every month I will give away something to someone who could make good use of it.

Catholic Unity (Nine Points)

We find ourselves in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This past Wednesday, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, said to us,

During this Week of Prayer, let us ask the Lord to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel.

What do we Catholics believe about the unity of the Church?

1. We believe that Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God—the Way, the Truth, and the Life, risen from the dead, ascended into heaven—we believe that He rules as the sole Head and King of the Church and of the universe.

2. We believe that every man, woman, or child who has been baptized in water and in the name of the Blessed Trinity is a Christian, a member of the Church.

We generally give to the clergy the office of baptizing people. But, when you get down to it, everyone possesses the competence to baptize.

Water + the words = Holy Baptism = a Christian.

3. We Catholics believe that the written Word of God bears witness to the truth in such a way that the Bible must be our constant study and rule of life. God Himself speaks to us when we read or listen to the Bible. At the same time, we must study the sacred books for what they are, namely the work of human beings written in particular circumstances at particular times.

When it comes to how people interpret the Bible, we Catholics don’t call our brother- and sister-Christians ‘liberals’ or ‘fundamentalists,’ because neither of these terms really does anything to help people understand each other.

4. We Catholics believe that Christ gave everything essential in our religion to His Apostles, and they, in turn, gave everything to the first generation of Christians. Ever since then, the entire sacred patrimony has been handed down from one generation to the next.

Considering what the Lord gave us, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church shines gloriously, perfect in every respect. At the same time, considered as a human institution, the Church is nothing other than a hospital for sinners, constantly in need of reform and renewal.

5. We believe that, given the way human societies work, the Lord Jesus knew that His chosen band would need a leader, so He chose St. Peter for this office. The office has been filled ever since. The current occupant is Benedict XVI. The Pope governs Christ’s Church on earth.

6. We Catholics believe that we have a duty to stand up for truth and justice, for the right to life, for fairness in everything. We believe that we owe it to ourselves to help the poor. In all these enterprises we gladly co-operate with everyone who seeks to fulfill the same Christian duties, be they Catholic or not.

7. We believe that our Lord made marriage a sacrament and an unbreakable bond. We believe that the marriage of two baptized Christians is a sacrament. We know that some of our separated brethren don’t even teach that marriage is a sacrament, but nonetheless our faith binds us to regard any marriage of two baptized Christians as a sacrament. We believe that the Church, and the Church alone, has the authority to declare null any particular marriage vows, taken by any Christian man and woman.

8. We Catholics love the saints in heaven. We love our Lady, and we constantly beg her help. We worship only the Triune God.

We worship all the Persons of the Trinity. We worship everything that is personally united with the eternal Son. We worship, therefore, His Sacred Heart and the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

9. Christ instituted the Mass at the Last Supper. He made His Apostles the first priests of the New Covenant. Ever since then, the sacred priesthood has been handed down by the laying on of hands.

We believe that only a duly ordained priest can celebrate Christ’s Holy Eucharist. We believe that Catholic and Orthodox priests are duly ordained. We believe that the Protestant clergy are not. That said, we believe that whenever two or three Christians gather together, the Lord is there in the midst of them.

We do not take communion at non-Catholic services, and we do not invite non-Catholics to take Holy Communion at Mass. That said, we rejoice whenever we pray with anybody and whenever anybody prays with us. We have nothing but respect for every man’s Christian faith. False pretenses of unity do not serve the cause of Christ. But, of course, neither do pride or disrespect.

…Please God we get there, will we find a big coffee hour in heaven, with Protestants holding heavenly Styrofoam cups right next to us? Maybe. Only God knows the answer to such questions. I, for one, would like to ask Him if we could have a Tina Turner concert in heaven. But I know better than to expect an answer at this point.

We Catholics concern ourselves with our getting to heaven. The Lord has given us the means of getting there; He has given us every reason to hope for it.

One of the means we have of getting to heaven is: Loving Protestant and Orthodox Christians as our brothers and sisters.