Thursday, June 30, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Act of Reparation

A partial indulgence is granted to those who recite this prayer. A plenary indulgence is granted if it is publicly recited on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This prayer was prescribed to be recited on this feast by Pope Pius XI.

MOST sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject.

Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.

We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.

Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.

O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 24

Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist

The great summer festival - traditionally the big village party of the year, because crops are planted, gardens are flourishing, and the chances of starving or freezing in the next 3-4 months are remote. Hurrah! Bonfires, beer, and blessings galore.

This year, we won't be having a bonfire, but we will be celebrating with bacon! Yea! Friday abstinence trumped by solemnity! Carve off another hunk of delicious Iowa bacon, and garnish it with bratwurst. Just make sure you get to Mass before you break your fast con carne.

I love being Catholic! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Deacon Reader" Summer Reading 4

By the end of the 1st century, the apostolic deposit of the diaconate (i.e., special share in the Apostles' ministry, given by the laying on of hands, including sacraments/catechesis/evangelization but not including the "breaking of bread;" with moral and spiritual qualities expected over and above initial conversion/baptism) was taking on the form of a more stable office. Fr. Enright continues the section, "New Testament and the 2nd Century" (p. 9-11 in my copy) by looking at the Didache (prob. Syria, ca. 90 give or take a decade or so), the Shepherd of Hermas (Rome, before 150), St. Ignatius of Antioch (martyred ca. 115), Justin Martyr (Rome, martyred ca. 155), and Tertullian (Carthage, ca. 180-210).

All five of these sources share the concern of 1 Timothy, that bishops and deacons (and priests) have particular moral and spiritual qualities. All of them list bishops, priests, and deacons as ministers of particular importance (sometimes adding others to the list, sometimes just those three alone). All of them repeat the basic parameters of the deacon's ministry, in varying levels of detail. Justin in particular, in his First Apology, esp. Ch. 65-6, gives us one of the earliest descriptions of the Mass, including the deacon's role of distributing Eucharist.

By the beginning of the 3rd century, Hippolytus, a priest in Rome, records for us details of actual ordination rites (p. 13, section "From the 3rd century to the 5th century"). These too reflect the apostolic deposit of Acts 6 etc., and the development of precision since. Bishops, priests, and deacons, and the minor orders, are described. Ritual actions and language to distinguish clearly the grades from each other have developed. There is still plenty of variation in what deacons actually do after ordination, especially in emergencies (read: pagan persecution).

After noting further examples in Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Egeria and Jerome, he starts talking about the decline of the diaconate (p. 16 in my copy; the paragraph that begins "The councils of the ancient church are a vital source...") He notes how conciliar evidence points to conflict between deacons and priests, and how councils started restricting the role of deacons in liturgy, etc. Fr. Enright argues (p. 17, 19) that the expansion of the Church in the 4th century increased "demand" for priests, who could say Mass outside the bishop's own church, and thus simultaneously decreased "demand" for deacons. Deacons, he argues, continued to serve their bishops, especially as legates and administrators; they didn't penetrate the rural communities like the priests did, and therefore faded in relative importance. He doesn't talk about formation and the bishop's trust in a proven deacon, but he implies some of this when stating that the diaconate thus became, by ca. 600, a "transitional" stage to the priesthood.

To me, what's interesting about all this is how stable the diaconate proved to be over these first 5 or 6 centuries. Despite all the changes the Church went through, despite all the different ways deacons were used in practice, despite the changing relationship between deacons and priests, the apostolic core (sharing the bishop's ministry, laying on of hands, sacraments/catechesis/evangelization, not confecting but giving Eucharist, expected moral/spiritual qualities) and most of the 2nd-century development (ordination rite, characteristic liturgical and ministerial roles) are visible at every point along the way. Given that stability, should we really see the acceptance of the "transitional" diaconate as a decline?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last Saturday's diaconal ordination

Many thanks to Laura Anderson, who took this photo from the choir loft last Saturday, and shared it and others with me this week. Please continue to pray for Bishop Nickless; and our brother deacon Pat Behm as he labors for Christ this summer in his home parish, and as he completes his seminary formation this coming year; and for all our seminarians. May God continue to send us many good men to serve the Church and the world as priests and deacons.

"Deacon Reader" Summer Reading 3

In addition to Acts 6, there's good information on deacons in Phil 1 and 1 Tim 3, which Fr. Enright refers to in the first essay in the Deacon Reader.

Phil 1 specifically addresses the "bishops and deacons" in this city. They are described as having a "partnership in the Gospel" (1:5; and 1:7, "defending the Gospel") and as being completed by Christ's "good work in you" (1:6 - a prayer still used in ordinations: "May he who began the good work in you bring it to completion"), and as "sharing in God's grace with me [Paul]" (1:7). All these ideas resemble the actual ministry of the Seven, and will certainly become characteristic of the ordained by the end of the 1st century. But there's a little element of doubt that "bishops and deacons" are, this early, recognizable offices in the Church, distinct from others, because (a) the Apostles are still alive, and (b) Rom 16 refers to Phoebe as a "deacon". So the words "bishop" and "deacon" seem to be used to refer both to those on whom hands had been laid for the apostolic ministry (ordained, like the Seven), and on those on whom hands had not been laid for the apostolic ministry. In any case, even if, before the 60's, the identity of the clergy was still rudimentary and developing, the special share of the apostolic ministry given to some was notable.

1 Tim 3 also describes "bishops and deacons," given a list of moral and spiritual qualifications. This seems pretty clearly something different from baptism; even this early, it looks like, leaders of the fledgling Christian community were expected to be held to a demandingly higher standard. There is also a distinction, as with the Seven, between the bishops and the deacons, since there are two lists of these qualifications, not just one. The list for deacons (vv. 8-12) is still recognizable to us, and, in its essence, is what we're still expected to represent.

These three critical passages, then, seem to indicate that, even in the first generation of the Church, from the 30's to the 60's, the most basic truths of the sacrament of Holy Orders existed in the Church. Even though everyone in the Church was active in charity and ministry, some people were set aside by the Apostles, by the act of laying on of hands, to exercise a special share in the work Christ gave them specifically. There was the distinction between sacerdotal need (Apostles and bishops, which becomes what we call bishops and priests after the Apostles die) for "breaking bread" (the Mass), and diaconal need for preaching, evangelizing, baptizing, and so forth (deacons, like Stephen and Philip in Acts 7-8, from which all the minor orders, now reduced to lector and acolyte, eventually derived). There were moral and spiritual qualities looked for, which not all the baptized were expected to have. All this is part of the apostolic deposit of faith, but the precision of theological understanding and terminology developed in the next 2 or 3 generations.