“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)
All these happenings … they all seem so unimportant these days … a distraction … do they spark Joy? Does this (whatever I am doing, or saying, or reading) bring me closer to God?
“No one at Calvary was consulting a book.”
(And no one at Bethlehem, either. There were no missals yet.)
And Jesus ordained His apostles Priests, and charged them with passing on the truth and teaching the whole world … Any belief outside of what Christ taught is little more than human pride … pride healing the wounds of our self love, our self worship.
Sincerely believing our delusion d0esn’t make it any less delusional. We think we know but we actually don’t even know what we don’t know. Our sincerity may render us less culpable but sincerity confers no veracity on error. When discovering a different collection of “truth” than that with which we are familiar we must choose whether to reject it arbitrarily because it is unfamiliar, or we can choose to investigate the truth with “good will”.
The angels brought to the shepherds near Bethlehem a message of “peace to men of good will“. Our will is “good” when it is upright, docile, and resolute. Our will is upright when it is sincerely and entirely oriented toward good; our will is docile when it is always ready to follow every indication of God’s will; our will is resolute when it is prompt to adhere to the will of God, even though difficulties and obstacles arise, and sacrifices are required.
The Lord is continually urging us to generosity and abnegation in all the circumstances of our daily life, even in the smallest events. Only rarely in history is God’s will announced with great fanfare by heavenly hosts. Most often it comes to us quietly, in the silence, from unexpected sources and new discoveries, perhaps even new discoveries about things we feel we are very familiar with. And sometimes it is difficult because habit and the world resist change of any sort but especially change of cherished thoughts and certain beliefs.
6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Mathew 18 – 6-7).
Christ either rose from the dead and everything He taught is the absolute unchangeable truth, or He did not and we are the biggest fools in history, we Christians. So what will it be? True believers of Truth, or the biggest fools in history? Christ gave us the first priests and the sacraments of his church. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples:
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 19 – 23).
What Christ is talking about in this passage is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession. And, in another passage we find according to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law.
Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” Forgiven … by Christ …
23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Priests of Christ … in persona Christi… Forgiven … by Christ …
Forgiveness from a priest of Jesus Christ is necessary … In Persona Christi … if you (the priest “in persona Christi”) do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. We cannot “bestow grace on ourselves; it must be given and offered” and we cannot forgive our own sins, they must be forgiven by Christ … In Persona Christi …
it is uncomfortable to consider the Truth of this statement … to have to choose Christ’s instructions, Christ’s teachings, OR to choose our own pride, that is healing the wounds of our own self love.
To choose, as my mother did, to die “unshriven” … to refuse the last rites and the visit of the priest, because in her pride she refused to “confess her sins to some man” and God knew she was sorry for them, seems a little like treating sin and heaven like a lottery ticket – maybe she was right, but we are talking eternity here … we simply can’t know. Do we pass through the gates of death while spinning the lottery wheel of eternity?
Likewise, only God knows where we are at this moment of death; no human creature knows. Who but God knows whether we reach perfect contrition at the moment of death or even when the moment of death is. Is a decision of such moment a reasonable opportunity for gambling?
We don’t know and certainly there is no man alive or dead who could say with ANY degree of reliability what is or is not required for forgiveness and even more importantly whether we will be forgiven or if those who have gone before are forgiven. Is this something we want to just leave up to chance?
Can we be perfectly sorry for our sins many, many times before our death? Who knows but that one might be conscious enough of our dying and asked God’s forgiveness with perfect contrition and sorrow? What are the odds that WE are that fortunate perfect soul who expresses and realizes perfect contrition for our sins and hence receives God’s own absolution and forgiveness without the intervention of a priest?
I don’t know. No one knows. This is why we continue to pray for the souls of the deceased since they are our friends and loved ones? Go to Mass often and offer the Sacrament of the Mass for those souls. Commit the souls of our loved ones to the Virgin Mother Mary and ask for her deliverance.
Take advantage of all possibilities (sacramental and otherwise) to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the departed souls. And with all this, trust those souls to the merciful arms of the Sacred Heart.
We simply don’t know how God blesses us and the departed souls. So, to me, it would appear that it is a better bet to trust Christ’s own instructions and seek out a priest in the confessional when one is confessing one’s sins and seeking absolution and forgiveness.
In Roman Catholicism, the priest acts in the person of Christ in pronouncing the words that comprise part of a sacramental rite, in the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Marriage, Baptism, Last Rites, and so on.
For example, in the Mass, the Words of Institution, by which the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine becomes the Precious Blood. The priest and bishop act in the person of Christ the head in their leadership of the Church.
Pope Pius XII (1947)1:
40. Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God….(the unbroken lineage from Peter over 2000 years down to us today)
68. The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross.
“It is one and the same victim; the same person now offers it by the ministry of His priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner of offering alone being different.”
69. The priest is the same, Jesus Christ, whose sacred Person His minister represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ’s very person.
Bishops of Vatican Council II (1964)2:
28. … Priests, although they do not possess the highest degree of the priesthood, and although they are dependent on the bishops in the exercise of their power, nevertheless they are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity.
By the power of the sacrament of Orders, in the image of Christ the eternal high Priest, they are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship, so that they are true priests of the New Testament.
Partakers of the function of Christ the sole Mediator, on their level of ministry, they announce the divine word to all. They exercise their sacred function especially in the Eucharistic worship or the celebration of the Mass by which acting in the person of Christ…
29. At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service”.
Pope Paul VI (1967)3:
29. … acting in the person of Christ, the priest unites himself most intimately with the offering, and places on the altar his entire life, which bears the marks of the holocaust.
Pope John Paul II (1980)4:
8. The priest offers the holy Sacrifice in persona Christi… Awareness of this reality throws a certain light on the character and significance of the priest celebrant who, by confecting the holy Sacrifice and acting “in persona Christi,” is sacramentally (and ineffably) brought into that most profound sacredness, and made part of it, spiritually linking with it in turn all those participating in the eucharistic assembly.
Typical Version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997)5:
From him, bishops and priests receive the mission and faculty (“the sacred power”) to act in persona Christi Capitis; deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word, and charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate.
The ministry in which Christ’s emissaries do and give by God’s grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a “sacrament” by the Church’s tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.”
Pope Benedict XVI (2007)
6: Celebrating the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday with the priests of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said that priests should prepare themselves thoroughly to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments, remembering that they act in the person of Christ.
7 as modified by Benedict XVI (2009)8: Can. 1008 By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title. Can. 1009 §1. The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate.
§2. They are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades. §3. Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.
The change in Canon Law introduced by Ominum in Mentum resolved a discrepancy between the applicability of in persona Christi Capitis (“in the person of Christ the Head”) to deacons as well as priests and bishops. With the new Motu Proprio, in persona Christi Capitis applies only to priests and bishops, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood.
So, any questions? Anyone? Anyone? Are we living in the best possible world, are all out humanist dreams realized and have we indeed reached the heights of virtual godhood as the secular humanist progressives would have us believe. Can we really learn everything we need to know about Jesus Christ from an article in National Geographic entitled “The Real Historical Christ”?
Is this world, this society, this culture of death actually the world of our fondest dreams or is missing out on the holy sacrament of Reconciliation and the sacrament of the Eucharist as taught by the scriptural Jesus Christ just possibly the greatest tragedy of the last 500 years? Christ gathers together and builds up … everything. Satan scatters apart and diminishes … everything.
42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8 – 42-47).
Your call I guess … would you be the one to throw the first stone? I sure wouldn’t.