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2016 Reflections

One God in Three Persons

The Holy Trinity is always with us. That is so easy to forget. Where the Son is, there is also the Father, and where the Holy Spirit is, there is also the Son. We believe in the Holy Trinity: God in Three Persons, and this relationship has been there from the beginning of time. Therefore,
where the Old Testament speaks of the Father, there also is the Son and the Holy Spirit. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. He speaks of "the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom (To Autolycus II.15). The term may, of course, have been in use before his time. Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian (On Pudicity 21). In the
next century the word is in general use."

 

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the "mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God". To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit." (para. 237)

The relationship of the Blessed Trinity with the people of God (Body of Christ) won't be known exactly until we see God face-to-face. We do know that the Father loves us very much. He loves us whether we are big sinners or small sinners, we are all in this together. As long as none of us, except Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, are perfect, we have some work to do on character building, and what better example to follow then Jesus Christ.

The Dogma of the Holy Trinity is found in the Catechism in para. 253-255. These paragraphs, and the discussion that follows, should be consulted periodically, so that we continue to understand what we believe. We should also examine para. 1110 and further (which summarizes the paragraphs occuring before 1110): "In the liturgy of the Church, God the Father is blessed and adored as the source of all the blessings of creation and salvation with which he has blessed us in his Son, in order to give us the Spirit of filial adoption." (1110) "Christ's work in the liturgy is sacramental: because his mystery of salvation is made present there by the power of his Holy Spirit; because his Body, which is the Church, is like a sacrament (sign and instrument) in which the Holy Spirit dispenses the mystery of salvation; and because through her liturgical actions the pilgrim Church already participates, as by a foretaste, in the heavenly liturgy." (1111) "The mission of the Holy Spirit in the liturgy of the Church is to prepare the assembly to encounter Christ; to recall and manifest Christ to the faith of the assembly; to make the saving work of Christ present and active by his transforming power; and to make the gift of communion bear fruit in the Church. (1112).

Holy Communion is a great gift ... the greatest of all, for here we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, our Savior, our Messiah, who gave His life at the will of the Father so that we would be saved and be able to spend time with God as we are mostly already trying to do, for time everlasting. So as we receive Him, hopefully often, let us do so with a fuller understanding what is taking place, and really prepare ahead of time, so that we can receive Him with our full attention and devotion. After receiving, let us make an attempt to thank Him properly, in prayer and thought. Unfortunately, there is little time between the end of Holy Communion and the end of the Mass, and that little time is further used up with announcements ... and that doesn't help those who really try hard to make a proper thanksgiving. However, this thanksgiving need not take place in Church, but can be done when you are home again, or as soon as that when you find a few quiet moments alone with our Lord. Jesus likes us to talk to Him just as He gives us His messages of love and concern which some hear because they are paying attention.

I am a fan of "moments of silence" - as many as I can gather, where I can reflect on the beauty and Grace of Jesus, Mary and my beloved brother, St. Francis (of Assisi), whose Rule of Life means so much to me and to those who follow St. Francis example. St. Francis had a very strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist... to Christ Himself, as he bore the Stigmata, the wounds on Jesus in his hands and feet and in his side. That is perpetual suffering, these wounds weren't there for decoration... and similarly, St. Pio (known so often, simply as "Padre Pio") also bore the Stigmata. Padre Pio was a man in our time, and so he reminded us of St. Francis, and of Jesus, Himself. Let us always have a great devotion and love for suffering. I don't really believe we will get into Heaven without having known Suffering, so when you hurt, bear that hurt patiently and with love.

Fred Schaeffer, SFO
October 24, 2010

 

 

Eucharistic Adoration

Perpetual Adoration is a Eucharistic devotion allowing parishioners or others to take one or more hours before the Blessed Sacrament (exposed), wherever this service is offered. This can either be during a Benediction or a number of hours where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed either in a Church, Chapel or specific "Adoration Chapel."

The suggested norm is that Our Lord is exposed in a monstrance. I believe there is a need for uniformity, so that it is always chrystal clear where He is located. Our eyes move to the monstrance when it is set out on the altar or on a pedestal (such as an ostensorium).

"Why is exposition in the monstrance preferred?

To see Jesus visibly present under the appearance of the small white host is much more conducive to intimacy than hidden away in the tabernacle. Moreover, it adds an extra responsibility on the adorers to be sure to be faithful to the hours they are scheduled, since the suggested norm for having Jesus exposed in the monstrance is that there should be at least two adorers present, and He must never be left alone. Could not these words of our Lord be applied today: "Indeed, this is the will of My heavenly Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son, and believes in Him, shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day."

What are some good reasons for establishing Perpetual Adoration?

To provide an easy, attractive, and practical way of rendering God adoration which is His due as our Creator of giving Him thanks for our redemption of making reparation for our sins and the sins of mankind; of petitioning the good God for the constant help we need.

To show our gratitude to our Lord for remaining among us in our tabernacles, and to make at least some atonement for the many sacrileges, indifferences, and ingratitude which He receives in His Sacrament of Love.

What spiritual benefits and graces can be attributed to the establishment of a parish Perpetual Adoration program?

  • an increase in Mass attendance and reception of the sacraments
  • return of fallen-away Catholics and increase in the number of conversions
  • increase in religions and priestly vocations
  • renewal of Catholic family life
  • spiritual level of the people is raised with a resulting desire and courage to spread the "good news" to others
  • a greater community spirit, centered as it is on the heart of the parish, Jesus' presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

    († text quoted from EWTN Library)

A little history.

Belief in the Real Presence (that is, the Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in a consecrated Host) has been around almost from the Last Supper. At the Council of Nicea (325) the Eucharist was already being reserved in monasteries and convents. From that time onward, every religious community, approved by the local Bishop, has the Blessed Sacrament stored in a Tabernacle or exposed in a Monstrance either all the time, or part of the time.

St. Francis of Assisi, who was never ordained a priest (he was a deacon), had a great personal devotion to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. His first admonition on the Holy Eucharist could not have been more precise.

"The best location for Perpetual Adoration is a small chapel. A chapel can be kept warm economically in the winter. It creates a greater atmosphere for quiet intimacy with the Lord, and people generally feel more secure in a smaller place. If the church does not have a chapel, any small room can be converted into one such as an altar boys' sacristy, a crying room, a room in the rectory, convent, or parish center, are all suitable locations for a Perpetual Adoration chapel with proper security measures taken into consideration. †

Spending an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament is not difficult. "This hour Jesus wants you to spend with Him is spent any way you want. You may bring your own prayer books, use the books in the chapel, read the Bible, pray the rosary, or just sit and relax and enjoy the sweet peace that comes from simply being in the Presence of God. You may feel that you can't pray well. Don't let this discourage you. The mere fact that you take time out at a specific time each week to spend an hour with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament pleases Him very much and is in itself a prayer of great faith. Please remember that Perpetual Adoration is a parish is not just for a day, a week, a month, or a year. Rather, it is for always. It is not temporary, but ongoing, lasting, permanent." †

Parishes that do not have perpetual adoration, may have adoration on a specific day that begins with a morning Mass and ends in a Benediction service, with a number of hours in between. Generally, there is a sign-up sheet, so that people can commit themselves to one or more hours of visiting. This is important so that there are present at least two people. It is the responsibility of the person in charge (e.g. pastor, parish manager, etc.) to cancel the adoration if insufficient people commit themselves to serving. I've visited Adoration Chapels where no one was present, and that is a shame. I've sat for two hours in adoration, before anyone showed up, because I do not like to leave Him alone. In monastic life, we spent more time with Him, and one would think it gets boring, but it doesn't have to be. It is all a matter how you plan your prayers, such as 15 minutes of prayer, then 20-30 minutes meditation or any combination like that. Some people are very happy to just be present and think about Jesus in their life... that is OK also. It is not absolutely necessary that you should be kneeling all the time, some people, particularly elderly people just cannot cope with that for reasons of health. Jesus does not expect us to keep Him company in a manner that is beyond our capabilities.

It is also important to be silent during that time, particularly when others are present. Don't start baseball conversations with friends - and then believe Jesus loves you when you talk to your friends... it is not nice to turn your attention to someone else when you are there to visit Jesus. You are there for Him! If you are alone, and I have done so, it is allowed to sing Him a song or hymn, just as long as you do not disturb others. Singing may intensify your intimacy with Jesus. That's good!

If your parish cannot arrange for Adoration, and there are a number of sound reasons for that, perhaps security, safely for the Sacred Species. At an innercity Church there is a need for security, perhaps. Another way to get around this, is not to use a monstrance but to use a stationary sculpture or art in relief, that has a built in pix for exposing the Blessed Sacrament in such a way that it cannot be removed so easily. For example, I have visited a Church where they had a special Tabernacle with ostensorium built in, or a large Tabernacle with a locked inner cavity protected by shatterproof glass, where the bottom is a regular tabernacle, perhaps. So something can be arranged, provided funds can be found, to make adoration possible. Still, there are so many churches without any adoration available. Adoration changes a parish because Grace flows more easily when people are attuned to Jesus in this very special way.

Fred Schaeffer, OFS (2011)

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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