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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pope Francis: Is Benedictine monastic work more important than the Mass?

Throughout the centuries, the liturgy of the Church has taken a variety of regional and historical forms, but one thing has remained constant: The Mass has always been the central form of Catholic worship.
The Mass: An Ancient Practice:

As far back as the Acts of the Apostles and Saint Paul's epistles, we find descriptions of the Christian community gathering to celebrate the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist. In the catacombs in Rome, the tombs of martyrs were used as altars for the celebration of the earliest forms of the Mass, making the tie between the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, its re-presentation in the Mass, and the strengthening of the faith of Christians explicit.

The Mass as "Unbloody Sacrifice":

Very early on, the Church saw the Mass as a mystical reality in which the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is renewed. Responding to Protestant sects who denied that the Eucharist is anything more than a memorial, the Council of Trent (1545-63) declared that "The same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner" in the Mass.

This does not mean, as some critics of Catholicism claim, that the Church teaches that, in the Mass, we sacrifice Christ again. Rather, the original sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is presented to us once more.

The Mass as a Re-presentation of the Crucifixion:

This re-presentation, as Fr. John Hardon notes in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary, "means that because Christ is really present in his humanity, in heaven and on the altar, he is capable now as he was on Good Friday of freely offering himself to the Father." This understanding of the Mass hinges on the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Christ is truly present on the altar. If the bread and wine remained merely symbols, the Mass could still be a memorial of the Last Supper, but not a re-presentation of the Crucifixion.

The Mass as Memorial and Sacred Banquet:

While the Mass is more than a memorial, it is still a memorial as well as a sacrifice. The Mass is the Church's way of fulfilling Christ's command, at the Last Supper, to "Do this in remembrance of Me." As a memorial of the Last Supper, the Mass is also a sacred banquet, in which the faithful participate both through their presence and their role in the liturgy and through the reception of Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ.

While it is not necessary to receive Communion in order to fulfill our Sunday obligation, the Church recommends frequent reception (along with sacramental Confession).

The Mass as an Application of the Merits of Christ:

"Christ," Father Hardon writes, "won for the world all the graces it needs for salvation and sanctification." In other words, in His Sacrifice on the Cross, Christ reversed Adam's sin. In order for us to see the effects of that reversal, however, we must accept Christ's offer of salvation and grow in sanctification. Our participation in the Mass, and our frequent reception of Holy Communion, brings us the grace that Christ merited for the world through His unselfish Sacrifice on the Cross. From about.com

The importance of Mass and Communion
From Radio Vaticana
Pope Francis was greeted by a sea of people taking cover under umbrellas as he made his way into St Peter’s Square on Wednesday for his weekly General Audience. Making reference to the rainy weather the Pope said “it’s not a nice day is it”.
In his continuing Catechesis on the Sacraments, the Holy Father focused his attention on the Eucharist saying that it accompanies us every step of the way on our pilgrimage of faith.
Reflecting on the Mass, Pope Francis said it was a banquet that nourishes us not only with the bread of life but also with the proclamation of God’s word in the Scriptures.
The Pope went on to say that at the Last Supper, Christ gave us this sacrament when he broke bread and offered the cup as the foreshadowing of his sacrifice on the Cross. In this Eucharistic sacrifice, he added, Jesus gave us the supreme prayer of thanksgiving to God our merciful Father. 
The Holy Father underlined that the celebration of the Eucharist is more than simply a banquet; it is he said a memorial of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection, and makes present the paschal mystery in all its saving power. 
Departing from his prepared remarks Pope Francis stressed that we can never thank the Lord enough for the gift of the Eucharist adding, "that is why it is so important to go to Mass on Sundays, to go to Mass, not only to pray, but to receive Communion, the bread which is the Body of Jesus Christ, that saves us, forgives us, and unites us with the Father." 

From The United States Conference of Bishops
So rich is the mystery of the Eucharist that we have a number of terms to illumine its saving grace: the Breaking of the Bread; the Lord's Supper; the Eucharistic Assembly; the Memorial of Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy and Divine Liturgy; the Eucharistic Liturgy; Holy Communion; and Holy Mass (cf. CCC, nos. 1328-1332).

The use of bread and wine in worship is already found in the early history of God's people. In the Old Testament, bread and wine are seen as gifts from God, to whom praise and thanks are given in return for these blessings and for other manifestations of his care and grace. The story of the priest Melchizedek's offering a sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham's victory is an example of this (cf. Gn 14:18). The harvest of new lambs was also a time for the sacrifice of a lamb to show gratitude to God for the new flock and its contribution to the well-being of the family and tribe.

These ancient rituals were given historical meaning at the Exodus of God's people. They were united into the Passover Meal as a sign of God's delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, a pledge of his fidelity to his promises and eventually a sign of the coming of the Messiah and messianic times. Each family shared the lamb that had been sacrificed and the bread over which a blessing had been proclaimed. They also drank from a cup of wine over which a similar blessing had been proclaimed.

When Jesus instituted the Eucharist he gave a final meaning to the blessing of the bread and the wine and the sacrifice of the lamb. The Gospels narrate events that anticipated the Eucharist. The miracle of the loaves and fish, reported in all four Gospels, prefigured the unique abundance of the Eucharist. The miracle of changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana manifested the divine glory of Jesus and the heavenly wedding feast in which we share at every Eucharist.

In his dialogue with the people at Capernaum, Christ used his miracle of multiplying the loaves of bread as the occasion to describe himself as the Bread of Life: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. . . Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you" (Jn 6:51, 53).
Fr. Rafaelito V. Alaras, OSB, Prior Administrator
San Beda College Alabang
12"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.…
Dear Father Alaras OSB:

Fraternal Greetings!

You have a way of shocking us, your flock, on Good Shepherd Sunday.

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday.
Jesus the Good Shepherd

…10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

You have a letter posted in the St .Benedict Chapel doors stating that there will be no more anticipated masses on Saturdays and also no more evening mass on Sundays. In other words, the Sunday mass schedule is now limited to two masses ONLY.

The  reason: you are placing more importance on "monastic life" now.
Is there anything more important in your Benedictine monastic work than saying the MASS?

Fr. Alaras: Remember what The Good Shepherd said:
12"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.…

That in All Things, God May Be Glorified!

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