Here’s Father Cory Sticha on the topic:
I’ve been thinking more and more about my concerns around giving special blessings to children at Mass. There are a number of people here who are continuing to express concern because of my stance on not blessing children in the communion line. To be clear, this is a position taken not out of spite, but out of a respect for the liturgy and for the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In paragraph 22, Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for anyone, because a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy. It doesn’t matter if other priests go beyond their authority and do it in disobedience. In my mind, it is inappropriate, and I will not. Period.”Read More:
ISIS Snuffs Out Ancient Christianity
by Raymond Ibrahim • November 1, 2014 at 5:00 am
In Egypt, a young Coptic Christian man, accused of blaspheming Islam for simply "liking" an Arabic-language Facebook page, was sentenced to six years in prison.
One of the intruders in Uganda was shouting, "Today we shall kill you [for converting to Christianity] — you… are not respecting our prophet’s religion." He then heard his 12-year-old-girl’s cries as the Muslim intruders were strangling her. Then they seized him.
Muslims in Germany were granted their own section of the cemetery. Now these same Islamic communities are demanding that, during Islamic funerals, Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up.
Sister Utoor Joseph (left) and Sister Miskintah, are nuns who disappeared on June 28 in Mosul, Iraq, and are believed to have been kidnapped by Islamists.
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq — where Christians have been present since the first century — countless atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
The Islamic State, among other acts, reinstituted the collection of jizya, the "tribute" conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with the Koran (9:29).
In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.”
HOLY SATURDAY – The body of Jesus is in the tomb but His soul is among the dead to announce the kingdom. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will Live (John 5:25). Consider what it must have been like for the dead in Limbo ( the "hell" of the Apostles’ Creed) to awaken to the voice of Jesus! Meanwhile The Disciples, heartbroken at the death of Jesus, observed the Jewish Sabbath in sorrow. They had forgotten the promise of Jesus that He would rise. We cannot forget His promise. We cannot forget.
We spend this day in quite reflection, weeping at the tomb of our Lord. Fasting and abstinence are recommended, but are not of obligation.
This night in our parish after sundown, at 8:30 pm, we gather for the Great Easter Vigil where we will experience Jesus rising from the dead. (Our Lord rose from the dead during this most blessed of nights, for the Gospels tell us that the faithful women went to the tomb very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and the tomb was already empty. That is why the Great Mass of Easter takes place at night.) We gather in darkness and light the Easter fire which reminds us that Jesus is light in the darkness. He is the light of the world. We attentively listen to Bible stories describing God’s saving work of the past. Suddenly, the church lights are lit and the Gloria is sung as we celebrate the moment of Christ’s resurrection. He Lives! As a Church we sing Alleluia for the first time in forty days. In the joy of the resurrection we then celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for our Catechumens who have prepared many months for this night. Do everything you can to be present on this evening and invite friends and family to join. Our Vigil ushers in an Easter joy that never ends!
Of course the Easter Vigil fulfills the Sunday obligation – it is THE Great Mass of Easter (in fact, until the 5th century, it was the only Mass of Easter.)
Yes, the Easter Vigil is long (in our parish, about two and a half hours), but it is very beautiful. We keep it "moving right along", and it has beautiful music.
A blessed and joyful celebration of Easter to you all!
Msgr. Douglas A. Raun
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
1502 Sara, Rio Rancho, NM
From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah
Scholars have often wondered how the practice of Christian Eucharist could have arisen from the Lord’s Supper, which occurred in the context of the Jewish Passover. Since Passover occurs only once a year, how is it that the Christians got the notion that they could celebrate Jesus’ sacrificial meal weekly, if not daily?
The Last Supper
The answer is found in the ancient Israelite sacrifice called the todah.
While most people have heard of Old Testament sacrifices such as the holocaust offering or burnt offering, those who have heard of the todah sacrifice are as rare as lotto winners. Today\’s ignorance concerning the todah, however, should not imply that it was unimportant to the Jews. Far from it. The todah was one of the most significant sacrifices of the Jews.
Indeed, an old Rabbinic teaching says: \"In the coming Messianic age all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering [todah] will never cease.\"(1) What is it about this sacrifice that makes it stand alone in such a way that it would outlast all other sacrifices after the redemption of the Messiah?
A todah sacrifice would be offered by someone whose life had been delivered from great peril, such as disease or the sword. The redeemed person would show his gratitude to God by gathering his closest friends and family for a todah sacrificial meal. The lamb would be sacrificed in the Temple and the bread for the meal would be consecrated the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The bread and meat, along with wine, would constitute the elements of the sacred todah meal, which would be accompanied by prayers and songs of thanksgiving, such as Psalm 116.
What does the word \"todah\" mean? It is Hebrew for \"thanksgiving,\" although it also connotes a confession of praise in addition to gratitude. For example, Leah gave thanks to God when she bore her fourth son, and so she named him yehudah — or Judah — which is the verbal form of todah — to give thanks.
There are many examples in the Old Testament of people offering todah — thanks — to God. Jonah, while in the belly of the whale, vows to offer up a todah sacrifice in the Temple if he is delivered (cf. Jon. 2:3-10). King Hezekiah offers up a todah hymn upon recovering from a life-threatening illness (cf. Is. 38). However, the best example of todah sacrifice and song is found in the life of King David.
To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel.
Matthew’s gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature.
No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst.
For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful humanity, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.