Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

By God’s Grace

In Christianity on July 27, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Let the sons of the Church, the children of the new people, rejoice in Christ, their King.

—Hesychius, from Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours
(Preface to Psalm 149, Sunday Morning Prayer, Week I, p.710)

“Sons of the Church.” What a glorious phrase! One year ago on July 27, 2008, I was received into the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church by Fr. Jay Scott Newman at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Greenville, SC. “Let the sons of the Church rejoice in Christ.” How could it be otherwise? After three years of study and prayer, promise became reality: So now in His eyes I have become one to be welcomed (Song 8:10b NAB).

“Sons of the Church.” I, through the greatness of your love, have access to Your house (Psalm 5:7/8, The Grail Translation). Access to the communion of saints; access to reverent, transcendent worship; access to the Sacraments—particularly confession and the Sacrament of Penance and, most of all, Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist (John 6). How? By grace alone. All by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Recently, I read a deeply moving article by Robert Miola in First Things. He describes his oldest daughter’s final vows upon entering religious life:

She makes “an oblation to God of all my being . . . in order to be a concrete imprint which the Holy Spirit leaves in history that all men may discover the attraction and longing for the divine beauty.

Dear God! I am still so far from being the imprint that I want to be; that You have called me to be. Yet, by grace, You have welcomed me and given me access to Your house. May I be the handiwork You created me to be, ever advancing in the good works which You prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Deo gratias!

Majesty and Glory

In Catholic, Christianity, Liturgy on July 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm

The Canticle from Morning Prayer, Monday Week II in The Liturgy of Hours, includes these words:

Fill Zion with your majesty, your temple with your glory. (Sirach 36:13)

Right worship is evangelical—not in the sense of protestant evangelicalism, but in the sense of the new evangelization to which Pope John Paul II called us all, in his Encyclical “Mission of the Redeemer,” his Apostolic Letter “At the Beginning of the Third Millennium,”and elsewhere.  We get a glimpse of the glory of the Lord!

Men and women in twenty-first century Western cultures are longing for transcendence and authenticity.  We long for transcendence in the hope that something or someone significant will give our lives meaning. The old song “Is That All There Is?” expresses, even four decades later, our ongoing existential dilemma.  And we long for authenticity, because so much in our world is shallow, insincere, or false.

Did you experience the glory and majesty of God in the Mass on Sunday?  Is it possible, as John Paul II’s “Mission of the Redeemer” points out, that some of us may need to be re-evangelized ourselves—or as Dave Nodar writes, “need to be socialized into situations of vibrant faith.”

May we always show the authenticity of God’s majesty and glory through our worship! May each Mass be powerful “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). May your parish be blessed with evangelical worship and the Gospel of Jesus Christ thereby be advanced in our world. Christianity Richly!

Five Reasons

In Catholic, Christianity on July 6, 2009 at 12:15 am

Some of us write to organize our thoughts. At times, we even may write to be sure we are thinking rightly.

During my pilgrimage into the Church, I wrote about five reasons that led to my conversion.  I did so partly to make certain I was not being drawn to the Church only by the immense beauty of the Solemn Mass at St. Mary’s (an example is here.  George Weigel’s book, Letters to a Young Catholic, which includes a chapter on worship at St. Mary’s is here). But I also wrote about the reasons for entering the Church because many family members and friends did not understand how I could even consider Catholicism. How could I explain to them?

Ironically, these reasons were suggested by an evangelical scholar, Dr. Scot McKnight. As I’ve written elsewhere, I’m not suggesting that Dr. McKnight would endorse my conversion. Rather, he  simply identifies some broad trends in protestant and Catholic Christianity—trends that were meaningful, and solid, and important in my journey. The five posts below (see the bullet points) elaborate on the themes Dr. McKnight identified.

If you are being drawn to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, I pray that these posts may be helpful in your journey. If you are a longtime Catholic, I pray they will remind you of the immense richness with which God has blessed His Church. If you are interested simply because you have a Catholic Christian friend, then read on.

To God be the glory, now and eternally—Christianity Richly!