Attending the Marian Eucharistic Conference in Greenville has become our November tradition and how it's growing! So thankful to the organizers who bring wonderful teachers to strengthen us in our faith. Many of us are regulars so we're cultivating those friendships as well. And this time, Pauline Books & Media displayed Bound amongst their books! We left earlier on Friday to have time enough to spend at the art museum and a delicious vegetarian meal at Swad, a little Indian restaurant. https://www.offthegridgreenville.com/eat-drink-post/2017/9/27/swad
Bishop Guglielmone started it off with Mass. We celebrated the Feast of St. Leo and he focused his homily on what it means to be "missionary disciples." Missionary = reaching out. Disciple = follower of Christ. The first disciple is actually Mary. She brings God to us, believes what God has promised, and remains faithful even in the most desperate times caused by evil. Her Fiat has to be repeated over and over again. Today the church is in a grave crisis. We are called to repair it and through it, the world. We are to answer the call to holiness. Mary is continually asking us to repent and "Listen to my Son!" He is the Way, the Truth, the Life!
Bp. G. shared a story from his childhood. He used to hear Mass in a small country church and afterwards was running about taking pictures. When the pictures were developed, one was striking: a road sign "One Way" pointed directly to the Cross of the steeple!
Fr. Brian Mullady gave several lectures and we bought more CDs to continue our studies at home. His books were sold out by the time I got to his table. I do an injustice with my summary--he is an amazing teacher. He taught Fr. Bill Casey, and the Dominican nuns in Nashville, who were also in attendance. The joy at seeing his old students and they him was so palpable. He gave wonderful talks peppered with many stories on the centrality of the Eucharist, what it is--a miracle that happens at every Mass through the power of the Holy Spirit and the action of the priest. That bread and wine become the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of our Lord. The properties (accidents) remain the same, but the substance is now Christ: Flesh, Blood, Divinity. This is why we adore the Sacred Host. I know this must sound ridiculous to non-Catholics but it is true!
Unfortunately, many Catholics still don't believe. Fr. Mullady shared terrible stories about liturgical abuse. Many think it’s a symbol. A Methodist helper in Mother Angelica's studio said: If I believed what you all did, I’d be prostrate. Indeed, many people go to Mass without the faintest idea of the awesomeness of it. The Ven. Ap. Fulton Sheen said, When I walk into some churches, I feel like Mary Magdalene wondering where have they taken my Lord?
Thomas Aquinas’ Adore te devote translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins renders this mystery, this Miracle of miracles, this Sacrament of all sacraments, beautifully.
You can listen and sing along here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjNhyHsgU7Y
He also wrote the office for the Feast of Corpus Christi (meaning Body of Christ). His sequence Lauda Sion Salvatore is another gem:
I marvel at how much theology is packed in these old hymns. Christ gives Himself to us in a new way. He is real and present in a physical way and everybody receives the same reality, no matter if it's only a crumb. But one person receives sanctifying grace whereas another condemnation. That's because the latter is in a state of mortal sin--it separates us from God. Every particle is wholly Jesus. Yes, a great and awe-ful mystery indeed.
I found a recording using the music of Buxtehude! I’d never heard of him until my editor and I were discussing a project. I enjoyed learning and writing about the time Bach took a walk from Arnstadt to Lubeck to learn from Buxtehude. But I digress…
Remember, the priest is in persona Christi. Christ is the Eucharist and the priest identifies with Christ at the Last Supper. This *is* My Body…This *is* My Blood…The priest makes Christ present. Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity mingles with ours, transforming us into Him, if we let Him. We unite interiorly to Christ’s sacrifice. Many want to reduce it to a communal meal but Mass is both a Holy Sacrifice and Thanksgiving—makes present Jesus in heaven with all the saints and angels.
He celebrated Sunday Mass http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/111118.cfm and we heard the story of Elijah and the widow. She makes Elijah a cake from the last of her provisions out of obedience and her flour and oil never run out. Like the multiplication of the loaves, this is a prelude to the Eucharist.
We also heard the story of the widow’s mite. She doesn’t give from her excess, but all she has. The Scribes and Pharisees burden the people with many rules, but Christ reads hearts. This is why when Christ dies, the veil is rent. The grace of God has been made present to all. The Holies of Holy is now here in our Tabernacles. When we pray “Sursum corda” we are partaking in heaven itself. And we have a continued conversion every time we come to Mass and consume His Body. We depend on Him to grow in holiness. At the end of our lives, we will be judged on how much we loved.
The Real Presence of Christ is the foundation of the Catholic Church. Our soul is filled with sanctifying grace when we receive the Eucharist. And this is why I could never leave the Church; there is simply nowhere else I can go.
Father Bill Casey spoke about the most recent scandal, how it's a scourge upon the Church. It is the most difficult subject to talk about because of the shame and anger over the unspeakable and horrible things done to children, men and women by consecrated priests. But he is not shocked nor surprised because this was entirely predictable and preventable.
We've had 50 years of lukewarm Catholicism, disobedience, and corruption. Large numbers of priests rejected true Catholicism, rejected Humane Vitae, rejected the teachings of Christ on human sexuality, rejected chastity. And action follows belief. Many no longer preach on sexual morality, on virtues and vices. They are afraid of offending everybody but God.
What the media don't report is that 80% of the priest abuse scandals stem from homosexual activity between clergy and post-pubescent boys (teenager or young adult). This is the problem. Only 20% of the priests are committing crimes with minors or are having affairs with women.
The PA Grand Jury reported 300 priests over the course of 70 years and a 1,000 victims. Most of these priests are dead or removed from their duties and the 50K remaining priests (96%) have nothing to do with the scandal. Most of the bishops have nothing to do with the cover up. But even one bad priest or bishop is one too many.
Many souls have been lost--those of the priests and those whom they were supposed to serve, protect, lead, guide. It is a diabolical attack from within the Church. It's an attack on the priesthood. Without a priest, there are no sacraments, and without the sacraments, no religion. The Heart of Christ is wounded.
Fr. Casey loves being a priest. He exhorted us to pray for priests. He says the devil works triple overtime on priests. It is a great victory for him when a priest falls into sin because many more souls are lost with him. Pray for seminarians. In the midst of public shame, for a man to be a priest, he must be madly in love with Christ.
The Church in America is dying. There's no moral authority. You strike the shepherd and you scatter the sheep. The reform must come from the laity. We must put an end to this nonsense or else God will. God punishes not just the wicked but the good who fail to stop evil. We must pray and fast, invoke Divine Mercy. Before the Hand of God comes down upon the world, it first comes upon the Church.
What is wrong with the Church? We just have to look in the mirror. We did not take the call to be holy seriously. We have spiritual sloth, habitual sins, time wasted that's taken from prayer. Where is your time and talent going? We set a bad example for our children by our unchastity. We worship false idols. If we were as enthusiastic about religion as we were about sports, we'd be a nation of saints!
In the 12th century, Jesus said to St. Francis, "My Church is in ruins. Rebuild My Church." So we need to make a commitment now to light this fire, to pray, to fast, to do nothing to deny Christ, to restore the sense of the sacred. The Church is a place of encounter with the living God.
Fr. Casey exhorted us all to heed the message of Fatima to pray the rosary. It's an assault weapon, concealed, with a 50-round clip! These are our beads of battle. He mentioned a few of the miracles attributed to the rosary including the Battle of Lepanto and the defeat of communism. There are more here: http://miraculousrosary.blogspot.com/p/famous-rosary-miracles.html
Ave Maria, gratia plena!
And since you stuck with me to the end, some art that we were allowed to photograph! This is the overflow from Bob Jones University--they have the largest collection of Catholic art in the US.