Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Connection between Eucharistic Adoration and the Transfiguration of Our Lord

The Connection between Eucharistic Adoration and the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

If we look to the Old Testament, we can see numerous instances when the Lord instructs Israel to hold a memorial of some significant event God’s plan to restore fallen man. The most famous example is the Passover, the Paschal Sacrifice and Feast. The Passover, the memorial of the Israelites’ being freed from Egypt, was to be observed every year. But the remembrance was not as simple as mentally recalling that the event happened many centuries ago. The act of calling it to mind, in some way, made it a present reality. It is not that Israel was once again enslaved and needed to be freed by the Lord, but rather that the actual event was being applied to the present. The same liturgical principle is applied to the Mass, in which Christ’s sacrifice is made present through all the ages.
Solemn Benediction is a memorial of another mysterious event in the saving work of Christ — the Transfiguration. The rites that surround it memorialize scene on Mount Tabor.
The Church employs ritual in order to expose what is hidden. Our Lord is so very humble, and He shows none of His glory in the Blessed Sacrament. However, because the whole Church worships our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, in which He has the same Glory as in heaven, She makes manifest His majesty and Glory. Our Lord humbles himself to appear to be no more than bread and wine, but the Church practices Her belief in His Real Presence, His divinity, and the adoration and honor we owe Him through acts of reverence and worship. 

Most monstrances have several beams streaming forth from the Blessed Sacrament. This symbolism is taken from the Gospel account, that His face became radiant as the sun. It is no coincidence that the monstrance, too, looks like a large sun upon a stand. Christ is the true Sun, and the radiance of His face is depicted in the monstrance.
The Church requires four to six candles during Adoration. There was not only light streaming from the face of our Savior, but light surrounding them all. The candles evoke the light that filled the whole mountain, and those two lights, Moses and Elijah, that conversed with Him.
The platform upon which the monstrance sometimes rests has a name, a “tabor.” At the Cathedral the Tabernacle itself was designed for this purpose. This is taken directly from the Transfiguration, for the mountain upon which it happened was Mount Tabor. Our Lord shows forth His glory upon Mount Tabor in every Adoration chapel and at every Benediction.
Incense is a symbol of worship. Our prayers and sacrifices rise up to God as does the smoke. But in Adoration, the smoke also symbolizes the great cloud that enveloped them on Mount Tabor, the cloud from which the voice of the Father spoke to them: “Listen to Him.”
In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration, Peter famously suggests that they build three “booths,” one for our Lord, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.  No doubt Peter did not understand fully how our Lord would fulfill his request,  but he word he uses is the same as for a tent — and for a tabernacle.
The word tabernaculum means dwelling-place. In the wilderness, the Israelites built the tabernacle, which in the desert was a tent. Every tabernacle is either modeled after the Ark of the Covenant, or is covered with a veil, which represents the tent in the wilderness, or both. Later, when the Temple, which also had a large veil inside, was built in Jerusalem, and the cloud of the Lord descended upon it, it was considered the new and improved “tent” — it was the dwelling-place of the Lord. Later, the One Who would refer to Himself as the new temple in John 2 would “become flesh and dwell [same as the word for the dwelling of the Lord in the tabernacle] among us.” Literally, the Word became flesh and “tabernacled” among us.
Peter’s request was granted — in the Blessed Sacrament. Peter proclaimed that the Lord’s presence is good (“It is good that we are here!”), and asked our Lord to remain with us, in a “booth,” in a tabernacle. Our Lord waits for us in the tabernacle, as St. Peter requested, and comes forth “like a bridegroom,” and is worshiped in glory in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
The rites have a very specific purpose; to call to mind the one time in the Gospels that our Lord showed forth His heavenly glory. Our Glorious, risen Lord repeats this act in every rite of Adoration and Benediction.


When Benediction (Blessing  with the monstrance) occurs, the priest puts on a humeral veil. This is not to prevent him from touching the monstrance or the Blessed Sacrament, as if it would be improper — of course he is unworthy, but his hands have been consecrated for that very purpose. Rather, he veils his hands to show that it is not he who gives the blessing. In Benediction, it is our Lord Himself Who blesses. That is why it is such a solemn and holy moment in the ritual.  In the Sacraments and in the Liturgy, it is Christ himself who acts through the ministry of priests.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Discernment and the Four Voices

Discernment and the “Four Voices”
Adapted from Fr. Brian Bashista’s Quo Vadis Days Manual By Fr. Matthew Keller

In the process of discernment we should become aware of four voices that call for our attention and learn to distinguish them from one another. These four voices are: The Lord’s, our own, the world’s, and the devil’s. It is not always easy to tell these voice apart from one another, therefore discernment requires time, patience and perseverance in the face of struggle. Being attuned to the voice of God, will make the other voices easier to identify.
The Voice of the Lord The Lord’s voice is constantly communicating His unfailing love to us. We hear His voice through Divine Revelation, both in Holy Scripture and in Holy Tradition, as well as in the Magisterium of His Church, urging us to do that which is good, to trust Him, and to sacrifice out of love. Discouragement and confusion are never the voice of Jesus. His voice always expresses the truth as he calls us to a deeper conversion in the face of sin. With regard to your vocation, be assured that He is calling you to one vocation; either the priesthood, the consecrated life, marriage, or a generous single life. His voice is never deceptive and He will give you the grace to accomplish whatever that particular vocation requires of you. When we are tempted to think that Jesus is calling us to a life that will not be fulfilling or that we cannot accomplish, it is not His voice that we are hearing, but that of another. We can recognize the Lord’s voice in our mind and hearts whenever we hear the sentiment that exhorts us to, “fear not”.
One’s own voice Our own voice is expressed in the deepest desires of the heart. With maturity comes an ordered awareness of these desires and the ability to fulfill them in accord with God’s Law. You are designed by God to desire to be heroic, to change the world for the better, and to love and serve the Lord Jesus with all that you are by loving and serving His creation. Be assured that because it was He who put those desires in your heart it is He who will allow you to fulfill them. Sometimes, however, our deepest desires seem to be in conflict. The sinfulness of our fallen nature can clamor loudly. Sometimes our voice is in conflict with the voice of the Lord. We are always in need of deeper conversion. Characteristic of our own voice is the sentiment in our minds and hearts that says, “I want”.
The Voice of the World The voice of the world is a voice that is under the influence of the devil. Indirectly, and often unwittingly, it coveys his voice. It calls us to put our trust in the things of this world: prestige, money, fame, shallow relationships, and the aura of importance. It is this voice we hear in advertising, on TV shows, and in much of the music on the radio. It is a constant “noise” that distracts us. This voice tempts us to forget about Heaven, our salvation and the Lord’s call in our life. The alluring things that appeal to the flesh threaten to drown out the voice of Jesus and His loving call. The voice of the world can be recognized by the thought s and sentiments in our hearts and minds that cause us to worry about “what people will say” if we follow Christ in a radical way.
The voice of the devil The voice of the devil is the one that is always trying to lead us away from Jesus and to enslave us. His voice is the one that tempts us to doubt the Lord’s goodness. This is the voice of discouragement and the one telling us that we are not worthy enough or strong enough to follow Christ’s call. This is the voice that tempts us to say no to God. This voice will tell us to settle for something less than we are called to be as Children of God and disciples of Christ. This voice can be recognized by its insistence that God is trying to violate your rights and freedom. This voice says that “you can be as God” deciding for yourself what is good and evil.
Be Not Afraid Confusion, frustration and sometimes outright rebellion can afflict us in the discernment process. Nevertheless Jesus tells us, “Be not afraid. I am here.” His love can conquer everything, and if we open ourselves to the power of His grace, we will come to find our vocation. Simply respond, “Jesus, I Trust in You”.