Monthly Archives: April, 2007

Something Strangely Wonderful

Our dear Holy Father is a very good writer. I managed to miss reading Deus Caritas Est when it came out last spring, and Sacramentum Caritatis as well. (Josh has plans for a CSC discussion group for the apostolic exhortation; we’ll see how that works out.) The only exposure I have to his work is through my Zenit feed, as I’ve written about before. I’d put off reading his urbi et orbi message and his Easter Vigil homily until tonight.

The homily is wonderful.

Let us return once more to the night of Holy Saturday. In the Creed we say about Christ’s journey that he “descended into hell.” What happened then? Since we have no knowledge of the world of death, we can only imagine his triumph over death with the help of images which remain very inadequate. Yet, inadequate as they are, they can help us to understand something of the mystery. … In the incarnation, the Son of God became one with human beings—with Adam. But only at this moment, when he accomplishes the supreme act of love by descending into the night of death, does he bring the journey of the incarnation to its completion. By his death he now clasps the hand of Adam, of every man and woman who awaits him, and brings them to the light.

I’ve always had trouble with that aspect of the creeds (Apostle’s and Nicene). It was a long time before I understood that “hell” in Christ’s time didn’t mean eternal damnation. No one was allowed into heaven until Christ died and threw open its gates. On Holy Saturday, I was wondering what to do, since I refused to do homework at all during the Triduum. I decided to try the LOTH’s Office of Readings. I think I did it wrong, but the important part was that I discovered the non-biblical reading. I read it aloud to myself, struggling to get to the end, and then I cried. Easter is all about Christ’s dying to save us, but never before had I read something that even attempted to describe that act of salvation. Praise God.

EuCon 2007

The semester was half-over at spring break, which is when I went home and finally got around to this blog redesign. If you remember the old design, you can probably guess that this one isn’t finished. I did a bit of touching up, but it’s not even properly dedicated to St. Rose of Lima or Our Lady or anything. My goal for winter break was to catch up on blogging the entire fall semester. I did not. I barely even got to writing recaps of each class, old Catholic Carnivals, or updates on my spiritual life.

I don’t like living in the past. It gets depressing, like remembering past (absolved) sin. So I’m giving up on the recap and just picking up from here.

On Palm Saturday, the CSC hosted its Third Annual Collegiate Eucharistic Congress (a.k.a. (by me) EuCon 2007). Last year was so awesome that there was no question as to my attendance this year; I returned the registration form the day after I got it in the bulletin. I buckled down and did as much homework as possible on Friday to buffer against being out all day Saturday. I got up around 7am, got dressed in my new knee-length (a.k.a. (also by me) church-length) black skirt, and read the lectionary for Saturday and Palm Sunday in preparation.

When I got to the CSC around 9:50am, no one was there. (It was supposed to start at 10.) I ran into Jim and Chris M. on the way, but then everyone else showed up in a huge wave. I had eaten breakfast at home (Lenten Friday fasts for me mean no Honey Nut Cheerios, ergo, a serious craving from them on Saturday morning), so I just talked while everyone else munched. We moved into the chapel around 10:30 for praise and worship to start the day. Fr. Bill gave us a quick intro to the EuCon and to the practice of adoration, and then exposed, and Julie and the choir led us into song. They sang several that I’d never heard of, but we did “Sweet Redeemer,” “Here I Am to Worship,” and, after the break, “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace).” They took the last two a bit too fast, but singing to Jesus is always lovely.
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I love Switchfoot!

Switchfoot is definitely my favorite band. Their position was only cemented when *NSync was finally demolished for good. (Why, Lance, why?) I missed their current tour since it was on a Sunday night and I didn’t have anyone to go with, but two super-cool things happened in the meantime.

First was During the tour, they press and hand out a free bootleg of the show each night. They encouraged the fans to share it, so they have: online. It’s so cool: a website of live concert mp3s from Switchfoot’s tour, available for free downloading. The best part is that, because the band gave permission to distribute their music this way, it’s totally legal. Yay!

The second is that I found two new videos. This brings me to do something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: embed YouTube videos into my blog. (I had the videos embedded, but that made my XHTML invalid, and I like having valid code.) The first is their new video that just came out in the email newsletter today, for the song “Awakening.” Bonus points for recognizing the two video games they parody. If I can spot them, you can.

Cool, no? The second is a cover song from the Yahoo! Pepsi Smash series. They covered Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”! I kinda like it…though I don’t think the Beyonce booty bounce would quite work to Switchfoot’s version.

Cohabitation and Eden

The Lord is risen, alleluia! Happy Easter! ¡Feliz Pascua!

Moving on: Waaaaay back in January, I decided to come back to my apartment on campus to work over break. I had my regular job with Honors, but for 8 hours every day instead of 7 scattered through the week like I have when school is in session. It drained me like full-time work always does, so I was in the mood for something fun to do on the weekend.

I picked up The Catholic Standard on my way out of Mass on December 31. I was reading it after Mass for Mary, Mother of God on January 1 as Maura watched the Tournament of Roses Parade. (Can you imagine a better activity for her? Roses, bands, and television: it’s like they hold it just for her.) I was sitting next to her on the couch, flipping through, when I came to an interesting-looking ad. Long story short, we decided to go to the 8th Annual Knights of Columbus Right to Life/Defend Life Lecture at the Church of the Annunciation in D.C. on January 12.

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From the Desk of the Holy Father

I know I shouldn’t be blogging right now. I’m supposed to be patiently awaiting the resurrection of my Savior with hope and silence. I worked out my Lenten resolutions in a similar way. I gave up secular television, except for the weather (which is useful and informative, not entertaining) and Jeopardy! (which is inherently edifying and intellectually stimulating, not just mindless staring). So, though I have neither signed on to AIM nor done homework during the Triduum, I opened my feed reader to check Zenit and the Sunday Sunday Sunday podcast.

I’m glad I did. Zenit published notes from the Holy Father’s Chrism Mass homily and the whole text from Holy Thursday. At the Chrism Mass, he used an example from Tolstoy. Gotta love a secularly well-read Vicar of Christ.

The Holy Father illustrated God’s actions using a narration by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, about a severe ruler who asked his wise men to show him God so that he could see him.

“The wise men did not know how to do this. So a shepherd, who was just returning from the fields, offered to take the place of the priests and the wise men,” the Pontiff recalled.

The king learned that his eyes would not suffice to see God, Benedict XVI added. But the shepherd offered to show the king how God acts. To do this, we must exchange clothing, said the shepherd to the king.

“Hesitantly, but urged by curiosity, the king consented, giving his regal clothing to the shepherd and dressing himself in the simple clothing of the poor man,” the Pope related.

“And then came the answer: ‘This is what God does,”” he continued. “In fact, the Son of God—true God from true God—left his divine splendor […] took on the condition of servant and became a man.”

Isn’t that wonderful? That’s what Jesus did: He came to Earth as a poor, helpless baby so that His divine nature would not separate Him from us. He was like us in every way except sin, so that we could relate to Him. Even Tolstoy’s shepherd understood that (though Tolstoy himself is considered a “Christian anarchist”).

The Holy Father’s Holy Thursday homily wasn’t quite as literary, but one section toward the beginning caught my eye.

The words of the [Passover] memorial service were surrounded by words of praise and thanksgiving taken from the Psalms. Giving thanks and blessing God reached its apex with the “berakha,” which in Greek is called “eulogia” or “eucaristia”: To bless God becomes a blessing for those who bless. The offering donated to God returns blessed to man.

During the Mass, we bring bread and wine as gifts to offer to God. In Eucharistic Prayer I, which is used on Holy Thursday, the celebrant says:

Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing.

This is definitely reflected in the Holy Father’s homily. We give the offering to God, but He gives it back as so much more. We give him thanks, and He gives us the Bread of Life. And how wonderful is that redeeming gift!

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