Sunday, April 14, 2013

Take This Seriously {Sunday Tradition}

Father Joseph invites the parents of soon-to-be-baptized children to state their intentions before blessing their children and entering the Chruch for the great celebration of rebirth through water and the Holy Spirit on Easter Morning.
This weekend our little local parish welcomed a visiting priest, Father Treacy, who celebrated the Masses for Father Joseph as he was away at a conference with the local Newman Catholic Campus Ministry crew.  Nearing 100 years of age, this holy priest, through a thick Irish accent, preached plainly, forcefully, and with great love, about a matter that can cause the congregation to squirm in the pews: the sacrilege of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion if one is not properly disposed.   Father Tracy taught the Biblical truth that if anyone holding a grudge or hating any other person should come forward to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, that person is committing a sacrilege (a grave offense against God). 

God's mercy knows no bounds, and anyone who humbly and honestly confesses his sins and amends his life can be returned to the state of grace required for properly receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. 

Just over 100 years after Jesus' Resurrection, a bold Christian named Justin also preached fearlessly about the proper reception of Jesus in Holy Communion at Mass:

From the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr (written A.D. 151)  The celebration of the Eucharist
No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.
On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The Eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.
St. Justin's description of the Holy Mass, written in A.D. 155, very accurately describes the Holy Mass celebrated in our Catholic Church today.  If you don't believe me, come and see for yourself!

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