Healing the sick.
there anyone sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and
let them pray over him and anoint him in the name of the Lord. This prayer,
made in faith, will save the sick man. The Lord will restore his health, and
if he has committed any sins, they will be forgiven.' (James
Church names the anointing of the sick as one of the Seven Sacraments. The
practice of the Church has varied even in my lifetime. in fact the old description
of the Sacrament was 'Extreme Unction', - the Last Anointing,
on the assumption that the person was already dying. Numerous incidents of
miraculous recovery have been recorded over the centuries, but often the 'miracle'
is simply a reconcilement with impending death. As well as this, people often
recover from illness, even when the nature of the disease is not critical.
was once a rare occurrence, and a sign that death was close, is now often
quite frequent. People are anointed often. We are reminded that Jesus, although
on rare occasions actually raised the dead, he healed the sick with all kinds
of problems. Is he any less powerful today?
practice in the Parish is to administer the Sacrament every month to those
who feel a need for healing of various kinds. It is given during mass every
First Tuesday of the month.
EXPOSITION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.
belief in Eucharist, belief in this unique way that Christ is present under
the appearances of bread, is extended by the fact that this presence is more
than a symbol. Whatever the individual may or may not believe, does not alter
the fact of Christ's presence, because this is what the Church believes and
teaches. Besides the candle and the flowers is the centerpiece of the altar
table. It is 'the monstrance', from the Latin 'monstrare,' - to show. It is
in fact a gilded show case. It contains the consecrated host, which, in spite
of our senses, is the true presence of Christ among us.
Catholics, to be there in this 'presence' is a powerful aid to faith, informing
understanding and generosity to others. To spend time alone in prayer is not
an easy thing to do. I find it is much easier to 'do' something like, get
the mail, clean the car, weed the garden. But to simply 'be' in the presence
of God, when perhaps, no exalted thoughts are present, where God doesn't appear
to be listening, or even there at all, requires a good deal of faith, to say
nothing of patience.
this taking of time simply to 'be' in the presence of God, or rather to be
conscious that we are in fact always in his presence, is vital if we are to
have any depth of spirituality. To the person who counts this as a waste of
time we answer that this is a magnificent way of 'wasting' time. This is what
the moderns would call 'non verbal communication, between God and us.' It
is much more direct than the using words. Like lots of other lessons , this
can only be learned by doing. Every Friday after the daily morning Mass, the
Blessed Sacrament is placed in the monstrance, and it remains there until
may take years before our parish gets totally switched on to the practice,
but numbers are not important. What matters is that the knowledge of the customs
grows until it's natural to drop in and visit the Lord.
Rosary has always been something of a mystery to those who are not Catholic.
There are at least two reasons for this. The first is the element of repetition.
The 'Hail Mary' is repeated a good number of times. To some it probably resembles
the idea of the prayer-wheel. The more times you turn it, the better it is.
But the Rosary doesn't work that way. There is some truth in the belief that
over the centuries when the Rosary has been recited, people were illiterate.
They couldn't read, but they could very easily remember the words of the Hail
Mary. The idea
of the beads is also a matter of curiosity to some. 'Something to hold on
to, 'almost immediately gives the clue. The actual 'fingering' of the beads
is a tangible experience, and for those who are used to saying the Rosary
it is a great comfort. When you arrive at the large bead at the end of another
ten, then you have arrived at the end of one decade and the beginning of the
picture makes it clear that the layout of the Rosary is a circle, with a small
tail attached to it. Forget the tail for the moment. It is not an essential
part. When people speak of saying the Rosary they would mean they are going
to say five decades ie. five lots of ten Hail Marys, or once around the circle.
final complication is that each of the five groupings is about a particular
theme, which we call Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious, and quite recently the
"luminous" Mysteries proposed by the present Pope. The
Joyful Mysteries are about the infancy of Jesus
based especially on St Luke's Gospel. It's theme is really a question. Who
is this Child, who will he grow up to be?
Sorrowful Mysteriesare about the agony and crucifixion of Christ. What
is the meaning of this
horrendous death? What does it tell us about the love of God? What meaning
did suffering have for him, what meaning does it have for us?
Glorious Mysteries are the happy ending, where
Christ returns to his Father in triumph. It tells us about the shortness of
life, or the value of suffering, the inevitability of death, and the expectation
that this life is not all there is, what happens beyond the grave is of vital
importance to what happens in our life, and how we interpret it.
THE "NEW LUMINOUS MYSTERIES" In
October 2002 the present Pope proposed the addition of another set of five
mysteries which are called 'Luminous' or 'enlightening'. It is many centuries
since any such addition has been made. These
new Mysteries are the first addition to the Rosary in centuries. They are
a summary of the meaning of Christ's life. For those who are not yet aware
of their names they are 'the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, The Wedding
Feast at Cana, Christ announcing the Kingdom, his Transfiguration, and the
Institution of the Eucharist. They centre on the Public Life of Jesus.
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST IN THE JORDAN. This is the event when the two cousins
meet. It is not the first time. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth neither
John nor Jesus had yet seen the light of day. Both unborn, they were nevertheless
present to each other. This meeting at the Jordan made very clear both to
Jesus and to John, the mission of Jesus, which was to proclaim the beginning
of our salvation.
THE WEDDING FEAST AT CANA. John the Evangelist calls this first of the
signs that Jesus gave. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that
he did it in obedience to the request made my Mary. Initially he appears to
have refused her request. Mary knew better. To the servants she said, "Just
do whatever he tells You." Not only was there plenty of wine: it tasted
better than any of them had experienced before
CHRIST ANNOUNCES THE KINGDOM. The history of the Jews had led to the expectation
of the Messiah. What they could not have foreseen was what kind of Messiah
he would turn out to be. The Jews were in a position of preference. They were
after all, the Chosen people of God. But they could not accommodate a messiah
who would accept injustice, who would have an actual preference for poor people
rather than powerful ones. They did not like what they saw and heard.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST.
Because Jesus knew his disciples would be hard put to cope with what seemed
to be failure on his part, he fortified them with a glimpse of the glory which
had always belonged to him, and which they would one day share. Here on Mount
Tabor in a scene reminiscent of Sinai and the giving of the Commandments,
the disciples see Jesus in the company of Moses the recipient of the Commandments,
and Elijah, the prophet. Jesus belonged unequivocally in their company, and
so one day, would his disciples!
THE INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST. The promise Jesus made to the people
when he fed five thousand with a few loaves and fish led on to his claim that
the food which would enable them to live forever was nothing else but his
own body and blood. He told them that if they did not eat this food, they
would not have life in them. At the last Supper he took bread and said to
them, "This is my body, this is my blood. Take and eat!" Not only
would he feed them; this eating and drinking would allow them to enter into
the very dying and rising that for us, spells our redemption.
in the Church
Christians accept the place of Mary in the scheme of redemption. They believe,
that she was the one human being chosen to be God's mother. As God, God did
not need a mother. He is eternal, no beginning, and obviously no ending. But
as a human being, he did need a mother as we all did. So to be precise: Mary
in time, the mother of him who is of eternity. As the Gospels of the infancy
of Jesus show, this event of Christ's birth was heavily influenced, almost
copied by the birth of important figures in the Old testament .
The Catholic tradition has always been one of great reverence and love for
Mary. It venerates her humility, her obedience, and her discernment of the
divine in the affairs of her life. But she is not a bodes. While being chosen
in an altogether singular way, she remains deeply human, even though she is
a bridge to the divine. So there could never be any sense of 'competition'
between Jesus and Mary, as if they were vying with each other for our attention!
This would reduce them both to the petulant gods of Greek mythology. Rather
they are more like allies, sensitive to their own rolls and aware of the common
love they both have for all people. Even in the need to approach God through
Jesus, there remains the need for us to often go to Jesus through Mary.
The clothed figure of Christ on his cross reminds us of the intimate connection
between the two. It is a reflection on the Resurrection, where both Christ
and the Christian look on it as a symbol, not of his defeat,
of his victory. Realistic impressions of what a horrid sight crucifixion really
is, have often been portrayed through the subsequent history of Christianity.
often the cross alone, without the figure, is a cogent sign of Christian belief
and devotion. The clothed figure reminds us that Calvary was not the end of
Christ's life and teaching, but a necessary prelude to his resurrection. Had
he not first died, there could have been no question of Resurrection.
is no question either of any morbid fascination with the details of Christ's
suffering. Crucifixion was a normal punishment for hardened criminals, and
was a clear warning to others to observe the law. Needless to say, Christ
was no criminal. He made it abundantly clear at his trial that he had not
broken any law.
mystery of the suffering of Christ born willingly for love of the Father,
and love for us, is the central image of the whole of Christianity. It has
been the inspiration of countless suffering souls who have willingly embraced
persecution, misunderstanding, and even death in order to be at one with this
extraordinary love of God expressed through the suffering of Christ.
and Holy Water
At Catholic funerals especially, the casket containing the deceased person
is usually sprinkled with holy water, and incense is used as well.
water is simply ordinary water that has been blessed by the prayer of the
priest. It is not magic. It is used by way of faith and invocation. In other
words we ask God to bless this most common of elements with his own power,
so that those who use it in faith may be rewarded by God's blessing and protection.
Incense grains are placed on hot charcoal in a container called a thurible.
The smoke that rises from the container was likened in the Old Testament to
the way prayer rises to God.
mortal remains of those who loved and served God are regarded as sacred even
in death. That's why the Christian tradition of burial is still highly regarded
in the church.
of the Blessed Sacrament
When Jesus said to his disciples at the Last supper, "this is my body,"
the Church took him literally, at his word. When
Catholics receive holy Communion they believe they receive not bread, but
Christ himself, God and man. In the early days of the Church the custom grew
of reserving the Sacrament . After the faithful had received the Bread of
Life at the Eucharist, or what we now call the Mass, some consecrated hosts
would have been kept over after the Mass was finished, for distribution to
the sick and elderly. Even children were sometimes entrusted with this sacred
not surprising that the custom of 'reservation' was extended to certain '
holy places' like the Church itself where the Mass had originally been said.
During my lifetime, until the 2nd Vatican Council, the Blessed Sacrament was
always kept on the high altar of the church.
course there could be no Reservation of the Sacrament without the Mass that
brought the Sacrament into being. Obviously there is an immediate connection
between the two. Yet the Mass is not the same thing as the worship of the
Sacrament. In order to keep them connected but apart, it is quite usual nowadays
to have one part of the church for Mass, (usually the larger, gathering-part
of the church), and a smaller chapel for private personal and intimate devotion.
This practice is at the heart of genuine, personal and intimate devotion with