Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pope calls on Catholics to Praise God

From the Vatican Information Service:

During Mass yesterday [Tuesday 28 January] at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the proper attitude of Christians at prayer.

Reflecting on the reading from the Second Book of Samuel, in which “David danced with all his might before the Lord,” Pope Francis recalled that the whole people of Israel were celebrating because the Ark of the Covenant was returning home. He went on to say that David’s prayer of praise, “led him to move beyond all composure,” adding, “this was precisely a prayer of praise.”

Explaining that the passage caused his thoughts to turn to Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who, after giving birth to her son, Isaac, said, “The Lord made me dance with joy.” He said that it is easy to understand a prayer of petition – asking something of the Lord – and prayer of thanksgiving, as well. Even prayer of adoration, he said, “is not so difficult,” to understand. Prayer of praise, however, does not come to us so easily. .

“‘But, Father! This is for the Renewal in the Spirit folks, not for all Christians!’ No: prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us. In the Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy … This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because He is great. We say beautiful things to Him, because we are happy for His greatness

“‘But, Father! I am not able…I have to…’ Well, you’re able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord? To come out of your shell ever so slightly to sing His praise? Praising God is completely gratis. In it we are not asking him to give us anything: we are not expressing gratitude for anything; we just  praise!

 “..a good question for us to pose to ourselves today: ‘Do I know how to praise the Lord? Do I know how to praise the Lord when I pray the Gloria or the Sanctus? Is my whole heart really in it, or do I merely mouth the words. What does David dancing here say to me, and Sarah, dancing for joy? When David enters the city there begins another thing: a party!”

“The joy of praise,” said Pope Francis, “leads us to the joy of the feast – the feast of the family.” The Pope went on to recall how, when David returned to the palace, Michal, the daughter of King Saul, scolded him and asked him if he did not feel ashamed for having danced like that in front of everyone, he, who is the king. Michal “despised David”

“I wonder sometimes how many times we despise good people in our hearts, good people who praise the Lord as it comes to them, so spontaneously, because they are not cultured, because they do not follow the formalities? … The Bible says that, because of this, Michal remained sterile for the rest of her life. What does the Word of God mean, here? [It means] that joy, that the prayer of praise makes us fruitful! Sarah danced in the great moment of her fecundity – at the age of ninety! The fruitfulness that praise of the Lord gives us, the gratuity of praising the Lord: that man or that woman who praises the Lord, who prays praising the Lord, who, when praying the Gloria is filled with joy at doing so, and who, when singing the Sanctus in the Mass rejoices in singing it, is a fruitful person.”

On the other hand, warned Pope Francis, “Those, who are closed in the formality of a prayer that is cold, stingy , might end up as Michal, in the sterility of her formality.” The Pope asked, then, that we imagine David dancing, “with all his might before the Lord,” and that, “we think how beautiful it is to make the prayer of praise.” It will do us good, he said, to repeat the words of Psalm 23, which we prayed today: “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory.”

Here is some praise of God.  The words are directly from Holy Scripture, put to music by Handel and sung by some happy Christians (probably not Catholics). But,  if we put into practice what Pope Francis has just said, this is what we Catholics should be like when we sing the Sanctus (Holy Holy) and the Gloria (Gloria to God in the highest) at Mass. If we really believe in what is happening at Mass we have cause to be even more joyful, exultant and demonstrative in our praise than these people. English decorum and reserve have no place when it comes to the praise of God as the story of King David illustrates and Pope Francis clearly teaches:

The very word Alleluia means “Praise the Lord”

“Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2639)

Of course, you cannot praise him unless you know him:

In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ” being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction.” That person is Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. He is the Lord. When we encounter him and realise what he has done for us, we want to praise him because he is quite simply, worthy of our praise.

Again, in the words of Scripture put so magnificently to music by Handel, we want to proclaim with all the angels and saints in heaven:

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by his
blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour,
and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto
Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
(Revelation 5:12-14)
Amen.

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas

Today is the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas. We sang  one of his great Eucharistic Hymns    “O Godhead Hid” this morning at Mass. Here it is in Latin sung by a young Franciscan friar and his community:

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,

Who truly art within the forms before me;

To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,

As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

 

Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;

The ear alone most safely is believed:

I believe all the Son of God has spoken,

Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.

 

God only on the Cross lay hid from view;

But here lies hid at once the Manhood too:

And I, in both professing my belief,

Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

 

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;

Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be:

Make me believe Thee ever more and more;

In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.

 

O thou Memorial of our Lord’s own dying!

O Bread that living art and vivifying!

Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live;

Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.

 

O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord!

Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood;

Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,

Is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.

 

Jesu! Whom for the present veil’d I see,

What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me:

That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,

And may be blest Thy glory in beholding. Amen.  

 

As this beautiful hymn illustrates St. Thomas Aquinas had an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. St. Thomas believed that the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Lord’s passion because it contains — really and truly — the person of Jesus Christ who suffered and died for us. Thus, Aquinas taught that whatever is an effect of our Lord’s passion (especially our liberation from sin and death) is also an effect of the holy Eucharist because this sacrament is nothing other than the application of our Lord’s passion to us. St. Thomas believed this so completely that he was known to celebrate Mass with tears of joy and gratitude!

 

This is no stuffy academic coldly and dispassionately thinking “great thoughts.” This is a great lover, a man who has grasped the truth about our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. How can he not respond with an open and joy-filled heart to the One who has given everything for our salvation? How can he fail to sing of the Savior’s glory, of the mystery “all price exceeding” that is present to us — here and now — in the sacrament of the Christ’s body and blood? How can he fail to shed tears of joy and thanksgiving at the sacrificial gift we have been given “for the world’s redemption”?

 

Reflecting on the teaching and personal witness of this great saint, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI writes; “Let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits; let us nourish ourselves with this body and blood of our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation.”

 

Jesus Christ invites our intimate communion with Him through this great Sacrament of his flesh and blood.

 

“In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me. This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

(John 6:53-58)

 

On 7th March 1274 as he lay dying in the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in Italy, when Holy Communion was brought to him for the last time (Viaticum) St Thomas Aquinas pronounced the following act of faith:

 

“If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament.” Then he added: “I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life”

 

St Thomas Aquinas pray for us that we may have the same passionate love for the real presence of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 26th January 2014

CLICK HERE for St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 26th January 2014

NOTICE FOR ALL ST ROBERT’S YOUNG ADULTS

Here is some information for young adults 18+ about “Journey” on Wednesday evenings. Paul Walker, the Youth Pastor at New Life Christian Centre, Dacre Street, presents this short clip. These events are for all young Christians in Morpeth. For more information contact our Youth Minster, Andrew O’Neill on Email: andrew.uk.oneill@gmail.com or Fr Lawrence on ljonesys@yahoo.co.uk.

St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 19th January 2014

CLICK HERE for St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 19th January 2014

Here is a tribute to the great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado who died today. This is the great maestro conducting the sublime Mozart Requiem MassGrant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall a vow be repaid Jerusalem,
hear my prayer;
to you shall all flesh come.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.                                                                        Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.