Lenten Thoughts and Sacrifices!

Today I traveled to the beautiful and peaceful “Holy Hill” for a day of spiritual direction and reflection. Many things run through my mind while I sit before my spiritual direction session. The one major thing that sprang to mind while I sit in the Adoration Chapel at St. Meinrad praying a rosary was—WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR LENT…

This is a valid question that, even though should not have distracted me from my rosary or my time with God, I have not yet given much thought to. But with less than a month to go before we enter “those 40 days”, it is something that deserves attention. Luckily, I thought of this before joining my session; which I was then able to discuss briefly (I have many topics that I try and get clarity on during my sessions) with my director some things. So, what to do? What should I do? How should I focus my works on mercy? What should I fast (and fasting means MUCH MORE than merely not eating-it is an act of forgoing something)? How can I better prepare myself to walk a better life with Christ and come to better know God?

Then BINGO, or PRESTO, it came to mind. Non aver paura, devi solo credere! It made complete sense to me…. Be Not Afraid, simply believe…. These two phrases came together from Nola Eastwick (author of “The Big Secret to Unlocking the Power of God’s Word… Simply believe It!”) and my hero the Blessed St. Pope John Paul II “be Not Afraid.” As we enter any act of devotion or sacrifice; we should always do so without fear, or worry, or reservation. We should still begin it with a sense of love and honor for God. Thus, the comforting words of e Not Afraid and Simply Believe made perfect sense. I should not worry, but instead, believe that whatever I came to do would be of GREAT homage to our Lord and Savior.

As just as that sounds, I am still left with a great deal of confusion, or cloudiness, of what it is that I can do, or should do. There are the staples of sacrificing time to be spent in service to others, forgoing something that you are fond of doing to spend it in a time of reflection of what God has given us, or even to sacrifice parts of your time, talent, or treasure to benefit others (Don’t forget you Rice Bowls!!!). Everything sounds great, and each one of those is equally deserving of Lenten Sacrifices. But this year I think I have decided to do something that is a sacrifice for ME. Something that will, in the end, make me a better person in the long run to many people—I am going to being to spend time each even in the reflection of my day (which I do) but take it a step further and begin to journal about what is happening in me spiritually. How I feel when my day goes GREAT, and how I think when it is not so great.

See what is important to understand that fasting for Lent is not always about giving up your favorite food, or desserts, or a second helping, or fast food, or sodas… ALL OF THOSE ARE GREAT THINGS TO GIVE UP! But ultimately Lent is a time of fasting to better yourself for preparation with God and your eventual encounter with Christ. Being able to give up the time to reflect, meditate and write about what God has done for you that day; as well as ultimately how you feel because of it, is one of the GREATEST fasting events that you can make! So, I will not be afraid, I will simply believe that God has called upon me to do many great things and that through his will and recognizing the gifts that he has given to me; I will ultimately become a servant fully devoted to the mission of God and an active Disciple of Christ—There is no better sacrifice!

What will you do for Lent? I love hearing how others are preparing themselves for the season of sacrifice. But in the end let us all remember to “BE NOT AFRAID, SIMPLY BELIEVE.”

 

Lawrence V. McCrobie

 

ps…enjoy these pictures of St. Meinrad Archabbey on this 16th Day of January 2018!

Make no Mistake EPIPHANY is the same thing as IMMIGRATION

So, what is Epiphany (also called Three Kings Day, or the Twelfth Night)? In its simplistic form, Epiphany is the immigration of individuals to see a native place. Around about the 4th century, the celebration of Epiphany  was the association of three visiting Magi (what we call the Three Kings) traveling to visit the newborn Jesus in the manger nestled in Bethlehem. With them, as we all know, they bring gifts;  gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  [The gifts have meanings Gold=Royal Standing; Frankincense=Divine Birth; Myrrh=Mortality.] But even better is the fact that the word EPIPHANY itself is Greek [not Hebrew] meaning “manifestation’.  Already full of irony– the word is not native, but rather a term that was in a sense “immigrated in.”

So where does this lead us to? Well the fact that as the region of Bethlehem was becoming a “sanctuary” for the Magi and even Jesus, the nation itself was in the middle of welcoming refugee and others into their lands. United by their belief that the King of Kings had been born; we see in Christianity’s first moments, the beginnings of what has become Human Days of Dignity–where one group (or one nation) was called upon to welcome others from the outside who bear gifts and have a great gift to bring to this new “nation” united by Christ.

It is fitting that today in the Archdiocese of Louisville we celebrated a Migration Day of Prayer—presided over by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz; and the fact that we also begin to usher in the celebration of Epiphany. As part of those 5 days of Human Dignity (which are scattered thorough this liturgical season) we are called to become more inclusive, to welcome those who come seeking a place of sanctuary as an opportunity to potentially have an encounter with Christ; for it is known through Catholic teaching that we should meet everyone as if they were Christ himself, for we never know if it might be him coming to visit us.

So what should we do? We should welcome all of those into our “nation” that wish to enter. We should find ourselves full of love and embrace for those seeking nothing more than what you or I have. We should realize that it was Mary and Joseph (along with Jesus) that opened up and accepted visitors from all over to live united under the Messiah. We should not be greedy, but instead should offer to share what has been so generously given to us by God, through his one and only Son-born of the Virgin Mary. It is through the acceptance of those who wish to come into the house of the Lord (into our communities) that we may find ourselves close to walking hand-in-hand with Jesus.

So in the end, Epiphany is nothing more than (not minimizing the significance of the event) a remembrance of our call to accept all those that have been called to the feast table by God; and to treat others as we would want to be treated!

So not only Happy Epiphany but HAPPY IMMIGRATION DAY!

Lawrence V. McCrobie

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My New Year’s Resolution

So, year after year I can get online and see how this WILL BE the year that a person will change their life forever. Starting the beginning of this New Year, they will make changes that will permanently alter how they live their life. The new year will be the year for weight loss, saving money, finishing education, buying the new home, being more helpful to people; the list goes on. SO, what is wrong with this? NOTHING! But at the same time, everything is wrong with it.

We, as humans, can do many beautiful things. We are free (as Americans) to make many choices that will, in fact, alter every one of those things listed above. But can we do it ALONE? NOPE! So, my answer is to entirely ditch the notion of creating a New Year’s resolution. Forget it, will not work, and cannot work.

It is the strength that Christ gives us that we can complete any and everything. With that in mind if you wait until January 1 to create your New Year Resolution then you are about 28 days too late (give or take a few days). Why is this? The New Year started for us on December 2, 2017! Talk about being a day late and a dollar short! Think of it this way, to make something happen we have to have faith that Christ will walk the road with us, and that the strength of our Lord God will be with us at every turn to help us through those resolutions we wish to make. Without the help of God, we cannot complete the tasks.

So disclaimer, I did not make a “solid” resolution this year, but instead my goal was to continue doing what I have been doing this past year which is to continue to shape and mold the better me! To do it through living the life Christ has called me to live and to look forward—knowing that none of it is possible without the love and strength given to me by Christ.

So what are your Advent Goals? (even though it has passed you can still have them—its better late than never RIGHT?) Happy 2018 to ALL!

 

In Christ,

Lawrence V. McCrobie

Sunday Music Goers

Each of the Sunday mass goers, as well as the musicians, has a differing opinion on instances in the mass when there should be singing by the assembly. Singing is of utmost importance during the mass and should also be done with consideration to people’s culture and various abilities in each liturgical assembly. The mass begins with an entrance hymn, whose purpose is to enhance unity among those present and introduce their thoughts the liturgical time and also welcome the ministers’ and priests’ procession. One way in which this sense of unity is encouraged is by choosing music that the assembly is conversant with and which is appropriate for opening the celebration. The cantor should ensure that he sings the Liturgy of the Word and the assembly should also sing in response as this is important on Sundays and major feasts. The responses may also be seasonal to suit specific seasons like during Lent and not only limited to singing those set for Sundays only.
Responses such as the Lamb of God, Gloria, and a few other acclamations are regular parts of the Mass and should be sung on every Sunday as they take precedence over others sang at the mass.
During communion, a chant is begun when the priest is receiving the sacrament to express the communicants’ spiritual union by the union of their voices and gladness of their hearts. This is sung during the whole period of administration of sacrament after which the faithful pray quietly or sing a psalm, whichever is desired. A final hymn is not mentioned; however, it is necessary to bring the Eucharist to an end. It is not necessarily as long as the entrance song, and it ends as soon as the procession is out.

Lawrence V. McCrobie

Choir and Participation

The Catholic Church boasts of a complex structure that ensures efficiency and sufficiency of functions aimed at facilitating salvation and the drawing of followers to Christ. The church has adopted a variety of changes over the years with this regard. In the years preceding the Second Vatican Council, most choirs and organists in the Catholic Church appreciate their role as providers of liturgical songs. There was a 1903 publication of the church Inter Sollicitudenes document by Pope St. Pius X  “Motu Proprio”, which encouraged live singing of a variety of responses and Latin chants by the entire congregation. However, a majority of Catholics still experienced a liturgy whereby the songs were done by the choir, or a single singer (cantor); who on several occasions served as the organist.

Vatican II embraced reforms which were a representation of continuity and paradigm shift on how music would and should be used. The 1963 constitution on Sacred Liturgy (CSL) emphasized the use of liturgical songs as well as responses, antiphons, text acclaims and verses. The CSL incorporated a chapter on sacred music, with a declaration that it was of higher value than any other art. The argument was pegged on the formation of crucial parts of the solemn liturgy (No. 112) as the sacred songs firmly bind to the text. The dual purpose of music in the ceremony was also stressed in the constitution. One was to glorify God, and the other, to sanctify the faithful.

Vatican II introduced an aspect of active participation by the whole assembly, hence setting out a new agenda for liturgical musicians. Those charged with the responsibility of revising liturgical books were to prioritize active involvement. The role of the choir and other musicians in the church was reaffirmed, but with the condition that they promote the involvement of the assembly.

Many choirs may have been downgraded, or even eliminated in the years after. Nevertheless, they had a more significant role in the church. The result was a flourishment of a variety of parish choirs from versatile groups to more complex organs like Gospel Choirs, Life Teen Bands, and Chant Ensembles. Different parishes across the globe embraced array regarding church choirs in the quest to fulfill the constitutional requirement. Such groups include children, youth, and traditional choirs as well as a contemporary ensemble.

Church documents on liturgical music reveal a gradual change on the interactions between various choirs or music ministries and the general assembly. Some official records, amongst them, the recently revised Roman Missal General Instruction envision mass celebrations in which the meeting is involved in sung dialogue with priests and live singing with the choir or cantor. The documents have the presumption that the liturgy is a sung celebration with the priest and choir/cantor assigned different roles. The choir’s singing forms an integral part of the celebration and should, therefore, be to the plans of the prayers or song of the whole congregation. The situation has posed the challenge of fostering active participation by the congregants while still ensuring the utmost quality of music.

Lawrence V. McCrobie

How did the Catholic Church Start?

The word “catholic” means universal. Jesus created one universal church for all of mankind. The Catholic Church was established by Jesus with his words spoken in Matthew 16. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples then offered various answers – “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  But the question that Jesus then asked was crucial: “But who do you say that I am?”

The answer provided by Simon Peter set in motion the formation of the Catholic Church by Jesus. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” With this answer, Jesus established the Catholic Church with Simon Peter designated the first Pope.

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.“

Many try to imply that it was Peter’s faith on which Jesus established the Church. But closer examination of the words of Jesus reveal that the selection was of divine nature.

“For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” His knowledge of Jesus was not the reason for Peter’s confession to the true identity but it was the fact that it had been revealed to him by God. In the words of Jesus gives Peter his new name – “The Rock”. A foundation on which his Church will be built.

Many separated from the Catholic Church cling to the notion that the Church was built on the faith of Peter and not him as a man as justification for their position. Unfortunately, their understanding is incorrect.

The bible is full of references to the need for respect of authority. It is also full of references for the need for unity. In one parable Jesus is explaining how he could not be of Satanic origin (Mark 3:22), “How can Satan drive out Satan?” In this parable he points out the importance of leadership. “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Throughout the scripture we always see – One God, One Son, One Holy Spirit, One Church.

The Church today has become a free enterprise operation. If you can access the Internet you can be ordained in some church. The reformation began a splintering of the Church – in so many words, a kingdom divided.

It is much easier to understand Peter’s role of leadership by reading Acts. He is clearly the leader of the Church. One such example, there are others, is Acts 15:6 where Peter addressing the other Apostles clearly states his leadership role: “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth…

Around or about 45 AD, Peter went to Rome and from there lead the Catholic Church. As of today, there have been 265 Popes in direct succession to Peter. The position of Pope was established by Christ and the office has been maintained in an apostolic manner since the time of Christ. Although the Church has fragmented since the time of Christ with various leadership centers emerging, the apostolic line of succession in the Church is seated in Rome until this very day. Many throughout time have tried to rationalize away and deny the authority and structure of the Church as established by Jesus. In my heart I know that Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus and has maintained a clear line of apostolic leadership to this very day. The Church has celebrated the sacraments and worshiped the Lord in essentially the same way since the time of Christ.

Every Church suffers occasionally because of the weaknesses of human nature. But I believe that regardless of temporary problems experienced by the Church, abandoning the Catholic Faith is not an option. Jesus was more forgiving and understanding of human nature. When Jesus was arrested Judas had betrayed Him, Peter denied him three times, and the remaining apostles ran away. If Jesus supported and anointed their apostolic role after some of their human failings, I can’t imagine abandoning my faith for human shortcomings. After all, your faith is in the Church established by Jesus, not in any person involved in the Church. Of course problems in the Church must be addressed and corrected, but the faith and Church established by Jesus can never be denied.

Watch A Video on how the church started.

Psalm 140: Evening Prayer for Protection

Psalm 140

Evening Prayer for Protection

I have called to you, Lord; hasten to help me!

Hear my voice when I cry to you.

Let my prayer arise before you like incense

The raising of my hands like an evening oblation.

 

Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth;

Keep watch, O Lord, at the door of my lips!

Do no turn my heart to things that are wrong,

to evil deeds with men who are sinners.

 

Never allow me to share in their feasting.

If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness;

But let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head.

Let my prayer be ever against their malice.

 

Their princes were thrown down by the side of the rock;

Then they understood that my words were kind.

As a millstone is shattered to pieces on the ground,

So their bones were strewn at the mouth of the grave.

 

To you, Lord God, my eyes are turned:

In you I take refuge; spare my soul!

From the trap they have laid for me keep me safe:

Keep me from the snares of those who do evil.

 

Let the wicked fall into the traps they have set

Whilst I pursue my way unharmed.

This is a powerful prayer that digs into the very heart of the need for a call for help and guidance as one seeks the need for a “father” figure to watch over them. The prayer beings with a cry for the Lord to come quickly and do something that will seek comfort for the individual that is expressing distress.

The second line of this psalm is moving as it deals with a plea for God to given the asker for protection and guidance over control of their mouth so that they are not as inclined to let in evil words and thoughts that will bring on a aura of sin and evil.

Moving to the third line of the psalm; this deals with the fact that the individual is asking for the strength to not allow the thoughts and actions of ill will or evil to stain the head or body/spirit of them; and that they will continue to be steadfast and prayerful against the evil that exists around us.

This fourth line makes reference at the fact that the sinner/ the evil doings realize that the “princes” of evil are no longer and that they are cast in shattered pieces near the entrance to the gateway to good and all things that are Holy.

As well round out the psalm, the prayer is reaffirming the fact that they eyes of mankind are always turned and in tune with that of God and all things good. And that we as followers of God are constantly seeking refuge in the good that God has in store and that we are constantly asking for our souls to be spared from the evils that exist in the world. The prayer is also asking for help in obtaining protection from the evils that have been laid in the world and that we want to stay safe from all harm. The prayer also is asking for protection from those that have turned their back to God and that they do evil in the world without care or thought

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The psalm ends asking for that the traps to not be totally eradicated but rather left, and that the evils and demons that exist be drawn towards them and that they are the ones that are then trapped within them. While at the same time the psalm asks for the prayerful to go on with their days unharmed.