The first Sunday of Lent and God’s Command to us. For anything less we need to repent.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land;

69717_470024576383223_55557459_nHere at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

‘My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Mitzraim/land of oppression with a small household and lived there as an alien, but there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing hard labor upon us, we cried to Kyrie, the God of our fathers, and he heard our cry. He saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders; and bringing us into this country, he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.

545458_4517494093973_668055366_nThe readings for this First Sunday of Lent should give us pause. Our founding principles as a nation and our Judean Christian principles are very much the same. We were rescued from over there to over here. God calls us to remember our rescue and the blessings he gives us.

Our second reading has St. Paul allude to Deuteronomy 30. “What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith that we preach.” This comes from Deuteronomy 30, “Kyrie your God, will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you will love Kyrie, your God, with your whole heart and your whole being, in order that you may live…this command I give you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?’ No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

PovertySome argue that when we see repulsive people we are naturally repulsed and so we should avoid those people. That is not the way of St. Francis or Pope Francis. They teach us that if we look behind all the faults of the person before us, and that nasty smell, some do have that nasty smell, and the ragged clothes, and the drug needles… we will see the image of God. The word of God is not in our head. It is in our heart. Circumcising the heart means learning to have compassion on those who do all the nasty things we abhor. It means loving people, not because of who they are, but sometimes in spite of who they are. Why, because they are fellow brothers and sisters. They are nation/people born together, by common heritage if not blood, place of birth, language…

In learning the art of writing, we learned to have a nice, snappy, introduction, follow it by a thesis statement, and then give the body of our paper. In Matthew and Luke, the nativity stories are that snappy introduction. For the thesis statement Mark tells us, “At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.”

Mark loves to say, “At once,” with everything. Then comes his thesis statement, “he remained in the desert forty days, tempted by Satan. He was with the Chai (from the Hebrew/living beings) and messengers/angels, ministered to him. Matthew simply states of his thesis statement, “Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.”

John the BaptistThis is their thesis statement. The rest of the book is about Jesus was tempted by Satan/the Devil, with wealth, power, and temptations to tempt God. Luke drops this thesis statement in favor of, “The Spirit of Kyrie is upon me. He anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to Kyrie.” This is the message of the New Colossus and the Statue of Liberty. This is the message of our second reading. In I Kings 17:19-21 we read, “Elijah told her, “Give me your son.” Taking him from her lap, he carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. He called out to Kyrie: “Kyrie, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times and he called out to Kyrie: “Kyrie, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.”

This way of healing only appears in one other passage in all of Scripture. This relates to the woman of Zarephath, who Jesus mentions just after our Gospel reading. The other place this type of healing is used? It is just after Jesus mentions this woman, when Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law. The Gospel is very near to us. It is about healing. It is about loving God by taking care of his planet, whether we like it, or know it, or not. It is loving everything in God’s planet, sometimes in spite of who the person in front of us is. We love them and care for them because they are God’s creation, not because of what they did or might do. For anything less, we need to repent.

We love God with all of our hearts, animate being and measure. Government is but one more tool in our arsenal for doing this. Some argue our charity should be through the government. They have best view for knowing how to do this. They are wrong. Some argue taxing us to feed our neighbor is wrong. This is also against Catholic teaching. God calls us to use all of our resources. This includes the government, but a whole lot more. It includes all of our resource.

This is the thesis of the Gospel, and this is what God commands us to do. Are we up to the task?

No word for, “Mine,” in the Semitic languages, and what it means to Catholics

I, the NAME, have called you for the victory of justice, grasped you by the hand; formed you, and set you as a Brit of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, bring prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. Reading from, “The Baptism of the Lord”, Isaiah 42 The reading from Deuteronomy 4:5-8

John the BaptistI teach you the customs and precedents as the NAME, my God, has commanded me, that you may guard them in the land you are entering to possess. Observe them carefully, for this is your wisdom and discernment in the sight of the peoples, who will hear of all these statutes and say, “This great nation is truly a wise and discerning people.” What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the NAME, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? What great nation has customs and precedents, just as this whole Torah/teaching I set before you this day?

God calls us to be the example to the world. This passage also calls to mind what this nation used to be:

Statue of liberty lighning strike“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Both ancient Israel and the US were founded upon a concept of justice as remembering what it was like to be there, wherever “Over there,” was for our ancestors, and our rescue to over here. God calls us to the victory of Justice, but what does justice mean?

Charlton T. Lewis, and Charles Short in ,”A Latin Dictionary,” write how Pliny relates how “Jus,” “Justice,” comes from the juice of the purple fish. The same dictionary then relates jus is that which is binding or obligatory; that which is binding by its nature.” Just as the juice of the purple fish is binding, pardon the pun, so is justice.

ambroseSt. Aurelius Ambrosius defines justice in his work, “On The Duties of the Clergy,” Chapter 28, section 130, “Justice has to do with the society of the human race, and the community at large. What holds society together is divided into two parts—justice and good-will, which also is called liberality and kindness. Justice seems to me the loftier, liberality the more pleasing, of the two. The one gives judgment, the other shows goodness…Philosophers considered it consonant with justice that one should treat common, that is, public property as public, and private as private. This is not even in accord with nature, nature has poured forth all things for all men for common use. God has ordered all things to be produced, so that there should be food in common to all, and that the earth should be a common possession for all. Nature, therefore, has produced a common right for all, but greed has made it a right for a few…

St. Aurelius Ambrosius then relates how Moses wrote: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26 These philosophers have learned from our writings that all things were made subject to man, and, therefore, they think that all things were produced also for man’s sake… That man was made for the sake of man we find stated also in the books of Moses, when the Lord says: “It is not good that man should be alone, let us make him an helper for him.” Genesis 2:18…

In accordance with the will of God and the union of nature, we ought to be of mutual help one to the other, and to vie with each other in doing duties, to lay all our advantages to bring help one to the other from a feeling of devotion or of duty, by giving money, or by doing something, in some way or other; the charm of human fellowship may ever grow sweeter among us.”

Sockeye, aren't they just gorgeous fish  Christina CookJust as Jus, the juice of the purple fish, is binding by nature, so is our nature as social animals binding upon us to help one another. Tommaso d’Aquino, OP (1225 – 7 March 1274), writes in his summation of Theology, “Ambrosius says (De Office of the Clergy. i): “Justice has to do with the fellowship of mankind. For the notion of fellowship is divided into two parts, justice and beneficence, also called liberality or kind-heartedness.” Therefore liberality pertains to justice.” Second Part, Question 117, of Liberality, Fifth Article, On the Contrary.

“The giving of beneficence and mercy proceeds from a man having a certain affection towards the person to whom he gives: this giving belongs to charity or friendship. The giving of liberality arises from a person being affected in a certain way towards money; he desires it not nor loves it: when it is fitting he gives it not only to his friends but also to those whom he knows not.” IBIB, Reply 3. What separates charity from liberality is related to whether or not the giver knows the recipient he is giving to. Liberality/justice, is giving to the recipient whether or not he knows him.

It is this sense of giving that defines the community of Isaiah 42, Deuteronomy 4, the grand words on the New Colossus, the writings of St. Aurelius Ambrosius, and St. Tommaso d’Aquino. There is no room here for tough love, or saying, “This is mine, and the state has no right to take it to feed the poor,” and no room for the concept of property as a private matter and therefore liberality being voluntary.

St. Augustine behind the altarThe beginnings of Penance and how this relates to Justice also quotes St. Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis as relating how Justice relates to an orchestra. Justice as about making the music of harmony and concord. Again, there is no room here for “This is mine,” and therefore liberality is inherently voluntary, or I don’t have to give, so I will not. We need to remember, in Hebrew there is no word for “Mine,” “Yours,” or “His.” All they can say in the Semitic languages is, “It is to me,” or “it is to you,” or “It is to him.” It is “To me,’ presumes a “To me, for what,” “To you for what,” and “To him, for what.” God is the ultimate owner of all and he gives for a purpose. Like any employer, when the job is not done, the employer is free to fire, and then hire someone who will do the job.

The Latin Mass and What It Means to be Apostolic

On several different occasions now, this writer has had the ill fortune of hearing people argue in favor of the Latin language in Mass. In our Nicene Creed, we state we believe in “One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” “Apostolic has a three-fold meaning.

One ugly kid 2Isaiah ends his passage for this Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, “He touched my mouth with it, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Then I heard the voice of the NAME, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!” From the Septuagint, “ἤκουσα τῆς φωνῆς Κυρίου λέγοντος· τίνα ἀποστείλω, καὶ τίς πορεύσεται πρὸς τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον; καὶ εἶπα· ἰδοὺ ἐγώ εἰμι· ἀπόστειλόν με.” “Hearing the voice of Kyrie saying, ‘Who shall I send/apostle and who shall I send out to this people?’ I said, ‘See, hear I am, apostle me.”

We are apostolic in the sense we are sent out, evangelical. How can we be evangelical, how can we follow Jesus’ mandate in Matthew, “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to guard all that I have commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” how can we call people to community knowing when they attend our meeting, Mass, they will not understand many of the words, as they are in a foreign language, Latin? In the first sense of the term, apostolic, the Latin Mass prevents us from being apostolic.

St. Irenaeus, in his “Against Heresies” gives us a second understanding of “Apostolic,” when he writes:

Pope Francis UNTradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops… The faithful everywhere, as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those faithful men who exist everywhere.

St. Paul writes in our second reading, “I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: Christ died for our deviations, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve…whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”

Three Popes“So we preached and so you believed,” sums up the second meaning of being apostolic. We listen to the teaching of the Pope, our Bishop, and our elders/priests. Priest comes from the Greek, not Latin, presbyter, and means elder. “Deacon,” is also Greek, not Latin. We are the Roman Catholic Church because we claim St. Peter and St. Paul as the founders of our limb of the greater body of Christ. “Church,” is Greek for Kyrie Oikos, or house of God, not Latin. “Parish,”is Greek, not Latin, and means place of travelers. We are apostolic because we are faithful to those traditions as presented by Peter, Paul, and the apostles. They spoke Greek, Aramaic, and possibly Hebrew, not Latin.

The article, “The beginnings of Penance and how this relates to Justice, argues, “James did not know what a sacrament was. “Sacrament,” is Latin, not Greek . The closest the Greeks had, and the one the apostles used is the word from which we derive our word, “Mystery.”In his chapter on the beginnings of the Christian Sacraments Martos writes,
“Common to all of these (Greek) cults was the mysterion, a sacred ritual in which the myth was symbolically presented and its meaning was revealed. In everyday Greek, mysterion meant something hidden or secret, and it had no particularly religious connotation. But the central ritual of each of these cults was in fact something that was hidden, since it was closed to those who had not been initiated into the religion, and so it could be called a mysterion.” He also quotes Theodore Of Mopsuestia, “Every sacrament points to invisible and ineffable realities by means of signs and symbols.”

The Whole idea of Mass and the Eucharist in particular is to enter these mysteries. The New Testament uses “Sacrament, not once. It uses some form of “Mystery” 28 times. Ephesians and Revelations each use the term 4 times, and it is used often in I Corinthians. Jesus himself uses the term in Matthew 13 and Luke 8, in relation to the Parable of the Sower.

Greek has another interesting word on the subject, “Eusebia.” This is the feeling of religious awe we should receive when we attend Mass, when we understand the words, and the words in a different sense, as we meditate upon the murals, statues, and other works of art in our Cathedral.The idea is to gain this religious awe and in the process enter into the mystery. When we do not understand the words at the heart level, and this happens when we hear the words in a foreign language such as Latin, we love this Eusebia, this sense of religious awe.

Latin can, in a sense, be part of this Eusebia, if we understand the words. When we do not, it becomes part of a feel good religion that is everything Jesus preached against. Luke 20:45-47 Mark 12:38-40 A better analogy is that of fruit and its sugar. Fruit is very good for us. Sugar gives it flavor. When we do not understand Latin and insist on singing it and hearing it at Mass, we are like those who eat fructose instead of eating fruit. We want the flavor and the rush, but do not want the Eusebia, the participation in the mystery which comes with it.

Matthew 6 has Jesus say, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.In praying, do not babble like the ethnics, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He then gives the Our Father. A chapter before he writes, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” Jesus is a man of few words and he wants all of our words to mean something.

Our authority for speaking of sacraments is the living tradition handed on to us by the Church Fathers.When we emphasize this tradition as coming from Tertullian who writing around the year 210 first used the Latin word sacramentum, we date our faith as coming from the third century, and therefore not the apostles. With the emphasis on Latin, we give credence to the arguments that we are not apostolic.

Tertullian gives our third definition of apostolic:

LectionaryThey (The apostles) in like manner founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine… that they may become churches. It is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches.

We are apostolic because we are members of one of the churches founded by the 12 apostles, not because we sing or speak in Latin. Latin is a change, and makes us less apostolic. Our heritage ultimately come from Hebrew. One source on Jewish prayer writes:

Words of Institution“The most important part of prayer is the introspection it provides. Accordingly, the proper frame of mind is vital to prayer. The mindset for prayer is referred to as kavanah, “concentration” or “intent.” The minimum level of kavanah is an awareness that one is speaking to God and an intention to fulfill the obligation to pray. If you do not have this minimal level of kavanah, then you are not praying; you are merely reading. In addition, it is preferred that you know and understand what you are praying about and that you think about the meaning of the prayer.”

Chi RhoIf we speak in Latin, and do not know the meaning of the words, we are not fulfilling our religious obligation. Our Kyrie Eleison is Greek, not Latin. The Chi Rho we see everywhere in our Cathedral, is the first two letters for “Christ,” in Greek. “Liturgy,” is a Greek term, not Latin. Fundamentalists like to argue, “Liturgy,” does not appear in the New Testament. It does, in Luke 1:23, II Corinthians 9:12, Philippians 2:30, Hebrews 8:6, and 9:21.

As we prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist we have an “Anaphora” which is related to our word, “Phosphorus.” “Phosphorus,” is a light carrying element, or Photos, Phorus/carrying. These are both Greek terms, not Latin. “Lucifer,” is the Latin form for “Light Carrier.” In our  Mass, inside our Anaphora, we have an “Anamnesis,” another Greek term. We speak of “”Mnemonic,” devices to help us remember things. “Ana,” is a Greek term for “Above.” “Anamnesis,” is something coming from God, through the Mass, to help us remember Christ’s dying and resurrection. It also helps us to remember our dying and rising through participation in the Eucharist. Eucharist is a Greek term meaning, Thanksgiving. The main parts of our Mass, are Greek, not Latin.

One person, arguing for Latin, argued for the Sanctus, part of our reading for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time. “They cried one to the other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!”

This comes from our first reading, from Isaiah, who spoke Hebrew. It reads in the original language, מְלֹא כָל-הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, “Chodesh, Chodesh, Chodesh, the Name of Sabbaoth. Full is all Earth with your distinction,” not, “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus exercituum ; plena est omnis terra gloria ejus.” The Latin is a good translation, but still, a translation.

The Sanctus is also called the “Epinikios hymnos. In Greek: Eπινίκιος ὕμνος, or the “Hymn of Victory.”) In the liturgy of St’s Basil and St. John Chrysotom the Psalm goes something like, ” Ἅγιος, ἅγιος, ἅγιος Κύριος Σαβαώθ· πλήρης ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ τῆς δόξης σου, ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις. Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου. Ὡσαννὰ ὁ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.” This speaks to the Greek, not Latin, source of the prayer. John of Revelation also took this prayer, from Isaiah, and placed it in Revelation 4:8. To show how old it is, Judaism still places this prayer, in Hebrew, after the third Benediction of the Standing Prayer, the Amidah. Jesus and the Apostles almost certainly recited it as part of their liturgy. It is apostolic.

Our Gospel adds an important part to our understanding of being apostolic. When Isaiah gets the call, he grumbles of being a man of unclean lips. In our Gospel, St. Peter does not brag about being an apostle, a missionary. Average people compare themselves with others, and seeing their faults, reason they are not so bad, maybe even good. They come to think of themselves as greater than others are. The truly great people compare themselves with God, and find themselves wanting.

“Apostolic,” means being missionaries, sent out into the world to make it a better place, in God’s image, in Jesus’ image. Apostolic means being a member of the grander community of saints with a lineage going all the way back to the first apostles. Being apostolic means being Christian, like Christ, and like the apostles, not saying Mass in Latin.