Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King
Thou art the King of Glory, O Lord Jesus Christ; when Thou didst take upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's Womb

Monday, March 26, 2012

Indifferent Again, and Beef with Catholics

So I'm basically back to total indifference about religion and the Church and stuff.  Not totally indifferent, but there's just too much distance between me and the Church at the moment that I'm just like ugh it's not worth it.  Funny, because the church is right next door to me lol.

Anyways, I know I should pray and read the Scriptures and go visit the church and stuff, but there's just no allure or appeal at the moment and I'm feeling very not religious, almost to the point where I don't want to see anyone from church or hear about it or think about it because for some reason, I'm just really angry and this is not what I want.  Total 180 from a couple weeks ago.

I know most of this stems from pride and from anger because I'll never be able to be the Catholic that I want to be or that I'm supposed to be, but whatever.  Things just seem so appealing in the lives of my peers here at school (they don't have to worry about religion and what not) and I'm starting to wonder if I'm depriving myself of a good life and good times for nothing or to get the approval of people who probably more or less don't really care lol.  Ha...

Didn't go to Sunday Mass yesterday because I can't face all those people nor do I even wanna be in there and have that uncomfortable feeling like everyone is staring at me asking themselves questions like they don't have sins either and like they're just so much better than I am, yaaaa totally dude.

Not to brag, but I'm sure I put more "umph" into being Catholic in spite of my flaws than a good 95% of people in there so how dare they stick their nose up at me.

I figured it out though, I want worship alone:  me, a priest, and God because then I wouldn't be beaten with the thoughts and realizations of how different I am from everyone yayy!!!  Wooohooo!!!  Losers unite!

To be honest, another reason I really do not want to go to church anymore is because I actually really don't even like most other Catholics very much.  I mean, I know it sounds awful, but it's true; I can't stand being around most of them because they just seem so fake and stuck up OF and EF alike.  And being around them, like just being in the same room, actually makes me feel really really bad about myself because I know that in their eyes, I will always be a fag and regardless of how passionate I am about the Church and her history and no matter how much I cultivate my spiritual life, most of them won't be impressed that I could probably teach a grad school course on Theology.  I've tried to impress them, epic fail.  Some people are not accepted by their families.  But it won't sound as bad once I admit that most of them can't stand me either so we're even, but it's me versus all of them so I have a little more weight to carry.  *smile*

There are some Catholics who really love me and care about me and do genuinely want my spiritual well-being and they will always be my brothers and sisters in Christ and friends and family to me and I love them.

by the way, I'm speaking of the people, not the religion, I still think the Faith is pure, but we've got some serious issues among the believers...and I refuse to believe that I am the sole thorn in the side of the Church, but I would like to send a huge "nice try" to all those who tried to make me think I was ;-) *wink*

I don't really have anything else to say right now, so I'm gonna peace out.  Oh btw, it's my birthday tomorrow so wish me luck and pray I don't end up in the ER haha

Friday, March 23, 2012

Taking Off the Veil/Stopping Cross-dressing

So I recently made a resolution to stop wearing feminine clothing and I'm kinda regretting it.

My parents had both called me expressing their concern and trying to be supportive, but I could hear the pain in their voices (both had called on different occasions) and I explained things to them and basically told them that I had to do what was right and comfortable for me, and that I was sorry.

After the fact, I had started thinking about how much I love them and how much I do want their approval, and if that I didn't want anything to get into the way of my love for them, so I sent them a pretty lengthy e-mail in which I told them that I would no longer be wearing feminine clothing out of love for them and because they really mean a lot to me and it seems like it's the right thing and that my problems with gender aren't an excuse to sin.

Woman in prayer with a mantilla
It was one thing to say it and I felt a burden lifted off my shoulders, but it was another thing to actually do it.  I included the mantilla (chapel veil) and hijab in this resolution because technically they are pieces of feminine clothing.

Walking outside and being in public uncovered was very difficult and I felt so awkward and could feel the disapproval of others (even at church) but I kept trying to tell myself that I love my parents and that this would make them happy and with all that they have to deal with, at least they can have peace knowing that I'm being more like God wants me to be.  I figured it would take time to adjust and that I would be fine.  I felt very impious and impure without the hijab, it had been my protection from strong lustful thoughts and to remind myself to submit to God and to be holy and not to be exposed to the world, but to practice humility and curving the desire to be seen (which covering my head full time has immensely helped with) and then yesterday it hit me and even today a little...

I went to church to pray a Rosary for priests and for the Bishop of my diocese and to offer prayers for an increase in vocations of holy, orthodox men and women to either the priesthood or consecrated life when entering the nave of the church, I felt this huge awkwardness...  I didn't feel right, I didn't feel like I should be in there and I was trying to just repeat to myself "Christopher, you're obeying God and you're conforming to society; you're doing the right thing.  Relax, relax!" but it just kept getting worse to when I tried to kneel down and pray and struggled slowly through a Pater (the Lord's Prayer) and an Ave (the Angelic Salutation to the Virgin) and just was burning with this feeling like something wasn't right and then it really got deep when someone else came into the church because we thought there would be Mass and upon hearing them, my natural impulse to cover made me throw my hand on my head and then I tried to as inconspicuously as possible get the heck outta there.  Almost had a slight panic attack, but calmed down at which point I had talked to a friend of mine who offered some support and encouragement and posed the dreaded question of why I wasn't covered...  And it was hard to give the answer, but I did tell her.  She didn't agree with my reasoning and encouraged me to reconsider and I really felt even more guilty as I always do when people tell me how my piety has encouraged and helped theirs.  I had a huge headache.

I haven't told my spiritual director yet, although he wouldn't mind either way, even though I've been trying to meet with him but he's so busy and I have like no one to really turn to, so yet again, I feel like I'm struggling alone.  But it's not true, I know a lot of people are praying for me even if they don't know what I'm going through.

I'm upset that everything that the veil and hijab have done for me seems to have gone to naught.  I was trying so hard to be pious in front of the Blessed Sacrament in church that day when I was about to pray the Rosary, but it was like I couldn't grasp the reality anymore of this central Mystery of the Catholic Faith.  I wanted to be humble and I just didn't feel like I could be, it turned into fear and like I was not showing honor and devotion to God that is due Him, maybe I'm just very sensitive right now because of these changes I'm going through.

As for the hijab, I feel like purity is no longer guarded and that I'm just all out there for the world to see even though my 'guy' clothes, like my girl clothes, are very covering.  I haven't worn shorts in about 8 years and I usually do not wear short sleeves (especially not to church), and I was covered, but I still felt the struggle like I was grasping for purity and then all these thoughts of lust started to come over me again and I went into despair and again I felt isolated from the Sacraments and am having a hard time forcing myself to go to Confession tomorrow.

Another thing I've noticed is now I have a desire to wear shorts and short sleeves out in public in hopes that it will make me seem more attractive to others instead of it just being a thought in the back of my mind.  I feel so vain lately and again want to be seen and am struggling to humble myself in church as well as outside of church.

I want so badly just to cover again, but my parents, I can't let them down and I feel like in terms of the Holy Scripture I'm doing the right thing but why am I not getting Actual Grace from it and I hate that I'm going back to how I was before I started covering and am afraid there's going to be a long stretch of me not going to the Sacraments and wallowing in despair or indifference.  I don't want that, but I don't know what to do right now.  I know my decision has upset a lot of people and probably will upset more people and especially after meeting my Bishop again the other day and after the Pontifical Mass, having that lady come up to me and tell me how beautiful the mantilla was (although that has nothing to do with it), and that she felt called to cover and that she'd been praying on it and that she's hoping to find the strength to do so and thanked me and I told her I would pray and shared my experiences with her about how it deepened my spiritual life so much.  I don't know what to say to these priests who see me reguarly, I just don't know.

As for non religious things, I've been getting some very weird and awkward looks from people now and my one teacher was acting funny towards to me and some of the kids in my calc class were a little rude to me after I had removed the veil (although these were guys that you would think would have been glad because they're the jock/preppy cool rich kid types...) and also a couple people didn't really recognize me and made it awkward in public when they asked why I wasn't covered anymore and I just felt put on the spot and in a little malice, I'm so tempted to just e-mail my parents and be like "thanks..." but I won't because I know Mommy has great intentions and Pop doesn't really care either way, he just said he kinda feels embarrassed about it, but it's my choice, I am grown, and that they both love me so much and I love them, but I'm trying to tell myself if God went through ridicule for doing the right thing, then who am I to think I should not?  I don't really know what to tell people and it's just embarrassing with them asking me and looking at me weird, I don't know, but I'm not going to Stations of the Cross this evening because I just can't be in church right now, but I'm still planning on going to Sunday Mass, maybe I'll sit in the cry room or the nave, I don't know exactly how I'm going to tackle this, but I'll figure something out.  I'm definitely not going to receive Holy Communion until I talk to my priest or to my spiritual director.  Please pray for me everyone.

lastly, I do want to mention that these are personal experiences that I have had with covering and I am not implying in any way that any woman who does not cover either in church or otherwise is being impious or impure.  The mantilla and hijab were ways for ME to help overcome sinful passions and to bring me closer to God, a devotion just like everyone has his or her own way of showing piety and devotion.  The Church does NOT obligate women to cover and a woman CAN be a great Catholic and holy woman without.  Some feel called to covering and others do not.  I've read a lot of commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and although some see it as a universal law of church and social conduct in prayer, the Church does not say this anymore (although it very well used to be a requirement).

This is just overwhelming, I'm having all these seconds thoughts, I was so confident at first, but then it hit when I went to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  Satan works in some weird ways.

Please pray and any feedback is appreciated (even though I know a lot of you don't usually comment, but I could use some advice/discussion).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Confessio of St. Patrick of Ireland

Today is the feast of the glorious St. Patrick of Ireland, and also my patronal feast day (or Name Day).  I try to spend my Name Days by making acts of honor and devotion to my patrons.  I started the day off with offering Holy Mass for the honor of St. Patrick of Ireland.

On the wall of a good friend (for whom today is also a Name Day), I found the following link:

The Confessio of St. Patrick of Ireland

I just finished reading it and wanted to point a few things about this Apostle to the pagans of Ireland.  He opens his letter by identifying himself as a sinner, the very first thing he mentions about himself.  How many Saints do we see that bewail and descry their sinfulness and identify as being worse of sinners, yet were so holy that the Church declares them Saints?  If these people saw themselves as sinners in spite of the virtue they showed throughout their lives, how much more should we see ourselves as sinners?  

These words of St. Patrick of Ireland are so full of humility and joy in the Lord, it's comforting.  He speaks of his lowliness being born poor and taken into slavery and the many trials of his life.  In humility, he speaks of how he rightfully suffered on account of his sinfulness:

"My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many...  ...At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others. We deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments. We would not listen to our priests, who advised us about how we could be saved. The Lord brought his strong anger upon us, and scattered us among many nations even to the ends of the earth. It was among foreigners that it was seen how little I was."

One of the strongest paragraphs of his letter is the following:

"This is because there is no other God, nor will there ever be, nor was there ever, except God the Father. He is the one who was not begotten, the one without a beginning, the one from whom all beginnings come, the one who holds all things in being – this is our teaching. And his son, Jesus Christ, whom we testify has always been, since before the beginning of this age, with the father in a spiritual way. He was begotten in an indescribable way before every beginning. Everything we can see, and everything beyond our sight, was made through him. He became a human being; and, having overcome death, was welcomed to the heavens to the Father. The Father gave him all power over every being, both heavenly and earthly and beneath the earth. Let every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and whom we await to come back to us in the near future, is Lord and God. He is judge of the living and of the dead; he rewards every person according to their deeds. He has generously poured on us the Holy Spirit, the gift and promise of immortality, who makes believers and those who listen to be children of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is the one we acknowledge and adore – one God in a trinity of the sacred name."

What a beautiful and profound exclamation of the Mystery of the Triune God!  All the Truths of the Holy Catholic Church of Jesus Christ proceed from the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity and St. Patrick of Ireland enthusiastically and faithfully delivered this Gospel to the pagans and heathens of Ireland.  Our salvation has its origin the knowledge of the Godhead and belief in the unity of the Three Divine Persons, and because we are members of Christ's Body, the Church, we are incorporated through the Sacrament of Baptism into the Life of this Godhead.

St. Patrick of Ireland
This Confessio also serves as a brief autobiography in parts, but overall it is a hymn to the greatness and glory of God.  We should all strive to imitate the holy Patrick of Ireland, who placed full trust in the Lord our God.  His faith was strong and firm, and his witness fruitful.  He performed many miracles in the sight of many and converted a whole nation to Christianity.  It was Pope St. Celestine I who sent St. Patrick to Ireland to bring those there to Christ and the Saint was faithful to his mission.  He was fearless and courageous and even though his life was threatened countless times and he was held captive and prisoner, he did not flinch or give up.

The great thing is that he attributes none of the wonderful things God did through him to himself.  He gives all credit and honor to God Who is the Author of all.  St. Patrick saw nothing that he did as being great in the Eyes of God, but only saw it as being obedient to what he was called to do.  In spite of his simplicity and ignorance (in the world's standards), he knew Holy Scripture very well (evident in his Confessio) and had great knowledge of the Church Fathers.  He may have been ignorant to the world, but he thrived in the wisdom of God.

He was a bishop, therefore a Successor of the Holy Apostles and a defender of the Faith, as well as one to whom God, through the Church, gave charge over the souls of many under his flock.  Bishops are our shepherds and are responsible for our spiritual well-being and possess the fullness of the priesthood.  I pray that our bishops stay mindful of this as they make decisions in their sees (dioceses) and always look out for the best interest of us, the faithful.

I am so glad that I chose him as one of my patrons whose name I bear since my reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation where I received the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost and completed my baptismal initiation into Christ's Church.  I pray that St. Patrick of Ireland help me to follow his example in piety and courage, and that through his intercession, I have the same zeal for the Faith that he had.  As of yet, I have not been successful in converting anyone to Catholicism, guess I'll keep trying...

Later in the day I'll be offering some prayers to the Saint to more greatly honor him on this day and my prayers particularly go out for the Irish people everywhere they may be, for the well-being both spiritual and temporal of their country, and for all those stricken by snake bites.

St. Patrick of Ireland, pray for us!

Click here for more information on St. Patrick of Ireland

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reminder (rant) About Catholic Requiem (funeral) Masses

Read this article about a successor of the Holy Apostles, His Excellency Jaime Soto, Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, who reiterated the proper guidelines for Masses for the deceased.

Requiem Mass (Extraordinary Form)
I am in agreement with everything His Excellency said concerning the proper guidelines when offering a Requiem Mass in the Ordinary Form for the departed souls of our Christian brethren.

Points I would like to make in addition to this article:

1.  When funerals or weddings take place within the context of Holy Mass, the rites are secondary to the Holy Sacrifice.
2.  It is inappropriate to commemorate or celebrate the lives of the deceased in the context of Holy Mass as this can and should be reserved for another time that day or otherwise (like a reception or dinner after burial for example).
3.  No one has the authority to declare that a deceased loved one is without-a-doubt already in Heaven (otherwise, why even offer Mass in the first place for the repose of their souls...) and no affirmations should be made to suggest that they are, whether at the funeral or any time after, unless the Church infallibly declares one to be a member of the Church Triumphant by canonizing him or her.  This is a privilege reserved to the Apostolic See alone.

When we offer Holy Mass, we are worshiping God first and foremost, and all attention should be directed towards Him.  At Requiem Masses, we offer the Sacrifice to God for the salvation of the souls of the departed, begging the mercy of Christ when said person appears before His dreaded Judgment Seat to account for the good and evil said person has done throughout his or her life, and that if they have sins to atone for, that they pass swiftly through the fires and pains of Purgatory so that they may enjoy the Beatific Vision and the company of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints.

Because it is still Holy Mass, the Consecration of the Gifts takes place and the bread and wine which are offered are miraculously transformed by the Holy Ghost into the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Pascal Mystery is re-presented as Christ immolates Himself again (but in an unbloody manner) on our behalf for our sins and offenses, and presents Himself (and us) anew to the Father through the power of the Holy Ghost and we, the faithful, receive the fruits of the Salvation which has come to us.  This is a very solemn thing each and every time it happens (be it on Sunday, on a weekday, a high solemnity or a feast day of a Saint, for a marriage or a funeral), and nothing ever super cedes this Mystery of the Faith, and it is a direct sin against the First Commandment to ignore this fact.

Therefore, anything that shouldn't happen in any other Mass shouldn't be permitted in these "special" Masses. Secular music has no place in Catholic worship, ever.  We should be modest in dress (big reminder for women at weddings who expose the shoulders and the like, regardless of how formal the attire) although this most likely isn't an issue at a Requiem.  We should still say our prayers before and after Mass and any other acts of devotion we do at any Sunday Mass.

Also, if you are a Catholic who only goes to Mass for weddings, funerals, the Solemnity of the Nativity, or the Solemnity of the Resurrection, then do not even think about approaching to receive our Lord in Holy Communion without Sacramental Absolution from Confession as the rules and guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion still apply to you as well.  Sadly, you probably don't know about these guidelines, however the priest should mention them either audibly in the sermon or in the program.

Which brings me to the sermon.  The sermon is an opportunity for the priest or deacon to instruct the faithful by showing the spiritual and doctrinal significance of the Readings or Holy Gospel or another pertinent matter of faith.  It is not a time for him to eulogize the departed, or in the case of a wedding, to joke about how how the wife is going to have to deal with the groom's obsession with COD and Dungeons & Dragons.  Sermons in these instances should speak of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as a divine ordinance and the sanctity of the married state, or about death being the wages of sin and how effective and pleasing (and necessary) prayers for the departed are.  Also, no one besides the priest or deacon is permitted (ever) to deliver the predication (sermon).

Yes, we should speak well of the deceased and especially of our friends and family members or those close to us, but there is ample time for that and with technology and social media, you can do that on Facebook and through cards and gifts and what not if you are unable to be present at any social reception after the funeral and burial.  That stuff has no place in worship of God and is insulting to Him and to the Church and not at all of any benefit to the departed; they could be suffering in Purgatory (or worse) while you're all smiling and chit-chatting about how great they are.  Talking about how he was the most caring person you've ever met is not going to appease the divine Justice nor help him atone for his sins...

Our attitude towards Holy Mass should be consistent through and through and the reverence and veneration due it does not depend on special occasions (or high feast days for that matter either) or the Form (we shouldn't be more reverent at an EF Mass versus an OF) or the Rite (as long as it's in Communion with Rome, the Sacraments and their Graces may be received (usual circumstances apply))...also, we should be ESPECIALLY reverent when the surrounding is irreverent (God deserves someone's honor and adoration), and we need to stop secularizing everything.

End rant.

NOTE:  This is usually not a problem in the Extraordinary Form as there is hardly any room for personalization or innovation.

But while I'm at it:  Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis:  Requiescant in pace.  Amen+++ (Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them:  May they rest in peace.  Amen+++)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reflections on God's Law

This morning I went to Holy Mass to offer it in atonement for some sins I recently committed and to thank God for His manifold blessings and goodness to me that, I'll admit, I do not always realize because my mind is so focused on worldly things.  The instruction today speaks of God's Law (it seems to be a theme recently what with us hearing the Decalogue and all), and how important it is for us to keep it so that we may go to Heaven!

"And now, O Israel, hear the commandments and judgments which I teach thee: that doing them, thou mayst live, and entering in mayst possess the land which the Lord the God of your fathers will give you."  --Book of Deuteronomy IV, 1

The Lord has given us His Law so that we may live, and to live with God means to be filled with Sanctifying Grace and do things that are pleasing to Him.  If we keep His Commandments, we will live (as opposed to being dead in sin) and eventually go to Heaven, the land which the Lord the God of our fathers will give us.

Jesus Christ teaches us in the Holy Gospel of today that He came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it as our Protestant brethren claim.  But it gets tricky talking about the Law because it has multiple meanings, but we can be assured that the Law being referred to here is concerning that of Faith and Christian conduct.  The admonition to observe the whole Law (as best as we can) and avoiding causing scandal is something we should think about today.  It seems like people are full of excuses and reasons why we're either exceptions to the rule or why things are more or less important.  I know I struggle with that...

Hopefully our Quadragesimal fasts will help us to joyfully submit to the Law of God so that we may have life and possess the Kingdom of God.  This is His promise after all, but all relationships are multiple-sided and we need to do our parts as well.  

Another thing I did today was read the biography of St. Thomas More, the patron of my parish here in college.  He is an example of upholding God's Law even in the face of adversity and being in the minority.  King Henri VIII wanted to claim himself head of the Church in England and St. Thomas More knew that this was a direct assault on the First Commandment and to the authority of St. Peter:  There is no other head of the Christ's Church on Earth besides the Holy Father.  Also, St. Thomas More rightfully would not acknowledge the adulterous remarriage of the king and these things ultimately led to his martyrdom.

I want to look to him as an example of believing the unpopular Laws of God that are rejected by the masses, and that life in the spiritual and true sense is much more important.  I'm not in any way a perfect follower of God's Law, but I hope to be and I ask for your prayers that I stand firm in my convictions so that I as well may possess the Land.

It's good that I read about St. Thomas More today because last night I read about Republican candidate and former PA governor (woot woot!!!) Rick Santorum's position on gay rights and "marriage" and initially was offended until I stopped and thought a moment to myself, "Why should I be offended when he is stating clearly what any Catholic should believe in terms of homosexual activity?"  Technically, he was not bashing homosexuals (although that is not to say that perhaps he does not like us in fact, but he is entitled to that), and nothing he said was attacking anyone's dignity.  Yes, his words could be perceived as harsh, and I do not agree with his plans to reinstate DADT (and of course I do not agree with prejudice towards people for their choices or things about them).

I admit that I struggle with whether anti-sodomy laws should be in place.  I guess, it depends on what is defined as legal sodomy, and also, would fornication be considered criminal?  What about infidelity and adultery?  I wouldn't be against anti-sodomy laws if sins against chastity were generally considered temporally criminal across the board as well.