We’re two weeks into Lent.
How’s it going for you? Anything hard yet? Have you already given up?
I have to admit that I’ve discovered something about myself that I don’t really like to admit. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know this, but it is really being shown to me so far in Lent.
I don’t like to be uncomfortable. In any way. In fact, I’d say I’m pretty selfish. I want to eat what I want to eat, sleep when I want to sleep, drink what I want to drink. What I want, when I want.
I dare say that, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we would all admit this on some level. We love our comforts. Our comfort…our desire for comfort can be really detrimental to our progress in our walk with Christ. It can be detrimental because it can make us not “go there” with Jesus.
But going there is exactly what we are called to do. Participation in the life of Christ is exactly what we are called to do.
Our readings this week show us this:
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
I’m also going to bring in our Tract and Gradual as we go.
You might think, after reading the Gospel text for today that I’ve lost my mind. How is this text talking about us “going there” with Jesus? This is a well-known text for those familiar with Holy Scripture. This text is called “The Transfiguration.” In this story, we see Jesus taking Peter, James and John to the top of a high mountain “apart.” In other words, there was no one else around. Jesus was “transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.”
The disciples see Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah (signifying the Law and the Prophets). And Peter, being Peter, shoots his mouth off and says they should build three tabernacles. Peter is understandably overwhelmed by what he is seeing and experiencing. But, he’s also kind of missing the point. Peter sees the glory of Jesus and rightly wants to worship. But now is not the time. Other things must happen first. We’ll come back to this. And then they hear the voice of God, in the cloud of the glory of God (see Exodus 40:34-35, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1:26-28, Revelation 1:13-16) and they are afraid. Then the vision is gone, and Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about that until “the Son of man be risen from the dead.”
For a brief moment, the disciples shared in the glory of the Son of God. For a brief moment, they saw what Moses saw and asked for. For a moment, they saw what Isaiah and Ezekiel saw. They saw the glory of God. And it was mind blowing for them. For a moment, they participated in a foretaste of the glory to come. Our hope, indeed, the promise for us as those who are in Christ, is that we will one day participate in His heavenly glory. What a day that will be!
But that day is not now. This is what Peter was missing. Other things must happen first. Those things that must happen first involve suffering. Specifically, they involve the suffering of Christ. He must suffer many things (Luke 9:22, Luke 17:25, Mark 8:31). If He is to accomplish salvation, He must suffer those things.
And so must we. We must suffer with Him. It is not for us to have the heavenly glory without the earthly suffering. If Christ Himself had to suffer, so must we. This is what St. Paul is getting at in the Epistle for today.
We are to walk in a manner that pleases God. We are to abstain from the lusts of the flesh. And why? Why can’t we have these things?
Because our loving Father desires our sanctification. This is why the Psalmist tells us,
“The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities. See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins.” (Psalm 24:17-18)
Our suffering in this life mirrors the suffering of Christ. This is for our good, our sanctification. We are to participate in the life of Christ, again as the Psalmist reminds us,
“Alleluia. Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord? Who shall set forth all his praises? Blessed are they that keep judgement, and do justice at all times. Remember us, O Lord, in the favour of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.” (Psalm 105:1-4)
It is God’s mercy that allows us to participate in the life of Christ by “keeping judgment,” by doing what is right no matter what it costs us. Let us not forget what it cost Christ,
“For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
Let us not mistake this, brothers and sisters. We are indeed called to participate in the life of Christ. We are to do penance and “suffer” during Lent by denying our flesh, for the joy set before us of sanctification, for the joy set before us of Christ Himself.
And when our earthly suffering is over, we shall see Him face to face!
Of His Kingdom there will be no end and we shall walk in the light of His face to share in His eternal glory forever and ever.
Hold fast, dear brothers and sisters.
Our suffering now is light and momentary compared to the eternity of bliss that awaits those who are faithful to the call of Christ!
Hold fast to Christ!
Ever sit around watching a college basketball game? Two guys of the same team go for a rebound and you can hear shouting from either the bench or the coach (or maybe even you shouting at the TV), “Same team!”
We see a lot of division in Christianity these days. By the way, for the sake of what I’m going to be talking about, when I say Christian, I mean Catholic. There is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church after all. That’s what I’m referring to.
There is division in the Church today. I think that much of this has been done on purpose by our great enemy. Satan has always sought to divide us from our Father. The next best thing he can do is to divide us from each other as well. He has been remarkably successful. And honestly, we’ve kind of sat around and let him do it.
One of the greatest devices, I believe, that Satan uses to divide us from one another is preference. Specifically, he has used our own selfishness and the notion of individuality against us. He has successfully made us into an individual people.
Now, I want to be clear. Yes, we are individuals. We have our own personalities and we are unique in and of each individual person. But when it comes to the people of God, the Church, our individuality should give way to and fit in to the Church. Not the other way around. We don’t get to try and make the Church fit into our individuality. St. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 12.
Let me illustrate my point. My wife and I have been spending a lot of time recently talking about the Mass. To be honest, some of it has been debate and argument but some of it has been constructive as well. Here’s what I mean. Prior to about 1970, the Church only worshipped in one way. The Mass was the Mass and remained largely unchanged since around the 3rd century when the language changed from Greek to Latin. Then, Vatican II and the liturgical “reform” happened. I keep beating this drum and I know that can be tiring to hear this repeated. But some things bear repeating until it begins to really sink in.
I want to be clear about this as well. This is not some polemic against Vatican II. While there were problems with the council, this is not meant to be a critique. I’ve read the documents of Vatican II. The documents themselves, while in some instances a bit vague, are nevertheless pretty darn good. I’m referring specifically about the documents involving the desired liturgical reform, Sacrosanctum Concilium. To be fair, liturgical reform had been talked about and in the works for many years. Change was in the wind prior to the Council so it’s a bit unfair to blame it all on the Council.
Back to the point of this article.
Prior to my official conversion, I had spent years (literally) studying the worship and history of the Church. What I found was remarkable consistency in theology, practice and worship. For the vast majority of the history of the Church, there was tremendous unanimity in the Church on these things. For the last 50-60 years, however, there has been remarkable inconsistency in theology, practice and worship. These things should not be.
I studied the Novus Ordo and the Latin Mass. Now, to be fair, until recently, I could not read Latin. But I looked at both of them and have looked at both of them in great detail. I have also personally experienced both of them quite a bit. I believe I can say this without equivocation. The two Masses are incredibly different in many ways. Some of the same language is used (of course one is in Latin and the other in English or whatever vernacular) but the Masses are vastly different in almost every other way. Again, I want to be clear. I am not saying that the NO is somehow illegitimate. I don’t believe that. What I do believe, and I believe experience has shown the Church, is that two different religions emerge from the two different Masses.
We can see this in simple things like studies that have been done and the statistics that have emerged from them. One thing I’ve learned in my current job is that data matters. Data doesn’t lie. And the data is quite clear on this point. Since the so-called liturgical reform that came out of Vatican II, the Catholic Church has all but disintegrated. By that, I mean the traditional Catholic Church as She had been for almost two thousand years.
I submit to you that those in the NO and the traditional Latin Mass are indeed not on the same team. Below is a link to an article posted at 1Peter5 (onepeterfive.com) which will give you an idea of the differences.
This is but scratching the surface:
The modern Church has largely abandoned the traditional faith and practice of the Church. What has emerged over the last 50-60 years is a Protestantized Catholic Church that has become largely tied to the tenets of Modernism (see Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical “Pascendi Dominici Gregis”). We can see this is simple things like the number of “Catholics” who either support abortion or simply just shrug their shoulders about it. We can see this in the number of “Catholics” who either openly support same sex “marriage” or just keep their mouths shut about it. We can see this in the number of “Catholics” who do not believe one of the central tenets of Catholicism: the real presence of Christ’s body, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. We can see this in the number of “Catholics” who almost never attend the Mass and, when they do, either don’t care what is happening or don’t understand what is happening. And the list could go on…
The modern Church has largely abandoned the traditional faith and practice of the Church.
Is this merely a matter of preference? It was said to me recently from someone that they didn’t “like the Latin Mass because it’s not really my spirituality.” And again, “I don’t really like it.” We have allowed our preference for our own comfort to dictate our worship. We have placed ourselves and our own personal desires in the place of Christ and His Church.
Our Lord says, in Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:18-21 and Matthew 12:46-50, that His “mother and brethren are those who hear the word of God, and do it.” So we ask ourselves…are we on the same team? How do we know if we’re on the same team? How do we know how to do the will of God?
Fortunately, for Catholics, we have a way to know if we are on the same team.
It’s called Tradition.
The Church has always said the same things. The Church has always taught the same things. The Church’s doctrine has not changed. The Church has always done the same things. The Church’s worship has never changed.
At least not prior to the 1960s and 70s.
So, would you like to be on the same team? Then, we need to do what our team has always done. We need to believe what our team has always believed. We need to practice the way our team has always practiced. If not, I submit that we are indeed not on the same team.
This is not about preference. This is about submission to Truth. This is about submission to our Lord and what He has left for us. Christ founded the Church. She is built upon the Apostles and the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Anything outside that is not the Church. I don’t know about you, but I want to be among the brethren of our Lord. I want to do the will of God, as it has been revealed to us in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.