Chalking the Door: Blessing Your Home for Epiphany

Epiphany.ChalkBlessing2016-1A beautiful Epiphany tradition will continue at my parish this morning, as a priest will bless chalk and scrawl markings over the door of the church at the start of our 10 a.m. Mass, carrying forth an ancient custom practiced in many homes around the world.

Some background: 

The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.

A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 16. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2016 is the year.

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The Golden Calf & Our Catholic Mass: 3 Reasons Man Cannot Invent the Liturgy

Golden-Calf-640x444Dear people, "man himself cannot simply 'make' worship." This is the opening line of arguably the two most powerful paragraphs in Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. SPL has previously promoted this seminal work in The 2 Books by Cardinal Ratzinger that Will Change Your Life. While that list focuses on the greater context in which the book is written – the Queen of the Sciences and the role of the liturgy – this list presents a small but potent pericope.

Cardinal Ratzinger reads the Golden Calf episode in Exodus 32 not as the people of Israel rebelling against God directly, but rather after losing hope in Moses, the people decided to worship God in their own way. The beginning of the chapter lays out the mindset of the Israelites, especially verses 4-5.

1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

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The Eucharist and Silence

bosco-di-San-FrancescoMeister Eckart typically said that ‘there is nothing so much like God as silence.’ Mother Teresa, who insisted on the centrality of two hours of silent prayer for the life of her apostolic sisters, typically said that ‘silence is God speaking to us.’  Each of these sayings illustrates a way of understanding the meaning of silence.

Why is God so like silence? Eckart doesn't say God likes silence or likes silent worshippers but that God is like silence. St Benedict has two words we translate as silence: quies and silentium. Quies is quiet, physical silence, an absence of noise – not banging doors, not scraping chairs, not coughing or unwrapping sweet papers. It is the quies we expect good parents to train their children in, a physical self-restraint and modesty that respects the presence of other people. Quies makes the world habitable and civil. It is often grossly lacking in urban modern culture where music invades elevators and there is rarely a moment or place where we are not in range of manmade noise. There are now expensive headphones that people wear, not to listen to music but to block out noise. Silentium, however, is not an absence of noise but a state of mind and an attitude of consciousness turned towards others or to God. It is attention. When someone comes to see a priest or counselor to share a problem or grief, the priest knows that what he must above all give is his attention. There may not be a solution to the problem and most of our hopefully helpful words glide off the back of grief as failed platitudes. To listen deeply, to give oneself in the act of attention is in fact not to judge, or fix or condemn but to love. Seen this way there is indeed nothing so much like God as silence because God is love.

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How Parishes Can Stop Turning Boys Into Atheists

mentor-show-face-godIn the book Faith of the Fatherless, psychologist Paul Vitz definitively links fatherlessness to atheism. He profiles dozens of prominent atheists, from Nietzsche to Dawkins, and finds an amazing but unsurprising pattern: "In no case [with the atheists] do we find a strong, beloved father with a close relationship with his son or daughter." What's also made clear in the book is that fatherlessness has a greater influence on predisposing boys to outright atheism than it does girls.

Mentorship Make the Difference Too

A boy becomes an adult male by biology, but he can only walk into secure manhood with the direction and affirmation of secure men.

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Bother Your Pastors

Pope Francis leads"Bother your pastors, disturb your pastors, all of us pastors, so that we will give you the milk of grace, of doctrine, and of guidance." Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis on Sunday called on the faithful knock at the doors of their pastors "and on their hearts," saying it would help Bishops and priests be good pastors.

The Holy Father made his remarks to the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the weekly Regina Caeli prayer. His remarks focused on the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, taken from the day's Gospel reading. Many people are proposed to us as shepherds or pastors for our daily lives, he said. "But only the risen Christ is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance." Jesus not only guides us, but accompanies us on our journey "He walks with us." Pope Francis called on us to "listen with open minds and hearts to His Word, in order to feed our faith, illuminate our consciences" and allow us "to follow the teachings of the Gospel."

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