From the constitution on the sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council

Christ is present to his Church

Christ is always present to his Church, especially in the actions of the liturgy. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the person of the minister (it is the same Christ who formerly offered himself on the cross that now offers by the ministry of priests) and most of all under the eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments by his power, in such a way that when someone baptizes, Christ himself baptizes. He is present in his word, for it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Finally, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he himself promised: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

Indeed, in this great work which gives perfect glory to God and brings holiness to men, Christ is always joining in partnership with himself his beloved Bride, the Church, which calls upon its Lord and through him gives worship to the eternal Father.

It is therefore right to see the liturgy as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, in which through signs addressed to the senses man’s sanctification is signified and, in a way proper to each of these signs, made effective, and in which public worship is celebrated in its fullness by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and by his members.

Accordingly, every liturgical celebration, as an activity of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a sacred action of a pre-eminent kind. No other action of the Church equals its title to power or its degree of effectiveness.

In the liturgy on earth we are given a foretaste and share in the liturgy of heaven, celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, the goal of our pilgrimage, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With the whole company of heaven we sing a hymn of praise to the Lord; as we reverence the memory of the saints, we hope to have some part with them, and to share in their fellowship; we wait for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, who is our life, appears, and we appear with him in glory.

By an apostolic tradition taking its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day, the day that is rightly called the Lord’s day. On Sunday the Christian faithful ought to gather together, so that by listening to the word of God and sharing in the Eucharist they may recall the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God who has given them a new birth with a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Lord’s day is therefore the first and greatest festival, one to be set before the loving devotion of the faithful and impressed upon it, so that it may be also a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations must not take precedence over it, unless they are truly of the greatest importance, since it is the foundation and the kernel of the whole liturgical year.

From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

The pure oblation of the Church

The oblation of the Church, which the Lord taught was to be offered throughout the whole world, has been regarded by God as a pure sacrifice, and is acceptable to him. Not that he needs sacrifice from us, but the one who makes the offering himself receives glory in his offering, provided that his gift is accepted. Through a gift both honor and love are shown to a king.

The Lord wants us to make our offering in all sincerity and freedom from sin. He declared this when he said: When, therefore, you offer your gift at the altar and remember that your brothers holds something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and first go and be reconciled with your brother; and then come back and offer your gift.

We must offer God the first fruits of his creation, as Moses said: You will not come empty-handed into the presence of the Lord your God. In showing gratitude to God for his gifts man is to be accounted pleasing to God, and so receive the honor that comes from God.

It is not oblations as such that have met with disapproval. There were oblations of old; there are oblations now. There were sacrifices among the people of Israel; there are sacrifices in the Church. Only the kind of oblation has been changed: now it is offered by freemen, not by slaves. There is one and the same Lord, but the character of an oblation made by slaves is distinctive, so too that of an oblation made by sons: their oblations bear the mark of freedom.

With God there is nothing without purpose, nothing without its meaning and reason. Thus the people of Israel used to dedicate tithes of their possessions. But those who have been given freedom devote what they possess to the Lord’s use. They give it all to him, not simply what is of lesser value, cheerfully and freely because they hope for greater things, like the poor widow who put into God’s treasury her whole livelihood.

We must make oblation to God, and in all things be found pleasing to God the Creator, in sound teaching, in sincere faith, in firm hope, in ardent love, as we offer the first fruits of the creatures that are his. The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator when it makes its offering to him from his creation, with thanksgiving.

We offer him what is his, and so we proclaim communion and unity and profess our belief in the resurrection of flesh and spirit. Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements, one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of resurrection.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop

Vincent conquers in him who conquered the world

To you, he [the apostle Paul] said, has been granted on Christ’s behalf not only that you should believe in him but also that you should suffer for him.

Vincent had received both these gifts and held them as his own. For how could he have them if he had not received them? And he displayed his faith in what he said, his endurance in what he suffered.

No one ought to rely on his own feelings when he speaks out, nor be confident in his own strength when he undergoes temptation. For whenever we speak prudently as we should, our wisdom comes from him, and whenever we endure evils courageously, our long suffering comes from him.

Call to mind how Christ our Lord in the Gospel exhorted his disciples. It is the very king of martyrs equipping his troops with spiritual arms, explaining their battles, offering them support, and promising them their reward. He once said to his disciples: In this world you will suffer persecution, and then, to allay their fears, he added, but rest assured, I have conquered the world.

There is no need to wonder then, my dearly beloved brothers, that Vincent conquered in him who conquered the world. Christ said: In this world you will suffer persecution, but in such wise that the persecution will not overwhelm, and the attack will not overcome you. Against Christ’s army the world arrays a twofold battle line. It offers temptation to lead us astray; it strikes terror into us to break our spirit. Hence if our personal pleasures do not hold us captive, and if we are not frightened by brutality, then the world is overcome. At both of these approaches Christ rushes to our aid, and the Christian is not conquered. If you were to consider in Vincent’s martyrdom only human endurance, then his act is unbelievable from the outset. But first recognize the power to be from God, and he ceases to be a source of wonder.

Such savagery was being vented upon the martyr’s body while such serenity issued from his lips, such harsh cruelties were being inflicted on his limbs while such assurance rang out in his words, that we should think that, by some miracle, as Vincent suffered, one person was speaking while another was being tortured. And this, my brothers, was true; it was really the truth; another person was speaking. Christ in the Gospel promised this to those who were to be his witnesses, to those whom he was preparing for contests of this kind. For he said: Do not give thought to how or what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks within you. Thus it was Vincent’s body that suffered, but the Spirit who spoke. And at his voice, impiety was not only vanquished but human frailty was given consolation.

From a letter by Fulgentius of Ruspe, bishop

Christ lives for ever to make intercession for us

Notice at the conclusion of our prayer we never say, “through the Holy Spirit” but rather “through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.” Through the mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became man, the mediator of God and man. He is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek. By shedding his own blood he entered once and for all into the Holy Places. He did not enter a place made by human hands, a mere type of the true one; but, he entered heaven itself, where he is at God’s right hand interceding for us. Quite correctly, the Church continues to reflect this mystery in her prayer.

This mystery of Jesus Christ the high priest is reflected in the apostle Paul’s statement: Through him, then, let us always offer the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that profess belief in his name. We were once enemies of the Father, but have been reconciled through the death of Christ. Through him then we offer our sacrifice of praise, our prayer to God. He became our offering to the Father, and through him our offering is now acceptable. It is for this reason that Peter the apostle urges us to be built up as living stones into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. This then is the reason why we offer prayer to God our Father, but through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we speak of Christ’s priesthood, what else do we mean than the incarnation? Through this mystery, the Son of God, though his state was divine…emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave. As a slave, he humbled himself and in obedience he even accepted death. Even though he possessed equality with the Father, he became a little less than the angels. Always equal to the Father, the Son became a little less because he became a man. Christ lowered himself when he emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave.

By this condition, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, though himself ever remaining God, became a priest. To him along with the Father, we offer our sacrifice. Yet, through him the sacrifice we now offer is holy, living and pleasing to God. Indeed, if Christ had not sacrificed himself for us, we could not offer any sacrifice. For it is in him that our human nature becomes a redemptive offering. When we offer our prayers through him, our priest, we confess that Christ truly possesses the flesh of our race. Clearly the Apostle refers to this when he says: Every high priest is taken from among men. He is appointed to act on behalf of these same men in their relationship to God; he is to offer gifts and sacrifices to God.

We do not, however, only say “your Son” when we conclude our prayer. We also say, “who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” In this way we commemorate the natural unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is clear, then, that the Christ who exercises a priestly role on our behalf is the same Christ who enjoys a natural unity and equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

9 Days for Life

Join thousands of Catholics nationwide in the annual Respect Life novena, 9 Days for Life, Thursday, January 21 – Friday, January 29. Get daily intentions, brief reflections, and more. Sign up at 9daysforlife.com

Únete a miles de católicos de todo el país en la novena anual de Respetemos la Vida, 9 Días por la Vida, del jueves 21 de enero al viernes 29 de enero. Recibe intenciones diarias, reflexiones breves y más. ¡Suscríbete en 9daysforlife.com!

From the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council

See, I will save my people

In his wisdom and goodness the eternal Father created the whole world according to his supremely free and mysterious purpose and decreed that men should be raised up to share in the divine life. When they fell in Adam, he did not abandon them but always kept providing them with aids to salvation, in consideration of Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Before the ages the Father already knew all the elect and predestined them to be made into the likeness of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers.

God resolved to gather into holy Church all who believe in Christ. The Church, foreshadowed even from the beginning of the world, so marvelously prepared in the history of the people of Israel, established in these last times and revealed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, will be made perfect in glory at the end of time. Then, as we read in the Fathers of the Church, all the righteous from Adam onward—from Abel, the righteous, to the last of the elect—will be gathered in the universal Church in the presence of the Father.

Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are in their different ways related to God’s people.

In the first place, there is that people which was given the covenants and the promises and from which Christ was born by human descent: the people which is by God’s choice most dear on account of the patriarchs. God never repents of his gifts or his call.

God’s plan of salvation embraces those also who acknowledge the Creator. Among these are especially the Mohammedans; they profess their faith as the faith of Abraham, and with us they worship the one, merciful God who will judge men on the last day.

God himself is not far from those others who seek the unknown God in darkness and shadows, for it is he who gives to all men life and inspiration and all things, and who as Savior desires all men to be saved.

Eternal salvation is open to those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church but seek God with a sincere heart, and under the inspiration of grace try in their lives to do his will, made known to them by the dictates of their conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the aids necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet reached an explicit belief in God, but strive to lead a good life, under the influence of God’s grace.

Whatever goodness and truth is found among them is seen by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel, and as given by him who shines on all men, so that they may at last have life.

St. Joseph Holy Hour

Join us on Thursday, February 4th at 7:00 PM as we begin our parish wide consecration to St. Joseph with a Holy Hour with Music and Reflection by Fr. Blake.

To receive a book there will be a sign up in the Narthex after weekend Masses on January 23rd and 24th or you can order the book at your convenience by clicking here.

From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement I, pope and martyr

Who can express the binding power of divine love?

Let the man truly possessed by the love of Christ keep his commandments. Who can express the binding power of divine love? Who can find words for the splendor of its beauty? Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us. Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins, has no limits to its endurance, bears everything patiently. Love is neither servile nor arrogant. It does not provoke schisms or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others. By it all God’s chosen ones have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him. Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God’s will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life’s blood for us—he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.

See then, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection. Who are worthy to possess it unless God makes them so? To him therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach. Every generation from Adam’s time to ours has passed away; but those who by God’s grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed. Take shelter in your rooms for a little while, says Scripture, until my wrath subsides. Then I will remember the good days, and will raise you from your graves.

Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and in the observance of God’s commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins. Scripture pronounces happy those whose transgressions are pardoned, whose sins are forgiven. Happy the man, it says, to whom the Lord imputes no fault, on whose lips there is no guile. This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

From a Letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

The harmony of unity

It is right for you to give glory in every way to Jesus Christ who has given glory to you; you must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the presbyters.

I am not giving you orders as if I were a person of importance. Even if I am a prisoner for the name of Christ, I am not yet made perfect in Jesus Christ. I am now beginning to be a disciple and I am speaking to you as my fellow disciple. It is you who should be strengthening me by your faith, your encouragement, your patience, your serenity. But since love will not allow me to be silent about you, I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Jesus Christ.

It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.

If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop—in a friendship not based on nature but on spiritual grounds—how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God’s bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.

Council of Catholic Women

The Year of St. Joseph

Next Generation St. Mary Council of Catholic Women invite ALL to a reflection given by Sharon Taylor on her devotion to St. Joseph on Wednesday, January 27th at 7:00 PM in the Church.

Click here to view the January newsletter. For more information about this ministry, please visit: https://stmaryrockledge.org/next-generation-council-of-catholic-women/

Livestream will be available below for those who cannot come to the Church.