Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Eucharist's Evolution




In Johannes H. Emminghauss book entitled The Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration, its celebration starts out as an ordinary meal which was enjoyed in the early Jewish culture.  This custom was meant to call to mind the Passover that was from the days of the Exodus when the Israelites were liberated from Egypt.  This story is clear as Pharaohs charioteers were pursuing them, God paved a way through the Red sea where the waters enveloped their pursuers who were attempting to intercept them.

In the Old Testament God explained how they must celebrate the remembrance of the Passover.  Every Jewish household had to slaughter a lamb and prepare in a special way.  They had to eat it when dressed just like when they were about to leave Egypt.  The doorposts of their homes were to be sprinkled with the animals blood, so that Gods judgment would pass over them, and they would be saved.  This rite was to be celebrated on every anniversary of their deliverance.  But over time changes were made to it because it had become too worldly.  It was therefore determined to have the Passover in a more suitable manner as a meal, giving praise, and thanksgiving to God, for their deliverance.

The New Testament Eucharist 

Emminghaus showed in the New Testament, the Eucharist was instituted as a memorial by Jesus Christ with his disciples, before he sacrificed his life on the cross at Calvary.  Christs salvation was to follow the customary Jewish tradition.  These meals however came to be abused, for although they were communal, guests like at Corinth overdid it, and there was often debauchery.  Thus, the Eucharist later celebrated at the end of a meal failed to measure up to the divine standards of the sacrament.

Soon it was proposed that the Eucharist should stand by itself.  Since partaking of the elements of bread and wine were rather brief, this celebration evolved into the formulation of a Mass with the Liturgical Word, hymns, and the offering of the bread of life - Christs flesh, and wine his blood.  Early in Christian history the Mass was formulated by Justin Martyr, the Greek Hippolytus, and passed down almost verbatim to the contemporary church.

Early churches were built to reflect the nature of the Mass.  Since Jerusalem was the focal point the congregation its priest faced the East.  The priests who presided at these ceremonies had their backs turned to the worshipers, but eventually this changed mainly because of the layout of some churches.  Now the priests face every direction - East, West, North, and South.  Many altars have now been shifted to central locations within parishes with the seating arrangements in concentric circles around them. 

In The Middle Ages

Through the Middle  Ages the liturgical season of Holy Week and Eastertide were especially popular, because they gave scope for the imagination.  The people celebrated Palm Sundays procession with singing, the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, the veneration of the cross on Holy Friday, with the unveiling of the cross.  The acclamations, reproaches, the Pascal Vigil, with the impressive lighting of the new fire, and the carrying of the “Light of Christ” into the dark church were greeted with joy.  The intense emotion, the blessing of the Easter candle, the baptismal water, and Easter day with its dramatic elements developed into Easter plays, with the apostles, holy women coming to the tomb, and so forth were highlights

But Emminghaus wrote the liturgy by the end of the Middle Ages and on the eve of the Council of Trent (15451563) was deficient for it failed to grasp its real nature.  There were abuses and one-sided popular piety, a decadent condition of the church as a whole, the great schism, selfish political interests, and social upheavals.  Gods word in the scripture was not being preached, rituals were hindering it, and this was not helping spiritual life.  These doctrinal controversies of the Reformation led to a new Roman Missal of Pope Pius V the Latin Rite being restored, greater centralization, and a return to “the primitive rule of prayer.”  Between 1570, the year of Pope Pius Vs calendar reform, 1914, one hundred and eleven new feast days were added, there were increased feasts for Doctors of the Church, and by 1959, there were thirty of these.

The 20th Century Liturgy

Since the 20th century the liturgy was being restored to a more profound theological grasp of its characteristics.  It was realized that it was a communal, salvific celebration of Gods people of the new covenant when the body was gathered in Jesus name with each member playing a distinct role.  This long break through was finally achieved at the Second Vatican Council that adapted new conditions of reforms. 

Desires for liturgical reforms went back to the time of the Enlightenment before and around 1800.  With these changes came better and more frequent sermons, led to the methodical catechists in the church and school.  It saw the use of the vernacular language, encouraged the faithful to take a knowledgeable “rational” part in the celebration, enriched the liturgy at the parish level, and reformed the administration of the sacraments.  It promoted the continuing education of the clergy through study, pastoral conferences, and periodicals.  People were now able to receive the Eucharist more frequently.  The age for first communion was lowered, and there was more active participation of the community in public worship.          

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Joy of Salvation




Hannah prayed because her heart was exulted in victory over her enemies.  Like her, God aids us in his work in the house of the Lord.  Our hearts rejoice in his salvation.  He counsels and instructs us and we shall not be moved.  Our souls rejoice for he shows us the path of life where there’s fullness of joy, and pleasure forevermore.  It’s for the righteous to rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.  With the gifts of thanksgiving and praise we declare, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (Isa 12:2).

Enjoyment of Christ

A Prussian philosopher and diplomat Wilhelm von Humboldt (17671835), the founder of Humboldt University in Berlin wrote, “True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.”  To be spiritually attuned calls for a discerning mind and healthy body.  When people accept our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in their lives he paves the way for this fulfillment.  To some even living in pain may still mean happiness in Christ.  Jean-Jacques Rosseau (17121778), a Francophone philosopher, and composer wrote, “I have always said and felt that true enjoyment cannot be described.”  This is the ultimate essence of life to be enjoyed.  When we discover heaven there will be nothing to compare it with. 

A pioneer, woodsman, and frontiersman Daniel Boone (17341820) said, “Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatever state he is.”  Knowing we’re saved and assured of salvation gives contentment.  It’s a great joy to experience salvation. 

DeWitt Clinton (17691828), a politician, naturalist, and former governor of New York wrote, “Pleasure is a shadow, wealth is vanity, and power a pageant; but knowledge is ecstatic in enjoyment, perennial in frame, unlimited in space and indefinite in duration.”  Clinton must have been thinking about a special kind of knowledge.  This could only be gained through the Holy Spirit who’s with us until the end of time. 

Divine Knowledge

It’s only by divine knowledge we’re truly successful.  An author and impresario Napoleon Hill (1883 1970) said, “Success in its highest and noblest form calls for peace of mind and enjoyment and happiness which comes only to man who has found the work he likes best.”  One way of ascending to the mountaintop of success is by lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives.  He knows our hearts and is undeniably the author of salvation. 

As for our motivation nothing assures our blessings more securely than having the gift of the Holy Spirit.  John C. Maxwell (b. 1947), an author and pastor reminded us: “Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit.”  Through the Holy Spirit we’re certain to learn of Christ’s gifts to us.  By his grace we’re renewed, fulfilled, and enlivened to do his work.  Serving in his mission is always a success.               

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Bread of Life



Jesus gave thanks, consecrated the bread and wine, and presented his body and blood as spiritual nourishment to his apostles, and for the salvation of all (Jn 6:53-58).  This Eucharist renews the same sacrifice Christ made upon the cross.  The ritual sacrifice under the Old Law was the sign of the covenant between God and his people.  In the New Testament the sacrifice achieves perfection through Christ.  This Eucharist is therefore celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.  At the Mass Christ is present in this sacrament.  He offers his sacrifice in the union with the church; for this reason we call the Eucharist the sacrifice of the church.

The Eucharist is a Sacrament

The Eucharist is a sacrament because Christ offers himself to the Father in the Mass just as he did on the cross, but the offering is made through the actions of the priest.

What does the Eucharist do?

1.      unites the recipient to Christ,
2.      gives life - “a true food” (Jn 6:54),
3.      shares in the life of Christ – eternal life (Jn 6:58; Mt 5:23-24; Jn 3:19-24),
4.      builds up Christ’s mystical body – the church (1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 17:2021), and
5.      serves as a heavenly banquet (1 Cor 11:26; Mt 26:29; Lk 14:16; 2 Pet 3:13).

Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary explains that the Eucharist is also known as the Lord’s Supper.  This is a Christian sacrament that honors the actions of Jesus at the last supper.  It is reported in all the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus took bread and blessed it (Mk 14:22-24).  This partaking of the Eucharist is called Holy Communion.  In Greek eucharistia means “thanksgiving” - the sacrament in which Christ is really present under the appearances of bread and wine.  Other names for the Eucharist are:  Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of the bread, the unbloody sacrifice, our daily bread, the most blessed sacrament, the sacrifice of praise, and agape.  But the Eucharist is also a sign of unity, a bond of charity, and a paschal banquet.
       

Monday, October 8, 2018

Thanksgiving in Salvation

Hannah prayed because her heart was exulted in victory over her enemies.  Like her, God aids us in his work in the house of the Lord.  Our hearts rejoice in his salvation.  He counsels and instructs us and we shall not be moved.  Our souls rejoice for he shows us the path of life where there’s fullness of joy, and pleasure forevermore.  It’s for the righteous to rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.  With the gifts of thanksgiving and praise we declare, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (Isa 12:2).

Enjoyment of Christ

A Prussian philosopher and diplomat Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), the founder of Humboldt University in Berlin wrote, “True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.”  To be spiritually attuned calls for a discerning mind and healthy body.  When people accept our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in their lives he paves the way for this fulfillment.  To some even living in pain may still mean happiness in Christ.  Jean-Jacques Rosseau (1712–1778), a Francophone philosopher, and composer wrote, “I have always said and felt that true enjoyment cannot be described.”  This is the ultimate essence of life to be enjoyed.  In heaven there will be nothing to compare it with. 

A pioneer, woodsman, and frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734–1820) said, “Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatever state he is.”  Knowing we’re saved and assured of salvation gives us contentment.  It’s a joy to experience salvation. 

DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828), a politician, naturalist, and former governor of New York wrote, “Pleasure is a shadow, wealth is vanity, and power a pageant; but knowledge is ecstatic in enjoyment, perennial in frame, unlimited in space and indefinite in duration.”  Clinton must have been thinking about a special kind of knowledge.  This could only be gained through the Holy Spirit who’s with us until the end of time. 

Divine Knowledge

It’s only by divine knowledge we’re truly successful.  An author and impresario Napoleon Hill (1883 –1970) said, “Success in its highest and noblest form calls for peace of mind and enjoyment and happiness which comes only to man who has found the work he likes best.”  One way of ascending to the mountaintop of success is by lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives.  He knows our hearts and is the author of salvation. 

As for our motivation nothing assures our blessings more securely than having the gift of the Holy Spirit.  John C. Maxwell (b. 1947), an author and pastor reminded us: “Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit.”  Through the Holy Spirit we’re certain to learn of Christ’s gifts to us.  By his grace we’re renewed, fulfilled, and enlivened to do his work.  This mission is always a success.