April 17, 2005
vol 16, no. 107

Reflections for the Third Sunday After Easter

    by Kevin M. Tierney

      Editor's Note: Over the past year Kevin M. Tierney labored to compare Propers of the Traditional Latin Rite on Sundays with the Novus Ordo rite. This was no easy task and it makes it all the harder when one considers the expanded all-encompassing three-year cycle that has, in truth watered down the emphasis previously held by the universal Church. The Traditional Latin Mass still focuses fully on those tried and true emphases intended for the edification, education and salvation of souls. Therefore, because, in truth and reality, there really is no comparison between the divinely-ordained Rite of the Mass of All Ages and the man-made New Order Rite, Kevin will no longer compare, but provide, when he can, reflections on the Traditional Propers for each Sunday as part of his continuing "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" series. For the full Traditional Latin Liturgy for the Third Sunday After Sunday, see Jubiláte Deo

    “Shout with joy to God” - Jubiláte - we are told in the Introit. Throughout the Easter season we are in a season of rejoicing, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. That celebration continues with today’s liturgy as we discuss our Lord’s turning of our sorrows to happiness, but also those things which continue to please the Father. After glorifying God in the Introit, we hear the following prayer:

    O God, who dost show to them that are in error the light of Thy truth, that they may return into the way of righteousness; grant to all those who profess themselves Christians to reject those things which are contrary to that name, and follow such things as are agreeably to the same. (Collect)

    We see in this prayer one of the reasons it is good to honor God. For before the light of God’s word, error must flee. In today’s society, even within some circles of the Church, who state that truth is relative and always changing, we need to be reminded this fact. Truth can be known, and truth is Jesus Christ, the icon of truth. If one is sincere but sincerely wrong, God will shine His light upon them, pointing out what is true. Let us remember this for those who profess the name Christian, but lack the fullness of truth that the Catholic Church possesses. If they are sincere, God will reach them, as He has and continues to reach us. Once the error is corrected, the power of God’s light will then illuminate that which is well and true which we Christians are supposed to follow. This brings us right into the Epistle, 1st Peter 2:11-19.

    Our First Pope, the Blessed Apostle St. Peter starts out by referring to us as “strangers and pilgrims” in this world. That is, we are strangers to the ways of this world. We do live in this world, of that there is no doubt. Yet this place is where we are called to remain. We have been rescued from the errors of the world, and St. Peter exhorts us to avoid the carnal desires of this world which attack the soul. We have been removed from the ideas of this world, but that does not mean we cannot be seduced by the ideals of this world anymore. Today’s world, which glamorizes the self and success at any cost, is extremely appealing if looked at from a distance. Who doesn’t want to be successful? Yet successful by the world’s standards means buying into the lies of this world, and indeed returning to the ways of this world. This was something St. Peter viewed worse then those still living in the errors of this world never having known the truth (2 Peter 2:20-21).

    A constant theme of the Epistles of St. Peter is being a witness to the Hope that is offered the world by Jesus Christ. If it be through a principled defense of the truth (1 Peter 3:15), or in the case of the epistle today through our works and conversations, we Christians are to be witnesses of the works of God to this world. As salt to the earth, we preserve it. So much so that the Gentiles (those who do not believe) will come to glorify God through our works. One is reminded of the countless Catholics who were faithful witnesses even to death in the early Church. In fact, every Christian ancient Rome killed, rather than silencing the new religious sect, only emboldened it. The faith and works of these martyrs caused many conversions. That is the faith we are to have today, even if we are not to be martyrs.

    Part of that witness likewise entails obedience to legitimate authority here on Earth. God has invested these rulers with authority for a reason. While not directly, but in an indirect fashion (as in he provides the authority for the State to rule rather than individual rulers), this is a fact nonetheless. Therefore, we should be obedient to those people who rule over us. We give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. The blessed Apostle Paul himself was proud of his Roman citizenship, and made recourse to it when persecuted. Likewise St. Justin the Martyr wrote to the Emperor himself pledging loyalty and obedience, but at the same time speaking on behalf of being peaceful to Christians. Even St. Thomas More, executed by the King, while viewing himself a servant of God, next viewed himself a servant to the King. Being freed from the errors of this world, we Catholics are in a better position to understand, and appreciate such authority. When they are not contradicting the Law of God, let us always stand for such authority.

    Through obedience we are called to endure the hardships of this world, to receive the promises of the reward in the Gospel, John 16: 16-22. In this time without Christ on this earth, the world, in all its errors rejoices. Even now, places like Europe rejoice after ousting God from their life. For the Catholic, we see this encroaching secularism always seem to win, and can become disheartened. As our recently deceased Pontiff is famous for telling the faithful “Be not afraid.” For we shall see Christ soon! If we remain faithful to the precepts of the Gospel, part of which was outlined in the Collect and epistle, we shall see Christ.

    Grant O Lord, that by these mysteries it may be given us to subdue our worldly desires, and learn to love the things of heaven. (Secret)

    The Secret returns to the theme of protecting us from the seduction of this world. For the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not simply to forgive sins. It is something far beyond that. While our sins are forgiven guaranteed by Christ’s sacrifice, many other graces are also poured down on the Earth every time the sacrifice is offered, as Divine Justice has been satisfied. Parts of those graces are for us to not only not sin, but avoid even those temptations of sin. We avoid the temptations of sin by thinking of those things of Heaven, and those things which are agreeable to the name Christian, that is Christ-like. Once again, several of those things are listed in the Epistle. Charity, love, obedience, faith (not in any particular order), focusing on these things overcome the temptations and seductions of this world. The Secret asks that these thoughts be in abundance in our lives.

    May the sacraments which we have received, O Lord, we beseech Thee, be a life-giving food for our souls and a safeguard to our bodies. (Postcommunion)

    Following the trend in the Secret, this prayer asks that the Blessed Sacrament be true food for our souls. Through the Eucharist our strength against the seductions of this world are subdued. It is said that amongst sins of the flesh for example, there is no strong remedy than a good confession, then daily Holy Communion. While we will receive our joy at the end of time when we see Christ, we can also get a taste of that joy with every reception of His Most Precious Body and Blood. Upon reception of communion our sorrows are taken away, and there is nothing but joy within our hearts. God has removed the errors of this world with the light of Truth, the very icon of Truth itself in Jesus Christ. Fortified against the world, we can then engage in that which is pleasing to God. As one sees, the Tridentine Rite offers as always a coherent liturgy, constantly causing us to reflect.

Kevin Tierney

    April 17, 2005
    vol 16, no. 107
    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi