While the millennium clock says 45 days left, the liturgical clock lists only 12 days left. This coming Sunday we celebrate the glorious Solemnity of Christ the King, the traditional climactic feast that caps the liturgical year before the new liturgical year for 2000 begins with the First Sunday of Advent on November 28th. During the next two weeks the Church packs in the saints beginning with two great women - Saint Margaret of Scotland and Saint Gertrude the Great today, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary tomorrow, and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne on Thursday in addition to the Feast of the Dedication of Saints Peter and Paul Basilicas in Rome. Next week we pick up with the feast of three straight martyrs - Saint Cecilia on Monday, Pope Saint Clement I and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro on Tuesday, and Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his Vietnam companion martyrs on Wednesday.
That takes us right up to Thanksgiving Day and then the last two final Ordinary Time liturgies before we launch Liturgical Year 2000! Yes, folks, we're coming down to the wire and the closer we do, the more we hear about Y2K. We have a sweatshirt that says, "Say, Yes 2 Jesus." That's why we like to refer to the acronym as Y2KJ - "Yes, 2 Knowing Jesus!" If anyone had hoped to know Him more from the NBC Movie of the Week Sunday night titled "Mary, the Mother of Jesus" they had to be sorely disappointed. Let's face it, there hasn't been a reputable portrayal of Our Lord since Robert Powell played the role in the excellent miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, the only one we recommend. In the movie Sunday night, we were led to believe it would be true to the Catholic version of the Bible since it was produced by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a Catholic whose daughter is Maria Shriver and son-in-law the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. There was a priest - Father Donald J. Heet, O.S.F.S. out of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. as a consultant. Unfortunately, while taking poetic license in skipping around, the writer Albert Moss, the director Kevin Conner, the executive producers and consultants left out those parts that would have solidified their Catholicity and why Christ founded His Church. They had the perfect opportunity after the scene in the temple where Jesus, played by Christian Bale, reveals that He is the living bread come down from Heaven was beautiful with the Scribes and Pharisees, along with others walking out in disgust. The next scene would naturally have been Jesus asking His disciples if they too would leave in which the Apostles ask who else would we go to since You alone have eternal life. This would have sequed into Jesus asking Peter "Who do men say the Son of Man is?" which would have led to the foundation of the Church in Matthew 16: 16-19. But alas, it was omitted. So also was the Last Supper when Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament. That could have been a beautiful moving scene with the focus on Mary, played too humanly and often out-of-character by Pernilla August, in the next room listening to her Divine Son's words. But they made sure to get Mary and all the apostles together to pray the Our Father just as we do today and they had to include the insipid "spirit of Vatican II" holding hands which emphasizes the horizontal while diminishing the vertical relationship between God and man.
As we have mentioned often here, while holding hands is fine, there is way too much socializing that goes on after the Consecration of the Mass when Jesus is truly present on the Altar, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. But you wouldn't know He was there from all the staging and choreography that goes on from the great Amen on. We still can't understand what happened to that beautiful Gregorian chant introduced by, who else, Pope Saint Gregory the Great...no wonder he was called "great" for Gregorian chant is truly inspiring and Catholic. Here we have the celebrant intoning a beautiful introduction to the Amen at the Second or Minor Elevation (also called the Doxology), in Gregorian Chant and the normal reaction would be to follow suit with a likewise response in Gregorian chant for continuity. But nooo! The organist pumps up the pipes with a modern rendition that has no semblance to what the celebrant just sung. But that doesn't matter because the liturgists have infiltrated the Church with so much modern rubbish in the liturgy that it loses so much meaning and feeling in the translation. Are we sure we're in a Catholic church? We say that because, as we mentioned above, the Lord's Prayer becomes one big festive feel-good preparation for glad-handing everyone and talking away at the ensuing Kiss of Peace. We can only pray that the Bishops meeting at the U.S. Conference this week in Washington D.C. will finally make the change from before the Agnus Dei to either the beginning of the Mass or before the Offertory where it should be in accord with the nature of the action which is to make amends with our brothers and sisters before coming to the altar. This should be within the Liturgy of the Word, not the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
In all the years of researching the Vatican II Documents, postconciliar documents and rubrics we find no where where the Church officially authorized the prayer at the end of the Our Father - "For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours now and forever." We're puzzled and if anyone has a clue, please let us know so we can share it with others. While we're on this diatribe, why do we have to sing the Alleluia or Amen six times instead of the customary three? Three has always been the number of the Trinity and enjoyed an exalted status in the Church, especially in Gregorian chant and with the Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Domine non sum dignus etc. Six, on the other hand doesn't represent anything except six is the mimicry of three and we all know who thrives on mocking God. Can anyone tell us how "anima mea" which means "my soul" was eliminated in the English translation as to "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. Only say the word and my soul will be healed." Today everyone says "...and I will be healed." The Latin is very explicit in its translation which is derived from the account of the Centurion's servant in Luke 7: 6-7: "Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" which translated should read "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed." The last time we looked the official language of the Roman Catholic Church is still Latin. Though you couldn't tell it in the U.S. where any reference to Latin is considered ultra-right wing pre-Vatican II. No way!
That is one of the sadder aspects of our Faith in these waning days of the second millennium. We have lost our love and appreciation for Latin - the language of the early Church which was good enough up until the 1960's. We'd venture to say anyone who ever took Latin classes in school has a better respect not only for the Church, but for command of the English language for the etimology of much of our vocabulary comes from Latin. Cicero and Virgil aside, this editor can reach back to Latin and be able to get through French, Italian and Spanish writing because they all evolve from the Romance Language tree. Doctors and lawyers must have a healthy respect for Latin since so many terms derive from Latin roots. While the Novus Ordo is accepted, no one who remembers the traditions of the Church can say they don't miss some of the Latin, especially today when our Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more and more reminds one of a Protestant service since so little emphasis and respect is centered around the Holy Eucharist and the sacrificial nature of the Mass. Too many still believe the Mass is solely a meal and they're ready to celebrate the banquet, regardless of the fact so few have properly prepared soul-wise through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Holy See recently expressed concern when Archbishop Julian Herranz, President of the Vatican agency charged with the implementation of Canon Law, - the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, has
indicated a growing concern with the improper reception of the Eucharist. He has noted the abuse of the Eucharist and sees this problem growing universally. What alarms him most is the evidence of the sharp decline in the practice of sacramental Confession. The archbishop has pointed out that anyone who is guilty of a grave sin "must be purified of that sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation" before approaching the Eucharist. To receive the Eucharist without having obtained absolution, he said, would constitute a sacrilege and thus would compound the original sin.
But how many Bishops are spreading this news, alerting their flocks of the grave sin of receiving Holy Communion when they are not in the state of grace? We fear too few. And as long as they continue to hide their heads in the sand or turn a deaf ear to Vatican objectives, the faithful are going to continue in their ways. What it all comes down to is you can't blame the laity if no one is informing them. The blame lays squarely with the bishops for, "...everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand the more" (Luke 12: 48).
We could go on and on, but time and space is running out for today's issue so suffice it to say that we doubt any of the saints we celebrate over the next two weeks would have had any concerns about Y2K but very concerned over Y2KJ which we should all be as well. You can believe these saints we celebrate fought valiantly in preserving the traditions. Are we willing to? For if indications are correct that so few know their Faith today, then we have to ask how well they know Jesus, let alone His Blessed Mother, His saints and His appointed authority on earth - the Pope and the Bishops. If they don't know the latter principals, then no amount of preparation for Y2K can prepare them for the shock of being left outside the wedding feast because they did not have their lamps lit. Let's prepare for Y2KJ by helping spark those flickering lamps of our brothers and sisters. Can you think of a better way to ring in the Jubilee?