The question is "Why?" Why do any penance at all? Letís face it, suffering, sacrifice, self-denial is repugnant to us humans. We all like comfort, convenience and instant gratification. We like the easiest way out of trouble. We like no trouble at all, actually. We donít want to be bothered and we donít like not getting our own way in everything.
The answer to "Why do penance?" is really quite simple. Jesus said: "Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). Denying ourselves, doing penance is NECESSARY for salvation.
I often compare SPIRITUAL self-denial with the physical, emotional and psychological self-denial that Olympic athletes undergo. Athletes know that sitting around home day after day, eating junk food and watching TV is NOT the way to strengthen themselves for an Olympic competition. Consider what athletes endure in hopes of winning a gold medal. They watch their diet carefully; they practice for hours every day; they exercise to strengthen themselves totally: they FOCUS on the prize. These athletes discipline themselves to the hilt in hopes of winning an earthly honor. There certainly is nothing wrong with this enterprise, but we can learn from these athletes a valuable lesson of the spiritual life. We humans are made of two parts: body and soul. It is sensible that we take reasonably good care of our physical health because we are then able to live and work in service of God and others. (This doesnít mean that handicapped people cannot do this, as well, but by their condition, they achieve holiness by accepting and adjusting their lives to their situation.)
But attention to "strengthening" our spiritual lives is even more important than that of our physical lives. Spiritual self-denial and discipline tones our spiritual muscles (virtues). Lack of spiritual self-denial and discipline leaves us spiritually flabby and easy prey to temptation and sin. It is as simple as that.
Yet denying ourselves is not an end in itself. It is a MEANS to an end: our eternal happiness in Heaven. Flabby, undisciplined bodies do not win races. Souls who do no denying of oneself for the sake of the Kingdom, donít make it there. Jesus said so. So how should we deny ourselves? Surely we can "give up" the old stand-bys: candy, soda pop, TV, movies. But actually, the best discipline and penance we could do is simply doing our every day duties as best we can, with as much love for God and our neighbor that we can with the help of Godís grace, with prayer and in imitation of Jesus.
That seems too uncomplicated, doesnít it, yet, Our Lady of Fatima encouraged us just in this way. Putting up with what life dishes out every day with patience and love for God is a quick way to holiness. Many saints achieved spiritual greatness just this way. Happy self-denial!!!
God bless you!
Thus the essential difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood is not found in the priesthood of Christ, which remains forever one and indivisible, nor in the sanctity to which all of the faithful are called: "Indeed the ministerial priesthood does not of itself signify a greater degree of holiness with regard to the common priesthood of the faithful; through it, Christ gives to priests, in the Spirit, a particular gift so that they can help the People of God to exercise faithfully and fully the common priesthood which it has received".(24)
This diversity exists at the mode of participation in the priesthood of Christ and is essential in the sense that "while the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace, - a life of faith, hope and charity, a life according to the Spirit - the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood... and directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians".(26)
NEXT ISSUE: Theological Principles -part two
Our third "bone to pick" with dissenters is on the role of Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist and the regulations governing both species and purification of the sacred vessels. So many of the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (not "Eucharistic Ministers" - the modern moniker they have been given unofficially, but not officially by the Church) seem to treat the chalices and cups, or whatever containers pass for chalices these days - from glass to coffee-like cups - like nothing more than dirty dishes, merely wiping them out after Holy Communion and leaving them on a table. Are they properly purified after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the priest or sacristan? That is a good question for no one knows for sure, most of this being done away from the gaze of the congregation. After Holy Communion the celebrant purifies the main chalice, and he should purify all the chalices used to contain Christ's precious blood in the form of wine and the empty ciboriums that held His precious body in the form of bread. Any holy hosts left over are to reverently be put immediately into the tabernacle. If there is not a tabernacle per se, such as an outdoor Mass or a Mass away from the Church, then all hosts are to be consumed with no particles left over. Note we have said "particles" for there crumbs translate to particles. The composition of most unleavened hosts are such that crumbs are seldom. Holy Mother Church in her wisdom, decreed such in following Christ's example of using unleavened bread at the Last Supper. However, many liberal bishops and priests today authorize the use of leavened bread to emphasize the "banquet" aspect of the Mass, claiming Vatican II changed that. Wrong! Also, Vatican II did not advocate altar girls nor did they encourage the congregation to leave their pews immediately after Mass to "communicate with each other as 'other Christs' outside or, worse still in the main body of the church. Rather they advocated staying after and praying as part of the thanksgiving prayer process after Holy Communion.
Below are the verifications of the documents on purification of the sacred vessels for Holy Communion and the proper ingredients to be used, taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, page 97 and 98 on the Instruction on Certain Norms concerning the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (S.C.S.D.W., Inaestimabile Donum 3, April 1980.
13. Even after Communion the Lord remains present under the species. Accordingly, when Communion has been distributed, the sacred particles remaining are to be consumed or taken by the competent minister to the place where the Eucharist is reserved.
14. On the other hand, the consecrated wine is to be consumed immediately after Communion and may not be kept. Care must be taken to consecrate only the amount of wine needed for Communion.
15. The rules laid down for the purification of the chalice and the other sacred vessels that have contained the Eucharistic species must be observed. (24).
16. Particular respect and care are due to the sacred vessels, both the
chalice and paten for the celebration of the Eucharist, and the ciboria for
the Communion of the faithful. The form of the vessels must be appropriate
for the liturgical use for which they are meant. The material must be
noble, durable and in ever case adapted to sacred use. In this sphere
judgment belongs to the Episcopal Conference of the individual regions.
Use is not to be made of simple baskets or other receptacles meant for ordinary use outside the sacred celebrations, nor are the sacred vessels to be of poor quality or lacking any artistic style.
Before being used, chalices and patens must be blessed by the Bishop or by a priest. (25)