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Archive for the ‘The Real Presence’ Category

Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, more commonly known as Corpus Christi, the day set aside by the Church in honor of the Eucharist. Traditionally, the celebration of Corpus Christi includes the Lauda Sion sequence, which I was fortunate enough to hear sung in Latin at Mass today. The words were written by St. Thomas Aquinas; what follows is an English rendition, compliments of Wikipedia.

Oh, and to actually hear the chant—compliments of Archive.org—simply follow this link. Gotta love the internet.

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Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.

All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

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Shawn Tribe over at The New Liturgical Movement has posted a brief but excellent piece on the need for beauty in liturgical settings.  Here’s an excerpt:

Beauty is a problem only if it is distorted in such a way as to make it narcissistic; even then, the problem is not with beauty itself, which exists as a reflection of the Divine, but simply with our approach to it.

A proper approach (and it is important that we make this approach) would see us clothe the sacred mysteries in beauty so that we might render to God the fruits of our labours in a way befitting the dignity of the sacred realities which occur in each and every Mass — in short, making it of itself a part of the act of worship, surrounding that which is primary in this regard: the mystical re-offering of Calvary.

 Read the rest here.

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But Protestants will say perhaps that they also meditate, and that it is an easy thing to do so, especially for gentle and thoughtful minds, and at particular times when they are in a humour for it. This, however, is mere natural meditation; meditation as the Church would have it is a very different thing. To meditate when we are not in the humour, and upon a set subject, and to persevere in this regularly day by day, is no easy task. Now it is very plain that Protestants are never taught in private any such systematic practice, nor in the character of their public worship is there any thing calculated to call it forth; whereas we cannot open a Catholic prayer-book without finding, not one, but many kinds of devotion formed on the principle of meditation, and of a nature wholly unknown among Protestants. The Rosary, which is in use with all classes, is nothing but a continued meditation on the chief mysteries of our blessed Lord’s life, combined with vocal prayer. Again, there are other devotions, such as to the Holy Name of Jesus, to His Divine Infancy, to His Sacred Heart, to His Five Wounds, to His Precious Blood, which, when they do not offend, at least seem singular and startling to them, because they are not accustomed to any continued and detailed consideration of our Lord’s humiliation and passion; and partly, I must add, from a deeper cause, because they do not realize the great mystery of the Incarnation, God made man. They do not, in fact, know Jesus. Or, again, there are festivals in our calendar which must certainly sound strange to Protestants; such as those on the successive Fridays of Lent in honour of our Lord’s Prayer and Agony in the Garden, the Crown of Thorns, the Spear and Nails, and the Holy Winding-sheet. A Protestant looks upon these as childish; he sees no meaning in them. Yet he might see that the meaning is much love; that to one who loves, each point of the Passion of Christ is so dear, each hour of suffering so steeped in its own fulness, that his heart is not large enough to hold it all at once; but he lingers over each detail with renewed tenderness, and counts each drop that falls from the wounds of his suffering Lord, and dwells on each fresh circumstance of that exceeding agony, and finds in each enough to think upon and adore. If Jesus suffered all these things separately, and suffered them for us, shall we not meditate on them separately?

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Consider again, what is the one great act of Catholic worship, which surpasses all others in dignity, and in the frequency of its celebration, and in which all Catholics are bound to join, at least on Sundays and great festivals, on pain of mortal sin. It is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Protestants, rejecting the Catholic doctrine about the Mass altogether, consider the “institution of the Lord’s Supper” as intended only to commemorate His sufferings in a special and solemn manner. Now, imagine for one moment that this opinion were the true one, I cannot suppose any more conclusive proof that Catholics are innocent of the charge brought against them, of undervaluing, or forgetting, or failing sufficiently to shew forth, the sacrifice of the death of Christ. The more we love ro care for a thing, the more often we remember it, and the more important do we deem it to preserve its memory. If, therefore, a Protestant really honours Jesus Christ more than a Catholic—if, especially, he values the merits of His death more than we do—it is at least strange that, acknowledging the “institution of the Lord’s Supper” to be the especial and most solemn commemoration of His sacrifice and death in the way appointed by Himself, he should think less of it, and celebrate it less often, and consider it less an essential part of his religion, than we do. And yet such is the fact. The Protestant, who professes that faith in Jesus Christ, and trust in His death on the Cross, is the very essence of true religion, commemorates it seldom. He who accuses Catholics of trusting in human ordinances, and placing the word of man above that of God, will go to church Sunday after Sunday, and hear sermons, and read prayers, and never think he has omitted any thing essential, in omitting to commemorate that sacrifice which he would have us believe is the very soul of his religion; whilst the Catholic, who, it is supposed, forgets his Lord, and despises His merits, and thinks to be saved without the shedding of that precious Blood, commemorates it every day, and makes its commemoration, not merely a part of his religion, but the chief act of worship, and that which it is sin to neglect. Not once at Easter, nor three times a year, nor every quarter, nor once a month, nor even once a week, satisfies the devotion of the Catholic Church, but every day, and, it may be, many times a day, in every church and chapel throughout the world, is celebrated that which Protestants right call “the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ;” perpetual indeed, but with us, not with them; perpetual with us, who are accused of despising it; occasional, and but scantily honoured, with them who say it is their all in all. Is this no contradiction?

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Among other strange ideas entertained by Protestants respecting the religion of Catholics, there is a very general belief that we have well nigh given up the worship of our Blessed Lord. The idolatrous worship of saints and angels and “graven images” is supposed to have long since taken its place; trust in our own merits to have banished all “saving faith” in His; and our hearts to be so filled up with creatures, that we have no room to give to the love and worship of Jesus. Such opinion in the mouths of the many is, indeed, but the expression of prejudice and hatred; but others we believe there are who entertain the same notion in sincere ignorance, and more by their misfortune than their fault. For such persons we cannot but feel charitably solicitous, and to them alone are the following pages addressed.

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