Author Archives: immaculate

Basics for happiness

1. Self pity is NOT an option (unless you want to be miserable!). It is very important to leave the past behind and live in the present.

2. Forgiveness: If anyone has hurt you in the past then, whenever you are tempted to let such memories get you down, what is needed is to purposely forgive them in your heart. This will need to be done frequently – once will not be enough. You have to start taking seriously the words that Jesus gives us in the gospel that “Unless you forgive others from your heart then your heavenly Father will not forgive you.” In the Our Father prayer that Jesus taught us pray the words “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us” – a dangerous prayer if you do not forgive all who have in some way hurt you!

3. Creating a positive outlook in your life depends completely on yourselfother people cannot do this for you. An important help towards having a positive outlook is to throughout the day – especially whenever you are tempted to pity yourself and see only the negative side of life – is to seriously and frequently make acts of GRATITUDE to God for the very many blessings that you constantly enjoy but so frequently take for granted. (e.g. the gift God gave you of : having a nice house with running water and electricity, the garden, the trees, the sunshine, the rain, your ability to walk, your ability to see and hear, talk, the education you have received, the availability of medicine and medical care…. I am sure that you can add to this list.) Thank God even for your difficulties. God can and will use them for your own good and for the good of others – if you let Him! -. ”THANK YOU LORDis a prayer that has to be frequently on your lips and in your heart.

4. Take pride in your appearance – when you go out and whenever you will be meeting others make sure that you put on something nice etc. This helps for you to have pride in yourself and a positive outlook in life.

5. Take care of your health: spend time outside in the fresh air, go out for walks, make sure that you eat healthy food…

6. If you go around telling people how unhappy you are don’t be surprised if people will avoid you. Such a negative outlook is contagious. You will be making them feel unhappy too and everyone has their own problems in life.

7. As a Christian you are expected to unite your sufferings to the sufferings of Jesus to obtain God’s blessings for the world around us. We do not pray only for ourselves and our problems. Everyone has their own difficulties in life. (You could pray for the many people who have far greater problems than yourself, people who live in severe poverty and lack the basics of life which you take for granted. Pray for those who are suffering because of war, violence, hunger, injustice, persecution, natural disasters….) We do this especially when we go to church and participate in the Mass.

8. The Mass is our most important act of worship and prayer. In the Eucharist we unite our prayers and worship to the worship that Jesus offers to our heavenly Father on our behalf. It is up to you to give it due importance. No one can do this for you.

9. Being part of the Church community should be a great help so go to the Church for Mass on Sundays and on some of the weekdays.

10. Make sure that you put Our Lady into your life. You may find praying the Rosary and the following prayer helpful:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

These suggestions will only be of help if you give them real importance in your daily life.

Others can give support and encouragement but if you really want things to change this depends completely on yourself

The Eucharist

The Eucharist

The Eucharist (The Sacrifice of the Mass) is the most important act of worship, the most important prayer that we human beings have. It is not an act of worship that was devised by ordinary human beings but it is the act of worship that was given to us by Jesus, the divine Son of God.

It encapsulates, makes present for us, the unique and total act of worship and love that Jesus, the divine incarnate Son of God, made to his heavenly Father on our behalf by his death on the cross. It is the celebration of the new and everlasting covenant that Jesus established between God and humanity.

A few quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1324. “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.‘ [LG 11.] ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.’

 

1327. “...the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.’ “

1359. “The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ.  Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity.”

Important to our understanding of the Eucharist (the Mass) is that it is a communal celebration, the act of worship given by Jesus to the community of his disciples, the Church. So our participating in the Mass and our receiving of the Eucharist at Communion is not a type of personal private devotion. (As are, for example: private prayer after the Mass, a visit to a church and spending some time before the Blessed Sacrament, the recitation of the Rosary, making a novena, praying the Divine Mercy chaplet, visiting Lourdes….) Our coming forward to receive the Eucharist at Communion is an integral part of our communal celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  To appreciate the background for this communal aspect of our receiving Communion we can consider that in ancient Israel the individuals who were making an offering to God in the Temple would eat some of what is offered as a communal participation in the sacrifice. Similarly our reception of the consecrated bread and wine is the expression of our communal acceptance and participation in the sacrifice that Jesus has made on the cross on our behalf. This is what is being expressed when going forward to receive the Eucharist from the priest or the Eucharistic Minister. We are reminded that this consecrated bread is now trulyThe Body of Christ” (not just a piece of bread) to which we publicly reply “Amen” i.e. “Yes, I believe this to be true”. (Because our reception of the Eucharist is part of our communal celebration all are expected to adopt the same general approach used by the community in the service e.g. the individual receives the consecrated bread standing and not kneeling. It is not an occasion for making myself stand out. The focus is on Jesus and not on myself.)

One of the very earliest descriptions of the Eucharist is found in the first apology in defence of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr. (The word “apology” as used here means a description that is written to explain to pagans what Christians do when they meet for their worship). As you read Justin’s description of the Eucharist as celebrated by the Christian community of his day, notice the similarities to our present celebration of the Eucharist.

The celebration of the Eucharist (Justin Martyr cir. 150AD)

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

  We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

  The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

  On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

  On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

  The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

  We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

Quotations from chapter six of the Gospel according to John

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. … whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Reflections on the “obligation” of participating in the Mass

Recently our Scottish Bishops have informed us that: “The obligation for Catholics to celebrate Sunday as a Holy Day by gathering together for Mass will be restored from the First Sunday in Lent, Sunday 6th March.”

The word “obligation” does not go down very well in our society today. Perhaps the following considerations can be of help when we consider the Church’s emphasis that there is an “obligation” for Catholics to gather together for Mass on Sundays

What is the Mass? The Mass (the sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist) is the most important act of worship, of adoration, of thanksgiving and of petition that takes place anywhere in our world! Our faith teaches us that it is the offering of total love and dedication that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, our brother, makes to his heavenly Father on our behalf. Jesus himself has given this to us when he invited us to “Do this in memory of me”. By our uniting our lives to Jesus it becomes our most important act of worship and adoration.

In our society the notion of “obligation” is used to emphasise the importance of something. e.g. driving carefully, the importance of children eating their food so as to be healthy and grow and develop. I am sure you can think of other examples.

Sometimes you hear people saying things like “I do not get anything out of going to Mass!” or “I find going to Mass boring”.

The Mass is not designed to be entertainment. Anyone who expects entertainment will be disappointed despite the variety of hymns that are sometimes sung. Also, the Mass is not designed to appeal primarily to children. The children depend on the adults – especially parents – to appreciate what the Mass is all about.

To “get something” out of participating in the Mass we need to put something into our participation at the Mass. We need to make our own the words of the Mass and the sentiments expressed. Our attendance at Mass has to be a time of prayer – for our own needs and the many needs of today’s world. This is an “obligation” for Christians. Jesus tells us: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you”. “Pray for those who persecute you” – (Christians are the most persecuted group in today’s world! To appreciate this reality go to the website of Aid to the Church in Need. So serious prayer is needed.).

The Mass is not just the offering of the priest. The priest, to a certain extent, represents us. Notice and give importance to the words that the priest says on our behalf:Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray”, “Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the chalice of salvation”, “Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.”, “Have mercy on us all, we pray, that…. we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your son, Jesus Christ” (Eucharistic Prayer II)

At Mass we all are praying for one another’s needs and concerns, for our family’s deceased loved ones – much better than just me praying for myself!

Participating as a community at the Eucharist – a word which means “Thanksgiving” – was essential from earliest time. The following is our earliest description of the Eucharist :

Justin Martyr circ 150-160

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, … Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things,