Monday, April 24, 2017

The Advocation of the Saints




There is only one Mediator and Advocate between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2.5). His mediation and mediatorial work are absolute and unique. Ontologically, there can be only one Advocate and Mediator for the whole of mankind because Jesus Christ alone is the Hypostatic Union, God made Man, the God-Man, the Word made Flesh, who unites divinity and humanity in His One Person. He is the Bridge between God and Man. But Our Lord invites all those who are organically and supernaturally united to Him in His Mystical Body to share, to participate in, His one unique intercession. This is true, not only of Our Lady and the Saints in heaven, but of every Christian who has ever lived or ever will live. 'Brethren, pray for us' (I Thessalonians 5.25). 

When we pray, and especially pray for one another, we are not displacing the unique mediation of Our Lord, but taking our place in it and exercising it as living members of Christ. Our Lord's Messianic Offices of Prophet, Priest, and King are communicated to us in Baptism and Confirmation, and we become in the order of grace 'kings and priests unto God and our Father.' We are bold to say 'Abba, Father,' 'Our Father who art in heaven.' Every baptised, chrismated, and Eucharistised Christian is a true and full partaker of Christ's divine sonship, and shares fully in His life, His ministry, His one and unique advocacy and mediation. We become true adopted children of the Father, sons in the One Son, filii in Filio. This filial life of Christ infused into us does not replace, but activates in our own sphere, His one eternal priesthood. 'Brethren, pray for us' (II Thessalonians 3.1). 

This mystery of participation in the one priesthood of Christ is shared by the Church Militant, the Church Expectant, and the Church Triumphant. What Our Lady and the Saints do in their prayers before God is exactly what we do as well. When we ask the Saints for pray for us, it is precisely the same as when we ask our friends and neighbours, fellow Christians, to pray for us. Such advocation is at the heart of all intercessory prayer. To advocate the Saints is the same action in kind as to advocate one's spouse or sister - the principle is always exactly one and the same. The prayers of the Saints in heaven, the Holy Souls in the Intermediate State, and the faithful on earth are simply intercessory prayer - and as such please God, Who is pleased to have us pray this way as the supreme sign of our Communion with the Holy Trinity and with one another. The Church is nothing less than the very communion and mutual life of the Blessed Trinity, into which we are invited by grace. The request for such prayers from one to another, even across the veil of time and space, serves to be the very basis of the Communion of Saints, the Communion of Holy People and Holy Things. 'Pray for us' (Hebrews 13.18). 

We would not want to say, for example, that because Uncle Aubrey and Aunt Patty pray for us that somehow they are weakening Christ's High Priesthood or detracting from Christ because they pray for others in His Name. They are subjective or secondary intercessors in the one true Intercessor, relative advocates and mediators praying in and through the one absolute Mediator and Advocate. 'Cousin Bobby, pray for me.' 'Holy Mother of God, pray for us.' Both requests are identical in nature and in practice. We are commanded to pray for one another, and in so doing, the Church and her members are incorporated, and incorporate their prayers, into the Perfect Prayer of Our Lord to His Father, the eternal adoration and worship of the Son towards the Father in the Spirit. What applies to us in this regard applies also to the Saints in glory, for in no way do they differ from us, except that they have passed through death and judgement into the Age to Come. They remain forever one with us in prayer before the Throne of Grace, the Throne of God and of the Lamb which was slain from the foundation of the world. O ye Spirits and Souls of the Righteous, bless ye the Lord: * praise him, and magnify him for ever.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Lady and the Saints in Confession Prayers




As we prepare for our Holy Week Confessions...

I confess to God Almighty, to Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the Saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Wherefore I beg Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and thee, Father, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

The reason why Our Blessed Lady and the Saints are mentioned and identified in our Confiteor, or confession prayer when making a Sacramental Confession or preparing for Mass in the Preparation prayers, is that when we sin, we do so as members of the living Mystical Body of Christ - we sin not only against God but also against all the other members of the Body. Our view of sin is not only individual and personal and private, but organic, corporate, comprehensive. We offend against the charity that ought to obtain amongst all members of the Church when we intentionally break our communion with God by sin. Our sinful actions impair the unity, peace, and love of the whole Body. 

Therefore, when we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, we are led through prayer to an acknowledgment that our trespasses and sins, our willful violation and breaking of God's holy will and commandments, affects all other Christians negatively within the communion and fellowship of Christ's Body. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints are fellow members of the Church and the highest and best representatives of the Church, for they are in heaven - we thus confess our faults before them as we also confess our faults before the priest, who represents the Church militant on earth. 

We make our Confession to take responsibility and accountability for our sins before the whole Church - our thoughts, words, and deeds impact not only ourselves, but, if sinful, wound and weaken our bond with other believers on earth and our unity and friendship with the greater part of the Church, which is the Church Triumphant in glory. The majority of the Church is now with God in the heavenly realm, and so we take seriously how our sins draw us away from our union with that greater portion of our divine family.

Our Lady and the Saints cannot and do not forgive sins, for that mercy belongs only to God. The Saints are simply human beings who have been graced to reach their and our intended destiny. They are 'partakers of the divine nature' who have fully become what we are called to be, God-like, participants in God, Christ-bearers, divinised, Christified, Trinitarian. As we are, the Saints once were, as they are now, so we are to become. God chooses to forgive sins through the atoning victory of His Son, which conquest of evil is conveyed by divine appointment sacramentally through the ministry of His Church. But by confessing our sins before God and also His heavenly friends, His court, we bring ourselves to the realisation of just how grievous sin is, and what consequences it has for us and for the Family of God to which we belong as integral members. The Catholic conceptualisation of the Church is always first and foremost 'common,' for we are many members, but one life, one Body, one fellowship and communion. 

Our Lady and Saints, as fellow Christians and members of the one Church, can and do pray for us, willingly, joyfully, lovingly - and so in our confession we solicit the gracious prayers of those who are closer to God than we, that we may receive the benefit and help of their intercession in the face of our need. They are our elder brothers and sisters in the Faith who seek to encourage, aid, and inspire us by their prayers, that we may receive grace to turn away from sin and inherit the Kingdom prepared for them and us from the foundation of the world. But to God only it appertaineth to forgive sins...

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Holy Week and Easter Week at Saint Barnabas Church, Dunwoody, Georgia



Holy Week and Easter Week Schedule 2017

Palm Sunday, 9th April
Sung Holy Communion
and the Blessing and Distribution of Palms,
9am and 11am

Monday in Holy Week, 10th April
Tuesday in Holy Week, 11th April
and Wednesday in Holy Week, 12th April
Holy Communion, 12 Noon

Maundy Thursday, 13th April
Sung Holy Communion,
Stripping of the Altar, and Watch before
the Altar of Repose, 7pm

Good Friday, 14th April
The Solemn Liturgy, 9.30am
Three Hours’ Devotion, 12 Noon to 3pm
Sacramental Confessions, 4pm-6pm
Stations of the Cross, 7pm

Easter Even, 15th April
Easter Egg Hunt, 11am
Easter Flower Ministry, 9am-2pm
Sacramental Confessions, 6pm-7pm
Sung Holy Communion of the Easter Vigil, 8pm

Easter Day, 16th April
Sung Holy Communion, 9am
Sung Holy Communion and Confirmations, 11am

Monday in Easter Week, 17th April
Tuesday in Easter Week, 18th April
and Wednesday in Easter Week, 19th April
Holy Communion, 12 Noon

Thursday in Easter Week, 20th April
Holy Communion, 7pm

Friday in Easter Week, 21st April
and Saturday in Easter Week, 22nd April
Holy Communion, 12 Noon

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