American Idolatry

m_americanidollogo630_113011As 2017 begins, I’d like to share how we all can make this new year a better one. First, we can must stop committing American idolatry. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Idolatry is worshiping, loving and serving someone/thing other than God. Here’s why idolatry is stupid and wrong: because no one except God can save you. He made you, He saves you, and He raises you from the dead (no matter how decayed you are in the grave). No one and nothing else can do that. So when we love a person more than we love God, when we love a thing more than we love God, we’re entrusting ourselves to something that will fail us in the end. Even we ourselves will fail ourselves in the end.
  2. And that’s the problem. We entrust ourselves to money, science, technology, education and career. Those are all great tools to help us serve God and others, but they are not gods! And we’re the dumber for thinking and living like they are.
  3. Even worse, we trust in our favorite celebrities and politicians as if they are all mighty and all perfect. We think Taylor Swift will save the world, we have recourse to Donald Trump, we find hope in Hillary Clinton, we hang on Pope Francis’ every word, and we believe in ourselves.
  4. But the only person we should ever really believe in is Jesus Christ. We cannot believe in anyone else! Because everyone else dies! And they stay dead! But only Christ came back to life, and only He can make you come back, too.
  5. Never believe in yourself. It’s a useless lie. Because even you die. I stopped believing in myself long ago when I realized the problem with me is me, and the only solution is He who made me and can remake me into a saint. Just think about it, really think about it…
  6. So if we all let God remake us into saints, this 2017 and forward will be really something. The best way to start is to pray, asking Him to give us the grace to let Him do what needs to be done.

 

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There Will Be Blood

SurgeryPrepI was at a Tridentine Mass and the priest was vesting in the sanctuary. Altar men in full cassock and surplice were assisting the priest, like how nurses assist a surgeon before the operation, like how technicians assist an astronaut before launch, like how safety personnel assist engineers into haz-mat suits before a mission.

Yes, it was complicated, those Extraordinary Form chasubles of antiquity. But as I watched the priest vest in chasuble and maniple, my imagination took off (as you can see) and my mind stopped when I saw the symbolism. And when I saw it, I could never unsee it. Permanent and powerful.

Vestments

The chasuble was a giant apron, not unlike the kind that a dentist buries you under before they take X-rays of your jaws and teeth. The chasuble is thick, heavy and dense, and looks almost stab-proof.

Now why would the Church vest her priests in these bulletproof vests… err, aprons?

Why?… I wondered.

Because there will be blood. Because there will be BLOOD!

It’s going to get messy at Mass. It’s a sacrifice… the Lamb will be slain, the priest will fill a chalice with its precious blood, the priest will feed us with fresh flesh from the Lamb.

So of course a chasuble is necessary!

FinalChasubleManipleBurseVeilBut now, what about that maniple? That fancy, overgrown handkerchief pinned onto the priest’s left arm? It hangs down by about a foot… so obstructive (right?)! Why would that be important…

Because there will be sweat. Because there will be tears shed.

Worship and sacrifice is hard labor. Prayer and service for an hour before an altar, lugging around all that armor, deciphering all that Latin, chanting all that time, expressing all those gestures and postures, genuflecting, stooping, bowing, kneeling and weeping, and more…

So of course a maniple is necessary!

Because love is hard work, because love involves tears, sweat and blood from the lover and from the beloved. And love is the only thing worth it all.Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck