Today’s reading of Psalm 95 reminded me of this song

It’s an oldie but a goodie! Who else remembers it??

Today’s readings:

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 127

Reading 1

EZ 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2

ROM 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Alleluia

2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

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“You should just get over it” won’t work well for me

golden-calfJust thought I’d make this point very clear:

I’m not going to respond well to anything that smacks of, “You should just get over it.” Here is my response to that sentiment.

Me talking this way may be triggering things in you that you need to look at. At this point in the history of “sexual liberty,” there will be many, many people who have participated in some way, which means they’ve harmed somebody else. If they’ve harmed somebody else and haven’t made amends, they will feel guilt.

If I trigger some weird feeling in you, instead of pointing to me and where I’m wrong, look inside and track down what the feeling is. It is possible that you owe somebody an apology or you may need to repent of past actions. Nothing wrong with that, and I’ve had to do it myself. Believe me, it is a huge weight off my shoulders to have apologized and repented. At this point, when people tell me to “get over it,” I am pretty sure they are doing it as a way to avoid looking inside themselves to see why they feel bad about what I’m saying. They have not dealt with their own guilt, and what they are doing is called projection.

“Sexual liberation” is like a Golden Calf. It is as if people worship it as the highest form of liberty. But I’m not going to worship the Golden Calf and I’m going to convince others not to as well. Golden Calf “worshipers” who stumble onto my blog are going to feel uncomfortable, as they should. “Sexual liberty” is not real liberty. It is a fraud and needs to be exposed.

Jesus established a visible Church that He protected all this time

Remember when I told you how I saw the pattern of how things would play out? So much just dropped into place in my mind’s eye. I saw the Church like a tree going back through history. I have struggled to articulate it with any detail. Here’s what I said back in July:

Not long after I left the cult I knew that I had to reject the gnosticism I had been taught there. I wanted to return to my first love of Jesus, son of God, second person of the Trinity, that I had when I was younger. For a couple years I considered returning to some sort of Protestant church but intuited that I would eventually become Catholic anyway. Meandering through Protestantism first, then converting to Catholic later, was a definite possibility, but at some point I realized that it would be inefficient. So I went straight to the Catholic Church. Seeing what I saw about contraception and how it harms the “one flesh” teaching of scripture was the main pivot point, but there were other things as well. For example, I needed a firm historical basis for the church I would join, and I found that in the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession. So again I saw the pattern of how things would play out and made a choice based on that. But articulating that pattern came later, and, in fact, I’m still working on it.

Just today I came across the blog of somebody who articulated much of what I saw. So if you’re curious to understand better why I became Catholic, I recommend this:

Ecclesial Deism

I must warn you: it is long. But it is really good. The comments are good too (although I’ve only read a few of them). Just to be clear: it is not that I had every thought expressed there, but the general structure of his thinking reflects what I saw about the Church. In particular, what the author said about ecclesial gnosticism, I intuited but couldn’t articulate.

The arguments and evidence that Jesus established a visible Church that He protected for 2,000 years are far stronger than arguments and evidence for the opposing view. Ecclesial Deism makes this very clear.

 

Two systems of worship in the New Covenant

I made a startling observation while working on the post from July 29. I have observed that there are two systems of worship in use by Christians today. See if you agree. Here is what I see:

  • One group of Christians believes the Scriptures give us liberty to choose the elements of Sunday communal worship and the order in which those elements occur. This group does not mandate attendance on Sunday; mandatory attendance on Sundays is not in the Scripture.
  • Another group of Christians believes that we must follow the tradition of Sunday worship handed down to us from our spiritual forebearers going back to the Apostles. It is a tradition that must contain certain elements every Sunday in order to fulfill our obligation to worship God. Attendance is mandatory (except for a serious reason).

I was really bothered when I saw this. Let me explain why. I will need to draw from the Old Covenant (OC).

Looking at Exodus 26, imagine if a group of people arose and accused Moses of being wrong about the layout of the tabernacle. Let’s say they decided to build their own tabernacle, believing that God had spoken to them or their leader. Does that seem like something God would have caused? No, and I can think of three reasons why:

1) The set of regulations for worship is intimately tied in with the covenant itself.

2) A new set of regulations requires a new authority structure to maintain and uphold the regulations.

3) A new set of regulations for worship means a new covenant.

In fact, all of these are exactly what happened when the OC was abolished. The old set of worship regulations was abolished, and the new set was established. As we see in Hebrews 10:9:

… He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.

Hebrews 9 reiterates that the OC had one set of regulations for worship (“Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship…”). A careful reading also makes it clear that the New Covenant (NC) is pattered after it. The conclusion is that the NC can only have one set of regulations for worship, not two as we see today.

This realization makes me feel sad. I don’t like it, but that’s what I see.

Heavenly Catholic worship music

I’ve previously shared a few beautiful worship songs created by Protestants. Below I’ve embedded something Catholic called Agnus Dei, which means Lamb of God. It’s chanting in Latin, in four part harmony. In English it means:

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

You will recognize some of these words. They were spoken by John the Baptist when he saw Jesus (John 1:29). The words are spoken or sung during the mass as the priest breaks the consecrated host.

As I mentioned before, I am still acclimating myself to Catholic art. Thankfully there is no rush nor is there even an obligation. For example, I entered the Church in a parish that was meeting in a gymnasium it had recently built as part of a larger project. There was almost no art present inside the gym, and to be frank this is one of the reasons I chose that parish. Getting used to Catholic art is definitely one consideration in regards to becoming Catholic. Unfortunately it is never discussed, at least not that I’ve seen. I think converts, or potential converts, need to be told that they can become Catholic without embracing art that they find intimidating or off-putting.

Along these same lines, the kind of music in this video might be a bit of an acquired taste… like a fine red wine. I take a few sips here and there and find that I enjoy it a lot in small amounts. This piece in particular is heavenly and only about 1:30 long. Take a small sip and see if you enjoy it as much as I do! If you can read sheet music you’ll be able to follow along.

Just for clarity: most parishes in the U.S. won’t be singing these words in Latin at the consecration, they will be singing or saying them in English. The way to hear this in Latin during a mass is to attend a mass said in Latin, aka Extraordinary Form (EF).

How do we know if we have fulfilled our obligation to worship God?

I came across an interesting argument over at Nick’s Catholic Blog. He calls this argument the Ultimate Catholic Apologetics Argument (UCAA). I am not sure about that characterization, but at the very least I think he is onto something.

Let me restate his observation about Protestant worship service, using my own words:

Protestant Sunday worship services contain two structural features that are not found in the Bible: 1) The order in which the elements occur. 2) No definitive way to know that the obligation to worship God has been fulfilled.

So what are the elements that might be part of a Sunday worship service? Here are some that we can find in the Bible:

  • prayer
  • singing worship songs
  • preaching
  • Bible reading (out loud)
  • Eucharist (aka communion or Lord’s Supper)

Nick has pointed out that the Bible does not tell us:

  • in which order these should appear in a Sunday worship service
  • which elements MUST appear in order to ensure the fulfillment of our obligation to worship God

He argues that it means that we cannot look to the Bible to know with certainty whether or not we have fulfilled the obligation to worship God. If he is correct, then this is an extremely strong argument against Protestantism. However, I can think of a counter argument that Protestants could use to explain why they believe they fulfill the obligation.

Instead of continuing to argue head-on whether or not Protestants fulfill the obligation to worship God, I will address it from an entirely different angle in my next post.

If somebody believes that we don’t have an obligation to worship God, I addressed that here.

On Sunday worship

Under the Old Covenant, Saturday was the day for worship. But all Christians (except Seventh Day Adventists) worship on Sunday. There is not a lot of support for a change in the day of worship in Sacred Scripture, yet the day was changed. Here are the passages I found in the New Testament describing certain activities happening “on the first day” or “the Lord’s day” (Sunday): Mark 16:2, Mark 16:9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, John 20:19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2, Rev. 1:10.

The Old Testament also shows another meaningful day: “the eighth day.” Eight days after a male child was born, he would be circumcised (Gen. 17:12). Similarly, eight days after the sabbath is the first day, Sunday. Look at a calendar, put your finger on any Saturday, then count forward each day. When you count up to eight you will be on the first day of the following week, which will be a Sunday.

christus_ravenna_mosaic
Christus Ravenna mosaic, c. 550. Doesn’t directly apply to what I’m saying here… I just thought it was pretty. 🙂

The Scripture is clear about the requirement to worship on the sabbath. Yet the Scripture references above don’t add up to a clear argument for changing the day of worship and rest. Relying on Sacred Scripture alone to make that argument doesn’t seem very persuasive to me. If you read each of the New Testament verses above, you will see that they are all descriptive; none are imperative. Here is an example of an imperative statement:

“You shall love the Lord your God…”

This can be found in Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27. It is easy for us to understand him regarding what we are supposed to do, but he does not then change when we are to do it. There is no explicit command in Sacred Scripture to change the day of rest and worship from Saturday to Sunday.

The New Covenant ushered in a new way to worship. It follows then that it ushered in a new day to worship. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has a lot to say about this but these two references make the point:

1166 By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday. The day of Christ’s Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day,” on which Christ after his “rest” on the great Sabbath inaugurates the “day that the Lord has made,” the “day that knows no evening.”

2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.

Sunday as the day of worship proclaims the most important aspect of the New Covenant, Christ’s resurrection.

See also: Tradition precedes Scripture.