Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sacrament of Holy Orders

Others need to see in us the loving nature of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who is the most definitive and perfect sign of love in the world.

Our instructor paused to tell a quick story. A scientist came face to face with God, and he began to discuss what he did before death. As a biologist he tried to convince God that there was “no need for Him” anymore. Science was capable of doing anything including, creating life. The biologist was so confident in fact that he offered to demonstrate his ability to create life. God agreed that it might be an interesting demonstration and he agreed to let the scientist try. The scientist reached down to grab a handful of dirt, and God said, “Oh no, go get your own dirt”.

Our lives are bound up in love, and why would we want to miss out on that. We've all experienced the feeling of being un-loved. It’s time to wake up and smell the flowers or smell the coffee, as they say. He is real! We are called to be a prophet and speak the truth, and if you have a problem with that then there is something wrong. The brain must be connected to the spirit (the heart) if we want to understand.

At this point one of the students mentioned a (non Catholic) friend who says, "The more you think about something the more you believe it", as an explanation for religion. Although the student understands that this idea is not true, he has difficulty defending his belief. The instructor suggested that a person who says this is at risk. Empirical definitive proof is not going to happen.

We were reminded that sacrament is a sign and also a symbol. At the symbolic level there are many meanings or depths of meanings. Sacramental signs point to the direct meaning and sacramental symbols point to “the rest of the story”.

We are wired for love, we are wired for God, and we are made for God. To put it another way we are wired for the supernatural existential. We have a spirit and we have a soul which is another of the many gifts we receive. What we are involved in is bigger than all of us. Our instructor mentioned that he doesn't believe in coincidences, he believes in Godincidences, which is us being open to what is possible. There is always more. It’s like the best dinner ever, followed by the best Thanksgiving ever, followed by the best Christmas gift ever. There is always more!

The matter of the sacraments is the material stuff, and the form of the sacrament is what you do with the stuff. The water of baptism is the matter. It’s a force to be reckoned with because it is dangerous, it can be destructive, and yet it is also essential for life. It has many meanings; such as being drowned in Christ, forcing us to change the very level of our being. The words of baptism are the form. In the theology of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the matter is the laying on of hands, and the form is the prayer of priestly consecration.

Sacred music leads our hearts and minds to God, so music too can be a sacrament, although now it is called a sacramental. During the patristic age, we had all this great stuff from the great catholic doctors of the church, and with it there were many sacraments. Today there are only seven sacraments, but there is still a world of stuff around us.

We are precious in the sight of God, “Come to me and enjoy your reward”. We are to be a sacrament to the world, but we can not do it if we are in a state of sin. As the blood of our Savior flows through our body, the grace of Jesus Christ ignites a fire within us. It’s part of that ontological change.

From the Seminary, which means seed bed, men come into a process which is nothing more than a catechumenate. There are periods or stages of enlightenment and a sending forth. Taking the raw material of people and forming them into the priest hood of Christ. This is a place where the word of God is planted.
Someone asked the question, “Why is the sacrament of Holy Orders only for men”? Our instructor planned to answer this question later in the lecture, but he ran out of time. He did mention that Holy Orders is an inheritance of the faith. The Church is a church of the Disciples of Christ; we (meaning everyone) are to be One Holy and Apostolic Church. Don’t forget that Jesus had women disciples all around Him.
Don’t hold back the tears in confession, because with the tears you are closer to perfect contrition. Sacraments are supposed to bring about bearing the perfect truth. This is for every Christian because we are to be the symbol bearer for the many meanings of the reality of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

You're not going to be at peace until you're on your knees and filled with a deeper longing. It's not "All about me", although Narcissism is growing in the world around us. Remember that Hell is full of anarchists. Pray for the narcissists in our culture, those people who are worshiping the things which you see all around you; be a witness to the values of the gospel. For some people it's almost too late, because they've sinned until their consciousness no longer works. Let them see your holiness.

People need shepherding. By the very remembering celebrated in the Mass, we make the sacrifice memorable and share God's Charity, Love and Truth with others. Who is going to make that happen? It's the simple folks, the people in the pew, and the beauty of God working in the world as found in the book, "This Blessed Mess".

Holy Orders make the priest the official representative of Christ in persona, standing in the place of the church and in the person of Christ. Every one of us must live up to these values. Holy Orders make order in the church, makes the church holy and orders the world according to Christ's demands, who is the focus of the Eucharist. Be thankful to God for who you are, and that our life in Christ is more than what we do; it's about who we are.

There had to be a sacrifice after Adam and Eve, and ever since the fall it’s been too easy to agree with the evil one. Sacrifice is doing the Fathers will, just as Mary said “yes” to the Father’s plan. The affects of original sin remain which is why every time we choose to do wrong we sin, and with every “yes” to sin we say “no” to God. The priest hood within us and others counter acts this tendency. What Jesus did on the cross was offer us charity and love; He loves us and offers us his charity even today.

The reason for the cross is that sin is that bad. Sin is impossible in the kingdom of heaven, and with every “yes” in the name of the High Priest we say “yes” to God.

In Israel there was always a scapegoat. To it was pinned the sins of the nation as it was released into the desert to die. Jesus was the scapegoat for our sin, and we as priests are the scapegoat for our age. As priests we must hand ourselves over for the good of family, friends and strangers. We must live the prophetic dimension and be thankful for today. We as priests are sharing His Priesthood forever. “This day you will be with me in paradise”, is part of who we are.

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