A Preacher’s Life – The Divine Office

Brother Brad is a mass media maven.

Back in January, he produced a video about one of the essential aspects of a consecrated religious’ life, the Divine Office.  What is the Divine Office?  It’s the Church breathing.

See this amazingly educational and enrapturing video here.

The brethren in Ireland praying their Morning Office

The brethren in Ireland praying their Morning Office

Here at St Dominic’s, we have Matins and Morning Prayer at 7:15am, Monday through Friday, Evening Prayer at 5:00pm Sunday through Saturday.  You are welcome to join us at the front of the Church.

Thank you for Brother Brad for this great work!  God bless you and your vocation!

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner – Febuary 16, 2014

Brothers and sisters: We speak a wisdom to those
who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of
the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God’s
wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages
for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if
they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written: What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,Hurley_021614_Web
and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared
for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the
Spirit. (I Cor. 2:6-10)

 

Love is in the air in the wake of the flowers and chocolates of Valentine’s Day. In preparing for our Dinner Dance hosted by our Hispanic Community, I was asked about the Christian roots of this holiday.

Who was St. Valentine?
What is his connection with love?
Why do we send cards and chocolates to loved ones? Since Valentine’s Day is so popular and has a uniquely interesting history, I thought I’d start with a brief multiple choice quiz. Ready?

Was St. Valentine:

a. a priest in the Roman Empire who was thrown in jail and later beheaded because he helped persecuted Christians
b. the bishop of Terni who was beheaded during the reign of Claudius II
c. a courageous priest who clandestinely married couples when marriage was legally forbidden
d. an imprisoned Christian who secretly wrote letters to his jailer’s daughter which he signed “your valentine” as he awaited his execution on February 14
e. all, some, or a murky mixture of all of the above?

If you guessed e. have a piece of Valentine’s Day chocolate (if there’s any left). Because the facts about his life are more legendary than strictly historical, the Church dropped St. Valentine’s Day from the Roman calendar of official, liturgical feasts in 1969. This does not imply that St. Valentine is not a saint, nor that he did not exist, but since siblings Sts. Cyril and Methodius have more clear historical records, we celebrate their lives on February 14.

The seeds of St. Valentine’s Day were planted earlier by the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia. For more than 800 years, the Romans had dedicated this day to Lupercus, a god of fertility and health (sometimes associated with the Greek god, Pan). On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a companion for the year. Once Christianity became normative in the Roman Empire, this custom was dropped in favor of a lottery in which both young men and women would draw the names of saints whom they would emulate for the year. Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine’s name.

Valentines-Day-Quotes-Funny-Valentines-Day-Quotes-Valentines-Day-Wishes.com_In the Middle Ages, the English poet, Chaucer popularized this feast with a decidedly romantic flair. For example, in his poem “Parliament of Foules,” Chaucer links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of the feast day. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it that Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Shakespeare’s love sonnets fueled the romantic fire of the holiday. Eventually, this tradition came to the New World. When factory-made cards became popular in the 19th Century, Hallmark began mass producing valentines. According to market research, 60% of folks will celebrate the day. The average person spends $133.91 on flowers, cards, candy, and total spending tops $18.6 billion. The passion of love is powerful.

photo (1)Our celebrations of love are a good reminder that love is more powerful than romantic senti-mentality. In our second reading, St. Paul reminds us that it is love itself which creates heaven. God is love and so the joys and blessings that He has prepared for our eternal destiny go beyond even our wildest dreams. It is one thing to talk about love; it is something else altogether to experience it. When we experience God’s love, our lives are transformed. The Gospel commandment to love one another is not the greatest just because Jesus mandated it; love is the catalyst which opens our hearts to receive the presence and joy of God in our lives. We are commanded to love because when we do, we flourish. Heaven is for lovers and God wants to be our Valentine. May we open our hearts to be pierced by the arrow of his love.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Source & Summit – Defining the Mass, part 3

We continue our reflections on the definition of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  What follows is a re-presentation of the passage from the General Instruction:

157455543X16. The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually.  For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions and all the activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.

 

-“during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated” 
Through the entire year, the mysteries of Christ’s life is celebrated, from His Annunciation to the Ascension.  Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter.   Jesus’ entire life and ministry is re-presented every single year.  We celebrate the day he was born, certain milestones in his life, and his friends and family that are especially close to him.

This is hardly new.  We look forward to Christmas every year, right?  We are invited to insert ourselves into that life.  Seeing how Jesus sees, listening as Jesus listens, showing compassion as He had done.

52733683FO001_popePope Emeritus Benedict XVI mentions that the liturgy allows the believer to encounter Christ.  On September 3, 2008, he said, “We are only Christians if we encounter Christ, even if He does not reveal Himself to us as clearly and irresistibly as he did to Paul in making him the Apostle of the Gentiles. We can also encounter Christ in reading Holy Scripture, in prayer, and in the liturgical life of the Church – touch Christ’s heart and feel that Christ touches ours. And it is only in this personal relationship with Christ, in this meeting with the Risen One, that we are truly Christian.”

When was the last time Mass was an encounter with Jesus Christ?  Do we do to Mass in order to meet the Lord in an intimate way?


I remember when I was going through studies, there was an event that involved all three Catholic schools.  Before the closing prayer, we were told that someone was going to preach.  The Dominicans settled in, wondering how the person was going to do.

It was fantastic.  It was a very nice reflection.

Yet there was one thing missing.  Not once was “Jesus Christ” or “God” or “Spirit” mentioned. Not once did the preacher evoke the name of God.  Not once was the congregation challenged to engage God.  There was no invitation of encountering the divine.

195a38561eae8c9d65ac1c6afa334791This preacher isn’t alone.  I’ve visited a number of parishes…and there are many parishes in which Jesus has become “He Who Must Not Be Named”.

When was the last time a person came to Mass to encounter God?  I know that this sounds like an odd question.  But think about it.  So many people leave Catholicism—let alone religion—because they don’t know why they came to Mass. They have not an intimate relationship with God.  They have no prayer life whatsoever.  They have no relationships with the people that surround them every Sunday.

If a person is not at Mass celebrating God’s love for him or her, and deepening his or her relationship with Jesus—it’s no wonder people would leave the Church.

Yet during the course of the year, we gather as a community to celebrate the life, passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate, as a community, the love God has shown us.  When the priest or deacon dismisses us, we are dared to share that love with the world.  “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

gOn an annual basis, the Church presents us the entirety of Jesus’ presence through the Eucharistic Liturgy.  We are called to live that liturgy in the here and now, in the streets, workplaces, on the BART and everywhere in between.  …God help us.

We are going to move on from this definition and head onto other exciting things about our tradition.  Thanks for your time.

God bless you!  Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Source & Summit – Defining the Mass, part 2

We have come to second part of unpacking the General Instruction’s definition of the Mass.  For the sake of convenience, here is a re-presentation of the definition of the Mass as prescribed:

CLP-2938stdominic16. The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually.  For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions and all the activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.

 

We continue our unpacking with…

-“For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father.” 

I’ve been waiting for weeks to talk about this.  (I will not excuse myself for this liturgical nerd moment.  But if you skip a paragraph or five, I would not be surprised.)

In Eastern Christianity, we call this the synaxis.

Synaxis of the Archangels

Synaxis of the Archangels

It is the entire people of God, no matter what your position, no matter what your vocation, is lifted up to God.  All of our prayers, desires, penances, your pains and faults and failings, your accomplishments, EVERYTHING—is lifted up to God in sacrifice.  We lift up our entire beings in order to unite ourselves to God.

Ever have that relationship that feels like it came out of a fairy tale?  Like when you see the love of your life, that one person you want to spend all of your time with, that one person in which you would give anything and darn next to everything for—just to see him or her smile?  This is what we are talking about.  Giving up your everything in order to love Love in a dynamic, intimate way.  The synaxis!

Needless to say, the synaxis presupposes an intimate and dynamic love between God and the individual believer.   In fact, the entire definition as given by the GIRM presupposes that you have an intimate, dynamic and REAL relationship with God and His Church.  That God is not simply a thing “out there”, but rather, God is “in here”, in the echoes of our heart, waiting for us to turn to Him so that He can whisper “I love you.”

Within the synaxis, God takes these sacrifices, and sanctifies them as an act of worship, and thus bringing us into greater, deeper, and more profound union with the Trinity.  Our sacrifices, as painful as they are, are made holy and wonderful in God’s site.  By lifting up ourselves and our sacrifices to God, we are made holy. We put ourselves on the road to sainthood.

TrinityThe synaxis is explicitly Trinitarian.  The People of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, worships the Father, in the name of the Son.  The prayers of the Mass are directed towards the Father, in Christ’s name, oftentimes invoking—if not inspired by—the Holy Spirit.

Next time, we will continue our reflections, focusing a bit on the Liturgical Year and encountering Jesus Christ.

God bless!

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner – Our Lady of Lourdes

Act of Consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate, you appeared 18 times to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes to remind Christians of what the truths in the Gospel require of them. You call them to prayer, penance, the Eucharist and the life of the church.

To answer your call more fully, I dedicate myself, through you, to your Son Jesus. Make me willing to accept what he said. By the fervor of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world.

All this I ask, confident that you, Our Lady, will fully answer my prayer.

Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

St. Bernadette, pray for us.

 

Fr. Michael at the Grotto  Photo Credit: K Mitchell

Fr. Michael at the Grotto Photo Credit: K Mitchell

This Tuesday we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. On February 11, 1858, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl, at a cave in Massabielle, France. Identifying herself as the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin urged Bernadette to live a life of prayer and penance for world peace and spiritual healing. Though many, including her parents, did not initially believe Bernadette’s fantastic story, the miraculous nature of her vision soon became undeniable. Very quickly, the focus of the pilgrims who traveled to the grotto to see where Mary appeared centered on the spring of water that Bernadette unearthed at the Lady’s promptings. Though at first the spring waters ran muddy, it soon became evident that some who washed in its waters were cured of various maladies. Word spread like fire and, though at first the Church was circumspect with regard to these miraculous reports, the scientific community verified the veracity of many of these claims of cure. With joy the Church approved the apparitions and today Our Lady’s grotto in Lourdes is one of the most visited Marian sites in the world, attracting more than 6 million pilgrims annually.

 

Pope Pius XII wrote a beautiful encyclical letter about the Lourdes apparitions in which he powerfully articulates how we can learn from and be healed through Our Lady’s intercession: In the school of Mary one can learn to live, not only to give Christ to the world, but also to await with faith the hour of Jesus, and to remain with Mary at the foot of the cross. Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honored at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer. (Le Pelerinage de Lourdes)

 

indexOne does not have to travel to France to be touched by the compassion of Our Lady who appeared to St. Bernadette. At St. Dominic’s we honor Our Lady at our Lourdes Grotto. Now situated in the parking lot, the Grotto was originally part of St. Rose Academy and resided in a garden cloister area used by our Dominican Sisters of San Raphael. When the Academy came down, the Grotto remained in place and today serves as a focal point of prayer and devotion. No matter the time of day, the Grotto always draws devotees who come to call upon Our Lady for her powerful intercession. I think of the countless prayers, rosaries and sacrifices offered at the foot of the Grotto (even in the most inclement weather), and know that many a pilgrim has experienced the peace and comfort of the Blessed Virgin at this special shrine. For those who have visited the Grotto, you have experienced its comfort. For those who have not, I invite to make a visit. Our Lady awaits!

 

Pastor Emeritus Father Martin DePorres Walsh, OP

Pastor Emeritus Father Martin DePorres Walsh, OP

Also, this week we have had the pleasure of having our own Pastor Emeritus, Fr. Martin Walsh, O.P., lead us in the St. Jude novena for Our Lady of Lourdes. In these past days, Fr. Martin has given us insight into the life of Mary. By looking to her words and even her silent contemplation, we are encouraged and inspired in the hopes and dreams of our spiritual journey. Called to be disciples, we are led by Mary who is the first and preeminent disciple. Even if you have not been able to join us for the novena, I invite you to come to the culmination celebration of this feast at the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Tuesday. May our Lady of Lourdes enlighten our path, touch our hearts and lead us to the embrace of her Son!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Source & Summit – Defining the Mass, part 1

vaticanii“Source and Summit” is one of three regular series that we hope to propose to you as the life of this blog goes on.  We got the name of this series from the Second Vatican Council, which teaches that the Eucharistic Liturgy is the source and summit of the Christian faith.  The goal of “Source and Summit” is to explain and propose a liturgical spirituality.  We will explain liturgical objects and concepts.  Eventually, we will talk about the actual pieces that we use in the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, but first, some theological gems for your contemplation.

In our first through third installments, we’ll unpack the definition of the Mass, as defined by the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM).

So let’s get to work!

First, the word for Liturgy means ‘work’—as in, the work of the people of God.  The Catechism reminds us that In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.”Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.” (CCC 1069)

The Liturgy is the work of the people of God in communion with Christ, who is imbued by the Holy Spirit, called to imitate Christ in order to glorify the Father.

Secondly, when Catholics generally think about the Liturgy, they oftentimes reduce this to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Mass.  A very rich definition of the Mass is from…
157455543X

The GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL.   This is basically the how-to book on the Eucharistic Liturgy.  What prayers do you say when, what do the altar servers do, when does the bishop take off his miter, when does the deacon ask for a blessing, etc.  Early on in the document, we have a rich definition of the Mass.

16. The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually.  For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions and all the activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.

This is rather dense.  …so what does it all mean?  A few reflections….

Mass as the action of Christ.  Christ works through us and within us.  It is not only an expression of our love for God, but it is an expression of Christ’s love for the Father, and Christ’s love for humanity.   Notice here.  The first thing we hear about the Mass is that it is the work of Christ.  The work of the Son of God.  Not our work.  But it is Christ working in us and through us.  It’s Jesus’ liturgy.  It does not belong to the priest, choir director or Mass coordinator. This is Jesus’ work.

I’ve run into many priests that talk about their celebration style.  Some sing the Eucharistic prayer, others would rather use one penitential rite over another.  But for some priests—and thankfully, they are few in number—who actually think that the Mass actually belongs to them.  They say, “In my Mass, we’ll do…”  At worst, some break liturgical praxis for their own gain or comfort.  Rather, the Church teaches, the priest and the Church’s ministers are servants of the liturgy, and not its masters.

The liturgy is the work of Christ, and thus, it belongs to Christ.  The minister that ego-trips is not welcome to serve.  The liturgy belongs to the High Priest, Jesus Christ.

 –People of God arrayed hierarchically.  That is, the entire people of God, all forms of vocation is represented and is working together in this moment.  Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, married, single—the entire people of God.  The entire family is together to worship as one.  In this case, the Bishop is not greater than the father, and the father is not greater than the daughter, and the daughter is not greater than the widow.  All are arranged hierarchically, but more important, everyone is home to worship the Lord.

27Just a few weeks ago, I concelebrated the Mass for Life at the Cathedral.  This is a great example of what we are talking about.  The bishops and their altar servers were in the sanctuary, we concelebrating priests had our sections, the religious sisters had their, the Dominican friars took like, four rows (awesome), but there was also and overabundance of lay faithful, young old, babies, strollers, teenagers, as well as seasoned veterans of the Prolife Movement.  The People of God in its fullness, of all vocations, of all ways and states in life, gathered together to worship God.  God’s people, allowing Christ to work through them, through the Holy Spirit, to glorify God the Father.

 

We are hardly done with this very rich definition of the Mass.  Next time, we’ll cover one of the most intriguing words in all of liturgy – the synaxis.  I’m excited just thinking about it….

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Breakfast of Champions

…you know that you live in a house full of guys when this is your proposed breakfast.

photo

I wish I were making this up. On second thought, I don’t wish that at all.  (I think it’s hilarious and awesome.)

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!  Really, pray for us!  ….like, now.

Our Pastor’s Corner, February 2, 2014, The Presentation of the Lord

One of the classic movies of my youth is the comedy, Groundhog Day. Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors, a conceited weatherman, who begrudgingly goes to Punxsutawney, PA, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festival. Due to a snowstorm, Phil is marooned in the small hamlet and soon discovers that every day as he wakes to the Sonny-and-Cher duet, “I’ve got you, Babe,” it is February 2 all over again. He is stuck. Much of the comedy revolves around his “ability” to anticipate the day’s events as he pursues happiness in the proverbial wine, woman and song. But to no avail. At his lowest point, Phil realizes that no amount of self-seeking pleasure will ever make him happy and he despairs. His turning point happens when Phil reaches out to help a beggar who is freezing, and although he doesn’t save him the first time, this altruistic gesture begins to shape a selfless attitude that snowballs into Phil’s lending a helping hand to the entire community. By the end, Phil knows everyone, develops a few talents (playing the piano) and discovers that happiness comes not from what you get, but from what you give. Once Phil’s selfish shadow dissipates, the cycle is broken and spring comes to life.

The Presentation of Lord, Fra. Angelico, O.P.

The Presentation of Lord, Fra. Angelico, O.P.

Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. This feast relives the moment when, 40 days after Christmas, Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus into the Temple to be redeemed and dedicated to God. Entering the Temple, the Holy Family is greeted by Simeon, a priest who had been waiting for the promised Messiah. Simeon’s lifelong vigil represents the hopes and dreams of the Jewish nation. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel was stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. The Temple was missing the holy presence of God, the Ark of the Covenant. The Temple was specifically designed as a place to honor the ark, so its absence created ache and angst for the return of God’s living presence. As Christ is presented in the Temple, the cycle of waiting ends. The living presence of God returns to the Temple, not in a gold-gilded ark, but Incarnate in our own human nature. Simeon weeps for joy as he prophetically proclaims, “my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” For the Jewish people, the light has dawned, and spring comes to life.

This theme of breaking cycles is built into how we approach the New Year. It is a time to take stock of our lives, to get perspective and to set goals for personal growth. But getting unstuck is tough. Statistics tells us that 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail in the first month. Human nature tells us that, once we initially fail in our attempt, we easily throw in the towel. Old habits die hard, new habits take time. Precisely at this pivotal moment, the feast of the Presentation emerges to encourage us. It is a powerful reminder that, even 40 days after Christmas, God is still present with us. Don’t give up! Presumably, there were days when Simeon didn’t want to go to Temple to wait and pray. No doubt the trip from the cave in Bethlehem to the Temple in Jerusalem was a difficult and daunting journey for the new parents and child. Yet, the moment of presentation bursts forth with the promise of new life. Whatever resolution you’ve made and failed at, it’s worth restarting. If you haven’t made a resolution, go for it. God always calls us to grow in our relationship with him. Get creative. The Presentation is a second chance at a fresh start in the New Year.

In honor of this feast, here’s my Top Ten List of Presentation Resolutions:
1. Go to Mass every Sunday. God is waiting to fill you with his blessings.
2. Say Thank You every day. It’s not that happy people are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy.
3. Tell the truth. It’s easy to fib and we do it more often than we’d like to admit.
4. Read the Gospels in a year. Go to www.flocknote.com/gospel and they’ll send a short piece of the Gospel to your email every day. (I read the entire Catechism this way last year)
5. Stop Complaining. Nothing kills the grace of God’s presence like self-absorbed griping.
6. Go to Confession regularly. There’s nothing like being forgiven and it’s free!
7. Pray the Rosary. It’ll be the best 14 minutes or 1% of your day.
8. Don’t Gossip but Encourage. When you find yourself gossiping, resolve to seek out that person and encourage them.
9. Spend less, pray more. Use your prayer book more than your checkbook.
10. Get active. There are so many ways to get involved in our parish. Join an Intentional Disciples’ small community or get involved in one of our 40 ministries. There’s something for everyone!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

On the Liturgy of Football

It’s Superbowl weekend. New York City.  Seahawks and Broncos.Odds-to-Win-2014-Super-Bowl-020313L

What is fascinating about the Superbowl is that, very year, we witness a liturgy of football that most of us do not see at any other time.

When most of us watch a sporting event, we do not see the entire ritual that goes before starting the game.  The entrance of the teams, the national anthem, the coin toss, etc.  Yet for some mysterious reason, we see it on Superbowl Sunday.  We see it every year. In fact, it wouldn’t be Superbowl Sunday if we didn’t have these preliminary rituals broadcasted all over the world.

It seems that we need to see this ritual seen and reseen.  It brings us together.  It binds us.  We like the predictability.  The ritual gives our society a common text that we read from.  And dare I say, in a city of insurgents and dissenters, some go out of their way to tell people of their disinterest in the game.  And funny enough, this, in itself, is a participation of the event.

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Photo credit: Mary

Catholics like ritual, too.

We’ve been doing the same darn thing over and over again, a number of times a day, for the past two thousand years.  We go through the ritual of liturgy for much the same reasons.  As a people, it brings us together.  It binds us.  We are told and retold the Great Story of the Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of God.  Our ritual too gives our society—the Body of Christ—a common text that we read from.  It forms our mindset and grants us our presuppositions.  It reminds us of greater, granter, nobler things.  Not only that we belong to the American Community—that is what the Superbowl does—but that we belong to God’s family.  That our binding is not merely based on citizenship or pieces of paper, we Christians are bounded by blood and water and sacrifice.

The liturgy we partake in every time we attend Mass–Sunday, during the week, or otherwise–reminds us of that deeper something .  Seeing and reseeing the Great Story of Jesus Christ over and over again effects us, unites, and brings us (hopefully) into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ and his Church. Seeing an reseeing the Great Liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass binds us and makes us one.

So okay, football fans of the Catholic nature, enjoy watching (or not watching) the game in New York.  Have fun watching the commercials, watching or not watching the halftime show.   But as you are going through the Gathering Rites of the Superbowl, remember the Greater Rites of your faith.  We will not crown Russell Wilson or Peyton Manning as Emperor, we will not throw ourselves at the feet of Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we will not sacrifice our health to the pagan gods of hot wings.  Instead, we will remember that our God is King, we will throw our lot with the Queen of Heaven, we will sacrifice our health and lives to earn immortality.  With our liturgy, there are more noble, wondrous and amazing things awaiting.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!