Sunday, July 29, 2007

"The Eucharist makes the Church"

When we look at the great Cathedrals in Europe, they were built to give glory to God. The highest expression of glorifying God is through the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass. In a very real sense, then, the Cathedrals of Europe were built to house the Latin Mass, and Gregorian Chant. Today, they are all too often tourist attractions and living history museums, which perhaps is the only thing keeping them open, funded and maintained. Mass attendance in Europe hovers at around eight percent of the population even in such purportedly "Catholic" countries as France. Instead of maintaining tradition, and nurturing the ancient, beautiful Sacrifice of the Tridentine Mass (which itself was a mere codification of the mass dating back to the time of St. Gregory the Great), which would certainly increase mass attendance, many Bishops want to trivialize even the great Cathedrals. I was in Notre Dame Cathedral a few months ago. There was a giant projection screen over the altar, draped in such a way as to make it look like a giant sail. On it were projected words. The overall effect was one of banality, and trying to be "cool", "hip", even "avant garde." When will some Bishops get a clue? People want to be transported out of the banal, media-saturated world when they go to mass, not back into it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

On Malta

Malta is the most conservative Catholic country in the European Union. It has the highest number of citizens who attend mass of any country in the European Union. Catholicism is it's official state religion. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances. Many people in the general population still venerate Our Lady in processions. Catholic schools are still sponsored and funded by the state. Malta, standing as it does between Europe and Muslim countries across the sea to its south, has withstood the onslaught of Muslim armies as recently as the sixteenth centuries. She withstood the fascists in Italy and Germans during the Second World War. President Franklin Roosevelt, describing this situation, called Malta "one tiny bright flame in the darkness." She expelled the Revolutionary French who invaded her because the Maltese considered them ungoldly. She welcomed the British in the nineteenth century, but asked them to leave in the twentieth, which they did. Today most Maltese speak English. But Malta remains first and foremost a Country devoted to Our Lady and Christ Truly Present in the Eucharist. No wonder there are forces biting at the bit to destroy her culture.

Perhaps Saint Paul is praying for Malta still for the courtesy she showed him during the three months that he was on the Island after he was shipwrecked there; Acts 27: 41-44 to 28: 1-11:

41 And when we were fallen into a place where two seas met, they run the ship aground; and the forepart indeed, sticking fast, remained unmoveable: but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the sea. 42 And the soldiers' counsel was, that they should kill the prisoners, lest any of them, swimming out, should escape. 43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, forbade it to be done; and he commanded that they who could swim, should cast themselves first into the sea, and save themselves, and get to land. 44 And the rest, some they carried on boards, and some on those things that belonged to the ship. And so it came to pass, that every soul got safe to land.

1 And when we had escaped, then we knew that the island was called Melita. But the barbarians shewed us no small courtesy. 2 For kindling a fire, they refreshed us all, because of the present rain, and of the cold. 3 And when Paul had gathered together a bundle of sticks, and had laid them on the fire, a viper coming out of the heat, fastened on his hand. 4 And when the barbarians saw the beast hanging on his hand, they said one to another: Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, who though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance doth not suffer him to live. 5 And he indeed shaking off the beast into the fire, suffered no harm.
6 But they supposed that he would begin to swell up, and that he would suddenly fall down and die. But expecting long, and seeing that there came no harm to him, changing their minds, they said, that he was a god. 7 Now in these places were possessions of the chief man of the island, named Publius, who receiving us, for three days entertained us courteously. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever, and of a bloody flux. To whom Paul entered in; and when he had prayed, and laid his hands on him, he healed him. 9 Which being done, all that had diseases in the island, came and were healed: 10 Who also honoured us with many honours, and when we were to set sail, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
11 And after three months, we sailed in a ship of Alexandria, that had wintered in the island, whose sign was the Castors.