A Word from Father
Słowo od Pastora
MAY 17, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Each evening I read a short passage from the New Testament. I have a New Testament published by Scepter Publishers that has dates assigned throughout the text. By following the dates, one can read through the entire New Testament twice each year. I attempt to mediate briefly on each of the short passages: some days I am better at that than others.
The other day there was a passage from chapter four of St. John’s Gospel. One of the verses read: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to worship him.” There was a footnote to the text that struck me. The footnote said in regards to the notion of spirit and truth: “Not merely with the external observances of Jews and Samaritans, but internally and according to God’s will” and to the notion of such to worship him: “God desires as His worshippers those who have this internal disposition.” So what’s all going on here?
Jesus is teaching us about how to properly worship God. He says that must worship in spirit and in truth. The footnote explains that this means that our worship and devotion must be internal and according to God’s will. As we read often in the Bible, many in the past only worshipped God with external observances but not internally. Think of Matthew 23:25 when Jesus notes that the scribes and Pharisees only “clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within they are full of robbery and uncleanness.” Our external observances are important but whatever we do externally must match our internal disposition. St. Thomas Aquinas notes that interior worship consists in the soul being united to God by the intellect and the affections. This is the difficult part. Anyone can attend Mass or pray the Rosary: the externals are easy—having the right and proper internal disposition is difficult. As I said earlier, even for me, I read a short passage from the New Testament each evening (external action) but trying to mediate on it and truly pray with it each evening is difficult.
However, our worship is not only the internal observance but must also be according to God’s will. The internal observance is the in spirit part and God’s will is the in truth part, since God’s will is truth. If we worshipped apart from God’s will, it would not be in truth. Aquinas notes that a person would be guilty of falsehood who gave worship to God contrary to the manner established by the Church or by God Himself. All of our worship must be in accord with the manner established by the Church or divine authority and according to ecclesiastical custom.
We must always remember that the goal of divine worship is that man may give glory to God and submit to Him in mind and body (says Aquinas). In order to reach this goal, we must worship God in spirit, that is, which our right interior dispositions and not just external observances, but also in truth, that is, according to the will of God. God Himself desires us, His worshippers, to have this disposition and to worship Him in this way. “For the Father also seeks such to worship him.” It’s a lot to take in—and a lot to mediate upon. May we each day worship God in spirit and in truth.
Fr. Alan Guanella
MAY 10, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Last week I was going through some old files and came across a bit of text that someone sent me last Christmas Day. I saved it because I thought it was poignant. Little did I know back then how poignant it would be. The text was from King George VI’s 1939 Royal Christmas Broadcast. This Christmas message was delivered on the first Christmas of the Second World War. The King spoke live from Sandringham House to offer a message of reassurance. The bit of text I was sent last Christmas was this: “A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.” While His Majesty was talking about the continued struggle of World War II, I couldn’t help but think of the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Who could have imagined the world we find ourselves in today back during the joy of Christmas? While China was already grappling with the coronavirus, it seemed a long way away from the shores of America. Little did we know that just twelve weeks later the United States would be battling this new disease on the home front. Yet we take courage in King George’s words. This new year has not brought peace but rather continued struggle, therefore we must remain undaunted. There are fewer and fewer men and woman alive today who remember those days of World War II and the undaunted struggle in which the world found itself. We are now undaunted in a new struggle.
Jesus says to us in St. John’s Gospel: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” Even in these uncertain and troubling times, we remain undaunted because we believe in Jesus Christ: we hear his word, we believe in the one who sent him (God the Father). We are promised eternal life. While we must do all we can in the world to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy, we know that this world is passing away and that our true homeland is in Heaven. We are promised eternal life and that is our final destiny. I was struck by a passage from the Magnificat magazine a few days ago. It sums up our Christian life and what we should be about: We have reason for praise: we are God’s children, made in His image. When we were defaced by our sin, God renewed in us that image through the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the light of the world. By his light, we see ourselves as we are and as we are intended to be. Our challenge is to grow toward the true humanity we see in him. That just about sums up the Christian life, don’t you think?
King George concluded his 1939 Christmas Message with a few lines from the 1908 poem God Knows by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins. She writes, “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’” May we daily put our hands into the Hands of God and trust in Him!
APR 05, 2020