Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for June 25, 2006

Summer is finally upon us, along with warm weather to enjoy and road construction to avoid, especially on those long family drives. Summertime, especially with its lazy days and pleasant evenings can be a great opportunity to grow in our spiritual lives and draw closer to God. Vacations provide the perfect change in environment and schedule to examine our spiritual life during the routine days. Sometimes, we have enough time to pray and meditate more; other times, we may have the urge to find a new spiritual book, or read the Scriptures in a new light; and on vacation, attending Mass at a different parish is always an opportunity to experience the wider Catholic world.

How can we make the most of these times that refresh us in body and soul? What are some concrete ways to grow closer to Christ this summer?

Just as our final festival reminded us to “take Jesus with us” on vacation, that truth is essential to growing in our spiritual lives this summer. Simply reminding ourselves that Christ accompanies us throughout every aspect of our life can be enough to prompt prayers of praise, thanksgiving, petition, and even contrition. When we look at a beautiful summer sunset, sing songs around the campfire, or enjoy a weekend at the cabin, these times of rest and relaxation are all gifts from God.

Family prayer can also take these changes in schedule into account: praying the rosary together on long drives, praying in petition and thanksgiving for safe travel, and prayers before and after meals (even in restaurants!) can bring God into our recreation.

St. Irenaeus (whom the Church celebrates this Wednesday, June 28th), is a Father of the Church who knew exactly what it meant to have Jesus as part of every moment of his life. He was born around 125 A.D. in modern-day Turkey into a Christian family; eventually, he became the Bishop of Lyons in France, and was one of the greatest defenders of the Faith. As a boy, he heard the preaching of St. Polycarp, who had been a disciple of St. John the Apostle. This direct connection to one of the Twelve is a compelling reason to trust Irenaeus’ teaching.

He is most famous for his work Adversus Hæreses (Against the Heresies), which clearly and forcefully presents the Catholic teaching against the Gnostics, who sought a secret gnosis, or “knowledge” to bring about salvation. Another work, lost for centuries, was discovered in the early 1900’s, entitled The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. These early writings offer a glimpse at the continuity of the teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries. Irenaeus, as a bishop, was faced with theological challenges and disagreements, but instead of bowing to pressure, he taught what he had received: “This, beloved, is the preaching of the truth, and this is the manner of our redemption, and this is the way of life, which the prophets proclaimed, and Christ established, and the apostles delivered, and the Church in all the world hands on to her children” (Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, 98).

We also celebrate the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul this week (June 29th) and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome (June 30th). All of these saints bear witness to the importance of keeping Christ first in everything that we do, even to the very sacrifice of our lives for the Gospel.

May God bless you this summer as you travel (or stay at home!), and bring you closer to His Son’s Sacred Heart!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fath Seeking Understanding for June 18, 2006 -- Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi – the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – evokes a powerful memory of the Eucharistic processions that take place yearly in the Italian cities of Orvieto and Bolsena (about 70 miles north of Rome). When I was living in Rome, I was invited to participate with seminarians from the North American College in these processions which date to the 13th century. Both processions, which wind through the narrow and hilly streets of these two medieval Italian villages, are expressions of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist; they also bear witness to the origin of today’s great feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.

Bolsena is the site of what is known as a “Eucharistic Miracle,” in which the Sacred Host visibly transforms into flesh and blood. While celebrating Mass in 1263 at the Church of St. Christina in Bolsena, Peter of Prague was uncertain as to the truth of the Eucharist. Immediately after the words of consecration, however, the Sacred Host began to bleed. As the drops of blood fell onto the corporal, the astonished priest stopped the Mass, and was taken to nearby Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was staying. Immediately ordering an investigation, the Pope ordered the Host and corporal (with the blood stains) to be brought to Orvieto in procession, where they were enshrined in the Cathedral.

St. Thomas Aquinas was asked by the Pope to compose a hymn in honor of the Miracle, and the following year, the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted in the universal calendar. St. Thomas’ hymn, the Lauda Sion, is a remarkable theological summary of the Church’s faith in the Eucharist while being an equally beautiful and artistic composition filled with love for our Lord. Today, the Lauda Sion remains in the Liturgy as an optional sequence before the Gospel on today’s feast.

Each city celebrates this feast with a Eucharistic procession, in which the relic of the Eucharistic miracle is carried throughout the town; at the end of the procession, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in an ornate monstrance. Benediction is celebrated at small altars set up throughout the procession-route. Bolsena is particularly unique, however, because the townspeople adorn the entire route with flower-mosaics. These mosaics are created with fresh flower petals and leaves, on patches of dirt, to honor the Blessed Sacrament. Only the priest or bishop carrying the monstrance with the Eucharist steps on the beautiful flowers; everyone else in the procession carefully avoids them.

Even though participating in both processions was incredibly exhausting, the experience was unforgettable and deeply moving. Beyond giving honor and glory to our Lord, physically present in the Eucharist, these processions recall the importance of cultural expressions of our Faith. There can be no doubt, after witnessing such care and devotion, as to our Faith in the Eucharist. Processions, celebrations, religious plays, and religious music all strengthen our practice of the Faith and provide opportunities for evangelism.

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance and the meaning of the Eucharist in our own lives. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. CCC, 1324). The Eucharist is not only the goal of our life, it is the means by which we reach that goal. It is the pinnacle of our worship, while being the fulfillment of God’s sanctification of His people. In the Eucharist, we not only encounter God in an absolutely unique way, we are united to Him in anticipation of eternal life.

Although Christ is present in His word, in the prayer of the Church, in the poor and downtrodden, He is present “most especially in the Eucharistic species” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). The Eucharist is a presence unlike all others, because it is the substantial presence of God among us, in His flesh and blood. Finally, this Eucharistic Presence of Christ “begins at the moment of consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts” (CCC 1377).

We sing the praises of our Lord in the Eucharist with St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Adoro te devote:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy 231st Birthday!

Today is the birthday of the U.S. Army. Enjoy the DoD's tribute here. As we celebrate the founding of such a great institution which has protected and defended our great nation, let's pray for the brave men and women of the Army who continue to make this country great by their service.

Almighty God, bless our troops who serve our nation. Protect them from harm, grant them an outpouring of your Spirit, and bring them safely home. As you watched over Israel and granted them victory over their enemies, guard our men and women and never let them be far from your Heart. Grant all these things through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 12, 2006

College of Ss. Peter and Paul

For all those interested in Catholic higher education here in Michigan, several local Catholic intellectuals are beginning the arduous task of founding a new College. Drs. Henry Russell and Monica Migiorino-Miller are two of those developing the curriculum and development plan for this new and hopeful venture in continuing the Catholic tradition of promoting the Liberal Arts.

A lecture and reception will be help on Sunday, June 25th, at 7 pm, at the home of Mr. Edmund Miller (67919 Eight Mile Rd., South Lyon, MI). For more information, please call the Ss. Peter and Paul Educational Foundation at (734) 239-3476.

UPDATE: Visit the College's Foundation Website here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for June 11, 2006 -- Trinity Sunday

Although we are back to “Ordinary Time,” of the Liturgical Year, the Sundays immediately following Pentecost provide the opportunity to reflect on the core mysteries of the Faith. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and next week is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (formerly known as Corpus Christi). Since we can never exhaust these mysteries by prayer or study, learning and understanding the doctrine of the Church is a lifelong task. Instead of discouraging us, however, such richness and majesty prompts more questions and a deeper desire to draw close to God in our minds, so that we may serve Him better with our hands and hearts.

The existence of the Blessed Trinity is an article of Faith. We profess our Faith in one God, Who is Three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this teaching in paragraphs 232 – 267. In words that may be surprising, the Catechism says, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234). The Incarnation and Passion, the Eucharist and the Sacraments, even the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are all at the service of revealing God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – to the world. Even though the word “Trinity” never appears in Scripture and despite centuries of theological arguments about how best to articulate Catholic belief in the Trinity, our belief in one God in Three Persons is the foundation of our Faith.

Not only is Trinity the source of all the other mysteries of the Faith, it is also the light which enlightens them and enables us to live our calling as Christians (cf. CCC 234), because this mystery is the very life of God Himself. We know God’s works through history and Sacred Scripture, but we encounter God Himself in the mystery of the Trinity. The Trinity is also a mystery in its most proper sense: no amount of study, experimentation, or reflection could conclude that God is Three-in-One. Although the existence of God can be known through natural reason (cf. Vatican I, Dei Filius, ch. 2), the nature of God as a Trinity of Persons is unknowable without Divine Revelation: “His inmost being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 237).

The Church’s understanding of the Trinity developed during the first four centuries after Christ. The Christological heresies led to the Trinitarian heresies such as “modalism”, “adoptionism”, and “Arianism.” The Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325) and Constantinople (A.D. 381) clarified the nature of the Trinity as “consubstantial.” The Greek word homoousios (“same-substance”) was the touchstone of orthodox faith, defended by St. Athanasius; the term homoiousios (“similar-substance”) was championed by the notorious heretic Arius and those who believed Jesus was not God. Amazingly enough, the difference of a single letter “i” nearly split the Church. Such vigorous controversy reminds us of the importance of believing the truth, even when it is unpopular or challenging.

After describing the nature of the Trinity in itself (each Person is God, “consubstantial,” and co-eternal), the Church began to reflect upon the relationship between the Persons. Each Divine Person is properly described by His name; hence, the Father is truly and properly a Father. Although we experience fatherhood (and motherhood) through our earthly parents, God is a Father in the deepest sense. He “transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father” (CCC 239). The Persons are distinct from one another by their relationship: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds” (CCC 254). Therefore, “Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another” (CCC 255).

Continuing to explore the depth of the Mystery, we praise God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for June 4, 2006

Every year on the Solemnity of Pentecost the Church in Detroit rejoices in a special way at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, because of the annual priestly ordinations that have just taken place. Yesterday, three transitional deacons, Charles Fox, Don Lacuesta, and Hoang Chi Lam, were ordained Catholic priests for the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Vigil of Pentecost provides an excellent backdrop for the grace of priestly ordination, and rich subject for meditation as we celebrate the graces given to the Church through these new priests. Every ordination is also a moment to continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood, recalling the sacrifice and dedication required to bring the sacraments to the Church, particularly of the Eucharist and Penance.

Pentecost furthermore recalls to our minds and hearts the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. In responding to these gifts, we live out our primary vocation as Christians, that is as the Second Vatican Council says, the “universal call to holiness”. This teaching is most clearly articulated in the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, chapter five. We read, “this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others” (LG, 39).

The graces of Pentecost Sunday, in particular, call our attention to a renewed commitment to this universal vocation, whether in middle school, high school, or college, whether single or married, whether working or retired, clergy or laity, man or woman, each Christian is empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life of sanctity. Such holiness manifests itself in our family life, in our business practices, in countless daily decisions, and in our life of prayer. As the Council continues, “all Christ’s faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives-and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the divine will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world” (LG, 41).

What is the source for this life of holiness? How are we to live such Christ-centered lives, with the temptations and trials that surround us? Pentecost gives us the answer, as the Council teaches: “God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us” (LG, 42). God, Who is Love, accomplishes His work in the world through His Church; we are strengthened and empowered for this task by the gift of the Holy Spirit to each of us. We receive the Spirit for the first time at Baptism, we are sealed in His gifts at Confirmation, and continually renewed in the Spirit through Penance and the Eucharist.

“Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God’s grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues” (LG, 42).

But for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such a task would be impossible. Thanks be to God, however, that He gives us all the necessary graces to follow His commandments and to live a life of holiness. Only by His grace can we live His life on earth, and share in eternal life, to which we are all called. We implore the Holy Spirit today:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy Love.

Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O God, who does instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us, in that same Spirit, to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen.