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!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Faith Seeking Understanding for February 4, 2007

I just realized that I'm missing a few posts, so I'll try to add them later today. Thanks for your patience!

I can hardly believe that February has already begun, and that Lent begins in just over two weeks. Our Holy Land pilgrimage leaves in just over a month; if you would like me to bring any prayer intentions, please e-mail me or bring a note by the office.

We will continue our exploration of the Apostolic Constitutions this week with Book 4, which begins by admonishing the faithful to have concern for the poor. Corresponding to this is the criticism of the love of money: “For he that has money and does not bestow it upon others, nor use it himself, is like the serpent, which they say sleeps over the treasures; and of him is that scripture true which says, ‘He has gathered riches of which he shall not taste;’ and they will be of no use to him he perishes justly” (Bk. 4, n. 4).

Next, we hear about domestic life: “Fathers, educate your children in the Lord, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Bk. 4, n. 11). Such education is still essential, always beginning in the home, which is the foundation of the life of the Church. We further read that parents will be held accountable for their children’s decisions: “if the offending children get into the company of debauched persons by the negligence of those that begat them, they will not be punished alone by themselves; but their parents also will be condemned on their account” (ibid.).

Book 5 describes the conditions of those condemned to death for confessing the Gospel; the faithful are encouraged to support the martyrs, to visit those condemned in prison, and to support the families they leave behind. Nevertheless, harsh words are reserved for those who deny Christ: “He that denies himself to be a Christian, that he may not be hated of men, and so loves his own life more than he does the Lord, in whose hand his breath is, is wretched and miserable, as being detestable and abominable, who desires to be the friend of men, but is the enemy of God, having no longer his portion with the saints, but with those who are accursed” (Bk. 5, n. 4).

Although these words sound somewhat harsh to us, considering the Lord’s mercy and compassion, when we imagine the devastation wrought by persecutions in the early Church, we can understand why denying Christ was so horrific. Since we are not faced with such visible and forceful persecution in our society, it is easy to admire the martyrs. Nevertheless, we must constantly defend the Faith by our actions and choices, so that our friends and neighbors would never doubt our obedience to Christ.

We also read about the feast-days to be celebrated by the early Church: “first of all, the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month; after which let the Epiphany be to you the most honored, in which the Lord made to you a display of His own Godhead, and let it take place on the sixth of the tenth month; after which the fast of Lent is to be observed.” (Bk. 5, n. 13).

A description of the Easter-Vigil also follows: “From the evening till cock-crowing keep awake, and assemble together in the church, watch and pray, and entreat God; reading, when you sit up all night, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, until cock-crowing, and baptizing your catechumens, and reading the Gospel with fear and trembling, and speaking to the people such things as tend to their salvation” (Bk. 5, n. 19). And then, “now the Lord is risen, offer your sacrifice, concerning which He made a constitution by us, saying, ‘Do this for a remembrance of me;’ and leave off your fasting, and rejoice, and keep a festival, because Jesus Christ, the pledge of our resurrection, is risen from the dead” (ibid.).

The continuity in Christian practice, for the sixteen centuries since the Constitutions were produced, never ceases to amaze me; we clearly rely upon our ancestors in the Faith for all that we have. We will continue to explore this document for the next few weeks; have a blessed and holy week!