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!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Join Us (Digitally!) on Pilgrimage

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, you will be able to join us on pilgrimage to the Holy Land by a "virtual tour." Our pilgrim guide, Steve Ray, has been able to arrange daily videos of our pilgrim group to be made available on his blog at:
You will be able to see the sites we visit, and even leave messages for our group. Please keep us in your prayers, and we will keep you in ours.
I look forward to sharing the photos with you all on my return.

Faith Seeking Understanding for March 11, 2007

In anticipation...

I am on pilgrimage to the Holy Land this weekend and next weekend. If all has gone well, our group should be in Galilee until Tuesday when we go to Jerusalem for the remainder of our time. If you would like to follow our progress and see us on our journey, visit Steve Ray’s blog at Steve is a local Catholic apologist from the Ann Arbor area and has been to the Holy Land more than 40 times; he is our guide for the pilgrimage. He also has several videos that explore Scripture through the geography of Israel and the surrounding area, and his videographer is accompanying us on our pilgrimage. Every evening, they will post a short video clip and greetings from the pilgrims to the website, so please check in on us every day!

Since I don’t have the time to dedicate to beginning our next Father of the Church until I return from pilgrimage, I thought we would explore some of the different Lenten traditions that prepare the Church for Easter in different ways. Of particular interest is the Roman practice of the “Station Churches,” which dates to the third century.

In the early Church, the Pope would travel, accompanied by large numbers of the faithful, to a different church in Rome for every day of Lent. A special Mass was celebrated at each of these churches by the pope, as an expression of the “pilgrimage of Lent” but also as a way to prepare each portion of the city for the great celebration of the Paschal Mysteries at Easter.

During the 14th century, owing to the Avignon Papacy, the practice fell into disuse, but was been restored most recently by Bl. John XXIII in 1959. The pope no longer travels to every Station Church every day of Lent, but he nevertheless begins Lent by celebrating Mass and distribution Ashes at Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, and celebrates the most prominent of the Liturgies at their respective stational church.

The people of Rome, however, are well aware which church is to be visited each day, and the parishes and monasteries that are honored with the title of Station Church are always filled with great preparations for their particular day. For some time now, the American seminarians studying at the North American College in Rome have developed their own Station Church pilgrimage, and walk each day of Lent to the ancient Station Church and celebrate a 7 a.m. Mass before their day of studies begin. Some of these churches are a great distance from the College, so the students had an added austerity for the Lenten season.

Unlike Ordinary Time, every day of Lent has its own particular readings and Mass prayers: the Opening Prayer, the Prayer Over the Gifts, and the Prayer After Communion. Some of these Masses even retain a mention of the particular grace or virtue connected with the Station Church, but often go unnoticed. Such an abundance of grace is offered to us through the Lenten season; by reflecting on the daily readings and prayers, we are strengthened in our penances and self-discipline and better prepared to celebrate Easter.

The Station Churches also give us the encouragement of the martyrs and the great saints of the early Church, reminding us of the eternal happiness that awaits us in heaven. No matter how great our trials or suffering on this earth, Christ desires to share eternity with us, and the season of Lent helps us better prepare for that eternal celebration of Easter as well.

Next week, even though we will still be on pilgrimage, I will briefly outline the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a preparation for receiving this Sacrament during Lent. This season of repentance allows us to ask God for His Mercy and to receive it with confidence through the ministry of His Church.

May God bless you all, and be assured of my prayers for all of you while I am in the Holy Land.

Faith Seeking Understanding for March 4, 2007

This Friday, March 9, I will be leaving on pilgrimage to the Holy Land for 10 days, with about 100 other pilgrims. We will be staying in Jerusalem and Capernaum, and will have an opportunity to visit many of the holy sites including the locations of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Please keep our group in your prayers and be assured of our prayers on your behalf. Since I have never been to the Holy Land, I am looking forward to returning with a better understanding of the customs and culture of the place where our Lord lived, died, and rose from the dead.

Since I never managed to finish exploring the Apostolic Constitutions in the past few weeks, we can return to them this week; then we can take a break from the Fathers and discover some of the treasures of the Holy Land.

Book Eight is the last book of the Apostolic Constitutions. It addresses the different gifts of the Holy Spirit as they are given to the Church, both in the sense of particular charisms of healing, casting out demons, or prophecy, and also in the gifts of Holy Orders. In either case, the purpose of the gift is to build up the whole Church and to witness especially to unbelievers about the power of God. Therefore, “to be a Christian is in our own power; but to be an apostle, or a bishop, or in any other such office, is not in our own power, but at the disposal of God, who bestows the gifts” (Bk. 8, n. 1).

The heart of the teaching in this section concerns the forms of selection and ordinations, particularly of bishops. The bishop must be, above all, blameless and a worthy candidate; at this time in the Church, it seems as though the people and the priests approved the choice of their new bishop by acclamation and also by public scrutiny. Similar to the current ordination rite of Bishops, three bishops were required to ordain the new bishop. Also, two deacons held the book of the Gospels open over the head of the new bishop, while the prayer of consecration is said.

The prayer for the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons are then included, but unfortunately they are too long to include in this article. Each prayer, though, in its own way, expresses the grace that is imparted to the one being ordained and his role of service in the Church.

An interesting section then outlines the days of rest, particularly with regard to feast days; the goal of the Sunday rest in honor of the Resurrection is to allow for prayer and the celebration of the Liturgy. Also included as days of rest are the Ascension, Pentecost, Christmas, Epiphany, the feasts of the Apostles, and St. Stephen’s day (cf. Bk. 8, n. 33).

Aside from days of rest, however, the early Christians were exhorted to pray frequently by the Constitutions, having prayers at dawn, then in the morning, 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and evening. This section even describes some of the prayers, which are very beautiful; the prayer for the faithful departed is particularly touching: “Let us pray for our brothers that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his reward in the land of the pious … where all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished” (Bk. 8, n. 41).

This concludes the Apostolic Constitutions, which have given us an insight into the early Church’s life and practices. Our next Father will be St. Augustine, but I will spend a few weeks recounting our Holy Land pilgrimage.

The College of Ss. Peter and Paul Educational Foundation is holding a benefit dinner featuring Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz from Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 16th at the St. John’s Center. If you are interested in attending, or in having more information about the College, please call (248) 347-3649.

Have a blessed week!