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

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!