Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eucharistic Adoration and Conversion

It was not more than a couple of weeks ago that I went to Adoration for the first time. In case some of you who read don't know, I am a convert in heart to the Catholic Faith, who has renounced his former heresies and is looking to be Baptized into the mystical Body of Christ this year sometime, or else on Easter Sunday of 2013. One thing about my journey to the Catholic Faith that I have become very aware of is that there is a difference between mental conversion and assent to the True Faith proclaimed throughout the ages, and integrating physically into Catholic culture and tradition as it is lived out day by day in the lives of thousands of faithful.

Looking back, that time spent in Adoration of Our Eucharistic Lord for the first time was exhilarating, but at the same time necessarily full of trepidation at the radically different culture that I was being bathed in. Don't get me wrong, it was blissful, and Christ was there which made it all worth it. But boy, is it ever an interesting experience to be a convert to the Faith.

As it turns out, that was my first time stepping inside a Catholic Church since I was five, when I stepped inside a tiny, antique, small Catholic Church out in the middle of nowhere for my (devoutly Catholic and sainted) great-grandmother's funeral. When I stepped into Adoration, there was a liturgical celebration of the Rosary going on in the Chapel by a large Catholic family, and it was like stepping onto Mars after having lived for many months now with Catholic Faith and passion burning in my soul and intellect but having to brace myself against the Protestant culture all around me in my home. To suddenly let go, and lower my guard, was a relief yet shocking at the same time. I can recall at one time, in early fall 2011, when I had just made the discovery of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Queenship of Heaven and Earth based on the structure of the Davidic Kingdom in the Old Testament (which I passionately accepted immediately with the patriotic zeal of a man who has found the Country he has been longing for his entire life), when I wore a scapular for one of the first times while going to a Lutheran 'divine service' with my parents because I was so passionate for our Blessed Mother and I could not for the life of me understand any professing "citizen of the (Hebraic) Kingdom of Heaven" accept Christ the ultimate fulfillment of the Davidic King, and yet reject His Davidic Queen Mother (not to mention His Davidic Steward, Peter and his successors).

That's the sort of heavy defensive attitude I had to adopt to become Catholic in mindset for going on a year now, so to suddenly walk into Adoration and hear the Joyful Mysteries being proclaimed out loud, well, pleasantly shocking and something that I need to get used to, just like hundreds of other details (like when to bow, when to genuflect, when to sign yourself with holy water, and on and on- it's truly living on another planet. It's like walking your whole life and suddenly finding out you've never really walked, and having to learn anew).

I finally was able to go to Adoration again yesterday for just the second time. Not much has changed, everything is still like life on Mars for me, but the beautiful thing about this visit (besides the infinite Beauty present on the Altar in all of His glorious humility) was the quiet. There's just something about Catholic Churches, even modern ones with modern designs, that fosters holy silence. There were no liturgical Rosaries being prayed this time, no one was talking. The room was so quiet that I could hear every breath given from Heaven, and every gift of a new heartbeat from the Father of Lights. I could hear with acute sound every rustle of the Rosary beads as I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, staring fixedly into the Heart of Jesus, present on the Altar; as the Word Himself spoke words to my soul deeper than my ears could hear, or my understanding could fathom, as in my peripheral vision I could see the beautiful flicker of the Altar candles.

There is simply nothing like the beauty of Christ in His Eucharistic presence, and the holy and sacred quietude surrounding Him, with reverencing men silent before His Divine Majesty.

11 comments:

  1. What exactly do you mean by "liturgical Rosary?"

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    1. When I say liturgical Rosary, I mean is a Rosary that is prayed in the style of Mother Angelica and her nuns on EWTN. Mother Angelica would pray aloud the first half "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

      And then her nuns would chant the second half in unison "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen."

      This first occasion that I went to Eucharistic Adoration was directly after Holy Mass, and it appears this large Catholic family made a point of coming directly from Saturday night Mass to the Adoration Chapel. The father would say the first part singly aloud and the whole family would pray the second part aloud afterward.

      Perhaps I was a bit loose with my terms when I said it was "liturgical." I didn't mean any actual function in the liturgy of the Church, which would be an abuse; I just meant not the usual private recitation of the Rosary.

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  2. I understand, Jonathan. I was pretty convinced that was what you meant, but I wasn't certain, so I wanted to ask. Sometimes it's hard to find the right words when you're fully immersing yourself in a new culture. For example, while I was living in Japan I misused a specific word that dealt with "use."

    I asked to use the computer, I thought, when I was using the specific word that dealt with only using the bath or shower...haha!

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  3. Hi Jonathon! You commented on my blog and I wanted to make sure you got my response-

    here it is

    Jonathon- after I posted this portion of Ric's post, I couldn't sleep because it is so controversial- Ric is really trying to encourage Byzantine Catholics to be Byzantine ('orthodox') in their spirituality and Catholic only through jurisdiction.

    Whether Ric agrees or not- some of the problem IS vocabulary- and some of it is pride- in that the eastern orthodox were not a part of some defining dogmas like the Immaculate Conception- so some people say Orthodox don't believe in that- not true.

    Theology developed and is defined and explained, but if you have ever been to a Byzantine baptism, you would say- WOW! How many exorcisms does that cute little baby need? So- in our actions and our liturgical tradition, there is clearly a concept of 'original sin' however we explain it.

    I am going to ask our monks from Holy Resurrection Monastery to clarify this- they have the education (unlike me and I believe Ric) to explain the concept well.

    Jonathan- don't be discouraged- it is one, holy and apostolic.

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    1. Jonathan, sorry to bother you on this, but I read your concerns on priest's wife 's blog...and wrote a brief answer to you there:

      Hi, Jonathan, even if some Byzantines put forth that they believe children are born in an original justice, (that is not merely without personal sin, but also without original sin and the guilt attributed thereto) this does not mean that they are free to believe what they profess. The Council of Trent made it very clear what is to be believed regarding the original sin of Adam and how it is removed from the individual, which is bound on the universal Church, not merely the Latin Rite. Contrary to what this Mr. Ric Ballard says, this issue is not a mere matter of cultural shift toward Latinization amongst the Easterns, but a matter of salvation of souls. A contradiction cannot exist, and as was defined at the First Vatican Council, that which is of the faith cannot contradict reason. Therefore, only one tradition is correct in regard to the transmission of the truth of the original sin: either the universal Church as reflected in the teachings of the Council of Trent (sessions five and six), or the Byzantine tradition as reported by Mr. Ric Ballard.

      Please, don't be discouraged, and don't despair!

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    3. Mr. Ballard,

      Any adult who professes to be Catholic must be qualified to speak about Catholic doctrine, both so as to save himself before Christ and to do his duty to his children (if that be the case). That is not merely given to those with higher degrees, but to all. This is part of what is so beautiful about the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is not a body for either clericalism or elitism, but for Catholicism.

      The truths of the faith do not vary from rite to rite, they are the exact same truths, handed down either from the Apostles and Fathers clearly through tradition and reflected in Scripture, taught by the successors of the Apostles through the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, or taught by the Roman Pontiff in his solemn judgments. All mature minds must be capable of understanding and explaining these things, or they fail in their duty as mature human beings. This does not mean that we explain or understand in the same words, but that we all hold the same underlying concepts with no contradiction.

      This fact does not take a theology degree nor education at a university to grasp; it merely takes knowledgeable and faithful parents/guardians passing it on and good-willed children/pupils picking it up.

      There should be no fear in learning the truths of the faith for Jonathan, as that is part of what the Council of Trent stipulates in its manner of preparation to receive Justification (conceiving faith by hearing)...and this includes reading Church documents at times.

      There is no argument that the Byzantines and other Easterns need not be like the Latins in local custom and discipline, as they have their own long-held and good traditional customs and disciplines. But, one cannot mistake that fact for the fact that all rites are gathered under Rome, most specifically, the Supreme Pontiff. All rites, not only the Latin Rite, must look to Rome for confirmation of doctrine and strength for the Bishops. This is a fact reiterated ad infinitum through the history of the Church and part of revealed truth from the mouth of His Divine Majesty.

      We are not free merely to shake off Rome under the pretense of avoiding "Latinization." While the Roman Pontiff does offer the divine service according to the Latin Rite, that does not make the entire Roman Catholic Church only of the Latin Rite. While you may not agree with the semantics, the fact is, if one is in communion with Rome (i.e., baptized, has faith, has not left the Church, has not been excommunicated, and has recourse to the sacraments in line with the precepts of the Church) then he is Roman Catholic (whether or not he attends the divine liturgy according to the Latin, Ruthenian, Maronite, Syriac or Coptic, etc. rites).

      The Second Vatican Council did not change this. Church politics have nothing to do with the discussion of doctrine; politics merely deal with issues of a pastoral nature. There is really only one theological dimension here to comprehend, as well, that is, the Catholic dimension. While expression may vary (this does not include contradiction, as acceptance of a contradiction is a destruction of human dignity and contravenes rational nature), as was discussed at the Council of Florence regarding the Filioque, the underlying concepts are all the same.

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    5. Hi, Jonathan, sorry to hi-jack your blog for this...

      Well, Mr. Ballard,

      Take what I wrote as you will.

      Objectively, I brought up neither how much Latin ought be present at the Holy Sacrifice nor the finer points of any doctrine from an Ecumenical Council.

      The truths of the faith are not the finer points, they're the foundation on which for the finer points to be built. That includes scripture and tradition, not merely the solemn judgments of the Church, nor the teachings of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium.

      I am open to illumination in regard to the Eastern Brethren if you believe that I am ignorant. I am open to correction if you believe I am in error. You're welcome to email me or to demonstrate publicly my ignorance and/or error with an objective and preferably authoritative diagram of the Church and the inter-relations of the various rites. I am, in fact, very interested.

      Thank you for your response.

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    6. Not a problem, Nicole, I read Ric's posts before he deleted them, and I would have responded to them as well.

      I think one thing that he took issue with that could be avoided because it's based on vocabulary alone is the pressing of Byzantine Catholics into the category "Roman Catholic." I've noticed that this is a sore point, but really, all you mean is that to be authentically Catholic means to be in full and loving communion with the City of Rome.

      We always ought to do our best to be conciliatory and committed to unity, both Byzantines and Romans, especially in matters of language :) However, Ric was quite rude, so that's not keeping with the Spirit of Unity either.

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  4. Jonathan,

    I have found that rude is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, because oddly enough, I did not find him rude. I was a bit taken back, though, by some of what he wrote. I find that it gets quite old, almost to the point of comedy, when a person makes what at least appears to be excuses for remaining aloof and separate from Rome, while claiming to remain in and value communion with Rome.

    I really wish Mr. Ballard all the best toward his due end...and I hope he gets what he wants out of life.

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