THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 20th, 2014
Memorial of St. Sebastian
Liturgical texts here
GOD is doing something new. And we have to pay attention to this, to what the Holy Spirit is doing. It is time to let go of our expectations, understanding, and security. The winds of change are blowing and in order to fly with them, we have to be stripped of all the heavy weights and chains that keep us tied down. We have to learn to listen intently, as it says in the first reading today, to “the voice of the Lord.” translation in the Jerusalem Bible
I want to do something I won’t do often in The Now Word, and that is dig back into the archives for a previous meditation written in March of 2011. It is a prophetic word; I think when you read it, many of the changes and trials happening in the Church and perhaps your own personal life today will make more sense. This writing is all about the “new wineskin” Jesus spoke about in today’s Gospel, because “the age of ministries is ending”…
THE events that have unfolded recently, especially in Japan, have set loose a flurry of speculation and even panic among some Christians that now is the time to buy supplies and head for the hills. Without a doubt, the string of natural disasters around the globe, the looming food crisis, the rising cost of fuel, and the impending collapse of the dollar can not help but give pause to the practical mind. But brothers and sisters in Christ, God is doing something new among us. He is preparing the world for a tsunami of Mercy. He must shake old structures down to the foundations and raise new ones. He must strip away that which is of the flesh and reclothe us in His power. And He must place within our souls a new heart, a new wineskin, prepared to receive the New Wine He is about to pour out.
In other words,
The Age of Ministries is ending.
THE AGE OF MINISTRIES IS ENDING
When the Lord spoke this word in my heart a few years back, my spiritual director asked me to pray more about it before writing anything. For six months, I pondered this rather epic phrase before sharing those words here. see The Coming Pentecost; The Great Unfolding; and To the Bastion – Part II What is ending is not ministry but many of the means and methods and structures that the modern Church has become accustomed to.
The Church has become fractured within herself. Ministries, for the most part, no longer operate as a part of the whole, a limb of the greater body, but often as an island unto themselves. Sometimes this is because they have no choice, either because they lack in the necessary ecclesiastical supports, or because there is a petty spirit of competition with the body, or because modernity itself has led to greater isolation and individualism within the body of Christ. Other reasons include a lack of support from the parish community or the greater body to enable missionary activity. And too often, the ministry leaders themselves have an impoverished spirituality and prayer-life. They may also resist the charisms and gifts of the Spirit, thereby losing their fecundity, or they are closed off to the fullness of truth—a kind of “a la carte” Catholicism that is not in communion with the Magisterium—thereby losing the power borne in the force of truth.
We cannot underestimate the crisis this has generated not only within the Church, but throughout the entire world who—whether they realize it or not—are guided to one degree or another by the voice of the Church, the light of truth.That is to say that, in so far as the Church is eclipsed, darkness falls upon the world.
And so God is doing something new, and dare I say, something unprecedented since the birth of the Church 2000 years ago. He is shaking her to the foundations…
WALLS MUST COME DOWN
The Church has been infected with a terrible disease that has spread to many regions of the world, from Australia to America, Europe to Canada.
You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasy from God… —POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
Jesus Himself said that these apostate branches will necessarily be pruned..
…my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
And this pruning would come corporately to the body of Christ at some time in the future like a Great Storm:
…everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined. (Matt 7:26-27)
It is a Storm to tear down the walls of falsehoods and “whitewashed” truths that have been silently erected, particularly over the past four centuries since the French Revolution: see Global Revolution!, Understanding the Final Confrontation and Living the Book of Revelation
Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, prophesy! Say to those who prophesy their own thought… they led my people astray, saying, “Peace!” when there was no peace… In my fury I will let loose stormwinds; because of my anger there shall be a flooding rain, and hailstones shall fall with destructive wrath. I will tear down the wall that you have whitewashed and level it to the ground, laying bare its foundations. (Ezekiel 13:1-14)
Even within those who have remained faithful to Christ and His Church, there has become a great dependence upon the “systems of Babylon,” Pope Benedict interprets “Babylon” to be “the symbol ofthe world’s great irreligious cities”; see On the Eve whether intended or not. Clergy often remain silent or obscure on moral issues to preserve their charitable tax status… or perhaps their own “good name.” see Counting the Cost and My People are Perishing And many lay ministers today weigh their ministries first on the scale of affordability and practicality rather than obedience and charity. Certainly, there are the practical considerations; but when we become reliant upon the world and her resources as a first priority rather than reliant upon the providence, direction, and power of the Holy Spirit, then our ministries risk becoming sterile, and at best, “careers”. It becomes a function of the limited rather than the Unlimited.
Just think of St. Paul and his missions that, while at times funded by his own labors, such as tent-making, cf. Acts 18:3 were not based upon his resources or lack thereof. Paul went where the Spirit blew him, whether this would leave him broke, persecuted, ship-wrecked, or abandoned… Perhaps that was the central purpose of Paul’s life: to record in letters the great faith and abandonment required of not only the early, but the future Church as well—a faith that was “foolish”:
We are fools on Christ’s account… To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment. I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children… be imitators of me. (1 Cor 4:10-16)
And thus, a stripping must come, see The Naked Baglady for we have fallen from our first love: cf. Rev 2:5 a complete and total giving of self to God; a heart ready to love and serve Him and our neighbour with reckless abandon and holy irresponsibility:
Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic… Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9:3-6)
This is radical, and it is precisely the kind of Church that Jesus will rebuild again—like the Church born at Pentecost (read the powerful Prophecy at Rome). We will be stripped of those things that we have turned into idols—everything from our beloved “tax status”, to our “theological degrees,” to those interior idols that keep us bowed before the golden calves of fear, apathy, and impotence.
Let her remove her harlotry from before her, her adultery from between her breasts, or I will strip her naked, leaving her as on the day of her birth… I will bring an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her solemnities… I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. (Hos 2:4-5. 13. 16)
What will rise from the ashes will be Christ’s work, His building. Already, the age of ministries is ending such that what is being built by human hands alone—even holy hands—is coming to nothing if the Lord is not in it.
Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build. (Psalm 172:1)
THE NEW WINESKIN
The purification that the Holy Spirit is doing, and going to do in these days, will not be like of old where grace built upon grace throughout the centuries. Certainly, the patrimony of truth as guarded and preserved in the deposit of faith, and the Sacramental and ecclesiastical order will not end; but the old wineskin must be thrown away for the new era that is coming:
No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:36-38)
The New Wine is the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon humanity as in a “new Pentecost.” It will be so profound, say the Church Fathers, that it will “renew the face of the earth.” see Creation Reborn The New Wineskin, corporately, will be new communities of believers who live and love in the Divine Will of God such that His Word “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In order for this resurrection of the Church to come, individual members must give their “fiat” to God, thereby allowing the Spirit to form a new heart—a “new wineskin”—within them. Their hearts must become, one could say, a mirror image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace… that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus. —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n.217, Montfort Publications
Yes, the age of ministries is ending so that a new ministry from the Heart of God will spring forth…
WHAT ARE YOU PREPARING FOR?
And so, if believers today are consumed with hoarding goods and securing a hiding place in the wilderness, I think they have missed entirely what God is doing. Yes, those physical places of refuge will come—I will write about them shortly. see The Coming Refuges and Solitudes But even their purpose will not be self-preservationist reserves of some kind, but bastions of the Holy Spirit where, even in the midst of chaos, the power and life of the Church will flow. What is pre-eminently important is that we prepare to make our hearts a refuge. That in the midst of darkness and confusion, lost souls will be able to find refuge in your heart… the Heart of Christ. And there is no better preparation to have the Heart of Christ than to consecrate and entrust oneself to Mary, see True Tales of Our Lady in whose womb the very heart of Jesus was formed—flesh from her flesh, blood from her blood.
That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls… Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. —Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier
It is time for His remnant to look beyond our temporal concerns (“O ye of little faith!”), and toward the new work, the new thing God is preparing to spring forth from this present desert of purification.
Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
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|1.||↑||translation in the Jerusalem Bible|
|2.||↑||see The Coming Pentecost; The Great Unfolding; and To the Bastion – Part II|
|3.||↑||see Global Revolution!, Understanding the Final Confrontation and Living the Book of Revelation|
|4.||↑||Pope Benedict interprets “Babylon” to be “the symbol ofthe world’s great irreligious cities”; see On the Eve|
|5.||↑||see Counting the Cost and My People are Perishing|
|6.||↑||cf. Acts 18:3|
|7.||↑||see The Naked Baglady|
|8.||↑||cf. Rev 2:5|
|9.||↑||see Creation Reborn|
|10.||↑||see The Coming Refuges and Solitudes|
|11.||↑||see True Tales of Our Lady|