Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dominus Meus, et Deus Meus

The first Sunday in Advent, according to Lutheran use, is noteworthy for its seemingly out of place Gospel, when it seems almost as if the deacon or priest has lost his place in the lectionary, and mistakenly turned to the reading for Palm Sunday, with St. Matthew's account of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. The Feast of St. Thomas gives us a similar jolt from what we would normally expect in Advent, with a Gospel that seems to belong most properly in the Mass Quasi modo geniti, on Low Sunday, ie., the account in John 20 of Christ's post resurrection appearance to St. Thomas.

One of the things I love about this pericope is the pure faith that St. Thomas exhibits, when he beholds his resurrected Lord, and exclaims, "My Lord and my God." Dominus meus, et Deus meus. In the Holy Eucharist we, too, are blessed with a post resurrection appearance of our Lord Jesus. It is He, and not a phantasm, not a mere symbol. He showed Thomas His wounds, and just so, He comes to us in the Eucharist with His body that was torn and rent on the altar of Calvary, and with His blood that gushes out of his torn flesh, and washes over us. He bid Thomas to thrust his hand into His side, and just so, He bids us to find our sustenance and our life in the blood that comes forth from that side, precious blood that flows right from His sacred heart. Our Lord draws us to those wounds; in them we hide, that is, in them we find our identity. There we find our life. Like the pelican that sacrifices its flesh in order to feed her children, Christ nourishes and sustains us by pouring into us His own life, of which we are privileged to partake because we are baptized into His death.

After Christmas we are reminded right away, within its octave, that the Incarnation is a deadly serious matter, and not merely the celebration of a noble baby's birth, with feasts like those of Stephen, and the Holy Innocents. Likewise, we ought to let a feast like that of St. Thomas, just four days before Christmas, teach us that the advent of Christ among us will involve Him giving His all for us, and indeed, it involves us receiving all from Him, today and always, as often as we do this, in remembrance of Him.

Monday, December 17, 2007

two views on worship

My Roman Catholic boss found these videos on youtube, which I found both funny and revealing, so I thought I'd share them here with you. They contrast traditional worship styles with more modern and progressive forms in the RC Church, and their overall purpose is to express gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for his defence of the dignity of the liturgy, especially in terms of stands he has taken in recent documents, such as his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, and his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum.

In terms of the modern extremes displayed in the videos, I find them not so much fodder for anti-Romanism as much as examples of the sort of silliness to which all too many churches in the West, including Lutheran, have fallen. Enjoy:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saint Lucy

13th December is the birthday of my brother, Daut Resul Gaba. 13 December also happens to be one of the Church's most beloved feasts, namely, the feast of one of her most beloved saints, that of Saint Lucy, a holy virgin of the third and fourth century, who also became a martyr for her Lord Jesus Christ in 304. I didn't get around to posting anything here on that day, but I didn't want the weekend to go by without doing so.

One reason for that is that I have become aware of an artist whom I'd like to promote here. Her name is Lis Wright Ivec, and she has a web site, which I encourage you to visit. There you will find several pieces, all worthy of your time, and contemplation: . She has given me permission to post her pictures of Saint Lucy here, and so that is what you see in the two images in this entry.

I find them to be quite arresting. One of the things I get out of these pictures is a woman of great beauty. Indeed, though she had chosen to remain a virgin, she was greatly desired by men who had no respect for her vocation.

I think these pictures take us deeper, though. If I may say so, Lis Wright Ivec has managed to portray in Lucy a sort of beauty that goes beyond the sort that the men of the world noticed. Lutheran children, as they learn the catechsim, are taught by Saint Peter's words in the third chapter of his first letter that wives are to be submissive, after the manner of Sara, and that they should not be "afraid, with any amazement." I would like to suggest, however, that Peter's words here apply to the Christian woman, regardless of whether she is married, or virgin, or widow. The Christian woman in her very nature is a sort of image of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, and of the Christian soul, both of which are typified most perfectly in the Mother of God. Married women live out this image in a particularly concrete form. That in no way means, however, that what we may say about the iconic quality of a woman is any less true in the case of those who are unmarried. Therefore I bring up this passage from Luther's Table of Duties, despite how he, and Peter, directly apply it to wives, because it exemplifies the sort of gentleness and contentment that I see in these portraits of Lucy.

Saint Lucy was surely a woman of utter peace and joy. For she gave herself over completely to Christ. She desired only to hide in His wounds, and to find her identity in Him. He blessed her, in fact, by conforming her life into His own. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the meek and gentle King, gave Himself up as a lamb to the slaughter, in perfect awareness, pefect contentment, and perfect love. With the eyes of faith we can see the same Christ in the peaceful self giving sacrifice of Lucy.

Let me finally take note of the fact that in her suffering, Saint Lucy found great comfort and encouragement in the martyrs that had gone before her, especially Saint Agatha. I pray we, too, will find in the saints and martyrs an example for our present struggles in the Church today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gaba in Print

Kenneth Barnes, a "born again" Evangelical in the Ft. Wayne area, wrote a column in the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette a couple weeks back (1 December), in which he condemns traditions as being apossed to the Bible, and in this category he includes the sacraments. You can find it here:

I wrote a column in response, and it was published in this morning's edition of the same paper, on page 2C. You can find it here:

It's not a great piece of writing, but I thought the occasion (an attack on the sacramental nature of Christ's Church) called for me to pick up my pen, and start getting serious about using it.

You will note that there were actually two articles published in response to the Evangelical position, the other one was by Bishop John D'Arcy. I am not sure how I feel seeing his and my articles printed on the same page, mine above his no less. You can read the bishop's article here:

A couple of notes on my article: 1. My original was longer. It covered more ground, and it covered that ground more fully. However, I had to edit much of it out, because this particular column calls for no more than 750 words.

2. The title you see there, "Traditions are rooted in Scripture," was not my idea. My proposed title was something like, "The Christian Life is Inherently Sacramental."

3. I don't have a lot of pictures of myself. My friend and photog, Brother Harry Reineke, suggested taking a picture of me, but we never really got around to doing that. So I sent the paper a photo from a few years ago. It was a picture taken of Ruth and me together, at the wedding of my friend Father Benjamin Pollock and his lovely wife, Rachel. The people down at the Journal Gazette then edited it down to just me.