February 18, 2015

The Four Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Knowing the basic structure of the Catechism helps us understand the context of what we are reading. Like the Bible, it helps to know the context, and so I like to post this from time to time.

The Catechism is divided into four sections or "Pillars" of our faith.

Pillar 1: The Profession of Faith
  • What we believe
  • Paragraphs 26 through 1065
  • Covers the Nicene Creed line-by-line
  • St. Augustine said that the creed is God’s plan of salvation in “Tightly wound form”.
  • The Nicene Creed is at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-tea...at-we-believe/
  • The first pillar is based on Scripture. The other three pillars depend on knowing the plan for our salvation as laid out in scripture. Scripture tells us God's plan for our salvation, and the Profession of Faith (creed) is a highly condensed summary of God's plan for our salvation.
Pillar 2: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
  • How we worship
  • Paragraphs 1066 through 1698
  • Covers sacraments and liturgy
  • How we get into the story of salvation.
  • How we take part in God’s plan through the sacraments
  • How we fit into God's Kingdom on Earth, his Church.
Pillar 3: Our Life in Christ
  • How we live our lives as Christians
  • Paragraphs 1691 through 2550
  • Moral theology
  • How we interact with Christians, non-Christians and all of God’s creation.
  • How we live out God's plan for our salvation and advance his Kingdom on Earth for the salvation of others.
Pillar 4: Christian Prayer
  • How we pray
  • Paragraphs 2558 through 2865
  • Covers the most sublime and most perfect prayer, the "Our Father" line by line.
  • Prayer is intimate communication with our Creator and the Lover of our Souls.
  • Prayer ensures the first three pillars.

Try to be conscious of which of the four pillars you are reading so that you know the context. The four contexts are belief, worship, behavior and prayer. The Catechism references scripture more than any other work so remember to read the Catechism with Scripture. It helps to have a Bible nearby to reference back the footnotes.


February 08, 2015

Ritual Edition Roman Missal from Liturgical Training Publications

Shown is a Ritual Edition Roman Missal from Liturgical Training Publications.

This is obviously not a pew missal but the actual missal that a priest will use at the altar to pray the Mass. Few get to see the Roman Missal up close and so I thought I'd share some pictures for those who have never seen one.

There are several publishers of chapel edition (smaller) and ritual edition (larger) Roman Missals. This particular Missal was on clearance sale for a very attractive price. It was suggested that the sale might be an effort by the publisher to clear out the stock of old Missals which do not include St. Joseph's name in Eucharistic Prayers II-IV as was recently required by Rome. Most priests with older missals include the name of St. Joseph by memory or have a reminder note hand-written in the margin and some publishers are including stickers to be placed on the relevant portions of the text.

This book originally sold for $189 and with or without St. Joseph, $60 is a bargain and so I present it for your viewing and discussing pleasure. Pictures are clickable with commentary in the captions.

Cover Page

These are the tabs used by the priest or emcee to quickly find the appropriate parts of the book - Order of Mass, Eucharistic Prayers I-IV, Prefaces, Masses for Various Needs, Communion Rite, Solemn Blessings and so forth. The priest or emcee does not want to be fumbling with pages so every page for Eucharistic Prayers I-IV are tabbed, not just the first page.

This is a typical page for a Sunday showing the opening antiphon, collect and prayer over the offerings. This particular Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, has a proper preface before the Eucharistic prayer which is included with chant notation. The word proper means that something specific is required for that day. Since this is Lent, the priest has to say that particular Preface prayer and cannot choose his own.

This is an example of a prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayers which may be used at the priest's discretion during ordinary time. Each preface has a theme. This particular preface's theme is "The Mystery of Salvation."

Smyth sewn binding and ribbons. This particular book is brand new and some of the ribbons have yet to be disturbed.

The words of institution for Eucharistic Prayer I. EPI is also called "The Roman Canon". Holding this book in my hands and reading the actual words said by the priest takes my breath away.

Two color artwork before EPII.
Another look at the tabs.

Entrance antiphon, collect, prayers over the offeringas, communion antiphon and prayer after communion for the first Sunday in Advent. 
 A sung Mass is called a Missa Cantata. Appendix I has chant notation for almost the entire Mass. 
An idea of the heft and size of this book. Very young altar servers often cannot hold the book for the priest. I have seen the priest grab the book and plop it on the altar server's head!

That's enough pictures for now and I'm sure I'm dangerously close to violating copyright laws. It is amazing to hold such a book and ponder all the Masses that will be prayed with it.

And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. (2 Kings 23:2)


February 04, 2015

Pre-Lent Contest at Tim's Catholic Bibles Blog

I am a fan of Tim's Catholic Bibles blog. Tim is a scholar of scripture and lover of all things Bible related. He is running a pre-Lent contest, the subject of which is, "What does Lent mean to you?"
The number 40 in the Bible often represented a time of testing. Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, recapitulated in the life of Christ during his 40 days in the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan. Lent to me means a time of testing. Much like Israel, and unlike Christ, I will probably fail along the way.  At the end of that number 40 however, is the promised land and the resurrection. At the end of that number 40 is the risen, glorified Jesus who I long for with all my heart. You have to go through the tomb to get to the resurrection. You have to go through 40 days of Lent to get to the tomb. It is the way of the Cross and is the way of the Resurrection.

That is what Lent means to me.


February 03, 2015

Thinline "Go Anywhere" NRSV-CE Bible by Harper Collins

Shown is the New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) Thinline "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins in bonded leather with sewn binding. 

Catholic Douay-Rheims onlyist's complaints aside, the NRSV continues to be the most widely used Bible in academia. This post is not an in depth analysis of the pros and cons of the translation.  Head over to Catholic Answers if you feel compelled to complain.  Tim's Catholic Bibles blog has some excellent scholarly analysis and comparisons of various translations worth reading as does Mark D. Given from Missouri State University. I prefer a more readable translation and this is about as good as it gets. 

It is always nice when traditionally non-Catholic publishers produce Catholic editions of the Bible. Including the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation and a picture of the Pope doesn't make a Bible Catholic and this includes neither. It does however, have all 73 books and orders them correctly. Also included is a 32 page concordance and several line drawn maps. Footnotes are extremely sparse. This is not a study Bible but meant to be carried and read.

Parchment paper, lack of footnotes and larger than usual height and width (6.5" x 9.5") contribute to this Bible's efficient use of shelf space - less than one inch when stood upright. There is a single brown ribbon and the page edges are more silver than gold. The bonded leather cover feel less like plastic than some others I have seen and the front cover is completely bare. The choice of modern 9pt sans-serif font surprised me and is very easy on the eyes given the large page size. .

Harper Collins has produced a very nice package given the price. Very thin and light, NRSV lovers who travel will surely enjoy this Bible. Savvy interwebz shoppers should be able to land it for around $20. The Harper Collins page for this Bible is here.

NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins