Friday, 19 August 2011

Change - Choose wisely

Throughout history change has for the most part been the only constant. Nothing seems to escape change. Not even the universe remains the same. Anything or anyone who refuses to change with the times inevitably seems to have little chance of survival. Change just marches right on, regardless of efforts to resist it.

In modern times the changes in our world seem to come even quicker. Barely have you become accustomed to one thing and that too is already being changed again. Nothing seems to be able to resist change. Even religion is being subjected to rapid changes. Who cares what your religious beliefs may be or why? The world wants what it wants. It is not interested in the consequences of that wanting. Consequential problems will simply be resolved with more change!

Sometimes I feel quite hopeless. What really is the point of standing up for what you believe? It’s inevitable! The world will do what it wants. So why not just go with the flow? Don’t set yourself up as a target! Don’t risk being marginalised! Switch sides before its too late!

That’s when I love reading this letter from St Justin to the Emperor Antonius Pius. It is an explanation by St Justin about what Christians do on a Sunday. It was written in about the year 155 AD.

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. 

The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. 

When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. 

Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.

When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. 

Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. 

He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy 
Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. 

When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' 

When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.” [Sic] (Catechism of the Catholic Church - 1345)

Catholics will recognise this as a description of the order of the Mass. It has amazingly remained unchanged for 1856 years, if we only measure from the year 155 AD when it was written.

History speaks for itself and it gives me great comfort. If the Mass can survive nearly 2000 years of changes in the world, I think I would prefer to be on the side of the person who instituted the Mass. No matter what the intellectuals of this world may say to the contrary.

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