Te Deum Ministries

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Te Deum Ministries is a religious organization created to address the degradation of our culture and the lack of spirituality that exists all around us today by bringing Christ’s message of faith, hope and love to as many teens, young adults and families as possible.

“Array of Hope,” a project of Te Deum Ministries, is a wide-ranging concert experience that features multiple musical acts, motivational speakers and thought-provoking film presentations that joyously provide a counterweight to the negative media surrounding today’s society. It brings Christ’s message of faith, hope and love to its audiences. It especially celebrates an appreciation of the family that is so often denigrated in today’s music, movies, TV, radio and the Internet. The show’s key themes are the sanctity of life, the importance of God in the family and the loving support prayer can bring to the spiritual and emotional development of us and our children.

Understanding the negative influence of cultures throughout the world, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called for a New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. He directed Catholics to examine the journey made thus far, and to resume with fresh impetus the urgent work of the evangelization of today’s world. Following in his footsteps, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its strategic plan for 2013-2016 titled  “The New Evangelization/Journey With Christ: Faith-Worship-Witness, is exhorting Catholics to develop a deeper relationship with Christ by calling them to participate in a more vibrant community life that focuses on faith, worship and witness. Array of Hope specifically addresses in their performances, each aspect of the bishops’ plan:

Faith: Array of Hope contributes to this portion of the bishops’ plan by strengthening Catholics’ relationship with Christ through powerful music that glorifies Him and His Church; film presentations with inspirational messages that challenge us to deepen our faith; and enlightening talks focused on Christ’s message of faith, hope and love.

Worship: Array of Hope provides uplifting music and talks that help turn our hearts and minds toward Christ and develop a greater appreciation for our vocational calling.

Witness: Array of Hope’s performers deliver stimulating talks and presentations that remind us of the importance of being personal witnesses to Christ and transforming society through living and sharing the beauty of the Catholic faith, with a focus on marriage and the sanctity of all human life.

The ultimate goal of Array of Hope is to plant the seed of the love of the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the hearts of all Christians, thereby creating a resistance to the negative influence of today¹s secular society. And to do so through a joyous, entertaining program that they will remember throughout their lives.

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I AM

I Am

Written by Bernard Long

 

I Am the Bread of Life! John 6:35

I Am the light of the world! John 8:12

I Am the Good Sheppard! John 10:11

I Am the Resurrection and the life! John 11:25

I Am the vine you are the branches! John 15:1

I Am the way the truth and the life! John 14:6

I Am meek and humble of heart!  Matthew  11;29

Jesus over and over tells us who he is starting with the term “I Am”.  Why and what does it mean to us? Scripture accounts that Jesus on several occasions was tempted to turn away – not be  the messiah,   the suffering servant, not to be the” I Am”  his Father called  him to be. In Matthew 16:23 Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from suffering and dying. Clearly this is something that the human side of Jesus would be tempted to avoid.  Jesus uses the strong words to Peter “ get behind me Satan”.  In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan himself tempts Jesus to use his Godly powers but Jesus resists “Do not put the Lord your god to the test”.    In Mark 15:30 on the cross Jesus is tormented with epitaphs to come down from the cross – “he saved others  why not save himself”.

All of these temptations were an attempt to have Jesus  turn away from who he was.  So Jesus over and over again in using the term I AM was letting everyone know who he was but also grounding himself in saying yes to the father’s will. He was being the person he was called to be. He never said no to the will of the Father. We say no to the Father when we are not  the person God created us to be.

How do we be the I AM that God created us to be? We do this by first examining our life.  In examining who we are it is important to recognize that often there are identities, personas we have taken on that we may not even be aware of that may be keeping us from being the person that God is calling us to be. These can be a source of frustration- living up to some identities or personas that are not of Jesus.

It is interesting that word persona is defined as a social role or character played by an actor. It is a word derived from Latin which originally was referred to a theatrical mask.  Often we have unknowingly taken on masks that we are not aware of that hide the person who the Lord created us to be.

I had wonderful parents but things happen in the course of events that unintentionally can cause you to take on identities or personas that are not really you.  My father was a great guy and one of my heroes in my life. However when I was real young I was not a very good student. The nuns would tell my mother and father that I was very silly in school and did not pay attention etc.  Like all parents they talked to me and encouraged me and scolded me to do better but all the while never came down too hard on me. However I felt their disappointment.

When I was nine years old I began playing baseball and found that at least the little league level I could naturally throw a baseball faster than most kids my age.  The success I had in little league as a pitcher caused my father to gush over me. I would hear him brag to my relatives and be at all the games. I absolutely loved all the attention. I was finally good at something.  Being a good ball player became my identity –  my persona.  That is what made me loveable. That is the first thing I spoke about when asked about myself. It was how I perceived I was viewed by my friends and by my relatives.

One time when I was twelve years old I was pitching in a little league all star game. My father unbeknownst to me invited numerous relatives to the game. I can still remember standing on the pitcher’s mound looking up on a hill that surrounded the field and seeing all those relatives looking down.  Well I did not do well – in fact I gave up two home runs and I was mortified. There was to be a big barbecue after the game. Everyone was to gather and some awards were given etc. When the game was over I did not go to meet with my father or the relatives. In fact I ran away from the field and walked home (long walk) without even telling my father where I was.  I could not face him or those relatives. I was mortified.  I felt I lost the only thing I was good at – it was my persona. I subconsciously felt that it was the only thing that made me special.

Most of us have identities or personas placed on us or have ones we have taken on that often we are not aware of or even conscious that they are there.  Maybe you have made mistakes in your life and now you view yourself as a loser. Maybe you always have had  to be strong and should not cry. Maybe you were the person who had to fix things, and could not delegate anything – you had to do it yourself.  Maybe you were pressured to get A’s in school –so you expect perfection from yourself and others.  Or maybe unjust things happened in your life and you feel there is no justice in this world so you have to get revenge on those who hurt you.   Or maybe you see yourself as a victim.  Maybe you always have to be funny –  the class clown – the life of the party. Think about it. In silence examine your life and make a decision. Am I the person, the I AM, that   God is calling me to be?

Many of us have people that have had a special impact on our lives.  The person in your life who believed in you when no one else would, or who helped you when things in your life were not going well or who forgave you when you hurt them, inspired you to live  a life of faith etc.  My mother recently passed away. She was a great lady. Not in any way perfect but a great lady. She was in many ways not very talented in things that are valued in modern society. She was not well educated or particularly smart,  nor was she physically strong.  But she was good at being kind and loving and forgiving and being softhearted.  She was the most faith filled person I have ever known.  She had this wonderful child like faith. Her Catholic/Christian faith was the cornerstone of her life and she and my father viewed it as a precious inheritance to be shared with her children.  I believe she was the “I Am” that Jesus called her to be.

So ask yourself who am I?  Shed personas that are not of Jesus.  Be the person – the “I AM” that Jesus Christ is calling all of us to be.

The Author of this piece is Bernard Long

The Catholic Mass – Better Than A Hidden Treasure, Part 2

In Part 1 we explained why we do what we do at Mass and the symbols and beliefs including what the priest wears over his body and why.

Here in Part 2  we will explain what happens from the moment we walk in Church.

Walking In

At the entrance of each church are Holy Water Fonts. We dip our fingers in the font to get holy water on them and sign ourselves renewing our baptismal promises and we walk toward the altar which is the symbol of Jesus and where we worship and receive.

Genuflecting

As we enter the pew where we will sit we genuflect, which comes from the Latin and means bending the knee before we enter the pew and sit. By doing this we are performing an act of humility acknowledging someone is greater (Jesus, I honor You and I humble me). It’s also an offering of service or a proposal whereby we offer ourselves to Him, we give our whole life to Him.

Come to Mass expecting to change!

Processional

The Mass begins with the processional and we stand because we are on a pilgrimage. We are part of the pilgrimage, going somewhere; entering in.

Reverencing

The priest and altar servers and lectors and ministers process toward the altar and take their places. The priest kisses the altar because the altar is the symbol of Jesus. A relic of a saint is embedded in the altar symbolizing we are surrounded by witnesses. In the first century the early Christians had to celebrate mass in hiding underground because of persecution; so they literally celebrated the Mass on top of the catacombs, which were the ancient tombs of the saints’ remains. These catacombs, or tombs of the saints,  were the first altars.

Our Postures at mass are important as well. As a priest friend once explained; We stand to pray, sit to listen and kneel to witness a miracle.

Sign Of Cross

In the Western Church our hand is open in a sign of blessing, while the Eastern Church has a certain finger arrangement signing themselves with three fingers which express the Trinity and two natures of Jesus. God is Trinity and tracing your price tag or worth (You are worth God’s life). The purpose of Life is to know, love and serve God. This is the meaning of the sign of the cross. It expresses that I belong to God.

Greeting

The Lord be with you…and with your Spirit. We are saying hi to God and He says hi back. Something dangerous is about to happen and we enter holier territory and we need the Lord to be with us to handle it – this is from ancient times.

Kyrie

Lord have mercy and we drop the mask. We are all not fine; brokenness. Your life and mine may not be pretty, however, we can come before God and be ourselves.

Gloria

PRAISE GOD!!! Joining angels and saints to give Glory to God. Heaven and earth embrace as one body.

Collect

The priest prays on our behalf and we respond , AMEN!

First Reading

We sit to be receptive to God’s word and to listen. Active posture; active listening. God speaking to us. Think of professional dancers. God is leading and we are responding to Him. We reply thanks be to God and give thanks. I suggest you read the mass readings on your own before the mass and bring something to write on and take notes. Listen and let a word or two or a phrase from the reading sink in and penetrate your heart and mind and listen to how God is speaking to you.

Responsorial Psalm

Speak in response to God – We are speaking back to God by using His own words.

Second Reading – From New Testament – see first reading above

Alleluia 

Praise God! We praise God in the Alleluia

Gospel

The Lord be with you. Again it’s dangerous to hear Jesus’ own words so we need the Lord to be with us and to protect us. We stand to be actively receptive. The deacon receives a blessing from the priest; “may the words of the Gospel be on your lips and in your heart that you may proclaim His words worthily”. We, the congregation make the sign on our forehead, lips and heart saying may God’s word be in my mind, mouth and heart. The deacon or priest traces the Cross on text of book of Gospels. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ! The words of the Gospel wash away our sins.

Homily

Breaking open the Word of God for The People of God! How to apply the Word to our own lives.

Creed

I believe – professed for thousands of years! Many, many have suffered and died for these beliefs. We stand with them when we profess this Creed.

Prayer of Faithful

In ancient times the catechumens (those not yet fully received into the church) had to leave the mass at this time. We pray for Church, Country and Culture (Salvation of the World), Community, Needs (oppressed by any need) and for the dead.

Next article we will start with the Liturgy of The Eucharist, which begins with the Offertory and is a critical part of the mass.

My hope is this helps you view and participate in the mass differently and actively with your entire body, mind and soul. The mass is a gift from God and too important for us not to actively engage in it. What you put into it is what you will get out of it.

Special thanks to Mrs. Mary Ann Corcoran, DRE at St. Pius X Broomall, PA for bringing us Altaration which has inspired these series of articles.

Please feel free to review Part 1 of this series for a refresher and tune in to part 3.

Until we meet again, keep walking!!!

Mr. Charles A. DeFeo, O.P.

In Weakness We Find Strength

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me”.  2 Corinthians 12: 9.

If you watch the TV show,  Law & Order,  you know that DNA evidence is considered irrefutable. Each person’s DNA is unique. Much like fingerprints – each one is able to specifically identify an individual from any other person living or dead.

In Jeremiah 1:5  we hear “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated  you”  Wow. The God of all the universe has planned you and me since the beginning of time and there never was or will be someone like you and me. How amazing is that?  Think of all the people who have come before us  and  are now passed away. Couple that with all the people who are alive today and then add to that all the people who are yet to come.  Again Wow!  Even with that incredible amount of people there is no one like each of us. How awesome is that?

I think when you meditate about this it leads to a feeling of what an amazing God. He makes each of us different and He never runs out of new unique people.  It is also so wonderful to believe that Jesus would have suffered and died if we were the only person that ever lived.

So what makes us unique other than our physical appearance and our DNA etc?  Each one of us has God-given strengths and weaknesses that no one else has been given. In the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25-14-30;) the master before going away  gave one servant  five talents , to another two,  to another one,” each according to his ability”.  The one received the five and the one who received the two they were able to double their talents given and the master was pleased – “Well done you good and faithful servants ”. But to one who received the one talent he merely returned the talent he was given and  master orders that worthless slave into the outer darkness “ where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Oh boy –  this is clear indication that we will be judged on how we chose  to respond to our unique gift of life.  While we all have strength and weaknesses that make us unique, we often do not want to dwell on our weaknesses.

We humans are prone to sin. Often we chose to live a life that does not reflect God’s love. The Ancient Greeks had the maxim “know thyself”.  Shakespeare used – “to thy own self be true”.  In our spiritual journey it is necessary to examine oneself – take an inventory as it were of our weaknesses.

It is very easy to see glaring weaknesses in others. Recently I went to a college football game and a small few in the crowd acted very poorly. Cursing and yelling gross epitaphs at referees and at opposing fans.  It served only to make for unpleasant experience to those around them including women and small children.  One has to wonder if these individuals stop and think about their behavior.

That same question needs to be asked for each of us. Do we really know ourselves?  Do we spend time reflecting on our life? Do we honestly recognize our weaknesses as part of our God-given uniqueness?  The Army commercial says “be all that you can be”. As Christians we need to strive to be that unique person that our Lord has created us to be from the beginning of time.

We should not compare our weaknesses to others.  For example I personally have never had addiction or gambling problems that plague many in society.   I cannot take credit for that;  I really never had the urge to gamble  or drink or take drugs.  It was not a weakness or cross God chose for me. However in recognizing that I can be more compassionate to those who do suffer from this weakness and recognize “there for the grace of God go I”.  I of course have my own unique weaknesses which need to be recognized and addressed.

I have two dear friends who I admire a great deal who have taken inventory of their weaknesses/sinfulness. In a paradoxical way it has led them to experience God’s love in a special way.

One faith filled   friend earlier in his life suffered from alcohol and drug addiction. It was not a weakness he asked for but one that he recognized and endured. He talks about a low point in his struggle when he was worried about losing his family, even his life. In his weakness he pleaded to his Lord for help and forgiveness.  He recounts an inspiring story of the Lord responding to his plea by granting him an unforgettable feeling of God’s love and warmth in a way that he longs to feel again and one that has changed his life.

Another friend whom I admire a great deal found himself one night in a place his Catholic/Christian principles tell him is sinful.  After returning home he began to experience chest pains and he rushed to the hospital  where he suffered congestive heart failure. Thank God he has recovered fully.  Upon reflecting on his brush with death and expressing true sorrow for his sinfulness that event has transformed him into a person who is on fire in service of Jesus and his church. In that weakness, in that darkness, he felt the Lord present in a special way that has changed his life for the better.

So take stock of your weaknesses.  Accept them as part of being human. Bring to Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation   your brokenness.  Free yourself of your darkest times, your worst hours.

For the sake of Christ; when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians  12:10

Author of this article is Bernard Long

The Pinnacle of Christianity is The Catholic Mass, But Why? The Mass Explained, Part 1, It’s About History

Missio Dei is a Latin Christian theological term that can be translated as the “mission of the God,” or the “sending of God.” This is where the term Mass originated. We are commissioned or sent to go forth and proclaim the Gospel at the completion of every mass.

Mass is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is commonly called in the Catholic Church, Western Rite Orthodox churches and many Old Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.

We believe St. Ambrose in the year 385 in a letter to his sister Marcellina describing the troubles of the Arians used the term Missa to describe what we today call the Mass. Pope Pius I, somewhere between the years 142-157 wrote in a letter we make Masses with our poor” (cum pauperibus nostris . . . missas agimus” — Pii I, Ep. I, in Galland, “Bibl. vet. patrum”, Venice, 1765, I, 672). The authenticity of the letter, however, is very doubtful. If Missa really occurred in the second century in the sense it now has, it would be surprising that it never occurs in the third. We may consider St. Ambrose as the earliest certain authority for it. (taken from http://www.newadvent.org)

The Mass is broken into The Liturgy of The Word and The Liturgy of The Eucharist. Today’s article will cover The History of The Mass. Article 2 will cover The Liturgy of The Word or first part of the Mass and article 3 will cover The Liturgy of The Eucharist or second part of The Mass. Both parts of the Mass are supernaturally most important. Jesus is The Word made Flesh. Both go together and cannot be separated. Let us never forget that Jesus did not write anything. The Bible was not even written as we know it today until around the year 400 AD by St. Jerome who translated the manuscripts that were written in Hebrew by some 40 authors over a period of 1800 years dating back to the year 1500 BC into Latin and called The Vulgate.

Stories were passed down from generation to generation starting with the creation story we find in the book of Genesis to what happened to the nation of Israel, the prophets and culminating with the birth of Jesus and the early Christian church in its first 100 years of existence. Hence, this is why tradition is so important to Catholics. As stated in The Bible, New testament, if every deed Jesus performed were to be written down, every book in the world would not be enough to contain them. What was written was given to us so we would be believe. Stories passed down throughout the last 2000 years are critical to our faith, hence tradition is so important.

The Vulgate was the standard Bible of The Catholic Church for a thousand years.

The English versions of the Bible were started with John Wycliffe (1320-1384). He translated the New Testament about 1380. It is not known how much of the Old Testament he translated before he died, but his friends completed the work after his death. Wycliffe’s work was taken from the Latin Vulgate

William Tyndale was next in order of the great English translators. His translation was issued in 1525, and the Pentateuch in 1530. Tyndale used not only the Vulgate, but had access to the Greek text of Erasmus and other helps that Wycliffe did not possess.

Miles Coverdale, a friend of Tyndale, prepared a Bible dedicated to King Henry the VIII in 1535. His New Testament is largely based on the Tyndale version.

The Matthews Bible appeared in 1537. The authorship of this version is somewhat uncertain, but it appears to be based on Tyndale’s and Coverdale’s work.

The Great Bible, published in 1539, was based on the Coverdale and Tyndale Bibles. This was a large-sized volume that was chained to the reading desks in many churches, where people came to hear the reading of the word of God.

The Geneva Bible was a translation made in Geneva, Switzerland in 1560 by English scholars who fled the persecution of Queen Mary. This was a revision of the Great Bible collated with other English versions. A scholarly version, handy in size, it became a popular bible in England for many years.

The Bishop’s Bible was translated in 1568, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was mainly a revision of the Great Bible, but was also somewhat dependent on the Geneve version.

The Douay Rheims Bible was an English version Roman Catholic Vulgate. The New Testament was published at Rheims in 1582, and the Old Testament at Douay in 1609-10.

The King James version was published in 1611. It was made by 47 scholars under the direction of King James I of England. This version was based on the Bishop’s Bible, but both the Hebrew and Greek texts were studied and other English translations were consulted with a view of obtaining the best results. This Bible has held first place in the English-speaking world now for almost four centuries.

Several more modern versions also exist, including the Revised Version, 1881-84, and the American Standard Version, 1900-01. These versions attempted to replace the Elizabethan English with the contemporary English of the time. (information taken form http://www.askgramps.org).

The Bible I read is called The New American Bible, Catholic Study edition.

The Bible is an integral and critical part of The Catholic Mass, hence The Liturgy of The Word. Liturgy means service; service to God as in public and communal worship. (taken from http://www.ewtn.com)

The second part of the Mass is the Liturgy of The Eucharist. This comes from Jesus’ last Supper and as St Paul writes, …on the night he was betrayed he took bread, blessed it, broke it and shared it and said, “This is My Body, do this in remembrance of me…, he did likewise with the chalice, this is the blood of the new covenant”. These words are so powerful, spoken by Jesus. He never said this is a symbol, he said THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD, DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME!

The early church took this very seriously and when they met, they brought their own bread and wine for the “mass”. They listened to the stories from the Apostles and after the Apostles, the “bishops”, presbyters or priests and deacons that the Apostles appointed and so forth down the line. For instance St. Ignatius of Antioch learned at the feet of the Apostle John and one tradition has it that he was the small child Jesus took up in his arms when he proclaimed let the little children come to me. That simple statement by Jesus also explains why Catholics believe in infant baptism.

The early church was also in danger and had to celebrate mass underground where the “saints” were buried. We call it the catacombs. This is why we have an altar and inside of every Catholic altar is a relic of a saint. This is taken from the tradition of the early church who celebrated the mass on top of the tombs or catacombs of the saints. Mind boggling really.

Jesus actually is the altar, that is why the priest kisses the altar before mass begins. It also represents we are surrounded by witnesses: the saints.

I hope this helps you gain a better understanding of Catholic Church tradition and why Catholics do what we do during the mass.

Everything that happens in the mass down to what the priest is wearing and why has meaning, everything!

The vestments of the priest celebrating the mass (by the way bishops and the Pope are priests) are this, the first garment he puts over his priestly clothes is an alb, alb means white and represents being washed in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) as well as a symbol of baptism. Next the priest puts on the cincture, which is made of rope and is a belt and goes around his waist; it represents the priest’s prayer for chastity, purity – it is a girding (surrounding, encircling). Next the priest puts the stole around his neck. Think of the stole as a yoke as in a beast of burden. It represents Authority, power to serve, not power to rule. It also shows he is laying down his life and embracing the cross. Lastly the chasuble, a sleeveless outer vestment with a hole for the head to go through. This garment is like a casual little house. Casula means little house. It is ornate and usually colored.

The vestment colors are Violet – removing rocks in the field, Green – growing in the field, White – celebration, Red – fire of The Holy Spirit or blood of martyrs (Jesus is King of martyrs), Black – somber; funerals; All Soul’s day; death.

All these garments are not meant to make the priest stand out but rather to hide him so as to reveal Jesus Christ. That is why we call a Catholic priest In persona Christi when he is administering sacraments like the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus or when hearing our confession.

The Catholic Mass is a mystery but even more importantly it’s a hidden treasure!

The postures of the mass are equally important and meaningful. As one of my priest friends once explained during a mass, we stand to PRAY, sit to LISTEN and kneel to witness a miracle.

I hope this was helpful and helped explain the mystery of the mass. It really is so beautiful and ordered and meaningful it’s really hard to explain but needs to be experienced by body, mind and soul.

Tune in next week as we explore the first part of the mass called Liturgy of The Word starting with our entrance into church. What do we do when we walk into church and why.

God bless and keep walking!!!

I want to thank “ALTARATION”, Rev. Father Michael Schmitz and all the people at Ascension Press especially Matthew Pinto and Chris Stefanick for inspiring me through words, videos and actions. Thank you Mrs. Mary Ann Corcoran, our director of Religious education at St. Pius X, Broomall for sharing Altaration and for your leadership and witness to our faith.

The author of this article is Mr. Charles A. DeFeo, O.P.