Tag Archives: Consubstantial

The Paradox of Christmas

24 Dec

Two thousand years ago

in the small town of Bethlehem

one silent night

loudly proclaimed God’s love for the entire world.


For our all-powerful God came to earth

in the form of a helpless child,

and though many people had waited for his coming

few actually noticed this baby’s arrival,

so much so

that there was no room for him that night

in the world which he had made.


But still he came.


He who was divine became human.

He traded in his heavenly seat

for an earthly manger.

He exchanged robes of splendor

for swaddling clothes.

He left the songs of a multitude of angels

for the praises of a few humble shepherds.

That night

though Jesus left his throne

he became our king:

a king who came not to be served but to serve,

a king whose death would bring us life,

a king whose single sacrifice would serve as the ransom for us all.


So, it’s the paradox of Christmas

that calls you to respond.

Though there are presents still waiting for you to receive

this night is truly about the gift that you have already been given.

That he smelled like eternity

22 Dec

What Mary Knew

That he was beautiful,

love’s most holy writ.

That he was the world in small,

and she loved it.


That he had undone death.

That he would be her joy.

That he would grow more beautiful

as he became a boy.


That he was grace in human form

and paradise to hold.

That he smelled like eternity.

That he would not grow old.


That he was heaven’s gift,

dressed in flesh and baby clothes.

That he was wholly beautiful.

What every mother knows.

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell is a professor of English and associate director of the Curran Center for American Studies at Fordham University in New York City. Janet McKenzie, an artist in Vermont, is working on a new project called “African-American Women Celebrated.” © America Magazine  


Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion: Holy Communion

20 Nov

It is an invitation to communion.

We are Andrew. “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”

We are the bride. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

We are the centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

As we approach the altar for communion, we are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. It is an invitation to communion – holy communion!

Click here for today’s homily, Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion.”

A great Scrabble word!

16 Nov

Julianne Wallace, Campus Minister at St Joseph University Parish in Buffalo serving the University at Buffalo, writes on the Busted Halo website about the “Top Five Mass Changes” she thinks young adults need to know. 

#1: “And with your spirit!” 

“This response is more than just a greeting. This response is also a spiritual exchange between the priest and the assembly. The priest extends a greeting of the Lord’s presence and the assembly grants a similar greeting inviting God to be with the presider as we worship together.”  

#2: The Gloria 

“There are many minor textual changes to this prayer.  A change occurs in the Gloria when we sing together, ‘We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory!’ This five-fold invocation of praise poetically expresses the majesty and glory of God.” 

#3: “We to I” 

“This small change harkens back to when the person entering the Church says, ‘I do’ in the Credo formula. So the change from ‘we’ to ‘I’ is more consistent with how we have professed our faith throughout history.” 

#4: “Consubstantial” 

“That sounds like a great Scrabble word!” 

#5: The centurion’s faith and our response 

“As we come to the Eucharistic table, may we approach with the humble faith of the centurion and carry this humility with us through our everyday life.” 

Julianne finishes with, “And remember, we are not just saying this new translation; we are praying this new translation!”


Incarnate and Consubstantial: First Try

8 Nov

Many of the changes in the words that you will pray in two weeks will be chanted, that is, sung in simple tones of a couple notes that will keep repeating themselves. This will make the transition to the new words easier than if the words were just spoken. There is one place in the Mass that we – you and the priest together – will speak the Creed, the Profession of Faith. There are two words in particular that might sound real new to the ears, unless your ears are as old as mine, in which case the new words will sound familiar, as if they were stored in our memory and have come back to mind and have reached the lips: incarnate and consubstantial. Let’s take a first try at those two words. I say “first” try, because I am going to write something without going to any books, articles or dictionaries. After I write what I write and have it published here, I may need to clarify something or may want to try to say it differently.


I was born. God was incarnate. God was not born like I was born. My parents were Roy and Isabelle. I was born on June 29, 1949. Before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, I did not exist. I came into existence when I was conceived in my mother’s womb. God always existed. God became man. God became flesh. Incarnate means “became flesh.” God did not just appear to be human. He was human. He did not just get inside a human body. He became a human being. Note, too, that God was “born” inBethlehem. God became “incarnate” inNazareth. The Incarnation took place inNazareth, when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit, and, of course, when Mary agreed to accept God’s will.


This word is harder. My only comfort is that it took the Catholic Church a couple hundred years after the incarnation (see above) and the resurrection to come up with this word and to agree that this word was the best word that they could come up with to declare who Jesus Christ was and to explain the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. We can be humble enough to think that it might take us a couple tries to come up with the right words. For forty years we have said, “… one in being with the Father.” Now we will say, “… consubstantial with the Father.” It means that Jesus Christ is God, equal to God, the same as God.

consubstantial and incarnate

Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. He is truly human and truly divine. He is God and man. He is human and divine. He is not either/or. He is both/and. These two words – consubstantial and incarnate – are the words that the Church has used over the centuries, and which we will use again anew on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27. Those words put us in touch with a long line of believers, and give us the assurance that we stand in line with what the Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.

As I go now to the stack of books and articles in which the experts give commentary on the new English translation of the Roman Missal, I simply say to you, “As your parish priest I love praying with you, as we pray the prayer and the prayers that the Roman Catholic Church gives us to pray at Mass.”

Speaking and Bowing: Oops!

30 Oct

This morning, as the kind young woman next to me in the pew – refer to the previous post – was helping me through Mass, at one point there was an “awkward” moment.

It has taken some time for us to get used to making that bow during the Profession of Faith, hasn’t it? Well, in the new English translation of the Creed, there are some words that are different at the time of that bow.

In the “new” Creed – it is actually the same Creed, just a different English translation of the same Latin version – I did okay getting past “consubstantial with the Father,” but I hit a snag when we got to the “incarnate” phrase.  

This is how the new text reads … this is how you will see it: 

“… consubstantial with the Father.

For us men and for our salvation

he came down from heaven,

At the words that follow up to and including and became man, all bow.

and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and became man.”

The phrase, “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,” by itself would have been enough of an adjustment. But my problem was not so much with the new words, but with having to bow, while at the same time speaking the new words. It was made especially awkward because the girl next to me was holding the card with the words on it. Try it.

For awhile, it will be awkward.   

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