Saint Ignatius of Antioch Website

Reflections by Rev. James R. McGonegal
Each week our pastor, The Reverand James R. McGonegal, writes a short article on the subject of worship or liturgy or other items of interest to catholics. These article are published in the weekly bulletin which you can down load HERE.

Decree on Ecumenism
(Unitatis Redintegratio)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
February 10, 2013

The Church is the one flock of God, for it serves all mankind through the Gospel of peace. Throughout the centuries, the unity of the one Church has been separated and divided, yet all the Baptized belong to the Body of Christ and share in the mystery of redemption. Today, efforts are being made through prayer word and action to unite the separated brothers and sisters. The term "ecumenical movement" indicates the various efforts to promote Christian unity. Already the Biblical and liturgical movements, the preaching of the Word of God, and social justice are signs of progress in ecumenism. Yet, worship in common is not to be used indiscriminately without the counsel of the local bishop to attain unity.

There are two major divisions of ecclesial communities separated from the Apostolic See of Rome. The first is the separation of Eastern Churches and the second is the Protestant Reformation and Anglican Communion. It must not be forgotten that from the Apostolic times, there have been differences in form and manner owing to the diversities of genius and conditions of life in various places. These differences should be preserved and cherished in bringing about reconciliation. The Council wishes to place no burden beyond what is essential for unity. Sacred Scripture provides the main instrument of unity among all the separated communities, and Baptism, where it is duly administered, brings all together in the Body of Christ in whom there is no east or west.

Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity
(Apostolicam Actuositatem)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
February 3, 2013

The apostolic activity of the people of God (i.e. the laity) derives from the heart of the Christian vocation at Baptism. Our own times require the laity no less zeal; in fact, modern conditions demand that their apostolate be broadened and intensified. With the increasing progress in science and technology and closer interpersonal relationships, the lay apostolate is more valuable than ever, and demands their expert attention, study, and advice. In many places of the world where priests are scarce or prohibited from the apostolic work, the Church would hardly exist at all.

The laity share in the ministry of Christ as priest, prophet, and king, establishing the reign of God on earth through teaching, sanctifying, and leadership. Following the poverty of Christ, they should not seek empty honors, but seek to please God in all things, even suffering persecution for the sake of justice. The spiritual life of the laity should take its particular character from married or family life, the single or the widowed state offering their professional and social skills for the good of the church, and society in general. They should make use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit they have received, and earnestly develop their talents for the church, the common good, and people everywhere.

The Church In The Modern World
(Gaudium et Spes)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
January 27, 2013

The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the human race all relate to the mission of the church in the modern world. Never before has the human race had such an abundance of wealth and yet such huge proportions of poverty. Advances in technology, biology, and social sciences have caused serious questions of ethics and morality. Growing numbers of people have abandoned religion, and atheism is on the rise.

The modern world shows itself capable and weak, some despairing of the meaning of life itself. Always summoning the human intellect to love good and avoid evil has created a dilemma of conscience like never before. Man's search for communion with God and the mystery of life, suffering, and death is found most deeply in the life of Christ's death and resurrection.

The world community is aware of its growing interdependence on one another, and its communal nature. The city of man is transformed into the City of God by faith and spirituality. Economic and political development must take into account the well being of the rich and the poor, and the promotion of justice among the community of nations. Therefore, it is the work of all people to establish justice in the world, and seek "a fundamental option for the poor."

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
(Dei Verbum)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
January 20, 2013

Christ is the light of the world. The Church is the kingdom of God on earth, sanctified be the Holy Spirit. Christ is the true shepherd announced in the Old and New Testament. The Church is the New Temple of God built with living stones which are the People of God. Through Baptism, we are formed into the image of Christ by his death and resurrection. Just as Christ carried out redemption through poverty and persecution, so the Church is to follow in his pattern of holiness.

As the People of God, we are not saved as individuals but as a community of faith. The priesthood of the faithful and the hierarchical priesthood share in the priesthood of Christ, and his role as prophet proclaiming the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Catechumens and all the baptized, together with the bishop, priests and deacons, share in the hierarchy of the Church. Men and women religious share a unique witness in the Church through the evangelical virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The marks of the church are One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, with a mission in the whole world. The eschatological (or final summation) of the Church is in heaven with the Apostles, The Blessed Virgin Mary, and All the Saints.

The Constitution on Divine Revelation
(Dei Verbum)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
January 13, 2013

God reveals Himself and his plan of salvation through Christ, the Word made flesh in the Holy Spirit, that all might have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature. The Sacred Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition have been handed over as God's continuing revelation.

The Sacred Scriptures have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, although the books of the Bible were committed to the writings of various human authors. However, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture must be continuously interpreted to ensure what God intended.

The Old Testament (or the Hebrew Scriptures) was entrusted to Abraham and Moses in a covenant relationship with the people of Israel. God also spoke through the prophets to prepare for the coming of the messianic kingdom.

The New Testament (or Christian Scriptures) was revealed in the fullness of time. The Gospels have a special preeminence, for they are the principal witness of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Redeemer.

Finally, access to Sacred Scripture should be made available to all the faithful through instruction and study, since they are the source of salvation for the people of God.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
(Sacrosanctum Concilium)
by Reverend James R. McGonegal
January 6, 2013

The liturgy of the Eucharist (i.e. The Mass) and Sacraments manifests the true and universal nature of Christ and the Church. It builds up the Body of Christ and demonstrates the fullness of his presence in the world. Although Latin remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Rite, the Eucharist and all the Sacraments would now be celebrated in the vernacular, or the language of the people. The power to preach the Gospel brings unity to the scattered children of God. Liturgy is the font and summit of the Christian life. The Pascal Mystery (i.e. the dying and rising of Christ) is manifested whenever the Sacraments are celebrated. Christ is truly present in the (1) assembly of the people, the (2) presider, whether a bishop, priest, deacon or layperson, in the (3) Word of God and the (4) Sacrament, especially the bread and wine consecrated to be the body and blood of Christ. We are called to full, active, conscious participation in the liturgical rites. Other venerable forms of devotion are always secondary to the Sacred Liturgy. Adoration of the revered Sacrament, the Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary, for example, are traditional, private prayers of the faithful, but only the Eucharist and the Sacraments are the official Communal Prayer of the Catholic Church.

by Reverend James R. McGonegal
December 30, 2012

We begin the New Year with a reflection on the Holy Family and Mary, the Mother of Jesus "...who treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart." The announcement to an unwed mother of her pregnancy, the birth of a son, the exodus into Egypt, and a lost child discussing business with the elders in the temple would give any mother pause for reflection. Sometimes we forget the humanity of Mary because of all the theological discussion that followed her role in salvation history. Her exemption from original sin did not make her life easier, since she was more attuned to the frailty of the human condition. As we begin a new year of grace and hope, we need to reflect on the signs of the times and the human condition of our own lives. Meditation and reflection are not simply for monks and contemplative nuns, but the stuff of ordinary people. We must become earthly mystics in the development of our spiritual lives. The world is changing faster than we can comprehend. Our children are beginning new adventures. Our spouses, family and friends are growing older. Technology is moving faster than ever into a new age. Just as physical exercise is important for our bodies, and reflection important for our minds, so is spiritual exercise important for the soul. Make a New Year's resolution: (1) take a walk, (2) read a book, and (3) treasure and reflect on all these things in solitude and prayer. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

History and spirit of Advent by Reverend James R. McGonegal 2012

The practice of observing Advent goes back to the 4th century. The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, an arrival or coming. The four week liturgical season precedes Christmas, when the Church prepares for the coming of Christ at his birth. The practices and readings emphasize repentance and joyful expectation of the coming Messiah when humanity and divinity become one in the incarnation. The readings center on the prophesies of John the Baptist and Isaiah. The first week of Advent focuses on the role of Mary. During this time, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8th, when she was preserved from original sin at the moment of her conception by the singular grace of God since she was to bear Christ in her womb. The readings for the First Sunday of Advent (Cycle C in the Lectionary) prepare us for the Day of the Lord, when all things will be revealed and Jesus instructs his disciples to stand firm, pray constantly and stand secure before the Son of Man. Advent then prepares us for the coming of Christ (1) in the fullness of time, (2) at the end of time and (3) in our own time. Be prepared!

The Second Sunday of Advent recalls how God delivered his people out of the Babylonian exile. John the Baptist recalls the Prophet Isaiah's words "to prepare a highway for our God, a straight path for the coming Messiah." These words have become familiar in Handel's Oratorio "The Messiah," performed in churches and concert halls during Advent and Christmas. Other Advent symbols include the Advent Wreath in churches and homes, decorated with evergreens and candles marking the weeks before Christmas. The evergreens symbolize eternal life promised by the Messiah, and the candles symbolize Christ the Light of the world. According to custom, the Christmas tree is set in homes and churches, and decorated with gifts and lights to remain in place until the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The liturgical color and vesture for Advent is purple or blue, depicting the waters of creation and baptism, and the clouds of heaven which announce the birth of Christ, the baptism in the Jordan River, and the Second Coming at the end of time. Again, repentance and joyful anticipation of the Lord's coming into the world and our lives "when all humankind shall see the salvation of God" is the biblical theme for the Second Sunday of Advent. Be prepared!

The Third Sunday of Advent is often called GAUDETE SUNDAY (i.e. Latin for rejoice) because the readings tell us "...Shout for Joy, O Daughter Zion" and "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice, for the peace of God which is beyond understanding will guard over your hearts." Joy is the evidence of God's presence in the human heart. Joy is the posture of all believers since we put our trust in God. Even the final blessing at the grave over the mourners in the Funeral Rite evokes these words, telling them to pray for God's blessing, which is beyond human understanding even in the face of death. John the Baptist exhorts his listeners in the desert that the One to come will baptize them in the Holy Spirit. You will notice the third candle in the Advent Wreath is rose colored to join the Church's joy that our redemption is ever close at hand. In a world filled with anxiety and despair, the Christian theme of this Advent Sunday tells us to present our needs to God in every form of prayer and petition. Dismiss all anxiety from your minds so that the peace of God will remain in your hearts. The Lord be with you and lift your spirits!

The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce that she is to be the Mother of God (sic. The Annunciation). Mary was engaged to Joseph from the House of David in Bethlehem, where the Messiah would be born since he was from the line of King David. This history of Israel is impacted here in a single phrase. Mary, a virgin, is pregnant, and Elizabeth, her cousin, has conceived a child even in her old age, for nothing is impossible with God. The scene is reminiscent of the visit Abraham and Sarah received announcing that they would bear a son, and Abraham would become the Father of many nations. Their beloved son, Isaac, would carry the wood for a sacrificial offering on the mountain, but be saved and raised up by the intervention of an angel. The Old and the New Covenant would be sealed in the obedience and faith of the young and the old. The Fourth Sunday of Advent demonstrates how ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not only their story, but ours as well. We are the people of the new promise, when every nation on earth will know the saving power of God. We have become pregnant with the Word made flesh, and give birth to the Good News of the Gospel that Christ now lives within us and among us. Be prepared!

Saint Ignatius of Antioch Website