Lenten Reflection

From Father “Rocky” of Relevant Radio:

Day 27 of Lent. The Roman Canon. That’s what we used to call Eucharistic Prayer number one: the Roman Canon. Roman because we are Roman Catholics. Canon, because it was a fixed prayer, and every Roman Catholic priest who celebrated Mass from the time of the Council of Trent until the reform of the Liturgy in the Second Vatican Council, celebrated Mass with that Eucharistic Prayer. Now, there are other options. But this is the most traditional and timeless of the Eucharistic prayers, and what I like about – besides the chance to name off a number of great saints – is the possibility of pausing for some moments to pray silently for the living and the dead.

Dear Father Rocky,

Every time I have the pleasure of listening to you on the radio your orthodox understanding of our faith and deep love of Christ comes through — and I always learn something new.

I just remembered today that you’d be posting a Lenten reflection every day during Lent on your Facebook page, so today I finally got around to checking it out.

I would only add that the word canon comes from the Greek kanon, which originally meant “straight” (like a reed), and was used as a standard of measure in the ancient Greek/Roman world.

I would also add that my knowledge of many of those saints named in the prayer is woefully lacking (plus, who the heck is the priest Melchisedech?), so I obviously have a lot more reading to do. I’m looking forward to my time with the saints!

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2 Responses to Lenten Reflection

  1. Lydia says:

    Melchisedek is this mysterious figure whom Abraham meets in the Old Testament. He’s said to be a priest of the most high God, which is kind of hard to figure out, as there weren’t many of those around back then, and there wasn’t yet a Mosaic law or priesthood based on it. Abraham brings M. a percent of the spoils of war as an offering. It’s a cryptic passage.

    Psalm 110 appears to be a messianic Psalm and promises the Anointed One, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” This fits with the messianic prophecy in Zechariah 6:13, which portrays the promised one as being both a king and a priest.

    In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews picks up on this (Hebrews 7) and applies all of this to Jesus. The author of Hebrews points out that, if Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedek he is in a sense superior to the Mosaic priests, who came only afterwards. He even makes a rabbinic-style argument to the effect that, since Abraham (who was the ancestor of the Levitical priests) paid tithes to Melchisedek, in a sense the Levitical priests did honor to M. “in the person of” their ancestor Abraham. All of this is in the service of arguing, to a Jewish audience, that Jesus and the New Covenant he established is superior to the Mosaic law and covenant. Also, Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah. This was necessary for him to be the “seed of David” and to have claim to kingship, but it disqualified him from being a priest in the Mosaic law. Yet the author of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus is indeed our Great High Priest.

    All that, and I haven’t even read the prayer!

  2. Lydia says:

    Okay, I found the reference in the liturgical prayer. In Gen. 14:18 it says that M. brought out bread and wine to give to Abraham. He blesses Abraham in the next verse. So that’s where the allusion to bread and wine come in. Clearly the liturgical prayer is pulling that together with the bread and wine of the Eucharist and to the comparison of Jesus to M. in Hebrews.

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