Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"You will realize that I AM"

Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
-- Nm 21:4-9

The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church."
-- CCC 1508

Following this analogy, the first chapter will expound the three sacraments of Christian initiation; the second, the sacraments of healing; and the third, the sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful. This order, while not the only one possible, does allow one to see that the sacraments form an organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own vital place. In this organic whole, the Eucharist occupies a unique place as the "Sacrament of sacraments": "all the other sacraments are ordered to it as to their end."
-- CCC 1211

"When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM"

The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he." The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly "I AM", the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could declare to the Jews: "What God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" Christ's Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God's Son, and is its fulfillment in accordance with God's eternal plan.
-- CCC 653

(Art: Bourdon, Sebastien, Moses and the Brazen Serpent, 1653-54, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

"O eternal God, you know what is hidden"

"O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me.
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me."

-- Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41c-62

Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;

- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them. (CCC 2477)

"Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her."
-- Jn 8:1-11

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God. (CCC 1861)

(Art: Woman Taken in Adultery by Guercino)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fifth Sunday of Lent: "We want to see Jesus"

To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and... therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act." "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus." Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom... grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself." (CCC 160)

"All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD."
-- Jer 31:31-34

"...when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself."
-- Jn 12:20-33

The Church is the "gathering" and the true "family" of God.

Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the "family of God". By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery - his death on the cross and his Resurrection - he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Into this union with Christ all men are called. (CCC 542)

At the center of the life of the Church is the Lord, "raised up" in the Eucharist, that all the world, "from least to greatest", may see and know Him.

Is it not we, the members of His Body which is the Church, who lift Him up that He may draw all the world to Himself; lift Him up every day in the Holy Sacrifice of His Cross and Resurrection in the holy Mass?

All are able now to see the Lord, " from least to greatest" and all are now drawn to Him as the Church lifts Him up in the sacred Scriptures proclaimed and proclaims Him, "lifted up from the earth" in the holy Eucharist, the risen Lord truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.


"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him". As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven. (CCC 662)

Fifth Sunday of Lent: "I will make a new covenant"

"I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
-- Jer 31:31-34

The nuptial covenant between God and his people Israel had prepared the way for the new and everlasting covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain way all mankind saved by him, thus preparing for "the wedding-feast of the Lamb." (CCC 1612)

"This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself."
-- Jn 12:20-33

In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church. The liturgical assembly derives its unity from the "communion of the Holy Spirit" who gathers the children of God into the one Body of Christ. This assembly transcends racial, cultural, social - indeed, all human affinities. (CCC 1097)

The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen). (CCC 1182)

Sacred Scripture for holy Mass of the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Photo: Benedict XVI waves from his popemobile to people gathered for an outdoor Mass at Cimangola esplanade in Luanda, Angola, last Sunday (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Let us destroy...let us cut him off..."

"But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge,
searcher of mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause!"

-- Jer 11:18-20

To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain. (CCC 1472)

"...a division occurred in the crowd because of him."
-- Jn 7:40-53

The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?": the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself. (CCC 1336)

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Let us beset the just one"

"he is obnoxious to us."
-- Wis 2:1a, 12-22

The perfect fulfillment of the Law could be the work of none but the divine legislator, born subject to the Law in the person of the Son. In Jesus, the Law no longer appears engraved on tables of stone but "upon the heart" of the Servant who becomes "a covenant to the people", because he will "faithfully bring forth justice". Jesus fulfills the Law to the point of taking upon himself "the curse of the Law" incurred by those who do not "abide by the things written in the book of the Law, and do them", for his death took place to redeem them "from the transgressions under the first covenant". (CCC 580)

Christ is the end of the law (cf. Rom 10:4); only he teaches and bestows the justice of God. (CCC 1977)

"the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true"
-- Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

"Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan and from death and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves." (CCC 1086)

Sacred Scriptures for the celebration of holy Mass on Friday of the fourth week of Lent.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"the Father has sent me"

"Go down at once to your people"
-- Ex 32:7-14

"Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ. In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate." (CCC 864)

"the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf."
-- Jn 5:31-47

The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." It And they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. (CCC 425)

Sacred Scriptures for holy Mass of Thursday in the fourth week of Lent.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"...you will conceive...

...and bear a son."
By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body. (CCC 973)

"Behold, I come to do your will...By this 'will,' we have been consecrated."
-- Heb 10:4-10

Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves." At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission. Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, "will save his people from their sins". In Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men. (CCC 430)

Sacred Scriptures for holy Mass in celebration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

(Art: The Annunciation, Fra Angelico, c. 1430, Museo Diocesano, Cortona, Italia.)


"they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine."
--Ez 47:1-9, 12

"Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your mat, and walk.'
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked."
--Jn 5:1-16

There is no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth "in which righteousness dwells," than the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, "the work of our redemption is carried on" and we "break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ." (CCC 1405)

Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body. We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta) - the first meaning of the phrase "communion of saints" in the Apostles' Creed - the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, viaticum. . . (CCC 1331)

Monday, March 23, 2009

"I will rejoice"

"Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people."
-- Is 65:17-21

"Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, "an upright heart", as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

'You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised': great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for .'you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you'. (CCC 30)

"...and he and his whole household came to believe."
-- Jn 4:43-54

"I believe" (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. "We believe" (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. "I believe" is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both "I believe" and "We believe". (CCC 167)

Rejoice in believing. Believe in rejoicing. Be recreated in Christ the Lord. In Him are all things made new.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Lent: “Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them”

“But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets." 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23

In our day the Lord does still send, and does still come to us, through his messengers: through the Church, through the Holy Father, in fact through all of those who selflessly and courageously teach the truth that comes from God and is taught infallibly in the Church by the indwelling Spirit: “I send you the Spirit to lead you into all the truth.”

And so we see that the living Lord, who founded this Church by the sending of the Spirit and who made, and continues to make of us, His own people by that same Spirit, sends “messengers” to us that we might hear and know the truth and also might be granted the grace of living in this way of salvation, the Church, which is the "place of Faith".

Also in these days our Holy Father fulfills this mission as messenger through his trip to Africa. His role of service is to preach the truth which they, as well as we, have a right to hear. Howls of condemnation and protests in Europe greeted his words of moral teaching. What strikes one about these events in our days is not that people have disagreements. People disagreed with Christ in his own day and you can all witness the result in Christ raised up on the Cross, "drawing all men to Himself". No, the disagreements are not a cause for surprise.

What is unique is that the forces of the dictatorship of relativism react with scorn, derision and sometimes violent opposition when someone like our Holy Father Benedict refuses to bow to their rigid, pagan and diabolic creeds. They demand that he be mute and succumb to their pressure. His courage in Christ and the Holy Spirit call him to do otherwise. It simply is his job to the speak the truth, whether popular or not, and never under any circumstances can he approve of any moral evil, whether contraception or abortion or corruption in government or sexual violence against women.

As Benedict said to the Bishops of Angola and São Tomé:

"Indeed, as a corrective to a widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive and, even more, tends to make its ultimate measure the individual and his personal caprice, we hold out another measure: the Son of God, who is also true man. Christ is the measure of true humanism. The Christian marked by an adult and mature faith is not one who is borne along by the waves of fashion and the latest novelties, but one who lives deeply rooted in the friendship of Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good, and it provides us with the criterion for discerning between error and truth."

"...so must the Son of Man be lifted up." Let the Lord be lifted up that we may glorify Him, in the teaching of our Holy Father and the Church, in the work of the Spirit in the world. Yes, "lift Him up"; you too must go forth as messengers, that all nations may behold Him and come to know the truth and thus be set free, "so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (Jn 3:14-21 )


(Photo: AP – Pope Benedict XVI greets a group of Pygmies from Cameroon's Baka tribe as he leaves the Vatican embassy.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pope Benedict in Africa

"One such human reality, presently faced with numerous difficulties and threats, is the family. Families are particularly in need of evangelization and practical support, since, in addition to the fragility and lack of inner stability of so many conjugal unions, there is the widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage. In your pastoral concern, which extends to every human being, continue to raise your voice in defence of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family’s proper role in the Church and in society, at the same time demanding economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children."

Fourth Sunday of Lent: "so must the Son of Man be lifted up...

...so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."

Sacred Scripture for holy Mass of the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

"Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. (Cf. Dan 7:10; Joel 3-4; Mal 3:19; Mt 3:7-12) Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. (Cf. Mk 12:38-40; Lk 12:1-3; Jn 3:20-21; Rom 2:16; 1 Cor 4:5) Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned. (Cf. Mt 11:20-24; 12:41-42) Our attitude about our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. (Cf. Mt 5:22; 7:1-5) On the last day Jesus will say : 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' (Mt 25:40) " (CCC 678)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

"Come, let us return"

"...he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.
He will revive us after two days;
on the third day he will raise us up,
to live in his presence."

-- Hos 6:1-6

"...the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who "came from the Father" can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man." Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the "Father's house", to God's life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.
-- CCC 661

Taking up St. John's expression, "The Word became flesh",the Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
-- CCC 461

Friday, March 20, 2009


"...you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD."
--Hos 14:2-10

"first is this:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength."
--Mk 12:28-34

Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This immediately echoes the solemn call: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD."

God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the "ten words." The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God. (CCC 2083)

Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God's grace he will prevail

- by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;

- by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God's will in everything;

- by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God's commandments: "Appearance arouses yearning in fools";

- by prayer:

I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.
(CCC 2520)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Son of Joseph, of the House of David

"Go, tell my servant David,
'When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.' "
--2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16

"I must be in my Father's house."
--Lk 2:41-51a

The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life. (CCC 534)

Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth. At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father's business. He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover. His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts. (CCC 583)

Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as "He who is not with me is against me"; and his saying that there was in him "something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon", something "greater than the Temple"; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, "Before Abraham was, I AM", and even "I and the Father are one." (CC 590)

Click here for the sacred Scriptures for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph.

(Print: Wagner, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alain Juppé: "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

History repeats itself

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppé (UMP), interviewed Wednesday by France Culture concerning the words of Benedict XVI denouncing condoms, said that "this pope is becoming a real problem" because he is living “in a situation of total autism."

This because Benedict XVI teaches the truth of the law of God to the African people whose human dignity and God demand that he do such. There was another man who once incited murderers to commit the act of making a martyr of the Church in England by saying something very similar.

Is this hate speech? Can this be considered a crime, also? Or is there room for hating one person, one group, one religion because he and they will not bend to the pagan and diabolic creeds of this age?

UPDATE of 20 March 2009:

Vatican Information Service’s release of the exchange between the Pope and the reporter:

“Answering a
question on the Catholic Church’s approach to HIV/ AIDS, considered by some as unrealistic and ineffective, the Pope said:

“ ‘It is my belief that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/ AIDS is in fact the Catholic Church and her institutions. . . . The problem of HIV/ AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the
contrary, we risk worsening the problem.

“ The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving toward one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with the suffering, a readiness — even through personal sacrifice — to stand by those who suffer’.”

"whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest "

"Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them..." Dt 4:1, 5-9
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." Mt 5:17-19

"The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law:

"From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue." (CCC 2070)
"Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.' The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger." (CCC 1858)

"The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. The Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure, where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity." (CCC 1968)

Click here for the sacred Scriptures for holy Mass of Wednesday of the third week of Lent.

(Art: Giotto di Bondone, Moses on Mount Sinai, 1304-06, fresco, Cappella Scrovegni, Padua.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Forgive your brother from your heart."

In the prayer taught by Our Lord we pray: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

"This petition is astonishing. If it consisted only of the first phrase, 'And forgive us our trespasses,' it might have been included, implicitly, in the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer, since Christ's sacrifice is 'that sins may be forgiven.' But, according to the second phrase, our petition will not be heard unless we have first met a strict requirement. Our petition looks to the future, but our response must come first, for the two parts are joined by the single word 'as.' " (CCC 2838)

"Thus the Lord's words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end, become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the Lord's teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: 'So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.' It is there, in fact, 'in the depths of the heart,' that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession." (CCC 2843)

Click here for the Scriptures for today's holy Mass.

(Art: Rembrandt, Parable of the Merciless Servant.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

"No prophet is accepted"

"Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place."

The Lord Jesus is the One foretold by all the prophets, Himself the perfect fulfillment of all prophecy, and therefore the Christ:

"The word 'Christ' comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means 'anointed'. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that 'Christ' signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively. It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet. Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king." (CCC 436)

Naaman the Syrian worships the God of Israel on the evidence of the works of His prophet. "...there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." (2 Kgs 5:1-15ab) The Lord's own people, who witnessed His miracles and many other good works, not only refuse Him -- they would go so far as to kill him: "they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong."

Our Holy Father has suffered this perverse rejection himself as he relates in his Letter to the Bishops: "I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility." But he also gives thanks that, though the people of his own house and his own faith may reject him, there are yet others who will accept him as a prophet of the marriage of reason and religion:

"Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist."

Let us pray that such behavior, shameful and unworthy of Christians, never again scandalize others against the Christ, the One in whom all prophecy is fulfilled, our Divine Founder and Lord.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Third Sunday of Lent: "Zeal for your house consumes me."

He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
"Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
"What sign can you show us for doing this?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."

Click here for the Sacred Scriptures for the Third Sunday of Lent.

Christ cleanses the temple which is each human person, making of it "a dwelling place for God in the Spirit", through the forgiveness of His Mercy. And what is the "sign can He show us for doing this?" The temple of His Body was destroyed by death and in three days He rose.

"Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. (Cf. Mt 21:13) He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: 'You shall not make my Father's house a house of trade.' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me' (Jn 2:16-17; cf. Ps 69:10) After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple. (Cf. Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 21)" (CCC 584)

The zeal of the Lord Jesus is for His Father's house in every human person, become a dwelling for glorifying the Father through the splendor of the Holy Spirit.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent .


Art: El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Christ Cleansing the Temple, probably before 1570. Samuel H. Kress Collection 1957.14., National Gallery of Art.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Let them feed"

"Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs."

"he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed"
--Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

"Long" no more for worldly comfort, the empty show, the superficial food that can sustain only for a time. Feed not upon the "pods," the food of mere beasts which provides a comfort that can be taken away. No, long rather for that only which can sustain true sons and daughters of the Father: Jesus Christ is the true "fatted calf" the only feast worthy of sons and daughters, truly the "food" of the royal wedding feast of the Lamb which will last forever.

Yes, "let them feed...show us wonderful signs."

The most wonderful Sign, and that upon which the whole world ought to feed, is the True Bread which is Christ: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb."

(Art: Jan van Eyck 1390 – 1441. The Ghent altarpiece: Adoration of the Lamb, oil on panel (138 × 242 cm) — 1432. Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI: "overriding priority is to make God present in this world"

In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

(Photo: Virginia F, Australia.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vatican II "carries with it the entire doctrinal history of the Church"

In his letter to all Bishops of the world on the removal of the excommunication of the Bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and on all aspects involving the subsequent problems related to Bishop Richard Williamson, to be published officially tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI rebukes those who would welcome with open arms brothers and sisters outside of the household of the Faith while preserving for ridicule and marginalization those who share some aspects of our Faith yet stand in need of full reconciliation with the Church.


From Rorate Caeli:

The letter will announce that the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will be placed under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (though, as of this moment, it is not clear if only regarding doctrinal matters). The Pope makes clear for Traditionalists that it is not possible to "freeze" the Magisterial authority of the Church in 1962 - but he also chides those who proclaim themselves to be "great defenders of the Council" but who do not wish to understand that Vatican II carries with it "the entire doctrinal history of the Church"

-- The full text of the letter to the bishops is now available at NLM.

Vatican II liturgy in practice: "a change in the forms but no true renewal"

30 Giorni: What memories do you have of this phase of liturgical reform?

Card. Cañizares: I believe that a deepening and a renewal of the liturgy were necessary. But according to how I have experienced it, it was not a perfectly successful operation. The first part of the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium [NLM note: dealing with the general principles and the promotion of the liturgy] has not entered the hearts of the Christian people. There has been a change in the forms, a reform, but no true renewal as requested by Sacrosanctum Concilium. Sometimes there has been change for the simple desire of change with respect to a past perceived as all negative and superseded. Sometimes the reform has been conceived as a rupture and not as an organic development of Tradition. Hence all the problems aroused by the traditionalists attached to the rite of 1962.

30 Giorni: We are talking about a reform, then, which, in fact, has not fully complied with the conciliar mandate?

Card. Cañizares: Most of all I would say that it was a reform which has been applied and above all which has been lived as an absolute change, as if there had to be created an abyss between the preconciliar and the postconciliar, in a context in which "preconciliar" was used as an insult.

-- Interview in Italian monthly 30 Giorni with Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the implementation of the Vatican II reforms of the sacred liturgy.

(Source: Translation by Gregor Kollmorgen at The New Liturgical Movement.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

"We have rebelled and departed from your commandments"

"O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you."

Today the ideocrats of the cult of death, "the kings and princes", claim the mantle of science as they approve funding for embryonic stem cell research. They claim that to oppose this measure is "ideology".

It is a matter of reason, not ideology, to defend the life of the human person, whether an embryo or a former embryo. Christ speaks through our Holy Father Benedict who tells us "Defend Life!"

"We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.

"We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws." Daniel 9, 4ff

The humanity of the embryo is a matter of scientific fact. That the destruction of the human embryo is the taking of a human life is also a scientific fact; to do is so to "depart from" God's commandments and to do evil for God has commanded, "Thou shalt not kill."

It is ideological to claim otherwise.

The pro-life movement is firmly and irrevocably based upon scientific principles.

The cult of death is a godless rebellion against the Creator Himself, the very source of science and reason.

"O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."
-- Daniel 9, 4ff

Read Bishop Finn's statement about President Obama's executive order on embryonic stem cell research.

Scriptures for Monday of the second week of Lent.

(Photo by mcitl: "Former embryos" Marching for Life, Washington, DC, January 2009.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Glorify God in Your Bodies"

Jesus Christ is the way for every man and woman. Security comes not from physical defense, for power ever escalates and the forces of nature are unpredictable. Weapons of destruction fall into evil hands every day and all of us live with the threat of violence. Peace cannot come through higher walls, more locks on the door or a move to the "country". The wise man will seek the security that can never be taken away: the fortification, the stronghold of God's grace, realizing that the only true threat is the evil that he embraces with his intellect and will, not that which he suffers at the hands of another. The strength of a holy life is possessing and living Christ's own life, the Resurrection and the Life which is victorious over every power. Jesus Christ is the only power which can promise us that, though we may sustain every torture or means of violence that man has sinfully devised for the destruction of the body, our heart, mind, soul and strength can yet be with God at every moment. No matter what may come in this life, no matter what the future may hold, we know and believe that a holy life is the only certain security, for in it lies the seed of heavenly glory.

Anything which destroys the glory of God in us is rejected as evil by those who sincerely seek holiness. The worst violence is the destruction of God's image through man's own complicity, at an epidemic level today. The culture of death is at once the most ignored and the greatest threat. The moral evil of surgical sterilization in voluntary vasectomy, hysterectomy, and tubal ligation is a violation of the human person, yet a growing means of regulating births. Abortion is not only the murder of a child, it is at the same time dehumanizing and degrading for the mother. Sin is most evil for it renders man and woman incapable of glorifying God in their bodies.

"The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: 'Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.' 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.' (Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6) On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: 'Listen to him!' (Mk 9:7; cf. Deut 6:4-5) Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you." (Jn 15:12) This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example. (Cf. Mk 8:4) " (CCC 459)

We glorify God in our bodies through a self-offering configured to the Cross and consecrated in the glorified and risen Christ. He reveals his glory to strengthen us for our share in His suffering which comes with total rejection of evil.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent.

(Art: The Transfiguration, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Theological continuity is only correct reading of Vatican II"

The Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum" is presented as the most important activity in the papacy of Benedict XVI. What is your opinion?

I do not know whether it is the most important but it certainly is an important document. It is not only so because it is a very significant step towards a reconciliation within the Church, not only because it expresses the desire to arrive at a mutual enrichment between the two forms of the Roman Rite, the ordinary and extraordinary, but also because it is the precise indication, in law and liturgy, of that theological continuity which the Holy Father has presented as the only correct hermeneutic for reading and understanding of the life of the Church and, especially, of Vatican II.

(OFFICE OF THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF, INTERVIEW OF MONS. GUIDO MARINI IN THE PERIODICAL "RADICI CRISTIANE” N. 42 OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH 2009, "Without words before the greatness and beauty of the mystery of God" by Maddalena della Somaglia.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"MY WORD shall not return to me void": the criteria for participation

"Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it."
Is 55:10-11

Christ is that Word which goes forth from the Father, in the words of the Sacred Scripture proclaimed and in the Holy Eucharist, that in us may be perfectly accomplished His purpose of salvation.

Click here to read "On fully conscious and active participation"

Photo: Early morning snowfall blankets Saint Peter's Church.


"Every believer...has the right to choose the way in which they will receive Communion."

We have noticed that the Holy Father, for some time now, always gives Holy Communion upon the tongue and kneeling. Does he want this to serve as an example for the whole Church, and an encouragement for the faithful to receive our Lord with greater devotion?

As we know the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand remains still, from a legal point of view, an exception [indult] to the universal law, granted by the Holy See to the bishops conferences who so request it. Every believer, even in the presence of an exception [indult], has the right to choose the way in which they will receive Communion. Benedict XVI, began to distribute Communion on the tongue and kneeling on the occasion of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi last year, in full consonance with the provisions of the current liturgical law, perhaps intending to emphasize a preference for this method. One can imagine the reason for this preference: it shines more light on the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, it helps the devotion of the faithful, and it indicates more easily the sense of mystery.

(OFFICE OF THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF, INTERVIEW OF MONS. GUIDO MARINI IN THE PERIODICAL "RADICI CRISTIANE” N. 42 OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH 2009, "Without words before the greatness and beauty of the mystery of God" by Maddalena della Somaglia.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Roman Stational Churches - A Spiritual Guide Through Lent

Travel the Lenten journey along with the Holy Father and the faithful of Rome with the tutorial on the Roman stational churches of Lent courtesy of the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius.

(Photo: Pope Benedict XVI leading the Ash Wednesday penitential procession.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pray for the Holy Father: May the angels minister to him

The angels serve Jesus, who is certainly above them, and His dignity is proclaimed here in the Gospel in a clear, though discreet, way. In fact, even in a situation of extreme poverty and humility, when He is tempted by Satan, He remains the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, we would remove a notable portion of the Gospel if we forgot these beings sent by God, who announce His presence among us and are a sign of Him. Let us call upon them often, so that they may support us in the effort to follow Jesus to the point of being identified with him.

Let us ask them, in particular today, to watch over me and my coworkers in the Roman Curia, who this afternoon, like every year, begin the week of spiritual exercises. Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us!

Benedict XVI


March 1 2009

(Thanks to Rorate Caeli.)