Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
two years old and under
Monday, December 27, 2010
we have seen it and testify to it
Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: "in a town called Nazareth" God chose to have a family according to His plan for every family
As we learn through the book of Sirach, "God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them." (Sir 3:2-6, 12-14)
Christ's total solidarity with the human race following upon His incarnation on the first Christmas demanded that he also enter into the experience of the human family as all of us do.
"Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
- "The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal." (CCC 525)
All of us have been exposed to the current madness in which individuals, societies and governments act as though the family can be manipulated into some combination of persons other than one man and one woman called to radical openness to the new life of the children they may bring into the world. Manipulation of the family as created by God is an abomination and a sinful usurpation of God's will and plan for the flourishing and happiness of every human person.
Catholic Christians should shun any sign of approval for events which involve marital simulation ceremonies, or invalid or unnatural unions. The scandal that results from attending such events must be made account of in the tribunal of God because of the impediment they pose for salvation of oneself or others. Speaking or acting in such a way as to lead others to believe that one approves of such events is such a scandal. Faith demands the witness of our actions if it is sincerely held.
"In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.
"The expression 'free union' is fallacious: what can "union" mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?
"The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments. All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion."(CCC 2390)
Today we experience the opposition of evil to God.
"The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." Christ's whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus' departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God's people."
That we may choose life let us choose Christ who alone can give the gift.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Christmas 2010. "Come, let us adore Him": To love the newborn Christ it is necessary to worship Him alone
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again: I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me? And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb 1:1-6
If someone returned to earth from 1000 years ago and saw so many people huddled over tiny electronic gadgets in their hands, or held for long periods to their ears, or even risking an accident in order to use while driving a car, what would they think? They might think that we were in love with our cell phones! They also might make the very reasonable assumption that we worship these small communication devices, devoted as we are to bringing them with us wherever we go, and showering them with care and attention as we do.
But we would laugh if they accused us of these things. We know the difference between a love of adoration and a love of the convenience 0r usefulness of cell phones. Or do we? We only what to remain in loving communication with our spouse or children or to be able take care of business while away from the office.
Many Catholics say they love God, but though physically capable of doing so no longer genuflect in His Presence at church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Many receive Communion with their hands hanging down near their belt buckle, appearing as though they believe that the One whom they receive is less important than ordinary bread. Some refer to the consecrated Eucharistic species as "bread" or "wine", either revealing their own confusion or causing confusion for others. Many talk in church when others are trying to pray, forgetting that the primary purpose of visiting our church is to spend time in loving devotion for and attending to God. Some are habitually casual or indifferent about regular attendance at Sunday Mass, even causing scandal by failing to take their children to Sunday Mass when they are able to do so. These are lost opportunities for the worship of God by which we grow in love of Him and in the grace of faith by which we are to be saved.
Would someone be able to rightly say that you or I appear to care more about a cell phone or some other possession than we do about God? That depends upon whether we know the difference between what kind of love we owe to God and what kind of love we give to other persons or things.
There are many persons or things we might love in various ways, but there is only one case where our love must also include adoration or worship. Many are unfamiliar with or have forgotten what is necessary in order to give the love that is due to God: we must give him the love of adoration, worshiping Him as God alone and no other as we are commanded to do in the Decalogue.
"Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,' says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy." (CCC 2096)
Where do we worship God? Precisely here and now in the liturgy of holy Mass. That is why the way in which we say or listen to the prayers, sing the hymns or watch the actions of the liturgy is important. God Himself has given this gift to us so that we might have a means of showing and growing in our love for Him.
"In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels)." (CCC 335)
At Christmas we adore the Christ Child, really and truly born for us on a particular day and time, just as we were born. And we come into contact with this reality by coming to the crib here in our church and kneeling before the image of the new-born Lord as we did at the beginning of our Christmas Mass, using incense and song to give voice and action to our adoring love. We adore Him by kneeling in prayer before His holy image here.
"Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ. Through the icon of Christ and his works of salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented." (CCC 1192)
But the use of images impels us to do more: to adore Christ truly present here on our altar in the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar. As we come forward we stop and bow or we kneel before receiving Him as a sign that He is God, preparing ourselves to receive Him with the proper disposition of Faith which brings salvation in and through Him.
"Come, let us adore Him." On this Christmas we ask the Lord Jesus, who has made it so easy for us to approach and to love Him because He is born as a little child, to make us also know how to worship Him, rejecting all idolatry and giving Him the adoration due to Him alone as God and to no other, that we may know here and now, and every day, the graces of salvation which come only through putting our faith in Him as Lord and Savior.
"To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the 'nothingness of the creature' who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world." (CCC 2097)
Praised be Jesus Christ, the new-born Savior, now and forever! Amen!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
St. John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. "Prophet of the Most High", John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom", whom he points out as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah", John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.
Blessed Honoratus Kozminski, pray for us.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.
Blessed Mary Frances Schervier, pray for us.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made."
Thursday, December 9, 2010
John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God."
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
... if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."
Saturday, December 4, 2010
"His dwelling shall be glorious": the Church of Christ reflects the glory of God through worship of every time and place
In these days leading to Christmas homes are decorated with lights and festooned in the favorite colors and symbols of the season. These reflect the joy and anticipation that many feel in looking forward to the Christmas celebration. This joy is a spiritual quality because it is an interiorly felt and thought set of emotions and convictions which comes from sharing in God's love. The beautiful symbols and lights of the season express a desire to share this love.
Love is the glory of God. And here, in His church where we truly meet and know Him who is the source of love and who shares His with us His divine glory, should not our convictions of this fact also be expressed in seeking beautiful decorations and furnishings for His house? Should we not seek to express His love in the beauty of music and other symbols such as the vestments of the priest and the clothing we choose to wear for Sunday Mass?
It became fashionable for quite a long time for some in the Church to use the Second Vatican Council as an excuse for disliking and even detesting some aspects of the Church's life. "I don't like Latin" some would say or, others, "I don't like Gregorian chant" or it would be certain vestments or organ music. Many were not sure what they did in fact like, or whether what replaced the many things which were thrown onto the ash heap of history after 1962 were being replaced with anything of equal value, dignity or sacredness. It seemed for a long time that Vatican II for many was understood not necessarily as an affirmation of anything so much as it was a rejection of everything which came before it.
In an institution founded by God because a fruit of God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ, whose words and deeds were handed on by the Apostles He chose and sent in His power and authority, the rejection of tradition, that is of the Faith and life handed down by Christ, would seem a most dangerous thing. And yet this recklessness was entertained and encouraged by many in authority and accepted by many lay faithful in the Church as an authentic representation of the mind of the Church as expressed through the teachings of Vatican II because of that authority. This juggernaut of rupture in the life of the Church was often cloaked with the veil of authority through frequent reference to "the Spirit of Vatican II."
And then there are the documents of Vatican II. Many, upon reading them for the first time, expressed genuine shock at their orthodox and traditional gist. Others marveled that so many for so long were able to misrepresent the so-called "Spirit" of the Council in a way so flagrantly in violation of the letter of that same Council.
But the fallout continues in the life of the Church today. Many of those who were swept up in the heady spirit of those days almost fifty years ago still operate under the assumption that the Church sanctioned the detestation of certain sacred things and liturgies in the best interests of the Church. In light of the fact that the Church is herself a traditio, that is something handed down through the same Holy Spirit today as that conferred by Christ two thousand years ago, this error amounts to little more than institutional suicide. Many young people who happen onto the scene today marvel at the attitude of ambivalence, and sometimes worse, toward historic and holy aspects of the life of this Church handed down as the fruit of 2,000 years.
"The tradition of Christian prayer is one of the ways in which the tradition of faith takes shape and grows, especially through the contemplation and study of believers who treasure in their hearts the events and words of the economy of salvation, and through their profound grasp of the spiritual realities they experience." (CCC 2651)
The expression of the Church's faith through the prayer of the liturgy is always subjected to her teaching authority. It is for this reason that an iconoclastic attack upon any part of the Church's life of prayer and worship lets loose an attitude of rebellion against the teaching authority itself. "Lex orandi est lex credendi" expresses the truth of the inner connection between what we believe and how we worship. An attack on the one is an attack on the other.
"In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ." (CCC 2663)
What the Church has done at any time in her history by everyone everywhere expresses what the Church believes. Any Catholic may be legitimately attached to and draw grace from these things and, at the same time, every Catholic should recognize that charity demands these should be respected and esteemed even if not a personal preference.
Through His letter of 7 July 2007, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict seeks to make peace in the Church by setting to rest any mistaken notion that Vatican II sought to sweep away everything that came before it, or at least that the Council gave individuals the carte blanche to seize capriciously upon things new and untested in a breathless search to replace everything considered old, tried and found lacking.
The liturgies of the Roman Rite from before and after the Second Vatican Council are no longer "old" or "new" with all the connotations good or bad that may come from those designations. Instead, we have the Ordinary Form, which is the way in which most Catholics presently choose to worship, and the Extraordinary Form, the liturgy of 1962 which grew organically and continuously from the seed of that first liturgy in the Upper Room offered by the Lord Himself and which was the starting point for the "fabrication" * of the Ordinary Form .
It is true, as John the Baptist preached, that "God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones" but He chose instead to raise up children in and through Christ His divine Son. Through both forms of the one Roman Rite, Ordinary and Extraordinary, the Spirit of the Lord rests upon the Church so that "the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea". It is in the "today" of the Church that "the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious."
* As described by Pope Benedict (writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, in the preface to the French edition of The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background", 1993.)
St John Damascene, pray for us.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Benedict Sunday Morning: “Let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Silence is not an emptiness when in it the Word of Light is received with love
Benedict’s desire to dialogue and to engage the sincere questioning of a world caught up in unsatisfied desires for life and love, in frustrated attempts to seek and to know God, is frequently short-circuited by those who wish to twist the news and the words of the Pope and of others in order to advance their own malicious or alien agendas. Those of us in the Church owe it to ourselves and to Pope Benedict to simply read what he says, to allow him to speak for himself, and not to refer to what others say that he said. Many were caught up, regardless of good motives or not, in a fruitless effort to re-spin the media tidal wave in order to help alleviate the confusion for the good of fellow believers but who, in some cases, only added to the cacophonous din. Clarity and understanding were lacking where dialogue was not aided by a receptive and listening silence.
Pope Benedict is not turning aside or throwing over the Church’s teaching that exalts the love of man and woman in marriage when it is expressed by the complete gift of self and rejects the falsification of the sign of marital love through artificial contraception which prevents sincere self-giving. Father Fessio has aided all of us to better understand Pope Benedict’s words. He uses the example of thugs using pipes to beat and rob others. A thug who decides to use a cushion to soften the blow is still doing something that no one can approve of: he is using a pipe to beat and rob innocent people. It is the same with Pope Benedict’s words about a prostitute who uses artificial contraception: there can be no approval either for the action itself or the means used. The example was offered by the Pope only as a sign of hope that a human person can move in the direction of full freedom which is only found in the complete renunciation of sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
With the lighting of our Advent wreath we, also, hope to grow more fully into the freedom offered by Jesus Christ to live our lives in responsibility which is the authentic expression of love for God and for others. This responsibility must be based upon a dialogue with the Lord. In order to have a true conversation we must have the capacity to listen so that the other and his or her insights and love can be included in our own richer response for having included them in our lives.
We think of husband and wife in a particular way when we speak of dialogue, for their mutual self-giving must be fertile; that is they must include one another not only through the sharing of the marital act but also in the mutual inter-relationship of speaking and listening which makes for true dialogue and is thus a sincere expression of and an enriching of their marital love.
The same is true for all of us in our relationship with the Lord. When we listen with care and attention to the Word and the homily, when we participate in the singing of the Psalm we are taking part in a dialogue initiated by the One who loves us above all others and who, in His love, speaks saving Words. His words do not begin and end here, but they are given as Spirit and life, so that in grace they might grow as a flame which burns with the light of Christ Himself, the warming and life-giving power of God which is our Faith.
And we also listen in silence. In two places in our liturgy the gift of silence is used, not as an empty moment devoid of meaning unless it can be filled with something else. No, the silence too is a rich moment because filled with all the fullness of God Himself, proclaimed in His Word and received in His Eucharist. That is why these two periods of silence are placed after the homily and after the Communion of the Mass. Each of us is invited to enter the silence with our own prayer, our own needs to meet and know the Lord, to both listen to and respond to Him. These periods of silent contemplation are then collected and expressed in the common prayer of the Creed and general intercessions and the collect, or post-communion prayer.
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
Friday, November 26, 2010
- Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world. . . . Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.
- -- CCC 1394