Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday, Holy Week: "My appointed time draws near"

in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.

Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the passover meal for us, that we may eat it. . . ." They went . . . and prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.". . . . And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood."
-- CCC 1339

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday, Holy Week: "You are my servant"

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the "Servant songs." These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus' Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our "form as slave." Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.
-- CCC 713

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, Holy Week: "Here is my servant"

whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations

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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Passion (Palm) Sunday: "if we have died with him, we will also live with him"

Procession Gospel: St. Matthew 21, 1-11

Mass: Isaiah 50, 4-7; Psalm 22, 8-9. 17-18. 19-20. 23-24; Philippians 2. 6-11; St. Matthew 26, 14-27, 66.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We prepare now with Christ to enter the holiest of weeks in which we celebrate all of the events leading up to his passion, death and burial. And in doing so we recall how by his death he has transformed our death from a curse into the door of eternal life.

"Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father's will. (Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8). The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing. (Cf. Rom 5:19-21)" (CCC 1009)

With the procession of palms which begins today's Mass, we celebrate Christ's entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery. Those who today acclaim him king, and cry "Hosannah!", will days hence demand he die as a criminal. On Holy Thursday we will take part in a re-enactment of the foot-washing of the Apostles, the twelve men chosen as foundation stones of the Church. To them Christ gave the gift of Christian priesthood and through them he has handed down to us the perfect memorial of his suffering and death in the Eucharistic sacrifice. We will honor our Lord's gift of his Body and Blood as we carry the Blessed Sacrament in procession following Thursday's solemn liturgy of "The Lord's Supper." We will remain in silent adoration until midnight.

On Good Friday we enter more fully into the death of the Lord in our celebration of the Passion. We are strengthened to face our own death as we accompany our Lord on the via crucis, the way of the cross. We join ourselves to the obedience of the Son that we may also obey the Father's will and die a truly "Christian death."

"'It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt.'[GS 18.] In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact 'the wages of sin.'(Rom 6:23 ;)(cf. Gen 2:17 .) For those who die in Christ's grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.(Cf. Rom 6:3-9 ; Phil 3:10-11 .)" (CCC 1006)

"Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: 'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.'(Phil 1:21) 'The saying is sure:" if we have died with him, we will also live with him." '(2 Tim 2:11) What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already 'died with Christ' sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this 'dying with Christ' and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act."(CCC 1010)

This day in particular is appropriate for the celebration of the sacrament of Penance. We will adore the holy cross and remain until midnight in silent contemplation of the glorious Son of God who "reigns from the wood".

Holy Saturday with its silence bespeaks the breathless waiting of a world yet held in bondage to the powers of death. The faithful are tested as they persevere in hope for the Lord of life to manifest himself and give light to all men. No liturgy is celebrated on Holy Saturday, for Christ's Church cannot pray except through the living Christ. We watch and wait at the silent tomb with our Lady and the other faithful ones who have not abandoned Jesus.

"To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must 'be away from the body and at home with the Lord.' (2 Cor 5:8) In that 'departure' which is death the soul is separated from the body. (Cf. Phil 1:23) It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead. (Cf. Paul VI, CPG SS 28.)" (CCC 1005)

St. Leo the Great, pope, speaks compellingly of the mysteries of Holy Week:

"True reverence for the Lord's passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity. The earth-our earthly nature- should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer. The rocks-the hearts of unbelievers- should burst asunder. The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart. Foreshadowings of the future resurrection should appear in the holy city, the Church of God: what is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts." (Liturgy of the Hours, Thursday, Fourth Week of Lent)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Art: Duccio di Buoninsegna, Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

Saturday, Lent Wk 5: "one man should die"

so that the whole nation may not perish

The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus. The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers. To those who feared that "everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation", the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: "It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition. The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.
-- CCC 596

Art: Duccio, di Buoninsegna (1255-1319), Jesus Accused by the Pharisees

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, Lent Wk 5: "the Lord is with me"

Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!
-- Jer 20:10-13

In their "one to one" encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.
-- CCC 2584

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, Lent Wk 5: "we will not serve your god"

or worship the golden statue that you set up.

The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them." God, however, is the "living God" who gives life and intervenes in history.
-- CCC 2112

The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it." The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.
-- CCC 2132

Art: Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-185: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Burning Fiery Furnace. Exhibited 1832, Oil on mahogany. Tate Britain.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, Lent Wk 5: “We have sinned in complaining"

Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.”

already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.
-- CCC 2130

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, Lent Wk 5: “I am the light of the world."

Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
-- Jn 8:12-20

In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth has been made manifest. "Full of grace and truth," he came as the "light of the world," he is the Truth. "Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know "the truth [that] will make you free" and that sanctifies. To follow Jesus is to live in "the Spirit of truth," whom the Father sends in his name and who leads "into all the truth." To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: "Let what you say be simply 'Yes or No.' "
-- CCC 2466

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Lent: "Neither do I condemn you"

Isaiah 43, 16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3, 8-14; St. John 8, 1-11

"Go, and do not sin again." (Jn 8:11.)

How can we today hear these words just as the woman caught in adultery did, so that we may walk away from the Lord cleansed, renewed, made whole again after the tragedy and brokenness of sin? Through the sacraments of healing.

The forgiveness of the Lord is infinite and without conditions. The healing power of the mercy of God, fully given in Christ, can be ours definitively and completely whenever we approach the Lord in the sacrament of Confession and, when sick in body, also through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, (Cf. Mk 2:1-12) has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. (CCC 1421)

"Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion." (LG 11 art. 2) (CCC 1422)

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace." (OP 46: formula of absolution.) It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner te life of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:20) He who lives by God's mercfiul love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother." (Mt 5:24) (CCC 1424)

If baptism is clearly recorded in the Gospels as the gift of God's mercy and the washing away of all our sins, why another sacrament in order to have the forgiveness of God?

"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:11) One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has "put on Christ." (Gal 3:27) But the apostle John also says: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 Jn 1:8) And the Lord himself taught us to pray: "Forgive us our trespasses," (Cf. Lk 11:4; Mt 6:12) linking our forgiveness of one another's offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us. (CCC 1425)

Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish." (Eph 1:4; 5:27) Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. (Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1515.) This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us. (Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.)(CCC 1426)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also no. 583 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Saturday, Lent Wk 4: “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”

So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?”
They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Among the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing dissension about him, so much so that St. John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ's Passion, "many.. . believed in him", though very imperfectly. This is not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith" and "some believers. . . belonged to the party of the Pharisees", to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul, "How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; and they are all zealous for the Law."
-- CCC 595

(See also CCC 575, 588, 574.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, Lent Wk 4: "The LORD said, 'I see how stiff-necked this people is' "

Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people.

The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel. "The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come." It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ: it provides the New Testament with images, "types," and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit. Finally, the Law is completed by the teaching of the sapiential books and the prophets which set its course toward the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven.

There were . . . under the regimen of the Old Covenant, people who possessed the charity and grace of the Holy Spirit and longed above all for the spiritual and eternal promises by which they were associated with the New Law. Conversely, there exist carnal men under the New Covenant still distanced from the perfection of the New Law: the fear of punishment and certain temporal promises have been necessary, even under the New Covenant, to incite them to virtuous works. In any case, even though the Old Law prescribed charity, it did not give the Holy Spirit, through whom "God's charity has been poured into our hearts."
-- CCC 1964

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

S Patrick: "whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life"

... and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment."
-- CCC 1470

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, Lent Wk 4: "Rise"

Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

From the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners -- some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.
-- CCC 574

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, Lent Wk 4: "I am about to create"

new heavens and a new earth

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

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Laetare Sunday: "We must celebrate and rejoice"

Laetare, or Fourth, Sunday of Lent

Joshua 5,9. 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5, 17-21; St. Luke 15, 1-3. 11-32

" 'We must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

In the figure of the elder brother of the prodigal son in today's Gospel story we see an example of the scandal experienced by those who do not share our faith in the Church and are led by scandals within the Church to disbelieve in her. This ends with rejection of the Lord himself who still today associates "tax collectors and prostitutes", all sinners, with Himself in his body, the Church.

Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God's own attitude toward them. (Cf. Mt 9:13; Hos 6:6) He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet. (Cf. Lk 15: 1-2, 22-32) But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mk 2:7) By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God's equal or is speaking the truth, and his person really does make present and reveal God's name. (Cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26.) (CCC 589)

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, (Cf. Mt 12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42.) and his affirmations, "Before Abraham was, I AM"; and even "I and the Father are one." (Jn 8:58; 10:30.)

God's mercy is the cause of our joy. Just like the self-righteous older son, there are those who are scandalized by the Church's profound spirit of joy as she answers the Father's summons to "celebrate and rejoice" at the return of His prodigal sons and daughters, welcoming them with love.

"Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse in a sacred commemoration on certain days throughout the course of the year. Once each week, on the day which she has called the Lord's Day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's resurrection. She also celebrates it once every year, together with his blessed Passion, at Easter, that most solemn of all feasts. In the course of the year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ. . . . Thus recalling the mysteries of the redemption, she opens up to the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present in every age; the faithful lay hold of them and are filled with saving grace." (CCC 1163)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also nos. 545, 589, 1423, 1439, 1468, 1700, 2795, 2839 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Art: Guercino, Return of the Prodigal Son

Saturday, Lent Wk 3: "let us return to the LORD"

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.

Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "it was not possible for death to hold him" and therefore "divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption." Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living", and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption." Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.
-- CCC 627

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday, Lent Wk 3: "Return"

... to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.Take with you words,and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity"

To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.
-- CCC 1489

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday, Lent Wk 3: "Listen to my voice"

I will be your God and you shall be my people
"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."
-- CCC 1776

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, Lent Wk 3: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law"

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill

Jesus, Israel's Messiah and therefore the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, was to fulfill the Law by keeping it in its all embracing detail - according to his own words, down to "the least of these commandments". He is in fact the only one who could keep it perfectly. On their own admission the Jews were never able to observe the Law in its entirety without violating the least of its precepts. This is why every year on the Day of Atonement the children of Israel ask God's forgiveness for their transgressions of the Law. The Law indeed makes up one inseparable whole, and St. James recalls, "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it."
-- CCC 578

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday, Lent Wk 3: "how often must I forgive?"

seventy-seven times...from your heart

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

Saint Frances of Rome, pray f0r us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, Lent Wk 3: "no prophet is accepted in his own native place"

When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.

In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more", brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

-- CCC 312
Saint John of God, pray for us.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Third Sunday of Lent: "if you do not repent, you will all perish"

Exodus 3, 1-8. 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10, 1-6. 10-12; St. Luke 13, 1-9

The "rubbernecking syndrome", wherein we fall into a spell of fascination upon becoming aware of the misfortunes of others in the midst of disaster, can result in a peril of a different kind. We can forget that there is a fate far worse than perishing through earthquake fire and flood: to turn away from a loving and merciful God through sin.

The people in today's Gospel experienced something akin to "rubbernecking" when, as we do when becoming aware of an accident while driving on the highway, we forget the deadly peril of driving our own vehicle in a state of distracted fascination and fear. A wall had fallen on laborers in Siloam and some assumed God had punished them for sinning more than others had: " you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Lk 13. 4-5) The truth is that "all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God"; the worst effect of sin is not perceptible in this world as is the result of a construction accident or religious persecution. The fate worst of all is the loss of eternal life and love with God. Anyone can fall into this danger.

The Lord "tells us that, without Holy Baptism, no one will enter the kingdom of heaven (cf. Jn 3:5); and, elsewhere, that if we do not repent we will all perish (Lk 13:3). This is all easily understood. Ever since man sinned, all his senses rebel against reason; therefore, if we want the flesh to be controlled by the spirit and by reason, it must be mortified; if we do not want the body to be at war the soul, it and all our senses need to be chastened; if we desire to go to God, the soul with all its faculties needs to be mortified" (St. John Mary Vianney, Selected Sermons, Ash Wednesday).

Repentance in the heart leads to confession with the lips. The Lord commands us to mourn for our sins and, with contrition, to embrace a firm amendment to avoid the near occasions of sin in the future. This contrition is not something added to the Gospel as an option but is of necessity if we are to love God and receive the gift of salvation. The disposition of contrition is required of us, therefore, when receiving the sacramental gift of divine forgiveness in Confession.

Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again." (CCC 1451)
When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible. (Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676.) (CCC 1453)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also nos. 1453, 1454 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Saturday, Lent Wk 2: "we must celebrate and rejoice"

your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.

Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father's boundless mercy for them and the vast "joy in heaven over one sinner who repents". The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life "for the forgiveness of sins".
-- CCC 545

With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him. Our petition begins with a "confession" of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, "we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.
-- CCC 2839

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday, Lent Wk 2: ‘They will respect my son.’

‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’

"The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.
-- CCC 755

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday, Lent Wk 2: "Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings"

who seeks his strength in flesh

Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.
-- CCC 150

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

S. Katharine Drexel: "I stood before you to speak in their behalf"

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?

The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:

Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design
-- CCC 1935

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

Saint Katherine Drexel, patron of racial justice for the universal Church and the world, pray for us.

Image source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday, Lent Wk 2: "Make justice your aim"

redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. . . . " The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.
-- CCC 2100

Art: The Widow's Mite, Gustave Doré, 1866.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday, Lent Wk 2: “Be merciful"

just as your Father is merciful.

This "as" is not unique in Jesus' teaching: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"; "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful"; "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." It is impossible to keep the Lord's commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make "ours" the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves "forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave" us.
-- CCC 2842