Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Most Holy Trinity: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now."

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine;for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

-- Jn 16:12-15

The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the "mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God". To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
-- CCC 237

The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God." In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."
-- CCC 253

Friday, May 28, 2010

Saturday, Ord Time Wk 8: "On those who waver, have mercy"

... save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

Another temptation, to which presumption opens the gate, is acedia. The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." The greater the height, the harder the fall. Painful as discouragement is, it is the reverse of presumption. The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy.
-- CCC 2733

Art: Hieronymus Bosch. Detail, Hell, The Garden of Earthly Delights

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday, Ord Time Wk 8: "The end of all things is at hand"

Therefore be serious and sober-minded so that you will be able to pray.
-- 1 Pt 4:7-13

Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
-- CCC 1007

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thursday, Ord Time Wk 8: "like living stones, let yourselves be built"

into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices." This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people," have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.
-- CCC 1141

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

S Philip Neri: "Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct"

... handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.

Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake." Man's sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death. By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
-- CCC 602

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuesday, Ord Time Wk 8: The prophets "were serving not themselves but you"

... with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the Good News to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look.
-- 1 Pt 1:10-16

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."
-- CCC 719

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Monday, Ord Time Wk 8: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"

... who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.
-- CCC 654

Saint Desiderius, pray for us.

The passion of Saint Desiderius from among the Lingones in Lyons, Gaul, a bishop, who, as it is told, when he perceived that his people were being harassed by Vandals, approached their king in order to plead on his people�s behalf; wherefore, ordered at once to be slain, willingly offered himself for the sake of the sheep entrusted to him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Saturday, Easter Wk 7: "the Romans wanted to release me"

... because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
-- CCC 2267

S Rita of Cascia, religious, pray for us.

Friday, Easter Wk 7: "the Jews brought charges against Paul"

... and demanded his condemnation. I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.

False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness. When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused. They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions.
-- CCC 2476

Saint Christopher Magallanes, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs, pray for us.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, Easter Wk 7: "I am on trial"

for hope in the resurrection of the dead.
-- Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

"Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. 'The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.'

"How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."
-- CCC 991
Saints Bernardine of Siena, pray for us.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wednesday, Easter Wk 7: "by hard work...we must help the weak"

"... and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again.
-- Acts 20:28-38

The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely. Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel but also intercedes for them. The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 7: "Paul had the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus summoned"

I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travelsAnd so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”

The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.
-- CCC 601

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Monday, Easter Wk 7: "Paul laid his hands on them"

... the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

"From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church."
-- CCC 1288

Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.
-- CCC 2003

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saturday, Ascensiontide: Apollos "began to speak boldly in the synagogue"

but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.
-- Acts 18:23-28

Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ. Catechesis for the "newness of life" in him should be:

- a catechesis of the Holy Spirit, the interior Master of life according to Christ, a gentle guest and friend who inspires, guides, corrects, and strengthens this life;

- a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life;

- a catechesis of the beatitudes, for the way of Christ is summed up in the beatitudes, the only path that leads to the eternal beatitude for which the human heart longs;

- a catechesis of sin and forgiveness, for unless man acknowledges that he is a sinner he cannot know the truth about himself, which is a condition for acting justly; and without the offer of forgiveness he would not be able to bear this truth;

- a catechesis of the human virtues which causes one to grasp the beauty and attraction of right dispositions towards goodness;

- a catechesis of the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, generously inspired by the example of the saints;

- a catechesis of the twofold commandment of charity set forth in the Decalogue;

- an ecclesial catechesis, for it is through the manifold exchanges of "spiritual goods" in the "communion of saints" that Christian life can grow, develop, and be communicated.
-- CCC 1697

Saint Isidore the Farmer, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Lady of Fatima in Ascensiontide : "A little while and you will no longer see me"

and again a little while later and you will see me.

Christ's Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
-- CCC 665

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 6: “what must I do to be saved?”

“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once.

From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sixth Sunday of Easter: "Keep my word"

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." "For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."
-- CCC 105

Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth". The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.
-- CCC 243

The Spirit and the Church cooperate to manifest Christ and his work of salvation in the liturgy. Primarily in the Eucharist, and by analogy in the other sacraments, the liturgy is the memorial of the mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the Church's living memory.
-- CCC 1099

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered "together in one place." While awaiting the Spirit, "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer." The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said was also to form her in the life of prayer.
-- CCC 2623

Friday, May 7, 2010

Saturday, Easter Wk 5: "the world would love its own"

... but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: Marana tha! "Our Lord, come!"
-- CCC 671

Friday, Easter Wk 5: "You are my friends"

... if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who "does not know what his master is doing" to that of a friend of Christ - "For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" - or even to the status of son and heir.
-- CCC 1972

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thursday, Easter Wk 5: "After much debate had taken place, Peter got up"

... and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.

Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wednesday, Easter Wk 5: "It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”

The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

"The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council." But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 5: "They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead."

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.
-- CCC 2847
Saints of God

pray for us.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Easter: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

They appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished.

And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

"Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born - all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives."

-- CCC 901

Additional reflection on today's Scriptures available here.

Photo: Church of Saint Paul, Pisidian Antioch.