Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sunday, 26C. "Send Lazarus!": the dearly departed, the possibility of purgatory and the power of prayer
"Send Lazarus!" The rich man is able to communicate with Abraham from his place of torment so, as Pope Benedict has written, he is not in a place of permanent suffering, or hell. Hell is a final, full, and eternal place of separation from God, which precludes any possibility of communication with anyone who does not also share the state of eternal damnation.
"In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31), Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures; the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love, which then becomes a burning and unquenchable thirst. We must note that in this parable Jesus is not referring to the final destiny after the Last Judgement, but is taking up a notion found, inter alia, in early Judaism, namely that of an intermediate state between death and resurrection, a state in which the final sentence is yet to be pronounced. " (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 44)
And so the Holy Father proposes the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a call to hope for all of us who seek life abundantly but who also want answer, not only as to how to avoid suffering after this life, but to the mystery of the suffering we experience in this life.
For the full text of the homily for the 26th Sunday of the Year, please visit A Priest Life ((((..))))
Denial of truth is sometimes disguised as kindness. When we do not tell others the things we know they need to hear for fear of hurting their feelings we treasure human respect more than salvation. Add to that a general ignorance of the Church's authentic teachings, and you get the general situation we find ourselves in today: many are languishing spiritually, going through all the motions of Catholic life without any perceptible spiritual benefit.
Proper celebration of the faith and life of the Church should unfailingly lead to serenity and hope despite the vicissitudes of life. Faith must have as its foundation an ongoing investigation and acceptance of the truths the Church teaches. When sacramental celebration and prayer flow from this firm foundation, the faithful are able to reap the benefits of our Catholic Faith.
One matter which many avoid, and some outright deny, is the existence of hell. For some Catholics the possibility of a state of damnation is one of the fables that was allegedly jettisoned at the second council of the Vatican. A belief that the Church ever put her faith in fables or myths is regrettably common.
That anything ever true, and held thus in the Church's deposit of faith, must always be true is also poorly understood. Among the unpopular subjects today is hell. Hell does exist, as we profess in our Creed at each Liturgy.
"The rich man is denied the vision and presence of God forever because of his actions in this world. The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs." (CCC 1035)
Some wonder how Christ could descend into hell, as we profess in the Creed, if he is divine and holy. Some, also, because he brought some souls out of hell with him, which we sometimes call the" harrowing of hell" think that hades is not an eternal state of separation from God."Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" --Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek--because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. (Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.) Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into Abraham's bosom: (Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.) It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord, delivered when he descended into hell. (Roman Catechism I, 6,3.) Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. (Cf. Council of Rome (745); DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.)" (CCC 633)
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master "began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised." Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he. In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus' Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain, before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus' face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking "of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem". A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
Friday, September 24, 2010
The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted. Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
S. Thomae de Villanove Episcopi et Confessoris / S Thomas of Villanova: "Every word of God is tested"
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Sunday, 25C. "Make friends for yourselves": Befriend Christ in love through all the elements of sacred worship
Christ is the friend we love in and need above all friends. He alone grants to us in the love of friendship that gift we need above all other gifts: eternal life.
Here and now, in the sacred liturgy, he introduces Himself to us in loving friendship. And we are called to respond in holy listening, in prayer and praise, in song. Our gestures indicate acceptance of Him whether through kneeling, bowing, standing or in the movement of the Communion procession where we anticipate the moment when we will receive our divine Friend with all of the reverential love of which we are capable. Tragically some have lost their faith in His gift of Himself and what can result is sacrilege, where Christ is treated as a thing only, to be thrown away, to be trampled underfoot.
The world's goods that can serve friendship will "fail us" at the end of our lives. But if these have served our friendship with Christ then indeed a "lasting reception" will be ours.
Restoration of the sacred in worship and in life, reverence for God and for others is not a gift only for God, accepting it as He does with love, pleased as He is with all of us, His dear children in Christ who is the saving Gift of the Father. Restoring the spirit of authentic worship, falling down in adoration before God present here in holy Mass, is the only way in which we will ever be truly restored to ourselves and given once again the gift of loving ourselves and others, of "making friends" and thus, in love, beginning already the joy of God's eternal friendship in His kingdom without end. Amen.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
More about Christian use of this world's goods:
"Make friends for yourselves through your use of this worlds goods, so that when they fail you, a lasting reception may be yours." The gifts God bestows upon us in this world come with a responsibility to be good stewards of all he has made. These are the little matters he entrusts to us now, so that we may prepare for the far greater good of eternal life.
The Church holds in a crucial balance both the universal destination of goods as well as the right to private property. Both reflect Gods providence, and neither excuse us from sincere and generous charity.
The Church draws her social teaching from the Lord's instructions in the Gospel parables and other expressions of his law of love.
We are not permitted to reduce our use of earthly goods to the pursuit of profit alone irregardless of other factors. A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable.
"The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order. (Cf. Gaudium et spes, art. 3; Laborem Exercens 7; 20; Centesimus Annus 35.) A system that 'subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production' is contrary to human dignity. (Gaudium et spes 65, art. 2.) Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'(Mt 6:24; Lk 16:13.)" (CCC 2424)
All that God gives is to be shared, but in a collaborative and voluntary way, in accord with the human dignity both of the giver and the receiver of the gift. "The goods of creation are destined for the entire human race. The right to private property does not abolish the universal destination of goods." (CCC 2452)
"Those blessed with wealth or economic power, whether individuals or nations, are called at the same time to stewardship and active solicitude for the poor, unemployed and dispossessed. Goods of production - material or immaterial - such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor." (CCC 2405)
A principal divine foundation for the right to private property is enshrined in the decalogue itself: "You shall not steal".
"The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one's neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men's labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world's goods to God and to fraternal charity." (CCC 2401)
There are situations, however, when the individual is not committing grave sin where, by appropriating some amount of the private property of an unjust employer, he is merely providing for the basic sustenance of his family or those in his care. This is traditionally called occult compensation.
The Church advocates a living wage for all workers. Withholding just wages can be stealing as well and can put the lives of others in danger. The basic goods to maintain life, shelter and health are a fundamental human right.
"The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another's property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one's disposal and use the property of others." (CCC 2408)
Social justice on earth anticipates the perfect justice and love of the Kingdom. We are trusted with these little matters now that our heavenly Father may prepare us to inherit, as true sons and daughters of his, the treasure beyond all price: the reign of heaven.
(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph numbers 952, 2425.)Publish with permission. http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Sunday, 24C."I will arise and go to my Father": in Mass God lifts us out of the mire of sin and shame of guilt, clothing us in the garment of His love
He waits for us, runs to meet us in Christ and, because He can forgive our sins, restores completely to us once again what was lost through the abuse of our freedom.
If Jesus Christ is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, and if the holy Mass is the banquet of this Lamb's saving Sacrifice presented again in an unbloody manner, should we not anticipate and presume upon the redemption offered over and over again in this manner ordained by Christ?
'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 525)
The loss of our pristine baptismal dignity because of sin should never leave us in danger of despair.
"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)
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Read the full text of the homily for the 24th Sunday of the Year at A Priest Life by clicking here.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.
Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast" refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers
will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Monday, September 6, 2010
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.
The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Sunday, 23C, First things first: "If anyone comes to me without hating ... even his own life he cannot be my disciple"
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple."
"Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social. From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming. Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:
Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.
-- CCC 2544
"The virtue of solidarity goes beyond material goods. In spreading the spiritual goods of the faith, the Church has promoted, and often opened new paths for, the development of temporal goods as well. And so throughout the centuries has the Lord's saying been verified: 'Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well':
Sunday 23C. “Be My Disciple”: At holy Mass we “sit down” and “calculate the cost” of a discipleship which puts the Lord and heaven first
When a man and woman say “I do” on their wedding day, they can say so only with the complete trust and love of God that comes through Faith, because it is impossible for them to know on that day just what exactly the future will bring and what will be the demands it will place upon their love and fidelity. But they say “I do” all the same with hearts full of the love and hope that also comes with the grace and gift of faith. But if the day comes that “I do” no longer means coming home at night to the one we have chosen above all others then we place ourselves in an occasion of infidelity to the promise. If the day comes that a spouse is no longer able, as a matter of the will, to say “I love you” and to act on that love then the relationship is in danger of failure.
No human being has ever been happy merely going through the motions of love with an empty and broken heart, although for some this burden has been endured for many years. We have been made for love and a life lived in denial of that truth is a life which does violence to its very self. The God of infinite love and compassion, fully revealed in Christ, knows us best and knows what we truly need to be happy. And He is also Truth itself, and will not tolerate a lie, a falsehood, a sham, a paltry substitute for real love.
God is telling us today that He will not tolerate superficiality because to say one thing and do another is not honest. Actions which do not match words are lacking in integrity. He will not call our lives in love of Him if we say “yes” on the day of our child’s baptism, but then fail to raise that child in the Faith by bringing her to Sunday Mass in accord with God’s command. He will not call it love if we commit a mortal sin and then present ourselves for Holy Communion on Sunday morning without first telling Him we are sorry in the Sacrament of Confession. And he will not call it love if we remain aloof from the communion of life and love with Him in the holy Catholic Church by rejecting His teaching on the sacredness of human life, the truth about marriage, and the dignity of every human person.
But He will never withdraw His love from us. He remains committed in Christ, espousing Himself to us through the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ who, now raised up, continues to draw every human person to Himself. God will never stop loving us, and in that love will always beckon us with the truth, for He cannot deny Himself. God’s love is not superficial: one look at the broken Body of the Lord Jesus Christ, remaining committed on the Cross for us until His last drop of Blood and His last breath, easily silences that erroneous notion.
If our goal is heavenly glory, the happiness that will never end, then God tells us today that we must sit down and calculate the cost to us of choosing that goal. The means of reaching that goal is a way of life which we call “discipleship” and the evidence that we are disciples is the Cross that we carry each day out love for Christ who carried His Cross to the very end for love of us.
Every week, especially at holy Mass each Sunday, we “sit down” with the Lord and with the help of His loving Word and the grace of His Eucharistic Body offered to the end on the Cross and raised up to heaven, we “calculate the cost” once again of placing Him first in our lives, so that, having sought the Kingdom first, we continue to trust that He will surely give us all other things besides. God bless you.
Praised be Jesus Christ.
First Saturday 22C: "Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers,"
You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop.
May he be a shepherd to your holy flock,
and a high priest blameless in your sight,
ministering to you night and day;
may he always gain the blessing of your favor
and offer the gifts of your holy Church.
Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood
grant him the power
to forgive sins as you have commanded
to assign ministries as you have decreed
and to loose from every bond by the authority which you
gave to your apostles. May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart,
presenting a fragrant offering to you,
through Jesus Christ, your Son. . . .
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between "spirit" and "flesh" develops. But in fact this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle:
Saint Fiacre, patron of gardeners, pray for us.