Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
:a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,A Spirit of counsel and of strength,a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
-- Is 11:1-10
Jesus is Christ, "anointed," because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness. When Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him:
The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith-- CCC 690
Monday, November 28, 2011
Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed."). And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:
O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Saturday, November 26, 2011
"Be watchful! Be alert!": A new translation, a new season keep us devoted and alert in the present and full of hope for a future of faith and love
We must all be very watchful, both the congregation of their misalettes or pew cards and the priest his Missal, so that we can launch this new English translation in a serene and prayerful manner.
But if we should make a mistake we certainly do not draw attention to it or ourselves by reacting but, rather, continue with devotion to participate in the flow of the liturgy, being present to what is taking place. In this way we will grow with practice and patience to internalize the beauty of the liturgy which comes to us through this new English translation so that our spiritual lives of Faith may always benefit.
It is very appropriate that we begin this new "page" as it were in the liturgical life of our beloved Church at the same time that the Church launches a new year in the life of faith with Advent. Both work together to help us become more vigilant, more watchful in Faith for the Lord and his "coming", which is what the word Advent means.
"When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: 'He must increase, but I must decrease.' " (CCC 524)
It is authentic Faith which rouses us to be alert through prayer in love for the Lord.
"Pray constantly . . . always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." St. Paul adds, "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints." For "we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing." This tireless fervor can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love. This love opens our hearts to three enlightening and life-giving facts of faith about prayer. (CCC CCC 2742)
The gift of a beautiful new translation for the prayers of holy Mass enables us to better keep our loving watch in a Faith both energetic and profound. Because these new prayers are more faithful both to the Scriptural foundations of holy Mass as well as to the entire liturgical tradition handed down in the Holy Spirit from Christ through the Apostles we can confidently entrust ourselves to a wholehearted acceptance of the gift.
"This tireless fervor can come only from love."
At times we grow weary and give in to a worldly fatigue which results from relying upon our own resources, without reference to God and failing to see our everyday potential for receiving and living God's life-giving and merciful love. This Advent we open our minds and hearts with renewed devotion through the gift of the new translation of Mass to this possibility for us and for every human person. It is prayer which opens us to God and gives us a living and loving communion with him:
Prayer which is always possible. (CCC 2743)
Prayer which is a vital necessity. (CCC 2744)
Prayer which is inseparable from our Christian life. (CCC 2745)
Let us turn always anew to the beautiful prayer of holy Mass with hearts alert in Faith evident through a tireless readiness for God and His love. When we accept the Lord with love as He comes to us anew each time through the Church, in the Word and Sacrament of the liturgy of holy Mass and in a life marked by the rhythms of prayer, we are able then to return ourselves to God in life and love.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Do not follow them!
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
"Occupy" the Kingdom! The King is a Shepherd who promises and delivers food, clothing and shelter. Forever.
This is the reply of a woman recently invited to join the "occupiers" who we see camped out in major cities all over our country in exercise of free speech to demand more money. We think.
There seems to be more confusion about these roughly organized groups than anything else. In their joblessness, inactivity and helplessness these occupiers are more like lost and scattered sheep, without a shepherd, unable to promise anything to anyone else let alone do anything for themselves.
Whether it is a job, money, food or shelter, we humans seeks these things as a good for today and, perhaps even more so, as a promise of life for tomorrow.
"Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep."
God makes a promise in the first reading that He himself must be the one to shepherd humanity: "shepherding them rightly" with disinterest, justly, that is with love.
How will God do this? Wherever humanity is lost, strayed, injured or sick He Himself must be the one to attend to their needs if they are to have life today and hope for tomorrow.
In the Gospel reading the Divine Word interprets Ezekiel rightly, the prophecy being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. How, you ask, will God Himself shepherd the sheep? How can we hope to be found, to have our wrongs righted, be healed, made whole? The answer to this question is found in you and in me.
Through the grace of our Baptism we have been incorporated into the "royal family" of God. We have inherited heaven and with it a share in the work of Christ which continues now in the world.
God shepherds His people as Christ acts in each and every one of us:
"I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'"
Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. His kingdom becomes a tangible experience for all mankind when His Body, the Church on earth, fulfills His mandate to feed, give drink to, embrace, clothe, care for and visit any brother or sister in need.
The Kingdom remains closed to those who cannot live in Faith, see with the eyes of Faith, know God through Faith.
"The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between "the flesh" and the Spirit.
"The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to 'preach good news to the poor'; he declares them blessed, for "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." To them - the "little ones" the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom. (CCC 544)
Only God can promise food, clothing and shelter. Forever. These are the food of His Eucharist, the clothing of grace and the shelter of the place in heaven He has prepared for us. "Occupy" the Kingdom by receiving the Eucharist as a member of His Body the Church and live His life now through service of others.
If we want to enter into the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world, into the eternal joy of the Lord in heaven, we know what we must do. The King Himself has told us:
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
A church, "a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the presence of the Son of God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial altar for the help and consolation of the faithful - this house ought to be in good taste and a worthy place for prayer and sacred ceremonial." In this "house of God" the truth and the harmony of the signs that make it up should show Christ to be present and active in this place.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Sun 33A: "A man called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them": the salvation of all is entrusted to the Church, the Body of Christ
We all frankly acknowledge that trust has been breached by individuals within the Church as well.
Failure to protect the most vulnerable persons among us, beginning with the unborn child in the womb, is a sin against the most precious possession which God entrusts to us on the natural level: the only creature He has made in His own image and likeness. All of us are called to be a leaven of a new society in which everyone cares for all of his brothers and sisters without exception from the newly conceived child in the womb to the most elderly of persons.
Our children must be educated from a young age to be comfortable saying they are uncomfortable. We must be willing to listen to anything they have to say so that no child will ever be harmed again.
“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.”
The Church is placed in the world with God's authority, called to be that "worthy wife" of infinite value because charged with the task of the infinite gift of the world's salvation. How great is the responsibility that all of us share in the Church to protect all human persons and to call them to salvation? The Church is espoused to God as a wife is bonded through love to her husband.
That we may be nourished in saving love, God has left His Bride the Church, the Spouse of Christ, in which we may grow and thrive. For these reasons the Church is also our Mother in the life of grace. Through all the gifts of the Church, and in particular the sacraments, He treats us gently as His children with tenderness befitting one who cares for the very smallest needs of those for whom He is responsible.
"The Church, further, which is called 'that Jerusalem which is above' and 'our mother', is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ 'loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.' It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly 'nourishes and cherishes.'" (CCC 757)
"A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.”
The journey is the distance we experience between God and us. It is also the time which elapses between the Son's return to the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for us, and our own journey there. In the face of the most daunting evil of sin, God accompanies us on our path through the life of grace in the Church. Above all this is true of the Eucharist, the very Body of His Son.
"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" (CCC 1323)
The Body of Christ, His Son, is the Father’s dearest possession. Will you, will I, use our talents, God’s grace, that we may truly grow in faith, hope and love? Will we protect the natural gift of life of every human person, beginning with the youngest and most vulnerable persons? In this way the call of God to salvation in Christ is prepared and anticipated.
The Church is our Mother and leads us to salvation, above all as we worship together on the Lord's Day.
"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)
We are called to flourish in joyfully receiving through the Church the most precious gift of the Father, especially in the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood, truly present, of His dearly beloved Son, for forgiveness of sins so as His children we may inherit holiness, and for life eternal, so we may enter into His heavenly dwelling when the Church on Earth is no more at the end of the world.
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations".
Friday, November 11, 2011
“... a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit."
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:
Art: The Division of the Cloak, Simone Martini, 1312-17, Cappella di San Martino, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi. For more on Saint Martin, visit In Illo Tempore here.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Sunday 32A: "Virgins took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom": chastity is for holiness in every vocation and a sign of the kingdom
The French say, "le silence est doux et fort à la fois", silence is at once sweet and strong. In the world the many sources of noise sometimes combine into an overwhelming din and we can easily forget that we crave the medicine and beauty of silence. In fact, our liturgy of holy Mass incorporates silence in two places: after the homily and following Communion. In these two instances we need the room silence gives to fully receive and digest the Word which comes to us through proclamation of the sacred Scriptures and through the Body and Blood of the Lord really and truly present in the Eucharist.
But silence can equal consent not only to good, to God Himself, but also to evil.
Many and competing voices today are clamoring for our attention and that of our children. These voices reach us through cell phones with their text, internet and voice capacity, through social media like Facebook and, of course, the old fashioned way: person to person.
Our children are exposed with increasing intensity and frequency to dissonant voices which conflict with the truths we hold as Catholic Christians. Only the truth will set us free. The truths which have been handed down through the Holy Spirit in the Church are necessary for our flourishing as human beings in this world and our eternal happiness in the next because grace builds on nature.
There is waiting in the life of every human person. And waiting for a person we love is perhaps the most difficult waiting that we must do. The virgins in the Gospel are a sign both of the small ways in which we all experience expectation in this life as, every day, we are wait at the "door of the future" and that this life itself is the anteroom of eternity and the coming of Jesus Christ.
In the waiting of every human person is needed the strength of all the virtues, including chastity, which is symbolized by the virgins who play a role in the celebration of the wedding feast in much the same way bridesmaids do today in our wedding ceremonies. Sometimes members of the wedding party wait at the church truly ignorant of "the day or the hour" as the bride makes her own way, at her own pace, to the celebration!
More seriously, however, among the many gifts needed for patient expectation is the waiting of chastity, a moral good which obliges those of us who look forward to salvation in the kingdom of God. Sometimes spouses wait in marital chastity for their husband or wife to return from a journey or military deployment, young engaged couples, through the chastity of abstinence, wait for marriage, celibate priests, and men and women religious, through their celibate chastity wait for the kingdom of God in all its fullness. Our children must be formed in such a way that they too will one day also be able to accept the grace of chastity as a free and mature Christian adults.
Many forces in the world today have declared war on the innocence of our children which longstanding wisdom teaches should be extended as long as possible, and which is a different journey for every human person. For these and more reasons, the societal push toward classroom education in matters of marital intimacy violates the latency period and with its physiological nature violates the different developmental stage of each child.
But we are necessary for this process. If we remain silent in the face of the onslaughts upon our children's moral and faith integrity we leave them weakened before their enemies and also bereft of the power of our witness. Parents in particular have the irreplaceable role of serving as the first teachers on their children in the ways of faith.
The Church teaches and supports parents in the primary role as educators of their own children.
"Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.'
"Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them: He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (CCC 2223)
Many Catholics, and even moreso the vulnerable young, fasten very quickly upon the opinions and attitudes available principally through the internet and television, in many cases without any reference whatsover to Catholic truth. This is seen especially with matters of marital teaching and of the bodily expression of love proper to the sacrament of matrimony.
As we live the chastity proper to our vocations and experience the joy of cooperating with grace in this way, using the sacraments properly as needed to keep us on this path, we are prepared most powerfully to hand on this way of Christian living and joy to our children as they seek God's will in discerning their own vocations which await them beyond the door separating today from the future.
Our silence can leave our children victim to the cruel winds of every opinion or error that blows in the world today. Let us speak out with the voice of Christ in His Church that our children will be formed firmly in the wisdom of the truth of God. Chastity is wisdom in action through the holy use of God's gifts for love and life.
'The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality." (CCC 2347)
We prepare through all the virtues to "stay awake" as commanded by the Lord in the Gospel: "stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Living the life of the kingdom here and now gives us the joy of anticipating the moment we are called to enter into its fullness, into the "joy of the Lord".
Friday, November 4, 2011
The Church prays that no one should be lost: "Lord, let me never be parted from you." If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him "all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).