Saturday, December 31, 2011

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: "God sent his Son, born of a woman"

... born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
-- Gal 4:4-7

Mary is truly "Mother of God" since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.
-- CCC 509

Holy Mary, Mother of God
: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word." By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

-- CCC 2677
Icon: The Theotokos (God-bearer) of Vladimir.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Homily for Nativity of the Lord. "Christmas every Sunday": the Lord seeks to be born into our lives through the Eucharist at Sunday Mass each week

Merry Christmas!

I must begin my remarks by sharing a confession with all of you: our church does not look this beautiful every Sunday! I do not speak of the decorations which beautifully announce our joy on this occasion when we celebrate the birth of the Child Jesus at Bethlehem. I am speaking about all of you, the people of God who fill and make beautiful the Lord's house which exists for your sakes, for the purpose of providing for your own meeting with Jesus at Christmas and every Sunday.

You are God's people through the grace of Baptism and your presence here which glorifies God beautifully praises His goodness and love and is a true Christmas gift to me, your priest, for which I thank and praise Him.

In our Mass this evening we also keep the Lord's Day holy together because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Here we are, together on a Sunday, perhaps to realize also as God's gift that we can indeed overcome the many things of daily life that sometimes seem to prevent us from making room for God here at Mass and in other ways!

We began our Mass for this vigil of Christmas which anticipates the birth of the Lord during the night in procession with our children, carrying the image of the Baby to the crib where he now lies with Mary and Joseph who show us well what it means to love and adore Him.

This Baby will, as must all of us whose birth into this world he shares, one day also die. But His death will not be as beautiful as is His birth this night. The wood of His crib foretells the wood of the Cross upon which He will freely give His life for you and for me. And His death will be truly for our sakes because His life which begins this night and shares in our lives is never to end: His Life Divine triumphs over the grave in order to share that victory with all flesh, with every human being who was ever born.

Each of us must make the connection in our own lives between the crib and the cross, between the beauty of Christmas and the joy of Easter, and it is accomplished by means of God's Christmas gift to each of us in Jesus Christ. Yes, this Jesus whose image is before us in the crib becomes truly present, the same Jesus Christ born at Bethlehem and risen in Jerusalem, in the Holy Eucharist at each holy Mass under the signs of bread and wine.

The idea of neglecting or hurting any child, whose very innocence calls out to each of us for protecting and nurturing love, is repugnant to all of us. Perhaps that is why Christmas, the celebration of the birth of a Baby named Jesus, holds such great attraction for us and for so many: so many people return to Church and many Catholics return to holy Mass on this day every year because it is so difficult to be indifferent to this beautiful child truly born of Mary 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.

Yes, we would be truly lacking in the basic good of humanity to turn away from this child with the indifference which shows the lack of a loving heart. But this child is not human in the same way as are all other babies: he is the Divine child though born very much the same as every child before and after Him. This child invites our love by his humanity which calls out for a response from the human nature that each of us share with Him. God is love, and because this Child is Divine he teaches us the truth about love so that we might conform our lives to Him and have true love. Do not be afraid: what God commands with His authority is love! Jesus Christ is born today to teach us the truth about love, which itself is a response to His own life and death.

The love that God commands, the love He teaches us, does not neglect or fall into indifference in regard to His holy day of Sunday, the day of His Resurrection, which He calls us to keep holy with Him. For this reason the Church, speaking only with His voice in His Holy Spirit, teaches that attendance at Sunday Mass is a grave obligation.

Our indifference to, or neglect of, the celebration of holy Mass on Sunday with His people the Church, is indifference to Him, the Resurrected One, for which we must seek forgiveness. The Church also teaches that God's forgiveness in Confession is necessary before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, born as He is in another "Christmas" at every Mass under the signs of bread and wine on our altar, after omitting to attend Sunday Mass or any other grave sin. In His love which knows no bounds Christ is "born" again in us as He gives us this forgiveness when we need it in the sacrament of Confession.

Should we not also say that mercy is born this night with the Holy Child who makes of Himself a gift to each of us through His forgiveness of our sins?

"To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become "children of God" we must be "born from above" or "born of God". Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this "marvelous exchange": 'O marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.' "(CCC 526)

Christmas every Sunday, a birth in the Eucharist on our altar which makes of this church another Bethlehem, is the gift this divine Child offers to each of us this holy night.

Let us pray, asking Him to make His love enter into our hearts and lives by grace so that we may never neglect the eternal Life which He offers us through His Body and Blood, laid in the crib and hung on the Cross, and then risen again so that we might rise with Him.

"Lord Jesus, truly born for us at Christmas, give us true Faith by which we are drawn in real love to always desire to be near you as we are this night. Help us to grow in our love of your Presence in the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist by which your death on the Cross for us and your Resurrection may bring your power as God into our lives, at Christmas and each Sunday, with Your mercy which brings us life by destroying death. Amen."

Merry Christmas, everyone! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

((((..))))

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23: O Emmanuel


DECEMBER 23
The Church sings this antiphon in to-day’s Lauds:
SEVENTH ANTIPHON









ANT. Ecce completa sunt omnia quæ dicta sunt per angelum, de Virgine Maria.ANT. Lo! all things are accomplished that were said by the angel, of the Virgin Mary.










O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer foster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster. O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God!


"O Emmanuel ! King of peace! Thou enterest today the city of Thy predilection, the city in which Thou hast placed Thy temple—Jerusalem. A few years hence the same city will give Thee Thy cross and Thy sepulchre: nay, the day will come on which Thou wilt set up Thy judgement-seat within sight of her walls. But to-day Thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on Thy road to Bethlehem. Thy blessed Mother and Joseph her spouse would not lose the opportunity of visiting the temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last house more than of the first ; for this second temple has now standing within it an ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this ark, which is Mary, is contained the God whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver Himself is in this blessed ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living ark descends the steps of the temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore Thee, O Emmanuel ! in this Thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith Thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of Thee; for Thou wouldst give to Thy people the certainty of Thy being the Messias, by showing them that all the marks, whereby He was to be known, are to be found in Thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for Thy birth; come then, and save us; come, that Thou mayst not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us."



-- Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 5O4-5. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.



Photo: Cameo with Christ Emmanuel, ca. 1200–1400
Byzantine
Inscribed in Greek: Jesus Christ, Emmanuel
Steatite; 1 1/8 x 7/8 in. (2.9 x 2.2 cm)
Purchase, William Kelly Simpson Gift, 1987 (1987.23)


This delicately carved steatite icon displays a frontal bust of the youthful Christ Emmanuel, the incarnate Word, identified by the inscription in Greek flanking his shoulders. Christ's head is silhouetted against a large cruciform nimbus; he holds a scroll in his left hand and makes a preaching gesture with his right. The pendant retains its finely carved surface and highly polished back and sides, although details of Christ's facial features are worn away, probably from the constant touching and kissing of the icon in veneration.

THE GREAT ANTIPHON TO JERUSALEM










O Hierusalem ! civitas Dei summi, leva in circuitu oculos tuos; et vide Dominum tuum, quia jam veniet solvere te a vinculis. O Jerusalem! city of the great God: lift up thine eyes round about, and see thy Lord, for he is coming to loose thee from thy chains.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19: "O radix Jesse"


DECEMBER 19

THIRD ANTIPHON
O radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, who standest as the ensign of the people; before whom kings shall not open their lips; to whom the nations shall pray: come and deliver us; tarry now no more.

"AT length, O Son of Jesse! Thou art approaching the city of Thy ancestors. The Ark of the Lord has risen, and journeys, with the God that is in her, to the place of her rest. ‘ How beautiful are thy steps, O thou daughter of the Prince,’ 1 now that thou art bringing to the cities of Juda their salvation.! The angels escort thee, thy faithful Joseph lavishes his love upon thee, heaven delights in thee, and our earth thrills with joy to bear thus upon itself its Creator and its Queen. Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of men! Speed thee, thou propitiatory that holdest within thee the divine Manna which gives us life! Our hearts are with thee, and count thy steps. Like thy royal ancestor David, ‘we will not enter into the dwelling of our house, nor go up into the bed whereon we lie, nor give sleep to our eyes, nor rest to our temples, until we have found a place in our hearts for the Lord whom thou bearest, a tabernacle for this God of Jacob.’ 2 Come, then, O Root of Jesse ! thus hidden in this Ark of purity; Thou wilt soon appear before Thy people as the standard round which all that would conquer must rally. Then their enemies, the kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer Thee their prayers. Hasten Thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies, and deliver us."

-- Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 484-6. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.

A RESPONSORY OF ADVENT

(Ambrosian breviary, sixth Sunday of Advent)
R. Beatus uterus Mariæ Virginis qui portavit invisibilem: quem septem throni capere non possunt in eo habitare dignatus est: * Et portabat levem in sinu suo.

V. Dedit illi Dominus sedem David patris sui, et regnabit in domo Jacob in æternum, cujus regni non erit finis: * Et portabat levem in sinu suo.

Translation:
R. Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the invisible God: there did he deign to dwell, whom seven thrones cannot hold: * And she bore him as a light weight in her womb.

V. The Lord hath given him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end: * And she bore him as a light weight in her womb.

(Photo: Thanks to Rorate Caeli for posting this lovely illumination of the Tree of Jesse from an antique manuscript.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent B: "Should you build me a house to dwell in?": God Himself builds His house the Church through the Body and Blood of Christ

This morning I had the pleasure of talking with some of our young people who came to church to practice for the Christmas pageant they will perform at 5 p.m. here next Saturday, Christmas Eve, between our Christmas vigil Masses scheduled for 4 and 5:30 pm.

I took a moment to lead them in making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament prior to the pageant practice and saying a prayer together with them, which is a longstanding custom handed down in our Catholic Faith for those who happen by a church and are able to enter and pray.

The children and I also practiced "genuflecting", translated from the Latin into English as "bowing the knee". I asked them if they had heard of "Tebowing", made famous by football player Tim Tebow who "takes a knee" frequently during games, becoming famous for his unapologetic demonstrations of Christian faith on and off the field. I suspect that Tim does not share our Catholic Faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ under the signs of bread and wine in the Eucharist but he already understands very well how to reverence and worship God, Faith in whom he already shares in great part with us. Although our children were too young to know much about football, or "Tebowing", they are very ready to learn about God and the most marvelous gift which enables him to dwell, or "pitch his tent", among us.

In the Old Testament reading we hear about man's need for a place on earth that is to be designated for God, a place where His people might go to do just what the children and I were able to do this morning: to show together as His people the love proper to God which we call "worship" or "adoration", those attitudes reserved for God as above and holier than everything he has created. King David believes that God should have something far greater than even his own royal palace in which to dwell:

"Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!"

God's tent, or "tabernacle" was his dwelling among the chosen people and a sign of his holiness. Because of his belief in God's holiness, however, King David felt that God should have a new and better house, something more permanent and grand as befitting a people now beginning to settle down in the Promised Land and no longer as much in need of the original "mobile home" of the tent.

As wonderful as was King David's instinct to honor God with a worthy dwelling, the prophet Nathan indicated that God Himself had other plans: "Should you build me a house to dwell in?" God revealed that it must be Himself who will build the house if it is to be worthy of his divinity, of his Godliness.

That dwelling, in fact, was not only built by God, that dwelling was and is God: the Lord Jesus Christ truly born into this world as a baby 2,000 years ago. Today, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we look expectantly to our forthcoming celebration of God's dwelling built on earth, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, whose anniversary of birth we will joyfully celebrate as His Body the Church at Christmas.

Here in our "tent", or tabernacle on God's altar, we have present with us the very One who does the work of building us up into His Body the Church on earth. Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist, is the house that God built because in this most blessed Sacrament is really, truly and substantially present the selfsame God-man who was truly born of Mary. And it is Jesus Christ by His divine power present under the signs of bread and wine who "makes" the universal Church which is the true dwelling of God on earth.

" the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body. The Eucharist fulfills this call: 'The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:'

"If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond 'Amen' ('yes, it is true!') and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, 'the Body of Christ' and respond 'Amen.' Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true." (CCC 1396)
The tabernacle on the altar, usually made of metal or other worthy and durable material, is the "tent" of our own day, the dwelling which God pitches among us here and now within the house of the church building, and a suitable place to reverence and worship Jesus Christ truly present.

"The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament." (CCC 1379)

This morning, when I made a visit with the children to the tabernacle we opened the door. They opened their mouths in wonder to make sounds of surprise as they saw God dwelling within. "Should you build me a house to dwell in?" No, we cannot build the house, only if God builds the house will it survive the reasons for despair and hopelessness which sometimes seem to abound in this world.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain."

When we gather at the crib in our celebration of Christmas we will see represented once again the very first "tabernacle", or tent of the Lord: the Blessed Virgin Mary who carried the incarnate God our Lord Jesus Christ for nine months in her womb. We will see her, her work done, happily adoring the infant Lord Jesus. And we will rejoice and adore with her, because in the gift of Himself truly present in every Eucharist it is the Lord who comes again, as He did that first Christmas, to build our "house" and guard our "city" through the gift of the forgiveness of our sins and the grace of eternal life.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

((((..))))

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Lucia / Saint Lucy: "one who sees what the Almighty sees,"

... enraptured, and with eyes unveiled



"The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God." (St. John Damascene) Similarly, the contemplation of sacred icons, united with meditation on the Word of God and the singing of liturgical hymns, enters into the harmony of the signs of celebration so that the mystery celebrated is imprinted in the heart's memory and is then expressed in the new life of the faithful.


-- CCC 1162



"Faith seeks understanding": it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens "the eyes of your hearts" to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. "The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood." In the words of St. Augustine, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."


-- CCC 158

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn






A Prayer for Abortion Victims





Prayer for all victims of abortion. May those involved in abortions be reconciled to God and may the innocent dead be saved.





Holy Mother of God and of the Church, our Lady of Guadalupe, you were chosen by the Father for the Son through the Holy Spirit.

You are the Woman clothed with the sun who labors to give birth to Christ while Satan, the Red Dragon, waits to voraciously devour your child.



So too did Herod seek to destroy your Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and massacred many innocent children in the process.
So today does abortion killing many innocent unborn children and exploiting many mothers in its attack upon human life and upon the Church, the Body of Christ.



Mother of the Innocents, we praise God in you for His gifts to you of your Immaculate Conception, your freedom from actual sin; your fullness of grace, your Motherhood of God and the Church, your Perpetual Virginity and your Assumption in body and soul into heaven.



O Help of Christians, we beg you to protect all mothers of the unborn and the children within their wombs. We plead with you for your help to end the holocaust of abortion. Melt hearts so that life may be revered!



Holy Mother, we pray to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart for all mothers and all unborn children that they may have life here on earth and by the most Precious Blood shed by your Son that they may have eternal life with Him in heaven. We also pray to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart for all abortionists and all abortion supporters that they may be converted and accept your Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior. Defend all of your children in the battle against Satan and all of the evil spirits in this present darkness.



We desire that the innocent unborn children who die without Baptism should be baptized and saved. We ask that you obtain this grace for them and repentance, reconciliation and pardon from God for their parents and their killers.



Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite power of merciful love. May it put an end to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. May Christ the King reign over us, our families, cities, states, nations and the whole of humanity.



O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, hear our pleas and accept this cry from our hearts!



Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn, Pray for us!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guadete Sunday, 3rd of Advent. "He has sent me to bring glad tidings": Jesus Christ is the Joy of the World

Today I shared in a joyful event in the life of our parish when I stood together with a man and woman before God so that they could unite themselves in the bond of holy matrimony. I rejoice with them as they begin a new life together as I do every time I am able to help bring the grace of God more deeply and fully into the lives of His people.

Our way of life in the Church as God's chosen people is to be one full of joy. What is joy? Joy is the happiness of God: full to overflowing, complete in satisfaction, eternal in endurance and indestructible in the face of every power in heaven, on earth and under the earth.

We have been created by God for the purpose of sharing His life and light so as to share His joy and love.

But there is one thing necessary before this can become possible for us: Jesus Christ. The incarnate Lord for whose birth into the world we prepare in these days of Advent is the only one who can bring joy into our lives. And for this to happen we must first accept Him for who He is: Jesus is the Savior. We are sinners and He is the sole Savior of the world and thus the only one who can overcome and defeat the power of sin and darkness in our lives. When this happens we are able to share in the power of His joy.

There are, tragically, some for whom the Church is not associated with the joy of the Lord. The lives damaged and wounded by moments of the deep darkness of sin, which brings the opposite of joy into the lives of innocent believers, have been and continue to be cataloged well by the media through such sources as the internet. We mourn for persons so sinned against and we also repent for any part we may have played in alienating anyone from the presence of Christ the Lord in His Church. At the same time we continue to proclaim the truth that only the Lord Himself is the true source of real healing and love which restores Faith and the joy which is its fruit.

All of us know the darkness of sin which destroys the true joy which comes only through the holy freedom restored by Christ's redemption. Practical steps are necessary in order to begin, or to continue, the conversion away from sin which only will enable us to begin to taste the freedom of the Lord which brings authentic joy to every human person.

The first and greatest day for rejoicing is the Lord's Day, the weekly celebration of the Resurrection, fruit of the Savior's Passion and death on the Cross. Jesus Christ comes in Person, through His Church in the celebration of holy Mass, to "bring glad tidings" of Resurrection and the redemption from darkness and sin which it makes possible.

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body" (CIC, can. 1247). (CCC 2193)

By shunning such work or shopping as we are able we are thus freed to obey the command of God to keep holy the Lord's Day. Only Jesus is holy. Only in the Mass do we have the fullness of the Lord in Word and Sacrament. Thus, only by participation in the liturgy of the Eucharist do we truly keep the Lord's Day holy as commanded by God.

That our joy may be more and more complete, we grow in the habit of shunning any commitments which would hinder us from Sunday worship. In this way we avoid treating God casually, as a mere accessory to life and in a way unworthy of those who in Baptism have committed themselves to worshiping God in Spirit and in truth.

God's desire to share His joy is expressed most powerfully in the self-giving of the Lord really and truly in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Communion of the Mass. He gives Himself thus to build up the graces of our Baptismal identity, to fill us with His joy to overflowing.

If, as part of our self-examination in preparation for receiving the Lord in this fullest manner in Communion, we become aware that we have consented through our own fault to the sadness of serious or mortal sin we abstain from Communion. We do this so that we may not commit the additional sin of sacrilege by receiving the Lord unworthily. We firmly resolve, rather, to receive the sacrament of Confession at the earliest opportunity so that we might meet and receive Him very soon again with the joy of the heart which knows it runs to meet the Lord whom it loves.

Unfortunately, for many, attendance at holy Mass and reception of Communion have been conflated into one reality: many today automatically go to Communion at Mass on Sunday rather than exercising the discernment which respects the separate consideration they deserve: we attend Mass to keep the Lord's Day holy in obedience to the law of God, but we receive Communion for the increase of the state of grace. If we are not in a state of grace at Mass we cannot return to that state by a mechanical or unthinking reception of Communion while in a state of mortal sin. We, rather, only commit a second mortal sin: that of sacrilege. No, the sacrament of Confession is always necessary under normal circumstances before receiving the Holy Eucharist again after committing a mortal sin, such as omitting to attend holy Mass on Sunday for a less than grave reason.

Jesus Christ is the sole Savior. If we are to be saved He must become more and more the center of our lives. As we grow in this Spirit of ready and generous love, characterized by a self-giving which imitates Him, we share more deeply in the joy of the Lord as His beloved people.

In other practical ways we "put on Christ" so as to receive Him with joy:

"To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest." (CCC 1387)

By praying, singing and worshiping as one, with His holy Body the Church at Mass, we follow the sure route to greater love for the Lord and authentic joy in Him.

On this "Gaudete", or "Rejoice", Sunday let us ask the Lord for more and more of the gift of joy which only He can give!

((((..))))

Friday, December 9, 2011

S. Juan Diego: "I will give you rest"

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest
-- Mt 11:28-30

The institution of Sunday helps all "to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives" (GS 67 § 3).
-- CCC 2194

The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
-- CCC 2042

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday, Advent II: "astonishment seized them all"

they said,"We have seen incredible things today."



"The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." The Church is at the same time:
- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
- the visible society and the spiritual community;
- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."
These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element":
The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.
O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's beauty has adorned her.

-- CCC 771

Saturday, December 3, 2011

S. Francis Xavier: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom"

of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

The prayer of faith consists not only in saying "Lord, Lord," but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father. Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.
-- CCC 2611