Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For 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.'
The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation." It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come "to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed." (CCC 1041)
Saturday, February 25, 2012
First Sunday, Lent B. "The days of Noah prefigured baptism, which saves you now": into the desert of sin the Lord bears the covenant waters of Life
It is the absence of water that makes a desert on the earth and brings death where life should be. The sin of Adam and Eve, and all of their children, made of the world a desert: evil took the presence of God and His life from all of humanity.
When Christ goes to the desert for forty days He brings the water back to the parched earth, for in Him is found the waters that well up, making the dry soul bloom again with grace for sons and daughters of Adam.
In the sacrament of baptism those waters flow abundantly again from the Lord in the Church and, for all who receive them, the soul which was formerly a desert because of the presence of original sin teems again with the life of God through His grace.
Temptation is possible because freedom can always choose to go back to the desert. The reality of temptation can threaten the courage of all who are baptized. Today we begin our forty days of penitence and prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We take up in a more intense way, and together as the Church, the weapons that help us to better defend the life of grace won for us by Christ on the Cross and in His Resurrection and conferred in the sacrament of Baptism.
Why forty days in the desert? It's about life. "Probably because it is forty weeks that a woman carries her developing baby before a new life can come forth from the womb."
Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains further: "And Jesus? What did his forty days mean? The birth of a new Israel liberated from sin, reconciled to God, and governed by the law of the Spirit rather than a law chiseled in stone."
Because the forty days of Christ in the desert are about life, these forty days of our lent here and now are about all life, including yours and mine. God continues to bring to birth through Christ in each of us the new and saving covenant that brings us to this moment, right here and now, together in this church at this holy Mass and leads us forward through forty days of fasting, abstinence, prayer and almsgiving. Our penances are the weapons, reminders of the strength of Baptismal grace, needed for strength in the battle with temptation and sin which we fight together with the Lord.
As Saint Paul says, the waters of the flood, the waters of the Red Sea and the saving waters of life which He brought with Him into the desert of sin, these waters are for all of us, because sin has touched all of us, beginning with the sin which we have by our origin from Adam and Eve, our first parents. And this is why we call it "original sin". God begins our salvation in Christ at the moment of our baptism by forgiving this sin first and by fortifying us against the temptation to sin.
"Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: 'Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.' " (CCC 1213)
Saint Paul tells us that the grace of Baptism "saves you now". Baptism saves us now as we live in faith, depending upon the graces God gives as upon a rock. And that rock is Christ from which flows always for us the abundant waters of new life through grace, welling up to eternal life.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted
Friday, February 24, 2012
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
5th - Fifth Sunday, Ordinary Time
12th - Sixth Sunday, Ordinary Time
19th - Seventh Sunday, Ordinary Time
26th - First Sunday of Lent
4th - Second Sunday, Lent
11th - Third Sunday, Lent
18th - Fourth Sunday, Lent
25th - Fifth Sunday, Lent
1st - Palm Sunday
8th - The Resurrection of the Lord
15th – Octave Day of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday
22nd - Third Sunday, Easter
29th - Fourth Sunday, Easter
6th - Fifth Sunday, Easter
13th - Sixth Sunday, Easter
20th - Seventh Sunday, Easter / Ascension of the Lord
27th - Sunday of Pentecost
3rd - The Most Holy Trinity
10th - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ/Solemnity of Corpus Christi Eleventh Sunday, Ordinary Time
17th – Eleventh Sunday, Ordinary Time
24th – The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
1st – Thirteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
8th - Fourteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
15th - Fifteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
22nd -Sixteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
29th - Seventeenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
5th - Eighteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
12th - Nineteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time
19th - Twentieth Sunday, Ordinary Time
26th - Twenty-first Sunday, Ordinary Time
2nd – Twenty-second Sunday, Ordinary Time
9th – Twenty-third Sunday, Ordinary Time
16th - Twenty-fourth Sunday, Ordinary Time
23rd - Twenty-fifth Sunday, Ordinary Time
30th - Twenty-sixth Sunday, Ordinary Time
7th - Twenty-seventh Sunday, Ordinary Time
14th - Twenty-eighth Sunday, Ordinary Time
21st - Twenty-ninth Sunday, Ordinary Time
28th - Thirtieth Sunday,Ordinary Time
4th - Thirty-first Sunday, Ordinary Time
11th – Thirty-second Sunday, Ordinary Time
18th – Thirty-third Sunday, Ordinary Time
25th – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
2nd – First Sunday, Advent
9th – Second Sunday, Advent
16th – Third Sunday, Advent
23rd - Fourth Sunday, Advent
25th - Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord
30th – The Holy Family of Jesus, Joseph and Mary
6th – Epiphany
but be examples to the flock.
The bishop is "the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood," especially in the Eucharist which he offers personally or whose offering he assures through the priests, his co-workers. The Eucharist is the center of the life of the particular Church. The bishop and priests sanctify the Church by their prayer and work, by their ministry of the word and of the sacraments. They sanctify her by their example, "not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock." Thus, "together with the flock entrusted to them, they may attain to eternal life."
The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men." Its prayer is the Our Father.
Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself. Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect. But truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltations of the soul, the mystery of God. Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos-which both the child and the scientist discover-"from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator," "for the author of beauty created them."
[Wisdom] is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. For [wisdom] is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail. I became enamored of her beauty.
-- CCC 2500
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Sunday 7B. "I am doing something new!": All things are made new in Jesus Christ, "the Son of Man", who "has authority to forgive sins on earth"
There are many things that we have seen or experienced so often that we call them "old". And there are times in life when we say "out with the old and in with the new". Some of you may vaguely remember making new resolutions just a short time ago to mark the turning of a new year.
Burdened as we sometimes can feel by the past, we might go through the "old" things in order to lighten our load, to get rid of those items that we no longer need and are tired of moving around in the basement, the attic or the garage.
In the process of winnowing the detritus of a life we might pause and look at an old picture from high school, or from childhood or taken before we got married, and a wave of feeling washes over us both bitter and sweet and we feel intensely the effect of the passage of years. We experience a longing for those days of the past represented by the old photo, postcard, letter or yearbook that stays with us and can even make us somewhat regret the present in a desire to go back and recapture what we feel has been "lost". And we also can become divided about whether we are truly able to get rid of the old in order to make room for the new which is the present day with its commitments and persons and things.
Perhaps we also wonder if it might be necessary to do injury to the present with all of its things in order to recapture the good for which we long, the "newness" of life which we feel perhaps was more fully ours in the past.
There are other ways in which some things we have can seem old and which leave us feeling as though they too need to be traded in or changed in order to get that new and free feeling which we think restores the sense of promise and goodness for which we look in life. Unfortunately sometimes we are tempted to even see the people in our lives as a burden: a parent for whom we must care on a regular basis, a spouse with whom are experiencing a rocky relationship, a child who is experimenting with the wrong friends or activities. How can we find the "new" for which we long within the marriage, the family, the circumstances of our lives to which we are committed before God and before others?
"Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!" Affirmation of our lives and our goodness will not come with an escape, whether to the past or to anywhere else. Only God can restore right now the "joy of our youth" and with it a resolution to the yearning for what is gone and will never come again.
Our faith tells us that it is Jesus Christ that makes all things new for us in body, mind and spirit through the life of grace which opens the horizon of eternity in Him. And even though sometimes our faith seems old and tried and lacking, it is the key to unlocking for us the newness that we are promised by God through grace.
When we were baptized God made all things new for us by forgiving original sin. In the sacrament of Confession he gives us back the newness of our baptismal garment through forgiveness of mortal sins. We are thus able to return to reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist so that we continue to grow in God's love which is always a new gift, a wonder to be discovered in so many different ways we cannot number them.
This newness God gives in Christ is the power of His Resurrection which we receive in the sacraments and which we celebrate on the Lord's Day, especially in the Mass. God's infinite grace, which cannot be exhausted, is ever present to us because the same Christ offers Himself in the same Sacrifice in each Mass, as He did on Calvary, except in an unbloody manner.
"In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out." (CCC 1364)
This Lent let us rededicate ourselves anew to seeking the newness of God, whose love is ever ancient and ever new, through the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
"The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men." Its prayer is the Our Father." (CCC 1969)
"See, I make all things new". In God's mercy the past is restored and carried forward to eternity. God heals the wounds of the past through mercy without doing injury to what, though passed, still belongs to us while restoring courage for the future in His love ever new in Christ Jesus who lives now for us through mercy.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Photo source: Movie "The Passion of the Christ".
Friday, February 17, 2012
"Mother Church rejoices that she has within herself many men and women who pursue the Savior's self-emptying more closely and show it forth more clearly, by undertaking poverty with the freedom of the children of God, and renouncing their own will: they submit themselves to man for the sake of God, thus going beyond what is of precept in the matter of perfection, so as to conform themselves more fully to the obedient Christ."
- -- CCC 2103
Thursday, February 16, 2012
and become judges with evil designs?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one's brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else. This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.
Monday, February 13, 2012
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.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Sixth Sunday B: ""I do will it. Be made clean." Rescinding the HHS mandate "the only complete solution to this religious liberty problem"
-- Mark 1, 40-45
"The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially:
"-the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family's own moral and religious convictions;
"-the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;
"-the freedom to profess one's faith, to hand it on, and raise one's children in it, with the necessary means and institutions;
"-the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;
"-in keeping with the country's institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;
"- the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;
"- the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority.
-- CCC 2211
"Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.
"St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: 'He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.'"
-- CCC 1908
Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.
Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel's greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. "Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . the Lord your God is in your midst." Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God . . . with men." Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel's greeting, we make Elizabeth's greeting our own. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary "blessed." "Blessed is she who believed. . . . " Mary is "blessed among women" because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth. Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the "fruit of thy womb."
Friday, February 10, 2012
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him." None of the animals can be man's partner. The woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." Man discovers woman as another "I", sharing the same humanity.
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. Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
"First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted 'to the marriage supper of the Lamb' and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord's words: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.' The Latin Church, which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father."
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
- You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.
- -- CCC 1221
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Sunday 5B: "they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons": the work of Christ in the Church to battle evils of body and spirit
"Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?"
In some philosophies the view of the human person is rather bleak, and life is thought to be nasty and brutish, even when not short. Considering the many ills that flesh is heir to, and the long record of man's inhumanity to man, it is sometimes tempting to side with those who think very little, if at all, of man's dignity or destiny.
Saint Paul comes into the picture compelled to preach because he has met Someone who has changed his life. And not just anyone, but the only One who can change life on earth by revealing there is a life in heaven to come. Saint Paul has met and loves Jesus Christ. And this love consumes him and urges him in charity to reach as many others with the Gospel as time and effort afford.
"I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible."
This mission of preaching and teaching the truths of Jesus Christ and giving access to him in the sacramental life for the salvation of the world has been entrusted to Saint Paul and to everyone in the Church, according to the vocation of each.
The Church casts out evil in Christ, both of spirit because of sin, but also the physical evils that afflict the body and the mind such as illness, poverty and the lack of other means to human dignity such as shelter, food, clothing, education, employment and and health care. These formed an everyday part of the mission that consumed the life of Saint Paul in imitation of Christ who "drove out many demons" and restored bodily health to Saint Peter's mother-in-law as we see in our readings today.
" 'Heal the sick!' The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health." (CCC 1509)
"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.
"Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance." (CCC 2288)
We as Catholics have a vested interest in helping every human person have access to health care. The HHS mandate that proposes to require that Catholics purchase abortifacient and other forms of contraception and sterilization through health insurance plans violates the God-given mandate to respect and defend all life from the moment of conception until natural death in all its stages and conditions. Abortion is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease. Man and woman do not need "protection" from each because the marital act is a beautiful part of the love that man and woman share in holy matrimony. This is why it is a mortal sin to procure an abortion whether through the use or purchase of contraception or by direct surgical means or by mutilating the human body through surgical or other means of sterilization.
"The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)." (CCC 2399)
Buying means to abortion, sterilization and contraception through health insurance plans is cooperation in a moral evil: a violation of the law of God and mortally sinful. It is just as sinful as voting into office someone who has promised to use that office to promote abortion as we saw with the votes of 54% of Catholics in the previous presidential election.
We, as was Paul, are called by Christ to bring to Him all who are in need of healing whether in body or in spirit so that they too may receive the gift of salvation. We cooperate together in the Church, the Body of Christ on earth, in doing this and every good also for the sake of our own eternal life.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord: "suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek"
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples".
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."