Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Holy Family: "the Church is nothing other the 'the family of God'"

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household." When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.CCC 1655

Monday, December 22, 2014

"O King of the Gentiles": waiting for Christ to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad

"O King of the Gentiles, yea, and Desire thereof, O Cornerstone that makest of twain one; come to save man, whom thou hast made of the dust of the earth!" Magnificat Antiphon, Vespers, 22 December

The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel. The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek - a figure of Christ - and the upright "Noah, Daniel, and Job". Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad".CCC 58

Saturday, December 20, 2014

O Key of David: Jesus, "who is called Christ", should be born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of David"

O Key of David, * and Sceptre of the house of Israel that openest, and no man shutteth; and shuttest and no man openeth; come to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death! 

"To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." From the beginning he was "the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world", conceived as "holy" in Mary's virginal womb. God called Joseph to "take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", so that Jesus, "who is called Christ", should be born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of David."

CCC 437

Friday, December 19, 2014

"O Root of Jesse": the characteristics of the Messiah in the "Book of Emmanuel"

"O Root of Jesse, * which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom the kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek; come to deliver us, make no tarrying!

O radix Iesse * qui stas in signum populórum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabúntur: veni ad liberándum nos, iam noli tardare."

- Magnificat Antiphon, Vespers, December 19

The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah said this when he saw his glory," speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
- CCC 712

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai: in reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD", in Hebrew "Adonai"

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.”

- Jer 23

"Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD" (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: 'Jesus is LORD.'" 

CCC 209

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Wisdom: "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom"

"O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love; come to teach us the path of knowledge!" (Antiphon for Mass of December 17)

"The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah said this when he saw his glory," speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11: 

"'There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.' " CCC 712

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe and her message of God's merciful love

"I am the perfect and ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the God of truth through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near us, the Lord of heaven and earth".

The Blessed Virgin Mary [then] declares the intention of her apparition: "I want very much to have a little house built here for me, in which I will show him [God], I will exalt him and make him manifest". "I will give him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassion, in my help, in my protection: because I am truly your merciful Mother, yours and all the people who live united in this land and of all other people of different ancestries, my lovers, who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings".3

- More about the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe through Saint Juan Diego at EWTN

For more about the images found in the eyes of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe visit

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Traditional Bambinelli blessing of the baby Jesus from the family creche on Gaudete Sunday

Bambinelli blessing at church on Gaudete Sunday, the third of Advent, for the baby Jesus from the family creche at home
The children enter in procession with the priest who prays this blessing prior to the Mass and blesses the images of the Christ Child with holy water:
"God our Father, you loved us so much you sent us your only Son, Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and lead us back to you.

"We pray that, with your blessing, these images of Jesus might be a sign of your presence and love in our homes.

"Good Father, give your blessing to all who gather with us this Christmas, family and friends.

"Open our hearts, that we might receive Jesus in joy, do always what he asks of us and see him in those who need our love.

"We ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son, who came to give peace to the world. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen."

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday, Advent I: "the eyes of the blind shall see"

"Let it be done for you according to your faith." And their eyes were opened.
--Mt 9:27-31

Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."
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 2616

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday, Advent I: "the LORD is an eternal Rock"

Christ is the first gift, the perfect gift and eternal sign and source of the Father's love. In the Church we continue to benefit from the gift of the Lord on the first Christmas through the means of salvation He established in and through His Churchj. These gifts include the Apostles together with Peter. Peter was the first pope, whose faith and person form part of the solid rock foundation upon which we build our live sin this world with a view to eternity. "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Our Lord then declared to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." Christ, the "living Stone", thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.
-- CCC 552

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday, Advent I: “My heart is moved with pity"

Physical healing is a promise of the power of God's love to heal our nature wounded by sin. Physical wholeness is a powerful sign in this world of God's promise for each of us of life completed because an eternal gift. The light which symbolizes the advent of Jesus Christ during this season promises healing for hearts which have known the darkness of sin. The "lame, the deformed, the mute" all are signs for us of our own present need for healing which can come only from God through Christ with us. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.

"Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church.
-- CCC 1484
Photo source: Vatican Radio.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday, Advent I: "he shall judge the poor with justice"

He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace. According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by "distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.

-- CCC 672

Photo source: Sacred Destinations. More views of Lausanne Cathedral here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent I, Monday: "only say the word and my servant will be healed": walking by faith in the light of the Lord

As we undertake the way of Advent in the Church we hear Isaiah's call again, "Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord."

Light is a symbol of the Advent season with the lighting of the candles each week, the glow growing brighter as the birth of the Lord draws near. There is another light, however, that is more powerful and beautiful because it does not depend upon an earthly source to feed its hunger for fuel; a fire that cannot die because its source is not limited by the elements of this world.

The power of this other kind of light is conferred as a gift from God. We encounter that gift in the centurion, a man of authority who knows its source in obedience. The faith of the Centurion is light to us because his words reflect an interior life aglow with faith in Christ: " I too am a man subject to authority".

He recognizes that Jesus' obedience, like his, is an authentic source of authority, conferring worthiness to influence and direct the lives of others. Christ lived openly as One in evident loving obedience to God and therefore reflects the Father as One who is worthy of command like the centurion. This shared obedience is precisely the nature of faith.

The centurion sees Christ as one who heals like God through the vision and strength of faith. The light of faith is vision to behold the God who heals in Christ. The word of absolution in Confession is also a healing word, sought because of faith which confers the ability to accept Jesus as He gives Himself.

When we live the obedience we see in the life of Christ as did the centurion, we share the saving gift of faith. The assurance this grace confers in God's love to save us warms us as an inner and spiritual fire as we journey through the dark days of life on earth, yearning for the undying light of heaven's glory.

"Come, Lord Jesus!"

(Monday of the first week of Advent)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Meaning of the Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath is a great tradition to implement in homes during the Advent Season. These prayers accompany the lighting of the Advent Wreath candles. The prayers take just a minute, but help us focus on dedicating ourselves to Christ during this season of preparation.

Obscure in origin it is believed that the Advent Wreath may have had its beginnings in the pagan fire wheel. In Christian symbolism the wheel or wreath stands for eternity. Its use is especially fitting during Advent the season of the anticipation of the coming of our Lord.
Children love the beauty of the simple traditional ceremony. Lighting candles in an Advent Wreath is a simple way to start a tradition of family worship in the home. Those who participate will cherish the experience all their lives. 

The Advent Wreath Ceremony
The ceremony is simple. It starts at the evening meal on the Saturday before the first Sunday in Advent with the blessing of the wreath. (The head of the household is the one designated to say the prayers following which various members of his family light the candles. If the group is not a family then a leader may be selected to say the prayers and others appointed to light the candles.)
For blessing the wreath the following prayer is suggested:
Father: O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth thy blessing upon this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then follows the prayer which is said before the evening meal each night of the first week in Advent. 

I.                   The First Week
Father: O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each night the first purple candle is lighted by the youngest child of the household and is left burning during the meal. 

II.                The Second Week
Father: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Then the eldest child lights not only the first but a second purple candle. Both candles burn during the evening meal as before.)

III.             The Third Week
The joyful Sunday in Advent (known as Gaudete) is represented by rose (or pink) instead of the penitential purple color. Each night during the third week the mother of the family lights the pink as well as the two previously burned purple candles after the following prayer has been said.
Father: O Lord, we beg Thee incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (The three candles are extinguished immediately following the meal.) 

IV.             The Fourth Week
The father of the household lights all four candles in proper sequence during the fourth week after repeating the following prayer.
Father: O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy Grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Candles can be replaced as necessary during a particular Advent Season without reblessing the wreath.)
After Advent : For the Christmas Season which follows immediately after Advent, candles and ribbons can be changed to white. If you wish, the wreath itself can be freshened with new greens and decorated festively for use during the holiday period. Lighting all four white candles to burn during the principal meal each day of the Christmas Season is a customary and appropriate practice.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Solemnity of Christ the King: "he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father when he has destroyed every sovereignty"

Archbishop Lori, in his remarks to our bishops gathered in Baltimore for their annual meeting this Fall, pointed out that the solemnity of Christ the King, which our Church celebrates on the last Sunday of October pre-1962 and this weekend in the ordinary form, originated in the struggles of the Church under totalitarianism in the 19th century, only about 70 years ago, and for that reason is very appropriate in our own day when our religious freedom is under attack.

Our bishops have been engaged for some time now in the fight for religious freedom on sveral fronts. The HHS mandate and the redefinition of marriage with attendant efforts to attack businesses and individuals who refuse to obey this legal perversion are just two of the effects of a general rejection of our right to declare Christ our King in action as well as in our beliefs.

The social kingship of Christ is non-negotiable. Our right to live our faith as witnesses in every aspect of our existence is not simply an adjunct to believing but is constitutive of believing itself. Christ is the King of the Universe precisely because He rose as God in our human flesh from the dead, establishing His absolute Lordship, which phrase is a redundancy made necessary by the lack of understanding so common today in regard to what this term means precisely.

"Lord" is title without qualification, denoting the one who demands our total fealty, allegiance, obedience and love without rival. Saint Paul used this term to describe Christ precisely because it was so well known in the Roman world to mean the complete obedience to Caesar and therefore served as an insulting provocation when used by the early Christians.

Efforts to secure and defend our religious liberty are essential because we cannot "be" Catholic without at the same time "doing" Catholic. Our proclamation of the Gospel to all of society is our mission as servants of the Kingdom of God.

Christ describes His kingship in the Gospel proclaimed at our Masses this weekend for this Solemnity:

"he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"

His kingship includes His role as judge. May we be blessed to live in love and obedience to Him in His kingdom now so as to reign with Him forever in heaven.

Christ conquers, Christ rules, Christ reigns.
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me": the grace of final perseverance

Saint Paul experienced and wrote about the reality which the Church is living through in the present age, where so many, enamored of various "lobbies" and pressure groups, abandon Christ and His Church. In 2 Timothy he responds to such unfaithfulness in this way: "At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it." Our faith is given that we might grow in virtues and among these what is called the grace of final perseverance. If we do not fall away from the life of the Church and from her teaching in faith and morals we can look forward to the eternal life of heaven. "The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the 'blessed hope' of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the 'holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.'" (CCC 2016)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Let no one deceive himself."

Let no one deceive himself.
If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
- 1 Cor 3:18-23 God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself. - CCC 216

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"It is I; do not be afraid": consolation for the natural Christian state of persecution

"Lord, save me!” is the cry of the Christian who has stepped out in Faith as commanded by Christ but who upon encountering difficulty is afraid to continue the journey. This is the cry of Peter, who is sinking and left, as he thinks, to his own resources in the danger of the sea. But he is told to use a different standard, that of the Faith which in the human weakness we know as fear, he has momentarily forgotten. The command of the Lord, "It is I, do not be afraid", to Peter and to all of us is to recover ourselves, by the composure of Faith, thereby returning to the serenity of trust amid the violence of the world. This is the natural state of the supernatural Christian, that of persecution and sometimes of martyrdom, which we are in constant danger of forgetting and with it the Faith by which we are saved. And there is also the loving remonstrance as He pulls us up, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

17th Sunday: Living with the signs of giving all for the pearl of great price

Have you chosen to live for the Kingdom now? The Kingdom is the pearl of great price, the organizing principle of a life of Faith in Jesus Christ.

Without Christ there is no Kingdom, and without the Church there is no Christ.  If the Church is not in your life then the Kingdom which comes to us in the Person of Jesus Christ is not either.

The unaccompanied children currently being pushed over the border into the "promised land" of the United States in some cases by deadbeat parents are a lot like the situation in which some children find themselves in our Church today. Many children are "pushed" over the border into the Church, which is the beginning of the heavenly Kingdom on earth, by deadbeat parents who refuse to be engaged as witnesses of faith through the conduct of their own lives.

But a faith that is not good enough for the parents will not good enough for children because "like father, like son".

There is a widespread crisis in the call to the Kingdom: most kids who get Confirmed stop practicing Faith after Confirmation. By observation of parish life I can tell you which children those are going to be and why. If I do, are you going to do something about it?

Living for the Kingdom is done through signs because love and commitment are visible through the signs made evident by the choices which make up our lives.

Clothing on Sundays that suddenly on Confirmation Sunday is not good enough is not Sunday best. Sunday best remains Sunday best even after it becomes workday best; if the typical club and bar clothing that people use on a typical Sunday comes off on Confirmation Sunday then it proves the people who wear it know it’s not Sunday best.  So why do they tell Father it is?

Saturday vs Sunday? Why? Saturday available only when some reason beyond control prevents from attending on Sunday. Sundays are the celebration of the resurrection when we reaffirm faith in the empty tomb by coming to Mass for a real encounter with the One who conquered death and escaped the tomb, promising us the same. Saturdays for habitual convenience only teaches children that God is a nuisance that we must avoid and who must be made less burdensome in our lives.
Do we live on Sunday like it’s just another day of the week instead of Lord’s Day? Rest is commanded by God on Sundays in order to imitate Him and made possible by avoiding unnecessary shopping or servile work whenever possible

Faith formation for children is not ordering a product but one aspect of lived and saving Faith including Sunday worship. Pray for parents.

When parents take "time off" from Church when class is over during the summer they teach children Faith is something to outgrow like school.

Please pray for Catholic parents who impose spiritual poverty upon their children by failing to take them to Mass on Sunday.

Parents who think they get more out of life by taking shortcuts with God end up with children cutting God entirely out of life.

Stop making excuses to "Father" about why you cannot keep the Commandments; talk to God about it because it's you and Him on Judgment Day.

Christ does not say sell all you have for Kingdom but live as if you would. What are the signs which say the Kingdom is first in your life?

When the Kingdom is far more precious to us than a pearl for which we are willing to give up all we have our children will know it and follow our example.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

16th Sunday "those who are just must be kind": let us teach the truth with compassion as evidence of our love

There is a judgment but, until then, good and evil co-exists in this world.

" ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The results of the judgment will not be equal for all:

"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

But it should never be that we are like weeds. In Christ we are called to bear fruit that will last by learning the truth and teaching it without judgment and in compassion to others:

"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

--  Mt 13:24-43\

"Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefiled,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal." All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness:
The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
-- CCC 827

Friday, July 18, 2014

“Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order"

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.
I will heal you

If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice

 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:
I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.
- CCC 297

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"The way of the just is smooth": the Name and the title of the Lord

...the path of the just you make level. Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls. - Is 26 Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." - CCC 1807

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father": the dominion of Christ

All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end". - CCC 664

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"let not your courage fail": the anointing of the sick united to the passion of Christ

"Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail" - Is 7, 1-9 "The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: - the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; - the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; - the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance; - the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; - the preparation for passing over to eternal life. - CCC 1532

Friday, July 11, 2014

"whoever endures to the end will be saved"

You will be hated by all because of my name - Mt 10, 16-23 "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." -CCC 675

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"You are no longer strangers and sojourners"

... but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God
built upon the foundation of the Apostle

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
- she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles," the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;
- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;
- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":
You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son. . . .
- CCC 857

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments"

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?'" - Mt 7:1-5 "It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it." - CCC 1756

Monday, May 12, 2014

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
‘John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

- Acts 11:1-18

Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips." Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst." The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."

- CCC 208 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday: "Do this in remembrance of me."

"This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution."

In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.
-- CCC 1363

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
-- 1 Cor 11:23-26

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

"Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.

"Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the "One there is who is good," as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments." And he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of neighbor: "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother." Finally Jesus sums up these commandments positively: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
-- CCC 2052

(Art: Washing of the Feet, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11, Tempera on wood, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena. From the reverse central part of the Maesta.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“When you lift up the Son of Man, the you will realize that I AM"

I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. - Jn 8:21-30 "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him". As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven. (CCC 662)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Third Sunday of Lent: From shame to trusting Faith in examination of conscience

Is this the picture of  superficiality? Does this look like Someone who is satisfied with a superficial response? Don't you think He can handle your shame?

The Samaritan woman met the Water of Life at the well who read her conscience and transformed the source of her shame in sin into reason for trust and saving faith in Him.

"... whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This truly is the Savior of the world.Is this the picture of superficiality? Does this look like Someone who is satisfied with a superficial response? Don't you think He can handle your shame?

The Samaritan woman met the Water of Life at the well who read her conscience and transformed the source of her shame in sin into reason for trust and saving faith in Him.

"... whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

"This truly is the Savior of the world."

Friday, March 21, 2014

"When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him"

‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’(Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a)

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes
. - Psalm 118, 22

"For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his 'beloved Son', in whom the Father is 'well pleased'; God tells us to listen to him. The Lord himself said to his disciples: 'Believe in God, believe also in me.' We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: 'No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.' Because he 'has seen the Father', Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him." (CCC 151)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Like a tree planted beside flowing waters": our leaves never fade if the Eucharist is the lifeblood of Faith

The Gospel story of the rich man's plea for water as he gazes longingly upon Lazarus who rests in the bosom of Abraham is a warning, but not against riches. The failing of the rich man was that he did not live his blessings with a view to the waters that never cease to flow: those which come from God alone.

Whether rich or poor, we live as trees planted beside flowing waters when our actions are rooted Eucharistically in the love of Jesus Christ, a giving and fraternal love for others and God. The rich man refused to share his bounty with Lazarus despite his knowledge that the poor man needed food.

No matter in what season of life we find ourselves, old or young, rich or poor, it is not what we have that determines life but how we live with what we have.

"I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds."

The Lord invites us to share in His love by deeds. When our actions flow from the Eucharist they always have God's love as source, that "fountain welling up to eternal life".

Thursday of the Second Week in Lent

Friday, March 14, 2014

"If the wicked man turns away from all the sins"

... he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

"Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: 'For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.' But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds." (CCC 1853)

Friday, First Week of Lent 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

“This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign"

"it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah."

But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection and the life." It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah," the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.
-- CCC 994

Wednesday, First Week of Lent 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Choose Life": the heart is the place of truth where we choose life or death

"Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  Dt 30:15-20

The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place "to which I withdraw." The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant. (CCC 2563)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quinquagesima Sunday: "Fratres: Si linguis hóminum loquar, et Angelórum, caritátem autem non hábeam, factus sum velut æs sonans, aut cýmbalum tínniens."

[1] If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [2] And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [3] And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. [4] Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; [5] Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; [6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; [7] Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [8] Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Corinthians 13) " 'If I . . . have not charity," says the Apostle, "I am nothing." Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, "if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing."103 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: "So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.'"104 (CCC 1826) "The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which 'binds everything together in perfect harmony';105 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love." (CCC 1827) "The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who 'first loved us'" 106 (CCC 1828) "If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children."107 "The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest."108 (CCC 1829)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dominica in Sexagesima: "Semen est verbum Dei. The seed is the word of God."

"And they by the way side are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved.
Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away.
And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit.
But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience." (Luke 8, 4-15)

To welcome the seed of the Word is to welcome the Kingdom.

"This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ." To welcome Jesus' word is to welcome "the Kingdom itself." The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the "little flock" of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is. They form Jesus' true family. To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new "way of acting" and a prayer of their own." (CCC 764)

Indeed, to welcome the Word is to welcome Jesus Christ Who is the Kingdom present among us.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Septuagesima: "Run so as to obtain the prize."

"Fratres, Nescitis quod ii qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis." (1 Cor 9, 24-27; 10, 1-5)

"Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain."

Self-mastery is the work of Lent for which we prepare on Septuagesima.
"And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one.
"I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air:
"But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway."

"Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence." (CCC 2342)

The prize won by running the race through self-mastery which brings holiness of life here on earth is eternal life on high in Christ Jesus our Lord.