Thursday, December 31, 2009

Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas: "Children, it is the last hour"

... just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
-- 1 Jn 2:18-21

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
-- CCC 676

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

The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord"; to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us "at the hour of our death" in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.

Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience. . . . Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren't fit to face death today, it's very unlikely you will be tomorrow. . . .

Praised are you, my Lord, for our sister bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe on those who will die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who will be found
in your most holy will,
for the second death will not harm them.

-- CCC 1014

Art: Luca Signorelli, Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist, Orvieto.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave: "Do not love the world"

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life,
is not from the Father but is from the world.

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":

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
-- CCC 1828

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fifth Day in the Christmas Octave: "keep his commandments"

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

"A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies," Satan is "the deceiver of the whole world." Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be "freed from the corruption of sin and death." Now "we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one."

The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. "If God is for us, who is against us?"
-- CCC 2852

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family: "I must be in my Father's house"

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14; Psalm 128, 1-2. 3. 4-5; Colossians 3:12-21; St. Luke 2: 41-52

In these days following our Lord's birth, we contemplate the mysteries of his hidden life at Nazareth.

During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, (Cf. Gal 4:4) a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was "obedient" to his parents and that he "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." (Lk 2:51-52.) (CCC 531)

Jesus's obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: "Not my will..."(Lk 22:42) The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed. (Cf. Rom 5:19) (CCC 532)

The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:

The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus--the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us...A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character...A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the Carpenter's Son," in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work...To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern, their brother who is God. (Paul VI at Nazareth, January 5, 1964: LH, Feast of the Holy Family, OR.) (CCC 533)

The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. (Cf. Lk 2: 41-52) Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" (Lk 2:49 alt.) Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life. (CCC 534)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also paragraphs 472, 503, 517, 531, 583, 2196, 2599 in the CCC.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Art: The Holy Family by Michelangelo.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day: " In the beginning was the Word"

... and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

"In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God. . . all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him "all things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the "giver of life", "the Creator Spirit" (Veni, Creator Spiritus), the "source of every good".
-- CCC 291

Art: Pietro Orioli, 1458 - 1496, Nativity with Saints. National Gallery, London.

For the MCITL reflection on the Scriptures for the Mass of Christmas Day, please click here.

Hodie Christus Natus Est

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.” -- Isaiah 7:14

The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it.
-- CCC 464

Grateful thanks and very best wishes to all visitors and friends for a most blessed and joy-filled Christ-MASS from MCITL.

Photo: Neapolitan presepe by MCITL.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve: "For the LORD delights in you"

and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
-- Is 62:1-5

God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."
-- CCC 219

Photo: Birthplace of Jesus Christ our Lord in the cave of Bethlehem.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, Advent Wk III: "Are you the one who is to come?"

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.
-- CCC 543

Monday, December 14, 2009

S. John of the Cross: "who gave you this authority?”

“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.”
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”

He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The authority required by the moral order derives from God: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
-- CCC 1899

Image: Saint John of the Cross. Source: Wikipedia.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gaudete Sunday: "Rejoice!"

Zephaniah 3, 14-18; Isaiah 12, 2-3. 4. 5-6; Philippians 4, 4-7; St. Luke 3, 10-18

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice."

What kind of rejoicing can come from hearing St. John's description of the coming of the Messiah? "...he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."(Jn 3: 16-17) And yet, St. Luke tells us we are to welcome this news as good: "So with other exhortations, he preached good news to the people." (Jn 3: 18) John's preaching about the judgment, that some souls might be lost, can hardly be considered "good news"; unless it is the truth.

The truth, however difficult though it may be for us to hear, is always good news. St. John lays bare the truth about the sins of the people, the tax collectors and the soldiers, instructing them as to how to correct their lives. This is good news, though painful to hear, for it will bring repentance, conversion and healing. Rejoicing will follow, for those who amend their lives enjoy God's mercy unto everlasting life. It is the truth which is the "Good News".

Today on Gaudete, or "rejoice", Sunday we remember that though our lives are marked by waiting and watching, by penance and prayer, we are yet people of joy. Our joy is a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit, given to us in fullest measure, that we may love God. "The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Joy is not possible unless one receives the Spirit's gift of divine charity.

The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony"; (Col 3:14) 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)

We rejoice because we are secure in the knowledge of the love of God who has truly revealed himself as our Father through the gift of his only-begotten Son at Bethlehem.
St. John foretells the coming of the Incarnate God who is Judge and Lord. The people, stricken with fear at St. John's message, ask him, "What are we to do?" He instructs them to live in charity: give a coat to him who has none, share your food, act with justice. These are the fruits of the virtue of charity.

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. (CCC 1829) The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.' (Gal 5:22-23) (CCC 1832)

Heaven, the union of all the saints and holy angels with the Triune God, is the only place of unending and complete joy. Hope of heaven, together with faith and charity, are the virtues by which the Holy Spirit enables us to rejoice with authentic joy flowing from and leading toward the Trinity.

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. (Cf. Rom 8: 28-30; Mt 7:21) In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end" (Mt 10:22; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1541.) and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved." (1 Tim 2:4) She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven. (CCC 1821)

The virtue of hope flows from true charity, bringing rejoicing, enabling us to begin to anticipate, here on earth, the love of heaven. The life of charity enables us to look toward the second coming with joy. St. Teresa of Avila teaches Christian joy made possible through hope in God's mercy for eternal and unending joy:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end. (CCC 1821)

Let's pray for each other until, next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also nos. 535, 696, 2447 in the CCC.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Photo Source: The New Liturgical Movement

Our Lady of Guadalupe: "Rejoice, O daughter Zion!"

See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day

The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice." It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.
-- CCC 722

Photo: The tilma of Saint Juan Diego with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday, Advent Wk II: "this generation ... is like children"

The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection
. For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "And God saw that it was good." "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws." Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
-- CCC 339

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, Advent Wk II: "none greater than John the Baptist"

yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he... And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
-- Mt 11:11-15

John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God."
-- CCC 719

Monday, December 7, 2009

S. Ambrose: "rise"

pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”

Sacraments are "powers that comes forth" from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant.
-- CCC 1116

Art: Ambrose converting Theodosius, Pierre Subleyras,1699-1749. S. Ambrose is a patron of Meeting Christ in the Liturgy, with his words providing the inspiration for this project: "I see you, O Lord, face to face; I meet you in your sacraments."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday, First Wk Advent: “Do you believe that I can do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.

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

Monday, November 30, 2009

St. Andrew: “Come after me"

and I will make you fishers of men.
-- Mt 4:18-22

Christ himself chose the apostles and gave them a share in his mission and authority. Raised to the Father's right hand, he has not forsaken his flock but he keeps it under his constant protection through the apostles, and guides it still through these same pastors who continue his work today. Thus, it is Christ whose gift it is that some be apostles, others pastors. He continues to act through the bishops.
-- CCC 1575

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24).
-- CCC 2029

Photo: Statue of St. Andrew at the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano, Roma.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, 34th Wk: "I, Daniel, found my spirit anguished"

within its covering of flesh, and I was terrified by the visions of my mind.

Theophanies (manifestations of God) light up the way of the promise, from the patriarchs to Moses and from Joshua to the visions that inaugurated the missions of the great prophets. Christian tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow.
-- CCC 707

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, 34th Wk: "Heaven and earth will pass away"

but my words will not pass away.

The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality "that everyone calls God".
-- CCC 34

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, 34th Wk: "You will be hated by all"

because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ's return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has "the keys of Death and Hades," who "is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
-- CCC 2854

Monday, November 23, 2009

St Clement: “See that you not be deceived"

many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come'.
-- Lk 21:5-11

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Solemnity of CHRIST THE KING: "Viva Cristo Rey!"

Daniel 7. 13-14; Psalm 93. 1-2, 5; Revelation 1. 5-8; St. John 18. 33b-37

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Lord Jesus is universal King because his Lordship is divine, eternal and omnipotent, therefore extending to all times, places and peoples. His Lordship is also of the truth, and all of those who share in his reign witness to the truth. Thus is fulfilled the eighth commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Ex 20:16; cf. Deut 5:20)

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (Jn 18. 36-38)

Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he has "come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." (Jn 18:37) The Christian is not to "be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord." (2 Tim 1:8) In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep "a clear conscience toward God and toward men. (Acts 24:16) (CCC 247

After the communion prayer of today's Mass, take the opportunity for liturgical expression of Christ's kingship through benediction and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Litany of the Sacred Heart and Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

(See also paragraph 217, 549, 559, 600 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) (Publish with permission.)

Image: Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro in the act of martyrdom cried, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King", stretching out his arms in the sign of Christ's Cross, the act of His victory of Divine Love over sin and death.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, 33d Wk: "Jesus entered the temple area"

and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: "You shall not make my Father's house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'" After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.
-- CCC 584

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, 33d Wk: "Jesus drew near Jerusalem"

he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Jesus recalls the martyrdom of the prophets who had been put to death in Jerusalem. Nevertheless he persists in calling Jerusalem to gather around him: "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" When Jerusalem comes into view he weeps over her and expresses once again his heart's desire: "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes."
-- CCC 558

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, 33d Wk: "to everyone who has, more will be given"

but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
-- Lk 19:11-28

The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."
-- CCC 1212

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, 33d Wk: “What do you want"

“Lord, please let me see.”
-- Lk 18:35-43

Now, however, "we walk by faith, not by sight"; we perceive God as "in a mirror, dimly" and only "in part". Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.
-- CCC 164

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THIRTY-THIRD Sunday: "It is not for you to know"

Daniel 12, 1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10, 11-14. 18; St. Mark 13, 24-32

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Even after the apocalyptic predictions surrounding the turning of the millennium failed to materialize, false prophets continue to spring up who will claim to know "the day and the hour" of the final judgment; novel writers and movie directors purport to know exactly "the day and the hour" when the world will end. A current movie says the date is now 2012!

The Church stands fast in the truth delivered once and for all by Christ the Lord that it is not for the faithful to know the day or the hour that the Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, (Cf. Rev 22:20) even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7; cf. Mk 13:32.) This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed." (Cf. Mt 24:44; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Theses 2:3-12) (CCC 673)

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel," for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. (Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.) (CCC 674)

"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mk 13:24-26)

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. (Cf. Lk 19:8; Mt 24:12.) The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth (Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.) 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. (Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3;2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18, 22) (CCC 675)

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification o f the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, (Cf. DS 3839.) especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. (Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.) (CCC 676)

The Gospel cannot be reduced to liberation theology or Marxist solutions, but comes from Christ only for redemption from sin through the Church the sacrament of salvation for the world.

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. (Cf. Rev 19:1-9) The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. (Cf. Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.) God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. (Cf. Rev 20:12; 2 Pet 3: 12-13.) (CCC 677)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraph 474 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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Saturday, 32d Week: "Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones?"

Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
-- Lk 18:1-8

St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." "The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity":

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.
-- CCC 2446

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great: "God formed man"

to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made them.
-- Wis 2:23–3:9

"God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is "in the image of God"; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created "male and female"; (IV) God established him in his friendship.
-- CCC 355

Art: Raphael, Meeting of Saint Leo the Great and Attila the Hun.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

32d Sunday: "this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors"

1 Kings 17, 10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9, 24-28; St. Mark 12, 38-44

Generosity from each, according to the capabilities of each, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Whether one, like the widow, has a mere mite, or whether, like the Pharisees, perhaps much more, all should give not from their excess but from their want. Generosity is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity." (Galations 5:22-23.) (CCC 1832)

St. Paul's letter to the Philippians speaks of the generosity of the Christian community which should serve as an example for unbelievers. Those who are generous are laying up treasure in heaven.

It was kind of you to want to share in my hardships... Even when I was at Thessalonica you sent something for my needs, not once, but twice. It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, my concern is for the ever-growing balance in your account... My God will supply your needs fully, in a way worthy of his magnificent riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 14, 16, 17,19.)

It is not money that people have difficulty in giving today. It is loving and unconditional acceptance for every human life that is wanting. Openness of married couples to new life by the shunning of artificial methods of birth regulation, loving and respectful acceptance for all pregnant women and mothers, financial assistance to women and children, furthering the cause of life by working to elect leaders who are friendly to life; all of these and more are the ways that we can be generous in an age of unprecedented stinginess with regard to human life. Let us be unambiguously pro-life in the midst of the cult of death.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 678, 2444 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Saturday, 31st Wk: "No servant can serve two masters."

You cannot serve God and mammon.
-- Lk 16:9-15

Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast" refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.
-- CCC 2113

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday, 31st Wk: "the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently"

For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.
-- CCC 1806

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, 31st Wk: ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy...

When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner.
-- CCC 1465

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday 31st Wk: "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ... everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
-- Lk 14:25-33

Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.
-- CCC 2544

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday, 31st Wk: “A man gave a great dinner"

‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.

The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen).
-- CCC 1182

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, 30th Wk: "take the lowest place"

the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

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
Art: Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472–1553), Christ Blessing the Children, 1540s. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Source: MetMuseum.Org

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday, 30th Wk : “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?"

“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
-- Lk 14:1-6

The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
-- CCC 2173

Art: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, The Apotheosis of Saint Jerome with Saint Peter of Alcántara and an Unidentified Franciscan, about 1725, NATIONAL GALLERY OF SCOTLAND.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday, 30th Wk: “Go away"

“Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.
-- Lk 13:31-35

Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "it was not possible for death to hold him" and therefore "divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption." Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living", and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption." Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.
-- CCC 627

Photo: "Il Cristo Velato", the veiled Christ, Chapel of San Severino in Napoli, Italia. Source: Photo Libero

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, 30th Wk: “What is the Kingdom of God like?"

It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.
-- Lk 13:18-21

Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.
-- CCC 543
Photo source: DG Hall. For more info about the seed and plant of the mustard tree visit here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday, 30th Wk: "you are set free"

He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
-- Lk 13:10-17

Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world:

Almighty and merciful God,
in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful,
so that, made ready both in mind and body,
we may freely accomplish your will.
-- CCC 1742

Saturday, October 24, 2009

30th Sunday: "have mercy on us"

Jeremiah 31, 7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5, 1-6; St. Mark 10, 46-52

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ walks the streets of the ancient city of Jericho in our Gospel, already thousands of years old in his own day. With his disciples and a great crowd following him, as our Lord is departing the city, Bartimaeus the blind beggar calls out in dire need: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" His prayer, of abasement before the divine Goodness, teaches us to recognize our own utter neediness before almighty God.

The blind, the handicapped, all those who labor under physical suffering are blessed, for these maladies serve as outward signs of their complete dependence upon God and His divine mercy. One's physical handicaps can be transformed into a spiritual advantage through faith which leads to sincere desire for the grace of forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.

The gift of prayer is given so that we might respond with honesty to God, with unclouded recognition that every one of us is a Bartimaeus, suffering from blindness, physical or spiritual, and that we need the mercy of God to enlighten us, give us the true vision to see ourselves as we are and to accept the mercy and life of God to fill our emptiness. Our Christian love draws us in prayer and in life to make an effective offering of self, after the Lord's example. (CCC 459)

In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church (Cf. DV 10) has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ. (CCC 2663)

There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the name" of Jesus. The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father. (CCC 2664)

But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves." (Cf. Ex 3: 14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1: 21) The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. (Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20) (CCC 2666)

This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. (Cf. Mk 10: 46-52; Lk 18:13) By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy. (CCC 2667)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also CCC 548, 2616.)

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Saturday, 29th Wk: "the spirit is alive"

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again.
-- CCC 990

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, 29th Wk: "I take delight in the law of God"

in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

The Law entrusted to Israel never sufficed to justify those subject to it; it even became the instrument of "lust." (cf. Rom 7:7) The gap between wanting and doing points to the conflict between God's Law which is the "law of my mind," and another law "making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members."
-- CCC 2542

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, 29th Wk: "you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity"

and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man," justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:

Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.
-- CCC 1995

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday, 29th Week: "you have become obedient from the heart"

to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.
-- Rom 6:12-18

As on the day of our Baptism, when our whole life was entrusted to the "standard of teaching", let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith. To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe:

This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul.
-- CCC 197

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, 29th Week: "be like servants"

who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.

Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony. In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is "custody of the heart," and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: "Keep them in your name." The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch. Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. "Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake."
-- CCC 2849

Monday, 29th Wk: "Through one man sin entered the world"

and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned." The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."
-- CCC 402

Saturday, October 17, 2009

29th Sunday: "we want you to do for us whatever we ask"

"Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left."
-- Mk 10:35-45 or 10:42-45

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." If we ask with a divided heart, we are "adulterers"; God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. "Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?'" That our God is "jealous" for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.

Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.

God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.

-- CCC 2737
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy archived homily for today:

Isaiah 53, 10-11; Psalm 33, 4-5, 18-20, 22; Hebrews 4, 14-16; St. Mark 10, 35-45

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When you pray, do you "ask for the world"? Don't stop there, ask for heaven as well!

James and John approach the Lord boldly: "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Our Lord invites them, "What do you want me to do for you?" They have repeatedly experienced his supernatural powers and they have deep faith that he can grant their greatest wish: not only a place in the next world, but nothing less than seats at his right and his left in the kingdom!

St. Teresa of Avila teaches the proper attitude for us as we approach the Lord with our requests: "His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us; it is not for us to advise him what to give us, for he can rightly reply that we know not what we ask. "(Mansions, II, 8)

Our focus in prayer is properly the Kingdom, to seek the coming of the Kingdom as our Lord taught us. But the door to the heavenly reign is through suffering and service. The Lord will be glorified in heaven because he is the suffering Servant, whose suffering is the perfect offering which will take away the sin of the world. When we pray for a high place in heaven, how little we realize that we are also asking for a share in the cup of the Lord's suffering and baptism into his servanthood. Jesus is the Lamb of God and we are blessed to be worthy to receive him, to be"called to the Supper of the Lamb". (The Communion Rite in the Order of Mass.)

St. John the Baptist hailed the Lord as the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for sins. The priest does the same in the liturgy, as he holds the consecrated host aloft and repeats the proclamation of the Baptist, inviting all to adore the Eucharistic Lord.

After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36) By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover. (Isa 53:7, 12; cf. Jer 11:19; Ex 12:3-14; Jn 19:36; 1 Cor 5:7) Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45) (CCC 608)

If we share the desire of James and John for a high place in heaven, to be a great saint, perhaps our first prayer should be for the grace to accept our own share in the Lord's suffering, to accept the crosses that are given to us, not merely the ones we choose for ourselves. This is to be servants in imitation of the Lord and for his sake, not seeking a return but seeing in Christian dignity its own reward and the vocation to be "other Christs".

This dignity is expressed in readiness to serve, in keeping with the example of Christ, who 'came not to be served but to serve.' If, in the light of this attitude of Christ's, 'being a king' is truly possible only by 'being a servant', then 'being a servant' also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as 'being a king.' In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively we must be able to master ourselves, possess the virtues that make this mastery possible. (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 21).

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraph 608 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday, 28th Wk: “Woe also to you scholars of the law!"

You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

Christ is the source of this grace. "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony." Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:

How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.
-- CCC 1642
Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.
-- CCC 2370

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, 28th Wk: "inside you are filled with plunder and evil"

But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
-- Lk 11:37-41

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
-- CCC 2447

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, 28th Wk: "an evil generation...seeks a sign"

no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.

Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." For the Christian, "to reign is to serve him," particularly when serving "the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder." The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.

The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ's priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?
-- CCC 786

Saturday, October 10, 2009

27th Sunday: "you will have treasure in heaven"

Wisdom 7, 7-11; Psalm 90, 12-17; Hebrews 4, 12-13; St. Mark 10, 17-30

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Called away from the world and all it holds and called to God. These are detachment and vocation, constants in each of our lives.

We are called away from some things in our world, as the Lord called the rich young man away from his possessions. We are called toward the Lord Jesus, to follow him unreservedly, as the young man was unable to do when he walked away in sadness from the Lord who beheld him with love.

Our vocations differ, whether to be priests and religious or laity, single or married. In order to respond wholeheartedly to each of these callings some things must be left behind so that one can make room for God in one's heart and mind.

"Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. (Lk 14:33; cf. Mk 8:35.) Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. (Cf. Lk 21:4) The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven." (CCC 2544)

The gift of vocation is both for one's own sanctity and for others, that all may see God. All are to practice some form of detachment in their use of the things of this world, for the God who gave this world and all it holds calls us to himself by means of these things.

"All Christ's faithful are to 'direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.' " (LG 42, art. 3) (CCC 2545)

" 'How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.' (Mk 10, 23)
The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. (Lk 6, 24) 'Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.' (St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte.) Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. (Cf. Mt 6:25-34) Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God." (CCC 2547)

"Peter began to say to him, 'Lo, we have left everything to follow you.' Jesus said, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.' " (Mk 10, 28-30)

Married men and women leave behind the pursuit of wealth and material things to love and support the gift of children should God so bless them. Priests leave behind wife and family to work singleheartedly for the Kingdom in the Church. Men and women religious renounce all personal money and property as well as marriage in order to follow Christ most perfectly in this life.

Let us pray that all may follow their vocations with generosity and joy, and for ourselves that we may hear the Lord when he calls us and be prepared to generously follow him.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick (See also CCC 1618, 1858, 2728. )

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Art: George Frederic Watts`For he had great possessions', 1894, Tate Collection.