Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunday 18 C: Practicing the virtue of detachment so as to be "rich in what matters to God."

The divine name, "I Am" or "He Is", expresses God's faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men's sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps "steadfast love for thousands". By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is "rich in mercy". By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that 'I AM'."
-- CCC 211

The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich
that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition. The history of the blossoming and development of these rites witnesses to a remarkable complementarity. When the Churches lived their respective liturgical traditions in the communion of the faith and the sacraments of the faith, they enriched one another and grew in fidelity to Tradition and to the common mission of the whole Church.
-- CCC 1201

To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.
-- CCC 1489

Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.
-- CCC 800

From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich:

Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses. What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows, those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners, immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.
-- CCC 1351
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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pope St. Victor I, Martyr: "I bore your name"

... O Lord of hosts.

-- Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21

The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."

-- CCC 882

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pope Saint Celestine I: "disgrace not the throne of your glory"

remember your covenant with us, and break it not.
-- Jer 14:17-22

The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs). The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb. In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down. Thus faith is pure praise.
-- CCC 2642

Saturday, July 24, 2010

17th Sunday of the Year: "Our Father": Prayer opens the vast realm of the journey from here to the hereafter

A navigator is a great little gadget. We all want to go places, but we do not always know how to get there. With a global positioning system, you can get started on your journey without even knowing where you are. From the sky, the satellite finds you and tells you your exact location and then proceeds step by step, turn by turn, to instruct you about how to get from A to B. With the help of this handy little device you can calmly and confidently move ahead and make progress on the journey before you. Some of us have even begun to show up on time because less of our journey is spent getting lost!

We all need to have goals. Some have a very firm sense that they know their exact location in life and others feel themselves lost and do not know where they are on the journey because they lack a goal and thus experience an inertia that blocks them from making the first step from the present to the future. In this case, a sense of sadness and even depression can set in. In the case of the spiritual life, the stakes are highest. From our very short existence here on earth we must make a journey in faith to the hereafter. But a sense of being lost, disconnected, sinful or unworthy of God or goodness can jeopardize and arrest our state of development in the life of faith.

God has a GPS: Jesus Christ. Because of His incarnation, His Passion on the cross, His death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ is the gift of grace that the Father makes available to us wherever we are so that we can go from lost to found, from confusion to clarity, and from inertia to calm and confident action as we make our first steps back on the road to eternal life.

But the interior life is the place where Jesus Christ helps us to first become "found". In the grace of faith we can learn that whatever it is that we are suffering, whether the effects of mortal sin, a dry and prayer-less spirit, anger or depression, because of Christ nothing on the earth, above the earth or below the earth can prevent God from affirming our goodness and worth, from convicting us that everything we are and experience can be used by God to find us, affirm us and get us back on the road to heaven.

Visit A Priest Life for the full text of the homily for the 17th Sunday of the Year.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Saint Bridget of Sweden: "the seed sown on rich soil"

... is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

"From the God-given seed of the counsels a wonderful and wide-spreading tree has grown up in the field of the Lord, branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in community. Different religious families have come into existence in which spiritual resources are multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of Christ."
-- CCC 917

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saint Mary Magdalene: "I have seen the Lord,"

"Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
'I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'"
-- Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.
-- CCC 645

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, priest & doctor: "I know not how to speak"

Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

The Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the apostolic catechesis describe for us the paths that lead to the Kingdom of heaven. Sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we tread them, step by step, by everyday acts. By the working of the Word of Christ, we slowly bear fruit in the Church to the glory of God.
-- CCC 1724

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saint Apollinaris: "Shepherd your people with your staff"

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin

Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.
-- CCC 1463

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, Week 16: "we wish to see a sign"

... as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

16th Sunday of the Year. "The Better Portion": To stop, look and listen is also to love

Activity is part of the life of everyone. All of us have our work to do. Although God told Adam that he would earn his bread "by the sweat of his brow", and Eve that she and all her daughters would give birth "in pain", the Lord also told us that he is "working, and that the Father is working even now". The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

"Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation. Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses himself with a sovereign freedom by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh. The Son, who made himself Servant, is Lord, the Pantocrator. Our high priest who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer." (CCC 2749)

And so work, in Christ, has become even a source of blessing despite the exertions and exhaustion that it sometimes brings into our lives along with the food, shelter and clothing which it enables us to have.

In the Gospel Martha is working very hard and for a very important guest: the Lord Himself. Martha loves the Lord very much and she shows this by taking care of his physical needs: making him comfortable, preparing a meal. But she feels overwhelmed and asks a favor of Christ in the midst of her chores, begging him, "please tell my sister to help me."

Mary is sitting down, and appears to be doing nothing. Mary's lack of activity seems to indicate that she does not care about her sister but we find that this is not in fact so. Mary is also doing a kind of work: she is listening in love. Although Mary loves Martha, her sister, she loves the Lord even more. In order to act on this love for Christ Mary needed to stop everything else and to look upon the Lord, so that she could truly listen well to His words, to dwell in His presence. This too, our Lord tells us, is something that we need. And, what's more, he tells us we need this kind of work even more than the kind of work we see Martha doing: Mary, he tells us, has chosen the "better portion".

All of us face the same necessity each day that confronted Martha and Mary: with all the work we have to do, how do we order our priorities so that "first things" remain "first". Is God not first? If so, do we make the effort to stop, to look and to listen so that we can do the work of loving God along with our daily tasks? And how do we find time for God if, for whatever reason, our other work, our lesser priorities, have crowded Him out of our lives, making it more difficult for us to see the evidence of our love for Him, the love that we are so often quick to claim for ourselves in words but which, sometimes, the evidence for which is lacking in our attitudes and actions.

Have you heard people say, "If they arrested you for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Here we are together engaged in the public prayer and witness of the Church, at Mass, and this is very good. There are diverse roles at Mass: the lector helps to proclaim the Word of God in sacred Scripture, the extraordinary minister helps the priest and deacon to give the people the Body of Christ in holy Communion, the servers assist the priest at the altar, and these are sometimes necessary. But they are not the most important roles, even for those who undertake them. No, the "better portion" for all of us is possessed only when we stop, look and listen, receiving God as He gives Himself to us in Word and Sacrament, being receptive and attentive to Him as was Mary.

And at home, too, we can also slow down, pause and pray the Rosary, read the Scriptures, go apart and pray so that this better portion becomes for us an attitude, a grace, a gift that we can take advantage of wherever we find ourselves, for whatever needs present themselves each day. The Catechism urges us to persevere in this prayer:

"The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith." (CCC 2710)

To read the full text of the reflection, please visit A Priest Life.

The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne: "Woe to those who plan iniquity"

In the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power.

You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor's. . . . You shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the ninth, which is concerned with concupiscence of the flesh. It forbids coveting the goods of another, as the root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the seventh commandment forbids. "Lust of the eyes" leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the fifth commandment. Avarice, like fornication, originates in the idolatry prohibited by the first three prescriptions of the Law. The tenth commandment concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth, it summarizes all the precepts of the Law.
-- CCC 2534

More on the Martyrs of Compiegne here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin: "you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned"

... you have revealed them to the childlike.
-- Mt 11:25-27

The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to "preach good news to the poor"; he declares them blessed, for "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." To them - the "little ones" the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.
-- CCC 544

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saint Henry: "the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled"

Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!
-- Is 7:1-9

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

“We deem it opportune to remind our children of their duty to take an active part in public life and to contribute toward the attainment of the common good of the entire human family as well as to that of their own political community. They should endeavor, therefore, in the light of their Christian faith and led by love, to insure that the various institutions—whether economic, social, cultural or political in purpose—should be such as not to create obstacles, but rather to facilitate or render less arduous man’s perfecting of himself in both the natural order and the supernatural.... Every believer in this world of ours must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his fellow men. And he will be this all the more perfectly, the more closely he lives in communion with God in the intimacy of his own soul” (Blessed Pope John XXIII, Peace on Earth, 146, 164).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday, Week 15 Ord Time: "Bring no more worthless offerings"

Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.

Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. . . . " The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.
-- CCC 2100

According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year." Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.
-- CCC 1457

Ss John Jones and John Wall, English martyrs, pray for us.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunday 15, Ordinary Time "Heed the voice of the LORD, your God": To love the Lord is to Keep the Word

"Friend me on Facebook." "Follow me on Twitter." Virtual reality on the internet has become a big part of life and an important barometer for some people as to how well they are liked or how much they are valued. Virtual reality, however, can only take us so far. As human persons we need more than an image on a screen or an email message to find happiness. We need the intimacy of voice and presence, the gift of being with another, in order to be fulfilled in relationships.

Friends and family are the sources of filling our need for human love, always will be and according to God's plan are a gift and sign of His love. These real sources of friendship and love can never be replaced by mere technology.

When it comes to God and how we know whether we are His friend, He has left no doubt: "If you love me, you will keep My commandments." He has spoken in ten ways and we must "heed His voice", keeping the way of life he marks out for us in these guides for living. But he has gone a step further. He has shown us Himself in Christ the Word, who is for us a model of the Ten Commandments in action. God spoke ten words to His people through His servant Moses as recorded in the Old Testament. Now those words have taken on flesh perfectly in Jesus, the Word of the Father.

Everything begins with listening. To be a friend, to love someone else, means to be present to the one we love so that we can come to know that person. Listening is a vital part of the process. God has a voice and uses it to communicate Himself, to give Himself to us. The Word which God speaks must be eternal like God, that is, without beginning or end. In fact God's Word must be no less than God and is God: Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of the Father!

God is Love. Jesus is the Incarnation of God. Jesus is God's love present and acting for us to see and to follow.

"For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'; as 'the image of the invisible God'; as the 'radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature'. (CCC 241)

In order to listen to God, we must begin with Jesus Christ, the perfect Word spoken by the Father once and for all humanity, from the beginning to the end of the world. His words and actions bear for us the example of the truth about loving.

How do we "heed the voice" of the Lord? How do we listen to God? By accepting Jesus Christ, because he who hears the Lord Jesus, hears the Father: "He who sees me, sees the Father."

And in Jesus Christ we see the "ten words", that is the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, take on flesh, become visible, believable and livable. When we listen to the Lord and contemplate his actions, we see God made visible and know how we too should live in love, thus also calling His Father, our Father and His God, our God.

How do we hear this Word which Is Jesus Christ, come in the flesh and dwelling among us? The first and most important place to begin keeping God's Word in Christ, to possess the gift of the Son, is the liturgy of the Church, or the prayer and worship of the Church, which we call holy Mass:

"The prayer of the Church, nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the liturgy, teaches us to pray to the Lord Jesus. Even though her prayer is addressed above all to the Father, it includes in all the liturgical traditions forms of prayer addressed to Christ. Certain psalms, given their use in the Prayer of the Church, and the New Testament place on our lips and engrave in our hearts prayer to Christ in the form of invocations: Son of God, Word of God, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, King, Beloved Son, Son of the Virgin, Good Shepherd, our Life, our Light, our Hope, our Resurrection, Friend of mankind. . . . (CCC 2665)

The Scriptures are necessary in order to hear and heed the voice of the Lord. Thus the proclamation of the Word of God in Holy Scripture constitutes part of the sacred liturgy of Holy Mass. In the Word proclaimed by the lector, the deacon or the priest, Christ truly speaks to all who are listening through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is also constituted by Christ a teacher, commissioned to be thus when he told His Apostles and all in communion with them, "I give you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all the truth" and "He who hears you, hears Me." The Church is thus teacher, given the authority to hand on the law of Christ for believing and living, the faith and morals of the Christian life.

"It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of 'the law of Christ.' From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the "way." From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary; he discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual tradition and long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral cycle." (CCC 2030)

The fullest way in which we receive Christ is through His gift of Himself in the Eucharist. In this way He gives His grace to the baptized and practicing believer so that he or she can keep the commandments, and live the Faith, not by himself or herself alone but because of Christ alive in him or her: "I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me".

Because of Jesus Christ, you now can "return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul". The joy and serenity of one who knows he or she is loved by the greatest Lover of all, the One who gives Eternal life, this is the reward for those who are in a state of grace. Of them the Father says as He says of Jesus: "Behold my beloved son or daughter, in whom I am well pleased!"

Blessed Virgin Mary: "my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

"Here I am," I said; "send me!"
-- Is 6:1-8

Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death"; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son."

-- CCC 964

Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.
-- CCC 2679

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday, 14th Wk Ord Time: "Heal the sick!"

"As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
"Heal the sick!" The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.
-- CCC 1509

The newly prdained priests of the Archdiocese of Washington join the ministry of all priests who carry out the mission of Christ today to heal the sick through the ministries of Word and Sacrament. In Catholic Standard photo above, at the end of a June 19 Mass of Priesthood Ordination at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Wuerl stands before the altar with the eight men he just ordained as new priests for the Archdiocese of Washington. They are, from left to right, Father Anthony Lickteig, Father Charles Gallagher, Father John Fleming Reutemann III, Father Mel Ayala, Archbishop Wuerl, Father R.E. Blake Evans, Father Harry John Stokes Jr., Father David Wells and Father Justin Huber.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions: "Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples"

... instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "
-- Mt 10:1-7

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

Art: Duccio Di Buoninsegna

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saint Anthony Zaccaria: "I shall espouse you in fidelity"

and you shall know the Lord.

-- Hosea 2: 16-22

In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ Himself who is present to His Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis. ...

-- CCC 1548

Saturday, July 3, 2010

14th Sunday in OrdTime. "Never boast except in the Cross": Only in the holy Cross do we find blessing

"I bear the marks of Jesus on my body."

What are the "marks" of Jesus? The marks of Jesus are the holes made by the nails in His sacred hands and feet, and the wound in His side made by the soldier's lance. His bodily suffering and death on the wood of the cross have forever sanctified as a sign of Divine Love the crossed beams of wood which once signaled only violence and ignominious execution.

Thus the holy sign of Jesus reigning from the wood of His Cross is now mankind's source of hope: "Ave Crux, spes unica". Saint Paul proclaims, "Never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ". Honor the Lord offering Himself for your sake on His Cross, give glory to Him that you may be filled with lasting joy.

To boast in the Lord is to put trust in Him because of His saving death on the Cross. We "bear the marks of Jesus" on our bodies through the graces of our baptism recalled through the making of the "sign of the cross" by touching with our hand our forehead, shoulders and breast. We act in the faith of our baptism and bless ourselves with holy water in the sign of His holy Cross with the invocation the Blessed Trinity.

"Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father "with every spiritual blessing." This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ."
-- CCC 1671

Envy seeks glory for the self, measuring our value as persons by seeking to have or do more than others. Our value is based upon who we are: persons made in the image and likeness of God and recreated in Christ through the grace of baptism won by his glorious cross.

"Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility:

"Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother's progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised"
-- CCC 2540

Envy arises from the idolatry of materialism which places a higher value upon things than upon God or others. Humility, on the other hand, combats envy and covetousness by recognizing that God comes first on our lives and all other things are ordered according to His will and plane: "Seek first the kingdom of God an all other things will be added unto you." It is lived by servanthood, seeking the progress of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor.

To uplift and help our neighbor, to do what is best for others, is to direct them also to follow the Lord, to point the way to Him as did John the Baptist and all true prophets: "Behold the Lamb of God".

Would you be happy? At peace? Do you desire the ability to serenely greet the changes, surprises, disappointments in life, as well as the blessings? Then boast in the Cross, put the highest value through faith in Him who is the only One who has the power to save and to raise up in Himself all that is good. "When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself" our Lord said of Himself and of His redeeming death on the cross.
Isaiah reminds us that all good comes from God, and if we would share in blessing than we must go to Him for it:

"Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

"When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD's power shall be known to his servants."

When the Cross is "lifted up" here in this church, placed in a position of honor particularly during the celebration of holy Mass, and in our homes, then we are those "servants" who know God's power. All creation thus continues to be drawn to Christ and into His continuing work of redeeming the world. All that is good, all that is holy, will be renewed and restored in Him.

And when we begin and end our prayers with the sign of His holy Cross, we "boast" in that cross, giving the glory to God. Let us make the sign of the Cross always with love and devotion, with attention, as we touch our forehead, shoulders and chest, thinking with love upon Jesus, and remembering that through our saving baptism and the grace of Eucharistic life in the blood flowing from the pierced Body of the Lord upon the Cross, we "bear the marks of Jesus" in our bodies.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

-- ((((..))))

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Friday: "I desire mercy"

I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

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