Saturday, December 31, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23: O Emmanuel

The Church sings this antiphon in to-day’s Lauds:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19: "O radix Jesse"


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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

... enraptured, and with eyes unveiled

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

-- CCC 1162

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

-- CCC 158

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn

A Prayer for Abortion Victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!"

Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.-
-- Rom 10:9-18

So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."
-- CCC 2
Art: Caravaggio, The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, Advent 1: "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him"

:a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,A Spirit of counsel and of strength,a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

-- Is 11:1-10

Jesus is Christ, "anointed," because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness. When Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him:
The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith-- CCC 690

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, Advent 1: "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof"

... only say the word and my servant will be healed.

-- Matthew 8, 5-11

Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed."). And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:
O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

-- CCC 1386

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Be watchful! Be alert!": A new translation, a new season keep us devoted and alert in the present and full of hope for a future of faith and love

"Be watchful! Be alert!"

We must all be very watchful, both the congregation of their misalettes or pew cards and the priest his Missal, so that we can launch this new English translation in a serene and prayerful manner.

But if we should make a mistake we certainly do not draw attention to it or ourselves by reacting but, rather, continue with devotion to participate in the flow of the liturgy, being present to what is taking place. In this way we will grow with practice and patience to internalize the beauty of the liturgy which comes to us through this new English translation so that our spiritual lives of Faith may always benefit.

It is very appropriate that we begin this new "page" as it were in the liturgical life of our beloved Church at the same time that the Church launches a new year in the life of faith with Advent. Both work together to help us become more vigilant, more watchful in Faith for the Lord and his "coming", which is what the word Advent means.

"When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: 'He must increase, but I must decrease.' " (CCC 524)

It is authentic Faith which rouses us to be alert through prayer in love for the Lord.

"Pray constantly . . . always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." St. Paul adds, "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints." For "we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing." This tireless fervor can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love. This love opens our hearts to three enlightening and life-giving facts of faith about prayer. (CCC CCC 2742)

The gift of a beautiful new translation for the prayers of holy Mass enables us to better keep our loving watch in a Faith both energetic and profound. Because these new prayers are more faithful both to the Scriptural foundations of holy Mass as well as to the entire liturgical tradition handed down in the Holy Spirit from Christ through the Apostles we can confidently entrust ourselves to a wholehearted acceptance of the gift.

"This tireless fervor can come only from love."

At times we grow weary and give in to a worldly fatigue which results from relying upon our own resources, without reference to God and failing to see our everyday potential for receiving and living God's life-giving and merciful love. This Advent we open our minds and hearts with renewed devotion through the gift of the new translation of Mass to this possibility for us and for every human person. It is prayer which opens us to God and gives us a living and loving communion with him:

Prayer which is always possible. (CCC 2743)

Prayer which is a vital necessity. (CCC 2744)

Prayer which is inseparable from our Christian life. (CCC 2745)

Let us turn always anew to the beautiful prayer of holy Mass with hearts alert in Faith evident through a tireless readiness for God and His love. When we accept the Lord with love as He comes to us anew each time through the Church, in the Word and Sacrament of the liturgy of holy Mass and in a life marked by the rhythms of prayer, we are able then to return ourselves to God in life and love.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

St. Andrew Dung Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam: “You will be hated by all"

for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!

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 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

Image source: Wikipedia. For more on the Vietnamese Martyrs, click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Occupy" the Kingdom! The King is a Shepherd who promises and delivers food, clothing and shelter. Forever.

"Are you gonna feed my kids?"

This is the reply of a woman recently invited to join the "occupiers" who we see camped out in major cities all over our country in exercise of free speech to demand more money. We think.

There seems to be more confusion about these roughly organized groups than anything else. In their joblessness, inactivity and helplessness these occupiers are more like lost and scattered sheep, without a shepherd, unable to promise anything to anyone else let alone do anything for themselves.

Whether it is a job, money, food or shelter, we humans seeks these things as a good for today and, perhaps even more so, as a promise of life for tomorrow.

"Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep."

God makes a promise in the first reading that He himself must be the one to shepherd humanity: "shepherding them rightly" with disinterest, justly, that is with love.

How will God do this? Wherever humanity is lost, strayed, injured or sick He Himself must be the one to attend to their needs if they are to have life today and hope for tomorrow.

In the Gospel reading the Divine Word interprets Ezekiel rightly, the prophecy being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. How, you ask, will God Himself shepherd the sheep? How can we hope to be found, to have our wrongs righted, be healed, made whole? The answer to this question is found in you and in me.

Through the grace of our Baptism we have been incorporated into the "royal family" of God. We have inherited heaven and with it a share in the work of Christ which continues now in the world.

God shepherds His people as Christ acts in each and every one of us:

"I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'"

Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. His kingdom becomes a tangible experience for all mankind when His Body, the Church on earth, fulfills His mandate to feed, give drink to, embrace, clothe, care for and visit any brother or sister in need.

The Kingdom remains closed to those who cannot live in Faith, see with the eyes of Faith, know God through Faith.

"The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between "the flesh" and the Spirit.

Only a pure soul can boldly say: "Thy kingdom come." One who has heard Paul say, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies," and has purified himself in action, thought and word will say to God: "Thy kingdom come!"(CCC 2819)

The power of God's Kingdom is found in the grace of seeing Christ in every human person and responding to the vision of faith. The king identifies Himself with those who seem in a superficial point of view to be the most distant from a kingly court, a royal palace: with the poorest of the poor.

"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)

Only God can promise food, clothing and shelter. Forever. These are the food of His Eucharist, the clothing of grace and the shelter of the place in heaven He has prepared for us. "Occupy" the Kingdom by receiving the Eucharist as a member of His Body the Church and live His life now through service of others.

If we want to enter into the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world, into the eternal joy of the Lord in heaven, we know what we must do. The King Himself has told us:

"Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"


Saturday 33: "the dead will rise"

those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live."

How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
--CCC 991

Thursday, November 17, 2011

St. Elizabeth of Hungary: "today I must stay at your house"

“Today salvation has come to this house ... For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

A church, "a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the presence of the Son of God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial altar for the help and consolation of the faithful - this house ought to be in good taste and a worthy place for prayer and sacred ceremonial." In this "house of God" the truth and the harmony of the signs that make it up should show Christ to be present and active in this place.
-- CCC 1181

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

S Margaret of Scotland: Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother

'Well done, good servant!
Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.

-- CCC 2675

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday 33: "today I must stay at your house."

he...received him with joy.

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

-- CCC 1387

Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mon 33: "What do you want"

"Lord, please let me see."
"I want to see God" expresses the true desire of man. Thirst for God is quenched by the water of eternal life (cf. Jn 4:14).
-- CCC 2557

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sun 33A: "A man called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them": the salvation of all is entrusted to the Church, the Body of Christ

We expect to be nourished and cared for by persons in positions of leadership and "trust" but, tragically, in the mystery of iniquity in the world this is not always so. Recent events within a university sports program remind us of the need to all be vigilant for the sake of protecting God's precious gift of our children and young people.

We all frankly acknowledge that trust has been breached by individuals within the Church as well.

Failure to protect the most vulnerable persons among us, beginning with the unborn child in the womb, is a sin against the most precious possession which God entrusts to us on the natural level: the only creature He has made in His own image and likeness. All of us are called to be a leaven of a new society in which everyone cares for all of his brothers and sisters without exception from the newly conceived child in the womb to the most elderly of persons.

Our children must be educated from a young age to be comfortable saying they are uncomfortable. We must be willing to listen to anything they have to say so that no child will ever be harmed again.

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.”

The Church is placed in the world with God's authority, called to be that "worthy wife" of infinite value because charged with the task of the infinite gift of the world's salvation. How great is the responsibility that all of us share in the Church to protect all human persons and to call them to salvation? The Church is espoused to God as a wife is bonded through love to her husband.

That we may be nourished in saving love, God has left His Bride the Church, the Spouse of Christ, in which we may grow and thrive. For these reasons the Church is also our Mother in the life of grace. Through all the gifts of the Church, and in particular the sacraments, He treats us gently as His children with tenderness befitting one who cares for the very smallest needs of those for whom He is responsible.

"The Church, further, which is called 'that Jerusalem which is above' and 'our mother', is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ 'loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.' It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly 'nourishes and cherishes.'" (CCC 757)

"A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.”

The journey is the distance we experience between God and us. It is also the time which elapses between the Son's return to the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for us, and our own journey there. In the face of the most daunting evil of sin, God accompanies us on our path through the life of grace in the Church. Above all this is true of the Eucharist, the very Body of His Son.

"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" (CCC 1323)

The Body of Christ, His Son, is the Father’s dearest possession. Will you, will I, use our talents, God’s grace, that we may truly grow in faith, hope and love? Will we protect the natural gift of life of every human person, beginning with the youngest and most vulnerable persons? In this way the call of God to salvation in Christ is prepared and anticipated.

The Church is our Mother and leads us to salvation, above all as we worship together on the Lord's Day.

"Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse in a sacred commemoration on certain days throughout the course of the year. Once each week, on the day which she has called the Lord's Day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's resurrection. She also celebrates it once every year, together with his blessed Passion, at Easter, that most solemn of all feasts. In the course of the year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ. . . . Thus recalling the mysteries of the redemption, she opens up to the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present in every age; the faithful lay hold of them and are filled with saving grace." (CCC 1163)

We are called to flourish in joyfully receiving through the Church the most precious gift of the Father, especially in the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood, truly present, of His dearly beloved Son, for forgiveness of sins so as His children we may inherit holiness, and for life eternal, so we may enter into His heavenly dwelling when the Church on Earth is no more at the end of the world.

Saint Josaphat: “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed."

“The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations".

- CCC 67
Image: Main altar, Saint Josaphat Basilica, Milwaukee.

Friday, November 11, 2011

St Martin of Tours: “Give them oil of gladness in place of mourning”

“... a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit."

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

Art: The Division of the Cloak, Simone Martini, 1312-17, Cappella di San Martino, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi. For more on Saint Martin, visit In Illo Tempore here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica: "You are God’s building."

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

-- Jn 2:13-22

Jesus venerated the Temple by going up to it for the Jewish feasts of pilgrimage, and with a jealous love he loved this dwelling of God among men. The Temple prefigures his own mystery. When he announces its destruction, it is as a manifestation of his own execution and of the entry into a new age in the history of salvation, when his Body would be the definitive Temple.

-- CCC 593

Christ is the true temple of God, "the place where his glory dwells"; by the grace of God, Christians also become the temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built.

-- CCC 1197

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday 32: "the souls of the just are in the hand of God"

no torment shall touch them
--Wis 2:23:3:9

Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face:

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving Christ's holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, . . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment - and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven - have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.
-- CCC 1023

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday 32: "If your brother sins, rebuke him"

and if he repents, forgive him.
Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. . . . When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you." "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."
-- CCC 2216

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday 32A: "Virgins took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom": chastity is for holiness in every vocation and a sign of the kingdom

The French say, "le silence est doux et fort à la fois", silence is at once sweet and strong. In the world the many sources of noise sometimes combine into an overwhelming din and we can easily forget that we crave the medicine and beauty of silence. In fact, our liturgy of holy Mass incorporates silence in two places: after the homily and following Communion. In these two instances we need the room silence gives to fully receive and digest the Word which comes to us through proclamation of the sacred Scriptures and through the Body and Blood of the Lord really and truly present in the Eucharist.

But silence can equal consent not only to good, to God Himself, but also to evil.

Many and competing voices today are clamoring for our attention and that of our children. These voices reach us through cell phones with their text, internet and voice capacity, through social media like Facebook and, of course, the old fashioned way: person to person.

Our children are exposed with increasing intensity and frequency to dissonant voices which conflict with the truths we hold as Catholic Christians. Only the truth will set us free. The truths which have been handed down through the Holy Spirit in the Church are necessary for our flourishing as human beings in this world and our eternal happiness in the next because grace builds on nature.

There is waiting in the life of every human person. And waiting for a person we love is perhaps the most difficult waiting that we must do. The virgins in the Gospel are a sign both of the small ways in which we all experience expectation in this life as, every day, we are wait at the "door of the future" and that this life itself is the anteroom of eternity and the coming of Jesus Christ.

In the waiting of every human person is needed the strength of all the virtues, including chastity, which is symbolized by the virgins who play a role in the celebration of the wedding feast in much the same way bridesmaids do today in our wedding ceremonies. Sometimes members of the wedding party wait at the church truly ignorant of "the day or the hour" as the bride makes her own way, at her own pace, to the celebration!

More seriously, however, among the many gifts needed for patient expectation is the waiting of chastity, a moral good which obliges those of us who look forward to salvation in the kingdom of God. Sometimes spouses wait in marital chastity for their husband or wife to return from a journey or military deployment, young engaged couples, through the chastity of abstinence, wait for marriage, celibate priests, and men and women religious, through their celibate chastity wait for the kingdom of God in all its fullness. Our children must be formed in such a way that they too will one day also be able to accept the grace of chastity as a free and mature Christian adults.

Many forces in the world today have declared war on the innocence of our children which longstanding wisdom teaches should be extended as long as possible, and which is a different journey for every human person. For these and more reasons, the societal push toward classroom education in matters of marital intimacy violates the latency period and with its physiological nature violates the different developmental stage of each child.

But we are necessary for this process. If we remain silent in the face of the onslaughts upon our children's moral and faith integrity we leave them weakened before their enemies and also bereft of the power of our witness. Parents in particular have the irreplaceable role of serving as the first teachers on their children in the ways of faith.

The Church teaches and supports parents in the primary role as educators of their own children.

"Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.'

"Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them: He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (CCC 2223)

Many Catholics, and even moreso the vulnerable young, fasten very quickly upon the opinions and attitudes available principally through the internet and television, in many cases without any reference whatsover to Catholic truth. This is seen especially with matters of marital teaching and of the bodily expression of love proper to the sacrament of matrimony.

As we live the chastity proper to our vocations and experience the joy of cooperating with grace in this way, using the sacraments properly as needed to keep us on this path, we are prepared most powerfully to hand on this way of Christian living and joy to our children as they seek God's will in discerning their own vocations which await them beyond the door separating today from the future.

Our silence can leave our children victim to the cruel winds of every opinion or error that blows in the world today. Let us speak out with the voice of Christ in His Church that our children will be formed firmly in the wisdom of the truth of God. Chastity is wisdom in action through the holy use of God's gifts for love and life.

'The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality." (CCC 2347)

We prepare through all the virtues to "stay awake" as commanded by the Lord in the Gospel: "stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Living the life of the kingdom here and now gives us the joy of anticipating the moment we are called to enter into its fullness, into the "joy of the Lord".


Saturday 31: "You justify yourselves"

but God knows your hearts

Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

-- CCC 1990

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saint Charles Borromeo: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

“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?

The Church prays that no one should be lost: "Lord, let me never be parted from you." If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him "all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).
-- CCC 1058

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saint Martin de Porres: "this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD"

That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.
-- Ps 27

The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may "bear much fruit."
-- CCC 737

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallow's Eve, Monday 31: "you once disobeyed God"

but have now received mercy
--Rom 11:29-36

In his mercy God has not forsaken sinful man. The punishments consequent upon sin, "pain in childbearing" and toil "in the sweat of your brow," also embody remedies that limit the damaging effects of sin. After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one's own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.
-- CCC 1609

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday 31 A. "Now, O priests, this commandment is for you": performing good works of love whether seen or unseen

In the new English text for the Creed we profess our faith in things both visible and invisible, whereas the previous version translated the original Latin text "seen and unseen". What's the difference and why is it important?

There are realities in God that always remain invisible to us even if we enjoy their physical proximity. Angels, for example, have spirits as do we but do not have bodies as we do, therefore whether here or in heaven we have to believe they exist and are present even though we cannot detect them except through the power of faith.

There are, however, "unseen" things that are thus because they are happening at a place and a time different than the one we are inhabiting at any given moment. The Lord speaks of these kinds of things in the Gospel today when he excoriates with severity the religious leaders of his day who "performed religious works to be seen."

For many years some of us have believed that religion has to be sort of like Missouri: "Show me or I won't believe it". Some priests have tried to make their poverty "seen" by getting rid of their robes and celebrating Mass with a stole only.

Others in the Church substituted pottery vessels for gold and silver in the celebration of the holy Eucharist in the hopes that the poor Christ whom they thought would be better "seen" through this sign would lead people to believe more fully in, and have more solidarity with, the poor Lord of the Gospels who had "nowhere to rest His head".

Saint Francis of Assisi whose feast we celebrated this month, perhaps more than anyone else, speaks compellingly of the poor and was a sign to the world of the Gospel mandate to love and serve the least among us. But by this same genius, Francis taught that poverty was for us, not for God, and called for the very finest materials, vestments and sacred vessels to be used in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in order that God's heavenly glory may be more fully seen in this world. To this day one may see in Italy the beautiful chalice Deacon Francis used in the celebration of holy Mass.

The priests of Jesus' day take it on the chin in our Gospel reading: "do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you," he preaches to the crowds in their regard, "but do not follow their example". The Lord condemns the public piety of the scribes and pharisees that lacks the internal, unseen, spirit of God's love which justifies every "work" that is performed whether seen or unseen.

In the first reading, the priests receive a commandment: they are instructed to listen to God and to take His glory "to heart"; simply, to keep His commandments, the greatest of which is to love Him with all that they are and have. In this way they would be capable of bringing God to His people and of bringing God's people to Him.

As we observe "World Day for Priests" on this last Sunday of October, let us show our thankfulness for our priests and bishops by praying always for them, that they may be able to take the Word to heart, to possess the grace of Christ's love, so as to always give this richest treasure to God's holy people by all that their vocation calls them to do, the good things both seen and unseen. In this way, when we call them "Father", we will do so as Christ calls us to in the Scriptures, for the reason that these earthly Fathers of ours reflect the true and eternal paternity of God, our heavenly Father.


In photos: Above, Chalice sculpture in Assisi at Santa Maria degli Angeli Church. Immediately above, Father Brian Converse, Diocese of Norwich, blessing the animals for the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saturday 30: "has God rejected his people?"

Of course not!

Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity's rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.
-- CCC 386

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ss Simon and Jude: "he chose Twelve"

whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
-- Lk 6:12-16

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday 30: "God is for us"

It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
-- 1 Rom 8:31b-39

Jesus also prays for us - in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father. If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.
-- CCC 2741

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday 30: how to pray

the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
--Rom 8:26-30

From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which "it does not yet appear what we shall be." The Eucharist and the Lord's Prayer look eagerly for the Lord's return, "until he comes."
-- CCC 2772

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday 30: "sufferings"

are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed

-- Rom 8:18-25

For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to "enter into his glory". Moses and Elijah had seen God's glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah's sufferings. Christ's Passion is the will of the Father: the Son acts as God's servant; the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. "The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud."
You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the Father.

-- CCC 555

Monday, October 24, 2011

S Anthony Mary Claret: "living the truth in love"

... we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ
-- Eph 4:7-16

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man."
-- CCC 1473

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday 30C: "You shall love your neighbor": Respect is the tribute love gives to every human life

Last week saw the downfall and bloody end to the life of an African tyrant. Images of this man who is thought to have committed many and atrocius crimes against human beings, all of whom are our "neighbors", were splashed all over our tv screens and the internet.

With the ubiquitous cell phone which can take photos and movies wherever and of whatever without much time to consider their appropriateness we are offered a front row seat to even the most dangerous of situations from far away minutes or seconds after they happen. But do we need to know and to see everything? How do we assess the impact good or bad upon us with the availability of so much information of such wide variety? And how are our lives, our dignity, our humanity affected by the wholesale imbibing of the images we are offered via our phones through the internet, television and in other ways.

October is Respect Life month. The Church asks us to focus during this period every year on the gift of human life and the ways in which we can proclaim its sacredness, defend and preserve life. Respect is the tribute love pays to the good. When we truly love human life then we proclaim its goodness in word or action, recognizing the image of God the Creator also in those who have greatly obscured this Image in themselves, even through lives of great evil and sinfulness.

"Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy. If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims." (CCC 1930)

"You shall not molest or oppress"... "you shall not wrong" any human being. The Church speaks for God when she teaches the love that respects the sacredness of every human life, from conception until natural death, in all its stages and conditions.

Respect for every human life simply flows from our own sense of dignity as each created by and in the image of God. And this respect never conflicts with the demands of justice for those who have greatly wronged or violated the human dignity of their neighbors. And respect for human life also guides our use of images, teaching us to shun anything that turns a person into an object for lust, or curiosity or exploitation.