Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fourth Sunday, Ordinary Time. “Seek Justice”: the Beatitudes lay the foundation for justice both now and forever

This week we saw two very different kinds of crowds gathering in two different parts of the world. Here in Washington, and in other places around our country, peacable believers marched for the sanctity of every human life. In Egypt and elsewhere, on the other hand, angry and violent mobs attacked police, military forces and government leaders to demand worldly goods like food, jobs and economic improvements.

When we see these events we sometimes wonder: will the meek truly inherit the earth? Can there be justice in this world? Or will only the “violent bear it away”? Do the people in Egypt and in other places racked by violent demonstrations have a better chance at justice? Well yes, sometimes, but only in this world in a limited way, for a very short period, only materially and through visiting injustice or even violent death upon others: the way of the wicked he thwarts.

In places like Egypt we can learn the truth about poverty as we see how truly little others sometimes have to live on.

“The People of the ‘poor’ - those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God's mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah - are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit's hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ's coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready ‘a people prepared for the Lord.’ " (CCC 716)

In our country, joblessness and homelessness are on the rise and for these and other reasons we find ourselves in a time when we are learning to sympathize better with the poor as we learn to trim our own appetites for spending and to live more consistently within our means. When it comes to earthly resources, all of us must face the truth about their limited nature. Whether in our parish family or in our families at home, the truth about our limited financial or other means can set us free for better planning and joyful sacrifice as well as a call for greater generosity if conditions make it possible.

God’s justice will come in its fullness one day forever. But, now, through the invitation issued by Christ in the Beatitudes, we are called to be instruments of God’s will as he sends us out to be humble with the humble, meek with the meek and poor with the poor.

Whether we mourn over the broken bodies of millions of aborted unborn boys and girls or share through prayer and penance in suffering of those Christian brothers and sisters martyred in Iraq, Egypt and in too many other places around the world, we prepare for rejoicing together with them in the kingdom. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

In the Beatitudes the Lord is not discounting efforts to seek food, shelter, clothing, a job or a home, although He seems to omit any mention of these things. When he praises the “poor in spirit” he is not pretending that we need not seek the basic material resources made necessary by our bodily existence. He is simply, rather, teaching us to place first in our lives what will last forever, and thereby granting us the key to happiness.

The meek are not so because they refuse to ask for justice but because of how they ask for justice. This week in Washington and elsewhere, Christians and others by the hundreds of thousands peacefully and cheerfully marched together to demand respect in our laws for the fundamental principle of justice which requires protecting and defending all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. By doing so, they may not right now be able to secure the lives of every unborn baby or hospice patient whose life is judged burdensome because of suffering. But by such witness and faithful obedience they will surely “inherit the land” of the kingdom prepared for them and for us from the foundation of the world.

And also through our faithful and holy witness to God’s will in union with them we continue to persevere in seeking a change someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.

As the prophet in our first reading exhorts us, when we live the Beatitudes we answer the call to to “Seek the LORD” through earthly realities, whether on behalf of the poor in Egypt or Haiti or right here in our midst. We seek justice when we put His will first, for ourselves and for others, whether in sharing our material goods through direct assistance or in spiritual solidarity made possible by our communion of prayer and sacrifice in Christ.

The Beatitudes must inspire the intentions and spirit of our prayer.

Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to 'little children,' to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom." (CCC 2660)

True happiness begins now, even if only in hope through the Beatitudes, but is more than fulfilled in the infinite blessedness of eternity. The beatitudes are our daily guide for planning as God does, with His wisdom, which is our highest good and most firm foundation for hope.


Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday: "received power to generate"

... the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.
-- Heb 11:1-2, 8-19

The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates "the fullness of time", the time of the fulfillment of God's promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the "whole fullness of deity" would dwell "bodily". The divine response to her question, "How can this be, since I know not man?", was given by the power of the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you."
-- CCC 484

Art: Fra Angelico, Annunciation, Cortona Altarpiece, Museo Diocesano, Cortona, Italia.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Conversion of Saint Paul, the apostle: "I persecuted this Way to death"

I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
-- Acts 22:3-16

As St. Paul affirms, "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us "righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:

Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man's inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: "Receive the Holy Spirit." Thus in this "convincing concerning sin" we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.
-- CCC 1848
Art: The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio, 1601

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Third Sunday, Ordinary Time. "Repent": Accepting the gift of freedom which prepares the way for the new life of the Kingdom

A woman called in to a Catholic question and answer radio show the other day and said she had been raised in Catholic schools where they were told that if someone ate meat on Friday and died without repenting they would go to hell. She then asked "what happened when the Church lifted the "ban" (love that word!)to all the people who ate meat on Friday, knew it was a sin and died without repenting? Did they all get out?"

It is the nature of hell that there are no "exits". So, one would have to answer "no" to this sympathetic intercession for the sake of the damned. Of all the things for which one would need to repent, however, I am guessing that eating meat on a Friday when abstention was gravely obligatory would be one of the easiest sins for which to repent. God's mercy is far beyond our understanding, and though He does respect the wishes of those who persist in rejecting Him to the end of their lives, He is sensitive to the faintest wisp of sorrow on the part of sinners and in Christ has poured out the infinite graces of redemption so that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.

The Church, however, does not "ban" anything. For a time the Church did impose as a grave obligation the abstention from meat on Fridays as a communal, ecclesial, means of penitential participation in the death of the Lord. More recently the Church lifted the grave obligation attaching to this longstanding and venerable practice. What many failed to understand was that the Church continued to call for penance on Fridays in repentance for sins, both personal and communal, with abstention from meat or other forms of penance as a substitution. As a result of ignorance, and other factors such as lack of catechesis, very few now perform any practice of penance at all on Fridays. Our bishops published a pastoral letter on peace a few years ago and mentioned abstention from meat on Fridays as a means of interceding against war and performing penance for this crime so often committed against human life on a mass scale.

The Lord proclaims the Gospel way of life in our Scriptures today, and states that the pre-condition for the Gospel is repentance. Repentance is, simply, a sincere turning to God in love of Him.

"The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy." (CCC 1490)

Sorrow for sin is very often absent today among those who profess to believe in the Gospel. Popes and bishops, as well as others, decry the long communion lines at Mass and the very short, or non-existent, lines at the confessional prior to Mass. As a convenience for the people of God, we offer confession every week on Saturday evening and some weeks takers are very few. Yet we all recognize we are sinners and often acknowledge the suffering that sin and evil bring into our lives and the lives of others. What has happened to the sense of sin which should lead to repentance, and to reception of the sacrament of Confession every time we commit a grave or mortal sin?

Longer lives and less thought of death, less preaching on the nature of sin and how to examine one's conscience, ambiguity among some who taught in the name of the Church about moral teaching, vague efforts at examination of conscience, lack of availability of the sacrament of Confession, these and so many more factors are part of the fall-off in sacramental repentance on the part of many today.

Societal trends which spurn holiness and chastity, the normal and happy way of life for human beings, and which glorify pornography and abuse of sexuality and drugs especially among the young and in their television, movies and music make it even more difficult to understand how the lack of these evils is even possible any more. So saturated is our society and media with these poisons that I am afraid that many parents may have even given up protecting their young people and may have resorted instead to simply and only ameliorating as much as possible their damaging and dangerous effects.

We all must pray for our parents that they will have the courage and honesty to remember that it is our childrens' friends who entice them into doing what they want to do and our parents who are responsible for calling and supporting their children to do what they ought to do. Indifference to a child's attendance at Sunday Mass, for example, completely undermines a parents' desire, however deeply, felt to teach by word and personal example the truth of the catholic Faith and the authority of Christ to command us to do certain things and shun others.

And repentance is necessary for all of us when we have failed to properly and consistently support those whose Faith is weak, including the Faith of our children. And when this is gravely so, we must repent with the help of the Lord in the sacrament of Confession.

"For freedom Christ has set us free." Until we accept the gift of our freedom and understand how this precious gift together with God's grace makes us like Him in dignity, holiness and happiness, I suspect that repentance may continue to be a difficult concept for many.

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

'Almighty and merciful God,
in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful,
so that, made ready both in mind and body,
we may freely accomplish your will.' "
(CCC 1472)

Confession cannot be a source of hope for us if we approach the Lord with a vague sense of our responsibility, expressed by saying things like, "I get angry sometimes" or "I get lazy" or "I don't tell the truth sometimes". Such vague formulations prevent us from taking responsibility for our real and free choices for evil and our rejection of good and of God's help in doing what is good and rejecting evil.

We would do better instead to acknowledge the concrete nature of our wrongdoing and say instead, "I got angry twice", "I told a lie once" or "I missed Mass twice on Sundays without a grave reason for doing so". This manner of repenting makes clear a number of things which lead to hope, among them, the reality that sin is concrete, not amorphous, and happens at a particular place and particular time under particular circumstances. How is this helpful? In fighting evil and sin I am prepared to see clearly and reject with God's help in the future the persons, places and things which, in my weakness, led to sin in the past. Decisions and circumstances which lead to sin are particular moments, are concrete, are rooted in the reality of my life and choices, and I can begin to acknowledge the gift of freedom which God has given me and which I can increasingly accept and grow into with His help. Grace builds on nature.

God always stands ready to help me to think and say and do the good thing which Christ teaches and for which He gives in Christ the grace or power to choose. The gift of freedom which He gives us in love He also preserves in love. In Christ He stands ready to undo and repair the sinful results of our misuse of freedom and to set us happily back upon the Gospel road to the Kingdom.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wed, Wk 2: "another priest is raised up"

by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
-- Heb 7:1-3, 15-17

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:

It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).

Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.

-- CCC 1548

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday, Week 2: "God is not unjust"

so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated for his name
-- Heb 6:10-20

When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.
-- CCC 682

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. "One who sent me to baptize": God has sent His Spirit upon the Church to overcome all evil through His forgiving Love

In the aftermath of the massacre in Tucson, with a lone gunman killing and wounding others who intended neither him nor others any harm, some are asking for an account of such evil. How can a person who does such things be forgiven? How can God allow such seemingly unforgiveable violence and hatred which erupts in the taking of innocent life, such as a young girl who just received her first holy Communion and a judge who attended holy Mass daily?

Yes, God must make an account of Himself, some believe. Others, looking to Christ, understand that God has already given an account of Himself, offering in advance the source of forgiveness for this sin and every sin. There is no evil that God cannot overcome with His love. There is no human person who can put himself beyond the reach of God's mercy in Christ. How does God do this? Through the Church. The voice of Christ in His Church speaks: "The LORD said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory." (Is 49:3, 5-6)

In the Apostles and first Christians gathered around them, God formed his Holy Church through the sending of the Spirit, like a dove as Saint John the Baptist describes, that through her the waters of baptism might flow abundantly until the end of the world.

"From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,' St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer 'was baptized at once, with all his family.' " (CCC 1226)

Repentance was, and is, a necessary condition for reception of God's saving Spirit of divine love. What is this repentance required of us if we are to be saved by the waters of Baptism?

"Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart)." (CCC 1431)

Through repentance and conversion of heart and mind the song of the Psalm becomes our own: "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will." (Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10)

"The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy." (CCC 1490)

How can we be converted again after baptism in the case of the most egregious evil? How can the waters of Baptism be fully restored to us? Through the sacrament of Confession, which is necessary for forgiveness of grave or serious sin. Reconciliation with Christ and the Church must take place through confession if we have committed mortal sin.

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

Thus the Church does the work of God in this and every age: forgiving sins through the gift of the Spirit both in Baptism for the first time and over again for conversion of heart for sins committed after our Baptism in the sacrament of Confession.

"Christ sent his apostles so that 'repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.' '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.' The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word:

The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God. . . . The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word."
(CCC 1122)
This forgiveness with God and with one another restores unity and healing to the Body of Christ, one of the marks of the true Church of God. The Church is sent to bring unity and healing to a world divided by sin.

"The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome." (CCC 866)

This one Church gathers around Her Lord in every holy Mass and in Him we encounter the answer to evil in our world, the One who has the power to convert our hearts and minds back to God. Thus the priest holds the host for all to see and proclaims as did John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29-34)

Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday: "The word of God is living and effective"

... sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

-- Heb 4:12-16

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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday, 1st Wk OrdTime: "Let us be on our guard"

we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did.
But the word that they heard did not profit them,
for they were not united in faith with those who listened ...
Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest,
so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

"We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God's Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed."
-- CCC 175

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday, OrdTime Wk 1: "He prayed"

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, OrdTime Wk 1: "What is man"

that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you crowned him with glory and honor,
subjecting all things under his feet.

The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls "glory," the radiance of his majesty. In making man in his image and likeness, God "crowned him with glory and honor," but by sinning, man fell "short of the glory of God." From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator.
-- CCC 2809

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday, OrdTime Wk 1: "God spoke"

in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he spoke to us through the Son

"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son." Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.
-- CCC 65

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Baptism of the Lord: God is the source of happiness because through baptism He gives meaning to our lives

Happiness. Everyone wants it. Our lives are spent in pursuit of it.

And as we bid goodbye to the old with 2010 and welcome the new year 2011 many put their desire for happiness into the form of resolutions, seeking to change aspects of their lives that did not work out to their satisfaction in the past in the hope that the future will bring the happiness of success in their endeavors and goals..

Experts tell us that happiness is not found in our feelings, as these come and go. Our emotions are often up and down and sometimes so without any reference to the reality around us. Happiness is also neither simply a lack of depression or sadness. Although in some cases these are so profound and long lasting that we need to seek professional help in order to alleviate them, the lack of them is not always experienced as a sense of fulfillment either.

For the full text of today's homily please visit A Priest Life ((((..)))).

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 , Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10., Acts 10:34-38 , Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

MERRY CHRISTMASTIDE. Throughout the ages, Christians have celebrated Christmas as a season, with the twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany as one long Christmas "day." The Christmas season ends today with our celebration of the Lord's baptism.

"Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. John preaches 'a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins'. A crowd of sinners - tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. 'Then Jesus appears.' The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, 'This is my beloved Son.' This is the manifestation ('Epiphany') of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God." (CCC 535 )

Recounted in our liturgy today through the proclamation of the gospel of Lk 3:15-16, 21-22, the baptism of the Lord is "on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already 'the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' "(CCC 536)

What is revealed as only a sign of the Lord's coming death in John's 'baptism of repentance' is not merely a sign for the new Christian who rises from the waters of the sacramental font. For each of the baptized, the immersion in, or pouring of, water and the invocation of the Trinity is a real sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and 'walk in newness of life' (Rom 6:4)"(CCC 537).

St. Gregory of Nazianzus spoke well of this mystery when he preached: "Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him." (CCC 537)

St. Hilary of Poitiers expressed, more poetically, our adoption as true sons and daughters of God in baptism:

"Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God." (CCC 537)

The greatest of gifts is ours in baptism: God's very own life and love. A life to overcome the death which is our inheritance from Adam's sin, a love to overpower and win us away from love of self to love of God for his own sake and our neighbors for his glory.

Another of the baptismal gifts we receive is the ability, in Christ, to praise and worship the Father in the Holy Spirit, and to be found pleasing to God as we do so. The baptismal font was often placed in the courtyard or near the entrance of early churches, and the practice continues so in many places today.

We "entered" the Body of Christ at the moment of our baptism. We became worshipping members in Body of the Son, His Church, pleasing and beloved by the Father, through our baptism. This is why holy water fonts are placed near the entrance of our churches. As you dip your fingers into the font and make the sign of the cross each time you enter the house of worship of the Lord, remember it is by the power of your baptism that you render fitting and pleasing worship to God in your spiritual sacrifice of holiness of life and, most fully, the Eucharistic sacrifice. It is by your bath in the waters flowing from the side of Christ the priest in his perfect offering that you have been incorporated into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic body of Christ in the world, his bride the Church.

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

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Art: Baptism of the Lord, Mosaic, Arian baptistry, Ravenna.

Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday: "anyone begotten by God does not sin"

... but the one begotten by God he protects, and the Evil One cannot touch him.
-- 1 Jn 5:14-21

The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
-- CCC 867

Friday, January 7, 2011

Saint Raymond of Penyafort: “Go, show yourself to the priest"

... and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.
-- Lk 5:12-16

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:

It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).

Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.

-- CCC 1548

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blessed Andre Bessette: "whoever is begotten by God conquers the world"

... And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
-- 1 Jn 4:19–5:4

The name one receives is a name for eternity. In the kingdom, the mysterious and unique character of each person marked with God's name will shine forth in splendor. "To him who conquers . . . I will give a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it." "Then I looked, and Lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty- four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads."
-- CCC 2159

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Most Holy Name of Jesus: "His commandment is this"

... we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ
-- 1 Jn 3:22–4:6

The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
-- CCC 432