Friday, July 29, 2011

Saint Martha: "Yes, Lord."

"I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God"
-- Jn 11:19-27

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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thurs, Wk 17: "the Dwelling was erected"

every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old

"Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
-- CCC 756

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wed, Wk 17: “The Kingdom of heaven"

is like a treasure
-- Mt 13:44-46

Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic.
-- CCC 456

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I made the whole house of Israel"

... to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty.

"God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him, he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.
-- CCC 488

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seventeenth Sunday. "Sell all" that you have: to possess Christ as our treasure we shun the people, places and things that might separate us from Him

We willingly spend our treasure for what we want. I enjoy traveling and the experience it brings of new people, places and things. After recent travels in the Eurozone, however, I had more than one occasion to question whether the "treasured" opportunity of traveling was truly worth the expenditure of "treasure" required of me by the unfavorable exchange rate!

We value our families: they are "treasure" for all of us. For this reason we invest our time, money and effort into the betterment of spouses and children; all of these are signs of love, are they not? The Scriptures say: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mt 6:21).

In the Gospel the Lord tells us what is the sign that someone has found that which they truly treasure: a willingness to sell all they have in order to gain it.

In the first reading God, the "giver of every good gift", and the source of every blessing offers King Solomon whatever he desires: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon demonstrates the gift of wisdom in asking for an "understanding heart".

Doesn't Solomon already have a treasure, itself necessary to make such a wise and holy request possible? Solomon has the treasure of true wisdom, itself already a gift from God. The understanding heart is a heart of love and is a pre-condition for a true appreciation of God and all that he gives, including the treasure of marriage and family life.

How much more than any other gift do we also need to seek from God an understanding heart, a heart ready to love? It is the heart ready to understand and to see with compassion the sufferings, weakness and sins of others in a loving readiness to forgive and to stand in compassion which makes the gift of family, for example, the true experience of a "treasure" as God intended in giving it.

There are in this world people, places and things which serve as temptations. If we give them room in our minds and hearts these temptations will lead us away from God and from every other treasure He wishes to give us. The understanding heart which Solomon sought is a heart which is ready to protect itself by shunning anything that will cause it to sin. In the "our Father" we pray for this understanding heart and mind that we may see and reject all temptation.

"Lead us not into temptation" implies a decision of the heart: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No one can serve two masters." "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it." (CCC 2848)

Sometimes people rationalize the pursuit of bad relationships in the workplace or among colleagues thinking that they must offer their friendship to bad or toxic influences because they "owe" it to others to help them. Some young people who are dating pursue sinful relationships with members of the opposite sex and hang on hoping that something good will come of it in the end. Good fruits cannot come from bad trees. Some bad influences or toxic people can be handled best only by fleeing from them. Persons, for example, who attack us by asking inappropriate questions or who disregard boundaries by their behavior are incapable of offering us real friendship and should be avoided. We cannot happily seek the kingdom if we surround ourselves with those who destroy our peace of soul or whose words and actions deeply disturb us. We can, and should, always help others through the charity of our prayers but we never owe anyone our friendship.

We are responsible first for our own salvation. This is the most important work that we do. And our vocations, whether as priests and religious or lay, married or single, are treasures given us by God that we may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. No person, place or thing in this world is worth an eternity separated from God and all those we love in this life if we should lose our salvation.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure"

The life of heaven is perfect in love and happiness. The kingdom of heaven is a treasure above every other. To be on the way to the kingdom we are called to be perfect in holiness, to know Christ and to love Him. Jesus Christ, who calls us to Himself, is the "Treasure" we will eternally possess in order to have perfect love and life in heaven. Already now, through our vocations, He is the source of the love which helps us to seek the kingdom. To "sell all that we have" means not only to choose what is good but also to reject what is evil in order to possess the Kingdom promised us.

" 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment." (CCC 2053)

"Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared." (CCC 949) It is through the grace of Faith that we possess Christ and share Him with others. But to keep that treasure we must not only reject anything that is contrary to the Gospel way of life as spelled out in the Ten Commandments, but we must in generous love "sell all" that we have, practice detachment from people, places and things so as to love God ever more fully. This is what it means to possess Jesus, the "treasure" of our lives.

Whenever we pray we grow in love of God truly present in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is one reason why this prayer of the holy Mass, the Lord's Supper, is absolutely necessary each week: we truly possess Jesus Christ, our greatest treasure, each time we receive Him in the Eucharist.

The Holy Spirit together is our treasure because Jesus makes Himself present through the third Person of the Holy Trinity, always our first taste of salvation and the treasure of the Kingdom.

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

"Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good." (CCC 2671)

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Art: Domenico Fetti (Italian, ca 1589–1623). The Pearl of Great Price, 1621–1622. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

S Brigitta of Sweden: "that I might live for God"

... I have been crucified with Christ
-- Galatians 2

Christ's faithful "have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal 5:24); they are led by the Spirit and follow his desires.
-- CCC 2555

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday, Wk 16: “Why"

... parables?
-- Mt 13:10-17

Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic.
-- CCC 546

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, Wk 16: "seed"

fell on rich soil, and produced fruit

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

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday, Wk 16: "whoever does the will of my heavenly Father"

is my brother, and sister, and mother.
-- Mt 12:46-50

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Wk 16: “Teacher"

... we wish to see a sign

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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday, Wk 15: "Behold, my servant"

in his name the Gentiles will hope.
-- Mt 12:14-21

Ordained ministers are also responsible for the formation in prayer of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Servants of the Good Shepherd, they are ordained to lead the People of God to the living waters of prayer: the Word of God, the liturgy, the theological life (the life of faith, hope, and charity), and the Today of God in concrete situations.
-- CCC 2686

Friday, July 15, 2011

S Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the Church: "the priests serving in the temple"

are innocent
-- Mt 12:1-8

"The priests, prudent cooperators of the episcopal college and its support and instrument, called to the service of the People of God, constitute, together with their bishop, a unique sacerdotal college (presbyterium) dedicated, it is, true to a variety of distinct duties. In each local assembly of the faithful they represent, in a certain sense, the bishop, with whom they are associated in all trust and generosity; in part they take upon themselves his duties and solicitude and in their daily toils discharge them." priests can exercise their ministry only in dependence on the bishop and in communion with him. The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience.
-- CCC 1567

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin: “This is my name forever"

... this my title for all generations.

By keeping the memorials of the saints - first of all the holy Mother of God, then the apostles, the martyrs, and other saints - on fixed days of the liturgical year, the Church on earth shows that she is united with the liturgy of heaven. She gives glory to Christ for having accomplished his salvation in his glorified members; their example encourages her on her way to the Father.
-- CCC 1195

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, Wk 15: "you have hidden these things from the wise"

you have revealed them to the childlike.

Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?". . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."
-- CCC 305

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday, Wk 15: "Jesus began to reproach the towns"

since they had not repented.
-- Mt 11:20-24

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".
-- CCC 674

Saturday, July 9, 2011

15th Sunday, A. We are "good ground" for the seed of Christ the Word when we receive Him in the Eucharist with adoring love

Not all seeds are equal. Some of my efforts at sowing in the garden this year did not meet with results. This could either be the fault of the seed or the sower.

There is one "seed", however, that is never sown in good soil without results: Jesus Christ the Eternal Word of God.

In the parable of the sower Christ tells us that the seed is the Word. The various places where the seed falls are the variety of souls who are exposed to the Word and react to this Divine self-revelation in different ways.

The seed of God's Word cannot bring results from superficial soil or rocky ground. Last month in New York on the feast of St John the Baptist, who was martyred for defending the truth about marriage as one man, one woman, for life and for children, one more body of elected officials vainly used their votes to attempt a redefinition of the vocation of holy matrimony. It does not matter, however, how much ink is spilled or how many trees are felled in order to print over and over again the many different laws that human beings are able to pass in order to attempt to redefine marriage or life or good or evil: these realities will not, and cannot, change. God has ordained creation in a particular way, leaving human beings free to either accept or not what God has set into motion, to choose to be "good ground" or not for receiving God. Marriage is one of a number of God-given realities that are currently under attack, simply as part of a worldwide effort to rebel against God in a kind of "theophobia" or hatred of God and all that He has made.

More important for us, however, are the ways in which we will be increasingly called upon to defend our faith. We may soon face increasingly injurious penalties for faithfulness to the "Word" of truth: fines, legal proceedings or jail. But we know Him in whom we have believed and we ask for the strength to be courageous witnesses today and always. To be the "good ground" which the Lord praises in the parable is to have good deep roots which can withstand the assaults of pagans and persecutors.

Another interesting aspect of the modern relationship between the Church and non-believers is the inability or refusal to see that Catholic teaching very clearly distinguishes between the sin and the sinner. This is one of the reasons for sacramental confession: God has made each of us in divine and eternal love in His own image. God does not make trash and so, in sacramental confession, He offers us the opportunity through the gift of His mercy to re-embrace the truth about our identity, to say we are sorry and to put distance between us and our sins, no matter what they may have been.

The Word of God in Christ is sown through the proclamation of the Word in the Church. Catholic teaching is readily available to any who seek it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is on the internet with a search engine enabling anyone to quickly find answers on any subject of faith or morals about which the Church teaches. Those who trivialize or caricature the faith today are "rocky ground", refusing to use their gift of intellect to understand the truth so as to love and to follow it in order the accept the graces of faith by which we are saved. Some persons simply do not want to know the truth, including some Catholics. We are responsible for choosing not to study, learn and and understand any aspect of the Church's faith and morals according to our ability to do so. This is called "vincible ignorance" and, if persisted in, it can be seriously sinful.

"Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt." (CCC 1801)

There are some persons who are unable, through no fault of their own, to work at an ever deeper and more sincere appropriation of the faith and morals of the Church by which we are saved. We do not speak of such persons here.

Culpability, or guilt, is ours when we fail to accept the Word of Christ so that he may work in us to strengthen our faith. In the many ways he offers Himself as "the Word of life" we have the opportunity to be fertile soil cooperating with Him as we grow in a fuller knowledge of the truth.

"This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man 'takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.' In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits." (CCC 1791)

To persist in attacking Catholics and the Church as "haters" because we proclaim what sin is and the truth that sin is the evil which can "cast both body and soul into Gehenna" is not to hate but rather to love others, and in a most selfless way.

Wolves who attack the flock of the Church are not interested in the distinction between the sinner and the sin because they want to destroy the Church and to separate Christ from souls as He associates Himself with them in the Church for the sake of their salvation. Wolves do not want to know the faith because to know the Faith is to accept Christ the Word. This the wolves do not want to do: they do not want to know or to love Christ the Word who offers Himself as the "seed", giving His life abundantly and generously to any who will receive Him. These are the rocky ground, closed to God and the life he offers.

Growth in the life of Christ, bearing fruit, is possible for us in the greatest way here at holy Mass. The seed of the Word is ours through both the "words" of the Scriptures proclaimed and the Word truly and substantially present: Christ's Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

In the moment of our communion at Mass we are called most fully and wonderfully to be fertile soil. Following from the truth that the Christ we receive is God, we rightly approach Him with adoration, stopping at the last pew and making a profound bow before stepping forward to physically receive Him from the priest. We must always begin in this way with a physical, bodily response of worship proper to God so the truth of the seed of Christ's Word as grace may grow abundantly in us.

Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of Life, make us always rich and fertile soil so that we may receive you with sincerity and love and so bear the fruit of eternal life thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. Amen.


St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions: "do not be afraid of those who kill the body"

be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
-- Mt 10:24-33

Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"
-- CCC 1034

Thursday, July 7, 2011

EF Ss Cyril and Methodius: "make this proclamation"

‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
-- Mt 10:7-15

The spiritual gift conferred by presbyteral ordination is expressed by this prayer of the Byzantine Rite. The bishop, while laying on his hand, says among other things:

Lord, fill with the gift of the Holy Spirit
him whom you have deigned to raise to the rank of the priesthood,
that he may be worthy to stand without reproach before your altar
to proclaim the Gospel of your kingdom,
to fulfill the ministry of your word of truth,
to offer you spiritual gifts and sacrifices,
to renew your people by the bath of rebirth;
so that he may go out to meet
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, your only Son,
on the day of his second coming,
and may receive from your vast goodness
the recompense for a faithful administration of his order.
-- CCC 1587
Ordinary Form Saint of the Day: Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions, martyrs in Syria 1860.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

14th Sunday. "I will give you rest": in God we are restored to the Faith which is stronger than any discouragement or weariness in life

Weariness is part of the cycle of living.

At this point in the summer, some of our priests who face the transition to a new parish assignment may find themselves weary of packing and unpacking. Perhaps some who were looking forward to a break from the winter now realize they have become weary of the summer heat. Those who escape the mundane of home and the familiar by vacationing sometimes find themselves weary of vacation itself and find returning home a source of refreshment. The cycle of waking and sleeping, working and resting, being away on vacation and being at home, all of these point to our need for restoration and refreshment as part of the reality of being human.

Some people have been heard to say that they have become weary of faith and, tragically, respond by dropping out of attending Sunday Mass or giving up on daily prayer or failing to receive the Sacrament of confession after committing mortal sin.

The first remedy to help in our fight against spiritual lethargy is the proper celebration of the Lord's Day each week, and the reason why we are here at Mass:

"Just as God 'rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,' human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. (CCC 2184)

God who knows our needs and speaks to us in love calls us to seek rest on the Lord's Day for He knows our need to be restored better than we do ourselves.

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

'The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work.' "(CCC 2185)

But God says that no matter what else is going on in our lives, we must always look to Him for the refreshment, light and peace we need as we experience the weakness of our human nature which can experience the bewilderment and discouragement of tiring in our efforts at work, at relationships and even in our love of God who is ever ready to restore us to our best selves.

God comes to us gently, meekly, as we hear in today's first reading. He comes not to take away but to restore and to strengthen us in the peace whose fruit is joy: "he shall proclaim peace to the nations." And he does this for each of us because He has the power to give what He promises to all: "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." We are invited always to seek His kingdom which is not of this world as a refuge from the world which sometimes leaves us weary and discouraged.

We are encouraged to explore this possibility of God's peaceful dominion further by taking a yearly personal retreat, an escape from the day to day so as to explore more deeply our relationship with God. The summer break is a good time to find this "rest" for ourselves in the Lord as he invites us in the Gospel reading and we are blessed to have available to us a retreat center located near our parish.

God can give the rest and refreshment because He is love, and in all our experience of weariness and sometimes discouragement it is love, above all, which restores to us our sense of dignity and worthiness to be loved. Our works, our efforts, all of our activity expresses our God-given dignity when the goal of all is love, a selfless desire to simply serve others as God has served us, to give to others the charity which ever finds its source in God, who is charity itself.

"The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion:

" 'Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.' (St Augustine) " (CCC 1829)

Jesus Christ Himself is our peace who brings life and good from every cross as He did through His own cross of suffering and death. Praise and thank God that in holy Mass each Sunday, or the vigil on Saturday, we are able to answer in the most perfect way the wonderful invitation from the Lord to seek rest in Him.

Our peace and strength are regained in the Eucharist for thus we receive Jesus Christ Himself who becomes our peace and joy:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and 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 for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”