Tuesday, January 31, 2012

S John Bosco: "great is the goodness"

which, toward those who take refuge in you, you show in the sight of the children of men.
-- Ps 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24

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

Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses. What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows, those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners, immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.
-- CCC 1351
The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

-- CCC 2208

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday, Wk 4: "Legion is my name. There are many of us."

"Unclean spirit, come out of the man!"
Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
-- CCC 414

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sunday 4B: "A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you": Jesus Christ speaks in His Church as prophet for the salvation of the world

"A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin."

I don't know about prophets, but from my "kin" God has raised up some of my best critics. Let me tell you what I mean. I have a sibling, name withheld to protect the innocent, who is very good at detecting when I am not listening to her. Sometimes she will stop talking in mid-sentence in order to call me to account, or tell me that she will stop talking to me until I decide to be present to her and truly listen willingly to her, forcing me to examine my behavior. I sometimes don't react well to her honesty, and get irritated sometimes that she forces me to look with such clarity at myself and the ways in which I need to work harder at being "present" to her and others.

Perhaps you have such honest people in your life, too. And though they sometimes get under your skin, in your more reflective moments you probably, as I often do, give thanks for such people who demand your best self. And as I do, you are probably thankful that they speak in truth and love. And because of this, they have "authority", we trust them to tell us what we really need to hear, to help us see ourselves as we really are. Because of such persons we are able to gain the hope that comes from knowing what we must change about ourselves to be real, to be whole, to be good.

Now, as for raising up prophets from among our "kin": it turns out that God in fact does this. A prophet is not someone who, in the first case, predicts the future like a soothsayer or a fortune teller but, in fact, is someone who is willing even to sacrifice himself in order to speak the harsh truth to those to whom he is sent. So, it turns out the sibling I described is, in fact, a prophet: he or she stands as a mirror before others in unflinching honesty to speak the truth that the other needs to hear without regard for self.

God has sent prophets to speak the truth for Him before the people throughout salvation history just as we hear in our first reading. God promises He will provide such truth tellers in order to serve the good of the people. And these prophets did irritate and sometimes anger the people as sometimes do those who do us the service of speaking the truth in our own lives. At times this anger reaches such a crescendo that it results in the death of the prophet.

"Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them." (CCC 783)

Christ is the "prophet" God has raised up to speak in the Church until the end of world. And He is sometimes attacked just as He was when He died on the Cross. Those who are sent today by Him are the Holy Father in Rome and the bishops who speak the truth with His voice to the great and the small, to the powerful and the little ones of the earth as He promised: "Go, and teach all nations" and "I give you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all the truth". And for this gift the bishops and the Church sometimes earn the hatred and vituperation of the world.

The Lord's role of prophecy, of speaking the inconvenient and unwanted truth, is being carried out right here and now by our bishops who decry and vow to fight the latest attacks by our government upon our God-given right to religious freedom. I urge you to read Cardinal Wuerl's letter in which he, as a prophet of God, stands before the Church and the world to proclaim the truth that "There can no longer be any doubt that religious liberty in our country is in jeopardy."

Let us listen to the voice of Christ who speaks here and now through the Church shedding the harsh glare of honesty born of love with His Divine authority to save us from sin. We go forward to share His voice by speaking the truth in union with our bishop and the Holy Father, sharers in the prophetic mission of the Church for the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ.

"What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."

S. Thomas Aquinas: "after you had been enlightened"

you endured a great contest of suffering.

Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." It is in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth "the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe".
-- CCC 272
"Faith is a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come" (St. Thomas Aquinas. Comp. theol. 1, 2).
-- CCC 184
Art: The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas, 1631, Francisco de Zurbaran, Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville, Spain.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saint Angela Merici. "We should not stay away from our assembly"

... as is the custom of some, but encourage one another,
and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

-- Heb 10:19-25

The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."

-- CCC 751

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saint Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church: "to preach"

I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father
-- John 15: 9-17

The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, as authentic teachers, preach to the People of God the faith which is to be believed and applied in moral life. It is also incumbent on them to pronounce on moral questions that fall within the natural law and reason.
-- CCC 2050

St Francis de Sales in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The evangelical counsels manifest the living fullness of charity, which is never satisfied with not giving more. They attest its vitality and call forth our spiritual readiness. The perfection of the New Law consists essentially in the precepts of love of God and neighbor. The counsels point out the more direct ways, the readier means, and are to be practiced in keeping with the vocation of each:

'[God] does not want each person to keep all the counsels, but only those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths, as charity requires; for it is charity, as queen of all virtues, all commandments, all counsels, and, in short, of all laws and all Christian actions that gives to all of them their rank, order, time, and value. (St Francis de Sales, Love of God 8,6)' "

-- CCC 1974

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person: "Choose Life"

January 23, 2012, is a national day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

“I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
-- John, Chapter 14

Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
-- CCC 1430

Photo source: Jill Stanek

Saturday, January 21, 2012

S. Agnes. "I will forgive their evildoing"

... and remember their sins no more.

After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover. Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
-- CCC 608

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ss Fabian and Sebastian: "Jesus is always able to save"

those who approach God through him
-- Heb 7:25—8:6

Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. "Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God."
-- CCC 2473

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday, Week 2: "the LORD brought about a great victory"

whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God."
-- Mk 3:7-12

Victory over the "prince of this world" was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is "cast out." "He pursued the woman" but had no hold on her: the new Eve, "full of grace" of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). "Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring." Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: "Come, Lord Jesus," since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.
-- CCC 2853

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday, Week 2: "Stretch out your hand."

to save life

Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He "acquired" this right by his cross. The Father has given "all judgment to the Son". Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.

-- CCC 679

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saint Anthony, Abbot: "beset by weakness"

he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
-- Heb 5:1-10

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words." The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God's works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)
-- CCC 741

Art: Agostino Caracci, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Abbot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Week 2: "Obedience is better than sacrifice"

"they will fast"
--Mk 2:18-22

The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
-- CCC 2043

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunday 2B: The Church is the place of Faith where God reveals Himself in Christ so that we may be familiar with Him and transformed by His love

"At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet."

I had a boss in the Navy who would invite me out to have lunch with him every once in a while. I realized that he did this because he felt we were becoming "unfamiliar" to each other, that we were drifting apart somewhat in our daily routine at the military chapel, that our communication was suffering, and that our working relationship might also become weakened or harmed as a result and the people whose lives of Faith we served together might be the worse for it.

As we would sit together over a meal, doing the very humble and basic task of satisfying our hunger and taking in the physical nourishment that keeps us alive, we would at the same time rediscover the humanity in each other and begin again to communicate in the words that reveal the self and the interior life.

We became more familiar with each other because we engaged in an activity that enabled us to better and more fully "reveal" ourselves to one another. In order to accomplish this, however, it was necessary that we leave other things aside in order to "be with" one another at the table for a meal.

Within the family, too, relationships can become distant because of travel for work or other reasons, because of a schedule that places increasing demands for time and attention upon the spouses and the children, or because of other factors such as computer and internet use or video gaming that consumes more and more of one's time. In light of these factors the "familiar", which should be characteristic of the family and their shared life and the primary focus within the home, can diminish and suffer. When the relationships suffer, the love that should nourish and grow within the family can wither and can die.

The word "familiar" and the word "family" share a common root, both denoting the intimacy proper to that constellation of particular relationships which flow from the privileged way in which man and woman within marriage are called to "reveal" themselves to one another in the most intimate marital act from which can result the new life of a child.

Marriage and the family reveal for us in the most dramatic and compelling way how "becoming familiar" with another results from the choice for one person to "reveal" himself or herself to another. At the heart of this revealing of selves between two persons there must be love. But love to remain true to itself must be nourished so that it might grow. Thus, the "revealing" which lies at the heart of intimacy and makes two different people "familiar" in a physical and spiritual oneness and the source of a family, demands daily attention and effort so that its promise might be fulfilled.

One must continually make choices to reach out and reveal oneself through words and deeds in order to remain familiar: a phone call, a visit or a meal made possible by saying no to other choices that may be good or interesting or compelling but that cannot nourish the interpersonal relationships that are necessary with those whom come first in our lives.

In the Gospel two men are curious about Jesus. The like what He says, want to know Him and hear more of what He has to say. In respect for His wisdom and goodness they confer the title "Rabbi" upon him as they ask: "where are you staying?" They know that they must spend time with Him if He is to reveal more about Himself and if they are to become more familiar with Him. And they receive an invitation: "Come and see". Come and see where I am staying and decide for yourselves if you will choose to remain, to be with Me and to come to know Me.

These men, already students or disciples of the Lord by desire, have heard what He has to say and are ready for the next step: they want to become familiar with Jesus, but for in order for this to happen they must allow Him to reveal Himself; they must be with Him. And He invites: "Come and see."

You and I must hear the words of Christ, His teachings and His wisdom, as light and truth for our lives and direction for our steps, and we do so above all in the liturgy of the Word at every holy Mass.

And we, like the disciples in the Gospel reading, must also seek more: to not only hear Christ but also to be with Him, to live with Him and to make room in our lives so that He can live with us. This begins for us in the Sacraments, above all in the Eucharist. It is in sacramental encounter that we enjoy true intimacy with our Divine Lord and Savior, dwelling with Him in the familiarity of a love nourished by His self-revealing.

It is in the gift of His Body and Blood that Christ continually provides for us, as He did for the first disciples, the opportunity to "come and see" Him and to remain with Him. And it is through His self-giving that we are transformed as was Simon, a fisherman, into Peter, the first Pope and the rock upon which Jesus has built the Church, that place of faith where God reveals Himself in Christ so that we may be always with Him in the familiarity of love, now and forever.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday: "Follow me."

there were many who followed him.
--Mk 2:13-17

Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them."
-- CCC 1506

Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.
-- CCC 149

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday, Week 1: "make me clean."

"I do will it. Be made clean."
--Mk 1:40-45

"When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them. . . . Yet the grace of Baptism delivers no one from all the weakness of nature. On the contrary, we must still combat the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil "
-- CCC 978

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday, Week 1: "that I may preach"

For this purpose have I come.
--Mk 1:29-39

The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, as authentic teachers, preach to the People of God the faith which is to be believed and applied in moral life. It is also incumbent on them to pronounce on moral questions that fall within the natural law and reason.
-- CCC 2050

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday, Week 1: "he taught them as one having authority"

The people were astonished

The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.

-- CCC 2035

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baptism of the Lord: "This is My Beloved Son...

...My favor rests on Him." (Matthew 3:13-17) The waters of Haditha Dam in Iraq are a crushing power that might strike fear in the heart of man. But in Christ the abundant waters of baptism become for we who are faithful instead the source of Life eternal.

The Father reveals for us that Christ is His Son: "Here is my Servant whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom My soul delights". (Isaiah 42) Thus we follow in trust the voice of the Lord our Shepherd in the truth sounding in His Church for the salvation of the world.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"he hears us"

We have this confidence in God

Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us "to turn and become like children": for it is to "little children" that the Father is revealed.
[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.
Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. . . . What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?

-- CCC 2785

Friday, January 6, 2012

Epiphany: "the mystery was made known"

... to me by revelation.

-- Saint Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."(Is 60:1) Isaiah the prophet describes the glory of Jesus Christ, who is "full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father"(Jn 1:14), our Messiah. The prophet also foretells the reality of those first three wise men, who represent the kings and the peoples of the whole earth, all of whom are called to realize their full dignity as sons and daughters of God in worship and praise of him for his glory and goodness. "Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness." (Is 60:2-3)

"The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is 'Christ,' that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest 'how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.' (Acts 10:38)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 486)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Feast of the Epiphany.

Art: Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi,The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1440/1460. Samuel H. Kress Collection 1952.2.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Saint John Neumann: "Love is of God"

everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God

-- 1 Jn 4:7-10

But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is love": God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.

-- CCC 221

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

S. Elizabeth Ann Seton: "Beloved"

We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask." Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.

-- CCC 2631

Image: S. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Most Holy Name of Jesus: "Behold, the Lamb of God"

he is the Son of God
--Jn 1:29-34

The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.
-- CCC 2668

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ss. Basil and Gregory: "this is the promise that he made us"

... eternal life.
I write you these things about those who would deceive you.
As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you.
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.

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
Art: Icon of Saint Basil. Source OrthodoxWiki.