Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday, Week 8: "We have given up everything and followed you."

"Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions

"The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven," at the time of Christ's glorious return. Until that day, "the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world's persecutions and God's consolations." Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will "be united in glory with her king." The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,' . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father's presence."

-- CCC 769

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading"

kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials
--1 Pt 1:3-9

Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. "The Lord is my strength and my song." "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
-- CCC 1808

A prayer for Memorial Day

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the men and women who protect us and preserve Your gifts of life, country, and freedom at home and abroad, even at the sacrifice of their own lives. They and their families are the true heroes among us.

Today we remember all those who have laid down their lives so that we can continue to enjoy the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let Your perpetual light shine upon them, and grant them eternal rest.

Please send out Your angels to protect all who serve our country, and keep us free from injustice and harm. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed at the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. On this day we honor all who have died in service of our nation.

Take a Moment to Reflect and Pray:

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December 2000 asking all Americans at 3 p.m. local time "to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps'."

Other Ways to Observe This Day:
  • Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  • Visit local memorials.
  • Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  • Fly the POW/MIA Flag
  • Pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen soldiers, and to aid the disabled veterans.
Best wishes for a Blessed Memorial Day especially to our deployed Military and their families at home!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pentecost: The forgiveness of sins through the Holy Spirit is the "new" thing which overcomes division through love

"If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down there and confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says."

We are not free in order to do whatever we want to do, to love our pride or our desires. We are free in order to love the God who gave us our freedom in creating us. The story of Babel is told in order to explain the truth about our need for God and for His love. Only God has the power to bring unity, for God is authentic love and only His love brings authentic oneness.

"This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel. But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism." (CCC 57)

Pride is a lie, convincing us we can have love, that we can "make" unity, without God. Sin, whether of pride or another source, divides mankind and paves the way for false worship.

"Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." God's Spirit is the "new" reality upon the face of the earth. Each day we awake we find nearly everything is almost exactly like it was the day before. But there is one thing that can grow and become "different" each day: our love for God and our ability to receive His love, His gifts which come to us in their fullness through the Holy Spirit.

I will soon celebrate my twenty year anniversary as a priest. It would be very easy for me to approach my duties as a priest, whether to celebrate holy Mass and the other sacraments, to teach and preach and otherwise sanctify God's holy people, as the same each time and to lose my fervor and joy. So that this misfortune will not befall me I must always keep in mind Who it is that I serve, Who has called me and the purpose of my vocation: the salvation of every one of you here present and, by extension together with Our Holy Father, our bishops and all priests, that of the world.

Here is a reminder of the charge I was given on the day of my ordination:

"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)

What our Byzantine brothers proclaim is true also for us: the Holy Spirit "renews", makes new again, each day of life through the growth and grace He brings as the third Person of the Trinity. The "bath of rebirth" which is baptism and by which sins are forgiven for the human person for the very first time is meant to be renewed after subsequent sins over and over again through the Spirit's gift of forgiveness which comes to us through our ordained priests in the sacrament of Confession. In particular we need the Sacrament after grave sins before we can again approach the altar for Communion.

"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

A most wonderful gift was given to me on the day of my ordination that I have shared with countless members of the faithful through the years: the ability to absolve from sin through the sacrament of Confession.

Forgiveness from the grave danger and mortal peril of sin which can separate us forever from God and His love is given to the Church through the Holy Spirit, beginning at the first Pentecost. This is the one new thing in the world, new every day, the Person of Jesus in His priests forgiving the sins of the whole world and thus bringing the renewal of the Spirit over the face of the Earth!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday, Easter Week VII: "do you love me more? "

you know that I love you
-- Jn 21:15-19

One can sin against God's love in various ways:

- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.

- ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.

- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.

- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.

- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.
-- CCC 2094

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday, Easter Week VII: "I have given them the glory you gave me"

that they may be one
-- Jn 17:20-26

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end" and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved." She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.
-- CCC 1821

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday, Easter Week VII: "Keep watch over yourselves"

and over the whole flock
-- Acts 20:28-38

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

- she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles," the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":

You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son. . . .
-- CCC 857

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

S Rita of Cascia: "I served the Lord with all humility"

and with the tears and trials that came to me
--Acts 20:17-27

The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.
-- CCC 2847

Monday, May 21, 2012

S Christopher Magallanes and Companions: "each of you will be scattered"

In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."

In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his Body. The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father's vine which bears fruit on its branches. The most intimate cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the Church is achieved in the liturgy. The Spirit who is the Spirit of communion, abides indefectibly in the Church. For this reason the Church is the great sacrament of divine communion which gathers God's scattered children together. Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy.
-- CCC 1108

“Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!”

This was the slogan of the “Cristero” uprising in the 1920’s against the anti-Catholic government of Mexico which had instituted and enforced laws against the Church in an absurd attempt to eradicate the Catholic faith in Mexico, even going so far as to ban all foreign clergy and the celebration of Mass in some regions.

St. Christopher Magallanes, along with 21 other priests and three lay companions, were martyred between 1915 and 1937, by shooting or hanging, throughout eight Mexican states, for their membership in the Cristero movement. Magallanes erected a seminary in Totatiche and he and his companions secretly preached and ministered to the faithful.

The last words heard spoken by Magallanes were from his cell, when he shouted, "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico".

Pope John Paul II beatified the Cristero martyrs in 1992 and canonized them in 2000.

Source: CNS.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ascension of the Lord. "Wait for 'the promise of the Father': being is more important than doing

Being is more important than doing. Our happiness now and eternally depends upon discovering this truth and finding ways to live it.

So often today the most sacred things are reduced to a calculus of mere functionality. Show me what you can do, tell me your purpose, the world often seems to say, and I will show you your value.

Marriage, for example, and the relationship uniquely possible for man and woman according to God's plan which holy matrimony enshrines within the grace of the sacrament of the same name, is so often described only in terms of the marital act, and that often in disparaging or degrading ways which removes it from the full context of the life which man and woman share in marriage, and in which they express their love for each other is so many ways, many of them spiritual, that we cannot enumerate them all so rich are the possibilities within freedom God grants to every human person.

God, however, simply looks at us, the work of His hands, and sees His own image and likeness. For Him that is enough to prove our value. For God we are infinitely important because He made us to live forever with Him.

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension when Jesus returned to the right hand of the Father. What new thing does this mystery of our faith reveal to us? Our Holy Father Benedict XVI tells us that now, in Christ, "our humanity has an eternal place in God". Wonderfully, Jesus shows us the way to eternal happiness; where He has gone we hope to follow; He lives as our hope because we see Him where we one day all hope to be.

In God there is never any struggle between being and doing. God is love: in Him being and doing are always in perfect harmony and balance for He IS love and He LOVES eternally and perfectly. Christ is God and in being at the right hand of the Father He continues at the same time to perfectly work on our behalf as Savior, interceding for us.

In this holy Mass of Ascension He through grace incorporates us into His perfect work of sancitfying and redeeming. The word "Body" and the word "incorporate" both come from the Latin "corpus", for "body". Our bodies, through which we exist together with our souls, are brought more deeply into His saving divine love as we consume the Flesh of His Body in the holy Eucharist. Through the grace of this sacrament He brings unity to who we are and what we do: we love and are love in Him. In this way we look with confidence to our eternal reward, toegther with Him in the kingdom of heaven.

In eternal life, God will be all in all. He who is perfect Love and who loves perfectly will seat us at His table and proceed to wait in us when the time of the Church and the Eucharistic banquet we now enjoy are no more. On that great and eternal day our happiness, ur joy will be complete for we will both love and be loved, who we are and what we do, will find eternal and perfect unity in God forever.

The Church is now engaged in nine days of prayer which conclude at Pentecost when we celebrate and receive again the gift of the One who affirms our bring in God: His Holy Spirit of love. It is precisely the grace of prayer, fervent, regular and sincere, that opens for us the vista of faith which teaches who we are in Christ and thus what we do, which is love, now and forever.

Praised be Jesus Christ, ascended to the right hand of the Father, forever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord: "the day he was taken up"

... the exercise of his great might: which he worked in Christ, seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

-- Eph 1:17-23
"Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion", for the Father "has put all things under his feet." Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are "set forth" and transcendently fulfilled.

-- CCC 668

Also on this date: S Margaret of Cortona.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

S Margaret of Cortona: God "demands that all people everywhere repent"

because he has established a day on which he will 'judge the world with justice'

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

S Matthias: "become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

the lot fell upon Matthias

"Amongst those various offices which have been exercised in the Church from the earliest times the chief place, according to the witness of tradition, is held by the function of those who, through their appointment to the dignity and responsibility of bishop, and in virtue consequently of the unbroken succession going back to the beginning, are regarded as transmitters of the apostolic line."
-- CCC 1555

Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying: they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This "apostolic succession" structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.
-- CCC 1087

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ss Nereus & Achilleus and S Pancras. "all things have been handed over to me by my Father"

"no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him"
-- Matthew 11:25-30

The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.
-- CCC 2472

Thursday, May 10, 2012

S Damien of Molokai: “When the Advocate comes"

... whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.

When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the "Paraclete," literally, "he who is called to one's side," ad-vocatus. "Paraclete" is commonly translated by "consoler," and Jesus is the first consoler. The Lord also called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth."
-- CCC 692

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, Easter Wk V: "I am the true vine"

Remain in me, as I remain in you.
"The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.
-- CCC 755

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday, Easter Wk V: "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships"

to enter the Kingdom of God.

-- Acts 14:19-28

"Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born - all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives."

-- CCC 901

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday, Easter Wk V: "Whoever loves me will keep my word"

and my Father will love him and we will come to him
-- John 14, 21-26

The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity...
-- CCC 260

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fifth Sunday of Easter: "I am the vine."

Acts 9, 26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3, 18-24; John 15, 1-8

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

"Jesus says, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5)

"The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.' (Jn 15:12)" (CCC 2074)

The branches exist to draw life from the vine so as to bear fruit. Failing to do so they are useless: cut down, thrown out, good only for fueling the flames of a fire. "If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." (Jn 15: 6)

So that we may live as fruitful branches in intimate union with Christ, the true vine, he has given us the Church, his true body in the world. 

"The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may 'bear much fruit.' (Jn 15: 8,16)" (CCC 737)

The Church is not a way to Christ, as simply one choice among others, but the way to Christ. "Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity." (CCC 738)

St. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria (d. 444), teaches why our communion with the Triune God happens in the fullest and most perfect way in this life in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church:

"All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us,...and makes all appear as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity." (CCC 738)

Seek the opportunity for daily participation in the liturgy; draw from the Eucharistic sacrifice the life-blood of Christ the vine that you may bear fruit that will last: heart, mind, soul and strength aflame with God's love unto life eternal!

Let us pray: God our Father, look upon us with love. You redeem us and make us your children in Christ. Give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised. (From opening prayer for today's liturgy.)

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 (Publish with permission.)

(Photo: Vineyard, Toscana.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

First Friday of May: "Do not let your hearts be troubled."

You have faith
--Jn 14:1-6

Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.
-- CCC 166

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

S Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor: "no one can do these signs"

that you are doing unless God is with him.
-- Jn 3:1-8

Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the "family of God". By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery - his death on the cross and his Resurrection - he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Into this union with Christ all men are called.
-- CCC 542