Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: "put on love, that is, the bond of perfection."

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.
-- CCC 2207


Lord, Jesus Christ, being subject to Mary and Joseph You sanctified family life by your beautiful virtues. Grant that we, with the help of Mary and Joseph, may be taught by the example of Your holy Family, and may after death enjoy its everlasting companionship.

Lord Jesus, help us ever to follow the example of Your holy Family, that in the hour of our death Your glorious Virgin Mother, together with Saint Joseph, may come to meet us. And may we be worthy to be received by You into the everlasting joys of heaven. You live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Find the Holy Family novena prayer here.

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

(Photo: Doni Tondo by Michelangelo.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent. "Ask for a sign": God gives the perfect Sign for, in the "present of Presence", He gives Himself

"...the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."

God is love, and if we wish to have love we must learn to give as God gives. He gives Himself. We must learn to do the same if we want to love and be loved.

Love, then, is presence, one person being present really and truly with all of his or her gifts for the sake of another person. In the case of God's total gift of Himself in Jesus Christ for which we prepare in this final week of Advent, the gift is of the Divine Presence, God is Himself with us, the ones whom He loves. We must learn to give the sign of love as God does if we are to truly know the joy of loving.

The sign of God's "present of presence" on the altar at holy Mass makes this and every church where the Eucharist is celebrated a new Bethlehem, a "house of bread", where God Himself feeds His people with the true nourishment of love. God gives Himself in Jesus Christ every time the holy Mass is celebrated, offered and received.

"The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit." (CCC 1325)

The grace of the Eucharistic life continues for us as we learn to give ourselves with sincerity and generosity to one another. We live in true Eucharistic communion as we learn to live and express thankfulness for every human person and for the gifts and graces he or she brings into our lives as a reflection of God's self-giving in the Eucharistic banquet of His love. This self-giving and sacrificial love in communion with and in imitation of Christ must begin in and radiate outward from the Christian family.

"The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father's work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task." (CCC 2205)

Many rush about in these final days before Christmas preparing to give well, to give the gift which best expresses love for someone else. Let us also prepare well, through the gift of the Lord Himself in the Eucharist and in a life of sincere and regular prayer, to receive well in words and gestures of kindness and thankfulness, that is, in love, those who give a sign of love to us in this and in all the seasons of our lives. When we do so, we give what the other truly needs and the thing for which every gift serves merely as a sign: the "present of presence".

As we learn to express in sincere words of thanks and selfless gestures of service our gratitude for the presence of others in the family, we practice the "present of presence", the grace of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ which began that first Christmas night, in the family of Mary and Joseph, and which is given to us really and truly once again every time we meet, adore and love the Lord Jesus Emmanuel in the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever! Amen!


Image: Nativity by Gaudi, detail from La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete."

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.”

No matter how many or how long our crosses we are never far from joy. Our “Rejoice” or “Gaudete” Sunday is a Church-wide reminder during Advent that rejoicing is the primary purpose of this period of preparation and of all we do.  Joy is important enough that we should prepare well for it. The gift of a state of grace, the presence of the new-born Christ in each one of us, is the gift He wishes to give us this Christmas. Sins are transformed for us from burdens into joys in the Sacrament of Confession.  If you have not prepared yet in this most important way for Christmas joy, make your appointment now and plan your visit to the Lord in His compassion and mercy this coming week here on Wednesday from 7 pm to 8 pm, prior to all weekend Masses and at neighboring churches as well in the coming days. 

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.” Rejoice in the Lord always: I say it again rejoice!”

"Rejoice in the Lord!": Restoration of the Lord's Day covenant is the key to a joyful Faith

"The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song."

Isaiah's prophecy on this Gaudete, or Rejoice, Sunday comes with a promise: those who live as if in dry and arid places will see an end to their privation and will have the flowering of life for which they long. And they shall rejoice. Their exultation will be true rejoicing because it will never be taken away and therefore not tinged with any worldly care or limitation. When God gives He gives everything and His gifts are without beginning or end. If we want authentic happiness, a sure source of unending joy, then we must seek it in God as Isaiah invites us to do.

The pause that Advent and Christmas bring, and to which we look forward in joyful anticipation, lift our minds and hearts because they demand something from us: we put aside much of the business in life and focus on things that last: God's total self-giving through Jesus Christ come in the flesh and the faith in Him which we share within our families at home and in the Church. How can we live this Faith always? Must Christmas joy come only once a year?

Christians are called to live the joy of Faith each day, but in a particular and public way each Sunday. Through keeping the Lord's Day covenant well, we shall "rejoice always". How? Through observance of Sunday rest as much as it is possible for us to do and to attend holy Mass except when prevented by a grave reason. By putting aside on one day of the week the things that will not last in this world, and focusing more intensely on the One who never ends and the unending life He shares with us in Christ, born for us at Christmas, we receive again the perfect gift. In Christ our deepest longings and needs are met superabundantly with grace: infinite in power to redeem us from sin and restore us to life. Knowing and living this truth always brings true rejoicing into our lives here on earth.

This Advent we are asked to seek out and encourage those who have fallen into a pattern of neglecting to keep the Lord's Day holy through the worship and rest commanded by God to come back and together with us find in Christ "the perfect gift".

Sunday rest configures our lives more closely to the Creator who rested on the seventh day and who is Love itself and thus seeks to share the true joy of loving with us.

"Sunday, the 'Lord's Day,' is the principal day for the celebration of the Eucharist because it is the day of the Resurrection. It is the pre-eminent day of the liturgical assembly, the day of the Christian family, and the day of joy and rest from work. Sunday is "the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical year" (SC 106). (CCC 1193)

We live in a society which sometimes, unfortunately, is lacking in the balance required between work and rest needed for human flourishing. Americans are a proudly industrious people and known for their hard work, but even work must serve a higher purpose: the good of the human person whose flourishing requires more than "bread alone".

"In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this 'festal gathering,' this 'assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.' " (CCC 2188)

Belief in God brings true joy when faith is allowed to influence how one lives and inspires a generous return to God for creating and redeeming us in love. Today in our Mass we will profess the Creed together and to say out loud and before the world that "I" believe. Those words must be borne out in a consistent expression of generous love for God and for others in the witness of our lives.

"Thus the Creed's final 'Amen' repeats and confirms its first words: 'I believe.' To believe is to say 'Amen' to God's words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the 'Amen' of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian's everyday life will then be the 'Amen' to the 'I believe' of our baptismal profession of faith:

"May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day." (CCC 1064)

We are invited to share in the rejoicing that God has brought to the world in Christ. As we prepare once again for the great Christmas celebration of God's birth over 2,000 years ago, let us ask for the greatest of all gifts: the love of God expressed in a lived faith, especially in the joyful keeping of the covenant by which we "keep holy the Lord's Day".

Our faith is joyfully expressed in love each Sunday in our worship at Mass in union with the total self-giving of our Eucharistic Lord and Savior, in our rest from servile work and unnecessary shopping, and in the time we spend with our families to deepen our covenant love with God and with one another.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Yes, your child is not ready for Confirmation but here's why I recommend going forward with it anyway.

Dear single Mom,

You wrote to me, sadly, informing me that you had decided to withdraw your daughter from Confirmation faith formation classes as you had reached a conclusion that she is not "prepared " to receive Confirmation this year. You are right. But here 's why I am recommending we go forward with it anyway.

No one can ever adequately prepare for the infinite and divine gift of grace because we are all human. Human beings merit nothing except in Christ who has alone "merited" it for us by reason of His sacred humanity and Divinity through the Passion, death and Resurrection.

Grace is never given because deserved but because of the love and mercy of the Giver, our all-compassionate God. That is the reason why no one is ever truly "prepared" to receive grace as it remains always pure gift.

What we do, however, is make our best effort to prepare which requires an intellectual and volitional component as well as baptismal Faith. Instruction, spiritual exercises such as worship at Mass and personal prayer are necessary therefore. Every child, due to the young age at which he or she is confirmed, needs a Catholic parent or parents who provide consistent and active example and guidance. Very few of our young people who are confirmed today are realistically expected or capable of being mature adult witnesses of the Faith.

Perhaps your family has grown over the years into a habit of sleeping in on Sundays. Perhaps family prayer is tragically a rare and awkward occurrence. These are opportunities, however, and not dead ends. Now is always the right time to do the right thing. God always has the living Word in Christ to offer to us so that human hopelessness will never have the last word in our lives.

Let 's discuss creative ways to approach worship and instruction so that your family can better follow the path of conversion and hope in Christ, which rightly belongs in every human life and in every home, while taking into account you particular challenges and circumstances.

Faithfully and prayerfully yours in Christ,
Your pastor

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The First Sunday of Advent: Reject the idolatry of fear

can always be recognized by the stink of which it bears: of death, of the end of the world, of judgment, heaven and hell.

is always recognized by the perfume it bears of about all things which one day end and thus the necessity of the .

and the of fear are which make evident that we cannot face the of , , and .

treats like one who breaks in uninvited to steal what is most precious to us: our , , and .

- Follow on Twitter @MCITLFrAphorism

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe: "The day will come in which there will no more exist power of any kind"

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
The good thief met Jesus Christ on the "deathbed" of his cross and acted decisively with a choice for the Kingdom. We meet Christ in Word and Sacrament in the holy Mass which gives us the responsibility of also making a choice for or against Christ. There is no middle way.
And there will come a day when all kingdoms based on worldly power will cease and our choice will determine our destiny.
"Among the other things I said to him," recounted the arrested one "that whatever power there is represents violence against men, and that there will come a day in which there will not be any power of the Caesars, nor any other kind of power. Man will enter into a reign of truth and justice, where there will no more be need of any power."

Embedded image permalink - from "The Master and Margherita" by Bulgakov

Saint Clement I, pope and martyr and Miguel Pro, priest and martyr: “See that you not be deceived"

“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!
-- Lk 21:5-11

In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them: Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.
-- CCC 844

What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe "because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived". So "that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit." Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church's growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability "are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all"; they are "motives of credibility" (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is "by no means a blind impulse of the mind".
-- CCC 156

Miguel Pro, S.J.: Viva Cristo Rey!

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr: "I heard a sound from heaven"

... like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder.
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne,
before the four living creatures and the elders.
-- Rv 14:1-3, 4b-5

"The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy." The composition and singing of inspired psalms, often accompanied by musical instruments, were already closely linked to the liturgical celebrations of the Old Covenant. The Church continues and develops this tradition: "Address . . . one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." "He who sings prays twice."
-- CCC 1156

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles: "And thus we came to Rome"

He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
-- Acts 28: 11-16, 30-31

Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.
-- CCC 642

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: "we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us"

Pope Francis calls for a witness in our bishops that is “pastoral not ideological”. The same is true for every Christian: our witness must be to serve others, giving not what we want but what the other needs. Saint Paul was intensely conscious of the need to live himself the Gospel which he preached to others: "we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us".

A pastor feeds. Feeding is for the purpose of growth and of flourishing on the part of the one fed, the one who is served for his or her good. To serve another is to fill the needs of someone else, not for the purpose of boasting and pride on the part of the one who does the serving. The example of work in the vineyard of the Lord as in Saint Paul thereby is good and therefore worthy of imitating. We must be the apostle who commends his own example. Also, when we serve the good of others, we do so not to become “puffed up”.

If good means to build up, why does Christ preach about destruction in the Gospel? Why does it seem as though God permits destruction?

"All that you see here-- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky”.

One of the reasons is the world itself. As the Word of God teaches, “the world as we know it is passing away”. It is simply the truth about the nature of the world that it is temporary.

Another reason for the temporary nature of things is hatred: enemies of the Jews tore down the temple because of hatred. Wars originate in sinful hearts and natural disasters arise from the same energies and systems that also produce all of the wonderful things we enjoy.

God made hearts, but is not the source of the evil in them, God made the earth, the seas, the sun, all that is but did not will that these things should hurt us though sometimes they do whether through our own negligence, carelessness or weakness.  I like the ocean when I swim in the summer for relief from the heat, but if I do not do what I am able to flee the flood I will suffer more grievously its effects. I like the winds when I am sailing or for energy production, but if I do not do my utmost to seek protection from the 200 mph typhoon winds, I suffer worse injuries than I might otherwise. If I do not eat right or dress for the cold weather the negative results are my fault.

Context is always important. The context here is “What is most important for God? And is this also more important for me because I seek to do His will?’

Christ provides the context: "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over.” Before natural disasters, violence, even death we must be first concerned about our witness, for it is this upon which we will be judged. Do we not see His prophecy coming to fulfillment in dramatic ways as the Christian Faith and morals are adamantly opposed by the laws and the powerful? “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  You will be hated by all because of my name”.

Some governments have now declared that faithfulness to particular aspects of the Christian moral code are a “mental illness”, thus giving them the power to virtually imprison any Christian who insists upon witnessing publicly for Christ in this way.

How do we fight to win? Preach Christ and Him crucified. Christ fought evil, the destruction of Good itself on the Cross so as to win. We therefore preach not ourselves, but only Christ as His loyal servants. “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

This is the work He gives us here and now. It is not for us to judge what to be successful means, but rather, as Mother Teresa taught, to be faithful as He has determined it to be so.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Nova et vetera": Pope Francis is the "head of the household" who brings from his storehouse "both the new and the old"

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great. The Gospel selected by the Church for this occasion describes the role of scribe, a disciple who reads, writes and studies according to the vocation of learning. Saint Albert was one such, who became so learned himself and taught others so effectively what he had himself learned, that he is now deemed a "doctor" of the Church.

Albert was also a bishop, the "head of a household", the household of the Faith which is every local Church. Our Holy Father Francis has asked that bishops imitate Albert and in their pastoral zeal to avoid an ideology which can end by alienating some while seeking to include others. The Gospel according to Matthew also describes the head of a household as one who "brings from his storeroom both the new and the old." What we have described here is the pastoral nature of the role of the bishop, who has care of all, both those who practice the Faith and live a stable Christian life and those who are lost or straying from the fold. In order to do this task effectively all who have care of souls use both the new and the old to care for the flock. The bishop feeds his flock and to do so properly must have recourse to both "the new and the old".

From the beginning of his papacy various factions and movements have attempted to claim Pope Francis as a proponent for their personal agenda in an effort to co-opt the Pope to support or advance a personal "lobby" or "ideology". The latest is that the Democratic Left in Europe says that Pope Francis belongs to them and he is now one of the 50 most important "Jews". There is also the constant tug of war between the so-called "traditionalists" and "progressives" with competing claims upon the Pope. Adherents of  the "Bologna school" of theology, which promotes a  "rupture" model of interpreting Vatican II, we are told are now crestfallen to find out that he instead supports the hermeneutic of continuity, as does Benedict XVI, in the interpretation of the Council as revealed in a letter supporting the work and writing of Archbishop Marchetto, an outspoken critic of the Bologna school.

So, will the real Pope Francis please stand up? He already has, only some of us just happen to be listening selectively.

In a real way Pope Francis does support all these causes, but not exclusively. It is wrong to co-opt the Pope for any particular ideology, lobby or faction, though he does support all of humanity because he is a shepherd for all. Corruption, as Pope Francis recently reminded us, is to have the appearance of a Christian who is forgiven through the mercy of Christ but has not humbled himself by responding with true repentance for sin. The Pope is able to support truth wherever he finds it in order to advance unity in Christ, though some use the truth to end up in a place far from Christ and Christian unity. This the Pope can never support.

Saint Paul himself attacked this corrupted Christianity when, in his first letter to the Corinthians, he said, "My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? ... whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." (1 Cor 1-30

Christ is not divided and neither are those who belong to Him. Factions and quarreling are evidence that Christ, who makes all one, is not present. Pope Francis does not belong to one faction or another, one political or theological vein or another, but belongs in Christ to God as do we all. As a pastor he does not belong to any ideology or lobby but brings all to unity in Christ. As the head of the Christian household, Pope Francis strives to be a good one, who "brings from his storehouse both the new and the old". 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini: "this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"

“Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs). The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb. In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down. Thus faith is pure praise.
- CCC 2642

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Faith is like a sycamore

Zaccheus faced up to the fact that he was small and then he did something about it. He couldn't see Jesus, this curious man so many people were talking about, so he compensated for his physical disadvantage by climbing up the sycamore tree in order to get a better view.

Zaccheus was rewarded for his efforts with a most enviable dinner guest: Jesus Himself. What happened next cannot be explained by superficial means only; it was more than simply getting a good view of a famous visitor. Zaccheus encountered someone more then mere man in Jesus because his heart and mind were changed. More important than his promise to right the wrongs of his past, to do justice in order to repair the injustices he had committed, was the change of heart made possible by his meeting with Jesus. Zaccheus changed his life because his life was changed by meeting Jesus and seeing more than mere man.  Zaccheus began to encounter Jesus Christ through the gift of faith.

We know what faith is and talk about it all the time. Without faith we are very small because we will never go beyond life here and now. We stand on a height far greater than the sycamore of Zaccheus when, through faith, we acclaim Jesus as Lord and God and allow Him to change our lives, to give us the reason and the courage to change our lives. This means rejecting sin and through repentance seeking justice like Zaccheus. In this way faith gives us what we cannot give ourselves: the eternal life and love of God Whom Zaccheus encountered and loved for the first time in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunday 30C: 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

Sirach 35, 12-14.16-18; Psalm 34, 2-3. 17-18.19-23; 2 Timothy 4, 6-8.16-18; St. Luke 18, 9-14

What is the Pharisees' sin? He attends the temple worship as he ought, does he not? To all appearances he performs outwardly all that God demands, and in fine form. His actions are deceiving to all but God, however, for his heart is far from the Lord.

He is blinded by his pride and ends by making himself God's equal. He was "self-righteous" and he held "everyone else in contempt".

When we are unable to simply thank the Lord for our many unmerited gifts, and beg him for his mercy, seeking the grace to return His love for us, we make ourselves God's equal. This is the sin of the Pharisee.

"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)

Our prayer in the Liturgy is a great offering before God and brings him glory when it is offered with a contrite and humble heart. We acknowledge our sinfulness at the start of each Mass in the "Penitential Rite" in order that we may properly humble ourselves before the thrice-holy God.

"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." (St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 24:PG 94, 1089C.)

But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or 'out of the depths' of a humble and contrite heart? (Psalm 130:1)

He who humbles himself will be exalted;(Cf. Lk 18:9-14) humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that 'we do not know how to pray as we ought,' (Rom 8:26) are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. 'Man is a beggar before God.' (St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6,9:PL 38, 381.)"(CCC 2559)

When we humble ourselves it is then, the Lord promises us, we will be exalted: "He who humbles himself will be exalted". That our deepest longing to share in God's glory forever in heaven may be fulfilled, we must eschew all pride and vainglory. We do this by becoming "little children". We look to the Father in adoration, love and worship.

Every offering of the Mass gives us the perfect opportunity to turn as children back to the Father, to make the prayer of the tax collector our own: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." His sincere and humble offering was worth more than all the temple sacrifices, for it was the expression of a "humble, contrite heart".

That we may be "exalted", "raised up" by the Lord who rose from the dead to raise us up, let us treasure every grace of contrition, and respond to every impulse to repeat the blessed prayer we learn from the tax collector, "O God be merciful to me, a sinner".

"Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction." (CCC 1450)

In every Mass we begin our worship by examining our consciences that we may offer an acceptable gift at the altar. We place ourselves in our true position before God, needy souls who come to him for every good. In every confession we respond with honesty to our acknowledgement of serious sin.

We tell the priest all of our grave sins by species, that is what we have done, and number, how many times we have committed each sin. This, and sorrow for our sins, are all that are required and, in return, we receive the overflowing mercy of the Father in the priest's prayer of absolution. These are the attitudes of the humble heart that are so pleasing to the Father and thus truly lead to our exaltation as blessed souls in heaven.

(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph numbers 2558 and following.)
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

S Petri de Alcantara, Confessoris: "fecit enim mirabilia in vita sua"

Beatus vir, qui inventus est sine macula, et qui post aurum non abiit, nec speravit in pecunia et thesauris. Quis est hic, et laudabimus eum? fecit enim mirabilia in vita sua.

- Eccli. 31, 8-9

Ss John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues & Companions: "Abraham did not doubt God’s promise"

That is why it was credited to him as righteousness. But it was not for him alone that it was written that it was credited to him; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited

All Christ's riches "are for every individual and are everybody's property." Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation "for us men and for our salvation" to his death "for our sins" and Resurrection "for our justification". He is still "our advocate with the Father", who "always lives to make intercession" for us. He remains ever "in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

S Gerard. "There is no partiality with God.'

But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does good,
                                                                      -  Romans 2, 1-11

A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting "in order to be seen by men").
The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts - such as fornication - that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.             (CCC 1755)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

S. Teresa of Jesus: "do not be afraid"

of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna ...
-- Lk 12:1-7

FaithIt means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.
-- CCC 227

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pope S. Callistus: "He chose us"

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will

"O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!" God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: "He destined us in love to be his sons" and "to be conformed to the image of his Son", through "the spirit of sonship". This plan is a "grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.
-- CCC 257

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 144, "Where are the others?"

I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD." (2 Kgs 5:14-17)

Thanksgiving to God for all He has given us, for creating us, is the highest and best thing we can do, the holiest act we can perform. But our poor human love cannot reach to God. Wonderfully, in Jesus Christ God who has reached out perfectly to us, by becoming one with us in His death on the Cross, so that we our lives of thanksgiving-love can become one with Him forever in heavenly glory.

This is why to refuse thanksgiving to God, to reject the holy Mass by remaining at home, remaining apart from the Lord’s people. His Body on earth, as we offer the sacred liturgy, is one of the greatest sins we can commit, forgiveable only by the Lord Himself in confession.

 Let us not be like the ones about whom He says in the Gospel: Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" (Lk 17:11-19)

Saint Paul teaches that witness is essential to love:

"But if we deny him he will deny us.If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself."

Missa Sancta Maria in sabbato: "Quinimmo beati, sunt audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud." Luc. 11, 27-28

"As He said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed!' But He said, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” 
- Luc. 11, 27-28.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Maternitatis Beatae Mariae Virginis / Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother"

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman. For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word." By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
-- CCC 2677

At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: "the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse."
-- CCC 507

(Scripture readings for Ordinary Form calendar, memorial from Extraordinary Form calendar)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

S Francis Borgia; "for you who fear my name"

... there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven."
-- CCC 1807 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Lady of the Rosary: "ask and you will receive"

seek and you will find
-- Lk 11:5-13

Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:
- The first, "the importunate friend," invites us to urgent prayer: "Knock, and it will be opened to you." To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will "give whatever he needs," and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.
- The second, "the importunate widow," is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. "And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
- The third parable, "the Pharisee and the tax collector," concerns the humility of the heart that prays. "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

-- CCC 2613

Friday, October 4, 2013

Saint Francis of Assisi: “You shall love the Lord"

"In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that 'sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.' Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

"We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, 'None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.' We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him. (Roman Catechism)
"Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins." (St. Francis of Assisi)
-- CCC 598
Art: Tempera on wood, Cosentini, 2002, MCITL collection.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guardian Angels: "become like children"

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
-- Mt 18:1-5, 10

The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.
-- CCC 352

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

S Therese of Lisieux: "the greatest in the kingdom"

... is the one who serves the rest.

Saint Therese described her role in service to the Church, as a member of the Body of Christ, as being of the heart, which the Church must have if it is indeed true body in the world. She said, "In the heart of the Church I will be love".

Her teaching ogfspiritual childhood, known as the Little Way, was founded on Scriptural truth such as this:

"The greatest in the Kingdom of God is the one who makes himself as little as this little child." - Matthew 18: 1-5

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

-- CCC 526

Monday, September 30, 2013

S Hieronymi / Saint Jerome: “Follow me.”

“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

To this first reply Jesus adds a second: "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. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus' call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.
-- CCC 2053

Art: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, The Apotheosis of Saint Jerome with Saint Peter of Alcántara and an Unidentified Franciscan, about 1725, National Gallery of Scotland.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead."

If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
The rich man begged to go back and warn those he loved in life to repent of sin and come back to a Godly way of life so that they would not suffer as he did, watching the poor man Lazarus enjoying heavenly bliss from his place of torment as he was forced to do.
What a grace it would be for us to be given a vision of hell and its torments so that our desire to not go there would motivate us to love God more so as to be with Him for eternity! But God is love, and love must be free in order to be itself. This is one reason why we have the sacred liturgy of the Mass: together as God’s people and one with Christ we learn to love God and to be love by Him more and more throughout our lives. Come to holy Mass faithfully on Sundays and on other occasions if able.
 Jesus Christ is the one risen “from the dead” to whom we listen, especially as He speaks in love through the sacrament of the Eucharist, now and forever.
Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'" 

The Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel: "Archangele Michael, constitui te principem super omnes animas suscipiendas."

"Stetit Angelus iuxta aram templi, habens thuribulum aureum in manu sua."

"Dum praeliaretur * Michael Archangelus cum dracone, audita est vox dicentium: Salus Deo nostro. Alleluia."

"Angeli, Archangeli, Throni, et Dominationes, Principatus, et Potestates, Virtutes caelorum, laudate Dominum de caelis. Alleluia."

"Angeli Domini Dominum benedicite in aeternum."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"No servant can serve two masters": Choose your home, eternal or temporary

"Home is where, if you have to go, they have to take you in."

All joking aside, there are some, like the steward in the Gospel, have no where to go.He was soon to be out on his ear for having squandered his master's money but used his position fraudulently one last time to give hope that he might have refuge after losing his position.

‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’

He learned the hard way that love money cannot buy happiness because after all was said and done he had no friends as well, it seems, as no family either.

Family is the first place where we learn the value of the person, that persons are more important than things. Have you seen siblings put inanimate toys aside as of no interest in order to play with each other for long hours? People are fascinated with other people when life is in balance.

Sin and love of money takes the balance out of life and causes unhappiness. It can cause unhappiness forever of one is not converted by love of Jesus Christ to reject money and the material things of this world as idols which enslave. Jesus Christ alone brings the freedom to love our dignity enough to reject the alternatives which enslave as had done
the dishonest steward.

"The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones." The small things with which the Lord entrusts us now are the keeping on the Commandments, the task of learning that we cannot hope to return His love without Jesus Christ.

I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."