Tuesday, April 30, 2013

" ... they had proclaimed the good news ..."

They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith

"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 

Tuesday, Fifth Week of Easter

Monday, April 29, 2013

"...they continued to proclaim the Good News."

He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him,
saw that he had the faith to be healed,
and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.”

To proclaim the faith and to plant his reign, Christ sends his apostles and their successors. He gives them a share in his own mission. From him they receive the power to act in his person.
-- CCC 935

Monday, Fifth Week of Easter

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

" ... scattered by the persecution ... "

For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.
Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church." God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the "convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things, and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world:
Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."
-- CCC 760

Monday, April 22, 2013

" ... the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God"

If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”

"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 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER: "I am the good Shepherd."

Acts 4, 8-12; Psalm 117; 1 John 3, 1-2; John 10, 11-18

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Jesus Christ is truly risen. Through the glory of the Resurrection the triune God reveals himself so that we may believe. "Christ's Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father's power 'raised up' Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son's humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as 'Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead.' (Rom 1:3-4; cf. Acts 2:24) St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God's power (Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16) through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship." (CCC 648)

But, many ask, how do we know here and now that this God-Man has risen for us, that we now share in his life, that we too will rise again? "I am the Resurrection and the Life", says the Lord, "he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." (Jn 11:25) Our belief is his gift that we may have life "abundantly". (Jn 10:10) But by this faith we are to live in relationship to Christ, finding security and sustenance in him: "I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and will find pasture." (Jn 10:9)

There is a door through which all of us must pass: the door of death which leads beyond this earthly life. Jesus Christ has gone through this door, having died according to the flesh, and he has revealed that death has no power over him because he is Lord of life. He has returned from that journey to tell us the way, to show us how to live so that when we die we need have no fear of death's danger. Again and again he greets us with the words "Peace be with you" after his Resurrection. Peace is ours because all fear is cast out when we place perfect faith in Him who is Life and who gives life. For those who love Him and surrender to His lordship Christ is the door. Whoever departs this world through him will be "safe". How do we enter the sheepfold? Where in the world is the "gate" of which Jesus speaks? Who are the thieves and hirelings of whom we must beware?

"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.' ( Mt 16:18) Christ, the 'living stone,' (1 Pet 2:4) thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it. (Cf. Lk 22:32)" (CCC 552)

An ancient saying helps us to find our way: "where Peter is, there is the Church", ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

"Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: 'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' (Mt 16:19) The 'power of the keys' designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: 'Feed my sheep.' (Jn 21:15-17; cf. 10:11) The power to 'bind and loose' connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom." (CCC 553)

The choice is ours to make. If we are to be preserved from the "powers of death", the curse of those who pass through the "gates of Hades", then we must live in the Church against which the jaws of death shall never prevail. We must surrender to the governance of the Holy Father as to Christ himself: in absolution, doctrine and discipline.

The Church, in union with Peter the rock throughout the world, is the gate through which all men go to eternal life. Blessed be God who has given the gift. Now it is up to us to preach and live the truth about the Church, "house of God and gate of heaven", in which we confidently and joyfully look forward to passing safely through the danger of death into the eternal embrace of the triune God.

Let us pray: Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd, and lead us to join the saints in heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (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.)

(Art: Philippe de Champaigne, The Good Shepherd, 1650-60.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"my Father gives you the true bread"

“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).
-- CCC 1413

Monday, April 15, 2013

“This is the work of God,

... that you believe in the one he sent.”

Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God." For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."
-- CCC 1814

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday: “Receive the Holy Spirit"

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.
-- Jn 20:19-31

The Apostle's Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

(Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to suggest some basic facts briefly.)
-- CCC 976

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday in the Octave of Easter: "God raised this Jesus"

of this we are all witnesses.
-- Acts 2:14, 22-33

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