Saturday, August 24, 2013

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Church is the place of "narrow gate" Faith

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

The narrow gate is faith and also the way of faith: prayer, and especially the perfect prayer of the liturgy, the prayer of Jesus Christ Himself.

"One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep." (CCC 2656)

A most blessed Lord's Day to all of God's holy people!

Friday, August 23, 2013

S Rose of Lima: "regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure"

This is evidence of the just judgment of God,
so that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God for which you are suffering.
-- 2 Thes1:1-5, 11-12

Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the "sin of the world," of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. (CCC 1505)

From Saint Rose of Lima:

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. (CCC 618)
When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: "When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus." (CCC 2449)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "The greatest among you must be your servant."

The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
-- Mt 23:1-12

Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body. In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.
-- CCC 2617

"Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.
-- CCC 966
Art: Coronación de la Virgen, óleo sobre lienzo. 178,5 × 134,5 cm. Museo del Prado (Madrid, España) hacia 1645, Diego Velázquez

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

S Pius X. "Are you envious because I am generous?"

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.

The baptized person combats envy through good-will, humility, and abandonment to the providence of God.

- CCC 2554

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

S Bernard: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven."“Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life."

All Christ's faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty."
-- CCC 2545

Art: Bernard exorcising a possession, altarpiece by Jörg Breu the Elder, c. 1500. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

S John Eudes: "Come, follow Me"

"If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."

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 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Twentieth Sunday, Ordinary Time: "Do you think I have come to spread peace upon the earth?"

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three ..“ (Lk 12:49-53)

When families experience disagreements about religious faith they sometimes make the tragic error of rejecting it completely by, for example, agreeing not to speak of it between themselves or falling away from Sunday Mass, seeking a false kind of peace which cannot save because it is not based upon the truth, upon Christ.

"a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

One of the most difficult things that I do as a priest is to announce at funerals, weddings or other events which include Mass that, because of sin or division, some present may not be properly prepared to receive the Eucharist. I see at times like that the real divisions within families over Faith but also that the greatest tragedy of all would be to reject Christ in reaction against this phenomenon within families. I am thankful for every person who is present and pray they may encounter Him in His Church.

Christ makes clear in the Gospel that His Presence may sometimes be experienced by us as a kind of division, an uncomfortable distance between us and those we love, for He forces a decision upon us: we must choose either He Who is the Truth or a lie. He says there is no middle way.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal: "Do not forget the works of the Lord!"

... the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him ...
-- Mt 18:21–19:1

Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior's bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.
-- CCC 926

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nineteenth Sunday, Year C "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock": the courage of the Church and the gift of the Kingdom in Jesus Christ

Everyone experiences the fear of suffering.

What is the fear of death or disease, the fear of the loss of security financial or physical, of the unknown future but a fear of suffering? We call these physical evils because they diminish or destroy the body, mind or soul. But there are also spiritual evils, such as sin, and these are far more to be feared, as our Lord teaches us, because they can "cast both body and soul in Gehenna". To fear these is "salutary" that is, a help to our salvation. These kinds of fear are not what the Lord is talking about in today's Gospel reading: "fear of the Lord" is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

And why do we fear suffering and evil? Because we were made by God, for Himself, who is love and life and light without beginning or end, and with whom there is never fear or suffering or death, but only abundant, infinite holiness and joy. And when we lack what God intended for us to have, then we are unhappy. Fear prevents the life of joyful and hopeful faith and the freedom to love. It was in order to restore these things to the human race that Jesus Christ came to suffer, die and rise again.

Fear is a darkness at the margins of our lives, something we do many things, some unconsciously, to avoid. Some turn to alcohol, drugs, the misuse of their bodies and minds, all in a vain attempt to escape from the suffering which is brought on by fear of people, places or things in our world.

Our Lord opens this subject of fear for our discussion in today's Gospel: "Do not be afraid, little flock". But then he goes further and proposes a remedy: " ... your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom".

Now, what is the Kingdom? And how does this gift of the Kingdom given by the Father promise to eradicate fear from our lives?

"The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. 'This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ' (LG 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter." (CCC 567)

For the full text of the homily suggestion for the Nineteenth Sunday of the Year, please visit A Priest Life.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock"

When you believe in this:

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12:32-48)

You do this:

"Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy."


"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (HEB 11:1-2, 8-12)

"For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

Is Jesus Christ your Treasure?  How will you give Him your heart?

- Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

S. Lawrence, deacon and martyr: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies"

... it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.
-- Jn 12:24-26

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

Art: 'Martyrdom of St Lawrence' by Pellegrino Tibaldi, 1592, Basilica, El Escorial, Spain

Friday, August 9, 2013

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men ..."

... and they will kill him"

You shall not kill.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.

"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."

-- CCC 2258

Thursday, August 8, 2013

S Dominic: “Why could we not drive it out?”

“Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”

A sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words. Admittedly, the symbolic actions are already a language, but the Word of God and the response of faith have to accompany and give life to them, so that the seed of the Kingdom can bear its fruit in good soil. The liturgical actions signify what the Word of God expresses: both his free initiative and his people's response of faith.

-- CCC 1153

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord: "Jesus led them up a high mountain"

And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

Christ's Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles' faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent on to the "high mountain" prepares for the ascent to Calvary. Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what his Body contains and radiates in the sacraments: "the hope of glory" (Col 1:27; cf.: St. Leo the Great, Sermo 51, 3: PL 54, 310C).
-- CCC 568

Monday, August 5, 2013

“There is no need for them to go away": in the apostolate with Christ we bring souls back to the Eucharistic fold of the Church

"... give them some food yourselves."

A young man passes the church in his truck and makes the sign of the Cross. A couple distraught over the illness of a newborn grandson stop at the rectory to ask the priest to pray with them and light a candle in the church. A mother grieving over the death of a son and a catechist who discovers he disagrees with a teaching of the Church both react by falling away from regular attendance at Sunday Mass. These and many more stories tell the tale of those who have gone "away" from Christ and are lacking the comfort of forgiveness and love He offers as God in His Church. As Christ tells us, "there is no need for them to go away".

We who live so as to remain near to Christ and to grow in the grace of Faith grieve for those who are no longer with us on the Lord's Day at Mass. In loving concern we want to know what to do in order to help them. And yet we know it is not us they need but that all that they seek is found in Christ. Though they may be "Catholics on leave" Christ is actively calling them back to the fold of the Church and he sends us to help him in this task. Because we are one with Christ our Eucharist there is in fact something that we can do in compassion for those who have left the fold. How can we help? "Give them some food yourselves".

We work with Christ in the apostolate through the graces of prayer, witness and love which all flow from the Lord's Eucharistic Presence. This same Gift leads us and all the world back to Him as "source and summit" of the Christian life. In this way we follow the urging of Christ in today's Gospel: "give them some food".

We express our faith by being witnesses to the power of God who, present in the Eucharist, has the capacity to feed and sustain every human person without exception. The same God who multiplies the loaves to satiate the hunger of the multitude with a superabundance of leftovers is the same God who gives Himself in the Eucharist. Everyone will find their needs satisfied in Christ who gives Himself in the Sacrament of the Altar. The miracle in today's gospel points to this power of God.

"The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ." (CCC 1335)

Such is the power of our prayer in the Eucharist that we know the Father hears us in the same way as He always hears Christ the Son.

" 'If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.' Such is the power of the Church's prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone". (CCC 2827)

This being true, we must make every effort to intercede for everyone who is faltering in their journey of Faith as we surely also have.

We witness by our presence at this Holy Sacrifice to those who need to rediscover God here.

"Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." (CCC 2182)

The Eucharist is the source of Love needed by the world.

"The sacraments are 'of the Church' in the double sense that they are 'by her' and 'for her.' They are 'by the Church,' for she is the sacrament of Christ's action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are 'for the Church' in the sense that 'the sacraments make the Church,' since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons. (CCC 1118)

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Image: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, St. Savior in Chora, Istanbul.

"Our Lady of the Snows" - Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome: "I also saw the holy city"

... a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

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

By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus) of the Church.
-- CCC 967

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday: "The word of God is living and effective"

No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account. 

"After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own "pilgrimage of faith," and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, "in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints," the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.
"In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God."
-- CCC 972

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ss Eusebius and Julian Eymard: "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit"

... because without me you can do nothing.
-- John 15, 1-8

Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."

On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, "Christ is risen!" Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.
-- CCC 1391
Art: The Virgin Mary in Glory with Archangel Gabriel, and Saints Eusebius of Vercelli (seated), Saint Sebastian, and Saint Roch. Sebastian Ricci