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