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.