Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Holy Family: the first "domestic church"

The Holy Family and every family are domestic churches: 

At home with Mary and Joseph our Lord Jesus received the first proclamation of faith:

"The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called 'the domestic church,' a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity." (CCC 1666)

Mary and Joseph educated the Lord Jesus in the life of prayer by word and example:

"The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the "domestic church" where God's children learn to pray "as the Church" and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit." (CCC 2685)

Jesus, Mary and Joseph were joined in the virtues of faith, hope and charity:

"The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church." It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament. (CCC 2204)

No one is excluded from the holiness of life to which all of our families are called. Everyone lives with the "horizon of the family" as Saint John Paul II taught:

"We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the 'domestic churches,' and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. 'No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.''" (CCC 1658)

May every family learn from and imitate the first Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Just as Jesus Christ Incarnate was at the heart of the Holy Family of Nazareth, so may Jesus Christ in the Eucharist also be at the heart of every family today, called to be a new holy family.

(Image: Holy Family at Sagrada Famiglia Church by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona) 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday, Advent III: "I behold him, though not near"

I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.

-- Numbers'm -

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease." CCC 524

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: 'Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou among women.'

"Who and what was the blessed and glorious Mary, always a Virgin, hath been revealed by God by the message of an Angel, in these words,
'Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou among women.' 

It was fitting that a fulness of grace should be poured into that Virgin who hath given to God glory and to man a Saviour, who hath brought peace to earth, who hath given faith to the Gentiles, who hath killed sin, who hath given law to life, who hath made the crooked ways straight. Verily, she is full of grace.

To others grace cometh measure by measure; in Mary grace dwelleth at once in all fulness. Verily, she is full of grace.

We believe that the holy Fathers and Prophets had grace; but they were not full of grace. But into Mary came a fulness of all the grace which is in Christ, albeit otherwise (than as it is in Him.) Therefore is it said 'Blessed art thou among women, that is, Blessed art thou above all women.' 

The fulness of blessing in Mary utterly neutralized in her any effects of the curse of Eve. In her praise Solomon writeth in the Song of Songs, ii. 10, 'Rise up, my dove, my fair one, for the winter is past, the rain is over and gone'. And again, 'Come from Lebanon, my Spouse, come, thou shalt be crowned'. iv. 8.

- St Jerome

Tuesday, Advent Wk III: "you did not believe"

When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, Advent II: "astonishment seized them all"

they said,"We have seen incredible things today."

"The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." The Church is at the same time:
- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
- the visible society and the spiritual community;
- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."
These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element":
The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.
O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's beauty has adorned her.

-- CCC 771

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Saint Nicholas: "the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre"

"For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship."
- Bar 5:1-9

"The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches." As such, they "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them," assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches. The bishops exercise this care first "by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church," and so contributing "to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches." They extend it especially to the poor, to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.
- CCC 886

Second Sunday of Advent: "Prepare!"

Baruch 5, 1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1, 4- 6. 8-11; St. Luke 3, 1-6

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

John the Baptist is the figure of Advent, this season of preparation for the coming of the Lord, for he prepares the path of the Redeemer in the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Isaiah 40. 3-5)

The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciliating us with God, who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins": "the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world," and "he was revealed to take away sins": (1 Jn 4. 10; 4. 14; 3. 5)

The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love (CCC 458) to be our model of holiness (CCC 459) and to make us "partakers of the divine nature" (CCC 460)

It is for the sake of conferring upon all of humanity the state of grace that the Eternal One will be born as God-with-us.

A state of grace is the evidence that we have indeed received him.

For this “preparation” which God commands of us we have  sacramental confession, when in a state of mortal sin so that we might return to the state of grace thus lost, and Communion together with holy Mass for the regular upbuilding and growth of the state of grace, the Kingdom of God within.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy," Father Cusick (See also paragraphs 535, 719, 720, 1224 in the CCC.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday, Advent I: "he summoned his Twelve disciples"

and gave them authority

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." 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." The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.
-- CCC 553

Celebrating vocations to priesthood and consecrated life: Monsignor Mark Seitz is a kidney donor. Read more here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday, Advent I: "their eyes were opened"

And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.

-- Is 29:17-24

Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."
St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."  
-- CCC 2616

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday, Advent I: "Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock."

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

--Mt 7:21, 24-27

It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built, and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called "typological" because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the "figures" (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled. Thus the flood and Noah's ark prefigured salvation by Baptism, as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, "the true bread from heaven."

-- CCC 1094 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday, Advent I: "They all ate and were satisfied."

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat."
--  Mt 15:29-37

"Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. 'It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.'"
-- CCC 1436