Friday, June 28, 2024

Shepherds in the Lord’s image must love and feed the flock as His, and not as their own

Jesus as the Good Shepherd, mosaic, 5th c. Galla Placidia Mausoleum, Ravenna, Italy.

In Vigilia Ss. Petri et Pauli Apostolorum

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John

John 21:15-17
At that time: Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? And so on, and that which followeth.

A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop
Tractatus 123 in Joannem. in medio
To the threefold denial there is now appended a threefold confession, that his tongue may not yield a feebler service to love than to fear, and imminent death may not appear to have elicited more from his lips than present life. Let it be the office of love to feed the Lord's flock, if it was the signal of fear to deny the Shepherd. Those who have this purpose in feeding the flock of Christ, that they may have them as their own, and not as Christ's, are convicted of loving themselves, and not Christ, from the desire either of boasting, or wielding power, or acquiring gain, and not from the love of obeying, serving and pleasing God.

Against such, therefore, there standeth as a wakeful sentinel this thrice inculcated utterance of Christ, of whom the Apostle complaineth that they seek their own, not the things that are of Christ Jesus. For what else signifieth the words: Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep: than if it were said: If thou lovest me, think not of feeding thyself, but feed my sheep as mine, and not as thine own; seek my glory in them, and not thine own; my dominion, and not thine; my gain, and not thine; lest thou be found in the fellowship of them that belong to the perilous times, lovers of their own selves, and all else that is joined on to this beginning of evils.

With great propriety, therefore, is Peter addressed: Lovest thou me? and found replying: I love thee; and the command applied to him: Feed my lambs, and this a second and a third time. We have it also demonstrated here that love (amor) and liking (dilectio) are one and the same thing; for the Lord also in the last question said not: Dost thou like me? (Diligis me?): but: Dost thou love me? (Amas me?) Let us, then, love not ourselves but him; and in feeding his sheep, let us be seeking the things which are his, not the things which are our own. For in some inexplicable way, I know not what, every one that loveth himself, and not God, loveth not himself; and whoever loveth God, and not himself, he it is that loveth himself. For he that cannot live by himself will certainly die by loving himself; he therefore loveth not himself that loveth himself to his own loss of life.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

"Depart from me": the Father comes ever closer to us in His Son

Dominica IV post Pentecosten

Luke 5:1-11

Today, Father's Day, we encounter in our Gospel God the Father – also in the 16 new priests ordained yesterday for the Archdiocese, along with thousands more during this season around the world.

We encounter the holiness of the Father in His Son as recounted by the Gospel today.

What is our response?

Is it like that of Peter? “Depart from me.”

God does the opposite: He comes ever closer.

In Jesus Christ we see the Father – the Holiness of the Father in the Son

In the priesthood of Jesus Christ, ordained men, Peter, the Apostles, their successors and all men who are priests, bring Him so close to us as to be our Food.

The Holy Eucharist is the Father’s response to our fear in which we might be moved to cry out in self loathing, “depart from me”.

What happens to you and me when we discover we are so very different and far from God?

He excites love in us where there was once even perhaps dread – dread to come into His presence knowing as we do so well our sinful nature.

But in Christ, who gives us the Father, we have a wonderful mystery and reality of the Father’s love.

Grace, both in mercy to forgive us and in the Eucharist to enable us to grow more and more supernaturally to His image and likeness.

The same holiness which in Christ caused Peter, the first pope, to seek escape is our antidote to distance from God which we discover in our repentance for and repugnance of sin. He makes us like Himself, so that we no longer seek escape. We seek Him. We can love in ourselves that which is of Him while growing more distant from the past, that in ourselves which once caused dread and loathing.

But for this to happen something is required of us. Peter's change of attitude was evident in his life.

"And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; henceforth you shall catch men'. And when they had brought their boats to land, they left all and followed Him."

Friday, June 7, 2024

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Among the wonderful developments of sacred teaching and piety, by which the plans of the divine Wisdom are daily made clear to the Church, hardly any is more manifest than the triumphant progress made by the devotion of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Very often indeed, during the course of past ages, Fathers, Doctors, and Saints have celebrated our Redeemer's love: and they have said, that the wound opened in the side of Christ was the hidden fountain of all graces. Moreover, from the Middle Ages onward, when the faithful began to show a more tender piety towards the most sacred Humanity of the Saviour, contemplative souls became accustomed to penetrate through that wound almost to the very Heart itself, wounded for the love of men. And from that time, this form of contemplation became so familiar to all persons of saintly life, that there was no country or religious order in which, during this period, witnesses to it were not to be found. Finally, during recent centuries, and most especially at that period when heretics, in the name of a false piety, strove to discourage Christians from receiving the most Holy Eucharist, the veneration of the most Sacred Heart began to be openly practised, principally through the exertions of St. John Eudes, who is by no means unworthily called the founder of the liturgical worship of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

But in order to establish fully and entirely the worship of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to spread the same throughout the whole world, God himself chose as his instrument a most humble virgin from the order of the Visitation, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who even in her earliest years already had a burning love for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to whom Christ the Lord had very many times appeared, and was pleased to make known the riches and the desires of his divine Heart. The most famous of these apparitions was that in which Jesus revealed himself to her in prayer before the blessed Sacrament, shewed her his most Sacred Heart, and, complaining that in return for his unbounded love, he met with nothing but outrages and ingratitude from mankind, he ordered her to concern herself with the establishment of a new feast, on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, on which his Heart should be venerated with due honour, and that the insults offered him by sinners in the Sacrament of love should be expiated by worthy satisfaction. But there is no one who knoweth not how many and how great were the obstacles which the handmaid of God experienced, in carrying out the commands of Christ; but, endowed with strength by the Lord himself, and actively aided by her pious spiritual directors, who exerted themselves with an almost unbelievable zeal, up to the time of her death she never ceased faithfully to carry out the duty entrusted to her by heaven.

At length, in the year 1765, the Supreme Pontiff Clement XIII approved the Mass and Office in honour of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Pius IX extended the feast to the universal Church. From then on the worship of the most Sacred Heart, like an overflowing river, washing away all obstacles, hath poured itself forth over all the earth, and, at the dawn of the new century, Leo XIII, having proclaimed a jubilee, decided to dedicate the whole human race to the most Sacred Heart. This consecration was actually carried out with solemn rites in all the churches of the Catholic world, and brought about a great increase of this devotion, leading not only nations but even private families to it, who in countless numbers dedicated themselves to the Divine Heart, and submitted themselves to its royal sway. Lastly, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XI, in order that, by its solemnity, the feast might answer more fully to the greatly widespread devotion of the Christian people, raised the feast of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the rite of a double of the first class, with an octave; and moreover, that the violated rights of Christ, the supreme King and most loving Lord, might be repaired, and that the sins of the nations might be bewailed, he ordered that annually, on that same feast-day, there should be recited an expiatory form of prayer in all the churches of the Christian world.

- From the Roman Breviary for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus