Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A | BENEDICAMUS DOMINO

‘Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” OPENING PRAYER  Be Still & Know That I am God! (Psalm 46)                                                                            St. Francis de Sales If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point…
— Read on benedicamusdominoblog.com/2017/08/09/nineteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-time-a/

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer Before Mass

Receive, O Holy Trinity, One God, this Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I, Your unworthy servant, desire now to offer to Your Divine Majesty by the hands of this Your minister, with all the Sacrifices which have ever been or will be offered to You, in union with that most Holy Sacrifice offered by the same Christ our Lord at the Last Supper, and on the Altar of the Cross.

I offer it to You with the utmost affection of devotion, out of pure love for Your infinite goodness, and according to the most holy intention of the same Christ our Lord, and of our Holy Mother the Church.

O God, almighty and merciful, grant us through this Holy Sacrifice, joy and peace, a holier life, time to do penance, grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and perseverance in good works. Amen.

COLLECT

Draw near to your servants, O Lord,

and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,

that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide,

you may restore what you have created

and keep safe what you have restored.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you n the unity of Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

READING I

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The Israelites said to them,

“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,

as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!

But you had to lead us into this desert

to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,

“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.

Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;

thus will I test them,

to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.

Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,

and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,

so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.

In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,

and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert

were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”

for they did not know what it was.

But Moses told them,

“This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

APPLICATION

In spite of all the miracles that God worked to set the Israelites free from the slavery of Egypt, they were still far from trusting him. When their food supplies had run out and no food seemed available in the desert region where they were, they murmured against Moses and against God. They thought God was going to let them die of starvation. “Would it not have been far better to have remained reasonably well-fed slaves in Egypt rather than starve as freemen out here?” they said. As yet they did not realize that God had a loving Father’s interest in them, that he intended to bring them into the land of Canaan, as promised to Abraham and his descendants. This he was doing in order to put his eternal plan for man’s salvation—the incarnation – into action later on.

God did not reprimand them for their lack of trust in him, he knew they were as yet poorly formed spiritually. Instead, he immediately promised to provide for their bodily needs. That evening he would provide meat for them to eat and next morning they would be able to find a bread-like food in sufficient quantity to supply each day’s needs. This provision of meat and bread-like food was a miracle of God’s kindness for the people he had chosen to be the ancestors of his divine Son in his human nature. The two items of food were in themselves natural to the region – the quails were passing over the Sinai desert for six months every year, and the “manna” came naturally from the tamarisk trees. What was miraculous was the large number of quails which landed around the camp, and also the regular, abundant supply of the tamarisk product which was available each day.

Each day the people rejoiced for a while at the turn of events. They had an abundant fresh supply, but some months later they again murmured and complained against God: they longed for variety as they had only the same manna all the time (Nb. 11: 5). They were surely an ungrateful, a stiff-necked, stubborn people, and nothing short of the infinite patience of God could have put up with them and continued to care for them. This he did, more for our sakes than for theirs. And it’s here that this story of God’s compassion has a lesson for us. Everything that God did in the Old Testament was in preparation for the New, in which his eternal plan for all men was put into operation. He chose Abraham so that from him would come Jesus “according to the flesh.” He looked after Abraham’s descendants and eventually established them as a people in the promised land. They were the people he had chosen to keep his name and his knowledge alive on earth, while all other peoples were serving empty idols. This Chosen People failed him again and again, but in spite of their disloyalty, he preserved a remnant of Abraham’s descendants in Judah until the “fullness of time” had come—the time for sending his divine Son as an on earth.

This miraculous feeding of the Israelites in the desert therefore was an act of mercy for such ungrateful people. It was also, and more importantly, a step in the preparation for the immensely greater act of our elevation to sonship with himself – brought about by the incarnation. Think of it! God was planning for our eternal salvation over three thousand two hundred years ago when he saved the Israelites from starvation in the desert of Sinai! Consider how much we take our religion for granted; how little we esteem the privilege that is ours; what little thought do we give to all that God did in order to make us Christians.

God has no need of us in heaven; he is infinitely happy without us, but because of his infinite goodness he wants to share his heaven with us and therefore he has been making arrangements from the beginning of time to enable us to get there. But he does need our cooperation. He created us, as St. Augustine says, without our consent but he cannot bring us to heaven without our consent. Unfortunately, there are some men who will not cooperate in providing for their own eternal happiness. Let us not be of their number. Let us look back on history today, and see all that God has done for us in order to make us eternally happy. Let us thank him and make a sincere and heartfelt resolve to be faithful to his teaching in future, to follow the path he has appointed for us to lead us to him.

Thanks be to the good Lord for feeding the Israelites in Sinai, and for having had our eternal welfare in mind when he came to their aid! 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

What we have heard and know,

and what our fathers have declared to us,

We will declare to the generation to come

the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength

and the wonders that he wrought.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

He commanded the skies above

and opened the doors of heaven;

he rained manna upon them for food

and gave them heavenly bread.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Man ate the bread of angels,

food he sent them in abundance.

And he brought them to his holy land,

to the mountains his right hand had won.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

READING II

Eph 4:17, 20-24

Brothers and sisters:

I declare and testify in the Lord

that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,

in the futility of their minds;

that is not how you learned Christ,

assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,

as truth is in Jesus,

that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,

corrupted through deceitful desires,

and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

and put on the new self,

created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

APPLICATION 

St. Paul had to remind the Ephesians what Christianity meant. They were men and women who were close to the time of Christ, They had seen the many miracles worked by their Apostle and father in the faith. He was a saintly man and their teacher, if they needed a reminder. How much more do we Christians of today need such a reminder? This is the very reason that these words of St. Paul are read to us today: to remind us that we are Christians, that we are new men. We have a new outlook on life and therefore our way of living should not conform to the pagan ethos of our day, but should show to the world than we are sons of God. How many Christians today are doing that? How many of Christ’s followers are bearing the true witness to him?

The western world, that is, all Europe and the Americas, is nominally Christian. However, for a large percentage of the citizens of these lands Christianity is only a label not a way of life. Many millions of these people have never learned the truth which is Jesus, they have not been taught the Christian faith. Other millions have learned the truths of the faith, in a modified form perhaps, but are not willing to carry out their Christian duties. The Eastern and Western schisms, the Greek and the Protestant revolts, can be blamed for much of this religious decay—but not for all of it by any means. There are many millions of unbaptized in the Christian countries of Europe which never had an Orthodox or Protestant infiltration. Laxity on the part of parents, and neglect of their duty on the part of pastors down through the years, have led such countries into this sorry state.

Africa and Asia are two continents with about two thirds of the world’s population. They have still much pagan territory—and this after nineteen centuries of Christianity! There have been great efforts made by devout individuals and by dedicated groups but, by and large, the Christian countries have neglected their obligation of bringing the light of faith to their pagan fellowmen. The result would appear to be that what they were unwilling to share with their pagan neighbors, they also neglected for themselves.

Before we begin to take the mote out of our neighbors’ eyes, let us make sure that we have not a beam in our own. Are we exemplary Christians, are we living up to the tenets and obligations of our faith? Are we just in our dealings with all men, truthful, chaste in thought, word and deed; are we, above all, charitable to our neighbor, carrying out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy wherever and whenever we can? Do we give a good example of what a Christian ought to be to those in our own homes and to all our fellowman we meet during the course of the day? Not many of us can give a definite yes to all of these questions. God will, however, be merciful to us if our intention is to be good Christians—even though we may fail now and then in our efforts. Where there is good will and a good intention God will make allowances. If they fail, through your fault, you cannot but fail yourselves. If they refuse to follow your teaching and example, pray often and with fervor for them. You want the best for them in this world and the next. There are many openings in this life, there is only one entrance, however, to happiness in the next—the, gate of heaven. If they miss that, they have missed everything.

Let us all have a good look at our consciences today. We are Christians and should be proud of it. But to be true Christians, we must play our part, we must carry out our Christian duties. We must remember that we are now sons of God, brothers of Christ, and our lives must be in keeping with this great dignify which Christ has won for us; we must live in righteousness and holiness. 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.1

CCC 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”2

CCC 1695 “Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,”3 “sanctified. .. [and] called to be saints,”4 Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.5 This “Spirit of the Son” teaches them to pray to the Father6 and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”7 by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.8 He enlightens and strengthens us to live as “children of light” through “all that is good and right and true.”9

CCC 2475 Christ’s disciples have “put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”10 By “putting away falsehood,” they are to “put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.”11

1 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

2 Eph 4:22, 24.

3 2 Cor 6:11.

4 1 Cor 1:2.

5 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19.

6 Cf. Gal 4:6.

7 Gal 5:22, 25.

8 Cf. Eph 4:23.

9 Eph 5:8, 9.

10 Eph 4:24.

11 Eph 4:25; 1 Pet 2:1.

GOSPEL

Jn 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,

they themselves got into boats

and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him,

“Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

you are looking for me not because you saw signs

but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes

but for the food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.

For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him,

“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them,

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

So they said to him,

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?

What can you do?

Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.?

So Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;

my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,

“Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them,

“I am the bread of life;

whoever comes to me will never hunger,

and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

APPLICATION 

The multiplication of the loaves which fed five thousand men was bound to recall to the minds of the multitude the bread from heaven which God had given to their ancestors in the desert. That it should do so was Christ’s secondary intention in working the miracle; his first intention was to feed those hungry people. Next day when the crowds gathered around him again in Capernaum, hoping for another free meal rather than looking for religious instruction, he openly accused them of their worldliness. While they knew and admitted that he was the second Moses, the prophet from God (see last Sunday’s gospel), and while they had heard him speak frequently of the new kingdom of God (see Mk. 5), their thoughts were still entirely worldly. The politically-minded wanted him to throw out the Romans and set up a new kingdom of David; the others were content with all the material benefits he could give them at the moment. Things spiritual and the everlasting life were far from their thoughts.

Christ told them how wrong their attitude to life was. They were concentrating all their thoughts and efforts on the things of this life, they should rather have given thought to the future life. Instead of looking for earthly bread which had real though transitory value, they should have looked for the bread which would bring them eternal life—“the food which endures.” He could give them this; they had God’s guarantee and seal for it—God sent him on earth so that men would accept him and believe in his message. They demanded further proofs; and referred to the manna given to their fathers in the desert. He answered them: the manna given to their fathers was not bread from heaven, it was earthly food which preserved earthly life, but God was now giving the true bread from heaven—Christ himself. He had come down from heaven; he was divine, and was to give them eternal life, if only they would believe in him.

Acceptance of Christ as God’s intermediary with men was the first essential step on the road to eternal life. “It is my Father’s will that whosoever sees (that is acknowledges him as Son of God) the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day” (6: 40). Christ went on then in this discourse, as we shall see during the next three Sundays, to foretell the gift of the Eucharist wherein he gives himself as the spiritual food to all those who believe in him. The act of faith, the act of accepting him as God’s envoy, God’s Son in fact, is already the beginning, the first step, toward the eternal life he came to give us.

In today’s reading we hear of the lack of faith of those Galileans, of their utter worldliness and lack of interest in their future life. We may be inclined to judge them severely. But we must not forget that as Jews they knew almost nothing about the future life. It was only with the full revelation given by Christ, that men learned of God’s wonderful plan for them. Thank God, we have this full knowledge today; we know that this life is only a period of preparation, a few years during which we can make ourselves worthy to enter the real kingdom of God in heaven. We know that Christ was God’s divine Son, who took our human nature in order to make us his brothers and therefore sons of God. We know that heaven is awaiting us, if only we accept Christ here and follow his teaching. Surely, we are infinitely more fortunate than were the Galileans we read about today!

Do we appreciate our good fortune; do we live up to the teaching which we know is true? Do we ever allow ourselves to get immersed in worldly affairs—forgetting that this earth is not our home, that we are only passing through? Unfortunately, many Christians do act in this manner. While they have the name of “followers of Christ,” they are not following him, they have chosen the path of worldliness and earthly interests which will lead to a dead end. Have an honest, sincere look at your own Christianity today. Your eternity, the unending ages that come after your death, will depend on how you spend your fleeting years on this earth.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. used with permission from Ignatius Press

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’,1 ‘descended from heaven’,2 and ‘came in the flesh’.3 For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. .. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’4

CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.5 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.6 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,7 to the Samaritan woman,8 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.9 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer10 and with the witness they will have to bear.11

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,12 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.13 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,14 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.”15

CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.16 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”17 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.18

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”19 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”20 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.21

1 Jn 13:3.

2 Jn 3:13; 6:33.

3 1 Jn 4:2.

4 Jn 1:14,16.

5 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.

6 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

7 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

8 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

9 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

10 Cf. Lk 11:13.

11 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

12 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

13 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

14 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

15 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

16 Cf. Jn 6:27.

17 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.

18 Cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezek 9:4-6.

19 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

20 Am 8:11.

21 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

BENEDICTUS

Breaking of Bread

Ultimately, the Church draws her life from the Eucharist, from this real, self-giving presence of the Lord.  Without this ever-new encounter with him, she would necessarily wither… Anyone who repeatedly exposes himself to it and confides in it will be changed.  You cannot walk constantly with the Lord, cannot ever anew pronounce these tremendous words, This is my Body and my Blood,  you cannot touch the Body of the Lord again and again, without being affected by him and challenged by him, being changed and led by him.  We may of course lag behind him, and will again and again lag immeasurably far behind, but in the long run there are really only two possibilities: either to shake off the Eucharist, with the enormous demands and power it sets up in life, or to surrender to it, to hold fast to it.  Anyone who holds fast to the Lord will not be abandoned by him.  Anyone who grapples with him calmly and patiently, humbly and sincerely, will be led by him; he will never be denied his light…  Christ genuinely shared himself out, gave himself with the torn-up bread, so that his life might be ours: that is the incredible event that occurs ever anew.  Herein lies the great significance of the Eucharist, and that is why it is no game, but quite real.  When death comes onstage the game is at an end.  Man is set before the truth.  But only when this encounter reaches right down unto death can true hope arise for man.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer after Holy Communion

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. 

Body of Christ, save me. 

Blood of Christ, inebriate me. 

Water flowing from the side of Christ, purify me. 

Passion of Christ, comfort me. 

O good Jesus, hear me. 

Hide me within Thy wounds. 

Never permit me to be separated from Thee. 

From the malignant enemy defend me. 

At the hour of my death call me, 

And cause me to come to Thee, 

That with the Saints and the Angels, 

I may praise Thee For everlasting ages.

Amen.

 

Posted in Catholic

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Good Shepard Christ.jpg

“When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Prayer for the Salvation of the World

Father, hear our prayers for the salvation of the world.

Grant Mercy to all souls that turned away from You.

Open their hearts and minds with Your light.

Gather Your children from the east and the west, from the north and the south.

Have mercy O God on those who do not know You.

Bring them out of darkness into Your light.

You are our saving God Who leads us in our salvation.

Protect us from evil.

Bless and praise You O Lord, hear our prayers and answer us.

You, our Savior, are the hope of all the ends of the Earth and the distant seas.

May Your way be known upon Earth; among all nations Your salvation.

We put the world in Your hands; fill us with Your love.

Grant us peace through Christ, our Lord. Amen

COLLECT

Show favor, O Lord, to your servants

and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,

that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

s_jeremiah.jpg

Jer 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds

who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,

says the LORD.

Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,

against the shepherds who shepherd my people:

You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.

You have not cared for them,

but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.

I myself will gather the remnant of my flock

from all the lands to which I have driven them

and bring them back to their meadow;

there they shall increase and multiply.

I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them

so that they need no longer fear and tremble;

and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,

when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;

as king he shall reign and govern wisely,

he shall do what is just and right in the land.

In his days Judah shall be saved,

Israel shall dwell in security.

This is the name they give him:

“The LORD our justice.”

APPLICATION

In the midst of the misfortunes and afflictions which were about to engulf his people—afflictions and misfortunes brought on them especially by their religious and civic leaders—Jeremiah had words of consolation and encouragement. Bright and happy days were in store for them. Some would return from the exile and live in peace in their homeland under more God-fearing leaders. But it is to the messianic age, to Christ’s day, that the thoughts of the prophet were especially turned. The great day would come when the new Chosen People would have a king who would be justice itself, a king to keep them loyal to God, a shepherd to care for their real interests. As psalm 22 puts it: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He guides me along the right path, he is true to his name … In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.”

Both Jeremiah and the psalmist were looking into the future and beheld the coming of Christ and the age of the new Chosen People. That these are messianic prophecies is clear from the fact that our Divine Lord himself applied the title of the true shepherd to himself: “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep” (Jn. 10: 14-15).

We today are indeed fortunate to be living in the Christian era. We have seen the messianic prophecies fulfilled; we know that Christ has come and changed our world. We know that we are the sheep of his chosen flock, the members indeed of his mystical body. We know that he has put us on the right path, on the road to heaven and that as faithful Shepherd he is, ever watching over us, moving us on when we are inclined to nibble at the forbidden grass by the road-side, bringing us back on his own shoulders when we stray from the path and get caught up in the briars and brambles of earthly attractions.

We Christians know all of this, but do we really appreciate what the good God has done for us? By sending his Son on earth as man, he made us heirs to heaven, brothers of Christ and adopted sons of himself. Heaven is now our destination, our only real purpose in life. Everything else is absolutely secondary and only of transitory importance. Yet how many there are who let these things of secondary importance get such a hold on them that they forget or ignore their one and only purpose in life? They allow the transitory things of this life to hold them back from reaching the endless life of heaven.

To help us to see the utter folly of such Christians let us suppose, for a moment, a poor man who had a great desire to go to Lourdes. He was given a free ticket with all expenses paid. He set out joyfully, say from Chicago. His first stop was New York. Here he became enchanted with the hustle and bustle of the great city’s life. He visited many movie pictures and stage productions and spent so much time that he missed the pilgrim ship for which he was booked. He had not enough to pay for a ticket to Europe on another ship and so he missed seeing Lourdes. He ended his days in misery in New York, no longer enchanted by its attractions but driven to despair by the utter emptiness of what it had to offer. That man’s fate was but a shadow of the irreparable loss of the Christian who lets the attractions of this world keep him from heaven.

He may find his days, his mind and his hands full of interesting worldly affairs, but he should realize that every time the clock strikes he is an hour nearer to his earthly end. After that what is there for him? What explanation can he offer when he arrives empty-handed and totally unprepared at the judgement seat? He cannot plead ignorance; he cannot plead lack of time; he could have provided for all of his earthly needs, while providing at the same time for his eternal future. He allowed himself to get so immersed in the things of this world that he gave no thought to his future. It has happened before and it will happen again. It can happen to us unless we frequently take a good look at our way of living and honestly and sincerely measure our daily doings by the standard of the Gospel. If frequently during life we judge ourselves and our actions with all sincerity we need not fear the judgement after death.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 51 “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.”1

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”2 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”3 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”4 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”5

1 DV 2; cf. Eph 1:9; 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4.

2 Isa 9:5.

3 Eph 2:16 J.B.; cf. Col 1:20-22.

4 Eph 2:14.

5 Mt 5:9.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In verdant pastures he gives me repose;

beside restful waters he leads me;

he refreshes my soul.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk in the dark valley

I fear no evil; for you are at my side

with your rod and your staff

that give me courage.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me

in the sight of my foes;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me

all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

for years to come.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

READING II

Christ the Peacekeeper.jpg

Eph 2:13-18

Brothers and sisters:

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off

have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one

and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,

abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,

that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,

thus establishing peace,

and might reconcile both with God,

in one body, through the cross,

putting that enmity to death by it.

He came and preached peace to you who were far off

and peace to those who were near,

for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

APPLICATION

“He came and preached peace.” In these five words, St. Paul sums up the, ministry of Christ on earth. He preached peace. He laid down the foundations of peace. He reconciled men with God their Creator and Father, and reconciled men with one another. He taught men to be brotherly toward one another. When questioned by one of the Pharisees as to which was the most important of the commandments, he answered: “Love God with all your heart, all your strength and alI your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” The two together are the essence of true religion “on these two depend the whole law and the prophets.”

Long before Christ came on earth, the prophets had described the kingdom which he was to establish as a kingdom of peace. He was called the Prince of Peace (Is. 9); in his kingdom there would never again be war “men would turn their swords into plowshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war” (Is. 2; see also Is. 11; Ag. 2: 8-10; Zech. 9: 10). These prophecies, however, were not fulfilled in the kingdom that Christ set up on this earth, nor was that intended. The prophets were speaking of the final kingdom, the completion of Christ’s work in heaven. There the perfect peace will prevail; there man will truly love his fellowman and all men will love God.

Christ did lay the foundations for peace between men and between nations even on this earth. He made us all his brothers; he made all men, no matter what their race or color, God’s adopted sons and therefore members of the one, family. But we must not forget that while Christ laid solid and secure foundations, the walls of the building were to be built of mortal, fallible men who could abuse the gift of freewill with which they were endowed. If all men kept the two great commandments, loving God with all their heart and loving their neighbor as themselves, peace would naturally follow. Such an if, however, is a capital “IF,” for unfortunately, there will always be among us those who will fail to keep these basic commandments to the letter, and therefore there will always be violations of peace.

While we regret that even our fellow-Christians can and do break these commandments and act contrary to the teaching of their faith, we must not be scandalized at this nor must we say that Christ’s teaching has failed. Christ laid the foundations for peace; he encouraged his followers to live in peace; he wished them, this peace, but even Christ could not force man’s freewill. He, being God, foresaw that the Christian peace which should reign in our world would be broken many times. Yet, his forgiveness was ever available, to those who failed to keep his law, and his grace and divine assistance were there to help all who suffered because of the violation of his law.

There will always be some who will be a menace and a threat to peace, because they have forgotten that God is their Father. Consequently, they do not look on their neighbor as their brother. There is still a majority of God-loving and neighbor-loving men and women among us, not only in the Christian Church but outside of it also, who want peace. It is up to them to make their voices heard before God, first of all their daily, fervent prayers for peace; and then also in the councils of state where human decisions are taken.

We can all do more for the preservation of peace on earth than perhaps we realize. All true lovers of God and neighbor should instill this same love in their children so that they will grow up inspired by respect for the two greatest commandments–they will be peace-lovers. In our street, in our town, in our country, by word, by example and by prayer we can do much to spread love for the peace which flows from love of neighbor and love of God. If we turned our protest-marches, which so often are not inspired by true, love of peace, into prayer-marches we might see better results. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” said Tennyson long ago. He was but repeating what Christ had said centuries before: “ask and you shall receive.” Peace in one’s conscience, peace in one’s home, peace with one’s neighbors, peace between nations is one of the noblest causes to which one can dedicate one’s energies and prayers. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”

GOSPEL

twelve-apostles-icon-740.jpg

Mk 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus

and reported all they had done and taught.

He said to them,

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

People were coming and going in great numbers,

and they had no opportunity even to eat.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.

They hastened there on foot from all the towns

and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,

his heart was moved with pity for them,

for they were like sheep without a shepherd;

and he began to teach them many things.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072218.cfm

APPLICATION

In these few verses St. Mark very strongly brings out the compassion, the human understanding of Jesus for man. He first planned to give his Apostles a well-earned rest. They had evidently worked hard while out on their mission and a few days rest would restore their lost energy. He himself, too, must have been hard-pressed, preaching and dealing with the crowds. In the absence of the Apostles he had no one to help him–he too needed a rest. He, therefore. planned that he and they should go to a quiet corner of the Sea of Galilee where there was no village and where, therefore, they would not be disturbed.

The desire of the crowds, however, to see him and to hear him speak upset these plans. The people got to the quiet spot first. There they were waiting when the boat pulled to shore. He could have sent them away, but again his human compassion took over. Seeing these simple people of Galilee so anxious to hear about God and his mercy, he let them stay and began to preach the good news of forgiveness and hope to them. For the most part they were simple, unlettered villagers, shepherds and fishermen. They knew a little about the Law of Moses but only a little. There was no one but the local rabbi to teach them and the local rabbis were not very educated at the time. The doctors of the law, the great theologians were all in Jerusalem where they got the respect and the financial reward which they felt they merited. Hence the people of the country were more or less forgotten and neglected. They were, as our Lord described them, ” like sheep without a shepherd,” wandering about half-lost.

They were certainly fortunate, however, in finding the true shepherd who would lead them to the eternal pastures. Not only would he now sacrifice his rest to come to their aid but he would, later on, lay down his life for them and for all of us. We, like those poor people of Galilee, have so much to be grateful for. The compassionate Christ has had pity on us too, and has brought us into his fold. He knows all our infirmities and all our human weaknesses, and he is ever-ready to have pity on us and pardon us. Those people of Galilee were not saints, they were ordinary, run-of-the-mill, not over religious people. They cheated one another; they were often uncharitable to one another; they were not always chaste and pure; they prayed very little and perhaps only when they wanted some material benefit. Yet our Lord had compassion on them.

This should give us great confidence, great encouragement. Christ has not changed: he is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has the same compassion for us that he had for those Galileans; we too are often like sheep without a shepherd wandering half-lost through life. He is ever calling us to come to himself so that he will lead us to safe pastures. If only we would listen to his merciful call! Today’s Gospel is one such call : it goes out to every member of this congregation who has been lax in his or her religious life up to now. Christ wants us back on the high-road to heaven. All we have to do is to break with the past, with the earthly things that kept us from God. We can set out as freemen to follow Christ. He has left to his Church the holy sacrament of penance in which he guarantees us complete and entire remission of all past sins if we confess them with true sorrow. Let us not think that our sins are too big to be forgiven, that Christ could not have compassion on us because of our dreadful past. We can remember those Galileans; many of them were sinners as we are and he had compassion on them. He came to call sinners, he tells us. Let us answer his call today–tomorrow might be too late.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Ignatius Press

BENEDICTUS

Following, Believing, Loving

To follow” means to entrust oneself to the Word of God, to rate it higher than the laws of money and bread and to live by it. In short, to follow means to believe, but to “believe” in the sense of making a radical decision between the two and, in the last analysis, the only two possibilities for human life: bread and the word. The human person does not live on bread alone but also and primarily on the word, the spirit, meaning. It is always this same radical decision that confronts disciples when they hear the call “Follow me!”; the radical decision to stake one’s life either on profit and gain or on truth and love; the radical decision to live for oneself or to surrender one’s self… Only in losing themselves can human beings find themselves. The real and radical martyrdom of genuine self-renunciation means to accept the inner essence of the cross, namely the radical love expressed therein, and thus to imitate God himself. For on the cross God revealed himself as the One who pours himself out in prodigal fashion; who surrenders his glory in order to be present for us; who desires to rule the world not by power but by love, and in the weakness of the cross reveals his power which operates so differently from the power of this world’s mighty rulers. To follow Christ, then, means to enter into the self-surrender that is the real heart of love. To follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved… In the last analysis, to follow Christ is simply for man to become human by integration into the humanity of God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for World Peace (1978)

Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.

We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we and all men were created. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Sower ent out to Sow.jpeg

 

‘Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

OPENING PRAYER

When you begin to read or listen to the Holy Scriptures, pray to God thus:

Lord Jesus Christ, open the ears and eyes of my heart so that I may hear Thy words and understand them, and may fulfill Thy will.”

Always pray to God like this, that He might illumine your mind and open to you the power of His words. Many, having trusted in their own reason, have turned away into deception.”

  • St. Ephraim the Syrian

COLLECT

O God, who show the light of truth

to those who go astray,

so that they may return to the right path,

give all who for the faith they profess

are accounted Christians

to grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name

of Christ

and to strive after all that does it honor.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who live and reign with You in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Lorenzo_Monaco_-_The_Prophet_Isaiah_-_WGA13590-572535215f9b589e34ba2936.jpeg

Is 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:

Just as from the heavens

the rain and snow come down

and do not return there

till they have watered the earth,

making it fertile and fruitful,

giving seed to the one who sows

and bread to the one who eats,

so shall my word be

that goes forth from my mouth;

my word shall not return to me void,

but shall do my will,

achieving the end for which I sent it.

APPLICATION

The word of God which came to the chosen people through the prophets, and the divinely inspired writers, came out of God’s loving interest in his people. He wanted to prepare them for the inheritance, the real “promised land,” that, when the messianic age (the “fullness of time”) came, would be theirs, provided their lives on earth were lived as they should be.

This word of God, this advice and admonition sent through his prophets, though valuable and Godlike, was but a type or shadow of the real Word of God, his divine Son, who came on earth to bring all men to heaven. He carried out the allotted task. He fulfilled his Father’s will to the letter, even when this meant a life of suffering and death on a cross on Calvary. He was, in fact, raised from the dead, and returned to heaven victorious, the leader of an innumerable host which will follow him until this earth ceases to be.

As Christians, we are united to the Word of God who became flesh. We are members of his body, the Church. We are his brothers, and with him co-heirs of heaven. God the Father intended all these privileges for us, and Christ, God the Son, earned them for us. The least we can do in return for such favors is to try to be worthy of them, by being loyal to our Christian vocation, and by ever remaining close in love to our Father and to his Son, our brother. To help us live the true Christian life, we still have also the word of God, spoken through the prophets and the inspired writers of the Old and New Testaments. We have in other words, the Holy Bible, the book of books, which, if read with attention and devotion, will not fail to inspire and move us to be grateful and loyal to our divine benefactors, the three Persons of the blessed Trinity.

Every Christian home should have the Holy Bible as one of its most useful and treasured possessions. It should not be an ornament on a book-shelf. It should be read, a page or two daily, by every member of the family. The new rite of Mass gives us three readings from the Bible each Sunday and feast day. These readings have been selected with great care, and each reading has a message, or lesson, for each one of us, to inspire us to greater love of God and of our Christian vocation. We should listen attentively to this “word of God.” He is speaking to us through these means. These sacred writings have been preserved down through the centuries for our benefit.

Let us thank out Father in heaven, who deigns to speak to us through the sacred writings, his “inspired word.” Let us respect these writings and use them for edification and eventual sanctification but greater ground still for our gratitude is the living Word of God who raised us up from being mere mortals to the status of adopted son-ship, by means of his Word, his Son, who became flesh and dwelt among us for a time, in order to bring us in to heaven for all eternity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have visited the land and watered it;

greatly have you enriched it.

God’s watercourses are filled;

you have prepared the grain.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,

breaking up its clods,

Softening it with showers,

blessing its yield.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have crowned the year with your bounty,

and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;

The untilled meadows overflow with it,

and rejoicing clothes the hills.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

The fields are garmented with flocks

and the valleys blanketed with grain.

They shout and sing for joy.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

READING II

Creation_2003.jpeg

Rom 8:18-23

Brothers and sisters:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing

compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

For creation awaits with eager expectation

the revelation of the children of God;

for creation was made subject to futility,

not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,

in hope that creation itself

would be set free from slavery to corruption

and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;

and not only that, but we ourselves,

who have the first-fruits of the Spirit,

we also groan within ourselves

as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 280 Creation is the foundation of “all God’s saving plans,” the “beginning of the history of salvation”1 that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”: from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.2

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 671 Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.8 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.9 Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.”10 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him:11 Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”12

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”13 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.14

CCC 1046 For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. .. in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. .. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.15

CCC 1721 God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us “partakers of the divine nature” and of eternal life.16 With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ17 and into the joy of the Trinitarian life.

CCC 1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.”18 In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.”19 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”20 Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”21

CCC 2572 As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, “who had received the promises,”22 is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering.”), for he “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead.”23 And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all.24 Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude.25

CCC 2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church’s petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {“groaning,” arises from another depth, that of creation “in labor pains” and that of ourselves “as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”26 In the end, however, “with sighs too deep for words” the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”27

1 GCD 51.

2 Gen 1:1; cf. Rom 8:18-23.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Lk 21:27; cf. Mt 25:31.

9 Cf. 2 Th 2:7.

10 LG 48 # 3; cf. 2 Pt 3:13; Rom 8:19-22; I Cor 15:28.

11 Cf. I Cor 11:26; 2 Pt 3:11-12.

12 1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:17,20.

13 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

14 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.

15 Rom 8:19-23.

16 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Jn 17:3.

17 Cf. Rom 8:18.

18 Gal 5:1.

19 Cf. In 8:32.

20 2 Cor 17.

21 Rom 8:21.

22 Heb 11:17.

23 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19

24 Rom 8:32.

25 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.

26 Rom 8:22-24.

27 Rom 8:26.

APPLICATION

God’s creation of the world was an act of sheer benevolence. He wished to share his own infinite perfection and happiness with creatures, who could enjoy that perfection and happiness because of the superior gifts with which he endowed them. These creatures were men–the human race. All the other creatures, the inanimate kingdom, plant kingdom, and animal kingdom were intended for man’s service while he was on this earth. Man was the masterpiece of God’s creative action, and was to be the master of all the lesser creatures.

God’s eternal plan for making man a sharer in his own eternal happiness was to be brought about by the extraordinary act of divine love and condescension which we call the Incarnation. God the Son was to become man, unite our human created nature with his divinity, in the historical Jesus Christ, and thus raise man to brotherhood with Christ and sonship of God the Father.

This act of divine love was for all mankind, for the millions who lived and died before Christ came on earth, as well as for the billions who have lived and will live on earth after his coming. Men sinned before he came, men sinned and will sin after his coming, but Christ’s death on the cross made infinite atonement to his Father, the good God whom men had offended, so that, if only the sinner repents, all sins are wiped out by God.

Heaven is thus open to all men of good-will. God, who is Love, has infinite ways of reaching the hearts of sinners and bringing them to repentance. But we Christians, who are fully acquainted with all that God has done for us, are obliged to do all in our power to make this loving God, and his plans for their eternal happiness, known to those who are still ignorant of him. Any Christian, who really appreciates what God has done for him, will feel compelled, out of gratitude, to help to bring this knowledge to God’s other sons who are still in the darkness of paganism, old or new, but who are God’s adopted children even though they are not aware of the fact.

Fidelity and true loyalty to the Christian life and teaching, which it is our privilege to have, are prime factors in helping to spread among those who do not yet possess it, the knowledge of God and his plans for all men. Fervent prayer for the conversion of sinners is another means within the reach of all of us, and a very effective means. Instead of that novena for the health of some relative or for some temporal need which seems so important, let us offer it for the conversion of some unbelievers or sinners that we know, and God will prove himself big enough and generous enough to grant us both requests. When we find life difficult, and cross laid upon cross, let us not forget what St. Paul tells us today: “the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” What are a few years of pain of body or mental unhappiness, when compared with an eternity of peace and happiness in the world to come? We are exiles returning home, and we have to work our passage or earn our way. But we are certain of reaching our happy home, if we work that passage diligently and patiently and cheerfully.

GOSPEL

Jesus_Christ_Parable_of_the_Sower_Hand-Painted_Byzantine_Icon_05.jpeg

Mt 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.

Such large crowds gathered around him

that he got into a boat and sat down,

and the whole crowd stood along the shore.

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:

A sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,

and birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.

It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,

and when the sun rose it was scorched,

and it withered for lack of roots.

Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.

But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,

a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/071617.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 29 But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 § 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.1 Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.2

CCC 546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.3 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.4 Words are not enough, deeds are required.5 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?6 What use has he made of the talents he has received?7 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.8 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.9

CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.10 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”11 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”12

1 GS 19 § 1.

2 Cf. GS 19-21; Mt 13:22; Gen 3:8-10; Jon 1:3.

3 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.

4 Cf. Mt 13:44-45; 22:1-14.

5 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.

6 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.

7 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.

8 Mt 13:11.

9 Mk 4:11; cf. Mt 13:10-15.

10 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.

11 Jn 15:4-5.

12 Jn 6:56.

APPLICATION

Christ’s description of his audience, that day in Galilee, is unfortunately as true today as it was then. His message of salvation has been preached to a great part of the world’s population, but the proportion of those who accept it and live up to it, is about the same today as it was then.

There are millions of men and women today, in what was once Christian Europe, who are like the seed sown on the unplowed path. They refuse to accept the message, they have no thought for their future, they are content to end in the grave after their few years of misery and hardship on this planet.

There are others who see the truth and the consolation of the Christian gospel, but when it comes to making sacrifices for it, they give up. The message did not sink into their hearts and minds. They are like the seed which fell on rocky ground because the faith had no deep roots in their lives. Others again, and they are legion, are like the seed that fell among the briars and thorns. They accepted the faith and it took root in them but later on, “the cares of the world and the delight in riches chokes the word and it proves unfruitful,”–these are our Lord’s own words.

The last class of Christians, are like the seed sown on good soil. They not only accept Christ and his teaching, but they live up to it, and, come what may, they are faithful to it. These will produce fruit and will earn for themselves eternal happiness.

Each one of us can look into his own conscience today and discover to which class he or she belongs. The fact that we are here, shows that at least we are still Christians; so we do not belong to the first class–the gospel seed did not fall on the hardened path. But what of the other classes? Are some of us perhaps, like the seed that fell on the rocky ground? While Christianity makes no very difficult demand we are all for it, but when it demands mortification, the curbing of passion, real sacrifices for our neighbor, do we forget our Christian calling then and ignore its precepts? And how does our type of Christianity stand up to the temptations of the world–the desire to get all the enjoyment we can out of this life, licit or illicit, breaking God’s commandments weekly or maybe daily? Are we chasing after wealth and power, using all our energies to rise in the world to be above our neighbor by fair or foul means? If the above are our aims in life, our Christianity has been or is being choked out of us.

Let us hope that we all can number ourselves among those Christians who have sown their Christian faith in good soil and who will produce the fruit of eternal life. If we are truly honest with ourselves, the vast majority of us can say that there is a little streak of the stony and thorny ground in our hearts. Our courage must come from the fact that we have a merciful Father, who understands us and who is ever ready to pardon all past faults, if we humbly repent of them.

There are millions of saints in heaven today, enjoying eternal happiness, who had some, if not all, of our present failings. We, too, can be with them one day, provided we do what they did. They repented sincerely and remained God’s close friends, until he called them to himself. May the merciful God give us the grace to imitate them while we yet have time.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Why Listening is a Part of Life

Man ought not to try to be self-sufficient, and he must have the humility to learn, to accept something – “incline they head.” He must find the way to follow the call into listening. And listening means not just giving ear to whatever is going the rounds, but also listening to the depths, or to the heights, since what the Master says is basically the application of Holy Scripture, the application of this fundamental rule of human existence… We can see in the Rule of Saint Benedict how nothing that is truly human ever becomes old-fashioned. Anything that really comes from the depths of our being remains a counsel of life that is always relevant… Perhaps we are beginning to see again that freedom from work, that freedom which is a gift of God’s service, stepping outside the mentality of mere achievement, is what we need. That listening – for the service of God is to a great extent a matter of letting God in and of listening – must be a part of life. Just as discipline and right measure and order belong together, just like obedience and freedom, so, equally, tolerating each other in the spirit of faith is not merely a basic rule for any monastic community, but all these things are, when you come down to it, essential elements for building any and every society. This is a rule that springs from what is truly human, and it was able to formulate what was truly human because it looked out and listened beyond what is human and perceived the divine. Man becomes really human when he is touched by God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.

Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken

and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,

Though its waters rage and foam

and mountains totter at its surging.

Streams of the river gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.

God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;

God will help it at break of day.

Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,

he utters his voice and the earth melts.

*The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Come and see the works of the LORD,

who has done fearsome deeds on earth;

Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,

breaks the bow, splinters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire;

Be still and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

exalted on the earth.”

The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Posted in Catholic

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A


“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

OPENING PRAYER 

Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

Image result for icon st. benedict

Gracious and holy Father,
 please give me:

Intellect to understand you;
 reason to discern you;
 diligence to seek you;
 wisdom to find you;
 a spirit to know you;
 a heart to meditate upon you; 
ears to hear you;
 eyes to see you;
 a tongue to proclaim you;
 a way of life pleasing to you;
 patience to wait for you; 
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me 
a perfect end,
 your holy presence, blessed resurrection, and life everlasting.  Amen.

COLLECT 

O God, who in the abasement of your Son

have raised up a fallen world,

fill your faithful with holy joy,

for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin

you bestow eternal gladness.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who live and reign with God the Father in the unity 

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

PalmSunday-04.jpg

Zec 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,

shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king shall come to you;

a just savior is he,

meek, and riding on an ass,

on a colt, the foal of an ass.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,

and the horse from Jerusalem;

the warrior’s bow shall be banished,

and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.1 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.2 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.3 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.4 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,5 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

1 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.

2 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.

3 Cf. Jn 18:37.

4 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.

5 Cf. Ps 118:26.

APPLICATION 

The fulfillment of the age-old messianic prophecies in the person of Christ, is one of the proofs that Christ was the Messiah–the anointed king, priest and prophet–whom God had promised to send to the Chosen People. Only God can foresee contingent future events, that is, events that need not happen. I can foresee that if I set my alarm clock for 7 a.m. and wind it, it will ring at 7 a.m., but I cannot foresee that I shall be involved in a car-crash next week. The prophets of the Old Testament, illuminated by God, foretold many things concerning the future Messiah. These things were fulfilled in Christ and in no one else. Therefore, he was the one God had promised. These very prophecies were given by God beforehand so that his Messiah would be recognized when he came. And they were referred to by Christ as proofs that he was the promised Messiah (Lk. 24: 25-27).

Yet, so many of the Chosen People who knew the prophecies and saw them fulfilled in Christ, refused to accept him as such. Today’s prophecy is an evident case of this. How can one explain such blindness of intellect and such stubbornness of will? Humanly speaking, God had a difficult time dealing with his Chosen People, and yet he never once deserted them or departed from the promise he had first given to Abraham, and repeated century after century until the “fulness of time” came, and Christ appeared on earth. He fulfilled his promise to them, even though they had again and again proved themselves utterly unworthy of his kindness.

We wonder which should amaze us most: the ingratitude, the hardness of heart, the utter worldliness of the Jews, or the infinite mercy and patience of God, who not only spared and tolerated such a people, but actually loved them to the end. He did not desert them. It was they who deserted him. “He came unto his own but his own received him not” (Jn. 1 : 11).

We have a problem nearer home which can occupy our intellects more profitably than that of the meanness of the Jews toward their loving and merciful God. While the leaders of the Jews rejected Christ as an impostor and a blasphemer, our ancestors–the Gentile nations–accepted him gladly as their Redeemer and as the Son of God, who had become man and who came on earth to bring them to heaven. This is still our faith, and it is still the one and only true explanation of man’s life on this earth. We are here to prepare ourselves to merit heaven, the eternal life which Christ has earned for us. That life is the only explanation of why God created us, and the only answer to the human capabilities and natural desires that he instilled in our human nature. God raised us above all his other creatures, because he intended us to pass from this life to a future, everlasting state where perpetual joy and happiness would be our lot.

This is the meaning of the Christian faith which we profess–but how deeply does this conviction really sink into the hearts and minds of the millions who call themselves Christians? If it had sunk into the minds of the leaders of the Christian nations how could one nation be at war with another? How could injustices be rife within a Christian nation if we loved God and loved our neighbor, as the two basic commandments of the Christian faith prescribed? And to come still nearer home: how deeply does our Christian faith affect our daily actions and dealings with our fellowman? Like many of the Jews on Palm Sunday, who shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David,” but who on Good Friday morning were clamoring for Christ’s crucifixion, we too will sing “Hosanna” and “glory to God in the highest” on Sunday, but on Monday morning, we are ready to cheat our employer or our employees! Selfishness takes over and God is forgotten and our neighbor ceases to be our brother.

Thank God, this is not true of most of us. But it is true of far too many, and that is why our world, which was once Christian and is still nominally Christian, is a world of stress and strife where Christian is out to cheat Christian, and nation is out to subdue nation by force of arms, or by political maneuvers.

Can we do nothing about this? Of course we can! We can make our voices heard. But before we preach, we must make sure that we ourselves are practicing what we preach. We must show, by the manner of our daily lives, that getting to heaven is incomparably more important than getting on well, justly or unjustly, in this life.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

I will extol you, O my God and King,

and I will bless your name forever and ever.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is faithful in all his words

and holy in all his works.

The LORD lifts up all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

READING II

icon-of-the-holy-paraclete

2 Rom 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:

You are not in the flesh;

on the contrary, you are in the spirit,

if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

the one who raised Christ from the dead

will give life to your mortal bodies also,

through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters,

we are not debtors to the flesh,

to live according to the flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,

but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,

you will live.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2

CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,3 the Spirit of adoption,4 the Spirit of Christ,5 the Spirit of the Lord,6 and the Spirit of God7 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.8

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,9 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.10 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”11 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.12 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.13 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.14 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:15 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.16 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.17

CCC 990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.18 The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.19

1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

3 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.

4 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.

5 Rom 8:9.

6 2 Cor 3:17.

7 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.

8 1 Pet 4:14.

9 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

10 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

11 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

12 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

13 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

14 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

15 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

16 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

17 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.

18 Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6.

19 Rom 8:11.

APPLICATION 

By baptism we were made adopted sons of God, because Christ, in becoming God-Incarnate, made us his brothers. We, therefore, share in the divine life and receive the spirit of God. The first effect of this indwelling of the Spirit in us, is what theologians call, sanctifying grace. As long as we retain this state of grace, we are living in union with the Blessed Trinity, and are moving daily closer to our eternal inheritance. This eternal inheritance is for all men, because Christ’s Incarnation was decreed from all eternity so that all men could live forever after their life-span on this earth. People who, through no fault of their own, have not been able to receive baptism or to know of the Christian faith, will be provided for by God, whose power is infinite. St. Paul is writing to Christian converts in this letter and deals only with them.

The man who knowingly and willingly rejects Christ and his teaching, either by refusing to learn of it when he could, or by refusing to live up to his teaching once accepted, cannot expect and will not get, that eternal life of happiness. This is a truth that should make all of us stop and think. We are Christians by baptism, but are we living according to the Christian rule of life? Are we, at this moment, living in union with the Blessed Trinity, through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit within us?

Though we may be struggling along with many minor lapses in our lives every day, if we are not conscious of any serious offense against God, the answer is yes, because we wipe out those minor lapses every time we make an act of love of God and beg his pardon for our mistakes and weaknesses. But if we have sinned seriously and have not yet repented of such serious offenses, then we have not the grace of the Holy Spirit in us and we shall have lost our inheritance in heaven if death finds us in this state.

Here it is well to call to mind the infinite mercy of God. St. Paul, as we said, is speaking of the ideal Christian, and therefore does not speak of repentance as he does elsewhere. Christ, our loving Savior, while asking us to carry our cross and follow him daily on the road of self-mortification, knew full well for he was God as well as man, that even the best could fail at times. He therefore left us a sacrament, which can wipe out even grave sins, provided we receive it with true repentance. This sacrament of God’s mercy–the Sacrament of Penance–not only wipes out our sins but brings back, to dwell within us once more, the Holy Spirit with his sanctifying grace. And besides, as every instructed Christian knows, if because of circumstances we cannot receive this sacrament, a fervent act of contrition will produce the same effects.

A Christian who continues living a sinful life, without a thought for his eternal welfare, is living in a fool’s paradise if he persuades himself that he will get “time yet” for confessing his sins to a priest or to say a fervent act of contrition, and thus put things right with God. Death is always sudden and unexpected, even for one who has spent months ill in hospital. In ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, the desire to live, which is innate in us because we were destined by God for an eternal life, will push the thought of death out of one’s mind.

There is one way to remove all the worry as to how death will find us, and that is, to follow St. Paul’s advice: to live always ready for death. This is not easy for many of us, but when we think of what is at stake–all eternity in happiness or in misery–it is a small premium to pay for so great a reward. 

GOSPEL

Related image

Mt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

for although you have hidden these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.

No one knows the Son except the Father,

and no one knows the Father except the Son

and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/070917.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.1 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”2 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”3 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.4

CCC 153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.5 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”6

CCC 240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”7

CCC 443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”8 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.9 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father’”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.10

CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”11 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”12 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”13 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.14

CCC 473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.15 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”16 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.17 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.18

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;19 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”20 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.21 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.22 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.23

CCC 1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses.24 By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.25 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

CCC 1658 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.’”26

CCC 2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.27 His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.28

CCC 2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.29

CCC 2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” Humility makes us recognize that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” that is, “to little children.”30 The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us.

The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father’s name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name “Son” implies the new name “Father.”31

CCC 2785 Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us “to turn and become like children”:32 for it is to “little children” that the Father is revealed.33

[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.34

Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us. .. and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. .. What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?35

1 Mk 1:11; cf. 9:7.

2 Jn 14:1.

3 Jn 1:18.

4 Jn 6:46; cf. Mt 11:27.

5 Mt 16:17; cf. Gal 1:15; Mt 11:25.

6 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

7 Mt 11-27.

8 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.

9 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.

10 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.

11 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

12 Mk 9:7; cf. Dt 6:4-5.

13 Jn 15:12.

14 Cf. Mk 8:34.

15 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, “Sicut aqua” ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097 Aff.; DS 475.

16 St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66 PG 90, 840A.

17 Cf. Mk 14:36; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 8:55; etc.

18 Cf. Mk 2:8; Jn 2 25; 6:61; etc.

19 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.

20 Mt 5:3.

21 Cf. Mt 11:25.

22 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.

23 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

24 Cf. Mk 8:34; Mt 11:29-30.

25 Cf. Mt 19:11.

26 FC 85; cf. Mt 11:28.

27 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.

28 Cf. Eph 1:9.

29 Cf. Mt 11:25-26; Mk 14:36.

30 Mt 11:25-27.

31 Tertullian De orat. 3: PL 1, 1155.

32 Mt 18:3.

33 Cf. Mt 11:25.

34 St. John Cassian, Coll. 9, 18 PL 49, 788c.

35 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 2, 4, 16: PL 34, 1276.

APPLICATION 

Do we really appreciate the fact that we are Christians, that we know, through Christ’s revelation, that the God of heaven, the infinite Creator of the universe, has deigned to call himself our Father, and gives us the right to call him Father? Through that same Christian revelation we also know that he is infinitely merciful and cares for each single one of us more than any human father can care for his child. That he not only put us into this world and provides for us here, but that when our days here come to an end, he has prepared an everlasting abode for us, in his kingdom of peace and happiness.

Think for a moment what our world, or the people in it, were like before Christ came on earth. Ninety-seven percent of those then on earth adored false gods and offered sacrifices to idols made of wood or stone. Idolatry often made life on earth unbearable and gave no hope whatsoever of any after-life. The remaining three per cent was made up of the Chosen People who had a very limited knowledge of the true God. He had shown mercy and kindness toward them, but they feared him rather than loved him. With rare and notable exceptions, they served him out of self-interest, to get from him temporal gifts, rather than out of real gratitude and love. Their relationship to him was more like that of slaves toward their masters than that of children toward a kind and loving Father. Their life was earth-centered and their ambitions were worldly. He had revealed little or nothing to them about a life after death. The prophets spoke of a great, happy and prosperous age which was to come, when God would send his Messiah, but the most they could hope for in the way of a future life or immortality, was to live on in their descendants, so that, to be childless was one of their greatest disasters.

Pagans and Jews had the same hardships of life to face as we have, and even greater ones. They earned their daily bread with the sweat of brow and body. Their illnesses were more frequent and less bearable than ours, for they had not the medical helps that we have. Death came to young and old then as it does now, but for them it was a final parting from loved ones, and no hope of a future happy meeting served to lighten their sorrow. All their crosses were crushing weights, sent to make life more miserable. Life on earth was passed in gloom and darkness and there was no shining star in the heavens to beckon them on or give them hope.

Surely God is good to us, to put us into this world at this day and age, and give us the light of faith, and the knowledge of God and of his loving plans for us, which make the burdens of this life so relatively light and even so reasonable for us. We still have to earn our bread. We still have sickness and pains. We still have death stalking the earth, but unlike the people before Christ we now see a meaning to all these trials.

The yoke of Christ is not really a yoke but a bond of love, which joins us to him, and through him, to our loving Father in heaven. The rule of life which he asks us to keep, if we are loyal followers of his, is not a series of prohibitions and dont’s. It is rather a succession of sign-posts on the straight road to heaven, making our journey easier and safer. He does, ask us to carry our cross daily, that is, to bear the burden of each day’s duty, but once the cross is grasped firmly and lovingly it ceases to be a burden.

Ours is a world which is in an all-out search for new idols. It is a world which has left the path marked out by Christ, and forgotten or tried to forget, that man’s life does not end with death. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in this neo-pagan darkness, is surely a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank him enough. Thank you, God, for this gift. Please give us the grace and the courage to live up to it and to die in the certainty that we shall hear, as we shut our eyes on the light of this world, the consoling words, “come you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you.”

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Becoming a Seer and a Pathfinder

By a long and difficult journey, which began in a cave near Subiaco, the man Benedict has climbed up the mountain and finally up the tower. His life has been an inner climb, step by step, up the “vertical ladder.” He has reached the tower and, then, the “upper room,” which from the time of the Acts of the Apostles has been understood as a symbol of being brought together and drawn up, rising up out of the world of making and doing. He is standing at the window – he has sought and found the place where he can look out, where the wall of the world has been opened up and he can gaze into the open. He is standing. In monastic tradition, someone standing represents a man who has straightened himself up from being crouched and doubled up and is thus, not only able to stare at the earth, but he has achieved upright status and the ability to look up. Thus he becomes a seer. It is not the world that is narrowed down but the soul that is broadened out, being no longer absorbed in the particular, no longer looking at the trees and unable to see the wood, but now able to view the whole. Even better, he can see the whole because he is looking at it from on high, and he is able to gain this vantage point because he has grown inwardly great… He has to stand at the window. He must gaze out. And then the light of God can touch him; he can recognize it and can gain from it the true overview… Those great men who, by patient climbing and by the repeated purification they have received in their lives, have become seers and, therefore, pathfinders for the centuries are also relevant to us today.

An Example of Enduring to the End

Saint Gregory presented Saint Benedict as a “luminous star” in order to point the way out of the “black night of history.” In fact, the Saint’s work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the continent. This is how the reality we call “Europe” came into being.

St. Benedict…lived…completely alone for three years in a cave which has been the heart of a Benedictine monastery called the Sacro Speco (Holy Grotto) since the early Middle Ages. The period in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was a time of maturation for Benedict. It was here that he bore and overcame the three fundamental temptations of every human being: the temptation of self-affirmation and the desire to put oneself at the center, the temptation of sensuality and, lastly, the temptation of anger and revenge. In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus, having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first monasteries in the Valley of the Anio, near Subiaco. (Magnificat July 11,2014)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER 

Image result for icon st. benedict

Novena to Saint Benedict – Feast day July 11th

Glorious Saint Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God’s grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God.

To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me.

Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor.

Inspire me to imitate you in all things.

May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life.

Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you.

I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore.

{mention your petition}

Help me, great Saint Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven.

Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”


OPENING PRAYER

Prayer To Saint Joseph For The Whole Church
O Glorious Saint Joseph,
you were chosen by God
to be the foster father of Jesus,
the most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin,
and the head of the Holy Family.
You have been chosen by Christ’s Vicar
as the heavenly Patron and Protector
of the Church founded by Christ.
Protect the Sovereign Pontiff
and all bishops and priests united with him.
Be the protector of all who labour for souls
amid the trials and tribulations of this life;
and grant that all peoples of the world
may be docile to the Church
without which there is no salvation.
Dear Saint Joseph,
accept the offering I make to you.
Be my father, protector,
and guide in the way of salvation.
Obtain for me purity of heart
and a love for the spiritual life.
After your example,
let all my actions be directed
to the greater glory of God,
in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus,
the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
and your own paternal heart.
Finally, pray for me that I may share
in the peace and joy of your holy death.
Amen
COLLECT
O God, who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
READING I
Elisja.jpg
1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21
The LORD said to Elijah:
You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”
Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.
1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.
2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.
3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.
APPLICATION
God’s ways are indeed mysterious to us. Elijah, whom he had sent to Israel (the breakaway northern kingdom) did heroic work there to preserve the knowledge of the true God. It was a period when pagan infiltration was at its strongest under King Achab and his wicked wife, Queen Jezebel, a pagan from Tyre. God called a successor for Elijah, who carried on his great work and it is due to these two men of God that the ordinary people of Israel preserved, more or less, the true faith. This was so, notwithstanding the efforts of their rulers during the ninth century B.C. to introduce paganism.
Why does God allow evil in the world he created? Why does he create men whom he knew would spread their evil influence? Through their example and their power, which they so often succeed in acquiring, they make the eternal salvation of thousands, even of millions of their fellowman, most difficult, if not impossible.
This is a question which has troubled the minds of many down through the ages. It would be so easy for God not to create men whom he knows will lead evil lives and cause so many others to follow them in their evil ways. Would not our religious life today, and our faithful service of God, be so much easier and better if there were not so many practical (and to a less harmful degree, theoretical) atheists amongst us, and so many promoters of sin and its occasions?
Yet, any sane, sound-thinking man will have to admit that surely the all-intelligent God knows what is best for his world. Man has intelligence and free will, the gifts of God which raise him above all other earthly creatures. Yet he is liable to abuse these gifts and offend his Creator. The animals do not sin, because they lack these gifts. Neither can they know God, nor have they the possibility of enjoying an eternal heaven in his company. If God denied us intelligence and free will, the only way of preventing sin, then we, like the animals, could never earn or enjoy heaven.
Furthermore, would our religious life, our respect for God and for his laws be really better and more sincere, if we had no opposition? The example of countries and peoples who suffered persecutions from the opponents of the faith in the past (and this is true of parts of our world still today) would seem to prove the opposite. The early Church spread rapidly through the Roman empire, not only in spite of violent persecutions, but because of them. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”
Today we live in a world which seems in theory and in practice to be moving more and more away from God. Unfortunately, as always, some of the leaders of this secularism and this disrespect for and negation of God’s rights and claims, are or were men in positions of authority. This makes the scandal and the evil infection all the more widespread. However, we still trust in the all-wise God who knows all the thoughts and the doings of men–he has his purpose in allowing this state of affairs to exist in his Church and in the world. We shall understand it in the next life. During our years here below let us do our own part, and then we can safely leave the rest to God.
Elijah and Elisha, and the thousands of others which their active apostolate influenced, might never have been saints in heaven today, if God had not permitted paganism to be introduced into Israel by its sinful rulers. Our modern semi-paganism, too, will produce more active love for and service of God amongst the faithful and make saints of many who might otherwise have led a lukewarm, half-hearted Christian life.
God preserved the Chosen People of the Old Testament in spite of the apostasy and wickedness of many of them, until the time was right to send his Son amongst us. He will preserve his Church, the kingdom of his Son, Christ, notwithstanding the apostasy and opposition of so many he wished to save, until the last of the human race has left this earth. Let us do our part not only for our own salvation, but also for the salvation of those very ones who are opposing God and his Church. We can safely leave the outcome to God. It is in his all-wise, all-powerful hands.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.”
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
READING II
th.jpg
Gal 5:1, 13-18
Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.
I say, then: live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.1
CCC 1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.”2 In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.”3 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”4 Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”5
CCC 2515 Etymologically, “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the “spirit.”6 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.7
CCC 2744 Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin.8 How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy. .. For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.9
Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.10
CCC 2819 “The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”11 The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between “the flesh” and the Spirit.12
Only a pure soul can boldly say: “Thy kingdom come.” One who has heard Paul say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies,” and has purified himself in action, thought and word will say to God: “Thy kingdom come!”13
1 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.
2 Gal 5:1.
3 Cf. In 8:32.
4 2 Cor 17.
5 Rom 8:21.
6 Cf. Gal 5:16, 17, 24; Eph 2:3.
7 Cf. Gen 3:11; Council of Trent: DS 1515.
8 Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
9 St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4, 5: PG 54, 666.
10 St. Alphonsus Liguori, Del gran Mezzo della preghiera.
11 Rom 14:17.
12 Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
13 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. myst. 5, 13: PG 33, 1120A; cf. Rom 6:12.
APPLICATION
We are no longer troubled by Judaizers or by anyone trying to force us to keep the practices of the Mosaic law. This trouble lasted for only one generation in the early Church. We are, however, surrounded on all sides today, by the other seduction against which St. Paul warns us–the call to give “free rein to the flesh.”
Freedom from all authority, freedom to do as we will with our lives, freedom from any restraint, divine or human, is the new gospel of the permissive society. But in fact it is not new. It is the old paganism of the pre-Christian era in an even more pernicious form. The old pagans had respect for their gods. They had respect for their social laws and for social authority. The new pagans have no gods but themselves. There are no social laws or no authority which they respect. They are the supreme arbiters of all their actions; they are responsible to nobody or to no power but to their own selves.
This insidious doctrine has not come from the peoples of Africa and Asia who have not yet heard the Christian message. It comes from countries that once were Christian but which gradually lost the sense of Christianity and the true meaning of its good news. There are millions of men and women today who are ignorant of, or else ignore, their true purpose in life. The only meaning they evidently find for being a few short years on this earth is to get all the pleasure, power and plenty they can out of it. That pleasure, power and plenty, however, is very restricted and limited. Their philosophy, if it could possibly be called that, must of necessity lead once more to the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, until in a short while one more strong than themselves comes along.
A permissive society is not a society in any sense of the word. A society means a group of people living in harmony, working together for the common good of each and all its members. Rules must be drawn up and obeyed. Leaders with the right to interpret these rules and to command their execution must be in command. Each individual’s person and, rights must be respected and protected, regardless of age or position. While democracy and freedom of speech for each member is to be commended, the obligation on each member of the society to think seriously and cogitate carefully on all the implications of all decisions to be taken, is all the greater.
This true form of democracy, and freedom to express considered and carefully weighed opinions, is not the norm that governs the agitators for the permissive society. They want freedom for themselves only. They do not care if others have to suffer as long as they get their own freedom to do what they will. Hence their advocacy of pre-marital sex relations, facile divorce, abortion and euthanasia, among other crimes, against human society. The unborn, the weak, the old, are hindrances to their pleasure and plenty, and so must be eliminated!
Needless to say, St. Paul, when warning his converts to keep the animal-man in check, could not foresee such incredible abuses of human reasoning, and such a depth of selfishness even in animal-man. He is reminding us Christians that we must be an example to our fellowman in the society in which we live, and that example must be shown especially in our real love for our fellowman. We must be ready to help our neighbor in his need, not only when doing so is not too inconvenient, but even when it puts us to grave inconvenience. We must do for him what we would wish to be done to ourselves. We would all surely be convinced that the greatest help a neighbor could give us would be to put us back on the right road to eternal life if we had strayed from the path.
Many of our neighbors today are in dire need of help to find their true bearings on the sea of this life. We can and must help them by prayer, and ask God to give them light and direction. We can sometimes get in a quiet word of advice at the opportune moment. We can and we must openly express our total rejection of any and every suggested legislation proposed and sponsored by the permissive groups denying the right of the weaker members. Such legislation would be destructive of all rational human society. Rationality will prevail. God still rules his world.
GOSPEL
OIP-1
Lk 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;1 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”2 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.3 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.4 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.5
1 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.
2 Mt 5:3.
3 Cf. Mt 11:25.
4 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.
5 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
APPLICATION
Among the various incidents gathered together by Luke in these verses of his gospel we have read today, perhaps the lesson that should strike all of us most is his insistence on total dedication on the part of his true followers to his service. We cannot be for Christ and against him at the same time. “He who gathers not with me, scatters,” he himself said. We are followers of Christ since our baptism. In theory this is the fact, but in practice how real is this fact for many of us? Are we really following Christ during the twenty-four hours of every day of our lives? Are our eyes always fixed on the true future which awaits us? Are we prepared to plow a straight furrow no matter what snags or obstacles may be on our way? How few of us can answer “yes, we are,” to these straight questions?
We have, of course, explanations ready at hand for our forgetfulness, our laxity, our earthly entanglements. We are tied down by family and a hundred other earthly cares. Our days, our weeks, our year are so fully occupied that we find it hard to spare even a short hour on Sundays to give to God. This answer shows a misunderstanding of what Christ demands of us. He knows his followers must live for a few years in this world and must, for the most part, struggle to earn a living for themselves during that period. But it is by living this earthly life properly, by being loyal to spouse and family, by earning one’s living honestly, by living not only peacefully but helpfully with one’s neighbors, that we are living our Christian life.
The man who keeps within the limits that Christian law lays down for him, while working his way through this life, is a true follower of Christ and is on the road to heaven, plowing a straight furrow. He may not have much time for prayer, and each morning he may rush off to work. But God understands half-sentences and even single words. At night he needs recreation and relaxation, and God does not expect long prayers from him–if he has worked honestly and has given the example of true Christianity to his fellow-workers, he has honored God all day. He has prayed well. A few words of thanks to God, a request for pardon for all the mistakes made since morning, before lying down to sleep at night, will give such a man nothing to fear should God call him to judgement during the night hours.
If we only realized how reasonable God’s demands are, and how every demand he makes on us is for our own benefit and not his, we would be a little more generous in our response to his calls. He does not need us–we need him. We could slip in a few more short prayers during the day; we could find more time to take a true interest in the eternal and less in the temporal. We could manage to give a helping hand and a word of encouragement to a needy neighbor. Yes, all of us could do a lot more to show to Christ and to the world that we are following him gladly and honestly. We are not looking back while plowing our Christian furrow.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.
BENEDICTUS
The Destiny of Those Who were Called
The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus.  An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus.  This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John from Jesus’ very first encounter with the future apostles…  The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan.  The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world.  They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent.  It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher.  The lines of Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive.  To his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.”  Come, so that you will be able to see.  The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another.  For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him.  Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person.  Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him.  On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
CLOSING PRAYER
At The Foot Of The Cross Prayer
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
I will go to the altar of God.
To God who gives joy to my youth.
Judge me, O God,
and take up my cause against the nation that is not holy.
Free me from the unjust and deceitful man.
For You, O God, are my strength,
why have You cast me off?
And why do I walk in sorrow,
while the enemy troubles me?
Send forth Your light and Your truth,
they have led me,
and brought me to Your holy hill,
and to Your dwelling.
I will go to the altar of God,
to God who gives joy to my youth.
To You, O God, my God,
I will give praise upon the harp,
why are you sad, O my soul?
And why do you trouble me?
Hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
the salvation of my countenance and my God.
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.
Posted in Catholic

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

acc01d18a16a04c5ddfe71d32a5ac837.jpg

Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

“I hear the whisperings of many:

‘Terror on every side!

Denounce! let us denounce him!’

All those who were my friends

are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,

and take our vengeance on him.’

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:

my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

In their failure they will be put to utter shame,

to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,

who probe mind and heart,

let me witness the vengeance you take on them,

for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to the LORD,

praise the LORD,

for he has rescued the life of the poor

from the power of the wicked!”

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.1

1 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my children,

Because zeal for your house consumes me,

and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

I pray to you, O LORD,

for the time of your favor, O God!

In your great kindness answer me

with your constant help.

Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness;

in your great mercy turn toward me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, may your hearts revive!

For the LORD hears the poor,

and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

READING II

venice_torcello_cathedral.jpg

Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—

for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,

though sin is not accounted when there is no law.

But death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin

after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,

who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.

For if by the transgression of the one the many died,

how much more did the grace of God

and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ

overflow for the many.

CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”8 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”9

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”10 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.11 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”12

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,13 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”14 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.15 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.16 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”17

CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.18 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.19 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.20

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

11 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

12 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

13 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

14 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

15 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

16 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

17 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

18 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ’s death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.

GOSPEL

Image result for Roman Catholic pantocrator icon

Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,

nor secret that will not be known.

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;

what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy

both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

But whoever denies me before others,

I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

CCC 14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.1 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ”What shall we eat?“ or ”What shall we drink?“… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”2

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.3 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,4 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.5 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”6 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”7

CCC 1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”8 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”9

CCC 2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.10 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9.

2 Mt 6:31-33; cf. 10:29-31.

3 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.

4 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.

5 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

10 Cf. Mt 10:32; 1 Tim 6:12.

APPLICATION

What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.

This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.

A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very black sheep coming out of very white Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.

In today’s gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men,” He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”

These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.

Let us remember our Lord’s promise “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus. An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus. This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John before Jesus very first encounter with the future apostles… The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world. They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent. It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher. The lines if Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive. This his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.” Come, so that you will be able to see. The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another. For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him. Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person. Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him. On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

acc01d18a16a04c5ddfe71d32a5ac837.jpg

Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

“I hear the whisperings of many:

‘Terror on every side!

Denounce! let us denounce him!’

All those who were my friends

are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,

and take our vengeance on him.’

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:

my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

In their failure they will be put to utter shame,

to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,

who probe mind and heart,

let me witness the vengeance you take on them,

for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to the LORD,

praise the LORD,

for he has rescued the life of the poor

from the power of the wicked!”

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.1

1 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my children,

Because zeal for your house consumes me,

and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

I pray to you, O LORD,

for the time of your favor, O God!

In your great kindness answer me

with your constant help.

Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness;

in your great mercy turn toward me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, may your hearts revive!

For the LORD hears the poor,

and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

READING II

venice_torcello_cathedral.jpg

Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—

for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,

though sin is not accounted when there is no law.

But death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin

after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,

who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.

For if by the transgression of the one the many died,

how much more did the grace of God

and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ

overflow for the many.

CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”8 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”9

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”10 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.11 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”12

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,13 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”14 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.15 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.16 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”17

CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.18 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.19 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.20

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

11 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

12 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

13 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

14 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

15 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

16 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

17 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

18 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ’s death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.

GOSPEL

Image result for Roman Catholic pantocrator icon

Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,

nor secret that will not be known.

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;

what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy

both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

But whoever denies me before others,

I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

CCC 14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.1 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ”What shall we eat?“ or ”What shall we drink?“… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”2

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.3 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,4 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.5 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”6 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”7

CCC 1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”8 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”9

CCC 2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.10 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9.

2 Mt 6:31-33; cf. 10:29-31.

3 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.

4 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.

5 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

10 Cf. Mt 10:32; 1 Tim 6:12.

APPLICATION

What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.

This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.

A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very black sheep coming out of very white Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.

In today’s gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men,” He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”

These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.

Let us remember our Lord’s promise “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus. An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus. This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John before Jesus very first encounter with the future apostles… The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world. They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent. It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher. The lines if Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive. This his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.” Come, so that you will be able to see. The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another. For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him. Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person. Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him. On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (here all kneel)

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thanks be to God.

of communion with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (here all kneel)

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thanks be to God.

Posted in Catholic

The Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ

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‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,

and I will raise him on the last day. 

OPENING PRAYER

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within thy wounds hide me.

Suffer me not to be separated from thee.

From the malicious enemy defend me.

In the hour of my death call me and bid me come unto thee

That with thy saints I may praise thee forever and ever. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament

have left us a memorial of your Passion,

grant us, we pray,

so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body

and Blood,

that we may always experience in ourselves

the fruits of your redemption.

Who live and reign with God the Father

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

4753788_orig.gif

Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a

Moses said to the people:

“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,

has directed all your journeying in the desert,

so as to test you by affliction

and find out whether or not it was your intention

to keep his commandments.

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,

and then fed you with manna,

a food unknown to you and your fathers,

in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,

but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

that place of slavery;

who guided you through the vast and terrible desert

with its saraph serpents and scorpions,

its parched and waterless ground;

who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock

and fed you in the desert with manna,

a food unknown to your fathers.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.1 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.2 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,3 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

CCC 1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God;4 their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing”5 at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”6 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”7 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.8

1 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.

2 Gal 3:24.

3 Cf. Rom 3:20.

4 Cf. Deut 8:3.

5 1 Cor 10:16.

6 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

7 Am 8:11.

8 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

APPLICATION

Abraham, the father and founder of the Chosen People, was told by God to leave his home and pagan surroundings in Mesopotamia and come to a land that he would give to his descendants. Abraham trusted God and came to that foreign land. He and his descendants suffered many hardships before God eventually gave them possession of the Promised Land. Among these sufferings and hardships was the slavery they underwent in Egypt for several generations, until finally God stepped in and liberated them.

Their journey from Egypt to Palestine, or Canaan as it was then called, led through the vast desert of Sinai, an expanse of wilderness without food or water–where they could have perished to a man if their good God had not provided for them. This he did by giving them a special food which fell around their encampments every evening–a food that has ever since been called “manna,” expressing the wonderment of the Israelites when they first saw it.

This food, as well as water which burst forth from the rocks at the command of Moses, nourished and sustained them during their forty years’ journeying in the desert until they eventually reached home–the land promised to them by God.

That this “manna,” this miraculous food from the skies, was a symbol, a foreshadowing, of the more miraculous food from heaven which our divine Lord was to give to us to sustain and nourish us spiritually on our journey toward our eternal promised land, hardly needs emphasizing. Our Lord himself refers to the “manna” given by God to their ancestors in the desert but says that he will give them the true bread from heaven (Jn. 6: 31ff).

This promise he fulfilled on the night before he was crucified when he took bread, broke and gave it to his disciples, saying: “This is my body, which will be given for you” and taking the cup of wine he said: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you” (Lk. 22. 19). God the Son took our human nature, came on earth, in order to make all men not only God’s Chosen People, but God’s chosen children. By becoming man he raised us to the status of sons of God, heirs to God’s kingdom, heaven. To do this he suffered humiliations and torture at the hands of the men he had come to save, but through his death and resurrection he won for us the right to the eternal “promised land.”

However, to reach our inheritance we have to journey through the desert of this life, a journey during which we need above all a spiritual nourishment to sustain us and strengthen us to persevere amidst the many difficulties and hindrances our human nature and this earthly world put in our way. Christ, because he was God, because he foresaw our weaknesses and our needs, and because “he loved us to the end,” found a way of remaining with us to sustain us on our journey. He left us himself–under the form of food, bread and wine, to nourish us and help us to grow daily stronger in our spiritual, supernatural life and thus be able to reach the eternal home he has prepared for us.

God was surely good to the Israelites–he fed them miraculously in the desert and finally brought them into their “promised land.” But how much more generously and more miraculously has he dealt with us? Our promised land is not some strip of earth on which we can enjoy a few years of comfort–it is an everlasting home of peace and joy–it is a sharing in the happiness of the Blessed Trinity. The nourishment he has miraculously provided for us on our journey is not some food to sustain our earthly life, but the body and blood of his divine Son which only he, God, could give us and which only he, a God of infinite love, could think of giving. That we can never thank him enough goes without saying, but we can and we must strive to appreciate this, his greatest of gifts, to his Church and thus to us, by always trying to make ourselves worthy to receive him with the greatest respect and devotion of which we are capable.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;

praise your God, O Zion.

For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;

he has blessed your children within you.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has granted peace in your borders;

with the best of wheat he fills you.

He sends forth his command to the earth;

swiftly runs his word!

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,

his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.

He has not done thus for any other nation;

his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

READING II

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1 Cor 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:

The cup of blessing that we bless,

is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?

The bread that we break,

is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Because the loaf of bread is one,

we, though many, are one body,

for we all partake of the one loaf.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.1

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,2 above all at the Last Supper.3 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,4 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;5 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.6

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.7

CCC 1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God;8 their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing”9 at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.

CCC 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.10 The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”11

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.12

CCC 1621 In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ.13 In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up.14 It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ.15

1 Cf. 1 Cor 11:20; Rev 19:9.

2 Cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 8:6, 19.

3 Cf. Mt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24.

4 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

5 Cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11.

6 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.

7 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.

8 Cf. Deut 8:3.

9 1 Cor 10:16.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

11 1 Cor 10:16-17.

12 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.

13 Cf. SC 61.

14 Cf. LG 6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:17.

APPLICATION

The feast of Corpus Christi or the Body of Christ is a commemoration or calling to mind of that extraordinary act of love for us which our Divine Lord performed on the night before he died. Through his divine power he left to his Church, to his followers, the power to re-present again and again the sacrifice of his human nature which he was about to offer to the Father next day on the cross for the salvation and elevation of mankind.

As he could die only once in his being God he was able to do so (that natural body, he ordained) because this death of his could be repeated time and again under the form of the separation of his precious blood from his body, as happened on Calvary, by means of the separate acts of consecration of bread and wine performed by those to whom he gave this power. This is the meaning of the Eucharist as sacrifice.

It is as true a sacrifice as his death on the cross was, for so he willed it to be. In fact it is the same sacrifice, but under such another form as makes its repetition possible. As God he could do this, he said he was doing it and he gave a command to his Apostles (and through them to their successors) to continue doing it. The follower of Christ who believes he was what he claimed and proved himself to be, God in human nature, is left no room for doubt. Instead he ought to be full of wonder and admiration at the love and thoughtfulness of Christ who has left us a means of giving God infinite honor. We give him this by re-offering in the Eucharistic sacrifice his divine Son’s sacrifice of his human life on the cross. Sacrifice was always an essential part of all religions. In the Old Testament God commanded the offerings of animals and fruits of the field. They had value insofar as God accepted them as a sign, a token, of the true sacrifice of infinite value to be offered later by his divine Son.

Our sacrifice of the Mass therefore is a sacrifice which gives infinite honor and glory to God and renews for us all the divine blessings won on calvary.

The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, is also a sacrament, in fact the sacrament, he left to the Church. Under the external signs of bread and wine which are a natural bodily nourishment, we are given to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ. They are really present because of the divine power of the consecration pronounced by the celebrant acting in Christ’s name. This eucharistic food is for us our spiritual nourishment.

The receiving of Holy Communion, as it is called, is an essential sequence to the offering of Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass. He is present on our altars to re-offer his sacrifice of Calvary; his coming has the added purpose of nourishing us spiritually. When instituting the sacrifice he associated the sacrament with it, when he said of the consecrated bread: “take it and eat,” and of the cup: “drink all of you from this.” To partake of part of the sacrifices offered by pagans to their gods (and by the Jews to the true God) was looked on as a way of uniting the offerer with God. In the Mass all those present are the offerers, the celebrant alone has the power of consecration, but all are taking part in offering the sacrifice and should therefore take part in the eating of the sacrifice offered.

While the sacrifice of the Mass honors God of itself, our participation puts us in intimate union with God for we take within us Christ who is God. Thus we become the abode of the divine and the recipients of God’s most abundant graces. This is what Holy Communion means–union with the holy of holies, intimate union with God.

SEQUENCE – LAUDA SION

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,

Laud with hymns of exultation,

Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,

He is more than you bestow.

Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving

Is the quick’ning and the living

Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,

As we know, by faith unshaken,

Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,

Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,

From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,

When the institution olden

Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,

By the new king’s revelation,

Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,

Truth away the shadow chases,

Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,

Christ ordained to be repeated,

His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,

Bread and wine we hallow, making

Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,

Bread into his flesh he turns,

To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,

But a dauntless faith believes,

Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden

Priceless things to sense forbidden;

Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,

Yet in either wondrous token

Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,

Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;

Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,

One, as thousands of believers,

Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,

Of what divers dooms preparing,

Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,

See how like participation

Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,

Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,

That each sever’d outward token

doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,

Breaking but the sign betides

Jesus still the same abides,

still unbroken does remain.

GOSPEL

01-jesus-christ-pantocrator_full

Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;

whoever eats this bread will live forever;

and the bread that I will give

is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,

you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

has eternal life,

and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food,

and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me

and I have life because of the Father,

so also the one who feeds on me

will have life because of me.

This is the bread that came down from heaven.

Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,

whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061817.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.1 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,2 to the Samaritan woman,3 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.4 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer5 and with the witness they will have to bear.6

CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.7 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”8 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”9

CCC 994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.”10 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.11 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,12 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,”13 the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.14

CCC 1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”15 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.16

CCC 1355 In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered himself “for the life of the world”:17

Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to an ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”18

CCC 1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”19

CCC 1391 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.”20 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.”21

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.22

CCC 1509 “Heal the sick!”23 The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.24

CCC 1524 In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of “passing over” to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”25 The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.26

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”27 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”28 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.29

CCC 2837 “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,”30 to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.31 Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us.32 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive. .. This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.33

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.34

1 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

2 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

3 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

4 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

5 Cf. Lk 11:13.

6 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

7 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.

8 Jn 15:4-5.

9 Jn 6:56.

10 Jn 11:25.

11 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.

12 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.

13 Mt 12:39.

14 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.

15 Jn 6: 39-40,44,54; 11:24; LG 48 § 3.

16 1 Thess 4:16.

17 Jn 6:51.

18 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 66,1-2: PG 6, 428.

19 Jn 6:53.

20 Jn 6:56.

21 Jn 6:57.

22 Fanqith, Syriac Office of Antioch, Vol. 1, Commun., 237 a-b.

23 Mt 10:8.

24 Cf. Jn 6:54, 58; 1 Cor 11:30.

25 Jn 6:54.

26 Cf. Jn 13:1.

27 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

28 Am 8:11.

29 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

30 Cf. Ex 16:19-21.

31 Cf. 1 Tim 6:8.

32 St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56.

33 St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389.

34 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67 PL 52, 392; Cf. Jn 6:51.

APPLICATION

We are told in the verse which follow the part of Christ’s discourse read today, that not only the incredulous Jews, but even many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve: Will you too go away? Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (verses 66-68). Peter did not say he and the other Apostles understood what Christ had said, or that they had no difficulty in accepting his statement. Instead he made the profound act of faith: you have the words of eternal life–if we leave you, if we doubt your word, who else can teach us the truth?

I think we can all repeat today this humble and sincere act of faith which Peter made in Capernaum in that far-off day. Like Peter we cannot say that we can easily understand the mystery of Christ’s real presence under the appearance of bread and wine after the words of consecration have been pronounced by the celebrant. But we are certain that Christ said that he was doing this and that he gave a command to his Apostles (and their successors) to continue doing as he had done. We have one big advantage over Peter, we are certain that Christ was God as well as man–Peter was not convinced of this until after the resurrection–and we know that with God all things are possible.

While on earth the God-man Christ hid his divinity. No one who saw or met him would suspect God was truly present within that human frame. No one could think that the infinite who created the whole universe was within a tiny morsel of that universe, in a human nature. Even his twelve chosen ones to whom he gave many hints and many proofs of his divinity could not bring themselves to admit it, until the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit finally convinced them.

Now, if Christ could hide his divinity under his human nature, it certainly is not impossible for him to hide his divinity and his glorified body, which does not occupy space, under the form of bread and wine. Not only is it not impossible, but if he willed to do so as he clearly stated he did, then it is a fact.

We have a further advantage too over Peter: the two thousand long years of the Church’s acceptance of this truth. The “breaking of bread,” their term for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as sacrifice and sacrament, was practiced in the Church from the first day after the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:42), and has been practiced ever since, even by parts of the Church who left the successor of Peter and established a “separate brotherhood.”

Admitting the fact then is not our difficulty. Rather our total unworthiness of such love and consideration, and our lack of gratitude in return, are what should give us serious food for thought today. Christ, the Son of God, comes into my home, my heart, every time I receive the Blessed Eucharist! And what kind of a home, what kind of a heart have I prepared for him? Our Sunday Mass is a repetition of the Last Supper–the institution of the Eucharist, which anticipated the death, resurrection, and glorification of the Son of God. Through his death and subsequent glorification he not only made heaven accessible to us, but he left us this crucified and glorified body of his, to be a communal meat for us, his followers, when we are gathered to honor God through him. Do we think of ourselves as being present in that Upper Room in Jerusalem as we come together in our local church to take an active part in the offering of this divine sacrifice for ourselves and for all men?

Sunday Mass and Holy Communion should not be an obligation to be fulfilled but a privilege to perform. An honest look into our hearts and into our attitude would do each one of us a lot of spiritual good and might make many of us find we have an urgent need to turn over a new leaf.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Corpus Christi Procession

The Holy Thursday procession accompanies Jesus in his loneliness to the “via crucis.” The Corpus Christi procession, on the contrary, responds symbolically to the mandate of the Risen One… This universal aspect of the eucharistic presence is shown in the procession of our feast. We take Christ, present in the figure of bread, through the streets of our city… With this gesture, we place before his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the loneliness of youth and the elderly, temptations, fears, our whole life. The procession is intended to be a great and public blessing for our city: Christ is, in person, the divine blessing for the world… In the procession of Corpus Christi, we accompany the Risen One on his journey through the whole world, as we have said. And, in this way, we also respond to his mandate: “Take, eat… Drink of it, all of you” (Mt 26: 26) and following). The Risen One, present in the form of bread, cannot be “eaten” as a simple piece of bread. To eat this bread is to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating” is really a meeting between two persons; it is to allow oneself to be penetrated by the life of the One who is Lord, who is my Creator and Redeemer. The purpose of this communion is the assimilation of my life with his, my transfo

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‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,

and I will raise him on the last day.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within thy wounds hide me.

Suffer me not to be separated from thee.

From the malicious enemy defend me.

In the hour of my death call me and bid me come unto thee

That with thy saints I may praise thee forever and ever. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament

have left us a memorial of your Passion,

grant us, we pray,

so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body

and Blood,

that we may always experience in ourselves

the fruits of your redemption.

Who live and reign with God the Father

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

4753788_orig.gif

Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a

Moses said to the people:

“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,

has directed all your journeying in the desert,

so as to test you by affliction

and find out whether or not it was your intention

to keep his commandments.

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,

and then fed you with manna,

a food unknown to you and your fathers,

in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,

but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

that place of slavery;

who guided you through the vast and terrible desert

with its saraph serpents and scorpions,

its parched and waterless ground;

who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock

and fed you in the desert with manna,

a food unknown to your fathers.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.1 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.2 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,3 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

CCC 1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God;4 their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing”5 at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”6 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”7 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.8

1 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.

2 Gal 3:24.

3 Cf. Rom 3:20.

4 Cf. Deut 8:3.

5 1 Cor 10:16.

6 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

7 Am 8:11.

8 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

APPLICATION

Abraham, the father and founder of the Chosen People, was told by God to leave his home and pagan surroundings in Mesopotamia and come to a land that he would give to his descendants. Abraham trusted God and came to that foreign land. He and his descendants suffered many hardships before God eventually gave them possession of the Promised Land. Among these sufferings and hardships was the slavery they underwent in Egypt for several generations, until finally God stepped in and liberated them.

Their journey from Egypt to Palestine, or Canaan as it was then called, led through the vast desert of Sinai, an expanse of wilderness without food or water–where they could have perished to a man if their good God had not provided for them. This he did by giving them a special food which fell around their encampments every evening–a food that has ever since been called “manna,” expressing the wonderment of the Israelites when they first saw it.

This food, as well as water which burst forth from the rocks at the command of Moses, nourished and sustained them during their forty years’ journeying in the desert until they eventually reached home–the land promised to them by God.

That this “manna,” this miraculous food from the skies, was a symbol, a foreshadowing, of the more miraculous food from heaven which our divine Lord was to give to us to sustain and nourish us spiritually on our journey toward our eternal promised land, hardly needs emphasizing. Our Lord himself refers to the “manna” given by God to their ancestors in the desert but says that he will give them the true bread from heaven (Jn. 6: 31ff).

This promise he fulfilled on the night before he was crucified when he took bread, broke and gave it to his disciples, saying: “This is my body, which will be given for you” and taking the cup of wine he said: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you” (Lk. 22. 19). God the Son took our human nature, came on earth, in order to make all men not only God’s Chosen People, but God’s chosen children. By becoming man he raised us to the status of sons of God, heirs to God’s kingdom, heaven. To do this he suffered humiliations and torture at the hands of the men he had come to save, but through his death and resurrection he won for us the right to the eternal “promised land.”

However, to reach our inheritance we have to journey through the desert of this life, a journey during which we need above all a spiritual nourishment to sustain us and strengthen us to persevere amidst the many difficulties and hindrances our human nature and this earthly world put in our way. Christ, because he was God, because he foresaw our weaknesses and our needs, and because “he loved us to the end,” found a way of remaining with us to sustain us on our journey. He left us himself–under the form of food, bread and wine, to nourish us and help us to grow daily stronger in our spiritual, supernatural life and thus be able to reach the eternal home he has prepared for us.

God was surely good to the Israelites–he fed them miraculously in the desert and finally brought them into their “promised land.” But how much more generously and more miraculously has he dealt with us? Our promised land is not some strip of earth on which we can enjoy a few years of comfort–it is an everlasting home of peace and joy–it is a sharing in the happiness of the Blessed Trinity. The nourishment he has miraculously provided for us on our journey is not some food to sustain our earthly life, but the body and blood of his divine Son which only he, God, could give us and which only he, a God of infinite love, could think of giving. That we can never thank him enough goes without saying, but we can and we must strive to appreciate this, his greatest of gifts, to his Church and thus to us, by always trying to make ourselves worthy to receive him with the greatest respect and devotion of which we are capable.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;

praise your God, O Zion.

For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;

he has blessed your children within you.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has granted peace in your borders;

with the best of wheat he fills you.

He sends forth his command to the earth;

swiftly runs his word!

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,

his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.

He has not done thus for any other nation;

his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

READING II

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1 Cor 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:

The cup of blessing that we bless,

is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?

The bread that we break,

is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Because the loaf of bread is one,

we, though many, are one body,

for we all partake of the one loaf.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.1

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,2 above all at the Last Supper.3 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,4 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;5 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.6

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.7

CCC 1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God;8 their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing”9 at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.

CCC 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.10 The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”11

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.12

CCC 1621 In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ.13 In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up.14 It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ.15

1 Cf. 1 Cor 11:20; Rev 19:9.

2 Cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 8:6, 19.

3 Cf. Mt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24.

4 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

5 Cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11.

6 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.

7 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.

8 Cf. Deut 8:3.

9 1 Cor 10:16.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

11 1 Cor 10:16-17.

12 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.

13 Cf. SC 61.

14 Cf. LG 6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:17.

APPLICATION

The feast of Corpus Christi or the Body of Christ is a commemoration or calling to mind of that extraordinary act of love for us which our Divine Lord performed on the night before he died. Through his divine power he left to his Church, to his followers, the power to re-present again and again the sacrifice of his human nature which he was about to offer to the Father next day on the cross for the salvation and elevation of mankind.

As he could die only once in his being God he was able to do so (that natural body, he ordained) because this death of his could be repeated time and again under the form of the separation of his precious blood from his body, as happened on Calvary, by means of the separate acts of consecration of bread and wine performed by those to whom he gave this power. This is the meaning of the Eucharist as sacrifice.

It is as true a sacrifice as his death on the cross was, for so he willed it to be. In fact it is the same sacrifice, but under such another form as makes its repetition possible. As God he could do this, he said he was doing it and he gave a command to his Apostles (and through them to their successors) to continue doing it. The follower of Christ who believes he was what he claimed and proved himself to be, God in human nature, is left no room for doubt. Instead he ought to be full of wonder and admiration at the love and thoughtfulness of Christ who has left us a means of giving God infinite honor. We give him this by re-offering in the Eucharistic sacrifice his divine Son’s sacrifice of his human life on the cross. Sacrifice was always an essential part of all religions. In the Old Testament God commanded the offerings of animals and fruits of the field. They had value insofar as God accepted them as a sign, a token, of the true sacrifice of infinite value to be offered later by his divine Son.

Our sacrifice of the Mass therefore is a sacrifice which gives infinite honor and glory to God and renews for us all the divine blessings won on calvary.

The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, is also a sacrament, in fact the sacrament, he left to the Church. Under the external signs of bread and wine which are a natural bodily nourishment, we are given to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ. They are really present because of the divine power of the consecration pronounced by the celebrant acting in Christ’s name. This eucharistic food is for us our spiritual nourishment.

The receiving of Holy Communion, as it is called, is an essential sequence to the offering of Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass. He is present on our altars to re-offer his sacrifice of Calvary; his coming has the added purpose of nourishing us spiritually. When instituting the sacrifice he associated the sacrament with it, when he said of the consecrated bread: “take it and eat,” and of the cup: “drink all of you from this.” To partake of part of the sacrifices offered by pagans to their gods (and by the Jews to the true God) was looked on as a way of uniting the offerer with God. In the Mass all those present are the offerers, the celebrant alone has the power of consecration, but all are taking part in offering the sacrifice and should therefore take part in the eating of the sacrifice offered.

While the sacrifice of the Mass honors God of itself, our participation puts us in intimate union with God for we take within us Christ who is God. Thus we become the abode of the divine and the recipients of God’s most abundant graces. This is what Holy Communion means–union with the holy of holies, intimate union with God.

SEQUENCE – LAUDA SION

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,

Laud with hymns of exultation,

Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,

He is more than you bestow.

Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving

Is the quick’ning and the living

Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,

As we know, by faith unshaken,

Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,

Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,

From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,

When the institution olden

Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,

By the new king’s revelation,

Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,

Truth away the shadow chases,

Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,

Christ ordained to be repeated,

His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,

Bread and wine we hallow, making

Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,

Bread into his flesh he turns,

To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,

But a dauntless faith believes,

Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden

Priceless things to sense forbidden;

Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,

Yet in either wondrous token

Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,

Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;

Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,

One, as thousands of believers,

Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,

Of what divers dooms preparing,

Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,

See how like participation

Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,

Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,

That each sever’d outward token

doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,

Breaking but the sign betides

Jesus still the same abides,

still unbroken does remain.

GOSPEL

01-jesus-christ-pantocrator_full

Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;

whoever eats this bread will live forever;

and the bread that I will give

is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,

you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

has eternal life,

and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food,

and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me

and I have life because of the Father,

so also the one who feeds on me

will have life because of me.

This is the bread that came down from heaven.

Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,

whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061817.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.1 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,2 to the Samaritan woman,3 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.4 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer5 and with the witness they will have to bear.6

CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.7 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”8 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”9

CCC 994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.”10 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.11 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,12 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,”13 the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.14

CCC 1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”15 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.16

CCC 1355 In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered himself “for the life of the world”:17

Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to an ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”18

CCC 1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”19

CCC 1391 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.”20 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.”21

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.22

CCC 1509 “Heal the sick!”23 The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.24

CCC 1524 In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of “passing over” to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”25 The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.26

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”27 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”28 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.29

CCC 2837 “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,”30 to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.31 Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us.32 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive. .. This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.33

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.34

1 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

2 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

3 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

4 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

5 Cf. Lk 11:13.

6 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

7 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.

8 Jn 15:4-5.

9 Jn 6:56.

10 Jn 11:25.

11 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.

12 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.

13 Mt 12:39.

14 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.

15 Jn 6: 39-40,44,54; 11:24; LG 48 § 3.

16 1 Thess 4:16.

17 Jn 6:51.

18 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 66,1-2: PG 6, 428.

19 Jn 6:53.

20 Jn 6:56.

21 Jn 6:57.

22 Fanqith, Syriac Office of Antioch, Vol. 1, Commun., 237 a-b.

23 Mt 10:8.

24 Cf. Jn 6:54, 58; 1 Cor 11:30.

25 Jn 6:54.

26 Cf. Jn 13:1.

27 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

28 Am 8:11.

29 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

30 Cf. Ex 16:19-21.

31 Cf. 1 Tim 6:8.

32 St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56.

33 St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389.

34 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67 PL 52, 392; Cf. Jn 6:51.

APPLICATION

We are told in the verse which follow the part of Christ’s discourse read today, that not only the incredulous Jews, but even many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve: Will you too go away? Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (verses 66-68). Peter did not say he and the other Apostles understood what Christ had said, or that they had no difficulty in accepting his statement. Instead he made the profound act of faith: you have the words of eternal life–if we leave you, if we doubt your word, who else can teach us the truth?

I think we can all repeat today this humble and sincere act of faith which Peter made in Capernaum in that far-off day. Like Peter we cannot say that we can easily understand the mystery of Christ’s real presence under the appearance of bread and wine after the words of consecration have been pronounced by the celebrant. But we are certain that Christ said that he was doing this and that he gave a command to his Apostles (and their successors) to continue doing as he had done. We have one big advantage over Peter, we are certain that Christ was God as well as man–Peter was not convinced of this until after the resurrection–and we know that with God all things are possible.

While on earth the God-man Christ hid his divinity. No one who saw or met him would suspect God was truly present within that human frame. No one could think that the infinite who created the whole universe was within a tiny morsel of that universe, in a human nature. Even his twelve chosen ones to whom he gave many hints and many proofs of his divinity could not bring themselves to admit it, until the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit finally convinced them.

Now, if Christ could hide his divinity under his human nature, it certainly is not impossible for him to hide his divinity and his glorified body, which does not occupy space, under the form of bread and wine. Not only is it not impossible, but if he willed to do so as he clearly stated he did, then it is a fact.

We have a further advantage too over Peter: the two thousand long years of the Church’s acceptance of this truth. The “breaking of bread,” their term for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as sacrifice and sacrament, was practiced in the Church from the first day after the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:42), and has been practiced ever since, even by parts of the Church who left the successor of Peter and established a “separate brotherhood.”

Admitting the fact then is not our difficulty. Rather our total unworthiness of such love and consideration, and our lack of gratitude in return, are what should give us serious food for thought today. Christ, the Son of God, comes into my home, my heart, every time I receive the Blessed Eucharist! And what kind of a home, what kind of a heart have I prepared for him? Our Sunday Mass is a repetition of the Last Supper–the institution of the Eucharist, which anticipated the death, resurrection, and glorification of the Son of God. Through his death and subsequent glorification he not only made heaven accessible to us, but he left us this crucified and glorified body of his, to be a communal meat for us, his followers, when we are gathered to honor God through him. Do we think of ourselves as being present in that Upper Room in Jerusalem as we come together in our local church to take an active part in the offering of this divine sacrifice for ourselves and for all men?

Sunday Mass and Holy Communion should not be an obligation to be fulfilled but a privilege to perform. An honest look into our hearts and into our attitude would do each one of us a lot of spiritual good and might make many of us find we have an urgent need to turn over a new leaf.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Corpus Christi Procession

The Holy Thursday procession accompanies Jesus in his loneliness to the “via crucis.” The Corpus Christi procession, on the contrary, responds symbolically to the mandate of the Risen One… This universal aspect of the eucharistic presence is shown in the procession of our feast. We take Christ, present in the figure of bread, through the streets of our city… With this gesture, we place before his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the loneliness of youth and the elderly, temptations, fears, our whole life. The procession is intended to be a great and public blessing for our city: Christ is, in person, the divine blessing for the world… In the procession of Corpus Christi, we accompany the Risen One on his journey through the whole world, as we have said. And, in this way, we also respond to his mandate: “Take, eat… Drink of it, all of you” (Mt 26: 26) and following). The Risen One, present in the form of bread, cannot be “eaten” as a simple piece of bread. To eat this bread is to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating” is really a meeting between two persons; it is to allow oneself to be penetrated by the life of the One who is Lord, who is my Creator and Redeemer. The purpose of this communion is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and configuration with the One who is living love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes before us. Adoration and procession form part, therefore, of only one gesture of communion. They respond to his mandate: “Take, eat.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer to Foster the Practice of Daily Communion

O sweetest Jesus,

Thou who camest into the world

to give all souls the life of Thy grace,

and who, to preserve and nourish it in them,

hast willed to be at once the daily cure of their daily infirmities

and their daily sustenance;

we humbly beseech Thee,

by Thy Heart all on fire with love for us,

to pour forth upon them all Thy Divine Spirit,

so that those who are unhappily in mortal sin,

may turn to Thee and regain the life of grace which they have lost,

and those who, through Thy gift,

are already living this Divine life,

may draw near daily, when they can,

to Thy sacred table, whence,

by means of daily Communion,

they may receive daily the antidote of their daily venial sins,

and may every day foster within themselves the life of grace;

and being thus ever more and more purified,

may come at last to the possession of that eternal life

which is happiness with Thee.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2684

 

rmation and configuration with the One who is living love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes before us. Adoration and procession form part, therefore, of only one gesture of communion. They respond to his mandate: “Take, eat.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer to Foster the Practice of Daily Communion

O sweetest Jesus,

Thou who camest into the world

to give all souls the life of Thy grace,

and who, to preserve and nourish it in them,

hast willed to be at once the daily cure of their daily infirmities

and their daily sustenance;

we humbly beseech Thee,

by Thy Heart all on fire with love for us,

to pour forth upon them all Thy Divine Spirit,

so that those who are unhappily in mortal sin,

may turn to Thee and regain the life of grace which they have lost,

and those who, through Thy gift,

are already living this Divine life,

may draw near daily, when they can,

to Thy sacred table, whence,

by means of daily Communion,

they may receive daily the antidote of their daily venial sins,

and may every day foster within themselves the life of grace;

and being thus ever more and more purified,

may come at last to the possession of that eternal life

which is happiness with Thee.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2684

 

Posted in Catholic

The Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity

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God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of Thanks

O eternal God! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the beginning and end of all things; in whom we live and move and have our being; prostrate before Thee in body and soul, I adore Thee. I bless Thee and give Thee thanks. What return can I make to Thee, O God, for all that Thou hast done for me? I will bless Thy Holy Name, and serve Thee all the days of my life. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His Holy Name. Amen.

http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.comPrayers%20and%20Devotions%20to%20the%20Trinity.html

COLLECT

God our Father, who by sending into the world

the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification

made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,

grant we pray, that in professing the true faith,

we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory

and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai

as the LORD had commanded him,

taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there

and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”

Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,

“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,

slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord,

do come along in our company.

This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,

and receive us as your own.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 210 After Israel’s sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Moses’ prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love.1 When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ‘the LORD’ [YHWH].”2 Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, “YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a forgiving God.3

CCC 214 God, “HE WHO IS”, revealed himself to Israel as the one “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”.4 These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth. “I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”5 He is the Truth, for “God is light and in him there is no darkness”; “God is love”, as the apostle John teaches.6

CCC 2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,7 Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made his own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam.8 But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses “stands in the breach” before God in order to save the people.9 The arguments of his prayer – for intercession is also a mysterious battle – will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is love; he is therefore righteous and faithful; he cannot contradict himself; he must remember his marvelous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name.

1 Cf. Ex 32; 33: 12-17.

2 Ex 33:18-19.

3 Ex 34:5-6; cf. 34:9.

4 Ex 34:6.

5 Ps 138:2; cf. Ps 85:11.

6 I Jn 1:5; 4:8.

7 Cf. Ex 34:6.

8 Cf. Ex 17:8-12; Num 12:13-14.

9 Ps 106:23; cf. Ex 32:1-34:9.

APPLICATION

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity–three Persons in one God–was not revealed to the Jews of the Old Testament. They were not yet fit to accept this truth. Surrounded as they were by nations that practiced polytheism (many gods) there would be danger that the Jews would see three Gods in the Trinity–it would look like polytheism to them. Hence it was not revealed to them and therefore we have no Trinitarian text in the Old Testament which could be read on this feast of the Blessed Trinity.

The text chosen gives the basis for its eventual revelation., Yahweh made a covenant with the Israelites. He made them his Chosen People, though whom he would eventually send his divine Son and the Holy Spirit to give man–the whole chosen human race–the possibility and the means of reaching the destination that he had planned for them from all eternity. The covenant made by Yahweh with Moses on Mount Sinai was the preparation for the revelation of the dogma of the Blessed Trinity and its relationship with our salvation.

The Israelites were stubborn, unfaithful and ungrateful to God in spite of all he did for them. Yet God was long suffering. He put up with them for centuries and in spite of their infidelities he proved himself faithful to his promises. He sent to them (and to us through them) the Messiah–the promised King, Priest and Prophet (teacher) who brought to a happy conclusion the divine plan for mankind.

If the Israelites were stubborn and so often unfaithful. what can we say of ourselves? They were so ungrateful and so forgetful of favors received, but are we not ungrateful and forgetful too of even greater favors? We have a better knowledge of God’s love and mercy than the Israelites had. Are we not worse than they? They saw the power of God so often used in their favor; we have seen the weakness of God, as it were, the Son of God who took our human nature and suffered and died for our sake, and we can and do forget this infinite love of God for us.

Yahweh (the particular name for himself which he gave as a special favor to the Israelites) was with the Chosen People all through their journeying in the desert and eventually he led them by his almighty power into the promised land of Canaan. His divine Son whose name Jesus, means savior of all men, became one with us in his human nature and, as he promised, is with us daily leading us into the real promised land which he won for us through the humiliation and sufferings which his Incarnation brought on him. Yahweh fed the Israelites in the desert with manna to give them strength to reach Canaan. Christ, his Son, has given us his own body and blood under the mysterious form of the Blessed Eucharist to be our spiritual sustenance on our journey to heaven.

Is there really any comparison between what God did for the Chosen People of the Old Testament and what he has done and is daily doing for us–the Chosen People of the New Covenant? Yet How unworthy we prove ourselves of this his infinite love, how ungrateful we so frequently are for this divine interest in our eternal welfare! True, we are dealing with a God of mercy, a God who is long-suffering, a God abounding in steadfast love. But let us not put all these loving qualities of our good God too much to the test. He will never let us down but we could let ourselves down by presuming too much on God’s loving kindness and forgetting that he does ask of us certain proofs of our love in return.

One simple resolution on this great feastday would be to promise to make the sign of the cross as an act of dedication and thanksgiving to the loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who have already done and are daily continuing to do so much in order to bring us to heaven.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

READING II

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2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.

Mend your ways, encourage one another,

agree with one another, live in peace,

and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ

and the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1109 The epiclesis is also a prayer for the full effect of the assembly’s communion with the mystery of Christ. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”1 have to remain with us always and bear fruit beyond the Eucharistic celebration. The Church therefore asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to make the lives of the faithful a living sacrifice to God by their spiritual transformation into the image of Christ, by concern for the Church’s unity, and by taking part in her mission through the witness and service of charity.

1 2 Cor 13:13.

APPLICATION

By celebrating the feast of the three divine Persons today, we too are invoking on ourselves the blessings St. Paul invoked on the Corinthian Christians. We need the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ if we are to reach heaven. He has already put us on the right road by baptism, and has made us receptacles of grace, but that is only the first step although a supernatural one. Every human act we perform in the state of grace-even our eating and drinking, and our daily tasks–is moving us along the road to heaven. But if we lose the divine grace through mortal sin, all our actions, even holy actions, are useless as regards our heavenward journey.

The love of God, the true paternal interest of the Father, as well as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who is within us, inspiring us to good works, will also be always with us unless we deliberately cut ourselves off from their influence by serious sin.

The Blessed Trinity through Jesus Christ has foreseen this possibility. God knows our weaknesses and our inclination to do what is evil, better than we know them ourselves, and he has provided us with an easy and an accessible remedy. He has left to his Church the Sacrament of Penance in which our sins can be wiped out provided we are sincere in repenting of them. If it should happen that this sacrament is not available, the Church teaches us, following Christ’s instruction, that a sincere act of contrition which implies and contains an act of love for God will likewise blot out our sins and bring us back once more into, the family of the Blessed Trinity. In this case however, if and when we get the opportunity of confessing these sins in the Sacrament of Penance, we must do so.

While we see the absolute necessity then of being in God’s grace and friendship, in close union with the Holy Trinity, if we are to proceed toward heaven, we see how easy the good and loving God has made this for us. Should anybody be so foolish as to think that sins can keep us from heaven, one glimpse of the past history of the Church will suffice to change his mind. Among the canonized martyrs and saints (to say nothing of the millions of saints who are not officially canonized) for every one adult saint who has preserved his baptismal innocence through life, countless had some sins but repented of them and had them forgiven.

It is not sins that will keep us from heaven, but the refusal to repent of them. Let us all take courage then on this great feast of the Blessed Trinity. The three divine Persons want us in heaven. They have proved this already in the past; they are proving it daily in the Church. If we appreciate what the Blessed Trinity has done and is doing for us, and if we show our sincere gratitude by frequent acts of thanksgiving–a simple “thank you, God,” a reverent making of the sign of the cross, a symbol which reminds us of the lengths God went to in order to give us a place in heaven–if we develop this sense of gratitude we need never fear. Should we fall through human weakness, the three Persons are there to help us and put us on the right road to heaven once more.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” now and forever.

GOSPEL

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Jn 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.

Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,

but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,

because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061117.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”1

CCC 432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,2 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”3

CCC 444 The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the Transfiguration of Christ, the voice of the Father designates Jesus his “beloved Son”.4 Jesus calls himself the “only Son of God”, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.5 He asks for faith in “the name of the only Son of God”.6 In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, “Truly this man was the Son of God”,7 that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title “Son of God” its full meaning.

CCC 458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”8 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”9

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.10 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.11 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.12

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.13 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,14 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”15 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”16

1 Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62: 4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.

2 Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13.

3 Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7.

4 Cf. Mt 3:17; cf. 17:5.

5 Jn 3:16; cf. 10:36.

6 Jn 3:18.

7 Mk 15:39.

8 I Jn 4:9.

9 Jn 3:16.

10 Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1.

11 Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.

12 Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26. 588 Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; I Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31.

13 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.

14 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.

15 Cf. In 11:52.

16 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.

APPLICATION

Although the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this text from St. John’s gospel, the text is included in the readings for the feast of, the Blessed Trinity because two of the Persons are mentioned. They are clearly distinguished one from the other, yet both are the one God. God the Father sent God the Son into the world (in human nature) in order to bring eternal life within the reach of all men.

While we must admit from the evidence so clearly given in the story of our redemption and elevation to adopted divine sonship, that the three Persons of the Trinity cooperated in that work, we cannot claim we understand the mystery of three Persons in one God. We can and must admit the fact on the evidence presented to us, but we must also admit that our human intellects are too finite to grasp the essence, the nature of that fact.

How could it be otherwise? If our limited minds could grasp the divine nature and all its qualities it would no longer be divine–it would be limited like ourselves. There are many finite created things in our world which we cannot fully understand. How then could we claim that we should be able to understand the infinite? Of infinity itself we have only a negative description–something that has no beginning or no end. When we get to heaven our minds will be illuminated with greater graces but even then there will always be something new in God for us to see and admire. In the meantime our attitude toward the Trinity should be one of sincere gratitude for having placed us on the road to heaven.

Through the divine graces given us, we believe that Jesus Christ was the divine Son whom the Father sent on earth to give us eternal life. We have accepted Christ as our master and Savior. We are striving to follow him by living our Christian lives. We are assured of his assistance and of the assistance also of the Holy Spirit, so that if we play the part Christ asks of us in the drama of our salvation, we can wait with serenity for the final curtain.

The Son and Holy Spirit will sustain us on our heavenward journey. If we make use of the aids so thoughtfully left by Christ in his Church–the true teaching and the sacraments–we shall remain on the right road. We shall be lifted up if we fall, spurred on when we grow weary, and nourished with the divine food of the Blessed Eucharist–the manna of the new covenant. Then we can feel very sure that at the end of our life’s journey we shall be ushered into the presence of the Trinity–the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose happy and holy company we shall remain forever.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission from Franciscan Press

BENEDICTUS

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The Sustaining Force of the Blessed Trinity

The Spirit does not speak, as it were, from himself, but is a listening to and a making clear of the Son, who in turn does not speak on his authority, but is, as the one sent by the Father, his distinct presence. The Father also gives himself to the Son. Each of the three Persons of the Trinity points to the other two. In this circle of love flowing and intermingling, there is the highest degree of unity and constancy and this in turn gives unity and constancy to everything that exists… What sustains us is the movement of the heart and spirit that leaves itself and is on the way to the other… It is only if each Christian makes his whole being available to the Word in the passage of time that time can as a whole be made open to Christ… The Trinity, then, provides us with the means by which both the individual and the community of the Church can disentangle the confusion of time. We shall not solve the problems that trouble us today by theorizing, but by spiritual means, by entering, in other words, into the form of the Trinity… The selflessness of those who bear witness to Christ gives authenticity to the Church, just as Christ’s selflessness bore authentic testimony to himself and to the Spirit. It is in this way that a living interrelationship can develop, that growth can come about and that we can be led into the fullness of truth, a truth that is richer and greater than anything that we can invent.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly

witnesses,

I offer myself soul and body to Thee,

Eternal Spirit of God.

I adore the brightness of Thy purity,

the unerring keenness of Thy justice,

and the might of Thy love.

Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul.

In Thee I live and move and am.

I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace,

and I pray with all my heart to be kept

from the smallest sin against Thee.

Mercifully guard my every thought

and grant that I may always watch for Thy light

and listen to Thy voice

and follow Thy gracious inspirations.

I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee

and ask Thee by Thy compassion

to watch over me in my weakness.

Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus

and looking at His Five Wounds

and trusting in His Precious Blood

and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart,

I implore Thee Adorable Spirit,

helper of my infirmity,

so to keep me in Thy grace

that I may never sin against Thee.

Give me grace O Holy Ghost,

Spirit of the Father and the Son,

to say to Thee always and everywhere,

“Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Amen.

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Pentecost Sunday

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain … Continue reading

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The Accession of the Lord

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Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.

OPENING PRAYER 

Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Blessed Spirit of Wisdom, Help me to seek God. Make Him the center of my life and order my life to Him, so that love and harmony may reign in my soul.

Blessed Spirit of Understanding, enlighten my mind, that I may know and love the truths of faith and make them truly my own.

Blessed Spirit of Counsel, enlighten and guide me in all my ways, that I may know and do Your holy Will. Make me prudent and courageous.

Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in every time of trouble or adversity. Make me loyal and confident.

Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, help me to know good from evil. Teach me to do what is right in the sight of God. Give me clear vision and firmness in decision.

Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart, incline it to a true faith in You, to a holy love of You, my God, that with my whole soul I may seek You, Who are my Father, and I find You, my best, my truest joy.

Blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart that I may be mindful of Your presence. Make me fly from sin, and give me intense reverence for God and for my fellow men who are made in God’s image.

Come Holy Spirit, Creator blest! And in our souls take up Your rest; Come with Your grace and heavenly aid, To fill the hearts which you have made. 

O Comforter, to you do we cry, O heavenly Gift of God Most High; O Fount of life and Fire of love, And sweet Anointing from above!

Far from us drive the foe we dread, And grant us Your true peace instead. So shall we not, with You for Guide, Turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Your grace on us bestow, The Father and the Son to know; And You through endless times confessed, Of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son, Who rose from death, be glory given, With you, O holy Comforter, Henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel: Pray for us!

*Prayers were taken from The Treasury of Novenas 

COLLECT 

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,

and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,

for the Ascension of Christ your Son

is our exaltation,

and, where the Head has gone before in glory,

the Body is called to follow in hope.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,

I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught

until the day he was taken up,

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit

to the apostles whom he had chosen.

He presented himself alive to them

by many proofs after he had suffered,

appearing to them during forty days

and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While meeting with them,

he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,

but to wait for “the promise of the Father

about which you have heard me speak;

for John baptized with water,

but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons

that the Father has established by his own authority.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria,

and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,

he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,

suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven

will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

  1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, “whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up.”1

2. The oral tradition. “For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed.”2

3. The written Gospels. “The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus.”2

CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”4 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”5 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.6 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.7 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.8

CCC 474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal.9 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.10

CCC 512 Concerning Christ’s life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension). It says nothing explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus’ hidden or public life, but the articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the whole of his earthly life. “All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven”,11 is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”12 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.13 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.14 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.15 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.16

CCC 672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel17 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.18 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church19 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.20

CCC 673 Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent,21 even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”22. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”.23

CCC 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai,24 at the tent of meeting,25 and during the wandering in the desert,26 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.27 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.28 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”29 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.30

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:31 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands32 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”33 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.34 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”35

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”36 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.37

CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”38 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;39

– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,40 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;41

– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:42

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..43

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.44 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,45 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.46 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.47 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.48

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”49

CCC 1565 Through the sacrament of Holy Orders priests share in the universal dimensions of the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles. The spiritual gift they have received in ordination prepares them, not for a limited and restricted mission, “but for the fullest, in fact the universal mission of salvation ‘to the end of the earth,”’50 “prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere.”51

1 DV 19; cf. Acts 1:1-2.

2 DV 19.

3 DV 19.

4 Heb 1:6.

5 Lk 2:14.

6 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.

7 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.

8 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church

9 Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:18-20, 26-30.

10 Cf. Mk 13:32, Acts 1:7.

11 Acts 1:1-2.

12 Mk 16:19.

13 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

14 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

15 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

16 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

17 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

18 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

19 Cf. Acts 1:8; I Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; I Pt 4:17.

20 Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; I Jn 2:18; 4:3; I Tim 4:1.

21 Cf. Rev 22:20.

22 Acts 1:7; Cf. Mk 13:32.

23 Cf. Mt 24:44; I Th 5:2; 2 Th 2:3-12.

24 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.

25 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.

26 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.

27 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.

28 Lk 1:35.

29 Lk 9:34-35.

30 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.

31 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

32 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

33 Rom 6:4.

34 Cf. Jn 20:22.

35 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

36 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

37 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.

38 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

39 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.

40 Cf. Acts 2:42.

41 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

42 AG 5.

43 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

44 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

45 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

46 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

47 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

48 Cf. Acts 2:38.

49 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.

50 PO 10; OT 20; cf. Acts 1:8.

51 OT 20.

APPLICATION 

The ascension or the return of Christ to heaven, in his human but glorified body, is the culmination, the sign and seal of the accomplishment of his salvific mission on earth. He, the Son of God, the second divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man, lived and died on this earth so that we men could live with God forever in heaven. By his death on the cross, he reconciled sinful man with his divine Creator. His human death earned for us a share in the divine life. His resurrection is the divine guarantee that we too shall rise again, and his ascension to the Father is the prelude to our entrance into God’s everlasting kingdom.

Christ, our Savior, our intimate friend, who suffered hardships, humiliations, and finally the painful and degrading death on the cross for our sakes, while here on earth, is now seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is there as our representative and as our intercessor. He has gone to heaven to prepare a place there for us. He said to his Apostles (and through them to all of us) at the Last Supper: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places…I am going to prepare a place for you and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be” (Jn. 14: 2-3).

What a consolation, what a source of joy this feast of the ascension is for any true believer! It is the natural desire (indeed the supernatural desire, for it is instilled in our very nature at creation) of every human being to keep on living–death is the negation of everything we love and have. However, we know that earthly death awaits every one of us. Our human make-up is of its nature mortal. How sad it would be, and how dreadful it must be for those who do not believe in God, if the grave were the final end for us.

We Christians know it is not the end but rather the beginning and today’s feast is the reminder of this consoling fact. We shall all leave this world some day soon, but for a true Christian, this thought should be a cause for joy rather than sadness. We leave this valley of tears to go on an eternal holiday. Christ has won this divine heritage for us; he has promised he is preparing a place in his own heavenly home for us and he is helping us on our way there. What have we to fear from earthly death? It is not the entrance to a perpetual prison but rather the door to our eternal happiness. 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

All you peoples, clap your hands,

shout to God with cries of gladness,

For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,

is the great king over all the earth.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;

the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.

Sing praise to God, sing praise;

sing praise to our king, sing praise.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

For king of all the earth is God;

sing hymns of praise.

God reigns over the nations,

God sits upon his holy throne.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

READING II

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Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,

give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation

resulting in knowledge of him.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,

what are the riches of glory

in his inheritance among the holy ones,

and what is the surpassing greatness of his power

for us who believe,

in accord with the exercise of his great might:

which he worked in Christ,

raising him from the dead

and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,

far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,

and every name that is named

not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And he put all things beneath his feet

and gave him as head over all things to the church,

which is his body,

the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 158 “Faith seeks understanding”:1 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens “the eyes of your hearts”2 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God’s plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. “The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood.”3 In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”4

CCC 272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”5 It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.6

CCC 648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.7 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power8 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”9 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”10 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.11

CCC 669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.12 Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom”.13

CCC 753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.14 Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.”15

CCC 830 The word “catholic” means “universal,” in the sense of “according to the totality” or “in keeping with the whole.” The Church is catholic in a double sense:

First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.”16 In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation”17 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost18 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

CCC 2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ,19 Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”20

CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.21 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.22 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.23 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

1 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem. PL 153 225A.

2 Eph 1:18.

3 DV 5.

4 St. Augustine, Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258.

5 1 Cor 1:24-25.

6 Eph 1:19-22.

7 Rom I 3-4; cf. Acts 2:24.

8 Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16.

9 Rom 14:9.

10 Eph 1:20-22.

11 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.

12 Cf. Eph 1:22.

13 LG 3; 5; cf. Eph 4:11-13.

14 Cf. Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; LG 9.

15 LG 6.

16 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,311.

17 UR 3; AG 6; Eph 1:22-23.

18 Cf. AG 4.

19 Cf. Eph 1:22.

20 Eph 4:13; cf. LG 39.

21 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.

22 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.

23 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.

APPLICATION 

St. Paul reminded the Ephesians nearly nineteen and a half centuries ago of the marvelous generosity and goodness of God who had made them Christians and sharers-to-be in the glory of Christ, which was the eternal glory of God. The words the Apostle wrote to those first converts were written for us also and are as applicable to us today as they were in the year 61 A.D. He prayed that God would enlighten their minds to try to understand and appreciate the marvelous things God had done for them through the Incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Which of us can say that we really appreciate, as we should, these same marvelous things God has done for us? Because Christ came on earth we have been given the power to go to heaven. As mere creatures we have no such power and not even the slightest claim to any such extraordinary gift. We, as creatures, are by our very nature, mortal. Death on earth should be our final end. But because the infinitely good and generous God wished to raise us up to the status of adopted sons of his, and to make us capable of sharing, in as far as our limited nature could, in his eternal life and happiness, he sent his divine Son on earth to share in our humanity.

This is the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of God’s love for us, a love of which we are utterly unworthy. Today we are commemorating the final act in this drama of divine love. God the Son, returning to his Father, bearing our human nature and guaranteeing to each one of us that, we too, when we leave this earth, will find our true life, our unending life, in the home of the Father with Christ, our true Brother.

Cast your eyes heavenwards today, where Christ now dwells surrounded by millions of our fellowman, and say to yourself: There is my true home, there is where I shall be forever at peace with God, with neighbor and with myself. Millions of my fellowman have already got there. I have the same weaknesses which they had. I have the same strength and helps that they got. Why should I not make it? The one and only person who could stop me from getting to my heavenly home is myself. Could I ever be so foolish? God forbid! 

GOSPEL

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Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer

and rise from the dead on the third day

and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,

would be preached in his name

to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.

And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;

but stay in the city

until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,

raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them

and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage

and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God. 

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052817-ascension.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.1

The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.2

CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 3 4 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,5 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”6 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.7

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”8 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.9 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.10 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.11 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.12

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:13 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands14 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”15 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.16 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”17

CCC 981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”18 The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:19

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.20

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,21 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.22 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,23 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.”24

CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.25 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.26 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

CCC 1122 Christ sent his apostles so that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”27 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”28 The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word:

The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God. .. The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word.29

CCC 1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.30

1 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46.

2 St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Ps. 21, 11; cf. Ps 22:14.

3 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.

4 Acts 2:24.

5 Is 53:8.

6 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.

7 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.

8 Mk 16:19.

9 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

10 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

11 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

12 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

13 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

14 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

15 Rom 6:4.

16 Cf. Jn 20:22.

17 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

18 Lk 24:47.

19 2 Cor 5:18.

20 St. Augustine, Sermo 214,11:PL 38,1071-1072.

21 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

22 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

23 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

24 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

25 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

26 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.

27 Lk 24:47.

28 Mt 28:19.

29 PO 4 ## 1, 2.

30 Cf. Council Of Trent (1547): DS 1609; Lk 24:48-49.

APPLICATION 

The death of a member of his family or of a loved friend, must be the saddest event imaginable in the life of an atheist. He is one who really is convinced that there is no God, no future life and therefore that the relative or friend is to turn into dust in the grave, never to be met with again. The thought that every day that passes is bringing him too nearer to that same sad fate, death, which will be the end of all his ambitions, all his enjoyments, the end of everything he thought he was or had, must be something hard to live with.

Thank God, we have the good fortune to know, and reason and faith convince us of this truth, that death is not the end of man. It is rather the real beginning. Today’s feast—the Ascension of our Lord in his human nature–to his Father’s and our Father’s home, is the confirmation and the guarantee of this doctrine of our faith. We shall all rise from the grave with new, glorified bodies and ascend to heaven, as Christ did. There we’ll begin our true life of eternal happiness.

While it is true that even for good Christians the death of a beloved one is a cause of sorrow and tears, this is natural as we still are of the earth earthly. Yet the certitude that our beloved one has gone to his true life and will be there to meet us when our turn comes, is always at the back of our minds to console and comfort us. What all human beings want is to live on forever with our dear ones. Death breaks that continuity but only for a little while. That break is necessary for the new life to begin.

It is only in heaven that this natural desire of an unending life with all those we love can be realized and death on earth is the door to that eternal life.

Look up to heaven today. See Christ ascending to his Father and our Father. Say: Thank you, God, for creating me, and for giving me, through the Incarnation of your beloved Son, the possibility and the assurance that if I do my part here, when death comes it will not be an enemy but a friend, to speed me on my way to the true, supernatural life which you have, in your love, planned and prepared for me.

It was written, and foretold, that Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory. The servant is not above the Master. I too must suffer. I too must accept the hardships and the trials of this life, if I want, and I do, to enter into the life of glory. Christ, who was sinless, suffered hardship and pain. I have earned many, if not all of my hardships, by my own sins. I should be glad of the opportunity to make some atonement for my past offenses, by willingly accepting the crosses he sends me. These crosses are signs of God’s interest in my true welfare. Through him he is giving me a chance to prepare myself for the day of reckoning, for the moment of my death which will decide my eternal future. For every prayer I say for success in life, I should say three for a successful death, a death free from sin and at peace with God.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Ascension

The Ascension of Christ means that he no longer belongs to the world of corruption and death, which conditions our life. It means that he belongs completely to God. He, the eternal Son, has taken our human being to the presence of God; he has taken with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form. Man finds a place in God through Christ; the human being has been taken until the very life of God. And, given that Go embraces and sustains the whole cosmos, the Lord’s Ascension means that Christ has not gone far away from us. But that now, thanks to the fact he is with the Father, he is close to each one of us forever. Each one of us may address him familiarly; each one may turn to him. We can live with our backs turned to him, but he always awaits us, and is always close to us… Jesus told his disciples everything, as he is the living word of God, and God can give no more than himself. In Jesus, God gave himself totally to us, that is, he gave us everything. In addition to this, or together with this, there can be no other revelation able to communicate something else, or to complete, in a certain sense, the revelation of Christ. In him, in the Son, we were told everything, we were given everything. But our ability to understand is limited; for this reason the mission of the Spirit consists in introducing the Church in an ever new way, from generation to generation, into the grandeur of the mystery of Christ… Thus, the Holy Spirit is the force through which Christ makes us experience his closeness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER 

Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, Divine Spirit of light and the love I consecrate to you my understanding, heart, and will, my whole being, for time and for eternity. May my understanding be always submissive to your heavenly inspirations and to the teaching of the Catholic Church, of which you are the infallible Guide. May my heart be ever inflamed with the love of God and of my neighbor. May my will be ever conformed to the Divine Will. May my whole life be faithful to the imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and You be honor and glory forever.

God, Holy Spirit, Infinite Love of the Father and the Son, through the pure hands of Mary, Your Immaculate Spouse, I place myself this day, and all the days of my life, upon your chosen altar, the Divine Heart of Jesus, as a sacrifice to you, consuming fire, being firmly resolved now more than ever to hear Your voice and to do in all things Your most holy and adorable will.

Additional readings

http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Angelology/Angelology_012.htm

Posted in Catholic

Sixth Sunday of Easter – A

 

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Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Mighty God,

in whom we know the power of redemption,

you stand among us in the shadows of our time.

As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life,

uphold us with knowledge of the final morning

when, in the glorious presence of your risen Son,

we will share in his resurrection,

redeemed and restored to the fullness of life

and forever freed to be your people. Amen.

COLLECT

Grant, almighty God,

that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these

days of joy,

which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,

and that what we relive in remembrance

we may always hold to in what we do.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria

and proclaimed the Christ to them.

With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip

when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.

For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,

came out of many possessed people,

and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.

There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem

heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,

they sent them Peter and John,

who went down and prayed for them,

that they might receive the Holy Spirit,

for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;

they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Then they laid hands on them

and they received the Holy Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.1 In his name the apostles will do the same.2 Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given.3 The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching.4 The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.

CCC 1288 “From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.”5

CCC 2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.6 To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!”7 Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.”8 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

1 Cf. Mk 6:5; 8:23; 10:16.

2 Cf. Mk 16:18; Acts 5:12; 14:3.

3 Cf. Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6.

4 Cf. Heb 6:2.

5 Paul VI, Divinae consortium naturae, 659; cf. Acts 8:15-17; 19:5-6; Heb 6:2.

6 Cf. Acts 8:9-24.

7 Acts 8:20.

8 Mt 10:8; cf. already Isa 55:1.

APPLICATION

Although the convert Samaritans did not receive the Holy Spirit with his visible supernatural gifts immediately, nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit, in Philip and in the Christian message he brought to them, could explain the readiness with which they accepted the Christian truth. They were natural enemies of the Jews for centuries and the enmity was returned heartily. They would have no dealings truck with Jerusalem or with any teacher who came from there, yet they listened to Philip and in “multitudes gave heed with one accord” to what he had to tell them. Nothing but the grace of the Holy Spirit can explain their change of attitude.

When the two Apostles came down from Jerusalem and bestowed the Holy Spirit on them his presence in them was made manifest to all, because of the special gifts that accompanied his bestowal in almost all cases of conversion in the early Church.

People may ask why it is that today, when people receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation the Holy Spirit does not prove his presence in them by any external signs or miracles. St. Augustine answered that very question centuries ago. He said: When one plants a young tree one waters it regularly and stakes it firmly, but as soon as the tree has taken firm root it needs no further care. So it is with the Church, he said. In its infancy it needed miracles and signs to convince those who believed and to convert those who had not yet believed. But when the Church had taken firm root in the Roman Empire which was the known world of that time, there was no further need for the special intervention of God. The ordinary graces of the Holy Spirit were sufficient.

And so it is with each one of us. We have received the Holy Spirit with what we call his seven gifts and these are sufficient without any miraculous signs to make us soldiers of Christ. As such. we should be active members of his Church ready to do our duty each day, to live the faith, defend the faith when called on, and even if necessary, to die for it.

But to live our faith to the full and to be able to defend it if called on, we need to learn more and more about the truths of our faith. We need to know first and foremost what it promises us, what it means for our true life. A Christian is still a human being but he is no longer a mere human being–he has been made a brother of Christ and an adopted son of God. He is therefore made a citizen of heaven and his earthly life is but a journey to his native home–to a home which he will never have to leave again. When we look on our earthly life from this heavenly point of view most if not all of what we call the trials and troubles of life cease to be impassable mountain ranges and appear as little hillocks over which we can skip lightly. The true Christian who lets this truth be the guiding light of his life, will be well equipped to answer the questionings and hesitations of those who have not yet received the light of faith, or who, having once had it, lost it or let it die through inertia. The illiterate street sweeper who lives his faith devoutly–who never forgets that God loved him so dearly that he sent his only-begotten Son as man on earth in order to bring him to heaven, is a more convincing theologian than the lukewarm author of learned writings. Every devout Christian is an apostle. His very way of living, as well as his daily conversation in the home and outside of it, are lights which radiate all around him. He is a living furnace of divine love which warms and softens the heart of the sinners and the unbelievers with whom he comes into contact.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,

sing praise to the glory of his name;

proclaim his glorious praise.

Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,

sing praise to your name!”

Come and see the works of God,

his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

He has changed the sea into dry land;

through the river they passed on foot;

therefore let us rejoice in him.

He rules by his might forever.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare

what he has done for me.

Blessed be God who refused me not

my prayer or his kindness!

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

READING II

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1 Pt 3:15-18

Beloved:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation

to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,

but do it with gentleness and reverence,

keeping your conscience clear,

so that, when you are maligned,

those who defame your good conduct in Christ

may themselves be put to shame.

For it is better to suffer for doing good,

if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,

the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,

that he might lead you to God.

Put to death in the flesh,

he was brought to life in the Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2

1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

APPLICATION

These first converts to Christianity to whom St. Peter wrote this letter lived in a world which was very similar in many respect to our world of today. There were the self-styled intellectuals who thought they had the solution to all human problems because they had picked up scrips and pieces of the pagan Greek philosophy. There were others whose only thought was to get all they could out of this earthly life and whose motto was., “eat, drink, sleep and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” There were the agnostics whose life was one big question-mark, and who refused to accept any answers. There were the “practical” ones, so busy making a good living for themselves that they had no time to question the real meaning of life.

Who can fail to see the similarity between their world and the world in which we live today? While it is true that the number of Christians in our world today is away above that of St. Peter’s day, it is true also that the number of the opponents of Christianity has increased accordingly. And what is worse, most of these opponents come from Christian parentage and live in countries that are still called Christian.

Add to this, that many, very many of those we number as Christians are so only in name. Unlike the early Christians whose exemplary lives spread the faith very quickly to their pagan neighbors, our nominal Christians spread disrespect for the very name of Christ and for all he did for mankind.

Let us admit it, this is the kind of world in which we live, but it need not remain so. Each one of us, who is convinced of the truth of his faith, must realize that he has a solemn duty to help bring about this necessary change.

St. Peter tells us in a few words today how this can be done. He reminds us of the basic truth of our Christian religion: God created us for heaven. He sent his Son on earth to earn heaven for us. Our real purpose in this life is to work our passage to our true and everlasting home. This we shall do if we keep ever before our minds that Christ was God who came on earth as a man and suffered torments and death in our name and in our stead, so that we too could rise with him after our lives had ended. If we grasp this basic truth–the only true and satisfactory explanation of our sojourn on this earth–our daily actions will be truly Christian; we will gladly “keep our conscience clear” by following the rules of conduct that Christ has laid down for us.

By so doing we will also be prepared always to give an account, an explanation, to those who ask us why we are Christians. Our very lives will be of themselves an explanation and an answer to those who are curious about us, and even to those who while openly opposing and maybe deriding us, are gravely doubting in their hearts, whether it is we or they who are wrong. We can change our world, and in the innermost hearts of the vast majority of our “intellectuals,” our “agnostics” and our “practical men of the world” there is a desire for change. Christ is calling on us today, through his Apostle St. Peter, to help him call home the prodigal sons and the lost sheep. He suffered for them too. Would we turn a deaf ear to his call for help? Not if we reverence him as our Lord, our God. Not if we love our neighbor whom he has made our brother and co-heir with himself to heaven.

GOSPEL

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Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

And I will ask the Father,

and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,

because it neither sees nor knows him.

But you know him, because he remains with you,

and will be in you.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

In a little while the world will no longer see me,

but you will see me, because I live and you will live.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father

and you are in me and I in you.

Whoever has my commandments and observes them

is the one who loves me.

And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,

and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052117.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of “another Paraclete” (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously “spoken through the prophets”, the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them “into all the truth”.1 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.

CCC 687 “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”2 Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.”3 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.4

CCC 729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.5 The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name; and Jesus will send him from the Father’s side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.6 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”7

CCC 2615 Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is “another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.”8 This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.9 In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”10

CCC 2671 The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.11 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.12 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.13

Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.14

1 Cf. Gen 1:2; Nicene Creed (DS 150); Jn 14:17, 26; 16:13.

2 1 Cor 2:11.

3 Jn 16:13.

4 Jn 14:17.

5 Cf. Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:26.

6 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

7 LG 7.

8 Jn 14:16-17.

9 Cf. Jn 14:23-26; 15:7, 16; 16:13-15; 16:23-27.

10 Jn 16:24.

11 Cf. Lk 11:13.

12 Cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13.

13 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.

14 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.

APPLICATION

In this discourse at the Last Supper, which was his last will and testament, our divine Lord promised his Church, through the Apostles, that the Holy Spirit would be with it until the end of time. The Spirit of truth will be directing it and effectively aiding it to preserve the faith, the doctrine, and the morals which Christ taught his Apostles.

Looking back now over almost 2,000 years of the Church’s history we can see how this promise has been fulfilled. There were heretics and schismatics who threatened the very continuance of the Church as God’s faithful people on earth. There were crises and near catastrophes caused by the human weaknesses of its heads and its members, yet the Church survived and spread and continued to send saints to heaven because of the direct and active aid of the Holy Spirit.

During those two thousand years great empires have risen and fallen. They had large armies and vast wealth and earthly resources at their disposal, yet they disintegrated like all things human. The names of one-time mighty men who ruled over millions are now nothing more than a nuisance for children in their history classes. The large tracts of our globe which they ruled are now divided and known by other names. This was, is, and will be the lot of all merely human enterprises. Today’s despots, where they rule with iron hand, will share the same fate.

In the midst of all these upheavals the Church of Christ has continued to flourish because it was directed and sustained by the Holy Spirit, who abides within it. How can we ever show enough gratitude to the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity who planned so lovingly and so efficaciously for our safe journey to heaven? The Father sent his Son as man among us so that we men could become his brothers, and adopted sons of the Father. The Son suffered hardships, insults and misunderstanding during his temporary stay on earth, and ended like a crucified malefactor because of the sins of mankind. But he rose triumphantly from the dead and set up the Church as a society which would bring to men of all races, ages and colors the salvation and exaltation of mankind, which his life and death had won for us.

Knowing only too well the weaknesses and waywardness of human nature, he and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to remain with his Church as its infallible guide until the last man has entered heaven.

This is a very brief summary of what the Blessed Trinity has done, and is continuing to do for us, through the Church. We, the people of God, the chosen race of the New Testament are God’s Church on earth. It is for you and me that the Holy Spirit is at work this very day. When he guides the steps of Peter’s successor, the Pope, or the deliberations of the bishops, the heirs of the apostolic college, it is for us and for our salvation that he is acting. While we are faithful members of the Church, and of Christ’s mystical body, while we remain live branches safely attached to the vine who is Christ, we have nothing to fear; we are on the sure road to heaven, to enjoy eternal happiness with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit whom we shall thank and glorify forever.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Holy Spirit is Love

The gift of God is the holy Spirit. The gift of God is love – God shares himself as love in the Holy Spirit… The presence of the Holy Spirit makes itself known in the manner of love. Love is the criterion of the Holy Spirit as against unholy spirits; indeed, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit himself and, in that sense, the presence of God. The essential and central concept summing up what the Holy Spirit is and what he effects is, in the end, not “knowledge” but love… The basic criterion of love, its “proper work,” so to speak – and, thereby, the “proper work” of the Holy Spirit – is this, that it achieves abiding. Love shows itself by being enduring. It can by no means be recognized at a given moment and in the moment alone; but in abiding, it does away with uncertainty and carries eternity within it. And thus in my view the relationship between love and truth is also thereby given: love, in the full sense, can be present only where something is enduring, where something abides. Because it has to do with abiding, it can occur, not just anywhere, but only there where eternity is.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit

English

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Latin

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.

V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere; et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

 

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