Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

OPENING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

and in our souls take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,

O heavenly gift of God Most High,

O fount of life and fire of love,

and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

Thou, promise of the Father,

Thou
 Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,

and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

with patience firm and virtue high

the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,

and grant us Thy peace instead;

so shall we not,

with Thee for guide,

turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

the Father and the Son to know;

and Thee, 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 Thou,

O Holy Comforter,

henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who have prepared for those who live you

good things which no eye can see,

full our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,

so that, loving you in all things and above all things,

we may attain your promises,

which surpass every human desire.

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

AllSeeingEyeofGod.jpeg

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:

Observe what is right, do what is just;

for my salvation is about to come,

my justice, about to be revealed.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD,

and becoming his servants–

All who keep the Sabbath free from profanation

and hold to my covenant,

them I will bring to my holy mountain

and make joyful in my house of prayer;

their holocausts and sacrifices

will be acceptable on my altar,

for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

APPLICATION

The liberation of the Jews from the exile of Babylon (538 B.C.) was, like the first liberation from Egypt, seven centuries earlier, but a preparation for the real liberation to come. The promised Messiah would bring this final liberation to all mankind. He would set all men free from the slavery of sin and the estrangement from God which sin brought with it into the world, and he would make them citizens-to-be, not of a small corner of this earth, but of the eternal kingdom of heaven.

This liberation has taken place, and we are the new Chosen People of God. The Christian Church is the new temple of God. It is open to all nations and peoples. It is the place where, through baptism, all men become children of God, brothers of Christ and heirs to the eternal kingdom. But it is a “house of prayer,” a place where all must strive to keep God’s laws and be loyal subjects of his kingdom on earth, if they want to earn their place in his heavenly kingdom.

While proud of the privileges God had given them, the Jews, God’s Chosen People of old, neglected their obligations to him and, content with keeping the external shell of the law, forgot to give God true reverence and gratitude from their hearts. This pride and purely external observance blinded them to the true meaning of God’s promises; they were unable to see in Christ the Son of God, which he claimed to be, or the long-promised Messiah. They had grown worldly and politically minded, and had gradually lost interest in God’s eternal kingdom. All they wanted was a worldly kingdom of power and plenty. But Christ’s kingdom was “not of this world.”

The same fate, alas, has befallen many members of the new Chosen People and it can happen to any one of us. This world and its passing interests can blind us to the real facts of life. We can become so enmeshed in the search for the goods of this earth that we leave ourselves no time or no inclination to think about and prepare for the goods of the after-life. Yet, these are the goods that matter!

The industry and zeal with which many–far too many–Christians, use their energies in amassing the goods and comforts of this world would perhaps be understandable, or at least a little less foolish, if they expected to live on here for seven or eight hundred years. But they cannot guarantee themselves even one hundred. Their zeal and industry are surely misplaced. When they have to leave this world they can take none of its goods with them. All that they can produce at the judgment seat are the virtues or vices they accumulated during life. The millionaire and the beggar will be judged by the same yardstick. We will not be asked for our bank account; we will be asked to account for the years God has given us in which to earn eternal credit.

Like the Jews of old, many Christians have in the past let the cares and interests of this life blind them to the true purpose of life. To their grief they have now learned what folly this was. Any one of us could make the same mistake. Today’s lesson reminds us not to follow in that foolish path and end as they did. If we love and reverence the name of the Lord and keep his commandments, we may enjoy God’s gift in this life while making sure of the gift of eternal life, when we are called from this world.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May God have pity on us and bless us; 
may he let his face shine upon us.
 So may your way be known upon earth;
 among all nations, your salvation.

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the nations be glad and exult
 because you rule the peoples in equity;
 the nations on the earth you guide.

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the peoples praise you, O God; 
may all the peoples praise you! 
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

O God, let all the nations praise you!

READING II

prodigal-son.jpeg

Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:
 I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, 
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.1 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”2 St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”3 The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,4 will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.5

CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”6

CCC 839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways. ”7The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,8 “the first to hear the Word of God. ”9 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,10 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”11

1 Rom I 1:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.
2 Acts 3:19-21.
3 Rom 11:15.
4 Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.
5 Eph 4:13; I Cor 15:28.
6 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.
7 LG 16.
8 Cf. NA 4.
9 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.
10 Rom 9:4-5.
11 Rom 11:29.

APPLICATION

The lesson for us today in these words of St. Paul is that our Christian faith–the greatest gift in life, the pearl of great price–is a free gift from God. Through it we Gentiles, whose pagan ancestors knew nothing of God, have been brought to know and love the God who created us and who will bring us to heaven through the Incarnation of his only-begotten Son.

This is a gift we must cherish and nourish daily in our lives if we hope to earn the eternal happiness which God intended for us when he gave us this gift. Through the sacrament of baptism we have been made brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven, but if we are to die as brothers of Christ and be worthy of our eternal inheritance, we have to live the years given us on earth as true brothers of this same Christ.

This is no easy task, but neither is it impossible, as is proved by the millions who have gone through the same difficulties before us, and have earned their reward. All those who are now in heaven have one thing in common–their great love for God and true appreciation of his gifts to them. If we can imitate these two basic points we too shall, with God’s assured help, make a success of our lives.

A second point we should learn from St. Paul’s message to us today, is that we should pray fervently and often for the conversion of the members of the Jewish race. They are really our brothers in God, for their father Abraham was our father too. He was asked to leave his home and his kindred, his family and his country so that God’s plan for bringing all the peoples of the world to heaven could be put into action. Abraham’s call was the first step in the long journey of preparation for the coming of the Messiah on earth.

For eighteen centuries the direct descendants of Abraham were dear to God, and sometimes they were very near to him. It was through them that God brought Christ and the new covenant to us; it would be fitting now that we, through our prayers and good works, should be instrumental under God, in bringing them to Christ. St. Paul was confident that one day God’s mercy would reach out to them and bring them into his new kingdom. Let us help to hasten that day, so that they will become not only our brothers in Abraham but our brothers in Christ, and our fellow-citizens in heaven.

GOSPEL

miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

Mt. 15: 21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082017.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.1 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.2

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.3 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.4 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”5

CCC 2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.”6 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes.”7 Jesus is as saddened by the “lack of faith” of his own neighbors and the “little faith” of his own disciples8 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.9

1 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.
2 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.
3 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al. 4 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
5 Jn 20:28,21:7. 6 Mk 11:24.
7 Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22. 8 Cf. Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26.
9 Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28.

APPLICATION

There is a lesson, a very necessary one, for all of us in this episode of Christ’s public life. It is the necessity of perseverance in our prayers of petition. Prayer is an essential part of our Christian life, and the essential part of prayer is that of adoration and thanksgiving, but prayer of petition has a big part in our daily prayers. We have so many spiritual and temporal needs, needs which we cannot provide by ourselves. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “ask and you shall receive.”

Do we ask with the fervor and perseverance which prove that we have “great faith”? That faith is the proof which Christ needs before he grants our requests. The Canaanite woman of whom we have just heard is for us an example of that deep-seated faith and trust in Christ’s power and Christ’s goodness. Even though he ignored her she continued to beseech him, and when he answered with what seemed a direct refusal her faith and trust did not waver. She answered his reason for refusal with another statement which showed that the granting of her petition would not in any way interfere with or impede his primary task, his mission to his fathers chosen people. This was the proof of great faith which he required. He granted her request.

We must imitate and learn from this pagan mother. Her love for her child made her ready to undergo every hardship or suffering for the restoration to health of her loved one. When we turn to Christ in our needs is our faith in him as sincere and unwavering as was this woman’s? No doubt it often is, and yet we do not get the desired answer. As Christians we know that our particular request may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our eternal disadvantage. But if our prayer is sincere and persevering–we shall always get an answer, and one which is better than what we asked for.

How often do we wonder at or perhaps doubt God’s mercy when we see, for example, the young father of a family being taken from his loved and helpless ones, notwithstanding the prayers and tears of his wife and children. Where is God’s mercy here? Where is his answer to these sincere prayers? But who are we to question God’s mercy? The answer is there and often clear enough: that death brings out in his relatives and neighbors virtues which they would otherwise never have had occasion to practice– virtues that will earn for them eternal life.

It is only when we get to heaven–and getting to heaven is our purpose in life–that we shall see how our prayers, sincere and persevering, were answered by God.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Prayer of Jesus

Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him… Prayer is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love. As love, in and with the Body of Christ, it is always both love of God and love of neighbor, knowing and fulfilling itself as love for the members of this Body… The person Jesus is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father.” If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6: 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer,… is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for Healing

Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal us. Touch our souls with Your compassion for others. Touch our hearts with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch our minds with Your wisdom, that our mouths may always proclaim Your praise. Teach us to reach out to You in our need, and help us to lead others to You by our example. Most loving Sacred Heart of Jesus, bring us health in body and spirit that we may serve You with all our strength. Touch gently these lives which You have created, now and forever and we humbly ask this through your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

REFLECTION

Inspiration of the Holy Spirit – From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I reward faith, therefore have faith in me. I came to my own people and they rejected me, with the exception of the humble, who recognized the value of the gift from God. Only those open to the Holy Spirit accepted me as the son of David, the Messiah who was empowered to save the people of God.

All my miracles were granted to those who had faith; I wanted to impress upon everyone the importance of believing in me the Son of the Living God. It is only by accepting me that you can accept the Heavenly Father, it is only by believing in me and having faith in me, that even now you can expect the power of God to manifest in your life through a miracle.

Miracles are not as popular now as in my time, because there is no faith. To pray for a miracle is the perfect prayer, but it must come from a heart full of faith, otherwise the petition remains a prayer and is not answered as a miracle.

Many people during the profession of my healing ministry were attracted to me by my miracles, not by their faith; they were curious people in search of the supernatural. However there was also a large number of people who were genuine, they accepted the dignity of my presence among them, they firmly believed in the power of God at my disposal and they merited all the miracles that I performed.

It is in my power to grant any petition I like, but I desire to cultivate faith in human hearts. A prayer to me is most attractive when it comes from a humble and contrite heart. If I were to grant miracles for every petition, men would become very proud and would sin thinking that they had the power to control God’s power.

The true saint prays very humbly for a miracle, echoing my prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but yours be done”. The man of faith puts all his trust in the Lord, not in his human effort, and he is prepared to give all the credit to God for every good thing that he receives.

The one who desires a miracle must first acknowledge that he is not worthy to be in my presence, and that he does not even deserve to be heard. Yet, by confessing his sinfulness, his unworthiness, and by acknowledging my holiness, he calls on my compassion for his good desires and may be fortunate to receive.

Do not underestimate the great power of God that is at your disposal if you have faith. Pray for your faith to increase. Believe that I can grant you any good desire of your heart, pray in accordance to my will and wait patiently for my answer.

theworkofgod.org

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Let Us Bless The Lord – A Benedictine oblate’s weekly study of the Catholic Church’s Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

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    Posted in Catholic

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

    miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

    “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

    OPENING PRAYER

    Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

    and in our souls take up Thy rest;

    come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

    to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

    O comforter, to Thee we cry,

    O heavenly gift of God Most High,

    O fount of life and fire of love,

    and sweet anointing from above. 



    Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

    Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

    Thou, promise of the Father,

    ThouWho dost the tongue with power imbue. 



    Kindle our sense from above,

    and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

    with patience firm and virtue high

    the weakness of our flesh supply. 



    Far from us drive the foe we dread,

    and grant us Thy peace instead;

    so shall we not,

    with Thee for guide,

    turn from the path of life aside.

    

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

    the Father and the Son to know;

    and Thee, 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 Thou,

    O Holy Comforter,

    henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

    COLLECT

    O God, who have prepared for those who live you

    good things which no eye can see,

    full our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,

    so that, loving you in all things and above all things,

    we may attain your promises,

    which surpass every human desire.

    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

    AllSeeingEyeofGod.jpeg

    Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7

    Thus says the LORD:

    Observe what is right, do what is just;

    for my salvation is about to come,

    my justice, about to be revealed.

    And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

    ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD,

    and becoming his servants–

    All who keep the Sabbath free from profanation

    and hold to my covenant,

    them I will bring to my holy mountain

    and make joyful in my house of prayer;

    their holocausts and sacrifices

    will be acceptable on my altar,

    for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

    APPLICATION

    The liberation of the Jews from the exile of Babylon (538 B.C.) was, like the first liberation from Egypt, seven centuries earlier, but a preparation for the real liberation to come. The promised Messiah would bring this final liberation to all mankind. He would set all men free from the slavery of sin and the estrangement from God which sin brought with it into the world, and he would make them citizens-to-be, not of a small corner of this earth, but of the eternal kingdom of heaven.

    This liberation has taken place, and we are the new Chosen People of God. The Christian Church is the new temple of God. It is open to all nations and peoples. It is the place where, through baptism, all men become children of God, brothers of Christ and heirs to the eternal kingdom. But it is a “house of prayer,” a place where all must strive to keep God’s laws and be loyal subjects of his kingdom on earth, if they want to earn their place in his heavenly kingdom.

    While proud of the privileges God had given them, the Jews, God’s Chosen People of old, neglected their obligations to him and, content with keeping the external shell of the law, forgot to give God true reverence and gratitude from their hearts. This pride and purely external observance blinded them to the true meaning of God’s promises; they were unable to see in Christ the Son of God, which he claimed to be, or the long-promised Messiah. They had grown worldly and politically minded, and had gradually lost interest in God’s eternal kingdom. All they wanted was a worldly kingdom of power and plenty. But Christ’s kingdom was “not of this world.”

    The same fate, alas, has befallen many members of the new Chosen People and it can happen to any one of us. This world and its passing interests can blind us to the real facts of life. We can become so enmeshed in the search for the goods of this earth that we leave ourselves no time or no inclination to think about and prepare for the goods of the after-life. Yet, these are the goods that matter!

    The industry and zeal with which many–far too many–Christians, use their energies in amassing the goods and comforts of this world would perhaps be understandable, or at least a little less foolish, if they expected to live on here for seven or eight hundred years. But they cannot guarantee themselves even one hundred. Their zeal and industry are surely misplaced. When they have to leave this world they can take none of its goods with them. All that they can produce at the judgment seat are the virtues or vices they accumulated during life. The millionaire and the beggar will be judged by the same yardstick. We will not be asked for our bank account; we will be asked to account for the years God has given us in which to earn eternal credit.

    Like the Jews of old, many Christians have in the past let the cares and interests of this life blind them to the true purpose of life. To their grief they have now learned what folly this was. Any one of us could make the same mistake. Today’s lesson reminds us not to follow in that foolish path and end as they did. If we love and reverence the name of the Lord and keep his commandments, we may enjoy God’s gift in this life while making sure of the gift of eternal life, when we are called from this world.

    The word of the Lord.

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us.So may your way be known upon earth;among all nations, your salvation.

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May the nations be glad and exultbecause you rule the peoples in equity;the nations on the earth you guide.

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us,and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    READING II

    prodigal-son.jpeg

    Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

    Brothers and sisters:I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

    For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.1 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”2 St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”3 The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,4 will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.5

    CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”6

    CCC 839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways. ”7The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,8 “the first to hear the Word of God. ”9 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,10 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”11

    1 Rom I 1:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.2 Acts 3:19-21.3 Rom 11:15.4 Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.5 Eph 4:13; I Cor 15:28.6 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.7 LG 16.8 Cf. NA 4.9 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.10 Rom 9:4-5.11 Rom 11:29.

    APPLICATION

    The lesson for us today in these words of St. Paul is that our Christian faith–the greatest gift in life, the pearl of great price–is a free gift from God. Through it we Gentiles, whose pagan ancestors knew nothing of God, have been brought to know and love the God who created us and who will bring us to heaven through the Incarnation of his only-begotten Son.

    This is a gift we must cherish and nourish daily in our lives if we hope to earn the eternal happiness which God intended for us when he gave us this gift. Through the sacrament of baptism we have been made brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven, but if we are to die as brothers of Christ and be worthy of our eternal inheritance, we have to live the years given us on earth as true brothers of this same Christ.

    This is no easy task, but neither is it impossible, as is proved by the millions who have gone through the same difficulties before us, and have earned their reward. All those who are now in heaven have one thing in common–their great love for God and true appreciation of his gifts to them. If we can imitate these two basic points we too shall, with God’s assured help, make a success of our lives.

    A second point we should learn from St. Paul’s message to us today, is that we should pray fervently and often for the conversion of the members of the Jewish race. They are really our brothers in God, for their father Abraham was our father too. He was asked to leave his home and his kindred, his family and his country so that God’s plan for bringing all the peoples of the world to heaven could be put into action. Abraham’s call was the first step in the long journey of preparation for the coming of the Messiah on earth.

    For eighteen centuries the direct descendants of Abraham were dear to God, and sometimes they were very near to him. It was through them that God brought Christ and the new covenant to us; it would be fitting now that we, through our prayers and good works, should be instrumental under God, in bringing them to Christ. St. Paul was confident that one day God’s mercy would reach out to them and bring them into his new kingdom. Let us help to hasten that day, so that they will become not only our brothers in Abraham but our brothers in Christ, and our fellow-citizens in heaven.

    GOSPEL

    miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

    Mt. 15: 21-28

    At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

    http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082017.cfm

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.1 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.2

    CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.3 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.4 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”5

    CCC 2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.”6 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes.”7 Jesus is as saddened by the “lack of faith” of his own neighbors and the “little faith” of his own disciples8 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.9

    1 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.
2 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.
3 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al. 4 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
5 Jn 20:28,21:7. 6 Mk 11:24.
7 Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22. 8 Cf. Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26.
9 Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28.

    APPLICATION

    There is a lesson, a very necessary one, for all of us in this episode of Christ’s public life. It is the necessity of perseverance in our prayers of petition. Prayer is an essential part of our Christian life, and the essential part of prayer is that of adoration and thanksgiving, but prayer of petition has a big part in our daily prayers. We have so many spiritual and temporal needs, needs which we cannot provide by ourselves. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “ask and you shall receive.”

    Do we ask with the fervor and perseverance which prove that we have “great faith”? That faith is the proof which Christ needs before he grants our requests. The Canaanite woman of whom we have just heard is for us an example of that deep-seated faith and trust in Christ’s power and Christ’s goodness. Even though he ignored her she continued to beseech him, and when he answered with what seemed a direct refusal her faith and trust did not waver. She answered his reason for refusal with another statement which showed that the granting of her petition would not in any way interfere with or impede his primary task, his mission to his fathers chosen people. This was the proof of great faith which he required. He granted her request.

    We must imitate and learn from this pagan mother. Her love for her child made her ready to undergo every hardship or suffering for the restoration to health of her loved one. When we turn to Christ in our needs is our faith in him as sincere and unwavering as was this woman’s? No doubt it often is, and yet we do not get the desired answer. As Christians we know that our particular request may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our eternal disadvantage. But if our prayer is sincere and persevering–we shall always get an answer, and one which is better than what we asked for.

    How often do we wonder at or perhaps doubt God’s mercy when we see, for example, the young father of a family being taken from his loved and helpless ones, notwithstanding the prayers and tears of his wife and children. Where is God’s mercy here? Where is his answer to these sincere prayers? But who are we to question God’s mercy? The answer is there and often clear enough: that death brings out in his relatives and neighbors virtues which they would otherwise never have had occasion to practice– virtues that will earn for them eternal life.

    It is only when we get to heaven–and getting to heaven is our purpose in life–that we shall see how our prayers, sincere and persevering, were answered by God.

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

    BENEDICTUS

    The Prayer of Jesus

    Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him… Prayer is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love. As love, in and with the Body of Christ, it is always both love of God and love of neighbor, knowing and fulfilling itself as love for the members of this Body… The person Jesus is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father.” If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6: 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer,… is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.

    His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

    CLOSING PRAYER

    A Prayer for Healing

    Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal us. Touch our souls with Your compassion for others. Touch our hearts with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch our minds with Your wisdom, that our mouths may always proclaim Your praise. Teach us to reach out to You in our need, and help us to lead others to You by our example. Most loving Sacred Heart of Jesus, bring us health in body and spirit that we may serve You with all our strength. Touch gently these lives which You have created, now and forever and we humbly ask this through your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    REFLECTION

    Inspiration of the Holy Spirit – From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

    I reward faith, therefore have faith in me. I came to my own people and they rejected me, with the exception of the humble, who recognized the value of the gift from God. Only those open to the Holy Spirit accepted me as the son of David, the Messiah who was empowered to save the people of God.

    All my miracles were granted to those who had faith; I wanted to impress upon everyone the importance of believing in me the Son of the Living God. It is only by accepting me that you can accept the Heavenly Father, it is only by believing in me and having faith in me, that even now you can expect the power of God to manifest in your life through a miracle.

    Miracles are not as popular now as in my time, because there is no faith. To pray for a miracle is the perfect prayer, but it must come from a heart full of faith, otherwise the petition remains a prayer and is not answered as a miracle.

    Many people during the profession of my healing ministry were attracted to me by my miracles, not by their faith; they were curious people in search of the supernatural. However there was also a large number of people who were genuine, they accepted the dignity of my presence among them, they firmly believed in the power of God at my disposal and they merited all the miracles that I performed.

    It is in my power to grant any petition I like, but I desire to cultivate faith in human hearts. A prayer to me is most attractive when it comes from a humble and contrite heart. If I were to grant miracles for every petition, men would become very proud and would sin thinking that they had the power to control God’s power.

    The true saint prays very humbly for a miracle, echoing my prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but yours be done”. The man of faith puts all his trust in the Lord, not in his human effort, and he is prepared to give all the credit to God for every good thing that he receives.

    The one who desires a miracle must first acknowledge that he is not worthy to be in my presence, and that he does not even deserve to be heard. Yet, by confessing his sinfulness, his unworthiness, and by acknowledging my holiness, he calls on my compassion for his good desires and may be fortunate to receive.

    Do not underestimate the great power of God that is at your disposal if you have faith. Pray for your faith to increase. Believe that I can grant you any good desire of your heart, pray in accordance to my will and wait patiently for my answer.

    theworkofgod.org

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    Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

     

    DORMIZIONE-FOTO-INTERA-400x467

    “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’

    OPENING PRAYER

    MATINS. Quem terra, pontus, sidera

    The God whom earth and sea and sky
    Adore and laud and magnify,
    WHO o’er their threefold fabric reigns,
    The Virgin’s spotless womb contains.

    The God whose will by moon and sun
    And all things in due course is done,
    Is borne upon a Maiden’s breast
    By fullest heavenly grace possessed.

    How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
    The great artifices Divine,
    Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
    Vouchsafed, as in his ark to lie.

    Blest, in the message Gabriel brought;
    Blest by the work the Spirit wrought:
    From whom the great Desire of earth
    Took human flesh and human birth.

    All honor, laud and glory be,
    O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee!
    All glory, as is ever meet,
    To Father and to Paraclete.

    (Ascribed to Venantius Fortunatus, 530-609. Tr. J. M. Neale, 1818-66)

    COLLECT

    Almighty ever-living God,

    who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son,

    body and soul into heavenly glory,

    grant we pray,

    that, always attentive to the things that are above,

    we may merit to be sharers of her glory.

    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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    Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

    God’s temple in heaven was opened,

    and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

    A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,

    with the moon under her feet,

    and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

    She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

    Then another sign appeared in the sky;

    it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,

    and on its heads were seven diadems.

    Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky

    and hurled them down to the earth.

    Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,

    to devour her child when she gave birth.

    She gave birth to a son, a male child,

    destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

    Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

    The woman herself fled into the desert

    where she had a place prepared by God.

    Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

    “Now have salvation and power come,

    and the Kingdom of our God

    and the authority of his Anointed One.”

    APPLICATION

    This text from the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse was chosen for the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, because of the close link between Christ our Messiah and Savior and his blessed Mother. John stresses it in these verses. In God’s plan for our elevation to divine son-ship by adoption, Mary was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of his divine Son’s human nature. She was thus intimately connected with her son in the carrying out of this divine plan. As this plan was to be opposed by sin, and by Satan, the head and representative of all sinners, it was to be expected that opposition would concentrate on his blessed Mother, as well as on her offspring, Christ the Messiah.

    In chapter three of Genesis this opposition was already foretold in the poetic description of the first sin of disobedience, attributed to the wiles of Satan. God said to the serpent, who represented Satan, as the Dragon in Revelation does: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers” (Gn. 3 :15). St. John in his apocalyptic imagery, describes this opposition. We know from the Gospel story how Mary suffered with her divine Son. The culmination of that suffering was the three hours of incredible and indescribable agony she had to bear while her beloved one slowly shed his life’s blood on the cross.

    Today, on the feast of our Blessed Mother’s triumph, we can omit the tragic events of her life and, like St. John, pass quickly to the victorious outcome of the struggle between the Dragon and the Messiah, a victory in which Mary had played her part. In return she received a reward far exceeding any earthly pains which she had endured.

    Today the Church celebrates Mary’s assumption into heaven which took place immediately after her death. She was then given the same glorified existence which her divine Son’s human nature had been given by the Father at his moment of death, and which all the elect will be given at their moment of resurrection. We believe that, after Christ, she has occupied the next highest place of glory in heaven from the moment that her earthly life ended. This has been the constant belief of the Church from the very beginning, a belief confirmed and guaranteed by the infallible declaration of Pope Pius XII in 1950.

    Mary was Mother of Christ, the God-man and our Savior. She cooperated with him in his saivific mission. She suffered, as we saw above, because of our sins. She saw her beloved Son suffer and die on the cross for our sins. She is now enjoying eternal glory in heaven. Is it likely that she could lose interest in us, her other children who are brothers of Christ? No, her divine Son has not lost interest in us and therefore his blessed Mother cannot fail to be interested in our eternal welfare. We can feel certain that she will intercede for us if we ask her, and we can rest assured that her intercession will not be ignored.

    Let us honor her today in the manner in which she wants us to honor her, that is, by thanking God for all the graces which he conferred on her, graces which flowed from her privileged position as Mother of Christ. Her immediate assumption into heaven was the crowning grace and the divine reward which the infinitely loving God conferred on the woman whom he had chosen to cooperate in the messianic mission of his beloved Son. For having been made sons of God and heirs to heaven we owe a debt of thanks, after God, Father, Incarnate Son and Holy Spirit, to the Mother of God and our Mother.

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16

    The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

    The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.

    The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

    Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,

    forget your people and your father’s house.

    The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

    So shall the king desire your beauty;

    for he is your lord.

    The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

    They are borne in with gladness and joy;

    they enter the palace of the king.

    The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

    READING II

    ResurrectionIcon3

    1 Cor 15:20-27

    Brothers and sisters:

    Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.

    For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,

    but each one in proper order:

    Christ the first-fruits;

    then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;

    then comes the end,

    when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,

    when he has destroyed every sovereignty

    and every authority and power.

    For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

    The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

    for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

    APPLICATION

    St. Paul says in the verse that immediately precedes today’s reading (15: 19): “If it is for this life only that we had hope in Christ, we of all men are most to be pitied.” How true this is! If all were to end for us in the grave how foolish we would be to deprive ourselves of any of the pleasure, power or wealth of this life! What folly it would be for any man to mortify himself, to keep laws that were restricting his personal liberty, to waste time on prayer and other practices which produced no earthly pleasure or gain! In other words, being a Christian would mean taking on oneself unpleasant obligations which earned nothing for us but the grave!

    However, St. Paul proves in this same chapter that there is a life beyond the grave, an eternal life which Christ has won for us and which God has planned for us from all eternity. We shall all rise from the dead and enter into this new life. Christ’s own resurrection is the proof that this will be so. We have another proof of this basic truth of our faith in the feast we are celebrating today. This proof has been infallibly defined by the successor of St. Peter, the head of the Church.

    Our blessed Lady, Mother of Christ and our Mother, has been raised from the dead and is now in heaven in a glorified state next to the incarnate Son of God who is her Son also. The blessed Mother is one of us, a mere creature who was made of flesh and blood as we are. She differs from us in this, that because of her honored and most special relationship with God’s incarnate Son she received greater graces than any other human being, and she cooperated with these graces. If we cooperate with them each one of us is guaranteed enough graces and favors to win our own resurrection to the eternal life.

    As the resurrection or assumption of our blessed Lady is a further proof and guarantee that we too shall one day rise in triumph from our graves, so also is it a source of greater confidence and hope for each one of us. She, our Mother, is in heaven. She is interested in each one of us. She has influence with her Son and with the Holy Trinity. She will use that influence on our behalf if we ask her. This fact of her power of intercession has been proved again and again down through the history of the Church. She has obtained material blessings for thousands. The spiritual blessings she has obtained for those devoted to her are innumerable. They will be known to all only on the last day.

    Today, then, let us thank God first and foremost for the incarnation, for sending his Son on earth as a man in order to lift us up to sonship with his Father. Then let us thank him for choosing this human Mother—one of ourselves—for his incarnate Son, and for giving her all the graces necessary for the position he gave her in life. She suffered with her divine Son on Calvary and that suffering was for us. She, like her beloved Son, wants us in heaven. She is able and willing to help us to get there. At the wedding feast in Cana she successfully interceded with him to save a bridal pair from temporary embarrassment. Will she not be even more successful still in her intercession to save all her devoted children from eternal embarrassment, now that she is with her Son in heaven?

    All that is needed is trust and confidence on our part. Let us ask her today, on this great feast of her triumph, to be ever watching over us, directing and encouraging us to persevere in our loyalty to her divine Son. Let us resolve to follow her example and climb our Calvary as she climbed hers. If we do so, the day is not far distant when we too will rise from the dead and join her and him in the home prepared for us through the incarnation and the infinite love of God.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.1 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.2

    CCC 655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. .. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”3 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted. .. the powers of the age to come”4 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”5

    CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”6 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.”7 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.8

    CCC 954 The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”’:9

    All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.10

    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.11 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.12 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.13

    CCC 2855 The final doxology, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever,” takes up again, by inclusion, the first three petitions to our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign, and the power of his saving will. But these prayers are now proclaimed as adoration and thanksgiving, as in the liturgy of heaven.14 The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.15 Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father, until he hands over the kingdom to him when the mystery of salvation will be brought to its completion and God will be all in all.16

    1 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.

    2 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.

    3 I Cor 15:20-22.

    4 Heb 6:5.

    5 2 Cor 5:15; cf. Col 3:1-3.

    6 Rom 14:9.

    7 Eph 1:20-22.

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

    9 LG 49; cf. Mt 25:31; 1 Cor 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1305.

    10 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.

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

    12 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

    13 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

    14 Cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:13.

    15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

    16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

    GOSPEL

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    Lk 1:39-56

    Mary set out

    and traveled to the hill country in haste

    to a town of Judah,

    where she entered the house of Zechariah

    and greeted Elizabeth.

    When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

    and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,

    cried out in a loud voice and said,

    “Blessed are you among women,

    and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

    And how does this happen to me,

    that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

    For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,

    the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

    Blessed are you who believed

    that what was spoken to you by the Lord

    would be fulfilled.”

    And Mary said:

    “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

    my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

    for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

    From this day all generations will call me blessed:

    the Almighty has done great things for me

    and holy is his Name.

    He has mercy on those who fear him

    in every generation.

    He has shown the strength of his arm,

    and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

    He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

    and has lifted up the lowly.

    He has filled the hungry with good things,

    and the rich he has sent away empty.

    He has come to the help of his servant Israel

    for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

    the promise he made to our fathers,

    to Abraham and his children forever.”

    Mary remained with her about three months

    and then returned to her home.

    http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081516-mass-during-day.cfm

    APPLICATION

    “All ages to come shall call me blessed” was a prophecy uttered by our Lady and was not a boast. She who was chosen by God to be the Mother of his incarnate Son, saw in herself nothing but a maidservant, completely and entirely unworthy of the dignity conferred on her. Elizabeth had called her “blessed among women” but Mary attributes this blessedness to the “greatness of the Lord” who had “looked on his servant in her lowliness.” She had no doubts about her own unworthiness and her unfitness for the dignity conferred on her by God, but she recognized how great, how sublime that dignity was. She had been made the Mother of God.

    Her prophecy has been fulfilled from the very first days of the Church. She has been given the highest place among all of God’s creatures—Queen of Angels and Queen of all Saints—right through the history of Christianity. In giving her this place of honor above all other angelic or saintly creatures, we are but following God’s own initiative—he made her the Mother of his divine Son and gave her all the graces which that position of unparalleled dignity demanded. When we honor her it is really his infinite love for, and his unbounded generosity toward, the human race that we are honoring. It was for us men and for our salvation that the Son of God came down from heaven. It was for us that he chose Mary as his Mother. She was but the human intermediary in God’s plan of salvation for mankind.

    Today’s feastday of God’s Mother and ours is the climax and crowning of all the other graces and honors which God conferred on her. The assumption or the transferring of our blessed Lady to heaven, in her glorified but identical, total personality, immediately after her death on earth, was not only the triumph of Mary but a triumph for all humanity. Where the Mother is, there will be all her loyal children. She played a large part in the redemption-work of her divine Son on earth. She continues in heaven to play a very effective part in applying the fruits of that redemption to all her children. If we follow Mary we are following Christ. If we remain close to the Mother we can never wander away from her Son. If we put ourselves under the mantle of her protection, Christ will shelter us from the enemies of our salvation. If we call on her to intercede for us our petitions will be answered by Christ.

    This climax of all God’s gifts to Mary—the assumption into heaven, not of her separated soul, but of her total person, is a gift which God has ready for all of us, provided we imitate Mary on earth and be loyal to her Son and God’s Son. We cannot expect the same degree of heavenly glory which is hers, but we shall be perfectly happy with what we shall receive. All eternity will not be long enough for us to thank the Blessed Trinity, Christ in his humanity and his Blessed Mother who did so much to save us.

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

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”1 Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”2 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.3

    CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.4 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.5 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”6

    CCC 495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.7 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).8

    CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.9 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.10 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.11 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.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

    CCC 717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”17 John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”18 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.19

    CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

    Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.20

    Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”21 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”22 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

    Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”23 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”24 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.25 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

    CCC 2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”26 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.”27 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”

    Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing28 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

    1 Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.

    2 Lk 1:45.

    3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

    4 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

    5 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

    6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

    7 Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.

    8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

    9 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.

    10 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.

    11 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.

    12 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.

    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.

    17 Jn 1:6.

    18 Lk 1:15, 41.

    19 Cf. Lk 1:68.

    20 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

    21 Zeph 3:14,17a.

    22 Rev 21:3.

    23 Lk 1:41, 48.

    24 Lk 1:45.

    25 Cf. Gen 12:3.

    26 Lk 1:43.

    27 Lk 1:38.

    28 Cf. Jn 19:27.

    BENEDICTUS

    The feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven: There is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us. We have a Mother in heaven. Heaven is open, heaven has a heart… Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God but make God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendor of the divine dignity will then be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives… Precisely because Mary is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While God, who is close to us, actually, “within” all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment. She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    CLOSING PRAYER

    Prayer to our Lady, Assumed in Heaven

    Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen.

    We join them in praising you and bless the Lord who raised you above all creatures. With them we offer you our devotion and love.

    We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and needs, and we take comfort from the faith in the coming resurrection.

    We look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary. Pray for us most holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

    Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

    christ-pulling-peter-from-water-mosaic-500x724.png‘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 quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.  And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.  The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still. (Exodus 14:14)  Be still and know that I am God!  Amen!

    COLLECT

    Almighty ever-living God,

    whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,

    we dare to call our Father,

    bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts

    the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,

    that we may merit to enter into the inheritance

    which you have promised.

    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

    Elijah.jpg

    1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a

    At the mountain of God, Horeb,

    Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.

    Then the LORD said to him,

    “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;

    the LORD will be passing by.”

    A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains

    and crushing rocks before the LORD—

    but the LORD was not in the wind.

    After the wind there was an earthquake—

    but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

    After the earthquake there was fire—

    but the LORD was not in the fire.

    After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.

    When he heard this,

    Elijah hid his face in his cloak

    and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow’s child back to life.1

    The sacrifice on Mount Carmel is a decisive test for the faith of the People of God. In response to Elijah’s plea, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me,” the Lord’s fire consumes the holocaust, at the time of the evening oblation. The Eastern liturgies repeat Elijah’s plea in the Eucharistic epiclesis.

    Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides “in a cleft of he rock” until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.2 But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ,” crucified and risen.3

    1 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.

    2 Cf. 1 Kings 19:1-14; cf. Ex 33:19-23.

    3 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35

    APPLICATION

    Elijah was a great prophet, a great defender of the true faith in Israel, where a defense was needed–but, being of a fiery, violent nature, he was evidently not quite satisfied with the help God was giving him. He wanted fire and brimstone poured abundantly on all God’s enemies, but God did not always see things as Elijah did. When running away in despair, or with the hope of collecting reinforcements in the form of more active cooperation (according to his ideas), on the part of God, he was taught a lesson and, to his credit, he learned it.

    Many of us have at least a little of the spirit of the pre-Horeb Elijah in us. When we see wickedness prosper and open opponents of God continuing to live and to thrive, we begin to wish God would step in and show his power by exterminating them, in a way that would prevent others from daring to imitate them. An earthquake could so easily swallow up the leaders of atheistic policy when they all meet in Moscow; and what a blessing for the world and for the true religion We wonder, perhaps, why God doesn’t show his power and his presence in some such way to those who deny his existence.

    But, as Christians, we should know better. We have the great advantage (which Elijah lacked) of Christ’s teaching on God’s mercy. God is the father, and the loving father, of the sinner as well as of the saint. He does not wish the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live. He gives his grace to all men; he lets his sun shine on the sinners and the just. He has infinite patience and is ready, up to the last moment, to welcome back the greatest sinner who turns to him. How many saints are in heaven today, who would have been cut down in their sins, if God acted as Elijah and some other devout lovers of God would have him act?

    No, the lesson for each one of us today is that God is especially a God of mercy in his dealings with us. He would have us deal mercifully with our fellowman who are not serving him or who, worse still, are even denying his existence. Tornadoes of blame and abuse, thundering condemnations and threats of fire and brimstone are not the means God uses to bring back his prodigal sons, and they are not the means he wants us, his friends, to use either.

    God is to be found in “the tiny gentle breeze,” in the kind, charitable understanding word spoken out of a true brotherly heart. In the sinner God sees his child and still loves him. We too should see in the sinner our brother, and we should love him and wish him to reach the happy end God intends for him. A kindly word will do more to produce his conversion than torrents of abuse and condemnation. There are few of us who have not sinned and offended God during our adult years. How fortunate we were that God was not Elijah’s type of God while we were in our sins! He gave us a chance because he was a merciful, understanding God. Let us be merciful and understanding to our brothers who now are what we once were. Let us pray for them and ask God to continue to be merciful towards them. Let us help them kindly and charitably whenever we can. If we are instrumental in bringing back a prodigal son to his loving Father in heaven, we can rest assured that our Father will help us on our road back to him in heaven.

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14

    Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

    I will hear what God proclaims;

    the LORD — for he proclaims peace.

    Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,

    glory dwelling in our land.

    Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

    Kindness and truth shall meet;

    justice and peace shall kiss.

    Truth shall spring out of the earth,

    and justice shall look down from heaven.

    Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

    The LORD himself will give his benefits;

    our land shall yield its increase.

    Justice shall walk before him,

    and prepare the way of his steps.

    Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

    READING II

    gold-5.jpg

    Rom 9:1-5

    Brothers and sisters:

    I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie;

    my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness

    that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.

    For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ

    for the sake of my own people,

    my kindred according to the flesh.

    They are Israelites;

    theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,

    the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;

    theirs the patriarchs, and from them,

    according to the flesh, is the Christ,

    who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”1

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”2

    CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,3 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:

    – already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;4

    – in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;5

    – in his word which purifies its hearers;6

    – in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;7

    – and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.8

    CCC 554 From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. .. and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”9 Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he.10 In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain,11 before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus’ face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem”.12 A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”13

    CCC 613 Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”,14 and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the “blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.15

    1 DV 11.

    2 DV 11; cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:19-21; 3:15-16.

    3 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.

    4 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

    5 Cf. Lk 2:51.

    6 Cf. Jn 15:3.

    7 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.

    8 Cf. Rom 4:25.

    9 Mt 16:21.

    10 Cf. Mt 16:22-23; 17:23; Lk 9:45.

    11 Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18.

    12 Lk 9:31.

    13 Lk 9:35.

    14 Jn 1:29; cf. 8:34-36; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:19.

    15 Mt 26:28; cf. Ex 24:8; Lev 16:15-16; Cor 11:25.

    APPLICATION

    Like St. Paul we too can and should grieve that God’s Chosen People of the Old Testament refused, and still refuse, as a nation to accept the last and greatest of the many gifts he gave them, his Messiah, Christ. For eighteen centuries he treated them as a people apart. He let the other nations go their way, but to them he revealed himself as the true and only God, who made and regulated the whole universe and all it contains. And his reason for this special treatment was that his Son (according to the flesh), whom he was going to send on earth to make all nations his new Chosen People, would be a descendant of Abraham, a member of their race.

    While we regret that they are not our brothers in Christ, and while we must always pray that one day they will become our Christian brothers, we must realize that they are a small percentage of those who reject Christ today. There are millions living among us—men and women—who know nothing and care nothing for God or for their own eternal future. If they were not baptized then their parents were, but indifference followed by disbelief has ousted the faith in families, and almost in whole nations, in much of the so-called civilized part of our world.

    What is the cause of this? It is the same as that which prevented the Jews of St. Paul’s day from accepting Christ: pride and worldliness. The leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees and the priestly caste, could not bear to be taught by Christ. What was he but a country carpenter, while they were doctors of the law! They had nothing to learn, they thought. Our ex-Christians and anti-Christians today think they have all the answers to all questions too. Because they know a little more than their grand-parents about the things of this world, they think they can ignore or deny the existence of what does not come within the range of their bodily senses.

    As well as being proud, the priests and Pharisees of Paul’s day were worldly and politically minded. They looked for a Messiah who would not only set them free from the hated Roman rule, but who would make of their country a world-power. And in this new empire they would, of course, have the seats of honor. Christ’s teaching was concerned not with power or wealth in this world but with the eternal joy and happiness that men could obtain for themselves in the next. Our ex-Christians today have no time, and no thought, for God or for Christ’s teaching, because they are totally occupied with obtaining the pleasures, the wealth, the comforts of this world. They may not think in terms of world-power for themselves, but they have put themselves completely and entirely in the power of this world. Talk of a future-life is to them sheer folly–the present is what counts: “eat, sleep, drink and be merry” is their motto, their creed. They are reluctant to add “for tomorrow you die’!–that might disturb their present bliss!

    What should be our reaction to this sad state of so many of our fellowmen? Our first reaction should be a fervent “Thank you, God, for the true faith we have; please give us the grace to live in it until we draw our last breath.” Our second thought must be to ask the good God to send the light of faith to the descendants of Abraham, and to re-light it among those Gentiles who have extinguished it. It is not enough for a true Christian that he should live his own life according to the laws of Christ, true charity demands that he be seriously interested in the spiritual welfare of his neighbors.

    GOSPEL

    christ-pulling-peter-from-water-mosaic-500x724.png   Mt 14:22-33

    After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat

    and precede him to the other side,

    while he dismissed the crowds.

    After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.

    When it was evening he was there alone.

    Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,

    was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.

    During the fourth watch of the night,

    he came toward them walking on the sea.

    When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.

    “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.

    At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

    Peter said to him in reply,

    “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

    He said, “Come.”

    Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.

    But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;

    and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

    Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,

    and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    After they got into the boat, the wind died down.

    Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,

    “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081317.cfm

    APPLICATION

    Our Lord sent his disciples to row across the lake, knowing that they would meet strong, gale-force head-winds and be in danger. He did this because he wanted to strengthen their faith and trust in himself. He intended to come to them at the right moment, working two miracles–walking on the water and calming the storm. This he did and the result was as he had intended–their faith in him was strengthened, they declared he was the Messiah, the Chosen of God. Peter, already the recognized leader, and always the most daring among them, showed himself ready to risk drowning in order to prove his trust and confidence in Christ. While he trusted in Christ, all went well, but when his faith weakened he would have been lost were it not for the outstretched helping hand of his master. This was also a very necessary lesson in the education of Peter and his companions.

    For us, too, there is a necessary lesson in this incident. It is that we must continue to trust in Christ and his loving Father, even when God seems to have deserted us. Most of the troubles and trials of our lives are caused by the injustice and lack of charity of our fellowman. The remainder can be attributed to our own defects and sins or to some weakness in our mental and bodily make-up. But God foresees all these misfortunes, and can prevent them. Instead he lets them take their course, because they can and should be the means of educating us in our knowledge of life’s true meaning and they should draw us closer to him.

    Christ foresaw the storm and the grave risk his Apostles would run when he sent them off across the lake. But that trial and the grave danger they ran was for their own good, because they learned to realize that he was from God and they could always trust him. Our trials and our earthly ailments are also foreseen by God and permitted by him (even if inflicted on us by a sinful fellowman) so that they will draw us closer to him and help us on the road to heaven.

    This they will do, if we accept them and bear with them until he comes to our aid. Our troubles in life are like the growing pains of our youth–they are necessary if we are to arrive at our full stature as sons of God. They form, mold and shape our religious character and bring us closer to God–if we allow them to do so. For the lukewarm Christian who rebels against God because of his earthly sufferings, they can do the opposite. He cannot see the purpose and value of suffering because he has never seriously pondered or grasped the real meaning of this life and God’s loving plans for him.

    As in the first reading today, God may not be in the tornadoes or earthquakes or roaring fires, nor does he cause them perhaps, but he is ever near to his true children when such calamities occur. He has a purpose in every trial or tribulation which crosses the path of our lives, a purpose always to our eternal advantage if only we will see and accept his will in these trials.

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

    BENEDICTUS

    The Profound Meaning of Being a Priest

    Faith in Jesus, Son of the living God, is the means through which, time and again, we can take hold of Jesus’ hand and in which he takes our hands and guides us. The Lord makes us priests his friends; he entrusts everything to us; he entrusts himself to us, so that we can speak with him himself – in persona Christi capitis. What trust! He has truly delivered himself into our hands. I no longer call you servants but friends. This is the profound meaning of being a priest: becoming the friend of Jesus Christ. For this friendship we must daily recommit ourselves. This means that we should know Jesus in an increasingly personal way, listening to him, living together with him, staying with him. The core of the priesthood is being friends of Jesus Christ. Only in this way can we truly speak in persona Christi, even if our inner remoteness from Christ cannot jeopardize the validity of the Sacrament. Being a friend of Jesus, being a priest, means being a man of prayer. In this way we recognize him and emerge from the ignorance of simple servants. We thus learn to live, suffer and act with him and for him. Being a priest means becoming an ever closer friend of Jesus Christ with the whole of our existence. The world needs God – the God of Jesus Christ, the God who made himself flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us, who rose and created within himself room for man. This God must live in us and we in him. This is our priestly call: only in this way can our action as priests bear fruit. Jesus assumed our flesh; let us give him our own. In this way he can come into the world and transform it.

    His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

    CLOSING PRAYER

    A Prayer to Jesus my Friend

    (By Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, S.J.)

    Jesus! You are my true Friend, my only Friend.

    You take a part in all my misfortunes;

    You take them on Yourself;

    You know how to change them into blessings;

    You listen to me with the greatest kindness when I relate my troubles to You,

    and You have always balm to pour on my wounds.

    I find You at all times;

    I find You everywhere,

    You never go away:

    if I have to change my dwelling,

    I find You there wherever I go.

    You are never weary of listening to me,

    You are never tired of doing me good.

    I am certain of being beloved by You,

    if I love You; my goods are nothing to You,

    and by bestowing Yours on me, You never grow poor;

    however miserable I may be,

    no one nobler or cleverer or even holier can come between You and me,

    and deprive me of Your friendship;

    and death, which tears us away from all other friends,

    will unite me forever to You.

    All the humiliations attached to old age,

    or to the loss of honor,

    will never detach You from me;

    on the contrary, I shall never enjoy You more fully,

    and You will never be closer to me

    than when everything seems to conspire against me

    to overwhelm me and to cast me down.

    You bear with all my faults with extreme patience,

    and even my want of fidelity and my ingratitude

    do not wound You to such a degree

    as to make You unwilling to receive me when I return to You.

    O Jesus, grant that I may die praising You,

    that I may die loving You,

    that I may die for the love of you.

    Amen

    Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, faith, Heaven

    Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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    ‘Thus it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

    OPENING PRAYER

    LORD, teach me the way of Your laws;

    I shall observe them with care.

    Give me insight to observe Your teaching,

    to keep it with all my heart.

    Lead me in the path of Your commands,

    for that is my delight.

    Direct my heart toward Your decrees and away from unjust gain.

    Avert my eyes from what is worthless;

    by Your way, give me life.

    For Your servant fulfill Your promise made to those who fear You.

    Turn away from me the taunts I dread,

    for Your edicts bring good.

    See how I long for Your precepts;

    in Your justice, give me life.

    Psalms 119: 33-40

    COLLECT

    O God, protector of those who hope in you,

    without whom nothing has firm foundation,

    nothing is holy,

    bestow in abundance your mercy upon us

    and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,

    we may use the good things that pass

    in such a way as to hold fast even now

    to those that ever endure.

    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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    1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12

    The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.

    God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”

    Solomon answered:

    O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king

    to succeed my father David;

    but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.

    I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,

    a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.

    Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart

    to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.

    For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”

    The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.

    So God said to him:

    Because you have asked for this—

    not for a long life for yourself,

    nor for riches,

    nor for the life of your enemies,

    but for understanding so that you may know what is right—

    I do as you requested.

    I give you a heart so wise and understanding

    that there has never been anyone like you up to now,

    and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

    APPLICATION

    What particular gift would each one of us ask of God if he spoke to us in a dream tonight and gave us our choice? There are so many pressing needs which we will have at the moment. Many would ask for badly needed health for themselves or for some close relatives. Others would ask for financial help, just to pay off debts and keep the family in comfort, not riches but just enough. Others would wish to be spared to their family for many long years. Some, not many, would ask for the virtue of temperance for themselves, while many would want that virtue for their husbands or sons.

    But those who would ask for the gift of true wisdom to govern their earthly lives according to justice and charity would, I fear, be a small percentage. And yet that is the only gift that has eternal value. It is even greater than the gift Solomon asked for and got. He wanted the wisdom to govern others, but he failed pretty badly in governing his own personal life. The really wise man wants to make a success of his own personal life, but that can only be done by regulating his living according to the wisdom God has enshrined in his revelation to us.

    If we got all the other gifts mentioned above–a healthy, long life for ourselves and all in the family, a life of comfort free from all financial cares, a life of peace and temperance in the home, with all the other earthly blessings that we think we need thrown in, would the ending of our life-story be necessarily a happy one?

    We all like a story to end happily. We do not mind how many scrapes and tight shaves our hero has during the course of the story, but we want him to come out a success in the end. Surely, there is no story of greater interest, or of greater importance to us, than our own life-story, and there can be no story whose happy ending could be more desirable. There is only one happy ending for the story of our life on earth, and it is the attainment of heaven when we die.

    If we lived on earth for 200 years, if we never had an ache or pain in that time, if we had all the riches of this world, and all the comforts imaginable which those riches could buy for us, and a life of perpetual peace and plenty, but if we failed to reach heaven what a sad and irreparable conclusion our life-story would have!

    Wisdom is the gift we all need–wisdom greater than that of Solomon–the wisdom to govern and direct our own lives according to God’s laws. God will not refuse this gift if we ask for it. And having got it we must use it. We are surrounded on all sides by worldly wisdom–the opposite of what we need. Today, more than ever perhaps, the stress is on the present–what we can get out of this life. The future life is either denied or ignored. A future there is, and try to forget it as we may, it is drawing nearer daily to each one of us. On the entrance gates of the city cemetery of Rome this truthful inscription stands out in its awful truth: “Hodie mihi cras tibe”– “today my fate is decided, tomorrow yours.” We can decide our fate today before it is too late. Will we?

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130

    Lord, I love your commands.

    I have said, O LORD, that my part

    is to keep your words.

    The law of your mouth is to me more precious

    than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

    Lord, I love your commands.

    Let your kindness comfort me

    according to your promise to your servants.

    Let your compassion come to me that I may live,

    for your law is my delight.

    Lord, I love your commands.

    For I love your command

    more than gold, however fine.

    For in all your precepts I go forward;

    every false way I hate.

    Lord, I love your commands.

    Wonderful are your decrees;

    therefore I observe them.

    The revelation of your words sheds light,

    giving understanding to the simple.

    Lord, I love your commands.

    READING II

    eucharist-st-paul-and-jesus.jpeg

    Rom 8:28-30

    Brothers and sisters:

    We know that all things work for good for those who love God,

    who are called according to his purpose.

    For those he foreknew he also predestined

    to be conformed to the image of his Son,

    so that he might be the firstborn

    among many brothers and sisters.

    And those he predestined he also called;

    and those he called he also justified;

    and those he justified he also glorified.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 257 “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!”1 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”.2 This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.3 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.4

    CCC 313 “We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him.”5 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

    St. Catherine of Siena said to “those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them”: “Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.”6

    St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: “Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best.”7

    Dame Julian of Norwich: “Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith. .. and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time – that ‘all manner [of] thing shall be well.’”8

    CCC 395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”9

    CCC 501 Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: “The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love.”10

    CCC 1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the “cloud of witnesses”11 who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man “in the image of God,” finally transfigured “into his likeness,”12 who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:

    Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.13

    CCC 1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.14 Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

    CCC 1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.15 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end”16 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.”17 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

    Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.18

    CCC 2012 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him. .. For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.”19

    CCC 2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.20 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

    CCC 2790 Grammatically, “our” qualifies a reality common to more than one person. There is only one God, and he is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in his only Son, are reborn of him by water and the Spirit.21 The Church is this new communion of God and men. United with the only Son, who has become “the firstborn among many brethren,” she is in communion with one and the same Father in one and the same Holy Spirit.22 In praying “our” Father, each of the baptized is praying in this communion: “The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”23

    1 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.

    2 Eph 1:4-5,9; Rom 8:15,29.

    3 2 Tim 1:9-10.

    4 Cf. AG 2-9.

    5 Rom 8:28.

    6 St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue On Providence, ch. IV, 138.

    7 The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. Elizabeth F. Rogers (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), letter 206, lines 661-663.

    8 Julian of Norwich, The Revelations of Divine Love, tr. James Walshe SJ (London: 1961), ch. 32,99-100.

    9 Rom 8:28.

    10 LG 63; cf. Jn 19:26-27; Rom 8:29; Rev 12:17.

    11 Heb 12:1.

    12 Cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Jn 3:2.

    13 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

    14 Cf. Rom 8:29; Council of Trent (1547): DS 1609-1619.

    15 Cf. Rom 8:28-30; Mt 7:21.

    16 Mt 10:22; cf. Council of Trent DS 1541.

    17 1 Tim 2:4.

    18 St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3.

    19 Rom 8:28-30.

    20 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.

    21 Cf. 1 Jn 5:1; Jn 3:5.

    22 Rom 8:29; Cf. Eph 4:4-6.

    23 Acts 4:32.

    APPLICATION

    St. Augustine says, “God created us without our consent or cooperation but he will not (and cannot) save us without our cooperation.” This is clear from what St. Paul tells us today. God has done, and continues to do, everything that is necessary to bring us to heaven when we die. However, unless we cooperate and do our part, heaven will not be our future abode.

    This should make each one of us stop and think! Are we on the right road? Are we truly followers of Christ? Do we love God? Are our prevailing ambitions worldly or other-worldly? We have to take an interest in the affairs of this world but do all our interests end there? Do the ten commandments of God always govern and direct our conduct, or are they often trampled on in our mad rush for some temporal pleasure or gain?

    These are questions every Christian should put to himself and honestly answer. We are living in an era which is daily growing more worldly and more anti-God and anti-Christian. On all sides of us we have bad example, a strong-rushing current of worldliness and immorality, a current difficult to avoid or swim against. But avoid it we must if we really have our real and eternal welfare at heart. What is more, if we love our fellowman as our Christian faith obliges us to do, we must do all in our power to lead them out of that fatal current and bring them to safety with us. We must be life-guards.

    There is a future life, revelation tells us, and our reasoning demands it. That future life will be one of eternal happiness for those who strive to love God in this life, and eternal unhappiness for those who refuse to do this. Ask yourself this question: “If I were to die tonight, to which class would I like to belong?” Tonight may not be the night of our departure from this life, but that departure is nearer to us than any of us think, and the state of our conscience at the moment of our death may depend on the resolutions we make today.

    Nobody, not even God himself, can give us eternal life. We must earn it for ourselves. Our Christian faith tells us how.

    GOSPELRelated imageMt 13:44-52

     

    Jesus said to his disciples:

    The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,

    which a person finds and hides again,

    and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant

    searching for fine pearls.

    When he finds a pearl of great price,

    he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,

    which collects fish of every kind.

    When it is full they haul it ashore

    and sit down to put what is good into buckets.

    What is bad they throw away.

    Thus it will be at the end of the age.

    The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous

    and throw them into the fiery furnace,

    where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

    Do you understand all these things?”

    They answered, “Yes.”

    And he replied,

    Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven

    is like the head of a household

    who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.1 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.2 Words are not enough, deeds are required.3 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?4 What use has he made of the talents he has received?5 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”.6 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.7

    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.8 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”9 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”10

    CCC 1117 As she has done for the canon of Sacred Scripture and for the doctrine of the faith, the Church, by the power of the Spirit who guides her “into all truth,” has gradually recognized this treasure received from Christ and, as the faithful steward of God’s mysteries, has determined its “dispensation.”11 Thus the Church has discerned over the centuries that among liturgical celebrations there are seven that are, in the strict sense of the term, sacraments instituted by the Lord.

    1 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.

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

    3 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.

    4 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.

    5 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.

    6 Mt 13:11.

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

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

    9 Mt 13:41-42.

    10 Mt 25:41.

    11 Jn 16:13; cf. Mt 13:52; 1 Cor 4:1.

    APPLICATION

    The lesson of these two parables is as true for us today, as it was for those Palestinians to whom Christ spoke. All Christians are called on to imitate these two wise men, and surrender all their earthly possessions if necessary in order to gain eternal life. Does this “giving all” mean that we are all expected to abandon the world and take on the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience? There are many who do just this. But it is not the only way, nor the normal way, to purchase the eternal treasure. Heaven is within the reach of all, who follow the ordinary vocations of life and partake of this world’s joys and pleasures within the framework of God’s commandments, but never lose sight of the goal toward which they are moving.

    Keeping within the framework of God’s commandments is the difficulty. We need not have a vow of obedience, but we must obey all legitimate authority. We may possess the goods of this world, but only such goods as we lawfully and justly acquire. Nor may we withhold all of these from a fellowman who is in need. We do not have to take a vow of chastity, but yet we must be chaste, we must use the gifts and the pleasure of sex only within the limits set down by God’s wise laws.

    All of this is not easy for human nature. But we are not relying on weak human nature, we have within our reach in the Church all the spiritual and supernatural aids we need. Our twentieth century, it is true, is so engrossed in chasing after the earthly comforts and pleasures of the body, and so devoid of any spiritual or other-worldly outlook, that even those who know and believe that there is an eternity after death, find it hard to allow their faith and convictions to govern and direct their daily actions. Yet, the evil example of others will never justify our wrong-doing. The commandments of God are still binding, even though they are openly and flagrantly violated by individuals and whole nations today.

    Remember this: we shall not be asked at the judgment, “What did your neighbor do?”, but “what did you do?” If we lose the pearl of great price in the eternity of happiness God has offered to us–it will not be the fault of others. The fault will be ours and ours only. We refuse to pay the price. We did not think it worthy the “paltry all” which we possessed in this life.

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

    BENEDICTUS

    Seeking the Truth and Culture’s Role

    When man is shut out from the truth, he can only be dominated by what is accidental and arbitrary. That is why it is not “fundamentalism” but a duty of humanity to protect man from the dictatorship of what is accidental and to restore to him his dignity, which consists precisely in the fact that no human institution can ultimately dominate him, because he is open to the truth… The confidence to seek for the truth and to find it is never anachronistic: it is precisely this that maintains the dignity of man, that breaks down particularism, and that leads men toward one another beyind the bounds of their cultural settings on the basis of their common dignity… Cultures are not therefore fixed once and for all in one single form… They are concerned with encounter and with mutual fertilization. Because the inner openness of man to God is more influential in them, the greater and more pure they are, the inward readiness for the revelation of God is written into them. Revelation is not something alien to them; rather, it corresponds to an inner expectation in the cultures themselves… All peoples are now invited to participate in this process of transcending their own heritage that first began in Israel; they are invited to turn to the God who, for his part, transcended his own limits in Jesus Christ, who has broken down “the dividing wall of hostility” between us and in the self-deprivation of the cross has led us toward one another. Faith in Jesus Christ is, therefore, of its nature, a continual opening of oneself, God’s action of breaking into the human world and, in response to, this man’s breaking out toward God.

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    CLOSING PRAYER

    Reflection on Our Father

    I cannot say “Our” if my faith has no room for others and their needs.

    I cannot say “Father” if I do not demonstrate this relationship to my daily living.

    I cannot say “who art in heaven” if all my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.

    I cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if I do not have honor, glory and trust in Him.

    I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am unwilling to have His kingdom grow in my heart, my home, my church, my country and all the world.

    I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am unwilling to have it done in my life.

    I cannot say “on earth as it is in heaven” unless I am truly ready to give myself to His service here and now.

    I cannot say “give us this day our daily bread” without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring the genuine needs of my family, friends and neighbors.

    I cannot say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone or if I gossip.

    I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately choose to remain in a  situation where I am likely to be tempted.

    I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of word and prayer.

    I cannot say “Thine is the kingdom” if I cannot follow the ten commandments.

    I cannot say “Thine is the power” if I fear what my neighbors and friends may say.

    I cannot say “Thine is the glory” if I am seeking my own glory first.

    I cannot say ” Forever” if I am more concerned about each days happenings than about Your presence here in my life.

    I cannot say “Amen” unless I honestly say, cost what it may, this is my prayer.

    Anonymous

     

     

     

     

    Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, mercy, Oblate, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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    The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

    OPENING PRAYER

     Prayer to the Holy Spirit

    Breathe into me Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy.  Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.  Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.  Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.

    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

    Hand_of_God_004.jpg

    Wis 12:13, 16-19

    There is no god besides you who have the care of all,

    that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.

    For your might is the source of justice;

    your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

    For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;

    and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

    But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,

    and with much lenience you govern us;

    for power, whenever you will, attends you.

    And you taught your people, by these deeds,

    that those who are just must be kind;

    and you gave your children good ground for hope

    that you would permit repentance for their sins.

    APPLICATION

    The author of this Book of Wisdom had true, sound wisdom and he set out to teach it to his fellow-Jews, who because of the influence of their pagan environment were growing weak in their loyalty to the true God of their fathers. Alexandria was then a thoroughly hellenized city. The philosophy of the great Greek thinkers was influencing the minds of most of its citizens. Great advances, for that day and age, had been made in science, and progress and prosperity in this life were the aims of all, including many Jews. The author reminds his readers that, wise though the philosophers and men of science may think themselves, there is only one who is truly wise, the one who is Wisdom itself and from whom all wisdom comes. This is the God of Israel who is God of all the world. He is almighty, as well as all-wise, and even though he can and may punish those who would challenge his authority, he is all-merciful and ready to forgive those who repent of their folly.

    Somebody has said, “the more we change the less change there is.” How very like Alexandria of the first century B.C. is our whole world today. Twenty-one centuries have passed since this author wrote his book. The Incarnation has taken place since, and through it the world has learned so much more about the infinite mercy of God and his interest in our true welfare. The coming of the Son of God as a human being on earth, and his death and resurrection, have proved that we were put here for a few years, in order to merit the eternal life which the all-wise and the Almighty has destined for us.

    But, just as in Alexandria of old the vast majority of its inhabitants spend their days chasing after the shadows of earthly happiness and prosperity, so the vast majority of the developed world’s population today spend their time on similar pursuits. We have new philosophers, inferior in most respects to those of ancient Greece, shouting their earthly wisdom and ignoring, if not denying, the source of all wisdom, the all-wise Creator of all things. We have scientists who have discovered many of the laws of nature and put them to good earthly use, but who ignore the Lawgiver, the sovereign Legislator, who laid down the laws that these scientists discover.

    It is, of course, true that the real scientists down through the centuries have recognized that they were but discoveries of the laws of nature made by One more mighty than they. But the pseudo-scientists try to use the laws that are discovered to reject the Lawmaker and ignore his claims on us. “Look what I found in the atom,” the pseudo-scientist shouts, while the true scientist says : “Look what God put into the atom.”

    While we must be grateful for all the progress that science and technology have made in our day (provided they are put at the service of mankind and do not become man’s complete master), we must never forget that all these powers of nature are God’s gifts to us. They are gifts to help us on our journey to our true home, not shackles to bind us to earth and make us lose the eternal inheritance which God has destined and prepared for us.

    True wisdom is the knowledge of God and the recognition of his dominion over us. The truly wise man is the man who knows that he should be grateful to the almighty Creator, who gave him life and who, as Father, has prepared a place for him in an eternal future, on condition that he does his part.

     

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

    Lord, you are good and forgiving.

    You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,

    abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.

    Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer

    and attend to the sound of my pleading.

    Lord, you are good and forgiving.

    All the nations you have made shall come

    and worship you, O LORD,

    and glorify your name.

    For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;

    you alone are God.

    Lord, you are good and forgiving.

    You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,

    slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.

    Turn toward me, and have pity on me;

    give your strength to your servant.

    Lord, you are good and forgiving.

    READING II

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    Rom 8:26-27

    Brothers and sisters:

    The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;

    for we do not know how to pray as we ought,

    but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

    And the one who searches hearts

    knows what is the intention of the Spirit,

    because he intercedes for the holy ones

    according to God’s will.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”1 The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)

    CCC 2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

    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.”7 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.”8

    CCC 2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.9 He is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”10 The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us. .. and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”11

    CCC 2736 Are we convinced that “we do not know how to pray as we ought”?12 Are we asking God for “what is good for us”? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him,13 but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants.14

    CCC 2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.15 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

    CCC 2766 But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically.16 As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.”17 Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”18 Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”19 The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

    1 Rom 8:26.

    2 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 3, 24: PG 94,1089C.

    3 Ps 130:1.

    4 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

    5 Rom 8:26.

    6 St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6, 9: PL 38, 381.

    7 Rom 8:22-24.

    8 Rom 8:26.

    9 Cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8.

    10 Heb 7:25.

    11 Rom 8:26-27.

    12 Rom 8:26.

    13 Cf. Mt 6:8.

    14 Cf. Rom 8:27.

    15 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.

    16 Cf. Mt 6:7; 1 Kings 18:26-29.

    17 Jn 6:63.

    18 Gal 4:6.

    19 Rom 8:27.

    APPLICATION

    Prayer is an act of adoration of God, of thanksgiving for all past and present favors received, of repentance for past offenses and negligences, and of petition for spiritual and temporal needs, This is an essential activity in our daily lives as Christians. It can be called the very life-blood of a Christian life. But how few, if any, of us can pray as we should. It is a consolation to hear St. Paul say that it was a difficulty for the early Christians who were so fervent, and even for himself who was truly a man of God.

    However, his statement that the Holy Spirit is with us, not only in moving us to pray but actually interceding for us personally, is surely a source of encouragement and hope for all of us. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit. This, in our own poor way, we all try to do, and sometimes succeed, but we know too that, even when we think we have failed, our merciful Father will accept the good will, the good intention.

    Our divine Lord tells us we must always pray (Lk. 18: 1). This would seem to be an impossible demand if by prayer he meant recital of words or formulas. This however, is not what he meant. As we saw above, prayer is an act of adoration, thanksgiving, repentance and petition directed toward God. Our whole life and each single day and hour of it, can and should be such an act. When we make our morning offering, we consecrate our whole day, its recreation as well as its work to the honor and glory of God. Such consecrated action is prayer, and this is how we can always pray.

    Besides, we have certain times set apart which we devote exclusively to “prayer” in the strict sense. The most important and most efficacious of these “times of prayer,” is when we join with our fellow-Christians in giving true homage and thanksgiving to God, as well as asking for pardon for our faults and failings, and requesting temporal and spiritual benefits. This happens when we devoutly attend the Sunday and Holy days liturgy. Here we are not only witnesses but also active participants at Mass, in re-enacting the most perfect homage and atonement that ever went from this earth to God, the sacrifice which the Son offered to the Father. Devout participation in this sublimest of prayers, is for a true Christian not some obligation to be fulfilled but a privilege out and away above anything we could ever think of claiming for ourselves.

    In this sacred liturgical act we have not only the Holy Spirit interceding for us and moving our hearts to true acts of love of God, we also have God the Son offering himself to his Father as a truly acceptable sacrifice in our name and for our sakes. If we participate actively with the celebrant and the whole congregation in this supreme act of adoration, thanksgiving, and atonement, we can be sure that our daily petitions for spiritual and temporal needs will not go unanswered. Our week’s work will be sanctified and become a devout prayer. Our daily sufferings will take on a value for eternity, for they will be united to Christ’s sufferings and sacrifice on the cross. We will then be living a life of prayer, and the Holy Spirit will be with us, sanctifying our ordinary daily goings and comings.

    GOSPEL

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    Mt 13:24-43

    Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:

    “The kingdom of heaven may be likened

    to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

    While everyone was asleep his enemy came

    and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.

    When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

    The slaves of the householder came to him and said,

    ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?

    Where have the weeds come from?’

    He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’

    His slaves said to him,

    ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

    He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds

    you might uproot the wheat along with them.

    Let them grow together until harvest;

    then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,

    “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;

    but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

    He proposed another parable to them.

    “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed

    that a person took and sowed in a field.

    It is the smallest of all the seeds,

    yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.

    It becomes a large bush,

    and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

    He spoke to them another parable.

    “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast

    that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour

    until the whole batch was leavened.”

    All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.

    He spoke to them only in parables,

    to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

    I will open my mouth in parables,

    I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation

    of the world.

    Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.

    His disciples approached him and said,

    “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

    He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,

    the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.

    The weeds are the children of the evil one,

    and the enemy who sows them is the devil.

    The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

    Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,

    so will it be at the end of the age.

    The Son of Man will send his angels,

    and they will collect out of his kingdom

    all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.

    They will throw them into the fiery furnace,

    where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

    Then the righteous will shine like the sun

    in the kingdom of their Father.

    Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072317.cfm

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    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.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 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.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5

    CCC 827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”6 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.7 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.8 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

    The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.9

    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.10 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”11 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”12

    1 Heb 1:6.

    2 Lk 2:14.

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

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

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

    6 LG 8 § 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17; 726; 2 Cor 5:21.

    7 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.

    8 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.

    9 Paul VI, CPG § 19.

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

    11 Mt 13:41-42.

    12 Mt 25:41.

    APPLICATION

    In the longer form of today’s gospel, our Lord added two other short parables which depicted his Church as having a very lowly and very small beginning but, in due course becoming a large and world-wide institution. The Apostles seem to have grasped the lesson of these shorter parables, but they asked him to explain the one about the weeds. According to most present-day commentators, the explanation of the parable is Matthew’s own and was not given by our Lord. But, as Matthew’s explanation has the guarantee of inspiration behind it, the lesson we are to learn from it is still the same.

    The lesson is that in the kingdom of Christ on earth, his Church, there will always be sinners and scandal-givers who will make the Christian life more difficult for Christ’s sincere followers. The weeds were among the wheat from the very beginning; one of the twelve, Judas, was a traitor and betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver. The Judaizers, half-converted Jews, caused severe disturbances among St. Paul’s Gentile Christians. Heresies troubled the first four centuries of the Church and schisms and divisions later on became a great scandal to those inside and outside the Church.

    This state of affairs was foreseen by Christ and is tolerated by God for his own wise purposes. Today’s parable is Christ’s answer to the question so frequently asked: “Why does God permit evil to triumph so often in this world, why are the wicked allowed to prosper?” The triumph of the wicked is short-lived, the reward of the Christian who suffers from their wickedness is everlasting. The very wickedness and injustices of evil-doers are one of the ways that God uses to perfect his elect. It is only on a battlefield that a true soldier can be proved.

    In the parable, the weed does not destroy the wheat. It only makes it more difficult for the wheat to grow to maturity. So it is with the Christian. No one can take his faith from him, but living up to it is made more difficult by the evil influence and bad example of sinners. If some succumb to this evil influence and give up the practice of their faith, the fault is theirs. God can force no man to serve him.

    The patience of the farmer in letting the weed grow on until harvest time, exemplifies the infinite mercy of God toward sinners. The weed could not change its nature, but the sinner can change his ways and God gives him every chance and every help to do this, up to his last moment of life. No sinner will be excluded from heaven because of the sins he committed but because he did not repent of these sins while he had the opportunity.

    We must learn a double lesson of patience, from this parable. First, to be patient with those who make our spiritual progress more difficult for us–they are actually helping us to be better Christians if we bear with patience the injuries they inflict on us. Second, we must try to imitate the patience God shows in his dealings with sinners. While we must not approve of their evil deeds, or their sins, we must still look on them as our brothers and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to heaven. We can do this by good example, and by fervent prayer for their conversion. This is not easy for human nature, but we can be certain that God will give us the necessary grace and strength to subdue our natural weakness and aversion, if we try to act with charity and true brotherly interest toward our erring fellowman.

    By acting thus, we will not only be helping a weak brother on the rugged road to heaven, we will also be making doubly sure of our own arrival there, for God will never be outdone in generosity.

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

    BENEDICTUS

    The Parables

    Jesus taught consistently in the form of parables… Jesus states explicitly that the parable is the way in which knowledge of the faith is to be realized in this world (Jn 16: 25)… The parables have two principal functions. On the one hand, they transcend the realm of creation in order, by this transcendence, to draw it above itself to the Creator. On the other hand, they accept the past historical experience of faith, that is, they prolong the parables that have grown up with the history of Israel. We should add here a third point: they also interpret a transcendence to what is more than just human stereotype occurs in it. On the one hand, the content of faith reveals itself only in parables, but, on the other hand, the parable makes clear the core of reality itself. This is possible because reality itself is a parable. Hence, it is only by way of parable that the nature of the world and of man himself is made known to us… The parable does not approach our experience of the world from without; on the contrary, it is the parable that gives this experience its proper depth and reveals what is hidden in thighs themselves. Reality is self-transcendence, and when man is led to transcend it, he not only comprehends God but, for the first time, also understands reality and enables himself and creation to be what they were meant to be. Only because creation is parable can it become the word of parable.

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    CLOSING PRAYER

    Merciful Jesus, I offer you my little hourly prayers and sufferings, united with your great prayers and sufferings on the Cross, for the conversion of sinners. In your great Mercy and Love for all, grant that we may sincerely and thoroughly repent from every sin, and humbly receive your forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Amen.

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    Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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    ‘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

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    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

    Image result for icon panocrator Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,  and I will give you rest.

     

    “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 agnostic, athiest, Benedictine, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, Oblate, prayer, The Word of God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    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 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, Uncategorized

    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

    -2.jpg

     

    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

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    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

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    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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