“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
Prayer for our Family – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
you have given us the model of life
in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to make our family another Nazareth
where love, peace and joy reign.
May it be deeply contemplative,
revived with joy.
Help us to stay together in joy
and sorrow in family prayer.
Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,
especially in their distressing disguise.
May the eucharistic heart of Jesus
make our hearts humble like his
and help us to carry out our family duties
in a holy way.
May we love one another
as God loves each one of us,
more and more each day,
and forgive each other’s faults
as you forgive our sins.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to take whatever you give
and give whatever you take with a big smile.
Immaculate Heart of Mary,
cause of our joy, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels,
be always with us,
guide and protect us.
Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
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.
Acts 14: 21-27
After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.1 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”2 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:3
Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”4
CCC 2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,5 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.6 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,7 when in reality its fruit is death.
God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. .. There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.8
1 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.
2 Phil 3:21.
3 Acts 14:22.
4 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.
5 Cf. Lk. 8:13-15; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12.
6 Cf. Jas 1:14-15.
7 Cf. Gen 3:6.
8 Origen, De orat. 29 PG 11, 544CD.
This first missionary journey of St. Paul, the shortest of three, lasted about two and a half years. During it, apart from the sea journey, he traveled on foot about 600 miles over mountainous and difficult terrain. He had to earn his bread by the work of his hands. He suffered hunger and cold and was once stoned by the Jews and left for dead. Compared with his other journeys this was relatively easy. But when we think about it and think about the love of God and of his fellow men which inspired St. Paul to endure such hardships, can we fail to wonder and be shocked at the coldness of our own love of God, and the almost total lack of interest in the eternal welfare of our neighbor which we perhaps show?
There are Christians and Catholics who begrudge the 45 minutes they have to give to God on Sunday morning : they look for a 20 minutes Mass. The remaining 167.25 hours of each week are given to their worldly cares, which nonetheless they will have to leave forever in a few years’ time. There are Catholics who grumble when they are asked to give a portion of their weekly earnings to help support their church and their pastors. There are good devout Catholics who give no help whatsoever in spreading the faith among the pagan peoples. Do such Christians really love God and appreciate what he has done for them? Have they really got their eternal salvation at heart if they are so unwilling to put themselves out the least little bit for its sake?
Granted, we are not all called to be other St. Pauls nor do we get the abundance of divine grace he got. We are, however, all called to be saints, if lesser saints maybe, and we all have got many graces from God. God does expect us, too, to show some return for his many gifts and to prove our love for him by our love for our neighbor. Love of God and love of neighbor are the two greatest of the commandments. They are in fact our tickets to heaven. If we haven’t got these tickets or if we are not purchasing them in daily installments by our charitable acts, we had better begin today. Millions of the saved in heaven today are thanking God for St. Paul’s love of God and neighbor. I shall be happy if even a few of my fellow men will have reason to thank God that I existed.
Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
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.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”
The One who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1
2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2
3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3
CCC 677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.4 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.5 God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.6
CCC 756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”7
CCC 757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.’”8
CCC 1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth.”9 It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.”10
CCC 1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.11 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”12
CCC 1045 For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been “in the nature of sacrament.”13 Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, “the holy city” of God, “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”14 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community.15 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.
CCC 1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their eyes.”16 Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God’s children, open and welcoming.
CCC 2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.17 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”18
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.19
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.”20 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.”21 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.”22 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”23 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.24 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.”
1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.
2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.
3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.
4 Cf. Rev 19:1-9.
5 Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.
6 Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pt 3:12-13.
7 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.
8 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26,29.
9 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.
10 Eph 1:10.
11 Cf. Rev 21:5.
12 Rev 21:4.
13 Cf. LG 1.
14 Rev 21:2, 9.
15 Cf. Rev 21:27.
16 Rev 21:4.
18 Rev 21:2.
19 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.
20 Zeph 3:14,17a.
21 Rev 21:3.
22 Lk 1:41, 48.
23 Lk 1:45.
24 Cf. Gen 12:3.
We have only a very limited revelation from God as regards the nature of heaven, the place or state in which we hope to be for eternity after death, if we live as loyal Christians. There must be reasons for this paucity of information, or God would reveal more to us. One of the first reasons that we can see is that God wants us to have faith and to trust in his divine promise. The man who works honestly for a prearranged salary, legally guaranteed, has no reason to have faith in the justice of his employer or trust his word. But he who works diligently for a generous friend, without any contract, is showing faith and trust in that friend.
Another reason why we have not been given more minute information concerning our future life, is that the present state of our intellect, dependent as it is on earthly images, is incapable of grasping or understanding the true and exact nature of the future life. If somebody had told Aristotle, one of the great minds of ancient Greece, that a man could travel on a machine to the moon and return again, I feel sure the great philosopher would shake his head in pity for his half-witted informant!
We have St. Paul’s word for it, and he had a vision of heaven, that we could form no human concept of its nature.
However, St. John today tells us enough to make us anxious to go there. We shall be in the presence of God. All earthly things will have passed away. Our abode, which is God’s abode, will be a new creation. We shall live eternally there, free from all care, all pain, all anxiety–free from everything which makes our earthly life difficult.
I have God’s word for it that there is such a future place in store for me. I have the added proof that the Son of God came on earth, suffered, died and rose from the dead, in order that I could get there. What I shall be like in heaven is the least of my worries. The only worry I should really have now is: am I on the right road there? Will I make it? If I am on the right road then the other questions will be solved for me when God calls me.
Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:
– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”1
– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”2 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.
– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”
– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”
– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”3 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.4
– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.5 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”
-Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”6
CCC 1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.7 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; “thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.”8
CCC 1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.9 By loving his own “to the end,”10 he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” And again: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”11
CCC 1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between “the two ways” and to put into practice the words of the Lord.12 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets.”13
The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the “new commandment” of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us.14
CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”15
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”16
CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”17 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”18 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”19 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.
CCC 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”20 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.21 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.22
1 1 Pet 2:9.
2 Jn 3:3-5.
3 Cf. Jn 13 34
4 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.
5 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.
6 LG 9 # 2.
7 Cf. Jn 13:1-17; 34-35.
8 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740.
9 Cf. Jn 13:34.
10 Jn 13:1.
11 Jn 15:9, 12.
12 Cf. Mt 7:13-14,21-27.
13 Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31.
14 Cf. Jn 15:12; 13:34.
15 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.
16 Rom 13:8-10.
17 1 Tim 2:3-4.
18 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.
19 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.
20 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.
21 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.
22 Eph 4:32.
We are disciples, followers of Christ, but how many of us would pass the test that Christ himself lays down for deciding who are his true followers? The word “charity” unfortunately has come to have a very restricted meaning in our present-day vocabulary. It signifies giving an alms, a gift of money to a needy person. This is but a very small part of the true charity, true love of neighbor which Christ made the distinguishing mark of the true Christian. He who truly loves his neighbor must be interested, first and foremost, in those things which concern that neighbor’s most important purpose in life, his eternal salvation.
Here is where so many good Christians fail in true charity. Effective interest in missionary activity is a case in point. Practical help in parochial matters, taking part in the various societies which are intended to build up and strengthen the faith and the devotion of the members of the parish is another obligation of true charity. So many seem to think it is no concern of theirs but it is. Advising and encouraging, with true Christian kindness, a neighbor who is beginning to grow lax in his attendance to his Christian duties, or who is forming habits or alliances which, if unchecked, will bring misery and suffering to his family, and scandal to the neighborhood, and even the possibility of his own eternal destruction, is also an exercise of real Christian charity.
There are thousands of broken homes today which would not be broken if there was true charity in those homes not only in the heart of the offender but in the hearts of the offended. There are thousands in jails and in hospitals of rehabilitation today who would not be there if their families and neighbors fulfilled their obligation of Christian charity. There are many, far too many, lapsed Catholics in the world today, who would not have lapsed had true charity been practiced by their relatives and neighbors. And, last but not least, there are millions of people who have remained outside the Church of Christ because the hall-mark of charity which Christ said was its distinguishing mark was tarnished or invisible. Each one of us could, with great profit, spend a few moments today looking into ourselves and comparing our thoughts and our words and our actions with the thoughts, words and actions of love which Christ expects from his followers.
It is never too late to mend. Begin today to take a true Christian interest in the spiritual fate of your family and neighbors. Where words have already failed perhaps, try prayer and example. The grace of God will cooperate with your sincere, charitable effort.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.
How to Reach the Dignity of Christianity
The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost. We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity. In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. To his breath the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit of light and love, you are the substantial love of the Father and the Son; hear my prayer. Bounteous bestower of most precious gifts, grant me a strong and living faith which makes me accept all revealed truths and shape my conduct in accord with them. Give me a most confident hope in all divine promises which prompts me to abandon myself unreservedly to you and your guidance. Infuse into me a love of perfect goodwill, and act according to God’s least desires. Make me love not only my friends but my enemies as well, in imitation of Jesus Christ who through you offered himself on the Cross for all people. Holy Spirit, animate, inspire, and guide me, and help me to be always a true follower of you. Amen.