Third Sunday in Advent – A

03_1_johnthebaptist.jpg

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer to St. John the Baptist

God, You raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ. Fill Your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation. Grant that, as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, so we may energetically profess our Faith in You, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who see how your people

faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,

enable us, we pray,

to attain the joys of so great a salvation

and to celebrate them always

with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.

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

judgement08-1.jpg

Is 35:1-6a, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;

the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

They will bloom with abundant flowers,

and rejoice with joyful song.

The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,

the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;

they will see the glory of the LORD,

the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the hands that are feeble,

make firm the knees that are weak,

say to those whose hearts are frightened:

Be strong, fear not!

Here is your God,

he comes with vindication;

with divine recompense

he comes to save you.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,

the ears of the deaf be cleared;

then will the lame leap like a stag,

then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return

and enter Zion singing,

crowned with everlasting joy;

they will meet with joy and gladness,

sorrow and mourning will flee.

APPLICATION

Even if we took this prophecy of Isaiah as relating to the return from Babylon only, it would still be a source of consolation to us, and a reason for thanking our good God who, in this return of the Jews from Babylon, was preparing the way for the coming of his divine Son among us. The Exodus from Egypt in the 13th century, and the liberation from Babylon in the 6th, were big steps taken by God on the road to our eternal liberation. But as we know from our Lord’s own interpretation (Mt. 11:5), these words of the prophet referred also to God’s greatest act of love and mercy—the Incarnation of his divine Son, which was to liberate all mankind from the slavery of sin and worldliness, and make men citizens of an everlasting homeland, heaven.

How can we ever thank God for this, act of infinite love for us? The answer is that we cannot. All eternity itself will not be long enough for us to praise and thank God. Just as our creation was an act of sheer generosity, so this greater gift, our elevation to adopted sonship, is an act of infinite generosity, for which all that he expects in return, is our true appreciation of the gift and honor conferred on us.

Christmas, each year, brings vividly before our minds this proof of God’s infinite love. Every time a sincere Jew saw the rebuilt Temple and city of Jerusalem, he must surely have thanked God for having released his people from the slavery of Babylon, and for having given them, once more, a homeland of their own, and a temple where they could worship him freely. How much greater should be our gratitude when the Christmas crib reminds us of all that God has done for us? The statue of the small Baby, lying on a wad of straw in a stable, is but a feeble representation of the self-humiliation willingly accepted by the Son of God, when he assumed our human nature, in order to raise us up to the dizzy heights of divine sonship. All we can say is, “thank you, God, you have surely shown your love for us, would that we could show you some real love in return.”

Jerusalem with its temple, God’s earthly abode, and the land of Canaan, were God’s gifts to the Chosen People of old. They were but symbols of the reality he has promised to us. God grant we may all inherit that reality.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10

Lord, come and save us.

The LORD God keeps faith forever,

secures justice for the oppressed,

gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets captives free.

Lord, come and save us.

The LORD gives sight to the blind;

the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.

The LORD loves the just;

the LORD protects strangers.

Lord, come and save us.

The fatherless and the widow he sustains,

but the way of the wicked he thwarts.

The LORD shall reign forever;

your God, O Zion, through all generations.

Lord, come and save us.

READING II

Isaac-of-Syria-1-a.jpg

Jas 5:7-10

Be patient, brothers and sisters,

until the coming of the Lord.

See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,

being patient with it

until it receives the early and the late rains.

You too must be patient.

Make your hearts firm,

because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,

that you may not be judged.

Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.

Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,

the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

APPLICATION

“The coming of the Lord is at hand.” These words of St. James are true for all of us, in two senses. His first coming, which we shall be commemorating in ten days or so, is very near. I am sure you are all busy already, making preparations for this great family feast-buying presents and greeting cards, putting your homes in order, getting ready to welcome and entertain relatives, friends and neighbors—all of which is becoming and right. The sincere Christian is, or should also be, busy putting his spiritual home in order, so that he may be able to welcome and entertain the greatest friend man could ever have. Christmas is the anniversary feast of his friend’s coming among us, to become one of the family, and enable us to become, for evermore, members of his.

The sincere Christian, who prepares thus, need have no fear of the second coming of Christ as his judge–the coming of which St. James speaks today. One of the hardest things, even for a devout Christian, is to convince himself that death–the moment when eternal destiny is decided–is not yet years and years away. Not one among us will deny the existence of such escapism. Death, therefore, for all of us will be unexpected when it comes. Even for the vast majority of those who die after a long illness the end is not in fact expected.

But death need not be unexpected, that is, unprepared for. This is really what matters. The man, or woman, who heeds the words of our Lord : “stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Lk. 12:40) will strive to be always ready, by attempting to live always at peace with God.

Ours is a God of mercy. He will never try to catch, in one of their moments of weakness, those who are striving to live in his love and grace. Nor does he fail to send forearming, even to those who not only forget him but continually offend him. Those warnings can, of course, fall on deaf ears. St. James’ words today are such a warning. If anyone among you has hitherto neglected his duties to God, let him listen now to that warning and put his conscience right with God. The sinner who will do so, will have a holy and happy Christmas. He will welcome Christ becomingly at his first coming, and Christ’s second coming will have no terrors for him.

GOSPEL

ioandei.jpg

Mt 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,

he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,

“Are you the one who is to come,

or should we look for another?”

Jesus said to them in reply,

“Go and tell John what you hear and see:

the blind regain their sight,

the lame walk,

lepers are cleansed,

the deaf hear,

the dead are raised,

and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.

And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,

Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,

“What did you go out to the desert to see?

A reed swayed by the wind?

Then what did you go out to see?

Someone dressed in fine clothing?

Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.

Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?

Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

This is the one about whom it is written:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;

he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,

among those born of women

there has been none greater than John the Baptist;

yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.1 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.2 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.3 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offense”;4 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.5

CCC 549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,6 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,7 but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.8

CCC 2444 “The Church’s love for the poor. .. is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor.9 Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need.”10 It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.11

1 cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.

2 Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc.

3 Cf. Jn 10:31-38.

4 Mt 11:6.

5 Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22.

6 Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.

7 Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36.

8 Cf. Jn 8:34-36.

9 CA 57; cf. Lk 6:20-22, Mt 8:20; Mk 12:41-44.

10 Eph 4:28.

11 Cf. CA 57.

APPLICATION

The Church brings John the Baptist, the man who prepared the people for Christ’s public mission, before our minds today, as an example that we should follow, even if only from afar. John prepared himself for the task of welcoming and introducing Christ to others, by a life of self-mortification and penance. He told the people that the first essential for meeting Christ, and profiting by his coming, was that they should turn away from sin and give up any evil ways, which hitherto they had followed. He himself practiced what he preached and his preaching, therefore, bore fruit among many of his hearers. Four of the twelve Apostles became followers of Christ because of the Baptist’s example and preaching.

John is calling on us too today, to prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming this Christmas, by turning away from sin, and by the mortification of ourselves in many ways. We are not expected to wear the rough camel-hair dress he wore, and eat nothing but locusts and wild honey. But each one of us can restrain the excessive luxuries of the palate, in which we often indulge, and use the money, thus saved, to help those who are short of the necessities of life, in far too many parts of today’s world. Many of us, too, could look through our wardrobes and find garments we can well do without. These could help to keep the wintry blasts from our poor, shivering fellowman or women this Christmas.

Most of us feel touched, when we see the Baby Christ lying, half-naked, on the rough straw in the stable. But to do something for him, we need not wish we were there on that first Christmas. We can do it for his suffering brothers this Christmas, and he himself tells us if we do that we are doing it for him.

In repenting of our sins, the first necessary step if we want to welcome Christ into a pure heart and into our Christian homes, let our conversion and resolutions be firm, as was the resolute stand of John the Baptist. He was not a reed that was shaken by every wind, and we too must stand firm against the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, if we are to remain worthy of the name of Christian. John the Baptist suffered martyrdom for his faith and convictions. Few, if any, of us will be called on to lay down our lives for our faith, but we are all called on to live for it, and with it, every day of our lives.

This may demand sacrifice nowadays, when our permissive society derides and looks down on those still trying to live according to the old-fashioned ten commandments. But we must not only be ready to accept this derision; we must do all in our power, by word, prayer and example, to get our erring neighbor to see that virtue does pay in the end.

We have much in this story of John the Baptist which should help us to welcome Christ properly this Christmas. Think of the Baptist today, and listen to the message he has for you. If you do your best to put it into practice, the good, merciful Lord himself will do the rest for you. He came to save sinners. He came to save you. If you cooperate and do your part, you will hear, on your judgment day, the joyful words of Christ : “You are more than a prophet, you are a citizen of heaven–a saint.”

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

BENEDICTUS

Genuine Joy

It is in fact true, is it not, that all joy which arises independently of Christ or contrary to his will proves insufficient and only thrusts the person back down into a confusion in which, when all is said and done, he can find no lasting joy? Only with Christ has authentic joy made its appearance and the only thing of ultimate importance in our lives is to learn to see and know Christ, the God of grace, the light and joy of the world. Our joy will be genuine only when it no longer depends on things that can be stripped from us and destroyed and when it has its basis rather in those innermost depths of our existence which no worldly power can take from us. Every external loss should turn us back to these innermost depths and better dispose us for our true life… To celebrate Advent means to bring to life within ourselves the hidden Presence of God. It takes place to the extent that we travel the path of conversion and change our cast of mind by turning from the visible to the invisible. As we travel this path, we learn to see the miracle of grace; we learn that there can be no more luminous source of joy for human beings and the world than the grace that has appeared in Christ. The world is not a futile confusion of drudgery and pain, for all the distress the world contains is supported in the arms of merciful love; it is caught up in the forgiving and saving graciousness of our God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Praise to God (Psalm 67)

O God, be gracious and bless us and let Your face shed its light upon us.

So will Your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn Your saving help.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;

let all the peoples praise You.

Let the nations be glad and exult for You rule the world with justice.

With fairness You rule the peoples, You guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;

let all the peoples praise You.

The earth has yielded its fruit for God, our God, has blessed us.

May God still give us His blessing till the ends of the earth revere Him.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;

let all the peoples praise You.

Posted in Catholic

Second Sunday in Advent – A

John-the-Baptist.jpg

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

OPENING PRAYER

O Jesus, in an empty desert your prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet.

Give me faith like John’s, O Lord, strong enough to believe even in a desert that you and your kingdom are no farther from me than my hand. Make my heart strong like his, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give me courage to be faithful until your promises are fulfilled.

O King of all nations, Jesus Christ,

only joy of every heart,

come and save your people.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

may no earthly undertaking hinder those

who set out in haste to meet your Son,

but may our learning of heavenly wisdom

gain us admittance to his company.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

-18.jpg

Is 11:1-10

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,

and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:

a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

a spirit of counsel and of strength,

a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

Not by appearance shall he judge,

nor by hearsay shall he decide,

but he shall judge the poor with justice,

and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.

He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Justice shall be the band around his waist,

and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

the calf and the young lion shall browse together,

with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,

together their young shall rest;

the lion shall eat hay like the ox.

The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,

and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,

as water covers the sea.

On that day, the root of Jesse,

set up as a signal for the nations,

the Gentiles shall seek out,

for his dwelling shall be glorious.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.4 Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.5 Already he is coming to “fulfil all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.6 The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.7 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”.8 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened”9 – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

CCC 672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel10 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.11 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church12 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.13

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”14 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.15

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.16 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.17 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”18

CCC 1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.19 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.20

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. .. If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.21

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Jn 1:29; cf. Is 53:12.

5 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.

6 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.

7 Cf. Lk 3:22; Is 42:1.

8 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Is 11:2.

9 Mt 3:16.

10 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

11 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

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

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

14 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

15 Isa 11:1-2.

16 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

17 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

18 Jn 3:34.

19 Cf. Isa 11:1-2.

20 PS 143:10.

21 Rom 8:14, 17.

APPLICATION

In the eighth century B.C., when Isaiah spoke these prophetic words, many of his contemporaries were in the depths of despair. Because of the sad state of the true religion and the return to idolatry and paganism then so prevalent among them, many of Yahweh’s loyal followers were afraid that Yahweh had forgotten his promises to the Patriarchs, their ancestors. Isaiah dispels their fears and their despair, by his definite promise that a new Davidic King would come who would establish peace and a glorious kingdom of justice on earth. His kingdom would be a return to the peace of Paradise, before sin entered the world.

Today, twenty-seven centuries later, we too need to listen to this prophet of hope. We are living in a world where disloyalty to God among those who believe in him, and the denial of his very existence by many more, are prevalent. The natural and logical result of these two positions is that justice and peace among men do not and cannot exist. If men deny that God has any rights or claims over them or act as if he has not, then they cannot admit that their fellowman has any claims on them, or any right to demand justice from them. There can be no true love of neighbor, and no true respect for his rights, where there is no love for God and respect for his rights.

This explains the chaotic state of out world today. But an explanation is not a solution. Diagnosis of a disease is not its cure. We must strive to give God his rightful place in our daily lives, and follow the only path that leads to justice and peace on earth. This is the path laid down by Christ, the true son of God, who came on earth, as man, to teach us that we should love God, and love our neighbor because God loves us. Through the coming of Christ he has made us all his own adopted children.

Many will shrug their shoulders and say : what can I do about this, what effect can any action of mine have in bringing sanity (i.e. true religion), back to this mad world of ours? Yet, you can do a lot, and far more than you could expect. If you put your own conscience straight with God and with your neighbor, God has one more loyal son on earth, one more channel through which he can send his grace to men, one more ray of light, which will help dispel the darkness of despair which surrounds us.

To prepare yourself to welcome Christ at Christmas take an honest look at yourself. How do you stand in relation to God and your neighbor? Are you doing your part to keep peace and love in the home and in your neighborhood? In your place of work are you an example of justice, of peace, of respect for the things of God? Are your language and your conduct truly Christian? Can your fellow-workers say of you: “that man’s religion really means something to him, I wish I were like him”? If you can say “yes,” to these soul-questions, then thank God for it and strive to do even more. If your honest answer is “No,” then begin today to change your life. Your true happiness on earth, and the guarantee of your eternal happiness after death, will depend on this change. Not only that, but the true happiness of many others on earth, and the chance of their eternal happiness hereafter, will depend on it too. Is this too much to ask of any sensible man, who knows where he came from and knows where he is going?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,

and with your justice, the king’s son;

he shall govern your people with justice

and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Justice shall flower in his days,

and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,

and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.

He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;

the lives of the poor he shall save.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

May his name be blessed forever;

as long as the sun his name shall remain.

In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;

all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

READING II

-19.jpg

Rom 15:4-9

Brothers and sisters:

Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction,

that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures

we might have hope.

May the God of endurance and encouragement

grant you to think in harmony with one another,

in keeping with Christ Jesus,

that with one accord you may with one voice

glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,

for the glory of God.

For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised

to show God’s truthfulness,

to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,

but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

As it is written:

Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles

and sing praises to your name.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;3 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.4

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

3 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.

4 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.

APPLICATION

“Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.” St. Paul is referring to the inspired books of the Old Testament in this sentence, and how true this statement is. From these books we learn of the existence of the true God, from whom all things came to be. And not only do we learn of the existence of God, who is our Creator, but we learn that he is our Father, that be has a paternal interest in us, that he has put us on earth in order to share his heaven with us later. It was for this purpose that he revealed himself to Abraham, and made him the father of the Chosen People: from him he had planned that his Son would take his human nature and become one of us, in order to make us brothers and sons of the eternal Father.

All God’s dealings with Abraham and his descendants–the Jews–as described in the books of the Old Testament, were part of and preparation for this great central act of God’s love for men–the Incarnation.

In these dealings, we learn of another most consoling fact about God–his infinite mercy and his unbounded gift of forgiveness for sinful, unworthy men. His Chosen People, the Jews, were sinful and stubborn, yet he put up with them for centuries, came to their aid again and again, when their own sins had brought misfortunes and catastrophes upon them. Like a recurring decimal, we have, in their whole history of eighteen hundred years, the following theme: sin and disloyalty to their good God, punishment generally from pagan neighbors, their return to God, when in extreme and dire straits, God’s forgiveness and a new start.

For most of us Christians, who should know better and should love God more sincerely, for we are witnesses of his supreme act of love in the Incarnation, the knowledge that we are dealing with a God of infinite mercy and patience is a source of strength and encouragement. For we too, unfortunately, are too apt to imitate the Jews in our dealings with God. There are few of us who cannot see in our past lives something similar to the recurring decimal of the Jewish history. However, God is still the God of infinite mercy. He does not, and cannot, change. He is ever ready to forgive and pardon; the prodigal will still get the fatted calf, and the newest garment, if he really returns to his Father.

Yes, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction. Add to this what has been written concerning Christ’s coming among us, with his teaching and promises, and we Christians surely have an inexhaustible source of encouragement and hope. To help us prepare ourselves to welcome Christ at Christmas, the Church brings before our minds sections of the Old and New Testaments, which should inspire us with new faith, hope and charity. Faith in God, who always fulfills his promises, hope for our eventual salvation, and charity, or love for God, who has done, and is still doing, such wonderful things for us unworthy men. This charity and love of God must spill over on our neighbor, if it is sincere, for as St. John tells us, the man who says he loves God and yet hates his neighbor is a liar (2 Jn. 4: 20).

GOSPEL

-20.jpg

Mt 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea

and saying,

It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:

A voice of one crying out in the desert,

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair

and had a leather belt around his waist.

His food was locusts and wild honey.

At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,

and the whole region around the Jordan

were going out to him

and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River

as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees

coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!

Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.

And do not presume to say to yourselves,

‘We have Abraham as our father.’

For I tell you,

God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.

Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit

will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,

but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.

I am not worthy to carry his sandals.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fan is in his hand.

He will clear his threshing floor

and gather his wheat into his barn,

but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;3 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.4

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

3 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.

4 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.

APPLICATION

In this holy season of Advent, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John the Baptist has words of advice and warnings for each one of us. He advises us to “prepare the way of the Lord,” by true repentance of our past sins and a firm resolution to straighten “the ways of the Lord,” that is, not to deviate from the true Christian way of life in the future. Please God, none of us deserves the reproaches he addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but most of us perhaps can find traces of some predominant vices in our innermost selves. The pride and self-righteousness of the Pharisees ruined their otherwise good lives. The worldliness of the Sadducees made them lose interest in the future life, until they went so far as to deny any future existence after death.

Of these two vices, that of the Sadducees is the more prevalent today, and it is to be found in the best of us, in a greater or lesser degree. While all true Christians repudiate atheistic Communism, with its denial of the existence of God and of a future life, many be come so immersed in the things of this world that they have no time or thought for the world that is to come. While, theoretically, they reject Communism, they themselves, like the “brood of vipers” of whom the Baptist spoke, are full of the poison of materialism, and are injecting this poison into those whom they influence.

A sincere examination of our outlook on life and death, and of our way of life up to today, will tell us how we stand in relation to Christ. Let each one of us ask himself : if Christ, for whose coming as the Divine Babe of Bethlehem we are preparing, were to come to him before Christmas as his just judge, how would he fare? Would he be gathered with the wheat into the granary, or be bundled with the chaff into the unquenchable fire? Each one of us has the decision in his own hands. We can, by true repentance, change ourselves from chaff into wheat, but once we draw our last breath, not even the infinitely merciful God can do that for us.

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

BENEDICTUS

Let us gaze on John the Baptist. Challenging and active he stands before us, a “type” of the manly vocation. In harsh terms he demands metanoia, a radical transformation of attitudes. Those who would be Christians must be “transformed’ ever again. Our natural disposition, indeed, finds us always ready to assert ourselves to pay like with like, to put ourselves at the center. Those who want to find God need, again and again, that inner conversion, that new direction. And this applies also to the total outlook on life. Day by day we encounter the world of visible things. It assaults us through billboards, broadcasts, traffic, and all the activities of daily life, to such an enormous extent that we are tempted to assume there is nothing else but this. Yet the truth is that what is invisible is greater and much more valuable than anything visible. One single soul, in Pascal’s beautiful words, is worth more than the entire visible universe. But in order to have a living awareness of this, we need conversion, we need to turn around inside, as it were, to overcome the illusion of what is visible, and to develop the feeling, the ears and the eyes, for what is invisible. This has to be more important than anything that bombards us day after day with such exaggerated urgency. Metanoeite: change your attitude, so that God may dwell in you and, through you, in the world. John himself was not spared this painful process of change, of turning around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Jn 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 testify concerning the Light, taht all might believe through Him. He was not the Light, be he was to testify concerning 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 to them He gave power to become 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.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Deo Gratias.

Posted in Catholic

First Sunday of Advent – A

christ uncreated light.jpg

“For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.  Be sure of this: If the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.”

OPENING PRAYER

First Sunday of Advent Prayer

Roman Breviary 1632 – Vespers

Creator of the stars of night,

Thy people’s everlasting light,

Jesus Redeemer, save us all

And hear Thy servants when they call.

 

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse,

Should doom to death a universe,

Hast found the medicine full of grace

To save and heal a ruined race.

 

Thou camest, the Bridegroom of the Bride,

As drew the world to evening tide,

Proceeding from a Virgin shrine

The spotless Victim all divine

 

At Whose dread Name majestic now

All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;

All things celestial Thee shall own

And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

 

O Thou Whose coming is with dread

To judge and doom the quick and dead,

Preserve us, while we dwell below

From every insult of the foe.

 

To God the Father, God the Son,

And God the Spirit, Three in One,

Praise, honor, might and glory be,

From age to age eternally.

Amen.

COLLECT

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,

the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ

with righteous deeds at his coming,

so that, gathered at his right hand,

they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.

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.  Amen.

READING I

isaiah-icon-298x300.jpg

Is 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,

saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come,

the mountain of the LORD’s house

shall be established as the highest mountain

and raised above the hills.

All nations shall stream toward it;

many peoples shall come and say:

“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may instruct us in his ways,

and we may walk in his paths.”

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,

and impose terms on many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks;

one nation shall not raise the sword against another,

nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,

let us walk in the light of the Lord!

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.1 The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.2 Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.3

CCC 762 The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people.4 Its immediate preparation begins with Israel’s election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of All nations.5 But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. “Christ instituted this New Covenant.”6

CCC 2317 Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”7

1 Cf. Isa 2:2-4; Jer 31:31-34; Heb 10:16.

2 Cf. Ezek 36; Isa 49:5-6; 53:11.

3 Cf. Ezek 2:3; Lk 1:38.

4 Cf. Gen 12:2; 15:5-6.

5 Cf. Ex 19:5-6; Deut 7:6; Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4.

6 LG 9; cf. Hos 1; Isa 1:2-4; Jer 2; 31:31-34; Isa 55:3.

7 GS 78 # 6; cf. Isa 2:4.

APPLICATION

Today, the first Sunday of Advent, is the ecclesiastical New Year’s day. The Church begins her annual liturgical cycle of feasts, with a period of four weeks’ preparation for Christmas–the great feast of Christ’s coming on earth. The readings selected for today, and the following three Sundays, are chosen to help us prepare for this, the greatest event that ever happened on our planet.

The Son of God took our human nature and “dwelt among us” for a while on earth, in order to bring us to heaven, where we shall dwell forever with the Blessed Trinity.

The whole of the Old Testament–the story of God’s dealings with the Chosen People–describes God’s long preparation for this, almost incredible, act of divine love and mercy, the Incarnation. God sent his Son in our lowly human nature, in order to raise us, mere creatures, to the dignity of adopted sons of God, brothers of Christ, and thus, heirs of the eternal life with him in heaven.

Today’s lesson from Isaiah contains one of the encouraging speeches which God’s great prophet addressed to his fellow-Jews, to help them persevere in their faith in God. Days of distress and tribulation lay ahead. Jerusalem, their beloved and holy city, the site of the temple where the true God manifested his power and his mercy among them, was to be razed one day to the ground, because of their sins. But when the great day came and God fulfilled his promises to them, Jerusalem would once more be the glory and the pride, not only of the Jews, but of all nations.

The “Word of the Lord,” the true Son of Man made flesh, would rebuild their temple, not with stones and mortar, but with living, human beings who would form his Church: the members of his mystical body on earth. His message, and his means of salvation for man, would go forth from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

This prophecy of Isaiah, spoken 700 years before the coming of Christ, has been fulfilled. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” And we today, thousands of miles from Jerusalem, and two thousand years after his coming among us, are preparing ourselves for the annual commemoration of that greatest event of history.

To do so, let the basic meaning and messages of the Incarnation, which Christmas commemorates, sink deeply into our minds: we were not created by God in order to live fifty, seventy, or even a hundred years in this world, we were created to be citizens of heaven for all eternity. This is God’s plan for us, and to bring it about, he chose that his divine Son should share in our humanity, so that we could share forever in his divinity.

What words of ours could express our gratitude for this stupendous act of God’s love? What sacrifices could we offer–even that of life itself–which could make us worthy of this divine generosity? But Christ has acted on our behalf, he has graciously shared his merits with us, and his merits were infinite because he was true God as well as true man.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

12-icon-st-ephraim-prostration-the-OPF-300x246.jpg

Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

I rejoiced because they said to me,

“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”

And now we have set foot

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Jerusalem, built as a city

with compact unity.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

According to the decree for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

In it are set up judgment seats,

seats for the house of David.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

May those who love you prosper!

May peace be within your walls,

prosperity in your buildings.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Because of my brothers and friends

I will say, “Peace be within you!”

Because of the house of the LORD, our God,

I will pray for your good.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

 

READING II

images-7.jpg

Rom 13:11-14

Brothers and sisters:

You know the time;

it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.

For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand.

Let us then throw off the works of darkness

and put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,

not in orgies and drunkenness,

not in promiscuity and lust,

not in rivalry and jealousy.

APPLICATION

These words of St. Paul to the Roman Christians of the year 58 A.D., are words that each one of us should apply to himself today. Advent begins today. We must prepare ourselves to celebrate worthily the commemoration of the greatest act of love and condescension which the God of infinite love deigned to do for us creatures. He sent his divine Son to become man, to become one of us, so that we could become his adopted sons, sharers in his divine life. This is what our annual feast of Christmas commemorates.

The fact that we are in existence, that we are alive here on earth, is a free gift of God to us. We had no hand, act or part in it. Life of itself is a wonderful gift, a gift we share with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea. But we humans are far superior to these other creatures of God, because we have the extra gift of intelligence and free will. And because of these gifts, we have ambitions and desires which other creatures have not got. We have in our make-up a spiritual element which raises us above mere matter and makes us want to continue to live.

The cow in the field does not know that it is certain to die, and it does not care, but man knows and has a natural abhorrence of death. Should I, with all the gifts the Creator has given me, and all the reasonable ambitions and desires which these gifts arouse in me, end like the cow in the field: a mere handful of clay, finished with life forever?

Christmas gives an emphatic No to that frightening thought. The infinitely merciful and loving God planned from all eternity for man, the recipient of these superior gifts, a share in his own eternal life, once his short sojourn on this earth was over. The Incarnation–his divine Son sharing in our human nature–was the mysterious, but loving way God ordained to bring this about. Because of this decree of God, our true and unending life begins after our earthly death.

But we must do our part to earn this divine gift. All men are destined by God for eternal life, but to attain it each man must follow the path laid down by God. St. Paul tells us today some of the things we must avoid, and some of the things we must do, if we want to reach the eternal happiness planned for us. “We must,” he says, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” He made himself our brother, we must live as true brothers of his.

Advent is a glorious opportunity for each one of us to look into his own life and see if he is living as a true brother of Christ, as a true Christian. Few of us can honestly claim that we are doing this, but there is none among us who cannot improve and do better.

Think this morning, and think during the week, of all God has done, and is still doing, in order to give you an eternal life of happiness. Think also, that you could be unfortunate enough to lose this eternal happiness, if you were so foolish as to choose the “works of darkness” instead of the “armor of light,” which Christ has offered to you.

GOSPEL

christ uncreated light.jpg

Mt 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:

“As it was in the days of Noah,

so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

In those days before the flood,

they were eating and drinking,

marrying and giving in marriage,

up to the day that Noah entered the ark.

They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.

So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.

Two men will be out in the field;

one will be taken, and one will be left.

Two women will be grinding at the mill;

one will be taken, and one will be left.

Therefore, stay awake!

For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.

Be sure of this: if the master of the house

had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,

he would have stayed awake

and not let his house be broken into.

So too, you also must be prepared,

for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 673 Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent,1 even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”2. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”.3

1 Cf. Rev 22:20.

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

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

APPLICATION

During this holy season of Advent we are all being called on and exhorted by the Church to prepare ourselves to commemorate worthily the first coming of Christ as our Brother and Savior. If we do that each year; if we let the full meaning of this great festival of Christmas enter into our innermost being, welcoming the Son of God in the form of the Babe of Bethlehem with a clean, sincere and grateful heart, then each year of our lives will be sanctified and a big step will be taken towards our eternal goal. Christmas each year should be a mile-stone on the road to heaven for every true Christian. It is a festival which vividly recalls to our minds the length our heavenly Father has gone to in order to make us adopted sons and sharers in his everlasting happiness.

If God cares so much for our true welfare–and the Incarnation surely proves that he does–we should surely have enough interest in our own future to cooperate with him in this affair of our eternal salvation.

In today’s gospel lesson it is Christ himself who is asking each one of us to live our lives so that no matter when we are called to judgment we shall not be found wanting. This does not mean that we must always be praying. Nor does it mean that we must take no interest in the affairs of this life. Of the two men working in the field and of the two women grinding corn, one of each was found unworthy, not because of the work he or she was doing, but because that work had for them wrongly excluded God and his purpose in life. The two found worthy had room for God and their own eternal welfare in their hearts–their work was part of their loyal service to God and was a means towards their salvation.

In this town (or city) of ours all adults are occupied one way or another with earthly affairs and necessarily so. But while these earthly affairs may, and do alas, become cruel task-masters for some and tie down their whole attention to the things of this earth, for others, thank God, their daily tasks are stepping stones to heaven. The day of reckoning will come, suddenly like a thief in the night for the former, and for the others it will not be a thief breaking in but the Master knocking at their door to take them to himself.

Christmas comes but once a year but its meaning, its lesson, must remain in our hearts and minds all the year round. God wants us in heaven forever. He sent his Son on earth to bring us there. Aided by God’s grace we resolve today so to live our lives that when death claims us we shall meet Christ, not as a condemning judge, but as a loving brother.

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

BENEDICTUS

“Advent” is a Latin word that can be translated as “presence” or “coming.” In the ancient world, it was a technical term, denoting the arrival of a person in office such as a king or an emperor. It could also indicate the coming of the deity, in which case the god’s advent was his emerging from concealment and making his presence known in power or else having it solemnly celebrated in an act of worship. Christians took over this word in order to express their particular relationship with Jesus Christ. For them, he was and is the king who has entered this wretched province, the earth, and enables it to celebrate his visit. What Christians mean in general by this word “Advent,” then, is: God is there. He has not withdrawn from the world. He has not left us alone. Even though we cannot see him or touch him as we can the things that surround us, he is still there and, what is more, he comes to us in many different ways. We have mentioned the world “visit” in this context. This word can be used in its happy, original, and almost literal sense of “going to see” a person, persons, or a place. It is, however, also used in the less pleasant sense of afflicting or punishing, when it is associated with such concepts as trouble, famine, plague, or illness. This word should therefore enable us to see that something of beauty of Advent can be found in difficulty. Illness and suffering can therefore, like a great joy, also be a personal Advent – a visit by God who wants to enter my life and turn toward me.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Advent Prayer

Father, all powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When he humbled himself to come among us, he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation.

Now we watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours when Christ will come again in his glory.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Hosanna in the highest.

Amen.

 

Posted in Catholic

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

the-crucifixion“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  He replied to him,”Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

OPENING PRAYER

Daily Renewal of Our Pledge of Love and Loyalty to Christ, Our King

Dear Sacred Heart of Jesus, we renew our pledge of love and loyalty to You. Keep us always close to Your loving Heart and to the most pure Heart of Your Mother. May we love one another more and more each day, forgiving each other’s faults as You forgive us our sins. Teach us to see You in the members of our family and those we meet outside our home, and to love them as you love them, especially the poor and the oppressed, that we may be instrumental in bringing about justice and peace.

Please help us to carry our cross daily out of love for You, and to strengthen this love by frequent Mass and Communion. Thank You, dear Jesus, King and Friend of our family, for all the blessings of this day. Protect us and all families during this night. Help us so to live that we may all get to heaven.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

St. Joseph, pray for us!

Our Guardian Angels, pray for us!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

http://www.msgrjohnesseff.net/?page_id=522

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

whose will is to restore all things

in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,

grant, we pray,

that the whole creation, set free from slavery,

may render your majesty service

and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.

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

Paris_psaulter_gr139_fol6v

2 Sm 5:1-3

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:

“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.

In days past, when Saul was our king,

it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.

And the LORD said to you,

‘You shall shepherd my people Israel

and shall be commander of Israel.'”

When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,

King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,

and they anointed him king of Israel.

APPLICATION

The institution of the feast of the Kingship of Christ was intended to be a rallying-call to all Christians to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ, not only over all Christians and all men but over all of creation. He is king of all creation because, as the second reading today says, “through him, by him and in him all things subsist.” Therefore, he is the sovereign Master, Ruler, Protector and Judge of all created things. The title of King was chosen to express all these prerogatives, because he himself, in his moment of deepest humiliation, admitted to Pilate that he was King. He is given this title in most of the Old Testament prophecies concerning him.

The story of David’s anointing as king over all of Israel is recalled on this feast of the Kingship of Christ, because David was seen in the Old Testament as a type, a representation, of the future messianic king. The prophet Nathan promised David that a descendant of his would come “who would establish his throne forever” (2 Sm. 7: 16). Isaiah says of the future Messiah, “he will sit on David’s kingly throne, to give it lasting foundations of justice and right” (Is. 9: 6-7). In the prophet Jeremiah we read: “Nay, a time is coming, the Lord says, when I will raise up, from the stock of David, a faithful scion at last. The land shall have a king to reign over it, and reign over it wisely, giving just sentence and due reward” (Jer. 23: 5). To crown and confirm the Davidic typology, the Angel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that the child she is to conceive “shall be known as the Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor, David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally and his kingdom will have no end” Lk. 1: 32-33).

David, although the greatest of the kings of Israel, was but a poor shadow of Christ the King, whose reign extends, not only over all Israel, but over all the universe and all things created in heaven as well as on earth. David’s reign lasted a mere forty years. Christ’s reign is eternal. David was a mere man, a creature, sinful but repentant. Christ was the God man, sinless and all-perfect, who died on the cross to free all men from their sins. When David died his kingdom was very soon divided and decayed. Christ’s death was the beginning of his everlasting reign. His cross was the solid foundation of his kingdom on earth, his Church. It was the preparatory stage of his eternal kingdom in heaven.

As far back as the history of man on earth goes, we learn that wherever men lived in groups in society they had a chief, a ruler or king whose laws they obeyed. This is still the case. Living in society would be impossible without some supreme authority with the power to make laws and see that they are carried out. Whether they be kings, presidents or chiefs, our earthly rulers can and should make our lives less difficult and more bearable. For this reason we are bound to respect and obey their laws. But their power is limited, their help is restricted. Even if they could give us all the comforts and privileges that this earth can supply they would be only for a few short years. They cannot reach beyond our graves. They cannot in any way fulfill or satisfy man’s higher ambitions.

The Sovereign and King whom we commemorate and honor today has the key to death and to unending life. During our lifetime on earth he takes an active interest in our welfare. However, his principal concern is for our real, lasting welfare. He came on earth to bring us to heaven. His power over us and for us does not end, but really begins when we die. When we close our eyes in death we will see him as he is, and realize what he has been to us and what he has done for us. He came so that we should have life and have it abundantly, “whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Let us say a heartfelt “thank you” to our Lord and King, our beloved Savior, today. Let us promise him loyal and faithful service during the years that are left to us here below. When he calls us before his judgment seat we can feel assured that he will welcome us with a “well done good and faithful servant.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

I rejoiced because they said to me,

“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”

And now we have set foot

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Jerusalem, built as a city

with compact unity.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

According to the decree for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

In it are set up judgment seats,

seats for the house of David.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

READING II

jesus-christ-on-the-throne-__84929.1389672840.490.588.jpg

Col 1:12-20

Brothers and sisters:

Let us give thanks to the Father,

who has made you fit to share

in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.

He delivered us from the power of darkness

and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,

the firstborn of all creation.

For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,

the visible and the invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;

all things were created through him and for him.

He is before all things,

and in him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile all things for him,

making peace by the blood of his cross

through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 142 By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.”1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

CCC 241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; as “the image of the invisible God”; as the “radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature”.2

CCC 291 “In the beginning was the Word. .. and the Word was God. .. all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”3 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him “all things were created, in heaven and on earth. .. all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”4 The Church’s faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the “giver of life”, “the Creator Spirit” (Veni, Creator Spiritus), the “source of every good”.5

CCC 299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: “You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight.”6 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the “image of the invisible God”, is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the “image of God” and called to a personal relationship with God.7 Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work.8 Because creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness – “And God saw that it was good. .. very good”9- for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.10

CCC 331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. .. ”11 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”12 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”13

CCC 504 Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.”14 From his conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God “gives him the Spirit without measure.”15 From “his fullness” as the head of redeemed humanity “we have all received, grace upon grace.”16

CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,17 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;18

– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;19

– in his word which purifies its hearers;20

– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;21

– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.22

CCC 624 “By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”.23 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins”24 but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,25 reveals God’s great sabbath rest26 after the fulfillment27 of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.28

CCC 753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.29 Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.”30

CCC 792 Christ “is the head of the body, the Church.”31 He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father’s glory, “in everything he [is] preeminent,”31 especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things.

CCC 1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:

The Church. .. will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.33

CCC 1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.34 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.35

CCC 1701 “Christ,. .. in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation.”36 It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God,”37 that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.38

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”39 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”40 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”41 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”42

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”43 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.44 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.45

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.46 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”47 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.48

1 DV 2; cf. Col 1:15; I Tim 1:17; Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15; Bar 3:38 (Vulg.).

2 Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3.

3 Jn 1:1-3.

4 Col 1:16-17.

5 Cf. Nicene Creed: DS 150; Hymn “Veni, Creator Spiritus”; Byzantine Troparion of Pentecost Vespers, “O heavenly King, Consoler”.

6 Wis 11:20.

7 Col 1:15, Gen 1:26.

8 Cf. Ps 19:2-5; Job 42:3.

9 Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,31.

10 Cf. DS 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002.

11 Mt 25:31.

12 Col 1:16.

13 Heb 1:14.

14 I Cor 15:45,47.

15 Jn 3:34.

16 Jn 1:16; cf. Col 1:18.

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

18 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

19 Cf. Lk 2:51.

20 Cf. Jn 15:3.

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

22 Cf. Rom 4:25.

23 Heb 2:9.

24 I Cor 15:3.

25 Cf. Jn 19:42.

26 Cf. Heb 4:7-9.

27 Cf. Jn 19:30.

28 Cf Col 1: 18-20.

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

30 LG 6.

31 Col 1:18.

32 Col 1:18.

33 LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.

34 Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1514; cf. Col 1:12-14.

35 Cf. CIC, can. 867; CCEO, cann. 681; 686, 1.

36 GS 22.

37 Col 1:15; cf. 2 Cor 4:4.

38 Cf. GS 22.

39 Isa 9:5.

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

41 Eph 2:14.

42 Mt 5:9.

43 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.

44 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.

45 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.

46 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

47 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

48 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

St. Paul tells the Colossians how grateful they ought to be to God for having made them Christians and citizens of Christ’s kingdom. The Apostle then goes on to describe who and what their new sovereign is, true God and true man, the true image of the invisible God and at the same time the perfect exemplar of true humanity. This portion of St. Paul’s epistle was aptly chosen for this great feast of the Kingship of Christ. Also, it calls to our minds how blessed, how fortunate we are to be Christians, citizens of his kingdom on earth with a guarantee of perpetual citizenship in his heavenly kingdom. This will be so only if we do the little he asks of us while here on earth.

Ninety-nine per cent of the citizens of any country on earth, whether it be small or great, rich or poor, are proud of their native land. They respect its ruler and its flag. If called on to defend their homeland against an aggressor they are willing to lay down their lives in its defense. Yet, our native country is ours for only a very limited time. The most it can give us is a few years of temporal happiness mixed with much hardship and trial.

On the other hand, Christians and all who, through no fault of their own, are non-Christians but try to do what is right, already have been selected and are being prepared to become free citizens in a kingdom, a home-land, which will last forever. It is one which will satisfy every rational longing of our human hearts. We have a king whose resources are infinite, whose realm is boundless, and whose generosity is without limit. His interest in our eternal happiness and his love for us have been proved beyond all possibility of doubt. “He humbled himself,” as St. Paul tells us, “assuming the nature of a slave and in obedience accepted even death–death on a cross” (Phil. 2: 7-8). He became man and allowed himself to be put to death by crucifixion, so as to reconcile us with God and make us citizens of his heavenly kingdom.

Therefore, when we have a King who has prepared for us an everlasting kingdom of happiness and perfect contentment, could we hesitate to make the few little preliminary preparations expected of us? Could any Christian be so foolish? Yes, we are all weak at times. We are of the earth, earthy. Things earthly can get a hold on us, but our Christian faith tells us how to free ourselves from our weaknesses and from our worldliness.

It tells us to think often of whither we are going, to examine our consciences and our habits of life to see if we are on the right road. It tells us too, to think often, never to forget in fact, all that the good God-man, our Savior Jesus Christ, has done for us and daily is doing for us so that we may reach our eternal homeland. Today is for all Christians a national day. Today, let us raise our Christian flag—the crucifix–aloft, and salute it with fervor and a promise of fervent loyalty. My King has suffered for me. For his sake, I am ready to suffer any trial that comes my way. If needs be, I am prepared to die for him. If he does not ask that supreme sacrifice, I am assuredly ready to live a life of faith, hope and sincere love for him, and of gratitude to him. Honor, glory and thanks forever to Christ our King!

GOSPEL

8PlXwZY13Ng4CemR0WhtDrENMEsuzecF8ja-HsFBmNdqUaD2l1Vgl9dSzNi5l64eV5JLUrNF7Qbuc8q-DDdQ-kHgsE1xtgl584mNUmsMCYUElrnOlsbvcczHUlt1GSWzTeINPO5eENcYRxOlhw=s0-d-e1-ft.jpg

Lk 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,

“He saved others, let him save himself

if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him.

As they approached to offer him wine they called out,

“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

Above him there was an inscription that read,

“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,

“Are you not the Christ?

Save yourself and us.”

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,

“Have you no fear of God,

for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly,

for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,

but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then he said,

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied to him,

“Amen, I say to you,

today you will be with me in Paradise.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112016.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.1 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”2 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.3 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”4

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.5 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.6

CCC 2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.7

CCC 2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father’s plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up (“Abba. .. not my will, but yours.”),8 but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”;9 “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, “Woman, behold your son” – “Behold your mother”;10 “I thirst.”;11 “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”;12 “It is finished”;13 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”14 until the “loud cry” as he expires, giving up his spirit.15

CCC 2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)16 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).17 The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”18 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”19

1 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

2 Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Is 53:10-12.

3 Cf. Jn 19:19-22; Lk 23:39-43.

4 Acts 2:36.

5 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.

6 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.

7 Cf. Lk 23:40-43.

8 Lk 22:42.

9 Lk 23:34.

10 Jn 19:26-27.

11 Jn 19:28.

12 Mk 15:34; cf. Ps 22:2.

13 Jn 19:30.

14 Lk 23:46.

15 Cf. Mk 15:37; Jn 19:30b.

16 Cf. Mk 1:40-41; 5:36; 7:29; Cf. Lk 23:39-43.

17 Cf. Mk 25; 5:28; Lk 7:37-38.

18 Mt 9:27, Mk 10:48.

19 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.

APPLICATION

Down through our history thousands and millions of subjects have died for their kings. This was their duty when the needs or the defence of their realms demanded such a sacrifice. They neither expected nor received much praise for it. But we Christians are serving a King who died for us. The ruler and head of our kingdom is Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who accepted crucifixion as the climax of the perfect obedience to his Father. He became man in accordance with God’s eternal plan. He, as man, was the representative of all humanity. He gave perfect obedience to God and thus made atonement for all the disobedience, of the human race. All the acts of penance and atonement of the whole of humanity put together, could not reconcile us sinners with God. Christ, being God as well as man, was able to make and did bring about, this reconciliation. He has, as St. Paul says, “reconciled everything . . . making peace through the blood of his cross.”

Today we are honoring this King, a King who humbled himself in order to raise us up to the status of sons of God, a king who suffered the cruelest of deaths so that we could have an unending life of happiness when we leave this earth.

Do we really honor our king as we should? Do we really meditate often enough on all he has done for us? Do we really appreciate the supernatural privilege conferred on us by the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ? We are no longer mere mortals, we are sons of God. We are no longer enemies of our Creator and Lord, we have been reconciled to God and can call him “Our Father.” We have still to die our earthly death but it is now the door to heaven. Unfortunately, we still can sin but we have the means of atonement within our reach, in the sacraments which Christ left to us. Any Christian who fails to get possession of the eternal heritage which Christ has made available to him will fail because he willingly and knowingly wished to do so.

Please God there will be few such people because Christ our King is always with us, helping us on our journey to heaven. What we say of Christians is true also of all who are non-Christians, through no fault of their own. Many of us will get some pleasant surprises when we meet the elect of God on our arrival in heaven. To get there is our present principal preoccupation. But it is not so hard. Keeping the laws of one’s country and carrying out their legal obligations is not difficult for the vast majority of sane people. Keeping the laws of God’s Kingdom and being loyal to him is not difficult either. Serving God is a privilege not a duty for the Christian who realizes what God has done for him and who appreciates what a future reward God has in store for him.

Today let us renew our loyalty to Christ our King. We are privileged and proud to be his subjects. As members of his Church on earth we are as yet in the preparatory stage of that kingdom. If we do the little that he asks of us, during this period of preparation, we are assured of being full citizens in his eternal kingdom of happiness and peace.

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

BENEDICTUS

Christ the King

What is really remarkable is that God consented to Israel’s desire for a king and even provided an opportunity for that kingship to be renewed and fulfilled. Jesus was himself the son of David, the king. God entered mankind in him and espoused the cause of mankind in him. If we look more closely at this question, we can see that it is the fundamental form of God’s activity with mankind. He has no rigid plan that he has at all costs to carry out. On the contrary, he has many different ways of seeking man out and finding him. He even makes man’s devious and wrong ways into ways leading to him. This is clear, for example, in the case of Adam, whose very sin was made a happy sin in the second Adam, Christ, and it is clear in all the twisted ways of human history. This, then, is God’s kingship – a rule of love that seeks and finds man in ways that are always new. For us, this means a trust that cannot be shaken. God rules as king over us still and, what is more, he rules over each one of us. None of us should be afraid and none should capitulate. God can always be found. The pattern of our own lives should also be like this – we should always be available, never write anyone off, and try again and again to find others in the openness of our hearts. Our most important task is not to assert ourselves, but always to be ready to set off on the way to God and to each other. The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Christ the King

O Christ Jesus,

I acknowledge You as King of the universe.

All that has been created has been made for You.

Exercise over me all Your rights.

I renew my baptismal promises,

Renouncing Satan and all his work and pomps.

I promise to live a good Christian life

And to do all in my power to procure

The triumph of the rights of God and Your Church.

Divine Heart of Jesus,

I offer you my poor actions

In order to obtain that all hearts

May acknowledge Your Sacred Royalty,

And that thus the reign of Your peace

May be established throughout the universe.

Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

holy2b10.jpg

“They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Trust in Jesus

St. Ignatius of Loyola

O Christ Jesus,

when all is darkness

and we feel our weakness and helplessness,

give us the sense of Your presence,

Your love, and Your strength.

Help us to have perfect trust

in Your protecting love

and strengthening power,

so that nothing may frighten or worry us,

for, living close to You,

we shall see Your hand,

Your purpose, Your will through all things, in Christ our Lord.  Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

graciously keep from us all adversity,

so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,

we may pursue in freedom of heart,

the things that are yours.

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

 

images

2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested

and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,

to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:

“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?

We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

At the point of death he said:

“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,

but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.

It is for his laws that we are dying.”

After him the third suffered their cruel sport.

He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,

and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:

“It was from Heaven that I received these;

for the sake of his laws I disdain them;

from him I hope to receive them again.”

Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,

because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he had died,

they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.

When he was near death, he said,

“It is my choice to die at the hands of men

with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;

but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 922 From apostolic times Christian virgins1 and widows2, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”3

1 Cf. Cor 7:34-36.

2 Cf. John Paul II, Vita consecrata 7.

3 Mt 19:12

APPLICATION

The example of these seven sons who, in the presence of one another and in the presence of their loving mother, were one by one slowly martyred for their faith, is an example that deserves to be forever preserved (and it is) in the annals of human history. Whether they expressed in words all that the inspired author attributes to them is not of great importance. They certainly expressed it in their pious and patient acceptance of their tortures at the hands of irreligious and inhuman tyrants. They were sustained and strengthened in their suffering by the pious exhortations of their truly loyal and faith-inspired mother. More especially were they sustained by the firm conviction that the God of the universe, the God of justice and love, for whose laws they were losing their earthly lives, had a glorious and eternal life in store for them.

Millions of Christians have died as noble martyrs for their faith, down through the ages. There are millions who are suffering slow martyrdom for that same faith today. They, however, had and have the example of Christ, the Son of God made man, who suffered the slow and cruel martyrdom of crucifixion for their takes. So in a sense the mother and seven brothers of today’s reading deserve greater admiration. However, it was the same God who gave the necessary grace to all martyrs. It is in the presence of that same God that all Jewish and Christian martyrs, and others who have died for conscience sake, are enjoying together their eternal reward today.

All of these are held up to us for our admiration, and we must indeed admire them. The atheist who has esteem for intellectual integrity and uprightness must admire one who is willing to sacrifice his life in defence of his convictions. However, for us Christians, admiration is not enough. Attempted imitation, at least is necessary. We may shrink now from the thought of ever having to face even half of what our martyrs suffered. They, too, most probably shivered at the very thought of what awaited them. But when the moment of trial came the grace of God gave them all the strength they needed. God’s grace would also come to our aid, if ever we were called on to suffer and die for our faith. Our only sure guarantee, however, is the present strength and meaningfulness of our faith in our daily lives.

There were many Jews in the days of the Maccabees who gave up their faith when the persecution began. There were many Christians, too, who went over to the enemy in order to save their earthly lives and property. There are many leaders of the anti-God and anti-Christian campaign today, who were once Christians of a kind. No martyr ever died willingly for a cause in which he did not believe. No Christian ever died for the faith unless he believed firmly in it and lived his daily life in accordance with its precepts.

This is a test which we can all apply to ourselves. We need not ask ourselves whether we would willingly accept torture and death for the sake of our faith. We must, however, ask ourselves if we are willingly and truly living that faith in our daily lives. That in itself is not an easy, painless effort for any one of us. For some it is one prolonged martyrdom. But think of the firm convictions that strengthened that Jewish mother and her seven sons. These convictions should be more firmly established still in the minds of all true Christians. If we are loyal to God, he will reward us. If we are faithful to his laws, he will be true to his promises. If, when called on to do so, we give our earthly lives for his sake, he has an eternal life of unending joy and happiness ready for us when we close our eyes in death.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

christ uncreated light.jpg

Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Hear, O LORD, a just suit;

attend to my outcry;

hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

My steps have been steadfast in your paths,

my feet have not faltered.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;

incline your ear to me; hear my word.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Keep me as the apple of your eye,

hide me in the shadow of your wings.

But I in justice shall behold your face;

on waking I shall be content in your presence.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

READING II

MostHolyTrinity-icon1200dpi-crop.jpg

 

2 Thes 2:16-3:5

Brothers and sisters:

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,

who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement

and good hope through his grace,

encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed

and word.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,

so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,

as it did among you,

and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,

for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful;

he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,

you are doing and will continue to do.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God

and to the endurance of Christ.

APPLICATION

St. Paul was a man of God and one full of human understanding. He knew and appreciated the difficulties that converts from paganism to Christianity had to endure. He was ever ready to help them. He tells them that he is begging Christ, and God the Father, to console and strengthen them so that they may continue to live their faith.

He then asks for their prayers. These prayers are not for any personal needs of his own, and he had temporal and spiritual needs, but that the Gospel, the word of the Lord, might make progress, might reach out to more and more people. He is making this very same request of us today, through this reading from his Epistle.

We are living in one of the most troubled periods of man’s history on earth. A great part of our world has made immense progress in science, technology, medicine and other branches of learning, has raised the standard of living, increased the comforts of life and lengthened life expectancy. Yet, man’s social conscience has not kept pace with his material improvement. In fact, individual men and whole nations, have become more selfish and less inclined to take a human interest in their less fortunate neighbors.

There are millions living in destitution, not only in the underdeveloped parts of our globe but amidst the wealth and luxury of the richer nations too. Communism has been proposed and is being put into action in parts of the world as a cure for the unequal distribution of this world’s goods. However, the poor and the powerless under communism find that they have exchanged one set of selfish masters for a more selfish and more merciless set of tyrants. The theory of the common ownership of all things is based on the false premise that all men are equally honest, and that each will play his full part in producing the goods necessary for all. A more basic error still in the communist theory, is that man’s life ends like the cow or the ass, in the grave. There is no God and therefore no future life according to the communist preachers. If that theory were true, by what right could the rulers expect honesty, truth, self-sacrifice, brotherly love, from their subjects? If there is no higher law-giver and no higher ruler than the whip of the slave-driver, why should any sane man exert himself or put himself out to provide for the common good, as long as he can escape the eye of the whip-holder? What have men in common, if they are no different and have no higher end or purpose in life, than that of a herd of cattle in a field? What basis is this for brotherly love or interest in one’s neighbor?

Bad philosophy and worse theology can never cure this world’s ills. We need the truths of Christianity put into daily practise by rich and by poor, by nations as well as by individuals. All men on earth are adopted sons of God. All men on earth are brothers of one another, because they are brothers of Christ who became one of us, in order to bring all of us into the family of God. We must let these basic truths govern our lives and our actions. We must do all in our power to give the knowledge of these truths of the Christian faith to all the nations of the earth. St. Paul asks us today, to pray that this will come to pass. We must listen to his request. We should never allow a day to pass without fervently begging God to spread his kingdom throughout the whole world.

We must also give the lesson of good example to all those with whom we come in contact. We must take an active part and give whatever aid we can to those truly Christian societies which are working so hard to improve the lot of the underprivileged at home and abroad. We must exert our Christian influence on public opinion and on national politics. It should not be the success of one particular party that should interest us but the Christian principles of our public representatives. If the Christian nations were truly Christian, brotherly love would spread out from them to the whole world. The causes of unrest and strife within nations would be removed. Fear of aggression among nations would gradually disappear. Vast sums wasted on weapons of war could be spent in the improvement of the underprivileged nations.

The greatest need of our world today is a return to the open acknowledgement of the Fatherhood of God and the true brotherhood of all men. When these basic truths penetrate the social consciences of men and of nations, we can expect an end to hatred and division, to wars and to the wanton destruction of the gifts which God gave us. He gave us these to make our lives less difficult and more productive of good works.

GOSPEL

holy2b10

Lk 20:27-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,

came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,

If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,

his brother must take the wife

and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;

the first married a woman but died childless.

Then the second and the third married her,

and likewise all the seven died childless.

Finally the woman also died.

Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?

For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them,

“The children of this age marry and remarry;

but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age

and to the resurrection of the dead

neither marry nor are given in marriage.

They can no longer die,

for they are like angels;

and they are the children of God

because they are the ones who will rise.

That the dead will rise

even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,

when he called out ‘Lord, ‘

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;

and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,

for to him all are alive.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.1

1 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; Lk 20:36; Dan 10:9- 12.

APPLICATION

We can thank the Sadducees today. They came to our Lord with what they thought was a case that would make the doctrine of the resurrection look very ridiculous. It would have appeared so, if it were understood in the crude sense which they gave it, namely, that we would come forth again from the grave in the very same bodies which we now have, with all their needs and instincts.

Our Lord corrected that erroneous idea. We shall all rise to a new and eternal life, in a form and an existence very different from that of our present life. Thus, the question of ownership of wives or property will not, and cannot, arise in our new life. He gave us a brief but basic description of what our risen bodies will be. I am sure that most of us would love to know a lot more about what our future state will be like. But if we knew all, then where would our faith and trust in God come in? Some saints are said to have had brief visions of the joys of heaven. They wanted to die immediately in order to get there. God wants each one of us to earn heaven, by living our life on earth, and trusting in his word that heaven will be our eternal home if we do our part here below.

In his brief answer to the Sadducees, Christ gives us the essential facts concerning our future status. First, he affirms that all those who have proved themselves worthy while in this life will rise to an eternal life. In that life we will become like angels. We will not be angels, pure spirits without bodies, but we will be like them in that our bodies will become “spiritual.” They will lose all the restrictions and limitations imposed on them now, as mere material composites. They will no longer be subject to decline and decay as they now are. Therefore, they can never suffer from pain or sickness or weakness of any sort.

Second, he clearly affirmed that those risen from the dead are no longer liable to death. Leaving aside the other greater joys of heaven, such as the Beatific Vision, and the close association with Christ our Savior in his risen humanity, the meeting with our Blessed Mother and with all the Saints, including our relatives and friends, what a source of happiness and joy will it be for us, to know that we can never die again! The happiness and joy which we shall have will never end. We all have had moments of happiness in this life, great as these moments were, the thought that they had to end too soon cast a shadow on our joy. There will be no shadow to darken or lessen our future joy and happiness.

Many Christians, even good, pious Christians, fear death and try to keep the very thought of it far from their minds. This is very understandable for one who believes (if there is such a one) that death is the end. To a certain degree it is understandable in the case of the believer or the Christian, whose conscience is not at peace with God. That latter, however, has the means of removing his fears by removing his sins, and by putting himself right with God. The normal, pious Christian should see death as what it is, an end of his time of probation and the door to his eternal reward. It is not normal for a student to dread his graduation day. Death for the God-fearing, honest Christian is graduation day. Therefore, no Christian should be afraid of it.

Of course, part of the fears which death instills come from the fear of the judgment which accompanies it. If we think every now and then, that our death is around the comer, we will turn to the God of mercy, to our loving Father, and ask for his forgiveness. He never refuses pardon to those who with a sincere heart, ask for it.

Let each one of us look into his own conscience this morning. Let him ask himself, how he would fare if death should claim him tonight. If there are sins on my conscience, which I would not want there when facing my just Judge, I still have time to approach the merciful Father. The Christian who does this daily, or even weekly, will not worry when death calls. He can rest assured that it is the beginning of the true and everlasting life, planned for him by God before time began.

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

BENEDICTUS

What Heaven Means

If heaven means being in Christ, then it also means co-being with all those who together form the one Body of Christ. There is no isolation in heaven. It is the open society of the saints and, consequently, also the fulfillment of all human togetherness, not in competition with the Beatific Vision, but rather in consequence thereof. Christian veneration of the saints depends on this knowledge, not on a mythical omniscience about the saints, but simply on the inviolable openness of every member of the whole Body of Christ to every other member, which presumes the unlimited closeness of love and is sure of finding God in everyone and everyone in God. There results from this an anthropological component. The integration of the I into the Body of Christ, its being at the disposal of the Lord and of everyone else, is not a dissolution of the I but its purification, which, at the same time, fulfills its highest potential. That is why heaven is different for each individual. Everyone sees God in his own way; everyone receives the love of the whole Body in his own unalterable uniqueness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Our Holy Guardian Angels

Heavenly Father, Your infinite love for us has chosen a blessed angel in heaven and appointed him our guide during this earthly pilgrimage. Accept our thanks for so great a blessing. Grant that we may experience the assistance of our holy protector in all our necessities. And you, holy, loving angel and guide, watch over us with all the tenderness of your angelic heart. Keep us always on the way that leads to heaven, and cease not to pray for us until we have attained our final destiny, eternal salvation. Then we shall love you for all eternity. We shall praise and glorify you unceasingly for all the good you have done for us while here on earth. Especially be a faithful and watchful protector of our children. Take our place, and supply what may be wanting to us through human frailty, short-sightedness, or sinful neglect. Lighten, O you perfect servants of God, our heavy task. Guide our children, that they may become like unto Jesus, may imitate Him faithfully, and persevere till they attain eternal life. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=849

 

Posted in Catholic

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

holy2b10.jpg

“They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Trust in Jesus

St. Ignatius of Loyola

O Christ Jesus,

when all is darkness

and we feel our weakness and helplessness,

give us the sense of Your presence,

Your love, and Your strength.

Help us to have perfect trust

in Your protecting love

and strengthening power,

so that nothing may frighten or worry us,

for, living close to You,

we shall see Your hand,

Your purpose, Your will through all things, in Christ our Lord.  Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

graciously keep from us all adversity,

so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,

we may pursue in freedom of heart,

the things that are yours.

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

images

2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested

and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,

to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:

“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?

We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

At the point of death he said:

“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,

but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.

It is for his laws that we are dying.”

After him the third suffered their cruel sport.

He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,

and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:

“It was from Heaven that I received these;

for the sake of his laws I disdain them;

from him I hope to receive them again.”

Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,

because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he had died,

they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.

When he was near death, he said,

“It is my choice to die at the hands of men

with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;

but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 922 From apostolic times Christian virgins1 and widows2, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”3

1 Cf. Cor 7:34-36.

2 Cf. John Paul II, Vita consecrata 7.

3 Mt 19:12

APPLICATION

The example of these seven sons who, in the presence of one another and in the presence of their loving mother, were one by one slowly martyred for their faith, is an example that deserves to be forever preserved (and it is) in the annals of human history. Whether they expressed in words all that the inspired author attributes to them is not of great importance. They certainly expressed it in their pious and patient acceptance of their tortures at the hands of irreligious and inhuman tyrants. They were sustained and strengthened in their suffering by the pious exhortations of their truly loyal and faith-inspired mother. More especially were they sustained by the firm conviction that the God of the universe, the God of justice and love, for whose laws they were losing their earthly lives, had a glorious and eternal life in store for them.

Millions of Christians have died as noble martyrs for their faith, down through the ages. There are millions who are suffering slow martyrdom for that same faith today. They, however, had and have the example of Christ, the Son of God made man, who suffered the slow and cruel martyrdom of crucifixion for their takes. So in a sense the mother and seven brothers of today’s reading deserve greater admiration. However, it was the same God who gave the necessary grace to all martyrs. It is in the presence of that same God that all Jewish and Christian martyrs, and others who have died for conscience sake, are enjoying together their eternal reward today.

All of these are held up to us for our admiration, and we must indeed admire them. The atheist who has esteem for intellectual integrity and uprightness must admire one who is willing to sacrifice his life in defence of his convictions. However, for us Christians, admiration is not enough. Attempted imitation, at least is necessary. We may shrink now from the thought of ever having to face even half of what our martyrs suffered. They, too, most probably shivered at the very thought of what awaited them. But when the moment of trial came the grace of God gave them all the strength they needed. God’s grace would also come to our aid, if ever we were called on to suffer and die for our faith. Our only sure guarantee, however, is the present strength and meaningfulness of our faith in our daily lives.

There were many Jews in the days of the Maccabees who gave up their faith when the persecution began. There were many Christians, too, who went over to the enemy in order to save their earthly lives and property. There are many leaders of the anti-God and anti-Christian campaign today, who were once Christians of a kind. No martyr ever died willingly for a cause in which he did not believe. No Christian ever died for the faith unless he believed firmly in it and lived his daily life in accordance with its precepts.

This is a test which we can all apply to ourselves. We need not ask ourselves whether we would willingly accept torture and death for the sake of our faith. We must, however, ask ourselves if we are willingly and truly living that faith in our daily lives. That in itself is not an easy, painless effort for any one of us. For some it is one prolonged martyrdom. But think of the firm convictions that strengthened that Jewish mother and her seven sons. These convictions should be more firmly established still in the minds of all true Christians. If we are loyal to God, he will reward us. If we are faithful to his laws, he will be true to his promises. If, when called on to do so, we give our earthly lives for his sake, he has an eternal life of unending joy and happiness ready for us when we close our eyes in death.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

christ uncreated light.jpg

Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Hear, O LORD, a just suit;

attend to my outcry;

hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

My steps have been steadfast in your paths,

my feet have not faltered.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;

incline your ear to me; hear my word.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Keep me as the apple of your eye,

hide me in the shadow of your wings.

But I in justice shall behold your face;

on waking I shall be content in your presence.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

READING II

MostHolyTrinity-icon1200dpi-crop.jpg

2 Thes 2:16-3:5

Brothers and sisters:

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,

who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement

and good hope through his grace,

encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed

and word.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,

so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,

as it did among you,

and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,

for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful;

he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,

you are doing and will continue to do.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God

and to the endurance of Christ.

APPLICATION

St. Paul was a man of God and one full of human understanding. He knew and appreciated the difficulties that converts from paganism to Christianity had to endure. He was ever ready to help them. He tells them that he is begging Christ, and God the Father, to console and strengthen them so that they may continue to live their faith.

He then asks for their prayers. These prayers are not for any personal needs of his own, and he had temporal and spiritual needs, but that the Gospel, the word of the Lord, might make progress, might reach out to more and more people. He is making this very same request of us today, through this reading from his Epistle.

We are living in one of the most troubled periods of man’s history on earth. A great part of our world has made immense progress in science, technology, medicine and other branches of learning, has raised the standard of living, increased the comforts of life and lengthened life expectancy. Yet, man’s social conscience has not kept pace with his material improvement. In fact, individual men and whole nations, have become more selfish and less inclined to take a human interest in their less fortunate neighbors.

There are millions living in destitution, not only in the underdeveloped parts of our globe but amidst the wealth and luxury of the richer nations too. Communism has been proposed and is being put into action in parts of the world as a cure for the unequal distribution of this world’s goods. However, the poor and the powerless under communism find that they have exchanged one set of selfish masters for a more selfish and more merciless set of tyrants. The theory of the common ownership of all things is based on the false premise that all men are equally honest, and that each will play his full part in producing the goods necessary for all. A more basic error still in the communist theory, is that man’s life ends like the cow or the ass, in the grave. There is no God and therefore no future life according to the communist preachers. If that theory were true, by what right could the rulers expect honesty, truth, self-sacrifice, brotherly love, from their subjects? If there is no higher law-giver and no higher ruler than the whip of the slave-driver, why should any sane man exert himself or put himself out to provide for the common good, as long as he can escape the eye of the whip-holder? What have men in common, if they are no different and have no higher end or purpose in life, than that of a herd of cattle in a field? What basis is this for brotherly love or interest in one’s neighbor?

Bad philosophy and worse theology can never cure this world’s ills. We need the truths of Christianity put into daily practise by rich and by poor, by nations as well as by individuals. All men on earth are adopted sons of God. All men on earth are brothers of one another, because they are brothers of Christ who became one of us, in order to bring all of us into the family of God. We must let these basic truths govern our lives and our actions. We must do all in our power to give the knowledge of these truths of the Christian faith to all the nations of the earth. St. Paul asks us today, to pray that this will come to pass. We must listen to his request. We should never allow a day to pass without fervently begging God to spread his kingdom throughout the whole world.

We must also give the lesson of good example to all those with whom we come in contact. We must take an active part and give whatever aid we can to those truly Christian societies which are working so hard to improve the lot of the underprivileged at home and abroad. We must exert our Christian influence on public opinion and on national politics. It should not be the success of one particular party that should interest us but the Christian principles of our public representatives. If the Christian nations were truly Christian, brotherly love would spread out from them to the whole world. The causes of unrest and strife within nations would be removed. Fear of aggression among nations would gradually disappear. Vast sums wasted on weapons of war could be spent in the improvement of the underprivileged nations.

The greatest need of our world today is a return to the open acknowledgement of the Fatherhood of God and the true brotherhood of all men. When these basic truths penetrate the social consciences of men and of nations, we can expect an end to hatred and division, to wars and to the wanton destruction of the gifts which God gave us. He gave us these to make our lives less difficult and more productive of good works.

GOSPEL

holy2b10

Lk 20:27-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,

came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,

If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,

his brother must take the wife

and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;

the first married a woman but died childless.

Then the second and the third married her,

and likewise all the seven died childless.

Finally the woman also died.

Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?

For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them,

“The children of this age marry and remarry;

but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age

and to the resurrection of the dead

neither marry nor are given in marriage.

They can no longer die,

for they are like angels;

and they are the children of God

because they are the ones who will rise.

That the dead will rise

even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,

when he called out ‘Lord, ‘

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;

and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,

for to him all are alive.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.1

1 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; Lk 20:36; Dan 10:9- 12.

APPLICATION

We can thank the Sadducees today. They came to our Lord with what they thought was a case that would make the doctrine of the resurrection look very ridiculous. It would have appeared so, if it were understood in the crude sense which they gave it, namely, that we would come forth again from the grave in the very same bodies which we now have, with all their needs and instincts.

Our Lord corrected that erroneous idea. We shall all rise to a new and eternal life, in a form and an existence very different from that of our present life. Thus, the question of ownership of wives or property will not, and cannot, arise in our new life. He gave us a brief but basic description of what our risen bodies will be. I am sure that most of us would love to know a lot more about what our future state will be like. But if we knew all, then where would our faith and trust in God come in? Some saints are said to have had brief visions of the joys of heaven. They wanted to die immediately in order to get there. God wants each one of us to earn heaven, by living our life on earth, and trusting in his word that heaven will be our eternal home if we do our part here below.

In his brief answer to the Sadducees, Christ gives us the essential facts concerning our future status. First, he affirms that all those who have proved themselves worthy while in this life will rise to an eternal life. In that life we will become like angels. We will not be angels, pure spirits without bodies, but we will be like them in that our bodies will become “spiritual.” They will lose all the restrictions and limitations imposed on them now, as mere material composites. They will no longer be subject to decline and decay as they now are. Therefore, they can never suffer from pain or sickness or weakness of any sort.

Second, he clearly affirmed that those risen from the dead are no longer liable to death. Leaving aside the other greater joys of heaven, such as the Beatific Vision, and the close association with Christ our Savior in his risen humanity, the meeting with our Blessed Mother and with all the Saints, including our relatives and friends, what a source of happiness and joy will it be for us, to know that we can never die again! The happiness and joy which we shall have will never end. We all have had moments of happiness in this life, great as these moments were, the thought that they had to end too soon cast a shadow on our joy. There will be no shadow to darken or lessen our future joy and happiness.

Many Christians, even good, pious Christians, fear death and try to keep the very thought of it far from their minds. This is very understandable for one who believes (if there is such a one) that death is the end. To a certain degree it is understandable in the case of the believer or the Christian, whose conscience is not at peace with God. That latter, however, has the means of removing his fears by removing his sins, and by putting himself right with God. The normal, pious Christian should see death as what it is, an end of his time of probation and the door to his eternal reward. It is not normal for a student to dread his graduation day. Death for the God-fearing, honest Christian is graduation day. Therefore, no Christian should be afraid of it.

Of course, part of the fears which death instills come from the fear of the judgment which accompanies it. If we think every now and then, that our death is around the comer, we will turn to the God of mercy, to our loving Father, and ask for his forgiveness. He never refuses pardon to those who with a sincere heart, ask for it.

Let each one of us look into his own conscience this morning. Let him ask himself, how he would fare if death should claim him tonight. If there are sins on my conscience, which I would not want there when facing my just Judge, I still have time to approach the merciful Father. The Christian who does this daily, or even weekly, will not worry when death calls. He can rest assured that it is the beginning of the true and everlasting life, planned for him by God before time began.

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

BENEDICTUS

What Heaven Means

If heaven means being in Christ, then it also means co-being with all those who together form the one Body of Christ. There is no isolation in heaven. It is the open society of the saints and, consequently, also the fulfillment of all human togetherness, not in competition with the Beatific Vision, but rather in consequence thereof. Christian veneration of the saints depends on this knowledge, not on a mythical omniscience about the saints, but simply on the inviolable openness of every member of the whole Body of Christ to every other member, which presumes the unlimited closeness of love and is sure of finding God in everyone and everyone in God. There results from this an anthropological component. The integration of the I into the Body of Christ, its being at the disposal of the Lord and of everyone else, is not a dissolution of the I but its purification, which, at the same time, fulfills its highest potential. That is why heaven is different for each individual. Everyone sees God in his own way; everyone receives the love of the whole Body in his own unalterable uniqueness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Our Holy Guardian Angels

Heavenly Father, Your infinite love for us has chosen a blessed angel in heaven and appointed him our guide during this earthly pilgrimage. Accept our thanks for so great a blessing. Grant that we may experience the assistance of our holy protector in all our necessities. And you, holy, loving angel and guide, watch over us with all the tenderness of your angelic heart. Keep us always on the way that leads to heaven, and cease not to pray for us until we have attained our final destiny, eternal salvation. Then we shall love you for all eternity. We shall praise and glorify you unceasingly for all the good you have done for us while here on earth. Especially be a faithful and watchful protector of our children. Take our place, and supply what may be wanting to us through human frailty, short-sightedness, or sinful neglect. Lighten, O you perfect servants of God, our heavy task. Guide our children, that they may become like unto Jesus, may imitate Him faithfully, and persevere till they attain eternal life. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=849

 

Posted in Catholic

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Icon of the Crucifixion.jpg

‘He is One and there is no other than he.’  And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Act of Love

O My God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart, mind and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

by whose gift your faithful offer you

right and praiseworthy service,

grant, we pray,

that we may hasten without stumbling

to receive the things 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

5.-b.-Cristo-benedicente-particular.-Icona-a-encausto.-Sinai-VI-sec..jpg

Dt 6:2-6

Moses spoke to the people, saying:

“Fear the LORD, your God,

and keep, throughout the days of your lives,

all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you,

and thus have long life.

Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them,

that you may grow and prosper the more,

in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers,

to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!

Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,

with all your heart,

and with all your soul,

and with all your strength.

Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”1 Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. .. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.’”2

CCC 368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.3

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.”4 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”5 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”6 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.7

CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.8 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.9 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,10 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

CCC 2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”11 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”12 The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of 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.13

CCC 2083 Jesus summed up man’s duties toward God in this saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”14 This immediately echoes the solemn call: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.”15

God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the “ten words.” The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.

CCC 2093 Faith in God’s love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere love to divine charity. The first commandment enjoins us to love God above everything and all creatures for him and because of him.16

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.”17

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.”18

1 Dt 6:45.

2 Is 45:22-24; cf. Phil 2:10-11.

3 Cf. Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; Is 29:13; Ezek 36:26; Mt 6:21; Lk 8:15; Rom 5:5.

4 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

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

6 Jn 15:12.

7 Cf. Mk 8:34.

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

9 Gal 3:24.

10 Cf. Rom 3:20.

11 Mt 22:36.

12 Mt 22:37-40; cf. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.

13 Rom 13:9-10.

14 Mt 22:37; cf. Lk 10:27:“… and with all your strength.”

15 Deut 6:4.

16 Cf. Deut 6:4-5.

17 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

18 Rom 13:8-10.

APPLICATION

The relationship between God and man is a relationship of love. God is love and because he is love he created the universe and made man the master and masterpiece of that creation. Love, like heat, is self-diffusive, that is, its nature is to spread itself out. The spreading out of God’s love was creation; he made things and beings who could share his love with him. Chief among his created beings was man to whom he gave the capacity to appreciate love and to return it. Now, God could have given a limited portion of his love to men, that is, he could have let men, like the other creatures on earth, be content with whatever gifts of God’s love they could receive in this world. In other words, earthly death could have been their final end.

However, God’s love, being infinite, went far beyond this as regards men. In creating them, God gave them the faculties which place them away above all other earthly creatures. He made men capable of appreciating love and of reciprocating it–something the other creatures on earth cannot do. God saw that in the short space of this earthly life men could not satisfy the faculty for loving and being loved. He, therefore, planned for men a future life–a life wherein men could fully appreciate the immensity of divine love and return to the that fullness of love according to our own created capacity.

In the “fullness of time,” centuries and centuries after he had created man, God began to make preparations for putting his plan into action. By this time, men had more or less completely forgotten their divine Benefactor, but God had not forgotten them. He called Abraham out of the pagan land of Ur of the Chaldees, and made him a believer in the true God. He brought him over to Canaan–promising to give his descendants that country as their ‘ fatherland. God did so in order to have one people on earth who would know and reverence him, and from whom his divine Son would take his human nature. The incarnation was God’s loving way of making man fit and worthy to win the gift of the future life he had planned for him.

God took a special interest in the descendants of Abraham whom he made his own Chosen People. Having led them out of the slavery of Egypt he made a covenant or pact with them–through their leader Moses on Mount Sinai. God promised to bring them into the Promised Land of Canaan and establish them there; they on their part, were to keep the commandments he gave them. These commandments regulated their lives, their relationship with God and their neighbor. The basis of these relationships was a proper appreciation of all that God had done for them; this appreciation they would show and prove by their reciprocal love for him.

Unfortunately for themselves, the Chosen People did not always keep their part of this covenant of Sinai. Instead of loving God and thanking him for all his gifts to them, they became involved in worldly affairs and turned to the false gods of their pagan neighbors. The result: they were decimated by pagan conquerors and by exile. Notwithstanding their infidelity God was faithful to his promise. A remnant was saved and from that came eventually the human nature which the Son of God took on himself.

We may be shocked at the behavior of God’s Chosen People who were never really grateful for all he did for them, but how much more blameworthy are we Christians, when we forget to love and reverence him. What he did for Abraham’s descendants was but a shadow of what he has done for us. He made them his Chosen People–he has made us his adopted children. He gave them the land of Canaan–he has promised us heaven as our homeland. He gave them Moses to lead them out of the slavery of Egypt–he has given us his divine Son to lead us from the sin and slavery of this world to heaven. Moses, as leader of the stubborn Israelites, led a life of contradiction and troubles–Christ our Leader suffered the death of the cross for us.

We do owe so much more than the Chosen People to God; are we trying to repay that immense debt? Do we love God as we should?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

I love you, Lord, my strength.

I love you, O LORD, my strength,

O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

My God, my rock of refuge,

my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!

Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,

and I am safe from my enemies.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The LORD lives! And blessed be my rock!

Extolled be God my savior.

You who gave great victories to your king

and showed kindness to your anointed.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

READING II

christ-the-high-priest-icon-902.jpg

Heb 7:23-28

Brothers and sisters:

The levitical priests were many

because they were prevented by death from remaining in office,

but Jesus, because he remains forever,

has a priesthood that does not pass away.

Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him,

since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:

holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,

higher than the heavens.

He has no need, as did the high priests,

to offer sacrifice day after day,

first for his own sins and then for those of the people;

he did that once for all when he offered himself.

For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests,

but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law,

appoints a son,

who has been made perfect forever.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 519 All Christ’s riches “are for every individual and are everybody’s property.”1 Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation “for us men and for our salvation” to his death “for our sins” and Resurrection “for our justification”.2 He is still “our advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for us.3 He remains ever “in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us.”4

CCC 662 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”5 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. .. but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”6 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”.7 As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.8

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.”9 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.10 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.11 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.12

CCC 828 By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.13 “The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history.”14 Indeed, “holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.”15

CCC 1085 In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teaching and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father “once for all.”16 His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.

CCC 1364 In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.17 “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”18

CCC 1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:

[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper “on the night when he was betrayed,” [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.19

CCC 1540 Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer,20 this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.21

CCC 1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.”22 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”;23 “holy, blameless, unstained,”24 “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,”25 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

CCC 1564 “Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament.”26

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.27 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.”28 The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us. .. and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”29

CCC 2741 Jesus also prays for us – in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father.30 If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.

1 John Paul II, RH II.

2 I Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25.

3 I Jn 2:1 Heb 7:25.

4 Heb 9:24.

5 Jn 12:32.

6 Heb 9:24.

7 Heb 7:25.

8 Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11.

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

10 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.

11 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.

12 Paul VI, CPG § 19.

13 Cf. LG 40; 48-51.

14 John Paul II, CL 16,3.

15 CL 17, 3.

16 Rom 6:10; Heb 7:27; 9:12; cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

17 Cf. Heb 7:25-27.

18 LG 3; cf. 1 Cor 5:7.

19 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740; cf. 1 Cor 11:23; Heb 7:24, 27.

20 Cf. Mal 2:7-9.

21 Cf. Heb 5:3; 7:27; 101-4.

22 2 Tim 2:5.

23 Heb 5:10; cf. 6:20; Gen 14:18.

24 Heb 7:26.

25 Heb 10:14.

26 LG 28 cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28; Innocent I, Epist. ad Decentium:PL 20,554A; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,22:PG 35,432B.

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

28 Heb 7:25.

29 Rom 8:26-27.

30 Cf. Heb 5:7; 7:25; 9:24

APPLICATION

In today’s first reading we saw how privileged we are when compared with the Chosen People of the Old Testament. These six verses from Hebrews, which form our second reading today are given over to the same theme: our high priest, our mediator with God, is incomparably greater and more efficacious than any intermediaries they had, for he is none other than God’s own divine Son. But, lest we be tempted to see discrimination or acceptance of persons on the part of God, we must realize that God’s plan for man’s salvation was put into operation gradually–as he found men’s minds fit to receive his revelation.

The Israelites, whom God selected to be the recipients of his partial revelation in the Old Testament times, were evidently more worthy of this honor than any of their contemporaries. Yet, they were only a few steps removed from paganism and were ever in danger of reverting to it. However, God dealt with them mercifully and patiently. He quickly forgave their many lapses, and again and again he protected them from their pagan enemies during their twelve hundred years in Canaan. Even when the exile–which their disloyalty brought upon them–should have ended their history as a separate race forever, he brought back a “remnant” to Jerusalem and Judah from whom the promised Messiah took his human nature.

His revelation of himself to them, and of his great purpose for man, was partial and limited because they were not yet sufficiently developed in their religious outlook. They were given only a vague idea of life after death. The rewards promised for fidelity to him and to his commandments were temporal, earthly rewards. But running like a golden thread through the tapestry of their history, was the promise and, therefore, the hope of a great blessing to come through them for all mankind. The prophets gradually developed this promise and hope. By the time Christ came–as the fulfillment of that promise first made to Abraham–sharing in this blessing was much more important to the true, loyal chosen ones of God than were temporal rewards or blessings.

While thus preparing his Chosen People for the incarnation God was also preparing the pagan nations for the coming of Christ. The following were all preparations for the speedy spread of the gospel when Christ came: Alexander’s conquest of the known world toward the end of the 4th century B.C.–with the consequent spread of the Greek language; the rise of the Roman empire which strengthened the unity of its various subjects by sound laws and safe means of travel; the decline in almost all parts of the empire–the then known world–of the belief in the pagan gods. In these and in many other ways, God was patiently and wisely preparing the world for the astounding act of divine love toward mankind which was revealed in the incarnation.

We are Christians today because God wanted it so from all eternity. He worked quietly and efficiently down through the ages to make this possible. As regards our knowledge of God and the purpose he has for us, we are much better informed than were the Chosen People and the pagan nations of the past. But they will be judged according to their knowledge; their religious ignorance will excuse many a fault. We, on the other hand, will be expected to make a return to him in proportion to the many talents he has given us. Our excuses at the judgement seat will be very few and very flimsy. Our Judge will be the very Son of God who made himself our high priest, in order to open heaven for us and make our entrance there safe and relatively easy. He is ever present, pleading our case at the throne of mercy. The Christian who turns his back on Christ his advocate during life, will surely find it hard to face him as his judge when he comes to die.

GOSPEL

ChristtheKing-672x372.jpg

Mk 12:28b-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,

“Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Jesus replied, “The first is this:

Hear, O Israel!

The Lord our God is Lord alone!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul,

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.”

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.

You are right in saying,

‘He is One and there is no other than he.’

And ‘to love him with all your heart,

with all your understanding,

with all your strength,

and to love your neighbor as yourself’

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,

he said to him,

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103016.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 129 Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself.1 Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament.2 As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.3

CCC 202 Jesus himself affirms that God is “the one Lord” whom you must love “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”.4 At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is “the Lord”.5 To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as “Lord and giver of life” introduce any division into the One God:

We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.6

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,7 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,8 than for the ordinary People of God.9 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;10 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.11 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,12 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),13 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.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

1 Cf. Mk 12:29-31

2 Cf. I Cor 5:6-8; 10:1-11.

3 Cf. St. Augustine, Quaest. in Hept. 2, 73: PL 34,623; Cf. DU 16.

4 Mk 12:29-30

5 Cf. Mk 12:35-37.

6 Lateran Council IV: DS 800.

7 Lk 2:34.

8 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

9 Jn 7:48-49.

10 Cf Lk 13:31.

11 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

12 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

13 Cf. Mt 6:18.

14 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

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.

APPLICATION

The personal lesson which comes over loud and clear for every sincere Christian from today’s gospel, is that the solid foundation of our Christian religion is love of God and neighbor. As our Lord says: “there is no other commandment greater than these.” All the other commandments are expansions of these two and indications of how we are to put these two commandments into daily practice. For example: why am I forbidden to murder my neighbor? Simply because he belongs to God; it was God who gave him his life, and God has commanded me to love and respect him. Taking his life is interfering with God’s rights, and disobeying him as well. Likewise, the prohibition of idolatry, refraining from insulting God’s name, keeping the Sabbath day holy are the principal ways of indicating how we should love God.

One may ask: how can I love God? He is infinitely perfect, he needs nothing from me, what therefore can I do for him? I can understand loving my neighbor–for a neighbor can need help, advice, encouragement and consolation. I can prove my love by giving these to my neighbor, but God has no such needs. It is quite true that true love is not theoretical but pragmatic, it means doing some good for somebody. While the infinite God has no needs that I can supply, he has claims on my service, on my respect, on my gratitude–claims so basic and so great that I must be ready to suffer persecution and even death rather than deny or dishonor him (Mt. 5: 10; Lk. 6: 23). It was God who gave me existence and every gift that I have. It was God, through the incarnation of his own divine Son, who made me his adopted child and heir to heaven. Everything that I am and have and hope to be, I owe to God’s generosity; therefore, he has an unquestionable right to my gratitude, my reverence, my respect–these are the ways in which I can show my love for him.

The keeping of God’s commandments, the prayers of thanksgiving, praise and petition which daily we offer, the attendance at Mass and other liturgical functions, these are the means God gives us of showing our love, our recognition of total dependence on him and our gratitude for all he has done and is doing for us. God does not need any of these signs of our submission and reverence and respect, but we need them absolutely, for they are the means he has given us of fulfilling his purpose in creating us—to share his eternal glory with him. To love God then, is not an obligation imposed on us by some demanding superior but a privilege granted us so that we can become worthy of the greater gifts he has in store for us.

Loving our neighbor–and in the Christian code this means all men no matter what may be their color, race or religion–is, according to our divine Lord, another most effective way of proving to God that we love him. Because of our common humanity we should be inclined to help our fellow-men, our neighbors, but the Christian law spiritualizes this natural inclination, by commanding us to help our neighbor because he is God’s child. We are all fellow-children of God, members of the one family. Our heavenly Father loves each one of us and wants our salvation. If we love our common Father we will do all we can to help his other children also to attain salvation. It will earn for us God’s favor.

If we observe these two commandments we are “fulfilling the whole law and the prophets,”; we are serving God and showing our gratitude to him for all his goodness to us. The Christian who is following Christ in love is already active in the earthly kingdom of God and traveling safely toward God’s eternal kingdom of peace and happiness.”

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

BENEDICTUS

How Love is Possible

Love of neighbor is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave… If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties,” then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper,” but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.

Pope Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Thank You God!

Dear Loving and Compassionate God, Giver of all gifts, we pray especially today for the mercy and love You give us. Open our hearts and minds to You. Give us the grace to accept your mercy. As we live each day, we pray for those less fortunate, especially those who are hurting, and whose wounds need to be healed. Help us become involved in ways that show them how deeply we care. Give us the personal courage to listen to their concerns and help them find the solutions to which they are entitled as Your children and our brothers and sisters. We ask this and all our prayers through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Solemnity of All Saints

-3.jpg

‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

In Praise of the Saints

How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord

which you give us for our eternal well-being

Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God

In the honor and noble victory of the martyrs.

The white-robed company follow you,

bright with their abundant faith;

They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.

For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,

they were drained by cruel punishments.

They bore their holy witness to you

who were grounded deep within their hearts;

they were sustained by patience and constancy.

Endowed with your everlasting grace,

may we rejoice forever

with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.

O Christ, in your goodness,

grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.

Unknown author, 10th century

COLLECT

God our Father,

source of all holiness,

the work of your hands is manifest in your saints,

the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.

May we who aspire to have part in their joy

be filled with the Spirit that blessed their lives,

so that having shared their faith on earth

we may also know their peace in your kingdom.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

READING I

-11.jpg

Rv 7:2-4, 9-14

He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels

who were given power to damage the land and the sea,

“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees

until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,

one hundred and forty-four thousand marked

from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,

which no one could count,

from every nation, race, people, and tongue.

They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,

wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,

and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne

and around the elders and the four living creatures.

They prostrated themselves before the throne,

worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,

honor, power, and might

be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,

“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”

I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”

He said to me,

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;

they have washed their robes

and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.1 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.2

CCC 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:3

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.4

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”5 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,”6 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.7

CCC 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”8 “partakers of the divine nature.”9 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”10 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer.

CCC 2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.11 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.12

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.13 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”14 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”15

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”16 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”17 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”18 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

2 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

3 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

4 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

5 Heb 12:1.

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

7 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

8 Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1.

9 2 Pet 1:4.

10 Phil 1:27.

11 Cf. Gal 5:22.

12 Cf. 1 Jn 3:3.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

14 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

15 1 Cor 11:26.

16 1 Tim 2:3-4.

17 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

18 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

This vision of St. John is chosen for today’s reading in order to encourage us to persevere in our Christian faith. Firstly, those on earth (ourselves) have to be prepared to meet opposition in our Christian lives. From the very beginning Christ had his followers and opponents. Christ, the innocent lamb, was “led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth.” As our representative and Savior he saw that the perfect obedience which he was to give to his Father demanded that his enemies’ wicked plan should be carried out. Likewise, during the first three centuries of the Church thousands of his followers had to give their lives for his sake and for their faith. In the intervening centuries, up to and including our own day, thousands have been put to death because of their loyalty to Christ.

If not for most of us today, at least for many, it is not a quick martyrdom that is threatening us, but a subtle persecution which is trying to make us disloyal to Christ and to our Christian principles. Under various pretexts the enemies of Christ and of God are trying to undermine our faith. Open atheism is not the most dangerous of these enemies. Few sane men can be convinced that there is no God or nothing for man but the grave. That is the fate only of the dumb beast. The dangerous enemy is the one who, in theory, admits that there is a God and a future life, but that what we do in this life has no connexion with God or our future. We are free agents, they say. We can and should do what we like. Why should we accept any restrictions on our personal liberty? Why keep the commandments? Why control our natural instincts? We should get all the pleasure and wealth we can in this life and the next will look after itself.

Today, we are reminded that every Christian on earth and everyone who wants to go to heaven must face opposition. But St. John tells us that the followers of Christ are given the necessary graces to face and overcome this opposition. Their foreheads are imprinted with the seal of the servants of God. Try to remember this when the advocates of earthly pleasures, the agents of the powers of evil, are using their wiles to make you forget that you are God’s chosen servant. His grace is there for the taking. The Christian who perseveres is he who lives his daily life at peace with God and neighbor, drawing on the sources of God’s grace–prayer and the sacraments.

Another source of encouragement for us today, on this the feast day of all of God’s saints, is the countless numbers John saw in heaven. These countless numbers were men and women of flesh and blood like ourselves. They had the same weaknesses, the same human inclinations, the same faults and failings in many cases as we have. They never forgot God, they never gave up trying to live the Christian life. They died at peace with God and so went to heaven. Many good-living Christians would almost laugh if they were told that they will be saints. Yet, that is what they will be. The reason why they would laugh at this statement of fact is the wrong idea that some spiritual writers have given us of the essence of a saint. The few saints who are canonized by the Church, and whose lives are written to encourage and inspire us, were exceptional individuals. We have no written lives of the ordinary men and women who were not exceptional in any way but who lived in God’s friendship and died in his grace. They now are saints in heaven.

Christ died to save all mankind. His death on the cross was not for St. Paul or St. Augustine or St. Francis only. It was for plain Mrs. Murphy and Franz Allesmanner and Signora Benvenuta also. They didn’t work miracles or do anything extraordinary, but they fully lived the very ordinary, humdrum daily Christian life. Thanks to God’s infinite mercy and thanks to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, there are countless saints in heaven today. One day soon you and I, please God, will increase their number. There are close relatives of each one of us in heaven. Let us ask them and all the other millions today to intercede for us. We are anxious to get to heaven and we are anxious to do the things that will get us there. Each day we have to meet much opposition. This will obtain for us God’s grace and “we shall overcome.” We too will be saints in heaven praising and thanking the good God who brought us there.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

-13.jpg

PS 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;

the world and those who dwell in it.

For he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the rivers.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?

or who may stand in his holy place?

One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,

who desires not what is vain.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,

a reward from God his savior.

Such is the race that seeks him,

that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

READING II

jesus-682x346.jpg

1 Jn 3:1-3

Beloved:

See what love the Father has bestowed on us

that we may be called the children of God.

Yet so we are.

The reason the world does not know us

is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now;

what we shall be has not yet been revealed.

We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,

for we shall see him as he is.

Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,

as he is pure.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.1 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.2

CCC 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:3

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.4

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”5 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,”6 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.7

CCC 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”8 “partakers of the divine nature.”9 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”10 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer.

CCC 2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.11 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.12

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.13 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”14 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”15

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”16 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”17 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”18 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

2 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

3 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

4 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

5 Heb 12:1.

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

7 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

8 Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1.

9 2 Pet 1:4.

10 Phil 1:27.

11 Cf. Gal 5:22.

12 Cf. 1 Jn 3:3.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

14 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

15 1 Cor 11:26.

16 1 Tim 2:3-4.

17 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

18 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

We are celebrating the Feast of all Saints, that is, of the millions of men and women who are today in heaven. St. John’s words are intended to help us to persevere in our heavenward journey. The great, encouraging thought that John puts before us is the fact that God the Father has already placed us more than half-way on our road to heaven by making us his adopted children through the incarnation.

No father can forget his children. He is ever ready to protect, help and guide them. Could the heavenly, all-powerful, all-loving Father forget his children? Their adoption caused the humiliation of his beloved Son in taking human nature and the sacrifice of that same beloved Son on the cross of Calvary.

A human father can be inhuman and desert and neglect his human children. God can never be ungodlike. He cannot change his nature which is Love itself. He cannot forget us, his adopted children. This is surely an encouragement for us. At times we may find the uphill climb to heaven hard. But if we remember the all-loving, omnipotent Father who is watching over us, we can never despair, no matter how dark our nights of struggle and sorrow may seem.

We must never forget that a loving father may have to appear severe at times in order to be truly kind. The human father has to correct his child at times. He has to make him learn obedience, to do things necessary for his health and soundness of body. If he is to prepare him to face life and earn his living he has to make him study his lessons, a thing most children would gladly avoid. Most of this discipline can appear cruel to the unthinking child. Instead it is true love and kindness.

So it is with our heavenly Father’s dealings with us. We would all love to be free from all temptations, free from all anxieties, free from all physical pain but our loving Father sees otherwise. He sends us these messengers of his love in order to prepare us to face our true life and earn for ourselves an eternal living in the future. When we are looking down from heaven on the troubles and misfortunes that we thought no kind God should let us suffer, we shall see their purpose. We shall heartily thank God for having provided them to help us on our way to heaven.

The reward for a few years of very limited suffering here on earth will be an eternity of happiness in the company of God and all his saints. As St. John says, we have only a limited revelation as to the nature of our existence in heaven, but we have enough knowledge of heaven to make us exert all our endeavors to get there. We shall be in the presence of God, the source and author of all that is good and enjoyable. We shall see the Son of God in his human nature. In him we shall understand the love of God for us which brought about the incarnation and all that it entailed for Christ of humiliations and sufferings for our sake. We shall be in the company of our blessed Mother and all our fellow human beings who will be intimately united with us in singing the praises of God, our common Father. Added to these joys will be the certainty that this state of happiness will last forever. Never again shall anxiety or suffering enter our lives. Pain, death and separation from those we love will never again cast a shadow on our existence. We shall feel safe with God for all eternity.

God grant that every one of us will meet in this happy state some day in the future!

GOSPEL

-16.jpg

Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,

and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.

He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward will be great in heaven.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

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”;3 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”4 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.5 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.6 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.7

CCC 581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi.8 He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law.9 Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes”.10 In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes.11 Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old. .. But I say to you. ..”12 With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God”.13

CCC 764 “This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.”14 To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.”14 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.16 They form Jesus’ true family.17 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new “way of acting” and a prayer of their own.18

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.19

CCC 1716 The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward is great in heaven.20

CCC 1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:

– the coming of the Kingdom of God;21 – the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”22

– entering into the joy of the Lord;23

– entering into God’s rest:24

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?25

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”26 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”27 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”28 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”29

CCC 2518 The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”30 “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity;31 chastity or sexual rectitude;32 love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.33 There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:

The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”34

CCC 2546 “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”35 The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:36

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as “poverty in spirit”; the Apostle gives an example of God’s poverty when he says: “For your sakes he became poor.”37

CCC 2763 All the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms – are fulfilled in Christ.38 The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount;39 the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated:

The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. .. In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.40

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

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

4 Mt 5:3.

5 Cf. Mt 11:25.

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

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 Cf Jn 11:28; 3:2; Mt 22:23-24, 34-36.

9 Cf. Mt 12:5; 9:12; Mk 2:23-27; Lk 6:6-g; Jn 7:22-23.

10 Mt 7:28-29.

11 Cf. Mt 5:1.

12 Mt 5:33-34.

13 Mk 7:13; cf. 3:8.

14 LG 5.

15 LG 5.

16 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.

17 Cf. Mt 12:49.

18 Cf. Mt 5-6.

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

20 Mt 5:3-12.

21 Cf. Mt 4:17.

22 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.

23 Mt 25:21-23.

24 Cf. Heb 4:7-11.

25 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.

26 Isa 9:5.

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

28 Eph 2:14.

29 Mt 5:9.

30 Mt 5:8.

31 Cf. 1 Tim 4:3-9; 2 Tim 2:22.

32 Cf. 1 Thess 4:7; Col 3:5; Eph 4:19.

33 Cf. Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 1:3-4; 2 Tim 2:23-26.

34 St. Augustine, Defide et symbolo 10, 25: PL 40, 196.

35 Mt 5:3.

36 Cf. Lk 6:20.

37 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus 1: PG 44, 1200D; cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

38 Cf. Lk 24:44.

39 Cf. Mt 5-7.

40 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 83, 9.

APPLICATION

The eight Beatitudes are a resume of the Christian charter. They are the boundaries within which the Christian life is successfully lived. We are celebrating today the Feast of All Saints, that is, of all those who have lived their Christian life according to the ideals that Christ placed before them in the Sermon on the Mount. They have succeeded. They have reached heaven because they followed the rules which Christ laid down for them. They loved God and they showed that love in their daily living. They kept his commandment not only according to the letter but in spirit and in truth.

They bore the trials and troubles of life patiently, as part of God’s plan for their sanctification. They loved their neighbor and proved it by their deeds of charity and mercy. They forgave those who persecuted and injured them. They lived in peace with God and with their neighbor. They helped to promote peace among their fellowman wherever and whenever they could.

Some of the saints whose feasts we are celebrating today were outstanding in their sanctity. They lived their lives of mortification far beyond what was required of them. They loved God with an intensity that is not expected of ordinary mortals. They served their neighbor with a life-long dedication. They set an example and made an impression on the life of their contemporaries which will never be forgotten. God be thanked for such noble examples of saintly Christians!

But there are millions of others in heaven, saints of God also, who did nothing except their ordinary Christian duties. They did them sincerely and willingly. Their names are not inscribed in the Church’s Martyrology but they are written in the “Book of Life” in heaven. Most of us can only admire the first group from afar and thank God for the graces which their very saintly lives obtained, and are still obtaining, for the Church of God. However, we can all feel a little more confident today because of the lesser saints. What they did, we can do. Where they succeeded we too can succeed. With the help of God’s grace and the assistance of the major and minor saints in heaven we will and we shall succeed.

Heaven is the eternal home that God has planned for all men of goodwill. It was to raise us up to son-ship with God that Christ came down and lived and died as a man on earth. It was to help us on the way that he founded the Church and gave her the sacraments that sinners and weak mortals would need on their road to heaven. God knows the material of which we are made. He knows too how to make something far greater out of that same weak material. He has done so already with millions of very ordinary human beings. He is doing it daily and will continue to do it.

All that is needed is that we put ourselves in his hands. That he fashioned Adam out of a lump of clay may be a fact or a poetic description. What he can and will make out of me is a saint, a citizen of the kingdom of eternal happiness if only I will let him. May God give me the sense and the grace to do just that, so that when I close my eyes in death, I shall see God and become one of the millions of saints whose feast I am honoring today. So be it.

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

BENEDICTUS

The great feasts that structure the year of faith are feasts of Christ and precisely as such are ordered toward the one God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush and chose Israel as the confessor of faith in his uniqueness. In addition to the sun, which is the image of Christ, there is the moon, which has no light of its own but shines with a brightness that comes from the sun. This is a sign to us that we men are in constant need of a “little” light, whose hidden light helps us to know and love the light of the Creator, God one and triune. That is why the feasts of the saints from earliest times have formed part of the Christian year. We have already encountered Mary, whose person is so closely interwoven with the mystery of Christ that the development of the Christmas cycle inevitably introduced a Marian note into the Church’s year. The Marina dimension of the christological feasts was made visible. Then, in addition, come the commemorations of the Apostles and martyrs and, finally, the memorials of the saints of every century. One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light, which we cannot comprehend in the refulgence of its glory.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God,

your saints are one with you

in the mystical body of Christ:

give us grace to follow them

in all virtue and holiness

until we come to those inexpressible joys

which you have prepared for those

who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God now and for ever.

Amen.

 

 

Posted in Catholic

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

PubPhar.jpg

‘for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

OPENING PRAYER

Humility Prayer – For A Change In Me

Dear Lord, I am coming to realize how dangerous pride is in the life of a believer and how important true, godly humility is to the heart of God.

I read in Your word that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall and I begin to see the devastating and destructive nature of pride and the true blessing that comes from a heart that is humble and contrite in spirit.

Keep me from falling prey to the many temptations that pride seems to scatter in my path, where I want to be the center of attention and desire to receive all the acclaim, the glory, that rightly belongs to You.

Teach me Your ways and show me how I may clothe myself in godly humility toward one another, for Peter teaches that, “God opposes the proud but shows grace to the humble. Thank You for opening up Your Word to me and helping me to see the beautiful truth about humility – and I ask that You would work a good work in my life day by day, until I am more like Christ and less like me, in Jesus name I pray,   Amen

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

increase our faith, hope and charity,

and make us love what you command,

so that we may merit what you promise.

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

as-panto.jpg

Sir 35:12-14, 16-18

The LORD is a God of justice,

who knows no favorites.

Though not unduly partial toward the weak,

yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.

The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,

nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.

The one who serves God willingly is heard;

his petition reaches the heavens.

The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;

it does not rest till it reaches its goal,

nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds,

judges justly and affirms the right,

and the Lord will not delay.

APPLICATION

This wise and pious Jewish writer of the second century B.C. had some very instructive advice for his contemporaries on the qualities which prayers of petition should possess. His advice is still of great value for all of us. While there were truly pious Jews whose prayers were acts of adoration of God, praise for his infinite goodness and mercy and thanksgiving for his manifold gifts to men, the vast majority turned to God only when they needed some temporal favor.

Sirach reminds such people that God is a God of justice, that is, that he will give to each according to his merits. Unlike earthly judges or rulers, he will not be bribed. He will have no favorites. The man who has ignored or forgotten him while all his temporal affairs were prospering, cannot and should not expect a divine intervention when adverse fortune hits him. Nor will he depart from this strict justice even though the petitioner is weak (in health or worldly possessions) through his own fault. But where the petitioner is in dire need because of circumstances beyond his control, as is the case of the oppressed, the orphan and the widow, God will come to his aid.

The prayer of the humble man whose purpose in life is to serve God in all his goings and comings, in all his day’s work, will always be heard. His prayer will “pierce the clouds and reach heaven.” For “God judges justly and affirms the right.” The prayer of the true lover of God, of the truly humble servant of his Lord, will be that God’s will may be always done, even if, as may be, that will of God entails earthly sufferings or trials for himself.

In the light of what this inspired man of God has told us today, we would do well, all of us, to have another look at our life of prayer, or at what part prayer plays in our life. For far too many of us, prayer means asking God for something when we are in need. The more important parts of prayer, adoration, praise and thanksgiving, are almost, if not entirely, forgotten. How many people who would claim to be good Christians, say “thank you, God, for giving me another day,” when they wake up in the morning? How many of us show our gratitude for having health, for having enough to eat, for having a roof over our heads? As long as their earthly life runs along smoothly, and while they have good health and a reasonably comfortable life, God is forgotten by many.

When misfortune strikes, however, they suddenly remember that there is a God who is omnipotent. He can and he should come to their aid immediately, they think. Should he? The Just God judges justly. He gives to each according to his merit. If I have forgotten God, except for the casual attendance at Sunday Mass to avoid mortal sin, all through my years of prosperity, can I in all decency expect him to take notice now of me when something goes wrong?

Do you mean then, that we must be always praying to God! That is all right for nuns or monks who have nothing else to do! We have the cares of the world to attend to, we need relaxation and recreation after our hard day’s work. Your answer is in today’s lesson: “he who serves God willingly is heard.” Your day’s work, if offered for the honor and glory of God and your day’s recreation as well, are prayers pleasing in the sight of God. God never intends us to spend our days on our knees. He intends us to be up and doing, earning our daily bread honestly but joyfully, for each day’s work performed in justice and with the intention of doing our duty, thereby honoring God, is a day nearer to heaven.

Those who act in this simple but at the same time sublimely Christian way can approach God with the utmost confidence, if and when the trials they meet in life seem beyond their strength. Their prayers will “pierce the clouds and reach heaven” and when they receive their answer, they will quickly return to say a sincere “thank you” to their just and loving Father who is in heaven.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

stanthonydet.jpg

Ps 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall be ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the LORD;

the lowly will hear me and be glad.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

The LORD confronts the evildoers,

to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.

When the just cry out, the Lord hears them,

and from all their distress he rescues them.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;

no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

READING II

monk-crucified010.jpg

2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18

Beloved:

I am already being poured out like a libation,

and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have competed well; I have finished the race;

I have kept the faith.

From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,

which the Lord, the just judge,

will award to me on that day, and not only to me,

but to all who have longed for his appearance.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,

but everyone deserted me.

May it not be held against them!

But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,

so that through me the proclamation might be completed

and all the Gentiles might hear it.

And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat

and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.

To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.1 Spiritual progress entails the ascetics and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.2

1 Cf. 2 Tim 4.

2 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. in Cant. 8: PG 44, 941C.

APPLICATION

What a wonderful thing, what a source of courage and consolation it would be for us, if we could, like St. Paul, say on our death-beds: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”! There are few followers of Christ in the history of the Christian Church who did, and suffered for the faith of Christ, what Paul did and suffered. He was exceptional even among exceptional saints. Then of course, his was an exceptional vocation. The Risen Christ appeared to him while he was on his way to persecute and arrest the Christians of Damascus, having already done great damage to the infant Church in Jerusalem. That appearance, and the words of Christ, turned a fanatical adversary of the faith into an ardent Apostle of Christ. He devoted every moment of his remaining thirty years to bringing the knowledge of Christ and the good news of the Incarnation, that act of infinite love of God for men, to the Gentile world.

We cannot and we should not hope to imitate him in death, as we did not, nor were we called on, to imitate him in life. That, however, does not mean that each one of us could not repeat his words of courage and confidence on our very ordinary death-beds. There are outstanding saints in heaven, and it will be part of our eternal happiness to meet them and admire them, or maybe rather to admire the omnipotent God who was able to make such saints of them. Let us never forget that there are, please God, millions of ordinary saints in heaven, men and women like ourselves, who were not called on to do anything very extraordinary here below, but who lived the ordinary Christian life well. That last word “well” is the secret of their success.

These citizens of heaven have got there through the grace of God and through living their hum-drum daily Christian lives as God wished them to be lived. Because they lived each day as faithful Christians, keeping the laws of God, accepting the rough with the smooth, measuring their daily actions with the yard-stick of eternity, they could (on the day or night that God decided to call them to himself) say with St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” With that same assurance as St. Paul, they could expect the reward which the just judge had in store for them.

Most of us have the wrong idea of what a saint is. We hear only of men and women who lived lives of severe mortifications, men and women who were completely detached from all that this world has, who never seemed to have any earthly interests or joys. There were some such people and they are now in heaven. But they are a tiny minority. Heaven is for the Toms, Dicks, and Harry’s, as well as for the Paul’s, Patrick’s and Teresa’s. If not, Christ and Christianity would be sad failures!

No, heaven is for all of us. Getting there is much easier than what our pious literature would suggest. Judging by the legends that hagiographers collected or invented most of their saints were born not made. The facts are otherwise. These men and women became saints because they lived Christian, but at the same time, human lives. They did not spend their days gazing heavenwards, with hands joined in prayer. They did an honest day’s work, and earned their livelihood. They were not always weeping and bemoaning the sins of the world and their own. They were instead full of joy and were the most cheery of companions. The great reformer of the Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila, who lived a strict life of poverty and personal mortification, is said to have uttered the prayer: “May God protect me from sour-faced saints!”

Granted that heaven is for all of us and granted that most of us are not called on to do anything extraordinary in life, we are called on to live our very ordinary day in a Christian manner. Each ordinary day that we offer to God, and live for him, as well as for our own earthly necessities, brings us a day nearer to the death-bed on which we can truly say with St. Paul : “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” The rest I can safely leave to the good and just God.

GOSPEL

telwnis_farisaios.jpg

Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable

to those who were convinced of their own righteousness

and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;

one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,

‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —

greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance

and would not even raise his eyes to heaven

but beat his breast and prayed,

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;

for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,

and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102316.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.1 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”2 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.3

CCC 2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”4 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?5 He who humbles himself will be exalted;6 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”7 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”8

CCC 2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:

– The first, “the importunate friend,”9 invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.

– The second, “the importunate widow,”10 is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

– The third parable, “the Pharisee and the tax collector,”11 concerns the humility of the heart that prays. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie Ellison!

CCC 2631 The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”12 It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that “we receive from him whatever we ask.”13 Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.

CCC 2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.14 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.15 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”16 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.17

1 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

2 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.

3 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.

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

5 Ps 130:1.

6 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

7 Rom 8:26.

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

9 Cf. Lk 11:5-13.

10 Cf. Lk 18:1-8.

11 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

12 Lk 18:13.

13 1 Jn 3:22; cf. 1:7-2:2.

14 Cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.

15 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

16 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

17 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

During his hidden life in Nazareth, and especially during his public life when he traveled through the towns and villages of Palestine, our Lord met sinners of all kinds. There is not a single record of a harsh word spoken by him to any of them. In fact, he was accused of mixing too freely with them. His answer was that “it was those who were ill who needed a doctor, not those, who were in good health.” The sinners he met knew that they were ill. They regretted their sins. He forgave them.

There was one group, however, and only one, against whom he uttered condemnation and for whom he foretold an unhappy ending. These were the Pharisees. In Mt. 23, the whole chapter is devoted to Christ’s condemnation of them. It contains eight “woes” which he utters against them. He calls them by many unflattering names. One was “whited sepulchers, appearing beautiful to men on the outside but full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness within” (23:27). Such harshness, coming from the gentle Christ, may surprise us, but knowing as he did that pride, the first and basic sin of mankind and the root of all other evil in the world, was so ingrained in their very hearts, that they could never seek forgiveness, he stated nothing but the truth concerning them or to them.

In this parable which he addressed to the Pharisees themselves, he tells them once more where their pride will lead them. They will be excluded from the kingdom of God, because they will not admit or repent of their pride and their lack of charity. Instead of thanking God for the many gifts he had given them, they almost demanded thanks from God for being such pious people. They had virtues. They avoided serious injustices. They did not commit adultery. They fasted often. They paid all their Temple dues, but it was all done, not for the honor and glory of God, but for their own honor and glory. They told the world about it. They demanded the first places in the synagogs, and special marks of reverence on the streets. They had to be called “masters” as they claimed to represent and interpret Moses to the ordinary people.

One thing that we can learn from this sad story of the Pharisees is that, while God approves of no sin, his mercy and his forgiveness is available for all sinners except the proud. It isn’t that God cannot or will not forgive the sin of pride but that the proud man will not ask for God’s forgiveness.

We must all be on our guard against this insidious and destructive vice. It is insidious because it can grow in us almost without our knowing it, and once it has taken root it is difficult to eradicate. It is destructive because it spoils every other virtue we practice and every good work we do. Charity, or brotherly love, cannot flourish in a proud heart, for a proud heart is so full of self that it has no room for others. No true love of God can exist in a proud heart, for even the very acts of religion which a proud man performs, are done for the motive of self-glory and not for the glory of God. The Pharisee in this parable proves that fact. He boasted of his good works.

A few simple straight questions can tell us whether or not we are proud. Do we like others to see and hear of our good works, or do we prefer to do them in secret? Do we give as generously to charitable causes when no list of benefactors is published? Do we willingly take part among the rank and file in parish activities or do we feel offended if we are not the leaders? Do we criticize offhand those who are not all they should be, or do we thank God that we were saved from similar temptations? Do we always try to find an excuse for the failings of others or have we excuses for our own faults only? God forbid that anyone in this congregation should be suffering from this, the worst of all vices. If anyone recognizes that he is, let him pray to God from the bottom of his heart for the opposite virtue, the true Christian virtue of humility, and look for every possible occasion to practice it. Let us all remember the two men praying in the Temple. One was full of himself and boasted to God and to all present, of his many good works. The Other just humbly beat his breast and asked for mercy–he had nothing to boast of. Yet, he left the Temple forgiven, the other returned home a worse sinner than when he had entered the temple.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Saints as Constellations

The great feasts that structure the year of faith are feasts of Christ and precisely as such are ordered toward the one God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush and chose Israel as the confessor of faith in his uniqueness. In addition to the sun, which is the image of Christ, there is the moon, which has no light of its own but shines with the brightness that comes from the sun. This is a sign to us that we men are in constant need of a “little” light, whose hidden light helps us to know and love the light of the Creator, God one and triune. That is why the feasts of the saints from earliest times have formed part of the Christian year. We have already encountered Mary, whose person is so closely interwoven with the mystery of Christ that the development of the Christmas cycle inevitably introduced a Marian note into the Church’s year. The Marian dimension of the Christological feasts was made visible. Then, in addition, come the communion of the Apostles and martyrs and, finally, the memorials of the saints of every century. One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light, which we cannot comprehend in the refulgence of its glory.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Saint Augustine of Hippo

Lord Jesus, Let Me Know Myself

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You,

And desire nothing save only You.

Let me hate myself and love You.

Let me do everything for the sake of You.

Let me humble myself and exalt You.

Let me think of nothing except You.

Let me die to myself and live in You.

Let me accept whatever happens as from You.

Let me banish self and follow You,

And ever desire to follow You.

Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,

That I may deserve to be defended by You.

Let me fear for myself, let me fear You,

And let me be among those who are chosen by You.

Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.

Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.

Let me cling to nothing save only to You,

And let me be poor because of You.

Look upon me, that I may love You.

Call me that I may see You,

And for ever enjoy You.

Amen.

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

Twenty – Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

8dcbd689293929142de2e2d55e751e03.jpg

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

OPENING PRAYER

kr-xAeBRRdrbPdrtYmERQJQ_uQPEeIb10ralQT5KaC7e9hPXlek4mPWTPn0AB60p0aNl5_WQJ4aBfbe1D0mzyPC1nyCpWqdyY7QszwAv3DpVCdEPlbp7u-qM3DMhQu2QjEe3ol_U0-DA1L9miA=s0-d-e1-ft.jpg

Prayer of St. Michael From The Liturgy of St. James

O most glorious Prince, Michael the Archangel, be mindful of us, here and everywhere: pray always unto the Son of God for us, Alleluia, Alleluia.

In the sight of Angels I will sing to Thee, O God.

I will worship facing Thy holy temple and confess Thy name.

O God, who in a marvelous order hast established the ministries of angels and of men, mercifully grant that as Thy holy Angels ever do Thee service in heaven, so at all times they may succor us here upon earth.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

grant that we may always conform our will to yours

and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.

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

Prophet+Moses+with+Aaron+&+Or.jpg

Ex 17:8-13

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.

Moses, therefore, said to Joshua,

“Pick out certain men,

and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle.

I will be standing on top of the hill

with the staff of God in my hand.”

So Joshua did as Moses told him:

he engaged Amalek in battle

after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.

As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,

Israel had the better of the fight,

but when he let his hands rest,

Amalek had the better of the fight.

Moses’ hands, however, grew tired;

so they put a rock in place for him to sit on.

Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,

one on one side and one on the other,

so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people

with the edge of the sword.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,1 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.2 But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses “stands in the breach” before God in order to save the people.3 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 34:6.

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

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

APPLICATION

The lesson from this incident in the history of Israel is evident. Although it happened about thirty-two centuries ago it is as true today as it was then, for neither God nor human nature has changed in the meantime. The lesson is that God wants us to pray for the very gifts which he wants to give us. He is ready to give them to us. He certainly didn’t want Amalek to prevent his Chosen People from getting to Canaan, the land he had promised them. Amalek was resisting by force of arms. Israel must overcome him by force of arms. But as their fighting force was much smaller, he willed to give them extra strength on condition that they ask him for it. Moses represented the Israelites. He was their intermediary with God. When he prayed, Israel prayed. While he prayed all went well with Israel’s fighting men.

Some wiseacre may object: if God willed they would reach Canaan, which he definitely did, why should they have to ask him for help whenever there were obstacles to overcome? The reason was that he was still training them. They had to learn that all that they were and all that they had, they owed to him. He was not only their Creator and Lord, but he was their Benefactor as well. They must learn to appreciate this and they must therefore turn to him in all their needs. Whenever they did this, all through their history, God befriended them; he answered their prayers. Whenever they forgot this lesson, or refused to see its meaning, and trusted in their own strength and wisdom instead, they fared badly.

As we said above, God has not changed and we humans have not changed. We too need to learn this lesson and its full meaning. God wants all of us in heaven, the eternal home he has promised us, and he is willing and glad to help us on the way. He wants us to ask him for this help, not for any personal gain for him, but for our own personal advantage. He wants us to remember always, that he is our Creator, Lord and Benefactor. We show our recognition and our appreciation of all he is and has done for us every time we pray to him. For every prayer, even of petition, is a recognition of our relationship with God.

He was a Benefactor and a Savior of the Israelites all through their history, but what he did for them was but a pale shadow of all he has done and is doing for us Christians. He gave them Moses to lead them into the promised land of Canaan. He has given us Christ, his only begotten Son, to lead us to heaven. He gave them Moses as their mediator to intercede for them. He gave us Christ, who is seated at his right hand in heaven, continually presenting our adorations and petitions to him. Moses’ outstretched arms won the battle against Amalek and other enemies of the Israelites. The outstretched arms of Christ on the cross won for us, once and for all, the battle against death and evil.

Some of the Israelites whom he led out of Egypt and helped on the way, forgot him and offended him. They did not reach the Promised Land, notwithstanding Moses’ intercession for them. So too, will there be Christians who will fail to reach the promised heaven he has prepared for them, notwithstanding the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross on their behalf. But any Christian who prays frequently will not be among that number. For even if we offend him through human weakness, if we have the humility to turn to him and ask his pardon, he will forgive. The sinner who prays cannot remain long a sinner, the saint who gives up prayer will not remain a saint for very long.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Guardian_Angel_with_Girl.jpg

Ps 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth

I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;

whence shall help come to me?

My help is from the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

May he not suffer your foot to slip;

may he slumber not who guards you:

indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,

the guardian of Israel.

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;

he is beside you at your right hand.

The sun shall not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The LORD will guard you from all evil;

he will guard your life.

The LORD will guard your coming and your going,

both now and forever.

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

READING II

st-paul-icon-700px-967x1024

2 Tm 3:14-4:2

Beloved:

Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,

because you know from whom you learned it,

and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,

which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation

through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God

and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,

and for training in righteousness,

so that one who belongs to God may be competent,

equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,

who will judge the living and the dead,

and by his appearing and his kingly power:

proclaim the word;

be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;

convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

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 1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.”3

The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.4

1 DV 11.

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

3 1 Tim 5; cf. 8:9; 2 Tim 3; 1 Pet 3:21; Acts 24:16.

4 GS 16.

APPLICATION

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the vault of heaven reveals his handiwork” say the psalmist (Ps. 19: 1). A true saying surely. Any thinking man who observes this universe with its unity in diversity, with its multiplicity of being, their constitutional laws written in their very nature, and none having an internal explanation for its own existence must rationally conclude that some supremely intelligent and supremely powerful Being brought this universe into existence. St. Paul, following the author of the book of Wisdom (13: 1-9). says that the pagans are inexcusable when they claim ignorance of the true God, for “ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and deity—however invisible—have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made” (Rom. 1: 18-32).

God has made himself known to man therefore through his creatures–“the work of his hands.” He knew the weakness and the narrow outlook of man who frequently fails to raise himself above the things of earth. Furthermore, he had planned for man’s elevation to a supernatural status. And so he chose Abraham to be the ancestor of the One who would elevate man. A much more detailed knowledge of himself was given to Abraham and his descendants in God’s dealings with them and in his special revelations to them. He saw to it that this detailed knowledge would be preserved and guaranteed for all time by making himself the co-author of the sacred books of scripture.

It is of this act of generosity and love toward us on the part of God, that St. Paul reminds Timothy in the verses we have read today. We could and should recognize God–a supreme, omnipotent, omniscient Being–as our Creator to whom we should give honor and thanks. And by so doing, we could reach the destiny which God has planned for us from all eternity, as many pagans have done and will do. But this kind of relationship with a Creator, to whom we owed everything, would be a rather cold and legalistic one, that of slave to Master, when compared with the warm relationship of children to their loving father, which his special revelation has brought to our knowledge.

The Old Testament sacred books, to which St. Paul is referring today, show us God as a Father of infinite love, of infinite generosity, of infinite patience with stubborn, ungrateful children. He made the descendants of Abraham his special Chosen People. He gave them innumerable temporal blessings. He was a true Father to them all through their history, even though they were often unruly and ungrateful children. He did all of this in order to prepare the way for the advent of his divine Son in human nature. He became one of us by his Incarnation and thus raised us up to the status of brothers of his and therefore, sons of God.

This was the divine plan before creation began. God saw to it that the record of its period of preparation would be preserved forever in the books of the Old Testament. The story of the fulfillment would be preserved in the New. He moved the will of the human authors of these books to write them. He enlightened and assisted their intellects in the collection and arrangement of the material. He saw to it, by his special assistance, that what they wrote was the truth and nothing but the truth. This was the teaching of the Jewish authorities. It has been the teaching of the Christian Church down through the centuries. We have sacred books whose co-Author is none other than God himself. In these sacred books we can get a knowledge of God which surpasses any and all the conclusions which our human intellects could deduce from the work of his hands, which we see about us in creation.

While the knowledge of God, which our human intellects could and should discover, was true and valuable for salvation, the knowledge of him which we get from his inspired books is much more intimate and more detailed. We, know that he is a Father who loves us. He sent his Son to become one of us. That Son represented us and by his perfect obedience “even unto the death on the cross,” he obtained for us pardon for all our acts of disobedience. By sharing in our humanity he earned for us a share in the divinity. By dying he saved us from eternal death. By his resurrection he became the first-fruits of the return of all men from their graves, to live forever in the future world.

This is what our Bible contains–the history of God’s intimate relations with man and the facts concerning his eternal plans for our everlasting happiness. No wonder it has been called “the greatest story ever told.” No wonder it has and will always be a “best-seller.” Other books are useful, they help us in one way or another to earn a livelihood, and make our way through this life. This Bible is essential. It helps us to get to know God and his loving plans for us. It enables us (coupled with the other aids which Christ has left to his Church) to fulfill our real purpose in life, and to reach the reward prepared so lovingly for us after our death.

GOSPEL

6549143973ffe453add2f5f749d08ab8.jpg

Lk 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always

without becoming weary.  He said, “There was a judge in a certain town

who neither feared God nor respected any human being.

And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,

‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’

For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,

‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,

because this widow keeps bothering me

I shall deliver a just decision for her

lest she finally come and strike me.'”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones

who call out to him day and night?

Will he be slow to answer them?

I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.

But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.1 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth2 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.3

CCC 2098 The acts of faith, hope, and charity enjoined by the first commandment are accomplished in prayer. Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our adoration of God: prayer of praise and thanksgiving, intercession and petition. Prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God’s commandments. “[We] ought always to pray and not lose heart.”4

CCC 2573 God renews his promise to Jacob, the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel.5 Before confronting his elder brother Esau, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious figure who refuses to reveal his name, but he blesses him before leaving him at dawn. From this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance.6

CCC 2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:

– The first, “the importunate friend,”7 invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.

– The second, “the importunate widow,”8 is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

– The third parable, “the Pharisee and the tax collector,”9 concerns the humility of the heart that prays. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

1 Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12.

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

3 Cf. 2 Th 2:4-12; I Th 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; I Jn 2:1 8, 22.

4 Lk 18:1.

5 Cf. Gen 28:10-22.

6 Cf. Gen 32:24-30; Lk 18:1-8.

7 Cf. Lk 11:5-13.

8 Cf. Lk 18:1-8.

9 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

APPLICATION

There are many devout Christians who are deeply puzzled by what they think is God’s indifference to their fervent pleas for spiritual favors, which to them appear essential in their journey heavenwards. These people would readily admit that God has good reasons for not granting temporal favors–they might not be for their eternal good. Why refuse or delay granting their spiritual needs? The man or woman who has dedicated his or her life exclusively to the service of God still suffers from human weaknesses. He or she is attracted to worldly things, is finding humility and obedience very difficult, suffers from dryness in prayer or worse still is scrupulous to a degree that makes the religious life almost unbearable. Such people could work so much better for God and for their neighbor if only God would remove these weaknesses which, in fact, he could so easily do. .

Or again, why should whole nations of devout Christians suffer persecution from atheistic tyrants? See their children brought up deprived of the right to practice their faith, or, worse still, taught to despise it? Surely God should answer the prayers of these good people and the fervent prayers of millions of their fellow-Christians on their behalf …

These and many similar questionings arise in our minds because our limited, human intellects can see but one small section of the immense tapestry which God is weaving for the human race. We would all like immediate results in our own tiny comer of that tapestry while the all-wise God is occupied with the whole picture. He is not forgetting us either. If he delays in answering our urgent appeals, we can be certain that the reason is not that he wants to punish us, but rather to help us. There are many saints in heaven who would perhaps never have become saints if God had not allowed them to struggle on longer than they would have wished, against trials and difficulties–spiritual as well as physical.

Our divine Lord teaches us, in this parable, the need for perseverance in prayer. This perseverance develops our trust and confidence in God. It helps us to become humble and to realize how weak we are when left to ourselves. It keeps us close to God, as we learn how dependent we are on his generosity. If we only would realize that God is perhaps never closer to us than when we think he is forgetting us! The trials of life, spiritual or temporal, which he allows us to suffer are not obstacles to our spiritual progress but rather step-ping-stones without which we could not cross the rivers of life at all.

God wants every one of us in heaven but just as no two men on earth have the same identical features, so also no two men on earth have the same road to lead them to heaven. God is supervising the journey of each one of us. He is ever there to help if the obstacle on one’s road is insurmountable. We may and we must, keep asking God for the spiritual and temporal favors which we feel we need. We must never grow despondent or feel that God has lost interest in us, if he delays in granting these favors. When we shall look back on our earthly journey from the happy vantage point of heaven, we shall see how effectively and how lovingly God regulated our journey. When he did not grant a certain favor it was because he had a much more important one to give us, one we did not ask for or even realize we needed.

“Ask and you shall receive,” not perhaps what you wanted, but what God knew you needed. “Seek and you shall find,” not the easy way which you thought you deserved, but the harder way which would make you more deserving of heaven. “Knock and it shall be opened unto you,” not the door you were standing at, which would have delayed or endangered your progress, but the door further down the street where refreshment and new courage to continue on your upward climb were awaiting you.

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

BENEDICTUS

Christianity as Revelation

We can say of the Christian faith, in line with the faith of Abraham, that no one simply finds it there as his possession. It never comes out of what we have ourselves. It breaks in from outside. That is still always the way. Nobody is born a Christian, not even in a Christian world and of Christian parents. Being Christian can only ever happen as a new birth. Being a Christian begins with Baptism, which is death and Resurrection (Rom ^), not with biological birth… The Christian faith is not the product of our experiences; rather, it is an event that comes to us from without. Faith is based on our meeting something (or someone) for which our capacity for experiencing things is inadequate. IT is not our experience that is widened or deepened… but something happens. The categories of “encounter,” “otherness;” “event,” describe the inner origins of the Christian faith and indicate the limitations of the concept of “experience.” Certainly, what touches us there effects an experience in us, but experience as the result of an event, not of reaching deeper into ourselves. This is exactly what is meant by the concept of revelation: something not ours, not to be found in what we have, comes to me and takes me out of myself, above myself, creates something new. That also determines the historical nature of Christianity, which is based on events and not on becoming aware of the depths of one’s own inner self, what is called “illumination.” The Trinity is not the object of our experience but is something that has to be uttered from outside, that comes to me from outside as “revelation.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

ten-lepers-icon.jpg

‘Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for God’s Guidance

Father in Heaven, You made me Your child and called me to walk in the Light of Christ. Free me from darkness and keep me in the Light of Your Truth. The Light of Jesus has scattered the darkness of hatred and sin. Called to that Light, I ask for Your guidance. Form my life in Your Truth, my heart in Your Love. Through the Holy Eucharist, give me the power of Your Grace that I may walk in the Light of Jesus and serve Him faithfully.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=712

COLLECT

May your grace, O Lord, we pray,

at all times go before us and follow after

and make us always determined

to carry out good works.

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

Enamel_plaque_Naaman_BM1-2.jpg

2 Kgs 5:14-17

Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times

at the word of Elisha, the man of God.

His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child,

and he was clean of his leprosy.

Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.

On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said,

“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,

except in Israel.

Please accept a gift from your servant.”

Elisha replied, “As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;”

and despite Naaman’s urging, he still refused.

Naaman said: “If you will not accept,

please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth,

for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice

to any other god except to the LORD.”

APPLICATION

God miraculously cured Naaman of his leprosy, through the instrumentality of his prophet Elisha. This might seem strange to us, for this man was a pagan who adored false gods and came from a pagan land. That he would work miracles on behalf of his Chosen People, the children of Abraham, in the land of Canaan which he gave to them, we can easily understand. But why this favor for one who did not even know him or respect him?

God was the God of all peoples and all nations. He created them and he had planned heaven for them all. If he chose a certain people from among the nations of the world it does not mean that he had no interest in the others. If he revealed himself more fully and took a more active interest in the descendants of Abraham, he did this so that the salvation he had planned for all mankind, would come in due time to them all, as well as to his Chosen People.

In the meantime the pagan peoples who did not know the true God were able to honor him in their own way. If they followed their consciences and kept their local customs and practices, even though these customs included giving honor to idols, man-made gods, he could and did tolerate this error and read into their false worship their human intent to give honor to their Master, and true God.

The Chosen People had been given greater gifts, but God judged the pagan nations according to the gifts which he had given them. He judged the Jews according to the greater gifts he had given them. Both Jews and pagans were raised to the status of adopted sons of God, when the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God, took place. Its effects were retroactive. Heaven was opened for all mankind on the resurrection day and those who had acted in conformity with their knowledge and their consciences, whether Jews or pagans, were admitted to God’s eternal mansions.

Does this mean that we need not or should not bring Christ’s message to those still living in paganism, whether they are in pagan lands or in lands which were once Christian? By no means. Firstly, because we have a command from Christ to preach his Gospel to all peoples and secondly, true love for God which any sincere Christian must have, should make him do all in his power to get all God’s children to know him and to love him.

Though the pagan can get assistance or grace directly from God if he is striving to live according to his lights, we who are Christians, and have the wonderful sources of grace which Christ left to his Church at our disposal, often find difficulty in living an upright life. How much more difficult for those poor people who have not the knowledge of God’s infinite love for man, or of the mystery of the Incarnation, and who have not the sacraments to assist them?

The Christian’s journey to heaven may be compared to that of a man who goes by train from New York to San Francisco. He has some restrictions placed on his freedom. He cannot get out and tarry at some town on the way. His night’s sleep may be disturbed by the shakings and rumblings of the speeding train. He has to be content with the food served by the dining car service. He has to associate with and put up with the talk and manners of his fellow-passengers. He is anxious above all, to get safely to San Francisco and if so he will count these difficulties as of very minor importance. The pagan’s journey is like the man who has to make the same journey on foot. He will get to San Francisco if he perseveres. He will get help on the way, but the going is hard. He can stop where he likes, he can avoid unpleasant company but nevertheless it will be a tiring and a trying journey. He would certainly be grateful to the true friend who would buy him a ticket so that he too could go by rail.

This we can do, and there are numerous ways open to us in which we can help our fellowman, still ignorant of God and of Christ. We can help to get them to know about God and about his plan for their eternal happiness. While staying on our train to heaven and while thanking God that he gave us our rail-ticket, let us help those who will otherwise have to make the journey on foot, if they are able. We can do so by example, by prayer and, if possible by alms.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

DSC_0110.JPG

Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done wondrous deeds;

his right hand has won victory for him,

his holy arm.

The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

The LORD has made his salvation known:

in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness

toward the house of Israel.

The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation by our God.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands:

break into song; sing praise.

READING II

8eecbccd9c0ecdbea0c2c850eb386bab-1.jpg

2 Tm 2:8-13

Beloved:

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:

such is my gospel, for which I am suffering,

even to the point of chains, like a criminal.

But the word of God is not chained.

Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,

so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,

together with eternal glory.

This saying is trustworthy:

If we have died with him

we shall also live with him;

if we persevere

we shall also reign with him.

But if we deny him

he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful

he remains faithful,

for he cannot deny himself.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”1 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.2 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.3

CCC 1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”4 “The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.”5 What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already “died with Christ” sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this “dying with Christ” and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:

It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek – who died for us. Him it is I desire – who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth. .. Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.6

CCC 1499 “By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.”7

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”8 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.9 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.10

1 Lk 2:11.

2 Jn 10:36; cf. Lk 1:35.

3 Mt 1:20; cf. 1:16; Rom 1:1; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16.

4 Phil 1:21.

5 2 Tim 2:11.

6 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,217-220.

7 LG 11; cf. Jas 5:14-16; Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Pet 4:13.

8 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.

9 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.

10 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.

APPLICATION

Timothy, a faithful follower of Christ and of his teacher, St. Paul, and a man who spent his life preaching the Christian faith, and finally gave his life for it. If he needed reminding of the essence of Christianity, how much more do we Christians of the twentieth century need this reminder. We too have died and risen to a new life with Christ in our baptism. In parenthesis. I hope the Church will bring back baptism by total immersion, it expressed so vividly the death of the natural man in imitation of Christ’s death and burial, and the rising up from the grave to a new supernatural life in and with Christ. However, this is exactly what the baptism received by all and which made us Christians, members of Christ’s mystical body, signified and actuated in us. We were made new men, raised to the supernatural status of sons of God, and set on the road to heaven, the eternal heritage which the Incarnation won for US.

How often during the weeks, months, years of our lives do we really think seriously of what being a Christian means to us? How many mornings in our lives as we dress and prepare for another day’s work do we remember that the coming twenty-four hours are bringing us another day nearer to our final examination on which all our eternity depends? It is not the work we do that makes any difference. It is the right intention with which we approach it and the honesty with which we carry it out.

The monk who from his vocation gives his day to prayer and spiritual exercises, but who gives it grudgingly and completely forgetting God who has registered twenty-four hours on the debit page of his life’s record. The bricklayer who had barely time to make a short morning offering, but who made it, and honestly spent his day laying one monotonous brick on another, doing so for the honor and glory of God, as part of his life’s task, has his twenty-four hours written in gold on his account book.

It is not our vocation in life, nor the occupation or place we hold in the society in which we live, that will assure or impede our success or failure in our final examination. It is the intention and the manner in which we carry out whatever role in life God has allotted to us. Shakespeare, a man of wisdom, says this world is a stage whereon each man must play his part. The success of any play depends on how each member of the cast plays his or her role. The little servant-maid who brings the coffee-tray to the queen or the star, and who does it properly with a true appreciation of her humble role, is as responsible for the play’s success as the queen or star may be.

We pass across the stage of this life only once. We have no rehearsals or no repeats. If we are sincere Christians, we know where we are going, we’ll go off the stage through the right door. God is infinitely merciful and pardons sins and mistakes again and again. The Christian who ignores the calls to repentance sent him so often in his lifetime, can hardly be surprised if he ignores the last and final call also, and finds himself unrepentant at God’s judgment seat.

Let us listen to the voice of God today. We have yet time to put things right, if up to now we have been neglectful in our duty as Christians. We died with Christ in baptism. We promised to live for and with him during our stay on this earth. He promised us a resurrection to an eternally happy life if we kept our word. Baptism has already put us on the right road to heaven. There are obstacles and difficulties scattered along that road but we are forewarned and therefore forearmed to face them. Paul, Timothy, Peter, Andrew and all the other thousands of saints who are today in heaven met the same obstacles which we have to meet and even greater ones. They were as human and as weak as we are. They won their battles–so can we. The same graces which God gave them he is only too glad to give us. All we need to do is to ask for them and then to use them.

Christ became man so that I could become a son of God. Christ died so that I might live eternally. Christ was raised from the dead and went to heaven to prepare a place for me there. I, too, shall rise from the dead and occupy that place which he has prepared for me, if I live my short life on earth as my Christian faith tells me I should live it.

GOSPEL

ten-lepers-icon

Lk 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,

he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.

As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.

They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”

And when he saw them, he said,

“Go show yourselves to the priests.”

As they were going they were cleansed.

And one of them, realizing he had been healed,

returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;

and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.

He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply,

“Ten were cleansed, were they not?

Where are the other nine?

Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;

your faith has saved you.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.1 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.2 Therefore his being put to bodily death3 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”4

1 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.

2 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.

3 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.

4 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.

APPLICATION

This incident of the ten lepers happened as our Lord was on his way to Jerusalem, where he was to die on the cross so that we could live eternally. The Church brings it before our minds today, not so much to remind us of the mercy and kindness of Jesus to all classes, even the outcasts, as lepers were, as to make us see and be amazed at the depths of ingratitude to which men can sink.

This is but one of many such examples of ingratitude that occurred during Christ’s public ministry, most of those he miraculously cured forget to thank him. In today’s incident there was one, and he was the one least expected to do so, who had the decency to return and thank his benefactor. This pleased our Lord and led him to remark on the ingratitude of the others. “Were not all ten made whole, where are the other nine?”

He was surprised and also sad for their sakes, not for his own. They missed greater graces through this lack of appreciation and gratitude.

All ten showed great faith and confidence in Jesus’ power to heal. They had not heard him preach nor had they seen any of his miracles. They lived in isolation camps, yet they believed the reports they had heard. They all were very obedient too. They set off for Jerusalem to carry out the command of Jesus, even though their leprosy had not yet left them.

In all of this it was their own self-interest which came first in the minds of the nine Jews. Once they found their leprosy gone all they thought of was their own good fortune. Their Benefactor was quickly forgotten. The Samaritan’s first thought, on the other hand, was of the one who had healed him. He was as delighted as the others with his cure but being generous and thoughtful for others, he felt it his bounden duty to return and thank the man who had done him this miraculous good turn.

While we are ashamed of our fellow-men who were so ungrateful, and who treated the loving Jesus so shamefully, let us see if we have improved very much in our way of acting towards our Savior. Those Jewish lepers did not know that he was the Son of God who assumed human nature, became man, in order to raise us up to a new supernatural status. He gave them the gift of physical health for thirty, forty, or maybe sixty years more. We know that he has come to give us an eternal life–a life that will last forever, a life free from all troubles and worries “where all tears will be wiped away and death shall be no more.”

With this knowledge then of what Christ means to us, of what his Incarnation has won for us, of the eternal freedom from all sickness and death which his human life, death and resurrection have put at our disposal, how can any real Christian ever cease thanking him, could there be such a being as an ungrateful Christian ever on earth?

Unfortunately, there is not only one such ungrateful being, but there are millions of them. How many of us here present are numbered amongst these ungrateful ones? There are those of us who think of God only when we are in difficulties. While things are going well, when there is no sickness in the home, when our business is prospering, when there is peace all around us, how many times in the week do we say “thank you, God, you are very good to me.” When trouble strikes it is a different matter. We rush to church, we implore God to have pity on us, we make novenas to our special saints. This is not wrong. What is wrong, however, is that we forgot to thank God all the time that he was giving us spiritual and temporal favors.

Think for a moment. If those nine ungrateful lepers were struck again with disease some months later and returned to implore Christ for a cure, would you blame him if he refused? Most of us would refuse. Yet we expect him to listen to our urgent pleas the minute we make them, while we have not given him a thought and never said one “thank you, Lord,” while things were going well with us.

We all need to be more grateful to God every day of our lives–more grateful than we have been. He has not only given us life on this earth with its joys and its sorrows, but he has prepared for us a future life where there will be no admixture of sorrows. It is for that life that we are working. It is because there is a heaven after death that we are Christians. God has already done his part in preparing this heaven for us. He is assisting us daily to get there. We need a lot of that assistance and one of the surest ways of getting further benefits from God (as well as from men) is to show true gratitude for the benefits already received.

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

BENEDICTUS

Making God Present in Society

We all ask ourselves what the Lord expects of us… There is a desire to reduce God to the private sphere, to a sentiment… As a result, everyone makes his or her own plan in life. But this vision, presented as though it were scientific, accepts as valid only what can be proven. With a God who is not available for immediate experimentation, this vision ends by also injuring society. The result is in fact that each one makes his own plan and in the end finds himself opposed to the other. As can be seen, this is definitely an unliveable situation. We must make God present again in our society. This is the first essential element: that God be once again present in our lives, that we do not live as though we were autonomous, authorized to invent what freedom and life are. We must realize that we are creatures, aware that there is a God who has created us and that living in accordance with his will is not dependence but a gift of love that makes us alive. Therefore, the first point is to know God, to know him better and better, to recognize that God is in my life, and that God has a place… The second point, therefore, is recognizing God who has shown us his face in Jesus, who suffered for us, who loved us to the point of dying, and thus overcame violence. It is necessary to make the living God present in our “own” lives first of all… a God only thought of, but a God who has shown himself, who has shown his being and his face. Only in this way do our lives become true, authentically human: hence, the criteria of true humanism emerge in society.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Praise to God (psalm 67)

O God, be gracious and bless us and let Your face shed its light upon us. So will Your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn Your saving help.

Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.

Let the nations be glad and exult for You rule the world with justice. With fairness You rule the peoples, You guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.

The earth has yielded its fruit for God, our God, has blessed us. May God still give us His blessing till the ends of the earth revere Him.

Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, Ordinary Time, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

vpn6nr_6ecduokz31kizwxcu-pgl5p9grtwjfdioxn5xn52xkua18av2svg44s7wkh8qghm1ugt75ytwzuzntprykjwkk9by5gky_wbavrwcc7jdhdfsakl1egcr8dlgwhiznlfw5-bzz18mvas0-d-e1-ft

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Respect of Life

Heavenly Father,

the beauty and dignity of human life

was the crowning of your creation.

You further ennobled that life

when your Son became one with us in his incarnation.

Help us to realize the sacredness of human life

and to respect it from the moment of conception

until the last moment at death.

Give us courage to speak with truth

and love and with conviction in defense of life.

Help us to extend the gentle hand of mercy and forgiveness

to those who do not reverence your gift of life.

To all, grant pardon for the times we have failed

to be grateful for your precious gift of life

or to respect it in others.

We ask this in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1664

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who in the abundance of your kindness

surpass the merits and the desires of those

who entreat you,

pour out your mercy upon us

to pardon what conscience dreads

and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

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

3f21f27ae27688f65ea9b45e46d5d1b2-2

Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help

but you do not listen!

I cry out to you, “Violence!”

but you do not intervene.

Why do you let me see ruin;

why must I look at misery?

Destruction and violence are before me;

there is strife, and clamorous discord.

Then the LORD answered me and said:

Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,

so that one can read it readily.

For the vision still has its time,

presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;

if it delays, wait for it,

it will surely come, it will not be late.

The rash one has no integrity;

but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

APPLICATION

There are many Christians who, like this prophet Habakkuk, want God quickly to punish sinners, especially those who unjustly oppress their fellowman or make life difficult for those who are trying to live honestly and uprightly. God told this prophet to be patient, that he would eventually put all things right; even if he seemed to be slow in reacting, his judgment was certain to come.

Now in the Old Testament times, when a future life was rarely thought of and all retribution was expected on this earth, there was some excuse for the impatience of the prophet. For a follower however of Christ, who came to save sinners, and wished not the death of any sinner but that all might be converted and live, there is no such excuse. Christ tells us expressly: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who maltreat you” (Lk. 6: 27). This is no doubt a difficult command for our weak human nature, but it comes from our Lord who himself set us the example. During his life on earth he dealt with and fraternized with sinners of all kinds. This was one of the “crimes” which the Pharisees accused him of. He met adulterers, murderers, robbers, backbiters, unjust employers and dishonest employees. Did he ever utter one harsh word against any of them? Most of those he healed were sinners. He frequently told them not to sin any more, but he did not refuse to heal them because of their past sins. The crowning act of forgiveness of enemies was on Calvary. As he hung on the cross to which his enemies had unjustly and cruelly nailed him, one of his last words was a prayer for those very enemies : “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

He was the all-innocent Son of God who had put himself to the humiliation of taking our human nature in order to give us a share in his divinity. He never did and never could injure anybody. “He went about doing good,” yet he bore the insults, the treachery, the thanklessness, the sacrilegious defamation of character when he was called a blasphemer. All these injuries he bore without even a murmur of complaint, although they were heaped on him by the very people whom he had come to save.

Is he asking too much of us then when he asks us to forgive our enemies? There are very few of us who are not guilty of having, at one time or another, offended God and our neighbor. We ourselves have often asked pardon of God and received it. Could we be so mean as not to forgive a neighbor who like ourselves has all the weaknesses of human nature? Worse still could we be so forgetful of our own eternal welfare as to refuse that pardon, for one condition on which we can get God’s pardon is that we first pardon our fellowman. When we pray the Our Father we say: “forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us.” What we are saying to God then if we do not forgive our neighbor is: “do not forgive us as we will not forgive our neighbor?” What a foolish, what a dreadful prayer to utter!

Life is hard enough for the vast majority of mankind. But keeping up enmities between members of the family, between neighbors, between nations adds a hundred per cent more hardship to our life on earth. Today, billions of dollars and pounds are being wasted, billions which could feed all the hungry of the earth. They are being wasted because nations insist on keeping up enmities instead of getting together as human, rational beings should do and admitting their faults (which are not all on one side), thus establishing a bond of friendship. While we can only use the influence we have, and we are bound to use it, to put an end to the scandal of national hatreds and distrust, let us begin at home to do what is entirely within our own power. Let us forgive all enemies and all injuries real or imaginary (they so often are imaginary), let us live in peace with all our neighbors and prove ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ on whose forgiveness our eternal salvation depends.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

the-samaritan-woman2

Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

READING II

st-timothy-icon-523

2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved:

I remind you, to stir into flame

the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice

but rather of power and love and self-control.

So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,

nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;

but bear your share of hardship for the gospel

with the strength that comes from God.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,

in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit

that dwells within us.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 84 The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),1 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.”2

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

she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”3 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;4

with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,5 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;6

she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:7

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..8

CCC 1202 The diverse liturgical traditions have arisen by very reason of the Church’s mission. Churches of the same geographical and cultural area came to celebrate the mystery of Christ through particular expressions characterized by the culture: in the tradition of the “deposit of faith,”9 in liturgical symbolism, in the organization of fraternal communion, in the theological understanding of the mysteries, and in various forms of holiness. Through the liturgical life of a local church, Christ, the light and salvation of all peoples, is made manifest to the particular people and culture to which that Church is sent and in which she is rooted. The Church is catholic, capable of integrating into her unity, while purifying them, all the authentic riches of cultures.10

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”11

CCC 1577 “Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination.”12 The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.13 The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.14

CCC 2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”15 The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.”16 In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”17

1 DV 10 § 1; cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12-14 (Vulg.).

2 DV 10 § 1; cf. Acts 2:42 (Greek); Pius XII, apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950:AAS 42 (1950), 756, taken along with the words of St. Cyprian, Epist. 66, 8:CSEL 3/2,733: “The Church is the people united to its Priests, the flock adhering to its Shepherd.”

3 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

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

5 Cf. Acts 2:42.

6 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

7 AG 5.

8 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

9 2 Tim 1:14 (Vulg.).

10 Cf. LG 23; UR 4.

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

12 CIC, can. 1024.

13 Cf. Mk 3:14-19; Lk 6:12-16; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 1:6; Titus 1:5-9; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42,4; 44,3:PG 1,292-293; 300.

14 Cf. John Paul II, MD 26-27; CDF, declaration, Inter insigniores: AAS 69 (1977) 98-116.

15 Jn 18:37.

16 2 Tim 1:8.

17 Acts 24:16.

APPLICATION

At the time that St. Paul wrote this letter he was expecting his execution at any moment. He knew not when or how it would come. But Paul is not thinking of himself, or of what fate awaits him; “he has fought the good fight, he has kept the faith,” he confidently leaves the rest to God. He is much more concerned with the spread of the Christian message and with its preservation in its pristine purity, than he is with his own personal affairs, hence this letter to Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, as well as another to Titus whom he had appointed Bishop of Crete. The theme of both letters is very similar. They consist of exhortations and encouragements to two somewhat young men, recently appointed to direct the Christian community in these important places.

They had many difficulties to contend with. The majority of the inhabitants in both places were still pagan, with a large sprinkling of Jews. These Jews were bitterly opposed to Christ and his Gospel, even more so than the pagans, and were often influential enough to stir up the pagan authorities against the Christians. Added to this was the difficulty that pagan converts met with from their families and neighbors who thought that the self-mortification for the sake of some future happiness, which to them seemed doubtful, was really the height of folly.

So these young bishops had need of their beloved teacher’s exhortations and advice. It was not given in vain. Within a generation of Paul’s martyrdom, the island of Crete and not only the city of Ephesus but almost all the surrounding districts, were predominantly Christian. Like Paul, his two disciples fought the good fight. They preserved and spread the faith. Nor did they count the cost. Like their teacher, tradition maintains that they both laid down their lives for the sake of Christ and are numbered among the saints in heaven.

To become a Christian in the first century was not exactly like becoming a member of the Retired Businessmen’s Club, or an honorary member of the Old Ladies’ Cultural Society. One had to be ready to face and bear with opposition from all sides. Giving up one’s long-practiced pagan vices was not easy, nor was excommunication from one’s family a trifling thing. Then, there was the continual threat of persecution, arrest and imprisonment on the flimsiest pretext. These persecutions often resulted in martyrdom. If, as Tertullian said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians,” it was no wonder that the number of Christians increased so rapidly. There was no shortage of the seed of martyrs’ blood during that first century.

Living the Christian faith in our twentieth century is not quite so dangerous or so difficult perhaps. But living it fully and sincerely can and does make serious demands on weak, human nature. The true Christian today has to face opposition which, while it is not so open and so evident, is all the more dangerous and insidious because of its secrecy and its clever camouflage. The man who thinks he has outgrown childish practice by lolling in bed when he ought to be attending Mass on Sunday morning, and who nags his wife all day for disturbing him when she got up to do her duty towards God, is no better than the pagan husband of Timothy’s day, who forcibly kept his Christian wife from attending her Christian meetings.

The scandal given by those who in their youth offered their lives to serve God and their neighbor, but who now in their mature years find plausible excuses to return to worldly pleasures and pursuits makes them little different from the Judaizers who troubled and seriously disturbed the faith of the Gentile converts. The emphasis on sex and the right of the individual to do as he pleases is nothing less than neo-paganism, which, not content with claiming license for its own devotees, wants everyone else to join its ranks.

The corruption and bribery that is rife in political life and in big business in most countries makes it extremely difficult for a Christian who believes that the seventh commandment should be kept. If he keeps the commandment he’ll very soon find himself out of a job. If he holds on to his job he’ll find himself out with God and his faith.

In most countries of what we call the Western World, leaving out the communist countries, Christianity is not persecuted openly. There is no immediate threat of martyrdom for those who profess it. There is, however, an insidious ground-swell of opposition which comes not only from the non-baptized and they are numerous, but also from those who were baptized but who have found the yoke of Christ too burdensome.

It was never easy to be a loyal follower of Christ. It never will be easy. Yet those who follow him are on the right road. They have to fight the good fight, but the reward is worth the struggle. We who are trying to be loyal must heed Paul’s words to Timothy—we must stir into flame the gift of faith that is in us. We must never be ashamed of the faith which we profess, the cross is a sign of our eternal salvation and the symbol of our present obligations. It is through the cross that we shall earn the crown. It is by climbing Calvary with Christ that we shall reach our Mount of Ascension.

GOSPEL

vpn6nr_6ecduokz31kizwxcu-pgl5p9grtwjfdioxn5xn52xkua18av2svg44s7wkh8qghm1ugt75ytwzuzntprykjwkk9by5gky_wbavrwcc7jdhdfsakl1egcr8dlgwhiznlfw5-bzz18mvas0-d-e1-ft

Lk 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

The Lord replied,

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,

you would say to this mulberry tree,

‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant

who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,

‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?

Would he not rather say to him,

‘Prepare something for me to eat.

Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.

You may eat and drink when I am finished’?

Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?

So should it be with you.

When you have done all you have been commanded,

say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;

we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/100216.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.”1 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;2 it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.3

1 1 Tim 1:18-19.

2 Cf. Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32.

3 Gal 5:6; Rom 15:13; cf. Jas 2:14-26.

APPLICATION

Although the words we have read were addressed to the Apostles, they apply to all of us, each in his own station in life. Following the example of the Apostles, we must all pray for greater trust in God. Most of us are inclined to forget God and his providence when our earthly affairs are going well. How often do we thank him when we are enjoying good health, and when our home-life and business are going smoothly? How many Catholics make a novena of thanksgiving for all the gifts they have received and are receiving daily from God’s providence. How many, rather, pat themselves on the back for what they claim as their own successes?

It is only when a storm arises in their lives that they think of him. Remember that storm on the Lake of Gennesaret. The Apostles were rowing cheerfully across the lake. They were probably telling tall yarns about the size and the number of fish they had caught there in their day. They may have been striving against one another to show who was the strongest oarsman. They did not seem to notice that Jesus was sleeping soundly in the bow of the boat. They thought of him only when the storm arose, and then when they realized that they were in danger they shouted to him for help (Mk. 5: 37). They didn’t realize that both the calm and the storm were under his province.

Too many of us also, forget God and fail to give him the thanks and the credit for our well-being which we owe him. We rush to him only when trouble strikes. In his infinite goodness he often answers such panic prayers. If, however, we had thought of him every day and realized his place in our lives with how much more confidence would we then approach him in our hour of special need? If our own personal lives were stronger how much more readily would we accept the adversities and the trials that he sends us or allows to befall us for our eternal good? We can all ask God today to “increase our faith.”

As regards our work for God’s kingdom and for the salvation of ourselves and of our neighbor we are, like the Apostles, servants of God, and we should be proud of our status. We should be glad, that is, that he allows us to cooperate with him in the building of his heavenly kingdom. Are we really dutiful servants in this regard? Let each one of us ask himself seriously today : What have I done up to now to help to make God known to my neighbor who is ignorant of God and never thinks of what will happen him after death? I may not be able to put in words very clearly what I know and believe about God and the future life, but I can speak to him far more convincingly by my way of living, by my daily actions. I once knew a customs officer whose work was in a whiskey distillery to see that excise duty was paid on all spirits sold. He had two non-Catholic, in fact non-baptized, assistants working in his office. One of their privileges was three free drinks a day, one in the morning before work began, one at mid-day, one at 6 p.m. before leaving the office. A devout Catholic, the officer recited his Angelus before taking the refreshment. His assistants, out of respect, stood up in silence while he recited his prayer–they jokingly called it the “grace before drinks.” After a while they began to question this evidently sincere man. He explained that the prayer recalled to us the coming of Christ, the Son of God, on earth to bring us to heaven. They eventually took instructions and became devout Catholics. A “grace before drinks” said with sincerity can be apostolic work.

The sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor without going on the foreign missions. There are pagans and unbelievers, often such through no fault of their own, and there are many lax Christians all around us. We should, and we can, have an effective influence on them and on their eternal future, if we ourselves live our Christian lives as Christ expects us to do. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, a truly unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles, coming from a sincere lay-man can do more good than a series of sermons given by a renowned theologian in the parish church.

Look around you today. Think of your fellow-workers and those living in your own street. Many of them need help and need it badly. You can help them, God expects you to help them. It is his plan for getting you to help yourself to get to heaven. If you fail to cooperate with God by helping to bring his stray children back to him, you may find that you will be a straying child on your day of reckoning. God forbid.

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

BENEDICTUS

The World’s Need for Transformation

The holy mystery of God, the mustard seed of the Gospel, cannot be identified with the world but is rather destined to permeate the whole world. That is why we must find again the courage to embrace what is sacred, the courage to distinguish what is Christian – not in order to segregate it, but in order to transform it – the courage to be truly dynamic. In an interview in 1975, Eugene Ionesco, one of the founders of the theater of the absurd, expressed this with all the passion of seeking and searching that characterizes the person of our age. I quote a few sentences from that interview: “The Church does not want to lose her current clientele; but she does want to gain new members. The result is a kind of secularization that is truly pitiful. The world is losing its way; the Church is losing herself in the world… I once heard a priest say in church: ‘Let us be happy; let us shake hands… Jesus is pleased to wish you a pleasant good day!’ Before long they will be setting up a bar in Church for Communion of bread and wine and offering sandwiches and Beaujolais… Nothing is left to us; nothing solid. Everything is in flux. But what we need is a rock.” It seems to me that if we listen to the voices of our age, of people who are consciously living, suffering, and loving in the world today, we will realize that we cannot serve this world with a kind of banal officiousness. It has no need of confirmation but rather transformation, of the radicalism of the Gospel.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary

O Virgin Mary, grant that the recitation of thy Rosary may be for me each day, in the midst of my manifold duties, a bond of unity in my actions, a tribute of filial piety, a sweet refreshment, an encouragement to walk joyfully along the path of duty. Grant, above all, O Virgin Mary, that the study of thy fifteen mysteries may form in my soul, little by little, a luminous atmosphere, pure, strengthening, and fragrant, which may penetrate my understanding, my will, my heart, my memory, my imagination, my whole being. So shall I acquire the habit of praying while I work, without the aid of formal prayers, by interior acts of admiration and of supplication, or by aspirations of love. I ask this of thee, O Queen of the Holy Rosary, through Saint Dominic, thy son of predilection, the renowned preacher of thy mysteries, and the faithful imitator of thy virtues. Amen.

 

October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, and one of the reasons that Pope Leo XIII designated it so is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which falls on October 7. Like many Marian feasts, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrates the protection of Christians through the intercession of the Mother of God; and, like many feasts toward the end of the liturgical year, it commemorates a struggle with the forces of Islam.

In this case, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrates the victory of Christian naval forces at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. At a time when Christian Europe was being torn apart by internal strife and the Reformation, Don John of Austria destroyed the Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Lepanto. His victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom rosaries were offered and processions were made in Rome on the day of the battle.

The feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V shortly after the victory, and Pope Clement XI extended it to the entire Church in celebration of another victory over the Turkish Muslims in 1716.

Posted in Catholic