Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

christ-pulling-peter-from-water-mosaic-500x724.png‘Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

OPENING PRAYER

 Be Still & Know That I am God! (Psalm 46)                                                                            St. Francis de Sales

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

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,

we dare to call our Father,

bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts

the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,

that we may merit to enter into the inheritance

which you have promised.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Elijah.jpg

1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a

At the mountain of God, Horeb,

Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.

Then the LORD said to him,

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

the LORD will be passing by.”

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains

and crushing rocks before the LORD—

but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake—

but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake there was fire—

but the LORD was not in the fire.

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.

When he heard this,

Elijah hid his face in his cloak

and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

1 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

I will hear what God proclaims;

the LORD — for he proclaims peace.

Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,

glory dwelling in our land.

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

Kindness and truth shall meet;

justice and peace shall kiss.

Truth shall spring out of the earth,

and justice shall look down from heaven.

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

The LORD himself will give his benefits;

our land shall yield its increase.

Justice shall walk before him,

and prepare the way of his steps.

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

READING II

gold-5.jpg

Rom 9:1-5

Brothers and sisters:

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

my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness

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

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

for the sake of my own people,

my kindred according to the flesh.

They are Israelites;

theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,

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

theirs the patriarchs, and from them,

according to the flesh, is the Christ,

who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

– in his word which purifies its hearers;6

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

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

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

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

1 DV 11.

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

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

4 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

5 Cf. Lk 2:51.

6 Cf. Jn 15:3.

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

8 Cf. Rom 4:25.

9 Mt 16:21.

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

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

12 Lk 9:31.

13 Lk 9:35.

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

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

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

and precede him to the other side,

while he dismissed the crowds.

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

When it was evening he was there alone.

Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,

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

During the fourth watch of the night,

he came toward them walking on the sea.

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

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

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

Peter said to him in reply,

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

He said, “Come.”

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

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

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

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,

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

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

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

“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Profound Meaning of Being a Priest

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

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer to Jesus my Friend

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

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

You take a part in all my misfortunes;

You take them on Yourself;

You know how to change them into blessings;

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

and You have always balm to pour on my wounds.

I find You at all times;

I find You everywhere,

You never go away:

if I have to change my dwelling,

I find You there wherever I go.

You are never weary of listening to me,

You are never tired of doing me good.

I am certain of being beloved by You,

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

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

however miserable I may be,

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

and deprive me of Your friendship;

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

will unite me forever to You.

All the humiliations attached to old age,

or to the loss of honor,

will never detach You from me;

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

and You will never be closer to me

than when everything seems to conspire against me

to overwhelm me and to cast me down.

You bear with all my faults with extreme patience,

and even my want of fidelity and my ingratitude

do not wound You to such a degree

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

O Jesus, grant that I may die praising You,

that I may die loving You,

that I may die for the love of you.

Amen

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

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

OPENING PRAYER

LORD, teach me the way of Your laws;

I shall observe them with care.

Give me insight to observe Your teaching,

to keep it with all my heart.

Lead me in the path of Your commands,

for that is my delight.

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

Avert my eyes from what is worthless;

by Your way, give me life.

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

Turn away from me the taunts I dread,

for Your edicts bring good.

See how I long for Your precepts;

in Your justice, give me life.

Psalms 119: 33-40

COLLECT

O God, protector of those who hope in you,

without whom nothing has firm foundation,

nothing is holy,

bestow in abundance your mercy upon us

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

we may use the good things that pass

in such a way as to hold fast even now

to those that ever endure.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.

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

Solomon answered:

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

to succeed my father David;

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

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

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

Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart

to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.

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

The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.

So God said to him:

Because you have asked for this—

not for a long life for yourself,

nor for riches,

nor for the life of your enemies,

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

I do as you requested.

I give you a heart so wise and understanding

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

Lord, I love your commands.

I have said, O LORD, that my part

is to keep your words.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious

than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Lord, I love your commands.

Let your kindness comfort me

according to your promise to your servants.

Let your compassion come to me that I may live,

for your law is my delight.

Lord, I love your commands.

For I love your command

more than gold, however fine.

For in all your precepts I go forward;

every false way I hate.

Lord, I love your commands.

Wonderful are your decrees;

therefore I observe them.

The revelation of your words sheds light,

giving understanding to the simple.

Lord, I love your commands.

READING II

eucharist-st-paul-and-jesus.jpeg

Rom 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters:

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

who are called according to his purpose.

For those he foreknew he also predestined

to be conformed to the image of his Son,

so that he might be the firstborn

among many brothers and sisters.

And those he predestined he also called;

and those he called he also justified;

and those he justified he also glorified.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.

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

3 2 Tim 1:9-10.

4 Cf. AG 2-9.

5 Rom 8:28.

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

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

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

9 Rom 8:28.

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

11 Heb 12:1.

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

13 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

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

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

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

17 1 Tim 2:4.

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

19 Rom 8:28-30.

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

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

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

23 Acts 4:32.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPELRelated imageMt 13:44-52

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

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

which a person finds and hides again,

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

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant

searching for fine pearls.

When he finds a pearl of great price,

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

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

which collects fish of every kind.

When it is full they haul it ashore

and sit down to put what is good into buckets.

What is bad they throw away.

Thus it will be at the end of the age.

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

and throw them into the fiery furnace,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Do you understand all these things?”

They answered, “Yes.”

And he replied,

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

is like the head of a household

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.1 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.2 Words are not enough, deeds are required.3 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?4 What use has he made of the talents he has received?5 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.6 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.7

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.8 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”9 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”10

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

1 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.

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

3 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.

4 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.

5 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.

6 Mt 13:11.

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

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

9 Mt 13:41-42.

10 Mt 25:41.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Seeking the Truth and Culture’s Role

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Reflection on Our Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous

 

 

 

 

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

OPENING PRAYER

 Prayer to the Holy Spirit

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

COLLECT

Show favor, O Lord, to your servants

and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,

that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Wis 12:13, 16-19

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

that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.

For your might is the source of justice;

your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

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

and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

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

and with much lenience you govern us;

for power, whenever you will, attends you.

And you taught your people, by these deeds,

that those who are just must be kind;

and you gave your children good ground for hope

that you would permit repentance for their sins.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

Lord, you are good and forgiving.

You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,

abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.

Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer

and attend to the sound of my pleading.

Lord, you are good and forgiving.

All the nations you have made shall come

and worship you, O LORD,

and glorify your name.

For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;

you alone are God.

Lord, you are good and forgiving.

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

slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.

Turn toward me, and have pity on me;

give your strength to your servant.

Lord, you are good and forgiving.

READING II

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Rom 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters:

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;

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

but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

And the one who searches hearts

knows what is the intention of the Spirit,

because he intercedes for the holy ones

according to God’s will.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

CCC 2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church’s petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {“groaning,” arises from another depth, that of creation “in labor pains” and that of ourselves “as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”7 In the end, however, “with sighs too deep for words” the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”8

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

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

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

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

1 Rom 8:26.

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

3 Ps 130:1.

4 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

5 Rom 8:26.

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

7 Rom 8:22-24.

8 Rom 8:26.

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

10 Heb 7:25.

11 Rom 8:26-27.

12 Rom 8:26.

13 Cf. Mt 6:8.

14 Cf. Rom 8:27.

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

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

17 Jn 6:63.

18 Gal 4:6.

19 Rom 8:27.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

Judgement.png

 

Mt 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened

to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

While everyone was asleep his enemy came

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

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

The slaves of the householder came to him and said,

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

Where have the weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’

His slaves said to him,

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

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

you might uproot the wheat along with them.

Let them grow together until harvest;

then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,

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

but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

He proposed another parable to them.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed

that a person took and sowed in a field.

It is the smallest of all the seeds,

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

It becomes a large bush,

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

He spoke to them another parable.

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast

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

until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.

He spoke to them only in parables,

to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,

I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation

of the world.

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

His disciples approached him and said,

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

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

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

The weeds are the children of the evil one,

and the enemy who sows them is the devil.

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

Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,

so will it be at the end of the age.

The Son of Man will send his angels,

and they will collect out of his kingdom

all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.

They will throw them into the fiery furnace,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun

in the kingdom of their Father.

Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5

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

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

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.10 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”11 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”12

1 Heb 1:6.

2 Lk 2:14.

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

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

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

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

7 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.

8 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.

9 Paul VI, CPG § 19.

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

11 Mt 13:41-42.

12 Mt 25:41.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Parables

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

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

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Sower ent out to Sow.jpeg

 

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

OPENING PRAYER

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

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

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

  • St. Ephraim the Syrian

COLLECT

O God, who show the light of truth

to those who go astray,

so that they may return to the right path,

give all who for the faith they profess

are accounted Christians

to grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name

of Christ

and to strive after all that does it honor.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who live and reign with You in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Lorenzo_Monaco_-_The_Prophet_Isaiah_-_WGA13590-572535215f9b589e34ba2936.jpeg

Is 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:

Just as from the heavens

the rain and snow come down

and do not return there

till they have watered the earth,

making it fertile and fruitful,

giving seed to the one who sows

and bread to the one who eats,

so shall my word be

that goes forth from my mouth;

my word shall not return to me void,

but shall do my will,

achieving the end for which I sent it.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

You have visited the land and watered it;

greatly have you enriched it.

God’s watercourses are filled;

you have prepared the grain.

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

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,

breaking up its clods,

Softening it with showers,

blessing its yield.

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

You have crowned the year with your bounty,

and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;

The untilled meadows overflow with it,

and rejoicing clothes the hills.

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

The fields are garmented with flocks

and the valleys blanketed with grain.

They shout and sing for joy.

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

READING II

Creation_2003.jpeg

Rom 8:18-23

Brothers and sisters:

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

compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

For creation awaits with eager expectation

the revelation of the children of God;

for creation was made subject to futility,

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

in hope that creation itself

would be set free from slavery to corruption

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

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

and not only that, but we ourselves,

who have the first-fruits of the Spirit,

we also groan within ourselves

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 GCD 51.

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

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

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

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

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

9 Cf. 2 Th 2:7.

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

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

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

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

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

15 Rom 8:19-23.

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

17 Cf. Rom 8:18.

18 Gal 5:1.

19 Cf. In 8:32.

20 2 Cor 17.

21 Rom 8:21.

22 Heb 11:17.

23 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19

24 Rom 8:32.

25 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.

26 Rom 8:22-24.

27 Rom 8:26.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

Jesus_Christ_Parable_of_the_Sower_Hand-Painted_Byzantine_Icon_05.jpeg

Mt 13:1-9

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

Such large crowds gathered around him

that he got into a boat and sat down,

and the whole crowd stood along the shore.

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

A sower went out to sow.

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

and birds came and ate it up.

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

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

and when the sun rose it was scorched,

and it withered for lack of roots.

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

But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,

a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

1 GS 19 § 1.

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

3 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.

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

5 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.

6 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.

7 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.

8 Mt 13:11.

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

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

11 Jn 15:4-5.

12 Jn 6:56.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Why Listening is a Part of Life

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.

Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken

and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,

Though its waters rage and foam

and mountains totter at its surging.

Streams of the river gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.

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

God will help it at break of day.

Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,

he utters his voice and the earth melts.

*The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Come and see the works of the LORD,

who has done fearsome deeds on earth;

Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,

breaks the bow, splinters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire;

Be still and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

exalted on the earth.”

The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Posted in Catholic

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

 

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

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

 

 

 

Image result for icon st. benedict

Gracious and holy Father,
 please give me:

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

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

COLLECT

O God, who in the abasement of your Son

have raised up a fallen world,

fill your faithful with holy joy,

for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin

you bestow eternal gladness.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who live and reign with God the Father in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

PalmSunday-04.jpg

Zec 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,

shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king shall come to you;

a just savior is he,

meek, and riding on an ass,

on a colt, the foal of an ass.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,

and the horse from Jerusalem;

the warrior’s bow shall be banished,

and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

3 Cf. Jn 18:37.

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

5 Cf. Ps 118:26.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

I will extol you, O my God and King,

and I will bless your name forever and ever.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

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

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

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

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

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

The LORD is faithful in all his words

and holy in all his works.

The LORD lifts up all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

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

READING II

icon-of-the-holy-paraclete

2 Rom 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:

You are not in the flesh;

on the contrary, you are in the spirit,

if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

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

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

the one who raised Christ from the dead

will give life to your mortal bodies also,

through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters,

we are not debtors to the flesh,

to live according to the flesh.

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

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

you will live.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

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

4 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.

5 Rom 8:9.

6 2 Cor 3:17.

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

8 1 Pet 4:14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

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

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

19 Rom 8:11.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

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Mt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:

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

for although you have hidden these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

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

No one knows the Son except the Father,

and no one knows the Father except the Son

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

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

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves.

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CCC 1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.’”26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Jn 14:1.

3 Jn 1:18.

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

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

6 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

7 Mt 11-27.

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

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

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

11 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

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

13 Jn 15:12.

14 Cf. Mk 8:34.

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

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

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

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

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

20 Mt 5:3.

21 Cf. Mt 11:25.

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

23 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

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

25 Cf. Mt 19:11.

26 FC 85; cf. Mt 11:28.

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

28 Cf. Eph 1:9.

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

30 Mt 11:25-27.

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

32 Mt 18:3.

33 Cf. Mt 11:25.

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Becoming a Seer and a Pathfinder

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

An Example of Enduring to the End

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

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

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Novena to Saint Benedict – Feast day July 11th

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

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

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

Inspire me to imitate you in all things.

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

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

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

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

{mention your petition}

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

Amen.

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

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

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Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

“I hear the whisperings of many:

‘Terror on every side!

Denounce! let us denounce him!’

All those who were my friends

are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

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

and take our vengeance on him.’

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

my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

In their failure they will be put to utter shame,

to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,

who probe mind and heart,

let me witness the vengeance you take on them,

for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to the LORD,

praise the LORD,

for he has rescued the life of the poor

from the power of the wicked!”

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my children,

Because zeal for your house consumes me,

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

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

I pray to you, O LORD,

for the time of your favor, O God!

In your great kindness answer me

with your constant help.

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

in your great mercy turn toward me.

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

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, may your hearts revive!

For the LORD hears the poor,

and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

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

READING II

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Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

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

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

though sin is not accounted when there is no law.

But death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin

after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,

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

But the gift is not like the transgression.

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

how much more did the grace of God

and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ

overflow for the many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

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

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

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

GOSPEL

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Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,

nor secret that will not be known.

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

what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

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

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy

both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

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

Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

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

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

But whoever denies me before others,

I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

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

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

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

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

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

Thanks be to God.

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized

The Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ

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

and I will raise him on the last day.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within thy wounds hide me.

Suffer me not to be separated from thee.

From the malicious enemy defend me.

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

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

COLLECT

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament

have left us a memorial of your Passion,

grant us, we pray,

so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body

and Blood,

that we may always experience in ourselves

the fruits of your redemption.

Who live and reign with God the Father

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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

Moses said to the people:

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

has directed all your journeying in the desert,

so as to test you by affliction

and find out whether or not it was your intention

to keep his commandments.

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,

and then fed you with manna,

a food unknown to you and your fathers,

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

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

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

that place of slavery;

who guided you through the vast and terrible desert

with its saraph serpents and scorpions,

its parched and waterless ground;

who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock

and fed you in the desert with manna,

a food unknown to your fathers.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

2 Gal 3:24.

3 Cf. Rom 3:20.

4 Cf. Deut 8:3.

5 1 Cor 10:16.

6 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

7 Am 8:11.

8 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;

praise your God, O Zion.

For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;

he has blessed your children within you.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has granted peace in your borders;

with the best of wheat he fills you.

He sends forth his command to the earth;

swiftly runs his word!

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,

his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.

He has not done thus for any other nation;

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

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

READING II

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1 Cor 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:

The cup of blessing that we bless,

is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?

The bread that we break,

is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Because the loaf of bread is one,

we, though many, are one body,

for we all partake of the one loaf.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

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

6 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.

7 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.

8 Cf. Deut 8:3.

9 1 Cor 10:16.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

11 1 Cor 10:16-17.

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

13 Cf. SC 61.

14 Cf. LG 6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:17.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEQUENCE – LAUDA SION

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,

Laud with hymns of exultation,

Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,

He is more than you bestow.

Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving

Is the quick’ning and the living

Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,

As we know, by faith unshaken,

Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,

Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,

From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,

When the institution olden

Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,

By the new king’s revelation,

Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,

Truth away the shadow chases,

Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,

Christ ordained to be repeated,

His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,

Bread and wine we hallow, making

Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,

Bread into his flesh he turns,

To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,

But a dauntless faith believes,

Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden

Priceless things to sense forbidden;

Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,

Yet in either wondrous token

Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,

Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;

Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,

One, as thousands of believers,

Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,

Of what divers dooms preparing,

Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,

See how like participation

Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,

Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,

That each sever’d outward token

doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,

Breaking but the sign betides

Jesus still the same abides,

still unbroken does remain.

GOSPEL

01-jesus-christ-pantocrator_full

Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:

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

whoever eats this bread will live forever;

and the bread that I will give

is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,

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

Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

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

you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

has eternal life,

and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food,

and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me

and I have life because of the Father,

so also the one who feeds on me

will have life because of me.

This is the bread that came down from heaven.

Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,

whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CCC 1391 Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”20 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”21

On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, “Christ is risen!” Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

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

4 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

5 Cf. Lk 11:13.

6 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

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

8 Jn 15:4-5.

9 Jn 6:56.

10 Jn 11:25.

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

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

13 Mt 12:39.

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

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

16 1 Thess 4:16.

17 Jn 6:51.

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

19 Jn 6:53.

20 Jn 6:56.

21 Jn 6:57.

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

23 Mt 10:8.

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

25 Jn 6:54.

26 Cf. Jn 13:1.

27 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

28 Am 8:11.

29 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

30 Cf. Ex 16:19-21.

31 Cf. 1 Tim 6:8.

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

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Corpus Christi Procession

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer to Foster the Practice of Daily Communion

O sweetest Jesus,

Thou who camest into the world

to give all souls the life of Thy grace,

and who, to preserve and nourish it in them,

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

and their daily sustenance;

we humbly beseech Thee,

by Thy Heart all on fire with love for us,

to pour forth upon them all Thy Divine Spirit,

so that those who are unhappily in mortal sin,

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

and those who, through Thy gift,

are already living this Divine life,

may draw near daily, when they can,

to Thy sacred table, whence,

by means of daily Communion,

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

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

and being thus ever more and more purified,

may come at last to the possession of that eternal life

which is happiness with Thee.

Amen.

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

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The Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity

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

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of Thanks

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

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

COLLECT

God our Father, who by sending into the world

the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification

made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,

grant we pray, that in professing the true faith,

we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory

and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

48415_original.jpg

Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai

as the LORD had commanded him,

taking along the two stone tablets.

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

and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”

Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,

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

slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

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

do come along in our company.

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

and receive us as your own.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

2 Ex 33:18-19.

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

4 Ex 34:6.

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

6 I Jn 1:5; 4:8.

7 Cf. Ex 34:6.

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

Glory and praise for ever!

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

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Glory and praise for ever!

READING II

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2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.

Mend your ways, encourage one another,

agree with one another, live in peace,

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

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ

and the love of God

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

1 2 Cor 13:13.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

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Jn 3:16-18

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

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

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

but that the world might be saved through him.

Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,

but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Jn 3:18.

7 Mk 15:39.

8 I Jn 4:9.

9 Jn 3:16.

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

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

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

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

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

15 Cf. In 11:52.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

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The Sustaining Force of the Blessed Trinity

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly

witnesses,

I offer myself soul and body to Thee,

Eternal Spirit of God.

I adore the brightness of Thy purity,

the unerring keenness of Thy justice,

and the might of Thy love.

Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul.

In Thee I live and move and am.

I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace,

and I pray with all my heart to be kept

from the smallest sin against Thee.

Mercifully guard my every thought

and grant that I may always watch for Thy light

and listen to Thy voice

and follow Thy gracious inspirations.

I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee

and ask Thee by Thy compassion

to watch over me in my weakness.

Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus

and looking at His Five Wounds

and trusting in His Precious Blood

and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart,

I implore Thee Adorable Spirit,

helper of my infirmity,

so to keep me in Thy grace

that I may never sin against Thee.

Give me grace O Holy Ghost,

Spirit of the Father and the Son,

to say to Thee always and everywhere,

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

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Pentecost Sunday

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

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The Ascension of the Lord

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

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

OPENING PRAYER

Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Michael the Archangel: Pray for us!

*Prayers were taken from The Treasury of Novenas

COLLECT

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,

and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,

for the Ascension of Christ your Son

is our exaltation,

and, where the Head has gone before in glory,

the Body is called to follow in hope.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,

I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught

until the day he was taken up,

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit

to the apostles whom he had chosen.

He presented himself alive to them

by many proofs after he had suffered,

appearing to them during forty days

and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While meeting with them,

he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,

but to wait for “the promise of the Father

about which you have heard me speak;

for John baptized with water,

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

When they had gathered together they asked him,

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

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

that the Father has established by his own authority.

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

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria,

and to the ends of the earth.”

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

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

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

suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

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

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

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

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

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

2 DV 19.

3 DV 19.

4 Heb 1:6.

5 Lk 2:14.

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

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

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

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

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

11 Acts 1:1-2.

12 Mk 16:19.

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

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

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

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

17 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

18 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

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

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

21 Cf. Rev 22:20.

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

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

24 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.

25 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.

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

27 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.

28 Lk 1:35.

29 Lk 9:34-35.

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

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

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

33 Rom 6:4.

34 Cf. Jn 20:22.

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

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

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

38 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

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

40 Cf. Acts 2:42.

41 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

42 AG 5.

43 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

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

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

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

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

48 Cf. Acts 2:38.

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

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

51 OT 20.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

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

All you peoples, clap your hands,

shout to God with cries of gladness,

For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,

is the great king over all the earth.

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

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;

the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.

Sing praise to God, sing praise;

sing praise to our king, sing praise.

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

For king of all the earth is God;

sing hymns of praise.

God reigns over the nations,

God sits upon his holy throne.

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

READING II

The-Ascension-of-Our-Lord-1500-56a108543df78cafdaa83693.jpg

Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:

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

give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation

resulting in knowledge of him.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,

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

what are the riches of glory

in his inheritance among the holy ones,

and what is the surpassing greatness of his power

for us who believe,

in accord with the exercise of his great might:

which he worked in Christ,

raising him from the dead

and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,

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

and every name that is named

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

And he put all things beneath his feet

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

which is his body,

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Eph 1:18.

3 DV 5.

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

5 1 Cor 1:24-25.

6 Eph 1:19-22.

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

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

9 Rom 14:9.

10 Eph 1:20-22.

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

12 Cf. Eph 1:22.

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

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

15 LG 6.

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

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

18 Cf. AG 4.

19 Cf. Eph 1:22.

20 Eph 4:13; cf. LG 39.

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

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

ascension-of-jesus-christ-munir-alawi.jpg

Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer

and rise from the dead on the third day

and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,

would be preached in his name

to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.

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

but stay in the city

until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,

raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them

and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage

and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,21 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.22 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,23 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Acts 2:24.

5 Is 53:8.

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

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

8 Mk 16:19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Rom 6:4.

16 Cf. Jn 20:22.

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

18 Lk 24:47.

19 2 Cor 5:18.

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

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

22 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

23 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

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

25 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

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

27 Lk 24:47.

28 Mt 28:19.

29 PO 4 ## 1, 2.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Ascension

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Consecration to the Holy Spirit

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

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

Additional readings

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

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – A

 

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

OPENING PRAYER

Mighty God,

in whom we know the power of redemption,

you stand among us in the shadows of our time.

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

uphold us with knowledge of the final morning

when, in the glorious presence of your risen Son,

we will share in his resurrection,

redeemed and restored to the fullness of life

and forever freed to be your people. Amen.

COLLECT

Grant, almighty God,

that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these

days of joy,

which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,

and that what we relive in remembrance

we may always hold to in what we do.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria

and proclaimed the Christ to them.

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

when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.

For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,

came out of many possessed people,

and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.

There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem

heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,

they sent them Peter and John,

who went down and prayed for them,

that they might receive the Holy Spirit,

for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;

they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Then they laid hands on them

and they received the Holy Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.1 In his name the apostles will do the same.2 Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given.3 The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching.4 The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.

CCC 1288 “From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.”5

CCC 2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.6 To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!”7 Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.”8 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

1 Cf. Mk 6:5; 8:23; 10:16.

2 Cf. Mk 16:18; Acts 5:12; 14:3.

3 Cf. Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6.

4 Cf. Heb 6:2.

5 Paul VI, Divinae consortium naturae, 659; cf. Acts 8:15-17; 19:5-6; Heb 6:2.

6 Cf. Acts 8:9-24.

7 Acts 8:20.

8 Mt 10:8; cf. already Isa 55:1.

APPLICATION

Although the convert Samaritans did not receive the Holy Spirit with his visible supernatural gifts immediately, nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit, in Philip and in the Christian message he brought to them, could explain the readiness with which they accepted the Christian truth. They were natural enemies of the Jews for centuries and the enmity was returned heartily. They would have no dealings truck with Jerusalem or with any teacher who came from there, yet they listened to Philip and in “multitudes gave heed with one accord” to what he had to tell them. Nothing but the grace of the Holy Spirit can explain their change of attitude.

When the two Apostles came down from Jerusalem and bestowed the Holy Spirit on them his presence in them was made manifest to all, because of the special gifts that accompanied his bestowal in almost all cases of conversion in the early Church.

People may ask why it is that today, when people receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation the Holy Spirit does not prove his presence in them by any external signs or miracles. St. Augustine answered that very question centuries ago. He said: When one plants a young tree one waters it regularly and stakes it firmly, but as soon as the tree has taken firm root it needs no further care. So it is with the Church, he said. In its infancy it needed miracles and signs to convince those who believed and to convert those who had not yet believed. But when the Church had taken firm root in the Roman Empire which was the known world of that time, there was no further need for the special intervention of God. The ordinary graces of the Holy Spirit were sufficient.

And so it is with each one of us. We have received the Holy Spirit with what we call his seven gifts and these are sufficient without any miraculous signs to make us soldiers of Christ. As such. we should be active members of his Church ready to do our duty each day, to live the faith, defend the faith when called on, and even if necessary, to die for it.

But to live our faith to the full and to be able to defend it if called on, we need to learn more and more about the truths of our faith. We need to know first and foremost what it promises us, what it means for our true life. A Christian is still a human being but he is no longer a mere human being–he has been made a brother of Christ and an adopted son of God. He is therefore made a citizen of heaven and his earthly life is but a journey to his native home–to a home which he will never have to leave again. When we look on our earthly life from this heavenly point of view most if not all of what we call the trials and troubles of life cease to be impassable mountain ranges and appear as little hillocks over which we can skip lightly. The true Christian who lets this truth be the guiding light of his life, will be well equipped to answer the questionings and hesitations of those who have not yet received the light of faith, or who, having once had it, lost it or let it die through inertia. The illiterate street sweeper who lives his faith devoutly–who never forgets that God loved him so dearly that he sent his only-begotten Son as man on earth in order to bring him to heaven, is a more convincing theologian than the lukewarm author of learned writings. Every devout Christian is an apostle. His very way of living, as well as his daily conversation in the home and outside of it, are lights which radiate all around him. He is a living furnace of divine love which warms and softens the heart of the sinners and the unbelievers with whom he comes into contact.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,

sing praise to the glory of his name;

proclaim his glorious praise.

Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,

sing praise to your name!”

Come and see the works of God,

his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

He has changed the sea into dry land;

through the river they passed on foot;

therefore let us rejoice in him.

He rules by his might forever.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare

what he has done for me.

Blessed be God who refused me not

my prayer or his kindness!

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

READING II

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1 Pt 3:15-18

Beloved:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation

to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,

but do it with gentleness and reverence,

keeping your conscience clear,

so that, when you are maligned,

those who defame your good conduct in Christ

may themselves be put to shame.

For it is better to suffer for doing good,

if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,

the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,

that he might lead you to God.

Put to death in the flesh,

he was brought to life in the Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

APPLICATION

These first converts to Christianity to whom St. Peter wrote this letter lived in a world which was very similar in many respect to our world of today. There were the self-styled intellectuals who thought they had the solution to all human problems because they had picked up scrips and pieces of the pagan Greek philosophy. There were others whose only thought was to get all they could out of this earthly life and whose motto was., “eat, drink, sleep and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” There were the agnostics whose life was one big question-mark, and who refused to accept any answers. There were the “practical” ones, so busy making a good living for themselves that they had no time to question the real meaning of life.

Who can fail to see the similarity between their world and the world in which we live today? While it is true that the number of Christians in our world today is away above that of St. Peter’s day, it is true also that the number of the opponents of Christianity has increased accordingly. And what is worse, most of these opponents come from Christian parentage and live in countries that are still called Christian.

Add to this, that many, very many of those we number as Christians are so only in name. Unlike the early Christians whose exemplary lives spread the faith very quickly to their pagan neighbors, our nominal Christians spread disrespect for the very name of Christ and for all he did for mankind.

Let us admit it, this is the kind of world in which we live, but it need not remain so. Each one of us, who is convinced of the truth of his faith, must realize that he has a solemn duty to help bring about this necessary change.

St. Peter tells us in a few words today how this can be done. He reminds us of the basic truth of our Christian religion: God created us for heaven. He sent his Son on earth to earn heaven for us. Our real purpose in this life is to work our passage to our true and everlasting home. This we shall do if we keep ever before our minds that Christ was God who came on earth as a man and suffered torments and death in our name and in our stead, so that we too could rise with him after our lives had ended. If we grasp this basic truth–the only true and satisfactory explanation of our sojourn on this earth–our daily actions will be truly Christian; we will gladly “keep our conscience clear” by following the rules of conduct that Christ has laid down for us.

By so doing we will also be prepared always to give an account, an explanation, to those who ask us why we are Christians. Our very lives will be of themselves an explanation and an answer to those who are curious about us, and even to those who while openly opposing and maybe deriding us, are gravely doubting in their hearts, whether it is we or they who are wrong. We can change our world, and in the innermost hearts of the vast majority of our “intellectuals,” our “agnostics” and our “practical men of the world” there is a desire for change. Christ is calling on us today, through his Apostle St. Peter, to help him call home the prodigal sons and the lost sheep. He suffered for them too. Would we turn a deaf ear to his call for help? Not if we reverence him as our Lord, our God. Not if we love our neighbor whom he has made our brother and co-heir with himself to heaven.

GOSPEL

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Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

And I will ask the Father,

and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,

because it neither sees nor knows him.

But you know him, because he remains with you,

and will be in you.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

In a little while the world will no longer see me,

but you will see me, because I live and you will live.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father

and you are in me and I in you.

Whoever has my commandments and observes them

is the one who loves me.

And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,

and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052117.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of “another Paraclete” (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously “spoken through the prophets”, the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them “into all the truth”.1 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.

CCC 687 “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”2 Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.”3 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.4

CCC 729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.5 The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name; and Jesus will send him from the Father’s side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.6 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”7

CCC 2615 Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is “another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.”8 This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.9 In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”10

CCC 2671 The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.11 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.12 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.13

Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.14

1 Cf. Gen 1:2; Nicene Creed (DS 150); Jn 14:17, 26; 16:13.

2 1 Cor 2:11.

3 Jn 16:13.

4 Jn 14:17.

5 Cf. Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:26.

6 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

7 LG 7.

8 Jn 14:16-17.

9 Cf. Jn 14:23-26; 15:7, 16; 16:13-15; 16:23-27.

10 Jn 16:24.

11 Cf. Lk 11:13.

12 Cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13.

13 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.

14 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.

APPLICATION

In this discourse at the Last Supper, which was his last will and testament, our divine Lord promised his Church, through the Apostles, that the Holy Spirit would be with it until the end of time. The Spirit of truth will be directing it and effectively aiding it to preserve the faith, the doctrine, and the morals which Christ taught his Apostles.

Looking back now over almost 2,000 years of the Church’s history we can see how this promise has been fulfilled. There were heretics and schismatics who threatened the very continuance of the Church as God’s faithful people on earth. There were crises and near catastrophes caused by the human weaknesses of its heads and its members, yet the Church survived and spread and continued to send saints to heaven because of the direct and active aid of the Holy Spirit.

During those two thousand years great empires have risen and fallen. They had large armies and vast wealth and earthly resources at their disposal, yet they disintegrated like all things human. The names of one-time mighty men who ruled over millions are now nothing more than a nuisance for children in their history classes. The large tracts of our globe which they ruled are now divided and known by other names. This was, is, and will be the lot of all merely human enterprises. Today’s despots, where they rule with iron hand, will share the same fate.

In the midst of all these upheavals the Church of Christ has continued to flourish because it was directed and sustained by the Holy Spirit, who abides within it. How can we ever show enough gratitude to the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity who planned so lovingly and so efficaciously for our safe journey to heaven? The Father sent his Son as man among us so that we men could become his brothers, and adopted sons of the Father. The Son suffered hardships, insults and misunderstanding during his temporary stay on earth, and ended like a crucified malefactor because of the sins of mankind. But he rose triumphantly from the dead and set up the Church as a society which would bring to men of all races, ages and colors the salvation and exaltation of mankind, which his life and death had won for us.

Knowing only too well the weaknesses and waywardness of human nature, he and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to remain with his Church as its infallible guide until the last man has entered heaven.

This is a very brief summary of what the Blessed Trinity has done, and is continuing to do for us, through the Church. We, the people of God, the chosen race of the New Testament are God’s Church on earth. It is for you and me that the Holy Spirit is at work this very day. When he guides the steps of Peter’s successor, the Pope, or the deliberations of the bishops, the heirs of the apostolic college, it is for us and for our salvation that he is acting. While we are faithful members of the Church, and of Christ’s mystical body, while we remain live branches safely attached to the vine who is Christ, we have nothing to fear; we are on the sure road to heaven, to enjoy eternal happiness with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit whom we shall thank and glorify forever.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Holy Spirit is Love

The gift of God is the holy Spirit. The gift of God is love – God shares himself as love in the Holy Spirit… The presence of the Holy Spirit makes itself known in the manner of love. Love is the criterion of the Holy Spirit as against unholy spirits; indeed, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit himself and, in that sense, the presence of God. The essential and central concept summing up what the Holy Spirit is and what he effects is, in the end, not “knowledge” but love… The basic criterion of love, its “proper work,” so to speak – and, thereby, the “proper work” of the Holy Spirit – is this, that it achieves abiding. Love shows itself by being enduring. It can by no means be recognized at a given moment and in the moment alone; but in abiding, it does away with uncertainty and carries eternity within it. And thus in my view the relationship between love and truth is also thereby given: love, in the full sense, can be present only where something is enduring, where something abides. Because it has to do with abiding, it can occur, not just anywhere, but only there where eternity is.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit

English

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Latin

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.

V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere; et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

 

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – A

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‘Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Dedication to Jesus

Lord Jesus Christ,

take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. 

All that I have and cherish You have given me.

I surrender it all to be guided by Your will.

Your love and Your grace are wealth enough for me.

Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I will ask for nothing more.

Amen.

http://www.catholicity.com/prayer/prayer-of-self-dedication-to-jesus-christ.html

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,

that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism

may, under your protective care, bear much fruit

and come to the joys of life eternal.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 6:1-7

As the number of disciples continued to grow,

the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews

because their widows

were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,

It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.

Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,

filled with the Spirit and wisdom,

whom we shall appoint to this task,

whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer

and to the ministry of the word.”

The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,

so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,

also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,

and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

They presented these men to the apostles

who prayed and laid hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread,

and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;

even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 595 Among the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing dissension about him, so much so that St. John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ’s Passion, “many. .. believed in him”, though very imperfectly.1 This is not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” and “some believers. .. belonged to the party of the Pharisees”, to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul, “How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; and they are all zealous for the Law.”2

CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.3 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.4 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.5 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

1 Jn 12:42; cf. 7:50; 9:16-17; 10:19-21; 19:38-39.

2 Acts 6:7; 15:5; 21:20.

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

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

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

APPLICATION

The first eight chapters of the book we call the “Acts of the Apostles,” describe the birth and the infant days of the Church in Jerusalem. It is an account which should inspire and console us. The little group of Apostles and disciples, who had lost all heart and hope on seeing Christ their leader crucified, regained confidence once they became convinced, during his forty days with them, of his resurrection. They waited ten days for the Holy Spirit whom Christ had promised them on his Ascension day. When they received the Holy Spirit they set out immediately to preach Christ, completely regardless of the consequences this would bring to them. Remember Jerusalem was still governed politically by pagan Romans who saw nothing but folly in the Christian religion. But, worse still, the religious leaders of the citizens of Jerusalem–the Jews–were still the very men who had Christ condemned to the cross, as an impostor and a blasphemer, because “he made himself the Son of God” (Jn. 19: 7).

It was not human courage that enabled the Apostles, in such surroundings, to preach Christ as Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the human race. It was the Holy Spirit. And the result was worthy of the cause: within a few weeks, almost half the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become faithful followers of the crucified and risen Christ.

This surprising spread of the faith, something in itself humanly impossible in such or in any circumstances, should surely inspire us with gratitude and love for God’s interest in us, and his goodness to us. We still have the same faith as the first Christians of Jerusalem–we are followers of the same Christ who lived and died for us, who rose from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit with his gifts and power on the Church which he had founded. That same power and those same gifts of God’s love are with us still today in our Church, leading us kindly and gently to the end he has planned for us from all eternity.

Surely, we Christians have every reason to be grateful to God for having given us the faith. And we should show this gratitude, by our love of neighbor, as the first Christians did, and all true Christians down through the ages have done. We must share with the poor and the needy not only our temporal goods, but especially the divine gift of the true faith. There are many ways today in which we can do our part in spreading the gospel of Christ. That gospel has reached us because zealous Christians down the ages lived the faith and did their share to give it to others.

St. Stephen, one of the deacons mentioned in today’s reading, gave his life gladly for Christ a few weeks after his ordination. Stephen’s, martyrdom may have been a remote cause of preparing Saul’s conversion–Saul never forgot the incident and his own part in it. Saul became St. Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles and one of the greatest glories of the infant Church.

You may not be called on to have the honor of martyrdom, but you are called to be a saint, an honor which can be earned only by living a life of true love of God and neighbor.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;

praise from the upright is fitting.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;

with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Upright is the word of the LORD,

and all his works are trustworthy.

He loves justice and right;

of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,

upon those who hope for his kindness,

To deliver them from death

and preserve them in spite of famine.

R/ Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

READING II

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1 Pt 2:4-9

Beloved:

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings

but chosen and precious in the sight of God,

and, like living stones,

let yourselves be built into a spiritual house

to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices

acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For it says in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,

a cornerstone, chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.

Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone, and

A stone that will make people stumble,

and a rock that will make them fall.

They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people of his own,

so that you may announce the praises” of him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;1 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”2 Christ, the “living Stone”,3 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.4

CCC 709 The Law, the sign of God’s promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham’s faith gave birth. “If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant,. .. you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”5 But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David,6 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.

CCC 756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”7

CCC 782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”8

One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”9 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”10 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.11

Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.12 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

-Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”13

CCC 901 “Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives.”14

CCC 1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, “by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices.”15 This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:16

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.17

CCC 1179 The worship “in Spirit and in truth”18 of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any one place. The whole earth is sacred and entrusted to the children of men. What matters above all is that, when the faithful assemble in the same place, they are the “living stones,” gathered to be “built into a spiritual house.”19 For the Body of the risen Christ is the spiritual temple from which the source of living water springs forth: incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit, “we are the temple of the living God.”20

CCC 1268 The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.”21 By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.”22 Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.

CCC 1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used,23 since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church’s whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

CCC 1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”24 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be. .. a holy priesthood.”25

CCC 2769 In Baptism and Confirmation, the handing on (traditio) of the Lord’s Prayer signifies new birth into the divine life. Since Christian prayer is our speaking to God with the very word of God, those who are “born anew. .. through the living and abiding word of God”26 learn to invoke their Father by the one Word he always hears. They can henceforth do so, for the seal of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is indelibly placed on their hearts, ears, lips, indeed their whole filial being. This is why most of the patristic commentaries on the Our Father are addressed to catechumens and neophytes. When the Church prays the Lord’s Prayer, it is always the people made up of the “new-born” who pray and obtain mercy.27

1 Cf Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.

2 Mt 16:18.

3 I Pt 2:4.

4 Cf. Lk 22:32.

5 Ex 19:5-6; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9.

6 Cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Lk 1:32-33.

7 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.

8 1 Pet 2:9.

9 Jn 3:3-5.

10 Cf. Jn 13 34

11 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.

12 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.

13 LG 9 # 2.

14 LG 34; cf. LG 10, 1 Pet 2:5.

15 LG 10; cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5.

16 Cf. LG 10; 34; PO 2.

17 SC 14; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9; 2:4-5.

18 Jn 4:24.

19 1 Pet 2:4-5.

20 2 Cor 6:16.

21 1 Pet 2:5.

22 1 Pet 2:9.

23 Heb 13:15; cf. 1 Pet 25; Ps 116:13, 17; Mal 1:11.

24 Rev 1:6; cf. Rev 5:9-10; 1 Pet 2:5,9.

25 LG 10 § 1.

26 1 Pet 1:23.

27 Cf. 1 Pet 2:1-10.

APPLICATION

St. Peter’s call to his contemporaries is as imperative for us today, as it was for the first Christians. We are called to be saints, in other words, our Christian vocation is a call to take our place in heaven when we end our earthly life. We all know this, but for far too many of us, it is more a subconscious than a conscious thought in our daily lives. While doing the same daily tasks, as the Christians who are striving to become saints, we waste precious months and maybe years, in which we could be storing up treasure in heaven, because we forget God and the purpose of our Christian vocation.

Listen to a simple parable: two young men at the age of twenty went to another country where wages were high, in order to earn enough to buy for themselves comfortable homes and businesses when they returned, after some years. One saved his earnings, sent home his monthly packet and had his house and business set up. The other, attracted by the pleasure and play of the foreign land, squandered his earnings and forgot the purpose which led him to that land. When both returned home, the squanderer and forgetful one realized his mistake, but to late.

St. Peter is speaking to each one of us today. We are called to be saints. We have the means of becoming saints, for Christ has made us his brothers and heirs of heaven. Our part is to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. These sacrifices consist of our daily actions, dedicated to God by our simple, morning offering. They are acceptable to God because we have been made his adopted children, through Christ becoming man. Away and above our daily actions, which God accepts, we have the weekly (or daily where possible) sacrifice of Christ, the Son of God himself, which we have the privilege of offering, together with Christ’s human representative. Just as it was the first offering of himself on Calvary which made us capable of reaching heaven, it is the re-presentation of their initial sacrifices on our altars that blesses all our worldly or daily actions and makes them of value for our eternal life.

Let us never forget it, we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, God’s own people.” What more could God have done for us? And how little he asks in return!

Are we giving him even that little? Is our home a Christian home where the love of God and neighbor reign? Is true justice the guiding rule in our dealings with our fellowman? Can our non-Christian neighbors recognize us as God’s own people?

If we can answer in the affirmative to these questions, we are building ourselves into a spiritual house. We are the true temple of God; we are on the direct road to our true home in heaven. If, unfortunately, we cannot say yes but a sad no to these questions, let us not despair–we are dealing with a Father, not a policeman. He is ever ready to welcome back the repentant sinner, remember the story of the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. If, hitherto, you have ignored the marvelous light of the faith to which God in his goodness has called you, look at it today, and resolve to live by it. It is the only light, the only answer to man’s life on earth.

GOSPEL

jesus-appears-to-the-disciples.jpg

Jn 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.

If there were not,

would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back again and take you to myself,

so that where I am you also may be.

Where I am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him,

Master, we do not know where you are going;

how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you know me, then you will also know my Father.

From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him,

Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time

and you still do not know me, Philip?

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?

The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.

The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,

or else, believe because of the works themselves.

Amen, amen, I say to you,

whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,

and will do greater ones than these,

because I am going to the Father.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051417.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 74 God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”:1 that is, of Christ Jesus.2 Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:

God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.3

CCC 151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.4 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”5 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”6 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.7

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.”8 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”9 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”10 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.11

CCC 470 Because “human nature was assumed, not absorbed”,12 in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ’s human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from “one of the Trinity”. The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:13

The Son of God. .. worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.12

CCC 516 Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”15 Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest “God’s love. .. among us”.16

CCC 661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.17 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”18 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.19 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.20

CCC 1025 To live in heaven is “to be with Christ.” The elect live “in Christ,”21 but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.22

For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.23

CCC 1614 In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts.24 The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”25

CCC 1698 The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”26 It is by looking to him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and that, by loving him with the same love with which he has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:

I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours: his spirit, his heart, his body and soul, and all his faculties. You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God. You belong to him, as members belong to their head. And so he longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father.27

For to me, to live is Christ.28

CCC 2466 In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. “Full of grace and truth,” he came as the “light of the world,” he is the Truth.29 “Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”30 The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know “the truth [that] will make you free” and that sanctifies.31 To follow Jesus is to live in “the Spirit of truth,” whom the Father sends in his name and who leads “into all the truth.”32 To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes or No.’”33

CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,34 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.35 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,36 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.37

1 1 Tim 2:4.

2 cf. Jn 14:6.

3 DV 7; cf. 2 Cor 1:20; 3:16-4:6.

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

5 Jn 14:1.

6 Jn 1:18.

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

8 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

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

10 Jn 15:12.

11 Cf. Mk 8:34.

12 GS 22 # 2.

13 Cf. Jn 14:9-10.

14 GS 22 # 2.

15 Jn 14:9; Lk 9:35; cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7, “my beloved Son”.

16 Jn 4:9.

17 Cf. Jn 16:28.

18 Jn 3:13; cf. Eph 4:8-10.

19 Jn 14:2.

20 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.

21 Phil 1:23; cf. Jn 14:3; 1 Thess 4:17.

22 Cf. Rev 2:17.

23 St. Ambrose, In Luc., 10, 121: PL 15, 1834A.

24 Cf. Mt 19:8.

25 Mt 19:6.

26 Jn 14:6.

27 St. John Eudes, Tract. de admirabili corde Jesu, 1, 5.

28 Phil 1:21.

29 Jn 1:14; 8:12; Cf. 14:6.

30 Jn 12:46.

31 Jn 8:32; Cf. 17:17.

32 Jn 16:13.

33 Mt 5:37.

34 Cf. Gen 3.

35 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.

36 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.

37 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.

APPLICATION

We may well wonder at the slowness of the Apostles in seeing in Christ nothing more than a man–a great man, a man with power from God, yes, but still a mere man. That he was the Messiah, they were convinced, but their idea of the Messiah was wrong. They thought he would free Israel from foreign domination (Lk. 24: 21), and set up a new kingdom of God–a prosperous, earthly kingdom with God guaranteeing peace and plenty for all. If, therefore, he allowed his enemies to put him to death, all their hopes would be dashed to the ground. Hence, the mention of his impending death at the Last Supper filled them with dismay and despair.

But we must not judge them too harshly. Christ had indeed often claimed to be God, but his words fell on deaf ears. It was only after his resurrection that they began to understand that he had spoken literally–it was only then they believed he was indeed the Son of God, in human nature.

For us today, the Incarnation is still a mystery, but it is not the “how” that should trouble us, we know that with God all things are possible. It is rather the “why” that should cause us amazement. Why should God go to that length for our sake–mere creatures, and sinful, ungrateful creatures at that? The infinite goodness and the infinite love of God are the answer, but still an answer which is mysterious to us. For we, with our limited capacity for love, can form no idea of infinite love.

God created us “in his own image and likeness” (a very limited likeness, granted) and intended, because of the spiritual faculties he gave us, which enable us to see and enjoy truth and beauty, to give us a share in his eternal life and glory. To do this, the Incarnation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity was God’s plan. There must have been other ways of doing this, but God, we can be sure, chose the best way. Even with our limited intelligence, we ourselves can see what a perfect way this was for proving to us the infinite love, goodness and compassion of our Creator.

Sin entered the world of man, as God had foreseen, but notwithstanding this ingratitude on our part, God’s Son came in our lowly, human nature and suffered, even though sinless, all the effects of men’s sins. He suffered in our name, and because he was God, his sufferings in his human nature made infinite atonement for the sins of all mankind.

His Incarnation had made us his brothers and co-heirs to heaven. His death on the cross wiped out, and gave us the means of wiping out, our sins, so that we would be capable of possessing our inheritance.

Knowing the story of the Incarnation therefore, we know of the love and kindness of God toward us. We need not ask, with Philip, “show us the Father,” we have seen him in his riches and wisdom and knowledge of God “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable are his ways!” (Rom. 11: 33).

“What return can I make to the Lord?” All the mortifications and good works of all the holy men and women that ever lived, or will live, would not be adequate a return to God for the miracle of love he has shown toward us. But he accepts the widow’s mite, the little acts of love, the little proofs of gratitude, the willing acceptance of the crosses he sends us, to purify us. In one word, all he asks in return is that we try to live our Christian life day after day, ever thanking him for the gift of Christ and the Christian faith.

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

BENEDICTUS

How to Reach the Dignity of Christianity

The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost. We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity. In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. To his breath the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori

0 my God, help me to remember–

That time is short, eternity is long.

What good is all the greatness of this world at the hour of death?

To love You, my God, and save my soul is the one thing necessary.

Without You, there is no peace, no joy.

My God, I need fear nothing but sin.

For to lose You, my God, is to lose all.

0 my God, help me to remember–

That to gain all I must leave all,

That in loving You I have all good things:

the infinite riches of Christ and His Church, the motherly protection of Mary,

peace beyond understanding,

joy unspeakable!

Eternal Father, your Son has promised that whatever we ask in His Name will be given to us.

In His Name I pray:

give me a burning faith,

a joyful hope,

a holy love for Jesus Christ.

Give me the grace of perseverance in doing Your will in all things.

Do with me what You will.

I repent of having offended You.

Grant, O Lord, that I may love You always and never let me be separated from You.

O my God and my All, make me a saint!

Amen. Amen.

http://redemptorists.net/prayers-saints.cfm

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