Posted in CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS of the Month, DOCTORS of the Church, Hail MARY!, HOMILIES, MARIAN DEVOTIONS, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The HOLY ROSARY/ROSARY CRUSADE

Thought for the Day – 7 October – We should Meditate on the Mysteries of Salvation

Thought for the Day – 7 October – The Memorial of – Our Lady of the Rosary

We should Meditate on the Mysteries of Salvation

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Abbot and Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from one of his Sermons

The child to be born of you will be called holy, the Son of God, the fountain of wisdom, the Word of the Father on high.   Through you, blessed Virgin, this Word will become flesh, so that even though, as He says:  I am in the Father and the Father is in me, it is still true for him to say:  “I came forth from God and am here.”

In the beginning was the Word.   The spring was gushing forth, yet still within Himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light.   And the Lord said from the beginning – I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction.   Yet your thought was locked within you and whatever you thought, we did not know, for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was His counsellor?

And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace – The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us.   It is by faith that He dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination.   What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of Him in his heart?   By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, He was invisible and unthinkable but now He wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.

But how, you ask, was this done?   He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain and spent the night in prayer.   He hung on a cross, grew pale in death and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell.   He rose again on the third day and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory and finally, in their presence, He ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.

How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness?   Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering, in all this, He is my God.   I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths and I have thought it right to recall, the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root and Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, has caused this sweetness to overflow for us.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Pray for Us!our-lady-of-the-rosary-pray-for-us-7 oct 2017.2.jpg

Posted in CATECHESIS, DOCTORS of the Church, EASTER, FATHERS of the Church, HOLY WEEK 2019, HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on DEATH, SAINT of the DAY, The INCARNATION, The PASSION, The RESURRECTION

Thought for the Day – 2 May – On the Incarnation of the Word

Thought for the Day – 2 May – Thursday of the Second week of Easter, Gospel: John 3:31–36 and the Memorial of St Athanasius (297-373)

On the Incarnation of the Word

Saint Athanasius (297-373)
Bishop, Great Eastern Father & Doctor of the Church
Known as “The Father of Orthodoxy”

An excerpt from On the Incarnation of the Word

The Word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible and immaterial, entered our world.   Yet it was not as if He had been remote from it up to that time.   For there is no part of the world that was ever without His Presence; together with His Father, He continually filled all things and places.

Out of His loving-kindness for us, He came to us and we see this in the way He revealed Himself openly to us.   Taking pity on mankind’s weakness and moved by our corruption, He could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us, He did not want creation to perish and His Father’s work in fashioning man, to be in vain.   He, therefore, took to Himself a body, no different from our own, for He did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen.

If He had wanted simply to be seen, He could indeed have taken another and nobler, body.   Instead, He took our body in its reality.

Within the Virgin, He built himself a temple, that is, a body, He made it His own instrument in which to dwell and to reveal Himself.   In this way, He received from mankind, a body like our own and, since all were subject to the corruption of death, He delivered this body over to death for all and with supreme love, offered it to the Father. He did so, to destroy the law of corruption, passed against all men, since all died in Him. The law, which had spent its force on the body of the Lord, could no longer have any power over His fellowmen.   Moreover, this was the way in which the Word was to restore mankind to immortality, after it had fallen into corruption and summon it back, from death to life.   He utterly destroyed the power death had against mankind—as fire consumes chaff—by means of the body He had taken and the grace of the Resurrection.

This is the reason why the Word assumed a body that could die, so that this body, sharing in the Word who is above all, might satisfy death’s requirement in place of all.  Because of the Word dwelling in that body, it would remain incorruptible and all would be freed forever from corruption, by the grace of the Resurrection.

In death, the Word made a spotless sacrifice and oblation of the body He had taken.   By dying for others, He immediately banished death for all mankind.in death the word made a spotless - st athanasius - 2 may 2019

In this way the Word of God, who is above all, dedicated and offered His temple, the instrument that was His body, for us all, as He said and so paid, by His own death the debt that was owed.   The immortal Son of God, united with all men by likeness of nature, thus fulfilled all justice, in restoring mankind to immortality, by the promise of the resurrection.

The corruption of death, no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among them through His one body.

St Athanasius, Pray for Us!st athanasius pray for us no 2 - 2 may 2019 adapted.jpg

 

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, HOMILIES, Papa FRANCIS, SAINT of the DAY, The CHRIST CHILD, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 2 January – Christmas Weekday Today’s Gospel: John 1:19–28

One Minute Reflection – 2 January – Christmas Weekday Today’s Gospel: John 1:19–28

He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”…John 1:23

REFLECTION – “It is a voice which cries out where it seems that no one can hear it — for who can listen in the desert? — and which cries out in the disorientation caused by a crisis of faith.   We cannot deny that the world today is in a crisis of faith.   One says: “I believe in God, I am a Christian” — “I belong to this religion…”.   But your life is far from being Christian – it is far removed from God!   Religion, faith is but an expression: “Do I believe?” — “Yes!”.   This means returning to God, converting the heart to God and going on this path to find Him.   He is waiting for us.   This is John the Baptist’s preaching: prepare.   Prepare for the encounter with this Child who will give our smile back to us.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 7 December 2016john 1 23 - i am the voice crying in the wilderness - it is a voice - pope francis 2 jan 2019prepare for the encounter with this child - pope francis 2 jan 2019

PRAYER – Look with favour on our morning prayer, Lord and in Your saving love, let Your light penetrate the wilderness in our hearts.   May no sordid desires darken our minds, renewed and enlightened as we are, by Your heavenly grace. God our Father, You enriched Your Church and gave examples for us to follow in the life and teachings of Sts Basil and Gregory.   Grant that, learning Your truth with humility, we may practise it in faith and love.   Sts Basil and Gregory, pray for our beloved Church, pray for all Catholic Christians, through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.sts-basil-and-gregory-pray-for-us-2-jan-2018

Posted in ADVENT, DOCTORS of the Church, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on ETERNITY, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on GRATITUDE, The INCARNATION

Thought for the Day – 15 December – The Threefold Coming of the Lord

Thought for the Day – 15 December – Saturday of the Second week of Advent

The Word of the Lord will come to us – The Threefold Coming of the Lord

St Bernard Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor of the Church

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold – the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are.   At His first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw Him and hated Him.   At His last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God and They shall look on Him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see Him and they see Him within themselves and so their souls are saved.   The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.

This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last.   At the first, Christ was our redemption, at the last, He will become manifest as our life but in this middle way He is our rest and our consolation.

If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord Himself:  “If anyone loves me, he will keep my words and the Father will love him and we shall come to him.”   Elsewhere I have read:  Whoever fears the Lord does good things – but I think that what was said about whoever loves Him was more important, that whoever loves Him will keep His words.   Where are these words to be kept?   In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you.   Keep the word of God in that way – Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave, because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice.   Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up.   Remember and your soul will grow fat and sleek.

If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father, the great Prophet will come, who will renew Jerusalem and He is the one who makes all things new.   For this is what this coming will do, just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image.   Just as the old Adam was poured into the whole man and took possession of him, so in turn will our whole humanity be taken over by Christ, who created all things, has redeemed all things and will glorify all things.

Come Lord Jesus, my light, my life, I thank You!come-lord-jesus-15-december-2017-the-golden-thread

Posted in FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The TRANSFIGURATION

Quote of the Day – 6 August – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – Today’s Gospel: Mark 9:2–10

Quote of the Day – 6 August – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – Today’s Gospel: Mark 9:2–10

It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter.   It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever. What greater hap  piness or higher honour could we have than to be with God, to be made like Him and to live in His light?

Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into His divine image, we also should cry out with joy:
It is good for us to be here – here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness;  where God is seen.
For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up His abode together with the Father, saying as He enters:  Today salvation has come to this house.

With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of His eternal blessings and there where they are stored up for us in Him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.

St Anastasius of Sinai (630-701)

for here, christ takes up his abode - transfiguration homily - st anastasius of sinai - 6 aug 2018

Posted in GOD the FATHER, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, POETRY, PRAYERS to the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on REPENTANCE

Thought for the Day – 17 July – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Thought for the Day – 17 July – Tuesday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

To be converted and return to the Lord
Verse Homily of
Saint Jacob of Sarug (c 449-521)
Syrian monk and Bishop

I will go back to my Father’s house like the prodigal son (Lk 15:18) and He will welcome me.
For I was dead through sin as though by sickness;
raise me up from my distress that I may praise Your name!
O Lord of heaven and earth, come to my help and show me Your way,
that I may come to You.
Draw me to You, Son of the Most Good
and bring Your compassion to completion.
I will set out towards You and there be filled with joy.
Knead for me now the grain of life at this time when I am crushed.

I set out in search of You and the Evil One spied on me like a thief (cf. Lk 10:30).
He bound and chained me in the pleasures of this wicked world:
he imprisoned me in its pleasures and slammed the door in my face.
There was no one to free me, so that I might set out in search of You, O Lord, my good!…
O Lord, I long to be Yours and walk Your way.
See how I meditate Your commandments by day and by night (Ps 1:2).
Grant my request and accept my prayer, O merciful one!
Do not cast off the hope of Your servant, for he is waiting for you.

Saint Jacob of Sarug (c 449-521)

the prodigal son - large

Posted in HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on REPENTANCE

Thought for the Day – 20 June – Wednesday Eleventh Week of Ord Time Year B – Today’s Gospel Matthew 6:1-6.16-18

Thought for the Day – 20 June – Wednesday Eleventh Week of Ord Time Year B – Today’s Gospel Matthew 6:1-6.16-18

“We are Nothing in Ourselves”
St John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)

“When we do nothing to be ashamed of, when everything is going along according to our wishes, we dare to believe that nothing could make us fall.   We forget our own nothingness and our utter weakness.   We make the most delightful protestations that we are ready to die rather than to allow ourselves to be conquered.   We see a splendid example of this in St Peter, who told our Lord that although all others might be scandalised in Him, yet he would never deny Him.

Alas!   To show him how man, left to himself, is nothing at all, God made use, not of kings or princes or weapons but simply of the voice of a maidservant, who even appeared to speak to him in a very indifferent sort of way.   A moment ago, he was ready to die for Him and now Peter protests, that he does not even know Him, that he does not know about whom they are speaking.   To assure them even more vehemently that he does not know Him, he swears an oath about it.

Dear Lord, what we are capable of when we are left to ourselves!   There are some who, in their own words, are envious of the saints who did great penances.   They believe that they could do as well.   When we read the lives of some of the martyrs, we would, we think, be ready to suffer all that they suffered for God;  the moment is short lived, we say, for an eternity of reward.   But what does God do to teach us to know ourselves or, rather, to know that we are nothing?   This is all He does:   He allows the Devil to come a little closer to us.   Look at this Christian who a moment ago was quite envious of the hermit who lived solely on roots and herbs and who made the stern resolution to treat his body as harshly.   Alas!   A slight headache, a prick of a pin, makes him, as big and strong is he is, sorry for himself.   He is very upset.   He cries with pain.   A moment ago he would have been willing to do all the penances of the anchorites — and the merest trifle makes him despair!

Look at this other one, who seems to want to give his whole life for God, whose ardour all the torments there are cannot damp.   A tiny bit of scandalmongering …. a word of calumny …. even a slightly cold reception or a small injustice done to him …. a kindness returned by ingratitude …. immediately gives birth in him to feelings of hatred, of revenge, of dislike, to the point, often, of his never wishing to see his neighbour again or at least of treating him coldly with an air which shows very plainly what is going on in his heart.   And how many times is this his waking thought, just as it was the thought that almost prevented him from sleeping?   Alas, my dear brethren, we are poor stuff and we should count very little upon our good resolutions!”

St John Vianney, Pray for us!

st john vianney pray for us - 20 june 2018

Posted in EASTER, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, The GOOD SHEPHERD, The WORD

Thought for the Day – The Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B – “Good Shepherd/Vocations Sunday

Thought for the Day – The Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B – “Good Shepherd/Vocations Sunday” – Todays Readings: Acts 4:8-12, Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18

“The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep”

Despite Jesus’ realistic word-picture, the parable of the Good Shepherd only fully comes alive in Jesus Himself, God’s appointed “Shepherd” of men.   He names two characteristics of such a shepherd:  first the shepherd’s commitment to the flock even to the point of death;  and second, the reciprocal recognition between sheep and shepherd, which is anchored in the innermost mystery of God.

The theme of self-giving to the point of death, is found at both the beginning and the end of the Gospel.   This devotion, contrasts sharply with the flight of the “hired hand”, who, when facing danger, has the excuse that the life of a man is more valuable than the life of a dumb animal.   This argument loses its force, however, when the shepherd cares so much for his sheep, that he prefers them to his own life.   That is scarcely conceivable in purely natural terms but it becomes a central truth in the realm of grace.   It only makes sense with the aid of the second theme of the parable – the shepherd knows his sheep and the animals likewise instinctively recognise him.   For Jesus, this is merely the point of comparison for a completely different recognition:  “as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”   This has nothing to do with instinct but with the most profound mutual recognition, as it is found in absolute trinitarian love.   When Jesus applies this utterly sublime trinitarian love recognition to the inward mutuality between Himself and His own, He elevates this knowledge far above that which is hinted at by the parable.

And thus, it becomes clear, that the first motif of the parable (giving one’s life for the sheep) and the second motif (mutual recognition) coincide rather than merely parallel each other.   The Father’s and the Son’s knowledge of each other is identical with their mutual and perfect selfgiving and therefore, the knowledge exchanged between Jesus and His own, is one with the perfect selfgiving of Jesus for and to His own and it implicitly includes the unity of the Christian’s knowledge and loving dedication to his Lord.

At the end, both themes are expressly joined together:  the Father (also) loves the Son for His perfect selfgiving for the sake of men, a selfgiving which is both freely chosen by the Son and commissioned by the Father.   This unmitigated surrender to mankind because it is Divine Love, is at the same time the power that achieves victory over death (“the power to take up life again”).

“No other name under heaven”  in the First Reading, Peter gives the Lord all glory for the miracle he has effected.   The point is not that, Jesus excepted, all who care for sheep are “hired hands” for the Lord Himself installed Peter to pasture His flock – precisely Jesus’ Flock, not Peter’s.   Thus everything effective and appropriate ultimately is accomplished by the “chief Shepherd alone” (1 Pet 5:4), even if through the activity of His assistants.

Hans Urs von Balthasar “Light of the Word”

john 10 11 - good shepherd no 2

 

Posted in Blessed JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN, EASTER, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The HOLY EUCHARIST, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 20 April – Friday of the Third Week of Eastertide

One Minute Reflection – 20 April – Friday of the Third Week of Eastertide

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, 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;  he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.   For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed.”...John 6:53-55

REFLECTION – “About these words I observe, first, that they evidently declare on the face of them some very great mystery.   How can they be otherwise taken?   If they do not, they must be a figurative way of declaring something which is not mysterious but plain and intelligible.   But is it conceivable, that He who is the Truth and Love itself, should have used difficult words, when plain words would do?   Why should He have used words, the sole effect of which, in that case, would be to perplex, to startle us needlessly?   Does His mercy delight in creating difficulties?   Does He put stumbling-blocks in our way without cause?   Does He excite hopes and then disappoint them?   It is possible;  He may have some deep purpose in so doing but which is more likely, that His meaning is beyond us, or His words beyond His meaning?
All who read such awful words as those in question will be led by the first impression of them, either with the disciples to go back, as at a hard saying, or with St Peter to welcome what is promised:  they will be excited in one way or the other, with incredulous surprise or with believing hope?   And are the feelings of these opposite witnesses, discordant indeed, yet all of them deep, after all unfounded?   Are they to go for nothing?   Are they no token of our Saviour’s real meaning?   This desire and again this aversion, so naturally raised, are they without a real object and the mere consequence of a general mistake on all hands, of what Christ meant as imagery, for literal truth?   Surely this is very improbable!”…Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)but is it conceivable that he, who is the truth and love itself - bl john henry newman - 20 april 2018 - john chapter 6

PRAYER – Lord God, source of our freedom and our salvation, listen to our humble prayer.   We stand with St Peter and welcome what our divine Saviour, Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ has promised.   Help us to grow in love and faith at each Holy Sacrifice we attend.   Help us to accept with total commitment this great Mystery and as He gives Himself to and for us, help us to give ourselves to and for the glory of Your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.  Peter, the spokesman for the apostles, proclaims, “Lord, to whom shall we go?   You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:67-69).john 6 67-69

Posted in Blessed Pope PAUL VI, CATECHESIS, EASTER, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SUNDAY REFLECTIONS, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Sunday Reflection – 15 April – The Third Sunday of Easter Year B

Sunday Reflection – 15 April – The Third Sunday of Easter Year B

“Christ wished to choose this sacred symbol of human life, which bread is, to make an even more sacred symbol of Himself.   He has transubstantitated it but has not taken away its expressive power – rather, He has elevated this expressive power to a new meaning, a higher meaning, a mystical, religious, divine meaning.   He has made of it a ladder for an ascent that transcends the natural level.
As a sound becomes a voice and as the voice becomes word, thought, truth – so that sign of the bread has passed from its humble and pious being to signify a mystery, it has become a Sacrament, it has acquired the power to demonstrate the Body of Christ present.”

Blessed Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) – when Archbishop of Milan from a homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christias a sound becomes a voice - paul VI - 15 april 2018 - sunday reflection

Posted in EASTER, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS

Thought for the Day – 14 April – Saturday of the Second Week of Eastertide

Thought for the Day – 14 April – Saturday of the Second Week of Eastertide

We Are Keeping a Feast
The Greatest of ALL Feasts!

St John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)

In the early days of the church, the faithful of one province, or district, used to come together publicly on the feast day of a saint in order to have the happiness of participating in all the graces which God bestows on such days.

The office of the vigil was started.   The evening and night were spent in prayer at the tomb of the saint.   The faithful heard the word of God.   They sang hymns and canticles in honour of the saint.   After passing the night so devoutly, they heard Mass, at which all those assisting had the happiness of going to Holy Communion.   Then they all withdrew, praising God for the triumphs He had accorded the saint and the graces He had bestowed in response to the latter’s intercession.   After that, my dear brethren, who could doubt but that God pours out His graces with abundance upon such a reunion of the faithful and that the saints themselves are happy to be the patrons of such people.   That was the way in which the feast days of patrons (and all feasts) were celebrated in olden times.

What do you think of that?   Is it thus that we celebrate such feasts today?   Alas!   If the first Christians were to come back upon this earth, would they not tell us that our feasts are no different from those that the pagans kept?   Is it not the general rule that God is most seriously offended on these holy days?

Does it not seem, rather, that we combine our money and our energies together to multiply sin almost to infinity?

What are we concerned with on the vigil of such feasts and even for several days beforehand?   Is it not with spending foolish and unnecessary money?   And all this time poor people are dying of hunger and our sins are calling down upon us the anger of God to the point where eternity would not be sufficient to satisfy for them.   You should pass the night in repentance and remorse, in considering how very little you have followed the example of your patron saint.   And yet you consecrate that time to preparing everything that will flatter your gluttony!   Might it not be said that this day is one for pure self-indulgence and debauchery?   Do parents and friends come, as in former times, to enjoy the happiness of participating in the graces which God bestows at the intercession of a patron saint?  They come but only to pass this feast day almost wholly at the table.   In former times, the religious services were much longer than they are today, and still they seemed always too short.   Nowadays you will see even fathers of families who, during the performance of the offices, are at table filling themselves with food and wine.   The first Christians invited each other in order to multiply their good works and their prayers.   Today it seems rather as if people invite each other so that they can multiply the sins and the orgies and the excesses in which they indulge in eating and drinking.   Does anyone think God will not demand an account of even a penny wrongly spent?   Does it not seem that we celebrate the feast only to insult our holy Patron and to increase our ingratitude?

Let us look a little closer, my dear brethren, and we shall realise that we are far from imitating Him whom God has given us for a model.   He passed His life in penance and in sorrow.   He died in torments.   What is more, I am sure that there are parishes where more sins are committed on those days than during all the rest of the year.   The Lord told the Jews that their feasts were an abomination and that He would take the filth of their feasts and throw it in their faces.   He wished to make us understand by this how greatly He is offended on those days which should be passed in weeping for our sins and in prayer.

We read in the Gospel that Jesus Christ came on earth to enlighten souls with the fire of divine love.   But we can believe that the Devil also roams around on earth to light an impure fire in the hearts of Christians and that what he promotes with the greatest frenzy are balls and dances.   I have debated for a long time whether I should speak to you about a matter so difficult to get you to understand and so little thought upon by the Christians of our days, who are blinded by their passions.   If your faith were not so weak that it might be extinguished in your hearts in the blink of an eye, you would understand the enormity of the abyss towards which you precipitate yourselves in giving yourselves over with such abandon to these wretched amusements.   But you will tell me.   For you to talk to us about dances and about the evil that takes place at them is just a waste of time.   We will indulge neither more nor less in them.   I firmly believe that, since Tertullian assures us that very many refused to become Christians rather than deprive themselves of such pleasures.

does anyone think - st john vianney - 14 april 2018

 

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, EASTER, FATHERS of the Church, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on ETERNITY, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on OBEDIENCE, QUOTES on SANCTITY

Thought for the Day – 9 April – Low Monday of Eastertide

Thought for the Day – 9 April – Low Monday of Eastertide

St Augustine of Hippo – The Easter Alleluia

This excerpt on the Easter Alleluia from St Augustine is a wonderful explanation of the joy of the Easter Season.   Just as Lent was a season of penance, so the fifty days of Easter is a season of praise and song, an anticipation for the age to come in heavenly glory.

“Our thoughts in this present life, should turn on the praise of God because it is in praising God, that we shall rejoice forever in the life to come and no one can be ready for the next life, unless he trains himself for it now. 

our thoughts in this present life - st augustine - 9 april 2018 - low monday  So we praise God during our earthly life and at the same time we make our petitions to Him.   Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning.   We have been promised something we do not yet possess and because the promise was made by one who keeps His word, we trust Him and are glad;  but insofar as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it.   It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised and yearning is over, then praise alone will remain.

Because there are these two periods of time – the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy – we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after.   The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present, signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future.   What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess.   This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise.   Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head.   The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial – shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die.   The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God.   That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia.   You say to your neighbour, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you.   We are all urging one another to praise the Lord and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do.   But see that your praise comes from your whole being;  in other words, see that you praise God, not with your lips and voices alone but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.

but see that you praise god - st augustine - low monday - 9 april 2018

We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church;  but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God.   But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God.   You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God.   

If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud and God will perceive your intentions;  for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.”

if you never turn aside from the good life - st augustine - low monday - 9 april 2018as our ears hear each other's voices - st augustine - 8 april 2018 - low monday of eastertide

This excerpt on the Alleluia as the song of the Easter Season of praise comes from St. Augustine’s discourse on the Psalms (Ps. 148, 1-2: CCL 40, 2165-2166).

We are the Easter People and Alleluia is our Song!

St Pope John Paul (1920-2005)we are the easter people and alleluia is our song - st john paul - 9 april 2018 - low monday

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Thought for the Day – 5 April – Easter Thursday Fifth Day in the Easter Octave

Thought for the Day – 5 April – Easter Thursday Fifth Day in the Easter Octave

Christ’s Resurrection – Our Sure Hope
St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father & Doctor of the Church

“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate before them..”..Luke 24:36-43

“Those who have a sure hope, guaranteed by the Spirit, that they will rise again lay hold of what lies in the future as though it were already present.

They say: “Outward appearances will no longer be our standard in judging other men. Our lives are all controlled by the Spirit now and are not confined to this physical world that is subject to corruption.   The light of the Only-begotten has shone on us and we have been transformed into the Word, the source of all life.   While sin was still our master, the bonds of death had a firm hold on us but now, that the righteousness of Christ has found a place in our hearts, we have freed ourselves from our former condition of corruptibility”.

This means that none of us lives in the flesh anymore, at least not in so far as living in the flesh means being subject to the weaknesses of the flesh, which include corruptibility.   Once we thought of Christ as being in the flesh but we do not do so any longer, says Saint Paul [2 Corinthians 5:16].   By this he meant that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us;  He suffered death in the flesh in order to give all men life.

It was in this flesh that we knew Him before but we do so no longer.   Even though He remains in the flesh, since He came to life again on the third day and is now with His Father in heaven, we know that He has passed beyond the life of the flesh, for having died once, He will never die again, death has no power over Him any more.   His death was a death to sin, which He died once for all;  His life is life with God [Romans 6:9].

Since Christ has in this way become the source of life for us, we who follow in His footsteps must not think of ourselves as living in the flesh any longer but as having passed beyond it.   Saint Paul’s saying is absolutely true that when anyone is in Christ he becomes a completely different person:  his old life is over and a new life has begun [2 Cor. 5:17].

We have been justified by our faith in Christ and the power of the curse has been broken. Christ’s coming to life again for our sake has put an end to the sovereignty of death.   We have come to know the true God and to worship Him in spirit and in truth, through the Son, our mediator, who sends down upon the world the Father’s blessings.

And so Saint Paul shows deep insight when He says:  This is all God’s doing:  it is He who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.   For the mystery of the incarnation and the renewal it accomplished could not have taken place without the Father’s will.   Through Christ we have gained access to the Father, for as Christ himself says, no one comes to the Father except through Him.   This is all God’s doing, then.   It is He who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and who has given us, the ministry of reconciliation.”those who have sure hope - st cyril of alexandria - easter thursday - 5 april 2018

“The One who from nothingness had called the world into existence, only He could break the seals of the tomb, only He could become the source of New Life for us, who are subject to the universal law of death.   “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” (Mk 16:3), the women were asking one another, when very early they were going to the tomb where the Lord had been laid.   To this question, asked by the people of every age, of every country, culture and continent, the Bishop of Rome replies, this year too, with the message “Urbi et Orbi”:

“Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere…”   Yes, we know for certain that Christ is truly risen from the dead.   You, victorious King, have mercy on us.   Amen! Alleluia!”

St Pope John Paul – 10 April 1996

yes we know for certain that christ is truly risen - st john paul - easter thursday - 5 april 2018

 

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Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Sixth Word – 30 March – Good Friday 2018

Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Sixth Word – 30 March – Good Friday 2018

The Seven Last Words of Christ

The Seven Last Words of Christ refer, not to individual words but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as He hung on the Cross.   These phrases were not recorded in a single Gospel but are taken from the combined accounts of the four Gospels.   Greatly revered, these last words of Jesus have been the subject of many books, sermons and musical settings.

“Like a bridegroom, Christ went forth from His chamber ….
He came to the marriage-bed of the Cross
and there, in mounting it, He consummated His marriage.
And when He perceived the sighs of the creature,
He lovingly gave Himself up
to the torment, in place of His bride
and joined Himself to her forever.”

St Augustine (354-430) – Sermo Suppositus 120like a bridgegroom - it is consumated - st augustine - good friday - the sixth word - 30 march 2018

” In John’s account, Jesus’ last words are: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
In the Greek text, this word (tetélestai) points back to the very beginning of the Passion narrative, to the episode of the washing of the feet, which the evangelist introduces by observing that Jesus loved His own “to the end (télos)” (John 13:1). This “end,” this ne plus ultra of loving, is now attained in the moment of death.
He has truly gone right to the end, to the very limit and even beyond that limit.
He has accomplished the utter fullness of love – He has given Himself.”

Pope Benedict XVI

The Sixth Word

“It is consummated.” (John 19:30)

Translation is risky because it always involves some interpretation.   So how is this sixth word of Christ on the Cross (Jn 19:30) properly rendered into English:   “It is finished” (as in “done,” “over with”); “it is completed” (with a less fatalistic ring to it); or, “it is consummated” (in the sense of “brought to fulfillment”)?   The correct choice requires a knowledge of the total Gospel of John, to which we must now turn.

The Johannine Jesus is wholly focused on His hour – the moment of glory. It cannot be hastened, as He had to remind His Mother: “My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4).   Nor can or should it be forestalled:  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . My soul is troubled now yet what should I say – Father, save me from this hour?   But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (Jn 12:23, 27-28).

Now, if most people were asked when Jesus’ hour of glory began, they would probably say Easter morning.   But John would disagree.   The Lord, according to this Evangelist, began His hour of glory in His Passion, when He freely consented to the Father’s plan for Him.

The Jesus we meet in John is the pre-existent Word (Jn 1:1-14) – always in control of His own destiny, never the helpless victim of either envious Jewish authorities or sadistic Roman soldiers.   Death comes when He is ready and not a minute sooner:  “The Father loves me for this: that I lay down my life to take it up again.   No one takes it from me; I lay it down freely.   I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again” (Jn 10:17-18).

And so it is that Jesus announces (even proclaims) that the hour of His death has come, proving correct the ironic inscription over His head (Jn 19:19).   He is, in fact, never more a King than from the throne of His Cross.   In His death, the work of salvation is finished or, as the original Greek implies, the end or purpose is accomplished.

No morbid preoccupation with death here, for death (and especially this death) is the gateway to life.   No room for the Angst of the existentialists of another era.   Death is not the end, as common parlance understands it:  Death is The End, as Aristotle and Aquinas would have us ponder the word – the goal toward which reality struggles for fulfilment. It is in the light of this truth that Jesus’ assertion makes the most sense:  “And I – once I am lifted up from earth – will draw all things to myself” (Jn 12:32).

Dying, however, is not an end in itself.   In the very act of dying, Jesus did one thing more – He “delivered over His spirit” (Jn 19:30).   It is significant that John does not say that He “gave up” His spirit but “delivered over” (as in “gave forth”).

Thus, we inquire, What is meant by “spirit”?   Surely a play on words is intended, for spirit means “life principle” or “breath” but also spirit as in “Holy Spirit.”   Interestingly, it is only in “giving up” His own life principle that He can “give over” the Holy Spirit.

To whom is that spirit delivered?   First of all, His earthly life is given over to the Father, Who seals it all with the Resurrection. Second, in fulfilment of John 7:39, He gives His Spirit to the faithful remnant, Mary and John, at the foot of the Cross.   Which is to say that He gives His spirit to us, His Church, represented in glory’s hour by the Church’s Mother and the Church’s first son.

That deliverance of the Spirit is achieved proleptically here, by way of a sure promise, only fully actualised after the Resurrection.   However, time does not matter;  in fact, eternity has taken over in the hour of glory, so that everything coalesces into a marvellous unity:  Death, Resurrection, communication of the Spirit, birth of the Church.

Ignominy and triumph meet at the crossroads of Calvary in the hour of glory.   The Saviour knows this and that is why He can declare so majestically: “It is consummated.”… Fr Stravinskas

Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence

Lord, Your Cross is high and uplifted;
I cannot mount it in my own strength.
You have promised:
“I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw all to Myself.”
Draw me, then, from my sins to repentance,
from darkness to faith,
from the flesh to the spirit,
from coldness to ardent devotion,
from weak beginnings to a perfect end,
from smooth and easy paths,
if it be Your will, to a higher and holier way,
from fear to love,
from earth to heaven,
from myself to You.
And as You have said:
“No man can come to Me,
except the Father, who sent Me, draw him,”
give unto me the Spirit Whom the Father hath sent in Your Name,
that in Him and through Him,
I being wholly changed,
may hasten to You
and go out no more for ever.
Amen
(From a Prayer a Day for Lent – 1923)THE SIXTH WORD -JOHN 19 230- THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST - THE DEVOTION - 30 MARCH 2018

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Saturday after Ash Wednesday – 17 February 2018

Saturday after Ash Wednesday – 17 February 2018
Isaiah 58:9-14, Psalms 86:1-6, Luke 5:27-32

Show me Lord, your way, so that I may walk in your truth.

Isaiah 58:9-10: “If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,
the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your darkest hour will be like noon.
Luke 5:32: “I have come to call not the upright but sinners to repentance.”saturday after ash wed - 17 feb 2018

Isaiah makes it abundantly clear that it is our service to the poor and the weak that wins God’s favour, not lifeless religious practices.   The message becomes most meaningful in modern society, marked by unfair distribution of resources, hatred, violence, abuse and mutual accusations.   It is only when we strive against such evils that we win God’s approval.   “You shall be like the watered garden” the prophet says.   The image stands for the possession of every good thing that we desire.

The Gospel speaks of the call of Levi.   His joy was so great that he could hardly contain it.
He organised a party for his fellow tax-collectors, which unfailingly earned the criticism of the Pharisees.   Jesus’ answer was that His mission was precisely to wrongdoers, to the least and the lost.   These words indeed offer us hope when we stray and urge us to reach out to others as Jesus did.
That is the Christian calling, that is the Christian ‘job’!
(Archbishop Thomas Menamparanpil SDB – Gods Word)

Don’t you wonder what it was about Levi that moved Jesus to call him?   And what was it that caused Levi to respond?
He must have been a pretty successful man in economic terms but as a tax collector, he was undoubtedly not popular in his own community and was seen as a collaborator with Rome.   Perhaps he had a nagging sense of “there must be something more to life”. perhaps a sense of emptiness and sadness.   Something touched him so deeply at Jesus call, that he let go of a previous way of life and opened himself instantly to the gift being offered.   He was overjoyed, he was filled with joy, he was joyous, he bubbled over and threw a big party in order to share his joy!   And Jesus attended the party!   He was at the party!   He is at our party too when we allow Him entrance to our hearts.

When asked who he is, Pope Francis responded “I am a sinner, whom the Lord has looked upon.”   When we are able to see ourselves as Pope Francis does, as loved sinners, we are open to receive the forgiveness and help God longs to give us.   When we are aware of ourselves as sinners, loved and called by God, we respond with a deep sense of repentance, gratitude and joy, we throw that party and invite other sinners to join us.   We simply have to share the joy!

Where do I experience my own sinfulness?
How is this awareness a gift?
Spend some time with Jesus today sharing with Him your struggles and Your need of His help.
Have a party with Him!
(excerpt Fr Nicholas King S.J. ‘The Long Journey to the Resurrection’)

My soul, what have you done for God?
Look o’er your misspent years and see;
See first what you have done for God,
And then what God has done for thee!

Daily Lenten Prayer

Today Lord, I choose life,
I choose Your love
and the challenge to live it and share it,
I choose hope, even in moments of darkness,
I choose faith, accepting You as Lord and God,
I choose to let go of some part of my burdens,
day by day handing them over to You,
I choose to take hold of Your strength
and power ever more deeply in my life.
May this truly be for me a time of new life,
of change, challenge and growth.
May I come to Easter with a heart open to dying with You
and rising to Your new life, day by day.
Amen

my soul what have you done for god - daily lenten prayer 17 feb 2018

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Series on the Catechesis of Pope BENEDICT XVI “Speaking of St Paul” – No 1 – Religious and Cultural Environment

Series on the Catechesis of Pope BENEDICT XVI on St Paul

“Speaking of St Paul ” No 1 – Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Religious and Cultural Environment

386px-Marco_Zoppo_-_St_Paul_-_WGA26005
Marco Zoppo (1433–1478) – Italian painter (1433-1478) St Paul circa 1468

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to begin a new cycle of Catechesis focusing on the great Apostle St Paul. As you know, this year is dedicated to him, from the liturgical Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June 2008 to the same Feast day in 2009.   The Apostle Paul, an outstanding and almost inimitable yet stimulating figure, stands before us as an example of total dedication to the Lord and to his Church, as well as of great openness to humanity and its cultures.   It is right, therefore, that we reserve a special place for him in not only our veneration but also in our effort to understand what he has to say to us as well, Christians of today.   In this first meeting let us pause to consider the environment in which St Paul lived and worked.   A theme such as this would seem to bring us far from our time, given that we must identify with the world of 2,000 years ago.   Yet this is only apparently and, in any case, only partly true for we can see that various aspects of today’s social and cultural context are not very different from what they were then.

A primary and fundamental fact to bear in mind is the relationship between the milieu in which Paul was born and raised and the global context to which he later belonged.   He came from a very precise and circumscribed culture, indisputably a minority, which is that of the People of Israel and its tradition.   In the ancient world and especially in the Roman Empire, as scholars in the subject teach us, Jews must have accounted for about 10 percent of the total population.   Later, here in Rome, towards the middle of the first century, this percentage was even lower, amounting to three percent of the city’s inhabitants at most.   Their beliefs and way of life, is still the case today, distinguished them clearly from the surrounding environment and this could have two results:  either derision, that could lead to intolerance, or admiration which was expressed in various forms of sympathy, as in the case of the “God-fearing” or “proselytes”, pagans who became members of the Synagogue and who shared the faith in the God of Israel.   As concrete examples of this dual attitude we can mention on the one hand the cutting opinion of an orator such as Cicero who despised their religion and even the city of Jerusalem (cf. Pro Flacco, 66-69) and, on the other, the attitude of Nero’s wife, Poppea, who is remembered by Flavius Josephus as a “sympathiser” of the Jews (cf. Antichità giudaiche 20, 195, 252); Vita 16), not to mention that Julius Caesar had already officially recognised specific rights of the Jews which have been recorded by the above-mentioned Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (cf. ibid., 14,200-216).   It is certain that the number of Jews, as, moreover, is still the case today, was far greater outside the land of Israel, that is, in the Diaspora, than in the territory that others called Palestine.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Paul himself was the object of the dual contradictory assessment that I mentioned.   One thing is certain: the particularism of the Judaic culture and religion easily found room in an institution as far-reaching as the Roman Empire.   Those who would adhere with faith to the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Jew or Gentile, were in the more difficult and troubled position, to the extent to which they were to distinguish themselves from both Judaism and the prevalent paganism.   In any case, two factors were in Paul’s favour.   The first was the Greek, or rather Hellenistic, culture which after Alexander the Great had become a common heritage, at least of the Eastern Mediterranean and of the Middle East and had even absorbed many elements of peoples traditionally considered barbarian.   One writer of the time says in this regard that Alexander “ordered that all should consider the entire oecumene as their homeland… and that a distinction should no longer be made between Greek and barbarian” (Plutarch, De Alexandri Magni fortuna aut virtute, 6, 8).   The second factor was the political and administrative structure of the Roman Empire which guaranteed peace and stability from Britain as far as southern Egypt, unifying a territory of previously unheard of dimensions.   It was possible to move with sufficient freedom and safety in this space, making use, among other things, of an extraordinary network of roads and finding at every point of arrival basic cultural characteristics which, without affecting local values, nonetheless represented a common fabric of unification super partes, so that the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Paul himself, praised the Emperor Augustus for “composing in harmony all the savage peoples, making himself the guardian of peace” (Legatio ad Caium, 146-147).

There is no doubt that the universalist vision characteristic of St Paul’s personality, at least of the Christian Paul after the event on the road to Damascus, owes its basic impact to faith in Jesus Christ, since the figure of the Risen One was by this time situated beyond any particularistic narrowness.   Indeed, for the Apostle “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 28).   Yet, even the historical and cultural situation of his time and milieu could not but have had an influence on his decisions and his work.   Some have defined Paul as “a man of three cultures”, taking into account his Jewish background, his Greek tongue and his prerogative as a “civis romanus [Roman citizen], as the name of Latin origin suggests.   Particularly the Stoic philosophy dominant in Paul’s time which influenced Christianity, even if only marginally, should be recalled.   Concerning this, we cannot gloss over certain names of Stoic philosophers such as those of its founders, Zeno and Cleanthes and then those closer to Paul in time such as Seneca, Musonius and Epictetus: in them the loftiest values of humanity and wisdom are found which were naturally to be absorbed by Christianity.   As one student of the subject splendidly wrote, “Stoicism… announced a new ideal, which imposed upon man obligations to his peersbut at the same time set him free from all physical and national ties and made of him a purely spiritual being” (M. Pohlenz, La Stoa, I, Florence, 2, 1978, pp. 565 f.).   One thinks, for example, of the doctrine of the universe understood as a single great harmonious body and consequently of the doctrine of equality among all people without social distinctions, of the equivalence, at least in principle, of men and women and then of the ideal of frugality, of the just measure and self-control to avoid all excesses.   When Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4: 8), he was only taking up a purely humanistic concept proper to that philosophical wisdom.

In St Paul’s time a crisis of traditional religion was taking place, at least in its mythological and even civil aspects.   After Lucretius had already ruled polemically a century earlier that “religion has led to many misdeeds” (De rerum natura, 1, 101, On the Nature of Things), a philosopher such as Seneca, going far beyond any external ritualism, taught that “God is close to you, he is with you, he is within you” (Epistulae morales to Lucilius, 41, 1).   Similarly, when Paul addresses an audience of Epicurean philosophers and Stoics in the Areopagus of Athens, he literally says: “God does not live in shrines made by man,… for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 24, 28).   In saying this he certainly re-echoes the Judaic faith in a God who cannot be represented in anthropomorphic terms and even places himself on a religious wavelength that his listeners knew well.   We must also take into account the fact that many pagan cults dispensed with the official temples of the town and made use of private places that favoured the initiation of their followers.   It is, therefore, not surprising that Christian gatherings (ekklesiai) as Paul’s Letters attest, also took place in private homes.   At that time, moreover, there were not yet any public buildings.   Therefore, Christian assemblies must have appeared to Paul’s contemporaries as a simple variation of their most intimate religious practice.   Yet the differences between pagan cults and Christian worship are not negligible and regard the participants’ awareness of their identity as well as the participation in common of men and women, the celebration of the “Lord’s Supper”, and the reading of the Scriptures.

In conclusion, from this brief over-view of the cultural context of the first century of the Christian era, it is clear that it is impossible to understand St Paul properly without placing him against both the Judaic and pagan background of his time.   Thus he grows in historical and spiritual stature, revealing both sharing and originality in comparison with the surrounding environment.   However, this applies likewise to Christianity in general, of which the Apostle Paul, precisely, is a paradigm of the highest order from whom we all, always, still have much to learn.   And this is the goal of the Pauline Year:  to learn from St Paul, to learn faith, to learn Christ, and finally to learn the way of upright living.

St Paul Pray for us!st paul pray for us - 25 jan2018 - catechesis of pope benedict no 1

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, Pope BENEDICT XVI, SACRAMENTS, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 8 January 2018 – Christmastide ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Remembering and Celebrating our Baptisms – Adding a new date to our Calendars!

Thought for the Day – 8 January 2018 – Christmastide ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Remembering and Celebrating our Baptisms – Adding a new date to our Calendars!goodbye christmastide 8 jan 2018- for this he bore our body - st basil the great

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord ends the Christmas season and invites us to think of our Baptism.   Jesus willed to receive the baptism preached and administered by John the Baptist in the river Jordan.   It was a baptism of penance:  all those who approached it expressed the desire to be purified from sin and, with God’s help, committed themselves to begin a new life.

We understand then the great humility of Jesus, He who had not sinned, put himself in the queue with the penitents, mixing among them, to be baptised in the waters of the river.   What humility Jesus has!   And, by doing so, He manifested what we celebrated at Christmas:  Jesus’ willingness to immerse Himself in the river of humanity, to take upon himself the failures and weaknesses of men, to share their desire of liberation and to overcome all that distances one from God and renders brothers strangers.   As at Bethlehem, along the banks of the Jordan God keeps His promise to take charge of the human being’s fate and Jesus is the tangible and definitive sign of it.   He took charge of all of us, He takes charge of all of us, in life, in the days.

The feast of Jesus’ Baptism invites every Christian to remember his own Baptism.   I can’t ask you the question if you remember the day of your Baptism, because the majority of you were babies, like me…. However, I can ask you another question?   Do you know the date on which you were baptised? …And if you don’t know the date or have forgotten it, when you go home ask your mother, your grandmother, your uncle, your aunt, your grandfather, your godfather, your godmother – what was date?
And we must always have that date in our memory, because it’s a date of celebration, it’s the date of our initial sanctification;  it’s the date in which the Father gave us the Holy Spirit who pushes us to walk, it’s the date of the great forgiveness.
Don’t forget: what’s the date of my Baptism?

the holy spirit

We invoke the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy so that all Christians can understand increasingly the gift of Baptism and commit themselves to live it with coherence, witnessing the love of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Pope Francis, Angelus Address, 7 January 2018

So let us do exactly this, this is a date in need of remembrance and celebration, this date of our new birth – I am certainly going to do this for all my family.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Jesus’ solidarity with us
“Jesus shows His solidarity with us, with our efforts to convert and to be rid of our selfishnesss, to break away from our sins in order to tell us that if we accept Him in our life He can uplift us and lead us to the heights of God the Father.   And Jesus’ solidarity is not, as it were, a mere exercise of mind and will.   Jesus truly immersed himself in our human condition, lived it to the end, in all things save sin and was able to understand our weakness and frailty.   For this reason He was moved to compassion, He chose to “suffer with” men and women, to become a penitent with us.   This is God’s work which Jesus wanted to carry out:  the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and give medicine to the sick, to take upon himself the sin of the world.” ….. From Homily of Pope Benedict XVI on feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2013remember and celebrate our baptism day - 8 jan 2018

Posted in BREVIARY Prayers, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, SAINT of the DAY

Pope Benedict XVI on the Commemoration of the fourth centenary of the Canonisation of St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) – 4 November 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on the Commemoration of the fourth centenary of the Canonisation of St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) – 4 November 2010

With the Church, we pray,

Preserve in the midst of Your people, we ask, O Lord, the spirit with which you filled the Bishop Saint Charles Borromeo, that Your Church may be constantly renewed and, by conforming herself to the likeness of Christ, may show His face to the world.st charles icon

The Pope emeritus writes:

Lumen caritatis.   The light of charity of St Charles Borromeo has illumined the whole Church and, by renewing the miracles of the love of Christ, our Supreme and Eternal Pastor, has brought new life and new youthfulness to God’s flock, which was going through sorrowful and difficult times.   For this reason I join with all my heart in the joy of the Ambrogian Archdiocese in commemorating the fourth centenary of the Canonisation of this great Pastor on 1 November 1610.

1.   The time in which Charles Borromeo lived was very delicate for Christianity.   In it the Archbishop of Milan gave a splendid example of what it means to work for the reform of the Church.   There were many disorders to sanction, many errors to correct and many structures to renew;  yet St Charles strove for a profound reform of the Church, starting with his own life.   It was in himself, in fact, that the young Borromeo promoted the first and most radical work of renewal.   His career had begun promisingly in accordance with the canons of that time:  for the younger son of the noble family Borromeo, a future of prosperity and success lay in store, an ecclesiastical life full of honours but without any ministerial responsibilities;  he also had the possibility of assuming the direction of the family after the unexpected death of his brother Federico.

Yet Charles Borromeo, illumined by Grace, was attentive to the call with which the Lord was attracting him and desiring him to dedicate the whole of himself to the service of his people.   Thus he was capable of making a clear and heroic detachment from the lifestyle characterised by his worldly dignity and dedication without reserve to the service of God and of the Church.   In times that were darkened by numerous trials for the Christian community, with divisions and confusions of doctrine, with the clouding of the purity of the faith and of morals and with the bad example of various sacred ministries, Charles Borromeo neither limited himself to deploring or condemning nor merely to hoping that others would change but rather set about reforming his own life which, after he had abandoned wealth and ease, he filled with prayer, penance and loving dedication to his people.   St Charles lived heroically the evangelical virtues of poverty, humility and chastity, in a continuous process of ascetic purification and Christian perfection.

He was aware that a serious and credible reform had to begin precisely with Pastors if it was to have beneficial and lasting effects on the whole People of God.   In this action of reform he was able to draw from the traditional and ever living sources of the Catholic Church:  the centrality of the Eucharist, in which he recognised and proposed anew the adorable presence of the Lord Jesus and of his Sacrifice of love for our salvation;  the spirituality of the Cross as a force of renewal, capable of inspiring the daily exercise of the evangelical virtues; assiduous reception of the Sacraments in which to accept with faith the action of Christ who saves and purifies His Church; the word of God, meditated upon, read and interpreted in the channel of Traditionlove for and devotion to the Supreme Pontiff in prompt and filial obedience to his instructions as a guarantee of full ecclesial communion.

The extraordinary reform that St Charles carried out in the structures of the Church in total fidelity to the mandate of the Council of Trent was also born from his holy life, ever more closely conformed to Christ.   His work in guiding the People of God, as a meticulous legislator and a brilliant organizer was marvellous.   All this, however, found strength and fruitfulness in his personal commitment to penance and holiness.   Indeed this is the Church’s primary and most urgent need in every epoch: that each and every one of her members should be converted to God.   Nor does the ecclesial community lack trials and suffering in our day and it shows that it stands in need of purification and reform.   May St Charles’ example always spur us to start from a serious commitment of personal and community conversion to transform hearts, believing with steadfast certainty in the power of prayer and penance.   I encourage sacred ministers, priests and deacons in particular to make their life a courageous journey of holiness, not to fear being drunk with that trusting love for Christ that made Bishop Charles ready to forget himself and to leave everything.   Dear brothers in the ministry, may the Ambrogian Church always find in you a clear faith and a sober and pure life that can renew the apostolic zeal which St Ambrose, St Charles and many of your holy Pastors possessed!

2. During St Charles’ episcopate, the whole of his vast diocese felt infected with a current of holiness that spread to the entire people.   How did this Bishop, so demanding and strict, manage to fascinate and to win over the Christian people?   The answer is easy: St Charles enlightened the people and enticed them with the ardour of his love.   “Deus caritas est”, and where there is a living experience of love the profound Face of God who attracts us and makes us His own is revealed.

The love of St Charles Borromeo was first and foremost the love of the Good Shepherd who is ready to give his whole life for the flock entrusted to his care, putting the demands and duties of his ministry before any form of personal interest, amenity or advantage.   Thus the Archbishop of Milan, faithful to the Tridentine directives, visited several times his immense Diocese even the most remote localities, and took care of his people, nourishing them ceaselessly with the Sacraments and with the word of God through his rich and effective preaching;   he was never afraid to face adversities and dangers to defend the faith of the simple and the rights of the poor.

St Charles, moreover, was recognised as a true and loving father of the poor.   Love impelled him to empty his home and to give away his possessions in order to provide for the needy, to support the hungry, to clothe and relieve the sick.   He set up institutions that aimed to provide social assistance and to rescue people in need;   but his charity for the poor and the suffering shone out in an extraordinary way during the plague of 1576 when the holy Archbishop chose to stay in the midst of his people to encourage them, serve them and defend them with the weapons of prayer, penance and love.

Furthermore it was charity that spurred Borromeo to become an authentic and enterprising educator:  for his people with schools of Christian doctrine;  for the clergy with the establishment of seminaries;  for children and young people with special initiatives for them and by encouraging the foundation of religious congregations and confraternities dedicated to the formation of children and young people.

Charity was always the deep motive of the severity with which St Charles practiced fasting, penance and mortification.   For the holy Bishop it was not only a matter of ascetic practices aiming for his own spiritual perfection but rather of a true ministerial means for expiating sins, for invoking the conversion of sinners and for interceding for his children’s needs.

Throughout his life, therefore, we may contemplate the light of evangelical charity, of forbearing, patient and strong love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7).   I thank God that the Church of Milan has always had a wealth of vocations especially dedicated to charity;   I praise the Lord for the splendid fruits of love for the poor, of service to the suffering and of attention to youth of which it can be proud.   May St Charles’ example of prayer obtain that you may be faithful to this heritage, so that every baptised person can live out in contemporary society that fascinating prophecy which, in every epoch, is the love of Christ alive in us.

3. However it is impossible to understand the charity of St Charles Borromeo without knowing his relationship of passionate love with the Lord Jesus.   He contemplated this love in the holy mysteries of the Eucharist and of the Cross, venerated in very close union with the mystery of the Church.   The Eucharist and the Crucified One immersed St Charles in Christ’s love and this transfigured and kindled fervour in his entire life, filled his nights spent in prayer, motivated his every action, inspired the solemn Liturgies he celebrated with the people and touched his heart so deeply that he was often moved to tears.

His contemplative gaze at the holy Mystery of the Altar and at the Crucified one stirred within him feelings of compassion for the miseries of humankind and kindled in his heart the apostolic yearning to proclaim the Gospel to all.   On the other hand we know well that there is no mission in the Church which does not stem from “abiding” in the love of the Lord Jesus, made present within us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.   Let us learn from this great Mystery!   Let us make the Eucharist the true centre of our communities and allow ourselves to be educated and moulded by this abyss of love!   Every apostolic and charitable deed will draw strength and fruitfulness from this source!aa - st charles allegory

4. The splendid figure of St Charles suggests to me a final reflection which I address to young people in particular.   The history of this great Bishop was in fact totally determined by some courageous “yeses”, spoken when he was still very young.   When he was only 24 years old he decided to give up being head of the family to respond generously to the Lord’s call;   the following year he accepted priestly and episcopal Ordination.   At the age of 27 he took possession of the Ambrogian Diocese and gave himself entirely to pastoral ministry.   In the years of his youth St Charles realized that holiness was possible and that the conversion of his life could overcome every bad habit. Thus he made his whole youth a gift of love to Christ and to the Church, becoming an all-time giant of holiness.

Dear young people, let yourselves be renewed by this appeal that I have very much at heart:  God wants you to be holy, for He knows you in your depths and loves you with a love that exceeds all human understanding.   God knows what is in your hearts and is waiting to see the marvellous gift He has planted within you blossom and bear fruit.  Like St Charles, you too can make your youth an offering to Christ and to your brethren. Like him you can decide, in this season of life, “to put your stakes” on God and on the Gospel.   Dear young people, you are not only the hope of the Church;  you are already part of her present!   And if you dare to believe in holiness you will be the greatest treasure of your Ambrogian Church which is founded on Saints.

Venerable Brother, I joyfully entrust these reflections to you and as I invoke the heavenly intercession of St Charles Borromeo and the constant protection of Mary Most Holy, I warmly impart to you and to the entire Archdiocese a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 1 November 2010, the fourth centenary of the canonization of St Charles Borromeo.

Pope Benedict XVI

This letter addressed Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the Canonisation of Saint Charles Borromeo.st charles - pray FOR US.3.

Posted in ARCHangels and Angels, CATECHESIS, DOCTORS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, Pope BENEDICT XVI, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD, Uncategorized

Thought for the Day – 29 September – The Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

Thought for the Day – 29 September – The Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

We are celebrating the Feast of the three Archangels who are mentioned by name in Scripture: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.   But what is an Angel?   Sacred Scripture and the Church’s tradition enable us to discern two aspects.

On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being.   All three names of the Archangels end with the word “El”, which means “God”.   God is inscribed in their names, in their nature.
Their true nature is existing in His sight and for Him.   In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained:  they are God’s messengers.   They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth.  Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man.

Like an angel to others
Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are.   The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God’s behalf.   In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another – angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God.
If the ancient Church called Bishops “Angels” of their Church, she meant precisely this: Bishops themselves must be men of God, they must live oriented to God. “Multum orat pro populo” – “Let them say many prayers for the people”, the Breviary of the Church says of holy Bishops.   The Bishop must be a man of prayer, one who intercedes with God for human beings.   The more he does so, the more he also understands the people who are entrusted to him and can become an angel for them – a messenger of God who helps them to find their true nature by themselves, and to live the idea that God has of them.

St Michael:  making a space for God in the world
All this becomes even clearer if we now look at the figures of the three Archangels whose Feast the Church is celebrating today.  First of all there is Michael.   We find him in Sacred Scripture above all in the Book of Daniel, in the Letter of the Apostle St Jude Thaddeus and in the Book of Revelation.

Two of this Archangel’s roles become obvious in these texts.   He defends the cause of God’s oneness against the presumption of the dragon, the “ancient serpent”, as John calls it.   The serpent’s continuous effort is to make men believe that God must disappear so that they themselves may become important;   that God impedes our freedom and, therefore, that we must rid ourselves of him.

However, the dragon does not only accuse God.   The Book of Revelation also calls it “the accuser of our brethren…, who accuses them day and night before our God” (12: 10). Those who cast God aside do not make man great but divest him of his dignity.   Man then becomes a failed product of evolution.   Those who accuse God also accuse man. Faith in God defends man in all his frailty and short-comings:  God’s brightness shines on every individual.   It is the duty of the Bishop and of every christian, as a man of God, to make room in the world for God, to counter the denials of Him and thus to defend man’s greatness.   And what more could one say and think about man than the fact that God Himself was made man?   Michael’s other role, according to Scripture, is that of protector of the People of God (cf. Dn 10: 21; 12: 1).
Dear friends, be true “guardian angels” of the Church which will be entrusted to you! Help the People of God whom you must lead in its pilgrimage to find the joy of faith and to learn to discern the spirits: to accept good and reject evil, to remain and increasingly to become, by virtue of the hope of faith, people who love in communion with God-Love.

St Gabriel: God who calls
We meet the Archangel Gabriel especially in the precious account of the annunciation to Mary of the Incarnation of God, as Luke tells it to us (1: 26-38).   Gabriel is the messenger of God’s Incarnation.   He knocks at Mary’s door and, through him, God himself asks Mary for her “yes” to the proposal to become the Mother of the Redeemer, of giving her human flesh to the eternal Word of God, to the Son of God.   The Lord knocks again and again at the door of the human heart.   In the Book of Revelation He says to the “angel” of the Church of Laodicea and, through him, to the people of all times:  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3: 20).   The Lord is at the door – at the door of the world and at the door of every individual heart.   He knocks to be let in, the Incarnation of God, His taking flesh, must continue until the end of time.  All must be reunited in Christ in one body –  the great hymns on Christ in the Letters to the Ephesians and to the Colossians tell us this. Christ knocks.   Today too He needs people who, so to speak, make their own flesh available to Him, give Him the matter of the world and of their lives, thus serving the unification between God and the world, until the reconciliation of the universe.   Dear friends, it is your task to knock at people’s hearts in Christ’s Name.   By entering into union with Christ yourselves, you will also be able to assume Gabriel’s role: to bring Christ’s call to men.

St Raphael: recovering sight
St Raphael is presented to us, above all in the Book of Tobit, as the Angel to whom is entrusted the task of healing.   When Jesus sends His disciples out on a mission, the task of proclaiming the Gospel is always linked with that of healing.   The Good Samaritan, in accepting and healing the injured person lying by the wayside, becomes without words a witness of God’s love.   We are all this injured man, in need of being healed.   Proclaiming the Gospel itself already means healing in itself, because man is in need of truth and love above all things.

The Book of Tobit refers to two of the Archangel Raphael’s emblematic tasks of healing. He heals the disturbed communion between a man and a woman.  He heals their love. He drives out the demons who over and over again exhaust and destroy their love.   He purifies the atmosphere between the two and gives them the ability to accept each other for ever.   In Tobit’s account, this healing is recounted with legendary images.

In the New Testament, the order of marriage established in creation and threatened in many ways by sin, is healed through Christ’s acceptance of it in His redeeming love.   He makes marriage a sacrament:  His love, put on a cross for us, is the healing power which in all forms of chaos offers the capacity for reconciliation, purifies the atmosphere and mends the wounds.   The priest is entrusted with the task of leading men and women ever anew to the reconciling power of Christ’s love.  He must be the healing “angel” who helps them to anchor their love to the sacrament and to live it with an ever renewed commitment based upon it.

Secondly, the Book of Tobit speaks of the healing of sightless eyes. We all know how threatened we are today by blindness to God.   How great is the danger that with all we know of material things and can do with them, we become blind to God’s light.   Healing this blindness through the message of faith and the witness of love is Raphael’s service, entrusted day after day to the priest and in a special way to the Bishop.   Thus, we are prompted spontaneously also to think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Penance which in the deepest sense of the word is a sacrament of healing.   The real wound in the soul, in fact, the reason for all our other injuries, is sin.   And only if forgiveness exists, by virtue of God’s power, by virtue of Christ’s love, can we be healed, can we be redeemed.

“Abide in my love”, the Lord says to us today in the Gospel (Jn 15: 9).   At the moment of your Episcopal Ordination he says so particularly to you, dear friends.   Abide in His love!   Abide in that friendship with Him, full of love, which He is giving you anew at this moment!   Then your lives will bear fruit, fruit that abides (cf. Jn 15: 16).   Let us all pray for you at this time, dear Brothers, so that this may be granted to you. Amen.

Benedict XVI, fragments of a homily (to Bishops) given on September 29, 2007

Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us!

holy archangels - pray for us.2

Posted in CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS of the Month, HOMILIES, MORNING Prayers, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

September: Month of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September: Month of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Seven Sorrows of
the Blessed Virgin Mary
1. The prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight to Egypt
3. Loss of Child Jesus for 3 days
4. Meeting Jesus carrying His Cross
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus
6. The Pieta – receiving Jesus’ Body
7. The Burial of Jesus

The month of September is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Devotion to the sorrows of the Virgin Mary dates from the twelfth century, when it made its appearance in monastic circles under the influence of St Anselm and St Bernard.
The Cistercians and then the Servites undertook to propagate it.
The Devotion became widespread in the fourteenth and especially the fifteenth centuries, particularly in the Rhineland and Flanders, where Confraternities of the Sorrowful Mother sprang up. It was in this context that the first liturgical formularies in her honour were composed. A provincial council of Mainz in 1423 made use of these in establishing a “Feast of the Sorrows of Mary” in reparation for Hussite profanations of her images.

In 1494 the feast appeared in Bruges, where the Precious Blood of Christ was venerated; later on it made its way into France. It did not, however, become widespread in France before Benedict XIII included it in the Roman Calendar in 1727.

God vouchsafed to select the very things about Him which are most incommunicable and in a most mysteriously real way communicate them to her.   See how He had already mixed her up with the eternal designs of creation, making her almost a partial cause and partial model of it.   Our Lady’s co-operation in the redemption of the world gives us a fresh view of her magnificence.   Neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Assumption will give us a higher idea of Mary’s exaltation than the title of co-redemptress.   Her sorrows were not necessary for the redemption of the world but in the counsels of God they were inseparable from it.   They belong to the integrity of the divine plan.   Are not Mary’s mysteries Jesus’ mysteries and His mysteries hers?   The truth appears to be that all the mysteries of Jesus and Mary were in God’s design as one mystery.   Jesus Himself was Mary’s sorrow, seven times repeated, aggravated sevenfold.   During the hours of the Passion, the offering of Jesus and the offering of Mary were tied in one.   They kept pace together;  they were made of the same materials;  they were perfumed with kindred fragrance;  they were lighted with the same fire;  they were offered with kindred dispositions.   The two things were one simultaneous oblation, interwoven each moment through the thickly crowded mysteries of that dread time, unto the eternal Father, out of two sinless hearts, that were the hearts of Son and Mother, for the sins of a guilty world which fell on them contrary to their merits but according to their own free will.

— Fr. Frederick Faber, The Foot of the Cross.

Mater Dolorosa, please pray for us!mater dolorosa pray for us

Posted in CATECHESIS, HOMILIES, Papa FRANCIS, Re-BLOGS, The WORD

15th Sunday of O.T. (A): THE NECESSITY OF HAVING THE PROPER DISPOSITIONS TO RECEIVE GOD AND HIS WORD. Summary vid + full text.

Thank you Fr Rolly!

Catholics Striving for Holiness

15th Sunday of O.T. (A):
THE NECESSITY OF HAVING THE PROPER DISPOSITIONS TO RECEIVE GOD AND HIS WORD.
Summary vid + full text.

OUTLINE

  1. Summary of ideas of today’s readings
  2. The necessity of having the proper dispositions so that God’s grace would bear fruit in us.
  3. To accept Christ, hear His Word is not enough. It is necessary to put it into practice no matter the difficulties it may entail.

1. Summary of ideas of today’s readings

In the first reading (Is 55:10-11) rain is compared to the word that comes from the mouth of God which waters the earth making it fertile and causing the seed to germinate. God will fulfill his plan and bring it to its fruition through His Word, Our Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel which recounts the Parable of the sower (Mt 13: 1-23), God’s Word is compared to the seed which is sown by…

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