April 2008  (From Second Sunday of Eastertide)


Morning Offering:  O Jesus, through the most pure heart of Mary, I offer you all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I offer them especially for the Holy Father's intentions:
 

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April 2008 is: "That Christians, even in the difficult and complex situations of present-day society, may not tire of proclaiming with their lives that Christ's resurrection is the source of peace and of hope".

His mission intention for April 2008 is: "That the future priests of the young Churches may be constantly more formed culturally and spiritually to evangelise their nations and the whole world".

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Second Sunday of Easter A (Divine Mercy Sunday)


Prayers this week
Like newborn children you should thirst for milk, on which your spirit can grow to strength, alleluia.
(1 Peter 2:2)
                                                                                                                   

God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ's resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


(March 30) St. Peter Regalado (1390-1456)
    Peter lived at a very busy time. The Great Western Schism (1378-1417) was settled at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). France and England were fighting the Hundred Years’ War, and in 1453 the Byzantine Empire was completely wiped out by the loss of Constantinople to the Turks. At Peter’s death the age of printing had just begun in Germany, and Columbus's arrival in the New World was less than 40 years away. Peter came from a wealthy and pious family in Valladolid, Spain. At the age of 13, he was allowed to enter the Conventual Franciscans. Shortly after his ordination, he was made superior of the friary in Aguilar. He became part of a group of friars who wanted to lead a life of greater poverty and penance. In 1442 he was appointed head of all the Spanish Franciscans in his reform group. Peter led the friars by his example. A special love of the poor and the sick characterized Peter. Miraculous stories are told about his charity to the poor. For example, the bread never seemed to run out as long as Peter had hungry people to feed. Throughout most of his life, Peter went hungry; he lived only on bread and water. Immediately after his death on March 31, 1456, his grave became a place of pilgrimage. Peter was canonized in 1746.
       Peter was an effective leader of the friars because he did not become ensnared in anger over the sins of others. Peter helped sinning friars rearrange the priorities in their lives and dedicate themselves to living the gospel of Jesus Christ as they had vowed. This patient correction is an act of charity available to all Franciscans, not just to superiors. "And let all the brothers, both the ministers and servants as well as the others, take care not to be disturbed or angered at the sin or the evil of another, because the devil wishes to destroy many through the fault of one; but they should spiritually help [the brother] who has sinned as best they can, because it is not the healthy who are in need of the physician, but those who are sick (cf. Mt 9:12; Mk 2:17)" (Rule of 1221, Chapter 5).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video


 


Scripture today: Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Now in the evening of that same day, the first of the week, the doors were closed where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them: Peace be to you. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. He said to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve (called Didymus) was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. After eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. The doors were closed and Jesus came and stood in their midst. He said: Peace be to you. Then he said to Thomas: Put in your finger here, and see my hands; and bring your hand here, and put it into my side. Be not unbelieving, but believe. Thomas answered, My Lord, and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you believe: blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe. Many other signs did Jesus do in the sight of his disciples which are not written in this book. These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing this, you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)

From the first proclamation by the infant Church that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, there has been a tension between the Church and other religions precisely because of this proclamation. Following the cure of the lame man and then Peter’s address, both Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin. The essence of their testimony to Christ before this highest council of the land was that “For all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12) It is a very hard saying for other ears, and it led to centuries of clash with the Roman Empire itself. The Empire allowed the worship of many gods and insisted on the allowance of its own. At times even the Emperor had to be allowed as a god. For a religion to claim that there was only one God and that a crucified and risen man was that living God was perceived as profoundly subversive of its religious foundations and therefore of the Empire itself. Moreover, the Christian religion would not stay quiet and allow other religions to live out of earshot. It was missionary, and driving its missionary life was the conviction that the salvation of all others depended on their hearing and accepting that Jesus is Messiah and Lord and then living accordingly. He is literally the Lord God, the only one, and salvation lies in him alone. These were unparalleled claims but they came directly from Jesus himself and he accepted the full assent to them by his own disciples. He himself taught that the one who believes this will be saved, and that to refuse assent brings damnation. From this has flowed the constant testimony to Christ by the Church amid the resulting tides of persecution that have enveloped her. Our Gospel today recounts the appearance of the risen Jesus to the Apostles gathered as a body, and this time the doubting Thomas was with them. He saw and heard and touched the risen Jesus in the flesh. There was no doubting now. Jesus is Lord. He is Yahweh God, God the Son who became man to save mankind, and together with Thomas and the Apostles this is the Church’s testimony. Hence the Church continually prays and works that all may be saved by coming to recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord.

Our Lord had revealed his divine sovereignty by his power over nature, over demons, over sin, over death and above all by his own resurrection. All this, including his own resurrection, Thomas saw and now he believed. In our Gospel our Lord tells Thomas he believes because he has seen, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Blessed are those who accept the Church’s testimony and teaching about Jesus. The Christian creeds proclaim that the power, the honour and the glory that are due to God the almighty Father also belong to Jesus. He has been given the name which is above every other name. He is the Lord of all things and of history and the only One to whom we must completely submit our personal freedom. The Father and I are one, he said. He who sees me sees the Father, he said. So who is God? The one only God is Jesus, just as he is the Father, and just as he is the Holy Spirit. Does the world have a Saviour? Yes, and that Saviour is Jesus, he and only he. No one can come to the Father except through me, he said. In the man Jesus who once walked the earth and is now risen from the dead is to be found the fullness of the godhead bodily. All of this was contained implicitly in the wonderful profession of faith of Thomas who bowed before the risen Jesus. There is a further and most important point about the God who is Jesus. He is the Sovereign of all things and of all history, but he put aside his pure glory and assumed our nature, and lowered himself even more, even to death on a cross. He loved me, each of us can say, and gave himself up for me. He took on to himself the burden of man’s sins and expiated for them all. He is revealed in Jesus to be all merciful and compassionate. We can then turn to him with confidence in his mercy, knowing that if we but repent and ask him for pardon, we will receive his loving embrace. The infinite God become man in Jesus is a God boundlessly rich in mercy and compassion. In showing him his wounds, this is what the risen Jesus reveals to Thomas in our Gospel today (John 20:19-31). With good reason the Church celebrates this Sunday as Mercy Sunday.

Let us ask for the grace to understand something of the height and the depth, the length and the breadth of the mystery of the living Jesus our brother and our sovereign Lord, our Saviour and our God. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings and to him belongs all authority and power in heaven and on earth. In him is to be found the mercy of God and his surpassing compassion. Where is he? He abides in the Church he founded on the Apostles who were gathered before him in the upper room of our Gospel today. Let us give our lives over to him.
                                                                        (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.446-451
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'There's no denying the influence of environment', you've told me. And I have to answer: Quite. That is why you have to be formed in such a way that you can carry your own environment about with you in a natural manner, and so give your own 'tone' to the society in which you live.

And then, if you have acquired this spirit, I am sure you will tell me with the amazement of the disciples as they contemplated the first fruits of the miracles being worked by their hands in Christ's name: 'There's no denying our influence on environment!'
                                                                                   (The Way, no.376)
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

The Church's charitable activity as a manifestation of Trinitarian love

19. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine.[11] In the foregoing reflections, we have been able to focus our attention on the Pierced one (cf. Jn 19:37, Zech 12:10), recognizing the plan of the Father who, moved by love (cf. Jn 3:16), sent his only-begotten Son into the world to redeem man. By dying on the Cross—as Saint John tells us—Jesus “gave up his Spirit” (Jn 19:30), anticipating the gift of the Holy Spirit that he would make after his Resurrection (cf. Jn 20:22). This was to fulfil the promise of “rivers of living water” that would flow out of the hearts of believers, through the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Jn 7:38-39). The Spirit, in fact, is that interior power which harmonizes their hearts with Christ's heart and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them, when he bent down to wash the feet of the disciples (cf. Jn 13:1-13) and above all when he gave his life for us (cf. Jn 13:1, 15:13).

The Spirit is also the energy which transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son. The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that is often heroic in the way it is acted out in history; and it seeks to promote man in the various arenas of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs. And this is the aspect, this service of charity, on which I want to focus in the second part of the Encyclical.
                                                                                       (Continuing)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Annunciation of the Lord
(Monday of the Second Week of Eastertide A)

(March 31 ) Annunciation of the Lord (2008 - Transferred to March 31 because of Octave of Easter)        The feast of the Annunciation goes back to the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan. From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. As Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity. She is the virgin-mother who fulfils Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38). Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.
    “Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendour of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Luke 1:28). To the heavenly messenger she replies: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).    
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video




 

Scripture today: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11; Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David.
The virgin's name was Mary. The angel entered and said to her “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.” Mary was troubled at hearing this said, and asked herself what this salutation might mean. The angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold you will conceive and bear a son and will call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High. The Lord God will give to him the throne of David his father; and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel: “How will this happen, since I know not man?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One born of you will be called the Son of God. And behold your kinswoman Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren. For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

The event described in the Gospel is celebrated by the Church as the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. The coming of the Messiah is announced by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary and her consent to be mother of the Messiah is requested. The angel is sent by God and he enters the presence of the young woman, presumably not
long into her teens. She is a young girl, but consider the respect with which he, this august emissary from God’ throne, greets her. Hail, he says, you who are full of God’s grace and favour, the Lord is with you!  (Luke 1:26-38) There is unfeigned praise in the angel’s simple and sober salutation. He gazes on this holy girl with a gaze of love and respect for the one so specially the object of God’s care and choice. Perhaps he is smiling as he speaks, assuring her not to fear at hearing his momentous words. She is, he says, one who is filled with the favour and grace of God. Without any qualification the Lord is with her. There is nothing in her heart and soul which separates her from him, nothing which represents or is a cause of God’s disfavour or displeasure. These words of pure praise come from heaven and they surely express the joy of God in one who has responded and will respond so faithfully to his grace. If through the angel God thus addresses and considers Mary, so should we. Hail Mary, we ought often pray. You who are full of grace, the Lord is with you! In these simple words of the angel we are given an inkling of the singular place in heaven occupied by the mother of the Messiah and Son of God. How constantly, then, we ought pray to her and especially at the hour of our death when we go before him who is our Judge! The words of the angel addressed to Mary are words we ought repeatedly address to her ourselves as we strive to imitate her divine Son. Not only do the angel’s words tell us about her. Her own words in response tell us more. Once she understands what God is asking, her obedient consent is total. In her obedience she is our model.

But of course the angel had come not simply to render praise to Mary herself for her obedience and gifts of grace, but to speak to her about the great One who is to come. The angel is announcing the Gospel. He is announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ and doing so on God’s behalf to the one who is to be mother of the Messiah. The Messiah, he is saying to her, is at this very point about to come. He is about to be conceived in the virgin’s womb. Such is the plan of the Most High and the angel has come to ask the virgin’s consent. Does she accept? Does she accept what God has willed, with all that this will entail in the years to come? The angel proceeds to give to the virgin more information about him who is about to be conceived. God has chosen his name. She will call him Jesus. He will be great, great without any qualification. He will be great not only as men regard him but absolutely great, whatever be the estimation of men. God is great, and this One will be great. Indeed, he will be the very Son of God. How great he is, then! He is the Messiah long promised and God will give to him the throne of David. There is more still, for he will actually rule as king forever. He will, then, be the King of kings and Lord of lords for of his kingdom there will be no end. He will be the Holy One and inasmuch as in the Scriptures the Holy One was Yahweh himself, and inasmuch as he is the Son of the most High, the Son of God, the angel is intimating that God himself is the one who is coming to establish his Kingdom. There is the most High, there is the Son of the most High, and there is the Holy Spirit by whose power he will be born of the holy Virgin. That is to say, the angel is not only intimating that the Messiah is God the Son, but that the one God is three. He is the most High. He is the Son of the most High, and he is the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel was granting to the virgin Mary an incipient revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation and the Blessed Trinity. She is the first to hear the Gospel and she totally believes. She is the model of faith and obedience.

Let us keep before our gaze the figure of the virgin with her child. The one who is full of grace holds him who is the source of grace. The Lord God is with her, indeed he is being held in her arms. She is the first and greatest Christian, the handmaid par excellence of the Lord. She is his mother and he has given her to us to be our mother and model in the order of grace. She is the help of Christians. Let us pray to her repeatedly, asking her to pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
                                                                                                       (E.J.Tyler)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And how shall I acquire 'our formation', how shall I keep 'our spirit'? — By being faithful to the specific norms your Director gave you and explained to you, and made you love: be faithful to them and you will be an apostle.
                                                                             (The Way, no.377)
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

20. Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community. The awareness of this responsibility has had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-5). In these words, Saint Luke provides a kind of definition of the Church, whose constitutive elements include fidelity to the “teaching of the Apostles”, “communion” (koinonia), “the breaking of the bread” and “prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42). The element of “communion” (koinonia) is not initially defined, but appears concretely in the verses quoted above: it consists in the fact that believers hold all things in common and that among them, there is no longer any distinction between rich and poor (cf. also Acts 4:32-37). As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. But its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.
                                                                                (Continuing)
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday of the second week of Eastertide A

(April 1) St. Hugh of Grenoble (1052-1132)     Today’s saint could be a patron for those of us who feel so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that we don’t know where to begin. Hugh, who served as a bishop in France for 52 years, had his work cut out for him from the start. Corruption seemed to loom in every direction: the buying and selling of Church offices, violations of clerical celibacy, lay control of Church property, religious indifference and/or ignorance. After serving as bishop for two years, he’d had his fill. He tried disappearing to a monastery, but the pope called him back to continue the work of reform. Ironically, Hugh was reasonably effective in the role of reformer—surely because of his devotion to the Church but also because of his strong character. In conflicts between Church and state he was an unflinching defender of the Church. He fearlessly supported the papacy. He was eloquent as a preacher. He restored his own cathedral, made civic improvements in the town and weathered a brief exile. Hugh may be best known as patron and benefactor of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order. Hugh died in 1132. He was canonized only two years later.   (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 

 

Scripture today: Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5; John 3:7b-15 

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again from above. The wind blows where it wills and you hear its sound but do not know where it comes from or whither it is going. So is with every one that is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered, and said to him: "How can these things be done?" Jesus answered, "Are you a teacher in Israel and do not know not these things? Amen, amen I say to you that we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, and you do not receive our testimony. If I have spoken to you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe when I speak to you of heavenly things? No man has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up in order that whosoever believes in him may not perish but may have life everlasting. (John 3:7b-15)

The Church places this Gospel passage before us during the second week of Eastertide when we celebrate the rising of our Lord from the dead. It is the passage in which John gives us our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus. Presumably John himself was present at the conversation, and presumably he was just as fascinated, perhaps initially just as perplexed, as was Nicodemus at what our Lord was revealing. Our Lord was telling Nicodemus, a leading Jew, that in order to enter the Kingdom of God one has to be born again from above. The uncomprehending response of Nicodemus shows that our Lord was not meaning to use a mere figure of speech. Nicodemus understood him to be speaking in some sense literally - that a new birth was to be involved and hence his own puzzlement: "How can these things be done?" On another occasion when our Lord was speaking in the synagogue of Capernaum (John chapter 6) he taught that his flesh would have to be eaten and his blood would have to be drunk. The way he spoke it was clear to the people that he was not speaking merely symbolically. His real flesh would have to be truly eaten and his blood truly drunk. Very many left him because, clearly, the same question was in their minds, "How can these things be done?" It was impossible, too much, they decided. Interestingly, on that occasion our Lord did not tell them how it would be done. His disciples would eat his flesh and drink his blood truly but sacramentally, and under the appearances of bread and wine. He simply announced the doctrine that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they were to live forever. He then allowed those who refused belief to go for there was no going back from his doctrine. On this occasion in our Gospel today (John 3:7b-15), our Lord tells Nicodemus that he and any others who wished to enter the Kingdom of God would have to be born again from above. He explains later in this chapter - not included in the passage today however - that it is a spiritual rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit. Our Lord is referring to the new birth brought about by baptism which just before ascending into heaven he would charge his disciples to administer to all the nations.

In situating this Gospel passage in the second week of Easter the Church is reminding us that our Lord’s resurrection from the dead is not just something that affected him alone. His resurrection is brought to each of us by means of a rebirth. Just as our Lord died and rose again to a new life, so we each of us who come to him in faith are able to die to the fallen life we are born into and rise to a share in Christ’s risen life. It is a new birth from above. Let us put it this way. We might even refer to our Lord’s resurrection as a new birth for him. His rising from the dead in his humanity was the beginning - like a rebirth - in a new life for him in his humanity. He had risen in his flesh, in his body, and all was now new and glorious. His old life subject to death was now gone having passed away with his death on the cross. In a sense unique to him who was the protagonist and author of it, in his humanity he was born again to a new life, his risen life. If we place our faith in him and receive from the Church his baptism by water then we shall share in his dying and rising to a new eternal life. Without undergoing his sufferings, a share in his risen life has been implanted in our souls enabling us to put on his mind in everyday life. It makes possible a life-long renunciation of the old life with its sinful and selfish tendencies and a constant choice of holiness lived with the mind of Christ. This new birth brought about at our baptism must be lived out in daily life by the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord’s teaching that if anyone wishes to be his disciple he must take up his cross daily and follow in his footsteps must be lived out in daily life. The cross of obedience to God’s will has to be chosen and embraced daily. This is now possible because the Christian is empowered and sustained by the share he has received in Christ’s new and risen life. He has been born anew and if he is prepared to die to self he will live to God in Christ in this life and forever hereafter.

Let us place ourselves in the room as Christ speaks to Nicodemus. Let us imagine the young John looking on and taking in all our Lord’s words. Our Lord says that we must be born again if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. This happens in the soul of the one baptized in the faith and community of the Church. The work then begins, the work of living according to this new and risen life, a life of dying to sin and selfishness and of living in Christ and according to his mind and his teaching. Let us then take up the work!

                                                                                           (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't be a pessimist. Don't you realise that all that happens or can happen is for the best?

Your optimism will be a necessary consequence of your faith.

                                                     (The Way, no.378)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A "COMMUNITY OF LOVE"

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

21. A decisive step in the difficult search for ways of putting this fundamental ecclesial principle into practice is illustrated in the choice of the seven, which marked the origin of the diaconal office (cf. Acts 6:5-6). In the early Church, in fact, with regard to the daily distribution to widows, a disparity had arisen between Hebrew speakers and Greek speakers. The Apostles, who had been entrusted primarily with "prayer" (the Eucharist and the liturgy) and the "ministry of the word", felt over-burdened by "serving tables", so they decided to reserve to themselves the principal duty and to designate for the other task, also necessary in the Church, a group of seven persons. Nor was this group to carry out a purely mechanical work of distribution: they were to be men "full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (cf. Acts 6:1-6). In other words, the social service which they were meant to provide was absolutely concrete, yet at the same time it was also a spiritual service; theirs was a truly spiritual office which carried out an essential responsibility of the Church, namely a well-ordered love of neighbour. With the formation of this group of seven, "diaconia"—the ministry of charity exercised in a communitarian, orderly way—became part of the fundamental structure of the Church.

                                                                   (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday of the second week of Eastertide A


(April 2) St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507)
     Francis of Paola was a man who deeply loved contemplative solitude and wished only to be the "least in the household of God." Yet, when the Church called him to active service in the world, he became a miracle-worker and influenced the course of nations. After accompanying his parents on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, he began to live as a contemplative hermit in a remote cave near Paola, on Italy's southern seacoast. Before he was 20, he received the first followers who had come to imitate his way of life. Seventeen years later, when his disciples had grown in number, Francis established a Rule for his austere community and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492, Francis changed the name of his community to "Minims" because he wanted them to be known as the least (minimi) in the household of God. Humility was to be the hallmark of the brothers as it had been in Francis's personal life. Besides the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Francis enjoined upon his followers the fourth obligation of a perpetual Lenten fast. He felt that heroic mortification was necessary as a means for spiritual growth. It was Francis's desire to be a contemplative hermit, yet he believed that God was calling him to the apostolic life. He began to use the gifts he had received, such as the gifts of miracles and prophecy, to minister to the people of God. A defender of the poor and oppressed, Francis incurred the wrath of King Ferdinand of Naples for the admonitions he directed towards the king and his sons. Following the request of Pope Sixtus IV, Francis traveled to Paris to help Louis XI of France prepare for his death. While ministering to the king, Francis was able to influence the course of national politics. He helped to restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land. Francis died while at the French court.
    The life of Francis of Paola speaks plainly to an overactive world. He was a contemplative man called to active ministry and must have felt keenly the tension between prayer and service. Yet in Francis's life it was a productive tension, for he clearly utilized the fruits of contemplation in his ministry, which came to involve the workings of nations. He responded so readily and so well to the call of the Church from a solid foundation in prayer and mortification. When he went out to the world, it was not he who worked but Christ working through him—"the least in the household of God."
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video



 


Scripture today: Acts 5:17-26; Psalm 34:2-9; John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world but so that the world may be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not judged, but the one who does not believe is already judged because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment: that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. Every one who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light so that his works may not be reproved. (John 3:16-21)

In our brief and limpid Gospel passage today there are points of capital importance for the destiny of every man and woman. There are so many people who live out their short span of life with little thought of God whom they regard as so far away as to be virtually irrelevant to their lives. Just recently
I had reason to look into the life of a young man who migrated to Australia well over a hundred years ago. He died in Australia at the age of 33 and on his tombstone which has been there for over 110 years it gives the detail that he was a draughtsman. He was an Anglican but was buried not in the Anglican section of the cemetery, nor in any religious section, but in the non-denominational section. It suggested to me that he was not known to have practised any particular religion in a formal sense. I wondered what his notion of God was. I suspect (but who knows!) that it may have been of One who was very distant. So many have thought thus of God, but it is so very wrong. God is not distant and unconcerned and uninvolved. Our Gospel passage today serenely tells us that God loved the world. He loves all of us. He so loved the world, in fact, that he gave us his only begotten Son. His Son was given to the world to remain with it and to redeem it. How sad it is if we live out our lives as if this immense fact is of not much importance. It ought be the bedrock of everything we do and of all our thoughts. There is a further marvel indicated in our passage today. This divine Saviour whom the Father has sent to us offers a salvation that is so easy of access. If we genuinely believe in him we shall be saved. We read that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world but so that the world may be saved through him.” (John 3:16-21) We must hear the Church’s word about him and believe in him. Salvation is ours for the asking. What we must do is come to Jesus and truly put our faith in him.

St John proceeds to emphasize with clarity the simplicity and the seriousness of this. Having spoken of belief in our Lord and the saving effect of this faith, he states the result of refusing this belief. The results are momentous. “The one who believes in him is not judged, but the one who does not believe is already judged because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” For the last few centuries there has been in Western religious culture a tendency to think that it is preposterous to claim that one will be condemned by God for one’s opinions. That is to say, so it is thought, that it is not conceivable that a good God would condemn a person simply for refusing to believe in Jesus. Faith is not an indicator of moral life because faith is just a matter of opinion. However plausible that position may seem to modern man with his various assumptions, it is not the teaching of the Gospel. Faith in Jesus is the moral issue par excellence and it is somehow at the core of moral goodness. Our judgment by God pivots around our response to Jesus Christ and his claims. In our passage St John writes that the one who believes will have life everlasting, and the one who refuses to believe will be judged. Of course, as the Church teaches, we ourselves can never judge the personal guilt of particular individuals for only God sees the hearts of men, but John is clear about the saving plan of God. In God’s plan salvation comes from faith in Jesus and the knowing and deliberate refusal of this faith constitutes a great peril to one’s salvation. St John also gives us an insight into the foundations of unbelief. It is not just an intellectual issue (although the action of the intellect is of course involved). It is not just a matter of opinion. It is primarily a moral issue. Unbelief is due to a preference for darkness, a choice of the will. “This is the judgment: that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. Every one who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light so that his works may not be reproved. (John 3:16-21)

Let us understand the seriousness of the matter of faith. Faith is the foundation, faith in God and in Christ. Let us draw near to him and stay in his presence, allowing his person and his words to enter our hearts. By our baptism we have received the gift of faith making it so much easier to believe in the person and the word of Christ. For this we should be profoundly grateful. Let us do all we can to protect and nourish our faith, enabling it to lead us to sanctity.
                                                                                         (E.J.Tyler)
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Naturalness. Let your lives as Christian men, as Christian women — your salt and your light — flow spontaneously, without anything odd or silly: always carry with you our spirit of simplicity.
                                                                   (The Way, no.379)
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

22. As the years went by and the Church spread further afield, the exercise of charity became established as one of her essential activities, along with the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word. A few references will suffice to demonstrate this. Justin Martyr (†† c. 155) in speaking of the Christians' celebration of Sunday, also mentions their charitable activity, linked with the Eucharist as such. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means, each as he or she wishes; the Bishop in turn makes use of these to support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners.[12] The great Christian writer Tertullian (†† after 220) relates how the pagans were struck by the Christians' concern for the needy of every sort.[13] And when Ignatius of Antioch (†† c. 117) described the Church of Rome as “presiding in charity (agape)”,[14] we may assume that with this definition he also intended in some sense to express her concrete charitable activity.
                                                                         (Continuing)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday of the second week of Easter A

(April 3) St. Benedict the African (1526-1589)
      Benedict held important posts in the Franciscan Order and gracefully adjusted to other work when his terms of office were up. His parents were slaves brought from Africa to Messina, Sicily. Freed at 18, Benedict did farm work for a wage and soon saved enough to buy a pair of oxen. He was very proud of those animals. In time he joined a group of hermits around Palermo and was eventually recognized as their leader. Because these hermits followed the Rule of St. Francis, Pope Pius IV ordered them to join the First Order. Benedict was eventually novice master and then guardian of the friars in Palermo— positions rarely held in those days by a brother. In fact, Benedict was forced to accept his election as guardian. And when his term ended he happily returned to his work in the friary kitchen. Benedict corrected the friars with humility and charity. Once he corrected a novice and assigned him a penance only to learn that the novice was not the guilty party. Benedict immediately knelt down before the novice and asked his pardon. In later life Benedict was not possessive of the few things he used. He never referred to them as "mine" but always called them "ours." His gifts for prayer and the guidance of souls earned him throughout Sicily a reputation for holiness. Following the example of St. Francis, Benedict kept seven 40-day fasts throughout the year; he also slept only a few hours each night. After Benedict’s death, King Philip III of Spain paid for a special tomb for this holy friar. Canonized in 1807, he is honoured as a patron saint by African-Americans. Among Franciscans a position of leadership is limited in time. When the time expires, former leaders sometimes have trouble adjusting to their new position. The Church needs men and women ready to put their best energies into leadership— but men and women who are gracefully willing to go on to other work when their time of leadership is over.
          "I did not come to be served but to serve (see Matthew 20:28), says the Lord. Those who are placed over others should glory in such an office only as much as they would were they assigned the task of washing the feet of the brothers. And the more they are upset about their office being taken from them than they would be over the loss of the office of [washing] feet, so much the more do they store up treasures to the peril of their souls (see John 12:6)" (Francis of Assisi, Admonition IV).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video


 

 

Scripture today: Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34:2 and 9, 17-20; John 3:31-36

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is earthly and he speaks of the things of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard and no one receives his testimony. The one who receives his testimony confirms that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. The one who believes in the Son has life everlasting. He who does not believe in the Son will not see life. The wrath of God rests on him. (John 3:31-36)

In the history of philosophies and religions people have long distinguished between the thought of a great teacher and the person of the teacher. For instance, one may be a great devotee of the thought of Plato or of Aristotle while giving little attention to their persons, and certainly not regarding oneself as a devotee of their persons. Taking a
modern example, there are many (especially in Europe) who embraced the thought of Friedrich Nietsche (1844-1900) without in any way being enamoured of his somewhat hapless person. In the domain of religion, while the founder of a religion is often regarded as a shining example of what it means to live that religion, he himself is not at the centre of the religion. He is not its object. However greatly Mahomet is reverenced he is in no way the object of the religion of Islam - Allah is. Mahomet is understood by the Muslim as being merely the messenger of Allah. The case is utterly different with Jesus Christ. He is the object of the Christian religion, and the Christian must understand this clearly. When our Lord, newly risen from the dead, appeared to his disciples on the shore of the Lake, he asked Simon Peter three times “Do you love me?” Simon had to understand that he, Jesus, was to be the love of his life. A common mistake is to think that “being a Christian” means living according to a certain code - such as being benevolent to others. Such persons in effect think that there can be a Christianity without Christ, and certainly without Christ being the very object of one’s life and love. Of course, Christ himself points to the Father, but the way to the Father is by making him, Jesus, the object of one’s love. He who sees me, our Lord said, sees the Father. The true Christian cannot accept and live our Lord’s teaching and then proceed to put him in the background of his own life. No, he is at the forefront in the first instance, and because of this one accepts his word and puts it into practice. Why is this? The reason for this is that Jesus is God.

So it is that in our Gospel passage today our Lord himself is extolled. Jesus Christ comes from above. He comes from heaven. Mahomet never claimed this, nor did Buddha, nor did any of the greatest prophets, nor did the greatest philosophers. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, but he came from above, from heaven. God sent him to mankind. He speaks of what he had seen and heard from all eternity. He speaks the words of God. So he is above all. He is the very Son of God and God the Father loves him and has placed everything into his hands. These are the simple and decisive facts which are set forth in our Gospel passage today. Jesus Christ is above all and everything has been placed in his keeping. So whatever be the greatness of this or that ruler in history, this or that military commander, this or that philosopher, prophet or religious founder, above all others - literally all others - stands Jesus Christ. Everything is under his control. All has been placed in his hands. When he rose from the dead he told his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him. His miracles worked by him during his public ministry were tokens of this full power and authority. The Book of Revelation shows him to be the Lord of lords and the King of kings. But he does not impose this authority by force as have so many of the kings of the earth. Until he comes in glory his authority is accepted freely and in faith. But an enormous amount is at stake in this acceptance. It is a matter of salvation or damnation. St John tells us that “The one who believes in the Son has life everlasting. He who does not believe in the Son will not see life. The wrath of God rests on him. (John 3:31-36) The consequences are clear. The one who believes in the Son enjoys God’s favour. The one who refuses to believe is the object of God’s wrath. Jesus Christ is the object of the Christian religion. It is precisely because of our love for and acceptance of him and all he has claimed to be that we assent to and live out his teaching. Love for him is the foundation of the Christian life and way.

So it is that the one who accepts the Christian way must resolve to make Jesus the object of his heart’s love. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, our Lord said. The Father and I are one. We must take the appropriate steps to deepen our friendship with the living Jesus. This means daily prayer, daily spiritual reading, reading and hearing the word of God especially the Gospels, living as true members of the Church, receiving the Sacraments. It is the love of Christ that must motivate the whole life of the Christian. Christ himself cannot be other than at centre stage.

                                                                                                      (E.J.Tyler)
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'And in a paganised or pagan environment when my life clashes with its surroundings, won't my naturalness seem artificial?' you ask me.

And I reply: Undoubtedly your life will clash with theirs; and that contrast — faith confirmed by works! — is exactly the naturalness I ask of you.
                                                                                                 (The Way, no.380)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

23. Here it might be helpful to allude to the earliest legal structures associated with the service of charity in the Church. Towards the middle of the fourth century we see the development in Egypt of the “diaconia”: the institution within each monastery responsible for all works of relief, that is to say, for the service of charity. By the sixth century this institution had evolved into a corporation with full juridical standing, which the civil authorities themselves entrusted with part of the grain for public distribution. In Egypt not only each monastery, but each individual Diocese eventually had its own diaconia; this institution then developed in both East and West. Pope Gregory the Great (†† 604) mentions the diaconia of Naples, while in Rome the diaconiae are documented from the seventh and eighth centuries. But charitable activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential part of the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles. It found a vivid expression in the case of the deacon Lawrence (†† 258). The dramatic description of Lawrence's martyrdom was known to Saint Ambrose (†† 397) and it provides a fundamentally authentic picture of the saint. As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of Lawrence's fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities. He distributed to the poor whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church.[15] Whatever historical reliability one attributes to these details, Lawrence has always remained present in the Church's memory as a great exponent of ecclesial charity.
                                                                              (Continuing)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday of the second week of Easter A

(April 4) St. Isidore of Seville (560?-636)
    The 76 years of Isidore's life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier and shortly before Isidore's birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians—Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths). Isidore reunited Spain, making it a centre of culture and learning, a teacher and guide for other European countries whose culture was also threatened by barbarian invaders. Born in Cartagena of a family that included three other saints, he was educated (severely) by his elder brother, whom he succeeded as bishop of Seville. An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orders and founded schools that taught every branch of learning. Isidore wrote numerous books, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths and a history of the world—beginning with creation! He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. For all these reasons Isidore (as well as several other saints) has been suggested as patron of the Internet. He continued his austerities even as he approached 80. During the last six months of his life, he increased his charities so much that his house was crowded from morning till night with the poor of the countryside.
     Our country can well use Isidore's spirit of combining learning and holiness. Loving, understanding knowledge can heal and bring a broken people back together. We are not barbarians like the invaders of Isidore's Spain. But people who are swamped by riches and overwhelmed by scientific and technological advances can lose much of their understanding love for one another. So vast was Isidore's knowledge that some moderns have proposed him as the patron of Internet users.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video




 

Scripture today: Acts 5:34-42; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; John 6:1-15

 After this Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. A great multitude followed him because they saw the miracles which he did for those who were sick. So Jesus went up a mountain and there he sat with his disciples. Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore looked up and saw a
great multitude coming to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread for these to eat? This he said to test him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered: Two hundred denarii of bread would not be sufficient for each to have but a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him: There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. There was a lot of grass there, so about five thousand men sat down. Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, had them distributed to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted. When all were satisfied he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain lest they be lost. So they gathered up everything and filled twelve baskets with the remains from the five barley loaves. Now when they saw the miracle Jesus had worked, the people said: Truly this is the prophet who was to come into the world. Jesus, seeing that they would come to take him by force and make him king, withdrew again to the mountain to be by himself alone. (John 6:1-15)


I have often thought that we have become so accustomed to the accounts of the miracles of Jesus that we scarcely advert to the marvel of them. The fact is that there has been no one in the history of the world who has displayed such miraculous power over nature as has Jesus Christ. The working of miracles was not characteristic of the
prophets in general, even though some prophets did work some miracles (such as Elisha). The greatest of them, John the Baptist, worked none. Yet in the case of Jesus of Nazareth the number and range of his miracles were simply astounding. He cured people of all kinds of sickness. He raised people of various ages from the dead. He calmed storms. He walked on the sea. He cast out demons from the possessed. As he was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane he silently and without moving threw back his opponents before freely submitting to their force. Nobody, nobody in the history of mankind has shown such power over nature as has he. Jesus Christ is a man of Power, but a Power not only far more exalted than the power of the great ones of this world, but a power manifesting holiness and mercy. St Thomas Aquinas once wrote that God shows his power in acts of mercy, and this is exactly the character of the power of Christ. As man he shows himself to be all-powerful but his power is purely in a holy service of those in need. Well then, let us turn to our Gospel text today (John 6:1-15). It begins with a reference to the great multitude of people who followed him because of his healings of those who were sick. He went up the mountain as if manifesting his nearness to God, indeed as if about to do what God could do. The vast concourse of people have no food and with a handful of bread and a little fish he proceeds effortlessly to feed the multitude to their heart’s content. He is powerful. He is compassionate. He is merciful. He is all-holy and good. His miracle once again reveals the greatness and excellence of his person.

There is a detail in John’s account of this amazing miracle. It is his mention of the liturgical season during which this occurred. It was near the time of the Pasch. In telling us that this miracle of the feeding of the multitudes took place near the time of the Pasch, we can assume John is meaning to remind us of the great Pasch when our Lord would take bread again and bless it and distribute it to his disciples, but this time not as mere bread as he had with the multitudes but as his very own body. St John is meaning to point out that this miracle of the feeding of the multitudes with bread - so like the feeding of the God’s people in the wilderness with manna from heaven - was a sign of the Eucharist to come. It pointed back to the miracle of the manna from heaven, and it pointed forward to the miracle of the bread from heaven which is Jesus Christ himself. Indeed, the account of this miracle of the loaves and fishes is the introduction to the long discourse of our Lord on the holy Eucharist contained in this chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. The other three Gospels narrate the institution of the Eucharist during their accounts of the Last Supper, the celebration of the Pasch on the night before our Lord endured his Passion. St John alludes specifically to the Pasch in our passage today, and he gives as well in this same chapter our Lord’s clear and copious teaching on the Eucharist. The true bread come down from heaven is not the mere manna given to their fathers in the desert. It is not the mere loaves and fishes he distributed to them on this occasion. He himself is the true bread from heaven they must all eat - not symbolically but in very truth. His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. This would be the greatest miracle of all and would outclass all others in its gift of mercy for it would involve the gift not only of physical health and life, but the gift of himself, of him in whom resides every heavenly blessing.

Jesus Christ is the Man of history, the Man on whom each person can totally rely, the one in whom we can place our entire trust. He lives now in all his human and divine reality and he is our salvation. He is all-powerful and his power reveals his love and mercy. His greatest and most powerful act is the holy Eucharist when he changes the bread and wine into his body and blood and gives himself to his disciples. Let us place our faith in him and live according to his word.
                                                                                                              (E.J.Tyler)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't worry if people say you have esprit de corps. What do they want? A brittle instrument, that falls to pieces the moment it is grasped?
                                                               (The Way, no.381)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

24. A mention of the emperor Julian the Apostate (†† 363) can also show how essential the early Church considered the organized practice of charity. As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian. The Christian faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes. Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, while reforming it in the hope of making it the driving force behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests who were to foster love of God and neighbour. In one of his letters, [16] he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him was the Church's charitable activity. He thus considered it essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the Church's charity, an equivalent activity of its own be established. According to him, this was the reason for the popularity of the “Galileans”. They needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, the Church.
                                                                      (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday of the second week of Eastertide A


(April 5) St. Vincent Ferrer (1350?-1419)
       The polarization in the Church today is a mild breeze compared with the tornado that ripped the Church apart during the lifetime of this saint. If any saint is a patron of reconciliation, Vincent Ferrer is. Despite parental opposition, he entered the Dominican Order in his native Spain at 19. After brilliant studies, he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Peter de Luna—who would figure tragically in his life. Of a very ardent nature, Vincent practiced the austerities of his Order with great energy. He was chosen prior of the Dominican house in Valencia shortly after his ordination. The Western Schism divided Christianity first between two, then three, popes. Clement VII lived at Avignon in France, Urban VI in Rome. Vincent was convinced the election of Urban was invalid (though Catherine of Siena was just as devoted a supporter of the Roman pope). In the service of Cardinal de Luna, he worked to persuade Spaniards to follow Clement. When Clement died, Cardinal de Luna was elected at Avignon and became Benedict XIII. Vincent worked for him as apostolic penitentiary and Master of the Sacred Palace. But the new pope did not resign as all candidates in the conclave had sworn to do. He remained stubborn despite being deserted by the French king and nearly all of the cardinals. Vincent became disillusioned and very ill, but finally took up the work of simply "going through the world preaching Christ," though he felt that any renewal in the Church depended on healing the schism. An eloquent and fiery preacher, he spent the last 20 years of his life spreading the Good News in Spain, France, Switzerland, the Low Countries and Lombardy, stressing the need of repentance and the fear of coming judgment. (He became known as the "Angel of the Judgment.") He tried, unsuccessfully, in 1408 and 1415, to persuade his former friend to resign. He finally concluded that Benedict was not the true pope. Though very ill, he mounted the pulpit before an assembly over which Benedict himself was presiding and thundered his denunciation of the man who had ordained him a priest. Benedict fled for his life, abandoned by those who had formerly supported him. Strangely, Vincent had no part in the Council of Constance, which ended the schism.
          The split in the Church at the time of Vincent Ferrer should have been fatal—36 long years of having two "heads." We cannot imagine what condition the Church today would be in if, for that length of time, half the world had followed a succession of popes in Rome, and half, an equally "official" number of popes in, say, Rio de Janeiro. It is an ongoing miracle that the Church has not long since been shipwrecked on the rocks of pride and ignorance, greed and ambition. Contrary to Lowell's words, "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne," we believe that "truth is mighty, and it shall prevail"—but it sometimes takes a long time. 
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video


 



Scripture today: Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; John 6:16-21

When evening came the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, got into a boat and went across for Capharnaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. A strong wind blew and the sea began to stir. They had rowed some twenty five or thirty furlongs when they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat. They were afraid, but he said to them: It is I. Do not fear. They wanted to take him aboard and soon the boat reached the shore to which they were going. (John 6:16-21)

There have been numerous claims of supernatural apparitions in the history of the Church. Some have been sanctioned by the Church, others have been rejected, and still others that have not attracted any official pronouncement. Those of Fatima in Portugal in 1917 are among the most sanctioned by the Church. As is well known, Mary
appeared on several occasions to three children, two of whom died not long after these appearances and they have been beatified. The third child (the eldest) lived out her very long life as a nun and her process of beatification has begun. Now, there is one detail in one of the apparitions they received which I would like to mention. They were granted a sense of God himself, and in their account of this occasion, it was God’s great might which dominated their experience of him. They had the sense of immensely vast power, power beyond imagining, irresistible power. If we think of the testimony coming from various other sources in the history of religion, one fundamental aspect of man’s experience of the numinous is his sense of its power. This power attracts him and it greatly awes him. Vulnerable and puny man needs the aid of divine power and this power is tremendous and fear-inspiring. Rudolf Otto in his Idea of the Holy (Das Heilige) (1917) described the human experience of the divine as “tremendum et fascinans”. God draws man, yet man cowers before his power especially if he is alive to his own sinfulness. Well now, how full God is of surprises! He intervenes progressively in the history of his chosen people and what is progressively revealed is that he is, for all his power, kind. He is a God of kindness and protection. He has revealed his face, and that face is Jesus Christ. Our Gospel today (John 6:16-21) presents us with Jesus coming to his disciples in the midst of a rough and stirring sea. He comes in his power and “they were afraid.” What does he say? “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus, the revelation of the divine, comes to dispel fear.

The Good News of the God of might and power reveals that we are not simply to be afraid. The Angel Gabriel comes into the presence of Mary and begins by telling her not to be afraid. Repeatedly our Lord tells his listeners not to be afraid. When our Lord directs Simon Peter to throw the net out for a catch and he hauls in a huge quantity of fish, Simon falls to his knees in a holy fear. Our Lord tells him not to fear and that from then on he will catch men. Our Lord tells his disciples, “Fear not, little flock, for your Father has given you the Kingdom.” God became man and put himself on familiar terms with fallen man. We read in the Gospels that the tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus and were wanting to hear him. Those who knew they were sinners and desired to change received from him the warmest welcome. He was accused by the scribes and Pharisees of welcoming sinners and eating with them. After shaming her accusers our Lord said to the sinful woman, “I do not condemn you. Go, and do not sin any more.” This is not to say that a wholesome and filial fear is to be entirely absent, for our Lord does say that we are not to fear those who kill the body and who cannot kill the soul. Fear him rather, our Lord continues, who can cast both body and soul into hell. We are to fear sinning against God for God is holy and does not admit of sin. But for the one who recognizes his sins, for the one who has faith in Christ and in his redemption, God is to be approached with humble confidence. The natural and overwhelming fear in the presence of a truly mighty and holy God is not now to be man’s dominant emotion. God as revealed in Jesus Christ inspires trust. Christ attracts with his love. He asks for repentance and gives sinful man time, while warning him that the wages of sin are death. When in the midst of difficulty we think of God and call out to him, let us think of his face. His face is Jesus Christ, who says to us in all our difficulties, Do not be afraid. It is I. He will step into our boat, and in some sense soon we shall find ourselves ashore.

It is natural to fear God because we are sinners and he is holy and all-powerful. He is “tremendum et fascinans.” But he has revealed himself in history and especially in the person of Jesus Christ and in him he has shown himself to be love and compassion. He guards and protects, and he draws us to himself by his love. Let us place our full confidence in him and make that faith the basis of our life.
                                                                          (E.J.Tyler)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't worry if people say you have esprit de corps. What do they want? A brittle instrument, that falls to pieces the moment it is grasped?
                                                                              (The Way, no.381)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

24. A mention of the emperor Julian the Apostate (†† 363) can also show how essential the early Church considered the organized practice of charity. As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian. The Christian faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes. Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, while reforming it in the hope of making it the driving force behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests who were to foster love of God and neighbour. In one of his letters, [16] he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him was the Church's charitable activity. He thus considered it essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the Church's charity, an equivalent activity of its own be established. According to him, this was the reason for the popularity of the “Galileans”. They needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, the Church.
                                                                                                                (Continuing)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third Sunday in Eastertide A
 

Prayers this week Let all the earth cry out to God with joy; praise the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise, alleluia. (Psalm 65:1-2)
                                                                                                                   

God our Father, may we look forward with hope to our resurrection, for you have made us your sons and daughters, and restored the joy of our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(April 6) St. Crescentia Hoess (1682-1744)
      Crescentia was born in 1682 in a little town near Augsburg, the daughter of a poor weaver. She spent play time praying in the parish church, assisted those even poorer than herself and had so mastered the truths of her religion that she was permitted to make her holy Communion at the then unusually early age of seven. In the town she was called "the little angel." As she grew older she desired to enter the convent of the Tertiaries of St. Francis. But the convent was poor and, because Crescentia had no dowry, the superiors refused her admission. Her case was then pleaded by the Protestant mayor of the town to whom the convent owed a favor. The community felt it was forced into receiving her, and her new life was made miserable. She was considered a burden and assigned nothing other than menial tasks. Even her cheerful spirit was misinterpreted as flattery or hypocrisy. Conditions improved four years later when a new superior was elected who realized her virtue. Crescentia herself was appointed mistress of novices. She so won the love and respect of the sisters that, upon the death of the superior, Crescentia herself was unanimously elected to that position. Under her the financial state of the convent improved and her reputation in spiritual matters spread. She was soon being consulted by princes and princesses as well as by bishops and cardinals seeking her advice. And yet, a true daughter of Francis, she remained ever humble. Bodily afflictions and pain were always with her. First it was headaches and toothaches. Then she lost the ability to walk, her hands and feet gradually becoming so crippled that her body curled up into a fetal position. In the spirit of Francis she cried out, "Oh, you bodily members, praise God that he has given you the capacity to suffer." Despite her sufferings she was filled with peace and joy as she died on Easter Sunday in 1744. She was beatified in 1900 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
   Although she grew up in poverty and willingly embraced it in her vocation, Crescentia had a good head for business. Under her able administration, her convent regained financial stability. Too often we think of good money management as, at best, a less-than-holy gift. But Crescentia was wise enough to balance her worldly skills with such acumen in spiritual matters that heads of State and Church both sought her advice.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video


 

 

Scripture today: Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

That very day two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a town some seven miles from Jerusalem, named Emmaus. They were discussing all that had happened. It happened that while they talked it over Jesus himself drew near but their eyes were closed to recognizing him. He said to them: What are you discussing as you walk along, and why so sad? One of them, whose name was Cleophas answered: Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who has not known what has happened here in these last few days? What things, he asked? Concerning, they said, Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet, mighty in work and word before God and all the people. Our chief priests and leaders delivered him up to death and had him crucified. We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Today is the third day since all this happened. Indeed, certain women in our group astonished us. Before dawn they were at the sepulchre, and not finding his body, came back saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said he is alive. Some of our people went to the sepulchre and found it as the women had said but of him they found nothing. Then he said to them: You foolish people and slow of heart to believe what the prophets have said. Had not the Messiah to suffer thus and so enter his glory? Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them all that referred to him in the scriptures. So they drew near the town to which they were heading and he made as if to go on. But they prevailed on him saying: Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent. So he went in with them. And it came to pass while he was at table with them that he took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. But he vanished from their sight. They said to one another, Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke on the road and explained to us the scriptures? Rising up there and then they went back to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together and those that were staying with them. Yes, they said, the Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon. They told them of the things that had happened on the road and how they had recognized him in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24: 13-35)

Our Gospel scene today is the beautiful account of our Lord quietly meeting the two on their way to the village of Emmaus, some miles from Jerusalem. It is Easter Sunday, some hours after our Lord had risen from the dead. He has already appeared to some of the women and now as if a solitary stranger he joins the two as they walk
along the road. There is plenty of detail and it is easy to imagine. The two disciples are profoundly despondent at the death of Christ. They had not taken in what he had taught about the Messiah having to suffer. Their minds were not enlightened, and so their hopes had been shattered. Years later St Paul would write, Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Our Lord joins them and he asks them what is on their mind. Surprised he does not seem to know what has happened in Jerusalem, they tell him and immediately he points out to them that they had not understood the drift of the Scriptures that the Christ would have to suffer. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”  (Luke 24: 13-35) It was a lengthy, illuminating and profoundly and consoling explanation of the meaning of the Old Testament. It indicates, of course, that the Christian understanding of the Old Testament comes from our Lord himself. Now, while Luke is giving us an historical account of Easter Sunday, he is also inviting us to see its immediate parallel in our Christian life. Writing all this decades later under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he is not only contributing to the New Testament but is surely reminding his Christian readers of how our Lord continues to enlighten the faithful as he did the two on the way to Emmaus. When does he do this? Whenever the Church’s faithful gather for the Sunday Eucharist - and Sunday is a reliving of Easter Sunday - the risen Jesus joins them to enlighten them as to the meaning of the Scriptures. He is its meaning. This he does during the Liturgy of the Word.

That is to say, when on Sunday and on any day we gather for Mass the risen Jesus is there to join us. The two disciples saw him but did not recognize him. We do not see him visibly but we know that he is really present at Mass in all his risen reality. The Church our mother keeps reminding us of this and invites us to enter the Church and to enter into Mass very alive to his real presence. Christ himself is speaking to us when the Scriptures are read and then explained and applied in the homily. Christ is doing for us then what he did for the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. We are hearing the word of God as spoken by him and if we give him our full and prayerful attention, our hearts will burn within us as did theirs. But Luke sees further parallels. As the three travellers drew near the village, the two disciples prevailed upon their companion to stay with them as it was approaching evening. He did so and the three entered. Then, we are told, “while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Inasmuch as in his second book the Acts of the Apostles St Luke refers to the celebration of the Eucharist as the “breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42), it surely suggests he is reminding us here of the real presence of the risen Christ at Mass. That is not to say that our Lord at Emmaus necessarily celebrated the Eucharist. But in using such terms and in stating that it was then that the disciples recognized him Luke is reminding us all that it is especially in the celebration of the Eucharist that we must recognize the presence of the risen Jesus. It is most especially at Mass that we come to him and he comes to us. He instructs us there and nourishes us with his teaching. He makes present there his whole person and all he did for us by his death and resurrection. The whole mystery of Jesus is present and available to us at the celebration of the Eucharist. For this reason the Eucharist is the summit and source of the Christian life and the life of the whole Church.

It is the Church’s unshakeable teaching that Jesus Christ is uniquely present in the Eucharist, truly, really and substantially with his body and blood, soul and divinity whole and entire. The Eucharist is thus the Church’s greatest treasure and her greatest gift to her faithful. It comes to them through the words and actions and ministry of the ordained priest. Under the appearances of bread and wine the same Jesus who joined the disciples on their way to Emmaus joins us, instructing us, giving himself to us, and uniting us to himself in his one sacrificial gift of himself to the Father.
                                                                                                       (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1373-1375

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote as an inscription. May you seek Christ: may you find Christ: may you love Christ.

Three perfectly clear stages. Have you tried, at least, to live the first?
                                                                          (The Way, no.382)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

25. Thus far, two essential facts have emerged from our reflections:

a) The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.[17]

b) The Church is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas- agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter “by chance” (cf. Lk 10:31), whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10).
                                                                              (Continuing)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday of the third week of Easter A

(April 7) St. John Baptist de la Salle (1651-1719)
      Complete dedication to what he saw as God's will for him dominated the life of John Baptist de la Salle. In 1950, Pope Pius XII named him patron of schoolteachers for his efforts in upgrading school instruction. As a young seventeenth-century Frenchman, John had everything going for him: scholarly bent, good looks, noble family background, money, refined upbringing. At the early age of 11, he received the tonsure and started preparation for the priesthood, to which he was ordained at 27. He seemed assured then of a life of dignified ease and a high position in the Church. But God had other plans for John, which were gradually revealed to him in the next several years. During a chance meeting with M. Nyel of Raven, he became interested in the creation of schools for poor boys in Raven, where he was stationed. Though the work was extremely distasteful to him at first, he became more involved in working with the deprived youths. Once convinced that this was his divinely appointed mission, John threw himself wholeheartedly into the work, left home and family, abandoned his position as canon at Rheims, gave away his fortune and reduced himself to the level of the poor to whom he devoted his entire life. The remainder of his life was closely entwined with the community of religious men he founded, the Brothers of the Christian School (Christian Brothers, or De La Salle Brothers). This community grew rapidly and was successful in educating boys of poor families using methods designed by John, preparing teachers in the first training college for teachers and also setting up homes and schools for young delinquents of wealthy families. The motivating element in all these endeavors was the desire to become a good Christian. Yet even in his success, John did not escape experiencing many trials: heartrending disappointment and defections among his disciples, bitter opposition from the secular schoolmasters who resented his new and fruitful methods and persistent opposition from the Jansenists of his time, whose heretical doctrines John resisted vehemently all his life. Afflicted with asthma and rheumatism in his last years, he died on Good Friday at 68 and was canonized in 1900.
        Complete dedication to one's calling by God, whatever it may be, is a rare quality. Jesus asks us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30b, emphasis added). Paul gives similar advice: "Whatever you do, do from the heart..." (Colossians 3:23). "What is nobler than to mold the character of the young? I consider that he who knows how to form the youthful mind is truly greater than all painters, sculptors and all others of that sort" (St. John Chrysostom).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video

 



Scripture today: Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30; John 6:22-29 

The next day the multitude that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been no other boat there but one and that Jesus had not entered that boat with his disciples, but that they had gone off alone. Other boats came in from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When therefore the crowds saw that Jesus was not there nor his disciples, they took to the boats and came to Capharnaum seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side they said to him: Rabbi, how did you come here? Jesus said: Amen, amen I say to you, you are looking for me not because you have seen miracles, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food which perishes but for that which lasts for life everlasting. This the Son of man will give you. For God the Father has set his seal upon him. So they said to him: What shall we do that we may do the works of God? Jesus answered, This is the work of God: that you believe in him whom he has sent. (John 6:22-29)

One of the features of the Gospel of St John is its abundance of detail in the incidents it describes. The author is a witness and one gets the impression that at times memories of the events crowd in on the narration even if some of them are more than are necessary for the point at hand. St John tells us that following the miracle of the
loaves the crowd saw the disciples setting out across the water without Jesus and that Jesus himself withdrew up the hillside all alone to pray. Evening came and a lot of persons remained in the location overnight (perhaps assuming our Lord was still with them somewhere up on the hill). But the next morning they found that Jesus was gone from the area. Where was he and how had he come to have gone? So many of them alighted visiting craft and went across back to Capernaum where, to their surprise, they found Jesus with his disciples. Amazed, they asked him how he had got back? All these lively details John remembered and loved to include in his fond memories of the Master. It builds up the context for this extremely important chapter that rises in crescendo as the doctrine of the Eucharist is introduced and gradually unfolds. In our passage today John is showing how the crowds were truly seeking Jesus. They did want to be with him and to hear him, but the question was, why? What were they really after? Having eaten to their fill of the loaves and fish the day before (and remembering the quality of the wine our Lord had miraculously produced at Cana, we may imagine how good were the bread and the fish!) they had then wanted to make him a king. But what was behind all this? Our Lord could see through it all. “Jesus said: Amen, amen I say to you, you are looking for me not because you have seen miracles, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food which perishes but for that which lasts for life everlasting.” (John 6:22-29). They were seeking Jesus for the material benefits they hoped to gain and not for what he had really come to offer, life everlasting.

We read in the Gospels that our Lord readily worked miracles for those who asked him and often worked them spontaneously without being asked. It was his compassion which drove him in doing this together with his desire to show by these miraculous signs something of who he really was and to intimate the redemption he would bring. But our Lord shows a certain ambivalence in the working of miracles, which is to say a certain reluctance on various occasions and gradually a stern desire that publicity not be given to this feature of his work. Our Lord is clearly reacting to the desire of the multitudes for the material benefits alone that they were deriving from his ministry. They were being healed and they were being fed. They were even being greatly entertained we might say, for many were seeking “signs and wonders.” By his miracles our Lord was endeavouring to elicit from them a genuine faith in his person, a faith that would be the basis of true discipleship. It was this which was not forthcoming and we see this preoccupation in our Lord’s words to them in today’s Gospel passage. They were not working at attaining faith which was so indispensable for their salvation. Christ had come to offer eternal life, but to receive this gift they had to believe in him. That belief in him and in his word was the most important work in life, the true work that God was asking of them. “Do not work for food which perishes but for that which lasts for life everlasting. This the Son of man will give you. For God the Father has set his seal upon him. So they said to him: What shall we do that we may do the works of God? Jesus answered, This is the work of God: that you believe in him whom he has sent. (John 6:22-29). This was to be a most critical issue because here now in Capernaum, in the synagogue no less, our Lord would announce the doctrine of the Eucharist and many of those who had so much sought him would fail. They would leave him because they lacked faith in the One whom God had sent.

The Christian life is founded on faith in the person of Jesus, a faith that leads one to accept all that Jesus has taught. The work of life is to live by this faith and to allow God to purify it progressively from all that is not what it should be. It is Jesus whom we should be seeking and not this or that temporal benefit which might accompany faith in his person and word. Where is he to be found? He is found in his body the Church, and within and through the Church he offers himself, his grace and his word to all who come to him. Let us be his true disciples and not like the crowds of our passage today.
                                                                                                                        (E.J.Tyler)
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If they see you weaken... and you are the leader, it is no wonder their obedience falters.
                                                                     (The Way, no.383)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Justice and Charity

26. Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice. Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity. There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but also much that is mistaken. It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods. This has always been emphasized by Christian teaching on the State and by the Church's social doctrine. Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization of society in the nineteenth century. The rise of modern industry caused the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The relationship between capital and labour now became the decisive issue—an issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means of production were now the new source of power which, concentrated in the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working classes, against which they had to rebel.
                                                                                    (Continuing)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday of the third week in Eastertide A

(April 8) St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816)       Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julia Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm labourers. A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralysed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart; she spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time. But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, "Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an Institute marked by the cross." As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Francoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie's interest in teaching the faith. In 1803 the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor as well as young Christian girls and the training of catechists. The following year the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years. Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Francoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium. Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.

Julie's immobility in no way impeded her activities. In spite of her suffering, she managed to co-found a teaching order that tended to the needs of both the poor and the well-to-do. Each of us has limitations, but the worst malady any of us can suffer is the spiritual paralysis that keeps us from doing God’s work on earth.        (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 

 

Scripture today: Acts 7:51—8:1a; Psalm 31:3cd-4, 6 and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab; John 6:30-35

The people said to Jesus, "So what sign can you do for us to believe in you? What can you do? Our fathers ate manna in the desert. As it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat." Jesus said to them: "Amen, amen I say to you; it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven. It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven, for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him: "Lord, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them: "I am the bread of life: he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:30-35)

Some time back I discovered information about the grave of a person who had long been forgotten by the descendants of his family. He was the brother of the grandfather of many children and they had no idea that he had lived and died in their area. I visited his grave and discovered an impressive monument to him erected by his parents at the time - more than a century ago. But of course the grave was entirely neglected. It was an early grave in that hillside cemetery. A tree was growing in the plot itself, together with large shrubs and weeds. The inscription on the gravestone was still quite legible and it spoke of the love of the parents for the young man who had tragically died. There his grave had remained for more than a century probably unvisited all that time, and quite probably having had no one pray for him. He had been forgotten. As I looked on the monument and the gravestone of that young man who had died over a century before and thought of the fact that he had lived his short life and of course never to be seen again, I could not help but think of the universality of death and of its finality. Life ends in death and there is no help for it. Wherever in our experience there is life, there too will be found death. The inscription on this young man’s tomb - obviously written by his parents - showed the love for him that was felt and the profound sadness at his death. Life is the one thing that is truly important and death is the one tragedy that is insuperable. Is there an answer to it? How can life be regained or retained in the face of the dark enemy that is ever approaching and which will overtake every man and woman? Is there any way to face this spectre that looms ever larger before us as time advances? Yes, there is an answer and the remains of this young man in his solitary and forgotten grave reminded me of it yet again. The answer is Jesus. He died too and was placed in the tomb. His relatives and friends mourned his passing and there his tomb stood. But unlike all others he came forth from the grave risen from the dead with a new life.

In our Gospel passage today (John 6:30-35) our Lord speaks of what will give life to the entire world. This ought command our full attention because the entire world is subject to an inexorable threat, a threat which will inevitably be realized. Everyone and everything in the world - everyone and everything! - is subject to the power of death. But Jesus of Nazareth said that he has brought the answer. He offers a food which gives eternal nourishment. There have been numerous persons in the history of mankind who have discovered and then offered great benefits to others, great answers to serious problems. But who has come presenting the answer to the problem of death itself, and promising that if this answer is accepted and acted upon, life will overcome death, a life beyond imagining? That is exactly what Jesus Christ offered all of mankind. He offered the entire world life, abundant life, the conquest of death itself - and not just a resumption of the life we have experienced, but something far beyond it in richness and joy. I have come that they may have life, he said, life in abundance. The means to gain it? The means to gain it is to gain Jesus, to gain his very self. "Amen, amen I say to you; it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven. It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven, for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him: "Lord, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them: "I am the bread of life: he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:30-35). He tells us that if the world is nourished on him the world will have true life, a life that will not be subject to death. Then our Lord proved his promise by rising from the dead. Like the young man I referred to earlier, Buddha died, Abraham and Moses died, Mahomet died, and all others have died and there in their graves they remain. All are under the power of death. But not so Christ. He rose in his body and flesh and to a new and glorious life. It is this which he offers to the world and the way to it is by faith in him.

The sooner we discover the person of Jesus and understand that he is the Saviour, the sooner will our lives be on an absolutely secure footing. Jesus saves from death. If we live in him we shall rise in him. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, he said. No one comes to the Father but through me. Let us then turn to him and listen to him as he utters these immensely significant words to us. They are words for the entire world. He is the life and the light of the world.

                                                                               (E.J.Tyler)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If they see you weaken... and you are the leader, it is no wonder their obedience falters.

                                                                          (The Way, no.383)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A "COMMUNITY OF LOVE"

Justice and Charity

26. Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice. Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity. There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but also much that is mistaken. It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods. This has always been emphasized by Christian teaching on the State and by the Church's social doctrine. Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization of society in the nineteenth century. The rise of modern industry caused the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The relationship between capital and labour now became the decisive issue—an issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means of production were now the new source of power which, concentrated in the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working classes, against which they had to rebel.

                                                                (Continuing)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter A
 

(April 9, 2008) St. Casilda (11th century)
Some saints’ names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something. And so it is with St. Casilda, the daughter of a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was herself raised as a Muslim and showed special kindness to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but was not convinced that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So, she made a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Vicenzo in northern Spain. Like so many other people who made their way there—many of them suffering from hemorrhages—Casilda sought the healing waters of the shrine. We’re uncertain what brought her to the shrine, but we do know that she left it relieved of illness. In response, she became a Christian and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It’s said that she lived to be 100 years old. Her death likely occurred around the year 1050. Tensions between Muslims and Christians have often existed throughout history, sometimes resulting in bloody conflict. Through her quiet, simple life Casilda served her Creator—first in one faith, then another. 
 (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 8:1b-8; Psalm 66:1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a; John 6:35-40

And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst. But I told you, that though you have seen me you do not believe. All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will not cast out because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me. Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again on the last day. This is the will of my Father who sent me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:35-40)

When Buddha set out on his search for the key to happiness he was embarking on a quest which would affect millions of Asians after him. He found, as he thought, the answer and passed it on to his disciples. They took it up, made it their own and gradually a great movement of thought formed. Buddha forged a path, a way, and great
numbers followed along that way. But of course he did not point to himself as the way except as the example for all of what it means to follow that way. “Buddhism” as we might call it, or the quest for Nirvana, is greater than Buddha and Buddha would have been the first to admit this. It was the same with Zarathustra: he had a great doctrine and pointed beyond himself to what that doctrine referred to. So too with Mahomet. No Muslim considers Mahomet himself as the object of their religion and as being himself the source of heavenly blessings. He is, so Islam thinks, the Messenger. As such he points to Allah as being, so he taught, as the source and object of all. Ah, but it is so very different with Jesus Christ! He came with a doctrine, and assent to that doctrine is crucial for salvation. He who believes will be saved, and he who refuses to believe will be condemned, we read our Lord saying. But the doctrine points to himself. We have in the person of Jesus Christ at once the most profound humility and the most exalted of personal claims. In our Gospel today our Lord refers without ambiguity to himself - not merely to his doctrine but to his very self - as “the bread of life”. “I am the bread of life: he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.” This is why Christianity holds up not just the doctrine of Christ, not just his body of teaching and his revelation, but his very self for the world’s contemplation and love. He himself is the love of the Christian religion and the Church bears witness to his very person before the world. The authentic Christian is one who is constantly nourished not only by Christ’s doctrine, but by his very person. He, and not only his message, is the bread of life.

And so it is that in our Gospel passage today our Lord laments the lack of faith in him. “ I told you,” he says, “that though you have seen me you do not believe.” Salvation is to be found in him. “Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again on the last day. This is the will of my Father who sent me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:35-40). If we see the Son and believe in him life everlasting will be ours and he, the Son of God and Son of Man, will raise us up in our flesh on the last day. Life will be ours if seeing him we believe in him. This “seeing” of the Son ought be a central part of a daily Christian life. It issues in belief. What do I mean by this “seeing”? In his most philosophical work, A Grammar of Assent, Cardinal Newman asks if there is a way in which we may be said to “enter with a personal knowledge into” the thought of God? How can our knowledge of Christ be real and personal, and not just notional? “Can I believe as if I saw?” (Image Book, p.96) Without embarking on a discussion of his theory of real assent, in his answer Newman stresses the exercise of the religious imagination. Now, what this means is that if we wish to grow in a genuine, real and personal belief in the person of Jesus, we must day by day look on Jesus, as it were. Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him, our Lord tells us today, will have life everlasting. So throughout our lives we must be looking on the Son and believing in him. How do we do this? We look on him in our daily prayer, in our prayerful contemplation of his person as portrayed in the Gospels and in our communion with him. We must be with him in mind and heart, learning to look on him and love him and believe in him totally. The Christian life entails a great commitment to personal prayer, a prayer characterised by a gazing on Christ with faith, hope and love, and as a result of this gaze involving the whole mind, heart and religious imagination we accept totally his teaching and put it every day into practice.

Let us resolve to look on the Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, to see him and believe in him with all our mind, heart and soul. This sight of Christ is a seeing in faith and prayer. It is not sight with the eyes, but sight with the mind and heart, a vivid belief nourished by daily prayer and the reading of the Scriptures and of all that truly and reliably speaks of the living unseen Jesus. In this way we continue to look on Jesus and grow in a genuine faith in him. If we do this he will raise us up.

                                                                                                (E.J.Tyler)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Confused - I knew you were in danger of making the wrong decision. And so that you could understand me, I wrote: The devil has a very ugly face, and since he is so clever, he won't risk our seeing his horns. He never makes a direct attack. That is why he so often comes in the disguise of nobleness and even of spirituality!
                                                                             (The Way, no.384)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Justice and Charity

27. It must be admitted that the Church's leadership was slow to realize that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way. There were some pioneers, such as Bishop Ketteler of Mainz (†† 1877), and concrete needs were met by a growing number of groups, associations, leagues, federations and, in particular, by the new religious orders founded in the nineteenth century to combat poverty, disease and the need for better education. In 1891, the papal magisterium intervened with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. This was followed in 1931 by Pius XI's Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. In 1961 Blessed John XXIII published the Encyclical Mater et Magistra, while Paul VI, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967) and in the Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), insistently addressed the social problem, which had meanwhile become especially acute in Latin America. My great predecessor John Paul II left us a trilogy of social Encyclicals: Laborem Exercens (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) and finally Centesimus Annus (1991). Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. In today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church's social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we live.
                                                                     (Continuing)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday of the third week of Eastertide A
 

(April 10) St. Magdalen of Canossa (1774-1835)
Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today’s saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her. Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction. For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes and among delinquent and abandoned girls. In her mid-twenties Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home. In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction. As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Daughters of Charity emerged. Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy. Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women. Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers. Both groups continue to this day. She died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.
 (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 



Scripture today: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20; John 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowd: No man can come to me unless the Father who has sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets: they shall all be taught by God. Every one who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. Amen, amen I say to you: He who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:44-51)

It is well to notice that it is not just to his disciples that Jesus uttered the words of our Gospel passage today. He did not say these things just to a small group of intimate devotees, disciples who had arrived at a genuine love for and ardent devotion to his person and who therefore might be expected to accept difficult teaching readily. He said
these things to the crowd, to those who were there for a variety of reasons and who were looking for material benefits (such as good food, having eaten of the loaves). Our Lord is setting forth before them the incomparable singularity of his person and of his unique relationship with the Father. So special is the person of Christ and so central to the plan of God is he that if anyone truly approaches him, it is in fact, our Lord says, the Father who has drawn him. The Father draws that person to Christ because Christ is the Saviour: “I will raise him up on the last day.” The Father is intent on teaching all, all, about Christ his Son. And so our Lord continues, “It is written in the prophets: they shall all be taught by God. Every one who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” So then, the truly religious man and the one who listens to God comes to Christ. Our Lord is saying that he is the centrepiece of God the Father’s plan for the world and the enlightened and convinced Christian is prepared not only to think this but to share it with others. I remember once saying to a teacher of Year 12 Religious Studies, a subject examinable at Higher School Certificate level in this state and country, that the challenge for a Christian schoolteacher of what is virtually comparative religion is to show that Christ is the divinely appointed way to the Father. He made the point that many would not have the courage to assert this. In our age of profound intellectual relativism it takes a lot of inner courage to assent to the proposition that Christ is the only way to the Father and the one and only Saviour of the world. It takes further courage to express that conviction and to attempt to teach it. But that is the Christian position. Christ is the only Saviour.

Our Lord continues with insistence his exalted claims. He has seen the Father. “Not that any man has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.” (John 6:44-51) Let us remember, he is saying these things to the crowds. Clearly, the time has arrived when our Lord chooses to speak quite openly about himself. He has seen the Father. He accuses the leaders in another part of the Gospel of not having seen the Father’s form - but he has. So he comes from God. Moreover, “He who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” I invite you to try to think of any other person of great substance and holiness in the history of the world who spoke like this. He, Jesus, has come down from heaven. It was plain and obvious that he was a man. They knew he came from Nazareth and was born and raised in a family whom very many knew. Yet he has come down from heaven! Moreover, he is the bread which gives life to the world. Did Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah or any of the prophets speak like this? Has any other figure in world history? Anyone who partakes of Christ himself will not die. He will live forever! Setting aside the further revelation in this very chapter of John’s Gospel that Christ will give himself to us in the Eucharist - setting aside that, I say - the very place of our Lord’s person should be a cause of wonder to any detached observer. Our Lord’s place in the life of the world is supreme. No words are adequate. Moreover, our Lord is not just saying that his teaching brings life to the world. No, it is specifically his flesh that is the bread of life. Just as the heart is central to the life of the body so Christ’s very flesh is central to the life of the world. From him pours forth life for the world, a life that will never fail, life everlasting, and this eternal life comes in his very flesh.

Let us pause to contemplate the powerful, the gentle, the magnificent person of Jesus. He is the wonder of mankind, the shining jewel of the ages. In him we find the bread that nourishes us with eternal life. More precisely, it is his very flesh that endows us with this life. In the rest of his chapter 6 John will be even more precise about this point, but let us pause to take our place with Jesus and to give ourselves to him and to his friendship. He is our love and our life and our only Saviour.
                                                                                             (E.J.Tyler)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our Lord says: 'I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this love everyone will know that you are my disciples'.

And Saint Paul: 'Carry each other's troubles and you fulfil the law of Christ'.

I have nothing to add.
                                                            (The Way, no.385)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Justice and Charity

28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered:

a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”.[18] Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere.[19] The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.

Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.

Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.

The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.

b) Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.[20] The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.
                                                                             (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday of the third week in Eastertide A
 

(April 11, 2008) St. Stanislaus (1030-1079)
       Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government. Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital of Poland, and at Paris. He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquence and example brought about real conversion in many of his penitents, both clergy and laity. He became bishop of Kraków in 1072. During an expedition against the Grand Duchy of Kiev, Stanislaus became involved in the political situation of Poland. Known for his outspokenness, he aimed his attacks at the evils of the peasantry and the king, especially the unjust wars and immoral acts of King Boleslaus II.. The king first excused himself, then made a show of penance, then relapsed into his old ways. Stanislaus continued his open opposition in spite of charges of treason and threats of death, finally excommunicating the king. The latter, enraged, ordered soldiers to kill the bishop. When they refused, the king killed him with his own hands. Forced to flee to Hungary, Boleslaus supposedly spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.
     John the Baptist, Thomas Becket, Thomas More and Stanislaus are a few of the prophets who dared to denounce corruption in high places. They follow in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who pointed out the moral corruption in the religious leadership of his day. It is a risky business: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone..." (John 8:7b). "Men desire authority for its own sake that they may bear a rule, command and control other men, and live uncommanded and uncontrolled themselves" (St. Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort). 
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video


 


Scripture today: Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 117:1bc, 2; John 6:52-59

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:52-59)

Christ made many startling claims and were it not for his obvious holiness, his moral stature, his judgment and his astounding miracles, together with the testimonies to him coming from John the Baptist, the Law and the Prophets, and indeed, from the heavenly Father himself, who could countenance them? But so it is. He is entirely credible
and therefore his claims of being the Messiah and the Son of God and so equal to the Father are trustworthy. But now, our Gospel passage today presents us with what must be counted among his most extraordinary promises. Who has ever uttered the like? I refer to Christ’s doctrine of the Eucharist. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke the doctrine and institution of the Eucharist is situated where it especially occurred, during the Last Supper. There, the night before he died and during the Paschal meal which it transformed and fulfilled, the institution of the Eucharist occurred. Christ took bread and by his divine power changed its substance into the substance of his own body and did the same with the wine, changing it into his own blood. Then he gave it to his disciples, commanding them to do this in memory of him. It was the first Mass and from that point Mass has been celebrated in the life of the Church and will continue to be celebrated till Christ comes again in glory. Now, John does not repeat all this in his own account of the Last Supper. Rather, we learn from St John that what Christ did in the circle of his Apostles he had actually spoken of quite publicly well before and in the most unmistakable of terms. He spoke of it in a synagogue no less, and we read at the end of the chapter that as a result many of Christ’s disciples left him. The doctrine was that if they did not eat his flesh and drink his blood they would have no life in them. It was clear to all that he meant this literally and he expressed it without proceeding to explain in what manner he would do it. That it would be done truly but sacramentally was revealed at the Last Supper. Well then, let us consider our Lord’s teaching.

Firstly, the life, the divine and abundant life, which our Lord came to grant to man would come through eating his flesh and drinking his blood. This life that comes from eating his flesh and drinking his blood is eternal life - it comes with the promise that Christ will raise up on the last day the one who so eats and drinks. Does Christ mean this merely as a powerful and rich metaphor, perhaps symbolizing the profound interiority with which we should accept his word? No, he means us to understand him literally: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink”, he says. It is not meant metaphorically but really and it is done by the almighty power of God. Our Lord tells his hearers what will be the effect of this: they will remain in him and he in them. It will be the greatest possible union and will bring with it a share in his own eternal life: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” So intimate a union with our Lord will this effect that it will be similar to his own union with the Father and the one partaking of him will live because of him and share his life. “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:52-59) In the plan of God for our redemption and sanctification we are called to feed on Christ as real food and real drink. Christ is uncompromising: his flesh is to be our food and his blood is to be our drink. Let us remember that this doctrine was pronounced in the full light of day and publicly. It led to an abandonment of Christ by many of his disciples, but there was no going back. His doctrine stood and will stand for all ages and it is the test of discipleship. Being a disciple of Christ in the sense desired by him means accepting his offer of his body and blood as our food and drink, which of course we must receive truly worthily and with a lively faith. It is for this reason that the Church has always taught that it is the Mass that matters.

In the solemn intimacy of the Last Supper Christ showed his Apostles how this stupendous mystery would be effected. It would be done truly but sacramentally. The flesh of Christ would be eaten and his blood drunk under the appearances of bread and wine, with the entire substance of the bread and wine having been changed into his entire person, body, blood, soul and divinity. All this occurs during the celebration of Mass and the whole Christ is received during Holy Communion. It is the mystery of our faith and the summit and source of our entire Christian life.
                                                                              (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't forget, my son, that for you on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of God: sin.
                                                               (The Way, no.386)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Justice and Charity

29. We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.” [21] The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility.[22] Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as “social charity”.[23]

The Church's charitable organizations, on the other hand, constitute an opus proprium, a task agreeable to her, in which she does not cooperate collaterally, but acts as a subject with direct responsibility, doing what corresponds to her nature. The Church can never be exempted from practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love.
                                                        (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday of the third week in Eastertide A
 

(April 12) St. Teresa of Los Andes (1900-1920)
One needn’t live a long life to leave a deep imprint. Teresa of Los Andes is proof of that. As a young girl growing up in Santiago, Chile, in the early 1900s, she read an autobiography of a French-born saint—Therese, popularly known as the Little Flower. The experience deepened her desire to serve God and clarified the path she would follow. At age 19 she became a Carmelite nun, taking the name of Teresa. The convent offered the simple lifestyle Teresa desired and the joy of living in a community of women completely devoted to God. She focused her days on prayer and sacrifice. “I am God’s, ” she wrote in her diary. “He created me and is my beginning and my end.” Toward the end of her short life, Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. At age 20 she contracted typhus and quickly took her final vows. She died a short time later, during Holy Week. Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who visit her shrine in Los Andes each year. She is Chile’s first saint.   
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video




 

Scripture today: Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 116:12-17; John 6:60-69

On hearing what Jesus taught, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "Do you also want to leave?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:60-69)

One of the greatest Christian preachers in the history of the United States was Archbishop Fulton Sheen. As well as being a master orator in radio, television and pulpit he was the author of numerous books of substance. Philosophy had been his academic speciality and I myself was especially impressed with his book, The Philosophy of
Religion. It has often been thought that because of the mention in the Gospels of Judas Iscariot’s love of money it was this fault in him that gradually led him away from Christ. But Fulton Sheen was of the view that it was not his love for money that led to his abandonment of Christ but his rejection of the doctrine of the Eucharist. How so? The first mention by Christ of the defection of Judas occurs in chapter 6 of St John’s Gospel in the very next sentence after our Gospel passage today. He had announced his stunning doctrine of the Eucharist and many of his disciples chose not to walk with him any longer. Simon Peter, speaking for the Twelve, had unambiguously declared his faith in Jesus. But unbeknown to Simon, there was one among them to whom his profession of faith did not apply. Our Lord responded to Simon, “Have I not chosen you Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” In his heart Judas had refused acceptance of the doctrine of the Eucharist and in spirit was turning from Christ who had called him to be one of the Twelve. These words of our Lord are not included in our Gospel passage today: today’s selection falls just short of them but they are part of the drama of disbelief that is presented in today’s passage. What our Lord had said was too much for many of his disciples. Indeed, Fulton Sheen says that it was on this occasion when our Lord declared that his flesh must be eaten and his blood must be drunk - not metaphorically or symbolically but truly - that he lost the masses. We can imagine their returning to their homes shaking their heads and dismissing our Lord in their family circles and among their relatives and friends. Perhaps it was then that the tide began to turn.

Of course, some of this is speculation, but what is not of speculation is our Lord’s dramatic announcement of his new doctrine of the Eucharist, and the rejection of it by many of his disciples. They rejected it and refused to go with him any longer. There had been no doctrine like it in the entire history of God’s people, and no prophet had uttered such a thing. Our Lord, already powerful in his teaching and in his works, told the people in the full light of publicity, in the very synagogue of the town he made his base during his Galilean ministry, that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they were to have the life which God was promising. No, he was not speaking in metaphors. It was not just a manner of speech, yet another parable as it were. His flesh was real food, his blood was real drink and the one who fed on him would live forever. Nothing could be clearer, and nothing more mysterious. It was, if anything was, the mystery of faith in Jesus of Nazareth. If it was going to be accepted it could not be accepted because understood but only on the basis that he, Jesus, had uttered it. The people had observed him teaching and working his astonishing miracles and had said of him that he spoke as one having authority and not as did the scribes. It could only be on his authority that such a doctrine could be accepted. Our Lord did not even make it easier - that is, if it would have been any easier - by intimating to them how he would do this. He did not mention that it would be done sacramentally. This would be revealed in time to his Apostles and effected at the Last Supper. Christ would give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink as a sacrament. The Church calls it the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and it is the summit and the source of the entire life of the Church herself and of every member of the Church. But it requires the constant exercise of faith in the word of Jesus as transmitted by the witness and teaching of the Church. This drama of faith is at the heart discipleship and our passage today reminds us that many tragically fail.

Let us place ourselves in the scene of today’s Gospel and watch our Lord as he turns to us and asks, do you believe what I have said? Or will you too go away? And with faith in him who is the source of life let us say together with Simon Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:60-69)
                                                                                                (E.J.Tyler)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The standard of holiness that God asks of us is determined by these three points:

Holy intransigence, holy coercion and holy shamelessness.
                                                                                 (The Way, no.387)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

The multiple structures of charitable service in the social context of the present day

30. Before attempting to define the specific profile of the Church's activities in the service of man, I now wish to consider the overall situation of the struggle for justice and love in the world of today.

a) Today the means of mass communication have made our planet smaller, rapidly narrowing the distance between different peoples and cultures. This “togetherness” at times gives rise to misunderstandings and tensions, yet our ability to know almost instantly about the needs of others challenges us to share their situation and their difficulties. Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual. Our times call for a new readiness to assist our neighbours in need. The Second Vatican Council had made this point very clearly: “Now that, through better means of communication, distances between peoples have been almost eliminated, charitable activity can and should embrace all people and all needs.”[24]

On the other hand—and here we see one of the challenging yet also positive sides of the process of globalization—we now have at our disposal numerous means for offering humanitarian assistance to our brothers and sisters in need, not least modern systems of distributing food and clothing, and of providing housing and care. Concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world. The Second Vatican Council rightly observed that “among the signs of our times, one particularly worthy of note is a growing, inescapable sense of solidarity between all peoples.”[25] State agencies and humanitarian associations work to promote this, the former mainly through subsidies or tax relief, the latter by making available considerable resources. The solidarity shown by civil society thus significantly surpasses that shown by individuals.

b) This situation has led to the birth and the growth of many forms of cooperation between State and Church agencies, which have borne fruit. Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service.[26] Numerous organizations for charitable or philanthropic purposes have also been established and these are committed to achieving adequate humanitarian solutions to the social and political problems of the day. Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a variety of services.[27] I wish here to offer a special word of gratitude and appreciation to all those who take part in these activities in whatever way. For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school of life which offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid but their very selves. The anti-culture of death, which finds expression for example in drug use, is thus countered by an unselfish love which shows itself to be a culture of life by the very willingness to “lose itself” (cf. Lk 17:33 et passim) for others.

In the Catholic Church, and also in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen, while other, older ones have taken on new life and energy. In these new forms, it is often possible to establish a fruitful link between evangelization and works of charity. Here I would clearly reaffirm what my great predecessor John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [28] when he asserted the readiness of the Catholic Church to cooperate with the charitable agencies of these Churches and Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity. His Encyclical Ut Unum Sint emphasized that the building of a better world requires Christians to speak with a united voice in working to inculcate “respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless.” [29] Here I would like to express my satisfaction that this appeal has found a wide resonance in numerous initiatives throughout the world.
                                                                                          (Continuing)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth Sunday of Eastertide A

Prayers this week The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, alleluia. (Psalm 32: 5-6)
                                                                                                                   

Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd and lead us to join the saints in heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(April 13) St. Martin I (d. 655)
        When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch. A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice emperors had officially favoured this position, Heraclius by publishing a formula of faith and Constans II by silencing the issue of one or two wills in Christ. Shortly after assuming the office of the papacy (which he did without first being confirmed by the emperor), Martin held a council at the Lateran in which the imperial documents were censured, and in which the patriarch of Constantinople and two of his predecessors were condemned. Constans II, in response, tried first to turn bishops and people against the pope. Failing in this and in an attempt to kill the pope, the emperor sent troops to Rome to seize Martin and to bring him back to Constantinople. Martin, already in poor health, offered no resistance, returned with the exarch Calliopas and was then submitted to various imprisonments, tortures and hardships. Although condemned to death and with some of the torture imposed already carried out, Martin was saved from execution by the pleas of a repentant Paul, patriarch of Constantinople, who himself was gravely ill. Martin died shortly thereafter, tortures and cruel treatment having taken their toll. He is the last of the early popes to be venerated as a martyr.
       The real significance of the word martyr comes not from the dying but from the witnessing, which the word means in its derivation. People who are willing to give up everything, their most precious possessions, their very lives, put a supreme value on the cause or belief for which they sacrifice. Martyrdom, dying for the faith, is an incidental extreme to which some have had to go to manifest their belief in Christ. A living faith, a life that exemplifies Christ's teaching throughout, and that in spite of difficulties, is required of all Christians. Martin might have temporized; he might have sought means to ease his lot, to make some accommodations with the civil rulers. The breviary of the Orthodox Church pays tribute to Martin: “Glorious definer of the Orthodox Faith...sacred chief of divine dogmas, unstained by error...true reprover of heresy...foundation of bishops, pillar of the Orthodox faith, teacher of religion.... Thou didst adorn the divine see of Peter, and since from this divine Rock, thou didst immovably defend the Church, so now thou art glorified with him.”    
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 23: 1-6; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10

"Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:1-10)

Our Gospel passage for today is drawn from the tenth chapter of St John’s Gospel in which our Lord makes stupendous claims the greatest of which is that he is one in being with the Father and therefore God. He also speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for all his sheep. In our passage today our Lord uses a
slightly different image. He tells “the Jews” that he is the gate of the sheepfold, and that God’s shepherds must pass through him in all their dealings with the sheep. He is speaking especially to the Pharisees who claim a special authority to guide God’s sheep to pasture. But they are opposed to Jesus and with the leaders gradually become implacably hostile to his teaching and ministry to the people of God. They refuse to acknowledge him as the gate of God’s sheepfold through which all shepherds must pass. In fact they come to utterly reject him. Our Lord gives a solemn warning: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” The one who refuses to accept him as the one and only gate to the sheep but attempts to enter or to lead the sheep to pasture through some other gate “is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1-10) So then, our Lord is speaking both of himself and of the shepherds of the sheep. In the Letter to the Hebrews our Lord is presented as our one High Priest through whom we attain the Father, and our Lord himself told his disciples that no one can come to the Father except through him. He is the Way to the Father and in him resides the full Truth and all the Life of the Father. He who sees him, sees the Father. “The Father and I are one”, he tells the Jews later in this chapter. So all who tend God’s sheep, his chosen flock, must do so in and through him. In our day when there has been a laudable growth in interest and appreciation of the various religions of man there is the danger of thinking that other gates may be chosen to reach eternal life. As our Lord says in the Gospel and as the Church constantly testifies down the ages, it is he, Christ, who brings this abundant life. He is the only gate to heaven and to God. If others reach heaven, then even if they are unaware of it, they have passed through the only gate which is Christ.

Christ also speaks of the shepherds of the flock. Who, in the plan of God are the shepherds of the flock appointed to lead the sheep to the abundant pasture that is Christ himself? When the risen Jesus met the Apostles on the shore of the Sea of Galilee he spoke to Simon. Do you love me, he asked. Yes? Then feed my sheep. Three times he asked the question and three times he entrusted Peter with the care of his lambs. He was giving to Peter and his successors the primacy of care over his flock, and essential to the success of this care was a personal love for Christ. That is to say, Christ was the gate through which his ordained pastors must constantly pass. The shepherds appointed by God are those among Christ’s flock who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood, of which Peter and the Apostles were the first in time and in rank. Love for Jesus must distinguish their pastoral service. All the baptized share by grace in the life of Christ. All the baptized faithful, then, share in his one priesthood in the ordinary sense of being called to offer to the Father in union with Christ the sacrifices of their prayers, their work and their life. By these continual spiritual sacrifices offered in union with the one High Priest especially at Mass they make the Church and the world more acceptable to God. In this way the entire Church is engaged in a vast priestly activity on behalf of the world. But he, the ordinary member of Christ’s Faithful with what might be called his ordinary and common share in Christ’s priesthood, is of course not a designated shepherd of God’s flock as such. The shepherd of Christ’s flock is the ordained priest, the one who has received the Sacrament of Orders empowering him with the gifts of the Spirit to lead the flock of Christ to pasture and that pasture is, of course, Christ himself. His share in Christ’s priesthood is of an essentially different kind to that of the lay faithful. He acts in Christ’s person in offering the sacrifice of the Mass, in forgiving sins, in anointing the sick, in confirming the baptized, in preaching God’s word and administering the Sacraments and all of this precisely as pastor. In short, his task is to feed the flock of God with Christ himself. By the power of the Sacrament of Holy Orders he makes present in his person and activity Jesus himself, the Good Shepherd and one High Priest.

In all his dealings with God and with mankind the ordained Catholic priest must constantly pass through the one gate which is Christ. He may never pass through another gate, or preach another Christ, another message, nor sound a different trumpet from that of the Church gathered around the chief pastor, the successor of Simon Peter to whom Christ entrusted all his lambs, all his sheep. For this reason Christ’s faithful love the ordained priesthood because they know that through it they are led by Christ the Good Shepherd to their eternal pasture.
                                                                  (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1539-1553

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Holy shamelessness is one thing: plain cheekiness, quite another.
                                                                                             (The Way, no.388)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

The distinctiveness of the Church's charitable activity

31. The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature. It is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of time. The reform of paganism attempted by the emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect; here we see how the power of Christianity spread well beyond the frontiers of the Christian faith. For this reason, it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance. So what are the essential elements of Christian and ecclesial charity?
                                                                               (Continuing)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday of the fourth week in Eastertide A


(April 14) Blessed Peter Gonzalez (d. 1246)
St. Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13th century to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused. Humbled, Peter reevaluated his motivations (his bishop-uncle had secured the cathedral post for him) and started down a new path. He became a Dominican priest and proved to be a most effective preacher. He spent much of his time as court chaplain, and attempted to exert positive influence on the behavior of members of the court. After King Ferdinand III and his troops defeated the Moors at Cordoba, Peter was successful in restraining the soldiers from pillaging and persuaded the king to treat the defeated Moors with compassion. After retiring from the court Peter devoted the remainder of his life to preaching in northwest Spain. He developed a special mission to Spanish and Portuguese seamen. He is the patron of sailors. Peter Gonzalez died in 1246 and was beatified in 1741.   
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video


 



Scripture today: Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3, 4; John 10:11-18

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired man is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired man and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father— and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep fold. I must lead them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life— only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John 10:11-18)

There are a number of wonderful things our Lord tells us about himself in today’s Gospel passage. In the Old Testament Yahweh God had promised he would raise up for his flock a good shepherd, one who would truly tend the sheep and lead them to pasture. Our Lord tells us that he is that Good Shepherd and that God’s sheep belong to
him. Our Lord stresses some distinguishing characteristics of his being the Good Shepherd. Firstly, he lays down his life for the sheep and this laying down of his life is an integral and necessary part of his care for the sheep. (John 10:11-18) It manifests that they belong to him. He is not like the hired man to whom the sheep do not belong. Christ cares intensely for each of them and as with the flocks of olden days, he the Shepherd knows them individually and they know him. How is this? It is due to the loving choice of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit in us. From our baptism we are endowed with the gift of faith which inclines our minds and hearts to listen to him and to follow him. How sad if this God-given and holy inclination is neglected or allowed to die through unrepented sin! So strong is this mutual relationship between Christ and each of us who by faith and baptism are in him that our Lord gives an extraordinary parallel. He tells us that just as the Father knows him and he knows the Father, so too he knows us and we know him. The foundation of this relationship between us and Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit to us. Just as the Father and the Son are united in the Holy Spirit who is their life of love, so too we are united to Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the love of God in person. As Christ says elsewhere in the Gospel, the Father is in me and I am in him. So too, as St Paul and the New Testament repeatedly states, Christ is in us and we are in him. This is the mystery now revealed, St Paul writes in one of his Letters, Christ in you, your hope of glory.
 
So then, an ineffable bond exists between Christ and each of us his sheep. It is a bond that has been established by God himself as a supernatural given and it is grounded in the life of the Trinity itself, in the bond between each of the three divine Persons. For this reason St Paul writes in one of his Letters that neither height nor depth, nothing anywhere, can come between us and the love of God in Christ. He is our Good Shepherd and he lays down his life for us his sheep, and the result of that gift of his life is that we are in him and he is in us. Furthermore, there are other sheep, our Lord says - thinking of the ages in the world’s history to come - that are not yet of his fold. They too he must lead to pasture. “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep fold. I must lead them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” So it is the divine plan that all men come to eternal life in and through Christ. He is the way to the Father. The Father and I are one, he says. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. For this reason just before he ascended into heaven he charged his disciples to go to the whole world and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. God’s dream and plan for the salvation of mankind is that there be one flock and one shepherd, one Church and one Head of that Church. In the redemptive plan of God, there is to be one flock and one shepherd. There are many Christians who do not see the unity of all Christians in one fold, in one Church, as the plan of God. They are mistaken as to Christ’s intention. There is one only Saviour of the world and by the power his freely chosen death and resurrection - his laying down of his life and taking it up again - that Saviour is the Head and source of unity of his one flock. They are called to listen to his voice in the one fold under the one Shepherd. That fold is the Church Christ founded on his Apostles with Peter at their head and as such is an essential part of Christ’s work of redeeming the world.

Let us entrust ourselves to the keeping of the Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for us and has taken it up again for our salvation. Let those of us who by baptism belong to him and to his fold thank him and promise to live as sheep who belong to him who is the Good Shepherd. Let us take up the mission of bringing Christ to the world so that the others who are not yet of his fold will find life in his name by being led to the one fold and the one Shepherd. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and the Shepherd of the world and of all men.
                                                                                   (E.J.Tyler)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Holy shamelessness is a characteristic of the 'life of childhood.' A little child worries about nothing. He makes no effort to hide his weaknesses, his natural miseries, not even when everyone is watching him.

This shamelessness applied to the supernatural life, brings with it the following train of thought: praise, contempt; esteem, ridicule; honour, dishonour; health, sickness; riches, poverty; beauty, ugliness...

All right... so what?
                                                                     (The Way, no.389)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity

32. Finally, we must turn our attention once again to those who are responsible for carrying out the Church's charitable activity. As our preceding reflections have made clear, the true subject of the various Catholic organizations that carry out a ministry of charity is the Church herself—at all levels, from the parishes, through the particular Churches, to the universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune that my venerable predecessor Paul VI established the Pontifical Council Cor Unum as the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church. In conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches the programme set forth in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-44): today as in the past, the Church as God's family must be a place where help is given and received, and at the same time, a place where people are also prepared to serve those outside her confines who are in need of help. In the rite of episcopal ordination, prior to the act of consecration itself, the candidate must respond to several questions which express the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future ministry. He promises expressly to be, in the Lord's name, welcoming and merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and assistance.[31] The Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of episcopal activity, but speaks in general terms of the Bishop's responsibility for coordinating the different works of the apostolate with due regard for their proper character.[32] Recently, however, the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops explored more specifically the duty of charity as a responsibility incumbent upon the whole Church and upon each Bishop in his Diocese,[33] and it emphasized that the exercise of charity is an action of the Church as such, and that, like the ministry of Word and Sacrament, it too has been an essential part of her mission from the very beginning.[34]
                                                                            (Continuing)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday of the fourth week in Eastertide A

(April 15) Blessed Caesar de Bus (1544-1607)     Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life. After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court. For a time life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he had made the right choice. That was until he saw firsthand the realities of battle, including the St. Bartholomew's Day massacres of French Protestants in 1572. He fell seriously ill and found himself reviewing his priorities, including his spiritual life. By the time he had recovered Caesar had resolved to become a priest. Following his ordination in 1582, he undertook special pastoral work: teaching the catechism to ordinary people living in neglected, rural, out-of-the-way places. His efforts were badly needed and well received. Working with his cousin, Caesar developed a program of family catechesis. The goal—to ward off heresy among the people—met the approval of local bishops. Out of these efforts grew a new religious congregation: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine. One of Caesar's works, Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism, was published 60 years after his death. He was beatified in 1975. (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 

 

Scripture today: Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 87:1b-7; John 10:22-30 

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered round him, saying, How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:22-30)

As I have observed before, one of the hallmarks of St John’s Gospel is his inclusion of empirical detail. For instance, in chapter 5 we have the account of the cure of the sick man at the Pool of Bethzatha. St John begins by giving a few details: "Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos". Incidentally, we notice that St John places this scene in the present tense: he does not write that "there was a building called Bethzatha." but that "there is a building called Bethzatha". It might indicate that he wrote his text prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and not nearly as late as some textual scholars have maintained. That speculation aside, my point here is John’s practice of including detail, showing how vivid was his memory of what he had observed. In our Gospel today from chapter 10 he includes the detail that it was the Feast of Dedication and that "it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Portico of Solomon." Why this seemingly unnecessary detail? I suspect it was simply due to John’s fondness for situating the event in the setting he remembers so well. It emphasises its factuality. It was winter, and perhaps our Lord was walking up and down the colonnade with his disciples to keep warm - perhaps, who knows! These small details help us to appreciate constantly that we are talking here of real history, of hard facts, of situations and interchanges that were observed, of a real, flesh-and-blood Jesus, of the man who was God the Son being profoundly engaged with his time and place. Christianity is a religion grounded not in myth and allegory but in concrete facts and the numerous seemingly unnecessary details of the Gospels assist us in appreciating this. So then, in this place and in this time of the year the Jews interrupt our Lord in his walking and gather around him to ask the fundamental question: Who are you? Tell us plainly, are you the Christ?

Our Lord’s answer makes it clear that they are asking this because they refuse to believe. He has already indicated to them who he is, but they will not accept it. He has told them and has worked numerous miracles to support what he has said, but to no avail because they are not part of his flock - and that, by their own choice. His sheep are those of God who has placed them into his hands. Jesus the good shepherd knows them and they know him. They listen to him and they follow him. We read, "Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:22-30) So in the question of the leaders we have before us the drama of unbelief and of the tragedy it entails. Those who listen to Jesus, who know him and who follow him are the object of his unfailing care and nurture. As his flock they are absolutely secure from all enemies and no one will be able to snatch them out of his hand. "I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand." Our Lord is speaking as the God who is Father of all would speak, and this is exactly what he goes on to claim: that he is indeed one with the Father. "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:22-30). The Father is greater than all, and Jesus is one with the Father. Jesus, then, is greater than all as is the Father. He is God, then, just as the Father is God. We are speaking here of a God who reveals himself as love, love within the Trinity itself and love for us his children. Just as the Father loves us tenderly and will guard us against all dangers and give to us life eternal, so too does Jesus. In this love for us too, apart from their oneness in being, the Father and Jesus are one.

In our Gospel passage today, replete with its concrete detail, our Lord reveals himself to be one with the Father and equal to him, and together with the Father loves and cares for us with unconquerable fidelity. We can rely on Jesus totally. He is our Good Shepherd and no one can snatch us from his loving care. Let us entrust ourselves to him completely and resolve to know him more and more fully and to listen to him and to follow him with daily obedience.

                                                                      (E.J.Tyler)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laugh at ridicule. Despise the bogey of what people will say. See and feel God in yourself and in your surroundings. And you will acquire the holy shamelessness that you need — what a paradox! — in order to live with the refinement of a Christian gentleman.

                                                                (The Way, no.390)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II    CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A "COMMUNITY OF LOVE"

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity

33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said: they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. The criterion inspiring their activity should be Saint Paul's statement in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: "the love of Christ urges us on" (5:14). The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop, so that the love of God can spread throughout the world. By their sharing in the Church's practice of love, they wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to all.

                                                           (Continuing)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday of the fourth week in Eastertide A
 

(April 16) St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)
Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. She was canonized in 1933.               
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 12:24—13:5a; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8; John 12:44-50 

Then Jesus cried out, When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he sees me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. (John 12:44-50)


As I have often mentioned before, central to our Lord’s message is himself. He manifests the most profound humility combined with a presentation of himself as the object of religious belief. Belief in his person and the acceptance of his person as the light and life of the world, as the Messiah and as the Son of God, is the door to salvation and
to perfection in holiness. This is not only the case for a select number of personal disciples but for the world. I am the light of the world, he says. He commanded his disciples to go to the whole world and make disciples of all the nations. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. In volume I of his great book Jesus of Nazareth (2007) Pope Benedict XVI comments respectfully on Rabbi Neusner’s dialogue about Jesus, in which it is asked, what did the sage Jesus add to the Law, the Prophets and the Scriptures? The answer is, Himself! (P.105) Jesus’ very self is central to his message. Perfection now consists in following the person of Jesus and Jesus himself sums up the entire revelation of God. Indeed, Jesus identifies himself with God. However now, we also notice that Jesus in pointing to himself as the object of revealed religion in that very act points to the Father and this is what we see our Lord stressing in our Gospel passage today. “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he sees me, he sees the one who sent me.” So close is the relationship of Jesus with the Father who is distinct from him as a person that when we believe in him we are believing in the Father who sent him, and indeed when we see Jesus we see the Father who sent him. St Paul writes in one of his Letters that Christ is the image of the invisible God, and our Lord would repeat to his Apostles that the one who sees him sees the Father. So while our Lord in his message points to himself, in his humility he points to the Father. With the one hand Jesus points to himself and with the other to the Father.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” He has come into the world as the light of the world, and his word which is the light and life of men will itself judge men. The very word I have spoken, our Lord says, will be his judge on the last day. How is this? This is so because the word of Jesus is that which the Father commanded him to say. “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:44-50) In pointing to his heavenly Father he is revealing the enormous implications of accepting or rejecting his word because what Jesus says comes not only from himself but from the Father who sent him. Accepting and living according to the word of Jesus means accepting both God the Son and the Father who sent him, and all of this by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. So then the entire religious life of the Christian comes down to this, hearing the word of Christ and putting it into practice as being the word of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God in three divine persons. The Gospels present us with the word of God the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity stands revealed as the heart and soul of divine revelation. May I suggest that we find ways of constantly renewing our faith in the Holy Trinity. A very good practice to keep this faith in the Trinity alive is at the beginning and end of every prayer to make the sign of the cross with the hand touching the forehead, the chest and then each shoulder all the while saying, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we see Moslems in their distinctive garb. I would suggest that a very good way for the Christian to bear witness to the Trinity is to make the sign of the Cross every time he prays, be it privately or publicly.

Let us resolve to place Jesus at the centre of our entire religious life. He is the light of our life. But he is the image and revelation of the Father, and he who sees Jesus sees the Father. What Jesus says is what the Father says and has commanded him to say. What the Father and the Son do they do by the power of the Holy Spirit. By the grace of our baptism we have been granted a share in the life of the Holy Trinity. God the Holy Trinity is our life now and hereafter.
                                                                                (E.J.Tyler)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Holy shamelessness is a characteristic of the 'life of childhood.' A little child worries about nothing. He makes no effort to hide his weaknesses, his natural miseries, not even when everyone is watching him.

This shamelessness applied to the supernatural life, brings with it the following train of thought: praise, contempt; esteem, ridicule; honour, dishonour; health, sickness; riches, poverty; beauty, ugliness...

All right... so what?
                                                                         (The Way, no.389)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity

32. Finally, we must turn our attention once again to those who are responsible for carrying out the Church's charitable activity. As our preceding reflections have made clear, the true subject of the various Catholic organizations that carry out a ministry of charity is the Church herself—at all levels, from the parishes, through the particular Churches, to the universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune that my venerable predecessor Paul VI established the Pontifical Council Cor Unum as the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church. In conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches the programme set forth in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-44): today as in the past, the Church as God's family must be a place where help is given and received, and at the same time, a place where people are also prepared to serve those outside her confines who are in need of help. In the rite of episcopal ordination, prior to the act of consecration itself, the candidate must respond to several questions which express the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future ministry. He promises expressly to be, in the Lord's name, welcoming and merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and assistance.[31] The Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of episcopal activity, but speaks in general terms of the Bishop's responsibility for coordinating the different works of the apostolate with due regard for their proper character.[32] Recently, however, the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops explored more specifically the duty of charity as a responsibility incumbent upon the whole Church and upon each Bishop in his Diocese,[33] and it emphasized that the exercise of charity is an action of the Church as such, and that, like the ministry of Word and Sacrament, it too has been an essential part of her mission from the very beginning.[34]
                                                                               (Continuing)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter


(April 17, 2008) St. Benedict Joseph Labre (d. 1783)
       Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. He became a pilgrim, travelling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbour, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 


 

Scripture today: Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27; John 13:16-20

I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I AM. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me. (John 13:16-20)

In any discussion of Christianity it has to be said time and time again that the person of Jesus is the object of the Christian religion. Christ is God’s greatest Messenger, but he is not just a messenger. He is himself both the Saviour and the object of our love and worship. Furthermore, in loving and worshipping him we love and worship, in and
through him, the Father, and we do this in the Holy Spirit. The Christian is not just a follower nor even just a disciple of Christ as if he were simply the world’s greatest teacher and prophet. No, the Christian is one who loves Christ and who wishes to love and worship him with all his heart and soul. This is because Christ is God. He is divine. He is the one only God, though he is distinct as a person from his heavenly Father who is also the one only God, as is the Spirit of God who is also distinct as a divine person. So let us all through life contemplate the divinity of Jesus Christ because this is the linchpin and distinguishing mark of true Christianity. Let us take our Gospel passage today and consider its wonderful teaching. Our Lord is with his Apostles at the Last Supper and has just washed their feet. He warns them that one of their number will betray him and then says that “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I AM.” I Am. The expression he uses in this remarkable assertion is the most hallowed in Israel’s religious history: the Greek in St John's Gospel is, ego eimi, I AM. It is the same name (as translated from the Hebrew into the Septuagint Greek) uttered by Yahweh when at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:14) Moses asked for his name. I am who am, he replied. I am he who is. Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM, has sent you. So Yahweh God’s name was I AM - a name that evoked a profound religious respect on the part of God’s chosen people and an unending stream of theological and philosophical exploration over the course of the centuries ever since. This was the name our Lord used to designate himself in our Gospel today (John 13:16-20). Our Lord was claiming to be Yahweh God himself. He is the same Yahweh God who spoke to Moses - as is also his heavenly Father.

Our Lord not only said this in the intimate circle of his Apostles during the Last Supper, the night before he died on the Cross for mankind. He had said it publicly. We read in John chapter 8 that our Lord made another extraordinary claim. Whoever keeps my word will never see death. Whose word has this power if not God’s? It was the whole drift and meaning of the Old Testament that man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God, and it was this which our Lord quoted to Satan when in the wilderness Satan tempted him to use his power to feed himself from the stones of the desert. Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Here our Lord is stating publicly that whoever keeps his word will live forever. His audience responded in astonishment: “Who are you claiming to be?” Abraham has died and so have the prophets. In respect to Abraham, our Lord responded, he, Abraham rejoiced when he saw me. You have seen Abraham? Yes, our Lord responded, and “before Abraham ever was, I AM.” What could be clearer? He was the Yahweh who had called Abraham and had given to him his mission of being father to God’s chosen people. He was the Yahweh (together with the Father and the Holy Spirit) who had given his divine name to Moses from the Burning Bush. We read that as soon as our Lord said this “they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself in the Temple” (John 8:58-59). On another occasion again we read that on being attacked by the leaders for curing on the Sabbath our Lord replied that my Father continues to work, and so therefore do I. At this they were more intent on killing him because, “not content with breaking the Sabbath he spoke of God as his own Father and so made himself equal to God” (John 5:18). On a further occasion he stated publicly that he and the Father were one, and that he was in the Father and the Father was in him (John 10). At this, we read, they took immediate action to execute him, but he eluded them.

Christ gave himself up for the salvation of each and every man and woman. His offering of himself for our salvation was an act of witness to the truth in obedience to the will of the Father. That truth was above all the truth about himself and all that he had revealed and would do for us. He is the Messiah and the Son of God made man. He is the Lord God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God. He is the Saviour of mankind and is the object of the Christian religion. Life’s great project is to love him with all our hearts and to bring the knowledge and love of him to the world.
                                                                                                  (E.J.Tyler)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laugh at ridicule. Despise the bogey of what people will say. See and feel God in yourself and in your surroundings. And you will acquire the holy shamelessness that you need — what a paradox! — in order to live with the refinement of a Christian gentleman.
                                                                                       (The Way, no. 390)
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity

33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said: they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. The criterion inspiring their activity should be Saint Paul's statement in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “the love of Christ urges us on” (5:14). The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop, so that the love of God can spread throughout the world. By their sharing in the Church's practice of love, they wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to all.
                                                                                    (Continuing)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
 

(April 18, 2008) Blessed James Oldo (1364-1404)
          James of Oldo was born in 1364, into a well-to-do family near Milan. He married a woman who, like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of plague drove James, his wife and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague, James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth. He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients. James Oldo was beatified in 1933.
            The death of those we love brings a troubling awareness of our own mortality. James had that experience when he gazed into his friend’s grave, and it brought him to his senses. He determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth. Our time is limited, too. We can use it well or foolishly: The choice is ours.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; John 14:1-6 

Jesus said to his disciples: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6)

Many decades ago in Australia it was difficult for the lay person to study Religion formally at tertiary level, and then to attempt to make of his studies a path to a career. Philosophy (of religion) and Theology and allied subjects such as the history of the Church and of Christianity were available in ecclesiastical institutions of study (such as
seminaries) but were not easily available at secular institutions. It was an academic anomaly in view of the great importance of these subjects, but so it was. Religion was perceived as a matter of subjective personal opinion and not as a serious academic project. All has now changed. There are abundant opportunities to study Religion at tertiary institutions right to doctoral level, and in secondary schools whether state or religious there are plenty of opportunities to take Religious Studies and many students excel in the field. However, with this has come the tendency to set aside - without necessarily intending it - the issue of truth. By that I mean that religion is studied as a social, cultural or anthropological phenomenon and the question of the truth of the religion being studied tends to be quietly set aside. At this point, then, the matter becomes obliquely philosophical. The unsaid assumption at work can be that the truth of the matter cannot really be known, or that the truth of the matter is not really important, or that there is no real truth but only personal perceptions which are useful in some sense. Relativism rather than Realism then drives the work at hand, and if we are speaking of the study or reading of religion in a Catholic or Christian circle or school, then the situation has become serious. The unspoken assumption that truth is relative to the perceiver will undermine the foundations of religion in a person’s life, and especially in the life of the Christian. Our Lord’s claims are absolute and objective. Christ requires a realist philosophy, one that stands for the truth of what he says and for the error of its denial. All this is to say that in our day the Christian must be alive to the presence and the temptation of Relativism in religious belief.

Let these brief observations serve as a context for our reading of the Gospel of today. Our Lord tells his disciples that they are to trust in God and to trust in him - in him as if he were on a par with the Father, which he is. Then he is asked by Thomas where he is going, and what is the way there. Our Lord replies, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:1-6). Our Lord does not say that he is a way, and part of the truth and that he is offering (some) life. He says that he is the way, the truth and the life. He reinforces his utterance by an unambiguous declaration that no one can come to the Father except through him. Now, one of the most persistent features of human culture is the presence of religion. Religious practice characteristically shapes and even drives human society and the anomaly of modern secular culture is just that - its secularism is an anomaly. Even so, the various substitutes for religion abound even in the modern age. Religion has always been widespread and so have the various leaders and founders of religion. The great ones stand out in human history: Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Mahomet and many others. However, Christ states that no one comes to the Father except through him. This is a core and fundamental Christian tenet such that a person cannot be regarded as a Christian in the sense intended by Christ unless this unique status of his is accorded to him. To be a Christian has to involve discovering in faith that Christ is the only way of access to the Father. Other ways may tend to him but the only way to reach the Father is through Jesus Christ. He is the one and only Saviour of the world. Therefore if, through his good life and earnest efforts the non-Christian reaches God (as we trust so very many would) then it has been, unbeknown to him, due to the grace and work of Christ. This truth about Christ ought drive a sense of mission in the daily life of the Christian and lead him to readily bear witness to Christ the one Saviour in his everyday life. This is why Christ commanded his disciples to preach the good news to the whole world.

Let us place ourselves in the intimacy of our Lord’s conversation with his Apostles in our Gospel today. He asks us to trust in him - to trust in him and not in other things. Let us then trust in him: Jesus, I trust in you! He is the one sure object of human trust and faith. He will lead us to the Father if we but cleave to him and live according to his word. Indeed, no one can attain to the Father except through Jesus. He is the only way to the Father. So let us live our lives based on this great fact, and let us strive, for love of our fellow man, to bring this truth to the world.
                                                                                     (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you have holy shamelessness, you won't be worried by the thought of 'what will people say?' or 'what can they have said?'
                                                                       (The Way, no.391)
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

34. Interior openness to the Catholic dimension of the Church cannot fail to dispose charity workers to work in harmony with other organizations in serving various forms of need, but in a way that respects what is distinctive about the service which Christ requested of his disciples. Saint Paul, in his hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13), teaches us that it is always more than activity alone: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (v. 3). This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all ecclesial service; it sums up all the reflections on love which I have offered throughout this Encyclical Letter. Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift.
                                                            (Continuing)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday of the fourth week in Eastertide A

(April 19) Blessed Luchesio and Buonadonna (d.1260)
Luchesio and his wife Buonadonna wanted to follow St. Francis as a married couple. Thus they set in motion the Secular Franciscan Order. Luchesio and Buonadonna lived in Poggibonzi where he was a greedy merchant. Meeting Francis—probably in 1213—changed his life. He began to perform many works of charity. At first Buonadonna was not as enthusiastic about giving so much away as Luchesio was. One day after complaining that he was giving everything to strangers, Buonadonna answered the door only to find someone else needing help. Luchesio asked her to give the poor man some bread. She frowned but went to the pantry anyway. There she discovered more bread than had been there the last time she looked. She soon became as zealous for a poor and simple life as Luchesio was. They sold the business, farmed enough land to provide for their needs and distributed the rest to the poor. In the 13th century some couples, by mutual consent and with the Church’s permission, separated so that the husband could join a monastery (or a group such as Francis began) and his wife could go to a cloister. Conrad of Piacenza and his wife did just that. This choice existed for childless couples or for those whose children had already grown up. Luchesio and Buonadonna wanted another alternative, a way of sharing in religious life, but outside the cloister. To meet this desire, Francis set up the Secular Franciscan Order. Francis wrote a simple Rule for the Third Order (Secular Franciscans) at first; Pope Honorius III approved a more formally worded Rule in 1221. The charity of Luchesio drew the poor to him, and, like many other saints, he and Buonadonna seemed never to lack the resources to help these people. One day Luchesio was carrying a crippled man he had found on the road. A frivolous young man came up and asked, "What poor devil is that you are carrying there on your back?" "I am carrying my Lord Jesus Christ," responded Luchesio. The young man immediately begged Luchesio’s pardon. Luchesio and Buonadonna both died on April 28, 1260. He was beatified in 1273. Local tradition referred to Buonadonna as "blessed" though the title was not given officially.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video




 

Scripture today: Acts 13:44-52; Psalm 98:1- 4; John 14:7-14 

Jesus said to his disciples: If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. Philip said, Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered: Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:7-14)

Just place yourself in the scene of the Last Supper and consider the context in which our Lord makes his remarkable statements of our Gospel passage today. It is the night before he is to suffer and to die. His life is about to end in apparent disgrace and humiliation, abandoned virtually by all. There is scarcely any possibility of pretence in the
face of these circumstances. Moreover, the scene is one of familiarity and intimacy. Our Lord is with his Apostles and the communication between them is simple and direct. There are no helps to a sense of awe and majesty surrounding the person of Jesus. All his disciples see is the man before them with whom they have constantly associated for the previous few years. So human is the situation that even one of their own number on that very night will betray him into the hands of his enemies. And yet amid this familiarity, amid this ordinariness and lack of supporting phenomena our Lord makes a wondrous claim. He says that the one who sees him sees the Father. He tells them that if they really know him, they know the Father too. Indeed, he says, their having been with him so constantly ought to have brought this home to them. “Jesus said to his disciples: If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. Philip said, Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered: Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:7-14) Jesus is not the Father, but to see him is to see the Father. So then, all that the Father is the Son is, without the person of the Father being the person of the Son. As St Paul writes, the Son is the image and the revelation of the Father. We can imagine how the words of our Lord at the Last Supper burnt themselves into the memory of John and how he would have pondered on them and preached on them all his long life, recording them lovingly in his Gospel.

Our Lord then makes a remarkable statement about the relationship between him and the Father which is so mysterious and yet so illuminating. He says, “How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” Consider the very wording our Lord uses. If two friends are very close to one another, or even a husband and a wife, they might say that we are united to one another in love. But they would not say, I think, that they are “in” one another. The husband would not say of himself that he is “in” his wife, and the wife would not say that she is “in” her husband. But this is exactly what our Lord says of himself and the Father. The Father is in me and I am in the Father. Moreover, our Lord speaks to Philip as if this ought to have been evident to anyone who has seen him so constantly as has Philip. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?” To speak of himself as in the Father is to suggest something far greater and more ontological than merely a oneness in love. It suggests a union in the very being of the two persons while retaining their duality precisely as persons. There is not only a oneness in love between the two divine persons but a oneness in their very being. Each of the two are the one God - there are two persons “in” the one God. Each is “in” the other because each is the one divine being. Neither person can be regarded as in any sense distinct from the being of the one only God, and yet the Father is distinct in his personhood from the person of the Son, just as, we might add, the Holy Spirit is distinct in his person from both the Father and the Son. Our Lord in these very simple terms speaks of the holy Trinity and of the unique and incomparable relationship he has with the Father. Moreover, this ineffable partnership between Jesus and the Father is operative in all that our Lord does. “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

What a wonderful thing it is, then, to enter into a relationship with the living risen Jesus. In seeing him we see the Father. In entering into union with him we enter into union with the fullness of the Godhead and with each of the three divine persons. How great is the effectiveness of our prayer if we direct our prayer to Jesus, for he says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:7-14). The mystery of the Blessed Trinity, one God in three persons, is at the heart of the entire Christian life and is the source of all our hopes.
                                                                                                                        (E.J.Tyler)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Convince yourself that there is no such thing as ridicule for whoever is doing what is best.
                                                           (The Way, no.392)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

35. This proper way of serving others also leads to humility. The one who serves does not consider himself superior to the one served, however miserable his situation at the moment may be. Christ took the lowest place in the world—the Cross—and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid. Those who are in a position to help others will realize that in doing so they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own. This duty is a grace. The more we do for others, the more we understand and can appropriate the words of Christ: “We are useless servants” (Lk 17:10). We recognize that we are not acting on the basis of any superiority or greater personal efficiency, but because the Lord has graciously enabled us to do so. There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14).
                                                                                                     (Continuing)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fifth Sunday of Easter A

Prayers this week Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous deeds; he has revealed to the nations his saving power, alleluia.(Psalm 97: 1-2)
                                                                                                                   

God our Father, look upon us with love. You redeem us and make us your children in Christ. Give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(April 20, 2008) St. Conrad of Parzham (1818-1894)
         Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives. His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years. At first some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers. Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent. Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children. Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934.
     "It was God’s will that I should leave everything that was near and dear to me. I thank him for having called me to religious life where I have found such peace and joy as I could never have found in the world. My plan of life is chiefly this: to love and suffer, always meditating upon, adoring and admiring God’s unspeakable love for his lowliest creatures" (Letter of Saint Conrad).  
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12 

Jesus said to his disciples: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. Philip said, Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered: Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:1-12)

One of the most serious and contested issues of the modern world is the status of human life when life is difficult. When life is inconvenient and painful, how is the value of that life to be regarded? A child is conceived - perhaps out of wedlock - and the fact perhaps brings enormous difficulties. How is the value of that new life to be regarded in
view of the difficulties? Is it an absolute value or must it give way before the value of a life of relative tranquillity? Or again, a state (let us say, China) judges that for the tranquillity of the nation a limit to births in all families must be imposed by any means. So while an unborn child has a certain value it may be aborted in view of the perceived value of national prosperity. Let us take another scenario. An elderly person is suffering from constant loneliness and depression and sees no value in his or her life. Life is difficult and so its value is understood by her and her relatives to be of little value precisely because of the difficulties it entails. Or again, it may not be depression. The difficulty could be entirely physical - life has brought a debilitating and painful cancer. So what is the value of her life? Or again, the person may not be suffering from a chronic depression or physical pain. He simply may not see any purpose in life. Life is perceived as meaningless and boring. So he thinks it has no value and society may be tempted to allow him the right to act on this perception. My point in mentioning these various attitudes is simply to highlight the contemporary tendency to relativize the value of human life. Life tends to be regarded as having value if it is free from difficulty or inconvenience. This is not the time to engage in a serious philosophical analysis of the validity of these judgments. Rather, I would like simply to consider the Christian view as grounded in the words of Jesus Christ. Let us then briefly consider what our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel suggest about the value of our life even if and when it proves to be difficult.

First of all, whatever be our difficulties in life our Lord tells us that we are not to let our hearts be troubled. There is consolation nearby, and its source is above all God. Whatever be the difficulty, we are to trust in Jesus and in the Father. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me.” Whether it be the mother bearing her unborn and perhaps unexpected child, whether it be the person suffering from a long-standing depression, whether it be the person who sees no point in life, whether it be the elderly person consumed in pain, the practical answer is not to set life aside but to trust in God and to trust in Christ. Now, this is not merely the answer for the individual. It is the answer for the world. In the face of difficulties countries are not to put down human life in order to avoid difficulty and inconvenience. God and his law are to be followed and in a spirit of religious trust. Moreover, this world and this life is not all that there is. There is something far more wonderful to hope for and a great reward is in store for the one who resolutely pursues the path of Christ whatever be the difficulty. Our Lord tells his disciples that “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-12). Everything of true worth is to be found in God and in Jesus, and hence we have a wonderful hope to live by in the midst of life’s difficulties. Those who make the value of life relative to the degree of difficulty it involves have not accepted Christ’s teaching on the joy of eternity ahead of us. I will take you to be with me, our Lord assures us. A famous writer of the nineteenth century, John Henry Newman, wrote at the end of one of his greatest books that life is short and eternity long. Every person who is living what the providence of God has allowed to be a difficult life ought remember those words. He ought trust, have faith, and he ought to hope.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. In the nineteen thirties in Rome there lived a child suffering from bone cancer. Her name was Antonietta, nicknamed Nannolina. When she was five years of age one of her legs had to be amputated. She bore it cheerfully saying she connected it with Jesus' suffering. As her disease worsened, she dictated poems or letters to God, Jesus and Mary. She died five months before her seventh birthday, and the letters were later cited as the record of a young mystic. The pope has announced that he hopes that this child will eventually be canonized. The pope said that “in a few years, Nennolina reached the summit of Christian perfection that we are all called to climb; she quickly travelled the superhighway that leads to Jesus." She recognized the value of her life and acted on it in the midst of all her sufferings. Let us resolve to value every single life whatever be its pain and to bear witness to this before others.
                                                                                                         (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.2259-2283

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A man, a 'gentleman', ready to compromise would condemn Jesus to death again.
                                                               (The Way, no.393)
 

Click  here for spiritual reading (some classic spiritual authors)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

36. When we consider the immensity of others' needs, we can, on the one hand, be driven towards an ideology that would aim at doing what God's governance of the world apparently cannot: fully resolving every problem. Or we can be tempted to give in to inertia, since it would seem that in any event nothing can be accomplished. At such times, a living relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right path, without falling into an arrogant contempt for man, something not only unconstructive but actually destructive, or surrendering to a resignation which would prevent us from being guided by love in the service of others. Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone. Piety does not undermine the struggle against the poverty of our neighbours, however extreme. In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service. In her letter for Lent 1996, Blessed Teresa wrote to her lay co-workers: “We need this deep connection with God in our daily life. How can we obtain it? By prayer”.
                                                           (Continuing)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter A
 

(April 21, 2008) St. Anselm (1033-1109)
          Indifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church's greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title "Father of Scholasticism" for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason. At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father's opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously chosen abbot. Considered an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies. During these years, at the community's request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to those of St. Augustine. His best-known work is the book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man"). At 60, against his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was opposed at first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the Church. Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's insistence on investing England's bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome. His care and concern extended to the very poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.
      "No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God" (St. Anselm, Opera Omnia, Letter 112).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video




 

Scripture today: Acts 14:5-18; Psalm115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16; John 14:21-26 

Jesus said to his disciples: Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:21-26)

The foremost religious mind of nineteenth century England was John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman, the most famous Catholic convert of the era. In his account of the development of his religious views (his Apologia pro Vita Sua of 1864) he states that the principal literary influence on his early years was Thomas Scott, and in particular Scott’s autobiography, The Force of Truth. Now if we look at
Scott’s Force of Truth it is evident that a most influential consideration in Scott’s own conversion was the thought of God’s judgment and the possibility - considering the direction he was taking - of being condemned to Hell. It seems to me that however much Scott devoted himself to the study of Scripture the testimony of his guilty conscience that God is a Judge constituted a major starting point in his religion. I mention this as something of an introduction to the issue of how God is viewed in the religions of man. Consider the images of God or the gods in the religions of the world, and ask what is the predominant feature in those images and what attitude to him does it evoke? Is the predominant image of God that of a Judge, or perhaps of a distant Ruler? It would involve a very extensive study to hazard an answer to this question, but the question does lead to the consideration of Revelation. In his revelation of himself to Abraham, the patriarchs and prophets, and then in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lord God reveals himself as rich and multi-faceted in his being, but above all as a holy and loving Father. In some religions holiness as such is not a particularly notable feature of the Absolute and sometimes it can be virtually missing. The god of the religion may not be holy. In historical revelation however, God is revealed as holy, absolutely holy. He is holy and he requires holiness: Be holy, for I am holy, says the Lord. Moreover, surprise of surprises, the holiness of God is revealed as loving. He loves and he invites us his sinful creatures to love him. Indeed, as our Lord says in summing up the entire Law and the Prophets, we ourselves are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

This revelation of a God who loves and who asks for love comes through in our Gospel passage today (John 14:21-26). To begin with, our Lord himself is the object of our love: if you love me, you will keep my commands. Christ is himself the object of the love of the Christian, and it is this love which distinguishes the religion of the Christian. I mentioned a little earlier the figure of John Henry Newman. In his writings he stresses that authority and obedience are of the essence of religion and in saying this he is countering a religion based on personal and private judgment. But what his words also do is to stress that the test of authentic religion is the readiness to do God’s will, to obey his commands. God is holy and because of his holiness he requires that we be holy. This means obeying his will, fulfilling his commands. This then is the test of our love for the God who has loved us first, that we obey his commands. And so it is that in our Gospel passage today our Lord says to his disciples: Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” God loves us and he expects us to obey him. His commands are revealed in the words of his Son. If we love Christ we will obey his commands and the Father and the Son will love us. Indeed, they will come and make their home within us. God the Holy Trinity is a God of love, and we abide in the love of each of the divine persons by obeying the commands of Christ. He who does not love me, our Lord continues, does not obey my teaching. Moreover, in the great work of abiding in the love of Christ and of the Father, we have a divine Counsellor. He is the third divine person, the Holy Spirit. “The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit,” our Lord continues, “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:21-26) When we think of the one only God who has revealed himself as being three divine persons, we are to think of a God who loves and of how we abide in his love by obeying his will.

Let us resolve to use our short lives to fill our hearts with the love of God. Is God our Judge? Yes indeed. Is he our Ruler? Yes indeed. Is he our Lord? Yes indeed. He is all these things but beyond everything he is the One who loves us. He is Love. But that love is holy and if we are to abide in his love we must do what he has commanded so as to be holy ourselves. So then, as St Ignatius of Loyola asks in his Spiritual Exercises, Lord, take all, but give me your love and your grace.
                                                                                                       (E.J.Tyler)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To compromise is a sure sign of not possessing the truth. When a man gives way in matters of ideals, of honour or of Faith, that man is a man without ideals, without honour and without Faith.
                                                                                    (The Way, no.394)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

37. It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change God's plans or correct what he has foreseen. Rather, he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. An authentically religious attitude prevents man from presuming to judge God, accusing him of allowing poverty and failing to have compassion for his creatures. When people claim to build a case against God in defence of man, on whom can they depend when human activity proves powerless?
                                                                     (Continuing)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter A
 

(April 22, 2008) St. Adalbert of Prague (956-97)
          Opposition to the Good News of Jesus did not discourage Adalbert, who is now remembered with great honor in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Germany. Born to a noble family in Bohemia, he received part of his education from St. Adalbert of Magdeburg. At the age of 27 he was chosen as bishop of Prague. Those who resisted his program of clerical reform forced him into exile eight years later. In time the people of Prague requested his return as their bishop. Within a short time, however, he was exiled again after excommunicating those who violated the right of sanctuary by dragging a woman accused of adultery from a church and murdering her. After a short ministry in Hungary, he went to preach the Good News to people living near the Baltic Sea. He and two companions were martyred by pagan priests in that region. Adalbert's body was immediately ransomed and buried in Gniezno cathedral (Poland). In the mid-11th century his body was moved to St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
       Preaching the Good News can be dangerous work whether the audience is already baptized or not. Adalbert fearlessly preached Jesus' gospel and received a martyr's crown for his efforts. Similar zeal has created modern martyrs in many places, especially in Central and South America. Some of those martyrs grew up in areas once evangelized by Adalbert. “God our Father, you have honored the Church with the victorious witness of St. Adalbert, who died for his faith. As he imitated the suffering and death of the Lord, may we follow in his footsteps and come to eternal joy” (adapted from the Common of a Martyr in the Easter season). 
 (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21; John 14:27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (John 14:27-31a)

I remember watching a movie years ago and it portrayed a young soldier in the First World War who had, out of overwhelming fear, briefly deserted. He was then arrested and condemned to be shot for his desertion. It showed his fear of death as it approached, a fear he could not control. Few things are more understandable than the fear of death and it would normally require a very special motive
to overcome this fear. As I mentioned once before when commenting on the Gospels, I remember reading a great Australian novel many years ago and the most memorable scene in it for me was the dying moments of a relative of one of the leading characters. The leading character stepped forward and said, “Have no fear of death, John!” It was the one scene in the novel I will probably always remember but on reflection I knew it was quite unreal. The reason? The reason is that no motive was given in that scene for not fearing death. The dying person was simply told not to fear death. There is every reason to fear death unless we have an objective reason for not doing so. The greatest of persons will fear death and will do all that is reasonable to avoid it. But now, let us consider Christ as his death approached. During the few years of his public ministry he explicitly referred to his coming death both with his disciples and publicly. For example, after he elicited from Simon Peter his profession of faith in him as the Messiah he told the Twelve that he would suffer and be put to death and then rise again. This he stated on more than one occasion and even publicly - as we read especially in the Gospel of St John. He would be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. At the age of twelve the boy Jesus astonished the doctors of the Law who engaged with him in discussion in the Temple. I suspect that on that occasion the great Child was probing and discussing the Messianic prophecies, including that of the Suffering Servant. His redemptive death would never have been far from his thoughts.

But consider the calmness with which Christ prepared for and encountered his greatest tribulations. Throughout his public ministry he constantly displays fortitude in the face of affliction and during the Last Supper from the account of which our passage today is drawn Christ is serene, loving and full of strength. The prince of this world is coming, he says elsewhere in the account, and he has no power over me. He allows the full impact of his coming death to submerge him during his Agony in the Garden but he is in ultimate command nevertheless. That is to say, Christ is at peace. In the midst of his greatest afflictions during his Passion and then right to his sense of abandonment at the moment of his death, there is in Christ a peace that is never shaken. We get the sense of this during his interrogation by the High Priest, during his dialogue with Pontius Pilate, during his sentencing, during his brief interchanges with the sorrowing women, right to the end. He is the Strong Man of history bearing the sins of history to their ultimate conclusion in his own body. Peace of heart, peace of mind, peace of soul is his hallmark as he expiates for the sins of the world amid incalculable suffering. Now, what does he promise his disciples? He promises peace to them. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27-31a). Christ did not come to take away affliction nor death - temporal death, that is. But he did come to bring a share in his own peace, and not the peace that the world offers. It is a share in the peace of God that comes from being united to God as Christ was united to the Father. By being in Christ we are united to the Father and nothing can take away that peace if that union with Christ endures. In him is to be found every heavenly blessing, and so union with him will bring a share in his peace.

The first and most important thing in life is holiness in Christ and that is attained by means of union with him.. Peace will come if this union with him is maintained and grows. It will mean that we can face whatever the future brings with tranquillity. On the tomb of Blessed Mary MacKillop in Sydney are written the stark words, Trust in God. That trust, that faith, that hope, and that love will bring peace, a share in the peace of Christ who died for us on the Cross.
                                                                 (E.J.Tyler)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listen to a man of God, an old campaigner, as he argues: 'So I won't yield an inch? And why should I, if I am convinced of the truth of my ideals? You, on the other hand, are very ready to compromise... Would you agree that two and two are three and a half? You wouldn't? Surely for friendship's sake you will yield in such a little thing?'

And why won't you? Simply because, for the first time, you feel convinced that you possess the truth, and you have come over to my way of thinking!
                                                                  (The Way, no.395)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

38. Certainly Job could complain before God about the presence of incomprehensible and apparently unjustified suffering in the world. In his pain he cried out: “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! ... I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? ... Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me” (23:3, 5-6, 15-16). Often we cannot understand why God refrains from intervening. Yet he does not prevent us from crying out, like Jesus on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). We should continue asking this question in prayerful dialogue before his face: “Lord, holy and true, how long will it be?” (Rev 6:10). It is Saint Augustine who gives us faith's answer to our sufferings: “Si comprehendis, non est Deus”—”if you understand him, he is not God.” [35] Our protest is not meant to challenge God, or to suggest that error, weakness or indifference can be found in him. For the believer, it is impossible to imagine that God is powerless or that “perhaps he is asleep” (cf. 1 Kg 18:27). Instead, our crying out is, as it was for Jesus on the Cross, the deepest and most radical way of affirming our faith in his sovereign power. Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the “goodness and loving kindness of God” (Tit 3:4). Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible.
                                                              (Continuing)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday of the fifth week in Eastertide A
 

(April 23) St. George
     If Mary Magdalene was the victim of misunderstanding, George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life. That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough. The story of George's slaying the dragon, rescuing the king's daughter and converting Libya is a twelfth-century Italian fable. George was a favorite patron saint of crusaders, as well as of Eastern soldiers in earlier times. He is a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Genoa and Venice.
     Human nature seems unable to be satisfied with mere cold historical data. Americans have Washington and Lincoln, but we somehow need Paul Bunyan, too. The life of St. Francis of Assisi is inspiring enough, but for centuries the Italians have found his spirit in the legends of the Fioretti, too. Santa Claus is the popular extension of the spirit of St. Nicholas. Both fact and legend are human ways of illumining the mysterious truth about the One who alone is holy. "When we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the city which is to come" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 50).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video


 


Scripture today: Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122:1-5; John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8)

It would be difficult to think of any serious teacher in history who envisaged such an intimate and ongoing relationship with his disciples as did Jesus. Consider the images he uses in our Gospel passage today, drawn as they are from the Old Testament. He is the vine, indeed the true vine. We remember the image in the prophet Isaiah of how
God was disappointed with the fruit of his vine, the vine being his chosen people. Jesus tells his disciples that he himself is the true vine who is the source of the fruit expected by his Father the vinedresser. But while he is the vine, his disciples too are part of the vine in the sense that their relationship with him is that of the branches of the vine. The Kingdom of God consists in the first place in the person of Jesus himself in whom the lordship of God is fully and perfectly present. It also includes those who are united to him and who live in him. If they are united to him they will produce much fruit but if not they will produce nothing. Such is the union between Christ and his disciples. Hence their constant task is to remain him as he remains in them. There are a couple of things especially emphasized here. Firstly, our Lord stresses the importance of bearing fruit. Indeed, it is the constant refrain all through the Old Testament that the people of God’s choice is a disappointment to him. They are continually lapsing into infidelity. It is tragic because their ultimate mission is to bring a divine blessing to all the peoples. In our passage our Lord gives the key to bearing the fruit that God expects and which will give glory to him. The key is to remain united to Jesus. The fruit sought by God will come if this union with Jesus remains and is deepened.

Secondly, our Lord stresses the ongoing action of the Father on the branches of the vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:1-8) God our heavenly Father by his providence and his grace is continually trying to purify us of whatever impedes the bearing of the fruit he intends. That fruit is holiness of life and the advance of holiness in others. The challenge of daily life is to submit to this purification by the Father, allowing ourselves to be purged of sin and self as the days and years of life proceed and as our work in life is pursued. We submit to his action by taking all the means of receiving divine grace into our souls. Firstly, it means assiduously and with faith approaching and receiving the Sacraments, most especially the holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the summit and the source of the entire Christian life because it is the very person of Jesus himself and with him comes all the grace that he obtained for us. Participating in Mass Sunday by Sunday and even more often if possible, receiving Holy Communion with the utmost devotion, and cultivating in our daily life a devout faith in the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle, is a principal means of ensuring that we remain in Jesus and open to the grace that will purify us of all that impedes the fruit that God is expecting. Apart from the Eucharist the Catholic knows that the Sacrament of Penance is of major importance in receiving the purifying grace of God. In that Sacrament our heavenly Father forgives us our sins and fortifies us against future sin so as to be able to bear more fruit. Then there is daily prayer, a regular examination of conscience, spiritual reading that nourishes our mind and heart. In a word, a true regime of life in Christ must be adopted in order for the grace of God to bear the fruit intended.

Let us take to heart our Lord’s words describing our vocation which is to live in him. He is the vine, we who are his disciples are the branches. He is our life and the source of all the good that God our Father intends us to do. Our heavenly Father means to assist us to keep united to Christ his Son, for it is through this union with him that we shall bear much fruit, fruit that will bring glory to God.
                                                                                             (E.J.Tyler)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Holy intransigence is not bigotry.
                                                              (The Way, no.396)
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity (cont)

39. Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practised through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God's mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical.
                                                                                           (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday of the fifth week in Eastertide A
 

(April 24) St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577-1622)
            If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a Franciscan friar of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. Once, during a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed.
             Fidelis's constant prayer was that he be kept completely faithful to God and not give in to any lukewarmness or apathy. He was often heard to exclaim, "Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain." His prayer against apathy, and his concern for the poor and weak make him a saint whose example is valuable today. The modern Church is calling us to follow the example of "the poor man's lawyer" by sharing ourselves and our talents with those less fortunate and by working for justice in the world. "Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation" ("Justice in the World," Synod of Bishops, 1971).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10; John 15:9-11  

Jesus said to his disciples: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)

There is an old expression, and it refers to what is at the core of a person’s life. We often ask, what is it that makes a person “tick”? We are referring here to what is driving a person’s conscious and deliberate life and which at root shapes his thinking and his choices. It can be very difficult to determine this, and I suppose what we are referring
to here are the fundamental starting points. It is often pointed out that in the science of logic there are certain basic assumptions or givens that act as the starting point of logical reasoning. Those givens are not proven from previous premises but are taken for granted as not needing proof. If in fact in the view of others they do require proof then the entire argument will be unconvincing. If an argument starts with the given that we have a conscience that apprehends what is morally good, then this argument will not appear as valid to the person who regards the “so-called conscience” as just a mental association produced by social and family conditioning. So there are starting points that make a person “tick”, as we might say. Cardinal Newman wrote in one letter towards the end of his life that at times a person’s true starting points are entirely hidden from his view. Whatever about this, my point here is simply to highlight the importance of whatever it is that at root drives and shapes a person’s deliberate choices and values, and therefore his life. Let us turn to the Man of all men, the Man of the ages and the reference point for all of humanity. I refer to Jesus Christ, and I wish to ask with due reverence, what made him “tick”? What was at the root of his human and divine life? Our Gospel passage today throws light on this question. The starting point and foundation of Christ’s life was his profound awareness of the love of his heavenly Father for him. It was also the basis of his love for us. “As the Father has loved me,” our Lord says to his disciples, “so have I loved you.”

It would be a very fruitful exercise for any disciple of Christ to go carefully through each of the Gospels searching for allusions to Christ’s awareness of the love of his heavenly Father for him. The Gospel of St John, from which our Gospel passage today is drawn, is especially replete with them, and particularly so in the chapters giving our Lord’s discourses at the Last Supper. Compare these allusions to the love of the Father for him and his unique relationship with the Father with anything comparable in the literary remains of the great founders of the religions of the world. Our Lord’s relationship with his heavenly Father and his profound consciousness of the love of his Father for him is the greatest thing in his great life. But now, our Gospel passage tells us something we just must take to heart. Our Lord says that “as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Consider Christ’s consciousness of the greatness of the Father’s love for him and ponder then on how great his love for us must be, for he compares his love for us with the love the Father has for him. He puts them on a par. He does not merely say that since the Father has loved me, so then I also love you. Any one of us may in a sense say that. There is nothing distinctive about an assertion of that kind. No, Christ’s love for us is placed by him on a par with that of the Father’s love for him. Indeed, Christ in his love for us reveals the Father’s love. That is the meaning of the Cross. It is from the Cross that the love of God is revealed. Moreover, we are told how to remain in this overflowing love of Christ for us. Just as he himself has remained in his Father’s love by obeying his commands, so too we shall remain in Christ’s love by obeying his commands. Obedience to Christ is the test of our love for him and it is the means of abiding in it. And how do we know what is the will of Christ? The word and will of Christ is brought to us by the Church his body in her book which is the Sacred Scriptures and in her Tradition.

One of the notable features of modern man is the prevalence of depression. We search for joy and so often it eludes us. Our Lord tells us where our true joy will come from. It comes from abiding in the love of God and that is to be found in the person of Christ. He was full of joy because his life was grounded on the Father’s love for him. Our Lord tells us that “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11).
                                                                                                      (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Be uncompromising in doctrine and conduct. But be yielding in manner. A mace of tempered steel, wrapped in a quilted covering.

Be uncompromising, but don't be obstinate.
                                                                        (The Way, no.397)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

CONCLUSION

40. Finally, let us consider the saints, who exercised charity in an exemplary way. Our thoughts turn especially to Martin of Tours (†† 397), the soldier who became a monk and a bishop: he is almost like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor man: Jesus himself, that night, appeared to him in a dream wearing that cloak, confirming the permanent validity of the Gospel saying: “I was naked and you clothed me ... as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:36, 40).[36] Yet in the history of the Church, how many other testimonies to charity could be quoted! In particular, the entire monastic movement, from its origins with Saint Anthony the Abbot (†† 356), expresses an immense service of charity towards neighbour. In his encounter “face to face” with the God who is Love, the monk senses the impelling need to transform his whole life into service of neighbour, in addition to service of God. This explains the great emphasis on hospitality, refuge and care of the infirm in the vicinity of the monasteries. It also explains the immense initiatives of human welfare and Christian formation, aimed above all at the very poor, who became the object of care firstly for the monastic and mendicant orders, and later for the various male and female religious institutes all through the history of the Church. The figures of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo, John Bosco, Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few—stand out as lasting models of social charity for all people of good will. The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love.
                                                                                      (Continuing)


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist (In Australia, Anzac Day)
(Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter A)
 

(April 25, 2008) Saint Mark, evangelist
          Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. (When Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark's mother.) Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Later, Paul asks Mark to visit him in prison so we may assume the trouble did not last long. The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by humanity while being God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah. Evidently a friend of Mark (Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile). Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: "Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52). Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains. A winged lion is Mark's symbol. The lion derives from Mark's description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel's vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.
            There is very little in Mark that is not in the other Gospels—only four passages. One is: “...This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29). 
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 


 

Scripture today: 1 Pt 5:5b-14; Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17; Mark 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:15-20)

I have often noticed that a regular part of news bulletins, whether in print, radio or television, reports and comments on the latest medical discoveries. It could be the discovery of a gene that offers significant hope in the fight against cancer, or some discovery that relates to heart disease, or an advance in adult stem cell research that is
full of promise - as opposed to the meagre and unethical research into embryonic stem cells. Then we learn that the breakthrough will require many more years of careful testing. Now, when the final benefits of such research are offered to the public in the form of some procedure, probably few beneficiaries will understand the enormous amount of work that procedure represents. It could be a simply medication which when taken does its work, and which could even be to save the person’s life. The one seeking the relief believes in the word of the physician, goes to the pharmacist and obtains the medicine. He takes it and improves. Well now, what of the worst affliction of all, an affliction that begins to wreak its havoc in the life of every man and woman as soon as he or she is born into the world? St Paul tells us that all men are under the power of sin, and that the wages of sin are death. What an affliction this is and, no matter how much research and experimentation might be done on it, who could possibly come up with the answer! Where is the answer to sin for it is the root of all that leads to death, death in its immediate sense, and death in the ultimate meaning of the term? What could take away the sin of the world? God has sent the answer and it is the Son of God made man, and in particular his death on the cross and his rising from the dead. By his death on the cross for all mankind he put to death the sin that brings death, and by his rising from the dead he offers man a share in his new and risen life. A mighty work is done and the result is grand.

But a new medication that has answered a terrible disease must be brought to each person. The afflicted person must approach and take the pill. The benefit has to be applied to the suffering individual. So too the work of Christ. A tremendous work has been done at enormous cost to God the Son made man, but it must be brought to each individual. And this is exactly what our Lord in today’s Gospel passage commands that his infant Church, soon receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, is to do. His disciples are to bring the good news to all creation. The sin of the world has been taken away, and now this benefit is to be brought to all the nations. That is the Church’s mission, and Christ is working with her confirming her testimony with various signs, especially the sign of holiness and fidelity. How is the benefit of salvation in Christ to be received by each person? It is received by placing one’s faith in Jesus, being baptised and then living accordingly. The foundation and starting point is faith, faith in Jesus and in the Church testimony about him. This faith issues in baptism and baptism places the person in Christ and in his Church, but its foundation is faith. Let us notice how starkly our Lord insists on this condition. “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-20). Our Lord does not say that as long as you are a good person, as long as you follow your conscience - whatever that may mean in practice, and as long as you are sincere, you will be saved. Of course if in effect a person has never had the chance to hear and know of the real Christ, then God mercifully takes this into account. But no, Christ says that the one who believes and is then baptised will be saved and the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. Faith is the starting point and baptism into Christ and his Church is its issue.

We must listen to the Church’s announcement about Christ, and believe. We must heed her teaching about his person and about his work for us bringing us to our heavenly home. As our Gospel says, Christ is with the Church working with her and confirming the truth of her testimony. Let us then go to his Church, the Church founded on the Apostles with Peter at their head, and listen constantly to her teaching, praying for the light to believe and to be saved.
                                                                                      (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you wish to read yesterday's thoughts again, click here

Would you like read again the daily thoughts of the past week? If so, click here

If you wish to read the daily thoughts of this present month, click here

Would you like to read the daily thoughts of the previous months? If so, click here

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Intransigence is not just simply intransigence: it is 'holy intransigence.'

Don't forget that there also exists a 'holy coercion.'
                                                                             (The Way, no.398)
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

CONCLUSION (cont)

41. Outstanding among the saints is Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness. In the Gospel of Luke we find her engaged in a service of charity to her cousin Elizabeth, with whom she remained for “about three months” (1:56) so as to assist her in the final phase of her pregnancy. “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”, she says on the occasion of that visit, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). In these words she expresses her whole programme of life: not setting herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in service of neighbour—only then does goodness enter the world. Mary's greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself. She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk 1:38, 48). She knows that she will only contribute to the salvation of the world if, rather than carrying out her own projects, she places herself completely at the disposal of God's initiatives. Mary is a woman of hope: only because she believes in God's promises and awaits the salvation of Israel, can the angel visit her and call her to the decisive service of these promises. Mary is a woman of faith: “Blessed are you who believed”, Elizabeth says to her (cf. Lk 1:45). The Magnificat—a portrait, so to speak, of her soul—is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the Word of God; the Word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate. Finally, Mary is a woman who loves. How could it be otherwise? As a believer who in faith thinks with God's thoughts and wills with God's will, she cannot fail to be a woman who loves. We sense this in her quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We see it in the delicacy with which she recognizes the need of the spouses at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with which she recedes into the background during Jesus' public life, knowing that the Son must establish a new family and that the Mother's hour will come only with the Cross, which will be Jesus' true hour (cf. Jn 2:4; 13:1). When the disciples flee, Mary will remain beneath the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25-27); later, at the hour of Pentecost, it will be they who gather around her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).
                                                                                 (Continuing)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday of the fifth week in Eastertide A

(April 26) St. Pedro de San José Betancur (1626-1667)
     Central America can claim its first saint with the July 30 canonization of Pedro de Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practised mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. “Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established. Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Soon they became the Bethlehemite Congregation, which went on to earn official papal approval after Pedro's death. He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbours. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. Pedro was beatified in 1980.
     Speaking of Pedro and the four others beatified with him, Pope John Paul II said: "God lavished his kindness and his mercy on them, enriching them with his grace; he loved them with a fatherly, but demanding, love, which promised only hardships and suffering. He invited and called them to heroic holiness; he tore them away from their countries of origin and sent them to other lands to proclaim the message of the gospel, in the midst of inexpressible toil and difficulties" (L'Osservatore Romano).  
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 16:1-10; Psalm 100:1b-2, 3, 5; John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (John 15:18-21)

Go through the average university library and observe the vast numbers of volumes there, thinking of the amount of research and writing they represent. Take the observation further, and consider the reflections on the world that are contained in those volumes. Mankind has expended an incalculable amount of time studying the world
and analysing its innumerable aspects. Now, there are some fundamental observations that can be made about the world that touch on the roots of its reality. For instance, one such observation is that the world cannot sustain itself in being. One cannot say about it that it simply is. It is, but it need not be. It just happens to exist and the fact that it exists implies that ultimately it is sustained by something that simply is. It is contingent on something that is necessary. But now, there is another fundamental feature of the world that probably would not dawn on philosophers and metaphysicians had it not been revealed. It is that this contingent world is, in many respects, in a state of enmity with the necessary Being who sustains it. The world is not pliant in the hand of its Sustainer. It remains in a state of tension against his will. How do we know this? If on various grounds it is granted that there is a God and that God is good, then the vast moral evil in the world would indicate that in some way the world is in rebellion against its good God. But more than anything, it is the response of man to God’s revelation that shows that the world is not accepting of its God. At the very beginning, man refused to obey. He sinned and he fell. The story of mankind as presented in the Scriptures is the story of sin in the face of God’s love and fidelity. Above all, the stance of the world towards God is revealed in its response to the coming of the Son of God. As St John writes in his prologue, the Word was made flesh. He came unto his own and his own did not receive him. That is what happened when God came to dwell among us. He was not accepted. Indeed, he was utterly rejected and put to death.
 
This is the sense in which our Lord at times speaks of the world. In our Gospel passage today our Lord says that the world “hated” him. He is speaking of all those who did reject him and in speaking thus he points to a vast element in mankind that is hostile to God and to goodness. Man and the world came forth from the hand of God and yet to a great degree it is hostile to God. It is like the anomaly of a child who is hostile to a good and loving parent who gave him life and opportunities. It may be deemed a mystery, the mystery of human choice and of how it can turn away from the good. Our Lord says that the world hated him first - he is not speaking of everyone and everything in the world, but he is speaking of a sufficiently large element to warrant the world being characterized in that way. He also says that those who follow him must expect the same. There will be incomprehension and hostility. An archbishop of a large capital city speaks out firmly against legislation that threatens incipient human life and he is vilified repeatedly in Parliament. If he persists he could well be hated. What does our Lord say? “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-21). Social rejection is one of the most painful of human experiences precisely because we have been created by God to live in harmony. If the following of him involves this social rejection to a greater or lesser extent then we must remember what the Master has said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Ultimately there are two camps. There is the camp of good, and there is the camp of evil. Our Gospel passage today shows our Lord speaking of himself and “the world” that has hated him. He loves the world and has given his life to save the world. Let us take our stand with Jesus and resolve to witness to him before the world. Christ sends his disciples to the whole world to make disciples of all the nations. For the world needs Christ and will only be saved by accepting him in faith.
                                                                          (E.J.Tyler)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If in order to save an earthly life it is praiseworthy to use force to stop a man from committing suicide, are we not to be allowed use the same force — holy coercion — to save the Life (with a capital) of many who are stupidly bent on killing their souls?
                                                                          (The Way, no.399)
 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

CONCLUSION (cont)

42. The lives of the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their being and working in God after death. In the saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them. In no one do we see this more clearly than in Mary. The words addressed by the crucified Lord to his disciple—to John and through him to all disciples of Jesus: “Behold, your mother!” (Jn 19:27)—are fulfilled anew in every generation. Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers. Men and women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common endeavours. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart. The testimonials of gratitude, offered to her from every continent and culture, are a recognition of that pure love which is not self- seeking but simply benevolent. At the same time, the devotion of the faithful shows an infallible intuition of how such love is possible: it becomes so as a result of the most intimate union with God, through which the soul is totally pervaded by him—a condition which enables those who have drunk from the fountain of God's love to become in their turn a fountain from which “flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). Mary, Virgin and Mother, shows us what love is and whence it draws its origin and its constantly renewed power. To her we entrust the Church and her mission in the service of love:

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son –– the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely
to God's call
and thus became a wellspring
of the goodness which flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so that we too can become
capable of true love and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's,
on 25 December, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, in the year 2005, the first of my Pontificate.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI   (Footnotes to the Encyclical to follow)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide A
 

Prayers this week Speak out with a voice of joy; let it be heard to the ends of the earth: The Lord has set his people free, alleluia. (Isaiah 48:20)
                                                                                                                   

Ever-living God, help us to celebrate our joy in the resurrection of the Lord and to express in our lives the love we celebrate. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(April 27) St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716)
       Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto. Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700. Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with Church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life. Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion. Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, where a basilica has been erected in his honour. He was canonized in 1947.
     Like Mary, Louis experienced challenges in his efforts to follow Jesus. Opposed at times in his preaching and in his other ministries, Louis knew with St. Paul, “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7. Any attempt to succeed by worldly standards runs the risk of betraying the Good News of Jesus. Mary is “the first and most perfect disciple,” as the late Raymond Brown, S.S., described her. “Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:15-21)

Our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel passage are packed with thoughts and blessings. He speaks of what it means to love him and of how he will not leave us alone, for he will come and abide with us. Our life will be drawn from the life of Jesus himself and our union with him will be profound: “Because I live you also will live.” Just as he is
in the Father, so we are in him and he is in us. It is abundantly clear from this passage alone that the heart and soul of the Christian religion is the personal relationship Christ has with his disciples. It is a relationship of the most intimate love, manifested and flowering in obedience to his commands. If we have this love, we shall be loved by the Father and by Jesus, and he will show himself to us in various ways. But a new and special element is mentioned in our passage today, one of the utmost significance. It is our Lord’s reference to the other Counsellor whom the Father will send at the request of Christ. To that point the disciples had one Master, one Counsellor, Christ. He was their teacher and now he was going from them to the Father. But good news! A second Counsellor will be sent to them and he will be Christ’s gift coming from the Father just as Jesus himself came from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth. The truth. We remember Christ’s description of his mission as he defined it before Pontius Pilate whom we might take as standing for the uncomprehending pagan world. He had come to bear witness to the truth. That truth was especially about himself and his redemptive mission, and all who are of the truth listen to his voice. Now, the spirit driving our Lord in his mission of bearing witness to the truth during his public ministry was the Holy Spirit. He is, then, the Spirit of truth. Moreover, our Lord’s greatest act of bearing witness to the truth, an act of witness that achieved the redemption of all mankind, was his Passion and Death which he was about to enter. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that he offered himself to the Father. So, precisely during the Passion of Christ, the Holy Spirit was acting as the Spirit of truth.

Our Gospel passage today (John 14:15-21) is drawn from the Last Supper. Christ is about to enter his Passion and the Eucharist which he institutes during the Last Supper makes sacramentally present his coming Sacrifice. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ instituted the Eucharist and this we know because every time Mass is celebrated the priest invokes Holy Spirit and by the power of the Spirit Christ and his one Sacrifice at Calvary is made sacramentally present. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was his greatest testimony to the truth of God. Now, the celebration of the Eucharist is the Sacrifice of Christ made present. The Eucharist, then, is the pre-eminent sacramental witness to the truth of God. Well then, just as during Christ’s Passion and Death the Holy Spirit bore witness to the truth of God, so too pre-eminently at Mass the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth in and through Christ whom he makes sacramentally present. He is the Spirit of truth, our other Counsellor sent by the Father. He bears witness to the truth of Christ our guide and master. He comes to us at our Baptism and again in the sacrament of Confirmation, and at each coming he endows us with further gifts. At our baptism he takes up his abode within us as in his temple, and with him come the Father and the Son. The newly baptized Christian, by the power of the Holy Spirit, becomes the abode of the indwelling Trinity and we receive the gifts of faith, hope and charity enabling us to live as God’s adopted sons and daughters in Christ. At our Confirmation he brings us the gifts that enable us to bear witness to the truth of Christ in our daily life. Just as he sustained the Son of God made man in his life of bearing witness unto death to the truth of God, so he enables us to bear witness to the truth of God which Jesus has revealed, and which he has entrusted to his Church to guard. The Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, is our friend and counsellor uniting us to Christ and enabling us to live in him and to fulfil the mission on behalf of the truth that he has given us.

Our Gospel passage today speaks of the union between Christ and his disciples, a union of love grounded in their sharing of life. “Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”, our Lord tells his disciples. All of this is done in and through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. Let us cultivate in our lives a love for and devotion to our divine counsellor and friend, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth.
                                                                                              (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 727-730, 1285-1314.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What crimes are committed in the name of justice!

If you were a dealer in fire-arms and someone offered to buy a gun from you, so that he might use the weapon to kill your mother, would you sell it to him? — Yet, wasn't he ready to pay you a just price for it?

University professor, journalist, politician, diplomat: reflect.
                                                                                      (The Way, no.400)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serialization of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI God is Love (25 Dec. ‘05)

PART II CARITAS: THE PRACTICE OF LOVE BY THE CHURCH AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”

CONCLUSION (footnotes of the Encyclical)

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's,
on 25 December, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, in the year 2005, the first of my Pontificate.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

[1] Cf. Jenseits von Gut und Bööse, IV, 168.

[2] X, 69.

[3] Cf. R. Descartes, ŒŒuvres, ed. V. Cousin, vol. 12, Paris 1824, pp. 95ff.

[4] II, 5: SCh 381, 196.

[5] Ibid., 198.

[6] Cf. Metaphysics, XII, 7.

[7] Cf. Ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite, who in his treatise The Divine Names, IV, 12-14: PG 3, 709-713 calls God both eros and agape.

[8] Plato, Symposium, XIV-XV, 189c-192d.

[9] Sallust, De coniuratione Catilinae, XX, 4.

[10] Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, III, 6, 11: CCL 27, 32.

[11] De Trinitate, VIII, 8, 12: CCL 50, 287.

[12] Cf. I Apologia, 67: PG 6, 429.

[13] Cf. Apologeticum, 39, 7: PL 1, 468.

[14] Ep. ad Rom., Inscr: PG 5, 801.
[15] Cf. Saint Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, II, 28, 140: PL 16, 141.

[16] Cf. Ep. 83: J. Bidez, L'Empereur Julien. ŒŒuvres complèètes, Paris 19602, v. I, 2a, p. 145.

[17] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 194, Vatican City 2004, p. 213.

[18] De Civitate Dei, IV, 4: CCL 47, 102.

[19] Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 36.

[20] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 197, Vatican City 2004, p. 217.

[21] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 42: AAS 81 (1989), 472.

[22] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (24 November 2002), 1: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 22 January 2003, p. 5.

[23] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1939.

[24] Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, 8.

[25] Ibid., 14.

[26] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 195, Vatican City 2004, pp. 214-216.

[27] Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 41: AAS 81 (1989), 470-472.

[28] Cf. No. 32: AAS 80 (1988), 556.

[29] No. 43: AAS 87 (1995), 946.

[30] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 196, Vatican City 2004, p. 216.

[31] Cf. Pontificale Romanum, De ordinatione episcopi, 43.

[32] Cf. can. 394; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 203.

[33] Cf. Nos. 193-198: pp. 212-219.

[34] Ibid., 194: pp. 213-214.

[35] Sermo 52, 16: PL 38, 360.

[36] Cf. Sulpicius Severus, Vita Sancti Martini, 3, 1-3: SCh 133, 256-258.

                                                      (Serialization of God is Love is now concluded)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday of the sixth week in Eastertide A
 

(April 28) St. Peter Chanel (1803-1841)
          Anyone who has worked in loneliness, with great adaptation required and with little apparent success, will find a kindred spirit in Peter Chanel. As a young priest he revived a parish in a "bad" district by the simple method of showing great devotion to the sick. Wanting to be a missionary, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) at 28. Obediently, he taught in the seminary for five years. Then, as superior of seven Marists, he traveled to Western Oceania where he was entrusted with a vicariate. The bishop accompanying the missionaries left Peter and a brother on Futuna Island in the New Hebrides, promising to return in six months. The interval lasted five years. Meanwhile he struggled with this new language and mastered it, making the difficult adjustment to life with whalers, traders and warring natives. Despite little apparent success and severe want, he maintained a serene and gentle spirit and endless patience and courage. A few natives had been baptized, a few more were being instructed. When the chieftain's son asked to be baptized, persecution by the chieftain reached a climax. Father Chanel was clubbed to death, his body cut to pieces. Within two years after his death, the whole island became Catholic and has remained so. Peter Chanel is the first martyr of Oceania and its patron.
         Suffering for Christ means suffering because we are like Christ. Very often the opposition we meet is the result of our own selfishness or imprudence. We are not martyrs when we are "persecuted" by those who merely treat us as we treat them. A Christian martyr is one who, like Christ, is simply a witness to God's love, and brings out of human hearts the good or evil that is already there. "No one is a martyr for a conclusion, no one is a martyr for an opinion; it is faith that makes martyrs" (Cardinal Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations). 
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video



 

Scripture today: Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149:1b-6a and 9b; John 15:26—16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. (John 15:26—16:4a)

On one occasion when our Lord was asked which is the greatest commandment of the Law he replied that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and that the second command was like it, that we are to love our neighbour as ourself. On these hang the Law and the Prophets. These two great commandments apply to every human being and most especially to those who are blessed with the knowledge of God’s revelation. They constitute our basic vocation. The
Good News of the Gospel is that in Christ man is able to fulfil this vocation and divine command. As St Paul writes in one of his Letters, before the world began, God chose us in Christ to be holy and full of love in his sight. So Christ is the Good News of the Gospel. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In him is present the promised Kingdom, the promised Lordship of God, and the mission of the Church is to testify about him. Well then, what does our Lord say of this mission of testifying to himself? Firstly, it is not only his disciples who are by God’s plan engaged in this. Christ is sending from the Father another to do it also. He is the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth. He ultimately comes from the Father, as does Christ himself. He comes from the Father in that the Father is his ultimate Origin, and here in our Gospel text our Lord says that he himself will send him from the Father. Elsewhere he tells us that both he and the Father will send him, and the Church’s teaching and Tradition tells us that he proceeds from both the Father and the Son as their love and their life. But now, what will he be sent to us to do? He will be sent to testify about Christ. But our Lord continues, “And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” So Christ’s faithful and the Spirit of truth, the Counsellor, together and in concert testify about Christ. Our Lord is saying that the Holy Spirit will come upon the infant Church to vivify it and to sustain and direct it in the work of evangelization. This happened at Pentecost.

With the coming of the Counsellor to the Church at Pentecost the Twelve with Peter at their head immediately began to testify about Jesus. Thus was the Church born for she began then to witness boldly about Christ. This was as God planned it. As Peter testified before the Sanhedrin, there is no other name by which men can be saved. The person of Christ is at the centre of human history and of man’s destiny. He is the only way to the Father and hence it is of critical importance that this point be brought home to the world. The work of Christian witness is the most basic and important good to be done for the salvation of the world depends on it. So important is it that not only has Christ commanded his own disciples to make the giving of testimony about him central to their entire life and vocation, but the third divine Person has been sent from heaven to enter the fray and lead the Church’s work. There are two great protagonists in this divine project, Christ’s Church and the Spirit of truth, and the former is led and sustained by the latter. The Spirit of truth, the divine Counsellor, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, has come to abide with the Church till the end as her very soul and master evangelizer. The work is difficult and Christ himself has given us the example. His witness to the truth about himself and his saving work led him to his terrible death and he warns his disciples that they too must tread the path that he himself trod. “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.” (John 15:26—16:4a). To a greater or lesser extent every member of Christ’s faithful who lives a life bearing witness to Christ will experience Christ’s suffering and rejection.

If the world is to be saved, the great sleeping giant of Christ’s faithful must be roused for the work. It is the work of the ages. So each of us must say, this means me. I must bear witness to Christ with the aid and grace of the divine Counsellor, the Spirit of truth. He will be my Guide and Help in my life’s project. So then, let each of us ask ourselves, what have I done for Christ to this point? What am I doing for him now? What shall I do for him in the future? Think well on it, and having decided, say to yourself, Now I begin!
                                                                            (E.J.Tyler)
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

God and daring! Daring is not imprudence. Daring is not recklessness.
                                                                         (The Way, no.401)
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395), monk and Bishop
Homily for the holy and life-giving Pasch; PG 46, 581

The first day of the new life

Here is a wise saying: “The day of prosperity makes one forget adversity” (Sir 11,25). Today the first sentence passed against us has been forgotten – more! not just forgotten but cancelled! This day has wiped away completely all remembrance of our condemnation. In former times childbearing took place in pain; now we are born without suffering. Formerly we were no more than flesh, born of the flesh; today, what is born is spirit, born of the Spirit. Yesterday we were born mere children of men; today we are born children of God. Yesterday we were cast out of heaven to the earth; today, he who reigns in the heavens makes us citizens of heaven. Yesterday, death reigned because of sin; today, thanks to him who is the Life, righteousness regains its might.

In former times one man opened for us the gates of death; today, the one man brings us back to life. Yesterday, life was lost to us because of death; but today, Life has destroyed death. Yesterday, shame caused us to hide ourselves beneath the fig tree; today, glory draws us towards the tree of life. Yesterday, disobedience expelled us from Paradise; today, our faith causes us to enter it. Once again the fruit of life is held out to us to be enjoyed as much as we wish. Once again the stream of Paradise, whose water irrigates us through the four rivers of the gospels (cf. Gn 2,10), comes to refresh the whole face of the Church…

From now on what are we to do but imitate the mountains and hills of the prophecies in their leaping for joy: “Mountains, skip like rams; hills, like lambs of the flock!” (Ps 114[113],4). “Come, then, let us sing joyfully to the Lord!” (Ps 95[94],1). He has broken the power of the enemy and raised up the great trophy of the cross… So let us say: “The Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods!” (Ps 95[94],3). He blesses the year by crowning it with his bounty (cf. Ps 65[64],12) and he gathers us together in spiritual chorus in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for endless ages. Amen.
                                                                                                    
(The Daily Gospel, Ky, USA)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday of the sixth week in Eastertide A

(April 29) St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) 

The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candour and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope. In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children." Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1970 Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila as doctors of the Church. In recent years, it has been suggested that she (among other possibilities) should be named patron of the Internet.

      Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue. Catherine's book Dialogue contains four treatises—her testament of faith to the spiritual world. She wrote, "No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavoured with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."  (AmericanCatholic.org)

click on centre arrow for video

 

 

Scripture today: Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138:1-3, 7c-8; John 16:5-11

Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, and you will see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:5-11)

John gives us what the other Gospels do not give in respect to the Last Supper. He gives us very extensive discourses of our Lord to his disciples. In those discourses Christ repeatedly refers to the coming of the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit whom he will send. The context of this promise is our Lord’s telling his disciples that he is about to leave them. We can just imagine their sorrow and devastation, especially in view not only of their love for him but of their grand hopes. As the two disciples tell the risen Jesus on the way to Emmaus a few days later (without realizing it was Jesus) they had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free. At various points he had told them of his death and rejection by the leaders of the people, but it had not sunk in at all. All they could see was the beauty and holiness of his person, his great power in word and deed, and there seemed to be nothing they could not hope for in and from him. They just did not take seriously his references to his coming sufferings and death. But now he told them in earnest. He was leaving them and returning to the Father, and our Lord could see that they were profoundly grieved. "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief." (John 16:5-11) At times the Christian who takes discipleship seriously can regret that while the Apostles had the inestimable privilege of knowing our Lord personally and face to face, he himself lacks that blessing. He must live in faith. But take note of what our Lord tells his disciples. It is, he says, to their advantage that he is leaving them. That is to say, mysteriously they will be more blessed by their not having his visible and physical presence in their midst. Why? Because "unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." For some reason known to God, if our Lord had stayed and had not passed through his suffering to glory, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent.

Inasmuch - as our Lord himself says during the Last Supper - as eternal life consists in knowing Jesus and the Father, the coming of the Counsellor is necessary if this is to happen. All through our Lord’s public ministry right to the days after his very resurrection the disciples manifested incomprehension and diffidence. They mistook our Lord’s mission and could not see that the suffering and rejection of the Messiah were the divine means of the world’s salvation. The coming of the Spirit changed all that and they were filled with light. In our passage today our Lord speaks of what the Holy Spirit will do for the world: he will convict the world of its guilt. What is the significance of this? We remember that when John the Baptist began his ministry of preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah, he preached repentance. They were to repent of their sins. His baptism was a baptism of repentance for sin. When our Lord began his ministry he too preached repentance. The people had to be convinced of their sinfulness if they were to accept the grace of redemption. The ongoing problem was the lack of a sense of sin. There was no lack of a sense of need, but there was a lack of a sense of sin. The need that was felt was the need of health, of life, of food and of all things material. For this reason our Lord had great crowds following him, but when, for instance, he preached the doctrine of the Eucharist stating that eternal life required that they eat his flesh and drink his blood, very many of his disciples deserted him. All this is to say that there was little desire to look to our Lord for the taking away of their sins and the sins of the world. But that is what our Lord came to do. The acceptance of Christ as the saviour in large measure depends on our having a sense of sin and guilt before God. Now, in our passage today our Lord promises to send the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, and he will convict the world of its guilt. So he it is who opens the hearts of the peoples to Christ.

Let us understand that Christ’s great gift is the divine Counsellor. He counsels us about our guilt before God and points to Christ as the Saviour from sin. He opens our hearts to the person of Jesus, telling us in our hearts that Jesus is the answer for man’s most profound need, and that need is for his sin to be taken away. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Let us then love the divine Counsellor, the Spirit of Christ who has been given to us.

                                                                                             (E.J.Tyler)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't be content to ask Jesus pardon just for your own faults: don't love him just with your own heart...

Console him for every offence that has been, is, or will be done to him. Love him with all the strength of all the hearts of all those who have most loved him.

Be daring: tell him that you are crazier about him than Mary Magdalen, than either of his two Teresas, that you love him madly, more than Augustine and Dominic and Francis, more than Ignatius and Xavier.

                                                               (The Way, no.402)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church

Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 10,89f. (SC52, p.186)

"The cock will not crow before you deny me three times."

The first time Peter denied, he did not weep because the Lord had not looked at him. He denied a second time and did not weep because the Lord still did not look at him. He denied a third time; Jesus looked at him and he wept very bitterly (Lk 22,62). Look at us, Lord Jesus, so that we might know how to weep for our sins. This shows us that even the fall of the saints may be useful to us. Peter’s denial has done me no wrong; on the contrary, I have gained from his repentance: I have learned to beware of faithless companions…

So Peter wept, and wept bitterly; he wept so hard that he washed away his offence with his tears. And you, too, if you would win pardon, wipe out your guilt with tears. At that very moment, in that same hour, Christ will look at you. If some kind of fall happens to you then he, the ever-present witness of your intimate life, looks at you to call you back and cause you to confess your lapse. Then do as Peter did, who thrice said: "Lord, you know that I love you" (Jn 21,15). He denied three times and three times he also confessed. But he denied by night; he confessed in broad daylight.

All this has been written to make us understand that no one should be puffed up. If Peter fell for having said: "Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be" (Mt 26,33), who is there to count on himself?… From whence then, Peter, shall I call you to mind to teach me your thoughts as you wept? From heaven where you have already taken your place among the choirs of angels, or from the grave? For that death, from which the Lord was raised, did not reject you in your turn. Teach us what use your tears were to you. But you taught it without delay: for having fallen before you wept, your tears caused you to be chosen to guide others, you who, to begin with, did not know how to guide yourself.

                                                                  (From The Daily Gospel, USA)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday of the sixth week in Eastertide A
 

(April 30) St. Pius V (1504-1572)
         This is the pope whose job was to implement the historic Council of Trent. If we think recent popes have had difficulties in implementing Vatican Council II, Pius V had even greater problems after that historic council more than four centuries ago. During his papacy (1566-1572), Pius V was faced with the almost overwhelming responsibility of getting a shattered and scattered Church back on its feet. The family of God had been shaken by corruption, by the Reformation, by the constant threat of Turkish invasion and by the bloody bickering of the young nation-states. In 1545 a previous pope convened the Council of Trent in an attempt to deal with all these pressing problems. Off and on over 18 years, the Church Fathers discussed, condemned, affirmed and decided upon a course of action. The Council closed in 1563. Pius V was elected in 1566 and was charged with the task of implementing the sweeping reforms called for by the Council. He ordered the founding of seminaries for the proper training of priests. He published a new missal, a new breviary, a new catechism and established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes for the young. Pius zealously enforced legislation against abuses in the Church. He patiently served the sick and the poor by building hospitals, providing food for the hungry and giving money customarily used for the papal banquets to poor Roman converts. His decision to keep wearing his Dominican habit led to the custom of the pope wearing a white cassock. In striving to reform both Church and state, Pius encountered vehement opposition from England's Queen Elizabeth and the Roman Emperor Maximilian II. Problems in France and in the Netherlands also hindered Pius's hopes for a Europe united against the Turks. Only at the last minute was he able to organize a fleet which won a decisive victory in the Gulf of Lepanto, off Greece, on October 7, 1571. Pius's ceaseless papal quest for a renewal of the Church was grounded in his personal life as a Dominican friar. He spent long hours with his God in prayer, fasted rigorously, deprived himself of many customary papal luxuries and faithfully observed the Dominican Rule and its spirit.
          In their personal lives and in their actions as popes, Pius V and Paul VI (d. 1978) both led the family of God in the process of interiorizing and implementing the new birth called for by the Spirit in major Councils. With zeal and patience, Pius and Paul pursued the changes urged by the Council Fathers. Like Pius and Paul, we too are called to constant change of heart and life. "In this universal assembly, in this privileged point of time and space, there converge together the past, the present, and the future. The past: for here, gathered in this spot, we have the Church of Christ with her tradition, her history, her Councils, her doctors, her saints; the present: we are taking leave of one another to go out toward the world of today with its miseries, its sufferings, its sins, but also with its prodigious accomplishments, values, and virtues; and the future is here in the urgent appeal of the peoples of the world for more justice, in their will for peace, in their conscious or unconscious thirst for a higher life, that life precisely which the Church of Christ can give and wishes to give to them" (from Pope Paul's closing message at Vatican II).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow for video


 


Scripture today: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-14; John 16:12-15 

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:12-15)

In our Gospel passage today we have precious words from our Lord about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. He has already referred to the divine Spirit as the Counsellor. He is also the Spirit of truth who will guide the disciples of Christ into the whole truth. The Spirit of God had often been referred to in the Old Testament but generally his personal character in these many references was clear to the reader only by the light of Christ’s teaching. In the very first chapter of the Bible, the inspired author tells us
that the spirit or breath of God hovered over the abyss prior to God’s creative word. That is to say, God’s power embraced all and was poised to create. The Spirit of God moved the prophets to prophesy and anointed kings to rule. But it is Christ who reveals and makes explicit that this spirit of God is a divine person and not just a divine action or initiative or quality. That he is a distinct Person is clear in our passage today. Our Lord refers to “him” who is the Spirit of truth. He is personal. “He”, he will tell the disciples what is yet to come. “He”, he will glorify Christ. In his mission the divine Spirit will serve the truth that has been revealed by Jesus. So the Twelve will not be left in their present incomprehension and obscurity - so manifest during our Lord’s public ministry and even during the Last Supper itself. They will have a divine guide to grant them an immense understanding. “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” The revelation of Christ was entrusted in its entirety to the Twelve and our Lord promises to send them the Spirit of God to lead them, in principle, to its full apprehension. Here we surely have a reference to the foundational role of the teaching of the Apostles. The Twelve, with Peter at their head, would possess a unique mastery of Christ’s revelation, and the Church would be built on their apostolic foundation and draw progressively on it over the ages. Thus a mark of the Church is that she is apostolic.

The Spirit of truth will glorify Christ by bearing constant witness to the truth about him (John 16:12-15). Not only does this allude to the guidance and enlightenment of the Twelve by the Spirit of Christ, but it refers as well to the Spirit’s guidance of the Church down the ages. Christ on the evening of the day he rose from the dead imparted to the Twelve the gift of the Holy Spirit. Receive the Holy Spirit, the risen Jesus said. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. Their participation in Christ’s mission was the foundation of the share in Christ’s mission which was soon to be entrusted to the Church. Then at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent to the infant Church as such and he, the Spirit of God, abided thenceforth with the Church enabling the Church to bear witness to the truth of Jesus and to bring to the world the abundant life of God. It is the Spirit who enables this to happen. In our passage today our Lord speaks of the work of the Spirit in aiding not only the Twelve but the entire Church to adhere to the truth of Jesus and to grow in her apprehension of it. As the centuries pass the Church’s understanding of the revelation entrusted to and handed on by the Apostles grows. There is a development of doctrine. It develops from what the Twelve have entrusted to the Church and the Church has the ineffable gift of the Spirit of truth to guide her in her developing teaching. She is able, in the persons of the Successor of Peter and the successors of the Apostles - which is to say the Pope and the bishops in communion with him - to determine from age to age what has been revealed as new questions are asked or as this revelation is challenged. The Church has the divine gift to withstand the powers of hell and to prevail in its witness to the truth of Christ. And so Christ’s faithful may have full confidence in the Church’s teaching, knowing that the Spirit of God will always protect the Church from error in what she formally teaches on Christ’s behalf. Knowing that she will not err the faithful ever ask, what does the Church teach?

We ought rejoice in Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the Twelve and to the Church. He, the divine Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, is the Spirit of truth. The Church in possessing the Spirit of truth possesses her guarantee of preservation from formal error in what she teaches must be believed and done for salvation. It is for this reason that the faithful with full confidence proclaim in the Creed that I believe in the holy Catholic Church. It is because Christ has endowed his Church with the Spirit of truth to abide with her and to guide her always.
                                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Be more daring still, and, when you need something, don't ask, but — always mindful of the Fiat — say, 'Jesus, I want that... and that... and that', for this is the way children ask.
                                                                            (The Way, no.403)
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope Benedict XVI   General audience for 18/10/06

"One of you will betray me"

Why does Judas betray Jesus? The question raises several theories. Some refer to the fact of his greed for money; others hold to an explanation of a messianic order: Judas would have been disappointed at seeing that Jesus did not fit into his programme for the political-militaristic liberation of his own nation. In fact, the Gospel texts insist on another aspect: John expressly says that "the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him" (Jn 13,2). Analogously, Luke writes: "Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve" (Lk 22,3). In this way, one moves beyond historical motivations and explanations based on the personal responsibility of Judas, who shamefully ceded to a temptation of the Evil One. The betrayal of Judas remains, in any case, a mystery. Jesus treated him as a friend (cf. Mt 26,50); however, in his invitations to follow him along the way of the beatitudes, he does not force his will or protect it from the temptations of Satan, respecting human freedom... Let us remember that Peter also wanted to oppose him and what awaited him at Jerusalem, but he received a very strong reproof: "You are not on the side of God, but of men" (Mk 8,33)! After his fall Peter repented and found pardon and grace. Judas also repented, but his repentance degenerated into desperation and thus became self-destructive… Let us remember two things. The first: Jesus respects our freedom. The second: Jesus awaits our openness to repentance and conversion; he is rich in mercy and forgiveness. Besides, when we think of the negative role Judas played we must consider it according to the lofty ways in which God leads events. His betrayal led to the death of Jesus, who transformed this tremendous torment into a space of salvific love by consigning himself to the Father (cf. Gal 2,20; Eph 5,2, 25). The word "to betray" is the version of a Greek word that means "to consign". Sometimes the subject is even God in person: it was he who for love "consigned" Jesus for all of us (Rm 8,32). In his mysterious salvific plan, God assumes Judas' inexcusable gesture as the occasion for the total gift of the Son for the redemption of the world.
                                                                   
   (The Daily Gospel, Ky, USA)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter A
 

(May 1) St. Joseph the Worker
     Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a longer history. In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.
      “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44). In Brothers of Men, René Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of word, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God...in relation to this mystery, involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow for video

 

 

Scripture today: Acts 18:1-8; Psalm 98:1, 2-4; John 16:16-20 

Jesus said to his disciples: In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. Some of his disciples said to one another, What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'? They kept asking, What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying. Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (John 16:16-20)

It is a great help in appreciating the significance of Christ’s words to set them against the words and teachings of other great figures in the history of the world. In our Gospel passage today our Lord makes the simple promise to his disciples that “in a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (John 16:16-20) In the first instance it is clear that our Lord is speaking to them of his death and resurrection. The “little while” in which they would see him again is a mere few
days. Despite our Lord’s repeated reference during his public ministry to his passion, death and resurrection, they did not understand. “They kept asking, What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying.” Their incomprehension is a tribute to the living power of Christ’s personality - they could not take it in that he would be gone from them. Now, what other great figure of world history, what other person of true substance has spoken to his disciples like this? He would be gone from them soon in death, but very soon they would see him again and their grief would turn to joy. Certainly not Buddha, Mahomet, Confucius, or any other ruler or great man. They may not have denied that they would live on in their spirits, but it would not be a return to this life bringing by that very fact a great joy to their disciples. Not only did the Apostles experience the joy of seeing the risen Jesus, but those of Christ’s disciples who did not see him as risen also experienced the joy of knowing him as risen. In his Letter in the New Testament St Peter speaks of the joy that his readers experience. They have not seen Christ but their hearts are full of joy because of him. Joy is one of the fundamental hallmarks of faith in Christ. Its foundation is his resurrection. The joy of the Christian springs from the fact that the object of their faith, hope and love is a real and living person, once dead but now alive. It is in him that the Christian now lives.

That this is a most distinctive feature of the Christian religion is clear when we think of other religions. Abraham, Moses and the prophets died, and their inspired legacy lived on and shaped the living religion of the children of Israel. That legacy was the word of God in the Scriptures (the Old Testament) and the Tradition of the chosen people. Mahomet left his book, the Koran, considered by his innumerable followers to be inspired, and he left a living memory of himself, taken to be Allah’s messenger. But he too is dead. So too are all the other great figures that have influenced thought and religion. They live on in their spirits because the human soul cannot decompose but in their flesh they are dead and no one has ever claimed otherwise. Their persons are simply gone. The joy of the Christian is that Christ who died for them is alive and is with us. He is not just a dead prophet whose teaching is enshrined in a holy book providing guidance and support for all readers from age to age. No, he is a living person who unites to himself, to his own living person, all who turn to him in faith and embrace the revelation he entrusted to his Church. He himself, the living Jesus, abides in his Church and it is he who is the great Reality and Protagonist of his Church. It is he who speaks to his faithful in the Church’s holy book, the Bible, and he does so precisely as a living person and not just as a holy voice from the past. It is he who encounters his faithful who approach him in the Church’s Sacraments. It is he who guides his faithful when the Church’s pastors speak in his name, and most especially when the Successor of Peter speaks in his name. It is he who worships the Father at the head of his Church, especially at Mass. It is he who makes present in the midst of the Church his one sacrifice offered at Calvary, and this he does at Mass. He abides with us constantly, especially in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church.

This great Fact of the living Jesus is the greatest fact that there is. If we want facts that matter, hard facts on which to base one’s life, facts that will give consolation and joy, the Fact of the living and risen Jesus is that fact. There is no other fact in any religion or system of thought that can compare with it. Jesus is the joy of the ages and the source of joy in the midst of any grief. Let us then place our faith and hopes in Jesus, for as he says, in him our grief will turn to joy.
                                                                                           (E.J.Tyler)
 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You say you've failed! We never fail. You placed your confidence wholly in God. Nor did you neglect any human means.

Convince yourself of this truth: your success — this time, in this — was to fail. — Give thanks to our Lord... and try again!
                                                                  (The Way, no.404)
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saint José Maria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975), priest, founder
Homily in Amigos de Dios (Friends of God)

“Stay with us”

The two disciples were making their way to Emmaus. Their appearance was perfectly ordinary, like that of many another person passing through the vicinity. And it is there, very simply, that Jesus appears to them and walks with them, engaging them in a conversation that makes them forget their tiredness… Jesus on the way. Lord, you are always great! But your condescending to follow us, to seek us out in our daily comings and goings, always moves me. Lord, grant us simplicity of spirit; give us a single eye, an unclouded mind, that we may understand you when you come to us bearing no external signs of your glory.

When they reached the inn, the journey ended and the two disciples who, without realizing it, had been struck to the depths of their hearts by the word and love of God made man, are sorry about his departing. For Jesus takes his leave of them, “giving the impression that he was going on farther”. Our Lord never forces himself on us. Once we have perceived the purity of the love he has placed in our souls, he wants us to call on him freely. We have to hold him back by force and beg him: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is nearly over, night is falling”.

We are like this too: always lacking in boldness, through lack of sincerity, perhaps, or from shyness. What we are really thinking is: Stay with us, because darkness surrounds our soul and you alone are the light, you alone can satisfy the thirst consuming us… And Jesus stays with us. Our eyes are opened like those of Cleophas and his companion when Christ breaks the bread; and even though he disappears once more from sight, we too will be able to set out again on our journey – night begins to fall – to speak of him to others since so great a joy cannot be kept within a single heart.

The way to Emmaus. Our God has filled this name filled with sweetness. And the whole world is Emmaus because the Lord has opened up the divine ways of the earth.
                                                                               
(The Daily Gospel, USA)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------