August 2008

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 August 2008 is: "That the human family may know how to respect God's design for the world and thus become ever more aware of the great gift of God which Creation represents for us."

His mission intention for August 2008 is: "That the answer of the entire people of God to the common vocation to sanctity and mission may be promoted and fostered, with careful discernment of the charisms and a constant commitment to spiritual and cultural formation."

(August 2 and 5 videos)

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

Friday of the seventeenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 1) St Alphonsus Ligouri (1696-1787)
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement. In his day, he fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness. At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honour) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.
      St. Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a “practical” model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all. Someone once remarked, after a sermon by Alphonsus, "It is a pleasure to listen to your sermons; you forget yourself and preach Jesus Christ."
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow


 



Scripture today: Jeremiah 26: 1-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 13: 54-58 (click here for readings)

Coming to his home town, Jesus began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? they asked. Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour. And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13: 54-58)

In the history of religions there are many things the gods are portrayed as doing but even in the times when such religions were in possession it was accepted by many that these divine activities were
mythical. Those who were more educated - say, the Greek philosophers - progressively dismissed popular religion as being the product of the imagination and nothing more. But in the most startling of the beliefs of the Christians - that the one only God became a man - the Christian Church insisted that there was nothing mythical about that. It was a hard fact and occurred at a precise date and in a very precise location. It is indeed a the most startling of assertions which is made of a particular person in history. Some have gone to the length of calling into question the existence of Jesus Christ but that is so far beyond any reasonable attitude to historical evidence that it simply does not warrant consideration. More common (among agnostics and, of course, atheists) is the denial of the Christian claim about Jesus, that he is divine and that he is a Messiah. Much of this rejection seems very plausible precisely because Jesus was so truly a man. If it was the divine plan that the eternal Word become flesh and dwell among us as man, then necessarily the Son of God made man was exposing himself to the risk of not being accepted for who he was. The fact that his claim to be both Messiah and Son of God was rejected by many and even most of his contemporaries, and by many from generation to generation ever since, shows how complete was the Incarnation. The man Jesus was so obviously a man that many would not accept that he was the Messiah and God. Our Gospel passage today is a case in point. Jesus had grown up as a member of a very human family. He had a human mother and many relatives. The small town where he lived for so many years knew him intimately and had seen him at his work with Joseph his foster-father. It was as plain as the day that he was a man. This fact is a tribute to the thorough-going character of the Incarnation.

By taking the step he did for our salvation, God was exposing himself to rejection on the grand scale. He became fully man, and we see the humanity of Jesus Christ acknowledged in the words of his townspeople in our Gospel today. “Coming to his home town, Jesus began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? they asked. Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offence at him.” (Matthew 13: 54-58) As we gaze on the figure of Jesus of Nazareth in our mind’s eye, a figure so very and fully human, we ought wonder at the spectacle. The infinite divine Being, pure Being as he is and the ongoing source of all other beings whether visible or invisible, stands before us all as a humble man. He was humble, meek, strong and totally good. The infinite God had taken to himself a limited though sinless human nature and in this way made himself totally accessible and very vulnerable. He could be insulted, rejected, attacked and beaten to death. In fact, all this did happen to him, and he was God himself upon whom the entire universe constantly depended. But there is more to this consideration. In the divine plan our salvation depends on the acceptance of Jesus Christ and his word. Of course, Christ’s salvation reaches those who through no fault of their own do not know or believe in Jesus Christ and who yet strive to be good in God’s sight by sincerely following their conscience. That granted, nevertheless faith in Jesus Christ and the acceptance of his claims and teaching is the divinely established path to salvation. The centrality of faith in Jesus is also hinted at in our Gospel of today. We read that “Jesus said to them, Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour. And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” This difficult act of faith in Jesus is the path to heaven.

Yes, it is difficult for ordinary human reason and the ordinary human heart to believe that the man Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Son of the living God. But it is through believing in his name that we are saved. What then is the way ahead? It is to ask God for the gift of faith in Jesus because it is a gift of grace. We shall not do it of ourselves. But in that gift granted definitively at Baptism we receive a divinely given readiness and ability to see and accept who our Lord really is. Faith then becomes easy. Life’s work will then be to nourish that faith and to live by it, following Christ closely.
                                                                     (E.J.Tyler)

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

We go to Jesus — and we 'return' to him — through Mary.
                                                                   (The Way, no.495)
 

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

Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA

This same dynamic of communal identity -- to whom do I belong? -- vivifies the ethos of our Catholic institutions. A university or school's Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction -- do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Are we ready to commit our entire self -- intellect and will, mind and heart -- to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God's creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold.

From this perspective one can recognize that the contemporary "crisis of truth" is rooted in a "crisis of faith". Only through faith can we freely give our assent to God's testimony and acknowledge him as the transcendent guarantor of the truth he reveals. Again, we see why fostering personal intimacy with Jesus Christ and communal witness to his loving truth is indispensable in Catholic institutions of learning. Yet we all know, and observe with concern, the difficulty or reluctance many people have today in entrusting themselves to God. It is a complex phenomenon and one which I ponder continually. While we have sought diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will. Subsequently we observe, with distress, the notion of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in -- a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves. A particular responsibility therefore for each of you, and your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief. It is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth. In choosing to live by that truth, we embrace the fullness of the life of faith which is given to us in the Church.
                                                     (Continuing)

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

Saturday of the seventeenth week in Ordinary Time II

(August 2) St. Eusebius of Vercelli (283?-371)

Someone has said that if there had been no Arian heresy it would be very difficult to write the lives of many early saints. Eusebius is another of the defenders of the Church during one of its most trying periods. Born on the isle of Sardinia, he became a member of the Roman clergy and is the first recorded bishop of Vercelli in Piedmont. He is also the first to link the monastic life with that of the clergy, establishing a community of his diocesan clergy on the principle that the best way to sanctify his people was to have them see a clergy formed in solid virtue and living in community. He was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the emperor to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian troubles. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arian block would have its way, although the Catholics were more numerous. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Athanasius; instead, he laid the Nicene Creed on the table and insisted that all sign it before taking up any other matter. The emperor put pressure on him, but Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after his four-day hunger strike. They resumed their harassment shortly after. His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to be welcomed back to his see in Vercelli. He attended the Council of Alexandria with Athanasius and approved the leniency shown to bishops who had wavered. He also worked with St. Hilary of Poitiers against the Arians. He died peacefully in his own diocese at an advanced age. (AmericanCatholics.org)

 

click on centre arrow

 

 

Scripture today: Jeremiah 7: 1-11; Psalm 83; Matthew 13: 24-30 (click here for readings)                                  

Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' (Matthew 13: 24-30)

There are many ways to God and there are many ways of trying to demonstrate his existence and character. Many think of these ways of proving the existence of God to be proofs and there have been in the past authors who have tried to set out those proofs in a strictly logical form. For myself, I am not sure that this of itself will be convincing. I prefer to regard the proofs for the existence of God as ways to him, ways to follow in one’s reflection on the world and on oneself. But as with any way that one is following one has to be eager to follow the way, looking out for whatever indications there are of the goal being sought. Take the way to God by reflection on the order that is to be observed in objective reality. Reality is not chaotic, random and radically the fruit of chance. There is permanence, predictability and settled patterns that are constantly being discovered. For this reason the world is a liveable place and the human race is able to flourish as can the rest of life. How came the order? It bespeaks a creative Mind. But we must not be simplistic about this because a person who is reluctant to see the imprint of Mind on all of reality may point to the disorder in things. There are tidal waves that destroy thousands of people, together with earthquakes, plagues and various other catastrophes. Evil men are able to flourish and get away with terrible injustices. How is it possible that there can be a holy and all-powerful Mind ordering things when this happens? In other words, a person who stresses this sees not order but disorder and a disorder that flies in the face of morality. Now, this is not the place to answer that very important question: it is usually called by the theist the problem of evil because it is indeed a problem. We just do not fully understand why God allows such evils in the world when he is God the all-holy creator of all. But part of the answer is surely that Order in the sense of Good will eventually come. For instance the disorder involved in a toothache is made bearable by the thought that "order" among one’s teeth will soon come. The dentist will fix the tooth.

Yes, order will ultimately prevail. That order will come with the judgment of God on all. Our Lord speaks of this in very simple terms in our Gospel passage today. He draws from everyday life to show the reasonableness of what God is doing in our world. A farmer sows good seed in his field and then his enemy comes and sows weeds among the good seed (Matthew 13: 24-30). God is the farmer, Satan is the enemy. Evil comes not from God, of course, but from the evil choice of created free will - in the first instance the evil choice of certain among the angelic world, and secondly the evil choice of man. Why has God permitted this to happen? We do not know, except that in giving to created persons the gift of freedom - a necessary gift if the one created is to be a person - then there is the risk God takes of such a person doing evil within creation. And so it happened. God’s enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Why did God not root out the weeds once the enemy had done this? We do not know, but our Lord invites us to consider the farmer. He directs his servants not to pull out the weeds because in doing this some of the wheat may come out as well. In other words, in the judgment of God more good will be done by allowing the weeds a certain existence but the time will come when those weeds will certainly be uprooted and thrown out to be burned. That will be the time of harvest when the wheat is separated from the weeds. So it will be at the end. By the "end" I mean the end of each person’s life and especially the end of the world. God will separate out the good from the bad and the bad will be like the weeds that are tied in bundles to be burned, while the wheat will be gathered into the barn, the barn of heaven. It is then that a full order will be restored. The judgment of God will set all things right forever and the so-called problem of evil will be resolved. Order will ultimately prevail. This is not the full answer to the problem of evil but it is part of it, and that answer comes from God.

However difficult life may seem, we must cleave to God and his holy will. Whatever reversals come our way, the one constant that we must hang on to is the person of Christ who endured what we might call the greatest reversals of all. They were not really reversals because it was all part of God’s hidden plan. The only true reversals are those that involve a refusal to accept the will of God. If we resolutely keep to the will of God in union with Christ, all will be righted at the judgment of God. Our reward will then come, and all will be finally and eternally well.

                                                                              (E.J.Tyler)

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

How people like to be reminded of their relationship with distinguished figures in literature, in politics, in the army, in the Church!... Sing to the Immaculate Virgin, reminding her: Hail Mary, daughter of God the Father: Hail Mary, Mother of God the Son: Hail Mary, Spouse of God the holy Spirit...

Greater than you, none but God!

                                                              (The Way, no.496)

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

(Continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA

Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in which God's active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ's "being for others" (cf. ibid., 28).

The Church's primary mission of evangelization, in which educational institutions play a crucial role, is consonant with a nation's fundamental aspiration to develop a society truly worthy of the human person's dignity. At times, however, the value of the Church's contribution to the public forum is questioned. It is important therefore to recall that the truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another (cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017; St. Augustine, Contra Academicos, III, 20, 43). The Church's mission, in fact, involves her in humanity's struggle to arrive at truth. In articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should serve as the basis of praxis. Far from undermining the tolerance of legitimate diversity, such a contribution illuminates the very truth which makes consensus attainable, and helps to keep public debate rational, honest and accountable. Similarly the Church never tires of upholding the essential moral categories of right and wrong, without which hope could only wither, giving way to cold pragmatic calculations of utility which render the person little more than a pawn on some ideological chess-board.

                                                            (Continuing)

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

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
 

Prayers this weekGod, come to my help. Lord, quickly give me assistance. You are the one who helps me and sets me free: Lord, do not be long in coming. (Psalm 69: 2. 6)
                                                                                                                   

Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide, be close to us and hear the prayers of all who praise you. Forgive our sins and restore us to life. Keep us safe in  your love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(August 3) St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868)
       Born in La Mure d'Isčre in southeastern France, Peter Julian's faith journey drew him from being a priest in the Diocese of Grenoble (1834) to joining the Marists (1839) to founding the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (1856). In addition to those changes, Peter Julian coped with poverty, his father's initial opposition to Peter's vocation, serious illness, a Jansenistic striving for inner perfection and the difficulties of getting diocesan and later papal approval for his new religious community. His years as a Marist, including service as a provincial leader, saw the deepening of his Eucharistic devotion, especially through his preaching of Forty Hours in many parishes. Inspired at first by the idea of reparation for indifference to the Eucharist, Peter Julian was eventually attracted to a more positive spirituality of Christ-centred love. Members of the men's community, which Peter founded, alternated between an active apostolic life and contemplating Jesus in the Eucharist. He and Marguerite Guillot founded the women's Congregation of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Peter Julian Eymard was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1962, one day after Vatican II's first session ended.
     “The Eucharist is the life of the people. The Eucharist gives them a centre of life. All can come together without the barriers of race or language in order to celebrate the feast days of the Church. It gives them a law of life, that of charity, of which it is the source; thus it forges between them a common bond, a Christian kinship” (Peter Julian Eymard).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow



 


Scripture today: Isaiah 55: 1-3; Psalm 144; Romans 8: 35.37-39; Matthew 14: 13-21  (click here for readings)

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, they answered. Bring them here to me, he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21)

One of the great benefits of the gradual spread of democracy in the world is that the average man and woman has been able to exert an influence on the goals of government. Every government has values
and because of these values it seeks to achieve certain goals, but the danger is that these values and goals can lack a thoroughgoing critique. Moreover, majorities in society also will have values and so will come to have goals. Goals and values spread within societies and can be unthinkingly accepted by the people of those societies especially when those values are those of the mass media. This is one reason why a democracy is so important. In a democracy that is truly functioning as such the values of governments or of societies or of the media can be subjected to critique from various quarters. That critique ought have as its aim the attainment of the truth of the matter. The abiding danger in a democracy is that the majority view can be taken as being, in the nature of the case, the true view. The voice of a society is unconsciously taken to be the voice of truth. For instance, if a view prevails in a society that abortion is to be made liberally available, then without necessarily saying as much, that is often subconsciously regarded as objectively the true one. Many simply accept as true the basic values of the majority around them. A democracy offers the opportunity to maintain a critique of the view held by a Government that is in power or of a view held by a majority in a society. A minority who can see the truth of a matter has the opportunity to press for the acceptance in society of the truth and matters become serious when democratic opportunities are shut down by force or by manipulation. Now, one truth which is so important in society is the supreme importance of the human person. Each individual person must be respected in his basic and inalienable rights. This, probably more than anything, is always in danger of being forgotten in society both by those in power and by the majority. The temptation is to think that what is good and useful to the many is the supreme value even if it is at the expense of basic rights of the individual.

We are reminded of this in our Gospel passage today. Our Lord “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Our Lord is filled with compassion for each person in need, and we read that “as evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14: 13-21) As we contemplate the scene we are surely reminded by our Lord’s unfailing compassion for each and every person that it is precisely the individual who ought be at the centre of all human and social action. The individual in his basic rights must not be set aside for the convenience of the majority, let alone for the convenience of the ones in power. A person who holds Christ for his example, a person who wishes to put on the mind of Christ, holds as precious the least in need, the very least. And we have powerful incentives for this. Our Lord in describing the General Judgment of all the nations tells us (in Matthew 25) that the King will take his seat on his throne of glory. He will then tell those on his right and his left that whatever they did to the least of his brothers they did to him. That is to say, the least person even if unborn has an absolute value in that his basic and inalienable rights must be respected. He must not, for instance, be harmed for the convenience of the many. This is not just a matter for society at large to remember. It is not just a principle for the critique of public and social policy. It is a fundamental principle for each of us in our daily life and interaction with all others. Whether we are at home, at work or wherever, we must orientate our lives towards the love and respect and consideration of each individual person, recognizing in that person one whom Christ loves and for whom he died.

Christ died for each of us. He did not simply die for a certain percentage of mankind, but for each individual person. That alone shows how tremendously important is each person, no matter how little in the sight of the world. Christ identifies with the least and he expects to be recognized in the least. All this is to say that while the family and civic community are necessary for the flourishing of the human person, the human person is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions. It is central to the vocation and mission of the lay members of Christ’s faithful that they implant and embed this great truth in the soul of every society.
                                                   (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1877-1882, 1890-1891.

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

Say to her: Mother, my Mother — yours, because you are hers on many counts — may your love bind me to your Son's Cross: may I not lack the Faith, nor the courage, nor the daring, to carry out the will of our Jesus.
                                               (The Way, no.497)

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

(continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA

With regard to the educational forum, the diakonia of truth takes on a heightened significance in societies where secularist ideology drives a wedge between truth and faith. This division has led to a tendency to equate truth with knowledge and to adopt a positivistic mentality which, in rejecting metaphysics, denies the foundations of faith and rejects the need for a moral vision. Truth means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her the entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being. This optimistic vision is found in our Christian faith because such faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, God's creative Reason, which in the Incarnation, is revealed as Goodness itself. Far from being just a communication of factual data - "informative" - the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and life-changing - "performative" (cf. Spe Salvi, 2). With confidence, Christian educators can liberate the young from the limits of positivism and awaken receptivity to the truth, to God and his goodness. In this way you will also help to form their conscience which, enriched by faith, opens a sure path to inner peace and to respect for others.

It comes as no surprise, then, that not just our own ecclesial communities but society in general has high expectations of Catholic educators. This places upon you a responsibility and offers an opportunity. More and more people - parents in particular - recognize the need for excellence in the human formation of their children. As Mater et Magistra, the Church shares their concern. When nothing beyond the individual is recognized as definitive, the ultimate criterion of judgment becomes the self and the satisfaction of the individual's immediate wishes. The objectivity and perspective, which can only come through a recognition of the essential transcendent dimension of the human person, can be lost. Within such a relativistic horizon the goals of education are inevitably curtailed. Slowly, a lowering of standards occurs. We observe today a timidity in the face of the category of the good and an aimless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom. We witness an assumption that every experience is of equal worth and a reluctance to admit imperfection and mistakes. And particularly disturbing, is the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of 'risk', bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love.
                                                                     (Continuing)

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

Monday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 4) St. John Vianney (1786-1859)
A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meagre formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies. His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained. Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.) With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home. His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day. Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil. Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? Recommending liturgical prayer, John Vianney would say, “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow


 


Scripture today: Jeremiah 28: 1-17; Psalm 118; Matthew 14: 13-21 (click here for readings)

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, they answered. Bring them here to me, he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21)

If we think of the sweep of human history it is obvious that religion is essential to the human story. Historians, anthropologists and archeologists who themselves might be agnostic or only minimally
religious would presumably readily allow that religion has played an important part in the shaping of civilizations, even if some reduce religion to some other function of human life. As has often been said, while man is a rational animal, he is also a religious one. All this is to say that even an empirical study of man - an empirical study in the broadest sense - shows that he yearns for the divine, for the numinous, for the world beyond this one. But there has been a persistent attack on religion coming from many who are not impressed by what they see as the result of this. They see a yearning for the Above and at the same time a tragic forgetfulness of the Below. They see prayers and ceremonies in the midst of material degradation. They see monasteries with squalor in the immediate surrounds. That is, they do not see anything like a sufficient concern for the welfare of man where they see the dominance of a concern for God. This sort of objection has many forms and comes from many sources. It was one reason for the anti-religious and atheistic character of Marxist and Leninist and Maoist communism. Or again, a person who does not observe the Sabbath Day at all criticises those who do and justifies his own non-observance by saying that those who go to Church on Sundays live a life lacking concern for and justice to others during the rest of the week. Let us set aside the obvious answer that this ignores the striking material and social benefits that so many of those motivated by religion have actually brought to the poor and needy in society. Let us admit that all too often many who are religious have not been sufficiently humane. What are we to say about this? What should be the character of religion in relation to human need?

Our Gospel passage today (Matthew 14: 13-21) gives us a very clear answer to this in the figure of the great archetype of the religion of man. The Christian position is that when we think of religion we ought in the first instance think of the person of Jesus Christ. We ought not think firstly of this or that indigenous religion, or this or that great founder such as Zoroaster, Buddha, Mahomet or whoever. We ought not think in the first instance of this or that religious period or this or that religious institution such as a particular grouping or series of monasteries or religious revivals such as the Evangelical Revival in eighteenth century England. We ought think of the person of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect Man in history and the exemplar of what it is to be religious. What do we see in him? We see compassion for those in need and a great impulse to meet the need. His mission was more than anything to answer the problem of sin which is the root of all man’s problems. But in our passage today we see him filled with compassion. We read that “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Our Lord’s many miracles were precisely in answer to human need. St James in his Letter speaks of religion “pure and undefiled” as being keeping oneself pure from sin and coming to the aid of those in need. So great has been the commitment of the Christian religion to the practice of justice and charity that in much of popular thinking to be a Christian simply means being truly benevolent. The notion of the Christian religion in their minds has lost its central element which is the love of God because all they think they see is love of neighbour. But it does show that the mind of Christ is that an absolutely central component of true religion is the service of neighbour.

So much is this so that there is a terrible divine sanction hanging on those who neglect this in life. In Matthew chapter 25 Christ describes the General Judgment on all of mankind, a Judgment each of us will see in the fullness of time. The King will say to those on his right, come you who are blessed for I was hungry and you gave me food. Whenever you did this to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me. Then he will say to those on his left, depart from me to the everlasting fire because when I was hungry you did not assist me. God is a God of mercy and he requires of us that we be merciful. If we are not, to that measure will mercy be refused us.
                                                                           (E.J.Tyler)

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

All the sins of your life seem to rise up against you. Don't lose confidence. Rather, call on your holy Mother Mary, with the faith and abandonment of a child. She will bring peace to your soul.
                                                              (The Way, no.498)

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

Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA (cont)

How might Christian educators respond? These harmful developments point to the particular urgency of what we might call "intellectual charity". This aspect of charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated. In practice "intellectual charity" upholds the essential unity of knowledge against the fragmentation which ensues when reason is detached from the pursuit of truth. It guides the young towards the deep satisfaction of exercising freedom in relation to truth, and it strives to articulate the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life. Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do. Here they will experience "in what" and "in whom" it is possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others.

Dear friends, I wish to conclude by focussing our attention specifically on the paramount importance of your own professionalism and witness within our Catholic universities and schools. First, let me thank you for your dedication and generosity. I know from my own days as a professor, and I have heard from your Bishops and officials of the Congregation for Catholic Education, that the reputation of Catholic institutes of learning in this country is largely due to yourselves and your predecessors. Your selfless contributions - from outstanding research to the dedication of those working in inner-city schools - serve both your country and the Church. For this I express my profound gratitude.
                                                          (Continuing)

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

Tuesday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II

In Australia (August 5) St. Dominic (1170-1221)
    If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work. Born in old Castile, Spain, he was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life of the Acts of the Apostles. On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, "the pure") held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what must he called a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers. Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who travelled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders. His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: "to pass on the fruits of contemplation" or "to speak only of God or with God. " (AmericanCatholic.org
 
(August 5) Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica
     First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian Basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honouring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity. St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centres of the Church. St. John Lateran represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark; St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life. One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5. Theological debate over Christ’s nature as God and man reached fever pitch in Constantinople in the early fifth century. A chaplain to Bishop Nestorius began preaching against the title Theotokos, "Mother of God," insisting that the Virgin was mother only of the human Jesus. Nestorius agreed, decreeing that Mary would henceforth be named "Mother of Christ" in his see. The people of Constantinople virtually revolted against their bishop’s refutation of a cherished belief. When the Council of Ephesus refuted Nestorius, believers took to the streets, enthusiastically chanting, "Theotokos! Theotokos!" "From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honoured under the title of Mother of God, in whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation..." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 66). (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow

 

 

Scripture today: Jeremiah 30: 1-2.12-15.18-22; Psalm 101; Matthew 14: 22-36 (click here for readings)                  

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It's a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid. Lord, if it's you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognised Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. (Matthew 14: 22-36)

Our Gospel scene today places right at the forefront of our considerations the act of faith. We read that when evening came, Jesus was there on the hill alone where he had gone to pray, and the boat containing the disciples "was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." It was a remarkable miracle and threw the disciples, already stressed by their difficult situation in the storm, into a tremendous consternation. Then Jesus announced to them from the midst of the pounding sea that it was he, telling them not to be afraid. He was calling on them to have faith, for he was there. Simon asked him from the boat to bid him to step into the sea and approach him across the water, which Christ did - again, calling on him to have faith. In a spirit of immediate faith, Simon did so but then at the sight of what he was up against his faith faltered. He sank and was immediately saved by Christ who said to him, "You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?" At that he and Simon entered the boat, the wind dropped, they reached land and our Lord proceeded to assist with his divine power numerous others who were in need and who came to him in faith. The heart of our Gospel passage today is the acknowledgment by his disciples that he, Jesus, is the Son of God and the lesson of the passage is that when Jesus Christ the Son of God makes known his presence the one essential act that is called for from us is faith. God asks of us faith in who Jesus has revealed himself to be, and faith in his love and saving power. This in effect means the acceptance of the witness and proclamation of the Church about the living Jesus. Christ is in our midst and is to be found in his body the Church. By means of life in the Church we can live in Jesus and grow in his life and in this way attain that union with God to which we are called.

There are, however, some notable obstacles facing the modern man and woman when the Church invites to faith. Modern man is typically secular, which is to say he does not begin with the expectation that God is there in the midst. He assumes that all that is there is what he sees around him. He assumes that the Church is deluded in thinking that there is anything more than the hard and palpable facts of nature, and in a sense this is one of the things we must expect of a civilization that has learned to exercise a critique on traditional positions. But such is the situation, and while the Church must take this into account, modern man, if he is to attain the truth of things, must himself take into account what he might come to see as a tremendous intellectual blind spot. That is to say, if we notice in ourselves an instinctive and habitual suspicion that faith in realities beyond what can be seen and felt are illusory, then we should critique not only this call to faith but our very selves. If Christ is indeed the Son of God then our fundamental indisposition to believe in him is an unfortunate obstacle we should strive to remove. It is an indisposition arising from assumed starting points, unproven first principles. If that lack of readiness to believe is not dealt with then we shall never arrive at the blessing of life in Christ. We shall never find ourselves actively in Christ’s company because it depends on faith. We shall never take that step that Simon Peter took of leaving the boat to go towards Christ, let alone actually reaching him. Our lives will be too full of suspicion and doubt, and Christ will have to say to us, "You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14: 22-36) In actual fact, there are even deeper issues for modern man. He tends to doubt that there is any absolutely objective moral obligation. The call to duty itself seems doubtful except as a working hypothesis because he is doubtful and suspicious about the possibility of objective truth itself. A vague scepticism about truth, about duty and about faith tends to cloud the mind and heart of modern man.

What to do? If there is something of this in us, we ought begin by resolving to take seriously the claims of the Church about Christ for, we must surely accept, they just might be true. Then we should ask for light from Above. We must ask for help from God. Indeed, we all must ask for this including all who are blessed with faith and who are disciples of Christ. We ought continually pray for help from the Holy Spirit that he will sustain and nourish our faith in Jesus and lead us to live in him and follow him in his constant obedience to the will of the Father.

                                                              (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mary, the most holy Mother of God, passes unnoticed, as just one more among the women of her town.

Learn from her how to live with 'naturalness'.

                                               (The Way, no.499)

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

(Continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA

In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.

                                                                    (Continuing)

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

Wednesday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 6) Transfiguration of the Lord
All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests it occurred during the Jewish weeklong, fall Feast of Booths. In spite of the texts’ agreement, it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, according to Scripture scholars, because the Gospels draw heavily on Old Testament descriptions of the Sinai encounter with God and prophetic visions of the Son of Man. Certainly Peter, James and John had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity strong enough to strike fear into their hearts. Such an experience defies description, so they drew on familiar religious language to describe it. And certainly Jesus warned them that his glory and his suffering were to be inextricably connected—a theme John highlights throughout his Gospel. Tradition names Mt. Tabor as the site of the revelation. A church first raised there in the fourth century was dedicated on August 6. A feast in honour of the Transfiguration was celebrated in the Eastern Church from about that time. Western observance began in some localities about the eighth century. On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast on the Roman calendar the following year.
“At his Transfiguration Christ showed his disciples the splendour of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of his glory’” (Philippians 3:21) (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

August 6: Anniversary of the death in 1978 of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI
(Giovanni B. Montini)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Jeremiah 31: 1-7; Psalm Jeremiah 31; Matthew 15: 21-28 (click here for readings)

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession. Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us. He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. The woman came and knelt before him. Lord, help me! she said. He replied, It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs. Yes, Lord, she said, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered, Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15: 21-28)

As is the case with so many scenes of the Gospel, our passage today gives rise to many reflections especially on the central personage, our Lord Jesus Christ. An immediate thing to be noticed is that, when pressed by his disciples to accede to the request of the
importunate pagan woman so as to be rid of her, our Lord defines his mission. The specific mission he had been given by his heavenly Father was “to the lost sheep of Israel.” We remember how at the beginning of his public ministry and after he had been baptized by John our Lord was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. One of the temptations was to be lord of the world. All these kingdoms I will give to you, Satan alluringly promised, if you but worship me. The temptation was rejected out of hand for it was utterly preposterous. But that event too serves to remind us that our Lord’s specific mission was not to the kingdoms of the world but to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” All the nations would come then. Just before his ascension into heaven he told his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him. So having entered into his glory the man Jesus had been constituted Lord of the world. They were to go, then, to the whole world and make disciples of all the nations. Here in our scene today (Matthew 15: 21-28) our Lord tells his disciples that his mission prior to his being glorified was to “the lost sheep of Israel.” But again, let us notice how our Lord formulates his mission here. It is especially to “the lost sheep” of Israel. It is to man as having fallen that God has sent his divine Son. He has come to save, to redeem, to raise up from the degradation and misery of sin, and his personal work was to begin with the house of Israel. The assistance he extends to the pagan Canaanite woman is a pointer to what is to come after he had risen from the dead. In that woman so desperate for divine help we are reminded of all mankind. In assisting her Christ is acting as Saviour of the world.

In portraying Christ responding to the prayer of the pagan woman, St Matthew is not only presenting Christ himself as Saviour of Israel and Saviour of the world, but he is presenting the example of the Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon. She did not know much about our Lord, enough to know his famed title as Son of David and to know his holiness and power before God. But she knew little else, we must presume. Yet she came to Christ and would not give up on her prayer. She had faith in him and that faith is manifest in her persistence. Her persistence in the face of silence and seeming rebuff, not only from the disciples but from our Lord himself, won the day. She would not give up. Our Lord did not tell her to be gone, he just remained silent. He was obviously testing her. Her faith was being tested by the silence of God. Our own experience is often comparable to the experience of that pagan woman in her prayer. It may seem that God is often, all too often, silent in the face of our entreaties. But what do we do? Do we give up and go away, thinking that God is not there, or he is uninterested, or he is not able to help? Do we fail in our faith when God does not answer immediately or very soon after, or perhaps does not accede to the specifics we have asked of him? Is this what happens all too often in life? If so, we ought contemplate the example of the woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon. She was discouraged by our Lord’s disciples, and received no response from our Lord initially. When I say she received no response from him, I mean that she saw no response. But our Lord was indeed responding and was testing her faith so as to reward it. It is clear that he was delighted with the persistent faith of the pagan woman and he rewarded it accordingly. Let us do likewise. Let our prayer be earnest and persistent, especially for those things that do matter in the sight of God, which is to say those things that will help us to be truly pleasing to God our Father.

There are many things that cause us to be weary and overburdened. On one occasion our Lord said, Come to me all you who are weary and overburdened and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. The greatest grace we ought ask for is precisely to be able to come to our Lord with faith and love and find our rest in his love and company. We ought ask for the grace to take his yoke upon our shoulders and to learn from him, for man’s salvation is found in Jesus Christ.
                                                                          (E.J.Tyler)

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

Wear on your breast the holy scapular of Carmel. There are many excellent Marian devotions, but few are so deep— rooted among the faithful, and have received so many blessings from the Popes. Besides, how maternal this sabbatine privilege is!
                                                               (The Way, no.500)

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

(Continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, April 17 2008, Visit to USA

I wish also to express a particular word of encouragement to both lay and Religious teachers of catechesis who strive to ensure that young people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith. Religious education is a challenging apostolate, yet there are many signs of a desire among young people to learn about the faith and practice it with vigour. If this awakening is to grow, teachers require a clear and precise understanding of the specific nature and role of Catholic education. They must also be ready to lead the commitment made by the entire school community to assist our young people, and their families, to experience the harmony between faith, life and culture.

Here I wish to make a special appeal to Religious Brothers, Sisters and Priests: do not abandon the school apostolate; indeed, renew your commitment to schools especially those in poorer areas. In places where there are many hollow promises which lure young people away from the path of truth and genuine freedom, the consecrated person's witness to the evangelical counsels is an irreplaceable gift. I encourage the Religious present to bring renewed enthusiasm to the promotion of vocations. Know that your witness to the ideal of consecration and mission among the young is a source of great inspiration in faith for them and their families.

To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy. With Saint Augustine, let us say: "we who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a single teacher" (Sermons, 23:2). With these sentiments of communion, I gladly impart to you, your colleagues and students, and to your families, my Apostolic Blessing.
                                                                                      (Concluded)

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

Thursday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 7) St. Cajetan (1480-1557)
Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life—first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia. His life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36. When he was 42 he founded a hospital for incurables at Venice. At Vicenza, he entered a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life—and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family. He sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them. The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and members.” Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. (One of them later became Paul IV.) Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines (from Teate [Chieti] where their first superior-bishop had his see). They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation. He founded a monte de pieta (“mountain [or fund] of piety”) in Naples—one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the security of pawned objects. The purpose was to help the poor and protect them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 50; Matthew 16: 13-23 (click here for readings)

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, Who do people say the Son
of Man is? They replied, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Never, Lord! he said. This shall never happen to you! Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. (Matthew 16: 13-23)

By any standards this must be regarded as a tremendous text of the Gospels. There are twenty eight chapters in the Gospel of St Matthew and so we can regard this passage as being more or less in the
heart of his account. Christ’s preaching was filled with references to the Kingdom of heaven and what is required in order to enter it. Here, away from the crowds and alone with his disciples he begins with a critical question: who he himself is. It implies that he himself is at the centre of the Kingdom of heaven and entry into this Kingdom is inextricably tied to one’s belief in and acknowledgment of him. In fact, Christ himself is the embodiment of this Kingdom because the Kingdom is nothing other than the lordship and rule of God and that rule is present in its fullness in Jesus. Entry into the Kingdom is entry into union with him. And so he elicits from Simon a magnificent profession of faith, that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of the living God, a profession which Christ not only accepted but stated as having its origin in the action of the Father. It was Christ’s Father in heaven who revealed this to Simon. Simon had received the gift of faith. But now, our Lord introduces a new thing. To this point he had been preaching and instructing about the promised Kingdom of God. Now he speaks of his Church. He has received Simon’s profession of faith, a profession he gives on behalf of the Apostles. Our Lord now proceeds to formally lay the foundations of his Church and to indicate the connection between his Church and the Kingdom he had been preaching. Simon now receives the title of the Rock, Peter. It is on this Rock which is Simon that he will build his Church and his Church will not be overcome by the forces of Hell. There will be a new people built on and developed from the old. The Apostles will be its twelve patriarchs and Simon Peter at their head. Simon will be the visible rock and foundation of the building that Christ will create and it will be entirely secure despite the human failings and limitations embodied in Simon himself.  (Matthew 16: 13-23)

There is more in this surprising revelation of Christ’s intentions. The Kingdom that Christ has to this point been preaching will have an entry and keys to that entry. Those keys would be entrusted to a specific person. Christ says he will give to Simon the keys to the Kingdom of heaven - the action is future in tense and so it speaks of what Christ will do with Peter. Simon Peter will have in his hands the keys to give access to the lordship and rule of God together with the blessings this contains. The keys will be held by him. So Simon will be the chief minister of the Kingdom, and Christ its King. Simon will represent the King and will make his presence visible in his own limited and all-too faulty person. Simon will be Christ’s vicar and whatever he chooses to bind up or loosen would be ratified in heaven. So Simon’s authority will be great. Those seeking entry into the Kingdom of heaven which is union with Jesus and all that this brings and requires will have the singular advantage of knowing to whom they are to go. A specific person is to be constituted by Christ to represent him, clearly after he has gone. That person is Simon Peter and the Twelve must live out their mission in communion with him. Our Lord is pointing to his death and departure from the scene and he is making permanent provision for this until he returns again at the end of the age. That provision is contained in his Church which he is to build, at the head of which is his appointee, Simon Peter, who is to hold the keys. Having announced his momentous step in the establishment of the Kingdom, Christ speaks of his Passion, his Death and his Resurrection. Immediately Simon, having been told of his exalted calling, shows his all-too limited grasp and brings down on himself a sharp rebuke from Christ. The way to glory and to the fullness of the Kingdom is through suffering and death. It is to be, then, the way Simon and the Apostles must follow as must all who wish to be in Christ.

Let us strive to appreciate the wonder of the Church which Christ has built. Peter is at its head and he holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. To access the kingdom, in Christ’s plan we must turn to the Church and gain entry by her. The Church which is nothing other than the body of Christ - his visible presence and dwelling place here on earth - is the divinely established means of entry into the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is found in the person of Christ and so the goal of life is union with him. Peter holds the keys. Let us then ponder this dramatic text and let us pray for the grace to love the Church which brings to us the salvation that is union with Christ.
                                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

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

When you were asked which picture of our Lady aroused your devotion most, and you answered — with the air of long experience — 'all of them', I realized that you were a good son: that is why you are equally moved — 'they make me fall in love', you said — by all the pictures of your Mother.
                                                             (The Way, no.501)

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

Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders during his visit to the USA (April 17, 2008)
Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre. "A United Society Can Indeed Arise From a Plurality of Peoples"

My dear friends,

I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you today. I thank Bishop Sklba for his words of welcome, and I cordially greet all those in attendance representing various religions in the United States of America. Several of you kindly accepted the invitation to compose the reflections contained in today's program. For your thoughtful words on how each of your traditions bears witness to peace, I am particularly grateful. Thank you all.

This country has a long history of cooperation between different religions in many spheres of public life. Interreligious prayer services during the national feast of Thanksgiving, joint initiatives in charitable activities, a shared voice on important public issues: these are some ways in which members of different religions come together to enhance mutual understanding and promote the common good. I encourage all religious groups in America to persevere in their collaboration and thus enrich public life with the spiritual values that motivate your action in the world.
                                                                        (Continuing)

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

Friday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 8) Blessed Mary MacKillop 1842 - 1909 (Australia) 
             On January 15, 1842 Mary MacKillop was born of Scottish parents, Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald in Fitzroy, Victoria. This was less than seven years after Faulkner sailed up the Yarra, when Elizabeth Street was a deep gully and Lonsdale Street was still virgin bush. A plaque in the footpath now marks the place of her birth in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Mary, the eldest of eight children, was well educated by her father who spent some years studying for the priesthood in Rome but through ill health had returned to his native Scotland until 1835 when he migrated to Australia with his parents. Unfortunately, he lacked financial awareness, so the family was often without a home of their own, depending on friends and relatives and frequently separated from one another. From the age of sixteen, Mary earned her living and greatly supported her family, as a governess, as a clerk for Sands and Kenny (now Sands and MacDougall), and as a teacher at the Portland school. While acting as a governess to her uncle's children at Penola, Mary met Father Julian Tenison Woods who, with a parish of 22,000 square miles/56,000 square kilometres, needed help in the religious education of children in the outback. At the time Mary's family depended on her income so she was not free to follow her dream. However, in 1866, greatly inspired and encouraged by Father Woods, Mary opened the first Saint Joseph's School in a disused stable in Penola. Young women came to join Mary, and so the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph was begun. In 1867, Mary was asked by Bishop Shiel to come to Adelaide to start a school. From there, the Sisters spread, in groups to small outback settlements and large cities around Australia, New Zealand, and now in Peru, Brazil and refugee camps of Uganda and Thailand. Mary and these early Sisters, together with other Religious Orders and Lay Teachers of the time, had a profound influence on the forming of Catholic Education as we have come to know and experience it today. She also opened Orphanages, Providences to care for the homeless and destitute both young and old, and Refuges for ex-prisoners and ex-prostitutes who wished to make a fresh start in life. Throughout her life, Mary met with opposition from people outside the Church and even from some of those within it. In the most difficult of times she consistently refused to attack those who wrongly accused her and undermined her work, but continued in the way she believed God was calling her and was always ready to forgive those who wronged her. Throughout her life Mary suffered ill health. She died on August 8, 1909 in the convent in Mount Street, North Sydney where her tomb is now enshrined. Since then the Congregation has grown and now numbers about 1200, working mainly in Australia and New Zealand but also scattered singly or in small groups around the world. The "Brown Joeys" may be seen in big city schools, on dusty bush tracks, in modern hospitals, in caravans, working with the "little ones" of God - the homeless, the new migrant, the Aboriginal, the lonely and the unwanted, in direct care and in advocacy, in standing with and in speaking with. In their endeavours to reverence the human dignity of others and to change unjust structures, the Sisters and those many others who also share the Mary MacKillop spirit continue the work which she began. This great Australian woman inspired great dedication to God's work in the then new colonies. In today's world, she stands as an example of great courage and trust in her living out of God's loving and compassionate care of those in need.  (click here for more)

(Universal calendar:) Saint Dominic (Turn to August 5, August page of this website)
 

click on centre arrow



 


Scripture today: Nahum 2: 1.3; 3:1-3.6-7; Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 16: 24-28 (click here for readings)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16: 24-28)

I have known people who when they heard that a young person they knew wished to be a priest thought it was crazy. It was a waste of a life. That young person was foregoing marriage, a career in the
world, success in life and a variety of other things besides. But take it a step further and consider the person who hears the call of Christ to be his disciple - whatever may be the particular vocation in life that is his or hers. A careful reading of the Gospel and the words of the Church about the Christian life reveal to him new demands that at first sight seem crazy. For instance, consider the young man in the Gospel who came in haste to our Lord and asked in all sincerity what he must do to inherit eternal life. He had kept God’s commandments from his earliest years. He wanted to know what further God was expecting of him. Our Lord, we are told, looked on him and loved him. He then took a risk. He said to the young man that if he wanted to be perfect, he ought sell all he had and give it to the poor. Then he ought come and follow him. Our Lord was asking him to deny himself very radically. A change came over the young man’s face. It fell. What our Lord just said to him seemed crazy and unnecessary, and he went away sad for he had many possessions. In our Gospel passage today (Matthew 16: 24-28) our Lord says to his disciples that if anyone would come after him he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow him. It is a variation of what he told the rich young man, only this time it is even more general. The Christian is to choose the path of self-denial. He is to take up his cross. Let us notice our Lord’s specific mention of “the cross”. In the previous passage Christ had made it plain to his disciples that his path was to be that of suffering and death, and he had sharply rebuked Simon for attempting to dissuade him from this path. It had seemed crazy to Simon. I suspect that the active choice by Christ of the path of suffering and death would basically seem meaningless to most of the non-Christian religions of the world, including to Mahomet and Islam.

Christ foresaw his own death on the cross, but the point to notice here in our passage today is that our Lord uses the cross in reference to the following of him. Just as his own path involved a denial of himself unto death, so too his disciple must deny himself and take up his cross. With the Roman occupation every Jew would be familiar with execution by crucifixion. Criminals were crucified publicly and this was meant to serve as a powerful deterrent. All would be familiar with the condemned person taking up his cross and being forced to make his way to the place of his death. Our Lord uses this striking metaphor to describe the path of his disciples. But there is also this. The disciple must do this willingly for love of Jesus. He is to “take up his cross” on his own initiative and not as something forced upon him. So the acceptance and choice of the cross is part of a loving following of Jesus. This may seem crazy even to many who count themselves as Christ’s disciples but who have not taken to heart these words in our Gospel today. It is the choice of the path of self denial out of love for Jesus, precisely because Jesus chose that path. What constitutes this cross? Well of course, there are the difficulties in doing God’s will. There are all the difficulties that are allowed by the providence of God such as bad health, lack of opportunities in one’s career, the fact that others are better positioned gain those opportunities, the lack of recognition by others that comes with very limited talents and capacities, one’s own mistakes that lead to various sufferings, and so it goes on. Life brings many difficulties and these are allowed by God. That constitutes a “cross” that ought be accepted for love of Jesus. There is also the suffering that comes with injustices and humiliations perpetrated by others. That “cross” is to be taken up. But there is more still. There is the active choice of things that will involve the denial of oneself, the choosing of the lower place, the choosing of a more mortified practice, the choosing to be more meek and humble of heart, the acceptance of humiliations, and all for love of Jesus.

Inasmuch as Christ’s path of suffering and death is one of the most mysterious features of the Atonement by him for sin, the following of Christ in this same path is one of the most difficult things to accept and embrace in the Christian life. It requires a grace from God that illuminates the mind and brings a change of heart. Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, St Paul writes. We ought pray for the grace to understand the contents of our Gospel passage today, and for the desire to live it out in the way God intends.

                                                                                 (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mary, teacher of prayer. See how she asks her Son, at Cana. And how she insists, confidently, with perseverance. And how she succeeds.

Learn from her.
                                            (The Way, no.502)

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

(Continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders, USA (April 2008)

The place where we are now gathered was founded specifically for promoting this type of collaboration. Indeed, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre seeks to offer a Christian voice to the "human search for meaning and purpose in life" in a world of "varied religious, ethnic and cultural communities" (Mission Statement). This institution reminds us of this nation's conviction that all people should be free to pursue happiness in a way consonant with their nature as creatures endowed with reason and free will.

Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in accordance with their conscience. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and observer of American affairs, was fascinated with this aspect of the nation. He remarked that this is a country in which religion and freedom are "intimately linked" in contributing to a stable democracy that fosters social virtues and participation in the communal life of all its citizens. In urban areas, it is common for individuals from different cultural backgrounds and religions to engage with one another daily in commercial, social and educational settings. Today, in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and indeed children of all religions sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection on the core principles of a democratic society. May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples -- "E pluribus unum": "out of many, one" -- provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
                                                                                        (Continuing)

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

Saturday of the eighteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 9) St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) (1891-1942)
       A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis. After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-38), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her in 1998. The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honour her mother’s Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D. , translator of several of Edith’s books, sums up this saint with the phrase, “Learn to live at God’s hands.”
         In his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said: “Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholics and Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: ‘Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.’” Addressing himself to the young people gathered for the canonization, the pope said: “Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide! The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow


 


Scripture today: Habakkuk 1:12-2:4; Psalm 9; Matthew 17: 14-20  (click here for readings)

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. Lord, have mercy on my son, he said. He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him. O unbelieving and perverse generation, Jesus replied, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me. Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, Why couldn't we drive it out? He replied, Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17: 14-20)

Most people accept the importance of the study of history. History is studied in schools and it is an important subject in Arts faculties at University level. However, it is interesting to notice the fields of
history that are given most emphasis. Economic and political history is largely assumed to be of most importance, whereas a case could easily be made for an emphasis on other fields that often do not even get a look-in. I am thinking of, for instance, the history of ideas and especially the history of philosophy and perhaps too the history of man’s religions. Be all that as it may, when it comes to the history of philosophy it is of value to notice what have been the concerns of philosophers. They have been the nature of morality, the world of our experience, the nature of history, human knowledge, and a host of other basic questions. Within the Anglo-Saxon philosophical world human knowledge has been at the forefront of interest. How can we be certain of anything and what are the means of attaining the truth, if there be any objective truth? Now, over the past couple of centuries the assumption has grown that the criterion of truth is its demonstrability. That is to say, if a truth can be demonstrated mathematically or scientifically - meaning in the main, empirically - then it can be accepted as true. Now, of course, if a truth can be demonstrated in this way, then it can be accepted as true. The problem is that this is taken to be a total criterion of truth, which is to say that it is a test to be applied to all truths. It is part of the naturalist assumption of much of modern thought: the only reality that can be admitted is that which lies within the boundaries of our sense-experience. Hence it is that there is a strong suspicion against any truths which rely for their apprehension and acceptance on faith. Typically we are not disposed to accept assertions which rely on faith in another. That is our contemporary bias, and we need to come to grips with it if we find it in ourselves because it will make us slow to accept immensely important truths that come from entirely reliable sources.

Let us take our Gospel passage today, for example. Our Lord is presented with a boy who is in the grip of some form of demonic possession and he is told that his disciples are quite unable to cast out the demon from the boy. At a word our Lord expels the demon and in private he is asked by his disciples why they were unable to cast it out. Our Lord replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 14-20) Let us prescind from a detailed discussion of this particular case of the exercise of faith to the general point that our Lord made the appeal for faith a cornerstone of his public ministry. He was continually asking for faith. When he returned to his home town and presented himself as the one foretold by the prophets he received an entirely negative response. We are told that our Lord did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Time and again when he was approached by those who were suffering from one ailment or another he asked them if they believed that he could do this for them. When he arrived in Bethany four days after his friend Lazarus had died, he was met by Martha. Our Lord told her that he was the resurrection and the life and that anyone who believed in him would live even if he died. Then he asked Martha if she believed this. She told him that she did, that she believed that he was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. He then proceeded to work his astounding miracle of raising Lazarus forthwith from the grave. Faith in his person was the door to divine truth. Our Lord did not ask people if they had through their own independent tests had come to see that what he claimed and taught was true. No, he asked them if they believed in him. Faith in Jesus is the way to revealed truth. When our Lord rose from the dead and was about to ascend to his Father, he gave his final commission to his disciples to go to the whole world, making disciples of all the nations. Those who believed would be saved, while those who knowingly refused would not.

Let us take to heart our Lord’s constant call to believe. Believing in Jesus the Son of God is the most reasonable thing we can do. Our salvation depends on hearing the word of Christ and accepting it in faith. We use our reason to examine and consider his person, but in the final analysis the act of faith will be necessary. This faith, once given, must be maintained and helped to grow strong, and never be allowed to wane. There are two wings taking us to truth, both reason and faith. The truth they take us to is above all the divine truth that is the person of Christ.
                                                                  (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mary's loneliness. Alone! She weeps, forsakenly.

You and I should keep our Lady company, and weep also, for Jesus has been fixed to the wood, with nails — our sins.
                                              (The Way, no.503)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders during his visit to the USA (April 2008)

The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed. New situations and challenges invite citizens and leaders to reflect on how their decisions respect this basic human right. Protecting religious freedom within the rule of law does not guarantee that peoples -- particularly minorities -- will be spared from unjust forms of discrimination and prejudice. This requires constant effort on the part of all members of society to ensure that citizens are afforded the opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious heritage to their children.

The transmission of religious traditions to succeeding generations not only helps to preserve a heritage; it also sustains and nourishes the surrounding culture in the present day. The same holds true for dialogue between religions; both the participants and society are enriched. As we grow in understanding of one another, we see that we share an esteem for ethical values, discernable to human reason, which are revered by all peoples of goodwill. The world begs for a common witness to these values. I therefore invite all religious people to view dialogue not only as a means of enhancing mutual understanding, but also as a way of serving society at large. By bearing witness to those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of goodwill, religious groups will exert a positive influence on the wider culture, and inspire neighbours, co-workers and fellow citizens to join in the task of strengthening the ties of solidarity. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "no greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith".
                                                           (Continuing)

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

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time A
 

Prayers this week:  Lord, be true to your covenant, forget not the life of your poor ones for ever. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; do not ignore the shouts of your enemies. (Psalm 73: 20.19.22.23)
                                                                                                                   

Almighty and ever-living God, your Spirit made us your children, confident to call you Father. Increase your Spirit within us and bring us to our promised inheritance. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(August 10) St. Lawrence (d. 258?)
     The esteem in which the Church holds Lawrence is seen in the fact that today’s celebration ranks as a feast. We know very little about his life. He is one of those whose martyrdom made a deep and lasting impression on the early Church. Celebration of his feast day spread rapidly. He was a Roman deacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Lawrence and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian. A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures — the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him — only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.” Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.” The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn it over and eat it!” The church built over Lawrence’s tomb became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a favourite place for Roman pilgrimages.
     Once again we have a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one who has received extraordinary honour in the Church since the fourth century. Almost nothing—yet the greatest fact of his life is certain: He died for Christ. We who are hungry for details about the lives of the saints are again reminded that their holiness was, after all, a total response to Christ, expressed perfectly by a death like this.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: 1 Kings 19:9.11-13; Psalm 84; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14: 22-33  (click here for readings)

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he
had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It's a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid. Lord, if it's you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God. (Matthew 14: 22-33)
 

It is very clear that a principal lesson of our Gospel event today is that faith in Jesus is the great act that God expects of us his children. Jesus is the Son of God, as he demonstrated so clearly in the event portrayed in the Gospel. He came walking to the disciples on the water and calmed the sea after he had joined them. Courage, he said, it is I. He said to Simon, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14: 22-33) Our Lord is asking for full and complete faith in him and in his word. The thought of Simon asking our Lord to bid him come to him across the water and then proceeding to do so at the invitation of Jesus, reminds us that we are called to stake everything on our faith in Christ. He is to be the only true and certain basis of our life. His word is what we follow and we obey his word because of our faith in him. Simon took his first steps in this direction during the storm, but then at the sight of the storm his faith in our Lord faltered. All this is to say that the most basic act of our lives which serves as the foundation of all our other acts should be our act of faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is, in God’s intention, the foundation of our life and we ought strive to make it so every day from the first moment of rising. However, there is an aspect of this which ought be clearly appreciated. Yes, this act of faith, so basic in the life of the Christian, is a deeply personal thing. It is the foundation of my personal relationship with God. Yes, it is my act, my personal act of faith. That having been said, we must immediately add that this is not the whole story. It is not just a personal act of mine. That is to say, my faith in Jesus is the very faith that the entire Church shares in. What I believe is what we all believe, all of us who make up Christ’s Church. The Creed is not only my Creed but it is our Creed. The Apostles’ Creed which is typically the Creed of the individual’s Baptism begins with the words, I believe. At the same time, in the past we commonly have begun our recitation of the Nicene Creed during the Church’s worship with the words, We believe (though this is soon to change because the Latin is "Credo: I believe"). The faith of the individual Christian is to be the faith of the Church which Christ founded and the mission of the Church is to bring this one faith to the nations.

All this is to say that my act of faith in Jesus is not just something I have arrived at myself and which I determine for myself. If we think of our faith in Jesus as a purely personal act we might instinctively imagine it as isolated from the faith of the Church, and that, being my own act of faith, it therefore is for me to determine just what I believe. We might also be tempted to think that the Church, or rather a church, is simply a body of faithful who happen to have a similar faith to mine, because faith is very personal and is a matter between me and Jesus. But no. In the plan of God I have received my faith from the Church. My faith is derived from the Church. In this sense the Church is my mother, or rather our mother. Being our mother from whom we have received the faith the Church is also my teacher, or rather our teacher. The Church is mother and teacher not only to me but to all of us who believe. For this reason we not only say I believe at the start of the Apostles’ Creed, but in the past at Mass we have customarily said, We believe, at the start of the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was formulated by the Church in order to expose and exclude errors about Christ’s person, and in order to insist that the "I believe" uttered by each person be identical with the "We believe" uttered by the whole Church. We are reminded of this by our Gospel scene today, in which all the disciples together arrived at and professed faith in Jesus as the Son of God. That boat which received the presence of Jesus provides us with an image of the Church. In it is Simon Peter with the others, and Christ is in their midst. The faith of each in the boat is the faith of all, the faith of the incipient Church, and Christ is there with them. So yes, the Christian nourishes his own faith in Jesus by daily prayer, assiduous reading of the Scriptures, by a devout reception of the Sacraments and by a good and holy daily life. But he also constantly looks to the faith of the Church, that faith of those in the barque of Simon and the Twelve. There, no matter how buffeted the boat may be, Jesus dwells in their midst. This faith of the Church is the faith I receive and by which I am constantly guided. I must never live my faith in Jesus in isolation from the Church Christ founded and in which he constantly abides, whatever be the storms that assail her. My faith has come through the Church who is my mother and teacher of faith.

In our Gospel scene today our Lord, as he does on numerous other occasions in the Gospels, stresses the absolutely central place of faith in the life of his disciple. Why did you doubt? We must not doubt him, neither must we must doubt his word and his teaching. He and his word come to us in the ministry and life of the Church he founded, that Church where Simon is to be found. Our very personal and individual faith, coming via the Church must be guided by the Church, which in the plan of God is our mother and teacher in faith.
                                                                           (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 168-169

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

The holy Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, will bring relief to your heart, when it makes you feel that it is of flesh, if you turn to her with confidence.
                                                                  (The Way, no.504)

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

(continuing) Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders (visit to the USA, April 2008)

A concrete example of the contribution religious communities make to civil society is faith-based schools. These institutions enrich children both intellectually and spiritually. Led by their teachers to discover the divinely bestowed dignity of each human being, young people learn to respect the beliefs and practices of others, thus enhancing a nation's civic life.

What an enormous responsibility religious leaders have: to imbue society with a profound awe and respect for human life and freedom; to ensure that human dignity is recognized and cherished; to facilitate peace and justice; to teach children what is right, good and reasonable!

There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote inter religious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, inter religious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for "wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendour of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace" (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).
                                                                                 (Continuing)

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

Monday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 11) St. Clare (1194-1253)
    One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-girl counterpart to the new Franciscan Order. The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, she was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide. At 18, she escaped one night from her father’s home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woollen habit, exchanged her jewelled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant. End of movie material. Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares). Francis obliged her under obedience at age 21 to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence. (Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigour: “Our bodies are not made of brass.”) The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade her to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.” Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of her life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick, waited on table, washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals and bishops often came to consult her—she never left the walls of San Damiano.
    Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. She was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real. A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenceless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 1:2-5.24-28; Psalm 148; Matthew 17: 22-27  (click here for readings)

When they came together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will
kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. And the disciples were filled with grief. After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax? Yes, he does, he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. What do you think, Simon? he asked. From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes— from their own sons or from others? From others, Peter answered. Then the sons are exempt, Jesus said to him. But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours. (Matthew 17: 22-27)

The Gospels present our Lord given over to his public ministry of announcing and establishing the Kingdom of God by his teaching, his miracles, his formation of the Apostles and other disciples, and finally by the greatest act of his life, his passion and death. We are also
given the occasional glimpse of another side of our Lord’s life, his being a citizen of his nation. By that I am referring to his activities and rights and duties as a citizen. As St John writes in the Prologue of his Gospel, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This involved being a citizen of a particular society, the people of Israel. This people was subject to the Empire of Rome which appointed or approved officials, administered taxes, and so forth. At the very beginning of his life, Christ is seen to be subject to these political and social realities. His parents while he was still in the womb had to travel to Bethlehem because of a decree of the emperor requiring a census to be taken. Soon after his birth his parents take him to Jerusalem for his presentation in the Temple, and that was subject to religious and social regulations. At the end of his life, Christ was brought before the Roman procurator. The Son of God was subject to a pagan governor. It was all the result of his Incarnation. In our Gospel today we see our Lord being asked if he paid the Temple tax: “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax? Yes, he does, he replied.” (Matthew 17: 22-27) Peter’s reply shows that our Lord certainly paid the Temple tax. We remember how our Lord was accosted by the scribes and Pharisees who wished to trap him and asked if it was lawful to pay the Roman tax. Our Lord’s reply was that what was Caesar’s is to be given to him. So we may presume that our Lord also paid the Roman tax. The point I am making is that our Lord was a good citizen. Were he living in our day, he would respect the laws of society and live as a good citizen, though his mission would not have been a secular one.

The point I wish to highlight is that the one who wishes to be Christ’s disciple must also be a good citizen. The great majority of Christ’s Faithful are called by God to live specifically in the world and in service of the world. For the first thirty years of his life, this was our Lord’s own calling. He was a carpenter with his foster-father in the village of Nazareth. He lived at home with his mother Mary and foster-father Joseph, lived a daily round in the midst of his wider family of relations and among his acquaintances of the district. He worked every day as a builder-carpenter, earning money for the small family circle, giving some of it - and perhaps a considerable portion of it - to the poor. He went to the Synagogue every Sabbath and participated quietly in the life of the town. He lived as a citizen. Then came the moment of his - let us call it - ordination for mission during his Baptism in the Jordan. The Holy Spirit came upon him and consecrated him to begin his public work as Messiah. But to that point, though he was the Messiah and already within his ordinary life engaged in the redemption of the world, he was living as a simple citizen of his country as was his holy mother and his saintly foster-father. It is this which is the calling of most of Christ’s Faithful. They are called to live out their lives as citizens and to serve Christ and God by serving the world in which they find themselves, just as our Lord himself did for the first thirty years of his life, and just as St Joseph his foster-father did for the whole of his life. The lay faithful are called to holiness of life in the fulfilment of their daily responsibilities to their family, to society and to the world around them. They do this precisely as members of the Church and they find their daily spiritual sustenance in the life and ministry of the Church, in her Sacraments, in her preaching and in her ministry. From the Church they receive their life in Christ and in that life they serve society and the world in which they live. The redemption and sanctification of the world depends on a holy and deeply Christian laity.

Let every lay member of Christ’s Faithful understand clearly that their presence in the world constitutes a most important vocation from Christ himself. They belong to Christ by baptism and by the other Sacraments they have received. Christ has placed the lay faithful in the world to serve him there and to win the world to him by their being very good citizens and by their bearing witness to him before others. This they do by their example, by their discrete and appropriate words, by their professional service, by their observance of the laws of society, and by a quiet and daily apostolate of drawing others to the person of Jesus. Let them look to Jesus as he lived at Nazareth. Let them look to the holy family of Nazareth. Let them bear in mind our Gospel scene today. Our Lord was a good citizen. So too must the Christian be.
                                                             (E.J.Tyler)

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

Love for our Lady is proof of good spirit, in organizations and in individuals.

Distrust the undertaking that lacks this characteristic.
                                                                         (The Way, no.505)

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

Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders during his visit to the USA (April 2008)

We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart. Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: "My spirit is overwhelmed within me" (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); "why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?" (Ps 42:5). The response is always one of faith: "Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Saviour and my God" (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).
                                                                            (Continuing)

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

Tuesday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 12) St. Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297)
    When he died at the age of 23, Louis was already a Franciscan, a bishop and a saint! Louis’s parents were Charles II of Naples and Sicily and Mary, daughter of the King of Hungary. Louis was related to St. Louis IX on his father’s side and to Elizabeth of Hungary on his mother’s side. Louis showed early signs of attachment to prayer and to the corporal works of mercy. As a child he used to take food from the castle to feed the poor. When he was 14, Louis and two of his brothers were taken as hostages to the king of Aragon’s court as part of a political deal involving Louis’s father. At the court Louis was tutored by Franciscan friars under whom he made great progress both in his studies and in the spiritual life. Like St. Francis he developed a special love for those afflicted with leprosy. While he was still a hostage, Louis decided to renounce his royal title and become a priest. When he was 20, he was allowed to leave the king of Aragon’s court. He renounced his title in favour of his brother Robert and was ordained the next year. Very shortly after, he was appointed bishop of Toulouse, but the pope agreed to Louis’s request to become a Franciscan first. The Franciscan spirit pervaded Louis. "Jesus Christ is all my riches; he alone is sufficient for me," Louis kept repeating. Even as a bishop he wore the Franciscan habit and sometimes begged. He assigned a friar to offer him correction — in public if necessary — and the friar did his job. Louis’s service to the Diocese of Toulouse was richly blessed. In no time he was considered a saint. Louis set aside 75 percent of his income as bishop to feed the poor and maintain churches. Each day he fed 25 poor people at his table. Louis was canonized in 1317 by Pope John XXII, one of his former teachers.
             When Cardinal Hugolino, the future Pope Gregory IX, suggested to Francis that some of the friars would make fine bishops, Francis protested that they might lose some of their humility and simplicity if appointed to those positions. Those two virtues are needed everywhere in the Church, and Louis shows us how they can be lived out by bishops. "All the faithful were edified by the fervour of his devout celebration of Mass, the efficacy of his deep humility, his tender compassion, his upright life, the harmonious congruity in all his actions, words and bearing. Who without wonderment could look upon a most charming young man, the son of so mighty a king, outstanding for his generosity, raised to such dignity, renowned for his influence, pre-eminent for humility, living a life of such mortification, endowed with such wisdom, clothed in so poor a habit yet renowned for the charm of his discourse and a shining example of upright life?" (A contemporary biography).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow


 


Scripture today: Ezechiel 2:8-3:4; Psalm 118; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14 (Click here for readings)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He
called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)

I have a book entitled Among God’s Giants. The book is a study of a few very influential persons in the last few centuries of Christianity. That word “Giants” intrigued me. I could not help thinking - setting
aside this particular book - that all too often we think of great Christians as “giants” in the sense of their being great in influence and notice among men. In such a view, the greatest Christians are those who are very notable in the eyes of society and in their public influence. Of course, this can be the case. We can think of many truly holy Christians who have had a very public role to play and are famous in their own lifetimes. But it need not be the case at all and there are persons who feature in the Scriptures who had little or no notoriety in their own lifetime. Consider the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. She was addressed by the Angel as “full of grace”. The Angel said that the Lord was with her. Elizabeth her kinswoman, filled with the Holy Spirit, said that she was “blessed among women”. Mary herself in her inspired prayer which we usually call the Magnificat said that the Lord had done great things for her and that all generations would call her blessed. The Church has formally taught that she who was the Mother of God the Son made man was conceived without sin and that she was taken at the end of her life body and soul glorious into heaven because no sin ever touched her. She is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, the giant of God’s giants, we might say, and yet she was hidden from notoriety in her own lifetime. Or let us take her husband, the holy Joseph. What intimacy he enjoyed with Christ during those years at Nazareth! Holiness consists in union with Jesus. How holy Joseph must have been then, and yet his life was shrouded in obscurity. God’s giants, as we might call them, are to be found in every human situation be it public, be it hidden. Every ordinary member of Christ’s Faithful is called to holiness of life, and in that sense to be a giant of God.

It is one of the deepest cravings of man to be noticed and esteemed. It springs from his very personhood as one who has an absolute value and who desires and deserves to be loved and respected. The question is, how are we to satisfy this? Some seek to satisfy it by seeking the notice and the honours of the world. The Christian, finding his inspiration especially in Christ, understands well that this in itself is a mirage and that the love and esteem to be sought is above all that which comes from God who knows us through and through. Christ was meek and humble and his chosen path was that of opprobrium and rejection by those who mattered in society. Out of love for him the Christian is ready to follow a similar path in which praise, acclaim and notoriety are denied him. He knows that true greatness does not come in such a way. What, then, does our Lord himself say about what it is to be great? Let us listen again to his words in our Gospel passage today. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14) So then, whatever may be the notoriety and esteem that come our way in life or the lack of it, the one thing necessary for true greatness in the kingdom of heaven is humility. One must seek humility, which is to say, the lower place - firstly in one’s own estimation, but also readily to accept the lower place in the estimation of others. To be great in the kingdom of heaven one must be small in one’s own sight. The path to greatness lies in following Christ in his humility. Humbling oneself is perhaps the most difficult project of the Christian life because it goes contrary to our yearnings to be great before others.

So how is this to be attained? To begin with, we must strive to be profoundly grateful to God for gratitude implies that all comes from him and not just from ourselves. Moreover, if in one or other sense we are placed in the lower place it will hasten our progress in humility if for love of Christ we humbly accept that lower place. And again, where there is a true option, we will advance in humility if for love of Christ we choose the lower place rather than choosing the higher one. The task in life is to grow in the spirit of humility, humbly accepting and preferring the truth about ourselves rather than honour coming from what is not the truth about ourselves. Let us then have the ambition to be great in the kingdom of heaven by humbling ourselves, as our Lord directs us in today’s Gospel.
                                                              (E.J.Tyler)

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

The Virgin of Sorrows. When you contemplate her, look into her Heart; she is a Mother with two sons, face to face: He... and you.
                                                       (The Way, no.506)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Address to Interreligious Leaders during his visit to the USA (April 2008)

Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a "heavenly gift" that calls us to conform human history to the divine order. Herein lies the "truth of peace" (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace).

As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas. The Holy See, for its part, seeks to carry forward this important work through the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and various Pontifical Universities.

Dear friends, let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task -- through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion -- we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.
Peace upon you all!
                                                    (Concluded)

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

Wednesday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 13) Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus (d. 235)
Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.
     Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen in Alexandria. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died of harsh treatment in 235. With him was Hippolytus (see below) with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both martyrs were brought back to Rome and buried with solemn rites as martyrs. Hippolytus. As a presbyter in Rome, Hippolytus (the name means “a horse turned loose”) was at first “holier than the Church.” He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world, and evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235 he was also banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died with Pope Pontian in exile.
    Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies and a history of the world. A marble statue, dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter, on the other a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Pope John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library. Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.
“Christ, like a skilful physician, understands the weakness of men. He loves to teach the ignorant and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately. He does not disdain the barbarian, nor does he set the eunuch aside as no man. He does not hate the female on account of the woman’s act of disobedience in the beginning, nor does he reject the male on account of the man’s transgression. But he seeks all, and desires to save all, wishing to make all the children of God, and calling all the saints unto one perfect man” (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22; Psalm 112; Matthew 18: 15-20  (click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples, If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. ((Matthew 18: 15-20)Matthew 18: 15-20)

One of the things that goes very much against the grain of modern man is any tendency to oppose and judge negatively his religious and moral beliefs. This is especially the case in areas of very personal
morality. The Church’s condemnation of artificial methods of birth control has long been unacceptable to much of modern society, as has the Church’s condemnation of various forms of sexual immorality. Yet if there is to be a light in the world at all, it will mean the presence in the world of condemnation of error. When we look at the accounts in the Old Testament of the work and preaching of the prophets we see that most of their teaching is taken up with the condemnation of error. The book of Jonah tells the tale of the prophet Jonah going to the great city of Nineveh and preaching repentance from sin, and the city repented from its sins. What was at stake was the life of the nation. The prophets insisted that unless the people converted from their sins of idolatry, social injustice, and other moral and religious evils, destruction would descend. John the Baptist came announcing a wonderful good news, but it meant repentance on the part of the people. He vigorously pointed out error, and called on the people to renounce their sins and prepare for the coming of God. Our Lord came announcing a joyful good news, that the promised kingdom of God was very near. But he called for repentance, and pointed out error and sin. Unless you repent, he said on one occasion, you will all perish as they did. All this is alluded to in our Gospel passage today, in which our Lord advises his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18: 15-20)

So it is that throughout the Church’s history, the unmasking of religious and moral error has been part and parcel of her service to humanity. Very early there was the question of error about the person of Jesus Christ. So it was that in the early centuries of the Church several great ecumenical Councils were held and ratified by the Bishop of Rome. The Council of Nicaea in 325 laid it down that Jesus was truly divine, and this was followed by other councils rejecting errors about Christ and insisting on the faith of the Apostles. As the history of the Church advanced, so did the Church’s battle with religious error. In our Gospel passage today our Lord hints at the power of the Church to excommunicate. “If he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18: 15-20). Popes decreed against various errors, and ecumenical Councils gathered to clarify the truth. The Council of Trent (over several sessions from 1548 to 1563) condemned what it taught to be various errors arising in the sixteenth century. Those errors spanned the gamut of Christian teaching. But in the very exercise of this ministry of pointing out doctrinal and moral error, the Church’s knowledge of revealed truth advanced. Several decades ago, Pope Paul VI condemned artificial contraception in his famous Encyclical Humanae Vitae. It provoked a world-wide outcry among very many, but it was a service to the truth and its teaching prompted a new appreciation and exploration of the truth of conjugal love which John Paul II took up and developed. The Church is in the line of the prophets, and her prophetic voice has to be raised in defence of the truth and in condemnation of error. Such a mission runs very counter to much of modern philosophy which is especially distinguished for its reluctance to admit of objective truth and the mind’s capacity to know it accurately. Truth is perceived as being relative to the individual, and a Church that insists on objective truth and error is deemed not worthy to be taken seriously.

In considering the Church’s ministry on behalf of the truth we ought constantly bear in mind that the Church is Christ’s body and the bearer before the world of the person of Jesus. It is Christ who speaks in and through her and it is Christ who teaches the truth and condemns error in and through her teaching. Let us then transcend our intellectual assumptions and listen with humility and readiness to the Church’s teaching. As our Lord says to his disciples in today’s Gospel, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
                                                                           (E.J.Tyler)

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

The humility of my holy Mother Mary! She is not to be seen amid the palms of Jerusalem, nor at the hour of the great miracles — except at that first one at Cana.

But she doesn't escape from the contempt at Golgotha; there she stands, juxta crucem Jesu, the Mother of Jesus, beside his Cross.
                                                            (The Way, no.507)

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

Benedict XVI Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008.

Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Young Friends,

“Proclaim the Lord Christ … and always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope that is within you” (1 Pet 3:15). With these words from the First Letter of Peter I greet each of you with heartfelt affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his kind words of welcome and I also thank the representatives chosen from among you for their gestures of welcome. To Bishop Walsh, Rector of Saint Joseph Seminary, staff and seminarians, I offer my special greetings and gratitude.

Young friends, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak with you. Please pass on my warm greetings to your family members and relatives, and to the teachers and staff of the various schools, colleges and universities you attend. I know that many people have worked hard to ensure that our gathering could take place. I am most grateful to them all. Also, I wish to acknowledge your singing to me Happy Birthday! Thank you for this moving gesture; I give you all an “A plus” for your German pronunciation! This evening I wish to share with you some thoughts about being disciples of Jesus Christ ? walking in the Lord’s footsteps, our own lives become a journey of hope.
                                                               (Continuing)

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

Thursday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 14) St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941)
“I don’t know what’s going to become of you!” How many parents have said that? Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s reaction was, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me. She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red. She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom. I said, ‘I choose both.’ She smiled and disappeared.” After that he was not the same. He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív (then Poland, now Ukraine), near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice. Though he later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships. Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata,, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary. In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In 1941 he was arrested again. The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations. A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. “This one. That one.” As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. “I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.” “Who are you?” “A priest.” No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine. In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked and the slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.
   Father Kolbe’s death was not a sudden, last-minute act of heroism. His whole life had been a preparation. His holiness was a limitless, passionate desire to convert the whole world to God. And his beloved Immaculata was his inspiration. “Courage, my sons. Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes” (Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 12: 1-12; Psalm 77; Matthew 18:21-19:1  (click here for readings)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow- servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow- servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow- servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. (Matthew 18:21-19:1)

I am convinced that one of the most long-lasting problems in the life of very many is the sense of personal injury. It could be some incident - or many incidents - in one’s childhood. It could be the memory of harshness and impatience on the part of one’s parents, teachers, superiors or colleagues. It
could be some injustice experienced at some point in one’s career. This memory could well include the awareness that there was some justification for the harshness meted out, but nevertheless the effect is a legacy of bitterness. That sense of injury remains and it can remain for the entirety of one’s life. The memory lingers and never leaves. It fuels anger and resentment and saps away at the residue of joy that life can normally contain. The memories of injuries done can in large measure destroy a person’s prospects of happiness - that is, if the injuries remain unforgiven. There is this further fact of life that these memories tear away at the happiness of society. For decades upon decades northern Ireland was wracked with revolutionary activity. Fuelling much of the murder and mayhem was the memory of injuries done in the past. Consider the protracted and seemingly intractable strife in the Middle East, and in particular the Israeli-Palestinian strife. I am convinced that the memory on both sides of injury done is a principal cause of the ceaseless conflict. Ordinary human experience and reflection indicate that both at the individual level and at the level of society there is no avoiding the necessity of forgiveness. Somehow a way must be found by the individual and by society to come to the point of forgiving the one who is perceived as having caused the injury. The failure to forgive, the unwillingness and refusal to forgive, is a fundamental human problem and a fundamental obstacle to happiness. The question is, what is the way to attain a breakthrough to this marvellous virtue?

The first thing to remember is that like any virtue it comes only gradually and with repeated acts. I become able to forgive only by repeatedly and perseveringly forgiving the injury that has been done to me. Secondly, as is the case with any great difficulty that must be faced, I must ask the help of God. By his grace he enlightens me as to the good to be done and inspires and strengthens my will for the doing of it. All too often the fundamental problem is that I simply do not want to forgive. I must ask God to help me to change so that I want to forgive the one who has injured me. As long as secretly I do not want to do this, I will never bring myself to do it. What will help me greatly is the love of Christ. If I love Christ and wish to follow him, his example and teaching on forgiveness from the heart will help me to forgive. So then, let us consider what our Lord has to say about forgiveness in our Gospel passage today  (Matthew 18:21-19:1). To begin with, our Lord of course allows that we do indeed suffer injuries. The servant when he left the presence of his master came across a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii - a not inconsiderable sum. It seems to have been equivalent to about fourteen weeks’ work. It is understandable that he felt impatient and resentful. But this sum was utterly insignificant in comparison with what the servant already owed his master. What he owed his master was an immense sum, and his master out of pity for him had both forgiven him his debt and dispensed with his intention to sell him and his family into slavery in order to reclaim it. How then are we to overcome our unwillingness to forgive? We ought think of our own far greater debt to God and the injustice of our sins before him, and of how God has forgiven us and continues to do so if we ask him to pardon us. There is this further and most important consideration. If we do not forgive and from the heart, God will judge us severely. The thought of the divine judgment can help us to forgive our brother his offences.

Our Lord requires of us that we forgive our brother from the heart. The prayer that the Lord taught his disciples lays special stress on our commitment to forgive. We must want to forgive for love of God, and this is the basis of our prayer for Christ’s forgiveness of ourselves. It ought be a life-long ambition to come to the end of life having finally forgiven everyone. What a beautiful death! If we leave this life having forgiven absolutely everyone we can expect, Christ says, the forgiveness of God.
                                                                       (E.J.Tyler)

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

Marvel at Mary's courage: at the foot of the Cross, with the greatest of human sorrows — there is no sorrow like her sorrow — filled with fortitude.

And ask her for that same strength, so that you too can remain beside the Cross.
                                                                             (The Way, no.508)

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

(Continuing) Benedict XVI's meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

In front of you are the images of six ordinary men and women who grew up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honours them as Venerable, Blessed, or Saint: each responded to the Lord’s call to a life of charity and each served him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of New York. I am struck by what a remarkably diverse group they are: poor and rich, lay men and women - one a wealthy wife and mother - priests and sisters, immigrants from afar, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior father and Algonquin mother, another a Haitian slave, and a Cuban intellectual.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no stereotype to this group, no single mould. Yet a closer look reveals that there are common elements. Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their lives became remarkable journeys of hope. For some, that meant leaving home and embarking on a pilgrim journey of thousands of miles. For each there was an act of abandonment to God, in the confidence that he is the final destination of every pilgrim. And all offered an outstretched hand of hope to those they encountered along the way, often awakening in them a life of faith. Through orphanages, schools and hospitals, by befriending the poor, the sick and the marginalised, and through the compelling witness that comes from walking humbly in the footsteps of Jesus, these six people laid open the way of faith, hope and charity to countless individuals, including perhaps your own ancestors.
                                                     (Continuing)

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

The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Friday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 15) The Assumption of the Virgin Mary
     On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church. We find homilies on the Assumption going back to the sixth century. In following centuries the Eastern Churches held steadily to the doctrine, but some authors in the West were hesitant. However, by the thirteenth century there was universal agreement. The feast was celebrated under various names (Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, Assumption) from at least the fifth or sixth century. Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Nevertheless, Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who is caught up in the battle between good and evil. Many see this woman as God’s people. Since Mary best embodies the people of both Old and New Testament, her Assumption can be seen as an exemplification of the woman’s victory. Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Since Mary is closely associated with all the mysteries of Jesus’ life, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to belief in Mary’s share in his glorification. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven.
    In the light of the Assumption of Mary, it is easy to pray her Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) with new meaning. In her glory she proclaims the greatness of the Lord and finds joy in God her saviour. God has done marvels to her and she leads others to recognize God’s holiness. She is the lowly handmaid who deeply reverenced her God and has been raised to the heights. From her position of strength she will help the lowly and the poor find justice on earth and she will challenge the rich and powerful to distrust wealth and power as a source of happiness.
    “In the bodily and spiritual glory which she possesses in heaven, the Mother of Jesus continues in this present world as the image and first flowering of the Church as she is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise, Mary shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. 2 Peter 3:10), as a sign of certain hope and comfort for the pilgrim People of God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 68).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow


 


Scripture today: Apocalypse 11:19; 12:1-6.10; Psalm 44; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-58 (click here for readings)

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered
Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as he said to our fathers. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. (Luke 1:39-58)

Each year on August 15 the Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary the mother of Christ body and soul into heaven at the end of her mortal life. This feast has been celebrated in the Church for very many
centuries and we find homilies on the Assumption of Mary back in the sixth century. What does the Church teach on this matter? After a broad consultation with bishops, theologians and laity, on November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith. He wrote: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope did not declare that this doctrine is explicitly expressed in Scripture although his text shows that he regarded it as implied in Scripture. What is formally declared is that this dogma is divinely revealed and so must be held to be true by the Church’s Faithful. One of the things that this immediately challenges is the notion that only what is explicitly stated in Scripture, and judged by all as being explicit in Scripture, can be taken to be divinely revealed. The notion that Scripture alone is the source of revealed doctrine was never the Church’s teaching, nor is it taught by Scripture itself. It is an innovation that had grown during the second millennium, and the Council of Trent formally condemned it. It was also an innovation to have claimed that revealed doctrine is determined not by the judgment of the successors of the Apostles and in particular by the Successor of Peter but by the private judgment of the individual reader of Scripture. This too was never the teaching of the Church, nor is it the teaching of Scripture, and it too has been condemned by the Church. Revelation is entrusted by God to the Church and the Church guards it by means of her divinely inspired Scriptures and her dogmatic definitions and teaching during the course of her history.

The Church has declared Mary’s Assumption body and soul into heaven to be divinely revealed so that the person of Mary may be honoured the more by Christ’s Faithful, and imitated in her obedience to the word and will of God. She is the perfect servant of the Lord, his perfect handmaid. She is, as the Angel Gabriel said to her, full of grace. The Lord is with her absolutely and without qualification. She is blessed among women, as her holy kinswoman Elizabeth acknowledged, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. She is the Queen-mother, mother of the King of kings and Lord of lords, mother of the Messiah and mother therefore of God the Son. None of God’s creatures can be compared with her in her dignity as the holy mother of God, holy in her sinlessness. On one occasion in our Lord’s public ministry a woman from the crowd cried out that his mother was blessed in having had such a son as he. Blessed rather, our Lord replied, are those who hear the word of God and keep it. This was Mary’s truest source of greatness. She perfectly fulfilled the word of God. The Church has also declared as divinely revealed that Mary was conceived free of original sin and that her holiness remained unsullied by sin during the whole of her earthly life. She heard the word of God and fulfilled it perfectly. This, in fact, is the fundamental reason for her Assumption into heaven. Sin never touched her, and so the wages of sin which is death could not hold her. All of this was granted to her as God’s gift because of the sacrifice and merits of her Son. As she says in her prayer in our Gospel passage today, the Almighty looked on his lowly handmaid and did great things for her. All generations will call her blessed (Luke 1:39-58). So where Christ her son went, she followed. There in heaven she now cares for us as our mother, bringing before her son all our needs. She is the help of Christians, our mother and our model in our work of imitating her son and in following in his footsteps.

May I suggest you take to heart that famous prayer to Mary the mother of Christ and mother of all Christ’s Faithful who is now body and soul glorious in heaven. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
                                                           (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mary, teacher of the sacrifice that is hidden and silent!

See her, nearly always in the background, co-operating with her Son; she knows, yet says nothing.
                                           (The Way, no.509)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

And what of today? Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighbourhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The path of that journey twists and turns ? just as it did for our saints ? through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and fulfilment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.

My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.
                                                         (Continuing)

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

Saturday of the nineteenth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 16) St. Stephen of Hungary (975-1038)
The Church is universal, but its expression is always affected—for good or ill—by local culture. There are no “generic” Christians; there are Mexican Christians, Polish Christians, Filipino Christians. This fact is evident in the life of Stephen, national hero and spiritual patron of Hungary. Born a pagan, he was baptized at about the age of ten, together with his father, chief of the Magyars, a group who migrated to the Danube area in the ninth century. At 20 he married Gisela, sister to the future emperor, St. Henry. When he succeeded his father, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianization of the country for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. He sent to Rome to get ecclesiastical organization—and also to ask the pope to confer the title of king upon him. He was crowned on Christmas day in 1001. Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor. In 1031 his son Emeric died, and the rest of his days were embittered by controversy over his successor. His nephews attempted to kill him. He died in 1038 and was canonized, along with his son, in 1083.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 18:1-10.13.30-32; Psalm 50; Matthew 19:13-15 (click here for readings)

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

Consider our Gospel scene today that I read. Our Lord is immersed in his ministry for the crowds and power is going out from him as it usually did. He preached, he taught, he healed, at times he forgave sins.
In the midst of his busy and exhausting ministry parents bring their children to him for him to bless them with his prayer. Our Lord’s disciples, undoubtedly thinking of their weary master, actively discourage parents from imposing on Jesus in this way and try to turn them away from him. But our Lord rebukes them and welcomes the children with their parents and readily places his hands on them, a gesture showing the blessing that he is conferring on them. He loved children and said that it was to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs. Consider for a moment the power of his blessing. At a word he could quell a storm. At a word he could raise a person from the dead or heal his paralysis. At a word he could drive out demons. How wonderful must his blessing have been! Consider the mother who with faith brought her child before him and consider the child who with trust and openness received that blessing (Matthew 19:13-15). The child would have been blessed indeed and who knows what it may have led to in the lives of the children our Lord blessed. Well, let us apply this simple scene to ourselves. The same Jesus is always near, especially if we have been baptized into him. Our Lord often said that unless we become like little children we shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. He invites us to approach him like little children. We, then, in a spirit of faith, ought often and even daily approach our Lord in prayer in the spirit of the children of our Gospel passage and ask for his blessing. We ought ask him to bless our days, our undertakings, our daily duties. Every time we even eat, we have the opportunity in our “grace before meals” to ask Jesus to bless us and his gifts which due to his goodness we are about to receive. And the same thing applies to all we do and receive.

Apart from endeavouring to approach Jesus in the spirit of a little child, we ought do all we can to introduce children to Jesus. What a wonderful thing if, due to our example, or our word, or due to some other action we take, a child is introduced to the unseen living Jesus. There are so many ways the Christian can assist children to come to know Jesus. In every town there is a school, a public school. At least in Australia, the public school has in place the opportunity for authorized volunteers to teach the Christian faith regularly to its pupils. That is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the child to Jesus, and thousands of volunteers do this throughout the nation. What good they do! They are like the parents who brought their children to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them and give them his blessing. That is what the volunteer religion teacher in the public school is doing. He or she is inviting the child to come to know Jesus and to step forward in prayer to meet him and obtain his blessing, indeed to become his disciple. What a beautiful thing it is if due to these efforts a child in fact does just this. There have been children who have come to know Jesus profoundly and to have set out on the path, as children, of a profound friendship with him. All too often this opportunity is missed, and the child learns, rather, the path of sin. So what is it to be for the average child? Is it to be Jesus, or is it to be sin? Every adult ought ask himself or herself that question, and ask what he or she is going to do about it. One of the great gains in recent years has been the new sense of the importance and rights of the child - even though there is the profound anomaly of a disregard of the rights of the unborn child. Well, when we think of the rights of the child, the first and greatest right we ought think of is the right of the child to come to know God, God in the person of Christ his Son. What can we do to help the child to come to know Jesus and to receive the blessings he came among us to give?

As we think of our Gospel passage today in which children are brought to Jesus for his blessing, let us resolve to be like those children ourselves in our desire for the blessing of Jesus. Let us approach him with a childlike dependence on him, asking for his favours. Let us also have profound reverence for each child and do all we can to assist every child to come to know and love the risen Jesus, and to desire his blessing. How Christ must have loved each child!
                                                             (E.J.Tyler)

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

You see how simply she said it? Ecce ancilla, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord!' — And the Word became flesh.

That is how the saints worked: without any outward show. What there was, was in spite of them.
                                                                  (The Way, no.510)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.

The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the Easter Candle).
                                                                        (Continuing)

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

Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time A
 

Prayers this week:  God our protector, keep us in mind; always give strength to your people. For if we can be with you even one day, it is better than a thousand without you. (Psalm 83: 10-11)
                                                                                                                   

God our Father, may we love you in all things and above all things and reach the joy you have prepared for us beyond all our imagining. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(August 17) St. Joan of the Cross (1666-1736)
An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted St. Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion. Born in 1666 in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents’ death she took over the shop herself. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help. That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly and sick came to her. Over time she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance. She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of St. Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow

 



Scripture today: Isaiah 56:1.6-7; Psalm 66; Romans 11:13-15.29-32; Matthew 15:21-28 (click here for readings)

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession. Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us. He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. The woman came and knelt before him. Lord, help me! she said. He replied, It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs. Yes, Lord, she said, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered, Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15: 21-28)

There is a detail of our Gospel scene today on which I would like briefly to comment. Our Lord has withdrawn to the pagan region of Tyre and Sidon and a woman from the area hearing that the miracle
worker from Galilee has arrived comes seeking him. She is desperate and will not desist till she has obtained what she wants, which is the cure of her daughter. She loudly makes herself heard and ignores the irritated looks of our Lord’s disciples. Our Lord did not answer her a word. Let us notice, incidentally, that it was in response not to the woman but to his disciples that our Lord made his remark about his mission being only to the lost sheep of Israel. Despite their request, he did not summarily send her away. He was, it seems to me, allowing the pagan woman to keep asking, which she did. He was bringing her by the test of his silence to the point of a greater faith in him. So she came to him full of respect, addressing him by two Scriptural titles - Lord, and Son of David - and asking his help. We know the result. Due to her great faith, her request was granted. But let us for today pass over the obvious lesson of the Gospel scene, which is the critical importance of faith in Jesus, and consider a different detail in the event portrayed. The woman came to Jesus as a pagan. She would have known little of revealed doctrine as contained in the Scriptures. She heard of the renown of Jesus, and she comes to him using hallowed expressions, the language we might say, of the Scriptures. She addressed him as Lord, Son of David, and asks for pity and mercy (Matthew 15: 21-28). She came to him with, perhaps, her different language - presumably Greek - but makes attempts at using the language of revealed faith in dealing with Jesus. He is Lord, Son of David. I like to think of this scene as reminding us of the importance of the language and terms of our faith, the language of the Church our mother, the language of the Church’s teaching, the language which we as children of the Church learn in all matters of the Faith. Now, we ought treasure this language of faith and allow it to nourish our life in Christ.

There in our Gospel scene are the Twelve, the Church in embryo, and Jesus is there in their midst. So it is in every generation. The Church our mother has Jesus in her midst, and her mission is to bring all into personal contact with him. He is her treasure and her mission. The Church is the pillar and the bulwark of the truth about Christ and she guards the memory and actuality of Christ’s person, and his words and his teaching. From generation to generation she hands on the confession of Peter and the Apostles about him. She does so with her own language. As mother of Christ’s Faithful she teaches her children to speak and to understand her language of faith in Jesus, that language which gradually develops with her ever deepening understanding of what Christ has entrusted to her. For instance, the Church teaches us that the living Jesus is a divine person with two distinct natures, and that the Mass is Christ’s one Sacrifice at Calvary made present. We ought try to understand these treasured terms and allow them to nourish our union with him. We learn the language of faith from the Church our mother and we ought treasure that language for it brings us the knowledge and love of our Redeemer. It is the language she uses about Christ and his revelation, about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, about man and his destiny. It is a language that has evolved for two millennia and which has become hallowed through its having expressed the revelation that God has made to her in Christ. It is the language of her Catechism, especially in our day the great Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is the language she uses in her liturgy, the language of papal teaching, the terms and expressions that she has sanctioned in resisting error and in bringing her children to holiness in Christ. It is the language of the Church’s dogmas and formulas which enable us to believe with objective accuracy in the realities they express. By this language we are able to express the faith and hand it on to others, to celebrate it in the Church’s life and to assimilate it and to live it more and more.

Let us think of that pagan woman coming to Jesus with the expressions of Scripture on her lips and winning from him his commendation for her faith. Let us love what the Church teaches us about our divine Lord and Redeemer and his saving plan for us, treasuring her terms and doctrines and expressions so that they may bring us to a living and profound union with Jesus. It is with a sure knowledge of her language that we then in our turn will be more equipped to pass on in the very different language of modern secular man the revealed doctrine it expresses.
                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1701-71

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

Ne timeas, Maria.' Do not be afraid, Mary!' Our Lady was troubled at the presence of the Archangel.

And to think that I want to throw away those details of modesty, that are the safeguard of my purity!
                                                       (The Way, no.511)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's meeting with Young People and Seminarians, USA, April 2008

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.
                                                           (Continuing)

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

Monday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 18) St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1562-1641)
        Jane Frances was wife, mother, nun and founder of a religious community. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old, and her father, head of parliament at Dijon, France, became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. At 21 she married Baron de Chantal, by whom she had six children, three of whom died in infancy. At her castle she restored the custom of daily Mass, and was seriously engaged in various charitable works. Her husband was killed after seven years of marriage, and she sank into deep dejection for four months at her family home. Her father-in-law threatened to disinherit her children if she did not return to his home. He was then 75, vain, fierce and extravagant. Jane Frances managed to remain cheerful in spite of him and his insolent housekeeper. When she was 32 she met St. Francis de Sales, who became her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried and to obey her director. After three years Francis told her of his plan to found an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age or other considerations barred them from entering the already established communities. There would be no cloister, and they would be free to undertake spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They were primarily intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation (hence their name, the Visitation nuns): humility and meekness. The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St. Augustine. Francis wrote his famous Treatise on the Love of God for them. The congregation (three women) began when Jane Frances was 45. She underwent great sufferings: Francis de Sales died; her son was killed; a plague ravaged France; her daughter-in-law and son-in-law died. She encouraged the local authorities to make great efforts for the victims of the plague and she put all her convent’s resources at the disposal of the sick. During a part of her religious life she had to undergo great trials of the spirit—interior anguish, darkness and spiritual dryness. She died while on a visitation of convents of the community.
    St. Vincent de Paul said of Jane Frances: “She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself...But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 24:15-24; Psalm Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:16-22 (click here for readings)

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Why do you ask me about what is good? Jesus replied. There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments. Which ones? the man enquired. Jesus replied, 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbour as yourself.' All these I have kept, the young man said. What do I still lack? Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22)

One of the results of a broad study of history is that a person who engages in this study is less likely to be confined in his thinking to the opinions and assumptions of his own time. One of the points of view
characteristic of our own time is that which is generally called Naturalism. What is real is that which is subject to sense experience or verification. There is nothing beyond what we normally call nature - hence there is nothing of the supernatural, no reality beyond this world. A study of history shows how much of an anomaly this view is in human thought, because mankind has overwhelmingly accepted the reality of the unseen world. A corollary of this is the acceptance by most of mankind, but with less unanimity, of the reality of the Afterlife. But revealed religion, and in particular Jesus Christ, has not only confirmed the fact of the supernatural and told us of God to an extent far beyond what man could have arrived at, but has revealed the Afterlife. The essentials of what happens beyond death is now known to us with a vividness otherwise unattainable, thanks to God’s revelation, and in particular the revelation of his Son Jesus Christ. There is open to us an abundant eternal life, a life forever of happiness in the direct presence of God our infinite and loving Father. There is also revealed to us an awesome fact. There is one only alternative to this joyous prospect. It is the prospect of Hell. So the all-important question for every man and woman on the face of the earth is this: What must I do to gain eternal life? It is terrible beyond imagining that a person may miss out on an Afterlife with God, and instead forever live in the utter misery of separation from him. For beyond this life there is nothing other than God. With him a person has the infinite Good. Without him one has the unending misery of living with nothing except sin. So, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Many persons take no account whatever that this life, so short, places one at the threshold of a wondrous and awesome eternity. They live for this life only and simply do not look ahead to when it is over. If they do, they think there is nothing beyond it worth striving for. This was not the case with the rich young man of our Gospel passage today (Matthew 19:16-22). His all-important question was - and he was so concerned that he came to our Lord to put the question to him - what must I do to inherit eternal life? He wanted to know what more he needed to do that he had not yet done. Our Lord gave him the answer that he already knew - he had to keep the Ten Commandments and these he had kept from his youth. He was an exceptional young man and was on the way to heaven. Behind the question of the rich man there was, it seems, the desire to do even more in his obedience to God, and so our Lord directly addresses this desire. “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” So there is a path to a high place in heaven, a path to perfection in the loving service of God, and that path is the following of Jesus. One does not get the impression that the difficulty for the young man was the thought of following Jesus. What made his face fall was the thought of abandoning his possessions, giving the proceeds to the poor, and life in relative poverty. In his spirit he clung to his material possessions. This attachment to his riches led to his shock at Christ’s answer, his recoil at the thought of going further, and his turning away. We have no reason to think he lost his soul (but only God knows that) but he turned away from the path of perfection, that perfection that is found in living in the company of Jesus and in following his way. He was a person of very great promise and our Lord saw that in him. But it came to little because of his attachment to the things of this world.

It has been revealed to us that following death there is an Afterlife, and that Afterlife consists in either heaven or hell. If we want to get to heaven, we must keep God’s commandments. However, we may aspire to much more. We may aspire to the perfection of the love and service of God. That is attained by the following of Jesus. There is one thing that can prevent this, and it is our attachment to all that is not Jesus and his way. Let us pray to be able to grow in a true detachment from the things of this world so as to be totally attached to the will of God.
                                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mother, Oh Mother! With that word of yours — fiat,' be it done' — you have made us brothers of God and heirs to his Glory.

Blessed art thou!
                                                    (The Way, no.512)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place – or better said its absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).
                                                        (Continuing)

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

Tuesday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 19) St. John Eudes (1601-1680)
       How little we know where God’s grace will lead. Born on a farm in northern France, John died at 79 in the next “county” or department. In that time he was a religious, a parish missionary, founder of two religious communities and a great promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He joined the religious community of the Oratorians and was ordained a priest at 24. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. Lest he infect his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague. At age 32, John became a parish missionary. His gifts as preacher and confessor won him great popularity. He preached over 100 parish missions, some lasting from several weeks to several months. In his concern with the spiritual improvement of the clergy, he realized that the greatest need was for seminaries. He had permission from his general superior, the bishop and even Cardinal Richelieu to begin this work, but the succeeding general superior disapproved. After prayer and counsel, John decided it was best to leave the religious community. The same year he founded a new one, ultimately called the Eudists (Congregation of Jesus and Mary), devoted to the formation of the clergy by conducting diocesan seminaries. The new venture, while approved by individual bishops, met with immediate opposition, especially from Jansenists and some of his former associates. John founded several seminaries in Normandy, but was unable to get approval from Rome (partly, it was said, because he did not use the most tactful approach). In his parish mission work, John was disturbed by the sad condition of prostitutes who sought to escape their miserable life. Temporary shelters were found but arrangements were not satisfactory. A certain Madeleine Lamy, who had cared for several of the women, one day said to him, “Where are you off to now? To some church, I suppose, where you’ll gaze at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is really wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures.” The words, and the laughter of those present, struck deeply within him. The result was another new religious community, called the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge. He is probably best known for the central theme of his writings: Jesus as the source of holiness, Mary as the model of the Christian life. His devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary led Pius XI to declare him the father of the liturgical cult of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
    Holiness is the wholehearted openness to the love of God. It is visibly expressed in many ways, but the variety of expression has one common quality: concern for the needs of others. In John’s case, those who were in need were plague-stricken people, ordinary parishioners, those preparing for the priesthood, prostitutes and all Christians called to imitate the love of Jesus and his mother. “Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly” (St. John Eudes, The Life and Reign of Jesus in Christian Souls).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 28:1-10; Psalm Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:23-30 (click here for readings)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, Who then can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Peter answered him, We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us? Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:23-30)

There have been ideologies in the last few centuries, especially in the last two, which have denied the right to private property. The most obvious has been that of Karl Marx. The Church has defended the
right to private property and has taught that its denial will lead to serious harm in society. At the same time the Church has condemned the unrestricted acquisition of private property, teaching that this right is qualified by the right of others to a due share of the goods of the earth. I suppose one factor in the rise of philosophies that only allow a common or state ownership of material goods and reject a private ownership is the sight of private ownership running amok and trampling on the rights of the poor. Be all that as it may, this matter of ownership of goods has a profound bearing not only on this life but on the next. In particular, our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel that the man whose heart is set on being rich in this world’s goods will find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. Our Lord does not say that this world’s goods are evil, nor does he say that the possession of them is evil. After all, we may presume that the holy family of Nazareth - Joseph and Mary and Jesus - owned their dwelling and various other things. He is saying that the one who makes himself rich will find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is because he will tend to become very attached to the things of this world, to the things he owns and more besides, such that without his even realizing it, the preference of his heart will be for them rather than for God. He will tend to find his delight and his security in them rather than in the God from whom they come. The further snare is that he will in all likelihood be unaware of his attachment to them until the moment of decision suddenly comes when he must make a choice. Without his realizing it, his heart may have become truly attached to what he owns and it may be very hard indeed for him to choose Christ. This is what happened to the rich young man. For all, the crunch time in this respect will be the hour of death.

Christ asks us to be detached from the goods of this world. We must seek them and to an extent we must own them and to an extent we must use them. We must, though, beware of becoming attached to them because if we do we shall find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom consists essentially in union with Jesus and in life in him. Our attachment must be for him and all else that we have and use or are attached to must be within the context and framework of our attachment to him. A father of a family works hard at his career and advances himself in it, seeking a higher salary and further possessions. But this quest must be for love of Christ and his kingdom and his will. It is Christ’s interests and will which should be motivating him and guiding his decisions more and more. It is for love of Christ that he should be doing better at his profession or trade or business, so as to improve the prospects of his family and children, or to educate them better in life in the Christian faith, or to serve the public better in his work, or whatever. Basically it is to be all for Christ. So the disciple of Christ must work at detachment from the goods of this world - which are not just material goods but other goods besides - and become progressively attached to Christ and his mission for mankind. In our Gospel passage today our Lord tells his disciples who have left everything for him that they will be blessed indeed. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:23-30) The disciples did this in a way appropriate to their vocation. Each Christian must do it in a way appropriate to his vocation. The crucial thing is the spirit of detachment from all things so as to be totally attached in spirit to Christ. Now the question is, how is this to be done? Through the power of grace. As our Lord says, with God all things are possible. Let us ask then for his grace to attain this all-important attachment of our hearts to him.

Let us not reach the end of our lives with our hearts profoundly interwoven with the things of this world because if that is the only treasure our hearts have come to possess, then we shall leave this life with absolutely nothing except a love for self that has been fed by this love of the goods of this world. We must aim to come to the end of life with our hearts attached entirely to God and Christ, and attached to the things of this world only in him. We love and use and possess the things of this world only to the extent that it is God’s will and only for love of him.
                                                                        (E.J.Tyler)

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

Before, by yourself, you couldn't. Now, you have turned to our Lady, and, with her, how easy it is!
                                                              (The Way, no.513)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, USA, April 2008

How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfilment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope – Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.
                                                                (Continuing)

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

Wednesday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 20) St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But the “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these — and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. His ability as arbitrator and counsellor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favour of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.
   Bernard’s life in the Church was more active than we can imagine possible today. His efforts produced far-reaching results. But he knew that they would have availed little without the many hours of prayer and contemplation that brought him strength and heavenly direction. His life was characterized by a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. His sermons and books about Mary are still the standard of Marian theology. Bernard wrote: “In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favour, you shall reach the goal”.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 34:1-11; Psalm 22; Matthew 20:1-16 (click here for readings)

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About
the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 'Because no-one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:1-16)

A principal issue in Western societies ever since the Industrial Revolution has been remuneration for and conditions of work. Is the pay received for work and the conditions in which it is done just? Great numbers of poor were exploited for their work. Many still are. They had no power individually before
the might of the employer, and so society saw the rise of trade unions and the development of the Church’s social teaching in respect to the worker. The Church gradually unfolded the centrality of work in man’s life and development. However, one aspect of the fight for the rights of the ordinary worker was the loss in many cases of the realization that one’s daily work is not simply a means of gaining a salary but has a central importance in attaining life’s true meaning. That is to say, in a certain sense we live in order to do our work in life. Our work is the precious means whereby we serve God and others in daily life. It is our means of living a life of justice and charity, and therefore of growing in a life of religion. If we neglect our work, or if we neglect to work, then our lives will be wasted. Even for those who cannot work in the usual sense of the term because of sickness of forced unemployment, they too have a work in life in that they are called to serve others. The sick person can make a work of his sickness by living through his condition in union with the crucified Christ for the salvation of the world. All are called to use the gift of life to work and in this way we are able to be like God himself, whom our Lord said is always working. On one occasion when our Lord was accused of breaking the Sabbath by curing someone he replied that my Father is working, so I work. By means of our work we are able to live as God’s children, and grow in our love and service of him. Let this thought be in our minds as we turn to our Gospel parable today in which our Lord describes the owner of the vineyard inviting all he met not to stand idle but to come and work in his vineyard. All who worked in the master’s vineyard would receive a wage at the end of the day.

So our work is critically important for our very sense of meaning in life. Work ought not be regarded as just an unfortunate necessity in order to gain life’s real goal, money and leisure. But there is another aspect of work which has to be understood. In the nature of the case, much of our work is humdrum, tedious and very ordinary. Great numbers of people spend their lives doing work that is menial and of little apparent value in the sense that it wins little notice or praise from others. They are like the donkey that goes round and round pulling the lead that in turn keeps the village water running. All the donkey does is walk round and round the moving stone pulling the rope that keeps the water flowing. But what does our Lord’s parable remind us of? (Matthew 20:1-16) It reminds us that God sees what is important and he will reward accordingly. The ones he found late in the day he invited to go to his vineyard and work - he would give them a wage. At the end of the day he upset the others who had worked all day because he gave the latecomers an equal wage. Our Lord is not meaning to teach injustice in wage rights. Rather, he is teaching that the ultimate value of our work in God’s sight is not to be determined by human standards and values. The ordinary worker who does nothing other than roll large drums day after day from one position to another, if done for God and for love of him and neighbour will be rewarded greatly by God. He has sanctified his work, offered up the sacrifices and tedium of his days to God, and has been an instrument in the sanctification of society. He will be rewarded for his good work and perhaps more abundantly than a person who does “more important” work in the eyes of the world. The one who does what the world deems more important work may not be serving the master of the vineyard at all, but himself. He may not be sanctifying his work. The parable of the workers invited to the vineyard reminds us that in all our work we must strive to serve God truly well.

Let us every day place great store on our daily work. We are called by God to work, to work at our work we might say, in the sense of doing it well and for God. By means of our work we serve God and our neighbour with growing love, so we ought aim to do it well in all its parts. Whatever kind of work life brings us and sets before us, we ought aim to make it something holy and able to be offered daily to God. Let us sanctify our work, and through it be sanctified ourselves and contribute to the sanctification of others.
                                                                   (E.J.Tyler)

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

Have confidence. Return, call on our Lady and you will be faithful.
                                             (The Way, no.514)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, USA, April 2008

At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
                                                   (Continuing)

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

Thursday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 21) St. Pius X (1835-1914)
     Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children. The second of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at 68, one of the twentieth century’s greatest popes. Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.” He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said in tears to an old friend. To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani.” Interested in politics, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the conclave which elected him. In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand. While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of the Indians on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees at his own expense. On the eleventh anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” He died a few weeks after the war began.
    His humble background was no obstacle in relating to a personal God and to people whom he loved genuinely. He gained his strength, his gentleness and warmth for people from the source of all gifts, the Spirit of Jesus. In contrast, we often feel embarrassed by our backgrounds. Shame makes us prefer to remain aloof from people whom we perceive as superior. If we are in a superior position, on the other hand, we often ignore simpler people. Yet we, too, have to help “restore all things in Christ,” especially the wounded people of God. Describing Pius X, a historian wrote that he was “a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everyone.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 36:23-28; Psalm 50; Matthew 22:1-14 (click here for readings)

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell
them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are invited, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1-14)

There is no doubt that one of the many distinguishing elements in the teaching of Jesus Christ is his revelation of the divine judgment on each person. Of course, throughout the Old Testament - the
Hebrew Scriptures - the idea of the divine judgment on wrongdoing is all-pervasive. The prophets continually inveighed against the neglect, the immorality and the disobedience of the chosen people, and on God’s behalf they threatened retribution especially in this life. The people would be invaded. They would be ruined. If they turned back to the Lord, things would improve. Generally the prophets spoke of the judgment as manifesting itself in this life. Rewards too were often conceived as being granted primarily in this life. In the teaching of Christ the judgment of God is especially manifest in the Afterlife. But my point here is that what is notable is the extent to which our Lord refers to the judgment of God. In our Gospel passage today the kingdom of heaven is again described and this time it is in terms of a wedding banquet. The bridegroom is the king’s son, the king of course being the Lord God and the son being Jesus his only-begotten divine Son. The wedding is that between his Son and his bride the Church, all those chosen by God to be in him. We remember how John the Baptist referred to Christ as the bridegroom and to himself as merely the friend of the bridegroom, and how our Lord too spoke of himself to the disciples of John as the bridegroom. The wedding in the parable is the great union with Jesus to which we are all called - that is to say, the kingdom of heaven is the lordship of God which is found in Jesus and in union with him by faith and baptism. The goal of human history and of every man and woman is this union with Jesus. This is the wedding feast for which the king sent out invitations to all. God has revealed that all mankind is called to a most bright prospect and the door to it is acceptance of and love for his own divine Son made man, Jesus Christ.

That is what God intends for man. That is what he has predestined him for. But he must be judged worthy. Our parable today opens with the wedding feast all ready: the Son is there awaiting the arrival of all who had been invited. But they were not interested in the Son. We are told that “they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them.” (Matthew 22:1-14) So it is not enough to be called, to have been predestined by God for this happiness. One must respond and come to Christ. The ones invited refused and what was the result? We read that “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” Apart from the general point about the judgment of God, presumably our Lord is also referring to the future sack of the holy city. But then the invitation went out to all. “Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Presumably our Lord is referring to his commission to his disciples to go to the whole world and make disciples of all the nations. But even so, belief must be genuine and shown in one’s way of life. As our Lord said on another occasion, it is not enough to say to me Lord, Lord. One must also do the will of my Father in heaven. One of the guests who had arrived was not wearing the wedding garment. He surely represents all who fail to do this. God will judge each person on his chosen deeds.

We just must bear in mind the final things that each of us will face. Life is short and eternity is long. Our judgment will hinge on our explicit or implicit response to the Good News of Christ, and on how we have lived this out in everyday life. We must come to the wedding of the King’s Son, but clothed with the wedding garment too. Where is Christ so that we may be with him? He is found in his body the Church and it is faith and baptism that brings us into the Church. But once there we must live accordingly. If you love me, our Lord said, you will keep my commandments. In this way we shall be found wearing the wedding garment. Let us live every day with these fundamental issues in mind.
                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

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

So your strength is fast failing you? Why don't you say to your Mother, 'comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians... our hope, queen of apostles'?
                                                                (The Way, no.515)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, USA, April 2008

Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
                                                            (Continuing)

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

Friday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 22) Queenship of Mary
       Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court. In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church Fathers and Doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship. The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.
    As St. Paul suggests in Romans 8:28–30, God has predestined human beings from all eternity to share the image of his Son. All the more was Mary predestined to be the mother of Jesus. As Jesus was to be king of all creation, Mary, in dependence on Jesus, was to be queen. All other titles to queenship derive from this eternal intention of God. As Jesus exercised his kingship on earth by serving his Father and his fellow human beings, so did Mary exercise her queenship. As the glorified Jesus remains with us as our king till the end of time (Matthew 28:20), so does Mary, who was assumed into heaven and crowned queen of heaven and earth.
   “Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honoured with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Saviour, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 69).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 37:1-14; Psalm 106; Matthew 22:34-40 (click here for readings)

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:34-40)

When a person discovers Christ, or having discovered Christ asks what Christ expects of him, he will sooner or later realize that very much part of the Christian vocation is to contribute towards changing
the world. There is an immense task ahead for all those who are in Christ. The kingdom of God in which Christ is accepted as Lord must be extended. The world is to be shaped and ordered according to the mind of Christ and the will of God and the Christian’s calling is to be a leaven in this process. Now, in realizing that his task is to fulfil this great objective work which is evangelization in its multiform aspects the Christian can find himself forgetting that this task begins with one’s own very self. And after all, there are enormous limits on what one can do for God in the world. There are the limits inherent in one’s own capacities. One person may be a very good speaker, but another has no gift for this at all. There are the limits imposed by the course of events in which certain opportunities come to some, but not to others. But whatever be the limits of what one can do for God in the world of one’s everyday life, every person has immediately before him the prospect of sanctifying his very own life and self - that is, his very own heart. This is an enormous challenge in itself and it is one’s immediate responsibility. The first responsibility that each person has is to sanctify himself - which of course is done by loving God and one’s neighbour. For this reason our Gospel passage today is so very important, and is a wonderful passage to consider. Our Lord is asked, which is God’s greatest and most important commandment, the commandment which more than anything else he wants us to fulfil? Our Lord’s answer is immediate: we are to strive to love God with all our being, and our neighbour as ourself. So whatever be our circumstances in life, with all the limitations they impose on us for doing good, the first thing is that we strive to love God perfectly in all we actually do. Both the washerwoman and the ruler must aim for the perfection of love, whatever be the scope of their activities.

We are called to engage in a daily and unremitting struggle for personal sanctity. As our Lord tells us, “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40) I remember years ago I was attending a clergy conference and it was announced that a medical team was in the vicinity and wished to conduct medical tests on the clergy, testing their health risk status. I remember being told by a member of the team that the two groupings in society that were found to be of highest health risk were clergy and doctors. It was thought that in their service to others they constantly neglected their own health. That related to physical health. But the same thing can happen in the spiritual life of the Christian. He can neglect his own spiritual life. St Paul wrote that he had to be careful lest he save others and yet be a castaway himself. So what must we do to nourish our own spiritual life? We must cultivate the love of God in our hearts. A married couple must work on their marriage, which is to say that they must not take their relationship for granted for it can gradually deteriorate through all kinds of little failures against one another. There needs to be a daily vigilance against threats to the relationship and a daily effort to improve the love between them. So too in our relationship with the unseen living Jesus in whom we live by faith and baptism. We must put aside daily time for prayer. We must engage in regular reading that will nourish our relationship with the Jesus of the Scriptures and the Church. We must do all we do for love of him and in his presence. We must partake of the Sacraments because he comes to us especially in them. We must deepen our bond with the Church his body, being guided by the Church’s teaching. In a word, we must not take the love of God for granted. It has to be worked on daily in the way the Church advises.

Christ tells us that God’s will comes down to this, that we strive to love him with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourself. So we must work every day at the full growth of love in our hearts, that love that Christ embodies and exemplifies, that love that is implanted in us with the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism and which is nourished in the Sacraments, that love which is the essence of Christian sanctity, that love which we are called to show to all others and to draw the world to. Whatever be our particular calling in life, that is the one thing we are all called to do.
                                                                                      (E.J.Tyler)

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

Mother! Call her again and again. She is listening, she sees you in danger perhaps, and with her Son's grace she, your holy Mother Mary, offers you the refuge of her arms, the tenderness of her embrace. Call her, and you will find yourself with added strength for the new struggle.
                                                  (The Way, no.516)

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

Continuing Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, USA, April 2008

There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.

In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension – what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world – saints and sinners alike – open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
                                                       (Continuing)

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

Saturday of the twentieth week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 23) St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617)
   The first canonized saint of the New World has one characteristic of all saints—the suffering of opposition—and another characteristic which is more for admiration than for imitation—excessive practice of mortification. She was born to parents of Spanish descent in Lima, Peru, at a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. She seems to have taken Catherine of Siena as a model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of parents and friends. The saints have so great a love of God that what seems bizarre to us, and is indeed sometimes imprudent, is simply a logical carrying out of a conviction that anything that might endanger a loving relationship with God must be rooted out. So, because her beauty was so often admired, Rose used to rub her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches. Later, she wore a thick circlet of silver on her head, studded on the inside, like a crown of thorns. When her parents fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day and sewed at night. Ten years of struggle against her parents began when they tried to make Rose marry. They refused to let her enter a convent, and out of obedience she continued her life of penance and solitude at home as a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. So deep was her desire to live the life of Christ that she spent most of her time at home in solitude. During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly and the sick. This was a beginning of social services in Peru. Though secluded in life and activity, she was brought to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, who could only say that she was influenced by grace. What might have been a merely eccentric life was transfigured from the inside. If we remember some unusual penances, we should also remember the greatest thing about Rose: a love of God so ardent that it withstood ridicule from without, violent temptation and lengthy periods of sickness. When she died at 31, the city turned out for her funeral. Prominent men took turns carrying her coffin.
   “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna” (Matthew 18:8–9).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Ezechiel 43:1-7; Psalm 84; Matthew 23:1-12 (click here for readings)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in
Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market-places and to have men call them 'Rabbi'. But you are not to be called 'Rabbi', for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher', for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12)

One of the most striking things in the history of man is the presence and influence of religion. Consider the work of the average archaeologist as he examines or digs for ruins of the past. He is continually
discovering materials that reveal the religion of the civilization he is examining. Take various indigenous societies. Their remains reveal their religion. It is the case with East and West, developed societies and undeveloped ones. The obvious exception is the West of the last few centuries with the onset of secularism. It is the same with so much of anthropology. Man yearns for the unseen Absolute, or the powers above. He depends on the higher powers and he wishes to be pleasing to them. At the same time the practice of so much of religion is deeply flawed. There is pride, cruelty, the desire to dominate, self-indulgence - in short, there is a lot of sin in the practice of much of religion. The gods of many religions are often very sinful too because so many of them are but a projection by the imagination of sinful man. With revealed religion, we have the all-holy God indicating to man how he, God, is to be worshipped, and how man is to live in his presence. In his public ministry time and again our Lord shows his profound respect and veneration for the religion revealed by his heavenly Father, together with its hallowed institutions. At the same time he shows how sin is present in much of its practice. And so we read in today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:1-12), our Lord said to his disciples, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market-places and to have men call them 'Rabbi'.”

The purpose of religion is to exalt God. It is to honour and glorify him. But the temptation is, as in every human activity, to exalt oneself. The tendency of fallen man even in his religion is to honour and glorify himself. Our Lord pointed to many of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees as exemplifying this. Many of them were, in their practice of religion, proud, vain, hard and uncharitable. So our Lord says to his disciples that they were to be on guard against being like them. The greatest among them must be servant to all and must prefer the lower place. Their desire must not be to exalt themselves, rather it must be to humble themselves. The truly religious person is humble, and prefers the lower place. Now this virtue of the heart must be worked at for it will not come naturally. The Christian must keep his eyes on Christ and observe his virtues. Our Lord said on one occasion that all who laboured and were overburdened should come to him and learn of him for he is meek and humble of heart. So we should come to Christ every day and be with him, learning by our contemplation of the scenes of the Gospels the humility of Christ. He who is God and man is profoundly humble. He chose the lowly path and willingly accepted opprobrium poured on him by the leaders and those of influence. His very Incarnation was an act of profound humility. He who is God did not hesitate to set aside his divine glory to become as we are and he was humbler still, even to death on a cross. So there are two Standards. On the one hand we have the witness of much of humanity for vainglory and pride. On the other we have the witness of Jesus for humility and the choice of the lower place. Let us take our stand with Jesus and his way. More than anything, let us pray for the grace to choose the lower place and to value most highly the virtue of humility. The challenge of life is eventually to be humble after the manner of Christ. It is a life-long undertaking involving a great struggle against pride and vainglory. We can only do it with the grace of God and perseverance.

Our Lord finishes his words in our passage today with the simple yet ominous saying that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:1-12) As our Lord often told his disciples, the Son of Man had to suffer if he were to enter his glory. He warned them that he was soon to be rejected and to be put to death. Then he would rise again. Humility is the foundation of the Christian life. Let us then pray for this grace and in various little ways during life let us practice this virtue of choosing the lower place. In that way we shall be exalted, as was Christ himself.
                                                               (E.J.Tyler)

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

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam! — I can understand why you pause to relish your prayer: I believe in the Church, one, holy, Catholic and apostolic...
                                         (The Way, no.517)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfilment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope – Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.
                                          (Continuing)

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

Twenty first Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Prayers this week:  Listen, Lord, and answer me. Save your servant who trusts in you. I call to you all day long, have mercy on me, O Lord. (Psalm 85: 1-3)
                                                                                                                   

Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(August 24) St. Bartholomew In the New Testament, Bartholomew is mentioned only in the lists of the apostles. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip. Jesus paid him a great compliment: Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him (John 1:47b). When Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, Jesus said, "I saw you under the fig tree" (John 1:48b). Whatever amazing revelation this involved, it brought Nathanael to exclaim, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel" (John 1:49b). But Jesus countered with, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this" (John 1:50b). Nathanael did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (see John 21:1-14). They had been fishing all night without success. In the morning, they saw someone standing on the shore though no one knew it was Jesus. He told them to cast their net again, and they made so great a catch that they could not haul the net in. Then John cried out to Peter, It is the Lord. "When they brought the boat to shore, they found a fire burning, with some fish laid on it and some bread. Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and invited them to come and eat their meal. John relates that although they knew it was Jesus, none of the apostles presumed to inquire who he was. This, John notes, was the third time Jesus appeared to the apostles.
    Bartholomew or Nathanael? We are confronted again with the fact that we know almost nothing about most of the apostles. Yet the unknown ones were also foundation stones, the 12 pillars of the new Israel whose 12 tribes now encompass the whole earth. Their personalities were secondary (without thereby being demeaned) to their great office of bearing tradition from their firsthand experience, speaking in the name of Jesus, putting the Word made flesh into human words for the enlightenment of the world. Their holiness was not an introverted contemplation of their status before God. It was a gift that they had to share with others. The Good News was that all are called to the holiness of being Christ's members, by the gracious gift of God. The simple fact is that humanity is totally meaningless unless God is its total concern. Then humanity, made holy with God's own holiness, becomes the most precious creation of God.
   Like Christ himself, the apostles were unceasingly bent upon bearing witness to the truth of God. They showed special courage in speaking the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31) before the people and their rulers. With a firm faith they held that the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.... They followed the example of the gentleness and respectfulness of Christ (Declaration on Religious Freedom, 11).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138:1-3, 6, 8; Rom 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20 (click here for readings)

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)

Let us consider the Gospel passage just read. Our Lord asks his disciples who people say he is. There are a variety of answers, some saying one thing, others another. Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead. He is Elijah. He is Jeremiah. He is one of the old
prophets. If people had been asked other questions, this time about his teaching, once again there would have been a variety of answers. Some would have said he taught this, others that he taught that. This aspect of the dialogue has its echo throughout the centuries. We may imagine the risen Jesus asking who men say he is and what they say is his teaching. There is a profound disunity in respect to him in the answers among the peoples and the religions. They are often far from the truth. But then, with this disunity as the backdrop of the conversation, Christ asks his own disciples who they say he is, and in them he is asking his Church in embryo. Implied in his question is the fact that there is one objectively true answer and this truth should unite his disciples and distinguish them from the rest who are not in possession of the truth about him. There is one objective truth about the person and teaching of Jesus and he expects to hear it professed by his disciples. This truth is what unites them all. There is only one Christian Faith in terms of what has been objectively revealed, and it is this one Faith which God wants to see accepted and professed by his disciples, and through their witness, brought to the nations. We ought bear this in mind whenever we think of this very important dialogue between our Lord and his disciples. In the modern age when disagreement as to the truth, and in particular the truth about Christ and his teaching, is so widespread as evidenced in the multiplicity of Christian communions, we can have the attitude of shrugging our shoulders before the fact. We can even slip into thinking that this does not matter very much, and that the important thing is, not that people possess the truth, but that they be sincere. But our Lord's question was not, are the people who think these different things about me and my teaching sincere, but do they possess the truth about me?

It is this truth which unites his Church wherever his Church is found. Through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples and nations the Church has constantly confessed this one faith received from the one same Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father, the God and Father of Jesus Christ his only begotten divine Son. This one faith which our Lord expected to hear from his disciples and which was professed by the lips of Simon in our Gospel passage today, is the faith our Lord expects to be believed and professed by all Christians. Thus it is that our Lord founded one Church and not just a movement, as it were, from which any number of churches disagreeing with one another could naturally be expected to flow. It is this one Church he intended all his disciples to be members of, and the fact of very many churches and religious communions is not according to the plan of Christ. From this one Church the truth about his person and teaching is to received. In our Gospel today our Lord hears from Simon the truth about himself, a truth which, our Lord observes, had been revealed to him by the Father. For this reason, Simon was blessed. He had been granted the gift of faith in him that contained the truth about him. So Christ proceeds to lay the foundation of his Church. That visible foundation is to be Simon, the Rock of the Church. "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-20) Just as there is one faith, one truth about Christ and his teaching, so there is to be one Church built on one rock which knows it, possesses it and proclaims it to all. Those who wish to know the truth listen to Peter and to those in communion with him. Those who wish to enter the Kingdom of Christ go to the one to whom Christ gave the keys, and that one is Peter.

Pope Benedict became famous for having coined the phrase - now widely used - the dictatorship of relativism. That is to say, there is no objective truth or it is unattainable, suggested by the lack of consensus. There is no truth but what seems true to you or me. But Christ has revealed the truth to us about himself and his teaching, and this truth is to be found in his Church built upon the Rock which is Peter and his successors. He holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Let all men know that Christ and his truth is to be found therein.                                                  (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.172-175

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

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

Would you like to read the daily thoughts for this month? If so, click here

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


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

What joy to be able to say with all the fervour of my soul: I love my Mother the holy Church!
                                         (The Way, no.518)

Click  here for spiritual reading (some classic spiritual authors)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God's presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
                                                (Continuing)
 

To consult The Catechism of the Catholic Church (with search engine) click here

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

Monday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 25) St. Louis of France (1226-1270)
    At his coronation as king of France, Louis bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19, (and his bride 12) he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though was not without challenge. They had 10 children. Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army took Damietta on the Nile but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. He drew up regulations for his officials which became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the beginning of using written records in court. Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis, caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. That very day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.
   Louis was strong-willed, strong-minded. His word was trusted utterly, and his courage in action was remarkable. What is most remarkable was his sense of respect for anyone with whom he dealt, especially the “humble folk of the Lord.” To care for his people he built cathedrals, churches, libraries, hospitals and orphanages. He dealt with princes honestly and equitably. He hoped to be treated the same way by the King of Kings, to whom he gave his life, his family and his country.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12; Psalm 96:1-5; Matthew 23:13-22  (click here for readings)

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you
hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it. (Matthew 23:13-22)

It has often been observed that modern man tends to be casual in respect to the seriousness of sin. That is to say, he tends not to have much sense of its evil. Elements of popular literature and drama
are revealing in this respect. Decades ago movies would portray good and bad characters in perhaps too simplistic a fashion, but nevertheless there tended to be no confusion about what was good and what was bad, who were good and who were bad. But this came to change. The heroes became profoundly ambiguous in their moral life. Take James Bond, a great and effective fighter against public wrongdoers, but in his private sexual life altogether immoral. It reflected, I think, the assumption that private morality is just that: it is a private matter, a matter of personal opinion. One never hears a public acknowledgment (in say, the secular media or in business or government) of the reality and seriousness of sin, sin understood not just as moral wrongdoing but as wrongdoing considered in its deepest aspect, as an offence against God. The word is not mentioned. This is because society now relegates God to the realm of private opinion. He is not an objective public fact to be taken account of civilly and objectively. The laws of the land are developed without reference to God except inasmuch as God might be a cherished belief of a portion of the population, and therefore account is taken of, say, blasphemy. All of this serves to reduce God in the popular imagination and culture to an image, a thought, and divorces him from the public and private conscience. The thought of God’s judgment fades away as does the thought of God’s displeasure and anger at sin. But consider our Gospel passage today (Matthew 23:13-22) and how our Lord inveighs against the attitudes and actions of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. He says to them, Woe to you! That is to say, the judgment of God is coming upon you. You shut up the kingdom of God from others who wish to enter. You do this by your blindness, your foolishness and your hypocrisy. You make of your convert “twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

The point I am here meaning to bring out is not so much the failures of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees but our Lord’s severe condemnation of deliberate and unrepented sin. It is sin, and the hardening of sin, which is the great evil in our Lord’s sight. He is severe in his condemnation of it. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were blind to their sin and to its seriousness. We ought ask ourselves if we are not somewhat the same in respect to our attitude to sin. Are we concerned to avoid sin - not just public wrongdoing or the wrongdoing that is evident to others, but to anything which is offensive to God? A truly religious life, and the Christian life in particular, requires that we regularly examine our consciences to bring sin to light and to renounce it. We must become aware of our sinfulness and repent of our sins so as to be reconciled to God. If we do not, we shall continue in them and the judgment of God will eventually come upon us for our unrepented sins. The woe that Christ pronounced on the Pharisees he will pronounce on us. On the other hand, if anything delights the heart of God is the recognition of one’s sins and coming to him in a spirit of repentance to ask his pardon. On one occasion our Lord said that there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety nine who did not need to repent. We all need to repent, but our Lord is making the point that the sinner need have no fear of turning back to God and with his grace renouncing his sins. Sin is the greatest evil in the universe. We are regularly horrified by natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and famine. But the greatest plague in the universe, a plague that is raging continually in the hearts of countless men and women, is the plague of sin and its lack of recognition. God sent his Son to the world to take away the world’s sin, and our Gospel passage today gives us a specimen of the divine hatred of deliberate and unrepented sin. It is what destroys man, man who is the work of God’s hands.

John Henry Newman often said in his sermons that the fact of sin is not what God came specifically to reveal because that fact should be obvious to the conscience of man. But as Newman points out, God did include in his revelation the fact of sin, and Scripture is full of the fact. In particular, our Lord himself spoke time and again of the fact and evil of sin, and an assiduous reading of the Scriptures and of the Gospels will help us to be aware of its tremendous evil. Let us pray for the grace to renounce sin and to live for God by a close and daily following of Jesus Christ.
                                                        (E.J.Tyler)

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

In that cry serviam! you express your determination to 'serve' the Church of God most faithfully, even at the cost of fortune, of reputation and of life.
                                       (The Way, no.519)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
                                                             (Continuing)

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

Tuesday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 26) St. Joseph Calasanz (1556-1648)
   From Aragon, where he was born in 1556, to Rome, where he died 92 years later, fortune alternately smiled and frowned on the work of Joseph Calasanz. A priest with university training in canon law and theology, respected for his wisdom and administrative expertise, he put aside his career because he was deeply concerned with the need for education of poor children. When he was unable to get other institutes to undertake this apostolate at Rome, he and several companions personally provided a free school for deprived children. So overwhelming was the response that there was a constant need for larger facilities to house their effort. Soon Pope Clement VIII gave support to the school, and this aid continued under Pope Paul V. Other schools were opened; other men were attracted to the work and in 1621 the community (for so the teachers lived) was recognized as a religious community, the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists or Scolopi). Not long after, Joseph was appointed superior for life. A combination of various prejudices and political ambition and maneuvering caused the institute much turmoil. Some did not favor educating the poor, for education would leave the poor dissatisfied with their lowly tasks for society! Others were shocked that some of the Piarists were sent for instruction to Galileo (a friend of Joseph) as superior, thus dividing the members into opposite camps. Repeatedly investigated by papal commissions, Joseph was demoted; when the struggle within the institute persisted, the Piarists were suppressed. Only after Joseph’s death were they formally recognized as a religious community.
   No one knew better than Joseph the need for the work he was doing; no one knew better than he how baseless were the charges brought against him. Yet if he were to work within the Church, he realized that he must submit to its authority, that he must accept a setback if he was unable to convince authorized investigators. While the prejudice, the scheming, and the ignorance of men often keep the truth from emerging for a long period of time, Joseph was convinced, even under suppression, that his institute would again be recognized and authorized. With this trust he joined exceptional patience and a genuine spirit of forgiveness.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a, 14-17; Psalm 96: Ps 96:10-13; Matthew 23: 23-26 (click here for readings)

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices— mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law— justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (Matthew 23: 23-26)

We see in the Gospels that time and again our Lord condemned those whom he accuses of being hypocrites. I suppose we could say that in this religious context the hypocrite is a person who intends to
give the impression of being good and religious by doing things that he knows others will judge to be good, while in his heart cultivating attitudes and thoughts that he knows are bad - and even secretly performing actions he knows are sinful. He may deliberately give the impression of kindness while harbouring in his heart many hatreds, and deliberately so. He may deliberately give the impression of being religious by obvious acts of piety while consciously doing things that are absolutely contrary to the practice of religion. We could say that hypocrisy is the cultivation of a praiseworthy exterior while consciously pursuing a blameworthy interior. It is in this sense deliberately to live a lie and thus to gain the praise of men for what is a falsehood. Christ repeatedly attacked this violation of the truth, and I suppose we could say that it is the temptation of religious people and of those who live in a society or community that values the practice of religion. Now, in our day and age I think that rather than out and out hypocrisy the danger is the presence of hypocrisy in more subtle ways, in ways that are less evident and more difficult to detect. We must live the truth totally. Our Lord does not condemn the teachers of the law and the Pharisees for giving “a tenth of your spices— mint, dill and cummin”. He said, rather, that their sin was to have “neglected the more important matters of the law— justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides!”, he said (Matthew 23: 23-26). I tend to think that humour came often into our Lord’s teaching and in his use of certain images, and here we see it again. He said that they strained out a gnat in order to drink or eat what was pure and clean, but in fact they swallowed a camel - meaning that they committed great sins in their public care to avoid little offences.

Our Lord expects a thoroughgoing religion of the heart and of the whole of life. He wants to see “justice, mercy and faithfulness” - in other words, the more important matters of the law of God, while not neglecting the matters of less importance. Our Lord wants to see a wholehearted love of God in mind, heart and soul, and a genuine love of neighbour. Most importantly, this means a religion of the heart, a religion in which the heart is serving God in its thoughts and desires. We ought ask ourselves what is going on in our minds while we live in a respectable way in the sight of others. What images are we allowing to fill our imaginations, and what desires are we allowing to fill our hearts? What are we doing when no one is around? What are we watching on the Internet or on television when we are alone? It is the secret interior that is the real battleground of goodness and sanctity. At the end of life we shall be the persons we are largely because of what we have allowed to go on in our minds and hearts. We may go to Mass every Sunday and observe the more obvious laws of God and the more obvious precepts of the Church, but are we forgiving those who have injured us, or are we at least trying to forgive them? Perhaps we have not even made the decision to try to forgive them, however difficult that may be. We may condemn the lack of forgiveness we see in various parts of the world and the violence it leads to, such as in the Middle East and in centres of terrorism, all the while knowing that we ourselves are secretly refusing to forgive those who have caused us unhappiness. This refusal to forgive may be embittering us in our inmost heart, reducing our capacity to love as Christ loves, and yet despite this harm to ourselves we still refuse even to attempt to forgive. We are time and again carried away in our thoughts of anger and resentment, and no one knows about it but God. In so many ways we can be hypocritical as were the Pharisees our Lord condemns in today’s Gospel.

Hearing our Lord’s strictures on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, let us resolve to be thoroughgoing in our following of him, not only in our more obvious deeds, but in our thoughts and words, no matter how secret they may be. God sees all. All we do, think or say is done in his presence, for he holds us continually in his hand. Let us be especially intent on serving God with our whole heart, remembering what St Paul wrote: Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
                                                                                                                               (E.J.Tyler)

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

Catholic, apostolic, Roman! I want you to be very Roman. And to be anxious to make your 'path to Rome', videre Petrum — to see Peter.
                                                             (The Way, no.520)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008
 

There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.

In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension – what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world – saints and sinners alike – open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
                                                                      (Continuing)

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

Wednesday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 27) St. Monica (322?-387)
    The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his Baptism. Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine, is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. In Milan Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his Confessions.
    When Monica moved from North Africa to Milan, she found religious practices new to her and also that some of her former customs, such as a Saturday fast, were not common there. She asked St. Ambrose which customs she should follow. His classic reply was: “When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday, but I fast when I am in Rome; do the same and always follow the custom and discipline of the Church as it is observed in the particular locality in which you find yourself.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Psalm 128:1-2, 4-5; Matthew 23:27-32 (click here for readings)

Jesus said, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! (Matthew 23:27-32)

In our Gospel passage today (Matthew 23:27-32) our Lord continues his condemnation of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees for their studied efforts to appear to people as righteous while secretly
being full of hypocrisy and wickedness. He appears to be far more severe on them than on sinners generally, let alone sinners who wanted to repent. We remember how when our Lord was passing through Jericho a chief tax collector, one who had exploited many persons in his work of extracting taxes for the Romans, ran ahead of the crowd so as to see Jesus. Our Lord had not met him, yet when he came to the spot where Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was perched in the tree to see him pass by, he called him down and told him he was dining with him that day. We can imagine the smile of love that our Lord showed Zacchaeus as he said this. He converted Zacchaeus on the spot. We remember how when our Lord called Matthew the tax collector to follow him, he subsequently dined with the sinners and tax collectors in the house of Matthew. He told the complaining Pharisees that he had come to be a doctor to those who were sick, and to call sinners to repentance. We remember how when the religious leaders brought before him the woman caught in the act of adultery, he bent down and began writing silently on the ground. They could not get him to condemn her. He said in response that the one who was without sin could be the first to throw a stone. One by one they left, their guilt gradually becoming evident to them, but without a true repentance. To the woman herself our Lord asked, has no one condemned you? Then he said that he would not condemn her either, but that she should go and not sin any more. Our Lord did not speak to sinners who had a sense of their sin in the way he spoke to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. To the one he was full of kindness and mercy. To the other he was severe and uncompromising.

Nor must we think that our Lord condemned the teachers of the law and the Pharisees all and sundry. It is clear that he accepted invitations to the homes of Pharisees, even though he did not hesitate to correct them even in their own homes. But the fact that he did receive these invitations demonstrates that they did not feel that he was in any way hostile to them as such. It was their pride and hypocrisy he opposed. We remember that Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, came to Jesus by night for conversations. He must have felt fully accepted by our Lord, though undoubtedly he too would have received corrections when they were due. Nicodemus was a genuine seeker after divine truth and he was a truly good man and his defence of our Lord among Sanhedrin members and his reverent burial of our Lord show this. He was not what our Lord would have called a hypocrite. Let us remember this too. Somewhere in the background was the young Saul of Tarsus. He was a Pharisee and had been educated in the best religious school. Presumably he knew of our Lord for he was certainly a contemporary. We know nothing of his attitude to our Lord during our Lord’s public ministry nor during his passion and death. It was when the infant Church began to proclaim the Resurrection boldly that Saul of Tarsus actively persecuted the first Christians. But our Lord intervened and appeared to him, converting him with his powerful grace. He certainly was not a hypocrite. Our Lord showed him kindness, even though he had been persecuting him: “Why do you persecute me?”, he had asked from heaven. Paul came to regard himself as a great sinner, and we can presume that in some sense he had hardened his heart against the truth in the process of persecuting the early Christians. But he was no hypocrite. He genuinely sought to do what he thought was right. Christ loved him and called him, as he had called other sinners, to follow him. Paul did so, and with marvellous results.

Let us avoid all efforts to live a lie, striving to appear righteous while inside our hearts tolerating deliberate sin. Let us avoid all hypocrisy, remembering Christ’s condemnation of those who were hypocritical. Let us treasure whatever light has been given to us, and ask God for still more light. Let us live according to the light granted us, and more will be granted. Let us recognize our sinfulness and come to Jesus as the Redeemer. Let us seek his pardon for our sins and every day resolve to follow him closely.
                                                                       (E.J.Tyler)

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

How good Christ was to leave the Sacraments to his Church! They are the remedy for all our needs. Venerate them and be very grateful both to God and to his Church.
                                                      (The Way, no.521)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.
                                                            (Continuing)

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

Thursday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 28) Saint Augustine (354-430)
A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism levelled against him: a fundamental rigorism. In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9). Augustine is still acclaimed and condemned in our day. He is a prophet for today, trumpeting the need to scrap escapisms and stand face-to-face with personal responsibility and dignity.
    “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odours and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9; Psalm 144; Matthew 24: 42-51 (click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples: Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If
the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow- servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24: 42-51)

When it comes to being intelligent and wise, there are some tremendous anomalies. What do I mean? Consider the intelligence displayed by various people in their several walks of life. A child prodigy in Mathematics gains his Ph.D while still in his mid teens. He goes on
while still young to occupy important academic positions and to make important discoveries in numbering or some other aspect of his field. It could be a young man or woman in business building up from virtually nothing a multi-billion dollar computer or Internet company that amazes all with its commercial success. We could cite many other examples of proven intelligence in the fields of war, politics, business, research or whatever. Apart from outstanding cases of intelligence there are so many who do well in their fields and who shine among their friends and acquaintances. Yet, strangely, it can easily happen that they do not see beyond a certain point. For instance, a person sets his sights on material wealth alone and neglects his marriage as a result. That is not very smart. But there are more fundamental goals still that the intelligent person can forget. In all his success in attaining important and legitimate goals such as family happiness and success in career a highly talented person can think only of this life. I still vividly remember years ago a leading businessman in Australia who at fifty years of age had become a billionaire and who seemed to turn to gold everything he touched. But suddenly at 52 he died and was cremated. He could take absolutely nothing with him. All there was were some ashes. His spirit had gone before the judgment seat of God and the question in respect to him which of course only God could answer is, did he go to God in union with or separated from God? One wonders whether he had forgotten that at any point this life can suddenly end and then a profound reckoning is to be taken, a reckoning that carries with it an eternal reward or punishment, a reckoning that takes account of all our thoughts, all our words and all our deeds. I refer to the judgement of God.

Our Lord time and again refers to the judgment of God. In his famous sermons John Henry Newman often referred to the criticism that Christianity was a gloomy religion. It is not a gloomy religion but he was referring to the last things that everyone must face: death, God’s judgment and then either heaven or hell. A person who bears these ultimate and yet ever imminent facts in mind is bound to be somewhat more serious about things. Too much is at stake. In our Gospel passage today our Lord refers to this very point. He warns us to keep watch because we simply do not know at what hour God will come to call us to himself. Life is absolutely uncertain and absolutely precarious. We must take this into account and life such that whatever happens we shall be ready for God’s judgment. To do anything less is to be foolish and not very smart. How do we do this? We do this by doing God’s will as well as we can and for love of him at every point of life. If when he comes God finds us doing this, then we shall be ready for him. The task of life and the key to being always ready is always to be striving to do the will of God. And so our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow- servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24: 42-51) The sensible and wise person does this, however gifted or otherwise he may be.

Let us every day begin with the intention to offer to God all that we think, say or do, striving to think, speak and act in ways that will please him. How do we please God? We please God by depending on him who is our Father and by trying to know his will and to put it into practice. It is not those, our Lord said, who say to me Lord! Lord! who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven. Let us make that our program of life.
                                                        (E.J.Tyler)

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

Have veneration and respect for the holy Liturgy of the Church and for its ceremonies. Observe them faithfully. Don't you see that, for us poor men, even what is greatest and most noble must enter through the senses?
                                                          (The Way, no.522)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Dear young people, finally I wish to share a word about vocations. First of all my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith. By presenting you for baptism, they made it possible for you to receive the greatest gift of your life. On that day you entered into the holiness of God himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit. Let us pray for mothers and fathers throughout the world, particularly those who may be struggling in any way – socially, materially, spiritually. Let us honour the vocation of matrimony and the dignity of family life. Let us always appreciate that it is in families that vocations are given life.

Gathered here at Saint Joseph Seminary, I greet the seminarians present and indeed encourage all seminarians throughout America. I am glad to know that your numbers are increasing! The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 33). Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love shine forth for others.
                                                               (Continuing)

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

Friday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 29) The Beheading of John the Baptist
      The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honour, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honour of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centred on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.
     “So they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.’ John answered and said, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease’” (John 3:26–30).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 10-11; Mark 6:17-29 (click here for readings)

Herod himself gave orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife. So
Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you. And he promised her with an oath, Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom. She went out and said to her mother, What shall I ask for? The head of John the Baptist, she answered. At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:17-29)

Today (August 29) we think of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets of who preceded Christ. He was the greatest of them in that his mission was not only to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah in a general sense as did all the
prophets, but in the specific sense of announcing his imminent coming and to point to who he was. John called on the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and pointed to Jesus as that Messiah, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. He died a martyr’s death. Two persons brought about his death, Herod and Herod’s wife Herodias. Let us consider each of these two persons for a moment so as to see exemplified St Paul’s statement that the wages of sin are death. Firstly, the one who initiated the death of John was Herodias. John had denounced Herod’s marriage with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Herodias was furious. Her heart burned with spite and hate and she sought some way of doing away with John. But there was no way she could do so because Herod, superstitious as he was, feared John for his manifest holiness. He was in awe of him. Herodias, it seems, was not in awe of John. She simply hated him but was helpless to act on her desires. Once the chance came, she pounced. Her daughter delighted Herod and his guests with her dancing and she directed her daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head. She had no concern for her daughter’s spiritual life or condition and for the terrible sin which she, her mother, immediately led her daughter into. She had no concern for her destruction of a most holy life, nor for the judgment of God. All of this was ignited by her resentment and grudge against John for speaking so directly against the marriage. She was the archetypal Lady MacBeth. What does it teach us? It teaches us the danger of resentments. A resentful person spontaneously wants to do harm to the person against whom he bears his grudge. In principle it leads to murder.

We might say that Herodias was the active agent in bringing about John’s death, but nothing would have come of her wishes had not Herod given the order for it to be done. So what was it that led Herod to his terrible action? While it was resentment and hate that led Herodias to sin, it was human respect and the love of approval that led Herod. We read that “on his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you. And he promised her with an oath, Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” (Mark 6:17-29) Herod craved popularity and being esteemed and loved by those who were considered important, his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. Consider those persons and how far they were from the ones our Lord had about him and the disciples whom John the Baptist had gathered about him. Indirectly by their playing to Herod’s tune they too had a part in John’s death. Herod wanted to please them and could not bring himself to back down from his oath, inspired by a bravado in the presence of his guests. Both Herod and Herodias were in the grip of sin, sin in different forms, and it led directly to the death of John and to an immense offence against God. Just as the Christian gains an understanding of the evil of sin by looking on the crucified Christ for Christ died because of the sins of mankind, so we can gain an understanding of the evil of sin by contemplating our Gospel scene today. It was sin that led Herod and Herodias to do what they did. As our Lord says in the Gospel of St John, anyone who sins is a slave of sin, and as St Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans, the wages of sin are death. The path to life is holiness, and in particular life in Christ.

Herod and Herodias represent the demonic and deadly path of sin, while John the Baptist represents the path of holiness that leads to life. John pointed to Jesus, and by the grace of Jesus Christ we can follow the path of holiness which consists in endeavouring in union with Jesus to do the will of God generously and in all its details every day.
                                                                                   (E.J.Tyler)

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

The Church sings, it has been said, because merely to speak would not satisfy its desire for prayer. You, as a Christian — and a chosen Christian, — should learn to sing liturgically.
                                                                   (The Way, no.523)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests contribute greatly to the mission of the Church. Their prophetic witness is marked by a profound conviction of the primacy with which the Gospel shapes Christian life and transforms society. Today, I wish to draw your attention to the positive spiritual renewal which Congregations are undertaking in relation to their charism. The word charism means a gift freely and graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, who inspires founders and foundresses, and shapes Congregations with a subsequent spiritual heritage. The wondrous array of charisms proper to each Religious Institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury. Indeed, the history of the Church is perhaps most beautifully portrayed through the history of her schools of spirituality, most of which stem from the saintly lives of founders and foundresses. Through the discovery of charisms, which yield such a breadth of spiritual wisdom, I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of apostolic or contemplative service. Do not be shy to speak with Religious Brothers, Sisters or Priests about the charism and spirituality of their Congregation. No perfect community exists, but it is fidelity to a founding charism, not to particular individuals, that the Lord calls you to discern. Have courage! You too can make your life a gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every member of the human family (cf. Vita Consecrata, 3).
                                                                        (Continuing)

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

Saturday of the twenty first week in Ordinary Time II
 

(August 30) Blessed Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879)
     Being of humble origins needn’t keep us from doing great things for God. Blessed Jeanne Jugan is proof of that. Born to a poor family in Brittany, France, she learned the meaning of hard work at an early age. She also learned the beauty of the faith passed on to her by her widowed mother. At the age of 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family whose mistress often took the young girl on visits to the sick and poor. Over time Jeanne developed a special love for the aged, particularly poor widows. She did hospital work and domestic service for years. At age 47 several other women moved into Jeanne’s home, where they became an informal prayer community and eventually elected Jeanne as superior. They supported themselves through domestic work; in their free time they catechized children and aided the poor as best they could. Over time the community came to be known as the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Their members, who begged for the needs of the elderly in their care, took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality. A benefactor provided the growing community of women with a convent; other houses were soon established. Members begged for the needs of the elderly in their care and ate only leftovers. Sister Mary of the Cross, as she was known, proved to be a talented organizer and fundraiser, but jealousies and squabbles forced her to step down as superior. Her spiritual director instructed her to “remain in a hidden life behind the walls of the motherhouse.” Her last 27 years were spent in obscurity. She quietly supervised the manual work of the postulants, who were unaware of the real story behind the humble, elderly nun who loved and encouraged them. She lived to see Pope Leo XIII approve the constitutions for the Little Sisters of the Poor in 1879. But Jeanne Jugan was not officially recognized as the founder of the congregation until 14 years after her death. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1982.
    Charles Dickens, a contemporary of Jeanne Jugan, said of her: “There is in this woman something so calm, and so holy, that in seeing her I know myself to be in the presence of a superior being. Her words went straight to my heart, so that my eyes, I know not how, filled with tears.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow




 

Scripture today: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 33:12-13, 18-21; Matthew 25:14-30  (click here for readings)

Jesus told his disciples this parable: A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man
who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matthew 25:14-30)

I have been reading again a short biography by Michael Trappes-Lomax of Bishop Richard Challoner, the Catholic Bishop of the London district for most of the latter part of the eighteenth century. The technical name of the Bishops of England during that period
was Vicar-Apostolic, as a properly established Catholic hierarchy was to come only in the following century. One of the many distinguishing qualities of Challoner was his constant and effective work. He was a very holy priest, both learned and pastoral. But he seems to have had an enormous capacity for using every minute of his time over a long life to work and to work effectively. I myself find his book, Meditations for Every Day of the Year, still to be most useful. Work. Whether one is religious or not, every person understands that a most fulfilling experience of life is to do good work, work that is a true service to others. At the end of life one of the most disappointing experiences will have been to remember of opportunities for good work left undone. From the purely natural point of view work is at the centre of man’s concerns. His work is the means whereby he gains the resources - which is to say the income - to provide for his fundamental needs, to care for those who depend on him, and to develop himself in his higher capacities by means of a good use of his leisure. But more than anything, his work is the means whereby he serves others and he instinctively knows that the value of his life depends on his engaging in a good service of others. Man naturally understands that he lives in order to work, and the value of his life will depend on the way he works. Of course, he also understands that this principle must be interpreted broadly because a person who cannot work in the normal sense can work in more indirect ways. He can serve others from the sick bed and very many have done just this. This entire insight as to the central importance of work in life is a natural one and is accessible to all. All understand the importance of work for human fulfilment, and they understand the duty of all to work.

Our Gospel passage today (Matthew 25:14-30) makes it clear that this natural insight is a reflection of the mind of God. God desires us all to work. Our Judgment will in large measure revolve around the question of our work in life. Consider the parable our Lord tells us in today’s passage. The master of the three servants goes off on his journey having entrusted his goods to them each according to the measure of their ability. He eventually returns and expects to see his interests advanced by his servants making good use in their work of what he had placed in their hands. They had had a long time to do something of value with what he had left them and two of them turned out to have worked well. Each made more with what they had been given. They were handsomely rewarded, each in proportion to the good work done. But this was not the case with the third, the one with least ability and who accordingly had been entrusted with only the one talent. He had done nothing with the talent he had been given. He had simply buried it and left it there, and spent the long time of his master’s absence doing nothing. All he did was to hand back to the master the single talent he had been given long before. The master was profoundly displeased, regarding this servant as wicked and lazy. He took the one talent and threw him out into the darkness. God wants us to use our life to work well and for his interests, doing his will. If we do nothing then we shall be judged unworthy. Our Lord often, time and again, speaks of the judgment on each person at the end of life and of how it is only those judged worthy who will be granted a place in glory. The parable shows that our work will be an essential element in our judgement. It also shows that it is especially the little man, the person of ordinary and even meagre talents who must take note of this, and who must beware of doing little or nothing with what he has been given. Every day he is called to work as well as he can for his Lord and Master.

Let us place our work, our daily work, at the centre of our life’s project. It is by means of our work that we shall serve others and ourselves and above all God himself. Let us so work that we will effectively give glory to God and sanctify others and ourselves. It is the ordinary work of the ordinary person that transforms an ordinary life into a life of grandeur.
                                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

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

'I just can't help singing', said a soul in love, when he saw the wonders that our Lord was working through him

And that is the advice I give to you: sing! Let your grateful enthusiasm for your God overflow into song.
                                                             (The Way, no.524)

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

Benedict XVI's Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, Visit to USA, April 2008

Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church’s liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ’s disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free. With these sentiments of great hope in you I bid you farewell, until we meet again in Sydney this July for World Youth Day! And as a pledge of my love for you and your families, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
                                                                     (Concluded)

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

Twenty second Sunday in Ordinary Time A
 

Prayers this week:  I call to you all day long, have mercy on me, O Lord. You are good and forgiving, full of love for all who call on you. (Psalm 85: 3.5)
                                                                                                                   

Almighty God, every good thing comes from you. Fill our  hearts with love for you, increase our faith, and by your constant care protect the good you have given us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

(August 31) Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus
    The actions of these two influential Jewish leaders give insight into the charismatic power of Jesus and his teachings—and the risks that could be involved in following him. Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus' body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers. More important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus' body. Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act.
   Nicodemus was a Pharisee and, like Joseph, an important first-century Jew. We know from John's Gospel that Nicodemus went to Jesus at night—secretly—to better understand his teachings about the kingdom. Later, Nicodemus spoke up for Jesus at the time of his arrest and assisted in Jesus' burial. We know little else about Nicodemus.
(AmericanCatholic.org)
 

click on centre arrow



 


Scripture today: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27  (click here for readings)

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders,
chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Never, Lord! he said. This shall never happen to you! Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:21-27)

In our Gospel scene of today we read that “from that time on” our Lord began to tell his disciples what he “must” do: “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the
third day be raised to life.” Notice our Lord’s use of that word, “must.” It was his mission to suffer and to die, and so to enter his glory, and thus to open the way to a share in his glory for all mankind. Our Lord says this is something he “must” do. It is not a word that denotes compulsion because on other occasions our Lord said that he would freely lay down his life, and would freely take it up again. The word “must” denotes, rather, his inflexible will to fulfil the divine plan. It expresses the complete union of his will with that of the Father. His food was to do the will of his heavenly Father, he said. I always do what pleases him, he said on another occasion. He challenged his enemies, Can any of you convict me of sin? In the vast scene of broken humanity, there stands forth one Man who is utterly and without qualification holy because his person is divine. He is the very source of holiness and his is the Spirit of holiness. The point here is that he is the one who beyond all others acknowledged in every way that his Father is Lord and God. I am the Lord your God, was God’s revelation of himself and Jesus Christ shows mankind what it is truly to acknowledge God. Acknowledging this means doing the Father’s will whatever be the cost. For this reason he said that he “must” suffer and die in bearing witness to the truth. He rebuked Simon - who loved him so much - for he was acting like Satan in trying to dissuade him from his path of suffering and death. And so he said to his disciples that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” As we think of all this, let us consider what is implied in affirming with adoration that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our one and only God.

It means that we who are Christ’s faithful and members of his body the Church must guard and continually activate the fundamental virtues of faith, hope and love that we received at our baptism. These gifts of the Holy Spirit enable us to place our faith and hope in God, to adore him, and to love him with all our hearts. By faith we believe in God and reject everything opposed to what God has revealed of himself as it is explained and taught by Christ and his Church. Christ’s faithful must reject all deliberate doubt, all unbelief, anything leading to heresy, abandoning the Catholic Faith for another faith, or separating from the Church. Especially we must guard against any deliberate doubt about the Church’s teaching. The gift of faith enables us to guard against all this. By the gift of hope we trustingly await the vision of God and his grace, avoiding any temptation either on the one hand to despair or on the other to presumption. So, we believe in God and his revelation, and we hope in his power and love to bring us to him, all the while aware of our sinfulness and proneness to sin. By the gift of charity, and on the foundation of our faith and hope we strive to love him with all our hearts, showing this in our resolve to do his will whatever be the cost. We strive every day to bring the seed of love implanted in us at our baptism to its perfection. It means repudiating all indifference to God and his revelation. We repudiate ingratitude, lukewarmness, sloth or spiritual indolence, and of course any semblance of hatred for God that is born of pride. We who are baptised have been granted priceless gifts by the Holy Spirit, the supernatural gifts of faith, hope and love, and these gifts if acted on day by day will unite us to Jesus and enable us to follow in his footsteps. That path that Christ trod is the path of acknowledging in every way that his Father and our Father is the one and only Lord and God. By our life we must bear witness in union with Jesus that our God is the one and only Lord of all.

Let our reading of the Gospel passage of today (Matthew 16:21-27) help us to enter into the mind and heart of Jesus our Lord in his total acknowledgement of his Father and our Father, his God and our God. The way to God is Jesus. The truth about God and the truth of God is Jesus. He is the Truth. The life of God that transforms our sinful lives and makes them holy with a share in the divine life is found in Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through him. He who sees Jesus sees the Father. Let us then live in Jesus and live for him, knowing that by doing this we live in God and live for him.
                                                                    (E.J.Tyler)

Further reading: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.2084-2094

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

To be 'Catholic' means to love your country and to be second to no one in that love. And at the same time, to hold as your own the noble aspirations of other lands. — So many glories of France are glories of mine! And in the same way, much that makes Germans proud, and the peoples of Italy and of England..., and Americans and Asians and Africans, is a source of pride to me also.

Catholic: big heart, broad mind.
                                                            (The Way, no.525)

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

Pope Benedict's Message to Australia and Youth Pilgrims
"If You Wish to Remain Young, Seek Christ"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 13, 2008 - Here is the text of the message Benedict XVI wrote ahead of his trip to Australia to the people of the nation and the young pilgrims who took part in World Youth Day, held in Sydney from July 15 to 20.

* * *

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses" (Act 1:8)

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you! In a few days from now, I shall begin my Apostolic Visit to your country, in order to celebrate the Twenty-Third World Youth Day in Sydney. I very much look forward to the days that I shall spend with you, and especially to the opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from all over the world.

First of all, I want to express my appreciation to all those who have offered so much of their time, their resources and their prayers in support of this celebration. The Australian Government and the Provincial Government of New South Wales, the organizers of all the events, and members of the business community who have provided sponsorship – all of you have willingly supported this event, and on behalf of the young people taking part in the World Youth Day, I thank you most sincerely. Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly. The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses" (Act 1:8). This is the theme of the Twenty-Third World Youth Day. How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts. The Psalmist prays: "when you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104:30). It is my firm belief that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ, and sharing with others the love that the Spirit pours into their hearts, so that they too will be filled with hope and with thanksgiving for all the good things they have received from our heavenly Father.
                                                                             (Continuing)

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