So let us take our part in the Passover prescribed by the law, not in a literal way, but according to the teaching of the Gospel; not in an imperfect way, but perfectly; not only for a time, but eternally. Let us regard as our home the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one; the city glorified by angels, not the one laid waste by armies. We are not required to sacrifice young bulls or rams, beasts with horns and hoofs that are more dead than alive and devoid of feeling; but instead, let us join the choirs of angels in offering God upon his heavenly altar a sacrifice of praise. We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies. I will say more: we must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings, and honouring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified.
If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy.
If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.- From a Homly by St. Gregory of Nazianzen
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
From Archbishop Timothy Dolan during his Homily for Palm Sunday:
May I ask your patience a couple of minutes longer in what has already been a lengthy — yet hopefully uplifting —Sunday Mass?
The somberness of Holy Week is intensified for Catholics this year.
The recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.
Anytime this horror, vicious sin, and nauseating crime is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew, and sincere Catholics experience another dose of shock, sorrow, and even anger.
What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate the man who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification, reform, and renewal that the Church so needs.
Sunday Mass is hardly the place to document the inaccuracy, bias, and hyperbole of such aspersions.
But, Sunday Mass is indeed the time for Catholics to pray for “ . . . Benedict our Pope.”
And Palm Sunday Mass is sure a fitting place for us to express our love and solidarity for our earthly shepherd now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus.
No one has been more vigorous in cleansing the Church of the effects of this sickening sin than the man we now call Pope Benedict XVI. The dramatic progress that the Catholic Church in the United States has made — — documented again just last week by the report made by independent forensic auditors — — could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.
Does the Church and her Pastor, Pope Benedict XVI, need intense scrutiny and just criticism for tragic horrors long past?
Yes! He himself has asked for it, encouraging complete honesty, at the same time expressing contrition, and urging a thorough cleansing.
All we ask is that it be fair, and that the Catholic Church not be singled-out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency, and family in the world.
Sorry to bring this up … but, then again, the Eucharist is the Sunday meal of the spiritual family we call the Church. At Sunday dinner we share both joys and sorrows. The father of our family, il papa, needs our love, support, and prayers.
I whole heartedly agree.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the premiere pilgrimage site for Christians, but sadly, many never get the opportunity to visit the very place where the Lord Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead. Thanks to some friends, I found this virtual tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Passiontide would be a wonderful time to make a virtual pilgrimage to this holy site.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
How about giving this message to someone who no longer does, especially if he or
she has stopped going to Sunday Mass? Get ready for the excuses:
– “Sunday is our only free time together.” (Great, what better way to spend that time than by praying together at Mass).
– “I pray my own way.” (Nice idea. But, odds are, you don’t).
– “The sermon is boring.” (You may have a point).
– “I hate all the changes at Mass.” (see below)
– “I want more changes at Mass.” (see above)
– “Until the church makes some changes in its teaching, I’m staying away.” (But, don’t we go to Mass to ask God to change us, not to tell God how we want Him and His Church to change to suit us?)
– “Everybody there is a hypocrite and always judging me.” (Who’s judging whom here?)
. . . and the list goes on.
And the simple fact remains: the Eucharist is the most beautiful, powerful prayer that we have. To miss it is to miss Jesus — His Word, His people, His presence, His Body and Blood.
Amen! It's high time we share things like this with our friends and family who don't observe the Day of the Lord, so get to it.
Monday, March 22, 2010
About a month ago I had a Thursday morning school Mass. It was a couple of days after a group of pastors here in Sioux Falls had abandoned their role to teach the truth to come out in opposition to the Abortion ban. That morning for Mass I was wearing a green vestment as I am today.
I started my homily that morning by trying to convince the children that the vestment I was wearing was actually white. I told them that I have always believed that this color was white…most of them told me no…it wasn’t white…it was green. I persisted…no, I said, this is white…I told them there were lots of people who believed that this color is white so surely it must be white. Yes, they did not believe me…they knew it wasn’t…they knew it was green. Finally, after asking the kindergarteners, the sixth graders and even the teachers, I gave in. I told them that it was green, but just like I tried to convince them that what was actually green is a white, there are people who will try to tell them that killing is ok; that it is not wrong. It told them that in their lives they will run into a lot of people who will try to tell them that something they know is wrong is actually right, like killing, or steeling, or telling lies, and sometimes those people might be important people like presidents, teacher, or even pastors. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we stick up for what we know is right.
I reminded them that anyone who tells them that something contrary to what God tells them is wrong. God is always right, he can’t be wrong, he knows everything. He is God. Green is green, it will always be green, it will never be white no matter how many people say it isn’t. Killing is wrong. It will always be wrong. It will never be right. So when people try to tell you it is: Don’t listen, no matter who it is.
That’s what I told them four weeks ago. Then came the election.
On Wednesday, the day after the election, I had the School Mass yet again. I have to admit, I was a bit sad, a bit upset, and even a little angry about the election results. I hadn’t slept much the night before; I couldn’t stop thinking about how Satan must be having quite a celebration. The idea of having to be upbeat for the children really didn’t appeal to me…but nevertheless I did my best.
When the time came for the homily I stood right here, and I looked out into the sea of children and saw the innocence purity and innocence in their eyes my heart melted, and I knew this is exactly where I needed to be on such a dark day.
I asked them to think back to a few weeks before when I tried to convince them that the green vestment I was wearing was white. I asked them if they remembered how I told them that green is green no matter who tells them otherwise. They said yes. I asked them if they remembered what I said about killing, how it has always been wrong, and how it will always be wrong no matter how many people tell them that it’s is right. Again, they nodded affirmatively. Then the emotion welled up inside of me, and my eyes began to tear up, and with a cracking voice and I said “Yesterday we had an election, and a lot of people said it’s ok to kill…but we know it’s not. We know that killing is always wrong…it will never be right…and those who think it right is are wrong…and they will always be wrong even if a lot of people say they are right. Boys and girls” I went on “sometimes it feels like the devil is winning, but he’s not. The devil will never win…he will always lose. Right will always beat wrong. Good will always beat evil. Life will always beat death. In the last book of the bible it tells us that in the end…after a great war between God and the devil, between good and evil, between life and death…God wins.”
You know, Holy Spirit Family, if I am honest with myself didn’t preach that homily on Wednesday to the children as much as I did to myself. I, like you, need a reminder that even though right now it feels like the Satan won…he didn’t. It’s just like Good Friday. It looked hopeless, it looked like God lost, it seemed as if Satan had triumphed, it looked like the darkness of evil had descended upon us forever. But three days later Satan’s head was crushed under the foot of the risen Christ. Life conquered death! Goodness, Truth and beauty had won out.
My people…Don’t lose hope! Life WILL triumph over death! We’ve read the last Chapter…and we win! We win.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Just the other day I was reading a few things about the value of frequent confession in an excellent book entitled Lukwarmness: The Devil in Disguise, by Francis Carvajal. Here is what he said regarding making a good confession:
Classical spiritual authors have handed down to us sixteen characteristics of a good Confession: simple, humble, pure, faithful, frequent, clear, discrete, voluntary, without boasting, integral, secret, sorrowful, prompt, firm, self accusatory, dispoing on to obedience. Normally, our confessions should be concise. We should say what has to be said without becoming unduly wordy. More than anything else, our confessions have to be done with a supernatural spirit. We are asking Christ Himself to forgive our sins. This attitude will help us to put aside that temptation concering what the priest will think of me...
Confession should make us happy. Our Father God is awaiting us with open arms just like in the parable about the prodigal son. He is ready to run right up to us to prove his infinite paternal love.
My friends, get thee to confession.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.
The above prayer was composed by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1791.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Catholics should understand that the Infant of Prague is very alien to the typical Bob Jones graduate...The first impression is, "Good heavens! Why is baby Jesus dressed up like that? Is that some kind of fancy Catholic idol or what?" But putting my prejudice on one side and wanting to 'affirm and not deny' I learned about the history of the devotion and was given a very nice tour of the shrine including a look at a cupboard full of all the different outfits they had for him. It prompted a question on the drive back, "Can you get Infant of Prague kits? You know, buy the baby in diapers and then you buy the outfits separately? What does baby Jesus wear under the royal robes?"
Seriously, I wanted to try to understand this rather unusual devotion. Then I learned that the Infant of Prague actually started out with Saint Theresa of Avila. She had a devotion to the child Jesus. Bingo! A connection with my favorite Therese of Lisieux who also had a devotion to the child Jesus and spiritual childhood and spiritual innocence. I'm beginning to get it.
So after the tour I thought I'd kneel down and see if I could get hold of this a little bit more. As I'm kneeling I begin to understand the child dressed in
royal robes and crown, for the whole image tells us that although he was a child born naked and squawking in a stable he was at the same time the royal prince of the house of David. He was a simple child, yet King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Furthermore, this is my destiny. I cannot enter the kingdom unless I become as a little child, but to enter the kingdom and be a royal adopted prince, a Son of God and a brother of Jesus is my ultimate destiny.
Then as I'm kneeling there I begin to see that this child is also the focus of our prayers for spiritual childhood and innocence for ourselves, but it should also be the one we turn to pleading for protection for our own children and for the innocence which is being lost every day to the corrupt morals of our day...
Then a few days later he has another post on his blog that says:
So I find myself in Oklahoma at the National Shrine of the Infant of Prague. I have recounted how I was surprised to find myself attracted to the infant. I had never quite made the connection that beneath the dress up baby Jesus doll was a devotion to the child Jesus, and that this was connected with one of my favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux. OK, so the connection was made, and I prayed to the Infant Jesus for a special prayer request which is deep down and personal and by golly, the prayer has been answered amazingly.
Then last week I am in Florida with the eighth graders...
...I make my way to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and there is a large, beautifully dressed Infant of Prague. I kneel down to pray and start laughing because I think God is laughing at me. The Infant of Prague! For me he was always kind of the extreme of Catholic devotion...a cultural mystery to me and while I never mocked, it is true that I never understood. Then suddenly before this image my experience at the Shrine in Oklahoma sweeps over me again. I can see it all, but can't put it into words. Just to say that I experienced great joy and a great knowledge of God's sense of humor. He's almost saying to me, "Look you silly proud person. I was trying to get through to you all these years, and you didn't even give me a second thought. I've got you at last, and it was through the Infant of Prague...that image and that devotion you looked down on as silly and sentimental and girly. Ha!! Gotcha!!"
It was a precious moment and I got up from my knees with a goofy grin of joy on my face and admitted to myself that I loved the Infant of Prague, that I thought him beautiful and I even liked his fancy outfit. I walked out of the Cathedral thinking about His beautiful embroidered robes and thought to myself...'to be clothed in His righteousness.' Now wouldn't that be something?
I guess men can have a devotion to the Infant of Prague and not question his masculinity. Thank God!
Prayer to the Infant of Prague
O Holy Child Jesus, who shed Your blessings on whoever invokes Your name, look kindly on us who kneel humbly before Your holy Image, and hear our prayers. We commend to Your mercy the many poor and needy people who trust in Your Divine Heart.
Lay Your all powerful hand upon them and help them in their needs. Lay Your hand upon the sick, to cure them and sanctify their suffering; upon those in distress, to console them; upon sinners, to draw them into the light of your divine grace; upon all those who, stricken with grief and suffering, turn trustingly to You for loving help.
Lay Your hand also upon all of us and give us Your blessing. O little King, grant the treasures of Your divine mercy to all the world, and keep us now and always in the grace of your love!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This coming friday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Canon 1251 from the Code of Canon Law applies to this Solemnity:
"Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Following Vatican Council II some people were convinced that all was new, that a new Church existed, that the pre-conciliar Church had come to an end and that there would be another, completely different Church, an anarchic utopia. Yet thanks to God the wise helmsmen of the ship of Christ, Paul VI and John Paul II, defended on the one hand the novelty of the Church and, at the same time, the uniqueness and continuity of the Church, which is always a Church of sinners, and always a place of grace." - Pope Benedict XVI
Monday, March 15, 2010
The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great
The Catholic Bishops of the United States have long and consistently advocated for the reform of the American health care system. Their experience in health care and in Catholic parishes has acquainted them with the anguish of mothers who are unable to afford prenatal care, of families unable to ensure quality care for their children, and of those who cannot obtain insurance because of preexisting conditions.
Throughout the discussion on health care over the last year, the bishops have advocated a bipartisan approach to solving our national health care needs. They have urged that all who are sick, injured or in need receive necessary and appropriate medical assistance, and that no one be deliberately killed through an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion. These are the provisions of the long standing Hyde amendment, passed annually in every federal bill appropriating funds for health care; and surveys show that this legislation reflects the will of the majority of our fellow citizens. The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.
However, the bishops were left disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.
What do the bishops find so deeply disturbing about the Senate bill? The points at issue can be summarized briefly. The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies. In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions – all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs.
Further, the Senate bill authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in new funding outside the scope of the appropriations bills covered by the Hyde amendment and similar provisions. As the bill is written, the new funds it appropriates over the next five years, for Community Health Centers for example (Sec. 10503), will be available by statute for elective abortions, even though the present regulations do conform to the Hyde amendment. Regulations, however, can be changed at will, unless they are governed by statute.
Additionally, no provision in the Senate bill incorporates the longstanding and widely supported protection for conscience regarding abortion as found in the Hyde/Weldon amendment. Moreover, neither the House nor Senate bill contains meaningful conscience protection outside the abortion context. Any final bill, to be fair to all, must retain the accommodation of the full range of religious and moral objections in the provision of health insurance and services that are contained in current law, for both individuals and institutions.
This analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the leaders of the Catholic Health Association. They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill. The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote. Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke.
What is tragic about this turn of events is that it needn’t have happened. The status quo that has served our national consensus and respected the consciences of all with regard to abortion is the Hyde amendment. The House courageously included an amendment applying the Hyde policy to its Health Care bill passed in November. Its absence in the Senate bill and the resulting impasse are not an accident. Those in the Senate who wanted to purge the Hyde amendment from this national legislation are obstructing the reform of health care.
This is not quibbling over technicalities. The deliberate omission in the Senate Bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the President’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor. As Pope Benedict told Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Diaz when he presented his credentials as the United States government’s representative to the Holy See, there is “an indissoluble bond between an ethic of life and every other aspect of social ethics.”
Two basic principles, therefore, continue to shape the concerns of the Catholic bishops: health care means taking care of the health needs of all, across the human life span; and the expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of abortion funding and of polices forcing everyone to pay for abortions. Because these principles have not been respected, despite the good that the bill under consideration intends or might achieve, the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed unless and until these serious moral problems are addressed.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
"There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. Are we close to the end? This we will never know. We must always hold ourselves in readiness, but everything could last a very long time yet." — Pope Paul VI
Friday, March 12, 2010
Holy Job is a type of the Church. At one time he speaks for the body, at another for the head. As he speaks of its members he is suddenly caught up to speak in the name of their head. So it is here, where he says: I have suffered this without sin on my hands, for my prayer to God was pure.
Christ suffered without sin on his hands, for he committed no sin and deceit was not found on his lips. Yet he suffered the pain of the cross for our redemption. His prayer to God was pure, his alone out of all mankind, for in the midst of his suffering he prayed for his persecutors: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Is it possible to offer, or even to imagine, a purer kind of prayer than that which shows mercy to one’s torturers by making intercession for them? It was thanks to this kind of prayer that the frenzied persecutors who shed the blood of our Redeemer drank it afterward in faith and proclaimed him to be the Son of God.
The text goes on fittingly to speak of Christ’s blood: Earth, do not cover over my blood, do not let my cry find a hiding place in you. When man sinned, God had said: Earth you are, and to earth you will return. Earth does not cover over the blood of our Redeemer, for every sinner, as he drinks the blood that is the price of his redemption, offers praise and thanksgiving, and to the best of his power makes that blood known to all around him.
Earth has not hidden away his blood, for holy Church has preached in every corner of the world the mystery of its redemption.
Notice what follows: Do not let my cry find a hiding place in you. The blood that is drunk, the blood of redemption, is itself the cry of our Redeemer. Paul speaks of the sprinkled blood that calls out more eloquently than Abel’s. Of Abel’s blood Scripture had written: The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the earth. The blood of Jesus calls out more eloquently than Abel’s, for the blood of Abel asked for the death of Cain, the fratricide, while the blood of the Lord has asked for, and obtained, life for his persecutors.
If the sacrament of the Lord’s passion is to work its effect in us, we must imitate what we receive and proclaim to mankind what we revere. The cry of the Lord finds a hiding place in us if our lips fail to speak of this, though our hearts believe in it. So that his cry may not lie concealed in us it remains for us all, each in his own measure, to make known to those around us the mystery of our new life in Christ.