Saturday, April 30, 2011

On how the Lord taught me while I slept

Brethren, a few months back I had a dream and I’ve been mulling it ever since. I dreamt that I was in a room. The room was white and small and in the back I could see two “Greek” columns of indiscernible design. The room is illuminated by candlelight and otherwise dark; a lampstand rests on a reading desk over which lies a huge open Book, and I mean huge, of the kind that can only be carried by two or more people. The candlestick is on the stand by the Book. Behind the Book, standing is the Lord, and He is finishing a sentence, concluding a lecture actually. He laces the fingers of His hands as he drives the point home, reflectively. He said, “…and this is why…is to be understood thusly” or words to that effect. In my dream I felt joy at understanding something that long had escaped me! I praised the Lord, I woke up…and I don’t recall what He said.

I do understand that the Book is the sum-total of Revelation, the Bible, Tradition as well as the Mind of the Church in her various expressions. I understand that the Book’s ultimate author is the Holy Spirit. I understand the setting as being my innermost intellect and mind, set in a classical setting. But the particular facts He taught me still elude me.

I think that my understanding was all “compressed” during the dream, and that my newly acquired understanding will manifest itself slowly, as I read and write and ponder the Lord’s things with my conscious mind. In other words, the conscious apprehension of the Lord’s “lessons” continue to be “a work in progress” and the new understandings will manifest themselves as I go on living.

I believe there’s a verse of Scripture that addresses this phenomenon, but I can’t find it. In it, the holy writer states that the Lord teaches him his law and his commandments while lying down or asleep. Find it for me please and, praised be Jesus who has found me worthy, a miserable sinner, to teach me in this way.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”


12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

(1 Corinthians 15: 12-19, NIV)

I think we should do well to meditate carefully on those words from St. Paul, specially this Easter week. The resurrection of Christ stands as the promise of our own resurrection. Let us pray and live in such a way that our resurrection be one for eternal life, where we will reign with Him forever and ever.

Monday, April 25, 2011

“Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!”


St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily

If any be a devout lover of God,
let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.
If any be a faithful servant,
let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.
If any have wearied himself with fasting,
let him now enjoy his reward.
If any have laboured from the first hour,
let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third,
let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth,
let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth,
let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh,
let him not be afraid because he comes so late.

For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour
in the same was as him who has laboured from the first.
He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.

Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord.
First and last, receive alike your reward.
Rich and poor, dance together.
You who fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice together.
The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it.
The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry.

Let none lament his poverty;
for the universal Kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions;
for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let none fear death;
for death of the Savour has set us free.

He has destroyed death by undergoing death.
He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.
Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing;
filled with bitterness, for it was mocked;
filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown;
filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains .
Hell received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.
Amen!

Mount Athos Featured in CBS' 60 Minutes

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


Brethren, I wanted to bring your attention to this excellent report on Mount Athos, the Orthodox monastic republic in Greece, and the premiere Orthodox monastic site in the world. You may play it above or go here to enjoy this awesome report, the first camera crew allowed on the site since 1982.

- Mount Athos on CBS' 60 Minutes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pascha Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, AD 2011

resurrection icon

Easter Proclamation

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God,
the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you free the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God
to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day;
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on us all,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Death shall not have the last word.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Saturday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, AD 2011


The only possible attitude is a reverent silence…

Good Friday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, AD 2011



From today's Office of Readings.

From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

The power of Christ's blood

If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish”, commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors”. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the Holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

“There flowed from his side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.

- Reading courtesy of Universalis.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday of the Passion of Our Lord - AD 2011


Second Reading from Today's Office of Readings
From an Easter homily by Saint Melito of Sardis, bishop


The Lamb that was slain has delivered us from death and given us life
There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

For the sake of suffering humanity he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.

He was led forth like a lamb; he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit, and the members of our body with his own blood.

He is the One who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One who smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own for ever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonoured in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.

Source: Universalis.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Triduum

Author: Fr. Frank Pavone | Source: Priests for Life

"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

We are quickly approaching the Church's observance of the days of which our Lord spoke -- the days of His betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection. This sacred three-day period, the Triduum, is the kernel of the entire liturgical year. It begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes on the evening of Easter Sunday. It is packed and overflowing with ancient symbolism and themes for profound meditation, not the least of which is the infinite dignity of human life.

The Triduum happened, after all, because of human life. God loves human beings, and the crucifixion and resurrection of God-in-the-flesh ushers human beings into eternal life. The "gates of heaven" are not made of silver or gold, but rather of human flesh and bones. Jesus brings to heaven the very same nature that all of us, born and unborn, share. The events of the Triduum are very physical: His Body given at the table, nailed to the cross, laid in the tomb, risen from the dead. These days give meaning to the human body. We are not free to neglect the body: we must feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, tend to the sick, and protect the unborn from the abortionists' forceps.

On Holy Thursday, Mass is not permitted without a congregation. It is the day on which the Lord gave the commandment of brotherly love, and gave us the Eucharist, which establishes communion among brothers and sisters. The washing of the feet reveals the meaning of the Eucharist and the cross: He laid down his life for us; so we must lay down our lives for one another. The Triduum teaches us, then, that it is our business when someone is unemployed, or discriminated against, or about to have an abortion. It is our business, because the business of a Christian is love.

No Mass is permitted on Good Friday, or during the day on Holy Saturday. The tabernacle is empty. The Church experiences the strange silence and emptiness of the first Good Friday. The Lord has been taken away. To love one another, we must be able to enter the other's emptiness. How deep, indeed, is the loneliness of the empty womb for those who have experienced abortion. It is a haunting emptiness, enduring through life, and crying out for our compassionate care.

Good Friday is also the day that the Lord gave us the greatest example of forgiveness. And He was a victim of capital punishment. It is a day to renew our determination to work for alternatives to the death penalty and alternatives to war.

The Day of Days is Easter. The Easter Vigil cannot begin before dark, because the Church wants to dramatize the fact that darkness (symbolizing sin and death) is conquered by light (symbolizing the Risen Christ). "Christ our Light!" the deacon proclaims. "Thanks be to God!" the people respond. Thanks, indeed, because the victory belongs to Life! Don't let anything take that Easter joy from you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

True Fasting

Brethren, the following Bible verses from the Prophet Isaiah  (Isaiah 58: 1-8) moved me. I think they apply to some of us during Lent, particularly to those who fast for obligation or to show off. Observe how close the “true fasting” tracks with the corporal works of mercy.  Read it and heed it:

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
   Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
   and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
   they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
   and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
   and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
   ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
   and you have not noticed?’

   “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
   and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
   and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
   and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
   only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
   and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
   a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Fr. Nicolas Schwizer

There is when Mary will be truly important. Then a word dedicated to her most intimate Mother-heart – which will mysteriously extend – will descend upon Her.

If Christ has chosen the vocation of suffering and dying for the salvation of the world, it is clear that as many – throughout the centuries – who are united to Him through love, will have to accept – each one according to their state of life and function – that same vocation of dying and suffering for that salvation. And, if a member of Christ flees that function, something is lacking, not only to that member, but as St. Paul would explain, to the same Passion of Christ. Because His Passion yearns to be prolonged in the co-redeeming compassion of all the members of Christ. This is the mysterious meaning of the phrase of St. Paul to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” (COL 1:24)

That small group at the foot of the Cross, that rising Church, was there for something more than simple sentimental reasons. They were united to Jesus, not only to His sufferings, but also to His mission.

And, in this Church, Mary has a unique position. Until then this position and that mission had remained like on the penumbra (semi-darkness). Now on the Cross they will be clear for eternity. This is the hour, this is the moment in which Mary occupies her role – rightfully – in the redeeming Work of Jesus. And She enters into the mission of her Son with the same office she would have in his origin: that of Mother.

It is evident that, on the cross, Jesus did much more than concern Himself for the material future of his Mother, leaving her care in the hands of John. The importance of the moment, the play on words of the phrases will be enough to reveal to us that we are facing a deeper reality.

If it were only about a material commission, the “behold your son” would be logical.

Mary was being left without a son, she was getting a new one. But, why the “behold your Mother?” John not only had a mother, she was there present. Why give him a new mother?

It is clear that it was about a different maternity. And also that John is not there only as the son of Zebedee, but something more. Already from antiquity, the Christians have seen John in the entire humanity represented, and more concretely, in the rising Church. It is to this Church and this humanity to whom a spiritual mother is given. It is this Virgin, aged by the years and sufferings, who suddenly senses anew her bosom filled with fruitfulness.

That is the great legacy which Christ grants to humanity from the Cross. That is the great task which at the hour of the great truth is entrusted to Mary. It is like a second Annunciation. Thirty years earlier – She remembers it well – an angel invited her to be the Mother of God. Now, and not an angel but her own Son, announces to Her a more sublime task, if you will: to receive as the children of her heart those who are the assassins of her first-born son.

And she accepts. She accepted, thirty years earlier, when She said that “fiat” which was a total surrender into the hands of the Will of God. From there may the odor of the blood of Calvary begin to strangely have an odor of the newborn. From there may it be difficult to know if now it is more what dies or what is born. From there may we not know if we are attending an agony or a birth. The odor of Mother and begetting on this dramatic afternoon is so great…..!

Questions for reflection

1. Do I feel Mary as a mother?

2. How do I imagine Mary at the foot of the cross?

3. What does the phrase “behold your son” say to me?

Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord - AD 2011

Luke 19:28-40 (New International Version)

The Triumphal Entry

Icon of Palm Sunday28After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,

30"Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.

31If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' "

32Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.

33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"

34They replied, "The Lord needs it."

35They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"

40"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thank you, dear reader!

I  want to thank my reader who sent me How to Fight and Win a Cosmic War from my Amazon wish list.I won’t mention her name out of privacy and respect for her privacy, but I wanted to let her know publicly that I received the book and that I am thrilled.

Brethren, I also wanted to let you all know that I am already overseas doing my military duty. Thank your all for your prayerful support. I can see and even feel the Lord’s protection around me and my family. May the Lord richly bless you all.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Catholic Jew Pontificates: Raffalovich and a Catholic theology on Homosexuality

Brethren: I wanted to call to your attention this post from my colleagues over at the blog A Catholic Jew Pontificates. The post is entitled Raffalovich and a Catholic theology on Homosexuality. I found it interesting and I hope that you do to. Here’s an excerpt:

Marc-Andre Raffalovich advocated a Catholic spirituality of channelling same -sex or homoerotic desires into sublimation through divine intimacy with the Messiah Jesus. He saw that there were two major kinds of homosexuals -a higher or elevated kind who had a high sense of art and beauty and those who were lower and were absorbed in the lustful homosexual activities. It would seem this was based on a Jewish understanding of the animal and divine souls in men. These lower homosexuals or inverts live out acts only according to their animal or base nature of man whereas those who united themselves to divine beauty through the power of the Cross and the dark night of sublimation (bitul and mesirut nefesh) could attain to that part of man that connects with the Divine. One could then have intimate and life-long spiritual and mystical friendships with those of the same-sex as advocated by St Aelred. Raffalovich considered that those of the higher type of homosexual to be the ones who made the best priests followed by heterosexuals who were also able to embrace celibacy. The lower type of homosexual he considered unsuited and dangerous to religious life. His life-long friend John Gray a former lover of Oscar Wilde was to become a Dominican priest supported by Raffalovich.

Read it all here.

Friday, April 08, 2011

To Accompany Jesus

Father Nicolas Schwizer

I would like to invite you at the beginning of this Holy Week to accompany Jesus, to become one with Him, to actualize his Passion (feel the effect of his Passion) because it is not enough to write, remember or admire those great events regarding Jesus.

But, how can we accompany Him in his Passion and Death? We can do it, especially, if – for love of Him – we valiantly accept our own cross, our pain and personal sufferings in all their forms and appearances.

And if we not only accept all the adversities of our life, but that we also offer them joyfully to the Lord.

Easter is only made possible by means of the Passion. We arrive at the Resurrection only by means of the Cross, like Jesus and with Him. To accept and offer our cross should be our small personal contribution for the redemption of the world…..that which Jesus fulfilled by his Passion and Death.

During Mass, upon presenting to God the offerings of bread and wine, I invite you to place also on the paten your own suffering…..your personal cross…..so that God may accept them along with the suffering and Cross of his Son, Jesus Christ.

It is to enliven that acclamation which – after the Consecration of the Mass – we all say together: “We proclaim your death, we proclaim your Resurrection, until You come in Glory.”

What does that mean? It is not only the remembrance and the inner participation in his death. It also means that we commit ourselves to proclaim his death in our daily life. It means that we strive daily to die to sin and selfishness. What must die in me? What things make the surrendering of my heart so difficult, the surrendering of my will?

At Mass, I go up to Jesus on the Cross and let myself be nailed to it. But I must then remain nailed on the Cross daily and for the entire week until the next Mass. I must proclaim the death of the Lord during the day.

During the day, I must show that I have surrendered my will totally to the Will of the Father. I must demonstrate this through the small sacrifices and the daily renunciations which God and the others ask of me. If I am not disposed to this, I leave the Cross and leave Christ alone with his Cross…..I renounce proclaiming the death of the Lord.

And the meaning of all our striving, of our daily struggle is always the same: As in the Consecration of the Mass – bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the Lord – likewise we also become transformed into Christ. The mystery of the Cross in our life is the mystery of a holy transformation, a becoming Christ-like, divine-like. And in the measure in which we become like Christ, we see – with other eyes – the suffering, all the daily difficulties, all the worries and concerns, all the small daily battles. In the depth of our soul, this ceases to make us unhappy.

Even if the eyes are filled with tears, the heart is on God. It remains in peace, serene, happy. Oh how we desire this transformation! In time, it will become a reality: The soul will become divine-like. We will no longer live, but Christ will live in us.

So then, in union with His sacrifice, our gifts will also be transformed and will be infinitely fruitful.

Thus our entrance to the heavenly Jerusalem, the goal of our life, will be as joyful and happy as the entrance of the Lord which we recall on Palm Sunday.

Questions for reflection

1. Do I lament my Crosses?

2. Am I like those who say or think: Lord, why me?

3. Do I offer my crosses during Mass?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Faith without works is dead

Brethren, the reading for today’s Evening Prayer caught my attention and I wish to share it with you:

Icon of St. James son of Zebedee.14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:14-18, New KJV)

An excellent teaching from the epistle Martin Luther called “the epistle of straw.” Since we are on the subject of faith and works, I also want to share the standing Catholic teaching about their relationship:

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work(s) through charity."79

1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.

1965 The New Law or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed. It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit and through him it becomes the interior law of charity: "I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel. . . . I will put my laws into their hands, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."19

1966 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It works through charity; it uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it:

If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount, as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, he will doubtless find there . . . the perfect way of the Christian life.... This sermon contains ... all the precepts needed to shape one's life.20

1967 The Law of the Gospel "fulfills," refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection.21 In the Beatitudes, the New Law fulfills the divine promises by elevating and orienting them toward the "kingdom of heaven." It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith - the poor, the humble, the afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of Christ and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom.

1968 The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure,22 where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. the Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity.23

1969 The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men."24 Its prayer is the Our Father.25

1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between "the two ways" and to put into practice the words of the Lord.26 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets."27

The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the "new commandment" of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us.28

Feel free to click on the hyperlinked words to explore the Catechism, the official teaching of the Catholic Church.

Finally, I want to refresh your mind regarding the works of corporal and spiritual mercy we are supposed to fulfill as Catholic Christians throughout our lives. The corporal works of mercy are:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To shelter the homeless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To visit ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

I pray that during this Lent and beyond, we may practice fearlessly and with love what the New Law demands from us.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A thought by Blaise Pascal

Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ. We know life and death only through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know what is our life, nor our death, nor God, nor ourselves.

True that, true that…

Friday, April 01, 2011

Lead codices may prove to be major historical finding

Brethren, this according to Yahoo News:

British archaeologists are seeking to authenticate what could be a landmark discovery in the documentation of early Christianity: a trove of 70 lead codices that appear to date from the 1st century CE, which may include key clues to the last days of Jesus' life. As UK Daily Mail reporter Fiona Macrae writes, some researchers are suggesting this could be the most significant find in Christian archeology since the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947.

The codices turned up five years ago in a remote cave in eastern Jordan—a region where early Christian believers may have fled after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. The codices are made up of wirebound individual pages, each roughly the size of a credit card. They contain a number of images and textual allusions to the Messiah, as well as some possible references to the crucifixion and resurrection. Some of the codices were sealed, prompting yet more breathless speculation that they could include the sealed book, shown only to the Messiah, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. One of the few sentences translated thus far from the texts, according to the BBC, reads, "I shall walk uprightly"--a phrase that also appears in Revelation. "While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism," BBC writer Robert Pigott notes, "it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection."

Read it all here.

Commentary. Though undoubtedly fascinating, there’s been so much fraud in this field that I am not holding my breath too much. Besides, we don’t know the context in which they were found. But if real, wow.

One thing I will say, though: Mormon friends, these are not the original text for the “golden plates” given to Joseph Smith by “Moroni.” Sorry!

*Update, April 2, 2011: Well, it doesn’t look good. The things are probably a modern forgery. Read about it here. Therefore, they might be the originals of the Book of Mormon! Winking smile Angel