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“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/01/14 at 12:00 AM

What is a merciful woman like?  First of all, she is not like the morphine addict who slowly poisons herself, becoming completely unaware of the insidious and deadly effects of selfishness on the soul.

The merciful woman is one who is determined to help and support others in a kind and disinterested way.  Recognizing that her own nature is flawed, and loving God in others requires her to begin over and over again, she prays for perseverance.  Her loving heart is vigilant over the needs of others and on guard to protect those entrusted to her care as well as whomever God sends her way.  She generously goes about doing good to others wherever she sees a need, be it spiritual or material, emotional or practical.

Above all, she is a forgiving person and not only disarms by her merciful ways those who have offended her, but does so in a manner that her forgiveness leads the offender to reconsider.  The merciful woman knows that by nature it is easier for her to indulge her desires and plans rather than her duties which she at times looks at with anxiety and impatience.  She is able to be merciful because she is very aware of this natural tendency to prefer her own plans rather than be self-giving,  and thus she makes the effort to relinquish her plans and help those who have erred.  In particular, she is conscious that everything she does has repercussions, and no action is without its impact on those which whom she deals.

In particular, she is not afraid to use opportunities that arise to gently correct family members and friends when they need to be alerted to the dangers of the ways and ideas that are contrary to what is true and right.  Seek to understand others even when they seem to be unaccepting.   By being a friend can cause other to open their hearts so be prepared to help them.

Show mercy and kindness to those who are sad, dejected, ill, or lonely.  Comfort the grieving and the sorrowing.  Never act indifferently to a suffering person; rather spend time with those who need physical or spiritual consolation.  Never seek repayment or praise; that your are doing it for God in your neighbor is a rich enough reward.

We will only have mercy in our hearts when we offer mercy, when we forgive, our enemies from the example and with the help of Christ. Mercy is not simply a matter of giving alms to the poor, but also of being understanding of other people’s defects, overlooking them, helping them not only to cope with them but to love them despite whatever defects they may have. Mercy  suffers and rejoices with others.

Your love of God can be measured by the way you treat those who need help.  Follow Jesus’ example who was always motivated by mercy and always acted out of mercy.  Lead others to turn to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for solace, peace, and mercy.

 

 

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The Real Mary of Nazareth

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/12/29 at 12:00 AM

Sometimes we can think that all we need to know is about Jesus and that knowing about Mary is optional. However that is not right for the following reason. If we don’t have a good understanding of Mary we won’t have a good understanding of Jesus and that is why a good understanding of Mary is not optional.

I think it is good to make it clear that we believe that Mary was 100% human and 0% divine. She is not worshipped as worship is something that is only for God himself. Some people think that Catholics worship Mary but that is absolutely not true.

I am going to use two doctrines of Mary to show this and tie it into our gospel reading today.

The first is our designation of Mary as the Mother of God. Again this tells us about Jesus. The designation of Mary as the Mother of God is an ancient belief of our faith. Here is what it reveals about Jesus. He is 100% divine and 100% human in the one person of Jesus. His humanity isn’t diminished by his divinity nor is His divinity diminished by his humanity. Being God, the Son was begotten by the Father before time began. He has always been. Yet His human nature had a beginning when he was conceived in Mary’s womb. Mary was not the source of His divine nature but was of his human nature. Since Jesus was born of Mary, and since Jesus is God, therefore we can say that Mary is the Mother of God. But when we say that Mary is the Mother of God, we’re not saying she is the mother of the Trinity. It is a statement of the absolute unity of the two natures of Jesus Christ. Fully human, fully divine: one person. That is the first truth about Jesus that we can understand thru Mary.

The second designation of Mary is her immaculate conception which says that she was born without original sin. That is what the Immaculate

Conception means. Again this reveals Jesus to us and it has to do with Jesus being the New Covenant. The old covenant was established with the Jewish people through Moses and identified with the Ten Commandments. By his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and inaugurated the New. And, just like the first covenant had an Ark of the Covenant, so does the new one – the new one is Mary. Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.

How do we see this through Mary’s immaculate conception? If we look back in the book of Exodus chapter 25 we see the people preparing the Ark of the Covenant to house the tablets and it was believed that God’s presence dwelt in the ark. The materials used in the ark were acacia wood plated with pure gold. Acacia wood was prized as it was resistant to decay and gold was most suited for its beauty and stability. Only the finest most pure materials were used in the arks construction – what else would be worthy to hold the presence of God?

Our reading today shows Mary pregnant with Jesus visiting her cousin Elizabeth. We can see Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant when we look back at when the ark of the covenant was brought to King David in 2Sam . First we hear that David was dancing before the ark. Second In our gospel John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb. King David was so overwhelmed (v.9) he said “How can the ark of the Lord come to me”. Elizabeth says when seeing Mary “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me”. Third Samuel (v.11) says the ark stayed in the house of Obededom for three months. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1).

Jesus is the New Covenant and these examples show that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.

Let’s look at the former Ark of the Covenant. What was in it? It contained the ten commandments, a jar filled with manna, and Aaron’s rod. Christ fulfilled all that was in the original ark. Aaron’s rod symbolized the true priesthood and Christ became the new high priest (Heb 2). The commandments were God’s word to his people. Christ is the Word of God (John 1). The manna was the bread of life for the people as they wandered through the desert. Jesus said that he was the bread of life (John 6). Christ fulfilled all that was contained in the ark.

If the ark which contained these items was made of the finest materials and merely held symbols of the presence of God, then it makes sense that Mary who truly contained the presence of God within her would also not be a common vessel. It makes sense that the presence of God would not dwell in a vessel that was corrupted by sin – even original sin. Mary was conceived without sin so she would be able to agree to receive the Lord, to become the Ark of the New Covenant.

So what do these understandings of Mary reveal to us about Jesus whose birth we celebrate in a few days. It brings clarity that on Christmas Day we celebrate that God himself was born as a human while also being God. We also see that Jesus came as the new covenant to save us all and fulfill the old covenant.

Jesus is our Savior and we understand him best when we also understand His mother. As we get ready for the coming of God into our lives as a baby who would save us let’s know that that he wants us to know him well and that we can know him better as we know His mother also. This is a time of great joy let’s embrace all that God has in store for us as we await Him at His birth.

Deacon Jack Staub at St. Mathew Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Who? Me? by Father Barron

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/09/25 at 12:00 AM

THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY

I have mentioned the French philosopher René Girard before. Much of his work has centered on the phenomenon of group psychology, especially around the scapegoating mechanism. He says that a kind of community is formed precisely when a variety of people, who would otherwise rather dislike one another, come together in a common hatred of someone else.

We can see this, Girard tells us, at all levels, from the most personal to the most collective, from families to nation-states. How often is there a “black sheep” in a family? He or she plays an important role in family stability and identity. What is the only thing that two scholars can agree on? How poor the work of a third scholar is! What is the only thing two musicians can agree upon? How awful another musician’s composition is.

This dynamic is in effect in one of the most beautifully crafted stories in the New Testament: the woman caught in adultery. The text tells us “They caught her in the very act of adultery.” Where were they situated in order to catch her in the very act?! The voyeurism and perversion of these men is shocking. They then come en masse, in the terrible enthusiasm of a mob, and they present the case to Jesus.

Now what does Jesus do in the face of this violent mob that is seeking release from its tension? First, he bends down and writes on the ground. Sometimes silence, a refusal to co-operate is the best opening move. But the mysterious writing might indicate something else: the writing down of the sins of each person in the group, as some early theologians surmised.

Jesus then says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” He forces them to turn their accusing glance inward, where it belongs. Instead of projecting their violence outward on a scapegoat, they should honestly name and confront the dysfunction within them. This story, like all the stories in the Gospels, is a foreshadowing of the great story toward which we are tending. Jesus will be put to death by a mob bent on scapegoating violence.

 

By Father Robert Barron

Isaiah: Bible Study

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/05/18 at 11:19 AM


Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 3.34.44 PM

Please click on this site to access a one minute video on a forthcoming Scripture study of Isaiah by Catholic Scripture Study (CSS)

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MUiVovCusJw?rel=0&autoplay=1&loop=0

Divine Light

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/03/13 at 12:00 AM

One of the key visuals in the story of the Transfiguration is the divine light that radiates from Jesus. Matthew says, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Luke reports, “His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” And Mark says, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”
This light seems to signal the beauty and radiance of a world beyond this one, a world rarely seen, only occasionally glimpsed, amidst the griminess and ordinariness of this world.

Is this beautiful and radiant world ever seen today? Let me share a few stories with you. When I was travelling recently, I met a man who, as a young man, met St. Padre Pio, the famous stigmatist. He was privileged to serve his Mass. During the elevation of the host, after the consecration, this man noticed something remarkable: there was a glow around the holy man’s hands. Years later when he heard reports of “auras” he said to himself, “That’s what I saw that day.”

Malcolm Muggeridge, the English journalist and convert to Catholicism, was filming Mother Teresa for a documentary. One day, the electricity was out, and he bemoaned the fact that he had to film her without lights, convinced that the day would be lost. However, when the film was developed, he noticed that the scenes were beautifully lit. To his surprise it appeared as though the light was coming from her.

Consider also the Shroud of Turin. There is scientific speculation that the marks on the shroud, the holy icon thought by many to be the burial shroud of Christ, were caused by a burst of radiant energy – light energy.

I’d like to leave you with one last thought: from the time of the earliest disciples, the holy followers of Jesus were pictured with halos above their heads. What is a halo if not the divine light breaking into our world today?

“St. Aquinas says that Jesus is transfigured before his disciples in order to allow them to see the great goal so that they might have courage as they struggle on the way.”

– Fr. Robert Barron

Word on Fire | 5215 Old Orchard Road | Suite 410 | Skokie | IL | 60077

The New Testament from a Jewish Perspective

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/02/06 at 12:00 AM

NOSTRA AETATE (Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council.)  50 years later:

Jewish scholarship on the New Testament has greatly increased in number since NOSTRA AETATE. While there was some Jewish scholarship on the New Testament over the centuries before NOSTRA AETATE, Jews in general have not desired to read or understand the New Testament. This has mostly been due to the harsh statements made by Jesus about Jews and their religious leader in the Gospel, and the accusation by the Church that “Jews killed our Lord.” Centuries of violent and often deadly persecution, pogroms, expulsions, lies and suffering followed. Jews stayed away from this dangerous text, and even those Jewish scholars who wrote about the New Testament, were not widely read by other Jews.

However, three events in the 1940’s prompted a change in Jewish interest in studying the New Testament and in Christian interest in Jewish scholarship on the New Testament. These events are the Holocaust, the birth of the State of Israel, and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The first two were traumatic events that changed relations between Christians and Jews, mostly among clergy, religious, and scholars. Christians began to question what elements in the long development of Christian theology contributed to the Holocaust, while the birth of the State of Israel prompted Christians to ask about God’s character of faithfulness in His covenant to the Jewish people, when the status of the Jewish people changed from wandering to returning home.

Nostra Aetate followed in the 1960’s, opening a new chapter in Christian thinking about Jews, Judaism, and

our relationship to the Jewish community. The church admitted it had been wrong about God revoking the covenant between God and Israel. The covenant was indeed a living covenant, never having been revoked. It also rescinded the deicide charge–“the Jews killed our Lord”–against the Jewish people. Other Christian denominations followed suit and began to reach out to Jews and to the Jewish community. Jews responded, and Christian-Jewish dialogue followed in full force. Jesus’ identity as a Jew, faithful to Judaism, was affirmed by the Church, and Christian scholars became interested in studying the Jewish Jesus to understand the specifically Jewish context and Jewish faith in which Jesus taught. The church needed help from Jewish scholars to accomplish this.

Jewish scholars also became interested in pursuing the New Testament for a number of different reasons, e.g., it was written by Jews and could be studied from a Jewish perspective, it contained elements of Second Temple Judaism not available in other Jewish sources. As Amy Jill-Levine stated in an interview about her book, The Jewish Annotated New Testament, “The more I study the New Testament the better Jew I become.” Likewise, Brad Young, a Christian scholar who studied under David Flusser, a Jewish scholar of the New Testament, said, “If we do not know Jesus as a Jew, we do not know Jesus.”

Because we are often taught by rabbis, and study Jewish sources to understand scripture more fully, we want to offer this study as a way of exposing the breadth of Jewish scholarship on the New Testament that are available, to understand the history and development of this particular scholarship, and to gain new insights into Jesus’ teachings for our faith, life, and discipleship.

At the invitation of the Winnipeg Bat Kol Tri-Diocesan Committee Sister Lucy Thorson gave a conference to a crowd of approximately seventy people on the topic Modern Milestones in Catholic Jewish Relations. Using a power point to illustrate her lecture, Sister Lucy identified the step by step developments within the Church regarding our relationship with Judaism and our Jewish brothers and sisters. Her presentation itemized the various documents, declarations and activities of the Church through the terms of Popes John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. We were led to understand how significant each moment in this history was and how profoundly the Church’s stance has changed during the almost 50 years since Nostra Aetate was written in 1965. Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the Church’s Relationship to Non- Christian Religions, one of the most influential and celebrated documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Rabbi Alan Green offered insights and perspectives from his experience in dialogue. He noted the accomplishments to date and invited us to consider what the next steps might be here in Winnipeg, challenging the group to consider what steps would be necessary to move forward together and to include Muslims in our dialogue. Rabbi Green brought the evening to a close with a prayerful Shabbat chant.

From the Newsletter of the Sisters of Sion: Dynamic Movement of the Holy Spirit

 

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/01/23 at 12:00 AM

When in college, one of our sons had a job working at the Governor’s Club in Chapel Hill. I remember his excitement when he called one evening to say he had just served Dean Smith, the retired, Hall of Fame basketball coach. Dean Smith is someone our son had heard about all his life, but this was the first time he ever had the chance to be close to him, this was the first time he seemed real – and he wanted to share that excitement with me.

That fond parenting memory came to mind when I simplistically tried to imagine, what it must have been like when John the Baptist said to Andrew, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (1) What an introduction! He could have said, “…let me introduce you to my cousin…” instead, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”(1)

When we hear such language…it may resonate with us, but most likely it does not, unless perhaps we grew up near a pasture. But for the Jewish people of 2,000 years ago, that image of a lamb was unmistakable. It was understood the lamb would be led to slaughter…the lamb would be sacrificed. So this introduction by itself, very easily could have brought fear to the disciples. Perhaps a more human reaction would have been to turn, and run the other way.

Then Jesus greeted them by saying, “What are you looking for?”(2) “What are you looking for?” (2) Isn’t that a great question? That is not an ice breaker question — that’s a question that goes right to the heart! Perhaps it is a question we should be asking ourselves? “What are we looking for?” Why do we get out of bed every morning & go to work, or to school, or do whatever we do each day?

Why do we come here? What are we looking for? Are we even prepared to answer that question?
…but notice the Disciples gave an equally curious answer. They said, “Where are you staying?”(3)

Today, when we want to gain knowledge or master a skill, we enroll in a college or university and earn a degree. But in the year 30 AD, you learned as an apprentice; you learned, as it were…at the foot of the master. So, just as Jesus learned to be a carpenter by practicing the skills taught to him by St. Joseph, the Disciples wanted to know where Jesus was staying so they could be with Him, learn from Him, become His apprentice.

The disciples reply reminds me of the story my father would tell about my mother they were first married. While my mom, who is of Irish decent, was an excellent cook in her day, she did not really know the good Italian recipes that my dad enjoyed so much. So, for the first few weeks of their marriage, mom went to my grandmother’s house to learn; to study at the foot of the master – as it were – just as the Disciples studied at the foot of THE Master. They spent time together, they got to know one another, love one another, they got to recognize each other’s voice.

…and that is what we hear in today’s reading from the First Book of Samuel. The Lord calls Samuel but he runs to Eli and says, “Here I am” (4) and Eli responds, “I did not call you, go back to sleep.”(5) …and that sequence repeats itself until Eli understands Samuel did not hear this voice in a dream, rather, it was the Lord calling. But Samuel was a young man, he did not know the Lord…he had not spent time at the foot of the Master…he did not recognize His voice.

Isn’t that exactly what happens to us? Our Lord calls, and like Samuel, we do not recognize His voice or we are reluctant to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Perhaps we fear the price of this apprenticeship is too steep…perhaps we’re concerned about the cost of sitting, “… at the foot of the Master.” Perhaps we are afraid of the final exam when will have to answer, “What are we looking for?”

Of course, it is easy to delay answering that question if our relationship with God is distant. It is like having caller ID on our phone. When we know who is calling and we are not prepared to enter into the discussion, we may not always answer. We want those discussions to be on our terms, not the terms of the one reaching out to us. But — if we truly… “Behold, the Lamb of God”(1) …it would be impossible to reply, “…let me get back to you—later.”

Look at what Andrew does after spending only a few hours with Our Lord. He goes and finds his brother Simon and tells him, “…we have found the Messiah!”(6) He shared his excitement of meeting the Lamb of God. Because Andrew took the initiative, his brother Simon became Peter…the Rock upon which our Church is built, the one given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the one granted the power to bind and to loose. Imagine the void of our Church if Andrew had not shared his excitement with his brother Simon. Andrew heard the Lord’s voice, he knew the Lord’s call.

Dean Smith is a man credited with leading the Tar Heels to 879 victories, but not a single one of these victories was of eternal consequence. So, let’s cherish the sacred moment we experience here at Mass when we… “Behold the Lamb of God” (1) who brought us the only victory that matters; the victory over sin and death! Embrace the words of Samuel, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”(7)

(1): Gospel of John; 1:36
(2): Gospel of John; 1:38
(3): Gospel of John; 1:38
(4): 1 Samuel; 3:4
(5): 1 Samuel; 3:5
(6): Gospel of John; 1: 41
(7) 1 Samuel; 3:10

Immaculate Conception

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/12/05 at 12:00 AM

In the Angelus of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI emphasised that Mary is Immaculate “by a gratuitous gift of the Grace of God, which she accepted, however, with perfect willingness and cooperation. In this respect she is ‘blessed’ because she ‘believed’, because of her firm faith in God”.

The Holy Father continued, “Mary represents that ‘remnant of Israel’, the holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God is listened to, and finds acceptance, a response; the Word finds the ‘yes’ that allows it to take on flesh and to dwell among us. In Mary humanity and history are truly open to God and accept his Grace, in readiness to serve his will. Mary is the genuine expression of Grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. … The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was born, first with reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then to Mary”.

“The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. Indeed, in Mary the relationship with God, that may be destroyed by sin, is completely alive and active. There is no opposition within her between God and her being; rather, there is full communion, full understanding. There is a reciprocal ‘yes’, from God to her and from her to God. … She is full of His Grace and His love.

“In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realised: that His covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which has grown the Fruit most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Saviour. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that Grace is able to bring about a response, that God’s fidelity can generate a true and good faith”.

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Beatitudes

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/06/23 at 12:00 AM

From the beginning of a sermon on the beatitudes by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 95, 1-2: PL 54, 461-462)

I shall put my laws within them

Dearly beloved, when our Lord Jesus Christ was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom and healing various illnesses throughout the whole of Galilee, the fame of his mighty works spread into all of Syria, and great crowds from all parts of Judea flocked to the heavenly physician. Because human ignorance is slow to believe what it does not see, and equally slow to hope for what it does not know, those who were to be instructed in the divine teaching had first to be aroused by bodily benefits and visible miracles so that, once they had experienced his gracious power, they would no longer doubt the wholesome effect of his doctrine.

In order, therefore, to transform outward healings into inward remedies, and to cure men’s souls now that he had healed their bodies, our Lord separated himself from the surrounding crowds, climbed to the solitude of a neighboring mountain, and called the apostles to himself. From the height of this mystical site he then instructed them in the most lofty doctrines, suggesting both by the very nature of the place and by what he was doing that it was he who long ago had honored Moses by speaking to him. At that time, his words showed a terrifying justice, but now they reveal a sacred compassion, in order to fulfill what was promised in the words of the prophet Jeremiah: Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I shall establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. After those days, says the Lord, I shall put my laws within them and write them on their hearts.

And so it was that he who had spoken to Moses spoke also to the apostles. Writing in the hearts of his disciples, the swift hand of the Word composed the ordinances of the new covenant. And this was not done as formerly, in the midst of dense clouds, amid terrifying sounds and lightning, so that the people were frightened away from approaching the mountain. Instead, there was a tranquil discourse which clearly reached the ears of all who stood nearby so that the harshness of the law might be softened by the gentleness of grace, and the spirit of adoption might dispel the terror of slavery.

Concerning the content of Christ’s teaching, his own sacred words bear witness; thus whoever longs to attain eternal blessedness can now recognize the steps that lead to that high happiness. Blessed, he says, are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. It might have been unclear to which poor he was referring, if after the words Blessed are the poor, he had not added anything about the kind of poor he had in mind. For then the poverty that many suffer because of grave and harsh necessity might seem sufficient to merit the kingdom of heaven. But when he says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, he shows that the kingdom of heaven is to be given to those who are distinguished by their humility of soul rather than by their lack of worldly goods.

Unity of Pentecost Overcomes Division and Emnity

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/06/06 at 12:00 AM

A few years ago, now Pope Emeritus

Benedict XVI focused his homily on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost which, he said, is particularly important in our own times. “Pentecost is the feast of union, of human understanding and communion. Yet it is evident to everyone that in our world, although are closer to one another than ever before thanks to the development of the communications media, … understanding and communion among people is often superficial and difficult. Imbalances remain and not infrequently lead to conflict; dialogue among generations is problematic; … we daily witness events which seem to show that mankind is becoming more aggressive and quarrelsome; understanding one another seems too arduous an undertaking, and we prefer to remain within ourselves and focus on our own our interests”.”Thanks to scientific and technological progress we have acquired the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to fabricate living beings, almost going so far as to fabricate human beings. In such a situation praying to God seems outmoded and useless, because we ourselves can construct and achieve anything we want”. Yet “men are nursing a sense of diffidence, suspicion and reciprocal fear, to the extent that they have even become a danger to one another”. We have greater power to communicate but, paradoxically, we understand one another less.Harmony and unity “can only come with the gift of God’s Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new voice, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. That morning … the Holy Spirit descended on the gathering of the disciples. It rested upon each of them and set the divine fire alight within them, a fire of love with the power to transform. Their fear disappeared, in their hearts they felt a new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak frankly so that everyone could understand the announcement of Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again.At Pentecost division and estrangement gave way to unity and understanding”.In today’s Gospel Jesus, “speaking of the Holy Spirit, tells us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be … a place of unity and communion in the Truth. He tells us that acting as Christians means not remaining closed in one’s own self but being open to all things; it means welcoming the entire Church into our own lives or, better still, allowing her to welcome us in our hearts. … Thus the Holt Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resound in the hearts and minds of men, encouraging them to meet and accept one another”.

The Holy Spirit leads us to understand the truth, which is Jesus,”but only if we are able to listen and to share, only in the ‘us’ of the Church and with an attitude of profound inner humility. … When men wish to set themselves up as God, they only succeed in setting themselves against one other. On the other hand, when they abide in the truth of the Lord, they open themselves to the action of His spirit which sustains and unites them”.

St. Paul tells us that the life of man is marked by an inner conflict between the impulses of the flesh and those of the spirit. The former are “the sins of selfishness and violence, such as enmity, discord, jealousy and dissension. … They can lead us to lose our lives. However, the Holy Spirit guides us to the pinnacle of God so that, already in this life, we may experience the seed of divine live which is within us. St. Paul says, in fact, that ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace'”.

In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the faithful to live “according to the Spirit of unity and truth. To this end we must pray that the Spirit may illuminate us, guiding us to overcome the lure of our own truths and to accept the truth of Christ, as transmitted by the Church”.

 

THE POPE: “WE MUST RENEW THE SOUL OF OUR INSTITUTIONS”

Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) – “We must form people’s consciences in the light of the Word of God, whence all plans of the Church and of men draw meaning and strength, also as regards the construction of the earthly city. We must renew the soul of our institutions and make history fertile with the seeds of new life”. Benedict XVI pronounced these words this morning in St. Peter’s Square where he received thousands of members of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association,which is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation in Italy.

The Pope expressed the view that “in modern society we are experiencing a situation which is in some ways precarious, characterised by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of decisions. Often there is a lack of points of reference from which to draw inspiration for our lives. It is, then, increasingly important to construct the edifice of life and social relationships on the stable rock of the Word of God”.

Today, the Holy Father said, believers are called to show a “convincing, sincere and credible witness of faith, one closely united to charitable commitment, It is, in fact, through charity, that people far removed from and indifferent to the the message of the Gospel are able to approach the truth and to become converted to the merciful love of the heavenly Father”.

Pope Benedict also dedicated his attention to the work of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association over recent decades. “Your apostolic efforts have contributed to the development of spiritual life in the Italian ecclesial and social fabric through paths of conversion which have helped many people to be profoundly healed by the love of God, and many families to overcome moments of crisis”, he said. “Your groups have not been lacking in young people ready to respond generously to the vocation of special consecration to God in the priesthood and in the religious life”. The Holy Father also underlined the movement’s support for people in situations of need and marginalisation, especially in the field of the spiritual and material rebirth of prisoners.

The Pope concluded by exhorting those present: “Never cease to look to heaven; the world has need of prayer. We need men and women who feel the draw of heaven in their lives, who make praising the Lord the basis of a new lifestyle. Be joyous Christians! I entrust you all to Mary Most Holy, who was present in the Upper Room at the moment of Pentecost”.

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