Posts Tagged ‘Beatitudes’

All Saints Day

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/31 at 12:00 AM

In the quaint little city of Ghent, Belgium, about 40 minutes outside of Brussels, is one of the world’s true artistic treasures – a masterpiece, really – known as the Altarpiece of Ghent. It is also sometimes referred to as the Adoration of the Mystical Lamb.

Composed of 12 different panels that are all hinged together, the primary panel in the center depicts the scene of Heaven that we hear about in our first reading from St. John’s Book of Revelation.

The scene is one of a verdant pasture, while in the background can be seen the spires of Jerusalem, reminding us that this is Heaven, the New Jerusalem.

In the center is the Lamb, standing upon an altar and surrounded by angels and a “great multitude from every nation, race, people, and tongue wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”

These saints, who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” stream toward our Lord from every corner to give Him glory and honor.

The Lamb, of course, is Christ, and angels holding symbols of His Passion surround him. Blood gushes from His wounded breast into a golden chalice. Yet there is no pain on the Lamb’s face, but rather an expression of triumph.

Indeed, the instruments of His Passion and His bloody wound are the signs of His triumph over sin and death, and because of His wound, we can all be healed.

Hovering above the Lamb of God is the Holy Spirit, depicted as a dove. Emanating from both the Holy Spirit and the Lamb are rays of celestial light that illuminate the entire scene. For there is no sun or moon to illuminate Heaven; only the glory of God!

Truly, it’s a remarkable piece of art – one that I like so much that our mural that we are in the process of creating for our apse wall will be modeled after it.

Included in our mural will be saints from across our Catholic history, as well as important Biblical figures from both the Old and New Testaments. My hope is that it will be the most significant piece of religious art in diocese.

My hope is that our mural will be one great way that we can give glory and honor to our Lord, as He so richly deserves.

As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve spoken a lot about sin in the past several months, and for many reasons. Sin is the great enemy. What we must remember is that sin and God are mutually exclusive. They cannot and will not exist together. There is no sin in Heaven.

So in addition to being in a state of grace at the moment of death, to be admitted into the glory of Heaven, we must also be purified of our sins – either in this life or in Purgatory. We must be pure and holy!

But holiness does not come easy, does it? Try as we might, we all fail to live up to our calling as Christians. Thus, we need help if we are to be holy. That’s where the saints come in!

As those of you who come to daily Mass know, even though I preach a good bit on sin, I preach more about the saints than anything else.

Moreover, in building and decorating this church, we’ve gone to great lengths to incorporate many, many images of the saints: in our stained glass, in our statues, and eventually in the mural that we’re creating for the apse wall.

This is because I want you never to forget how important the saints are to us!

While we should, of course, fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and make Him the focus of our worship, it’s important for us to have the example of the saints ever before us.

The saints remind us that holiness is truly possible in this life, no matter what our circumstances may be.

So many of the saints were faced with incredible challenges and problems, and yet they persevered through them – and they show us how to do the same thing!

The saints show us how us to suffer well so that we grow in holiness through our sufferings. They even show us how to find joy and peace in the midst of suffering.

In their writings and by their very lives, the saints teach us the truth and beauty of our Catholic faith. They also pray and intercede for us from Heaven!

And most importantly, the saints show us how to love God as He should be loved. And it is in loving God as He should be loved, more than in anything else, that we are purified and made holy. It’s through loving God that we become like Him.

As we celebrate this great Solemnity of All Saints, as we bask in the glory of this great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, let us trust in their intercession to help us in whatever struggles life brings to us.

Let us look to their example of heroic virtue and purity of life and seek to imitate it for the glory of God and the sake of our souls.

Like the saints in Heaven, let us live out the Beatitudes with faithfulness and integrity so that we may one day join them around the altar of the Lamb.

All you saints in Heaven, pray for us!

1 November 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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What gate?

In Uncategorized on 2014/07/11 at 12:00 AM

The Gospel of the Good Shepherd in which Jesus describes Himself as “the gate for the sheep” was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily Monday morning.

Jesus tells his disciples that whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, is not a shepherd, but a thief and a robber. In short, said Pope Francis, someone who seeks to profit for themselves, who only wants to climb the social ladder. The only gate to the Kingdom of God, to the Church – the Pope said – is Jesus Himself:

“These social climbers exist even in the Christian communities, no? those people who are looking for their own… and consciously or unconsciously pretend to enter but are thieves and robbers. Why? Why steal the glory from Jesus? They want glory for themselves and this is what [Jesus] said to the Pharisees: ‘You seek for each other’s approval.’.

“That’s something of a ‘commercial’ religion, don’t you think? I give glory to you and you give glory to me. But these people did not enter through the true gate. The [true] gate is Jesus and those who do not enter by this gate are mistaken. How do I know that Jesus is the true gate? How do I know that this gate is Jesus’s gate? It’s enough to take the Beatitudes and do what the Beatitudes say. Be humble, poor, gentle, just. “.

Pope Francis continued, noting that Jesus is not only the gate, he is also the way, the path to follow on our journey. He said there are many paths that we can follow, some perhaps more advantageous than others in getting ahead, but they are “misleading, they are not real: they are false. The only path is Jesus “:

“Some of you may say: ‘Father, you’re a fundamentalist!’. No, simply put, this is what Jesus said : ‘I am the gate’, ‘I am the path’ [He] gives life to us. Simple. It is a beautiful gate, a gate of love, it is a gate that does not deceive, it is not false. It always tells the truth. But with tenderness and love.”

“However, we still have [.] the source of original sin within us, is not it so? We still desire to possess the key to interpreting everything, the key and the power to find our own path, whatever it is, to find our own gate, whatever it is.”

“Sometimes” – the Pope said – “we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord”:

“And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God. We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus. We can only enter by that gate which leads to a path and that path is called Jesus and brings to a life whose name is Jesus. All those who do something else – says the Lord – who try to enter through the window, are ‘thieves and robbers’. He is simple, the Lord. His words are not complex: He is simple”.

The Pope concluded by inviting all those present to ask for “the grace to always knock on that gate”:

“Sometimes it’s closed: we are sad, we feel desolation, we have problems with knocking, with knocking at that gate. Do not go looking for other gates that seem easier, more comfortable, more at hand. Always the same one: Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, Jesus does not deceive, Jesus is not a thief, not a robber. He gave his life for me: each of us must say this: ‘And you who gave your life for me, please, open, that I may enter.’ ”

Vatican Radio

What is love?

In 07 Observations on 2014/04/18 at 12:00 AM

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as “to will the good of another.” Love is not a feeling.  Love is an act of the will to want that which is good for someone else.  If possible one will also act to bring about the good of another. That is why Jesus said love your enemy (Will the good of that person).  What is the good of the person, my enemy? Perhaps that this person sees the evil in his actions and turns to do what is good.

Love is a powerful word and it is the most overused and abused word of our times.  Pope Benedict XVI said God is Love and he is right.  But when our understanding of Love is so skewed, so will be our understanding of God.  Here is how we use LOVE: I love pizza (it pleases me) I love this show (it entertains me) I love you (you give me pleasure), I love my parents (as long as they don’t tell me what to do or inconvenience me) I love God (as long as His Will doesn’t interfere with mine).  Love in our world is what makes me feel good.  So if God is Love He will do what will please me. No.

God is LOVE, the source of all goodness.  Love is not what I feel and it is not about me. Love is about the good I can will and do for others.

Loving God, and being His followers.  Pope John Paul II called the Beatitudes the self-portrait of Christ in Veritatis Splendor. Most Bible scholars would agree that the Beatitudes give us a clear picture of the true disciple of God.  To get to this point, a follower must be following all the commandments and come to understand that the meaning of life is doing the will of God.  Pursuing the Beatitudes will perfect the soul of those that will to follow the Lord. Father Barron says that the Beatitudes reveal that the true path of joy is found not in grasping at power but in the willing surrender to God’s mysterious grace.

Loving others, and turning the other cheek.  Turning the other cheek is a way of forcing an aggressor to confront its aggression.  We are not saying that a Jewish person in Nazi Germany confronts the Gestapo.  That would be suicide. What Jesus meant is that when presented with an injustice, instead of returning the injustice or running away from it we choose a 3rd option… turn the other cheek.

To illustrate the point we can look at someone who understood Jesus’ message well and puts it into practice.  Blessed Teresa once entered a bakery in Calcutta with a poor hungry child.  She asked the owner if he could spare a piece of bread for the child.  He spit in her face.  She calmly wiped her face looked at him kindly and said, that was for me, now can you spare a piece of bread for the child.  That is what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek. She understood Love: Will the good of the other.

Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ

In 15 Audio on 2014/04/18 at 12:00 AM
Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
In the series, Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life, Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President of Gonzaga University, presents a rich practical guide for helping busy people develop a deeper prayer life. Spitzer presents five essential means through which the contemplative and active aspects of our lives can be joined, creating a stronger spiritual life. Contemplation allows God to probe the depths of our hearts and allows us to gain deeper insight into His truth and love. This exchange allows the freedom to love in the very imitation of Jesus Christ himself, ” This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” St. Ignatius of Loyola espoused the ideal of becoming “contemplatives in action.” He was convinced that contemplation–the deep awareness and appropriation of the unconditional love of God–should affect our actions, and that our actions need to be brought back to our interior foundation. Fr. Spitzer shows that there are five essential means through which this communion can be attained, particularly for busy people: the Holy Eucharist, spontaneous prayer, the Beatitudes, partnership with the Holy Spirit, and the contemplative life itself. Fr. Spitzer invites viewers to contemplate the vast beauty and depth of the spiritual masters, issuing a call to a deeper spiritual life, entering ever more deeply into the heart of God.

1.First Pillar: Jesus’ Intentions in the Holy Eucharist
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_01.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., explains what the five pillars of the spiritual life are, and begins to discuss the first pillar of the Holy Eucharist.

2.First Pillar: The Holy Eucharist
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_02.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., proceeds further into his discussion on the Holy Eucharist, a priceless gift which causes us to contemplate upon the love and God and give thanks.

3.First Pillar: The Grace of the Eucharist
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_03.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., details the graces received in the Holy Eucharist as healing, forgiveness, peace, transformation, and Church unity, all of which are incorporated into the Liturgy.

4.Second Pillar: Spontaneous Prayers
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_04.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., describes sets of spontaneous prayers designed to petition for divine assistance or help, as well as specialized prayers in times of real suffering.

5.Second Pillar: Spontaneous Prayers, Part Two
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_05.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., shares sets of spontaneous prayers which offer and seek forgiveness. The motive of personal prayer should not derive from self-centeredness but out of the desire for submission to God’s will.

6.Third Pillar: The “Our Father” and the Beatitudes
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_06.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., enumerates the five petitions contained within the Lord’s Prayer as the model prayer form. He details the Beatitudes as means of living out the intentions of the “Our Father.”

7.Third Pillar: The Beatitudes, Part Two
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_07.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., reveals the empathy Christians are to offer to those in need as followers of Christ attempting to love as he loves.

8.Third Pillar: The Beatitudes and the Examen Prayer
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_08.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., relates that Christians are to mirror the merciful heart of Christ, who forgave and loved his enemies, performed works of mercy, promoted peace and worked for reconciliation among those divided by discord or error.

9.Fourth Pillar: Partnership with the Holy Spirit, Part One
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_09.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., shares that the Holy Spirit is the best spiritual director one could hope for, aiding the personal discernment process for finding God’s will in a particular circumstance by instilling a sense of lasting peace, guiding through distractions for clear perception, and finally providing inspiration to make proper decisions.

10.Fourth Pillar: Partnership with the Holy Spirit, Part Two
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_10.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., declares the Holy Spirit’s role in personal guidance, exhorting believers to constancy in times of spiritual consolation and desolation, leading to an increase in the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

11.Fourth Pillar: Partnership with the Holy Spirit, Part Three
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_11.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., describes the role of feelings and emotions as natural to the life of faith. Consolations and desolations may come and go, but one should focus on growing in relationship to God—the end of the quest of the spirit and the giver of all true gifts.

12.Fourth Pillar: Partnership with the Holy Spirit, Part Four
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_12.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., distinguishes between the consolations and desolations which may come from God or the devil. Rules of discernment are given so as to retain clarity and focus amidst potential clutter and confusion.

13.Fifth Pillar: The Contemplative Life
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_13.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., offers practical guidance for active people who seek to develop a contemplative prayer life. Cultivating the “school of the heart,” contemplatives are encouraged to pray with the Scriptures and give thanks to God for his blessings, thereby receiving his consolation and revelatory insight.

14.Fifth Pillar: Eight Vehicles of Contemplation
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_14.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., relays eight means to come into contemplation, through giving thanks and praise to God; meditating on his life, his Word and his liturgy; practicing devotions, offering simple prayers and praying in silence. In these ways contemplatives remember to appreciate who God is in their lives, following his will and giving thanks in all things.

15.Fifth Pillar: How to Begin Contemplation
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_15.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., points out that a key element of contemplation is to recognize that God is love. God’s love is typified by the Scriptures, especially 1 Corinthians 13 and the Beatitudes of Matthew 5. God desires to bestow on everyone the highest good, salvation, and unconditional love.

16.Fifth Pillar: Vehicles of Contemplation, Part One
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_16.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., declares that thanksgiving is the proper response to contemplating the wonder of God’s creation in general, his creation of the soul, redemption through Jesus Christ and for the gift of one’s entire life.

17.Fifth Pillar: Vehicles of Contemplation, Part Two
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_17.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., conveys ways we can contemplate the wonder of God’s gifts to humanity: through the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures in general, and by meditating on the life of Christ in the Gospel following the method of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

18.Fifth Pillar: Vehicles of Contemplation, Part Three
Host – Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.fivepillars_18.mp3Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., gives further examples of Ignatian Contemplation of the life of Christ in the Gospel, sharing how people living in the time of Jesus loved and trusted him. These meditations may be carried into devotions like the Rosary, simple prayers and the prayer of silence.http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=842969394&pgnu=1


How Do I Love You? Let Me Count the Ways

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/08/10 at 7:00 AM

The Beatitudes describe the most perfect fruits of the Holy Spirit in man.  They are the most divine-like human acts that men can perform, and Christ attached a reward to them both in this life and in the next.  The Beatitudes promise blessing and redemption to all those whose moral conduct meets the demands Christ sets.

The Beatitudes correspond to man’s natural desire for happiness: a desire of divine origin that God has placed into the heart of men to draw them to Himself, He who alone can fulfill that desire.

The Beatitudes are the gateway to the Sermon on the Mount.  This discourse contains various teachings that essentially deal with the attitudes and heart condition a person must have TO enter the Kingdom of Heaven: simply, how one relates to God as Father and the human beings as siblings.

The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.  They are descriptions of His perfect humanity, for He  is the model for them.  And in them, He present the New Law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Jesus Christ was the greatest revolutionary that walked the earth.  He made a complete change from the generally accepted human values to this new law.  The message was that only in serving God could man achieve the happiness he desired.  Thus,  Jesus Christ clarified the attitudes and moral behavior that his perfect nature required of all those who desire to follow Him.

The Beatitudes teach us that the real success of our lives is to love and fulfill God’s Will for us.  They are an invitation to an upright and worthy life.  Will you accept this Divine invitation?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. Matt. 5:12.

Blessed John Paul II by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/05/12 at 8:40 AM

• As you may already know, the Vatican recently announced that the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, is now “Blessed John Paul II.” His beatification on May 1st was the speediest in history, edging out Mother Teresa’s by one day.

• This means he will be just one step away from becoming “St. John Paul II.”

• Personally, I was thrilled to receive this news. John Paul was elected to the Chair of Peter when I was 8 years old, and although I wasn’t a Catholic as a child, he has always seemed like a lifelong friend.

• For many Catholics of my generation, Pope John Paul II is the reason why we love and embrace our Catholic faith with such fervor, particularly we Catholics of the John Paul era who have become priests.

• Pope John Paul II was the voice of reason, clarity, compassion, and enthusiasm for those of us trained in a post‐conciliar Church that has often been marked and marred by theological confusion, liturgical inanity, and scandal.

• I consider it a great blessing that I was among the last class of priests ordained in his pontificate, for he died during my first year of priesthood.

• Indeed, the title Blessed Pope John Paul II is appropriate, for he was certainly a great blessing to our Church and to our world, and now he is blessed with the beatific vision.

•In the Beatitudes from Jesus used the word beatitude which means “blessed.”  The Sermon on the Mount from St. Matthew’s Gospel is a roadmap for all who wish to be blessed in the afterlife, for all who wish to enjoy the Beatific Vision. For the Beatitudes encourage us to be like God, and it is in being like Him that we become one with Him.

• They encourage us to be humble and lowly. We are reminded by St. Paul that God chooses the foolish, the weak, and the lowly to accomplish His will so that no one might boast before God.

• In doing so St. Paul challenges us to consider the type of person we want to be, and the type of person our American society often encourages us to be. As Americans today we are the wealthiest, most powerful, and best‐educated society the world has ever known.

• Since our founding nearly 235 ago, we have risen from a wayward and revolutionary band of 13 cantankerous colonies situated on the eastern edge of an unknown continent to a superpower spanning the breadth of this great continent and possessing more money, more education, and more power than any other country in existence.

• And while we are certainly not without our weaknesses and flaws, and while we are certainly not completely invulnerable – as 9/11 proved so dramatically – we are still the undisputed power in the world today – at least for the moment.

• And we’ve risen to this apex through a tough‐nosed, independent, can‐do attitude that embodies what it means to be an American today.

• Popularly‐speaking, to be an American is to be strong, to be independent, to be determined, to be a people who can truly accomplish anything that we set our minds to.

• Our culture very naturally imbues this national mindset within each and every one of us. We are a competitive people, and we seek to get ahead. We are encouraged to work hard, to go to the best schools, to get the best job and make the most money.

• This of course has led to a deep sense of societal pride. And while trying to do our best in life is not wrong, there is always a danger in the pride engendered by our mindset.

• Furthermore, as Catholics we must remember that this sense of pride, this sense of accomplishment, this sense of independence that imbues our American culture and psyche is not authentically Christian.

• The truth is that despite our national or personal accomplishments, we are nothing without Christ. The truth is that we are sinners in need of a savior.

• The truth is that God is constantly extending His love and mercy toward us, but we often and quite stubbornly turn away from him through our sinfulness. The truth is that, left to our own devices, we cannot save ourselves.

• But if we humble and lowly, my friends, we can see the truth of things. Humility helps us to see the dangers of our societal mindset as well as our personal shortcomings.

• Humility helps us to put our relationship with God into its proper context, making us recognize our utter and total reliance upon Him for everything.

• But more than that, humility opens up our hearts to the saving grace of Christ Jesus. It makes us thankful for all of our many blessings, and it makes us aware of how truly merciful and loving our Lord is, and why we should constantly seek virtue and holiness.

• The Gospel speaks of the Beatitudes, which are really invitations to a life of virtue.

• Virtue is moral excellence and righteousness; it is goodness. It is the habitual, wellestablished, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness or act. Virtue, in whatever form it takes, directly opposes sin.

• At first blush it may seem that the Beatitudes are an invitation to the virtue of humility, and indeed they are. But on a deeper level, the Beatitudes also invite us to practice the theological virtue of hope!

• Saints have referred to humility as the root of all virtue because without humility, none of the other virtues can flourish, and one the greatest and most important virtues that humility engenders is hope!

• What we must understand about humility is that humility is not a matter of thinking less of ourselves. Humility is a matter of thinking less about ourselves.

• Humility enables us to see the truth about ourselves. It helps us to turn away from the selfishness that pride always engenders within us.

• But whereas humility turns our consciousness outward so that we no longer think of ourselves, the virtue of hope helps us to direct our consciousness solely toward God, Who is both our Creator and our final end.

• Through humility we recognize that we are beggars before God. And as beggars we come before Him with empty hands. Through hope we know that if we come to God with empty hands, He will fill us with His salvation.

• Humility gives us the detachment we need to be empty‐handed before God. Hope gives us the confidence that our Lord will raise us up in our lowliness to be like Him.

• As we face our world with all of its sufferings and challenges, we must do it with hope, knowing that all that happens – whether good or evil – is within God’s loving providence, and that ultimately, Jesus Christ will prevail.

• Having the humility to realize this, having the humility to live a life of Beatitude that engenders hope for heaven, will ensure final blessedness for us.

• May our gracious Savior fill us all with the virtues of humility and hope, and may Blessed John Paul II always pray for us!

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC