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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

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

 

The Three Comings of Christ

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/03/28 at 12:00 AM

An excerpt from a sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.

This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way he is our rest and our consolation.  If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord himself: If anyone loves me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him. Elsewhere I have read: Whoever fears the Lord does good things. – but I think that what was said about whoever loves him was more important: that whoever loves him will keep his words. Where are these words to be kept? In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you. Keep the word of God in that way: Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave; because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice. Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up. Remember, and your soul will grow fat and sleek.  If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father… he is the one who makes all things new. For this is what this coming will do: just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image….
Liturgy of the Hours

“We will serve everyone”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/02/13 at 12:00 AM
When a person really lives charity, there is no time left for self seeking. There is no room left for pride. We will not find occasion for anything but service! (The Forge, 683)

Try to remember what a donkey is like — now that so few of them are left. Not an old, stubborn, vicious one that would give you a kick when you least expected, but a young one with his ears up like antennae. He lives on a meagre diet, is hardworking and has a quick, cheerful trot. There are hundreds of animals more beautiful, more deft and strong. But it was a donkey Christ chose when he presented himself to the people as king in response to their acclamation. For Jesus has no time for calculations, for astuteness, for the cruelty of cold hearts, for attractive but empty beauty. What he likes is the cheerfulness of a young heart, a simple step, a natural voice, clean eyes, attention to his affectionate word of advice. That is how he reigns in the soul.

If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my king and, through him, all those who have been redeemed by his blood. (Christ is passing by, 181-182)

Rejected, Unwanted, Unloved?

In 07 Observations on 2014/01/30 at 12:00 AM
Jesus says: “Whatever you do to the least of your brothers is in my name. When you receive a little child, you receive me. If, in my name, you give a glass of water you give it to me” (Mk 9,37 ; Mt 10,42). And to make sure that we understand what he is talking about he says that at the hour of death we are going to be judged only that way. “I was hungry, you gave me to eat. I was naked, you clothed me. I was homeless, you took me in.”

Hunger is not only for bread; hunger is for love. Nakedness is not only for a piece of clothing; nakedness is lack of human dignity, and also that beautiful virtue of purity, and lack of that respect for each other. Homelessness is not only being without a home made of bricks; homelessness is also being rejected, unwanted, unloved.

 Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
(©Br Angelo Devananda Scolozzi)

Advent Reminds Us Of God’s Presence In The World

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/11/29 at 12:00 AM

Vatican City, 12 December 2012 (VIS) – The phases of Revelation, conveyed in the Scriptures and culminating in the Advent of Jesus Christ, were the theme of Benedict XVI….

The Pope observed that “reading the Old Testament, we see how God’s interventions in the history of the chosen people with whom He established an alliance were not passing events forgotten over time, but rather become living ‘memory’, together constituting the ‘story of salvation’ that resides in the consciousness of the people of Israel through the celebration of salvific events”, such as Easter. “For all the people of Israel, to recall God’s work becomes a sort of constant imperative, in order that the passage of time be marked by the living memory of past events which thus create history anew, day by day, remaining ever present. … Faith is nurtured by the discovery and the memory of God who is always faithful, who guides history and is the sound and stable foundation upon which life should be built”.

Benedict XVI explained that for Israel, the Exodus “is the central historical event in which God reveals the power of his action. God frees the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt so that they may return to the Promised Land and worship Him as the one true God. Israel does not set out to become a nation like any other … but rather to serve God in worship and in life … and to bear witness to God amid other peoples. And the celebration of this event renders it present and current, as the work of God does not cease. … God reveals Himself not only in the primordial act of creation, but by entering into our history, into the history of a small population that was neither the most numerous nor the strongest of its time. This Revelation of God … culminates in Jesus Christ: God, the Logos, the creating Word at the origin of the world, is made flesh in Jesus and thereby shows His true face. In Jesus every promise is fulfilled; the story of God and humanity finds its culmination in Him”.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarises the phases of divine Revelation”, continued the Holy Father. “God has invited mankind, since the very beginning, to engage in profound communion with Him, and even when man, through his own disobedience, lost His friendship, God did not abandon him to the force of death, but renewed His offer of alliance with man many times. The Catechism chronicles God’s path with man from His covenant with Noah following the flood, to the command to Abraham to leave his homeland and become the patriarch of a multitude of peoples. God creates Israel as His people, through the Exodus, the Sinai covenant and the giving of the Law through Moses, so as to be recognised and served as the one true and living God. By means of the prophets, God leads His people in the hope of salvation … In the end, they no longer await a king, David, the Son of David, but rather the ‘Son of Man, saviour of all peoples’ … In this we see how the path of God broadens and opens the way towards the Mystery of Christ, the King of the universe. Revelation finds its full realisation in Christ, in God’s benevolent plan: He becomes one of us. All these steps demonstrate “a single salvific plan dedicated to all of humanity, progressively revealed and realised through the power of God”.

The Pope then turned his attention to the liturgical time of Advent, which prepares us for Christmas. “As we all know, the word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’ or ‘presence’, and historically indicated the arrival of the king or the emperor in a province. For us as Christians it has the wonderful and awe-inspiring meaning that God Himself has crossed over from Heaven and inclined towards man; he has made a covenant with man, entering into the history of His people. He is the king who enters into the poor province of earth, offering us the gift of His visit, taking on human flesh and becoming one of us. Advent invites us to retrace this path and reminds us again the God has not left this world, He is not absent and has not abandoned us to our own devices, but instead draws towards us in various ways that we must learn to recognise. And we too, with our faith, hope and charity, are called upon every day to perceive and witness this presence, in a world so often superficial and led astray, and to make the light that illuminated the stable in Bethlehem shine anew in our lives”.

Vatican Information Service #121212

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/05/31 at 12:00 AM

In looking for a word to describe what happens to the bread and wine at Mass as they are consecrated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, St. Thomas Aquinas created the word transubstantiation.

The first part of the word, trans, means to change or cross over. The latter part of the word, substantiation, is the Latin word for substance. St. Thomas, of course, understood substance in the philosophical sense used by Aristotle.

If you’ve ever studied metaphysics, you know that Aristotle said that all things are made up of substance and accidents. The accidental qualities of a thing are what can be perceived with our physical senses: color, texture, taste, smell, etc.

Substance, on the other hand, is the metaphysical quality that makes a thing what it is. For example, our altar here at St. Ann’s is different from the altars at St. Vincent’s, St. Patrick’s, or St. Gabe’s.

But even though they look vastly different, we all know and recognize an altar when we see one. Aquinas and Aristotle would say that these particular pieces of furniture possess a certain “altarness” if you will. That is the substance of this furniture.

Some of you may be wondering why I am giving you a metaphysics lesson today at Mass. It is because we cannot fully appreciate what we as a church are celebrating today without a little metaphysics.

Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is Corpus Christi! Thus, today is the day we celebrate and give God thanks for the great gift of the Eucharist.

Here at Mass ordinary bread and wine are brought forward and placed on the altar. Then during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest prays that the Holy Spirit will come down upon the gifts. This is known as the epiclesis – and you will hear the bells ring once to signal this.

From there we enter into the most important and solemn moment of the Mass. Jesus Christ, through the priest, utters the words of institution: “Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.”

And “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” And again, bells ring to signify what is happening.

Through these words the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. The substance of the bread and wine change, but not the accidental properties. That’s why St. Thomas used the word transubstantiation – because only the substance changes.

So even though the bread still looks and tastes like bread, and even though the wine still looks and tastes like wine, they are no longer bread and wine, but really and truly the Body and Blood of Christ.

As Christ makes abundantly clear in the Gospel today, the bread and wine are not symbols of His body and blood. He says: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” and “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

And again Christ says: “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

This is not magical, it’s metaphysical – and it certainly is miraculous. And it is a tremendous gift that we should never take for granted, but rather we should constantly give God thanks and praise for the gift of the Eucharist.Moreover, if we truly believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, then we should also take great care to receive Holy Communion worthily.

Of course this means that we should never receive Holy Communion when we suspect that we may be in a state of mortal sin or if we know in our conscience that we are living our lives in a way that is contrary to God’s commandments or the Church’s teachings.

Receiving Holy Communion worthily also means that we should do our best to be prayerful, recollected, and reverent when we come up to receive. As you kneel at the altar rail to receive our Lord, think about Who it is that you are receiving! It is the Lord!

He loves you so much that not only does He come to you, but He allows Himself to be bread and wine to be consumed by you, and so we are called to receive Him as a bride receives her bridegroom!

But, my friends, even beyond ensuring that we understand what the Eucharist is and that we receive Holy Communion reverently and in a state of grace, today’s feast calls us to a change that is analogous to the change that takes place at the consecration.

As the bread and wine and changed at the consecration and cease to be what they were before, so too must be allow ourselves to be changed as we participate in the Mass and receive Holy Communion.

When we come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we must allow ourselves to be offered up with Christ, identifying ourselves with His sacrifice. We must see ourselves in the bread and wine as they are offered up.

The old man of sin that reigns within all of us must die so that we can put on the new man of grace and virtue. While we will still look and sound like we always have on the outside, on the inside we must be completely renewed. There must be a sort of spiritual transubstantiation that takes place within us.

In the Mass, my friends, we are called to unite our hearts and minds and wills with that of Jesus as He offers Himself to the Father for our sakes.

And the better that we identify ourselves with Christ’s sacrifice and allow ourselves to be offered up with Him, the more the old man of sin within us dies, the more efficacious Mass becomes for us – and the more we grow in a holiness that better disposes us to handle our daily tasks and duties, as well as our crosses.

As we honor our Lord’s Body and Blood today, let us give thanks to God for this most efficacious of gifts.

And let us earnestly seek to unite ourselves ever more closely to our Eucharistic Lord as He offers Himself up in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass so that we may become more like Him whom we worship.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy Reid, Pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Pentecost

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/05/16 at 12:00 AM

With our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven last week, we were given a promise – a promise that is, perhaps, the most important promise ever made to humanity. I’m speaking, of course, of the promise our Lord made to send us the Holy Spirit.

Today, we see this promise fulfilled in our midst as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost! Today we commemorate that moment when the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire upon our Lady and the apostles gathered in prayer in the Upper Room.

And we who are heirs to the faith of the apostles and members of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church, have received this same Spirit, too: first when we were baptized, and then again at our Confirmation.

While perhaps it didn’t seem as dramatic as the original Pentecost, what the Holy Spirit does within us is no less dramatic than what happened to Mary and the apostles.

In those very sublime sacramental moments when the Holy Spirit enters into our souls, our souls are changed eternally – shaped more into an image of Christ – so we might, indeed, be made worthy of the Lord’s promise of eternal life.

Indeed, the waters of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit first enters into our souls, have the power to quench the very fires of hell within us and to unleash within us the same living waters our Lord promised to the woman at the well.

The Holy Spirit is known by many names and titles: the Consoler, the Advocate, the Paraclete, and the Sanctifier, among others. But His primary purpose is to make us holy so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

While it is the Father who creates us and sustains us in being, and while it is the Son who suffered and died for us in order to redeem us, it is the Holy Spirit who works to sanctify us and make us holy.

As anyone who has earnestly sought holiness can attest, holiness can be elusive, especially when we consider how easily we slip into sin. That’s precisely why the Holy Spirit is so important in our lives.

It is the Spirit who guides us, helps us discern, and inspires us. It is the Spirit who prays within us. It is the Spirit who dwells within us with His 7 gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge, understanding, piety, courage and fear of the Lord.

It is the Holy Spirit, who is the source of all holiness, who first awakens faith within us. He helps us to grow in spiritual freedom, and He restores the divine likeness within us that was lost by our sin.

In short, it is the Spirit who shapes and conditions our souls. He re‐patterns them into an image of the Divine and thus makes us holy so that we might be saved when our earthly lives come to an end. And that’s the whole point of our life on earth!

So many times when a person dies we naturally console ourselves with comments like: “Well, I know he is in a better place now.”

And while that may be true, especially if the person lived a good and holy life, going to Heaven after we die is not something we should ever presume upon.

While dying is a certainly a prerequisite for going to Heaven, my friends, we have to do more than just die to get to Heaven!As I mentioned last Sunday, our salvation is a gift from God, but it’s not something that we sit around and wait for. Our salvation is something we participate in and work out over the entire course of our lives.

It’s not something we can earn, for it is indeed a free gift, but we must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls if we wish to be saved.

God the Father created us out of love; He created us for Himself. When He saw us reject Him through sin, He sent the Son to redeem us.

This Jesus did by becoming man and by His Paschal Mystery. By His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus made salvation a possibility for mankind. And the Holy Spirit, as the Sanctifier, works within us to prepare us in holiness so that we might receive this gift of salvation.

So while Jesus has made salvation a possibility for us by redeeming us, it is the Holy Spirit who enables to participate in the work of redemption for our own salvation and the salvation of other souls as well.

Moreover, while the Holy Spirit fills the whole universe, St. Basil the Great teaches that He only acts in the souls of those who are worthy. In other words, He acts in the souls of those who are habitually in a state of grace.

For when we fall into moral sin, we evict the Holy Spirit from our souls. And He will only return after we have made a good confession and received absolution.

In this process of restoring us to grace, whether it be through baptism or reconciliation, the Holy Spirit restores our original beauty that we forfeited by our sinfulness, freeing us from sin and death, making us children of God and heirs to an eternal inheritance.

God created us in love, and He created us in His own image and likeness. Therefore we are created with beauty. But we mar, distort, and destroy that beauty by our sinfulness. And through the grace of the sacraments, the Holy Spirits works to restore our God‐ given beauty.

And so today, above all else, must be a day of great gratitude for us. As we gather to honor the Holy Spirit, we must first and foremost thank Him for the work He does within us so that we might be saved.

But in addition to being a day of gratitude, today is also a day of commissioning for us, for the Holy Spirit works to make us holy not simply so that we might be saved, but also that we might lead others in the path of salvation.

The history of the Church is filled with examples of the Holy Spirit working in and through people we now call saints.

The Spirit has guided many holy men and women to witness to the Faith with their very lives, to found religious orders, and to teach and explain the doctrines of Catholicism so that others might be saved.

It was the Holy Spirit that led St. Augustine to conversion and inspired his teachings that the Church still relies upon today. It was the Holy Spirit that gave St. Paul the courage to preach the truth of Christ in the midst of terrible sufferings and persecutions, even to the point of death.

In our modern world it was the Holy Spirit who inspired Blessed Mother Teresa to found a religious order to care for the poorest of the poor, so that they, too, might know Christ.

And it was the Holy Spirit who nurtured and stirred the young heart of St. Therese to teach the Church how to love.

The saints, whom we love, venerate, and look up to, were simply people who allowed the Holy Spirit into their lives, and who tried to live by His promptings. And because of their works and examples, many other souls have been saved.

My brothers and sisters, receive the Holy Spirit. Receive Him in mind and heart. Allow Him to transform you, to comfort you, and to sanctify you. And allow Him to use you to inspire others to holiness. We have nothing to lose, and only Heaven to gain.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

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

Signs for Our Times – Part IV: Apostolicity of the Church

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/04/24 at 7:00 AM

The fourth mark of the Church is Apostolicity.

The doctrine and the moral code of the Catholic Church is the same as that of the Twelve Apostles.

There is a large faction in the United States that has great respect for what is referred to as the Founding Fathers.  These were the men who had the vision and made the plans and set the principles for the United States. These are the men whom we consider to be the architects of the great political entity called the United States of America.  When problems arise, we look to their writings to seek solutions.

There is another faction that considers the Founding Fathers irrelevant to modern times because they had no concept of what the United States would be like today, and therefore, their eighteenth century ideas should not affect modern day problems.  They think that those living today should use their own skills to solve their own problems.  It is interesting to note that anything this group advocates almost always involves radical changes to American life as it once was.  In fact, the Founding Fathers would probably be dismayed at what has become of their concept of a weak federal government.

The Twelve Apostles are like the Founding Fathers of the United States.  The Apostles did not establish the Church but they were taught the basic creed and moral code directly by the Founder, Christ Himself.  Thus, if anyone really wants to know what Christ taught, there are no ones better able to tell than the Twelve Apostles.

The Bishops of the Catholic Church are the successors to the Apostles.  This is possible because every Bishop knows who consecrated him.  The line of bishops can be traced back to the first  bishops consecrated by the Twelve Apostles.

Christ, because He is divine, could have remained on earth and led the Church in person, but He chose not to. He set up the Apostles as the first bishops, teachers, and missionaries.  In a sense, the Church is still being taught by the Apostles through their successors in union with the Pope.

Since the Apostles received instructions directly from Christ, no other religious organization except the Catholic Church can claim to be apostolic.  Christ did not establish any other religion or church.  The message He wanted to convey comes in its completeness only through the Catholic Church.

The Twelve Apostles lived in a certain period of history.  Islam came much later.  Protestantism arose fifteen centuries too late.  Buddhism and Hinduism are much older than Christianity, but the truth of a religion is not determined by its antiquity, but by the circumstance of its founding.

Without Apostolic teaching as a fixed foundation, deviations in doctrine and morals will begin to creep in.  The source of authentic teaching eludes modern leaders of religious groups.  It is true that they may profess some apostolic teachings but certainly not all, and what they do teach, they are merely copying from the Catholic Church, whether they realize it or not.

Without Apostolic teaching as a guide, problems that arise are simply dealt with in terms of contemporary standards.  Protestantism now is dealing with women clergy and same-sex “marriage” and other contemporary problems, incorrectly, because they do not base themselves on Apostolic principles, and therefore, tend to “go with the flow” of contemporary culture.

Historically speaking, Christ the Lord set up a Church and it is incumbent on everyone to find Truth.  The human mind is attuned to truth.  We cannot function in a society that does not respect objective truth; it is not natural (although we are trying to do just that today with dire consequences).  To guide us, the Church offers four marks or signs, which when taken together point to the true Church of Christ.

The main advantage of membership in the true Church is not really membership, but it is the ability to have a relationship with the Living Christ who comes to us through that Church.  Many are members, but for one reason or another, do not know Christ and their membership is thereby diminished.  Christ is alive and comes to us readily and completely through the Catholic Church.  If you have read this four part series, you can determine for yourself that Christ did give you four clear signs: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Render Your Hearts and Not Your Clothing

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/19 at 11:18 AM
To the priests, consecrated men and women, and the laity of the Archdiocese [of Buenos Aires].

Rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and rich in mercy.

Little by little we have become accustomed to hearing and seeing—through the media of communication—the often unhappy and even depressing news stories about contemporary society. These are presented at times with an almost perverse joy, and we have grown accustomed to touching it and feeling it both around us and in our very flesh. This drama unfolds on the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, so why not in our hearts as well? We coexist with a violence that kills, destroys families, and stirs up wars and conflicts in so many countries in our world. We live with envy, hatred, calumny, and a certain mundane-ness in our hearts. The suffering of the innocent and the peaceful never lets up; a blatant disrespect of the rights of both individual persons and groups of the most fragile is not distant; the money-making empire with its demonic effects like drugs, corruption, the ill treatment of people—including children—joined with material and moral misery have become today’s currency. The destruction of dignified work, painful emigrations and the absence of a clear future have also united themselves to this symphony. Our errors and sins as Church are also not outside this great panorama. The most selfish personal reasons—not in  any way the smallest of offenses—, the lack of ethical values in society that has spread to families, to those living together in neighborhoods, towns and cities, these all speak to us of our limitations, of our weaknesses, and of our incapacity of transforming this innumerable list of destructive realities.

The trap of powerlessness leads us to think: Does it make any sense to try to change all this? Can we do anything as we face this situation? Is it worth trying to change if the world continues its carnival-like dance, masking everything for a while? Nevertheless, when the mask falls, truth appears and, although it may sound anachronistic to many, what re-appears is sin, a sin that wounds our flesh with all its destructive force twisting the destinies of the world and of history.

Lent presents itself to us like a shout of truth and sure hope; it is in our best interest to respond “yes,” to say that it is possible to not disguise ourselves and draw plastic smiles on our faces as if everything was good. Yes, it is possible for things to be different and be made new because God continues being “rich in goodness and mercy, always ready to forgive” and he urges us to begin again and again. Today we are once again invited to undertake a paschal way to Life; a way that includes the cross and renunciation which may be uncomfortable but is not sterile. We are invited to recognize that something is not quite right in the way we are living, in society, or in the Church; we are invited to change, to turn around, to be converted.

On this day, the words of the prophet Joel are both strong and challenging. Rend your hearts, not your clothing: be converted to the Lord your God. These words are an invitation to the whole people of God, no one is excluded.

Rend your hearts and not the clothing of an artificial penance that has no guarantee for the future.

Rend your hearts and not your clothing of a formal fasting and a sense of fulfillment that will keep us satisfied.

Rend your hearts and not your clothing of superficial and selfish prayer that doesn’t reach the core of our life so that God can touch us.

Rend your hearts and not your clothing so as to say with the psalmist: “we have sinned.” “The wound of the soul is sin: Oh, poor wounded one, recognize your Doctor! Show him the wounds of your faults. And, since from Him our most secret thoughts cannot hide themselves, make the cry of your heart felt [to Him]. Move him to compassion with your tears, with your insistence beg him! Let Him hear your sighs, that your pain reaches Him so that, at the end, He can tell you: The Lord has forgiven your sins”(Saint Gregory the Great). This is the reality of our human condition. This is the truth that allows us to draw closer to authentic reconciliation…with God and with one another. It’s not about discrediting our self-esteem but about penetrating the depths of our heart and being responsible for the mystery of suffering  and pain that has bound us for centuries, for thousands of years… forever.

Rend your hearts so that through this crack we can truly see ourselves.

Rend your hearts, open your hears, because only in a heart that has been torn and opened can the merciful love of the Father, who calls us and heals us, enter.

Rend your hearts says the prophet, and Paul almost begs us “allow yourselves to be reconciled to God.” Changing our way of living is a sign and a fruit of this torn heart has been reconciled by a love that far surpasses what we know.

This is the invitation when we are faced with so many wounds that damage us and lead us to the temptation of hardening ourselves: Rend your hearts so as to experience in quiet and serene prayer the gentleness of God’s tenderness.

Rend your hearts so as to feel the echo of so many torn lives and so that indifference will not leave us sluggish.

Rend your hearts so as to be able to love with the love with which we are loved, to console as we have been consoled, and to share what we have received.

This liturgical time that the Church begins today [Ash Wednesday 2013] is not only for us as individuals but also for the transformation of our families, of our community, of our Church, of our country, of our entire world. These are forty days so that we may be converted to become more like God’s very holiness; that we might become collaborators who receive the grace and the possibility of reconstructing human life so that all people can experience the salvation Christ won for us with his death and resurrection.

Along with prayer and penance, as a sign of our faith in the Paschal mystery which transformed everything, we also dispose ourselves to begin as in years past our “Lenten gesture of solidarity.” As a Church in Buenos Aires that marches along to Easter and that believes that the Kingdom of God is possible we need that, from our hearts—torn by the desire for conversion and love—may blossom grace and effective gestures that will relieve the pain of so many brothers and sisters who walk with us. “No virtuous act is great if from it does not flow some benefit for others…Therefore, regardless of how much of your day is spent fasting, regardless of how hard the floor is you are choosing to sleep upon, how much ash you eat, and how much you sigh, if you are not doing good to others, you have done nothing great” (Saint John Chrysostom).

This Year of Faith is an opportunity given to us by God to grow and mature in our encounter with the Lord who is made visible in the suffering faces of so many children without a future, in the trembling hands of the forgotten elderly, and in the unsteady knees of so many families who keep giving their all without finding any support.

I wish you a holy Lent, and penitential and fruitful Lent and, please, I ask you to pray for me. May God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin take care of you.

Paternally,

Buenos Aires, February 13, 2013, Ash Wednesday

V Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, sj

Translated by Sr. Marlyn Evangelista Monge, fsp

Transmitting the Passion for Christ to the World

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/02/28 at 11:11 AM

In his reflections Benedict XVI commented on the Gospel reading from St. Mark’s narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

“The Lord chose to undergo the attack of the tempter so as to defend us with His help and instruct us with His example”, said the Holy Father quoting a text written by St. Leo the Great. This episode teaches us that man is never free from temptation, but we can become stronger than any enemy “by following the Lord every day with patience and humility, learning to build our lives not without Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation to remove God, to regulate ourselves and the world counting only on our own abilities, has always been present in the history of man”, the Pope said.

In Christ, God addresses man “in an unexpected way, with a closeness that is unique, tangible and full of love. God became incarnate and entered man’s world in order to take sin upon Himself, to overcome evil and to bring man back into God’s world. But His announcement was accompanied by a request to respond to such a great gift. Indeed, Jesus said “repent, and believe in the good news’. This is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert every day of our lives to His will, orienting our every action and our every thought towards what is good. The period of Lent is a good time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of fraternal charity”.

Vatican City (VIS)