Posts Tagged ‘Communion’

The Church is God’s Call to Be Part of His Family

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM

 “A mystery,” Pope Francis said, “that we all live and in which we all take part.” The Pope, who will discuss this topic in light of Vatican Council II texts, began from the parable of the prodigal son that illustrates God’s plan for humanity.

In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome this morning, Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter’s Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.

In his teaching, the Holy Father explained that God’s plan is “to make of all of us one family of his children, [a family] in which each one feels close to and loved by him … feels the warmth of being the family of God. The Church—not an organization born out of an agreement between some persons but … the work of God, born of this love and progressively built in history—has her origin in this great plan.”

The Church, the pontiff explained, “is born of God’s desire to call all men and women to communion with him, to friendship with him, even further, to participate as his children in his very divinity. The word ‘Church’ itself, from the Greek ‘ekklesia’, means ‘convocation’. God calls us, urges us to leave selfishness behind, the tendency to be wrapped up in oneself, and calls us to be part of his family. This call has its origins in creation itself. God created us so that we might live a relationship of profound friendship with him and, when sin cut off that relationship with him, with others, and with creation, God did not abandon us. The entire story of salvation is the story of God seeking humans, offering us his love, gathering us to him. He called Abraham to be the father of many; He chose the people of Israel to forge a covenant that embraces all peoples; and he sent, in the fullness of time, his Son so that his plan of love and salvation might be fulfilled in a new and eternal covenant with all of humanity.”

“When we read the Gospel we see that Jesus gathers a small community around him that welcomes his word, follows it, shares his journey, becomes his family. And with this community He prepares and builds his Church.” It is a Church whose origin lies in the “supreme act of love on the Cross, in Jesus’ opened side from which flow blood and water, symbol of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. In the family of God, in the Church, the lifeblood is God’s love that is made concrete in loving him and others, all, without distinction or limits. The Church is a family in which we love and are loved.” The Church is made manifest, as on Pentecost, “when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and compels them to go out and begin the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread God’s love.”

The Pope observed that, even today, “there are some who say: ‘Christ yes, the Church no’. Like those who say: ‘I believe in God, but not in the priests’. But it is precisely the Church that brings us Christ and brings us to God. The Church is the great family of the children of God. Of course it also has human aspects. there are defects, imperfections, and sins in those who make her up, pastors and faithful. Even the Pope has them, and many. But what is beautiful is that, when we realize that we are sinners we encounter the mercy of God who always forgives. He never forgets us. He gathers us up in his love of forgiveness and mercy. Some say that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity for the humility to realize that there is something better: God’s mercy. Let’s think about this.”

“How much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel part of the family of the Church? What am I doing to make it a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels God’s mercy and love that renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that has to do with us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family, as the Church.”

“Let us ask the Lord, particularly in this Year of Faith, that our communities, that all the Church, be ever more truly families that live and bring the warmth of God,” the Holy Father concluded.

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“A personal meeting with Christ”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/01/03 at 12:00 AM
When you receive him, tell him: Lord, I hope in you: I adore you, I love you, increase my faith. Be the support of my weakness: You, who have remained defenseless in the Eucharist so as to be the remedy for the weakness of your creatures. (The Forge, 832)

I will not surprise anyone if I say that some Christians have a very poor concept of the holy Mass. For them it is a purely external rite, if not a mere social convention. This is because our poor hearts are capable of treating the greatest gift of God to man as routine. In the Mass, in this Mass that we are now celebrating, the most Holy Trinity intervenes, I repeat, in a very special way. To correspond to such great love, we must give ourselves completely, in body and in soul. We hear God, we talk to him, we see him, we taste him. And when words are not enough, we sing, urging our tongue — Pange, lingua! — to proclaim to all mankind the greatness of the Lord.

To “live” the holy Mass means to pray continually, and to be convinced that, for each one of us, this is a personal meeting with God. We adore him, we praise him, we give thanks to him, we atone for our sins, we are purified, we experience a unity with Christ and with all Christians. (Christ is passing by, 87-88)

“We are going to receive our Lord”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/12/19 at 12:00 AM
Have you ever thought how you would prepare yourself to receive Our Lord if you could go to Communion only once in your life? We must be thankful to God that he makes it so easy for us to come to him: but we should show our gratitude by preparing ourselves to receive him very well. (The Forge, 828)

Jesus is the way, the mediator. In him are all things; outside of him is nothing. In Christ, taught by him, we dare to call God our Father — he is the Almighty who created heaven and earth, and he is a loving Father who waits for us to come back to him again and again, as the story of the prodigal son repeats itself in our lives.

Ecce, Agnus Dei… Domine, non sum dignus… We are going to receive our Lord. On this earth, when we receive an important person, we bring out the best — lights, music, formal dress. How should we prepare to receive Christ into our soul? Have we ever thought about how we would behave if we could only receive him once in a lifetime?

When I was a child, frequent communion was still not a widespread practice. I remember how people used to prepare to go to communion. Everything had to be just right, body and soul: the best clothes, hair well‑combed — even physical cleanliness was important — maybe even a few drops of cologne… These were manifestations of love, full of finesse and refinement, on the part of manly souls who knew how to repay Love with love.

With Christ in our soul, we end the holy Mass. The blessing of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit accompanies us all day long, as we go about our simple, normal task of making holy all honest human activity. (Christ is passing by, 91)

The Difference God Makes by Fr. McCloskey

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2012/08/16 at 9:11 AM

The Difference God Makes

by Francis Cardinal George – published by Crossroad Publishing Company

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey

Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago has written an astonishingly perceptive book that is the best history of the Catholic Church in the Unites States from a theological point of view. In addition, it shows American Catholics not only to how to deepen their faith but also how to integrate it into their lives as citizens. The book is entitled The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture (The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York).

Cardinal George, a native of Chicago and currently president of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is drawing near the age of 75 when he will be required to submit his resignation as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago. With this book, he takes his place with Orestes Brownson, John Courtney Murray, and Richard John Neuhaus as one of the outstanding intellectuals and theologians in history of the American Church. What sets him apart from the others, however, is his active and demanding pastorship of more than 2.3 million Catholics. In addition, he holds leadership positions in Rome with the religious Congregation he belongs to, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. At the same time, he is deeply engaged with intellectual life at its highest international level. Perhaps only Pope Benedict XVI can rival him in this regard. What struck me in reading George’s book was his reasonableness in striving to understand and articulate clearly and charitably opposing arguments. Rather than being a polemicist, George attempts to reconcile and win over with charity those who he thinks have erred in interpreting what the Second Vatican Council really meant.

The book itself is divided into three parts: 1. The Church’s Mission: Universal Communion, 2. The Church’s Life: Hierarchical Communion and 3. The Church’s Goal: Communion with God. Individual chapters deal with topics as diverse as the laity and priesthood; discussions with Judaism, Islam, and what is left of Protestantism; and worship and the liturgy (clearly one of Pope Benedict’s highest priorities, if not the highest priority of his pontificate). What I think will most interest his American readers are the first three chapters of Part One, devoted to Evangelizing American Culture, Sowing the Gospel on American Soil, and Making All Things New: Notes on a New Apologetic. George does a masterful job of analyzing the varied currents of American religions and their impact on our nation’s culture: individualism, emotionalism, and success seen as salvation flowing from both Calvinistic and Lutheran influences.

For Cardinal George, the answer to the problems confronting the Catholic Church in America is communio–communion, or as the Second Vatican Council succinctly puts it, making the “the sincere gift of self.” This phrase was used more often by Pope John Paul the Great more than any other from the Second Vatican Council. It encompasses putting family and friends above the individual, living for others and not for one’s own interests, pleasures, or achievements.

George writes:

The deepest truth that Catholics proclaim is that of ‘communio.’ All things and all people are ordered to God and ordered to love to one another. This truth informs everything we say about political, social, and economic and cultural realms. If we surrender this truth–either through ideological compromise or even out of concern for civility—we succumb to the culture of death.

George is neither optimistic nor pessimistic but rather positive and hopeful. He clearly believes that Christ and His Church provide answers that can assure relative happiness in this life and everlasting happiness in the next. As he puts it, “The Church finds herself in social, economic, and political structures that are increasingly universal. In such as a situation the Catholic Church is an agent of transformation that is, paradoxically, completely at home.” This book should not be relegated to every Catholic’s bookshelf but rather should be in their hands or on their Kindles or Ipods.

In the 1950s Notre Dame graduates were asked whether they considered themselves Catholics first or Americans first. The majority identified themselves as Americans first! Right there one could have foreseen the long purgatory of the American Church from 1965 to 2005 that we have suffered. Happily the new evangelization foreseen by Pope John Paul II is taking hold in our country, and pretty rapidly. The best is ahead, even if it involves bearing heroic witness and martyrdom. Cardinal George’s The Difference God Makes and Archbishop Chaput’s recent book Render Unto Caesar (Random House) show that the leadership of the Church in America is ready to make the case to both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans that this is indeed a “Catholic Moment” for our country and the world.

First appeared on Catholic Exchange in December, 2009

“The mystery of Holy Thursday”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/05 at 8:22 AM
We should dwell on those words of Jesus, and make them our own: I have longed and longed to eat this Passover with you. There is no better way to show how great is our concern and love for the Holy Sacrifice than by taking great care with the least detail of the ceremonies the wisdom of the Church has laid down. This is for Love: but we should also feel the “need” to become like Christ, not only inside ourselves but also in what is external. We should act, on the wide spaciousness of the Christian altar, with the rhythm and harmony which holy obedience provides, the holy obedience that unites us to the will of the Spouse of Christ, to the Will of Christ himself. (The Forge, 833)

“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” The reader of this verse from St John’s Gospel is brought to understand that a great event is about to take place. The introduction, full of tender affection, is similar to that which we find in St Luke: “I have earnestly desired,” says our Lord, “to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

Let us begin by asking the Holy Spirit, from this moment on, to give us the grace to understand every word and gesture of Christ. Because we want to live a supernatural life, because our Lord has shown his desire to give himself to us as nourishment for our soul, and because we acknowledge that only he has “words of eternal life.”

Faith makes us profess in the words of Peter that “we have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” It is this faith, together with our devotion, that leads us to emulate the daring of John, to come close to Jesus and to rest on the breast of the Master, who loved those who were with him ardently, and who was to love them, as we have just read, to the end.

Any words we might use to explain the mystery of Holy Thursday are inadequate. But it is not hard to imagine the feelings of Jesus’ heart on that evening, his last evening with his friends before the sacrifice of Calvary. (Christ is passing by, 83)