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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Spiritual Maternity of Christians

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/10 at 12:00 AM

THE CHURCH “MAKES” CHRISTIANS, AND CHRISTIANS “MAKE” THE CHURCH

 Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Church during the “Year of Faith”, turning to the theme of maternity.

“Among the images that the Vatican Council II chose to help us better understand the nature of the Church, there is that of the ‘mother’: the Church is our mother in faith and in the supernatural life. For me it is the most beautiful image of the Church: the Church as mother. In what sense and how is the Church a mother? Let us begin with the human reality of maternity”.

“First and foremost a mother gives life, she carries her child in the womb for nine months and then introduces him to life – she generates him. The Church does likewise: she generates us in faith, by the work of the Holy Spirit who renders her fruitful, like the Virgin Mary. Certainly, faith is a personal act … but we receive faith from others, in a family, in a community that teaches me to say ‘I believe’, ‘we believe’. A Christian is not an island! We do not become Christians alone and by our own efforts, but rather faith is a gift from God that is given in and through the Church. And the Church gives us life in Baptism: that is, the moment in which she enables us to be born as children of God, the moment in which she gives us life in God, in which she generates us as a mother. … This permits us to understand something very important: our participation in the Church is not an external or formal fact, it is not a question of filling out a form, but is instead an internal and vital act. One does not belong to the Church in the same way as one belongs to a society, a team or any other organisation. It is a living bond, like that one has with one’s own mother as … the Church is truly the mother of all Christians”.

“A mother does not limit herself to giving life, but rather with great care helps her children to grow; she gives them milk, she nurtures them, she shows them the path of life, she accompanies them … she also knows how to correct them, to forgive, to understand; she knows how to be close to them in times of illness and suffering. In short, a good mother helps her children to come out of themselves, not to stay comfortably tucked under the maternal wing. … The Church, like a good mother, does the same thing: she accompanies our growth by transmitting to us the Word of God, which is a light that illuminates the path of Christian life, in administering the Sacraments. She nourishes us with the Eucharist, she brings us God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance, she supports us in times of sickness through the Anointing of the Sick. The Church accompanies us in all our life in faith, in all our Christian life”.

Francis concluded by remarking that in the first centuries of the Church, it was very clearly understood that “the Church, while she is the mother of Christians, while she ‘makes’ Christians, is also ‘made up’ of Christians. The Church is not something apart from us, but is rather the entire body of believers, as the ‘we’ of Christians: I, you, we are all part of the Church. So, we all experience the maternity of the Church, both pastors and faithful. At times I hear: ‘I believe in God but not in the Church … I’ve heard that the Church says … that priests say…”. Priests are one thing, but the Church is not made up solely of priests – we are all the Church! And if you say that you believe in God but you do not believe in the Church, you are saying that you do not believe in yourself, which is a contradiction. We are all the Church: from the recently baptised child to the bishops, to the Pope; we are all Church, and we are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all called to collaborate in the birth of faith in new Christians, we are all called upon to be educators in faith, to proclaim the Gospel. … We all participate in the maternity of the Church … we are all the Church … so that the light of Christ may illuminate the furthest reaches of the Earth. Long live the Holy Mother Church!

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Holy Innocents

In 07 Observations on 2013/12/27 at 12:00 AM

“When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. There was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more”(Mt. 2, 16-18).


The entrance antiphon of the Mass reads: “These innocent children were slain for Christ. They follow the spotless Lamb, and proclaim for ever: Glory to you, Lord.”Theme: tiny children live out heroic, silent sacrifice (unwittingly) and win the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, there is heroic virtue in small objective things because it takes place on the level of the subject making the gift of self.Then-Cardinal Ratzinger remarked about notorious, heroic virtue on the occasion of the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva:“Knowing a little about the history of saints, and understanding that in the causes of canonization there is inquiry into `heroic’ virtue, we almost inevitably have a mistaken concept of holiness: `It is not for me,’ we are led to think `because I do not feel capable of attaining heroic virtue. It is too high a goal.’ Holiness then becomes a thing reserved for some `greats’ whose images we see on the altars, and who are completely different from us ordinary sinners. But this is a mistaken notion of holiness, a wrong perception which has been corrected – and this seems to me the central point – precisely by Josemaria Escriva.“Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint performs a type of `gymnastics’ of holiness, something that normal people do not dare to do. It means rather that in the life of a person God’s presence is revealed. – something man could not do by himself and through himself. Perhaps in the final analysis we are rather dealing with a question of terminology, because the adjective `heroic’ has been badly interpreted. Heroic virtue properly speaking does not mean that one has done great things by oneself, but rather that in one’s life there appear realities which the person has not done himself, because he has been transparent and ready for the work of God. Or, in other words, to be a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend. This is holiness” (Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, “Letting God Work,” L’Osservatore Romano, October 6, 2002)

Commentary: Let’s complement the underlined above, suggesting that heroic virtue, in the spirit of St. Josemaria Escriva, does nothave to do with having “done great things by oneself,” but in not having done great things at all. Rather, it is a case of “non loquendo sed moriendo” – not making boast of but dying in the small things of daily, quotidian life. St. Josermaria would affirm:It is heroic to fulfill the acts of piety each day, punctually. It is heroic to pour ourselves out, working for others, never thinking about ourselves. It is heroic to finish our work well, when we are tired and exhausted. It is heroic to continue our ascetical struggle in the points indicated to us, with humility and determination. “You ask me, `Why the wooden Cross?’ And I quote from a letter: `As I raise my eyes from the microscope, my sight comes to rest on the Cross – black and empty. That Cross without a Corpus is a symbol; it has a meaning others won’t see. And I, tired out and on the point of abandoning my work, once again bring my eyes close to the lens and continue. For that lonely Cross is calling for a pair of shoulders to bear it.” (1)The heroism asked of us is an everyday heroism of silent and hidden sacrifice. We can never feel vainglory for things so small. The sacrifice of deeds in very small things is the act of self-mastery whereby with God’s love as “grace,” we hone ourselves by service to others into the figure of “another Christ.” We wash feet and by so doing affirm persons. With this, God makes our lives fruitful. We irradiate fatherhood by engendering life (“life” as Zoethat is Trinitarian Life [Gift]). Since we act out of love, our sacrifice is a willing one that seeks no applause; we don’t even call it a `sacrifice.’ We receive each day’s annoyances without complaint, as coming from God’s will, with respect and love, with joy and peace. And we strive to fulfill the duty of each moment willingly, although it is hard, since it is God’s will for us.

St. Josemaria wrote to his children: “My children, are you and I determined to live a life that serves as a model and lesson for others? Are we determined to be other Christs, to behave like children of God? It’s not enough to say it; we have to prove our determination by our deeds… Are you happy with how you have behaved up until now? You, who are another Christ, who are a child of God, do you deserve to have it said of you that you have come to do and to teach, facere et docere (Acts 1, 1): to teach others by your behavior to do all that is good, that is noble, that furthers the Redemption?”

(1) Josemaria Escriva, “The Way,” Scepter Press #277.

Tea Party Catholic

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2013/12/16 at 12:00 AM

Book review of Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government by Samuel Gregg

by Father C. John McCloskey

 

The highly acclaimed author of Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg has recently penned Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government. In his newest entry, Gregg builds an argument for free economy and human flourishing that is a must-read, regardless of your political affiliation or whether you are Catholic or a serious Christian concerned about the rapidly diminishing religious liberty in the United States.

It should be pointed out that the author has no affiliation with the tea-party movement itself, although he clearly admires its aim of reducing the role of government and expanding the sphere of true religious and economic freedom.

Gregg, who is originally from Australia, has a doctorate from Oxford, where he studied under the well-known natural-law philosopher John Finnis. Gregg is a full-time fellow of the Acton Institute in Michigan. I will save you all the endorsements this book has received from prominent people, other than to say you would undoubtedly recognize all the endorsers: Gregg is a big hitter.

He clearly knows (and loves up to a point) the history of the United States inside out.

Although he quotes Alexis de Tocqueville frequently — Tocqueville being the greatest analyst of the singularity of our country from its beginnings — Gregg prefers to concentrate on the Catholic Founding Father Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Pardon my own shared interest with Gregg: I grew up in Maryland (originally founded as a Catholic colony) not too far from Carroll’s ancestral home and grave (see related story on page B1).

Read what Carroll wrote to the Secretary of War James McHenry, in a letter from Nov. 4, 1800: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time.”

In short, Carroll is telling McHenry (and us), that, for a free country to flourish or even survive over the centuries, its populace has to live a Christian life and strive to follow the commandments and the beatitudes as they come down to us from Scripture, based on the authority of the Catholic Church (even though Carroll does not mention Catholicism by name in the letter to McHenry).

Gregg argues for a return to the concept of subsidiarity for human flourishing.

He writes, “Though an important form of social organization, government is only one of a number of communities and should not displace or absorb the responsibilities properly assumed by individuals, businesses, clubs and other forms of non-state association. Subsidiarity tells us we should not automatically look to government. … When no other group can render assistance in the appropriate form of help, the state may need to become involved.”

Gregg makes his case well that only religiously derived morals, faith and economic liberty can bring the United States out of the death spiral in which it is caught.

Spread the word.

Father C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington.

National Catholic Register 11/16/2013        Copyright © 2013 EWTN News, Inc. All rights reserved.

“God is continuously leading us forward”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/11/16 at 7:47 AM

As long as there is struggle, ascetical struggle, there is interior life. That is what Our Lord is asking of us: the will to want to love him with deeds, in the little things of every day. If you have conquered in little things, you will conquer in big ones.  (The Way of the Cross)

I ought to put you on your guard against a trick that Satan does not hesitate to use in order to rob us of our peace. He never takes a holiday! A time may come when he sows doubts in our minds, tempting us to think that we are slipping sadly backwards and are making scarcely any progress. The conviction may grow upon us that, in spite of all our efforts to improve, we are getting worse. I can assure you that normally this pessimistic judgement is mere fantasy, a deception that needs to be rejected…It is good to remember that God in his providence is continuously leading us forward and he spares no effort, whether in the form of portentous signs or of tiny miracles, to make his children progress.

Man’s life on earth is warfare, and his days are spent under the burden of work. No one escapes this law, not even the easygoing who try to turn a deaf ear to it. They desert the ranks of Christ, and then take up other battles to satisfy their laziness, their vanity, or their petty ambitions. They become enslaved to their every whim…

Renew your decision each morning, with a very determined  I will serve you, Lord! Renew your resolution not to give in, not to give way to laziness or idleness; to face up to your duties with greater hope and more optimism, convinced that if we are defeated in some small skirmish we can overcome this setback by making a sincere act of love. (Friends of God, 217)