Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
“Man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy,” the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus address, quoting Thomas à Kempis’ famous 15th century devotional work “The Imitation of Christ.”
The Pope addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the first Sunday of Lent, giving a reflection on St. Mark’s Gospel account of Christ’s forty days in the desert when he was tempted by Satan.
Pope Benedict, citing his fifth century predecessor St. Leo the Great, suggested that Jesus “willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example.”
The desert can be a place of “abandonment and loneliness” where temptation becomes stronger, he said. However, it can also indicate “a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt.” The desert is a place “where we can experience the presence of God in a special way.”
The patience and humility required to defeat “the enemy” come by following Christ every day and from “learning to build our life not outside of him or as if he did not exist, but in him and with him, because he is the source of true life,” the Pope continued.
In contrast to this is the temptation “to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.”
This is why in Jesus “God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love,” because God has now become incarnate and “enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God.”
In return for this “great gift” Jesus asks that each person “repent and believe in the Gospel.”
This request, explained the Pope, is “an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good.”
Lent is the perfect season to do this, he concluded, as it provides the ideal opportunity to “renew and strengthen our relationship with God” through daily prayer, acts of penance, and works of fraternal charity.
The Pope prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany and protect each pilgrim on his or her Lenten journey. He also asked for prayers for himself and for the Roman curia as they begin a seven-day Lenten retreat starting Sunday evening.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
So here we are first Sunday in Lent of 2012. What are you doing for Lent? As my amazing journey continues I am realizing more that Lent is not about giving up things like chocolate, television on Wednesday's etc. Mind you it is an important part of nor is it only about helping out the poor or saving your loose change weekly to aid the poor, this again another part to Lent.
I have found that in Lent it is about what can I do to be closer to God. How do I build my spiritual life and how do I strengthen this tie with God. I saw a lot of new faces during mass last night and I imagine this trend will continue today. Hopefully these people keep coming after Lent also but it is a start.
I plan to attend as many masses as I can during this Lenten season, meaning the first Friday, stations of the cross etc. what is available I want to go to to help open my soul up to absorb and strengthen my spirit, my belief in God and to build a deep foundation that no matter what comes will be never broken or damaged. To me Lent is a time where I can receive from God to give back even more.
Here is the Pope's message for Lent that for some reason I only came across today. Regardless I still wish to share. Please do not just read this and move on read and read and absorb to build your life around. Take care and God Bless!!
Pope's Message for Lent 2012
"We Must Not Remain Silent Before Evil"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's message for Lent 2012. The message is dated Nov. 3 and was released today.
Ash Wednesday falls this year on Feb. 22.
* * *
"Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.
This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a brief biblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews: "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works". These words are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust in Jesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up a pathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord "sincere in heart and filled with faith" (v. 22), keeping firm "in the hope we profess" (v. 23) and ever mindful of living a life of "love and good works" (v. 24) together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain this life shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy and community prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God (v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct, valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life: concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.
1. "Let us be concerned for each other": responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.
This first aspect is an invitation to be "concerned": the Greek verb used here is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospel when Jesus invites the disciples to "think of" the ravens that, without striving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf. Lk 12:24), and to "observe" the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to "turn your minds to Jesus" (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb which introduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for "privacy". Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be "guardians" of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationships based on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being, the integral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for one another demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters in humanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize in others a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant of God Pope Paul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lack of brotherhood: "Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Populorum Progressio, 66).
Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail, because God is "generous and acts generously" (Ps 119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion. Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and working for the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodness and its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. Sacred Scripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sort of "spiritual anesthesia" which numbs us to the suffering of others. The Evangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite "pass by", indifferent to the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf.Lk 10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of the poverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19). Both parables show examples of the opposite of "being concerned", of looking upon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of "showing mercy" towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy. "The upright understands the cause of the weak, the wicked has not the wit to understand it" (Prov 29:7). We can then understand the beatitude of "those who mourn" (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable of looking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others. Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and blessedness.
"Being concerned for each other" also entails being concerned for their spiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities that are truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physical health of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health and ultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: "Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more" (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternal correction - elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11). The Church’s tradition has included "admonishing sinners" among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. As the Apostle Paul says: "If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness; and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way" (Gal 6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness. Scripture tells us that even "the upright falls seven times" (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.
2. "Being concerned for each other": the gift of reciprocity.
This "custody" of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducing life exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatological perspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. A society like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritual and moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christian community! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek "the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another" (Rom 14:19) for our neighbour’s good, "so that we support one another" (15:2), seeking not personal gain but rather "the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved" (1 Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.
The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. This reciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the community constantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of its members, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charity present in her midst. As Saint Paul says: "Each part should be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, a practice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – is rooted in this common belonging. Christians can also express their membership in the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest of the poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace that Almighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. When Christians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoice and give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).
3. "To stir a response in love and good works": walking together in holiness.
These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us to reflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of the spiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever more sublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for one another should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, "like the light of dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day" (Prov 4:18), makes us live each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously grows towards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation to encourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situated in this dynamic prospect of growth.
Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, today as timely as ever, to aim for the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizing and proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is also meant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to "anticipate one another in showing honour" (Rom 12:10).
In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 3 November 2011
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Book of Genesis 9:8-15.
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.
Make known to me your ways, LORD;
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
For you I wait all the long day,
because of your goodness, LORD.
Remember your compassion and love, O LORD;
for they are ages old.
Remember no more the sins of my youth;
remember me only in light of your love.
Remember no more the sins of my youth;
remember me only in light of your love.
Good and upright is the LORD,
who shows sinners the way,
Guides the humble rightly,
and teaches the humble the way.
First Letter of Peter 3:18-22.
For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1:12-15.
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert,and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
I have provided two short prayers for you today. God Bless and take care!
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are leading me and that when I go astray it’s because I take my eyes off you and cease to follow you. I know that you will never abandon me. Thank you for your unconditional and restoring love. I place all my trust in you, and I long to love you in return with all my mind, heart soul and strength.
who are the light of the minds that know you,
the joy of the hearts that love you,
and the strength of the wills that serve you;
grant us so to know you
that we may truly love you,
and so to love you
that we may fully serve you,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Friday, February 24, 2012
our worldly concerns under control,
so that they never
turn our minds from higher things.
Help us have earthly things for our use
but not as objects of our desires.
May there be nothing to hold back
the desire of our mind;
and do not let the delights
of this world ensnare us. Amen.
- Pope St. Gregory I, the Great
So I continue my double life by attending mass in two different parishes and what is turning out to be in 3 languages. I attend the Hungarian mass on Sunday and also the English mass here at my local parish where I am also enrolled in the RCIA. Now for Ash Wednesday we went here with my wife to the local parish and the mass was in English and Polish. Just like the First Friday mass and adoration which actually was in 3 languages, English, Polish and some Latin!
First I wondered what I am doing but then realized how I am being blessed to be able participate in this. Also I have struggled about attending the Hungarian church as the time of mass and the time lost on Sunday as opposed to the early mass at the English parish I attend. Also no politics at least visibly at the local parish and a sense of vigour and parish life which is lacking at the Hungarian parish. In the end though because of my background and the Hungarian blood flowing in me I can't leave the parish as I help with what I can every Sunday as it seems people can complain about what is required but refuse to help.
Overall I am blessed as I mention to be enriched like this and I accept this as a grace from God. Maybe also this might help make up for all the years I could not be bothered in going to Mass. The RCIA even though you are a Catholic I recommend you take as it takes you back and helps you build a foundation for our wonderful faith. To me this has been the best move I have made and have the Lord to thank for guiding me here! Take care and God Bless!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
“In these 40 days that will lead us to Easter, may we find new courage to accept with patience and with faith situations of difficulty, of affliction and trial, knowing that from the darkness the Lord will make a new day dawn,” the Pope said Feb. 22, the first day of Lent.
“And if we are faithful to Jesus and follow him on the way of the cross, the bright world of God, the world of light, truth and joy will be gifted to us once more.”
The Pope delivered his comments at his weekly general audience, which was held in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI hall and attended by more than 7,500 pilgrims.
He explained that in the early Church it was only those preparing to be baptized who would observe the 40 days of Lenten preparation. Subsequently, however, all Christians were invited “to experience this journey of spiritual renewal, to conform themselves and their lives to that of Christ,” including those who had fallen away from the Church.
The Pope said that the “participation of the whole community” emphasizes that “redemption is not available to only a few, but to all, through the death and resurrection of Christ.”
“The time leading up to Easter is a time of ‘metanoia,’ a time of change and penance, a time which identifies our human lives and our entire history as a process of conversion, which begins to move now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time,” he said.
Pope Benedict noted that the Church calls the 40 days leading up to Easter “Quadragesima.” And it does so with a “clear reference to sacred Scripture,” where the number 40 is often symbolically used to express “a time of expectation, purification and return to the Lord,” he taught.
The Pope said that the “Christian liturgy of Lent” is meant to spur a “journey of spiritual renewal” and time more focused on learning how to imitate Jesus, who showed Christians “how to overcome temptation with the word of God.”
The Pope asked those at today’s audience to note how God sustained his people, even in the wilderness. After their exodus from Egypt, for example, God preceded the Jewish people “in a cloud or a pillar of fire, ensured their daily nourishment, showering manna upon them and bringing forth water from rock.” It was, in many ways, a “time of the special election of God,” or, added the Pope, “the time of first love,” of a people for their God.
But time spent in the desert can also be “the time of the greatest temptations and dangers,” Pope Benedict observed, pointing out that this happened to Jesus, but “without any compromise with sin.” Jesus always sought “moments of solitude to pray to his Father,” but it is in those moments he was most assailed by “temptation and the seduction of (the) devil.” It was there, for example, that he was offered “another messianic way, far from God’s plan.”
Just as this dynamic is found in the Old and New Testaments, the Pope said, it can also be found in the “condition of the pilgrim Church” as it makes its way through “the “wilderness’ of the world and history.”
This wilderness is made up of “the aridity and poverty of words, life and values, of secularism” and the “culture of materialism which encloses people within a worldly horizon and detaches them from any reference to the transcendent,” he said.
It is in such an atmosphere that “the sky above us is dark, because it is veiled with clouds of selfishness, misunderstanding and deceit.”
At the same time, “the wilderness can become a period of grace” for the Church, because “we have the certainty that even from the hardest rock God can cause the living water to gush forth, water which quenches thirst and restores strength.”
Pope Benedict finished by saying that this hope in God’s power should sustain the Church and each Christian during the following 40 days.
Like millions of Catholics around the world, Pope Benedict XVI received ashes on Ash Wednesday. He said that they become a “sacred symbol” of austerity which reflects both the “curse” of sin and the promise of the Resurrection in a fallen world.
The Ash Wednesday words from Scripture (“Dust you are and unto dust you shall return”) are “an invitation to penance, humility and an awareness of our mortal state,” the Pope said.
“We are not to despair, but to welcome in this mortal state of ours the unthinkable nearness of God, who opens the way to resurrection, to paradise regained, beyond death. … The same spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead can transform our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh,” he said in his homily at the fifth-century Basilica of Santa Sabina, where he received ashes.
Lent is thus a journey towards the “Easter of resurrection.”
The Pope spoke after leading the Ash Wednesday evening procession on Rome’s Aventine Hill, a tradition revived by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
The papal homily included a short reflection on the meaning of ashes in Scripture and in Christian thought.
While the ashes are not a sacramental sign, they are linked with “prayer and the sanctification of the Christian people,” he said.
In Genesis, God created man out of dust from the soil and breathed a “breath of life” into him. The Ash Wednesday ashes, therefore, recall the creation of mankind.
Being human means uniting matter with the “Divine breath.” However, the symbol of dust takes on a negative connotation because of sin.
“Before the Fall, the soil is totally good,” the Pope said. But after the Fall, dust produces “only thorns and brambles.” Rather than recalling the “creative hand of God” that is open to life, dust becomes “a sign of death.”
Pope Benedict said that this change shows that the earth itself participates in man’s destiny. The cursing of the soil helps man recognize his limitations and his own human nature.
This curse comes from sin, not from God, he explained. Even within this punishment, there is “a good intention that comes from God.”
When God says in Genesis, “Dust you are and unto dust you shall return,” he intends not only a just punishment, but also an announcement of the path to salvation, the Pope preached.
This salvation “will pass through the earth, through that same dust, that same flesh which will be assumed by the Word incarnate.”
Book of Joel 2:12-18.
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the people, notify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, and say, "Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.
Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness;
in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
that you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
Lord, open my lips;
my mouth will proclaim your praise.
Second Letter to the Corinthians 5:20-21.6:1-2.
Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: "In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 6:1-6.16-18.
Jesus said to his disciples: «Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Monday, February 20, 2012
“The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above,” he said Feb. 19 to a packed St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital ‘O,’ to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads.”
The Pope made his remarks in his homily for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter.
Dwelling upon the Gospel passage in which Peter proclaims Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Pope explored the significance of Christ’s response that Peter would be “the rock” upon which the Church was built.
The Pope explained how the old covenant between God and the Jewish people was first made with Abraham, of whom the Prophet Isaiah writes, “look to the rock from which you were hewn ... look to Abraham your father.”
Therefore, just as Abraham “the father of believers” is seen as “the rock that supports creation,” so too is Peter the basis for a new covenant. He is “the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.”
The Pope then turned his gaze towards Bernini’s 17th-century bronze sculpture, the Chair of Peter, which dominates the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.
He described it as an “enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of the great Fathers of the Church from East and West.” Above it, he noted, are “triumphant angles suspended in the air” and the “glory of the Holy Spirit” depicted in the oval window above. Given today’s feast, the sculpture was adorned with 144 burning candles.
Pope Benedict proposed that the statue “represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.”
The Church “is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world,” where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him, the Pope explained.
The Church “has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.”
Inside the magnificent bronze throne is a wooden chair which was thought for many centuries to have belonged to St. Peter himself but was later discovered to be a 9th century gift to the Pope from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Bald.
“Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi,” said Pope Benedict.
He also described it as a visible reminder of the famous expression of the early Church Father, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who described the Church of Rome as “she that ‘presides in charity’.”
“In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith,” he said.
To “preside in charity,” the Pope taught, “is to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences.”
Pope Benedict also reflected on the importance of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture for the Petrine ministry. It is Sacred Scripture, interpreted with the authority of the Catholic Church and “in the light” of the Church Fathers, which sheds “light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history,” he said.
Therefore, he concluded, by considering the Altar of the Chair “in its entirety” we can see “twofold movement” of “ascending and descending” which depicts “the reciprocity between faith and love.”
“Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist,” he stated, “discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift.”
“True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love,” just as “the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica.”
Pope Benedict later returned to similar reflections after Mass as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus address, which he delivered from the window of his apartment.
“The Chair of St. Peter,” he told them, “is a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his successors to shepherd the flock of Christ, holding it together in faith and charity.”
Before praying the midday Marian prayer, he entrusted the new cardinals “to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, asking that she always assist them in their service to the Church and sustain them in any trials they may face.”
Sunday, February 19, 2012
This weekend is special as 22 new Cardinals are created. Among them is Thomas Collins from here in Toronto so excuse me for a little Canadian pride on that. I have seen Cardinal Collins many times on television and really like him and have seen a lot of the work he has done since he became the Arch Bishop of the Toronto diocese. I have seen his LectioDivina series on Salt and Light television many times and just loved the way he interacted and left you with a feeling of wanting to pick up the bible to learn more of God's word.
The other Cardinal who caught my eye is Timothy Dolan from the United States. I have seen him many times on EWTN with my favourite father, Father Benedict, and my only wish was I lived in New York and could be a parishioner at Caridinal Dolan's church. Wow what a personality and what a truly wonderful god loving man. He is kind of the opposite of Cardinal Collins who is a bit less charismatic or actually wrong word but just quieter in personality.
I love Dolan's smarts and how truthfully his opinions about the current US administration is. He just seems so magnetic well at least to me. Could he be pope one day? Possibility is there, would he be good for the position? I think so he certainly would put the Vatican on the front page but I also think he would do a lot of good for the catholic church and faith as he deeply loves the church and god and this as from cardinal Collins radiates from him.
Here is his address to the College of Cardinals in Rome sit back and enjoy and may God Bless these new Cardinals to help the Catholic Church and guide her and us to the glory our lord has promised:
The Announcement of the Gospel Today, Between missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization
Holy Father, Cardinal Sodano, my brothers in Christ:
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!
It is as old as the final mandate of Jesus, “Go, teach all nations!,” yet as fresh as God’s Holy Word proclaimed at our own Mass this morning.
I speak of the sacred duty of evangelization. It is “ever ancient, ever new.” The how of it, the when of it, the where of it, may change, but the charge remains constant, as does the message and inspiration, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
We gather in the caput mundi, evangelized by Peter and Paul themselves, in the city from where the successors of St. Peter “sent out” evangelizers to present the saving Person, message, and invitation that is at the heart of evangelization: throughout Europe, to the “new world” in the “era of discovery,” to Africa and Asia in recent centuries.
We gather near the basilica where the evangelical fervor of the Church was expanded during the Second Vatican Council, and near the tomb of the Blessed Pontiff who made the New Evangelization a household word.
We gather grateful for the fraternal company of a pastor who has made the challenge of the new evangelization almost a daily message.
Yes, we gather as missionaries, as evangelizers.
We hail the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, especially found in Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes, and Ad Gentes, that refines the Church’s understanding of her evangelical duty, defining the entire Church as missionary, that all Christians, by reason of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist, are evangelizers.
Yes, the Council reaffirmed, especially in Ad Gentes, there are explicit missionaries, sent to lands and peoples who have never heard the very Name by which all are saved, but also that no Christian is exempt from the duty of witnessing to Jesus and offering His invitation to others in his own day-to-day life.
Thus, mission became central to the life of every local church, to every believer. The context of mission shifted not only in a geographical sense, but in a theological sense, as mission applied not only to unbelievers but to believers, and some thoughtful people began to wonder if such a providential expansion of the concept of evangelization unintentionally diluted the emphasis of mission ad gentes.
Blessed John Paul II developed this fresh understanding, speaking of evangelizing cultures, since the engagement between faith and culture supplanted the relationship between church and state dominant prior to the Council, and included in this task the re-evangelizing of cultures that had once been the very engine of gospel values. The New Evangelization became the dare to apply the invitation of Jesus to conversion of heart not only ad extra but ad intra, to believers and cultures where the salt of the gospel had lost its tang. Thus, the missio is not only to New Guinea but to New York.
In Redemptoris Missio, #33, he elaborated upon this, noting primary evangelization — the preaching of Jesus to lands and people unaware of His saving message — the New Evangelization — the rekindling of faith in persons and cultures where it has grown lackluster — and the pastoral care of those daily living as believers.
We of course acknowledge that there can be no opposition between the missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization. It is not an “either-or” but a “both-and” proposition. The New Evangelization generates enthusiastic missionaries; those in the apostolate of the missio ad gentes require themselves to be constantly evangelized anew.
Even in the New Testament, to the very generation who had the missio ad gentes given by the Master at His ascension still ringing in their ears, Paul had to remind them to “stir into flame” the gift of faith given them, certainly an early instance of the New Evangelization.
And, just recently, in the inspirational Synod in Africa, we heard our brothers from the very lands radiant with the fruits of the missio ad gentes report that those now in the second and third generation after the initial missionary zeal already stand in need of the New Evangelization.
The acclaimed American missionary and TV evangelist, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, commented, “Our Lord’s first word to His disciples was ‘come!’ His last word was ‘go!’ You can’t ‘go’ unless you’ve first ‘come’ to Him.”
A towering challenge to both the missio ad gentes and the New Evangalization today is what we call secularism. Listen to how our Pope describes it:
Secularization, which presents itself in cultures by imposing a world and
humanity without reference to Transcendence, is invading every aspect of daily life and developing a mentality in which God is effectively absent, wholly or partially, from human life and awareness. This secularization is not only an external threat to believers, but has been manifest for some time in the heart of the Church herself. It profoundly distorts the Christian faith from within, and consequently, the lifestyle and daily behavior of believers. They live in the world and are often marked, if not conditioned, by the cultural imagery that impresses contradictory and impelling models regarding the practical denial of God: there is no longer any need for God, to think of him or to return to him. Furthermore, the prevalent hedonistic and consumeristic mindset fosters in the faithful and in Pastors a tendency to superficiality and selfishness that is harmful to ecclesial life. (Benedict XVI, Address to Pontifical Council for Culture, 8.III.2008)
This secularization calls for a creative strategy of evangelization, and I want to detail seven planks of this strategy.
1. Actually, in graciously inviting me to speak on this topic, “The Announcement of the Gospel Today, between missio ad gentes and the new evangelization,” my new-brother-cardinal, His Eminence, the Secretary of State, asked me to put in into the context of secularism, hinting that my home archdiocese of New York might be the “capital of a secular culture.”
As I trust my friend and new-brother-cardinal, Edwin O’Brien — who grew up in New York — will agree, New York — without denying its dramatic evidence of graphic secularism — is also a very religious city.
There one finds, even among groups usually identified as materialistic — the media, entertainment, business, politics, artists, writers — an undeniable openness to the divine!
The cardinals who serve Jesus and His Church universal on the Roman Curia may recall the address Pope Benedict gave them at Christmas two years ago when he celebrated this innate openness to the divine obvious even in those who boast of their secularism:
We as believers, must have at heart even those people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists. When we speak of a new evangelization these people are perhaps taken aback. They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them. As the first step of evangelization we must seek to keep this quest alive; we must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives. We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within. I think that today too the Church should open a sort of “Court of the Gentiles” in which people might in some way latch on to God, without knowing him and before gaining access to his mystery, at whose service the inner life of the Church stands.
This is my first point: we believe with the philosophers and poets of old, who never had the benefit of revelation, that even a person who brags about being secular and is dismissive of religion, has within an undeniable spark of interest in the beyond, and recognizes that humanity and creation is a dismal riddle without the concept of some kind of creator.
A movie popular at home now is The Way, starring a popular actor, Martin Sheen. Perhaps you have seen it. He plays a grieving father whose estranged son dies while walking the Camino di Santiago di Campostella in Spain. The father decides, in his grief, to complete the pilgrimage in place of his dead son. He is an icon of a secular man: self-satisfied, dismissive of God and religion, calling himself a “former Catholic,” cynical about faith . . . but yet unable to deny within him an irrepressible interest in the transcendent, a thirst for something — no, Someone — more, which grows on the way.
Yes, to borrow the report of the apostles to Jesus from last Sunday’s gospel, “All the people are looking for you!”
They still are . . .
2. . . . and, my second point, this fact gives us immense confidence and courage in the sacred task of mission and New Evangelization.
“Be not afraid,” we’re told, is the most repeated exhortation in the Bible.
After the Council, the good news was that triumphalism in the Church was dead.
The bad news was that, so was confidence!
We are convinced, confident, and courageous in the New Evangelization because of the power of the Person sending us on mission — who happens to be the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity – because of the truth of the message, and the deep down openness in even the most secularized of people to the divine.
What keeps us from the swagger and arrogance of triumphalism is a recognition of what Pope Paul VI taught in Evangelii Nuntiandi: the Church herself needs evangelization!
This gives us humility as we confess that Nemo dat quod not habet, that the Church has a deep need for the interior conversion that is at the marrow of the call to evangelization.
3. A third necessary ingredient in the recipe of effective mission is that God does not satisfy the thirst of the human heart with a proposition, but with a Person, whose name is Jesus.
The invitation implicit in the Missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization is not to a doctrine but to know, love, and serve — not a something, but a Someone.
When you began your ministry as successor of St. Peter, Holy Father, you invited us to friendship with Jesus, which is the way you defined sanctity.
There it is . . . love of a Person, a relationship at the root of out faith.
As St. Augustine writes, “Ex una sane doctrina impressam fidem credentium cordibus singulorum qui hoc idem credunt verissime dicimus, sed aliud sunt ea quae creduntur, aliud fides qua creduntur” (De Trinitate, XIII, 2.5)
4. Yes, and here’s my fourth point, but this Person, Jesus, tells us He is the truth.
So, our mission has a substance, a content, and this twentieth anniversary of the Catechism, the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the Council, and the upcoming Year of Faith charge us to combat catechetical illiteracy.
True enough, the New Evangalization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith; but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty, and coherence of the Truth.
Cardinal George Pell has observed that “it’s not so much that our people have lost their faith, but that they barely had it to begin with; and, if they did, it was so vapid that it was easily taken away.”
So did Cardinal Avery Dulles call for neo-apologetics, rooted not in dull polemics but in the Truth that has a name, Jesus.
So did Blessed John Newman, upon reception of his own biglietto nominating him a cardinal warn again of what he constantly called a dangerous liberalism in religion: “. . . the belief that there is no objective truth in religion, that one creed is as good as another . . . Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment, a taste . . . ”
And, just as Jesus tells us “I am the Truth,” He also describes Himself as “the Way, and the Life.”
The Way of Jesus is in and through His Church, a holy mother who imparts to us His Life.
“For what would I ever know of Him without her?” asks De Lubac, referring to the intimate identification of Jesus and His Church.
Thus, our mission, the New Evangelization, has essential catechetical and ecclesial dimensions.
This impels us to think about Church in a fresh way: to think of the Church as a mission. As John Paul II taught in Redemptoris Missio, the Church does not “have a mission,” as if “mission” were one of many things the Church does. No, the Church is a mission, and each of us who names Jesus as Lord and Savior should measure ourselves by our mission-effectiveness.
Over the fifty years since the convocation of the Council, we have seen the Church pass through the last stages of the Counter-Reformation and rediscover itself as a missionary enterprise. In some venues, this has meant a new discovery of the Gospel. In once-catechized lands, it has meant a re-evangelization that sets out from the shallow waters of institutional maintenance, and as John Paul II instructed us in Novo Millennio Ineunte, puts out “into the deep” for a catch.
In many of the countries represented in this college, the ambient public culture once transmitted the Gospel, but does so no more. In those circumstances, the proclamation of the Gospel — the deliberate invitation to enter into friendship with the Lord Jesus — must be at the very center of the Catholic life of all of our people. But in all circumstances, the Second Vatican Council and the two great popes who have given it an authoritative interpretation are urging us to call our people to think of themselves as missionaries and evangelists.
5. When I was a new seminarian at the North American College here in Rome, all the first-year men from all the Roman theological universities were invited to a Mass at St. Peter’s with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal John Wright, as celebrant and homilist.
We thought he would give us a cerebral homily. But he began by asking, “Seminarians: do me and the Church a big favor. When you walk the streets of Rome, smile!”
So, point five: the missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy.
“Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence,” claims Leon Bloy.
When I became Archbishop of New York, a priest old me, “You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan, or you’ll be arrested!”
A man dying of AIDS at the Gift of Peace Hospice, administered by the Missionaries of Charity in Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Archdiocese of Washington, asked for baptism. When the priest asked for an expression of faith, the dying man whispered, “All I know is that I’m unhappy, and these sisters are very happy, even when I curse them and spit on them. Yesterday I finally asked them why they were so happy. They replied ‘Jesus.’ I want this Jesus so I can finally be happy.
A genuine act of faith, right?
The New Evangelization is accomplished with a smile, not a frown.
The missio ad gentes is all about a yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person.
The Church is about a yes!, not a no!
6. And, next-to-last point, the New Evangelization is about love.
Recently, our brother John Thomas Kattrukudiyil, the Bishop of Itanagar, in the northeast corner of India, was asked to explain the tremendous growth of the Church in his diocese, registering over 10,000 adult converts a year.
“Because we present God as a loving father, and because people see the Church loving them.” he replied.
Not a nebulous love, he went on, but a love incarnate in wonderful schools for all children, clinics for the sick, homes for the elderly, centers for orphans, food for the hungry.
In New York, the heart of the most hardened secularist softens when visiting one of our inner-city Catholic schools. When one of our benefactors, who described himself as an agnostic, asked Sister Michelle why, at her age, with painful arthritic knees, she continued to serve at one of these struggling but excellent poor schools, she answered, “Because God loves me, and I love Him, and I want these children to discover this love.”
7. Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.
Tomorrow, twenty-two of us will hear what most of you have heard before:
“To the praise of God, and the honor of the Apostolic See
receive the red biretta, the sign of the cardinal’s dignity;
and know that you must be willing to conduct yourselves with fortitude
even to the shedding of your blood:
for the growth of the Christian faith,
the peace and tranquility of the People of God,
and the freedom and spread of the Holy Roman Church.”
Holy Father,can you omit “to the shedding of your blood” when you present me with the biretta?
Of course not! We are but “scarlet audio-visual aids” for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus.
It was Pope Paul VI who noted wisely that people today learn more from “witness than from words,” and the supreme witness is martyrdom.
Sadly, today we have martyrs in abundance.
Thank you, Holy Father, for so often reminding us of those today suffering persecution for their faith throughout the world.
Thank you, Cardinal Koch, for calling the Church to an annual “day of solidarity” with those persecuted for the sake of the gospel, and for inviting our ecumenical and inter-religious partners to an “ecumenism of martyrdom.”
While we cry for today’s martyrs; while we love them, pray with and for them; while we vigorously advocate on their behalf; we are also very proud of them, brag about them, and trumpet their supreme witness to the world.
They spark the missio ad gentes and New Evangelization.
A young man in New York tells me he returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood, which he had jettisoned as a teenager, because he read The Monks of Tibhirine, about Trappists martyred in Algeria fifteen years ago, and after viewing the drama about them, the French film, Of Gods and Men.
Tertullian would not be surprised.
Thank you, Holy Father and brethren, for your patience with my primitive Italian. When Cardinal Bertone asked me to give this address in Italian, I worried, because I speak Italian like a child.
But, then I recalled, that, as a newly-ordained parish priest, my first pastor said to me as I went over to school to teach the six-year old children their catechism, “Now we’ll see if all your theology sunk in, and if you can speak of the faith like a child.”
And maybe that’s a fitting place to conclude: we need to speak again as a child the eternal truth, beauty, and simplicity of Jesus and His Church.
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!
Book of Isaiah 43:18-19.21-22.24b-25.
Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.
The people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise. Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob, for you grew weary of me, O Israel. You did not buy me sweet cane for money, nor fill me with the fat of your sacrifices; Instead, you burdened me with your sins, and wearied me with your crimes. It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.
Happy those concerned for the lowly and poor;
when misfortune strikes, the LORD delivers them.
The LORD keeps and preserves them,
makes them happy in the land,
and does not betray them to their enemies.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed,
allays the malady when they are ill.
Once I prayed, "LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, I have sinned against you.
For my integrity you have supported me
and let me stand in your presence forever.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from all eternity and forever. Amen. Amen.
Second Letter to the Corinthians 1:18-22.
As God is faithful, our word to you is not "yes" and "no." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not "yes" and "no," but "yes" has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory.
But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 2:1-12.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins? Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"- he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Saturday, February 18, 2012
“Jesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive,” the Pope told over 6,000 pilgrims attending today’s general audience in Paul VI Hall.
The Pope urged people to pray that “the light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us.”
This attitude, he explained, is summed up in one line from the Our Father – “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Over the past several months, the Pope has used his weekly general audiences to explore the issue of prayer. This week he focused on the three last prayers of Jesus from the cross.
The first prayer was pronounced by Jesus immediately after he was nailed to the cross, “while the soldiers are dividing his garments as sad reward of their service.” The prayer Christ uttered was: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
In his prayer of intercession, Jesus “asks forgiveness for his executioners,” and in doing so, “carries out what he had taught in the Sermon on the Mount” when he urged his followers to “love your enemy,” “do good to those who hate you,” and promised to reward those who forgive.
Crucially, said the Pope, Jesus gives “ignorance, ‘not knowing,’ as the reason for the request for forgiveness from the Father.” This should give “consolation for all times and for all men” because Jesus sees ignorance “as a door that can open us up to repentance.”
The second prayer of Christ is directed towards the good thief who repents after sensing he is “before the Son of God, who reveals the face of God.” Once he recognized this, the thief prayed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” In doing so, Christ is “aware of entering directly into communion with the Father” and of “reopening the path for the man to God’s paradise.”
This should give all people hope, said Pope Benedict,since it shows that “the goodness of God can touch us even at the last moment of life.” And that “sincere prayer, even after a life of wrong, meets the open arms of the good Father who awaits the return of his son.”
The Pope then turned to Christ’s final prayer on the cross – “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He noted how each of the Gospel writers describes different aspects of this moment in history, including the veil of the temple being torn down the middle, three hours of darkness over the land and earthquakes.
“The death of Jesus is explicitly characterized as a cosmic and liturgical event,” said the Pope, “it marks the beginning of a new worship in a temple not built by men.”
The prayer is also a “loud cry of extreme and total trust in God,” fully aware of “not being abandoned.” This is signified by the use of the word “Father,” which recalls Christ’s first declaration that he is the son of God when he was a 12-year-old boy and was found in the temple by his parents.
“Then he remained for three days in the temple of Jerusalem, the veil of which is now torn,” and so we see that “from beginning to end, what completely determines the feelings of Jesus, his words, his actions is his unique relationship with the Father.”
All in all, concluded the Pope, the three final prayers of Jesus are “tragic” for every man but are also “pervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to him.” They are a “supreme act of love” which went “to the limit and beyond the limit.”
As well as prompting us to pray for our enemies, the final prayers of Jesus should also teach Christians that “no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God,” Pope Benedict said.
light of those in the dark,
creator of all that grows from seed,
promoter of all spiritual growth,
have mercy, Lord, on me
and make me a temple fit for yourself.
Do not scan my transgressions too closely,
for if you are quick to notice my offenses,
I shall not dare to appear before you.
In your great mercy,
in your boundless compassion,
wash away my sins, through Jesus Christ,
your only child, the truly holy,
the chief of our souls' healers.
Through him may all glory be given you,
all power and honor and praise,
throughout the unending succession of ages. Amen.
- An early Christian prayer
Monday, February 13, 2012
So as you saw in yesterday's readings Jesus cures the leper. Certainly a large step and gesture by Jesus considering the implications of dealing with a leper. Here is the Holy Father's explanation for you also,
Jesus cured leper to show man’s salvation, Pope says
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2012 / 02:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Jesus Christ’s healing of the leper in the Gospel of Mark encapsulates the whole history of salvation, said Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday Angelus address for Feb. 12.
When Jesus met the leper, he came into contact with a form of illness “considered at that time the most serious, enough to render a person ‘impure’ and to exclude them from the society,” the Pope explained to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
There was even special legislation that reserved to Jewish priests “the task of declaring the person leprous, that is impure,” he said. It was the job of the Jewish priests to decide if and when to re-admit the sufferer to society after they had been deemed cured.
It was in this context that a leper came to Jesus beseeching him and telling him “‘If you will, you can make me clean,'” according Mark’s account of the event.
Contrary to the legal bans, noted the Pope, “Jesus does not avoid contact with this man, indeed, he is driven to an intimate participation in his condition, stretches out his hand and touches it.” He responds to the man’s plea by telling him “I will it, be cleansed.”
“In that gesture and those words of Christ is the whole history of salvation,” stated the Pope, “there is embodied the will of God to heal us, to cleanse us from evil that disfigures and that disrupts our relationships.”
This contact between the hand of Jesus and the leper “knocks down every barrier between God and human impurities, between the Sacred and its opposite.” The actions of Jesus do not deny the reality of “evil and its negative force,” but shows that “the love of God is stronger than any evil, even of the most contagious and horrible.” In doing so, “Jesus took upon himself our infirmities, became the ‘leper’ because we were purified.”
The Pope recalled the words of the 13th-century saint, Francis of Assisi, who spoke about lepers and ministered to them.
“When I lived in sin, it was very painful to me to see lepers,” wrote St. Francis, “but God himself led me into their midst, and I remained there a little while.” By the time he left, “that which had seemed to me bitter had become sweet and easy.”
The Pope said that in learning to literally embrace lepers, St. Francis had been healed of his “leprosy,” namely his pride. That breakthrough “converted him to the love of God.”
“This is the victory of Christ, which is our deep healing and our resurrection to new life!” proclaimed Pope Benedict.
Before leading pilgrims in praying the Angelus, the Pope urged those present to direct their prayers towards the Virgin Mary. He noted that yesterday marked the 154th anniversary of her first appearance in the French town of Lourdes to the local miller’s daughter, Bernadette Soubirous.
“To St. Bernadette, Our Lady gave a timeless message: the call to prayer and penance,” said the Pope.
“Through his mother it is always Jesus who comes to us, to deliver us from all sickness of body and soul. Let us allow ourselves to be touched and purified by him, and show mercy towards our brothers!”
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Book of Leviticus 13:1-2.44-46.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants, the man is leprous and unclean, and the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.
Of David. A maskil.
Happy the sinner whose fault is removed,
whose sin is forgiven.
Happy those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no deceit.
Then I declared my sin to you;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
Selah Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
First Letter to the Corinthians 10:31-33.11:1.
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1:40-45.
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Friday, February 10, 2012
It was truly a unique experience at this parish as the mass was said in English, Polish and for good measure some Latin. It was unique because with the different cultures and languages involved we were all one together with the Lord. Truly wonderful and I was amazed by Father A who did the mass and was magnificent and made us all appreciate being there and spending this time with God.
This weekend we have a relic from our Lady of Guadeloupe visiting the parish and some special masses including one in Spanish which I might attend also.
As you know I attend two parishes one English (which is really English and Polish) and of course my beloved Hungarian parish.
We have been fortunate enough to lately have helped a lot at the Hungarian parish. It seems the war clouds have settled and Father has cleaned house so to speak and we have become a part of his team in helping in and around the parish where we help because we want to and it is in our heart and not help because we are looking for stature or monetary reward. This was Father's war with the old guard who thought the parish existed because of them instead of appreciating the fact that the parish existed for them, to pray and be close to God. Yes there has been like in any war casualties as the numbers on Sunday have dipped but we truly believe when people see the church is there for spiritual gain and not financial and personal gain many will start to wander back in. Until then I pray that the parish stays strong to move forward. For you all God Bless and take care!
whatever was done for the least
was done for you.
Give us the grace
to be always ready
to serve the needs of others,
and to extend the blessings
of your kingdom
over all the world,
to your praise and glory. Amen.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Thursday, February 9, 2012
whatever was done for the least
was done for you.
Give us the grace
to be always ready
to serve the needs of others,
and to extend the blessings
of your kingdom
over all the world,
to your praise and glory. Amen.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Job 7: 1 - 4, 6 - 7
1 "Has not man a hard service upon earth, and are not his days like the days of a hireling?
2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hireling who looks for his wages,
3 so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
4 When I lie down I say, `When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope.
7 "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.
Psalms 147: 1 - 6
1 Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground.
1 Corinthians 9: 16 - 19, 22 - 23
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.
18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Mark 1: 29 - 39
29 And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her.
31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.
32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.
33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door.
34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.
36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him,
37 and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you."
38 And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out."
39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.