Saturday, November 27, 2004

Gospel, Saturday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 21:34-36

The Need for Vigilance
(Jesus said to His disciples), [34] "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; [35] for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. [36] But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

34-36. At the end of His discourse Jesus emphasizes that every Christian needs to be vigilant: we do not know the day nor the hour in which He will ask us to render an account of our lives. Therefore, we must at all times be trying to do God's will, so that death, whenever it comes, will find us ready. For those who act in this way, sudden death never takes them by surprise. As St. Paul recommends: "You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Vigilance consists in making a constant effort not to be attached to the things of this world (the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life: cf. John 2:16) and in being assiduous in prayer, which keeps us close to God. If we live in this way, the day we die will be a day of joy and not of terror, for with God's help our vigilance will mean that our souls are ready to receive the visit of our Lord; they are in the state of grace: in meeting Christ we will not be meeting a judge who will find us guilty; instead He will embrace us and lead us into the house of His Father to remain there forever. "Does your soul not burn with the desire to make your Father-God happy when He has to judge you?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 746).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Reading, Saturday, 34th Week and Final Week in Ordinary Time

Reading From: Revelation 22:1-7

A New World Comes into Being. The New Jerusalem

[1] Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of lifer with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [3] There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; [4] they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. [5] And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and t hey shall reign for ever and ever.

The Visions Come to an End
[6] And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. [7] And behold, I am coming soon."
1-5. Because the water of life is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (cf. 21:6), some Fathers and modern commentators have, justifiably, read a trinitarian meaning into this passage--interpreting the river which flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb representing the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The trees whose leaves never fade (cf. Ps 1:3), with their fruit and medicinal foliage, symbolize the joy of eternal life (cf. Ezek 47:1-12; Ps 46:5).

The passage also takes up the prophecy in Zech ariah 14:11 that nothing will be accursed--a reference to the terrible practice of anathema (Hebrew "herem") which marked the Israelite conquest of Canaan: to avoid being tainted by idolatrous pagans, the Israelites laid cities and fields waste, putting them to torch and killing inhabitants and livestock. Peace and security will now reign supreme. And the dream of every man will come true--to see God (something impossible to attain on
earth). Now all the blessed will see God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12); and because they see him they shall be like him (cf. 1 Jn 3:2). The name of God on their foreheads shows that they belong to God (cf. Rev 13:16-17).

6-9. The author concludes his account of his visions by reaffirming that everything he has written is true (vv. 5-9) and by issuing a solemn warning: it will all come to pass and people will either be blessed or rejected (vv. I0-I5).

The truth of what the book says is grounded on God, who is truth itself. This is St John's usual way of referring to the authority and reliability of his teaching (cf. Rev 1:1, 9; Jn 19:35; 1 Jn 1:1 ff). He is acutely conscious of having written in the same manner as the prophets spoke--inspired by "the God of the spirits of the prophets". That is why he presents his book as "prophecy".

He also insists on the fact that the Lord's coming is imminent: he says this no less than three times in this chapter (vv. 7, 12 and 20): this is designed to make it quite clear that the Lord will come, and to create a climate of vigilance and hope (cf. note on Rev 1:1, on the imminence of the second coming).

Because this is a genuine book of prophecy those who read it and tell others its message are described as "blessed". This is the attitude which Jesus required people to have towards the word of God and towards his own words: when a woman proclaims his Mother "blessed", our Lord re plies, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it" (Lk 11:28), and he promises that a person who listens to his word and keeps it is like someone who builds on solid foundations (cf. Mt 7:24). St James gives a similar warning: "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (Jas 1:22).

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pope focuses on St. Louis schools and vocations

Pope John Paul II recalled fond memories of his 1999 visit to St. Louis during a meeting in Rome this week with Archbishop Raymond Burke, mentioning the youth rally at the Kiel Center and Mass at what was then the Trans World Dome.

"He wanted to know about the challenge of our pastoral planning in the two deaneries. He was very interested in that,"...."And he asked about Cardinal Rigali," Burke added, laughing. Rigali, the former archbishop of St. Louis, now heads the church in Philadelphia.
[Archbishop] Burke is fluent in Italian and looks forward to spending time in Rome when he can. His favorite restaurant, Las Campanas, is an out-of-the-way spot where a waiter, Pietro, "has been there as long as I can remember," said Burke. The archbishop has strong feelings for several of Rome's churches, especially St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls, two of the most important basilicas in the Catholic world.
All in all, this is a decent article from the Post.

Archbishop Burke and others meet with Holy Father

Before the private meeting, Archbishop Burke introduced to the pope Msgr. William Lyons, Father Thomas Molini, Father Kristian Teater and seminarian John O’Brien. All four are from the St. Louis Archdiocese and are either working or studying in Rome.

O’Brien, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Josephville who has been studying in Rome the past year, called Pope John Paul "a central model" in his pursuing the call to religious life
I recall meeting John after Mass one Sunday at St. Joseph's...At the time, there were three young men from the small parish in the seminary.
Pope John Paul, always interested in the cultivation of religious vocations, asked twice how those efforts were proceeding in the archdiocese to encourage men to consider the priesthood, Archbishop Burke said. The archdiocese has eight first-year seminarians this year, the archbishop said he told the pontiff.

"He then asked, ‘How about vocations to the sisterhood?’" Archbishop Burke said, adding that he reported that some orders of women religious have seen increases in vocations.
Remember to pray for our priests and religious, especially those who are discerning their vocation.

Article here.

Archbishop issues letter on Mass, influenza season

In a letter to archdiocesan priests, Archbishop Raymond Burke issued a precautionary warning about the flu season and spreading germs during Mass.

In a Nov. 13 memorandum, the archbishop wrote that Catholics should remain attentive to two specific parts of the Mass — the sign of peace, which is normally given by a handshake; and sharing the chalice at the distribution of the Precious Blood.
Full story here.

Spain: The Zapatero "Revolución" Cracks the Whip over the Bishops

by Sandro Magister
The secularist offensive advances against a Church divided between hard-liners and negotiators. Cardinal Ruoco Varela and Bishop Sebastián are proposing a middle way. In the Vatican, they're trembling...

The reason is that Spain is considered a test of the highest order for the secularist offensive against Catholicism, and in particular against the institution of the family, which for the Church is one of the pillars of civilization.
Article here.

Gospel for Friday, 34th Week and Final Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 21:29-33

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem nd the End of the World (Continuation)
[29] And He (Jesus) told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all he trees; [30] as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for ourselves and know that the summer is already near. [31] So also, hen you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of od is near. [32] Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass way till all has taken place. [33] Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

31. The Kingdom of God, announced by John the Baptist (cf. Matthew 3:2) and described by our Lord in so many parables (cf. Matthew 13; Luke 13:18-20), is already present among the Apostles (Luke 17:20-21), but it is not yet fully manifest. Jesus here describes what it will be like when the Kingdom comes in all its fullness, and He invites us to pray for this very event in the Our Father: "Thy Kingdom come." "The Kingdom of God, which had its beginnings here on earth in the Church of Christ, is not of this world, whose form is passing, and its authentic development cannot be measured by the progress of civilization, of science and of technology. The true growth of the Kingdom of God consists in an ever deepening knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, in an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, in an ever more fervent response to the love of God, and in an ever more generous acceptance of grace and holiness by men" ("Creed of the People of God", 27). At the end of the world everything will be subjected to Christ and God will reign for ever more (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).

32. Everything referring to the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled some forty years after our Lord's death--which meant that Jesus' contemporaries would be able to verify the truth of this prophecy. But the destruction of Jerusalem is a symbol of the end of the world; therefore, it can be said that the generation to which our Lord refers did see the end of the world, in a symbolic way. This verse can also
be taken to refer to the generation of believers, that is, not just the particular generation of those Jesus was addressing (cf. note on Matthew 24:32-35).

[The note on Matthew 24:32-35 states:
32-35. Seeing in the destruction of Jerusalem a symbol of the end of the world, St. John Chrysostom applies to it this parable of the fig tree: "Here He also foretells a spiritual spring and a calm which, after the storm of the present life, the righteous will experience; whereas for sinners there will be a winter after the spring they have had [...]. But this was not the only reason why He put before them the parable of the fig tree, to tell them of the interval before His coming; He wanted to show them that His word would assuredly come true. As sure as the coming of spring is the coming of the Son of Man" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 77).

"This generation": this verse is a clear example of what we say in the note on Matthew 24:1 about the destruction of Jerusalem being itself a symbol. "This generation" refers firstly to the people alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But, since that event is symbolic of the end of the world, we can say with St. John Chrysostom that "the Lord was speaking not only of the generation then living, but also of the generation of the believers; for He knows that a generation is distinguished not only by time but also by its mode of religious worship and practice: this is what the Psalmist means when he says that `such is the generation of those who seek Him' (Psalm 24:6)" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 77).]
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

G. Washington
Happy Thanksgiving to All...


Gospel, Thursday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel, From: Luke 21:20-28

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem
and the End of the World (Continuation)

(Jesus said to his disciples), [20] "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. [21] Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; [22] for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. [23] Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; [24] they shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; [24] they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

[25] "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, [26] men fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [27] And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. [28] Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
20-24. Jesus gives quite a detailed prophecy of the destruction of the Holy City. When the Christians living there saw the armies getting closer, they remembered this prophecy and fled to Transjordan (cf. Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History," III, 5) . Christ had advised them to flee as soon as possible because this is the time when God would punish Jerusalem for its sins, as the Old Testament predicted (Is 5:5-6).

Catholic tradition sees Israel as symbolizing the Church. In fact, in the Book of Revelation the Church triumphant is called the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. Rev 21:2). Therefore, by applying this passage to the Church, the sufferings the Holy City experiences can symbolize the contradictions the pilgrim Church will experience due to the sins of men, for "she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the children of God" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 48).

24. "The times of the Gentiles" means the period in which the Gentiles, who do not belong to the Jewish people, will become menbers of the new people of God, the Church, until the Jews themselves are converted at the end of the world (cf. Rom 11:11-32).

25-26. Jesus refers to the dramatic changes in natural elements when the world is coming to an end. "The powers of the heavens will be shaken"; that is to say, the whole universe will tremble at the Lord's coming in power and glory.

27-28. Applying to himself the prophecy of Daniel (7:13-14), our Lord speaks of his coming in glory at the end of time. Mankind will see the power and glory of the Son of man, coming to judge the living and the dead. Christ will deliver this judgment in his human capacity. Sacred Scripture describes the solemnity of this event, when the sentence passed on each person in the particular judgment will be confirmed, and God's justice and mercy to men throughout history will shine out for all to see. "It was necessary not only that rewards should await the just and punishments the wicked, in the life to come, but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment. Thus they will become better known and will be rendered more conspicuous to all, and a tribute of praise will be offered by all to the justice and providence of God" ("St Pius V Catechism", I, 8, 4).

This coming of the Lord is, then, a day of terror for evildoers and of joy for those who have remained faithful. The disciples should hold their heads high because their redemption is at hand. It is the day they will receive their reward. The victory won by Christ on the cross--victory over sin, over the devil and over death--will now be seen clearly, with all its implications. Therefore St Paul recommends that we be "awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit 2:13).

"He [Christ] ascended into heaven whence he will come again to judge the living and the dead, each according to his merits. Those who have responded to the love and compassion of God will go into eternal life. Those who have refused them to the end will be consigned to the fire that is never extinguished" (Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God", 12).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Changing the world begins with our ‘yes’ to God

Advent a time to renew our Catholic faith
The First Sunday of Advent opens the new Church year. It’s a chance to begin again; a time to examine our hearts in the light of the Gospel, repent of our sins and look for the coming of our Savior.
As I said again and again over the last year, our Catholic faith, if it’s genuine, must have consequences – first in our private lives, but also in our public witness. If we really believe in the coming of a Messiah, our lives will reflect that in the way we treat our families, our friends and business colleagues, the poor, the homeless and the suffering.

Real faith will drive us to live our lives in a spirit of humility, hope and courage, as Mary did. It will also guide us to press our elected leaders – of both political parties – for laws and social policies that respect the dignity of the human person, from conception to natural death.
An excellent Article by Archbishop Chaput.

Link here.

Food pantry might close doors with parish closing

The neighborhood surrounding Resurrection of Our Lord parish looks to be solidly middle class, but there is a serious need in the community, a need that some fear will be left out of the archdiocesan consolidation plan.

In his response to the archdiocese, Wyrsch [the pastor] tried to stress the significance of the parish as an example of modern architecture and would like to see it become a neighborhood center that people still could depend on.

"Someone suggested we open a pantry independent from the church's. That's well and fine, but where are we going to get the money?" [Jane] Fuerst said. "Most of our volunteers are in their late 70s, early 80s. When we get to the point where we can't do it anymore I don't know what's going to happen. But we're tough old birds. We'll hang in there. Right now we're just putting it in God's hands. I'm sure He will take care of it one way or another."
So, keeping the parish accomplishes what, if there are no longer any volunteers for the food pantry? But this indicates a deeper problem it seems...for the parish must be a viable source of sacramental graces which was not discussed at all and if it does not accomplish this primary function, it fails.

And of course, we know that God will provide whether under the auspices of the parish or some other entity.


More troubles in St. Paul...

An informal exorcism performed at the Cathedral of St. Paul this month was more profane than sacred and was directed toward gay Catholics, police and church authorities said Tuesday.

They said the ritualistic sprinkling of blessed oil and salt around the church and in donation boxes amounted to costly vandalism and possibly even a hate crime.
A hate crime???? Lord of mercy, have pity on us!
The Rev. Michael Skluzacek, rector of the cathedral, said he immediately understood the symbolism when he was told that someone had sprinkled the oil and salt around the church.

"It's a sign of exorcism," he said. "It's a sign of casting out the power of evil."
"Regardless of why they did it, it was a very disruptive act," Skluzacek said.
But the tacit approval of the homosexual lifestyle by allowing those engaged in it to receive Holy Communion apparently is not disruptive? Why, in some places, it's not even sinful...! The detestable failure of ecclesiastical leadership to properly address this issue might be seen by some as a 'hate' crime...
[Police spokeman, Paul] Schnell said police have no leads, but several religious people familiar with the case said it is probably the work of fringe Catholics who advocate using sacramentals, or holy objects, to cleanse places where gays take communion.
Take note: If any Catholics use holy objects or other sacramentals, you might be considered 'fringe'....


Australian bishop rebukes priests for invalid baptisms

I forgot this yesterday...

It's deplorable that there are some priests who would deny the Sacraments to little children by intentionally altering the either the matter or the form of the Sacraments. Changing the words at Baptism, as these priests have done, renders the Sacrament invalid and constitutes an objective mortal sin for the priest and anyone else who participates in the ritual, with knowledge that the Baptism will be invalid.

One wonders where they received their 'theological' education. It would appear that either the professors or the institution were negligent by allowing either heretical works and ideas to be studied or by allowing priests like this to actually graduate. This is a severe injustice to those affected by these priests and their ineptitude and arrogance. What a travesty! And, as the story will indicate, many parents "think" that the Baptism rite was done properly and have no intentions of having their children received the true Sacrament rather than the simulated version...How sad...

Article here.

Abp. O'Malley Appoints VOTF Leader to Oversee Property Sales

I could barely believe what I read...
The appointment was the first time the archdiocese has placed in a key position a member of the reform group that was organized in the aftermath of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Unbelievable...Enough information exists about VOTF to know that Catholics should steer clear of the group.


Gospel, Nov 24, Memorial: St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest & Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs

Gospel, From: Luke 21:12-19

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem
and the End of the World (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples), [12] "But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for My name's sake. [13] This will be a time for you to bear testimony. [14] Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; [15] for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. [16] You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; [17] you will be hated by all for My name's sake. [18] But not a hair of your head will perish. [19] By your endurance you will gain your lives."
19. Jesus foretells all kinds of persecution. Persecution itself is something inevitable: "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). His disciples will have need to remember the Lord's warning at the Last Supper: "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you" (John 15:20). However, these persecutions are part of God's providence: they happen because He lets them happen, which He does in order to draw greater good out of them. Persecution provides Christians with an opportunity to bear witness to Christ; without it the blood of martyrs would not adorn the Church. Moreover, our Lord promises to give special help to those who suffer persecution, and He tells them not to be afraid: He will give them of His own wisdom to enable them to defend themselves; He will not permit a hair of their heads to perish, that is, even apparent misfortune and loss will be for them a beginning of Heaven.

From Jesus' words we can also deduce the obligation of every Christian to be ready to lose life rather than offend God. Only those will attain salvation who persevere until the end in faithfulness to the Lord. The three Synoptic Gospels locate His exhortation to perseverance in this discourse (cf. Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13) and St. Matthew gives it elsewhere (Matthew 10:22) as does St. Peter (1 Peter 5:9)--all of which underlines the importance for every Christian of this warning from our Lord.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Reading, Nov 24, Memorial: St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest & Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs

Reading, From: Revelation 15:1-4

The Hymn of the Saved
[1] Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.

[2] And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. [3] And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages! [4] Who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed."
1. The third portent (cf. the first two in 12:1, 3) is of special significance--it is "great and wonderful"--for it heralds the final outcome of the contention between the beasts and the followers of the Lamb, between the powers of evil and the Church of Jesus Christ. That this is the denouement is shown by the use of the figure seven for a third time, after the seven seals (5:1) and the seven trumpets (cf. Rev 8:2). This is the last word: "the wrath of God is ended."

As in the case of the two earlier groups of seven, the author first announces the sevenfold nature of the sign. It consists of seven plagues--which immediately recall the punishments God inflicted on Pharaoh in Egypt prior to the Exodus. Then follows a very liturgical type of scene (15:2-8) which as it were encourages and calls for the divine judgments which follow (cf. 16:1-17).

The last of these plagues acts as an introduction to the account of the last battles and total victory of the Church (cf. chaps. 17-22).

2-4. The image of the sea of glass mixed with fire is somewhat reminiscent of the passage of the Red Sea during the Exodus. On that occasion, according to the Book of Wisdom (cf. Wis 19:6-22), natural elements were changed to enable the Israelites to walk on water: the water became as hard as glass for the Israelites whereas for the Egyptians it was unable to protect them from the fire sent to punish them. The sea of glass may also be evocative of the molten sea (used for the cleansing of those going to take part in temple rites) which was positioned in front of the Holy of Holies (cf. note on Rev 4:6-7). In any event, the author depicts the saved as giving thanks and praising God while entoning a hymn which fuses the salvation of the Israelites with the Redemption wrought by Christ. The latter is the full realization of the former, and God's plan is seen to embrace all men and all nations (cf. v. 4; Eph 3:4-7). For this reason some early Christian writers (Primasius, for example) interpret the sea of glass as a symbol of Baptism (prefigured in the Red Sea) which makes Christians pure and transparent. The reference to fire signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. "Commentariorum Super Apoc.", 15, 2).

Every saving action of God has ultimately a supernatural purpose, even though it may include noble human aims, for when "God rescues his people from hard economic, political and cultural slavery, he does so in order to make them, through the Covenant on Sinai, 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation' (Ex 19:6). God wishes to be adored by people who are free. All the subsequent liberations of the people of Israel help to lead them to this full liberty that they can only find in communion with their God" (SCDF, "Libertatis Conscientia", 44).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dedicated Scientist or Sexual Deviant?...

...Dr. Benjamin Wiker on the real Alfred Kinsey

Dr. Wiker is co-author, with Dr. Donald De Marco, of Architects of the Culture of Death (Ignatius Press, 2004) and a Lecturer in Science and Theology at Franciscan University. He is also the author of Moral Darwinism (InterVarsity).

Fourteen profiles of the Architects of the CUlture of Death can be read here.

The IgnatiusInsight article with Dr. Wiker regarding Kinsey and the new movie can be read here.


Providence is providing referrals to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the National Abortion Federation.

Source: Heart, Mind & Strength Blog

U.S. Congress Acts to Save the Mt. Soledad Cross...

...Atheist Blames ‘Jihad Jesus Republicans’
From the Thomas More Law Center:
RANCHO SANTA FE, CA — In a surprising turn of events, the United States Congress has joined the fight to keep the 43-foot tall cross atop Mount Soledad in San Diego, California, by designating the land on which it stands and the granite memorial walls surrounding it, a national veterans memorial. The congressional action came as a result of efforts by the Thomas More Law Center.

San Diego area Congressmen, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R –El Cajon, and Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Escondido, inserted the memorial designation as part of a spending bill awaiting approval by President Bush.

Phillip Paulson, the atheist who mounted a successful 15- year legal battle to remove the cross with support from the ACLU, told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Jihad Jesus Republicans need to understand that the separation of church and state has kept this country from getting into religious wars." “ If God was powerful, there would not be a need for the government to go in and force a religious agenda on nonbelieving citizens,” he continued.

The ACLU of San Diego also criticized the legislation calling it “political gamesmanship”.

San Diego attorney Charles LiMandri, Director of the Law Center’s western regional office who has led the effort to save the Mt. Soledad cross called the congressional action “an act of God”. LiMandri said Congress was not unconstitutionally endorsing religion because it intended to honor veterans in the same manner as the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center responding to Paulson’s comments, “Those who want the Mt. Soledad cross removed erroneously base their case on the metaphor ‘separation of church and state,’ a phrase nowhere in the Constitution. This cross and memorial, soon to be officially designated a national veterans memorial is constitutionally permissible. It’s time to stop government by the ACLU and for the ACLU.”

Thompson acknowledged the battle is far from over and hopes the City of San Diego and the Veterans Memorial Association will now get behind efforts to keep the cross on top of Mount Soledad, where it has stood for fifty years. “We fully expect further legal challenges to tear down the cross, but we are not giving up either.”

President Bush is expected to sign the bill within the next few weeks.

According to the congressional designation, once the City of San Diego donates the land to the United States, the Secretary of the Interior shall administer the Memorial as a unit of the National Park System, giving the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association the right of continued maintenance of the cross and surrounding granite memorial walls and plaques.

Another Kinsey Fraud...

Protest Hollywood’s Promotion of Moral Degradation
In its hard-hitting book, Defending a Higher Law, the American TFP exposed the fraudulence of Alfred Kinsey’s “ten percent myth,” which stated that a full 10% of the male population is more or less exclusively homosexual.(1) Once again a great fraud surrounding Alfred Kinsey is being promoted, this time on the silver screen with the movie “Kinsey,” written and directed by the openly homosexual Bill Condon.

The movie’s goal is to paint a sympathetic picture of the life and work of zoologist Alfred C. Kinsey. However, a closer look shows that neither his life nor his work merits sympathy.

Ironically, the same newspapers who raged against pedophilia in the clergy abuse scandals, look with understanding and sympathy toward a scandalously immoral man whose “experiments” capitalized on such abuse and reached horrendous conclusions about child sexuality.

...the R-rated movie “Kinsey” is but another step in a process of moral degradation that rages in America. It is a socio-political statement defending the morally-bankrupt sexual revolution. It can be inserted in the struggle against abortion, contraception and the homosexual movement which are all battles in this broader ideological cultural war.

Now is the time to give your opinion. Voice your outrage at “Kinsey.”
The book, Defending a Higher Law (Why We Must Resist Same-Sex "Marriage"and the Homosexual Movement), is an excellent resource and highly recommended.

Article source.

Significance of the Sign of the Cross

The simple gesture that Catholics make thousands of times in their lives has a deeper meaning most of them don't realize.

Q: When did the sign of the cross originate?

Q: How did it become such an important liturgical and devotional practice?

Q: Beyond the words themselves, what does the sign mean? Why is it a mark of discipleship?

Q: Why do Catholics use the sign of the cross with holy water upon entering and exiting a church?
The answers to these and other questions about the Sign of the Cross can be found at Zenit here.

Bishop Gaydos Responds to Post Dispatch

Will public debriding bring private healing of the wounds at St. Thomas Aquinas?

A full picture of life at the seminary would include good as well as bad.

It was another painful moment as the Post-Dispatch published a series on St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary and the sexual abuse scandal. It contained a lot of previously published facts with a few new details, but maybe it was necessary. You might be familiar with the term debriding - when the doctor takes a scalpel and cuts away all the dead tissue from a wound in order to prevent infection and promote growth. Perhaps, as a wounded church, this is our debriding. Perhaps we have to go through this agony in order to heal.

My quarrel is not with their words, but the way in which they were used to paint a picture of St. Thomas Aquinas as some private reserve of priests who preyed upon young men. In 40 years, more than 1,000 young men received a superb education at St. Thomas Aquinas. Some of the best pastors in our diocese today were once on the faculty there. There were no interviews with others who attended St. Thomas Aquinas or with priests who graduated and went on to a life of caring ministry or with anyone who might have had a rewarding experience there.
This is, no doubt, because the Post does not wish to present the truth as it is, but its own lurid stories in an attempt to attract readers. When one subscribes to the belief that truth is relative, truth becomes a victim, an aspect of life which hinders one's agenda.
The articles ignored the fact that the majority of our abuse allegations were reported after repeated invitations in our diocesan newspaper and in parish bulletins and that the diocese has cooperated with prosecutors.
The Post selects only those facts which support its agenda, its story angle...Anything to the contrary must, to its way of thinking, must be dismissed as irrelevant.

Bishop Gaydos' article is worth the read and can be found here. However, the Post Disgrace, so as not to be outdone or to have the last word, includes the following at the end of the article:
The Most Rev. John R. Gaydos is the bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City. He declined to be interviewed by the Post-Dispatch for the series of articles on St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary.
Who, in his right mind, would want to be interviewed by a newspaper which seems to have such a difficult time presenting the whole truth?

UN, EU, World Court, Supreme Court:Subsidiarity, Anyone?

A recent Catholic World News story [and others] outlined the efforts of the United Nations Human Rights Committee to dictate liberalized abortion in Poland. The UNHRC reviewed Poland’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and concluded that “the State Party should liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion.” Needless to say, pro-abortion legislators in Poland are delighted.
The solution to all this is the Catholic Church’s first social teaching: the principle of subsidiarity. This principle states simply that each task in any commonwealth should be handled at the lowest level possible and that, conversely, there must be a compelling reason to remove authority in any matter from a more local to a less local jurisdiction.
An excellent article.

Gospel for Tuesday, 34th and Final Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 21:5-11

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End of the World
[5] And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, He (Jesus) said, [6] "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." [7] And they asked Him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" [8] And He said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and, 'The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. [9] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once."

[10] Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; [11] there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven."

5-36. The disciples are in awe of the magnificence of the temple, and Jesus uses the occasion to give a long discourse, known as the "eschatological discourse" because it has to do with the last days of the world. The account given here is very similar to those in the other Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 24:1-51; Mk 13:1-37). The discourse deals with three inter-connected subjects--the destruction of Jerusalem (which took place some forty years later), the end of the world, andthe second coming of Christ in glory and majesty. Jesus, who also predicts here the persecution of the Church will experience, exhorts His disciples to be patient, to pray and be watchful.

Our Lord speaks here in the style and language of prophecy, using images taken from the Old Testament; also, in this discourse prophecies which are going to be fulfilled very soon are mixed in with others which have to do with the end of the world. It is not our Lord's intention to satisfy people's curiosity about future events, but to protect them from being discouraged and scandalized about what is going to happen in the days immediately ahead. This explains why He exhorts them: "Take heed that you are not led astray" (v. 8); "do not be tempted" (v. 9); "watch at all times" (v. 34).

8. On hearing that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed, the disciples ask what sign will be given as a warning of these events (vv. 5-7). Jesus answers by telling them "not to be led astray," that is to say, not to expect any warning; not to be misled by false prophets; to stay faithful to Him. These false prophets will come along claiming to be the Messiah ("I am He!"). Our Lord's reply in fact refers to two events which in the Jewish mind were interrelated--the destruction of the Holy City and the end of the world. This is why He goes on to speak of both events and implies that there will be a long gap between the two; the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem are a kind of sign or symbol of the catastrophes which will mark the end of the world.

9-11. Our Lord does not want His disciples to confuse just any catastrophe--famine, earthquake, war--or even persecution with the signals of the end of the world. He exhorts them quite clearly: "Do not be tempted," because although all these has to happen, "the end will not be at once;" in spite of the difficulties of all kinds the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth. Difficulties should not paralyze the preaching of the faith.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Reading for Tuesday, 34th and Final Week in Ordinary Time

Reading From: Revelation 14:14-19

The Harvest and the Vintage
[14] Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. [15] And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe." [16] So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

[17] And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. [18] Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe." [19] So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.

14-20. This preliminary description of the Last Judgment is given in two scenes--the harvest (cf. 14:14-16) and the vintage (cf. 14:17-20) --no doubt following the prophecy of Joel about how God will judge nations hostile to Israel: "Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I shall sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full" (Joel 3:12-13).

In the first scene Christ himself appears, described as "son of man" (cf. Dan 7:13); it is he who will deliver the judgment (symbolized by the harvest), as in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (cf. Mt 13: 24-30). In the second it is an angel sent by God who gathers the grapes and puts them in the press to be trodden on either by God (in keeping with the prophecy of Isaiah 63:3, which says, "I have trodden the wine press alone") or by Christ (as we are told later in Revelation 19:15). In either case we are being told that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, has been empowered to perform the General Judgment which, according to Jewish tradition, will take place at the gates of Jerusalem (cf., e.g. Zech 14:4) and which involves a huge bloodbath (cf. Rev 14:20).

In both scenes, an angel has the prominent role of giving the order (cf. vv. 15, 18). The fact that he comes out from the temple and the altar shows that the outcome is linked to the prayers of the saints and martyrs, which stir Christ to take action (cf. Rev 8:3-4). So it is that the moment Christ is made present on the altar through the consecration of the bread and wine the Church calls for him to come again--calls for his second coming, the Parousia, which will make his victory complete: "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory" ("Roman Missal", eucharistic acclamation).

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Commentary on the Bishops' November Meeting

By Mary Ann Kreitzer
The U. S. bishops' November meeting ended Thursday, November 18. In line with the unbroken tradition of the Vice President rising to the post, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington was elected to succeed Wilton Gregory as head of the USCCB.

An unprecedented election did take place, however, when Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, PA was nominated from the floor and won chairmanship of the Liturgy Committee, a post he also held from 1992-95. The return of Trautman, a champion of inclusive language and liturgical "reform" in the spirit of Vatican II, sends a bad signal to those hoping to see reverence restored to the liturgy.

The bishops' embarrassing opening Mass will likely be repeated often in the future. Participants watched it degenerate to a silly spectacle with "Gimme that Old Time Religion" and some shepherds clapping and swaying to the closing hymn before processing down the aisle. Do our bishops have any dignity left?

But there are signs that things are changing. The wall of the united brotherhood has cracked. The laity rejoiced when several bold bishops stepped away from the herd and publicly declared they would deny the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians. It is a beginning...This year there were smiling faces among some of the bishops as we called out, "Thank you, Archbishop Chaput, we're praying for your election. Thank you, Bishop Sheridan for your courageous words. Thank you Archbishop Burke, you give us hope. Thank you...Thank you..." It was only a handful, but there were only a handful of faithful at the foot of the Cross.

I had the opportunity to speak briefly to Archbishop Burke in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency on the opening day of the meeting. I told him how grateful the laity are for his boldness in defending the Eucharist. I said I was personally touched by his public statement that he regretted not taking stronger action sooner. His humble reply was that he continues to regret it. Opening my hand, I showed him the rosary blessed by the pope that Bishop Thomas Welsh gave me many years ago when I was a young mother. "We pray for you daily, Your Excellency."

Let us, indeed, pray for the true shepherds, few though they seem to be. Fasting, daily Mass, frequent confession, Eucharistic holy hours, the rosary, novenas, and a determination to fight for the faith will ultimately bring about the victory - restoration of the Church in the United States.

May Jesus Christ be praised.
All emphasis added...Complete Article here.

Mad scientists at work...

In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins.

In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human.

In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.

"This is an area where we really need to come to a reasonable consensus," said James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health's Stem Cell Task Force. "We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the scientific community ought to do and ought not to do."
Consensus? Guidelines on what we ought to do and ought not to do? These experiments are hideous examples of science gone awry...Frankenstein seems a benevolent man compared to people who are doing these things (and worse).
The risk [of "humanized" animals], they say, is that some human cells will find their way to the developing testes or ovaries, where they might grow into human sperm and eggs. If two such chimeras — say, mice — were to mate, a human embryo might form, trapped in a mouse.

Not everyone agrees that this would be a terrible result.
I certainly do not consider myself anti-science - as a matter of fact, I love science, but this is sick and demented.


Previous question seems to be answered....

New NARAL President Another Pro-Abort "Catholic"
The NARAL press release announcing Keenan's appointment as president depicts her as a hero and lauds the "strength of her personal leadership when she stood up to a public effort to excommunicate her from the Catholic Church."

That is not, however, how the diocesan Chancellor remembers it. spoke with Fr. John Robertson, Chancellor of Keenan's home diocese of Helena, Montana.

"Our bishop had a discussion with her with regard to taking a more pro-life stance," said Robertson. Fr. Robertson denied that there had been any question of excommunication...Fr. Robertson said, "I understood that (Keenan) had withdrawn herself from the practice of the Catholic Faith."
As more and more professed "Catholics" assume roles and positions which are clearly at odds with the Church, it seems most disgraceful for ecclesiastical authorities to refrain from doing anything to stop the spreading scandal.

If she has formally defected from the faith, let it be proclaimed as such. This would certainly put to rest any lingering questions as to her claim of Catholicity.

Lifesite article.

20 are arrested in protest at military training school

COLUMBUS, Ga. - At least 20 people were arrested Sunday while protesting at a U.S.-run military school for Latin Americans, some graduates of which later committed civil rights abuses including murder, according to the protesters.

"We gather to revive the memory of those who have died at the hands of this combat school," said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest of the Maryknoll order. "How do you teach democracy behind the barrel of a gun? If they are so concerned about teaching democracy, then why not close this school and send these students to some of our fine universities."
I wonder about which fine universities he refers...? As there are so few truly Catholic ones, perhaps he is referring to secular institutions.

Some people seem to forget that, at times, democracy must be secured nad even taught with a gun...particular when faced with those who will do everything possible to thwart any attempts at establishing a representative form of government.

This 'school', of course, does train soldiers, police, and government officials. But I'm not certain that makes the school responsible for the actions of its 'graduates'.
Bourgeois is head of SOA Watch, which monitors the institution formerly known as The School of the Americas. The group has staged annual protests there since 1990.

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon addressed the group Saturday, and Martin Sheen, who plays the president in NBC's "West Wing" TV series, delivered a fiery speech Sunday.
It must have been truly memorable...


Is New President of NARAL still "Catholic"?

Nancy Keenan, the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is taking the lead of an organization facing the most critical, pivotal time in its history.

In 1989, when she was a Montana legislator, Keenan and a colleague were publicly rebuked by a Montana bishop for speaking at an abortion rights rally, she said. The ordeal became news, she said, with talk of her being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. "It was a very personal experience for me having been born and raised Catholic," she said. "It was very, very big."

She said the experience reaffirmed her passion and commitment to NARAL's cause.
Another Judas....they seem to be all around. Who is her Bishop - or was she, in fact, excommunicated years ago?


Whoever destroys family life...

"Whoever destroys this fundamental fabric of human coexistence, by not respecting its identity and by upsetting its tasks, causes a profound wound in society and provokes harm that is often irreparable," the Pope said Saturda

To Destroy the Family Is to Destroy Society, Warns Pope

St. Stanislaus Update-Nov 22

Meeting may be last try at accord

The two sides in a dispute between a historic Polish parish and the St. Louis Archdiocese probably will come to the table this week in a last effort to resolve their differences.

Parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church have tried to keep control of their financial assets in the hands of a lay board, but Archbishop Raymond Burke has said the structure violates canon law. A group of parishioners appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy to intervene on their behalf, but a ruling issued last week rejected the appeal.
"It isn't over yet, but the end is very near, and the outcome is up to you," said Roger Krasnicki.
I saw Krasnicki and some other man on Channel 4 Saturday evening discussing the situation with Jamie Allman. Unfortunately, Allman did not question Krasnicki's assertion that Abp. Burke did the same thing in La Crosse. The facts refute Krasnicki's implication that Abp. Burke wants to close Polish parishes. The board members of St. Stanislaus need to face reality - they are either going to be Catholic or they are not...


Gospel, Nov 22, Memorial: St. Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr

Gospel From: Luke 21:1-4

The Widow's Mite
[1] He (Jesus) looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; [2] and He saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. [3] And He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; [4] for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living she had."

1-4. Our Lord, surrounded by His disciples, watches people putting offerings into the treasury. This was a place in the women's courtyard, where there were various collection boxes for the offerings of the faithful. Just then, something happens whose significance Jesus wants His disciples to notice: a poor widow puts in two small coins, of very little value. He describes this as the greatest offering of all, praising the generosity of giving alms for this purpose, particularly that of those people who give part of what they need. Our Lord is moved by this tiny offering because in her case it implies a big sacrifice. "The Lord does not look", St. John Chrysostom comments, "at the amount offered but at the affection with which it is offered" ("Hom. on Heb", 1). Generosity is of the essence of almsgiving. This woman teaches us that we can move God's heart if we give Him all we can, which will always amount to very little even if we give our very lives. "How little a life is to offer to God!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 42).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Reading for Nov 22, Memorial: St. Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr

Reading From: Revelation 14:1-3, 4b-5

The Lamb and His Companions
[1] Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. [2] And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps, [3] and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. [4] It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, [5] and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.
14:1-16:21 The book now turns to the Lamb and to divine judgment (anticipating the victory of the Lamb). It stays with this theme up to chapter 17 at which point the powers of evil appear again (in various symbolic forms) and are subjected to the judgment of God. First we are shown the Lamb and his entourage (cf. 14:l-5); immediately after this the Last Judgment is proclaimed and a preliminary description given (14:6-20); the glory of the Lamb is again extolled (cf. 15: 1-4) and the unleashing of the wrath of God is further described in terms of the pouring out of the seven bowls (cf. 15:5-16:21).

In opposition to the powers of evil and the active hostility to God and the Church caused by the machinations of Satan stand the risen Christ and his followers, who sing in praise of his glory and triumph. These followers are those who have attained redemption; the salvation will reach its climax when the Kingdom of God is fully established (the marriage of the Lamb, and the heavenly Jerusalem: chaps. 21-22). In the meantime, although the Church has to do battle with the forces of evil, it can contemplate Christ "as an innocent lamb (who) merited life for us by his blood which he freely shed. In him God reconciled us to himself and to one another, freeing us from the bondage of the devil and of sin, so that each one of us could say with the Apostle: the Son of God 'loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20)" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 22).

1-3. It is highly significant that the Lamb stands on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, which was where God dwelt among men according to the Old Testament (cf. Ps 74:1; 132:14; etc.) and where, according to certain Jewish traditions, the Messiah would appear, to join all his followers. The assembly, then, is an idealization of the Church, protected by Christ and gathered about him. It includes all those who belong to Christ and to the Father and who therefore bear his mark, which shows them to be children of God. They are so many that it is impossible tocount them, but their number is complete: they are given a symbolic number which is 12 (the tribes of Israel) by 12 (the Apostles) by 1000 (a number indicating a huge scale): cf. Rev 7:3ff.

The one hundred and forty-four thousand are not yet in heaven (for the loud noise comes from heaven); they are on earth, but they have been rescued from the power of the beast (cf. 13:13-14). The verse from heaven symbolizes the strength and power of God; and the heavenly voice speaks with the gentleness of liturgical music. It is a new song, for it now sings of the salvation wrought by Christ (cf. 15:34) in the same style as the Old Testament chants the praises of God (cf., e.g., Ps 33:3; 40:2; 96:1). Only those who belong to Christ can join in this song and be associated with the heavenly liturgy: "It is especially in the sacred liturgy that our union with the heavenly Church is best realized; in the liturgy, through the sacramental signs, the power of the Holy Spirit acts on us, and with community rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine majesty; when all those of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (cf. Rev 5:9) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and gathered together into one Church glorify, in one common song of praise,the one and triune God" ("Lumen Gentium", 50).

4-5. The text refers to those who are properly disposed to take part in the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. 19:9; 21:2) because they have not been stained by idolatry but have kept themselves undefiled for him. St Paul compares every Christian to a chaste virgin (cf. 2 Cor 11:2) and describes the Church as the spouse of Christ (cf. Eph 5:21-32). The author of the Apocalypse is referring to all the members of the Church insofar as they are holy, that is, called to holiness; but the symbolism he uses also draws attention to the fact that virginity and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven is a special _expression and clear sign of the Church as Bride of Christ. Referring to the chastity practiced by religious, the Second Vatican Council teaches that in this way they "recall that wonderful marriage made by God, which will be fully manifested in the future age, and in which the Church has Christ for her only spouse" ("Perfectae Caritatis", 12).

The one hundred and forty-four thousand are also those who have identified themselves fully with Christ, dead and risen, by denying themselves and devoting all their energies to apostolate (cf. Mt 10: 38). They also stand for those whom Christ, by the shedding of his blood, has made his own and his Father's property (like Israel, the first fruits of Yahweh: cf. Jer 2:3), that is, those who constitute a holy people like that remnant of Israel described in Zephaniah 3:13: "they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue." The prophet's words refer to people who have not invoked false gods, but the Apocalypse applies them to those who are fully committed to Christ.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Archbishop Burke joins other bishops from region in visit to Vatican

At 9 a.m. Monday, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke and about 15 other U.S. Catholic bishops will gather at the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican. A Mass there will mark the beginning of a weeklong pilgrimage to Rome for what is called an "ad limina" visit.
Besides their meetings with the pope, the bishops use this time to conduct business with the many departments of the Vatican. Burke for instance, will meet this week with members of the Vatican's office on consecrated life (he's the U.S. bishops' liaison with the U.S. association of consecrated virgins), and with Cardinal Francis Arinze, a close adviser to the pope who will visit St. Louis in April for the archdiocese's Gateway Liturgical Conference.
Please remember to keep all of the Bishops in your prayers as they make this visit.


Another view of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary

While our empathy will not take away the hurt, the public needs to know that goodness did exist at our seminary.

The character and achievements of its alumni are second to none. Whether as elected officials in their communities or as military personnel serving this country in the struggle against terrorism, St. Thomas Aquinas alumni are providing positive influences.
This is from a Letter to the Editor of the Post Dispatch from Stephen J. Stark, President, St. Thomas Seminary Alumni Association Inc.

See this Letter and others here.

Planned Parenthood says new offices in St Peters won't offer abortions

The president of Planned Parenthood for the St. Louis Region said Friday that the organization's relocated office in St. Peters will not offer abortions, adding that efforts to block the move to a larger office are "unconscionable."
As if the brutal and horrific dismemberment and murder of unborn babies is not "unconscionable"?
"We have no intention ... of providing abortion services at the site," said Planned Parenthood President Paula Gianino, noting her group's lease prohibits such procedures.
No intention of providing abortion services? I guess that is until "market forces" prevail and they have no other choice?
Mayor Shawn Brown drew applause from the same people [prolife attendees] when he said at the meeting he would see what could be done to prevent the office from opening. At least two aldermen said Planned Parenthood is unwelcome.
Let us pray that local officials of St. Peters keeps Planned Parenthood out...
Article here.

And another article, "Planned Parenthood sparks protest" is here.

Solemnity: Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Gospel From: Luke 23:35-43

The Crucified Christ is Mocked
[35] And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at Him (Jesus), saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!" [36] The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him vinegar, [37] and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!" [38] There was also an inscription over Him, "This is the King of the Jews."

The Good Thief
[39] One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" [40] But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? [41] And we indeed justly: fo r we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." [42] And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come in Your kingly power." [43] And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

35. The Roman governor's soldiers join the Jewish people and their leaders in mocking Jesus; thus, everyone--Jews and Gentiles--contributed to making Christ's passion even more bitter. But we should not forget that we too make a mockery of our Lord every time we fall into sin or fail to respond sufficiently to grace. This is why St. Paul says that those who sin "crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold Him up to contempt" (Hebrews 6:6).

39-43. The episode of the two thieves invites us to admire the designs of divine providence, of grace and human freedom.&nbs p; Both thieves are in the same position--in the presence of the Eternal High Priest as He offers Himself in sacrifice for them for all mankind. One of them hardens his heart, despairs and blasphemes, while the other repents, prays with confidence to Christ and is promised immediate salvation. "The Lord," St. Ambrose comments, "always grants more than one asks: the thief only asked Him to remember Him, but the Lord says to him, `Truly, I say to you, today, you will be with Me in Paradise.' Life consists in dwelling with Jesus Christ, and where Jesus Christ is there is His Kingdom" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.). "It is one thing for man to judge someone he does not know; another, for God, who can see into a person's conscience. Among men, confession is followed by punishment; whereas confession to God is followed by salvation" (St. John Chrysostom, "De Cruce Et Latrone").

While we make our way through life, we all sin, but we can all repent also. God is always waiting for us with His arms wide open, ready to forgive us. Therefore, no one should despair: everyone should try to have a strong hope in God's mercy. But no one may presume that he will be saved, for none of us can be absolutely certain of our final perseverance (cf. Council of Trent, "De Justificatione", Canon 16).
This relative uncertainty is a spur God gives us to be ever vigilant; this vigilance in turns helps us progress in the work of our sanctification as Christians.

42. "Many times have I repeated that verse of the eucharistic hymn: "Peto quod petivit latro poenitens," and it always fills me with emotion: to ask like the penitent did! He recognized that he himself deserved that awful punishment.... And with a word he stole Christ's heart and `opened up for himself' the gates of Heaven" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way of the Cross", XII, 4).

43. In responding to the good thief, Jesus reveals that He is God, for He has power over man's eternal destiny; and He also shows that He is infinitely merciful and does not reject the soul who sincerely repents. Similarly by these words Jesus reveals to us a basic truth of faith: "We believe in eternal life. We believe that the souls of all who die in the grace of Christ--whether they must still make expiation in the fire of Purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies they are received by Jesus Christ into Paradise like the good thief--go to form the People of God which succeeds death, death which will be totally destroyed on the day of the Resurrection when these souls are reunited with their bodies" (Pope Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God", 28).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.