Saturday, September 10, 2005

Gospel for Saturday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:43-49

Integrity (Continuation)

(Jesus said to his disciples,) [43] "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; [44] for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. [45] The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

[46] "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? [47] Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: [48] he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. [49] But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."


43-44. To distinguish the good tree from the bad tree we need to look at the fruit the tree produces (deeds) and not at its foliage (words). "For there is no lack of people here on earth who, on being approached, turn out to be nothing but large, shiny, glossy leaves. Foliage, just foliage and nothing more. Meanwhile, many souls are looking at us hoping to satisfy their hunger, which is a hunger for God. We must not forget that we have all the resources we need. We have sufficient doctrine and the grace of God, in spite of our wretchedness" ([St] J.Escriva, "Friends of God", 51).

45. Jesus is giving us two similes--that of the tree which, if it is not good, produces good fruit, and that of the man, who speaks of those things he has in his heart. "The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree," St Bede explains. "A person who has a treasure of patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err. But the person who has in his heart the treasure of evil does exactly the opposite: he hates his friends, speaks evil of him who loves him and does all the other things condemned by the Lord" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio", II, 6).

46. Jesus asks us to act in a way consistent with being Christians and not to make any separation between the faith we profess and the way we live: "What matters is not whether or not we wear a religious habit; it is whether we try to practice the virtues and surrender our will to God and order our lives as His Majesty ordains, and not want to do our will but his" (St Teresa of Avila, "Interior Castle", II, 6).

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.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gospel for Friday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:39-42


[39] He (Jesus) told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? [40] A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. [41] Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your eye? [42] Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."


[None for Luke 6:39-42. Below is a commentary on a similar theme from
Matthew 7:1-5:]

1. Jesus is condemning any rash judgments we make maliciously or carelessly about our brothers' behavior or feelings or motives. "Think badly and you will not be far wrong" is completely at odds with Jesus' teaching.

In speaking of Christian charity St. Paul lists its main features: "Love is patient and kind [...]. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, 7). Therefore, "Never think badly of anyone, not even if the words or conduct of the person in question give you good grounds for doing so" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 442).

"Let us be slow to judge.--Each one sees things from his own point of view, as his mind, with all its limitations, tells him, and through eyes that are often dimmed and clouded by passion" ("ibid"., 451).

1-2. As elsewhere, the verbs in the passive voice ("you will be judged", "the measure you will be given") have God as their subject, even though He is not explicitly mentioned: "Do not judge OTHERS, that you be not judged BY GOD". Clearly the judgment referred to here is always a condemnatory judgment; therefore, if we do not want to be condemned by God, we should never condemn our neighbor. "God measures out according as we measure out and forgives as we forgive, and comes to our rescue with the same tenderness as He sees us having towards others" (Fray Luis de Leon, "Exposicion Del Libro De Job", Chapter 29).

3-5. A person whose sight is distorted sees things as deformed, even though in fact they are not deformed. St. Augustine gives this advice: "Try to acquire those virtues which you think your brothers lack, and you will no longer see their defects, because you will not have them yourselves" ("Enarrationes In Psalmos", 30, 2, 7). In this connection, the saying, "A thief thinks that everyone else is a thief" is in line with this teaching of Jesus.

Besides: "To criticize, to destroy, is not difficult; any unskilled laborer knows how to drive his pick into the noble and finely-hewn stone of a cathedral. To construct: that is what requires the skill of a master" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 456).

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, September 08, 2005

Gospel for Sept 8, Feast: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ

[1] The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.[2] Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, [3] and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, [4] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahson, and Nahson the father of Salmon, [5] and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz due father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, [6] and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, [7] and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, [8] and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, [9] and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, [10] and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, [11] and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

[12] And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, [13] and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, [14] and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Aching and Achim the father of Eliud, [15] and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, [16] and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth

[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. [20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; [21] she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: [23] "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and His name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means God with us).


1. This verse is a kind of title to St Matthew's entire Gospel. The promises God made to Abraham for the salvation of mankind (Gen 12:3) are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as is Nathan's prophecy to King David of an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-16).

The genealogy presented here by St Matthew shows Jesus' human ancestry and also indicates that salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the expected Messiah.

The genealogy is presented in a framework of three series, each consisting of fourteen links which show the progressive development of salvation history.

For the Jews (and for other Eastern peoples of nomadic origin) genealogical trees were of great importance because a person's identity was especially linked to family and tribe, with place of birth taking secondary importance. In the case of the Jewish people there was the added religious significance of belonging by blood to the chosen people.

In Christ's time each family still kept a careful record of its genealogical tree, since because of it people acquired rights and duties.

6. Four women are named in these genealogies--Tamar (cf. Gen 38; 1 Chron 2:4), Rahab (cf. Josh 2:6,17), Bathsheba (cf. 2 Sam 11:12, 24) and Ruth (cf. Book of Ruth). These four foreign women, who in one way or another are brought into the history of Israel, are one sign among many others of God's design to save all men.

By mentioning sinful people, God's ways are shown to be different from man's. God will sometimes carry out his plan of salvation by means of people whose conduct has not been just. God saves us, sanctifies us and chooses us to do good despite our sins and infidelities--and he chose to leave evidence of this at various stages in the history of our salvation.

11. The deportation to Babylon, described in 2 Kings 24-25, fulfilled the prophets' warning to the people of Israel and their kings that they would be punished for their infidelity to the commandments of the Law of God, especially the first commandment.

16. Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Joseph, being Mary's husband, was the legal father of Jesus. The legal father is on a par with the real father as regards rights and duties. This fact provides a sound basis for recognizing St Joseph as Patron of the whole Church, since he was chosen to play a very special role in God's plan for our salvation; with St Joseph as his legal father, Jesus the Messiah has David as his ancestor.

Since it was quite usual for people to marry within their clan, it can be concluded that Mary belonged to the house of David. Several early Fathers of the Church testify to this--for example, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus, St Justin and Tertullian, who base their testimony on an unbroken oral tradition.

It should also be pointed out that when St Matthew comes to speak of the birth of Jesus, he uses an __expression which is completely different from that used for the other people in the genealogy. With these words the text positively teaches that Mary conceived Jesus while still a virgin, without the intervention of man.

18. St. Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Luke 1:25-38): "We truly honor and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a person who is at the same time both God and man" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 7).

According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The marriage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought solemnly and joyously to her husband's house (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7).

From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.

The entire account of Jesus' birth teaches, through the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in verses 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has David as His ancestor since Joseph is His legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child's conception without the intervention of man was miraculous.

19. "St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as `a just man'. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone who fulfills the divine will (cf. Genesis 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezekiel 18:5ff.; Proverbs 12:10), or who is honorable and charitable toward his neighbor (cf. Tobias 7:6; 9:6). So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God's commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers, his fellow men" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 40).

Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Precisely because he was trying to do God's will, he felt obliged to put her away; but to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.

Mary's silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God. God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Mary to a severe trial. We ought not to be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faithful to Him, following the example they gave us.

20. God gives His light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in His power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understanding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan's messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12). As St. John Chrysostom says: "At the very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him, through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his lineage" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 4).

"The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when He assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same person, remaining God as He was from eternity, became man, which He was not before" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 1).

21. According to the Hebrew root, the name Jesus means "savior". After our Lady, St. Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.

"Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies `Savior'--a name given Him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God" [...]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God--Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6)--are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which He was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 3, 5 and 6).

23. "Emmanuel": the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about 700 years in advance that God's salvation would be marked by the extraordinary event of virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths.

First, that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf. Pius VI, Brief, "Divina", 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only because of His God-given mission but because He is God made man (cf. John 1:14). This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this name refers more directly to the mystery of His being the Incarnate Word. At the Annunciation the angel said that He should be called Jesus, that is, Savior. And that was the name St. Joseph gave Him.

The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived was precisely that a woman would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.

"Jesus Christ came forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 8).

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, September 07, 2005

The Custody Must Be Doubled in the Holy Land

The Christians of Bethlehem and Palestine are in greater and greater danger. The Custodian of the Holy Places accuses the Islamic extremists and the Palestinian Authority, "which is doing little or nothing." Meanwhile, between the Vatican and Israel...

by Sandro Magister
ROMA, September 7, 2005 – With harsh and unexpected words, the Custodian of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called everyone's attention back to the increasing violence and humiliation that the Christians of Cisjordan suffer at the hands of Muslims.

He made the remarks to the Jerusalem correspondent of the "Corriere della Sera," Lorenzo Cremonesi, in a conversation that took place on September 4:

"What do you mean by difficulties between Israel and the Vatican? We Christians in the Holy Land have other problems. Almost every day – I repeat, almost every day – our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists in these regions. And if it's not the members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there are clashes with the 'rubber wall' of the Palestinian Authority, which does little or nothing to punish those responsible. On occasion, we have even discovered among our attackers the police agents of Mahmoud Abbas or the militants of Fatah, his political party, who are supposed to be defending us."

Embryo Stem Cells Genetically Unstable after Long Cultivation

Discovery may end hopes of using embryo stem cells directly in therapeutic applications

Gospel for Wednesday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes and the Curses

[20] And He (Jesus) lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. [21] Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. [22] Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. [26] Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."


20-49. These thirty verses of St. Luke correspond to some extent to the Sermon on the Mount, an extensive account of which St. Matthew gives us in Chapters 5 to 7 in his Gospel. It is very likely that in the course of His public ministry in different regions and towns of Israel Jesus preached the same things, using different words on different occasions. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit each evangelist would have chosen to report those things which he considered most useful for the instruction of his immediate readers--Christians of Jewish origin in the case of Matthew, Gentile converts in the case of Luke. There is no reason why one evangelist should not have selected certain items and another different ones, depending on his readership, or why one should not have laid special stress on some subjects and shortened or omitted accounts of others.

In this present discourse, we might distinguish three parts--the Beatitudes and the curses (6:20-26); love of one's enemies (6:27-38); and teaching on uprightness of heart (6:39-49).

Some Christians may find it difficult to grasp the need of practising the moral teaching of the Gospel so radically, in particular Christ's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is very demanding in what He says, but He is saying it to everyone, and not just to His Apostles or to those disciples who followed Him closely. We are told expressly that "when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching" (Matthew 7:28). It is quite clear that the Master calls everyone to holiness, making no distinction of state-in-life, race or personal circumstances. This teaching on the universal call to holiness was a central point of the teaching of (St) Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer. The Second Vatican Council expressed the same teaching with the full weight of its authority: everyone is called to Christian holiness; consider, for example, just one reference it makes, in "Lumen Gentium", 11: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state--though each in his or her own way--are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father Himself is perfect."

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is not proposing an unattainable ideal, useful though that might be to make us feel humble in the light of our inability to reach it. No. Christian teaching in this regard is quite clear: what Christ commands, He commands in order to have us do what He says. Along with His commandment comes grace to enable us to fulfill it. Therefore, every Christian is capable of practising the moral teaching of Christ and of attaining the full height of his calling--holiness--not by his own efforts alone but by means of the grace which Christ has won for us, and with the abiding help of the means of sanctification which He left to His Church. "If anyone plead human weakness to excuse Himself for not loving God, it should be explained that He who demands our love pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the fervor of His love, and this good Spirit our Heavenly Father gives to those that ask Him. With reason, therefore, did St. Augustine pray: `Give Me what Thou command, and command what You please.' As, then, God is ever ready to help us, especially since the death of Christ our Lord, by which the prince of this world was cast out, there is no reason why anyone should be disheartened by the difficulty of the undertaking. To him who loves, nothing is difficult" ("St. Pius V Catechism", III, 1, 7).

20-26. The eight Beatitudes which St. Matthew gives (5:3-12) are summed up in four by St. Luke, but with four opposite curses. We can say, with St. Ambrose, that Matthew's eight are included in Luke's four (cf. "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc."). In St. Luke they are in some cases stated in a more incisive, more direct form than in the First Gospel, where they are given with more explanation: for example, the first beatitude says simply "Blessed are you poor", whereas in Matthew we read, "Blessed are the poor in spirit", which contains a brief explanation of the virtue of poverty.

20. "The ordinary Christian has to reconcile two aspects of this life that can at first seem contradictory. There is on the one hand "true poverty", which is obvious and tangible and made up of definite things. This poverty should be an _expression of faith in God and a sign that the heart is not satisfied with created things and aspires to the Creator; that it wants to be filled with love of God so as to be able to give this same love to everyone. On the other hand, an ordinary Christian is and wants to be "one more among his fellow men", sharing their way of life, their joys and happiness; working with them, loving the world and all the good things that exist in it; using all created things to solve the problems of human life and to establish a spiritual and material environment which will foster personal and social development [...].

"To my way of thinking the best examples of poverty are those mothers and fathers of large and poor families who spend their lives for their children and who with their effort and constancy--often without complaining of their needs--bring up their family, creating a cheerful home in which everyone learns to love, to serve and to work" ([St] J. Escriva, "Conversations", 110f).

24-26. Our Lord here condemns four things: avarice and attachment to the things of the world; excessive care of the body, gluttony; empty-headed joy and general self-indulgence; flattery, and disordered desire for human glory--four very common vices which a Christian needs to be on guard against.

24. In the same kind of way as in verse 20, which refers to the poor in the sense of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the "rich" are to be understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless of whether or not they are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are detached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scriptures a number of people to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possessed considerable wealth--Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.

As early as St. Augustine's time there were people who failed to understand poverty and riches properly: they reasoned as follows: The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor, the Lazaruses of this world, the hungry; all the rich are bad, like this rich man here. This sort of thinking led St. Augustine to explain the deep meaning of wealth and poverty according to the spirit of the Gospel: "Listen, poor man, to my comments on your words. When you refer to yourself as Lazarus, that holy man covered with wounds, I am afraid your pride makes you describe yourself incorrectly. Do not despise rich men who are merciful, who are humble: or, to put it briefly, do not despise poor rich men. Oh, poor man, be poor yourself; poor, that is, humble [...]. Listen to me, then. Be truly poor, be devout, be humble; if you glory in your ragged and ulcerous poverty, if you glory in likening yourself to that beggar lying outside the rich man's house, then you are only noticing his poverty, and nothing else. What should I notice you ask? Read the Scriptures and you will understand what I mean. Lazarus was poor, but he to whose bosom he was brought was rich. `It came to pass, it is written, that the poor man died and he was brought by the angels to Abraham's bosom.' To where? To Abraham's bosom, or let us say, to that mysterious place where Abraham was resting. Read [...] and remember that Abraham was a very wealthy man when he was on earth: he had abundance of money, a large family, flocks, land; yet that rich man was poor, because he was humble. `Abraham believed God and he was reckoned righteous.' [...] He was faithful, he did good, received the commandment to offer his son in sacrifice, and he did not refuse to offer what he had received to Him from whom he had received it. He was approved in God's sight and set before us as an example of faith" ("Sermon", 14).

To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a person's heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abundance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if someone is not well-off he is not justified in God's sight on that account, if he fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.

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, September 06, 2005

Planned Parenthood Offers Neither Food or Medicine to Katrina Victims

From the Special email bag:
As organizations like Catholic Charities and Red Cross solicit donations in order to provide basic necessities for Hurricane Katrina evacuees, Planned Parenthood is asking for money in order to hand out contraceptives and abortifacient morning after pills to victims of the storm making their way to the Houston area.

A link on Planned Parenthood's website that says, "Help with Hurricane Effort," takes visitors to a page that touts the organization's work. "Planned Parenthood staff are on the frontlines aiding patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. You can help. 100% of your tax-deductible contribution will go directly to supporting our continued efforts to provide health services." Included in those health services are a month's supply of contraceptives and an "emergency contraception kit." Elsewhere on the website, birth control is referred to as an item "critical" to the "well-being" of women and families. Visitors to the site are assured that nothing will stop Planned Parenthood's efforts. "Despite the horrific events of the past few days, affiliates and health centers in this region are determined to serve all those that come through the door."

Emergency contraception typically refers to Plan B, the controversial drug that can work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in a women's uterus. Despite the fact that medical textbooks show otherwise, Planned Parenthood insists Plan B never ends a pregnancy.

The effort is being coordinated by Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas. Peter Durkin president and CEO of that chapter said, "We're offering a free month's supply of birth control pills and/or emergency contraception if they have either a Mississippi or Louisiana driver's license. During these calamities, sometimes you don't bring your pills with you, because you're trying to get out of there in one piece." Their website says they are working to make sure evacuees "can continue to get birth control and other reproductive health services." Abortions are among the "reproductive health services" offered by Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas.

The Houston area has drawn more Katrina evacuees than any other city with some estimates placing the number at 150,000 and it is believed that as many as a quarter million – maybe more – evacuees will make their way to Texas.

Meanwhile, according to a press release, Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, met today with President Bush at the White House. Father Snyder, along with other nonprofit leaders, reported on ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Katrina. Catholic Charities agencies across the nation have responded to the crisis to meet the immediate needs of evacuees and plan for long-term recovery efforts. While Catholic Charities cannot accept gifts of clothes and food, donations of money will be used to provide for the emergency relief and long-term recovery of Katrina's victims.

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Katrina doesn't cancel Southern Decadence parade

NEW ORLEANS — You know a city has legs when three or four dozen of them are parading down Bourbon Street — some clad in tutus and grass skirts — six days after the most damaging hurricane in American history.

But the annual Southern Decadence parade through the heart of the French Quarter stops for nothing — not even Katrina.
As the Southern Decadence parade meandered past the corner of Orleans and Royal, it passed the fenced garden behind St. Louis Cathedral. A giant oak and magnolia both lay uprooted. It was the largest single scene of devastation in the Quarter.
More here.

It looks like they might need "help"....

Persecuted Priest Needs Help!

Father Joe Clark suspended for correcting deacon!

What happened?

On August 5, 2005 Bishop Paul Loverde suspended Fr. Joseph Clark without notice and without serious cause. Why? On Sunday, July 24 Fr. Clark celebrated the 11:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Family Church in Dale City assisted by a permanent deacon who committed serious liturgical abuses in handling the Precious Blood. After Mass, Father attempted to correct and instruct the deacon who was unreceptive. Father told him in the future he would not permit him to assist if the abuse continued.

How did the deacon respond?

A few days later Fr. Robert Avella, the Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy, contacted Fr. Clark to say the diocese received “many” complaint letters. (The pastor, Fr. Donald Planty, received three.) The deacon accused Fr. Clark of “harassment” and threatened to sue. The deacon’s wife and his daughter, who lives half a continent away and did not witness the incident, sent outraged letters to the bishop. Father asked to see the letters and the charges against him, but Fr. Avella refused. These two letters, which were obtained later, slander not only Fr. Clark, but the “new breed” of young priests in the diocese who are characterized as “critical and mean-spirited,” basically for defending the integrity of the Mass. Statements in the wife’s letter may explain the deacon’s unreceptive response to correction. She wrote, “I am embarrassed to say we are from this diocese because we are known…as a very conservative diocese that can’t have girl alter (sic) servers because the conservative priests are not open to it…. We have a group of priests that want to take us back instead of forward.” Clearly more is going on here than the incident with Fr. Clark.

What did Bishop Loverde do?

Fr. Clark was called to a meeting at the bishop’s residence on August 6 which he thought was a one-on-one opportunity to discuss what happened. Instead, he found the bishop in the company of the diocesan lawyer and Fr. Avella. When Fr. Clark asked if it was a juridical meeting the bishop said yes. With no discussion or warning, Bishop Loverde presented Fr. Clark with a letter of suspension from active ministry and an order to vacate the Holy Family rectory within five hours. Fr. Clark was not informed of the true nature of the meeting beforehand, was given no opportunity to see the charges against him or have counsel, and was not allowed to defend himself. To add insult to injury, the suspension was dated the day before the meeting. The wording of the bishop’s suspension repeats the uninvestigated allegations from the slanderous letter of the deacon’s daughter.

What can you do to help?

Fr. Clark must vigorously fight this unjust suspension which could result in his dismissal from the priesthood. He has hired a canon lawyer and plans to fight even to Rome if necessary. He needs your help in bringing this injustice to the attention of congregations at the Vatican. Please send letters asking for Fr. Clark’s immediate reinstatement to the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for Divine Worship. Since the accusations relate to abuse of the liturgy, please share any experience you have with Fr. Clark’s reverent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and your concern over abuses to the Holy Eucharist. Please keep your letters brief (two pages at most), respectful toward the bishop, and unemotional.

Send your letter to:

His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze
Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship
10 Piazza Pio XII 00120
Vatican City State, Europe

One more thing…

Priests’ stipends don’t include a slush fund for defending against unjust dismissal. Fr. Clark has no lawyers, staff, or bottomless basket of donations from people in the pews. He depends on our charity. Catholic Media Coalition (CMC) has opened a “persecuted priests” account to pay Father’s legal bills. Because CMC is a volunteer organization there is little overhead. Even the printing of this flyer was donated. Almost every cent will assist Fr. Clark and other persecuted priests. Your donation is tax deductible. Please help! Make out your check to CMC Persecuted Priests Fund and mail to:

Catholic Media Coalition
C/O Mary Ann Kreitzer
1216 Mill Rd.
Woodstock, VA 22664

O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John.... May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church.... Give us priests who are on fire and who are true children of Mary.

— From St. Therese’s prayer for priests
This flyer was prepared by Les Femmes. For more information about Les Femmes visit

*Breaking News* - Cardinal McCarrick's Resignation Not Accepted At This Time

This is truly "newsworthy"...perhaps it's not true? One must wonder if he is accurately representing the Holy Father's position this time?
Last night, during the annual Labor Day gathering for the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick told them he had been notified that Pope Benedict XVI has decided the Cardinal should continue as Archbishop of Washington at this time. He was notified of the Pope’s decision by a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio. He likely will continue to serve as archbishop for another two or so years. As required under canon (Church) law, Cardinal McCarrick had offered his resignation to the Holy Father on his 75th birthday, July 7, 2005.
More here.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Come to Their Aid!

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has issued the following statement about the tragic effects of Hurricane Katrina:
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating damage to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the American TFP extends its condolences to all victims and their families. As in past catastrophes, we hope the American people will rise to the occasion and help this stricken region in the coming months.

Our prayers are with all those who are suffering from this great disaster. May Our Lady of Prompt Succor, who has saved New Orleans in the past, come to the aid of all in need and those who have recourse to her!

Prayer to Our Lady of Prompt Succor

"Our Lady of Prompt Succor, ever Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, you are most powerful against the enemy of our salvation. The divine promise of a Redeemer was announced right after the sin of our first parents; and you, through your Divine Son, crushed the serpent's head. Hasten, then, to our help and deliver us from the deceits of Satan.

"Intercede for us with Jesus that we may always accept God's graces and be found faithful to Him in our particular states of life. As you once saved our beloved city (New Orleans) from ravaging flames and our country from an invading army, have pity on us and obtain for us protection from hurricanes and all other disasters. (Silent pause for individual petitions.)

"Assist us in the many trials which beset our path through life. Watch over the Church and the Pope as they uphold with total fidelity the purity of faith and morals against unremitting opposition. Be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death, that we may gain everlasting life through the merits of Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen."

Sept 18-Dr. James Hitchcock Dinner/Talk on Marriage

Credo of the Catholic Laity

Is Proud to Present

Dr. James Hitchcock

Speaking on the Topic


Credo is proud to welcome back to our lectern James Hitchcock Ph.D. The recent approval of Same Sex Marriage in Massachusetts, Canada and several European countries has made this issue a hot topic.

His talk will examine the institution of marriage, its civilizing effect on humanity and why marriage between people of the same gender is not possible.

Dr. Hitchcock is a Professor of History at St. Louis University and a much sought after author and lecturer.

Our speaker is a prolific author of at least eight books and hundreds of scholarly articles. These have appeared in such publications as: Catholic Historical Review, National Review, Yale Review, The New York Times Magazine and many others.

Join us on Sunday September 18th for a delicious sit down Dinner at the Radisson Hotel in Clayton. Meals include Tossed Garden Salad, Appropriate Vegetables & Starch, Dinner Roll & Butter, Beverage and Dessert.

Cost $20.00 per person. Time 6:00 p.m. Free inside parking at the 7777 Bonhomme Garage. Use the Orange Level Bridge to the hotel.

Please call Howard Brandt at 314-894 -0357 for more information.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Father Cantalamessa on Fraternal Correction

A Commentary by Pontifical Household Preacher

ROME, SEPT. 2, 2005 ( In his commentary on this Sunday's readings, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, speaks on how to confront someone in a Christian manner.

Article here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Gospel for Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:6-11

The Cure of a Man with a Withered Hand

[6] On another Sabbath, when He (Jesus) entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and the Pharisees watched Him, to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against Him. [8] But He knew their thoughts, and He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. [9] And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" [10] And He looked around on them all, and said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. [11] But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.



10. The Fathers teach us how to discover a deep spiritual meaning in apparently casual things Jesus says. St. Ambrose, for example, commenting on the phrase "Stretch out your hand," says: "This form of medicine is common and general. Offer it often, in benefit of your neighbor; defend from injury anyone who seems to be suffering as a result of calumny; stretch your hand out also to the poor man who asks for your help; stretch it out also to the Lord asking Him to forgive your sins; that is how you should stretch your hand out, and that is the way to be cured" ("Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc".).

11. The Pharisees do not want to reply to Jesus' question and do not know how to react to the miracle which He goes on to work. It should have converted them, but their hearts were in darkness and they were full of jealousy and anger. Later on, these people, who kept quiet in our Lord's presence, began to discuss Him among themselves, not with a view to approaching Him again but with the purpose of doing away with Him. In this connection St. Cyril comments: "O Pharisee, you see Him working wonders and healing the sick by using a higher power, yet out of envy you plot His death" ("Commentarium in Lucam, in loc.").

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.