Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mental Prayer for Easter Sunday - The Resurrection

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: Jesus, risen from the dead, give me a strong belief in all the truths of faith You teach.

Mental Picture (cf. Matt. 28:1-15): Outside Jesus' tomb before dawn... three Roman soldiers sprawl in sleep on the ground... a huge stone blocks the entrance to the tomb... inside on a slab lies the body of Jesus, cold in death. Dawn... the first rays of sunlight gild the temple towers... suddenly the ground heaves and shudders as an earthquake rolls over Judea. Back rolls the huge stone... and there stands Jesus, glorious, shining, the majestic smile of victory on His face. Christ has risen­...our Leader and King lives!

My Personal Application: Christ's greatest mira­cle! The foundation of our faith! For three years He taught us the truths of faith and the sure way to heaven. As a proof that He was truly God, He often predicted this miracle. Now He fulfills it. Truly dead after Calvary, He rises to life in triumph. Do I realize that this miracle proves Jesus was God beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do I see that it stamps the seal of Divinity on every truth that Jesus taught? And among them, the truth that He leads His army to certain victory.

I Speak to Christ: Jesus, newly risen in glory, I adore You. I believe You are truly God's Son. I believe in the truths of faith You taught. I believe that Your commandments are my way to heaven. Strengthen my faith. Make it firm in the faithless world in which we live today.

Thought for Today: "He is risen as He said."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Archbishop Burke: Pastoral Letter on the Resurrection

On the Celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, we celebrate the great mystery of our faith. God the Son made man has died on the Cross and is risen from the dead to save us from sin and from its most evil fruit, everlasting death. With the holy women, on Easter morning, we hear the declaration of the Paschal Angel: "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him" (Mark 16:6).

The Easter Angel also assures us, as he assured the holy women, that our Risen Savior goes before us and meets us in the Church. In the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist, which are the heart of the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, we encounter our Lord Jesus alive for us in the Church, pouring out upon us the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are cleansed of sin and receive the inheritance of eternal life.

At the Easter Vigil and at Mass on Easter Sunday, we renew our baptismal promises, rejecting Satan and all his sinful works, and professing our faith in God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — Who has called us to share in His own life. Our Easter joy is the joy of true sons and daughters of God, adopted by God the Father in His only-begotten Son. In the Holy Eucharist, above all, we experience our Christian dignity, united in heart with the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus.

In the name of Christ's faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I express deepest gratitude for our new brothers and sisters in the Church, the newly baptized and those received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. A heartfelt welcome to the newest members of the household of the faith! Be assured of our prayers and assistance as you enter ever more deeply into the knowledge and love of Christ, as He meets you in the Church, especially through the Sacraments.

I greet all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis with the traditional Easter salutation: The Lord indeed is risen. Alleluia. May the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus fill your hearts and your homes.

Yours devotedly in Christ,
(Most Rev.) Raymond L. Burke
Archbishop of St. Louis

Gospel for the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

From: Mark 16:1-7

The Resurrection

[1] And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. [2] And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. [3] And they were saying to one another. "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?" [4] And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. [5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man on tile right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. [6] And he said to them. "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you."


1. The sabbath rest was laid down in the Law of Moses as a day when the Israelites should devote themselves to prayer and the worship of God, and also as a form of protection for workers. As time went by the rabbis specified in minuscule detail what could and could not be done on the sabbath. This was why the holy women were unable to organize things on the sabbath for anointing the dead body of our Lord, and why they had to wait until the first day of the week.

From the earliest days of the Church, this first day is called the "dies Domini", the Lord's Day, because, St Jerome comments, "after the sorrow of the sabbath, a joyful day breaks out, the day of greatest joy, lit up by the greatest light of all, for this day saw the triumph of the risen Christ" ("Comm. in Marcum, in loc."). This is why the Church has designated Sunday as the day specially consecrated to the Lord, a day of rest on which we are commanded to attend Holy Mass.

3-4. On the structure of Jewish tombs and the stone covering the entrance, cf. note on Mt 27:60.

[The note on Mt 27:60 states:
60. It was customary for well-to-do Jews to build tombs for themselves in their own property. Most of these tombs were excavated out of rock, in the form of a cavern; they would have had a small hall or vestibule leading to the tomb proper. At the end of the hall, which would only have been a few meters long, a very low doorway gave access to the burial chamber. The first entrance door, which was at ground level, was closed off by a huge stone, which could be rolled (it was called a "gobel"), fitted into a groove to make rolling easier.]

5. Like so many other passages of the Gospel this one shows the extreme sobriety with which the evangelists report historical facts. From the parallel passage of St Matthew (28:5) we know that this person was an angel. But both Mark and Luke are content to report what the women say, without any further interpretation.

6. These women's sensitive love urges them, as soon as the Law permits, to go to anoint the dead body of Jesus, without giving a thought to the difficulties involved. Our Lord rewarded them in kind: they were the first to hear news of his resurrection. The Church has always invoked the Blessed Virgin "pro devota femineo sexu", to intercede for devout womanhood. And it is indeed true that in the terrible moments of the passion and death of Jesus women proved stronger than men: "Woman is stronger than man, and more faithful, in the hour of suffering: Mary of Magdala and Mary of Cleophas and Salome!

"With a group of valiant women like these, closely united to our Lady of Sorrows, what work for souls could be done in the world!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 982).

"Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified": the same name as written on the inscription on the cross is used by the angel to proclaim the glorious victory of the resurrection. In this way St Mark bears witness explicitly to the crucified man and the resurrected man being one and the same. Jesus' body, which was treated so cruelly, now has immortal life.

"He has risen": the glorious resurrection of Jesus is the central mystery of our faith. "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). It is also the basis of our hope: "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.... If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:17
and 19). The Resurrection means that Jesus has overcome death, sin, pain and the power of the devil.

The Redemption which our Lord carried out through his death and resurrection is applied to the believer by means of the sacraments, especially by Baptism and the Eucharist: "We were buried with him by baptism and death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn 6:54). The resurrection of Christ is also the rule of our new life: "If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3:1-2). Rising with Christ through grace means that "just as Jesus Christ through his resurrection began a new immortal and heavenly life, so we must begin a new life according to the Spirit, once and for all renouncing sin and everything that leads us to sin, loving only God and everything that leads to God" ("St Pius X Catechism", 77).

7. The designation of the Apostle Peter by name is a way of focusing attention on the head of the Apostolic College, just at this time when the Apostles are so discouraged. It is also a delicate way of indicating that Peter's denials have been forgiven, and of confirming his primacy among the Apostles.

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, April 14, 2006

Holy Saturday - Burial of Christ

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: "Holy Mother, pierce me through. In my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified."

Mental Picture (cf. John 19:38-42): Joseph of Arimathea takes the Body of Christ to his tomb. Mary, His Mother, prepares to wrap His body in the winding sheet. As she lovingly arranges it, her heart speaks:

"So you are dead, my Son. Your heart that loved sinners and bled for them beats no more. Your lips that gave man truth, that spoke the words of forgiveness and of God's love, are now cold and still. Your hands that gave sight to the blind and speech to the dumb, that quieted the storm on the lake and multiplied loaves and fishes now, in death, are empty. Your feet that carried you wherever there were men to be saved or healed or comforted, that walked one night on the water, were torn by nails upon the cross.

"Yes, my Son, you are dead. And with you I have died, though my heart still beats and my body still breathes. My life ended when you bowed your head and lived no more.

"I remember the wonder in my soul when the angel told me you would come... the joy when I laid you in the straw when angels sang. I feel the touch of your childish fingers that once formed the world. I remember my loneliness when you left me to go about your Father's business.

"You are dead, my Son; but these things crowd my mind. And the memory too of the proud Roman who unjustly condemned you... of the chosen people, so hardened and blind... of the bloody road... of your dying cry - all these I cannot forget.

"Yet I know your glory. One remembered word destroys my fears, one promise gives me courage. I cover your face and lay you in the tomb... and I pray aloud, 'Oh rise, my Son! Arise!'"

My Personal Application: I listen to the words of the Mother of our Lord, my Mother.

"To Jesus through Mary:" Mother, give me the courage to follow Him even in bearing His cross... and so share in His resurrection.

Thought for Today: "Holy Mother, pierce me through"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

N.T.Wright & John Dominic Crossan Debate the Resurrection

It's no longer surprising that some Catholics are no longer Catholic and non-Catholics are sometimes more Catholic than Catholics...


When teaching on Real Presence is clear, the young respond

Bishop Vasa's latest:
. . .It is not at all surprising when the teaching on the Real Presence is clear and when expectations are likewise clear, that our young people respond better than even they think they can.
. . .
It is in the Lord’s Presence that we can hear the simultaneous words of both Jesus and Mary. One says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” The other simply says, “Do whatever He tells you!” I trust that the Lord is also saying, “Go out into the whole world (or least to the various parishes of the diocese) and proclaim the Good News.”
More here.

Pope Benedict Offers Way of the Cross Meditations

In the prayer prepared by Archbishop Comastri for the Third Station, the Pope said:
Lord, we have lost our sense of sin! Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil,a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication. Lord Jesus, open our eyes: let us see the filth around us and recognize it for what it is, so that a single tear of sorrow can restore us to purity of heart and the breadth of true freedom. Open our eyes, Lord, Jesus!
Please Lord, help us to open our eyes!

More here.

Communion & Liberation Way of the Cross

Sharing an email:
I wanted to introduce all of you to what is the most solemn gesture of Communion and Liberation in cities across the world, that is, The Way of the Cross. Since its earliest days CL has taken particular care to mark Good Friday by organizing a beautiful, public Via Crucis in the cities were people of the Movement live. We do the Way of the Cross on the streets of major cities to say that the truth of Christ's death and resurrection is not a private matter of conscience; rather, it is the definitive event of history. The public gesture is a missionary gesture and we invite friends and families to join us in marking the day. The Way of the Cross proceeds in silence with several stations along the route where readings (mostly from Peguy and Fr. Giussani) and songs are used to help us to meditate on the meaning of Our Lord's crucifixion and death.

We would greatly appreciate your help in sharing with others this solemn gesture. I am including a link that includes a list of cities in the US where the Way of the Cross will be held and pictures of past events. In particular I draw your attention to the Way of the Cross in New York City which begins in Brooklyn, passes over the Brooklyn Bridge, past Ground Zero, and ends at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan as well as the Way of the Cross in Washington DC which travels from St. Peter's Church on Capital Hill down the Mall to the Washington Monument. In New York over 2,000 people have participated in the past. In Washington, we're a little smaller at around 300.

Thank You for your consideration!

List of US Cities for The Way of the Cross:

NEW: "The Da Vinci Hoax" DVD, hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

The Three Falls of Our Lord

Need a Good Friday meditation? Read “The Three Falls of Our Lord” by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Click here for this timely meditation about the carrying of the Cross

Good Friday - Jesus Dies

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: Dear Lord, give me the courage to follow you crucified.

Mental Picture: Everything is very quiet now... in a loud voice Christ has given His spirit to His Father, has bowed His head and died. A wild rumor is running through the crowd: "The veil in the temple has ripped from top to bottom." Now the sun goes dark... the earth shakes... the mob looks up at the man it has killed. In the cold, reddish half-light, His body gleams like one open wound. The people are afraid; "His blood be upon us and upon our children," they had said. They run away in terror.

Now there is silence again. He is alone save for His Mother standing erect, like a statue carved by grief... His friend John, a strong man, crying... and the woman Magdalen, heaped in misery at His feet.

The silence is broken by the cracking of bones... the centurion and his soldiers are making sure that the thieves will die. They come to Christ, look up, touch His feet... "This one is dead." The centurion lifts his spear... blood and water gush from Christ's heart. "This was indeed the Son of God!"

My Personal Application: I look at Christ upon the cross. This was what He thought of sin... this was what He thought of hell... this was His love for me. I look at Him, my king... and I call to Him... "I put you there! Let me take you down!" And in the depths of my soul I hear His answer: "I will not come down; you must come up to me."

If I am to faithfully follow Christ, I must follow Him to Calvary. I have chosen to serve a King who is crucified, a King whose flag is the cross.

Thought for Today: "God forbid that I should glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Missouri bishops call on Catholics to reject death penalty

St. Louis, Apr. 13, 2006 (CNA) - As the state of Missouri prepares for a highly-publicized trial due to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injection, the state’s Catholic bishops are calling on faithful to reject the practice of capital punishment overall as an excess which opposes the dignity of the human person.

A Catechesis on: The Sufferings of Christ

"And He is the propitiation of our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)


The magnitude of Christ's sufferings becomes manifest when viewed in connection with the per­son of the sufferer. The damned suffer in hell, but they suffer justly, for they revolted against God. The holy souls suffer in purgatory, but they too have deserved punishment and have need of purification. Men suffer here on earth; sorrow is the portion of mankind in this vale of tears. But in the person of Jesus it was the Son of God, the embodiment of innocence and holiness, the Lord and Creator of all things that suffered.

In time of war the rank and file of soldiers have to undergo the privation and hardships inciden­tal to their lot as soldiers; and however much we may admire their endurance we would admire still more the heroism of the leader himself, he who is the head of the whole army, if he were to associate and identify himself with these sufferings, em­bracing them voluntarily in his own person. In this latter case the suffering is of immeasurably higher value.

Oh, the magnitude of the sufferings of Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified and died for us! You may reply, that after all Jesus Christ did not suffer in His divine nature, but only in His human nature. That is true. The divine nature is as incapable of suffering as of death, but it is equally true that His human na­ture belonged to the person of the Son of God.

It was the body and the soul of the Son of God; the pains, the wounds, the sufferings, the death pangs were those of the Son of God; so, we may rightly say, the Son of God suffered, the Son of God died.


The depth of suffering which Christ our Lord underwent for our sake is brought home to us very forcibly when we consider in themselves the pains which He endured. All through His life He was never free from suffering, and suffering of such an order that its like has never been experi­enced on this earth.

I will not ask you to trace step by step the weary road of poverty, toil, and prayer, which our Saviour humbly traveled here below. I want to emphasize one thing only: namely, that His passion was ever present to Him, that the cross was the central point of all His thoughts.

If He foresaw our life and our death, He foresaw also His own, for He was omniscient and had foretold His passion. Trouble that is foreseen clearly and distinctly presses on the soul in anticipation. When a mother hears from a doctor that a beloved child has only a few weeks or a few months longer to live, every look at her darling child cuts her to the heart, reminding her of the death-struggle, the coffin, the grave that are drawing nearer and nearer. Not a single hour or day of our Saviour's life was free from pain and suffering. "My sorrow is continually before Me" (Ps. 37:18).

It may be urged that the actual passion of our Saviour wa~ compressed into a few hours. Yet, consider what a road of agony he traveled in that short space of time: from the Garden of Gethse­mani stained with His sweat of blood, to the house of the high priest; from the high priest to Pilate; from Pilate to Herod, and back again to Pilate, who sent Him, laden with His Cross, to Calvary and to death; His way was lined with enemies on all sides, priests and people, pagans and Jews, men of high and low degree: "Many are they who rise up against Me" (Ps. 3:2).

How mani­fold were His pains, how numerous were His wounds, how cruel the blows with which He was struck, how great His loss of blood! There was no member of His body, no power of His soul, that did not suffer.

If viewed only from the outside, so to speak, His sufferings are heavy beyond all question, but, in addition to and before everything else, we have to take into account the inward desolation of His soul. To this desolation His friends and His apos­tles who forsook Him greatly contributed; and it was increased further by the cruelty of His ene­mies, who, not satisfied with tormenting and tor­turing Him, mocked and jeered at His anguish.

At the thought of the many souls for whom all His sufferings would not only be in vain, but would constitute even a further occasion of sin, this desolation welled up in His heart like a deep spring whose bitterness was but further increased by the thought of His heavenly Father, for by Him, too, He felt Himself forsaken. Oh, the in­tensity of the sufferings of Christ!

Added to this we have to remember that the sacred humanity of Christ was in the highest degree sensitive and sensible. When a war breaks out, swords are polished and sharpened with special care; their whole virtue lying in their capacity to cut. Our Saviour, assuming our human nature with the one object and purpose of suffering and dying, chose to take to Himself, with such an end in view, a body and soul with an organization peculiarly adapted for suffering.


Not only are the sufferings of Christ great in themselves, their magnitude is increased and en­hanced by the manner in which they were em­braced and endured. Our Saviour suffered vol­untarily. He said: "Not my will, but Thine be done." At the first appearance of His enemies who had come to apprehend Him, advancing toward them He asked, "Whom do you seek?" and when they answering said, "Jesus of Nazareth," He at once declared Himself: "I am He" (John 18:6). As He spoke these words, in order as it seemed to convince them that the Son of God was subject to no creature against His will, He al­lowed His almighty power to overcome them, suffering them to fan helpless and impotent to the ground.

His life was one of devoted patience, meek­ness, and holiness; it was full of strength and resoluteness, and was inspired and animated by the love of God, obedience to the heavenly Father, and love of mankind. Adorned with every virtue, it is the model and example of lives for all time, teaching us that patient suffering is beautiful and lovable, worthy to be admired and imitated; fill­ing our hearts with love and sympathy and mak­ing the patient endurance of pain meritorious and precious in the sight of God and men.


We would have learned but very imperfectly the lessons taught us by the life of Christ if we failed to estimate the fruit of His sufferings. "Why did Christ suffer and die?" asks the cate­chism. "Christ suffered and died for our sins." The great and wonderful result of the passion of Christ is that it atoned for the sins of the whole world.

We speak of atonement only when there has been some offense, some insult to be made good, and in every single sin that has ever been com­mitted insult has been offered and offense given to the great Law-giver, the high and eternal Judge. When insult has been offered to anyone reparation is demanded and exacted, and al­mighty God demanded complete and full repara­tion, such reparation as amply compensated Him for the glory of which He was robbed by sin, making good the offense given Him, and completely restoring the honor due to Him.

The greatness of the reparation must bear some pro­portion to the status of the person to whom it is offered, and how is an offense against the maj­esty of almighty God to be measured? To deal a child a blow in the face is a rupture of the peace, and to strike a judge is a criminal offense, but so to treat the majesty of a king would be high treason.

On a certain occasion a captain of the French troops struck Pope Boniface VIII a blow in the face with his mailed hand and the whole of Christendom rang with indignation and horror at such an act.

Now, what is sin? It is an offense against the infinite majesty of God and calls for reparation and atonement of an in­finite order. Who is to afford to God this reparation? We are but weak men; sinners ourselves and finite beings; how can we repair an infinite wrong? The angels and the holy Mother of God herself, innocent and pure though they be, are but finite creatures and as such could not restore to the infinite God the honor He had lost.

But Jesus Christ, at one and the same time true God and true man, could do it. As head of the whole human race He could offer in our name full and complete satisfaction for the sins of the world, by suffering whatever the heavenly Father required of Him: "Obedient unto death; even to the death of the cross" (Philipp. 2:8). His suf­ferings furnished a complete atonement which, vicariously offered, fully satisfied the divine jus­tice. As the Saviour lay dying on the cross the shameful chains laid by the evil spirit upon men were loosened; as His precious blood flowed from His sacred wounds the terrible flames of hell were extinguished.

The sufferings of Christ atoned, not only com­pletely, but, superabundantly, to the divine jus­tice: "With Him there is plentiful redemption" (Ps. 129:7). They have won for us all graces; they have restored us to the position of children of God, and opened once more the gates of heaven so long closed against us.

Our Saviour's sufferings were bitter indeed, but to us they are of unspeakable value. Who can estimate the evil they have overcome, or count the blessings which have flowed from them? Never has a tree borne fruit so sweet, so precious as the tree of the holy cross.

Because Christ endured His passion for all and each one of us have we, then, all a right to consider ourselves saved and blessed? By no means. There remains something for us to do, which some of us are apt to neglect. If we want to have part in the redemption of Christ we must believe in the Saviour, in His divinity, in His love, His sufferings and merits, fixing in this way all our hopes in Him and His sacred passion.

We must gather for ourselves the fruit of the cross, by using with contrite and grateful hearts, and in the spirit of penance and humility, the means of salvation placed in our hands by our Saviour in the holy Sacraments; and earnestly try to follow Him by walking in His footsteps. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24).

How blessed is he who thus reaps the fruit of the sufferings of Christ! How truly miserable is that soul who, in spite of the grace of God, goes to perdition; it is as though, standing by a fresh spring of water, he were to die of thirst. I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast died for me. May I never deserve to forfeit the merits of Thy precious blood, and of Thy infinite suffer­ings. Amen.
Adapted from Popular Sermons on the Catechism, [Vol 1, No.41]
by Fr. A. Hubert Bamberg (Edited by Fr. Herbert Thurston, S.J.
© 1914 by Benziger Brothers

Holy Thursday - The Holy Eucharist

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: To grow each day in my friendship with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Mental Picture: The supper room of Jesus' fare­well meal with His Apostles...listen! "Only a little while longer am I with you; you will miss me. Where I am going you cannot come at present to follow me. I am going home; because I tell you this, sorrow fills your hearts...sorrow which you can't remedy."

If men are to be saved, Jesus must die. But if He dies, men are left on earth without Him. Must it be one or the other? Yes, for anyone but God! For taking bread, He said, "Take and eat; this is my Body." Then taking the chalice of wine He said, "Take and drink; this is my Blood. Do this in commemoration of me."

My Personal Application: Can I doubt that Christ wants to be with me? Making Himself present in the Eucharist was the last thing He did for men before He went to death for us. And He chose to remain as bread - bread that can be multiplied all over the world... that can be seen... touched... eaten by all. Who can be afraid of bread? And yet this bread is Christ, the infinite God.

I Speak to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: Dear Lord, I realize how often in the past I have avoided you, how often I have preferred little insignificant things - breakfast at home, a few minutes extra of sleep, or not to have people think I was pious - to you. I am ashamed! Dear Lord, you know how weak I am ; give me the grace at least to want to be with you always. Lord, don't let anything keep me away from you.

Thought for Today: This is my Body; this is my Blood.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for Holy Thursday (Evening Mass of the Last Supper)

From: John 13:1-15

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

[1] Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. [2] And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, [3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, [4] rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. [5] Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [6] He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" [7] Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." [8] Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me." [9] Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" [10] Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you." [11] For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, "You are not all clean."

[12] When He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and resumed His place, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done for you? [13] You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. [14] If then your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done for you."


1. Jewish families sacrificed a lamb on the eve of the Passover, in keeping with God's command at the time of the exodus from Egypt when God liberated them from the slavery of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:3-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8). This liberation prefigured that which Jesus Christ would bring about--the redemption of men from the slavery of sin by means of His sacrifice on the cross (cf. 1:29). This is why the celebration of the Jewish Passover was the ideal framework for the institution of the new Christian Passover.

Jesus knew everything that was going to happen; He knew His death and resurrection were imminent (cf. 18:4); this is why His words acquire a special tone of intimacy and love towards those whom He is leaving behind in the world. Surrounded by those whom He has chosen and who have believed in Him, He gives them His final teachings and institutes the Eucharist, the source and center of the life of the Church. "He Himself wished to give that encounter such a fullness of meaning, such a richness of memories, such a moving image of words and thoughts, such a newness of acts and precepts, that we can never exhaust our reflection and exploration of it. It was a testamentary supper, infinitely affectionate and immensely sad, and at the same time a mysterious revelation of divine promises, of supreme visions. Death was imminent, with silent omens of betrayal, of abandonment, of immolation; the conversation dies down but Jesus continues to speak in words that are new and beautifully reflective, in almost supreme intimacy, almost hovering between life and death" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Homily on Holy Thursday", 27 March 1975).

What Christ did for His own may be summed up in this sentence: "He loved them to the end." It shows the intensity of His love--which brings Him even to give up His life (cf. John 15:13); but this love does not stop with His death, for Christ lives on and after His resurrection He continues loving us infinitely: "It was not only thus far that He loved us, who always and forever loves us. Far be it from us to imagine that He made death the end of His loving, who did not make death the end of His living" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 55, 2).

2. The Gospel shows us the presence and activity of the devil running right through Jesus' life (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:3; John 8:44; 12:31; etc.). Satan is the enemy (Matthew 13:39), the evil one (1 John 2:13). St. Thomas Aquinas (cf. "Commentary on St. John, in loc.") points out that, in this passage, on the one hand, we clearly see the malice of Judas, who fails to respond to this demonstration of love, and on the other hand great emphasis is laid on the goodness of Christ, which reaches out beyond Judas' malice by washing his feet also and by treating him as a friend right up to the moment when he betrays Him (Luke 22:48).

3-6. Aware that He is the Son of God, Jesus voluntarily humbles Himself to the point of performing a service appropriate to household servants. This passage recalls the Christological hymn in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant..." (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ had said that He came to the world not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). In this scene He teaches us the same thing, through specific example, thereby exhorting us to serve each other in all humility and simplicity (cf. Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3). "Once again He preaches by example, by His deeds. In the presence of His disciples, who are arguing out of pride and vanity, Jesus bows down and gladly carries out the task of a servant.[...] This tactfulness of our Lord moves me deeply. He does not say: `If I do this, how much more ought you to do?' He puts Himself at their level, and He lovingly chides those men for their lack of generosity.

"As He did with the first twelve, so also, with us, our Lord can and does whisper in our ear, time and again: `exemplum dedi vobis' (John 13:15), I have given you an example of humility. I have become a slave, so that you too may learn to serve all men with a meek and humble heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 103).

Peter understands particularly well how thoroughly our Lord has humbled Himself, and he protests, in the same kind of way as he did on other occasions, that he will not hear of Christ suffering (cf. Matthew 8:32 and par.). St. Augustine comments: "Who would not shrink back in dismay from having his feet washed by the Son of God....You? Me? Words to be pondered on rather than spoken about, lest words fail to express their true meaning" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 56, 1).

7-14. Our Lord's gesture had a deeper significance than St. Peter was able to grasp at this point; nor could he have suspected that God planned to save men through the sacrificing of Christ (cf. Matthew 16:22 ff). After the Resurrection the Apostles understood the mystery of this service rendered by the Redeemer: by washing their feet, Jesus was stating in a simple and symbolic way that He had not come "to be served but to serve". His service, as He already told them, consists in giving "His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Our Lord tells the Apostles that they are now clean, for they have accepted His words and have followed Him (cf. 15:3)--all but Judas, who plans to betray Him. St. John Chrysostom comments as follows: "You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. That is: You are clean only to that extent. You have already received the Light; you have already got rid of the Jewish error. The Prophet asserted: `Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil from your souls' (Isaiah 1:16).... Therefore, since they had rooted evil from their souls and were following Him with complete sincerity, He declared, in accordance with the Prophet's words: `He who has bathed is clean all over'" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 70, 3).

15-17. Jesus' whole life was an example of service towards men, fulfilling His Father's will to the point of dying on the Cross. Here our Lord promises us that if we imitate Him, our Teacher, in disinterested service (which always implies sacrifice), we will find true happiness which no one can wrest from us (cf. 16:22; 17:13). "`I have given you an example', He tells His disciples after washing their feet, on the night of the Last Supper. Let us reject from our hearts any pride, any ambition, any desire to dominate; and peace and joy will reign around us and within us, as a consequence of our personal sacrifice" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 94).

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, April 12, 2006

US Bishops Child Protection Programs Supported by Homosexual Activists

For those who eyes are open, this should not come as a shock...
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) enjoys the support of homosexual activist groups for its "Virtus" program intended to protect children from sexual predators. Virtus, the Latin word for virtue, is a set of programs developed by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, called "Protecting God's Children™" for the USCCB.

The program, used in dioceses throughout the US, proposes "training" for children, parents, clergy, teachers and church staff and volunteers and focuses part of its effort in a sex-education program for children as young as six in Catholic schools. The child sex-ed component, called "Talking about Touching," has been denounced by faithful Catholic parents' groups and priests as an attack on children's innocence and a device for dodging responsibility by bishops.
At a recent talk here by Bishop Vasa, he related how strange it seemed that dissident groups and others of their ilk express no distaste for or opposition to the "child protection" programs currently used in many dioceses across the country. It would seem that if such programs were truly Catholic, these people would be up-in-arms against the programs. But the silence is deafening! Most of these people have never embraced a truly Catholic agenda or program in their lives and this silence or, in some cases, the approval, should be a cause for concern by faithful Catholics.

It seems that this article may be shedding light on the issue, and only confirms Bishop Vasa's suspicions.

The complete article is here.

Wednesday of Holy Week-"It Is Finished!"

Mental Prayer Meditation

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: To know how to be a real success.

Mental Picture (cf. John 19:30): Jesus a most colossal failure! God sent Him to be King, Savior, Judge, and the glory of all men. The angel Gabriel said to Mary, "The Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His father." To the shepherds the angels sang, "Today is born to you a Savior." Simeon the prophet said, "He will be the glory of God's people." Jesus Himself claimed before Pilate that He was a king.

But see Jesus now. A king? Only in mock­ery. A Savior? Abandoned and lost. The source of life? Almost dead! The glory of men? Himself judged, convicted, executed in the most horrible fashion.

And yet, what is He saying? "It is finished!"

The work you, my Father, gave me to do, I have done. Your will I have followed! Your friendship I have brought to men.

My Personal Application: "It is finished!" This is no cry of failure - this is a cry of triumph. "It is done!" If I was afraid to follow my King to death - afraid of failure - here He is now telling me it has all been planned.

This is part of the battle plan. This is the important part. And battle is won. What went on in Christ's mind the moment before He said, "It is finished"? All His life He looked to this moment and now it has come.

I Speak to Christ: My King, when I come to die, let me be able to say, "It is finished." Let mine be the joy of work well done. Let mine be the glory of the cross, the triumph of the cross. Let me be able to say with you: "I have finished the work you gave me to do."

Thought for Today: "I have done the task you gave me to do."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Three Methods of Prayer of Saint Ignatius & Prayer Helps

First Method of Prayer:
In this first method of prayer, we consider and think over the First Commandment, asking our­selves how we have observed it and in what manner we have failed. We will use as a measure of this consideration the space of time it takes to recite three times the OUR FATHER and the HAIL MARY. If during this time we should find faults we have committed, we will ask for­giveness and say an OUR FATHER. The same method will be followed with each of the Ten Commandments.

Second Methwd of Prayer:
We may kneel or sit, or use any position suited to our disposition and conducive to devotion. We then say, "Father," and continue meditating on this word as long as we find various meanings, comparisons, relish, and consolation in the con­sideration of it. The same method should be followed with each word of the OUR FATHER, or of any other prayer which we wish to use for this method.

Third Method of Prayer:
With each breath or respiration, we should pray mentally while saying a single word of the OUR FATHER, or other prayer that is being recited, in such a way that from one breath to another a single word is said. For this same space of time, the attention is chiefly directed to the meaning of the word, to the person who is addressed, to our own lowliness, or the difference between the greatness of the person and our own littleness. In this way, observing the same measure of time, we should go through the other words of the OUR FATHER. We can use this same method with any prayer.

This exercise is to help you pray in a special way, to make mental prayer - which is quite a different thing from reading.

If you read the meditations, you may hurt your prayer.

First Steps:
Remember that prayer is talking to God. Mental prayer is talking to Him in your own words about things that are important to Him and to you.

Sometimes this is very easy. Sometimes it is quite hard. But it is always very important.

If you want to spend 15 minutes with God every day, you will often need help. Each meditation referred to from the book, "Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle," contains several built-in prayer helps. These built-in helps are designed to make it easier for you to make mental prayer, easier to stay close to God and come to know and love Him better in the 15 minutes you have set aside daily just for Him.

1. Take no more than one day's meditation at a time.
2. Make up your mind to stick to it, once you have begun, for the full time you promised God, however long that was. Follow the advice of your spiritual director.
3. Use the built-in prayer-helps, as you need them.

The Built-In Prayer Helps:
1. Presence of God:
Every meditation opens by reminding you of the presence of God. It is very important, and you must never skip it. Follow the directions and prayer below thinking over what each word means:
My God, all great, all good-I adore You. Be merciful to me, a sinner. You know me...You made me...You want me here. Help me to pray. Let everything Ido, now and forever, be done for You!
2. Grace I Ask:
This suggests something worthwhile for you to aim at and try for in your mental prayer each day. Ask God in your own words to give you this grace and favor. Ask Him sincerely, no matter how you feel at the moment. All the later parts of each meditation are planned to help you get from God that definite grace you ask here at the beginning.

3. The Idea:
Here are suggested thoughts for you to think about and especially for you to talk about with God. It is always easier to talk when you have something definite to discuss. This Idea part of each meditation tries to remind you of some­thing you might want or might find profitable to talk over with God.

Many meditations have a MENTAL PICTURE instead of the Idea. In these you simply follow the description slowly and try to build up in your mind the picture described. Both Idea and Picture meditations will help you to discover many things about God and yourself, important things, and will help you see more clearly and more deeply into things you know already.

4. My Personal Application:
The facts considered in each day's mental prayer can change your life. They should change it. That is one of the reasons mental prayer is so important. But in order that these facts and ideas can help your life, you have to take them and see for yourself what they should mean to you, here and now.

This built-in help, Personal Application, tries to help you get started seeing these real con­nections between the truths and you. But the real work in this part of your mental prayer is always going to be up to you and you alone. Nobody in the world can really apply personally any truth to your life except you yourself. No­body knows you from the inside out the way you know yourself. But the man who is brave enough to try to look honestly at himself and strong enough to try to do something about really chang­ing himself - that man can change the world.

5. I Speak to God:
This is not the fifth thing you do in mental prayer. This is something you do in mental prayer. This is something you do all the way through all your prayer - first, fifth, and last too. But this help number 5 tries to suggest some special things you might want to say to God in connection with the definite ideas in this one day's meditation. Of course, these are only sugges­tions. And your own words, your own thoughts, your own feelings will always be better. It's just good to have these to use when you're stuck.

6. Thought for Today:
Twenty-four hours can be a long time. To help stretch the good effects of a 15-minute mental prayer out over 24 hours, it's good to have one idea packed into one short sentence to carry with you through the day: something you can remember easily, something that will bring back to your mind and heart the things you said to God and God said to you in your last mental prayer. The Thought for Today tries to give you one short idea like this. It's just a suggestion; if you have a more striking one, use it.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for Wednesday of Holy Week

From: Matthew 26:14-25

Judas Betrays Jesus

[14] Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests [15] and said, "What will you give me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. [16] And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him.

Preparations for the Last Supper

[17] Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the Passover?" [18] He said, "Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.'" [19] And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared for the Passover.

[20] When it was evening, He sat at table with the twelve disciples; [21] and as they were eating, He said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." [22] And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to Him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" [23] He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me, will betray Me. [24] The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." [25] Judas, who betrayed Him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."


15. It is disconcerting and sobering to realize that Judas Iscariot actually went as far as to sell the man whom he had believed to be the Messiah and who had called him to be one of the Apostles. Thirty shekels or pieces of silver were the price of a slave (cf. Exodus 21:32), the same value as Judas put on his Master.

17. This unleavened bread, azymes, took the form of loaves which had to be eaten over a seven-day period, in commemoration of the unleavened bread which the Israelites had to take with them in their hurry to leave Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:34). In Jesus' time the Passover supper was celebrated on the first day of the week of the Unleavened Bread.

18. Although the reference is to an unnamed person, probably our Lord gave the person's actual name. In any event, from what other evangelists tell us (Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10), Jesus gave the disciplesenough information to enable them to find the house.

22. Although the glorious events of Easter have yet to occur (which will teach the Apostles much more about Jesus), their faith has been steadily fortified and deepened in the course of Jesus' public ministry (cf. John 2:11; 6:68-69) through their contact with Him and the divine grace they have been given (cf. Matthew 16:17). At this point they are quite convinced that our Lord knows their internal attitudes and how they are going to act: each asks in a concerned way whether he will prove to be loyal in the time ahead.

24. Jesus is referring to the fact that He will give Himself up freely to suffering and death. In so doing He would fulfill the Will of God, as proclaimed centuries before (cf. Psalm 41:10; Isaiah 53:7). Although our Lord goes to His death voluntarily, this does not reduce the seriousness of Judas' treachery.

25. This advance indication that Judas is the traitor is not noticed by the other Apostles (cf. John 13:26-29).
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, April 11, 2006

Call to Action Calls for Cardinal George's Resignation

The largest Catholic reform group in the nation on Monday called for Cardinal Francis George to resign as archbishop of Chicago if he is not willing to push for stricter monitoring of how U.S. dioceses obey new church laws governing the handling of clergy sex abuse allegations.
. . .
Colleen Dolan, George's spokeswoman, fired back, saying that Call to Action's letter was based on inaccuracies. "At what point do people get to just continue to say anything that's false and have any air of credibility?" she said.
Isn't Call to Action, itself, based on inaccuracies? Is it not built on sand? Why more bishops don't excommunicate the whole bunch of malcontents as Bishop Bruskewitz did is unbelievable...

Story here.

No Holy Thursday Letter to Priests from the Pope This Year

Vatican, Apr. 11 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will not release a letter to the world's priests on Holy Thursday this year.

The Holy Father thus breaks with a pattern set by Pope John Paul II (bio - news), who issued his first Holy Thursday letter to priests on 1979, then provided a new message each year from 1982 to 2005.

Tuesday of Holy Week - "I Am Thirsty!"

Presence of God. Stop for a few minutes from your day, retreat from the world and think about the serious and important act of speaking to God - This act of prayer which you are beginning.

Grace I Ask: A great desire to satisfy Jesus' thirst for souls.

Mental Picture (cf. John 19: 28-29): Lifted above the heads of the crowd at the top of a small hill, Christ hangs on the cross. In front of Him is the unthinking mob - God's chosen people trying to destroy their Savior. And in His mind's eye He sees the many generations of God's new chosen people and their hatred, oppression, wars and revolutions, persecutions - the sins of all of us... and He says, "I am thirsty".

My Personal Application: He was thirsty. Physical thirst, yes, but more than that. He saw how His suffering would be as nothing for so many men, and He was thirsty for their souls. Can I relieve Jesus' thirst? Yes, by giving myself to Him first, and then by bringing others to Him.

I intensified His thirst on the Cross because by my sins I was actually present to Him as He hung there. So I also relieve His thirst as I make reparation, whenever, for instance, I am really sorry for my sins, when I offer up some slight pain for His great pain, when I make the Church known to my non-Catholic as well as lapsed Catholic friends, when I say prayers at the end of Mass for thanksgiving and for the conversion of sinners.

I Speak to Christ: My suffering Lord, I know that too often I am not very sorry for having done this to you, that I do not love you and thank you as I ought. I know that I am so indifferent to whether others love you; but O my Lord Jesus, I want to; give me the grace to be really sorry... and be your apostle.

Thought for Today: "And Jesus said, "I am thirsty!"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

A Preparation for Good Friday-Dispositions for Holy Communion

"Behold your king." St. John, 19:15.

Picture this scene: No-man's Land in World War One. A young soldier and a Catholic chaplain are lying side by side, fatally wounded. The boy knows his end is near. With all his effort he cries: "Father, give me absolution and Holy Communion."

With piercing pain the priest pronounces the words of pardon and takes from his inside pocket the pyx. But he is too feeble to crawl over or to reach the boy. He holds out the Host as far as he can, but it falls from his trembling fingers, falls on the shattered leg of the soldier, falls into a pool of fresh, young blood. The White Host is tinged a deep red. "Take it, son, and give yourself Holy Communion."

With faltering fingers the fallen hero places the Host on his quivering tongue. His eyes close for a moment. Then comes his last request: "Please tell my mother that I received Communion before I died."

What a Communion. What love and devotion. An ideal, perfect Com­munion, for in every Communion there should be two hosts, the Communion Host and the receiver's host, the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrfiice of the communicant.

To sacrifice for Christ we don't need bullets and bloodshed. There are braver battlefields. To make a complete Communion we must offer our­selves to Christ when He offers Himself to us.

Our sacrifice is to make ourselves as worthy as possible of receiving Him. When Jesus died for us on that cross He gave us the perfect example of how to prepare for Communion. His dispositions there should be our dispo­sitions as we receive Him.

1. Prepare your soul; prepare your body. The soul comes first. To receive Holy Communion one must be in the state of grace, that is, free from mortal sin. A soul in mortal sin is dead. It is just as "impossible for a dead soul to receive the Food of life, as it is for a dead body to receive physical food.

2. Try to free yourself from venial sin as much as possible.

3. Just before receiving stir up your faith. Recall our Lord's words: "This is my body. . . this is my blood." Tell our Lord that you believe you are going to receive His true Body and Blood.

4. Be humble. Pray with St. Francis of Assisi: "O God, who art Thou, and who am I?" God is everything; you are nothing. That is why the priest repeats three times as he holds up the Host at Communion time: "O Lord, I am not worthy..."

5. Although you are in the state of grace, tell God again that you are truly sorry for ever having offended Him, because He is so good, so worthy of our love.

6. Tell our Lord that you love Him. You don't have to feel this love. You do have to will it and wish it. You want to love Him. You do love Him.

Where can we find a better help to express these dispositions than by look­ing upon Christ on the cross? When we see Him dying for our sins, we will want to be free from all sin. When we see His trust in His heavenly Father, we will spur our faith and trust. When we see His humility, we will realize that we are nothing and that God is everything. And oh, how love burns brightly in our hearts when we see love going to its limits there on the cross. Desire comes quickly on the heels of love. We want to be with, we want to be one with, Love Itself hanging there on that cruel tree.

7. We must also prepare the body for Communion, mainly by fasting according to the liturgical requirements in force, that is, by not taking a crumb to eat or a drop to drink for that period before Holy Communion, out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. The little sacri­fice this demands will become easy, when we remember that the Body hang­ing there had neither food nor drink since the previous evening.

8. When we receive we must be clean and modest in our dress and beha­vior. Fold your hands and keep your eyes down as much as possible. Be quiet and recollected. Think. Pray. Love. It is the greatest moment in your life. Christ gives Himself to you. You give yourself to Christ.

We might mention a few exceptions to the fast before Communion. Even though not fasting, a Catholic in danger of death may receive Holy Com­munion. Those sick in bed for a month with no certain hope of recovery may with the consent of their confessor receive Holy Communion after taking medicine or liquid food. A special dispensation can be obtained through the bishop for those whose physical or stomach condition makes it gravely inconvenient to fast. In every case, ask your priest.

Yes, "Behold your king." Those words of Pilate fell on the deaf ears of those who hated Christ. Today they fall on the eager ears of those who love our Lord.

Behold Him dying for sin; do all you can to keep away from sin. Behold your King, humble and loving; be humble, be loving. Behold His body wracked with pain; make the sacrifice of preparing properly for Holy Communion.

Behold Him giving Himself to death out of love for you. Lovingly prepare for Him, lovingly receive Him. Like that dying soldier, give your­self to Christ as He gave Himself to you.

Behold your king, here on the cross, there on the altar, there in your heart. Adore Him, thank Him, beg His blessing, ask His pardon. Behold Him and love Him.
Adapted from Talks on the Sacraments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne,OFM (© 1947)

Bishop Bruskewitz Interview

The Wanderer has posted "the complete text of an interview Christopher Manion conducted with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., about the relationship of his diocese with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board."
Q. What prompted your response to the published letter from Mrs. Ewers to Bishop Skylstad?
A. I was speechless with indignation, and I refuse to be bossed around by these people. It was explicit in a published report that was put on the Internet, an attack on the Diocese of Lincoln.
A pathetic bunch of bureaucrats, no doubt. Catholics? Hardly...
Bishop Bruskewitz: . . . "the people who serve on that board. Some Board members support abortion very strongly, such as Leon Panetta. Paul McHugh, a Kinseyite from Johns Hopkins University, has supported human cloning. This is publicized in some of the USCCB’s own publications like Origins.
. . .
"It’s a standing disgrace that some of these people who call themselves Catholic don’t understand the heinous evil that they support. That we should give them a position of prominence in the Church is an outrage."
Many faithful Catholics have longed questioned the lack of prudence (or pure stupidity) in selecting some of the people to serve on the board...Just one more of many reasons that the USCCB has become so irrelevant. One might be prone to wonder if the organization can truly be called Catholic?

With respect to being the "only" diocese in the U.S. which does not allow altar "girls", His Excellency states:
. . .as I’ve said many times, if I see a diocese, chiefly because of altar girls, with convents overflowing with novices, and hundreds of priests being ordained, then I’ll change my mind. In the meantime, we’ll just continue in the old traditional way.
If you recall, such was a reason given by the Arlington diocese recently, when it allowed girls to serve at the altar - it might be good for vocations...OK...

Please keep Bishop Bruskewitz in your prayers - facing the behemoth of the USCCB, he probably needs them. Full interview here.

Preparation for Good Friday - Charity

"I thirst!" St. John, 19:28.

The Detroit Times of May 7, 1948, carried an interesting interview with a Mrs. Alice McDougall, Michigan's sole survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania. On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sent a torpedo crashing into the hull of the giant Lusitania, plunging 1,198 men, women, and children to their death in the cold waters of the Irish Sea.

On that 33rd anniversary of her harrowing experience Mrs. McDougall recalled the hundreds of women and children clinging to the sinking ship. She recalled how the water was dotted with bodies of men and women and children. She recalled seeing mothers wrap their babies in blankets and throw them over the side of the ship. She recalled how she stood on the steeply sloping deck and prayed. And especially she recalled how her prayer was answered, when a tall distinguished passenger calmly took off his life jacket and placed it about her. In after years she learned that this savior was Alfred G. Vanderbilt, the millionaire sportsman. She recalled, too, how she had been picked up by a British Cruiser.

"Is it any wonder," Mrs. McDougall exclaimed, "that I have spent each May 7 since that terrible day in prayer, prayer for the soul of the man who enabled me to live, and prayer for all those hundreds of others who died all about me."

In gratitude to the man who gave his life for her, this Michigan woman thought prayerfully of him on every anniversary of his sacrifice. In a much higher way we who have been saved by Christ's death on the cross, prayerfully remember every year that great day - Good Friday.

We shall gather again on Good Friday to thank Him for dying for us. We shall gather to thank Him for the love that led Him to make the supreme sacrifice for us. We would like to think about that love today in preparation for Good Friday. We would like to see what love means, what charity really is. It was the great virtue of Christ; it must be the great virtue of every follower of Christ.

I. Charity means the love of God for His own sake, and of our neighbor for the love of God.

A. It is much misunderstood. Charity does not mean giving money or clothing to the poor; it does not mean tossing coins into a blind man's cup. Such acts may or may not be the expression of charity according to whether or not they are done for the love of God, or just because it makes the giver feel good.

B. Love does not mean a tender emotion or feeling. Least of all does it mean sensual or sexual affection, which is chiefly of the body. Love does mean the preferring of someone on the part of the mind and the inclination and choosing on the part of the will. The emotional element need not be present. Don't think you do not love God because you do not feel that love.

C. True love of God shows itself in keeping His laws and the laws of His Church.

D. True love of God shows itself in doing things for our fellowman for the love of God.

E. The human heart delights in what is good and true and beautiful. God is supreme good and supreme truth and supreme beauty. We love God Himself because of what He is and who He is. We love Him for His own sake.

II. Without this virtue of charity we cannot be saved. It is the greatest of the virtues.
A. It is queen and guardian of the other virtues.

B. It gives God the heart, the will, the important part of man.

C. It makes all our works, even the simplest, precious in the sight of God.

D. It remains, as St. Paul tells us in I Cor. 13:1-13, after faith and hope have ceased to exist.

III. Why should we love God and our neighbor?
A. Christ commanded it. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength." St. Mark, 12:30.

B. God has every good thing without limit. He is all perfect. He is lovable without limit.

C. His love for us demands a return of love. On Good Friday, there on the cross, we will be vividly reminded and see the love of God for each one of us. He died for you and for me. "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that those who believe in Him may not perish." St. John, 3:16.

D. We should love God because He has been good to us.

IV. How should we love God?
A. By thoughts and words and acts of love for God. On Good Friday, our Love is crucified for us. Tell Him that you love Him. Decide to do some deed of love just for His sake.

B. Beg His pardon for offending His love. Sin is the only offense against Him. Be sorry for it, especially this week, and most especially on Good Friday when you see on that cross what sin has done. All sin is against charity.

C. We love God by doing loving things for the children of God, by charity toward our fellow man, particularly those near to us by reason of blood, profession or association.

Christ calls out for our love. "I thirst," He cries. He thirsts above all for the love of men, for your love and my love. Perhaps we will not be called upon to give our lives out of love for Him. But we must give what we can out of love.

As that woman in Detroit recalled every May 7 the sacrifice of the man who gave her his life preserver, so also on this Good Friday, let us recall that Christ gave Himself for us. He died for us - out of love. Can we refuse to return that love by charity toward God and charity toward our neighbor while claiming to be His followers, His disciples?
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Gospel for Tuesday of Holy Week

From: John 13:21-33, 36-38

The Treachery of Judas Foretold

[21] When Jesus had thus spoken, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me."[22] The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He spoke. [23] One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; [24] so Simon Peter beckoned to Him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom He speaks." [25] So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" [26] Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when He had dipped the morsel, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. [27] Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." [28] Now no one at the table knew why He said this to him. [29] Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what you need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor. [30] So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.

[31] When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and in Him God is glorified; [32] if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. [33] Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me, and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.' [36] Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow Me afterward." [37] Peter said to Him, "Lord, why cannot I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You." [38] Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied Me three times."


21. Christ's sadness is proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Judas was one of those whom Jesus chose to be an Apostle: he had been on intimate terms with Him for three years, he had followed Him everywhere, had seen His miracles, had heard His divine teaching, and experienced the tenderness of His affection. And despite all that, when the moment of truth comes, Judas not only abandons the Master but betrays Him and sells Him. Betrayal by an intimate friend is something much more painful and cruel than betrayal by a stranger, for it involves a lack of loyalty. The spiritual life of the Christian is also true friendship with Jesus; this means it is based on loyalty and uprightness, and on being true to one's word.

Judas had already decided to hand Jesus over and had made arrangements with the chief priests (cf. Matthew 26:14; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). Temptation had been burrowing its way into Judas' heart for some time back, as we saw at the anointing at Bethany when he protested Mary's loving gesture; St. John commented in that connection that he did it not out of love for the poor but because he was a thief (cf. John 12:6).

23. In that period, on important occasions the customary thing was to eat reclining on a kind of divan called a "triclinium". The diner rested on his left elbow and ate with his right hand. This meant it was easy to lean on the person on one's left and talk to him without people hearing. In this verse we can see the intimacy and trust which obtained between the Master and the beloved disciple (cf. John 19:27; 20-2; 21:23), a model of Jesus' love for all His true disciples and of theirs for their Master.

26-27. The morsel which Jesus offers him is a sign of friendship and, therefore, an invitation to him to give up his evil plotting. But Judas rejects the chance he is offered. "What he received is good", St. Augustine comments, "but he received it to his own perdition, because he, being evil, received in an evil manner what is good" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 61, 6). Satan entering into him means that from that moment Judas gave in completely to the devil's temptation.

29. "These details have been recorded that we may not bear ill will against those who wrong us, but may reproach them and weep over them. Indeed, not those who are wronged, but those who do wrong deserve our tears. For the covetous man and the slanderer, and the man guilty of any other wrongdoing injure themselves most of all.[...] Christ repaid the man who was going to betray Him with just the opposite. For example, He washed his feet, reproved him without bitterness, censured him in private, ministered to him, allowed him to share in His table and His kiss. Yet, though Judas did not become better because of these things, Jesus Himself persevered in His course of action" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 71, 4).

30. The indication that "it was night" is not just a reference to the time of day but to darkness as an image of sin, an image of the power of darkness whose hour was beginning at that very moment (cf. Luke 22:53). The contrast between light and darkness, the opposition of good and evil, is frequently met with in the Bible, especially in the Fourth Gospel: even in the prologue we are told that Christ is the true Light which the darkness has not overcome (cf. John 1:5).

31-32. This glorification refers above all to the glory which Christ will receive once He is raised up on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). St. John stresses that Christ's death is the beginning of His victory: His very crucifixion can be considered the first step in His ascension to His Father. At the same time it is glorification of the Father, because Christ, by voluntarily accepting death out of love, as a supreme act of obedience to the Will of God, performs the greatest sacrifice man can offer for the glorification of God. The Father will respond to this glorification which Christ offers Him by glorifying Christ as Son of Man, that is, in His holy human nature, through His resurrection and ascension to God's right hand. Thus the glory which the Son gives the Father is at the same time glory for the Son.

Christ's disciple will also find His highest motivation by identifying himself with Christ's obedience. St. Paul teaches this very clearly when he says: "Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14).

33. From this verse onwards the evangelist recounts what is usually called the discourse of the Last Supper; in it we can distinguish three parts. In the first, our Lord begins by proclaiming the New Commandment (verses 33-35) and predicts Peter's denials (verses 36-38); He tells them that His death means His going to His Father (Chapter 14), with Whom He is one because He is God (verses 1-14); and He announces that after His resurrection He will send them the Holy Spirit, who will guide them by teaching them and reminding them of everything He told them (verses 15-31).

The second part of the discourse is contained in Chapters 15 and 16. Jesus promises to those who believe in Him a new life of union with Him, as intimate as that of a vine and its branches (15:1-18). To attain this union one must keep His New Commandment (verses 9-18). He forewarns them about the contradictions they will suffer, and He encourages them by promising the Holy Spirit who will protect them and console them (verses 18-27). The action of the Paraclete or Consoler will lead them to fulfill the mission Jesus has entrusted to them (16:1-15). The fruit of the presence of the Holy Spirit will be fullness of joy (verses 16-33).

The third part (Chapter 7) gives Jesus' priestly prayer, in which He asks the Father to glorify Him through the cross (verses 1-5). He prays also for His disciples (verses 6-19) and for all those who through them will believe in Him, so that, staying in the world without being of the world, the love of God should be in them and they should bear witness to Christ being the envoy of the Father (verses 20-26).

36-38. Once again Peter in his simplicity and sincerity tells his Master that he is ready to follow Him even to the point of dying for Him. But he is not yet ready for that. Our Lord, St. Augustine comments, "establishes here a delay; He does not destroy the hope, indeed He confirms it by saying, `You shall follow afterwards! Why are you in haste, Peter? As yet the rock has not made you strong inwardly: do not be brought down by your presumption. Now you cannot follow Me, but do not despair: later you will'" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 66, 1). Peter had certainly meant what he said, but his resolution was not very solid. Later on he would develop a fortitude based on humility; then, not considering himself worthy to die in the way his Master did, he will die on a cross, head downwards, rooting in the soil of Rome that solid stone which endures in those who succeed him and forming the basis on which the Church, which is indefectible, is built. Peter's denials, which are signs of his weakness, were amply compensated for by his profound repentance. "Let everyone draw from this example of contrition, and if he has fallen let him not despair, but always remember that he can become worthy of forgiveness" (St. Bede, "In Ioann. Evang. Expositio, 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.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Can we pray for a bit of "fraternal correction"?

Bishop Trautman (gender neutral version-Trautperson), the Bishop of Erie, recently gave a lecture on "The Relationship of the Active Participation of the Assembly to Liturgical Translations". Of course, having barely received a majority of votes as a stealth candidate for the USCCB Liturgy Committee over Cardinal Rigali, the faithful are stuck with him for about 2 more years, I suppose.

Since the good bishop appears to be no friend of Liturgiam Authenticum, we should not be surprised at his patronizing attitude toward the intelligence of the laity when he says:
The proposed translation for the Nicene Creed uses the phrase “consubstantial with the Father” to replace the present wording “one in being with the Father”. Also in this Creed the new wording “by the Holy Spirit [he] was incarnate of the Virgin Mary” replaces “he was born of the Virgin Mary”.

Both words “consubstantial” and “incarnate” are not readily intelligible to the vast majority of those in the assembly. The present texts are accurate, orthodox formulations of our faith approved by the Holy See and prayed by our people for the past thirty-five years. (my emphasis)
Perhaps for some but certainly not for all...And had translators done their job decades ago, many might not be in such a state of ignorance today. Perhaps, as well, had bishops and priests spent more time with catechesis and building up a well grounded faith, the Catholic Church in the US might not be in such a state of turmoil. But that was then and this is now and we are obliged to pray for bishops and priests who think like Bishop Trautman...

If you have the stomach for the bishop's "wisdom", you can read what all he has to say here...It might even be a worthwhile penance for some.

Preparation for Good Friday - Christ, Model of Obedience

"And bowing his head, he gave up the spirit." St. John, 19:30.

In one of his radio programs some years ago Robert Ripley of "Believe It Or Not" fame told the following story of a blind man named Richard Brooks. Brooks was sitting on the porch of his home which overlooks the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, talking to a visitor. Several boys were playing on the river bank and making a great deal of noise. Suddenly Brooks and his friend heard piercing cries. They paid no attention. The cries continued and increased, but they still paid no attention, until two boys came running up the walk. Breathlessly they told that one of the lads had gone out too far in the river, was caught in the current, and was carried down stream.

"Help us get him out," they cried.

But what could be done? Brooks was blind and his friend could not swim. The blind man jumped to his feet and shouted: "I can swim. I'll try to save him. Tell me where to go."

They rushed to the riverside and Brooks plunged in with all his clothes on. With strong strokes he swam out into the stream as those on shore shouted "to the right," "to the left," "a little farther." Just as the blind man was ready to reach out for the boy the latter went down. "Dive," shouted his friends, and down went the blind man, coming up with the boy in his strong grip. The swim to shore was a taxing one but, following the encouraging cries of those who waited, Brooks brought the boy to land.

On Good Friday, we honor One who plunged into the pains of the passion to save each one of us. We will gather to remember what our Redeemer went through to bring each one of us to the eternal shore.

It fits in our consideration of the Fourth Commandment to study this week the obedience of Jesus Christ, who was obedient even unto death. There is some similarity between Christ in His obedience and Richard Brooks swim­ming after a drowning boy. The blind man could not see just where he was going. but he heard and heeded the directions of those on shore. The obe­dience of Christ to His heavenly Father was something like that. The Almighty Father wanted men saved. He directed His Son to make the sat­isfaction necessary. And Christ made good for our sins in the most painful way possible, by His bitter passion and torturing death on that cross.

Here we see the height and depth of obedience; here we see obedience at its best; here we see obedience personified; here we see an obedience that inspires everyone of us to keep God's Fourth Law more exactly.

In obedience, as in everything else, Christ is our perfect Model. Obe­dience brought Him into the world; obedience led Him through childhood and youth; obedience led Him through the hardships and heartaches of His public life; obedience led Him to give His time and energy to everyone He met; obedience led Him to choose the will of His Father in preference to His own; obedience led Him to submit Himself to the sufferings of that first Good Friday. He died - in obedience.

But the supreme act of obedience which we witness on Good Friday on that cross was not the result of a sudden decision. Christ learned to obey by obeying:

1. During the first thirty years of His life He was subject to Mary and Joseph, though He knew infinitely more than they did. Obedience to par­ents, teachers, superiors and elders is hard, especially for young people. They hate to be bossed around. They want their own way. When youth remembers the Divine Youth, obedience becomes easier and much more intelligent.

2. Christ's public life was planned according to the will of His Father. In prayer and retreat Jesus kept in contact with what His Father wanted. Men and women in all walks of life chafe and complain under office rules, par­ish regulations, traffic laws, city ordinances, and Church laws.

In all this Jesus gave us the perfect example. He was submissive to all lawful author­ity. He obeyed the commands and precepts of the prophets. He conformed to the ritual and ceremony of the Jewish religion. He paid taxes and demanded that His followers pay taxes. He respected the government and its officials, even though they were not always worthy of respect. Jesus was a perfect example of what we call today a law-abiding citizen.

3. The human nature and the human will of Christ recoiled from the tor­tures of the passion. Nevertheless, he made His choice: "Not my will, that is, not my human will, but Thine, Thy divine will, let that be done." He wanted the divine will carried out at all costs, even at the bitter price of being tied and dragged with ropes, of being struck on the cheek, of being made a mockery by Herod, of being scourged at the pillar, of being crowned with thorns, of carrying a cruel cross, and of being nailed to it. All this was done in obedience.

4. The supreme sacrifice of giving His life for all men was the supreme act of obedience. As we kneel before our crucified Savior who can refuse to obey?

Look at crucifix, all you who are fathers and mothers. The law of God with regard to your parental obligations is clear. With the example of Jesus before you, determine to fulfill those duties.

Look at that crucifix, all you who are sons and daughters. There is Jesus who was obe­dient all through His life. Why don't you try to be obedient like Him?

Look at that crucifix, all politicians and citizens. Jesus performed His duties to the state. Your duties are clear. Perform those duties by the strength of His example and His help.

Our highest thought and our deepest thought this Good Friday will be the remembrance of the complete and absolute obedience of our Lord. Our determination will be to obey as He obeyed.

He bows His head as He dies on Good Friday. Bow your head and die to sinful self-will. Lord Jesus, I promise to obey.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

A Meditation for Palm Sunday - Duties of Teachers

"Blessed is he who comes in the_name of the Lord." St. Matthew, 21:9

The great Italian artist, Michaelangelo, was one day walking with some friends through a back street of Florence, Italy. He noticed a block of marble lying in a yard, half buried with dirt and rubbish. He stopped, and regardless of his holiday attire, fell to clearing away the filth and dirt, and trying to lift it from the slime and mire. When his companions asked him what he wanted with that worthless chunk of rock, he gave his famous answer: "Oh, there's an angel in that stone, and I must let it out."

He had the block of marble carried to his studio, where, toiling with chisel and mallet, "he left the angel out." What to others was a shapeless, useless mass of stone, was to the master's eye a buried glory and a challeng­ing possibility. That stone might have become part of a wall or of a street or road. But the artist changed it into a work of genius, a work of value for ages to come.

That is the principal task of the teacher - to chisel and sculpture the marble of character into something worthwhile, something precious. In general the duties of teachers are the duties of parents, because the instructor takes the place of the parent, at least for a time and for certain purposes.

1. A teacher must give information. There are certain things we need to know to get along in life. We need to know how to speak properly, how to express our ideas. We must know how to count and write. Special training is needed for special work in the world. All this we get in the classroom. A teacher who is not up on his subject, who does not try to learn and prac­tice the best methods of instruction, is failing in his duty.

2. He also has the duty of correcting his students, not only in reading, writ­ing and arithmetic, but in matters of character, courtesy, and personality. Here justice is the outstanding necessity. Any kind of partiality is soon sensed and resented. There should be neither fear nor favor, always with emphasis on the fact that it is good for the individual.

Prudence is a "must" with teachers. The right time and the right word and the right method are essential. First, counsel and advise. Only when that fails should one threaten and punish. A show of temper and passion or a punishment all out of proportion to the offense is unwise.

3. I know that religious teachers pray for their pupils, but I wonder whether lay teachers do. There are certain situations in education which can be solved only with the help of God. Both teacher and pupil need God's grace. Do you ask for that assistance?

4. Most necessary in the teacher is good example. Regular attendance at church, a truly Christian character displayed at all times, a genuine interest in every student - these go to make up the good teacher.

5. A real instructor knows each student and teaches accordingly. He dis­plays a sense of humor, saving grace in many a school situation. Sincerity and humility are essential. Think of it - to you is intrusted not only the molding of a mind, but the development, as it were, of a soul. Often the material is stubborn and unyielding like the block of marble Michaelangelo worked on. But the true teacher keeps at his task of making a true man out of the material before him.

6. An interest in the outside activities of the pupils helps a great deal. Sports, social affairs and family life are of top interest to youth. Young people are drawn to the teacher who tries to understand their problems.

7. Above all a teacher has the duty of giving some knowledge of God to his students. Thank the Lord, we have woven the fourth "R" of religion into the three "R's" in our some of our Catholic schools. For that we thank our courageous bishops and dedicated religious and committed laity. Many have given up the so-called pleasures of the world to devote themselves to training our youth. And what a splendid job they do.

Again let us lay low the false, ungrounded statement that the Catholic school is in any way inferior. Read the reports of essay and spelling con­tests and school competition of every kind. Our schools, our pupils walk away with much more than their proportionate share of the prizes.

A word about some of our godless teachers, the kind some children meet in high school and college, so-called educated men and women, professors, who take digs at religion in general and at the Catholic Church in particular. No matter what the subject they are trying to teach, they manage to make fun of sacred things and especially Catholic things. Unfortunately, this type seems to be is in the majority today, and some of our Catholic youth are shocked and even weakened in their faith by such half-baked pro­fessors. Such scoffers do not know the first mark of an intelligent man - a respect for the religious beliefs of others.

Here's a suggestion: Ask them where they found their information. Insist that they show you the book and the page. If they can't give you any proof for their wild and stupid accusations, courteously insist that they take it back.

In general, our teachers are a hard-working, unappreciated group. They come in the name of the Lord, as it were, trying to lead us to the Lord. May the good God give us many true, self-sacrificing, inspiring teachers.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

Gospel for Monday of Holy Week

From: John 12:1-11

Mary Anoints Our Lord at Bethany

[1] Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised form the dead. [2] There they made Him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with Him. [3] Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. [4] But Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples (he who was to betray Him), said, [5] "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" [6] This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. [7] Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of My burial. [8] The poor you have always have with you, but you do not always have Me."

[9] When the great crowd of the Jews learned that He was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. [10] So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also, [11] because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.


1. Jesus pays another visit to His friends in Bethany. It is very touching to see this friendship, at once divine and human, expressed in the form of frequent contact.

"It's true that I always call our Tabernacle `Bethany'....Become a friend of the Master's friends: Lazarus, Martha, Mary. And then you won't ask me any more why I call our Tabernacle `Bethany'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 322).

2-3. Apparently, our Lord was anointed on two different occasions--first, at the start of His public ministry, in Galilee, as recounted by St. Luke (7:36-50); and, second, towards the end of His life, in Bethany, reported here by St. John and undoubtedly the same incident described by St. Matthew (26:6-13) and St. Mark (14:3-9). The two anointings are quite distinct: they occur at different times and the details of the accounts differ: the first is a demonstration of repentance followed by pardon; the second, a delicate ___expression of love, which Jesus further interprets as an anticipation of the anointing of His body for burial (verse 7).

Although these anointings of Jesus had a particular significance, they should be seen in the context of Eastern hospitality.

The pound was a measure of weight equivalent to three hundred grams; a denarius, as we have indicated elsewhere, was a day's wage of an agricultural laborer; therefore, the cost of the flask of perfume would have amounted to a year's wage.

"What a shining proof of magnanimity is this `extravagance' on Mary's part! Judas on the other hand laments this `waste' of so valuable a perfume; in his greed he had been calculating the price: it would have fetched at least `three hundred silver pieces'.

"True detachment leads us to be very generous with God and with our fellowmen. [...] Don't be mean and grudging with people who, without counting the cost, have given of their all, everything they have, for your sake. Just ask yourselves, how much does it cost you--in financial terms as well--to be Christians? Above all, don't forget that `God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 126).

4-6. From this passage and from John 13:29 we know that Judas was the person in charge of the money. His petty thefts--they could not have been any more than that, given the meagre resources of Jesus and the Twelve--played their part in disposing him to commit his eventual sin of betraying Jesus; his complaint about the woman's generosity was quite hypocritical. "Frequently the servants of Satan disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Therefore, (Judas), hid his malice under a cloak of piety" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St. John, ad loc.").

7-8. As well as praising Mary's generous gesture, our Lord announces in an indirect way His forthcoming death, even implying that it will happen so precipitously that there will hardly be time to prepare His body for burial in the normal way (Luke 23:56). Jesus is not saying that almsgiving is not a good thing (He often recommended it: cf. Matthew 25:40); what He is doing here is exposing the hypocrisy of people like Judas who deceitfully profess noble motives in order to avoid giving God the honor He is due.

9-11. The news of the raising of Lazarus has spread rapidly among the people of Judea and those travelling up to Jerusalem for the Passover; many believe in Jesus (John 11:45); others look for Him (John 11:56) perhaps more out of curiosity (John 12:9) than faith. Following Christ demands more of each of us than just superficial, short-lived enthusiasm. We should not forget those "who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away" (Mark 4:16-17).
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.