Saturday, September 08, 2007

Christian Morality

When speaking of faith and of the Credo, we should understand that the great reason for which we ought to believe all the truths of religion is that God Himself has revealed them by Jesus Christ His Son, who teaches them to us with infallible truth by the ministry of His Church.

The principle of morality is no less divine; and the reason for which we should faithfully observe the commandments of God, and of His Church, practise Christian virtues and live according to the rules of the Gospel, is that God Himself so wills it, and that this supreme holy will is made known to us most clearly through Jesus
Christ and His ministers.

The word morality means the moral law; in Latin, morum lex.

To be moral or righteous, is simply to live in accordance with that law which comes from God and which is the expression of His will; to be immoral or unrighteous, is to follow the natural inclinations in preference to the will of God, and to be ruled by the passions, and not by the divine law. Conscience is that inward light which reveals to us our duty, which reproaches us when we transgress, and applauds our obedience when we have the courage to listen to the voice of God, and to prove ourselves true Christians.

But just as there is, in this world, false or counterfeit money which is easily mistaken for good unless it is closely examined, so is there a false morality, which is very prevalent, and which entirely results from ignorance and unbelief; a counterfeit morality which does not suffice for the accomplishing of the will of God, and yet which many people content themselves with practising.

Ironically, it has been called the morality of the reasonable, the progressive, the enlightened - but it is very different from true Christian morality. Those who possess it, falsely imagine that they have all that is needed; and this deceiving tranquility is often the greatest obstacle to their return to the true service of God.

There is nothing more convenient nor more elastic than is this false morality. We might even add that there is nothing more immoral, or, at least, that there is nothing more powerless to render a man truly virtuous.

It might be summed up in two negative commands: Thou shalt not kill. - Thou shalt not steal. Two very desirable and praiseworthy requirements unquestionably, but such as do not go a great way, seeing that, beyond the cells of a prison, nearly all mankind, both bad and good, could quite conscientiously claim this remarkable title to the esteem of their fellow citizens. This mysterious moral law goes no farther, but leaves everything else wrapped in a vague uncertainty, which must be peculiarly soothing to those who are drawn by inclinations toward some action of doubtful morality.

It is true that it commands its devoted followers to be good fathers & mothers, good sons and daughters, good husbands and wives, and good citizens; but if we enter upon the question of the daily duties of life, and rules of conduct, morals, and temper, or methods of subduing vice, evil habits, selfish instincts, it has not a word to say; it forbids nothing and tolerates everything.

Having this law for his only rule of life, a man might be a gambler, a drunkard, and a profligate; he might be passionate, quarrelsome, and selfish, a spendthrift, or a miser, at will; he might be utterly destitute of love of anyone except himself, and devoured by idleness, pride, or sensuality.

Who does not see the hollowness of such a morality, and how impossible it is to find in such indeterminate maxims the necessary power to subdue the rebellion of the passions? It is, in fact, nothing but a deception, which enables men to do evil without burdening their consciences too heavily. Unfortunately for them, God is more
exacting, and who can say that He is wrong?

That pure Christian morality, which He Himself has given us, is the law by which He will hereafter judge us; and it is no more within our power to modify it than it is in our power to change the course of the stars, or to alter the laws of nature.

Very different from the morality of the rationalist is that Christian morality resting entirely upon the religion of which it is the practice. Its foundation, to which it refers everything, is the love and service of Our Lord Jesus Christ; the Gospel, with its divine maxims, is its code, and it teaches us first the necessity of penance, of self-renunciation, of brotherly love, of humility and gentleness, of purity of heart, and chastity; of detachment from the world, of obedience to God and to His Church; in one word, the practice of the Christian life and Christian virtues.

It must be acknowledged that there is some difference between this rule of conduct, and the unmeaning maxims of the good father or mother, the good son or daughter, the good husband or wife, and the good citizen. The most that such maxims as these are capable of, as was wittily said by St. Francis of Sales, is to save us from being needy, and to gain us the esteem of those who neither look below the surface nor scrutinize too closely.

As it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of our souls that we obey the law of God and live in accordance with His will, it is most important, it is even necessary, to have a clear knowledge of Christian morality in order to be able to practise it. Let us, therefore, study it together in all its principal teachings, and live our lives as God wills.
Adapted from The Faith That Never Dies, or
The Priest of God in the Catholic home: How to Live an Ideal Christian Life as a True Follower of Christ

(© 1900 by J.C. Curtin)

Thoughts and Counsels - September 9

The saints owed to their confidence in God that unalterable tranquillity of soul, which procured their perpetual joy and peace, even in the midst of adversities.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 9, Community Life

A religious, the author of the Life of Marie Therese Noblet, servant of Our Lord in Padua, makes this comment in the bi­ography.
"To direct a religious community has never passed for an easy or enviable lot. It is only too well known that some persons who have good qualities and charm, when considered individually, lose them as soon as they become a part of a common and corporate group."

This comment expresses a psychological fact drawn from the study of human beings. Groups are always less perfect than the isolated individuals who compose it. In every association, accom­plishments only are added; faults are multiplied.

It is a risk that religious communities cannot always avoid. And if every member does not take care in this regard, there can easily be many losses.

When these groups are composed of women it is necessary to be more vigilant. A woman is observant and particular, that is a gift; she becomes jealous and that is a fault; she compares, com­ments, attaches importance to details, and, being imaginative by nature, she embellishes or minimizes persons and actions, misrepresents intentions, and sometimes even creates all kinds of stories without foundation.

I have a new reason then for combating the petty spirit, that is, to make my superiors' duty of government as easy as possible; the exercise of authority is always a delicate thing, therefore I will never by my attitudes or interventions, or even by my silences, or my moodiness contribute to making a duty already difficult in itself, even more so.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Pascendi Dominici Gregis - 100th Anniversary Today



Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction

The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord's flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking "men speaking perverse things" (Acts xx. 30), "vain talkers and seducers" (Tit. i. 10), "erring and driving into error" (2 Tim. iii. 13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself. Wherefore We may no longer be silent, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be attributed to forgetfulness of Our office.

Gravity of the Situation

2. That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man.

3. Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious arts; for they double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and since audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better sense, and to this end we first of all showed them kindness as Our children, then we treated them with severity, and at last We have had recourse, though with great reluctance, to public reproof. But you know, Venerable Brethren, how fruitless has been Our action. They bowed their head for a moment, but it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever. If it were a matter which concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it: but the security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore, as to maintain it longer would be a crime, We must now break silence, in order to expose before the whole Church in their true colours those men who have assumed this bad disguise.

Division of the Encyclical

4. But since the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast, it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connexion between them, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil. . .

continued here...

This encyclical should be re-read, especially today, as the poison of modernism has not dissipated but seems to have flourished like some deadly unchecked disease.

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

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

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ

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

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

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Jesus Christ came forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 8

An air of meekness and a modest speech are pleasing alike to God and men.

-Ven. John Tauler
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 8, The Nativity of Mary

The birth of an unknown little girl in an out-of-the-way country was the greatest event since the creation of Adam that the earth had witnesed until the time of Mary's birth. This little one was destined to be the woman, blessed among all women.

Behold her cradle. Anne and Joachim are there. A birth is always a sacred thing. But here! The child resembles all chil­dren; she sleeps, she is tiny; suddenly she wakes up and smiles. From certain details, however, it is evident that she does not resemble any other child; this face is not of the earth nor is the smile, nor does one hear the little one cry.

But appearances do not matter. This little one is the most beautiful tabernacle of the living God which can ever exist. Ac­cording to M. Olier, there is in her from this instant more divine grace than one can find in the accumulation of all the sanctifying grace of all the saints combined.

She is Immaculate! What splendor!

Like almost all the divine splendors that God has given the earth, it is a splendor hidden behind closed doors.

I will profit by this silence. I will be silent to admire. I will remain at the cradle, lingering in contemplation. What else do I need? Mary, I have Mary. Mary is born. In a few years Jesus will come. Divine life will return to earth. But all begins here; this very little one is necessary that we might have our great God incarnate. ­

How I want to love this little one who is so great, Mary! I see her little heart which beats. "The Heart of Mary," Bossuet will say, "is the first source of the Blood of Jesus; it is here that this beautiful river of grace has its source and flows into our veins through the Sacraments, carrying the spirit of life into the whole body of the Church."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gospel for Friday, 22nd Week In Ordinary Time

From: Luke 5:33-39

A Discussion on Fasting

[33] And they (the scribes and the Pharisees) said to Him (Jesus), "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." [34] And Jesus said to them, "Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? [35] The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." [36] He told them a parable also: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. [37] And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. [38] But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. [39] And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, `The old is good.'"


33-35. In the Old Testament God established certain days as days of fasting--the main one being the "day of atonement" (Numbers 29:7; Acts 27:9). Fasting implied total or partial abstinence from food or drink. Moses and Elijah fasted (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord Himself fasted in the desert for forty days before beginning His public ministry. In the present passage Jesus gives a deeper meaning to the word "fasting"--the deprivation of His physical presence which His Apostles would experience after His death. All through His public life Jesus is trying to prepare His disciples for the final parting. At first the Apostles were not very robust and Christ's physical presence did them more good than the practice of fasting.

Christians should sometimes abstain from food. "Fast and abstain from flesh meat when Holy Mother Church so ordains" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 495). That is the purpose of the fourth commandment of the Church, but it has a deeper meaning, as St. Leo the Great tells us: "The merit of our fasts does not consist only in abstinence from food; there is no use depriving the body of nourishment if the soul does not cut itself off from iniquity and if the tongue does not cease to speak evil" ("Sermo IV in Quadragesima").
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.

Thoughts and Counsels - September 7

Perform all your actions in union with the pure intention and perfect love with which Our Lord did all things for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

-St. Mechtildis
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 7, A Time to Speak

"To keep silent when it is one's duty to speak," a moralist remarked, "is as great a fault as to speak when one should be silent."

I can fail in my duty by speaking when God wishes me to be silent, or by failing against obedience, charity or humility when I am permitted to speak. But I am more concerned now with, the faults I commit by not speaking.

Perhaps, through a motive of vanity, I keep still in recreation, when true simplicity demands that I speak a little and take a more amiable part in the common relaxation.

Perhaps, to avoid compromising myself, I prefer to remain in my corner, when it would be better to consult competent authorities.

Perhaps, through negligence or laziness, I neglect to inform those who have a right to know, of serious violations of rule of which I alone may have knowledge. Surely great prudence is needed here.

There are some who imagine they have certain confidences to ad­dress to their superiors, but who would do better to keep their criticisms and insinuations to themselves; if I must intervene it should only be after prayer and reflection.

Superiors have some­thing else to do besides listening to gossip without foundation or proof, or to tales of all kinds concocted by too fertile imaginations.

I must try to know how to speak and to dare to speak, but only when it is necessary.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Thursday, 22nd Week In Ordinary Time

From: Luke 5:1-11

The Miraculous Catch of Fish and the Calling of the First Disciples

[1] While the people pressed upon Him (Jesus) to hear the word of God, He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. [2] And He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. [3] Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. [4] And when He had ceased speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." [5] And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, [7] they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." [9] For he was astonished, and all that were with Him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; [10] And so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." [11] And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.


1. "Just as they do today! Can't you see? They want to hear God's message, even though outwardly they may not show it. Some perhaps haveforgotten Christ's teachings. Others, through no fault of their own, have never known them and they think that religion is something odd. But of this we can be sure, that in every man's life there comes a time sooner or later when his soul draws the line. He has had enough of the usual explanations. The lies of the false prophets no longer satisfy. Even though they may not admit it at the time, such people are longing to quench their thirst with the teachings of our Lord" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 260).

3. The Fathers saw in Simon's boat a symbol of the pilgrim Church on earth. "This is the boat which according to St. Matthew was in danger of sinking and according to St. Luke was filled with fish. Here we can see the difficult beginnings of the Church and its later fruitfulness" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc."). Christ gets into the boat in order to teach the crowds--and from the barque of Peter, the Church, He continues to teach the whole world.

Each of us can also see himself as this boat Christ uses for preaching. Externally no change is evident: "What has changed? There is a change inside our soul, now that Christ has come aboard, as He went aboard Peter's boat. Its horizon has been expanded. It feels a greater ambition to serve and an irrepressible desire to tell all creation about the "magnalia Dei" (Acts 2:11), the marvellous doings of our Lord, if only we let Him work" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 265).

4. "When He had finished His catechizing, He told Simon: `Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch.' Christ is the master of this boat. He it is who prepares the fishing. It is for this that He has come into the world, to do all He can so that His brothers may find the way to glory and to the love of the Father" ("Friends of God", 260). To carry this task out, our Lord charges all of them to cast their nets, but it is only Peter He tells to put out into the deep.

This whole passage refers in some way to the life of the Church. In the Church the bishop of Rome, Peter's successor, "is the vicar of Jesus Christ because he represents Him on earth and acts for Him in the government of the Church" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 195). Christ is also addressing each one of us, urging us to be daring in apostolate: `"Duc in altum. Put out into deep water!' Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. `Et laxate retia vestra in capturam. And pay out you nets for a catch.' Don't you see that you, like Peter, can say: `In nomine tuo, laxabo rete': Jesus, if You say so, I will search for souls?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 792).

"If you were to fall into the temptation of wondering, `Who's telling me to embark on this?', we would have reply, `Christ Himself is telling you, is begging you.' `The harvest is plentiful enough, but the laborers are few. You must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send laborers out for the harvesting' (Matthew 9:37-38). Don't take the easy way out. Don't say, `I'm no good at this sort of thing; there are others who can do it; it isn't my line.' No, for this sort of thing, there is no one else: if you could get away with that argument, so could everyone else. Christ's plea is addressed to each and every Christian. No one can consider himself exempt, for whatever reason--age, health or occupation. There are no excuses whatsoever.
Either we carry out a fruitful apostolate, or our faith will prove barren" ("Friends of God", 272).

5. When Christ gives him these instructions, Peter states the difficulties involved. "A reasonable enough reply. The night hours were the normal time for fishing, and this time the catch had yielded nothing. What was the point of fishing by day? But Peter has faith: `But at Your word I will let down the nets.' He decides to act on Christ's suggestion. He undertakes the work relying entirely on the word of our Lord" ("Friends of God", 261).

8. Peter does not want Christ to leave him; aware of his sins, he declares his unworthiness to be near Christ. This reminds us of the attitude of the centurion who confesses his unworthiness to receive Jesus into his house (Matthew 8:8). The Church requires her children to repeat these exact words of the centurion before receiving the Blessed Eucharist. She also teaches us to show due external reverence to the Blessed Sacrament when going to Communion: by falling down on his knees Peter also shows that internal adoration of God should be also be expressed externally.

11. Perfection is not simply a matter of leaving all things but of doing so in order to follow Christ--which is what the Apostles did: they gave up everything in order to be available to do what God's calling involved.

We should develop this attitude of availability, for "Jesus isn't satisfied `going halves': He wants the lot" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 155).

If we don't give ourselves generously we will find it very difficult to follow Jesus: "Detach yourself from people and things until you are stripped of them. For, says Pope St. Gregory, the devil has nothing of his own in this world, and naked he comes to battle. If you go clothed to fight him, you will soon be pulled to the ground: for he will have something to catch you by" ("The Way", 149).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 6

The world is deceitful and inconstant. When fortune forsakes us, friendship takes flight.

-Bl. Henry Suso
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 6, Quiet Striving

To a novice who was regretting that on certain occasions he had not done all he possibly could, the novice master, certainly not to encourage indifference, but by way of explaining a reality only too frequently manifest, namely our human weakness, replied, To do all you possibly could is to do the impossible.

Remember this thought but understand it well.

Upon entering the religious life, I assumed the obligation of striving for perfection. If, after that, I wilfully neglect to strive - that is, in a serious manner and for some time - I am no longer in my vocation. If I wilfully remain stationary, then I am stag­nating and am no longer making progress, particularly if, instead of advancing, I go back.

But it must be well understood that while this tending toward perfection ought to be enthusiastic, it must not be feverish, or precipitate. That is what the novice master wished to make clear to his novice. In the beginning of religious life, one too easily be­lieves himself equal to anything, capable of overcoming with little or no effort any difficulty which he regards as mere play. Later, one makes almost a complete turnabout, becoming too easily sat­isfied, under pretext of experience, and as a consequence, manifests a lack of zeal.

"Grant O my God, that I never cease striving for perfection. Since You have called me to the religious life, grant that I may live as a true religious, prudent and full of enthusiasm, eager to refuse You nothing, but always serene. Let me realize that the least gift, if it is sincere, costs much."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

NEWS FLASH: Catholic Church expects faithful to follows her rules!

From Dr. Edward Peters:

A spate of stories this summer (maybe the same few stories recycling themselves on slow news days) describes folks bringing wrongful termination actions against Catholic employers (usually schools). Today's features a man who claims he was terminated "for not getting an annulment." I doubt it.

I don't know who said exactly what to whom (that's what courts are there to sort out), but I do know this: there is no canon law that requires people to "get an annulment", so the failure to get an annulment can't be the basis for a termination. My guess is, though, it wasn't.

Read the rest at:

Gospel for Wednesday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Laurence Justinian, Bishop and Confessor

From: Luke 4:38-44

The Cure of Peter's Mother-In-Law

[38] And He (Jesus) arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought Him for her. [39] And He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she rose and served them.

Other Cures

[40] Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. [41] And demons also came out of many, crying, "You are the Son of God!" But He rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.

Jesus Preaches in Other Cities in Judea

[42] And when it was day He departed and went into a lonely place. And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them; [43] but He said to them, "I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." [44] And He was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.


38-39. In the public life of Jesus we find many touching episodes (cf. for example Luke 19:1; John 2:1) which show the high regard He had for everyday family life.

Here we can clearly see the effectiveness of prayer on behalf of other people: "No sooner did they pray to the Savior", St. Jerome says, "than He immediately healed the sick; from this we learn that He also listens to the prayers of the faithful for help against sinful passions" ("Expositio In Evangelium Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

St. John Chrysostom refers to this total, instantaneous cure: "Since this was a curable type of illness He displayed His power through the way He brought healing, doing what medicine could not do. Even after being cured of fever, patients need time to recover their former strength, but here the cure was instantaneous" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 27).

The Fathers saw in this lady's fever a symbol of concupiscence: "Peter's mother-in-law's fever represents our flesh affected by various illnesses and concupiscences; our fever is passion, our fever is lust, our fever is anger--vices which, although they affect the body, perturb the soul, the mind and the feelings" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

On the practical consequences of this St. Cyril says: "Let us receive Jesus Christ, because when He visits us and we take Him into our minds and hearts, even our worst passions are extinguished and we are kept safe to serve Him, that is, to do what pleases Him" ("Hom. 28 In Mattheum").

43. Our Lord again stresses one of the reasons why He has come into the world. St. Thomas, when discussing the purpose of the Eucharist, says that Christ "came into the world, first, to make the truth known, as He Himself says: `for this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth' (John 18:37). Hence it was not fitting that He should hide Himself by leading a solitary life, but rather that He should appear openly and preach in public. For this reason He tells those who wanted to detain Him, `I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.' Secondly, He came in order to free men from sin; as the Apostle says, `Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' (1 Timothy 1:15). This is why Chrysostom says, `Although Christ might, while staying in the same place, have drawn all men to Himself to hear His preaching, He did not do so--in order to give us the example to go out and seek the lost sheep, as the shepherd does, or as the doctor does, who visits the sick person.' Thirdly, He came so that `we might obtain access to God' (Romans 5:2)" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 40, a. 1, c.).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 5

Humility is a fortified town; it repels all at­tacks. The sight of it obliges the enemy to turn and flee.

-Ven. Louis of Granada
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 5, Recreations

St. Theresa of Avila saw a double advantage in recreations. "We open our eyes to our faults and we give ourselves a little relaxation, the better to keep the rigors of the rule after while."

Along with other advantages derived from recreation these two are excellent.

I open my eyes to my faults: In recreation it is necessary to conquer timidity which is often only a form of self-love; if I had less fear of appearing ridiculous, I would act much more simply; or again, it may be necessary for me to triumph over a too strong desire to be in the foreground. Perhaps I will have to conquer a mania for talking too much; or a habit of extreme reticence, of being too glum. I may have to repress irritation at certain re­marks, or particular individuals; to restrain untimely, exaggerated or too eager enthusiasm without, however, killing spontaneity, so that I always express my opinion quite simply without embar­rassment and without hesitation.

It is only supple and relaxed spontaneity that makes recreation a rest, as it is meant to be. For if everyone is unnatural, stilted and without enthusiasm, it is a more painful exercise than to take the discipline. Each one ought to put himself into it; to learn how to tell stories; there is a humble and good-natured way of speaking of oneself, in default of another more interesting subject, which is not reprehensible. It can easily be seen whether someone speaks of himself to gain esteem or simply to entertain his audience. Good common sense, a fine mutual confidence and unaffected simplicity, will make recreation a relaxation and a stimulant.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Revisiting the Mystery: The Sanctity of Mother Teresa (Chiesa)

A book reveals to the general public what the cause of her beatification had already verified: her interior solitude, her sense of having been abandoned by God. In this way, she was even more the companion of the poor, in every way. A commentary by the preacher of the pontifical household, Raniero Cantalamessa

by Sandro Magister

Monday, September 03, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 4

Let all thy care be to possess thy soul in peace and tranquillity. Let no accident be to thee a cause of ill-humor.

-St. Vincent Ferrer
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 4, The Profession Ring

At the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the academic seminary conducted in connection with the Catholic University at Lille, someone recounted the following incident. When Pierre l'Ermite was preaching for his church, Sainte-Odile, he found one day in the collection plate a wedding ring with this note attached, "ten years of deception." By way of contrast the speaker wished to point out that none of the priests who went out from the semi­nary regretted having given himself to God. Theirs were no years of deception, but years of thanksgiving, years of fruitfulness, years of apostolic achievements, and intimate joys.

I have perhaps come in contact with not a few married persons; some of them were happy, but how many have confessed or have had great difficulty in concealing their failure, or at least the lesser disillusionments of their great life. Does not St. Francis de Sales seem severe, when he compares marriage in such an audacious manner with mushrooms, saying, "There are many bad ones and none excellent"?

We do not depreciate in the least the nobility of marriage, nor the joys that it brings, as well as the sanctity that it demands; that would be narrowness and injustice. But who can tell how fitful human love is? God alone is faithful, never deceiving. If anyone lives his religious life with fidelity, he must, if he is sincere, admit that his years passed in the service of the Master are full years; they may have had their trials, but ineffable joys surpassed by far every suffering.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Sep 3, Memorial: St Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor

Monday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Labor Day
Old Calendar: St. Pius X, Pope

From: Luke 4:16-30

Jesus Preaches in Nazareth

[16] And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the Sabbath Day. And He stood up to read; [17] and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, [18] "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, [19] to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." [20] And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. [21] And He began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. [22] And all spoke well of Him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"

[24] And He said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; [26] and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." [28] When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. [29] And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow on the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. [30] But passing through the midst of them He went away.


16-30. For the Jews the Sabbath was a day of rest and prayer, as God commanded (Exodus 20:8-11). On that day they would gather together to be instructed in Sacred Scripture. At the beginning of this meeting they all recited the "Shema", a summary of the precepts of the Lord, and the "eighteen blessings". Then a passage was read from the Book of the Law--the Pentateuch--and another from the Prophets. The president invited one of those present who was well versed in the Scriptures to address the gathering. Sometimes someone would volunteer and request the honor of being allowed to give this address--as must have happened on this occasion. Jesus avails Himself of this opportunity to instruct the people (cf. Luke 4:16ff), as will His Apostles later on (cf. Acts 13:5, 14, 42, 44; 14:1; etc.). The Sabbath meeting concluded with the priestly blessing, recited by the president or by a priest if there was one present, to which the people answered "Amen" (cf. Numbers 6:22ff).

18-21. Jesus read the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 where the prophet announces the coming of the Lord, who will free His people of their afflictions. In Christ this prophecy finds its fulfillment, for He is the Anointed, the Messiah whom God has sent to His people in their tribulation. Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit for the mission the Father has entrusted to Him. "These phrases, according to Luke (verses 18-19), are His first messianic declaration. They are followed by the actions and words known through the Gospel. By these actions and words Christ makes the Father present among men" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

The promises proclaimed in verses 18 and 19 are the blessings God will send His people through the Messiah. According to Old Testament tradition and Jesus' own preaching (cf. note on Matthew 5:3), "the poor" refers not so much to a particular social condition as to a very religious attitude of indigence and humility towards God, which is to be found in those who, instead of relying on their possessions and merits, trust in God's goodness and mercy. Thus, preaching good news to the poor means bringing them the "good news" that God has taken pity on them. Similarly, the Redemption, the release, which the text mentions, is to be understood mainly in a spiritual, transcendental sense: Christ has come to free us from the blindness and oppression of sin, which, in the last analysis, is slavery imposed on us by the devil. "Captivity can be felt", St. John Chrysostom teaches in a commentary on Psalm 126, "when it proceeds from physical enemies, but the spiritual captivity referred to here is worse; sin exerts a more severe tyranny, evil takes control and blinds those who lend it obedience; from this spiritual prison Jesus Christ rescued us" ("Catena Aurea"). However, this passage is also in line with Jesus' special concern for those most in need. "Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 8).

18-19. The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent His Son into the world--to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. It is true that in the course of His public ministry Christ, in His mercy, worked many cures, cast out devils, etc. But He did not cure all the sick people in the world, nor did He eliminate all forms of distress in this life, because pain, which entered the world through sin, has a permanent redemptive value when associated with the sufferings of Christ. Therefore, Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that He had a God-given mission to bring everyone to eternal salvation.

The Church carries on this mission of Christ: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). These simple and sublime words, which conclude the Gospel of St. Matthew, point out "the obligation to preach the truths of faith, the need for sacramental life, the promise of Christ's continual assistance to His Church. You cannot be faithful to our Lord if you neglect these supernatural demands--to receive instruction in Christian faith and morality and to frequent the Sacraments. It is with this mandate that Christ founded His Church [...]. And the Church can bring salvation to souls only if she remains faithful to Christ in her constitution and teaching, both dogmatic and moral.

"Let us reject, therefore, the suggestion that the Church, ignoring the Sermon on the Mount, seeks a purely human happiness on earth, since we know that her only task is to bring men to eternal glory in Heaven. Let us reject any purely naturalistic view that fails to value the supernatural role of divine grace. Let us reject materialistic opinions that exclude spiritual values from human life. Let us equally reject any secularizing theory which attempts to equate the aims of the Church with those of earthly states, distorting its essence, institutions and activities into something similar to those of temporal society" ([St] J. Escriva, "In Love with the Church", 23 and 31).

18. The Fathers of the Church see in this verse a reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity: the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) of the Lord (the Father) is upon Me (the Son); cf. Origen, "Homily 32". The Holy Spirit dwelt in Christ's soul from the very moment of the Incarnation and descended visibly upon Him in the form of a dove when He was baptized by John (cf. Luke 3:21-22).

"Because He has anointed Me": this is a reference to the anointing Jesus received at the moment of His Incarnation, principally through the grace of the hypostatic union. "This anointing of Jesus Christ was not an anointing of the body as in the case of the ancient kings, priests and prophets; rather it was entirely spiritual and divine, because the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him substantially" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 77). From this hypostatic union the fullness of all graces derives. To show this, Jesus Christ is said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit Himself--not just to have received the graces and gifts of the Spirit, like the saints.

19. "The acceptable year": this is a reference to the jubilee year of the Jews, which the Law of God (Leviticus 25:8) lays down as occurring every fifty years, symbolizing the era of redemption and liberation which the Messiah would usher in. The era inaugurated by Christ, the era of the New Law extending to the end of the world, is "the acceptable year", the time of mercy and redemption, which will be obtained definitively in Heaven.

The Catholic Church's custom of the "Holy Year" is also designed to proclaim and remind people of the redemption brought by Christ, and of the full form it will take in the future life.

20-22. Christ's words in verse 21 show us the authenticity with which He preached and explained the Scriptures: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus teaches that this prophecy, like the other main prophecies in the Old Testament, refers to Him and finds its fulfillment in Him (cf. Luke 24:44ff). Thus, the Old Testament can be rightly understood only in the light of the New - as the risen Christ showed the Apostles when He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (cf. Luke 24:45), an understanding which the Holy Spirit perfected on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:4).

22-29. At first the people of Nazareth listened readily to the wisdom of Jesus' words. But they were very superficial; in their narrow-minded pride they felt hurt that Jesus, their fellow-townsman, had not worked in Nazareth the wonders He had worked elsewhere. They presume they have a special entitlement and they insolently demand that He perform miracles to satisfy their vanity, not to change their hearts. In view of their attitude, Jesus performs no miracle (His normal response to lack of faith: cf., for example, His meeting with Herod in Luke 23:7-11); He actually reproaches them, using two examples taken from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17:9 and 2 Kings 5:14), which show that one needs to be well-disposed if miracles are to lead to faith. His attitude so wounds their pride that they are ready to kill Him. This whole episode is a good lesson about understanding Jesus. We can understand Him only if we are humble and are genuinely resolved to make ourselves available to Him.

30. Jesus does not take flight but withdraws majestically, leaving the crowd paralyzed. As on other occasions men do Him no harm; it was by God's decree that He died on a cross (cf. John 18:32) when His hour had come.
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.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 3

You wish to reform the world: reform your­self, otherwise your efforts will be in vain.

-St. Ignatius
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 3, Forbidden Fruit

"The stupid world," wrote an author, "loves what is forbidden." It is ridiculous but true. In his own clever way St. Francis de Sales observes, "Of the hundred thousand delicious fruits, Eve chose the one which had been forbidden; without doubt if it had been permitted she would not have eaten it."

This observation is quite correct. It is the object that is asked of us that costs the most to give; it is the good that is forbidden us, that we wish the most to grasp. The child who has promised to give one of his toys for the poor, cannot make up his mind when asked for the plaything with which he already consented to part; he clings to all, above all to that one which others tell him to give. I perversely find that which I have no right to possess delightfully pleasant; it suffices to be in possession of the coveted good, to desire it no longer.

I ought to be more detached. Although I don't covet forbidden fruits, I do perhaps covet fruits which were not meant for me; such and such a position in the house which according to my judgment would suit me better; such a class or such work for which I think I have more ability. All this is wasted time and tends to make me dislike what I have been given to do.

I will try to attach myself to what is assigned. The rest is not worth bothering with.

"My God, help me not to concern myself with tasks that have not been appointed to me, but to love with all my soul, my appointment, my house, my work. That is Your will for me. I wish to accomplish it with all my love."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Cures Without Cloning Initiative Campaign

A notice for those who might want to take a more active role in Missouri's cloning and embryonic stem cell research problems:

The "Cures without Cloning" campaign will begin to gather signatures very soon for the Initiative Petition required to place the cloning issue back before the voters in 2008.

Signatures will be gathered in a variety of places: churches, neighborhoods, individuals contacting family and friends, etc. Volunteers will be able to participate in whatever venues they are most comfortable.

Gathering signatures must be done according to the specifications of the Secretary of State, and must be done only by those who are registered to do so.

Training sessions have been scheduled for those who may be interested in serving as a petition circulator in this campaign. At these sessions you will also receive important information as to who the district and county coordinators are for your area.

St. Charles County

Mondays (Sept.10-Oct. 1) at 7 pm
Corporate Parkway Public Library
1200 Corporate Parkway

St. Charles City
Tuesdays (Sept. 4-Sept. 25) at 7 pm
Family Vision Library
516 S. 5th Street

Lincoln County

Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 7 pm
Cuivre River Electric Coop
1112 E. Cherry St., Troy

For more information call
Bev Ehlen at 314-608-0168
Darlene Loeb at 636-456-3543

Paid for by Concerned Women for America of Missouri, PO Box 274, Chesterfield, MO 63006


Gospel for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 14:1, 7-14

[1] One Sabbath when He (Jesus) went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching Him.

A Lesson About Humility

[7] Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, [8] "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. [11] For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Attitude to the Poor

[12] He (Jesus) said to the man who had invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. [13] But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."


11. Humility is necessary for salvation that Jesus takes every opportunity to stress its importance. Here He uses the attitudes of people at banquet to remind us again that it is God who assigns the places at the Heavenly banquet. "Together with humility, the realization of the greatness of man's dignity--and of the overwhelming fact that, by grace, we are made children of God--forms a single attitude. It is not our own efforts that save us and gives us life; it is the grace of God. This is a truth which must never be forgotten" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 133).

14. A Christian acts in the world in the same way anyone else does; but his dealings with his colleagues and others should not be based on pursuit of reward or vainglory: the first think he should seek is God's glory, desiring Heaven as his only reward (cf. Luke 6:32-34).
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.