Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gospel for Saturday, 2nd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

The Transfiguration (Continuation)

[9] And as they were coming down the mountains, [10] (And) the disciples asked Him (Jesus), "Then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come?" [11] He replied, "Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; [12] but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will suffer at their hands." [13] Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them of John the Baptist.


10-13. Malachi 4:5 (3:23 in the Hebrew) speaks of the coming of Elijah the prophet before "the great and terrible day of the Lord", the Judgment Day. When Jesus says that Elijah has already come, He is referring to St. John the Baptist, whose mission it was to prepare the way for the First Coming of the Lord, the same as Elijah will have to do prior to His last coming. The scribes failed to grasp the meaning of the prophecy of Malachi; they thought it referred simply to the coming of the Messiah, the First Coming of Christ.
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, December 14, 2007

Just for Today, December 15

All self-seekers and self-lovers are bound in fetters, full of desires, full of cares, unsettled, and seeking always their own ease, and not the things of Jesus Christ: but oftentimes devising and framing that which shall not stand. For all shall come to nothing that proceeds not from God.

Take this short and perfect word: Forsake all, and thou shalt find all, leave thy desires, and thou shalt find rest. Consider this well, and when thou shalt put it in practice, thou shalt understand all things.

(Disciple.) Lord, this is not the work of one day, nor children's sport; yea, in this one short sentence is included the whole perfection of a religious man.
- Bk. III, ch. xxxii.

"How did you come to enjoy such serene and un­broken peace?"

"By forgetting myself, and never seeking myself in anything."
-Novssima Verba
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Meditation for December 15, Pray Always

If God continually inhabits my soul, should I not dwell within my soul to keep Him company?

What will become of all my duties which are not formal prayers? What will become of my class preparation and my classes if I am teaching, or my administrative duties if I am charged with them, my sweeping, my peeling of vegetables if I am entrusted with household tasks, my bandaging if I am a nurse...?

It is all very simple. God does not ask me to make continual acts of prayer, but to be always in the state of prayer.

To make acts of prayer only, would mean to perform one exer­cise after another in which my sole occupation would be to think of God. There can be no question of that; I would fail in the duties of my state.

When I am at prayer, I must exert myself to occupy my thoughts with God. At other times my essential duty is not to think of God, but to execute my work as well as possible for the glory of God. That is living in the state of prayer, in the state of elevation toward God. I am united to Him, not by my memory but by my will. And if to do well what I am doing, I must force myself not to think of God, I need not hesitate.

At prayer, I must think of God as perfectly as possible for it is the thought of God that excites love of God.

Outside of prayer, it is not important to think of God but to act for God. To do this I must make the good intention and not be disturbed if, seeking God alone in everything, I do not think of Him for some time. As I become more accustomed to the invisible world, the thought of God will become more familiar to me. Pa­tience and perfect peace!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Burke on "The Golden Compass"

...Recently, the pastors in our nation have cautioned the faithful, especially parents, regarding the film "The Golden Compass." Through George Henry, superintendent of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, parents and teachers were warned that the author of the books ("His Dark Materials," by Philip Pullman) from which the movie is drawn is an avowed atheist who has a particular hatred of the Catholic Church.

As archbishop, I caution all Catholics regarding the atheistic and antiCatholic nature of Pullman’s writings, upon which "The Golden Compass" is based. If you wish further and more in-depth information, I recommend the publication of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked," which can be obtained through the League’s website, I also commend the book by Peter Vere and Sandra Miesel, "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy," published by Ignatius Press (

Before concluding, I wish also to correct an erroneous statement made in a commentary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "After ruckus over its roots, ‘Compass’ film mollifies some" (Dec. 8, 2007, p. A23). The commentary claims that the Catholic bishops of our nation viewed the film and praised it. The statement is false. A most defective review of the film was published by Catholic News Service. The review has by now been removed from the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was not based on a viewing of the film by bishops and was not endorsed by the bishops....
From his weekly column here.

Local Priest Named to Vatican’s U.N. Staff

Father Philip J. Bene, pastor of Cure of Ars Parish in Shrewsbury, has been named to the diplomatic staff of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Father Bene, who has served as a canon lawyer in the Church’s Marriage Tribunal in St. Louis, will serve as an attache working with two committees, legal and social. The social committee deals with human rights matters, he said....
Congratulations to Fr. Bene!

St Louis Seminary to Expand?

SaintLouisCatholic blog is reporting that architectural plans have been submitted to His Excellency for his approval to expand Kenrick Glennon Seminary to accomodate increasing numbers of seminarians.

As thetimman rightly states, priestly vocations are the fruit of orthodoxy, and fatherly leadership, especially combined with fervent prayer and God's abundant grace. And this growth is obvious in dioceses where fidelity to the teachings of Christ and His Church is the norm rather than the exception.

May God be praised for blessing the faithful of St Louis with a kind and faithful shepherd and may He guide and protect our bishops and priests, and especially each of those men following the path of our Lord and studying to be an alter Christus.

More at the St Louis Catholic blog here.

Archbishop Dolan Named Chairman Of Catholic Relief Services

WASHINGTON (December 13, 2007)–Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been appointed chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). After consultation with the CRS board, Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, confirmed Dolan’s appointment December 10. Archbishop Dolan succeeds Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, who has served as a member of the board for the past 12 years and as board chair since 2001....

Gallup Bishop Pelotte Takes Medical Leave

GALLUP, N.M. -- Roman Catholic Bishop Donald Pelotte, who suffered an apparent fall at his home this summer, is taking a medical leave of absence.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Gallup said Pelotte has informed Vatican officials of his decision....

"Jesus of Nazareth" Gets a Special Reviewer: The Vicar of the Man Who Wrote It

From Chiesa:
Here is how cardinal Camillo Ruini explained to the priests of Rome the book by Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI. Including its political applications, which are never sacred and definitive, but always must be "re-elaborated, reformulated, and corrected."
by Sandro Magister
The article contains the text of
The meaning of Jesus for us
by Camillo Ruini
Read more here.

Gospel for Dec 14, Memorial: St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor

From: Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus Reproaches People for their Unbelief

(Jesus spoke to the crowds), [16] "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates. [17] `We piped to you, and you did not dance, we wailed and you did not mourn.' [18] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon'; [19] the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

16-19. Making reference to a popular song or a child's game of His time, Jesus reproaches those who offer groundless excuses for not recognizing Him. From the beginning of human history the Lord has striven to attract all men to Himself: "What more was there to do for My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" (Isaiah 5:4), and often He has been rejected: "When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?" (Isaiah 5:4).

Our Lord also condemns calumny: some people do try to justify their own behavior by seeing sin where there is only virtue. "When they find something which is quite obviously good," St. Gregory the Great says, "they pry into it to see if there is not also some badness hidden in it" ("Moralia", 6, 22). The Baptist's fasting they interpret as the work of the devil; whereas they accuse Jesus of being a glutton.

The evangelist has to report these calumnies and accusations spoken against our Lord; otherwise, we would have no notion of the extent of the malice of those who show such furious opposition to Him who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). On other occasions Jesus warned His disciples that they would be treated the same as He was (cf. John 15:20).

The works of Jesus and John the Baptist, each in their own way, lead to the accomplishment of God's plan for man's salvation: the fact that some people do not recognize Him does not prevent God's plan being carried into effect.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just for Today, December 14

See thou have God before thine eyes, and do not contend with complaining words. And if at present thou seem to be overcome, and to suffer a confusion which thou hast not deserved, do not repine at this, and do not lessen thy crown by impatience. Rather look up to Me in heaven, who am able to deliver thee from all confusion and wrong, and to repay everyone according to his works.
- Bk. III, ch. xxxvi.

You (the Prioress) were ill at the time with bronchitis, and we had been rather anxious about you. One morn­ing I came to the infirmary to return the keys of the Communion grille, as I was sacristan. I was secretly pleased at having an opportunity of seeing you, but an­other Sister, fearing lest I should wake you, came for­ward to take the keys herself. I assured her, as politely as I could, that I was just as anxious as she was not to disturb you, but that it was my right to return the keys. Today I understand how much more perfect it would have been to have yielded, but not realizing it then, I insisted on going in.

The very thing we wanted to avoid then happened, for the noise made you open your eyes. The Sister made a long speech, the gist of it being that it was my fault that you had been disturbed. I was longing to defend myself, but suddenly had a bright idea. I saw that if I began to excuse myself I would only lose my peace of mind, but that I had too little virtue to refrain from doing so. The only thing left was to run away, which I promptly did. My heart was beating so fast that I was obliged to sit on the stairs and enjoy the fruits of victory for a few minutes. Although this was an odd way of showing my bravery, I thought it better not to engage in combat when defeat was certain.
- Histoire d'une Ame (The Story of a Soul)
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - November 14

Today God invites you to do good; do it there­fore today. Tomorrow you may not have time, or God may no longer call you to do it.

-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 December 14, Joy in God

I can know, and know with a certitude sufficient to give me perfect peace, that I am in the state of grace and that God dwells in my soul, but can I arrive at the enjoyment of God present within me?

Two meanings may be given to the phrase: "Enjoy God within me."

It may mean to experience God's presence in a sensible way as though palpable. This is possible only with a particular grace from God which is not in the order of ordinary graces; it is an exceptional favor which belongs to the so-called mystical graces.

This gift does not imply great holiness in the recipient. It simply manifests a divine attention and it is perfectly possible that a person of great virtue may never receive it.

To enjoy God may mean not, as in the preceding sense, to ex­perience God's presence sensibly and so penetratingly that it finally absorbs the entire being - but much more simply, to know how sweet is the Lord, thanks to a faith which completely embraces its object. When we ask in the Office of the Holy Ghost for the grace to appreciate with rectitude the divine realities, we allude to the enjoyment of virtue and holy things recta sapere. And when in the Pentecost hymn we invoke the Holy Spirit as the Divine Consoler we seek the consolation emanating from a lively faith.

"O God, living in my soul, increase my faith in Your Divine presence. I do not ask to experience Your sweetness here below; it is enough to know that You are within me. Grant that I may live more fully what You have revealed to me, that my faith may increase each day and bring me into more intimate union with You."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Why should this surprise anyone?

Obama Advisor is Well Known Dissenting Catholic
Marshall Ganz, a Harvard sociologist, was a major force behind organizing Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), a dissenting Catholic organization devoted to "structural" change in the Church. VOTF, you may recall, used the occasion of the priest sex scandals to call for changes in Catholic doctrine such as the addition of a married priesthood and popularly-elected bishops.

Ganz is a nationally known expert in political organizing. In 2004 he was an adviser to Howard Dean -- Ganz now advises Democratic presidential candidate, Barak Obama.

Ganz's intent in helping to found VOTF is made clear from a letter published on the VOTF web site by his former graduate assistant, Aimee Caravich. Caravich was hired by VOTF to develop a training program for regional coordinators and affiliate leaders.

Caravich, in a letter to VOTF members, wrote:

I sincerely believe . . . VOTF can rise to its feet and claim a piece of the power that the Catholic hierarchy currently holds. I am here to get that ball rolling. . . . After all, as the VOTF opening prayer states, 'We are the Church.'

Pope Sends Condolences at Death of Cardinal Alfons Stickler

VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent two telegrams of condolence for the death, at the age of 97, of Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church: one to the late cardinal's brother and sisters, and another to Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, major rector of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco.

The Holy Father describes the cardinal as a "sincere and zealous collaborator of the Holy See" who in all his duties "provided precious testimony of fervent faithfulness to Christ and to the Church." He also mentions the "cultural and ecclesial industriousness of the distinguished jurist and illustrious cardinal."
May he rest in peace in the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity!


From Gallup: Bishop's photos prove elusive

Police snapshots of Pelotte’s injuries still being kept from public

GALLUP — McKinley County’s senior District Court Judge, Grant L. Foutz, is now presiding over part of the legal battle concerning police photographs taken of Roman Catholic Bishop Donald Pelotte. The first judge in the case, Louis E. DePauli Jr., is out.

According to the court files, other than the change in judges, not much new has happened since one of the defendants in the original civil case, a television reporter from Albuquerque, filed a civil complaint against the original plaintiff, the city of Gallup....
Nothing here to see folks, now just move along...

Gospel for Dec 13, Memorial: St. Lucy, virgin and martyr

From: Matthew 11:11-15

The Mission of John the Baptist. Jesus' Reply

(Jesus spoke to the crowds,) [11] "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. [12] From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. [13] For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; [14] and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. [15] He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

11. With John the Old Testament is brought to a close and we are on the threshold of the New. The Precursor had the honor of ushering Christ in, making Him known to men. God had assigned him the exalted mission of preparing His contemporaries to hear the Gospel. The Baptist's faithfulness is recognized and proclaimed by Jesus. The praise he received is a reward for his humility: John, realizing what his role was, had said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

St. John the Baptist was the greatest in the sense that he had received a mission unique and incomparable in the context of the Old Testament. However, in the Kingdom of Heaven (the New Testament) inaugurated by Christ, the divine gift of grace makes the least of those who faithfully receive it greater than the greatest in the earlier dispensation. Once the work of our redemption is accomplished, God's grace will also be extended to the just of the Old Alliance. Thus, the greatness of John the Baptist, the Precursor and the last of the prophets, will be enhanced by the dignity of being made a son of God.

12. "The Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence": once John the Baptist announces that the Christ is already come, the powers of Hell redouble their desperate assault, which continues right through the lifetime of the Church (cf. Ephesians 6:12). The situation described here seems to be this: the leaders of the Jewish people, and their blind followers, were waiting for the Kingdom of God the way people wait for a rightful legacy to come their way; but while they rest on the laurels of the rights and rewards they think their race entitles them to, others, the men of violence (literally, attackers) are taking it, as it were, by force, by fighting the enemies of the soul--the world, the flesh and the devil.

"This violence is not directed against others. It is a violence used to fight your own weaknesses and miseries, a fortitude, which prevents you from camouflaging your own infidelities, a boldness to own up to the faith even when the environment is hostile" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 82).

This is the attitude of those who fight their passions and do themselves violence, thereby attaining the Kingdom of Heaven and becoming one with Christ. As Clement of Alexandria puts it: "The Kingdom of Heaven does not belong to those who sleep and who indulge all their desires, but to those who fight against themselves" ("Quis Dives Salvetur", 21).

14. John the Baptist is Elijah, not in person, but by virtue of his mission (cf. Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:10-12).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Just for Today, December 13

Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing more wholesome for thee in this world, than to suffer willingly for Christ.
- Bk. II, ch. xii.

To a novice who was pitying herself she said: "God loves cheerful people who can always manage to smile. When will you learn to hide your troubles, and tell Our Lord with a song on your lips that you are glad to suffer for His sake?"
- C.
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 13

Do not consider what others do, or how they do it; for there are but few who really work for their own sanctification.

-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 December 13, God in the Soul

When St. Lucy was summoned before her judges, they asked: "Is it true that God dwells within us, as you Christians pretend?"

"Assuredly," she answered, "nothing is more true." St. Lucy died in testimony of this truth.

Have I sufficient faith to grasp the truth of such a reality?

This doctrine was the very life of St. Paul. Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. iii, 16.)

Jesus Himself has solemnly declared it: "If anyone love me (that is to say, is in the state of grace) my Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him." (John xiv, 23.) Mortal sin alone can drive God from the soul.

I believe firmly in this ineffable and real Presence.

But can I be sure that this Presence exists in me?

If my conscience can testify that I have no grave sin on my soul, then I am in the state of grace. And if I am in the state of grace, God dwells in my soul. That is an absolute certitude.

"O Holy Trinity, I know that You dwell in this poor tabernacle of my soul; how I wish that this knowledge might not be arid and fruitless, but a conviction that turns to love. Grant that this sublime reality may energize my whole life."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Biblia Clerus- Great Vatican Site


This program offers Sacred Scripture, its interpretation in light of Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Magisterium, with appropriate theological commentary and exegesis.

The downloadable version allows you to connect Sacred Scripture to the complete works of many Doctors of the Church, Councils, Encyclicals, teachings of the Popes, Catechisms, as well as commentaries from secular literature, etc.

A Press Release from HLI

Fr. Euteneuer asks Bishops to Fire Scandalous Movie Reviewer

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today called on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to fire Harry Forbes, director of the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the Conference, for his positive reviews of immoral or anti-Catholic films on the Conference’s Catholic News Service (CNS).

Father Euteneuer said, “I refuse to believe that Harry Forbes, who gave such glowing remarks to the homosexual promo film Brokeback Mountain and the atheist indoctrination flick The Golden Compass, speaks in the name of our bishops. An employee who shames our bishops with reviews of this sort should be fired. He now has a track record and is not worthy to be a public spokesperson for any Catholic let alone the national conference of bishops. I urgently ask the bishops to correct this anomaly at the headquarters and restore the dignity of the conference, which has been sullied by this man.

“There seems to be a decades-old pattern of embarrassment on the part of some USCCB subordinates and other lay officials when it comes to the teachings of the Catholic Church. All too often these scandals involve matters of homosexuality. In 1987 we had the document ‘The Many Faces of AIDS’ which was problematic on the use of condoms, then in 1997 the scandalous document ‘Always our Children’ so distorted Catholic teaching that it had to be rewritten after its release.”

Father Euteneuer continued, “Then in December, 2005, Forbes’s review of Brokeback Mountain with its original ‘L’ rating for ‘Limited’ had to be corrected and reclassified as ‘O’ for ‘Morally Objectionable.’ The bishops have been embarrassed by their staff like clockwork for almost 20 years. Now, in December 2007, the bishops have had to withdraw Forbes’s review of The Golden Compass from CNS after publication. After major scandals involving homosexual clergy, do we really need their movie reviewer now tiptoeing around hostile atheism?

“Let Harry Forbes be the sign that the bishops can break the cycle of subtle and overt dissent among their subordinates. They should show him the door and require all other employees to take an Oath of Fidelity. That will separate the wheat from the chaff,” concluded Fr. Euteneuer.

I'm surprised that an Oath of Fidelity is not mandatory for employees of the bureaucracy of the USCCB...but then again, a mandatum is still not required of theology professors in Catholic colleges...go figure.

Raleigh diocese warns of 'Golden Compass'

Another diocese sounds the alarm:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh has issued a letter warning parish pastors about the subversive, atheistic themes in the new movie "The Golden Compass" and the book by the same name.

In doing so, the diocese, which spans the eastern half of North Carolina, is the latest to join a chorus of evangelical Christian and pro-family groups who have railed against the fantasy film, which opened Friday in theaters in the Triangle.

In his letter to pastors, Michael J. Fedewa, who oversees education for the diocese, said the movie and the books are anti-Catholic and promote atheism.

"The concern is that once a child gets 'hooked' on the film or the books, then the next film could resort to the true atheistic nature of the books," he wrote....

It’s religious, interreligious, but not Catholic

From California Catholic Daily:
U.S. bishops doctrinal committee comes out against theologian honored by Catholic schools in California.

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine this week issued a statement on the book, Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interreligious Dialogue, by Georgetown University theologian, Fr. Peter C. Phan. According to the committee (which includes Oakland’s Bishop Allan Vigneron), Phan’s book presents "certain pervading ambiguities and equivocations" on the question of the relation of non-Christian religions to Christ and the Church....

Gospel for December 12, Feast: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Old Calendar: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Third Class, U.S.)

From: Luke 1:26-38

The Annunciation and Incarnation of the Son of God

[26] In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. [28] And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. [30] And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. [32] He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, [33] and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there will be no end." [34] And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?" [35] And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. [36] And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing will be impossible." [38] And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.


26-38. Here we contemplate our Lady who was "enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness; [...] the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as `full of grace' (cf. Luke 1:28), and to the heavenly messenger she replies, `Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word' (Luke 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly to God's saving will and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with Him, serving the mystery of Redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers (of the Church) see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 56).

The annunciation to Mary and incarnation of the Word constitute the deepest mystery of the relationship between God and men and the most important event in the history of mankind: God becomes man, and will remain so forever, such is the extent of His goodness and mercy and love for all of us. And yet on the day when the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity assumed frail human nature in the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin, it all happened quietly, without fanfare of any kind.

St. Luke tells the story in a very simple way. We should treasure these words of the Gospel and use them often, for example, practising the Christian custom of saying the Angelus every day and reflecting on the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

27. God chose to be born of a virgin; centuries earlier He disclosed this through the prophet Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23). God, "before all ages made choice of, and set in her proper place, a mother for His only-begotten Son from whom He, after being made flesh, should be born in the blessed fullness of time: and He continued His persevering regard for her in preference to all other creatures, to such a degree that for her alone He had singular regard" (Pius IX, "Ineffabilis Deus," 2). This privilege granted to our Lady of being a virgin and a mother at the same time is a unique gift of God. This was the work of the Holy Spirit "who at the conception and the 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). Paul VI reminds us of this truth of faith: "We believe that the Blessed Mary, who ever enjoys the dignity of virginity, was the Mother of the incarnate Word, of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" ("Creed of the People of God", 14).

Although many suggestions have been made as to what the name Mary means, most of the best scholars seem to agree that Mary means "lady". However, no single meaning fully conveys the richness of the name.

28. "Hail, full of grace": literally the Greek text reads "Rejoice!", obviously referring to the unique joy over the news which the angel is about to communicate.

"Full of grace": by this unusual form of greeting the archangel reveals Mary's special dignity and honor. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church "taught that this singular, solemn and unheard-of-greeting showed that all the divine graces reposed in the Mother of God and that she was adorned with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit", which meant that she "was never subject to the curse", that is, was preserved from all sin. These words of the archangel in this text constitute one of the sources which reveal the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception (cf. Pius IX, "Ineffabilis Deus"; Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God").

"The Lord is with you!": these words are not simply a greeting ("the Lord be with you") but an affirmation ("the Lord is with you"), and they are closely connected with the Incarnation. St. Augustine comments by putting these words on the archangel's lips: "He is more with you than He is with me: He is in your heart, He takes shape within you, He fills your soul, He is in your womb" ("Sermo De Nativitate Domini", 4).

Some important Greek manuscripts and early translations add at the end of the verse: "Blessed are you among women!", meaning that God will exalt Mary over all women. She is more excellent than Sarah, Hannah, Deborah, Rachel, Judith, etc., for only she has the supreme honor of being chosen to be the Mother of God.

29-30. Our Lady is troubled by the presence of the archangel and by the confusion truly humble people experience when they receive praise.

30. The Annunciation is the moment when our Lady is given to know the vocation which God planned for her from eternity. When the archangel sets her mind at ease by saying, "Do not be afraid, Mary," he is helping her to overcome that initial fear which a person normally experiences when God gives him or her a special calling. The fact that Mary felt this fear does not imply the least trace of imperfection in her: hers is a perfectly natural reaction in the face of the supernatural. Imperfection would arise if one did not overcome this fear or rejected the advice of those in a position to help--as St. Gabriel helped Mary.

31-33. The archangel Gabriel tells the Blessed Virgin Mary that she is to be the Mother of God by reminding her of the words of Isaiah which announced that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, a prophecy which will find its fulfillment in Mary (cf. Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 7:14).

He reveals that the Child will be "great": His greatness comes from His being God, a greatness He does not lose when He takes on the lowliness of human nature. He also reveals that Jesus will be the king of the Davidic dynasty sent by God in keeping with His promise of salvation; that His Kingdom will last forever, for His humanity will remain forever joined to His divinity; that "He will be called Son of the Most High", that is that He really will be the Son of the Most High and will be publicly recognized as such, that is, the Child will be the Son of God.

The archangel's announcement evokes the ancient prophecies which foretold these prerogatives. Mary, who was well-versed in Sacred Scripture, clearly realized that she was to be the Mother of God.

34-38. Commenting on this passage John Paul II said: "`Virgo fidelis', the faithful Virgin. What does this faithfulness of Mary mean? What are the dimensions of this faithfulness? The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God's plan in her and for the world. `Quomodo fiet?' How shall this be?, she asked the Angel of the Annunciation [...]."

"The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance. The `quomodo fiet?' is changed, on Mary's lips, to a `fiat': Let it be done, I am ready, I accept. This is the crucial moment of faithfulness, the moment in which man perceives that he will never completely understand the `how': that there are in God's plan more areas of mystery than of clarity; that is, however he may try, he will never succeed in understanding it completely[...]."

"The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency to live in accordance with what one believes; to adapt one's own life to the object of one's adherence. To accept misunderstanding, persecutions, rather than a break between what one practises and what one believes: this is consistency[...]."

"But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test, that of duration. Therefore, the fourth dimension of faithfulness is constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one's whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole life can be called faithfulness. Mary's `fiat' in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent `fiat' that she repeats at the foot of the Cross" ("Homily in Mexico City Cathedral", 26 January 1979).

34. Mary believed in the archangel's words absolutely; she did not doubt as Zechariah had done (cf. 1:18). Her question, "How can this be?", expresses her readiness to obey the will of God even though at first sight it implied a contradiction: on the one hand, she was convinced that God wished her to remain a virgin; on the other, here was God also announcing that she would become a mother. The archangel announces God's mysterious design, and what had seemed impossible, according to the laws of nature, is explained by a unique intervention on the part of God.

Mary's resolution to remain a virgin was certainly something very unusual, not in line with the practice of righteous people under the Old Covenant, for, as St. Augustine explains, "particularly attentive to the propagation and growth of the people of God, through whom the Prince and Savior of the world might be prophesied and be born, the saints were obliged to make use of the good of matrimony" ("De Bono Matrimonii", 9, 9). However, in the Old Testament, there were some who, in keeping with God's plan, did remain celibate--for example, Jeremiah, Elijah, Eliseus and John the Baptist. The Blessed Virgin, who received a very special inspiration of the Holy Spirit to practise virginity, is a first-fruit of the New Testament, which will establish the excellence of virginity over marriage while not taking from the holiness of the married state, which it raises to the level of a sacrament (cf. "Gaudium Et Spes", 48).

35. The "shadow" is a symbol of the presence of God. When Israel was journeying through the wilderness, the glory of God filled the Tabernacle and a cloud covered the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 40:34-36). And when God gave Moses the tablets of the Law, a cloud covered Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:15-16); and also, at the Transfiguration of Jesus the voice of God the Father was heard coming out of a cloud (Luke 9:35).

At the moment of the Incarnation the power of God envelops our Lady--an __expression of God's omnipotence. The Spirit of God--which, according to the account in Genesis (1:2), moved over the face of the waters, bringing things to life--now comes down on Mary. And the fruit of her womb will be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Virgin Mary, who herself was conceived without any stain of sin (cf. Pius IX, "Ineffabilis Deus") becomes, after the Incarnation, a new tabernacle of God. This is the mystery we recall every day when saying the Angelus.

38. Once she learns of God's plan, our Lady yields to God's will with prompt obedience, unreservedly. She realizes the disproportion between what she is going to become--the Mother of God--and what she is--a woman. However, this is what God wants to happen and for Him nothing is impossible; therefore no one should stand in His way. So Mary, combining humility and obedience, responds perfectly to God's call: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done according to your word."

"At the enchantment of this virginal phrase, the Word became flesh" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", first joyful mystery). From the pure body of Mary, God shaped a new body, He created a soul out of nothing, and the Son of God united Himself with this body and soul: prior to this He was only God; now He is still God but also man. Mary is now the Mother of God. This truth is a dogma of faith, first defined by the Council of Ephesus (431). At this point she also begins to be the spiritual Mother of all mankind. What Christ says when He is dying--`Behold, your son..., behold, your mother" (John 19:26-27)--simply promulgates what came about silently at Nazareth. "With her generous `fiat' (Mary) became, through the working of the Spirit, the Mother of God, but also the Mother of the living, and, by receiving into her womb the one Mediator, she became the true Ark of the Covenant and true Temple of God" (Paul VI, "Marialis Cultus", 6).

The Annunciation shows us the Blessed Virgin as perfect model of "purity" (the RSV "I have no husband" is a euphemism); of "humility" ("Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord"); of "candor" and "simplicity" ("How can this be?"); of "obedience" and "lively faith" ("Let it be done to me according to your word"). "Following her example of obedience to God, we can learn to serve delicately without being slavish. In Mary, we don't find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn't fully understand and asks about what she doesn't know. Then she gives herself completely to doing the divine will: `Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word'. Isn't that marvellous? The Blessed Virgin, our teacher in all we do, shows us here that obedience to God is not servile, does not bypass our conscience. We should be inwardly moved to discover the `freedom of the children of God' (cf. Romans 8:21)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 173).
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, December 11, 2007

St Cronan Advent Vespers Held Outside in the Rain...

*** Updated below*** church property.

First, as reported here, the Advent Vespers with Rabbi Susan Talve was scheduled for tonight, then later, as reported here, things seem to have changed - and change they did as reported on KTVI Fox 2 news this evening. Talve did in fact give a talk under a tent outside the church and presumably off church property...

Another site reports that Archbishop Burke asked that St Cronans parish "disinvite" Talve - something parish "leadership" evidently did not do...As an apparent hotbed of dissent, fidelity and obedience are qualities in short supply.

As Fox2 News reports:
KTVI - -- The holidays are a time to come together and celebrate, but a strained relationship between the archdiocese and a local rabbi sends a holiday church service outside.
The report (video) indicated that some from St Cronans were willing to risk 'excommunication' to have Talve speak inside the church....While sad, there really can be no surprise in hearing such statements.

Video available at the Fox 2 Link above.
Update from the Post Dispatch!!!

On Tuesday night, St. Cronan's parishioners, and their guests — including [Rose] Hudson and [Elsie] McGrath — gathered on Swan Avenue in coats, hats and scarves to sing songs, hear readings from the prophet Isaiah and writer Annie Dillard, and listen to a sermon from Talve.

"What a holy place," said Talve, who joined the Catholic service on the last day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. "I've come to love Advent at St. Cronan's. What many didn't understand is that this isn't out of the ordinary. You've invited me before. We're just going on with tradition and custom"....

St. Cronan's pastor, the Rev. Gerald Kleba, did not attend the service. But Sister Louise Lears, a member of the church's pastoral team, said afterward that the event "was not a protest. It was not a demonstration. It was a prayer service."
And the pastor was not there...Who is in charge at this parish? "Sister" Louise? The "pastoral team"? ... no one?

It is claimed that this was not a "protest" - Sure...nevertheless, it certainly appears to be an outright endorsement of Talve's recent actions allowing the "priestesses" Hudson and McGrath to have their party in her synagogue...and an apparent approval of "women priestettes."

Source: Post Dispatch

Remember, first of all, pray for these people...

Updated 12/12/07 11:45am - From the blog, St Louis Catholic, we read, "It's Time to Do Something about St Cronan's"

Just for Today, December 12

Nature easily complains of want and of trouble: but grace bears poverty with constancy. This grace is a supernatural light, and a certain special gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and the pledge of eternal salvation, which elevates a man from the things of earth to the love of heavenly things; and of carnal, makes him spiritual.

Wherefore, by how much the more nature is kept down and subdued, with so much the greater abundance grace is infused; and the inward man, by new visita­tions, is daily more reformed according to the image of God.
- Bk. III, ch. liv.

If you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great (Luke vi, 34, 35). Even on earth the reward is very great. It is only the first step that costs, for it seems a hard saying: lend, hoping for nothing thereby; it would be easier to give outright.

This is what may sometimes be said to you: "I need your help for a few hours, I have permission to ask you, and will repay the time you give me." You know very well that this will never be done, and would prefer to give your services, making it quite plain that you do not count on the proffered help. It is more generous to give than to lend, and more pleasing to our pride, but how different are the promptings of Nature from the divine teaching! It would be impossible to understand it, let alone practise it, without the help of grace.
- H.
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 12

Conformity to the will of God is an easy and certain means of acquiring a great treasure of graces in this life.

-St. Vincent de Paul
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 December 12, Devotion to the Invisible Guest

Father Charles Foucauld wrote to his married sister, the mother of a family:

"God is in us, in the depths of our soul...., always there listening to us, asking us to chat a little with Him. Train your children to speak with the Divine Guest of their soul....Often remind them that there is no solitude for a Christian. Solitude has budded and flowered as a lily, says the psalm. That is indeed true for us. God is within us.

"At Sainte-Baume, St. Mary Magdalen was no more alone than at Bethany; instead of having God visible in His mortal form, she had the invisible God in the depths of her soul, but He was not less present. That is true in my life also, my dear. Make every effort to realize it more and more. Attention to God in your soul will not divert you from your other occupations. It takes but a moment, and instead of your being alone, there will be two to fulfill your duties.

"Close your eyes from time to time and recol­lect yourself saying 'You are there, my God; I love You.' That is all that is necessary. All you do will be better because you will have help. And what help! Little by little you will acquire the habit and you will constantly feel within you this Sweet Com­panion, this God of our hearts....

"Then there will be no solitude....Let us pray for each other that we may hold sweet converse with this dear Guest of our souls."

If such a practice can be recommended to a married person charged with the care of a family, how much more to a religious vowed to a state of recollection, to an interior life!

"O Divine Master, who dost deign to dwell within my soul, never permit me to leave You alone; rather let us unite our two solitudes."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

New - Missouri Cures Without Cloning Blog

I was notified earlier of this new blog:

Missouri Cures Without Cloning is a coalition of concerned Missouri citizens, doctors, and academics have launched an initiative petition effort to close a loophole in Missouri law that allows for human cloning in Missouri. Cures Without Cloning seeks to: Prohibit human cloning. Continue to search for cures and treatments using ethical stem cell research. Prohibit tax-payer money from being used for human cloning experiments.

Confirmed: The Council Was an "Historic Transition."???(Chiesa)

...The School of Bologna Annexes the Pope
In a daring move, the promoters of the "discontinuity" of Vatican II with respect to the Church of the past claim that Benedict XVI is on their side. Ruggieri, Komonchak, and others explain this in their magazine. But is this truly the case?
by Sandro Magister


LifeSite: Boycott Worked - "Compass" Flops

NEW YORK, December 10, 2007 ( - 'The Golden Compass", the atheist-inspired film which sought to replicate Narnia's success at the box office at Christmas two years ago has flopped by comparison. Based on the anti-Christian novel by Philip Pullman, Compass took in $26.1 million in its first weekend, whereas 'The Chronicles of Narnia' garnered $65.5 million on its weekend debut....
Such sweet news! While this battle may seem to have subsided, the spiritual war rages on with more and more intensity - with each passing day!

More on the USCCB "withdrawing" its 'Golden Compass' review

More at American Papist here

he question that comes to my mind is when will we see these bishops 'withdrawing' their support for Harry Forbes and other likeminded folks in the USCCB bureaucracy?

This is just another reason to withhold any and all contributions to that behemoth...

Male Episcopal Bishop wants to be a ‘June Bride’

The Bishop is on the forefront of the ongoing schism within the Anglican Communion. He is also a part of a cultural revolution being led by activist, practicing homosexuals who not only want to live their lifestyle but force the State and the Church to give them equal status to marriage.

LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - Bishop Gene Robinson, the Nation’s openly practicing homosexual Episcopal Bishop, spoke to a crowd of over 200 people on November 27, 2007 at Nova Southeastern University’s Shephard Law Center. He told them of his upcoming planned ‘marriage’ to his paramour saying with pride, "I always wanted to be a June bride."....
This must make his 'family' and the declining numbers of the Episcopal denomination very proud...Bringing Sodom and Gomorrah into the 21st century - There's something really wrong here!

USCCB Doctrine Committee Faults Book by Father Peter Phan

WASHINGTON (December 10, 2007)—The U.S. Bishops’ Doctrine Committee issued clarifications concerning several aspects of Father Peter C. Phan’s book Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue.

Father Phan’s book uses “certain terms in an equivocal manner” that “opens the text up to significant ambiguity,” the Committee said. It added that “a fair reading of the book could leave readers in considerable confusion as to the proper understanding of the uniqueness of Christ.”

The Committee, which represents the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on doctrinal matters, outlined its concerns in a statement, “Clarifications Required by the Book Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue.” The Committee made the statement public December 10. It is available at

USCCB withdraws review of “The Golden Compass”

From the Catholic News Service:
Today the U.S. bishops withdrew the review of the film “The Golden Compass,” which opened in theaters in the United States Dec. 7. The review was written by Harry Forbes and John Mulderig, the director and staff reviewer respectively of the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was released and posted on the CNS Web site Nov. 29. The USCCB gave no reason for withdrawing the review.

Since CNS is a distributor of media reviews of the OFB, it must respect the office’s withdrawal of its review. Effective Dec. 10, the review of “The Golden Compass” will not be available on the CNS Web site. It will not be included in subsequent listings of USCCB film reviews and classifications.
The USCCB gave no reason for withdrawing the review? Classic!


Gospel for Tuesday, 2nd Week in Advent

From: Matthew 18:12-14

The Lost Sheep

[12] "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? [13] And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. [14] So it is not the will of My Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish."



1-35. The teachings of Jesus recorded in chapter 18 of St. Matthew are often called the "discourse on the Church" or "ecclesiastical discourse" because they are a series of instructions on the way in which His Church is to be administered.

The first passage (Matthew 18:1-5), addressed to leaders, that is, the future hierarchy of the Church, warns them against natural tendencies to pride and ambition: even though they have positions of government, they must act with humility. In verses 6-10 Jesus emphasizes the fatherly care which pastors of the Church should have for the "little ones"--a term which covers everyone in need of special care for whatever reason (because they are recent converts, or are not well grounded in Church teaching, or are not yet adults, etc.)... God takes special care of the weak and will punish those who harm them.

Our Lord shows similar concern for those who are experiencing spiritual difficulties. Every effort, even an heroic effort, must be made to seek out the "lost sheep" (verses 12-14). If the Church in general and each Christian in particular should be concerned to spread the Gospel, all the more reason for them to try and see that those who already embraced the faith do not go astray...

Thus, the whole of Chapter 18, the "discourse of the Church", is a survey of the future history of the Church during its earthly stage, and a series of practical rules for conduct for Christians--a kind of complement to the Sermon on the Mount, (Chapters 5-7), which is a "magna carta" for the new Kingdom established by Christ.

12-14. This parable clearly shows our Lord's loving concern for sinners. It expresses in human terms the joy God feels when a wayward child comes back to Him.

Seeing so many souls living away from God, Pope John Paul II comments: "Unfortunately we witness the moral pollution which is devastating humanity, disregarding especially those very little ones about whom Jesus speaks."

"What must we do? We must imitate the Good Shepherd and give ourselves without rest for the salvation of souls. Without forgetting material charity and social justice, we must be convinced that the most sublime charity is spiritual charity, that is, the commitment for the salvation of souls. And souls are saved with prayer and sacrifice. This is the mission of the Church!" ("Homily to the Poor Clares of Albano," 14 August 1979).

As the RSV points out, "other ancient authorities add verse 11, "For the Son of Man came to save the lost"--apparently taken from Luke 19:10.
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, December 10, 2007

Just for Today, December 11

I became the most humble and most abject of all men, that thou mightest learn to overcome thy pride by my humility.
- Bk. III, ch. xiii.

Lord Jesus, forasmuch as Thy way is narrow and des­pised by the world, grant that I may follow Thee, and be despised by the world: for the disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord (Matt. x, 24). Let Thy servant meditate on Thy life, for there is my salvation and true holiness.
- Bk. III, ch. lvi.

O Jesus, when a pilgrim upon earth Thou didst say: Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls (Matt. xi, 29). My soul finds rest when I see Thee, the mighty King of Heaven, humble Thyself in the form of a slave and wash the feet of Thy disciples. When giving this lesson in humility Thou didst say: I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. The servant is not greater than his lord, neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them (John xii, 15, 16, 17).

I understand these words spoken from the depths of Thy meek and humble Heart, and with the help of Thy grace I am resolved to put them into practice.
- Pr.
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 11

Regulate and direct all your actions to God, offering them to Him and beseeching Him to grant that they be for His honor and glory.

-St. Teresa
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 December 11, An Hour of Oblivion

A group of editors have published for seculars a collection of volumes under the general title, Une Heure d'Oubli, ("An Hour of Oblivion"). They have supposed rightly that the majority of men seek one thing, to avoid reflection, to escape themselves.

Forget and be happy - that is the motto of many people.

We shall say: To be happy, remember.

Why? We possess within us the Blessed Trinity. It suffices to will to reflect in order to enter into communion with the Guest of my soul. Could my most cherished dream be to avoid thinking about the Holy Trinity! Father Faber says: "God would have His Home in me, His dwelling of predilection, and would I prefer to leave Him all alone there, and never seek to unite myself with Him?"

Walk with God within. Such should be, according to the author of the Imitation of Christ, the ambition of every intelligent Chris­tian soul.

"O my God, grant me zeal for recollection. Teach me to remember. There are so many splendors within me; I do not wish to remain in­different to their presence. A lamp is ever burning before the Eucharis­tic tabernacles. Grant that the spirit of Faith may be my watch light; not that I need think always of my Interior Guest, but that I may turn a loving thought to Him from time to time."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Nun reads list of curse words to kids

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich.—Sister Kathy Avery won't put up with swearing on the playground at her school, and she's not above repeating the offending language to make sure everyone understands which words she won't tolerate.

The principal of St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School had students stay after a Mass last month and informed the fifth- through eighth-graders that she has a zero-tolerance policy for cursing.

Just in case anyone wasn't sure what she was talking about, Avery read off a list of the very words and phrases that she was banning...

...Cuss words aren't the only things that set Avery off. She's also banned the words "stupid" and "boring."
Thank you, Sister!

I suspect, a number of us could learn from her, especially, when it comes to our thoughts.

Source: The Denver Post

Name that priest...

Can you think of a priest who said, "...since I became a priest all that I do is valid. I don't have the authority of the bishop, but I think I have authority from God."?

Those who were thinking of Marek Bozek, hired priest of St Stanislaus Kostka church in St Louis, wold be correct in that he said something very similar to this. However, I was thinking of another wayward priest as reported in today's California Catholic Daily (CCD) report.

And similar to the St Stanislaus issue, the case being discussed by CCD centers around a 'property' dispute:
A state appeals court on Dec. 3 upheld a superior court ruling that the San Diego diocese holds title to land claimed by a group of parishioners in the Pauma Valley. For over 30 years, Centro Guadalupano de Pauma Valley, a group of mostly Mexican parishioners, have been meeting at a chapel they built on the property.

San Diego Bishop Robert Brom had assigned a priest, Fr. Paul Marconi, to serve at the mission, until the parishioners decided they would not obey they bishop's desire to build a bigger facility at another location:

In 2001, when, according to the Reporter, Brom told Marconi to cease saying Mass at the chapel, the Guadalupanos found a Peruvian priest, Fr. Abel Quispe, to staff the chapel. Though the bishop told Quispe to leave the diocese, he has remained. Local parish bulletins, said the Reporter, published warnings that since Quispe had no faculties in the diocese, some of the sacraments he offered might not be valid. But Quispe told the Reporter, "ever since I became a priest all that I do is valid. I don't have the authority of the bishop, but I think I have authority from God." He said he would leave the chapel when the bishop sent another priest to replace him.

Rebellion and disoebedience look and sound the same everywhere, it seems..."I will not serve!" is the common motto - the rallying cry - of those who reject the lawful authority of the local ordinary and the Church.

Although this report is primarily about the property rights being adjudicated by the courts, I could not help but be reminded of the souls whose eternal salvation is placed in jeopardy by their own actions and the actions of disobedient priests, and where a number of the sacraments are invalid.

Gospel for Monday, 2nd Week in Advent

Old Calendar: St. Melchiades, pope and martyr

From: Luke 5:17-26

The Cure of the Paralytic in Capernaum

[17] On one of those days, as He (Jesus) was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with Him to heal. [18] And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; [19] but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. [20] And when He saw their faith He said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." [21] And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" [22] When Jesus perceived their questionings, He answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? [23] Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'? [24] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the man who was paralyzed--"I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home." [25] And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. [26] And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."


17. A little earlier, beside the lake, Jesus addressed His teaching to crowds (verses 1ff). Here His audience includes some of the most educated Jews. Christ desired not only to teach but also to cure everyone--spiritually and, sometimes, physically, as He will soon do in the case of the paralytic. The evangelist's observation at the end of this verse reminds us that our Lord is ever-ready to use His omnipotence for our good: "I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil', God declared through the prophet Jeremiah (29:11). The liturgy applies these words to Jesus, for in Him we are clearly shown that God does love us in this way. He did not come to condemn us, to accuse us of meanness and smallness. He came to save us, pardon us, excuse us, bring us peace and joy." ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 165). On this occasion also Jesus wanted to benefit His listeners, even though some of them would not receive this divine gift
because they were not well-disposed.

19-20. Our Lord is touched when He sees these friends of the paralytic putting their faith into practice: they had gone up onto the roof, taken off some of the tiles and lowered the bed down in front of Jesus. Friendship and faith combine in obtaining a miraculous cure. The paralytic himself had a like faith: he let himself be carried around, brought up onto the roof and so forth. Seeing such solid faith Jesus gives them even more than they expect: He cures the man's body and, what is much more, cures his soul. Perhaps He does this, as St. Bede suggests (cf. "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc."), to show two things: that the illness was a form of punishment for his sins and therefore the paralytic could only get up once these sins had been forgiven; and that others' faith and prayer can move God to work miracles.

In some way, the paralytic symbolizes everyone whose sins prevent him from reaching God. For example, St. Ambrose says: "How great is the Lord who on account of the merits of some pardon others, and while praising the former absolves the latter!...] Therefore, let you, who judge, learn to pardon; you, who are ill, learn to beg for forgiveness. And if the gravity of your sins causes you to doubt the possibility of being forgiven, have recourse to intercessors, have recourse to the Church, who will pray for you, and the Lord will grant you, out of love for her, what He might have refused you" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

Apostolic work should be motivated by desire to help people find Jesus Christ. Among other things it calls for daring--as we see in the friends of the paralytic; and it also needs the intercession of the saints, whose help we seek because we feel God will pay more attention to them than to us sinners.

24. Our Lord is going to perform a public miracle to prove that He is endowed with invisible, spiritual power. Christ, the only Son of the Father, has power to forgive sins because He is God, and He uses this power on our behalf as our Mediator and Redeemer (Luke 22:20; John 20:17-18, 28: 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 53:4-5). Jesus used this power personally when He was on earth and after ascending into Heaven He still uses it, through the Apostles and their successors.

A sinner is like a paralytic in God's presence. The Lord is going to free him of his paralysis, forgiving him his sins and enabling him to walk by giving him grace once more. In the sacrament of Penance, if Jesus Christ, "sees us cold, unwilling, rigid perhaps with the stiffness of a dying interior life, His tears will be our life: `I say to you, My friend, arise and walk,' (cf. John 11:43; Luke 5:24), leave that narrow life which is no life at all" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 193).
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, December 09, 2007

Just for Today, December 10

At these times it is expedient for thee to fly to humble and exterior works, and to recreate thyself in good actions; to look for My coming and My heavenly visitation with an assured hope; to bear with patience thy banishment, and the aridity of thy mind, till thou be visited again by Me, and delivered from all anguish. I will make thee forget thy pains, and enjoy internal rest.
- Bk. III, ch. li.

When we are all at ease within our own souls, we must go out from ourselves. God does not oblige us to remain in our own company when it is distasteful; on the contrary, He sometimes lets us feel how unpleasant we are, in order that we may leave ourselves. I know no other way of going out than by paying a visit to Jesus and Mary by doing acts of charity.
- C.
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 10

We should abandon ourselves entirely into the hands of God, and believe that His providence disposes everything that He wishes or permits to happen to us for our greater good.

-St. Vincent de Paul
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 December 10, The House of Loretto

The martyrology remarks that Jesus came into the world in Bethlehem in the silence of the night.

And in the house of Mary, in the midst of ever greater silence, the Incarnation took place. A simple consent sufficed; Mary became a mother.

On the day of my baptism, when for the first time the Holy Trinity entered my soul - Go out from her, thou unclean spirit, and give Place to the Holy Spirit - this magnificent entrance was without any noise.

And even now, at every new visit of God to my soul - each increase in sanctifying grace is as the first coming of God - how silently all takes place.

This absence of ostentation when God descended to the earth, the silent working of God's grace is aptly expressed by Father Faber:

"The darkness of earth's night is the chosen, the favored time of the Uncreated Splendor of Heaven. It is the curtain of His concealment, the veil of His tabernacle, the screen of His sanctuary. He came first to Nazareth at the dead of night. At the dead of night He is coming now at Bethlehem. He came to darkness. It was His very mission. He came when darkness was deepest, as His grace comes so often now.

"The Bethlehem of that night has never passed away. It lives a real life...It lives not only in the memory of faith, but in faith's actual realities as well. It lives a real, unbroken, unsuspended life, not in his­tory only...or even in the energetic fertile worship and the fleshy hearts of the faithful, but in the worshipful reality of the Blessed Sacra­ment." (Bethlehem, p. 132, 165.)

Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Responds to Kersten Column

Archbishop Harry Flynn writes, in part:
Katherine Kersten's column of Dec. 4 ("Battle for soul of St. Thomas takes a turn for the worse") was an inaccurate and slanted portrayal of the current and future Catholicity of the University of St. Thomas...

...Kersten used only the first sentence of my statement in her column. The other two sentences were ignored. They read as follows: "The Saint Thomas board will always include bishops or priests. Any rumors or speculation about the 'de-Catholicization of the University of Saint Thomas are ill founded, inaccurate and ludicrous.'"

The statement can be read here.
HT to Joel for the update!

Gospel for Sunday, 2nd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 3:1-12

The Preaching of John the Baptist

[1] ln those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2] "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [3] For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

[4] Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. [5] Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, [6] and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bear fruit that befits repentance, [9] and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father' ; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.' [10] Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

[11] I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. [12] His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


1. The expression "in those days" does not specify the exact time of the event in question. It is sometimes used merely as an opening phrase to mark the beginning of a new episode. In this case, in fact, it can be calculated that some twenty-five years have elapsed since the Holy Family's return from Egypt. This is only an estimate, because the exact date of their return has not been established.

On the date of the start of John the Baptist's preaching, see Luke 3:1-3. The word "wilderness" has a wider meaning here than we give it today. It does not refer to a sandy or rocky desert, but rather to arid regions, low in vegetation.

2. "Repent": Christ's redeeming work ushers in a new era in the Kingdom of God. This brings such advance in salvation history, that what is required from now on is a radical change in man's behavior towards God. The coming of the Kingdom means that God has intervened in a special way to save mankind, but it also implies that we must be open to God's grace and reform our ways. Christ's life on earth compels peopl e to take a stand--either for God or against him ("He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters": Lk 11:23). Given man's sinful state after original sin, the newly-arrived Kingdom requires that all men repent of their past life. To put it another way, they have to stop going away from God and instead try to get closer to him. Since sin hinders this conversion, it is impossible to turn back to God without performing acts of penance. Conversion is not simply a question of making a good resolution to mend our ways; we have to fulfill that resolution, even if we find it difficult. Penance grows only where there is humility--and everyone should admit sincerely that he is a sinner (cf. 1 Jn 1 :8-10). Obedience also goes hand in hand with penance; everyone ought to obey God and keep his commandments (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6).

The literal translation of the Greek is "Repent". But precisely because the very essence of conversion consists in doing penance, as we have said, the New Vulgate has "paenitentiam agite" ("do penance"). This translation conveys the deeper meaning of the text.

Man's whole life, in fact, consists in constantly correcting his behavior, and therefore implies a continual doing of penance. This turning back to God was preached continually by the prophets in the Old Testament. Now, however, with the coming of Christ, this penance and turning to God are absolutely essential. That Christ took on our sins and suffered for us does not excuse us from making a true conversion; on the contrary, it demands it of us (cf. Col 1:24).

"Kingdom of heaven": this expression is identical to "Kingdom of God". The former is the one most used by St Matthew, and is more in line with the Jewish turn of phrase. Out of reverence, the Jews avoided pronouncing the name of God and substituted other words for it, as in this case. "Kingdom of God" o r "Kingdom of heaven" was a concept used already in the Old Testament and in religious circles at the time of Christ. But it occurs particularly frequently in Jesus' preaching.

The phrase "Kingdom of God" can refer in a general way to God's dominion over creatures; but normally, as in this text, it refers to God's sovereign and merciful involvement in the life of his people. Man's rebellion and sin broke the order originally established in creation. To re-establish it, God's intervention was needed again; this consisted in the redeeming work of Christ, Messiah and Son of God. It was preceded by a series of preliminary stages in salvation history throughout the Old Testament.

Consequently, the Kingdom of God, announced as imminent by John the Baptist, is brought into being by Jesus. However, this is an entirely spiritual one and does not have the nationalistic dimension expected by Jesus' contemporaries. He comes to save his people and all mankind from the slavery of sin, from death and from the devil, thereby opening up the way of salvation.

In the period between the first and second comings of Christ, this Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of heaven) is, in fact, the Church. The Church makes Christ (and therefore also God) present among all peoples and calls them to eternal salvation. The Kingdom of God will be brought to completion only at the end of this world, that is, when our Lord comes to judge the living and the dead at the end of time. Then God will reign over the blessed in a perfect way.

In the passage we are considering, John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, preaches the imminence of the Kingdom of God, ushered in by the coming of the Messiah.

3. By quoting Isaiah 40:3, St Matthew makes it clear that St John the Baptist has a mission as a prophet. This mission has two purposes--first, to prepare the people to receive the Kingdom of God; second, to testify before the people that Jesus is the Messiah who is bringing that Kingdom.

4. The Gospel gives a brief outline of the extremely austere life of St John the Baptist. His style of life is in line with that of certain Old Testament prophets and is particularly reminiscent of Elijah (cf. 2 Kings 1:8; 2:8-13ff.). The kind of food and dress described are of the most rudimentary for the region in question. The locust was a kind of grasshopper; the wild honey probably refers to substances excreted by certain local shrubs rather than to bees' honey. In view of the imminent coming of the Messiah, John underlines, with his example, the attitude of penance preceding great religious festivals (similarly, in its Advent liturgy the Church puts John before us as a model and invites us to practise mortification and penance). In this way, the point made in the previous verse (concerning John's view of his mission as precursor of Christ) is fulfilled. A Christian's entire life is a preparation for his meeting with Christ. Consequently, mortification and penance play a significant part in his life.

6. John's baptism did not have the power to cleanse the soul from sin as Christian Baptism does. The latter is a sacrament, a sign, which produces the grace it signifies. Concerning the value of John's baptism, see the note on Mt 3:11.

7. St John reproaches the Pharisees and Sadducees for their attitude towards him. His preaching and baptism are not simply one more purification rite. Rather, they demand a true interior conversion of the soul, as a necessary predisposition to reach the grace of faith in Jesus. In the light of this explanation, we can understand why the prophetic words of St John the Baptist were so hard-hitting; as it turned out, most of these people did not accept Jesus as the Messiah.

"Pharisees": these constituted the most important religious group in Jesus'' time. They kept the Law of Moses rigorously and also the oral traditions which had built up around it. They gave as much importance to these latter, indeed, as to the Law itself. They strongly opposed the influence of Greek paganism and totally rejected the homage paid to the Roman emperor. Among them there were men of great spiritual eminence and sincere piety; but there were many others who exaggerated pharisaical religiosity to the extreme of fanaticism, pride and hypocrisy. It was this perversion of the true Israelite religion that John the Baptist (and later our Lord) castigated.

"Sadducees": the Sadducees constituted a smaller religious group than the Pharisees, but they included many influential people, most of them from the main priestly families. They accepted the written Law, but, unlike the Pharisees, they rejected oral tradition. They also rejected certain important truths, such as the resurrection of the dead. On the political front, they went along easily with the terms dictated by the Romans, and they acquiesced in the introduction of pagan customs into the country .Their opposition to Christ was even more pronounced than that of the Pharisees.

9-10. St John the Baptist's listeners believe their salvation is assured because they are descendants of Abraham according to the flesh. But St John " warns them that to pass God's judgment it is not enough to belong to the chosen people; they must also yield the good fruit of a holy life. If they fail to do this, they will be thrown into the fire, that is, into hell, the eternal punishment, because they did not do penance for their sins. See the note on Mt 25:46.

11. St John the Baptist did not limit himself to preaching penance and repentance; he encouraged people to receive his baptism. This baptism was a way of interiorly preparing them and helping them to realize that the coming of Chris t was imminent. By his words of encouragement and by their humble recognition of their sins, they were prepared to receive Christ's grace through Baptism with fire and the Holy Spirit. To put it another way, John's baptism did not produce justification, whereas Christian Baptism is the sacrament of initiation which forgives sin and bestows sanctifying grace. The effectiveness of the sacrament of Christian Baptism is expressed in Catholic teaching when it says that the sacrament gives grace "ex opere operato". This means that grace is given by virtue of Christ who acts through the sacrament, and not by virtue of the merits of either the minister or the recipient of the sacrament. "When Peter baptizes, it is Christ who baptizes [...]. When Judas baptizes, it is Christ who baptizes" (St Augustine, "ln loann. Evang.", 6).

The word "fire" points in a metaphorical way to the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit's action in totally wiping out sins. It also shows the life-giving power of grace in the person baptized.

Foremost among the personal qualities of St John the Baptist is his remarkable humility; he resolutely rejects the temptation of accepting the dignity of Messiah which the crowds apparently wanted to bestow on him. Carrying the sandals of one's master was a job for the lowest of servants.

12. Verses 10 and 12 refer to judgment by the Messiah. This judgment has two parts: the first occurs throughout each man's life and ends in the Particular Judgment immediately after death; the second occurs at the time of the Last Judgment. Christ is the judge in both instances. Let us remember the words of St Peter in Acts 10:42: "And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he [Jesus] is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead." The judgment will give to each person the reward or punishment merited by his good or bad actions.

It is worth noting that the word "chaff" does not refer only to bad deeds; it refers also to useless ones, for example, lives lacking in service to God and men. God will judge us, therefore, for our omissions and our lost opportunities.

"Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the unclean sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 1).
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.