Saturday, March 01, 2008

Just for Today, March 2

An internal man quickly recollects himself, because he never pours forth his whole self upon outward things. Exterior labour is no prejudice to him, nor any employ­ment which for a time is necessary; but as things fall out, he so accommodates himself to them. As much as a man draws things to himself, so much is he hindered by them.
-Bk. II, ch. i.

You become too much absorbed in your work, and worry over it as though you bore the whole respon­sibility. Do you wonder what is going on at the present moment on other Carmels, and whether the nuns are busy or not? Do their labours prevent you from making your prayer? You must learn to dissociate yourself from your work in the same way, giving the prescribed time to it, but maintaining detachment of heart.
-Conseils et Souvenirs.
For more information, 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 - March 2

A most powerful and efficacious remedy for all evils, a means of correcting all imperfections, of triumphing over temptation, and preserving our hearts in an undisturbed peace, is conformity with the will of God.

-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 March 2, Jesus Afflicted

4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday

The Collect of the day bids me ask for compunction of heart, Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that we who justly suffer for our deeds may be relieved by the comjort of Thy grace, through Christ Our Lord.

Sorrow, joy! Sorrow for my sins, joy for my salvation! Sorrow for having been a cause of the sufferings of Jesus, joy for having been the beneficiary of the redeeming suffering!

It seems that the Church dare not leave her children too long in the throes of the sorrowful mysteries without sounding at least one note of joy, one word of comfort; that is why on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and on Laetare Sunday in Lent, the violet vestment is replaced by the rose vestment.

Today's entire liturgy is a hymn of joy, from the first word of the Introit to the last word of the Col­lect, and even throughout the Epistle and Gradual: I was glad when they said to me: Let us go into the House of the Lord. The Gospel tells of the multiplication of the loaves.

But I feel that it is more fitting to make sorrow dominant. I cannot see my Savior approach His crucifixion without sharing His grief. For me that part of the Redemption is infinitely rich and for Him that portion of suffering is most overwhelming.

Justly afflicted, says the Collect. Oh! how justly! I shall go into the House of tke Lord, but at what a cost to the divine Guide who leads me there. The bread will be multiplied on my way and nothing will be wanting to my sanctification, but at what a cost to Him, the Divine Wheat, who has been crushed for love of me.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent

Old Calendar: Wales and England: St. David

Luke 18:9-14

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

[9] He (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: [10] "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. [12] I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' [13] But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."


9-14. Our Lord here rounds off His teaching on prayer. In addition to being persevering and full of faith, prayer must flow from a humble heart, a heart that repents of its sins: "Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies" (Psalm 51:19); the Lord, who never despises a contrite and humble heart, resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble (cf. Peter 5:5; James 4:6).

The parable presents two opposite types--the Pharisee, who is so meticulous about external fulfillment of the Law; and the tax collector, who in fact is looked on as a public sinner (cf. Luke 19:7). The Pharisee's prayer is not pleasing to God, because his pride causes him to be self-centered and to despise others. He begins by giving thanks to God, but obviously it is not true gratitude, because he boasts about all the good he has done and he fails to recognize his sins; since he regards himself as righteous, he has no need of pardon, he thinks; and he remains in his sinful state; to him also apply these words spoken by our Lord to a group of Pharisees on another occasion: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:41). The Pharisee went down from the temple, therefore, unjustified.

But the tax collector recognizes his personal unworthiness and is sincerely sorry for his sins: he has the necessary dispositions for God to pardon him. His ejaculatory prayer wins God's forgiveness: "It is not without reason that some have said that prayer justifies; for repentant prayer or supplicant repentance, raising up the soul to God and re-uniting it to His goodness, without doubt obtains pardon in virtue of the holy love which gives it this sacred movement. And therefore we ought all to have very many such ejaculatory prayers, said as an act of loving repentance and with a desire of obtaining reconciliation with God, so that by thus laying our tribulation before our Savior, we may pour out our souls before and within His pitiful heart, which will receive them with mercy" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 20).
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, February 29, 2008

Just for Today, March 1

Rest on the Passion of Christ, and willingly dwell in His sacred wounds. For if thou fly devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmas of Jesus, thou shalt feel great comfort in tribulation; neither wilt thou much regard the being despised by men, but wilt easily bear up against detracting tongues.

Suffer with Christ and for Christ, if thou desirest to reign with Christ.
-Bk. II, ch. i.

My God, I thank Thee for all the graces Thou hast bestowed on me, and in particular for having made me pass through the crucible of suffering. With what joy I shall see Thee on the last day bearing the Cross as the emblem of royalty. As Thou hast made me a partaker of Thy holy Cross, grant that I may one day be like to Thee, and bear upon my glorified body the imprint of Thy sacred wounds.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, 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 - March 1

It seems as if God granted to other saints to free us from some particular needfulness; but I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all our necessities.

-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 March 1, Relics of the Cross

One day when St. Gertrude was gazing affectionately upon a relic of the True Cross and seeking to win for herself a more tender love of our Savior, Jesus said to her:

"You want some relics that will draw my heart to the one who pos­sesses them. Read the story of My Passion and cling to those words which I have spoken with so much love.... Write them, keep them as a relic.... Meditate on them often....They are the most precious relics of Me that one can possess; they are an expression of the deepest love of My Heart."

I will follow this counsel of our Lord. From now until Good Friday! will read and meditate eagerly and attentively on the Passion in order to learn the lessons my soul needs. I will not only linger on the words but I will try to reach Your very Heart, O Jesus. I will contemplate Your every act and live with You each sorrowful event from Gethsemane to Golgotha.

Except for one short vision of joy on Laetare Sunday, I shall now know only Christ and Christ crucified.

As though she feared that the wounds of Christ might distress us too much, the Church will cover them on Passion Sunday. In my heart I will try to look upon the unveiled Cross.

On Palm Sunday, I shall hear women and children cry Hosanna, but I shall not be deceived. The priest knocking on the door of the church with the foot of the cross will remind me forcibly that Calvary is coming nearer and nearer.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Dr Edward Peters: The CDF and Invalid Baptisms

Dr Peters writes:
You might recall when I blogged against using baptismal formulae contrived to avoid masculine nouns for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I said back in 2004 that such ‘baptisms’ were invalid, and that people who received ‘baptism’ under them were not even Christian, let alone Catholic.

Looks like CDF agrees.
Read about today’s authentic doctrinal declaration from CDF here:

Stanislaus Board Asked to Remove Marek Bosek as Pastor?


As heard on local radio this morning, it appears that some parishioners of St Stanislaus Church are requesting that Board members vote to remove hired priest, Marek Bozek, from his job as pastor.

This request is being made because Bozek is espousing ideas that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith. Specifically mentioned was open or intercommunion. Certainly his open advocacy for women's ordination to the priesthood is another?

More as additional information becomes available. His date with destiny is March 5.

*** Updated ***
From the Post Dispatch:

ST. LOUIS — Two members of St. Stanislaus Kostka church say they will ask Sunday for the removal of its pastor, the Rev. Marek Bozek, on grounds that he is promoting ideas contrary to Roman Catholicism, such as his offer to give Communion to people who aren't Catholic.

Roger Krasnicki, former spokesman for the St. Stanislaus board, and Alice Kaminski of St. Peters said they plan to attend the board meeting Sunday afternoon to press for Bozek's removal. They said they speak for many members of the parish.

William Bialczak, board chairman, said they were welcome to speak. As for sentiment to remove Bozek, Bialczak said, "This is the first I've heard of it."

Reached Thursday evening, Bozek said he was aware of the criticism and said his detractors "make up a small group of maybe a dozen, against 400 who are very happy with the parish. ... I am not changing any matter of our faith."

Krasnicki and Kaminski, both of whom say they no longer attend Sunday Mass at St. Stanislaus, said Bozek upset many parishioners when he recently announced during Mass his support for the ordination of women as priests and for offering Communion to anyone who approaches the altar, not just Catholics. Bialczak confirmed that Bozek took those stands.

Bozek, infected with the deadly sin of pride, places himself above Christ and the Church when he decides what is and is not truth. The sooner the imposter is laicized, the better for all.

Krasnicki said there was concern "that Father Bozek is straying far afield from Roman Catholicism." Said Kaminski, "We're still a Catholic church, and we should be following the rules and dogma of the church."

It's encouraging to see that Krasnicki and others are taking this stand. Pray that they might also come to see that obedience in matters of discipline is also part of the Church's tradition and which was exemplified by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Link to Post article.

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week of Lent

Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All

[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" [29] Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' [31] The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [32] And the scribe said to Him, "You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask Him any question.


28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus' earlier reply (verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth. And His teaching finds its way into the man's heart. The scribe repeats what Jesus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encourages his definitive conversion: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." This encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doctrinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:
In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf. "Commentary on St. Matthew", 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: "This commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). However, if we love man for man's sake without reference to God, this love will become an obstacle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God's sake is clear proof that we love God: "If anyone says, `I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself": here our Lord establishes as the guideline for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen that God requires us to put our neighbor's need before our own; in others, not: it depends on what value, in light of God's love, needs to be put on the spiritual and material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor's, must be the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human freedom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)--an unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God's love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God's great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: "would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stronger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means requisite thereto" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just for Today...February 29

No reflection for today...will resume tomorrow.
For more information, 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 - February 29

There is nothing richer, nothing surer, noth­ing more agreeable than a good conscience.

-Bl. Bartholomew of Martyrs
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 February 29, Jesus, Infinite Mercy

Several of the saints who have been granted visions of the Pas­sion agree on one distressing detail.

When Jesus, freed from the pillar, fell in His own blood, His first concern was to drag Himself over the ground to recover His loin cloth, which lay at some distance with His other garments; but those drunken brutes who had beaten Him wished to prolong their inhuman game and sneeringly kicked Him from side to side. Just as He was about to reach for His loin cloth one of the base cads caught it up on his foot and sent it flying still farther, forcing our Good Master to even greater exertion. This boorishness, we are told, cut Jesus more deeply than the iron whips.

O Jesus, when Thy martyr, St. Felicitas, was hurled into the air by the horns of the mad bull, her clothing was so torn that it no longer covered her sufficiently, and while falling to the ground she tried to cover herself better-a beautiful gesture of purity.

"I love to contemplate You, my sweet Savior, Infinite Purity, seeking as soon as You have been released, to recover Your garments in spite of Your utter exhaustion.

"And how I wish to make atonement for all immodesty and sinful exposure, for all well as for all insults heaped upon those who try to serve You."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Barat Academy Teacher Charged in Topless Phote Email Case

Of local interest, I suppose:
ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A teacher at Barat Academy in Dardenne Prairie e-mailed two topless photos of herself to one of her students, prosecutors said.

Melissa R. Moss, 27, of Chesterfield, was charged Tuesday in St. Charles County Circuit Court with furnishing pornographic material to a minor, a misdemeanor. Authorities say Moss e-mailed the topless photos in November. She no longer works at the school.

She declined to comment, her husband, Kevin Moss, said Wednesday. Police did not identify the 15-year-old student.

Debby Watson, president of the independent Catholic high school, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night, though another school administrator said Moss has not worked at the school for months.

A profile called "School Isn't the Same Without Melissa Moss" features comments from some of Moss' supporters protesting the teacher's departure from the school.

"We want her back at Barat Academy," the profile says. "Nothing's the same without her. … Our administration turned into meanies."
"We want her back." Of course, you do...Sad that this young woman has probably jeopardized her entire career and may never teach again - what a stupid stunt!

I often wonder how Barat's religion curriculum is going these days?

Source, Post Dispatch

Gospel for Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent

Luke 11:14-23

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan

[14] Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the man spoke, and the people marvelled. [15] But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons"; [16] while others, to test Him, sought from Him a sign from Heaven. [17] But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and house falls upon house. [18] And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. [19] And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. [20] But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. [21] When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; [22] but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. [23] He who is not with Me is against Me, and He who does not gather with Me scatters."


14-23. Jesus' enemies remain obstinate despite the evidence of the miracle. Since they cannot deny that He has done something quite extraordinary, they attribute it to the power of the devil, rather than admit that Jesus is the Messiah. Our Lord answers them with a clinching argument: the fact that He expels demons is proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. The Second Vatican Council reminds us of this truth: "The Lord Jesus inaugurated His Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, promised over the ages in the Scriptures [...]. The miracles of Jesus also demonstrate that the Kingdom has already come on earth: `If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you' (Luke 11:20; cf. Matthew 12:28). But principally the Kingdom of God is revealed in the person of Christ Himself, Son of God and Son of Man, who came `to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 5).

The strong man well armed is the devil, who has enslaved man; but Jesus Christ, one stronger than he, has come and conquered him and is despoiling him. St. Paul will say that Christ "disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them" (Colossians 2:15).

After the victory of Christ, the "stronger one", the words of verse 23 are addressed to mankind at large; even if people do not want to recognize it, Jesus Christ has conquered and from now on no one can adopt an attitude of neutrality towards Him: he who is not with Him is against Him.

18. Christ's argument is very clear. One of the worst evils that can overtake the Church is disunity among Christians, disunity among believers. We must make Jesus' prayer our own: "That they may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me" (John 17:21).
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, February 27, 2008

Just for Today, February 28

Leave off that excessive desire of knowing; because there is found therein much distraction and deceit. They who are learned are desirous to appear and to be ca1led wise. There are many things, the knowledge of which is of little or no profit to the soul. And he is very unwise who attends to other things than what may serve to his salvation.
-Bk. I, ch. ii.

I had always loved what was noble and beautiful, and about this time I felt a great desire for knowledge. What my mistress taught me was not enough, and so I took up various subjects and studied them myself, learning far more in a few months than I had done in several years at school. And yet all this zeal was but vanity and affliction of spirit (Eccles. i, 14). For one of my ardent nature, I had reached a dangerous period in my life, but Our Lord did for me as is written in the Prophet Ezechiel: I passed by thee, and saw thee: and behold thy time was the time of lovers...I entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God: and thou becamest mine...Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil, and wast made exceeding beautiful: and wast advanced to be a queen (Ezech. xvi, 8, 13).

For some time past my spiritual life had been fed on the fine flour of the Imitation. It was the only book that was any help to me, for I had not as yet discovered the hidden treasures in the Gospel. I was never without my little volume of the Imitation, which was a source of much amusement to the family. My aunt would often open it at random and ask me to recite a chapter by heart.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, 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 - February 28

Docility and easy acquiescence with good ad­vice are the signs of an humble heart.

-Ven. Julienne Morel
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 February 28, The Flagellation

We need not accept as historical facts all the private revelations of certain mystics, but these accounts are very probable and can help us to reconstruct the scenes of the Passion.

"There were six who relieved one another by pairs; their wiry hair stood on end, their beards were scanty and bristly, their complexions swarthy. Their only clothing was a loin cloth and a piece of leather or cloth which covered the chest and was open on the sides. Their arms were bare and on their feet they wore sandals. These criminals from the Egyptian borders were made to work on canals and public buildings, and to the most vile and wicked among them were given the duties of executioner.

"These half-drunk men were like demons or wild beasts. They had already beaten to death unfortunate criminals bound to the column like Jesus.

"To strip them of any sentiment of pity, the high priests had the soldiers bring them jugs of red wine which gave them more strength for their work."

Yes, such are the tormentors who actually strike the body of our Savior; but I know well that the true executioners are sins. Ah! if the sinners would only meditate for a moment on Christ at the pillar. I, at least, in reparation for all the infamous crimes, all the extravagances, all the abominations of every kind that ever have been committed and are still being committed, I will offer my love to Our Lord and since that is so trifling I will offer also the love of all the saints and of all magnanimous, loving souls.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Wednesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Old Calendar: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, confessor

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [17] "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. [19] Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."


17-19. In this passage Jesus stresses the perennial value of the Old Testament. It is the word of God; because it has a divine authority it deserves total respect. The Old Law enjoined precepts of a moral, legal and liturgical type. Its moral precepts still hold good in the New Testament because they are for the most part specific divine-positive promulgations of the natural law. However, our Lord gives them greater weight and meaning. But the legal and liturgical precepts of the Old Law were laid down by God for a specific stage in salvation history, that is, up to the coming of Christ; Christians are not obliged to observe them (cf. "Summa Theologiae", I-II, q. 108, a. 3 ad 3).

The law promulgated through Moses and explained by the prophets was God's gift to His people, a kind of anticipation of the definitive Law which the Christ or Messiah would lay down. Thus, as the Council of Trent defined, Jesus not only "was given to men as a redeemer in whom they are to trust, but also as a lawgiver whom they are to obey" ("De Iustificatione", can. 21).
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, February 26, 2008

Just for Today, February 27

I would willingly speak My words to thee, and reveal My secrets to thee, if thou wouldst diligently observe My coming, and open to Me the door of thy heart. Be careful and watch in prayer, and humble thyself in all things.
-Bk. III, ch. xxiv.

O Jesus! if I could but make known to all little souls Thy unspeakable condescension! I feel that if it were possible to find a soul weaker than mine, Thou wouldst bestow even greater favours on her, provided that she submitted herself with perfect confidence to Thine infinite mercy. My loving Master, why have I this longing to communicate Thy secrets? Thou alone hast taught me; Thou canst do for others what Thou didst for me, and therefore I beseech of Thee to look down in mercy upon a great multitude of little souls. Choose to Thyself a legion of humble victims worthy of Thy love.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, 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 - February 27

When one does not love prayer, it is morally impossible for him to resist his passions.

-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 February 27, The Scourges

A variety of instruments were used in the scourging of slaves: branches of flexible white wood, tendons of oxen, or thongs of leather. For the greatest criminals, the scourges were small cords or chains fastened to an iron handle and tipped with metal hooks which dug into the flesh and tore it to shreds. For Our Lord they used, in addition, thorn branches studded with knots and sharp points.

After this punishment, which some say lasted three-quarters of an hour, Jesus, on being unfastened, collapsed - bathed in His blood. The executioners scornfully poured out upon Him one last volley of abuse.

How strange is this cruel madness which at times takes posses­sion of certain people in a world already filled with suffering of all kinds! What atrocities have been committed during bloody revolutions!

Man, so beautiful as he comes from the Hands of God, is trans­formed by unbridled concupiscence into a voluptuous beast of luxury or a ferocious brute!

Humanity has revolted against the sovereign Majesty. As a consequence, the basest instincts of man will revolt within him and the vilest crimes will result. Our Lord has deigned to take pity on this vile world. He has offered Himself as the innocent victim for its sins. How He has loved us! Did You not know us, Lord?

"Oh, pardon, pardon for so many horrors, for all the blood shed upon the earth, for all tbe cruelties, the ferocities, the persecutions, the atrocities! How mucb love must be expended to atone for all these crimes!"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

March 7th & 8th, Lenten Retreat

Credo of the Catholic Laity in conjunction with St. Francis de Sales Oratory will be holding it’s Lenten Retreat Friday and Saturday March 7th and 8th at the Oratory located on Ohio Avenue at Gravois.

The retreat presenters will be:
The Very Rev Michael Monshau, O.P., Prior of the Dominican Priory in St. Louis and professor of Homiletics at Kennrick Glennon Seminary.

The Very Rev Michael Schmitz, Vicar General and Provincial Superior for the US of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The highlight of the retreat will be the third conference on Saturday when His Grace The Most Rev. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke will make the presentation.

We are delighted to be able to have these men for our 2008 retreat and we thank the Rev Karl Lenhardt, Rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory and Vice Provincial of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, for obtaining these outstanding presenters for us.

Take advantage of this opportunity to make this Lenten Retreat one of your most efficacious. The full schedule for the retreat is shown below.

The charge for the retreat is $20.00 per person. If you have a problem covering this charge don’t hesitate to ask for help. We want to make this retreat available to as many people as we can. Children under 12 are free but we need to know they are coming so we can prepare enough food.

St. Francis de Sales is a magnificent church known as the Cathedral of the south, but continues to need significant repairs. Since the Archbishop assigned the church to the Institute of Christ the King for its use as an oratory many repairs have been made. But the most important repair still needs to be completed. The 300 foot steeple must be stabilized as it’s pulling away from the main structure of the church. The cost is estimated to be over a million dollars. Any profits from the retreat will go toward the fund to repair the steeple. If you are financially able we hope you will consider a generous donation for this worthy cause. Just add the donation to your retreat check.

This year we are asking that you mail your check directly to St. Francis de Sales oratory. For more information, contact Howard Brandt at 314-894-6003

Retreat Schedule

Friday March 7, 2008 - The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

1:30 p.m.: Opening prayer: “Veni Creator” First Conference: Rev. Michael Monshau. (Hall)

2:30 p.m.: Stations of the Cross. (Church)

3:30 p.m.: Second conference with Father Monshau. (Hall)

4:30 p.m.: Light supper (Hall)

5:30 p.m.: Exposition, Adoration Benediction and, confession (Church)

6:30 p.m.: Solemn High Mass, Msgr. Michael Schmitz Church)

Saturday March 8, 2008 - Feast of Saint. John of God

9:00 a.m.: Confessions, Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy (Church)

10:00 a.m.: Solemn Adoration and Benediction with the Archbishop (Church)

11:00 a.m.: Third Conference by His Grace, the Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis (Hall)

12:00 p.m.: Lunch (Hall)

1:30 p.m.: Fourth Conference: Msgr. Schmitz (Hall)

2:45 p.m.: Closing Mass (Church)

Gospel for Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness of Injuries. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

[21] Then Peter came up and said to Him (Jesus), "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" [22] Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

[23] "Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. [24] When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; [25] and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' [27] And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.' [29] So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' [30] He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay his debt. [31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. [32] Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; [33] and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' [34] And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. [35] So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."


21-35. Peter's question and particularly Jesus' reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians' behavior.

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as "always" (cf. Genesis 4:24): "Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 6). Here also we can see the contrast between man's ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God's infinite mercy. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God's debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man's daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God. Overall, the parable teaches that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly.

"Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offense that you can suffer from them is nothing compared to what God has pardoned you" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 452).
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, February 25, 2008

Just for Today, February 26

The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom: and dost thou seek rest and joy?
Thou errest if thou seekest any other thing than to suffer tribulations: for this whole mortal life is full of miseries and beset on all sides with crosses.
-Bk. II, ch. xii.
To live by love is not to rest
On Thabor's blissful height;
There is another hill I know,
More precious in my sight:
Love follows the Beloved still
To Calvary again,
To share with Him the mystery
Of loneliness and pain.
For more information, 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 - February 26

Charity requires us always to have compas­sion on human infirmity.

-St. Catherine of Siena
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 February 26, The Pillar of the Scourging

Having tried in vain to save Jesus from the vengeance of the Jews, Pilate ordered Him to be scourged. I find no cause in this man. I will chastise him therefore and let him go. Pilate hopes this punishment will appease the enemies of Our Lord. When they see Him cruelly lacerated, they will declare themselves satisfied; and Jesus will thus escape death.

A poor guess! Pilate had reckoned without hatred. Despite the terrible scourging, the Jews, goaded on by the ringleaders, cried out for Christ's death.

The column used for the flagellation is now venerated in two cities. Half of it was brought to the church of St. Praxedes in Rome from the Holy Land in 1223 by John Cardinal Colonna; the other half was given to the church at Jerusalem.

Jesus was bound to this infamous pillar which measured about six feet in height; it was provided with two rings, one at the top and one about half way down, and was studded here and there with hooks. The condemned was forced to embrace the column; his hands were raised in the air and hung on the upper rings; the body was stretched so that, according to private revelations, the feet of the suffering Savior scarcely touched the ground. It can be easily understood that in this position the drawn skin would break and bleed profusely.

"O my Jesus! What terrible suffering You have endured! Could I but expiate all in Your place! Oh I let me kiss the ground on which the drops of Your blood fell. What must be the nature of sin to require so appalling an atonement!"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

A St Louis Catholic Parish Touts "'Faithful' Dissenters"

From a distance I received this "Pastor's Column" for February 24 as it appeared in a local St Louis parish. For your reading enjoyment, I present:

Much of the material in this article is gathered from a book titled Faithful Dissenters. It is the work of Robert McClory, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, and was published by Orbis Books in 2000.

As our parish and some of the staff are in the midst of scrutiny by Archbishop Burke, there is a danger that we might feel alone and disconnected from the church. It is important for us to remember that there is a long list of faithful dissenters in the church. All of the following brief notes are gathered from the book mentioned above.

St. Thomas Aquinas who was condemned on numerous counts by the Archbishop of Paris. At the heart of the issue was the insight into Catholic theology that Thomas received through his study of the ancient pagan philosopher, Aristotle. In the dark ages Aristotle had been lost to Western learning, but was reintroduced by the erudite Muslims. Pagan thinking through the Muslim influence was more than the Catholic Archbishop of Paris was able to stomach. Thomas was removed from his diocese. St. Thomas is commonly known as the Angelic Doctor and his text commonly used in seminaries.

Galileo Galilei is probably the best-known dissenter in the church. In 1609, as a scientist with a telescope, he noted that the earth and other planets moved around the sun. The ten cardinal board of the Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. He read a lengthy abjuration on his knees. Four hundred years later in 1992 Pope John Paul II acknowledged the church erred: "Galileo had to suffer a great deal at the hands of men and organisms of the Church."

St. Catherine of Siena was a woman who only lived to the age of 33. But during that time she confronted the Pope, who as the Bishop of Rome was living in the lap of luxury in A vignon, France. In brief she told the Pope that he must return to Rome not with an armed guard but with the cross in his hand. He must pacify Italy not by bloodshed but by mercy and pardon. The Pope must begin reform immediately by appointing worthy leaders from all of Christendom. Pope Gregory vacillated, authorizing three theologians to interview Catherine to determine the orthodoxy of this prophet. They referred to her as "a wretched little female." Catherine was canonized in 1461 and was declared a doctor of the Church in 1970.

John Courtney Murray was a man of the twentieth century who was able to use the American religious experience to transform the church at Vatican II. The effort on behalf of religious freedom was a long struggle contributing to several serious heart attacks during the last twelve years of his life. Murray was silenced by the Holy Office but received a new lease on life with the election of Pope John XXIII. In September 1965 when Vatican II passed The Declaration of Religious Liberty, 2,308 bishops voted in favor and 70 opposed. At the time of his death, Pope Paul VI called Murray one, "who never stinted in his service to God, the Church, and the Society of Jesus. His humble yet precious theological contributions will be his monument and guide to others." (gjk)

A member of the Pastoral Team - Gerry, Louise, Sean - writes this column each week. We welcome your feedback.

One wonders if theose responsible for this bit of tripe feel as if they belong in the same class as St Thomas or St Catherine...I don't recall these saints ever holding heretical positions. And isn't Archbishop Burke supposed to "scrtinize" those professed Catholics who hold positions opposed to what the Church teaches?

This isn't posted yet at St Cronan's...wonder back to my self-imposed Lenten penance.

Gospel for Monday, 3rd Week of Lent

Luke 4:24-30

Jesus Preaches in Nazareth (Continuation)

[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.


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, February 24, 2008

Just for Today February 25

Some there are who keep themselves in peace, and have peace also with others. And there are some that are neither at peace within themselves, nor suffer others to be in peace; they are troublesome to others, but always more troublesome to themselves.
-Bk. II, ch. iii.

It is a mistake to want to convince our Sisters that they are in the wrong, even if this is the case, for it is not our duty to correct them. Let us be angels of peace, not Justices of the Peace.
-Conseils et Souvenirs
For more information, 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 - February 25

We should guard against jealousy, and even the slightest sentiment thereof. This vice is ab­solutely opposed to a pure and sincere zeal for the glory of God, and is a certain proof of secret and subtle pride.

-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 February 25, Jesus Bound

Contemplate Jesus with wrists bound.

He is the Master of all. It is He, Who with the Father and Holy Spirit, has flung the planets into space and has created from nothing all that exists.

His all-powerful hands are bound!

He has gone about on earth doing good; with His hands He has multiplied bread, blessed children, touched the eyes of the blind.

Behold, His healing hands are bound!

Bound, chained, powerless!

He cannot escape the weight of sin that falls upon Him like a toppling tree. It is the decree of the Father who is all-loving and all-just.

In danger one can stretch out his hands to ward off a blow, but for Christ that is impossible! Let loose the rain of torment; Jesus can do nothing!

I too am bound by my vow of obedience! Does it not bind me to a divine activity which should be the sole activity of a re­ligious? What does our Lord want? That I obey promptly, per­fectly, eagerly, and lovingly.

For a long time, perhaps, I have been bound to some little trin­ket, to a mere nothing - maybe even to sin! Hidden bonds, but nevertheless real; slavish bonds!

Ohl how I now long to accept with generosity the sanctifying bonds of obedience in order to repair my former attachment to sensible pleasures and to unite myself to Jesus bound.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Lenten Reflection: The Love of Christ

"Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." St. John, 15:13.

Father Bernard Vaughan, the famous Jesuit, was one of several priests in a splendid Catholic family of England. In the recollections of his holy home he relates an incident of his early childhood. One evening his mother took him on her lap, and told him that nobody on earth loved him as much as she did.

She told him how she proved her love by taking care of him, by nursing him, by working for him. In loving gratitude little Bernard threw his arms about his mother's neck and smothered her with boyish kisses. For a mo­ment she stopped speaking. Slowly she took out her crucifix. She pointed to the tortured figure of our Lord and then told her son:

"There is somebody who loves you more than mother. Look at His hands and look at mine. There are no nails ploughing mother's hands. There are no nails plunged into mother's feet. There is no spear breaking its cruel way through mother's poor heart. Who loves you most? Yes, Jesus Christ. Always love Him more than anyone, who loves you so much more than even I do."

Love without limit
The love of Christ is without limit. It is a subject so vast that we want to limit our thoughts tonight to the love of Christ as it was shown during His passion and death, the love that prompts one to give his life for another.

Love in the face of affliction
He is truly charitable who remains so in the face of affliction and suffer­ing. Such charity was Christ's. We will pass over for the moment that supreme act of love which impelled Him to die for us. We want to note the acts of kindness and consideration He performed in the midst of the most horrible sufferings of soul and body. Every breath from Gethsemani to Golgotha was a breath of love.

Charity in Gethsemani
As Christ entered the garden He told eight of His apostles to stay be­hind. He wanted to spare them the sight of His bloody sweat, and the sound of His pleading prayer to His Father. He even leaves the chosen three to rest and seek solace in sleep, although their company would have been a consolation to Him.

Here come the soldiers, watching for the sign, the traitorous kiss of Judas. They seize our Lord who thinks only of His followers:
"If, therefore, you seek me, let these go their way." St. John, 18:8.

In that hour of stress St. Peter whipped out his sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. But Christ told the Big Fisherman to put up his sword.

"And he touched his ear and healed him." St. Luke, 22:51.

Jesus stretched out to this man the very hand this fellow had come to
put in chains. What forgiving love, what infinite charity!

During His Passion
During the bitter sufferings of that night Christ bore in patient silence the cruel mistreatment of the soldiers, in order not to provoke their anger and violence and thus increase their guilt. Christ even hoped, by His patience, to move them to pity.
What kindness Christ. showed to St. Peter. After the apostle had denied Him, Christ turns such a loving look upon the leader of His chosen band that he who had sworn he did not know Christ an hour before, now weeps unabashed for his fault.

On the way to Calvary
On the way to Calvary Christ continues His kindness. Veronica does Him the simple service of offering a towel to dry the face that was wet with sweat and blood and spit. Generously our Lord rewards that act by miracu­lously imprinting on the veil the image of His face.

Although dead tired and deeply in need of comfort Himself, our Lord turns to the weeping women and offers them a word of consolation.'

On the Cross
And now think of Christ's love as He hung upon the cross. One would expect that in this terrible torture, in this agony of soul and body, Christ would have no desire or power to show any special love for men in general or for anyone in particular. Yet, He proved that it was Love itself hang­ing there.

He is kind to His murderers, His torturers, His executioners. "Father," He cries, "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." St. Luke, 23:34.

He is kind to the robber on His right, the good thief, who realized and proclaimed publicly the innocence of the Victim in the center. Jesus told him:
"Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." St. Luke, 23:43.

He was kind to His mother when He declared:
"Woman, behold thy son." St. John, 19:27.

He was kind to St. John and to you and me when He left us a merciful mother with the words:
"Behold thy mother." St. John, 19:27.

After Death
And even after death had closed His lips and stopped His heart, Christ continued to show His charity by permitting a soldier to pierce that Sacred Heart with a lance, so that we might all have a loving place of refuge, so that we might peer in and see in that Sacred Heart the boundless love that drove Him to death for the men of all time.

Never should we forget that love. Ever must we keep it in mind. That is one reason Mother Church puts into the official expression of her belief, the Apostles' Creed, the following words:
"I Jesus Christ...who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried."

Greatest Love
In those few words we have the greatest love story ever told. Here we have the fruits of a love greater than any other. And what is this greatest love? In the words of Jesus Himself:

"Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." St. John, 15:13.

Love has gone to its limits when it lays down its life to save a friend. The greatest love was that which prompted Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, to give His life to save you and me. As the Franciscan poet, Father Flavian Larbes, has simply put it:
"And love has reached to its ends,
"When a man shall die for his friends."

Love nailed Him to a Cross
The children in a school of Harrow, England, were once told to write about something they saw in the classroom. There was a crucifix on the wall. One little girl chose this for her subject. She shyly handed the fol­lowing masterpiece to her teacher:

"Look, There is a cross;
"And Jesus is nailed to the cross.
"And He was hurt,
"And He was sad.
"But He knew He was to be nailed to the cross,
"He did not mind,
"He was to be nailed to the cross,
"But He knew He was to be nailed to the cross,
"But He loved us so much
"He had to be nailed to the cross."

There, in child's language, is the reason for the cross, the reason for the sufferings and death of Christ: He loved us so much.

Lovest Thou Me?
Times without number during His life Christ showed His love for all men and especially for His followers. We choose an incident that took place at the sea of Tiberias. St. Peter and several other apostles had fished all night, catching nothing. Suddenly our Lord appeared and told them to cast their net on the right side of the ship. Immediately their net was so filled that they had to drag it to shore.

On landing they noticed "a fire ready and a fish laid upon it and some bread." (St. John 21:9). Christ had prepared a meal for them, knowing they would be hungry and tired.

"Come and breakfast," is our Lord's invitation. St. John, 21:12.

Our Lord waited upon them as they ate. Then He said to Simon Peter: "Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do."

"Yes, Lord," St. Peter answered, "thou knowest that I love thee."

"Feed my lambs," Christ commanded.

"Simon, son of John," our Lord asked a second time, "dost thou love me?"

Again the prince of the apostles declared that he did, and again Christ told him to feed the lambs. For the third time Christ asked the same ques­tion. Somewhat grieved, St. Peter answered:

"Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."

"Feed my sheep," was Christ's final command. St. John, 21:15-17.

Echo of Love
Someone might ask, "If our Lord knew all things, why did He ask St. Peter whether he loved Him?"

Jesus wanted to hear the words of love. Never does Love tire of hearing the echo of His love in the hearts of those He loves. True love always has that mark - it wants to be known and admitted and spoken of. That is even a characteristic of merely human love. It definitely marks God's love for us, and our love for God. That love demands expression, expression in the form of words, expression in the form of sacrifice and service, expression in the form of adoration and spiritual activity.

Love's Return
Shortly after the Little Poor Man of Assisi had founded the great Fran­ciscan Order, a noted friar occupied the pulpit in one of the great cathe­drals of Italy. The edifice was filled to capacity. Dusk darkened the dimly lit sanctuary and the upturned faces of the congregation.

His topic was, "God's Love For Men and Their Response." With pas­sionate eloquence, born of love and zeal, he pictured God's mighty work of creation, the wonders of life that God gave to the body and soul of man, the beauty of all that God had made. He dwelt with particular fervor on the gift of the Only-begotten Son. He described the matchless beauty of Christ's life, the glorious work of redemption, and the precious gifts of grace offered to all who would share them. A solemn stillness hung over every head in that vast throng. By this time the sun had almost gone down, the darkness had deepened, and the congregation could barely make out the form of the brown-robed figure in the pulpit. "Now," he declared solemnly, "let us consider how man has responded to the divine goodness and mercy."

He left the pulpit and walked slowly to the altar. He ascended the steps, seeming to pause on each one. He took one of the candles and lit it. It was the only light in the huge cathedral. Its gleam spot-lighted a huge crucifix hanging above the altar. Slowly and solemnly, and without speak­ing a word, the friar raised the candle until it lit up the wound in the right hand of Christ. Reverently he moved the light over to the wound in the left hand. Then to the wounds in the feet. Oh, how those wounds stood out in that darkness and in that breathless silence. For a moment he held the candle before the pierced heart of Christ, and lastly before the sacred, ago­nized face of the crucified One.

He held it there for a brief time. Not a stir or shuffle could be heard in the audience. He blew out the candle and returned to the sacristy. That sermon those people would never forget.

This Lent we want to look more thoughtfully and lovingly at the crucifix. We want to think of what God did out of love for us, and what we have done in return. We have nailed Him to a cross by our sins.

Look at your Crucifix
Did you ever really look at Christ on the cross? Did you look at Him closely? Did you see how His hands and feet are torn by the nails? Did you notice the gaping wound in His side? Did you observe the crown of thorns above His suffering face? Look at Christ closely and intently. Then ask yourself: Why must He suffer so? Answer your own question: He suffered because of my sins. He suffered out of love for me.

What does the crucifix mean in your life? Christ on the cross - what does He mean to you? Too many of us never really look at the cross. We do not realize what it means.

Make the crucifix a part of your daily life, particularly during Lent. Have a good-sized crucifix in your home where you cannot miss it. Look at that figure on the cruel wood. When tempted, when in pain, when in trouble, look at your crucifix.

Take a good look at your crucifix tonight. Keep it in mind as much as you can. Then you will begin to realize some of the love that led our Lord to give Himself to death for you. Then you will begin to realize that it is Love being crucified. Then you will get your first real lesson of love. Look into the face of Jesus Christ, hold the candle of your thought and devotion up to His face, see His wounds, number His bones, hear His sighs, heed His words. He is meeting the test of love which He laid down Himself:

"Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." St. John, 15:13.

I am that friend for whom Jesus is laying down His life. Why for me? O Lord, do You love me that much, do you love me so ardently, so intensely, so generously, that, not content to suffer for me, You even lay down your life for me. You do it because You made me, made me for Yourself, made me for eternal, undying love. And love - not morality, not faith, not hope­ - but love is my everlasting destiny. I was created for love and here it is.

Too often we forget Christ's love. Too often the world forgets. Too often are the words of the poet true:
"I lived for myself, I thought for myself
"For myself, and none beside­
"Just as if Jesus had never lived,
"As if He had never died."

When I forget that I am unhappy.

Meaning of Love
Just what do we mean by love? In general love is an impulse, a tendency of the soul towards some good. In love of the senses, or sensual love, it is a good which appeals to one of the senses or to the imagination. In rational thinking, love is a moral good which reason tells us is worthy of esteem. In Christian love the good is something which faith points out as good, a good which is above nature and above reason.

Four Elements of Love
In all love we find four ingredients:
1. A sympathy for and a harmony with another person, in so far as they complete each other.

2. An impulse of the soul toward the beloved, a being drawn to him and enjoying his presence.

3. A union or communion of mind and heart wanting to share the posses­sions of both.

4. A sense of pleasure or happiness in possessing the object of our love.

We find all four elements in God's love for us, and in all true love of God. We might illustrate with the story of the fellow who had a quarrel with the girl to whom he was engaged. He suddenly took seriously sick. The doctor pulled him through the critical stage of the disease, but neverthe­less the young man was dying. The doctor happened to meet the estranged sweetheart, who asked how her beloved was getting along.

"Well," answered the doctor, "he's passed the critical stage, but he is dying."

"I don't understand," the young woman insisted, "if he has passed the crisis, why isn't he getting well?"

"He is dying of undying love for you," the doctor explained.

With the doctor she hurried to a florist's shop, bought some beautiful flowers, wrote on a card the words, "With my love," and begged the phy­sician to take it to his patient. The doctor laid the bouquet on the breast of his patient, who was sleeping fitfully. On awaking he whispered: "Thanks for the flowers, doc."

"They are not from me," the doctor said, "you will find the name on the card."

The sick man read the words, "With my love," and the name beneath. He cried out: "Tell me, doc, did she write that of her own free will, or did you beg her to do it."

When the doctor assured him that the girl had written the words out of her heart, the dying man began to get better. Every day the miracle of love worked an improvement. On the ninth day there was a quiet wedding in the hospital room.

God wants to win our love. The Almighty dropped the fairest flower of earth or heaven into the manger at Bethlehem - to win our love. And when that flower was full-blown, the Almighty pinned that Flower to a cross - to win your love and my love. Amen.
Adapted from With Christ Through Lent
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1951)

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

John 4: 5-42

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

[5] He (Jesus) came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. [6] Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was with His journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

[7] There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." [8] For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. [9] The Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. [10] Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." [11] The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do You get that living water? [12] Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" [13] Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, [14] but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water I shall give him become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." [15] The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

[16] Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." [17] The woman answered Him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband.'; [18] for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." [19] The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. [20] Our fathers worshipped on this mountain; and you say in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." [21] Jesus said to
her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. [22] You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. [23] But the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. [24] God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." [25] The woman said to Him, "I know that the Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things." [26] Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

[27] Just then the disciples came. They marvelled that He was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" [28] So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, [29] "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" [30] They went out of the city and were coming to Him.

[31] Meanwhile the disciples besought Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." [32] But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." [33] So the disciples said to one another, "Has any one brought Him food?" [34] Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. [35] Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. [36] He who reaps
receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. [37] For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' [38] I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

[39] Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did." [40] So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. [41] And many more believed because of His word. [42] They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."

4-5. There are two normal routes for going from Judea to Galilee. The shorter one went through the city of Samaria; the other, which followed the Jordan, was longer. Jesus took the Samaria route, perhaps not just because it was shorter and busier but also to have a chance of preaching to the Samaritans. When He was approaching Samaria, near Sychar, the present-day El 'Askar, at the foot of Mount Ebal, He met this Samaritan woman.

6. The Gospels, particularly St. John's, sometimes gives us a little bit of information which seem irrelevant but really are not. Like us, Jesus did get tired, He needed to take regular rest, He felt hunger and thirst; but despite His tiredness He does not waste an opportunity to do good to souls.

"Recollect yourselves and go over the scene again slowly in your minds. Jesus Christ, "perfectus Deus, perfectus homo", is tired out from His travels and His apostolic work. Perhaps there have been times when the same thing has happened to you and you have ended up worn out, because you have reached the limit of your resources. It is a touching sight to see our Master so exhausted. He is hungry too: His disciples have gone to a neighboring village to look for food. And He is thirsty [...].

"Whenever we get tired--in our work, in our studies, in our apostolic endeavors--when our horizon is darkened by lowering clouds, then let us turn our eyes to Jesus, to Jesus who is so good, and who also gets tired; to Jesus who is hungry and suffers thirst. Lord, how well you make yourself understood! How lovable you are! You show us that you are just like us, in everything but sin, so that we can feel utterly sure that, together with you, we can conquer all our evil inclinations, all our faults. For neither weariness nor hunger matters, nor thirst, nor tears...since Christ also grew weary, knew hunger, was thirsty, and wept. What is important is that we struggle to fulfill the will of our Heavenly Father, battling away goodheartedly, for our Lord is always at our side" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 176 and 201).

7. Jesus has come to save what was lost. He spares no effort in this mission. The hostility between Jews and Samaritans was proverbial; but Jesus embraced everyone, He loved all souls and He shed His blood for each and every person. He begins His conversation with this woman, by asking a favor of her--which indicates God's great respect for us: here we have Almighty God asking a mere creature to do Him a favor. "Give Me a drink": Jesus makes this request not just to share His physical thirst but because His love made Him thirst for the salvation of all men. When nailed to the cross He again said: "I thirst" (John 19:28).

9. The Samaritan woman's reply starts the dialogue and shows how well she is responding to the action of grace in her soul: her readiness to talk to Christ, who was a Jew, is the first stage in her change of heart. Later (verse 11), by taking a real interest in what Christ is saying, she opens up further to God's influence. Her religious feelings begin to revive ("our father Jacob": verse 12). Jesus rewards her and she replies truthfully: "I have no husband" (verse 17, omitted); and, seeing that Jesus has penetrated the intimacy of her conscience, she makes an act of faith: "I perceive that You are a prophet" (verse 19).

10. As in His dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus makes use of common expressions, to get across teachings of a much deeper nature. Everyone knows from experience that water is absolutely necessary for human life; similarly, the grace of Christ is absolutely necessary for supernatural life. The water which can truly quench man's thirst does not come from this or any other well: it is Christ's grace, the "living water" which provides eternal life.

Once again, taking occasion of human interests and preoccupations, Jesus awakes a desire for things supernatural; in the same way as He led St. Peter and others away from their work as fishermen to involve them in the apostolic work of being fishers of men, He leads the Samaritan woman away from her chore of drawing water from the well to the point where she desires to find this better water which wells up to eternal life (verse 14).

13-14. Our Lord's reply is surprising and really captures the woman's attention. Here is something greater than Jacob, someone offering her water that will quench her thirst once and for all. Christ is referring to the change worked in every person by sanctifying grace, a share in God's own life, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul, the great gift which those who believe in Him will receive.

We worry about the future, we are full of desires to be happy and at peace; a person who receives our Lord and remains united to Him as a branch to the vine (cf. John 15:4-5) will not only slake his thirst but become a well of living water (cf. John 7:37-39).

16-19. Although the woman cannot yet realize the deep meaning of what He is saying, Jesus uses her growing interest to reveal to her His divinity, little by little: He shows that He knows about her life, the secrets of her heart; He can read her conscience. In this way, He gives her enough to motivate her to make her first act of faith: "I perceive that You are a prophet". Her conversion has begun.

20. The origin of the Samaritan people goes back to the period of the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians in the eight century before Christ (cf. 2 Kings 13:24-31). They were foreigners who very quickly integrated with the Israelites in the region. After the Babylonian captivity they tried to ally themselves with the Jews for political reasons and to contribute to the rebuilding of the temple, but the Jews would have none of them. From that time onwards the Jews and the Samaritans were always hostile to each other (cf. Ezra 4:1ff; John 4:9).

On this occasion, the Samaritan woman, now fully aware that she is speaking to someone of authority, asks our Lord one of the key questions affecting the religious life of the two peoples: where was the right place to offer worship to God; the Jews held that only Jerusalem would do; whereas the Samaritans claimed that the shrine erected on Mount Gerizim was also legitimate (they based their claim on some passages in the Pentateuch: cf. Genesis 12:7; 33:20; 22:2).

21-24. Jesus not only answers the question but takes advantage of it to confirm the value of the teachings of the prophets and thereby reaffirm revealed truth: the Samaritans are in the dark about many of God's plans because they do not accept any revelation not found in the first five books of Sacred Scripture, that is, in the Law of Moses; the Jews, on the other hand, are much nearer the truth because they accept the whole of the Old Testament. But both Samaritans and Jews need to open themselves to the new Revelation of Jesus Christ. With the coming of the Messiah, whom both peoples are awaiting, and who is the true dwelling-place of God among men (cf. John 2:19), the new, definitive, Alliance has begun; and neither Gerizim nor Jerusalem count any more; what the Father wishes is for all to accept the Messiah, His Son, the new temple of God, by offering Him a form of worship which comes right from the heart (cf. John 12:1; 2 Timothy 2:22) and which the Spirit of God Himself stirs people to render (cf. Romans 8:15).

This is why the Church's solemn Magisterium teaches that through Baptism we become true worshippers of God: "By Baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; they die with him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him. They receive the spirit of adoption as sons 'in which we cry, Abba, Father' (Romans 8:15) and thus become true adorers as the Father seeks" (Vatican II, "Sacrosanctum Concilium", 6).

25-26. This is the last stage in the Samaritan woman's conversion: she has come from acknowledging her sins to accepting the true teaching about worshipping the Father in spirit and truth. But she still has to recognize Jesus as the Messiah; on this subject she simply confesses her ignorance. Seeing that she is favorably disposed, Jesus explicitly reveals that He is the Messiah: "I who speak to you am He".

These words of our Lord are especially significant: He declares that He is the Messiah, and He uses words--' He"--which evoke the words Yahweh used to reveal Himself to Moses (cf. Exodus 3:14) and which on Jesus' lips indicate a revelation not only of His messiahship but also of His divinity (cf. John 8:24, 28, 58; 18:6).

27. "During the course of His life on earth, Jesus our Lord had all manner of insults heaped upon Him and was mistreated in every way possible. Remember the way it was rumored that He was a trouble-maker and how He was said to possessed (cf. Matthew 11:18). At other times, demonstrations of His infinite Love were deliberately misinterpreted, and He was accused of being a friend of sinners (cf. Matthew 9:11).

"Later on He, who personified penance and moderation, was accused of haunting the tables of the rich (cf. Luke 19:7). He was also contemptuously referred to as "fabri filius" (Matthew 13:55), the carpenter's son, the worker's son, as if this were an insult. He allowed Himself to be denounced as a glutton and a drunkard....He let His enemies accuse Him of everything, except that He was not chaste. On this point He sealed their lips, because He wanted us to keep a vivid memory of His immaculate example--a wonderful example of purity, of cleanliness, of
light, of a love that can set the whole world on fire in order to purify it.

"For myself, I always like to consider holy purity in the light of our Lord's own behavior. In practicing this virtue, what refinement He showed! See what St. John says about Jesus when "fatigatus ex itinere, sedebat sic super fontem" (John 4:6), wearied as He was from the journey, He was sitting by the well. [...]

"But tired though His body is, His thirst for souls is even greater. So when the Samaritan woman, the sinner, arrives, Christ with His priestly heart turns eagerly to save the lost sheep, and He forgets His tiredness, His hunger and His thirst.

Our Lord was busy with this great work of charity the Apostles came back from the village, and they "mirabantur quia cum muliere loquebatur" (John 4:27), they were astonished to find Him taking to a woman alone. How careful He was! What love He had for the beautiful virtue of holy purity, that virtue which helps us to be stronger, more manly, more fruitful, better able to work for God, and more capable of undertaking great things!" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 176).

28-30. Grace brings about an amazing change in this woman. Now her whole thinking centers around Jesus; she forgets what brought her to the well' she leaves her pitcher behind her and goes off to the town to tell people about her discovery. "The Apostles, when they were called, left their nets; this woman leaves her water jar and proclaims the Gospel, calling not just one person but influencing the whole city" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 33). Every genuine conversion is necessarily projected towards others, in a desire to have them share in the joy of encountering Jesus.

32-38. Our Lord uses the occasion to speak about a spiritual form of food--doing the will of God. He has just brought about the conversion of a sinful woman and His spirit feels replete. The conversion of souls must be the Apostles' food also, and the food of all those who through priestly ordination are sacramentally associated with Christ's ministry (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 11:27-29). Apostolic work sometimes means sowing, with no apparent results, and sometimes reaping where others sowed. The Apostles will reap what was generously sown by the patriarchs and prophets and especially by Christ. And they in their turn must prepare the ground, with the same generosity, so that others can later reap the harvest.

But it is not only ministers who have this apostolic role: all the faithful are called to take part in the work of apostolate: "Since all Christians have different gifts they should collaborate in the work of the Gospel, each according to his opportunity, ability, charism and ministry; all who sow and reap, plant and water, should be one so that 'working together for the same end in a free and orderly manner' they might together devote their powers to the building up of the Church (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 28).

39-42. This episode shows a whole evangelization process at work, beginning with the Samaritan woman's enthusiasm. 'The same think happens today with those who are outside, who are not Christians: they receive tidings of Christ through Christian friends; like that woman, they learn of Christ through the Church; then they come to Christ, that is, they believe in Christ through this report, and then Jesus stays two days among them and many more believe, and believe more firmly, that He indeed is the Savior of the world" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 15, 33).
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.

2nd Reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

From: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

Reconciliation Through Christ's Sacrifice, the Basis of our Hope

[1] Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through Him we have obtained access
to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing
the glory of God. [5] And (this) hope does not disappoint us, because
God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who
has been given to us.

[6] While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the
ungodly. [7] Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man--though
perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. [8] But God shows
His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.


1-5. In this very moving passage God helps us see "the divine
interlacing of the three theological virtues which form the backing
upon which the true life of every Christian man or woman has to be
woven" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 205). Faith, hope and
charity act in us in turn, causing us to grow in the life of grace.
Thus, faith leads us to know and be sure of things we hope for (cf.
Hebrews 11:1); hope ensures that we shall attain them, and enlivens our
love of God; charity, for its part, gives us energy to practise the
other two theological virtues. The definitive outcome of this growth
in love, faith and hope is the everlasting peace that is of the essence
of eternal life.

As long as we are in this present life we do have peace to some
degree--but with tribulation. Therefore, the peace attainable in this
life does not consist in the contentment of someone who wants to have
no problems, but rather in the resoluteness full of hope ("character")
of someone who manages to rise above suffering and stays faithful
through endurance. Suffering is necessary for us, because it is the
normal way to grow in virtue (cf. James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:5-7); that is
why it is providential (cf. Philippians 1:19; Colossians 1:24) and
leads to joy and happiness (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

"A person who hopes for something and strives eagerly to attain it is
ready to endure all kinds of difficulty and distress. Thus, for
example, a sick person if he is eager to be healthy, is happy to take
the bitter medicine which will cure him. Therefore, one sign of the
ardent hope that is ours thanks to Christ is that we glory not only in
the hope of future glory, but also in the afflictions which we suffer
in order to attain it" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on Romans, ad.

A person who lives by faith, hope and charity realizes that suffering
is not something meaningless but rather is designed by God for our
perfecting. Perfection consists "in the bringing of our wills so
closely into conformity with the will of God that, as soon as we
realize He wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might,
and take the bitter with the sweet, knowing that to be His Majesty's
will [...]. If our love is perfect, it has this quality of leading us
to forget our own pleasure in order to please Him whom we love. And
that is indeed what happens" (St. Teresa of Avila, "Book of
Foundations", Chapter 5).

5. The love which St. Paul speaks of here is, at one and the same time,
God's love for us--manifested in His sending the Holy Spirit--and the
love which God places in our soul to enable us to love Him. The Second
Council of Orange, quoting St. Augustine, explains this as follows: "To
love God is entirely a gift of God. He, without being loved, loves us
and enabled us to love Him. We were loved when we were still
displeasing to Him, so that we might be given something whereby we
might please Him. So it is that the Spirit of the Father and the Son,
whom we love with the Father and the son, pours charity into our
hearts" (Second Council of Orange, "De Gratia", Canon 25; cf. St.
Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 102, 5).

6-11. The friendship which reigned in Paradise between God and man was
followed by the enmity created by Adam's sin. By promising a future
redeemer, God once more offered mankind His friendship. The scale of
God's love for us can be seen in the "reconciliation" which the Apostle
speaks about, which took place on the Cross, when Christ did away with
this enmity, making our peace with God and reconciling us to Him (cf.
Ephesians 2:15-16).

The petition in the Our Father, "Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those that trespass against us", is an invitation to imitate
the way God treats us, because by loving our enemies "there shines
forth in us some likeness to God our Father, who, by the death of His
Son, ransomed from everlasting perdition and reconciled to Himself the
human race, which before was most unfriendly and hostile to Him" ("St.
Pius V Catechism", IV, 14, 19).
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.