Saturday, April 05, 2008

Just for Today, April 6

With two wings a man is lifted up above earthly things: that is, with simplicity and purity. Simplicity must be in the intention, purity in the affection.
Sim­plicity aims at God, purity takes hold of Him and tastes Him.

-Bk. II, ch. iv.

Within these walls the child-like soul
Will find her heart's desire,
Simplicity and love will give
Her wings that cannot tire.
The gentle dove need never fear
The cruel bird of prey;
The soul can, like the soaring lark,
Rise heavenwards all day.

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 - April 6

The world is full of inconstancy; its friendship ceases the moment there is no advantage to be expected from us.

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

Meditation for April 6, The Happiness of Meditating

Many people complain of never having time to reflect. One of the most distinguished ministers of contemporary England com­plained that "today, no one, whether he is in business or politics, has time to think."

Some would like to have time to meditate; but the time is not given to them, or at least they imagine they have not time.

Others, having sufficient leisure, would be able to meditate but they do not wish to, or do not deign to, or do not in fact even give it a thought.

Thus the majority follow a shadowy road to an end without light; they know neither what they are doing nor what they ought to do, nor where they are going; with eyes blindfolded they follow the way to death.

I have an opportunity to reflect, to think, to meditate. I am given the time, and knowing the major importance of prayer, I am more than permitted a personal contact with God, I am obliged to force myself to it; it is a point of the Rule.

Do I profit as I should from the immense graces that God grants me, the facilities given me, and the suggestions offered me? Do I not consider meditation a drudgery rather than a precious advan­tage? If it depended on me alone, would I not often omit this exercise which sometimes seems fastidious and profitless.

Fastidious? No one pretends that prayer has only charms. To arrive at the heart of the fruit I must break the tasteless outer skin. But what folly to imagine that the Most High is going to reveal the secrets of the King without making me buy them at their true price. To those who persevere God opens His treasures.

And no one may say that meditation is profitless. When it is marked by aridity, we give ourselves to God. When it is full of consolation, God gives Himself to us. In both cases the profit is enormous.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Saturday, 2nd Week of Easter

From: John 6:16-21

Jesus Walks on the Water

[16] When evening came, His (Jesus') disciples went down to the sea, [17] got into the boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. [18] The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing. [19] When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, [20] but He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." [21] Then they were glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.


16-21. It seems the disciples were disconcerted because darkness had fallen, the sea was getting rough and Jesus had still not appeared. But our Lord does not abandon them; when they had been rowing for some five kilometers (three miles), He arrives unexpectedly, walking on the water--to strengthen their faith, which was still weak.

In meditating on this episode Christian tradition has seen the boat as symbolizing the Church, which will have to cope with many difficulties and which our Lord has promised to help all through the centuries (cf. Matthew 28:20); the Church, therefore, will always remain firm. St. Thomas Aquinas comments: "The wind symbolizes the temptations and persecution the Church will suffer due to lack of love. For, as St. Augustine says, when love grows cold, the sea become rougher and the boat begins to founder. Yet the wind, the storm, the waves and the darkness will fail to put it off course and wreck it" ("Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

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

Friday, April 04, 2008

Just for Today, April 5

I here offer and present to Thee the excessive joys of all devout hearts, their ardent affections, their ecstasies and supernatural illuminations and heavenly visions; together with all the virtues and praises which are or shall be celebrated by all creatures in heaven and earth; for myself and all such as are recommended to my prayers; that by all Thou mayest be worthily praised and glorified for ever.

Receive my wishes, O Lord, my God, and my desires of giving Thee infinite praise and immmense blessings, which, according to the multitude of Thy unspeakable greatness, are most justly due to Thee. These I render, and desire to render Thee every day and every moment; and I invite and entreat all the heavenly spirits and all the faithful, with my prayers and affections, to join with me in giving Thee praises and thanks.

-Bk. IV, ch. xvii.

As for my thanksgiving, at no time do I enjoy less consolation. But that is only to be expected as I receive Our Lord to please Him, not for my own satisfaction. I think of my soul as a piece of waste ground, and ask Our Lady to clear away the heaps of rubbish, which are my imperfections. Then I ask her to set up a tent and adorn it with her own hangings, and I invite all the angels and saints to come and sing hymns of praise. Our Lord seems very pleased with His splendid recep­tion, and this makes me happy, although it does not prevent me from falling asleep or being troubled with distractions, so that I frequently make a resolution to continue my thanksgiving throughout the day, as I have made it so badly in church.

-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 - April 5

Before engaging in your private devotions, per­form those which obedience and your duty toward your neighbor impose upon you in such a man­ner as to make an abnegation of self.

-Ven. Louis de Blois
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 April 5, Life is Fleeting

A very old inscription discovered in the Indies reads: "Jesus - ­may He be praised - has said, 'The world is a bridge, pass over it but do not build a dwelling there.'"

If there is one characteristic teaching in the Gospel, it is this, do not cling to transitory things, build on the eternal.

In breaking with the world to enter religion, I intended to break with the affairs of temporal life and to devote myself to eternal things; I understood that earth was commonplace and only heaven was worth possessing. This satisfaction of having chosen the best, alleviated the too natural pangs suffered in separating myself from insignificant and secondary values.

I gave myself to God, to live for God and in God alone with no compromise, no turning back. That was explicit and final.

And have not the temporalities of life drawn me back imper­ceptibly, little by little? Have I not, unknowingly and perhaps even somewhat consciously reverted to the world or the spirit of the world? Is the beautiful detachment which characterized the beginning of my religious life still my chief concern? I wanted merely to pass by; have I not taken hold of something? Do I not cling to many temporal things? Or rather are there not many things clinging to me, keeping me from advancing?
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy

If there was any confusion at all about the focus of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, Pope Benedict XVI quickly dispelled it during the opening Mass in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday morning.

The first-ever congress on mercy would focus not on mercy in general, but Divine Mercy specifically. The Holy Father himself referred to the Congress as the "World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy."

It's not just a matter of semantics. The message of Divine Mercy, as revealed to St. Faustina in the 1930s, sheds light on the nature of God as Merciful Father. It calls on the world to trust in Jesus, to receive His mercy, and to share that mercy with the world through our actions. It's a message that Pope John Paul II believed was particularly suited to our times.

In his homily, delivered before more than 40,000 people, Pope Benedict XVI set the stage for the five-day world congress, tying it in with the Pontificate of John Paul II, known as the "Great Mercy Pope," who tirelessly promoted the message of God's mercy and who canonized St. Faustina, whose revelations have sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement.

"In fact, only Divine Mercy is capable of limiting evil; only God's all-powerful love can overcome the arrogance of the wicked, and the destructive power of selfishness and hatred," the Holy Father said in his homily....

Florence priest 'made £3m from fake exorcisms'

A senior priest in Florence is under investigation for fraud after allegedly amassing £3 million by performing fake exorcisms.

Prosecutors said that Father Francesco Saverio Bazzoffi would "stage shows" at the House of the Sainted Archangels, an organisation he founded.
Fr Bazzoffi, who heads the matrimony office of the diocese of Florence, was publicly cautioned against performing exorcisms last October by the Archbishop of the city, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli.
Fr Bazzoffi denies that he had "ever practised" exorcisms and admitted that he did not have a licence. "I have always only carried out blessings," he said. He added that he "welcomed" the cardinal's admonition, since "it showed that work like mine can trigger suspicion".....

The America of Benedict XVI, a Model for Catholic Europe

The agenda of the papal voyage to the United States. And a major study by the Pew Forum. On the nation in which the religions are the most changeable in the world, losing or gaining faithful each day.

by Sandro Magister

Diogenes on Fr. Joe Kempf and his homiletic helper, Big Al, the puppet

Father Joe Kempf and his companion Big Al made an appearance at LA's Religious Ed Convention earlier this year. The former presided at the Young Adult-themed Mass held in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. Father Joe is the author of No One Cries the Wrong Way: Seeing God Through Tears. If you have a long masochistic streak, you can watch a video of Father Joe in homiletic action, with his puppet, here.

Most of us will find the performance cringe-making. For the L.A. Mass we see the words to Dan Schutte's "Here I Am, Lord" Power Pointed onto the rood screen. It's pretty safe to say that if you like Dan Schutte, you'll appreciate Father Joe.

And it is, importantly, a performance. That in itself means a bad fit at Mass. But the wrongness goes deeper. The Jesus that Fr. Joe offers us is uniformly and extravagantly soft, uniformly and extravagantly sweet. It might be objected that this super-sugary Jesus is aimed not at parents but at children, yet I think even a child would recognize something morbid in the figure of a man lacking the strength and authority proper to manhood -- not to mention Kempf's amputation of the severity (intermingled with compassion) that Jesus displays in the Gospels....
Continued here....

Fr. Kempf is pastor of Assumption Parish is O'Fallon, Missouri. For those who might not recall, He received the "Great Preacher Award" from Aquinas Institute back in 2004.

Edwardsville woman says priest coerced her abortion

EDWARDSVILLE --An Edwardsville woman claims in a lawsuit that she became pregnant after having sex with a Catholic priest and had an abortion at his suggestion.

The woman, Holly Force, could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, David E. Leefers, of Jacksonville, declined comment. Force and her husband, Christopher, are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed this week in Madison County.

The priest, the Rev. Thomas R. Szydlik, who has not been charged with any crime in connection with the allegation, did not return a call seeking comment. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, in a prepared statement, said Szydlik "vehemently and adamantly denies" the allegations but has voluntarily stepped down from ministry until the matter is resolved. Also named as defendants are the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and diocese officials....

Gospel for Friday, 2nd Week of Easter

From: John 6:1-15

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fish

[1] After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. [2] And a multitude followed Him, because they saw the signs which He did on those who were diseased. [3] Jesus went up into the hills, and there sat down with His disciples. [4] Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. [5] Lifting up His eyes, then, seeing that a multitude was coming to Him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" [6] This He said to test them, for He Himself knew what He would do. [7] Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." [8] One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, [9] "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" [10] Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so men sat down, in number about five thousand. [11] Jesus then took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. [12] And when they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." [13] So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. [14] When the people saw the sign which He had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"
[15] Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by Himself.

1. This is the second lake formed by the river Jordan. It is sometimes described in the Gospels as the "Lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1), because that is the name of the area on the north-eastern bank of the lake, and sometimes as the "Sea of Galilee" (Matthew 4:18; 15:29; Mark 1:16; 7:31), after the region in which it is located. St. John also calls it the "Sea of Tiberias" (cf. 21:1), after the city of that name which Herod Antipas founded and named after the Emperor Tiberius. InJesus' time there were a number of towns on the shore of this lake--Tiberias, Magdala, Capernaum, Bethsaida, etc.--and the shore was often the setting for His preaching.

2. Although St. John refers to only seven miracles and does not mention others which are reported in the Synoptics, in this verse and more expressly at the end of the Gospel (20:30; 21:25) he says that the Lord worked many miracles; the reason why the evangelist, under God's inspiration, chose these seven must surely be because they best suited His purpose--to highlight certain facets of the mystery of Christ. He now goes on to recount the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a miracle directly connected with the discourses at Capernaum in which Jesus presents Himself as "the bread of life" (6:35, 48).

4. St. John's Gospel often mentions Jewish feasts when referring to events in our Lord's public ministry--as in the case here (cf. "The Dates of the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ", in the "The Navarre Bible: St. Mark", pp. 49ff, and "Introduction to the Gospel according to St. John", pp. 13ff above).

Shortly before this Passover Jesus works the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, which prefigures the Christian Easter and the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist, as He Himself explains in the discourse, beginning at verse 26 in which He promises Himself as nourishment for our souls.

5-9. Jesus is sensitive to people's material and spiritual needs. Here we see Him take the initiative to satisfy the hunger of the crowd of people who have been following Him.

Through these conversations and the miracle He is going to work, Jesus also teaches His disciples to trust in Him whenever they meet up with difficulties in their apostolic endeavors in the future: they should engage in them using whatever resources they have--even if they are plainly inadequate, as was the case with the five loaves and two fish. He will supply what is lacking. In the Christian life we must put what we have at the service of our Lord, even if we do not think it amounts to very much. He can make meager resources productive.

"We must, then, have faith and not be dispirited. We must not be stopped by any kind of human calculation. To overcome the obstacles we have to throw ourselves into the task so that the very effort we make will open up new paths" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 160).

10. The evangelist gives us an apparently unimportant piece of information: "there was much grass in the place." This indicates that the miracle took place in the height of the Palestinian spring, very near the Passover, as mentioned in verse 4. There are very few bigmeadows in Palestine; even today there is one on the eastern bank of the Lake of Gennesaret, called El-Batihah, where five thousand people could fit seated: it may have been the site of this miracle.

11. The account of the miracle begins with almost the very same words as those which the Synoptics and St. Paul use to describe the institution of the Eucharist (cf. Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25). This indicates that the miracle, in addition to being an _expression of Jesus' mercy towards the needy, is a symbol of the Blessed Eucharist, about which our Lord will speak a little later on (cf. John 6:26-59).

12-13. The profusion of detail shows how accurate this narrative is--the names of the Apostles who address our Lord (verses 5,8), the fact that they were barley loaves (verse 9), the boy who provided the wherewithal (verse 9) and, finally, Jesus telling them to gather up the leftovers.

This miracle shows Jesus' divine power over matter, and His largesse recalls the abundance of messianic benefits which the prophets had foretold (cf. Jeremiah 31:14).

Christ's instruction to pick up the leftovers teaches us that material resources are gifts of God and should not be wasted: they should be used in a spirit of poverty (cf. note on Mark 6:42). In this connection Paul VI pointed out that "after liberally feeding the crowds, the Lord told His disciples to gather up what was left over, lest anything should be lost (cf. John 6:12). What an excellent lesson in thrift--in the finest and fullest meaning of the term--for our age, given as it is to wastefulness! It carries with it the condemnation of a whole concept of society wherein consumption tends to become an end in itself, with contempt for the needy, and to the detriment, ultimately, of those very people who believed themselves to be its beneficiaries, having become incapable of perceiving that man is called to a higher destiny" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Address to Participants at the World Food Conference", 9 November 1974).

14-15. The faith which the miracle causes in the hearts of these people is still very imperfect: they recognize Him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15), but they are thinking in terms of an earthly, political messianism; they want to make Him king because they think the Messiah's function is to free them from Roman domination.

Our Lord, who later on (verses 26-27) will explain the true meaning of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, simply goes away, to avoid the people proclaiming Him for what He is not. In His dialogue with Pilate (cf. John 18:36) He will explain that His kingship "is not of this world": "The Gospels clearly show that for Jesus anything that would alter His mission as the Servant of Yahweh was a temptation (cf. Matthew 4:8: Luke 4:5). He does not accept the position of those who mixed the things of God with merely political attitudes (cf. Matthew
22:21; Mark 12:17; John 18:36). [...] The perspective of His mission is much deeper. It consists in complete salvation through transforming, peacemaking, pardoning, and reconciling love. There is no doubt, moreover, that all this makes many demands on the Christian who wishes truly to serve his least brethren, the poor, the needy, the outcast; in a word, all those who in their lives reflect the sorrowing face of the Lord (cf. "Lumen Gentium", 8)" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Opening Address to the Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops", 28 January 1979).

Christianity, therefore, must not be confused with any social or political ideology, however excellent. "I do not approve of committed Christians in the world forming a political-religious movement. That would be madness, even if it were motivated by a desire to spread the spirit of Christ in all the activities of men. What we have to do is put God in the heart of every single person, no matter who he is. Let us try to speak then in such a way that every Christian is able to bear witness to the faith he professes by example and word in his own circumstances, which are determined alike by his place in the Church and in civil life, as well as by ongoing events.

"By the very fact of being a man, a Christian has a full right to live in the world. If he lets Christ live and reign in his heart, he will feel--quite noticeably--the saving effectiveness of our Lord in everything he does" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 183).
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, April 03, 2008

Just for Today, April 4

If I am left to myself, behold I am nothing, and all weakness; but if Thou shouldst graciously look upon me, I presently become strong, and am filled with a new joy. It is very wonderful that I am so quickly raised up, and so graciously embraced by Thee; I who by my own weight am always sinking to the bottom.

-Bk. III, ch. viii.

If Thou wilt have me to be in darkness, be Thou blessed; and if Thou wilt have me to be in light, by :Thou again blessed.

-Bk. III, ch. xvii.


Do not be afraid to tell Our Lord that you love Him, eyen if you do not feel it; this will compel Him to come to your assistance, to carry you as though you were a little child unable to walk. If the little child is afraid of the darkness and troubled because he cannot see the One who is carrying him, let him close his eyes; this is the only sacrifice Jesus asks of him. By remaining thus in peace, the night will no longer frighten him, because he cannot see it. Soon, if not joy, at any rate peace will be restored to his soul.

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 - April 4

It is a fault, not a virtue, to wish your humility recognized and applauded.

-St. Bernard
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 April 4, The Landslide

When we ascend from St. Laurent du Pont to the Grande Chartreuse, we pass the place the Fathers call the desert, a heap of ruins about eight miles from the monastery. Large cellars dug in the rock have been laid bare; enormous walls are toppling down; rough stones are piled one on top of the other. There, at one time, stood the vast buildings of their distillery.

A few years ago, in the middle of the night, there was a land­slide; the whole side of the mountain loosened itself and slid down. In a few moments the buildings were overturned and the cellars broken open. What before had been a group of buildings some several hundred feet long and two floors high had rolled away. The neighboring road was completely obstructed and the valley of Guiers, on the other side of the road, was almost filled in with the debris.

During the evening of the unfortunate occurrence as well as in the middle of the night the monks had heard ominous noises but had not suspected such an approaching catastrophe. The land which had been worked loose by the action of underground waters slipped away and the havoc was wrought. The fissures no doubt had been there for a long time, but they had remained invisible. It took a crisis to reveal the cause.

We are sometimes surprised by certain manifestations of dis­loyalty in the community. Exteriorly, nothing was evident, but it is certain that underneath, in the depths, a dangerous infiltration was working and a slow erosion was taking place. Can we not rec­ognize now that certain infidelities were the fissures of our spiritual life. We were not careful, at least not so careful as we should have been. Then suddenly one fine morning our spiritual edifice crashes to the ground. The foundations we believed capable of withstand­ing any strain gave way, the strongest pillars crumbled, all was laid waste.

Voluntary negligences at prayer, persistent uncharitableness, wilful disobediences, intentional and more serious faults against poverty are all fissures and, perhaps dreadful fissures. We must be vigilant and center our attention on the slipping mountain.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Thousands Wowed by Co-Cathedral

An interesting piece from Houston:

Pomp, circumstance and celebration was surely the order of the day downtown.

It was the dedication of the new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.....

Ten years of planning, three years of building and several trips across an ocean were needed to create the new Galveston-Houston Catholic Archdiocese Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston.....

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo led the congregation in a traditional Catholic mass....

But this one statement struck me as odd...a "traditional Catholic mass". Was there no liturgical dancing? No clowns? No puppets? Was Holy Mass celebrated with too much reverence, awe, and mystery? Was there no "make-it-up-as-we-go-along" bits by the celebrant?

It's telling when such a statement is placed into an article like this.

The Church Betrayed? (Germain Grisez)

Why does Catholic Relief Services forbid putting its logo on the “educational” materials it provides about HIV and condoms? It is time for the US bishops to investigate their charitable agency.

Grisez finds troubling reasons for looking into this organization. The wolves within need to be exposed and banished from Catholic institutions such as this. This merely serves as confirmation of why I contribute nothing to any USCCB project or organization with USCCB oversight. Most seem to have been overtaken by leftists/socialists who ignore, reject, or diminish Church teaching.

A good, in-depth article at Catholic World Report...

New Archbishop for Mobile

From yesterday's news:
Vatican City, Apr 2, 2008 / 10:08 am (CNA).- Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop Thomas John Rodi of Biloxi, Mississippi as Archbishop of Mobile, Alabama. The archbishop-elect will also serve as the temporary Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Biloxi until another bishop is appointed....

As the archbishop of Mobile, he will succeed Archbishop Oscar Hugh Lipscomb who submitted his resignation to the Vatican after reaching the retirement age of 75 over a year ago....

Yakima Bishop Regrets Hiring Child Porn Suspect

YAKIMA -- The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima said Tuesday he regrets hiring a retreat director known to be under investigation of child pornography charges in Oregon, saying it "wasn't a good hire."

Juan Jose Gonzalez, 37, of Cowiche is being held with bail set at $80,000 at the Yakima County Jail on a fugitive warrant issued in Marion County, Ore. He faces four charges of encouraging child sex abuse, a felony, according to Yakima County Superior Court records....

It was known that this guy was being investigated, but he was hired, nonetheless..."History is history..." as Archbishop Wilton Gregory stated years ago. Some people just don't seem to get it.

Washington Catholic Schools Going 'Charter'?

From Catholic Schools to Charters: What's Left?

The bottom line is clear, says Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl: The Catholic Church can no longer afford to run a full complement of inner-city parochial schools serving a population that is, by an overwhelming majority, non-Catholic.

So, facing a deficit of about $50 million over the next five years, the church is moving to convert at least seven D.C. elementary schools into secular, taxpayer-funded charter schools.

"We simply don't have the resources to keep all those schools open," Wuerl said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors the other day. "We have exhausted the resources available to us...."

Catholic League on Jay Leno - Again

Jay Leno apologized yesterday for asking actor Ryan Phillippe to give his “gayest look” during a recent show. The actor was quite uncomfortable with Leno’s quip and the late-night host came under fire by gay rights groups for his remarks.

Commenting today is Catholic League president Bill Donohue:

“We have a fat file on Leno’s anti-Catholic comments, and with the lone exception of his phone call to me apologizing for his Catholic-bashing rant on February 7, 1997, we haven’t heard a word from him regarding our many complaints. Just last July we issued a news release calling him to task for bashing priests and the pope six times in five weeks. And he was at it again on February 18 of this year, leading me to ask the show’s executive producer Debbie Vickers the following question: ‘It is not likely that all of Leno’s writers are bigots, so could you please identify the person who is obsessed with bashing the Catholic Church?....’

Gospel for Thursday, 2nd Week of Easter

From: John 3:31-36

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)

(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [31] "He who comes from above is above all; he who is on the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; He who comes from Heaven is above all. [32] He bears witness to what He has seen and heard, yet no one receives His testimony; [33] he who receives His testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. [34] For He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that He gives the Spirit; [35] the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. [36] He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him."


31-36. This paragraph shows us Christ's divinity, His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the share those have in God's eternal life who believe in Jesus Christ. Outside of faith there is no life nor any room for hope.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Just for Today, April 3

In peace, in the self-same, that is in Thee, the one sovereign eternal Good, I will sleep and I will rest. Amen (Ps. iv).

-Bk. III, ch. xv.

During Lent of last year I was feeling stronger than ever, and in spite of the rigorous fast my health kept up to the end, when, in the early hours of Good Friday, Our Lord gave me reason to hope that I would soon go to join Him in Heaven.

I had not been given leave to spend the whole night before the altar of repose, and so I went up to our cell at about midnight on Thursday. No sooner had I laid my head on the pillow than I felt a warm flood rise suddenly to my lips. I felt as though I were dying, and rejoiced at the thought.

As I had put out our little lamp, I mortified my curiosity and fell asleep peacefully. When I was called at five o'clock, I remembered that there was a pleasant discovery to be made, and on going to the window I found our handkerchief all stained with blood. I was convinced that our loving Lord had given me a first warning on the anniversary of His death, a faint murmur which told me that his joyful coming was not far distant.

- 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 - April 3

God pardons sin; but He will not pardon the will to sin.

-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 April 3, The Impartiality of Death

Someone wrote on the tombstone of a young person: "Death is not polite, it gives the young precedence over the old."

There is, in fact, no age peculiar to death. The popular com­ment upon a premature death is often: "She is too young to die." Any age is the proper age for dying, hence we have the warning of the Good Master: Hold yourselves in readiness.

When St. Margaret Mary was dying, her companions in religion asked her if anything could be done for her. The saint could only answer, "No, I am ready."

Perhaps I can already count many years to my life and say that my turn cannot be far distant, it may be only a matter of a few weeks, months, or years. Even if I am still young, I cannot count too much on youth, hoping to forestall death by long years of life. It doesn't take much to die.

I must not be immoderately and anxiously preoccupied with the day or the hour of my death, that will come when God wills it. He knows that I love Him. I will entrust myself entirely to Him.

"I offer You in advance, my Good Master, all that I have and all that I am. Dispose of me according to Your good pleasure. Whether death come soon or later, I accept it willingly. Provided that I die in Your love and embracing You, my Good Master, I ask nothing more. May my death be my last act of love, the best of all my acts of love. Amen."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Three Years Ago...


Pope John Paul II has died

Rome, Apr. 2, 2005 ( - Pope John Paul II (bio - news) died late on Saturday night, April 2, ending one of the longest and most influential pontificates in the history of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father remained "extraordinarily serene" during his final illness, according to his spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He had suffered heart failure the previous evening while being treated for an infection of his urinary tract. As his condition deteriorated rapidly during the day on Friday and then Saturday, with his body wracked by septic shock and kidney failure, the Pope remained in prayer with his closest aides, losing consciousness only late in the evening before his death....
Sometimes, it does us good to slow down from the hustle of daily life and recall certain events of our lives on this earth...

Gospel for Wednesday, 2nd Week of Easter

Optional Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, hermit
Old Calendar: St. Francis of Paola, confessor

From: John 3:16-21

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)

(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [16] "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. [18] He who believes in Him is not condemned; He who does not believe is condemned already, because He had not believed in the name of the only Son of God. [19] And this is the judgment, that the light has come into world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. [20] For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. [21] But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God."


16-21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ's death is the supreme sign of God's love for men (cf. the section on charity in the "Introduction to the Gospel according to John": pp. 31ff above). "`For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son' for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God's kindness, mercy and love for us. `God is love' (1 John 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. `(He) loved me', St. Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself--`He loved me, and gave Himself for me' (Galatians 2:20)" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Homily on Corpus Christi", 13 June1976).

Christ's self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to His great love for us: "If it is true that God has created us, that He has redeemed us, that He loves us so much that He has given up His only-begotten Son for us (John 3:16), that He waits for us--every day!--as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Luke 15:11-32), how can we doubt that He wants us to respond to Him with all our love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget Him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of His grace" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 251).

"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This [...] is why Christ the Redeemer `fully reveals man to himself'. If we may use the __expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. [...] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly [...] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into Him with all his own self, he must `appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself.

How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he `gained so great a Redeemer', ("Roman Missal, Exultet" at Easter Vigil), and if God `gave His only Son' in order that man `should not perish but have eternal life'. [...]

`Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ's mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in Him as a first prerequisite to sharing in His love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. "He who does not believe is condemned already" (verse 18).

"The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man's sin and the blessing of God. [...] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, savior, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 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.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Just for Today, April 2

Love feels no burthen, values no labours, would willingly do more than it can; complains not of im­possibility, because it conceives that it may and can do all things. It is able, therefore, to do anything, and it performs and effects many things, where he that loves not, faints and lies down.
-Bk. III, ch. v.

Do not grieve at your apparent helplessness. When we begin the day feeling that we have neither the courage nor the strength for the practice of virtue, this is a grace, for now the axe is laid to the root of the tree (Matt. iii, 10), because we rely upon Our Lord only. If we fall, we make amends by an act of love, and Jesus smiles once more. He helps us without appearing to do so, and our weak, imperfect love wipes away the tears that wicked men cause Him to shed.

Love can do all things; even impossibilities become easy and pleasant. Our Lord does not consider in the first place whether our actions are great, or difficult to perform; He looks above all at the love with which we perform them. So we need have no fear.

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 - April 2

Unite all your works to the merits of Jesus Christ, and then offer them up to the eternal Father if you desire to make them pleasing to Him.

-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 April 2, Reparation

"How ardently we must love our Beloved in order to console Him for so much ingratitude." This was 'a reflection of a young girl, who yearned to make reparation.

What is more simple to understand than the need for reparation. A mother has been offended by one of her children, the others surround her and falling on their knees say, "Mother, do not pay any attention to our big brother who has hurt you. We little ones will love you twice as much."

God is insulted. Jesus is not loved. When we have grasped the full import of these words are we not impelled to make compensation? We know we must love Him since it is our duty, but we will double our love in order to offer some reparation for the insults and coldness of the other members of the Christian family as well as of the whole human race.

An authority on the doctrine of Reparation has said, "A soul dedicated to reparation is one who is sufficiently attentive to be aware of the evil in the world and sufficiently recollected to be always mindful of it; sufficiently sensitive to suffer for it habitually, and sufficiently generous to offer herself as a victim of expiation.

"She has meditated at the feet of Jesus Christ, she has contemplated Him on the Cross streaming with blood and has been convinced that there is a great difference, a great strife between God and the human race: on the part of God, a love of infinite depth, a love which inclines Him toward man with a passionate desire to help him, to save him, to make him happy; on the part of man, misused gifts, monstrous blindness, a weak, perverse will. A soul of reparation is instinctively drawn towards both Jesus and her brethren, manifesting a tender compassion to the One, and to the others, the support of her prayers and sacrifices."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Nun pleads guilty to stealing....

...apparently had a gambling problem.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A Roman Catholic nun accused of stealing from the Omaha Archdiocese and gambling much of the money away has pleaded guilty to theft.

An attorney says Sister Barbara Markey pleaded Monday to theft of more than $1,500. Defense attorney J. William Gallup says she also agreed to pay $125,000 in restitution....

Don't neglect to pray for her!

Clinton Rally at Eerie PA Catholic College Causes Bishop to Cancel Appearance

From LifeSiteNews:

ERIE, PA, March 31, 2008 ( - Hillary Clinton is going to hold a campaign rally at Mercyhurst College tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1, 2008. The Catholic College boasts of the pro-abortion Senator and Presidential candidate's appearance on its web page. has also learned that Erie Bishop Donald W. Trautman has cancelled his scheduled appearance at the upcoming Mercyhurst graduation ceremony in protest....

University President Thomas Gamble permitted the Clinton appearance despite a directive from the United States Conference of Bishops which specifically forbids pro-abortion politicians from such engagements....
Catholic colleges and universities desperately need to rid themselves of such officials who foment division and scandal. Parents who are considering sending their children to so-called Catholic institutions of higher learning need to know which ones to avoid.

Scandal: 96 Catholic Universities Have Pro-Homosexual Clubs

Historically, Catholic universities have been beacons of truth. They have set a standard of intellectual progress and moral excellence. They have elevated culture, formed the minds of great men, and paved the way for abundant scientific breakthroughs.

However, these beacons of truth are now failing. Moral values are being undermined on many Catholic campuses and the principles that once guided souls in the noble task of higher learning are being ignored. The secular model has invaded, allowing moral relativism to run wild. As a result, the sexual revolution is making its way into Catholic academia. The moral devastation is impossible to ignore. A response is long overdue....
An excellent report by TFP. Let us "pray for those who fall into homosexual sin out of human weakness, that God may assist them with His grace. May they rise again, healed by a gaze from Our Divine Savior, to fall no more."

Gospel for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Easter

From: John 3:7b-15

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)

(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [7b] "You must be born anew. [8] The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes and whether it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." [9] Nicodemus said to Him, "How can this be?" [10] Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? [11] Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. [12] If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you Heavenly things? [13] No one has ascended into Heaven but He who descended from Heaven, the Son of Man. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life."


3-8. Nicodemus' first question shows that he still has doubts about Jesus (is He a prophet, is He the Messiah?); and our Lord replies to him in a completely unexpected way: Nicodemus presumed He would say something about His mission and, instead, He reveals to him an astonishing truth: one must be born again, in a spiritual birth, by water and the Spirit; a whole new world opens up before Nicodemus.

Our Lord's words also paint a limitless horizon for the spiritual advancement of any Christian who willingly lets himself or herself be led by divine grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are infused at Baptism and enhanced by the Sacraments. As well as opening his soul to God, the Christian also needs to keep at bay his selfish appetites and the inclinations of pride, if he is to understand what God is teaching him in his soul: "Therefore must the soul be stripped of all things created, and of its own actions and abilities - namely, of its understanding, perception and feelings - so that, when all that is unlike God and unconformed to Him is cast out, the soul may receive the likeness of God; and nothing will then remain in it that is not the will of God and it will thus be transformed in God. Wherefore, although it is true that, as we have said, God is ever in the soul, giving it, and through His presence conserving within it, its natural being, yet He does not always communicate supernatural being to it. For this is communicated only by love and grace, which not all souls possess; and all those that posses it have it not in the same degree; for some have attained more degrees of love and others fewer. Wherefore God communicates Himself most to that soul that has progressed farthest in love; namely, that has its will in closest conformity with the will of God. And the soul that has attained complete conformity and likeness of will is totally united and transformed in God supernaturally" (St. John of the Cross, "Ascent of Mount Carmel", book II, chap. 5).

Jesus speaks very forcefully about man's new condition: it is no longer a question of being born of the flesh, of the line of Abraham (cf. Jn 1:13), but of being reborn through the action of the Holy Spirit, by means of water. This is our Lord's first reference to Christian Baptism, confirming John the Baptist's prophecy (cf. Mt 3:11; Jn 1:33) that He had come to institute a baptism with the Holy Spirit.

"Nicodemus had not yet savored this Spirit and this life. [...]. He knew but one birth, which is from Adam and Eve; that which is from God and the Church, he did not know; he knew only the paternity which engenders to death; he did not yet know the paternity which engenders to life. [...]. Whereas there are two births, he knew only of one. One is of earth, the other is of Heaven; one is of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one of mortality, the other of eternity; one of male and female, the other of God and the Church. But the two are each unique; neither one nor the other can be repeated" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 11, 6).

Our Lord speaks of the wonderful effects the Holy Spirit produces in the soul of the baptized. Just as with the wind - when it blows we realize its presence, we hear it whistling, but we do not know where it came from, or where it will end up - so with the Holy Spirit, the Divine "Breath" ("pneuma") given us in Baptism: we do not know how He comes to penetrate our heart but He makes His presence felt by the change in the conduct of whoever receives Him.

10-12. Even though Nicodemus finds them puzzling, Jesus confirms that His words still stand, and He explains that He speaks about the things of Heaven because that is where He comes from, and to make Himself understood He uses earthly comparisons and images. Even so, this language will fail to convince those who adopt an attitude of disbelief.

St. John Chrysostom comments: "It was was with reason that He said not: `You do not understand,' but: `You do not believe.' When a person baulks and does not readily accept things which it is possible for the mind to receive, he may with reason be accused of stupidity; when he does not accept things which it is not possible to grasp by reason but only by faith, the charge is no longer that of stupidity, but of incredulity" ("Hom. on St. John", 27, 1).

13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into Heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God's secrets, except God Himself who became man and came down from Heaven--Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of Man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Dan 7:13), to whom has been given eternal Lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when He is on earth as man, He is in Heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Christ is in Heaven as man also.

13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into Heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God's secrets, except God Himself who became man and came down from Heaven--Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of Man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Daniel 7:13), to whom has been given eternal lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when He is on earth as man, He is in Heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Christ is in Heaven as man also.

14-15. The bronze serpent which Moses set up on a pole was established by God to cure those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpents in the desert (cf. Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus compares this with His crucifixion, to show the value of His being raised up on the cross: those who look on Him with faith can obtain salvation. We could say that the good thief was the first to experience the saving power of Christ on the cross: he saw the crucified Jesus, the King of Israel, the Messiah, and was immediately promised that he would be in Paradise that very day (cf. Luke 23:39-43).

The Son of God took on our human nature to make known the hidden mystery of God's own life (cf. Mark 4:11; John 1:18; 3:1-13; Ephesians 3:9) and to free from sin and death those who look at Him with faith and love and who accept the cross of every day.

The faith of which our Lord speaks is not just intellectual acceptance of the truths He has taught: it involves recognizing Him as Son of God (cf. 1 John 5:1), sharing His very life (cf. John 1:12) and surrendering ourselves out of love and therefore becoming like Him (cf. John 10:27; 1 John 3:2). But this faith is a gift of God (cf. John 3:3, 5-8), and we should ask Him to strengthen it and increase it as the Apostles did: Lord "increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5). While faith is a supernatural, free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which a person can practise and thereby develop: so the Christian, who already has the divine gift of faith, needs with the help of grace to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow.
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, March 31, 2008

Just for Today, April 1

I will confess against myself my injustice (Ps. xxxi). I will confess to Thee, O Lord, my infirmity.

It is oftentimes a small thing which casts me down and troubles me. I make a resolution to behave myself valiantly; but when a small temptation comes, I am brought into great straits.

Oh! that Thou, the most mighty God of Israel, the zealous lover of faithful souls, wouldst behold the labour and sorrow of Thy servant, and stand by me in all my undertakings!

Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude lest the old man, the miserable flesh, not fully subject to the spirit, prevail and get the upper hand, against which we must fight as long as we breathe in this most wretched life.

-Bk. III, ch. xx.

Dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morn­ing I make a resolution to be humble, but by the evening I find that I have frequently given way to pride. If I did not know that it was a form of pride, I should be tempted to discouragement, but I place my whole trust in Thee. Thou canst do all things, give me this virtue which I desire. In order to obtain this grace from Thy mercy, I will frequently repeat: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

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 - April 1

To put into practice the teachings of our holy faith, it is not enough to convince ourselves that they are true; we must love them. Love united to faith makes us practise our religion.­

-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 April 1, The Necessity of Detachment

In the year 1209, Francis Bemardone, later known as St. Francis of Assisi, received while listening to the Gospel, the light that decided his life.

His parents, who were dealers in expensive draperies, lived in comfortable circumstances. Francis, as a child, used to see stacks of money on the counter of his father's store. The young boy liked his carefree life and jolly comrades and often entertained with sumptuous feasts...until the day he heard the call from God.

At first Francis interpreted God's request to mean that he should repair materially the churches of the country. It was however something entirely different from that; he was to breathe a new spirit into the world, and restore not churches but the Church.

What was to be his chief means? Let us listen to the words of Christ to His Apostles as He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God,

And going, preach, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses: Nor script for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor staff....(Luke x, 4).

Francis of Assisi understood that he was to preach detachment to a world depraved by its love of ease. Taking the text literally, he embraced a life of absolute poverty.

How much the world needs the example of completely detached souls! Am I truly poor according to the poverty demanded by my Rule?
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

For the Vatican, King Abdullah Matters More than 138 Muslim Scholars (Chiesa)

This is made clear by "L'Osservatore Romano," which is dialoguing with the Saudi sovereign while criticism rages against the pope for baptizing a famous convert from Islam. Pietro De Marco's reply to Aref Ali Nayed.
by Sandro Magister

One Last Gasp of Air

Trying to make itself 'relevant' rather than forgotten, VOTF is planning to run a full page newspaper ad when the Holy Father comes to the U.S.

The Voice of the Faithful says it wants to re-ignite a national dialogue among the laity and clergy...

I thought VOTF was running low on funds...? What a waste - of time, talent and treasure. VOTF is but another in a long list of dissenting groups which will be all but forgotten by history...

Cardinal: Tridentine Mass Already Is Bearing Fruit

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's outreach to traditionalist Catholics by liberalizing the use of the Tridentine Mass already is bearing fruit, said Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which coordinates care for traditionalist Catholics, said that thanks to the pope's action "not a few have asked to return to full communion, and some already have returned."
Cardinal Castrillon said wider use of the pre-Second Vatican Council rite "is not a matter of returning to the past, but is a matter of progress," because it gives Catholics the richness of two liturgical forms instead of one....

Controversial Chicago Priest Defends Rev Jeremiah Wright

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright received a thunderous, standing ovation from members of St. Sabina Church...

"When he came out, people literally went wild," said St. Sabina's pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger....

Wright did not talk publicly about Obama on Friday night. Instead, he gave the benediction at St. Sabina and smiled as the audience sang "Happy Birthday" to [poet Maya] Angelou.

Wright attended at the invitation of Pfleger, who called recent criticism of Wright "shameful."

"I wanted him to come here so he could see that people really stand with him and support him while he's under all this attack," Pfleger said Saturday. "America, unfortunately, has been really cheated of knowing the real Dr. Wright...."
Pfleger's been in the middle of other controversies before: here, here, here and here.

I heard Pfleger state that Wright is one of the most brilliant scripture scholars alive - I suspect that he's quite confused and is thinking of N.T.Wright - not Obama's spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright.

Muslims Outnumber Catholics

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican's yearbook....

"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer," the monsignor said....
The wicked embrace of artificial contraception and the rejection of the Church's teaching on moral issues has led to this.

Gospel for Mar 31, Solemnity: The Annunciation of the Lord

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 interventionon 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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Just for Today, March 31

What was the reason why some of the saints were so perfect and contemplative? Because they made it their study wholly to mortify in themselves all earthly desires: and thus they were enabled, with the whole interior of their heart, to cleave to God, and, freely to attend to themselves.
We are too much taken up with our own passions, and too solicitous about transitory things.

-Bk. I, ch. xi.

One Sunday I set out joyfully for the chestnut avenue. It was spring-time and I was going to enjoy the beauties of Nature. Alas, I found that my beloved chestnut trees had been pruned, and the branches, covered with half-opened buds, lay on the ground. It gave me a pang to think that they would take three years to recover from this drastic treatment. Then I thought to myself: If you were in another monastery, you would not in the least mind if they cut down the whole avenue at the Carmel of Lisieux...I therefore made up my mind not to worry over passing things, but to walk with my Beloved in the pleasant glades of His love, which no hand can touch.

-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 31

When the afflictions of this life overcome us, let us encourage ourselves to bear them patiently by the hope of heaven.

-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 March 31, The Present Moment

All my sanctity depends on the present moment - what it is, what I shall make of it, and what the succession of all the present moments to come will be - such will be my eternity, such will be my degree of glory for eternity.

My eternity is spun from each passing moment. Each of these moments, if I so wish it, acquires the ever-increasing value of my union with the Infinite.

What is a passing moment? -Nothing.

What is a passing moment? -A simple tick of the clock, but a tick which stirs the world. Jesus died on the cross in a passing moment. I, in a passing moment, can, by an act of love, save mul­titudes. I can apply to multitudes the benefit of that moment, so like any other moment, that moment in which the Last Sigh con­summated the Redemption.

The air is full of last sighs, but one day - a day like any other day, made up of moments like any other moments - a moment slipped by, one like every other and yet different from every other because in it was breathed out the Consummatum est. Jesus' last moment, and my present moment - may they be united, that is sufficient to attain the salvation of many.

The incomparable power of a single moment!...Of the suc­cession of all single moments!...All are laden with meaning, all are of weighty consequence, all are of momentous import, all are moments of sanctity and of redemption.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

St Stanislaus School Set for Demolition

The Post has an article about the pending demolition of the St Stanislaus grade school which was built in the 1920s and which is now partially used for storage and for housing pigeons and squirrels...

Interesting comments from some who attended the school - not unlike comments others would make when a significant part of one's religious and educational upbringing is scheduled to become another memory for a generation of aging Catholics.

Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

From: John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

[19] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." [20] When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. [21] Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you." [22] And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

[24] Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe."

[26] Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." [27] Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing." [28] Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" [29] Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

[30] Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; [31] but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.


19-20. Jesus appears to the Apostles on the evening of the day of which He rose. He presents Himself in their midst without any need for the doors to be opened, by using the qualities of His glorified body; but in order to dispel any impression that He is only a spirit He shows them His hands and His side: there is no longer any doubt about its being Jesus Himself, about His being truly risen from the dead. He greets them twice using the words of greeting customary among the Jews, with the same tenderness as He previously used put into this salutation. These friendly words dispel the fear and shame the Apostles must have been feeling at behaving so disloyally during His passion: He has created the normal atmosphere of intimacy, and now He will endow them with transcendental powers.

21. Pope Leo XIII explained how Christ transferred His own mission to the Apostles: "What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly resolved to do: this He actually did. `As the Father hath sent Me, even so I send you' (John 20:21). `As Thou didst send Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world' (John 17:18). [...] When about to ascend into Heaven, He sends His Apostles in virtue of the same power by which He had been sent from the Father; and He charges them to spread abroad and propagate His teachings (cf. Matthew 28:18), so that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those disobeying should perish (cf. Mark 16:16). [...] Hence He commands that the teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if it were His own: `He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me' (Luke 10:16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as He is the ambassador of the Father" ([Pope] Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum"). In this mission the bishops are the successors of the Apostles: "Christ sent the Apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father, and then through the Apostles made their successors, the bishops, sharers in His consecration and mission. The function of the bishops' ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ" (Vatican II, "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 2).

22-23. The Church has always understood--and has in fact defined--that Jesus Christ here conferred on the Apostles authority to forgive sins, a power which is exercised in the Sacrament of Penance. "The Lord then especially instituted the Sacrament of Penance when, after being risen from the dead, He breathed upon His disciples and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit...' The consensus of all the Fathers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after Baptism" (Council of Trent, "De Paenitentia", Chapter 1).

The Sacrament of Penance is the most sublime __expression of God's love and mercy towards men, described so vividly in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son (cf. Luke 15:11-32). The Lord always awaits us, with His arms wide open, waiting for us to repent--and then He will forgive us and restore us to the dignity of being His sons.

The Popes have consistently recommended Christians to have regular recourse to this Sacrament: "For a constant and speedy advancement in the path of virtue we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent Confession, introduced by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for by this means we grow in a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted, spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased by the efficacy of the Sacrament itself" ([Pope] Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis").

24-28. Thomas' doubting moves our Lord to give him special proof that His risen body is quite real. By so doing He bolsters the faith of those who would later on find faith in Him. "Surely you do not think", [Pope] St. Gregory the Great comments, "that is was a pure accident that the chosen disciple was missing; who on his return was told about the appearance and on hearing about it doubted; doubting, so that he might touch and believe by touching? It was not an accident; God arranged that it should happen. His clemency acted in this wonderful way so that through the doubting disciple touching the wounds in His Master's body, our own wounds of incredulity might be healed. [...] And so the disciple, doubting and touching, was changed into a witness of the truth of the Resurrection" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 26, 7).

Thomas' reply is not simply an exclamation: it is an assertion, an admirable act of faith in the divinity of Christ: "My Lord and my God!" These words are an ejaculatory prayer often used by Christians, especially as an act of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

29. [Pope] St. Gregory the Great explains these words of our Lord as follows: "By St. Paul saying `faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen' (Hebrews 11:1), it becomes clear that faith has to do with things which are not seen, for those which are seen are no longer the object of faith, but rather of experience. Well then, why is Thomas told, when he saw and touched, `Because you have seen, you have believed?' Because he saw one thing, and believed another. It is certain that mortal man cannot see divinity; therefore, he saw the man and recognized Him as God, saying, `My Lord and my God.' In conclusion: seeing, he believed, because contemplating that real man he exclaimed that He was God, whom he could not see" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 27, 8).

Like everyone else Thomas needed the grace of God to believe, but in addition to this grace he was given an exceptional proof; his faith would have had more merit had he accepted the testimony of the other Apostles. Revealed truths are normally transmitted by word, by the testimony of other people who, sent by Christ and aided by the Holy Spirit, preach the deposit of faith (cf. Mark 16:15-16). "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ" (Romans 10:17). The preaching of the Gospel, therefore, carries with it sufficient guarantees of credibility, and by accepting that preaching man "offers the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals, willingly assenting to the revelation given" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 5).

"What follows pleases us greatly: `Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.' For undoubtedly it is we who are meant, who confess with our soul Him whom we have not seen in the flesh. It refers to us, provided we live in accordance with the faith, for only he truly believes who practices what the believes" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 26, 9).

30-31. This is a kind of first epilogue or conclusion to the Gospel of St. John. The more common opinion is that he added Chapter 21 later, which covers such important events as the triple confession of St. Peter, confirmation of his primacy and our Lord's prophecy about the death of the beloved disciple. These verses sum up the inspired writer's whole purpose in writing his Gospel--to have men believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ announced by the prophets in the Old Testament, the Son of God, so that by believing this saving truth, which is the core of Revelation, they might already begin to partake of eternal life (cf. John 1:12, 2:23; 3:18; 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-26).
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.