Saturday, April 26, 2008

Just for Today, April 27

Whilst thou hast time, heap up to thyself riches that will never die, think of nothing but thy salvation; care for nothing but the things of God.

-Bk. I, ch. xxiii.

I seem to hear you (her sister Marie) saying: "See what trouble men take to become wealthy; we can amass riches for Heaven much more easily, as though collecting diamonds with a rake! We need only perform all our actions for the love of God."

I would go away feeling so happy, and fired with the ambition to heap up such treasures.

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 27

The first degree of humility is the fear of God, which we should constantly have before our eyes.

-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 27, In Spirit and in Truth

"Although the Christian borrows his name from Our Lord," writes Father Saint-Jure, "the name is not enough to make him a true Christian."

To be a Christian it is not enough to invoke this divine Name; one must have faith in It. Let us remember fur­ther that the exterior Christian works, excellent as they are in themselves, are not enough, as it clearly appears from the conduct of the foolish virgins. (Matt. xxv, 1-12.)

"The Christian is true to his name if he practices the spirit of Jesus Christ. Just as a rational soul is essential to man, animating his body and giving it life, so that which constitutes the Christian is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is his very soul and character. According to St. John, what assures us beyond doubt that we dwell in Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ dwells in us, is the gift of His Holy Spirit."

Thus to be authentically Christian, it does not suffice to say Christian prayers, to perform exteriorly Christian practices; it is both necessary and essential to possess the evangelical spirit, the spirit of Jesus Christ, so broadly comprehensive, not only of the worship due to God, but also of the interest due our neighbor. How rare, therefore, is the true Christian spirit in the world! How rare it is even in the religious life, among souls consecrated to the service of their neighbor!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

May 3-One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies


9 a.m. to 10 a.m.(Eastern Time Zone)
8 a.m. to 9 a.m.(Central Time Zone)
7 a.m. to 8 a.m.(Mountain Time Zone)
6 a.m. to 7 a.m.(Pacific Time Zone)
5 a.m. to 6 a.m.(Alaska Time Zone)
4 a.m. to 5 a.m.(Hawaii Time Zone)

The ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event is scheduled to happen on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008. The intention for this Rosary will be: For an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies. On the day of the prayer event, it is hoped at least one million people in the U.S.A. will be praying the Rosary within the same sixty minute time span (the chart above shows which hour people in various time zones are to pray the Rosary. People are encouraged to begin praying at the top of the hour, but this is not a necessity).

To register to be a participant in the ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event, go to the website and register there...

For the April 17th, 2008 Press Release, please click here (PDF) (the press release includes words of support from Cardinal Arinze (Vatican City); Archbishop Burke (Archdiocese of St. Louis);and, Mother Assumpta (Prioress General of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist).

Please prayerfully consider this effort and pass it along to others.

Gospel for Saturday, 5th Week of Easter

Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Can)
Old Calendar: Saints Cletus and Marcellinus, popes and martyrs

From: John 15:18-21

A Hostile World

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [18] "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. [19] If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. [20] Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. [21] But all this they will do to you on My account, because they do not know Him who sent Me."


18-19. Jesus states that there can be no compromise between Him and the world, the kingdom of sin: anyone who lives in sin abhors the light (cf. John 3:19-20). This is why Christ is persecuted, and why the Apostles will be in their turn. "The hostility of the perverse sounds like praise for our life", St. Gregory says, "because it shows that we have at least some rectitude if we are an annoyance to those who do not love God; no one can be pleasing to God and to God's enemies at the same time. He who seeks to please those who oppose God is no friend of God; and he who submits himself to the truth will fight against those who strive against truth" ("In Ezechielem Homiliae", 9).

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 25, 2008

Just for Today, April 26

Jesus has now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few are willing to bear His cross. He has many that are desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation. He finds many companions of His table, but few of His abstinence. All desire to rejoice with Him: few are willing to suffer with Him. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread; but few to the drinking of the chalice of His Passion. Many reverence His miracles: but few follow the ignominy of His cross.
Many love Jesus as long as they meet with no adver­sity; many praise Him and bless Him as long as they receive consolations from Him. But if Jesus hide Himself, and leave them for a little while, they either fall into complaints or excessive dejection.
-Bk. II, ch. xi.

It is not in peaceful repose that Jesus would have us find Him; He hides Himself in darkness...And yet this is not how He treated the multitude, for we read in the Gospel that: All the people were very attentive to hear him (Luke xix, 28). Jesus attracted weak souls by His divine words, in order to strengthen them against the day of temptation and trial; but how few of His friends remained faithful when He was silent before His judges! The silence of my divine Master is like music to my soul.

A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me (Cant. i, 12), and we often share the chalice of His suffering, but one day how sweet these words will sound to our ears: You are they who have continued with me in my temptations: and I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom (Luke xxii, 28).

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 26

The deceitful charms of prosperity destroy more souls than all the scourges of adversity.­

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 26, The Fountains of Joy

We look too often for occasions for suffering in our lives and not often enough for occasions of joy.

It is true that the cross strikes us more often and that it hurts our shoulder, but let us think of all the joys God showers upon us and for which we seldom think of thanking Him because we take them as a matter of course.

We must develop the happy gift of discovering everywhere the joys of the good God. The Father has scattered them broadcast, as in a family on New Year's Day and on the feast of St. Nicholas, gifts are hidden in various parts of the house to give the little ones the pleasure of being thrilled over their own cleverness in finding each hidden treasure.

We are not sufficiently convinced that God is good, infinitely good, that He is the good God.

Even in trials we ought to say that this is His Goodness interven­ing for us, because we were becoming too much attached to earth; of ourselves we had not the courage to make a sacrifice; He takes the lead to help us.

Thus always and everywhere, we must seize the least opportunity to bring sunshine into our life.

One day someone entered a child's room and finding him seated in a shaft of sunlight where sparkling grains of dust were dancing, asked him what he was doing there. The little one, his eyes bright with joy, answered, "1 am drinking in the sunshine."

We have not drunk deeply enough at the Source of Living Water, or at the clear fountain of Revelation; and consequently the Gospel is not for us the delightful sunshine which the ray of light filtering through the opening in the shutter was for the child at play. He was feasting on a dream. The ray of sunshine at which we can drink is the stream of blood and water which St. John saw flowing from the side of Christ. Would we ever lack perfect joy if we drank from this living stream?
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

St Louisans who saw pope say experience was ‘awesome’

A good article in the St Louis Review:

Sacred moments and precious memories combined to make Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Washington, D.C., and New York April 15-20 a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many who made the trip from the archdiocese.

"Awesome" is the word several pilgrims used to describe their papal visit as they exited the bus upon its arrival at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury on April 21.
It had to be the event of a lifetime!

Mary Romine of St. Joseph Parish in Josephville, on the trip with her husband celebrating their upcoming 25th wedding anniversary, said "the archdiocese couldn’t have done a better job taking care of us as pilgrims. Msgr. (Henry) Breier and Father (Thomas) Keller are tremendous leaders, and everything went smooth as silk."
Two great priests here - and more in the article. I'll hear more of the wonderful details tomorrow when I talk to a couple of friends who made the trip on the bus with Msgr. Breier.

Father C. Eugene Morris, director of the archdiocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate, received a personal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI and was one of the lucky few from St. Louis who got to hear the papal address to the General Assembly at the United Nations April 18....

At one point, he was about five feet away from him. "I called out ‘Holy Father’ in German. He turned to me, and he blessed me. It was an extremely powerful experience. He clearly radiated joy. He was just beyond himself happy. You could see it in his face. It’s hard to explain to people what that’s like. It was phenomenal, truly phenomenal."
Undoubtedly! What a blessing!

A wonderful report with far too many people to quote or acknowledge in this blog...A recommended read.

The Independent Asks "The Big Question..."

Who was Padre Pio, and why is he the cause of such controversy?

Why ask this now?

Because yesterday the corpse of the vastly popular saint was exhibited to his devotees, for the first time since his death in September 1968.

Who was he, and why should we care?....

A Tribute to Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo

From the Human Life International e-Newsletter:

“A Life in the Service of Life”
(Used with permission of The Wanderer.)

When Pope John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for the Family on May 13th of 1985—the morning of the very day he was shot in St. Peter’s Square—he may not have understood how countercultural this Council would be, nor how effective. Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo assumed the mantle of leadership for the Council in 1990 and hit the ground running on his new mission. Because of his experience defending the Church in his home country of Colombia, where he was threatened with death numerous times by terrorists, he was perfectly suited to be the custodian of the Church’s splendid treasury of teachings on life, marriage and family in a worldwide ministry.

In Cardinal Lopez, the Church had a warrior for all that was true and good. For many years he was involved in the fight against liberation theology in Latin America which was a systematic attempt to adapt the authentic Gospel message of freedom in Christ to pernicious Marxist doctrines. As President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) in 1979, he invited Pope John Paul II to make his very first foreign trip to the CELAM conference in Mexico to help forestall what many considered to be an imminent schism in Latin America due to the bishops’ overall endorsement of liberation theology....
He will be missed...

Gospel for April 25, Feast: St. Mark, Evangelist

From: Mark 16:15-20

Jesus Appears to the Eleven. The Apostle's Mission

[15] And He (Jesus) said to them (the Eleven), "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. [16] He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. [17] And these signs will accompany those who believe; in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; [18] they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

The Ascension

[19] So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into Heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

The Apostles Go Forth and Preach

[20] And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.

15. This verse contains what is called the "universal apostolic mandate" (paralleled by Matthew 28:19-20 and Luke 24:46-48). This is an imperative command from Christ to His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. This same apostolic mission applies, especially to the Apostles' successors, the bishops in communion with Peter's successor, the Pope.

But this mission extends further: the whole "Church was founded to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation.... Every activity of the Mystical Body with this in view goes by the name of `apostolate'; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the body of Christ, the Church: the whole body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part' (Ephesians 4:16). Between the members of this body there exists, further, such a unity and solidarity (cf. Ephesians 4:16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself.

"In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in His name and by His power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole people of God" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 2).

It is true that God acts directly on each person's soul through grace, but it must also be said that it is Christ's will (expressed here and elsewhere) that men should be an instrument or vehicle of salvation for others.

Vatican II also teaches this: "On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all men throughout the whole world to hear and accept the divine message of salvation" ("ibid.", 3).

16. This verse teaches that, as a consequence of the proclamation of the Good News, faith and Baptism are indispensable pre-requisites for attaining salvation. Conversion to the faith of Jesus Christ should lead directly to Baptism, which confers on us "the first sanctifying grace, by which Original Sin is forgiven, and which also forgives any actual sins there may be; it remits all punishment due for sins; it impresses on the soul the mark of the Christian; it makes us children of God, members of the Church and heirs to Heaven, and enables us to receive the other Sacraments" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 553).

Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, as we can see from these words of the Lord. But physical impossibility for receiving the rite of Baptism can be replaced either by martyrdom (called, therefore, "baptism of blood") or by a perfect act of love of God and of contrition, together with an at least implicit desire to be baptized: this is called "baptism of desire" (cf. "ibid.", 567-568).

Regarding infant Baptism, St. Augustine taught that "the custom of our Mother the Church of infant Baptism is in no way to be rejected or considered unnecessary; on the contrary, it is to be believed on the ground that it is a tradition from the Apostles" ("De Gen., Ad Litt.", 10, 23, 39). The new "Code of Canon Law" also stresses the need to baptize infants: "Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptized within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the Sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it" (Canon 867).

Another consequence of the proclamation of the Gospel, closely linked with the previous one, is that "the Church is necessary", as Vatican II declares: "Christ is the one mediator and way of salvation; He is present to us in His body which is the Church. He Himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it, or to remain in it" ("Lumen Gentium", 14; cf. "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 4; "Ad Gentes", 1-3; "Dignitatis Humanae", 11).

17-18. In the early days of the Church, public miracles of this kind happened frequently. There are numerous historical records of these events in the New Testament (cf., e.g., Acts 3:1-11; 28:3-6) and in other ancient Christian writings. It was very fitting that this should be so, for it gave visible proof of the truth of Christianity. Miracles of this type still occur, but much more seldom; they are very exceptional. This, too, is fitting because, on the one hand, the truth of Christianity has been attested to enough; and, on the other, it leaves room for us to merit through faith. St. Jerome comments: "Miracles were necessary at the beginning to confirm the people in the faith. But, once the faith of the Church is confirmed, miracles are not necessary" ("Comm. In Marcum, in loc."). However, God still works miracles through saints in every generation, including our own.

19. The Lord's ascension into Heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father is the sixth article of faith confessed in the Creed. Jesus Christ went up into Heaven body and soul, to take possession of the Kingdom He won through His death, to prepare for us a place in Heaven (cf. Revelation 3:21) and to send the Holy Spirit to His Church (cf. "St. Pius X Cathechism", 123).

To say that He "sat at the right hand of God" means that Jesus Christ, including His humanity, has taken eternal possession of Heaven and that, being the equal of His Father in that He is God, He occupies the place of highest honor beside Him in His human capacity (cf. "St. Pius V Catechism", I, 7, 2-3). Already in the Old Testament the Messiah is spoken of as seated at the right hand of the Almighty, thereby showing the supreme dignity of Yahweh's Annointed (cf. Psalm 110:1). The New Testament records this truth here and also in many other passages (cf. Ephesians 1:20-22; Hebrews 1:13).

As the "St. Pius V Catechism" adds, Jesus went up to Heaven by His own power and not by any other. Nor was it only as God that He ascended, but also as man.

20. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the evangelist attests that the words of Christ have already begun to be fulfilled by the time of writing. The Apostles, in other words, were faithfully carrying out the mission of our Lord entrusted to them. They begin to preach the Good News of salvation throughout the known world. Their preaching was accompanied by the signs and wonders the Lord had promised, which lent authority to their witness and their teaching. Yet, we know that their apostolic work was always hard, involving much effort, danger, misunderstanding, persecution and even martyrdom--like our Lord's own life.

Thanks to God and also to the Apostles, the strength and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ has reached as far as us. But every Christian generation, every man and woman, has to receive the preaching of the Gospel and, in turn, pass it on. The grace of God will always be available to us: "Non est abbreviata manus Domini" (Isaiah 59:1), the power of the Lord has not diminished.
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 24, 2008

Just for Today, April 25

Nature loves idleness and bodily rest: but grace cannot be idle, and willingly embraces labour.

- Bk. III, ch. liv.

One day I was making my way very leisurely toward the laundry to help with the wash, admiring the flowers as I went. The Saint was going in the same direction, but she was walking quickly and, overtaking me, said: "Is this the way to make haste when one has to earn a living and keep a family?" ­

-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 - April 25

Do not disturb yourself with vain curiosity concerning the affairs of others, nor how they conduct themselves, unless your position makes it your duty to do so.

-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 25, Good Luck Charms

In the world some people, in order to be lucky, practice a sort of superstitious magic. Like savages who confide in the charms of sorcerers, they imagine that a doll hung in the window of their automobile will protect them. Others confidently look to the figure 13 cut out of metal, or an ivory elephant.

Pagans, and what is more, fools!

Merchants are cognizant of this desire on the part of all to feel themselves immune from harm and to attach the power of protec­tion to an object or a flower....On the first of May, the flower girl suggests to the passerby: "Buy my forget-me-nots and you will have good luck." Half through charity toward the flower girl, and half through the desire to flatter fate, many buy....

Good fortune! I, too, long for it. Where can I find it and how can I keep it?

Where can I find it? I know very well - in absolute fidelity to my Rule; happiness is synonymous with generosity.

How am I to preserve it? By mortification, prayer, confidence in my superiors, and love of my vocation.

If I must have some object to help me remember what can bring and preserve perfect happiness, I need only to look at my crucifix, my book of Rules and my rosary, the three objects I received at my clothing or profession. These are my good luck charms.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Rome's four options in regard to Bp. Fernando Lugo

From Dr Edward Peters:
Who is not happy to see Paraguay's junta finally voted out of office? That the election was peaceful and, so far, seems to be accepted by the old guard is even better. But that is not the issue in regard to Paraguay's new president, Bp. Fernando Lugo. The issue here is canonical (and by implication, theological and pastoral): Lugo was ordained to the fullness of holy orders for the spiritual service of God's people.

Read more about it here:

My Granddaughter's Baptism

Praised be Our Lord!

Layla Ann was received into Christ's Church and cleansed of Original Sin this past Sunday. Blessed be God! What a little bundle of joy she is!

Here she is after Holy Mass before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism - she knows something special is going on....

After going home and being coddled by family and friends, she was a bit tired...

We just love her! and we thank God for his wonderful blessings!

An Anecdote on Prayers

From an early morning email:

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.

The two survivors, not knowing what else to do,agree that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.

However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing the first man prayed for was food.

The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit.

The other man's parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife.

The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land.

On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house,clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him.

However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that his wife and he could leave the island.

In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island.

The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.

He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from Heaven booming,

"Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"

"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered, and so he does not deserve anything."

"You are mistaken!" the voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings."

"Tell me," the first man asked the voice, "what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?"

"He prayed that all your prayers be answered."

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us. When Jesus died on the cross he was thinking of you and praying for you!

Do I pray for others as I should?

John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2008 / 03:12 am (CNA).- The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports.

John Henry Newman was born in 1801. As an Anglican priest, he led the Oxford Movement that sought to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots. His conversion to Catholicism in 1845 rocked Victorian England. After becoming an Oratorian priest, he was involved in the establishment of the Birmingham Oratory....

Gospel for Thursday, 5th Week of Easter

Optional Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr
Old Calendar: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

From: John 15:9-11

The Vine and the Branches (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [9] "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you; abide in My love. [10] If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. [11] These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."


9-11. Christ's love for Christians is a reflection of the love the Three Divine Persons have for one another and for all men: "We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

The certainty that God loves us is the source of Christian joy (verse 11), but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part, which should take the form of a fervent desire to do God's will in everything, that is, to keep His commandments, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who did the will of His Father (cf. John 4:34).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just for Today, April 24

Although thy opinion be good, yet if for God's sake thou leavest it to follow that of another, it will be more profitable to thee.

-Bk. I, ch. ix.

You do wrong in criticising this and that, and in wanting everybody to agree with your views. If we wish to be little children we must imitate them, for they do not profess to know what is best, and are pleased with everything. Besides, there is no merit in doing some­thing merely because it is reasonable.

-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 - April 24

As patience leads to peace, and study to science, so are humiliations the path that leads to humil­ity.

-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 24, On Utilizing Opportunities

I have often dreamed of living a great life. This is commendable! But do I imagine that a great life consists in doing great things? If such were the case, how few would realize their desire!

The reality is much more simple. I must utilize the opportuni­ties for generosity that I meet with in the life in which God has placed me - in my community, and the duties of my state.

Not that I must be like a spider in his web, ready to pounce on each insect that knocks against the mesh; God does not ask me to jump at each opportunity for victory, at every sacrifice that pre­sents itself. The soul would lose its peace; this perpetual tension would tend only to enervate the soul, and after some time, render it powerless from too sustained an effort.

What God asks is that I keep in my heart the ardent desire never to refuse anything. That done, I must go on without being pre­occupied as to what occasion to conquer self or to prove my love may arise sooner or later. If, however, the occasion does offer itself and it seems clear that I can and ought to take advantage of it­ - that God really asks it - then I must exert myself to the utmost to utilize the opportunity.

I see the difference between the tense, strained state of feverish suspense, and a calm and serene peace. An opportunity for prac­ticing virtue presents itself, evidently an act which is not already a command; God would like me to do it, that is clear. Then I will do it! This constitutes a virile, generous manner of acting which leaves the heart free and the spirit at ease. I must strive in this way to utilize my spiritual opportunities. Generosity brings with it serenity.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Dr Edward Peters: Two Canon 1405 Cases?

Dr Peters writes:
After decades of disinterest, suddenly two Canon 1405 cases?

Pope Benedict XVI is believed to be mulling over the possibility of expelling a bishop, Fernando Lugo, from the clerical state. That would certainly be a first under the 1983 Code, and I'm pretty sure, it never happened under the 1917 Code.
Read more about it here:

Gospel for Wednesday, 5th Week of Easter

Optional Memorial of St. George, martyr and St. Adalbert, bishop and martyr
Old Calendar: St. George, martyr

From: John 15:1-8

The Vine and the Branches

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [1] "I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit. [3] You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. [5] I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. [6] If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. [7] If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. [8] By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples."


1. This comparison of the chosen people with a vine was used in the Old Testament: Psalm 80 speaks of the uprooting of the vine in Egypt and its replanting in another land; and in Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard (5:1-7) God complains that despite the care and love He has lavished on it, His vineyard has yielded only wild grapes. Jesus previously used this imagery in His parable about the murderous tenants (Matthew 21:33-43) to signify the Jew's rejection of the Son and the calling of the Gentiles. But here the comparison has a different, more personal meaning: Christ explains that He Himself is the true vine, because the old vine, the original chosen people, has been succeeded by the new vine, the Church, whose head is Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9). To be fruitful one must be joined to the new, true vine, Christ: it is no longer a matter of simply belonging to a community but of living the life of Christ, the life of grace, which is the nourishment which passes life on to the believer and enables him to yield fruits of eternal life. This image of the vine also helps understand the unity of the Church, Christ's mystical body, in which all the members are intimately united with the head and thereby are also united to one another (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:15-16).

2. Our Lord is describing two situations: that of those who, although they are still joined to the vine externally, yield no fruit; and that of those who do yield fruit but could yield still more. The Epistle of St. James carries the same message when it says that faith alone is not enough (James 2:17). Although it is true that faith is the beginning of salvation and that without faith we cannot please God, it is also true that a living faith must yield fruit in the form of deeds. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). So, one can say that in order to produce fruit pleasing to God, it is not enough to have received Baptism and to profess the faith externally: a person has to share in Christ's life through grace and has to cooperate with Him in His work of redemption.

Jesus uses the same verb to refer to the pruning of the branches as He uses to refer to the cleanness of the disciples in the next verse: literally the translation should run: "He cleanses him who bears fruit so that he bear more fruit". In other words, He is making it quite clear that God is not content with half-hearted commitment, and therefore He purifies His own by means of contradictions and difficulties, which are a form of pruning, to produce more fruit. In this we can see an explanation of the purpose of suffering: "Have you not heard the Master Himself tell the parable of the vine and the branches? Here we can find consolation. He demands much of you for you are the branch that bears fruit. And He must prune you `ut fructum plus afferas": to make you bear more fruit'.

"Of course: that cutting, that pruning, hurts. But, afterwards, what richness in your fruits, what maturity in your actions" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 701).

3. After washing Peter's feet Jesus had already said that His Apostles were clean, though not all of them (cf. John 13:10). Here, once more, He refers to that inner cleansing which results from accepting His teachings. "For Christ's word in the first place cleanses us from errors, by instructing us (cf. Titus 1:9) [...]; secondly, it purifies our hearts of earthly affections, filling them with desire for Heavenly things [...]; finally, His word purifies us with the strength of faith, for `He cleansed their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:9)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

4-5. Our Lord draws more conclusions from the image of the vine and the branches. Now He emphasizes that anyone who is separated from Him is good for nothing, like a branch separated from the vine. "You see, the branches are full of fruit, because they share in the sap that comes from the stem. Otherwise, from the tiny buds we knew just a few months back, they could not have produced the sweet ripe fruit that gladdens the eye and make the heart rejoice. Here and there on the ground we may find some dry twigs, lying half-buried in the soil. Once they too were branches of the vine; now they lie there withered and dead, a perfect image of barrenness: `apart from Me, you can do nothing'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 254).

The life of union with Christ is necessarily something which goes far beyond one's private life: it has to be focused on the good of others; and if this happens, a fruitful apostolate is the result, for "apostolate, of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 239). The Second Vatican Council, quoting this page from St. John, teaches what a Christian apostolate should be: "Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate. Clearly then, the fruitfulness of the apostolate of lay people depends on their living union with Christ; as the Lord Himself said: `He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing'. This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly by the active participation in the Liturgy. Laymen should make such a use of these helps that, while meeting their human obligations in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate their union with Christ from their ordinary life; but through the very performance of their tasks, which are God's will for them, actually promote the growth of their union with Him" ("Apostolicam Actuositatem", 4).

6. If a person is not united to Christ by means of grace he will ultimately meet the same fate as the dead branches--fire. There is a clear parallelism with other images our Lord uses--the parables of the sound tree and the bad tree (Matthew 7:15-20), the dragnet (Matthew 13:49-50), and the invitation to the wedding (Matthew 22:11-14), etc. Here is how St. Augustine comments on this passage: "The wood of the vine is the more contemptible if it does not abide in the vine, and the more glorious if it does abide....For, being cut off it is profitable neither for the vinedresser nor for the carpenter. For one of these only is it useful--the vine or the fire. If it is not in the vine, it goes to the fire; to avoid going to the fire it must be joined to the vine" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 81, 3).
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 22, 2008

Just for Today. April 23

Lift up therefore thy face to Heaven. Behold, I and all My saints with Me, who in this world have had a great conflict, do now rejoice, are comforted now, are
now secure, are now at rest, and they shall for all eter­nity abide with Me in the kingdom of My Father.

-Bk. III, ch. xlvii.

O my Jesus! I will fight for the sake of Thy love until the evening of my life. As Thou wouldst take no rest upon earth, I will follow Thy example, so that I may deserve to see Thy promise fulfilled in me: If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour (John xii, 26). To abide with Thee and in Thee, that is my one desire; the assurance Thy words give me enables me to endure this exile, until I see Thee face to face for all eternity.

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 23

Sanctity and perfection consist not in fine words, but in good actions.

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

Meditation for April 23, Nettezza

The Genoese mystic, St. Catherine, in order to express all that she beheld in God, the pure and absolute plenitude of His Divine Being, used the word Nettezza. When Father Leonce de Grand­maison, in his great work on Jesus Christ, sought an expression to translate exactly the incomparable limpidity of the soul of the Divine Savior, he found no better word.

Nettezza, means a complete uprightness and sincerity which stoops to no subterfuge or exaggeration, Yea, yea, no, no, and that which is over and above these is of evil (Matt. v, 37); a hatred of the slightest duplicity, evasions, all cunning, all hypocrisy and dissembling.

I must never dodge an issue. The truth and nothing but the truth! The fullness of truth was such a striking characteristic of Our Lord that even His enemies were forced to recognize it. Was it not because He condemned hyprocrisy of Pharisees that they became furious and used every means in their power to put Him to death.

Even before the judges, knowing that His life was at stake, Our Lord was perfectly frank, Tell us art thou the Son of God?

Thou hast said it.

And I? What is my solicitude for Nettezza, for this beautiful limpidity of soul?

"Mary, I wish to obtain through you this transparency and integrity of soul that Your Divine Son so loved. May I always be an upright soul. Fashion me, O Good Mother, according to your image. Then I can be certain of resembling Jesus."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Tuesday, 5th Week of Easter

Old Calendar: Saints Soter and Caius, popes and martyrs

From: John 14:27-31a

The Promise of the Holy Spirit (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [27] "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [28] You have heard Me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. [29] And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. [30] I will no longer talk much to you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over Me; [31a] but I do as the Father has commanded Me."

27. Wishing a person peace was, and still is, the usual form of greeting among Jews and Arabs. It is the greeting Jesus used, and which the Apostles continued to use, as we can see from their letters (cf. 1 Peter 1:3; 3 John 15; Romans 1:7; etc.).

The Church still uses it in the liturgy: for example, before Communion the celebrant wishes those present peace, a condition for worthily sharing in the holy sacrifice (cf. Matthew 5:23) and also a fruit of that sacrifice.

On our Lord's lips this common greeting acquires its deepest meaning; peace is one of the great messianic gifts (cf. Isaiah 9:7; 48:18; Micah 5:5; Matthew 10:22; Luke 2:14; 19:38). The peace which Jesus gives us completely transcends the peace of the world, which can be superficial and misleading and compatible with injustice. The peace of Christ is, above all, reconciliation with God and reconciliation of men with one another; it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23); it is "serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, a bond of love, a union of charity: no one can inherit God if he does not keep His testament of peace, or live in unity with Christ if he is separated from Christianity" (St. Augustine, "De Verbis Domini Serm.", 58).

"Christ `is our peace' (Ephesians 2:14). And today and forever He repeats to us: `My peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you'. [...] Never before in the history of mankind has peace been so much talked about and so ardently desired as in our day. [...] And yet again and again, one can see how peace is undermined and destroyed. [...] Peace is the result of many converging attitudes and realities; it is the product of moral concerns, of ethical principles based on the Gospel message and fortified by it. [...] In his message for the 1971 Day of Peace, my revered predecessor, that pilgrim of peace, [Pope] Paul VI, said: "True peace must be founded upon justice, upon a sense of the untouchable dignity of man, upon the recognition of an indelible and happy equality between men, upon the basic principle of human brotherhood, that is, of the respect and true love due to each man, because he is man'. This same message I affirmed in Mexico and in Poland. I reaffirm it here in Ireland. Every human being has inalienable rights that must be respected. Each human community--ethnic, historical, cultural or religious--has rights which must be respected. Peace is threatened every time one of these rights is violated. The moral law, guardian of human rights, protector of the dignity of man, cannot be set aside by any person or group, or by the State itself, for any cause, not even for security or in the interests of law and order. The law of God stands in judgment over all reasons of State. As long as injustices exist in any of the areas that touch upon the dignity of the human person, be it in the political, social or economic field, be it in the cultural or religious sphere, true peace will not exist. [...] Peace cannot be established by violence, peace can never flourish in a climate of terror, intimidation and death. It is Jesus Himself who said: `All who take the sword will perish by the sword' (Matthew 26:52). This is the word of God, and it commands this generation of violent men to desist from hatred and violence and to repent" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily at Drogheda", 29 September 1979).

The peace and joy which Christ brings us should be typical of believers: "Get rid of those scruples that deprive you of peace.--What takes away your peace of soul cannot come from God.

"When God comes to you, you will feel the truth of those greetings: My peace I give to you..., peace I leave you..., peace be with you..., and you will feel it even in the midst of troubles." ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 258).

28. Jesus Christ, as Only-begotten Son of God, possesses divine glory for all eternity; but while He is on earth this glory is veiled and hidden behind His holy human nature (cf. 17:5; Philippians 2:7). It only shows itself on a few occasions, such as when He performs miracles (cf. 2:11) or at the Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1-8 and paragraph). Now, through His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven Jesus will be glorified--in His body also--as He returns to the Father and enters into His glory. Therefore, His departure from this world should be a source of joy for His disciples; but they do not properly understand what He is saying, and they are saddened because they are more aware of the Master being physically separated from them than the glory which awaits Him.

When Jesus says that the Father is greater than He, He is thinking about His human nature; as man Jesus is going to be glorified, ascending as He does to the right hand of the Father. Jesus Christ "is equal to the Father in His dignity, less than the Father in His humanity" ("Athanasian Creed"). St. Augustine exhorts us to "acknowledge the twofold nature of Christ--the divine, by which He is equal to the Father; the human, by which He is less than the Father. But the one and the other are together not two, but one Christ' ("In Ioann. Evang.", 78, 3). However, although the Father and the Son are equal in nature, eternity and dignity, our Lord's words can also be understood by taking "greater" to refer to His origin: only the Father is "beginning without beginning", whereas the Son proceeds eternally from the Father by way of a generation which is also eternal. Jesus Christ is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God (cf. Nicene Creed).

30. Clearly the world is good, for it has been created by God, and God loved it so much that He sent His Only-begotten Son (cf. John 3:16). However, in this passage "world" means all those who reject Christ; and "the ruler of the world" is the devil (cf. John 1:10; 7:7; 15:18-19). The devil opposed the work of Jesus right from the start of His public life when he tempted Him in the desert (cf. Matthew 4:1-11 and paragraph). Now, in the passion, he will apparently overcome Christ. This is the hour of the power of darkness when, availing of Judas' treachery (cf. Luke 22:53; John 13:27), the devil manages to have our Lord arrested and crucified.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Just for Today, April 22

I am where my thought is; and there often is my thought, where that is which I love. That thing most readily comes to my mind which naturally delights me, or which through custom is pleasing to me. For this reason, Thou who art the truth, hast plainly said:
Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart (Matt. vi, 21).
If I love heaven, I willingly think on heavenly things.

-Bk. III, ch. xlviii.

Your soul is too noble to become attached to the consolations of this life; you must live in Heaven whilst still on earth, for it is written: Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart. Is not Jesus your only treasure? As He dwells in Heaven, your heart must dwell there also. Our gentle Saviour has long ago forgotten your failings, He sees only your desire of perfection which rejoices His heart.

I beg of you not to remain at His feet, but to follow the impulse which draws you into His arms, for that is your rightful place. Your last letter tells me more plainly than ever that you may not reach Heaven by any other way than that followed by your little sister.

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 22

He who fails to reflect before acting, walks with his eyes shut and advances with danger. He also falls very often, because the eye of reflection does not enable him to see whither his footsteps lead.

-St. Gregory the Great.
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 22, Neglected Opportunities

Perhaps time will bring great opportunities to do things for Christ, in the meantime let us profit by the little ones that present themselves - that is not always so easy.

Someone once said, "We would throw ourselves into the water to save our neighbor, if he fell into the river, but he, of course, rarely falls in; meanwhile we make his life so unbearable that he would like to jump in."

That recalls the subtle remark of St. John Chrysostom: "Re­member the day on which you decided to fast; you sat down at table, called your servant; and because he was slow in coming, you became so angry that you upset the table. 'Make a choice,' some­one has said, 'if it were necessary to break something, it might have been better to break your fast rather than the bones of your servant.'"

These counsels are addressed to people of the world, but who would pretend that they may not be applied to religious?

I aspire to great virtue, I practice it, at least occasionally; then some very ordinary occasions for the practice of patience or charity present themselves, and they prove too much for me.

I must be convinced that I have to sanctify myself in the ordi­nary humdrum ways of life, that my dueling ground is my daily routine, my occupations, my household duties, my classes and the many observances of my Rule.

There is wisdom in this observation of Elizabeth Leseur:

"Sometimes the desire for activity makes us neglect action. By seek­ing some sublime occasion of giving ourselves to a great cause, we forget a lonely, humble brother who is waiting for a comforting word, a friendly gesture. Let us not waste our time contemplating a distant road but rather follow the narrow road, not looking too far ahead, nor too high, but straight ahead and about us. The good to be done is there."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Monday, 5th Week of Easter

From: John 14:21-26

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [21] "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and manifest Myself to him." [22] Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" [23] Jesus answered him, "If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. [24] He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

[25] "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. [26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

22-23. It was commonly held by the Jews that when the Messiah came He would be revealed to the whole world as King and Savior. The Apostles take Jesus' words as a revelation for themselves alone, and they are puzzled. Hence the question from Judas Thaddeus. It is interesting to note how easy the Apostles' relations with our Lord are: they simply ask Him about things they do not know and get Him to clear up any doubts they have. This is a good example of how we should approach Jesus, who is also our Teacher and Friend.

Jesus' reply may seem evasive but in fact, by referring to the form His manifestation takes, He explains why He does not reveal Himself to the world: He makes Himself known to him who loves Him and keeps His commandments. God repeatedly revealed Himself in the Old Testament and promised to dwell in the midst of the people (cf. Exodus 29:45; Ezekiel 37:26-27; etc.); but here Jesus speaks of a presence of God in each person. St. Paul refers to this presence when he asserts that each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16-17). St. Augustine, in reflecting on God's ineffable nearness in the soul, exclaims, "Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved You! You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself. I searched for You in the world outside myself.... You were with me, but I was not with You. The beautiful things of this world kept me far from You and yet, if they had not been in You, they would have no being at all. You called me; You cried aloud to me; You broke my barrier of deafness; You shone upon me; Your radiance enveloped me; You cured my blindness" ("Confessions", X, 27, 38).

Jesus is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul renewed by grace: "Our heart now needs to distinguish and adore each one of the Divine Persons. The soul is, as it were, making a discovery in the supernatural life, like a little child opening his eyes to the world about him. The soul spends time lovingly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and readily submits to the work of the lifegiving Paraclete, who gives Himself to us with no merit on our part, bestowing His gifts and the supernatural virtues!" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 306).

25-26. Jesus has expounded His teaching very clearly, but the Apostles do not yet fully understand it; they will do so later on, when they receive the Holy Spirit who will guide them unto all truth (cf. John 16:13). "And so the Holy Spirit did teach them and remind them: He taught them what Christ had not said because they could not take it in, and He reminded them of what the Lord had taught and which, either because of the obscurity of the things or because of the dullness of their minds, they had not been able to retain" (Theophylact, "Enarratio in Evangelium Ioannis, ad loc").

The word translated here as "bring to your remembrance" also includes the idea of "suggesting": the Holy Spirit will recall to the Apostles' memory what they had already heard Jesus say--and He will give them light to enable them to discover the depth and richness of everything they have seen and heard. Thus, "the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ (cf. John 2:22) and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed: (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 19).

"Christ has not left His followers without guidance in the task of understanding and living the Gospel. Before returning to His Father, He promised to send His Holy Spirit to the Church: `But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you'" (John 14:26).

"This same Spirit guides the successors of the Apostles, your bishops, united with the Bishop of Rome, to whom it was entrusted to preserve the faith and to `preach the Gospel to the whole creation' (Mark 16:15). Listen to their voices, for they bring you the word of the Lord" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily at Knock Shrine", 30 September 1979).

In the Gospels is consigned to writing, under the charism of divine inspiration, the Apostles' version of everything they had witnessed--and the understanding of it, which they obtained after Pentecost. So it is that these sacred writers "faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while He lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when He was taken up (cf. Acts 1:1-2)" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 19). This is why the Church so earnestly recommends the reading of Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospels. "How I wish your bearing and conversation were such that, on seeing or hearing you, people would say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 2).
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, April 20, 2008

Just for Today, April 21

Let the Jews seek the glory which one man receives from another; I will seek that which is from God alone. All human glory, all temporal honour, all worldly grandeur, compared to Thy eternal glory is but vanity and foolishness.

O my truth and mercy, my God, O blessed Trinity! to Thee alone be all praise, honour, power and glory, for ever and ever.

-Bk. III, ch. xl.

If I humble myself, and acknowledge my own nothingness, and cast away all manner of esteem of my­self, and (as I really am) account myself to be mere dust, Thy grace will be favourable to me and Thy light will draw nigh to my heart.

-Bk. III, ch. viii.

This is the dream of a grain of sand: Only Jesus...and He alone! A grain of sand is so small that there is no room in its heart for anyone else in addition. What happiness it would be to live hidden, unnoticed even by those with whom we live! Oh, my little Mother! I long to be ignored by all creatures. I have never desired human glory, but rather contempt; yet seeing that even this is too great for me, I only wish to be forgotten.

My only ambition is Our Lord's glory; as to mine, I leave it to Him. If He seems to forget me, He is free to do so, as I no longer belong to myself but to Him. He will tire of keeping me waiting before I tire of waiting for Him.

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 21

During life despise that which will avail you nothing at the hour of death.

-St. Anselm.
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 21, Savior with Christ

I meditated yesterday on the fact that Christ in coming upon earth fulfilled a double mission-the glorification of His Father by offering Himself as reparation for the original disobedience of man and by this same atonement, the restoration of divine life to the human race--His redemptive mission as Savior.

Just because Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, He ought to be especially dear to the human race.

The interesting thing for me, however, is not that Jesus is the savior of mankind, but that I am one with this sole Savior of the world, for the very reasons I considered in the preceding medita­tion. Yesterday, I saw that there is only one Christ, but that this one Christ is of a double character: I am the vine, said Our Lord, you are the branches, and Vine and branches compose but one Christ.

Christ in the plural - the Head and members, - is the sole Savior; that is the point of departure for this meditation - the marvelous explanation of my redemptive mission.

There is only one Savior, but I am one with this Savior. The Redemption is a corporate redemption, a work of many, and I am one of the many. Every being is by divine destination a part of it, not only as redeemed but as redeemers; not only as saved but as saviors. I am an essential actor in the salvation of the world, not that my contribution is worth as much as Christ's, for that of the Head is full atonement; although mine is a mere participation, it is imperative nevertheless. Our Lord did not need it, but since He deigned to claim it, it becomes an obligation; He counts on me to complete what is wanting in the Passion. I am responsible, then for the sanctification of a greater or lesser number of souls. Can I afford to be slothful for even a moment?
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Comment Posting Rules


I wish to thank those who have shared their thoughts with me and who have made various suggestions regarding the comments, especially those comments which are repeatedly unChristian and uncharitable. Here are the basic rules for posting comments on this blog. (Subject to change)

1. Comments are to be civil and respectful, regardless of one's position on a subject. If you cannot post a comment "politely" then don't post.

2. This is a Catholic blog - If a commentor claims to be Catholic, then his/her comments should reflect the Catholic faith!

3. Comments that are rude, or which engage in "name calling" will be deleted - So be forwarned!

4. As if anyone needs to be reminded of this - Legitimate and fruitful debate is only possible when one refrains from resorting to perjoratives.

5. I will make every effort to ensure that comments that are uncharisteristic of a Catholic blog are deleted or modified. Repeat offenders will be banned.

Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter

John 14:1-12

Jesus Reveals the Father

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [1] "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. [2] In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [3] And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. [4] And you know the way where I am going." [5] Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?" [6] Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me." [7] "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; henceforth you know Him and have seen Him.

[8] Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." [9] Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father?' [10] Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. [11] Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the words themselves.

[12] "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father."


1-3. Apparently this prediction of Peter's denial has saddened the disciples. Jesus cheers them up by telling them that He is going away to prepare a place for them in Heaven, for Heaven they will eventually attain, despite their shortcomings and dragging their feet. The return which Jesus refers to includes His Second Coming (Parousia) at the end of the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5; 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 John 2:28) and His meeting with each soul after death: Christ has prepared a Heavenly dwelling-place through His work of redemption. Therefore, His words can be regarded as being addressed not only to the Twelve but also to everyone who believes in Him over the course of the centuries. The Lord will bring with Him into glory all those who have believed in Him and have stayed faithful to Him.

4-7. The Apostles did not really understand what Jesus was telling them: hence Thomas' question. The Lord explains that He is the way to the Father. "It was necessary for Him to say `I am the Way' to show them that they really knew what they thought they were ignorant of, because they knew Him" (St. Augustine, "In. Ioann. Evang.", 66, 2).

Jesus is the way to the Father--through what He teaches, for by keeping to His teaching we will reach Heaven; through faith, which He inspires, because He came to this world so "that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life" (John 3:15); through His example, since no one can go to the Father without imitating the Son; through His merits, which make it possible for us to enter our Heavenly home; and above all He is the way because He reveals the Father, with whom He is one because of His divine nature.

"Just as children by listening to their mothers, and prattling with them, learn to speak their language, so we, by keeping close to the Savior in meditation, and observing His words, His actions, and His affections, shall learn, with the help of His grace, to speak, to act, and to will like Him.

"We must pause here...; we can reach God the Father by no other route...; the Divinity could not be well contemplated by us in this world below if it were not united to the sacred humanity of the Savior, whose life and death are the most appropriate, sweet, delicious and profitable subjects which we can choose for our ordinary meditations" (St. Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life", Part II, Chapter 1, 2).

"I am the way": He is the only path linking Heaven and Earth. "He is speaking to all men, but in a special way He is thinking of people who, like you and me, are determined to take our Christian vocation seriously: He wants God to be forever in our thoughts, on our lips and in everything we do, including our most ordinary and routine actions.

"Jesus is the way. Behind Him on this Earth of ours He has left the clear outlines of His footprints. They are indelible signs which neither the erosion of time nor the treachery of the Evil One have been able to erase" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 127).

Jesus' words do much more than provide an answer to Thomas' question; He tells us: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life". Being the Truth and the Life is something proper to the Son of God become man, who St. John says in the prologue of his Gospel is "full of grace and truth" (1:14). He is the Truth because by coming to this world He shows that God is faithful to His promises, and because He teaches the truth about who God is and tells us that true worship must be "in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). He is Life because from all eternity He has divine life with His Father (cf. John 1:4), and because He makes us, through grace, sharers in that divine life. This is why the Gospel says: "This is eternal life, that they know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent" (John 17:3).

By His reply Jesus is, "as it were, saying, By which route do you want to go? I am the Way. To where do you want to go? I am the Truth. Where do you want to remain? I am the Life. Every man can attain an understanding of the Truth and the Life; but not all find the Way. The wise of this world realize that God is eternal life and knowable truth; but the Word of God, who is Truth and Life joined to the Father, has become the Way by taking a human nature. Make your way contemplating His humility and you will reach God" (St. Augustine, "De Verbis Domini Sermones", 54).

8-11. The Apostles still find our Lord's words very mysterious, because they cannot understand the oneness of the Father and the Son. Hence Philip's persistence. Then Jesus "upbraids the Apostle for not yet knowing Him, even though His works are proper to God--walking on the water, controlling the wind, forgiving sins, raising the dead. This is why He reproves him: for not recognizing His divine condition through His human nature" (St. Augustine, "De Trinitate", Book 7).

Obviously the sight of the Father which Jesus refers to in this passage is a vision through faith, for no one has ever seen God as He is (cf. John 1:18; 6:46). All manifestations of God, or "theophanies", have been through some medium; they are only a reflection of God's greatness. The highest _expression which we have of God our Father is in Christ Jesus, the Son of God sent among men. "He did this by the total fact of His presence and self-manifestation--by words and works, signs and miracles, but above all by His death and glorious resurrection from the dead, and finally by sending the Spirit of truth. He revealed that God was with us, to deliver us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to eternal life" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 4).

12-14. Before leaving this world, the Lord promises His Apostles to make them sharers in His power so that God's salvation may be manifested through them. These "works" are the miracles they will work in the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 3:1-10; 5:15-16; etc.), and especially the conversion of people to the Christian faith and their sanctification by preaching and the ministry of the sacraments. They can be considered greater works than Jesus' own insofar as, by the Apostles' ministry, the Gospel was not only preached in Palestine but was spread to the ends of the earth; but this extraordinary power of apostolic preaching proceeds from Christ, who has ascended to the Father: after undergoing the humiliation of the cross Jesus has been glorified and from Heaven He manifests His power by acting through His Apostles.

The Apostles' power, therefore, derives from Christ glorified. Christ our Lord says as much: "Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it". "It is not that he who believes in Me will be greater than Me, but that only that I shall then do greater works than now; greater, by him who believes in Me, than I now do by myself without Him" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 72, 1).

Jesus Christ is our intercessor in Heaven; therefore, He promises us that everything we ask for in His name, He will do. Asking in His name (cf. 15:7, 16; 16:23-24) means appealing to the power of the risen Christ, believing that He is all-powerful and merciful because He is true God; and it also means asking for what is conducive to our salvation, for Jesus is our Savior. Thus, by "whatever you ask" we must understand what is for the good of the asker. When our Lord does not give what we ask for, the reason is that it would not make for our salvation. In this way we can see that He is our Savior both when He refuses us what we ask and when He grants it.
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 5th Sunday of Easter

From: 1 Peter 2:4-9

The Priesthood Common to All Believers

[4] Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but to God's sight chosen and precious; [5] and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [6] For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame." [7] To you therefore who believe, He is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner," [8] and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the Word, as they were destined to do.

[9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.


4-10. Baptism makes us members of the Church. The sacred writer uses the idea of constructing a building (verses 4-8) to explain that Christians together go to make up the one, true people of God (verses 9-19). The whole passage is built on quotations from the Old Testament, possibly ones used in early apostolic catechesis.

The Church is like a spiritual building of which Christ is the cornerstone, that is, the stone which supports the entire structure (cf. "Lumen Gentium", 6). Christians have to be living stones united to Christ by faith and grace, thereby forming a solid temple in which "spiritual sacrifices" are offered which are "acceptable to God" (verse 5). The closer their union with Christ, the stronger the building: "All of us who believe in Christ Jesus", Origen explains, "are called 'living stones' [...]. For if you, who are listening to me, want to prepare yourself better for the construction of this building, and be one of the stones closest to the foundation, you need to realize that Christ Himself is the foundation of the building we are describing. As the Apostle Paul tells us, 'no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 3:11)" ("In Iesu Nave", 9, 1).

8. Applying to Christ what the prophet Isaiah says of Yahweh (cf. Isaiah 8:14; note on 1 Peter 2:13), St. Peter shows how, for those who do not believe in Christ, the cornerstone becomes "a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; Simon prophesied as much to the Blessed Virgin in the temple (cf. Luke 2:34).

"As they were destined to do": this does not mean that God predestined some to damnation. God wants all men to be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4), and that was why Jesus Christ became man; but for someone to be saved, his free response is necessary, and man can oppose God's salvific plan and reject grace. It should be remembered that in the language of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, sometimes no distinction is made between what God orders or wills and what He simply allows to happen (cf. Romans 9:14-33 and notes on the same.

9-10. In contrast with those who reject faith (verses 7-8), believers form the true Israel, the true people of God. In this people the titles applied to Israel in the Old Testament find their full meaning: they are "a chosen race" (cf. Exodus 19:5-6), a people convoked by God to sing His praises (cf. Isaiah 43:20-21). Their election is something Christians should glory in; it makes demands on them: Christians are set apart for God, they belong to Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19), for the blood of Christ has been paid as their ransom (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-21). So, they must not remain passive; they have to preach the greatness of God and bring many other souls to Him: "the Good News of the Kingdom which is coming and which has begun is meant", says Pope Paul VI, "for all people of all times. Those who have received the Good News and who have been gathered by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and spread it" ("Evangelii Nuntiandi", 13).

In this people there is only one priest, Jesus Christ, and one sacrifice, that which He offered on the cross and which is renewed in the Mass. But all Christians, through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, obtain a share in the priesthood of Christ and are thereby equipped to mediate in a priestly way between God and man and to take an active part in divine worship; by so doing they can turn all their actions into "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" (1 Peter 2:5). Theirs is a true priesthood, although it is essentially different from the ministerial priesthood for those who receive the sacrament of Order: "Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless ordered one to another; each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power that he has, forms and rules the priestly people; in the person of Christ he effects the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people. The faithful indeed, by virtue of their royal priesthood, participate in the offering of the Eucharist. They exercise that priesthood, too, by the reception of the Sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, abnegation and active charity" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 10: cf. "Prebyterorum Ordinis", 2).

And the same Council says, apropos of those "spiritual sacrifices" (verse 5) by which Christians sanctify the world from within, that "all their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit--indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne--all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most frequently be offered to the Father along with the body of our Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God" ("Lumen Gentium", 34).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

1st Reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter

From: Acts 6:1-7

The Appointment of the Seven Deacons

[1] Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in numbers, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. [2] And the Twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. [3] Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. [4] But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." [5] And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. [6] These they set before the Apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

[7] And the Word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.


1-6. A new section of the book begins at this point. It is introduced by reference to two groups in the early community, identified by their background prior to their conversion--the Hellenists and the Hebrews. >From this chapter onwards, Christians are referred to as "disciples"; in other words this term is no longer applied only to the Apostles and to those who were adherents of Jesus during His life on earth; all the baptized are "disciples". Jesus is the Lord of His Church and the Teacher of all: after His ascension into Heaven He teaches, sanctifies and governs Christians through the ministry of the Apostles, initially, and after the Apostles' death, through the ministry of their successors, the Pope and the bishops, who are aided by priests.

Hellenists were Jews who had been born and lived for a time outside Palestine. They spoke Greek and had synagogues of their own where the Greek translation of Scripture was used. They had a certain amount of Greek culture; the Hebrews would have also had some, but not as much. The Hebrews were Jews born in Palestine; they spoke Aramaic and used the Hebrew Bible in their synagogues. This difference of backgrounds naturally carried over into the Christian community during its early years, but it would be wrong to see it as divisive or to imagine that there were two opposed factions in early Christianity. Before the Church was founded there existed in Jerusalem a well-established Hellenist-Jewish community -- an influential and sizeable grouping.

This chapter relates the establishment by the Apostles of "the seven": this is the second, identifiable group of disciples entrusted with a ministry in the Church, the first being "the Twelve".

Although St. Luke does not clearly present this group as constituting a holy "order", it is quite clear that the seven have been given a public role in the community, a role which extends beyond distribution of relief. We shall now see Philip and Stephen preaching and baptizing--sharing in some ways in the ministry of the Apostles, involved in "care of souls".

St. Luke uses the term "diakonia" (service), but he does not call the seven "deacons". Nor do later ancient writers imply that these seven were deacons (in the later technical sense of the word)--constituting with priests and Bishops the hierarchy of the Church. Therefore, we do not know for certain whether the diaconate as we know it derives directly from "the seven". St. John Chrysostom, for example, has doubts about this (cf. "Hom. on Acts", 14). However, it is at least possible that the ministry described here played a part in the instituting of the diaconate proper.

In any event, the diaconate is a form of sacred office of apostolic origin. At ordination deacons take on an obligation to perform--under the direction of the diocesan bishop--certain duties to do with evangelization, catechesis, organization of liturgical ceremonies, Christian initiation of catechumens and neophytes, and Church charitable and social welfare work.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that "at a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands `not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry'. For, strengthened by sacramental grace they are dedicated to the people of God, in conjunction with the bishop and his body of priests, in the service of the liturgy, of the Gospel and of works of charity. It pertains to the office of a deacon, in so far as it may be assigned to him by the competent authority, to administer Baptism solemnly, to be custodian and distributor of the Eucharist, in the name of the Church to assist at and to bless marriages, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read Sacred Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and the prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, and to officiate at funeral and burial services" ("Lumen Gentium", 29).

2-4. The Twelve establish a principle which they consider basic: their apostolic ministry is so absorbing that they have no time to do other things. In this particular case an honorable and useful function -- distribution of food--cannot be allowed to get in the way of another even more important task essential to the life of the Church and of each of its members. "They speak of it `not being right' in order to show that the two duties cannot in this case be made compatible" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on Acts", 14).

The main responsibility of the pastors of the Church is the preaching of the Word of God, the administration of the Sacraments and the government of the people of God. Any other commitment they take on should be compatible with their pastoral work and supportive of it, in keeping with the example given by Christ: He cured people's physical ailments in order to reach their souls, and He preached justice and peace as signs of the Kingdom of God.

"A mark of our identity which no doubt ought to encroach upon and no objection eclipse is this: as pastors, we have been chosen by the mercy of the Supreme Pastor (cf. 1 Peter 5:4), in spite of our inadequacy, to proclaim with authority the Word of God, to assemble the scattered people of God, to nourish this people on the road to salvation, to maintain it in that unity of which we are, at different levels, active and living instruments, and increasingly to keep this community gathered around Christ faithful to its deepest vocation" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Evangelii Nuntiandi", 68).

A priest should be avid for the Word of God, [Pope] John Paul II emphasizes; he should embrace it in its entirety, meditate on it, study it assiduously and spread it through his example and preaching (cf. e.g., "Addresses" in Ireland and the United States, 1 October and 3 October 1979 respectively). His whole life should be a generous proclamation of Christ. Therefore, he should avoid the temptation to "temporal leadership: that can easily be a source of division whereas he should be a sign and promoter of unity and fraternity" ("To the Priests of Mexico", 27 January 1979).

This passage allows us to see the difference between election and appointment to a ministry in the Church. A person can be elected or designated by the faithful; but power to carry out that ministry (which implies a calling from God) is something he must receive through ordination, which the Apostles confer. "The Apostles leave it to the body of the disciples to select the [seven], in order that it should not seem that they favor some in preference to others" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on Acts", 14). However, those designated for ordination are not representatives or delegates of the Christian community; they are ministers of God. They have received a calling and, by the imposition of hands, God--not men -- gives them a spiritual power which equips them to govern the Christian community, make and administer the Sacraments and preach the Word.

Christian pastoral office, that is, the priesthood of the New Testament in its various degrees, does not derive from family relationship, as was the case of the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament; nor is it a type of commissioning by the community. The initiative lies with the grace of God, who calls whom He chooses.

5. All the people chosen have Greek names. One of them is a "proselyte", that is, a pagan who became a Jew through circumcision and observance of the Law of Moses.

6. The Apostles establish the seven in their office or ministry through prayer and the laying on of hands. This latter gesture is found sometimes in the Old Testament, principally as a rite of ordination of Levites (cf. Numbers 8:10) and as a way of conferring power and wisdom on Joshua, Moses' successor as leader of Israel (Numbers 27:20; Deuteronomy 13:9).

Christians have retained this rite, as can be seen quite often in Acts. Sometimes it symbolizes curing (9:12, 17; 28:8), in line with the example given by our Lord in Luke 4:40. It is also a rite of blessing, as when Paul and Barnabas are sent out on their first apostolic journey (13:3); and it is used as a post-baptismal rite for bringing down the Holy Spirit (8:17; 19:5).

In this case it is a rite for the ordination of ministers of the Church--the first instance of sacred ordination reported by Acts (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22; 2 Timothy 5:22). "St. Luke is brief. He does not say how they were ordained, but simply that it was done with prayer, because it was an ordination. The hand of a man is laid [upon a person], but the whole work is of God and it is His hand which touches the head of the one ordained" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on Acts", 14).

The essential part of the rite of ordination of deacons is the laying on of hands; this is done in silence, on the candidate's head, and then a prayer is said to God asking Him to send the Holy Spirit to the person being ordained.

7. As in earlier chapters, St. Luke here refers to the spread of the Church--this time reporting the conversion of "a great many of the priests". Many scholars think that these would have come from the lower ranks of the priesthood (like Zechariah: cf. Luke 1:5) and not from the greatly priestly families, which were Sadducees and enemies of the newborn church (cf. 4:1; 5:17). Some have suggested that these priests may have included members of the Qumran sect. However, the only evidence we have to go on is what St. Luke says here.
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.