Saturday, April 03, 2010

Gospel for Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

From: John 20:1-9

The Empty Tomb
[1] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." [3 ]Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. [4] They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; [5] and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, [7] and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. [8] Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; [9] for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead.
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Commentary:
1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes "lying" and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem...and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32).

John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the Apostles.

5-7. The words the Evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant. The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.

"The linen clothes lying there": the Greek participle translated as "lying there" seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared--as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later He entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being "fallen", "flat" "lying", which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus' body--which had filled them--left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

"The napkin...rolled up in a place by itself": the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed on one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as "rolled", seems to indicate.

From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus' body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44).

8-10. As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two Apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they know began to understand what the Master had so often told them about His death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; etc....)

The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ's resurrection is a real, historic fact: His body and soul were re-united. But since His was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus', far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required--the gift of faith--to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas can say that "the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ's resurrection, but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Luke 24:25-27), the angelic testimony (cf. Luke 24:4-7) and Christ's own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. John 3:13; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 55, a. 6 ad 1).

In addition to Christ's predictions about His passion, death and resurrection (cf. John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, His resurrection (cf. Psalm 16:9; Isaiah 52:13; Hosea 6:2). The Apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Sacred Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.
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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.

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Reflection for Easter, The Empty Grave

"He has risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him." St. Mark, 16:6.

There was a salesman by the name of Frank Headland, who had an unusual hobby. For over fifteen years his sideline had been finding out where the great men and women of the world are buried. One might think that is an easy task, but you will be surprised at the amount of time and effort he had to spend in locating the graves of the famous and the near famous.

He started his hobby back in 1932, when he came upon an editorial in a newspaper which lamented that the grave of a famous citizen of Ohio, a former Supreme Court justice, could not be located. The dead man's friends wanted to erect a memorial to him. Headland finally found the site of the grave in some old records. He decided to continue searching out the secrets of other graves, when he realized that there were dozens of directories tell­ing where famous folk lived when alive, but no list of their last resting places. In this way was born his unusual book with the title Where's Who. Kings, governors and presidents are listed with the site of their burial place.

But the most famous name, the greatest name in all history is not on his list, for the simple reason that the most outstanding Person in history did not stay buried, and there is no record or even suggestion that His body is buried anywhere on this earth.

Where's Who cannot tell us where Christ is buried today, for the simple reason that He is not buried. Yes, Mr. Headland could tell us where Christ was buried 2000 years ago - for three days - but the risen body of Christ is now in heaven. The angel still stands by the grave of Christ and still declares:
"He has risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him."
That is the glorious fact which we celebrate this Easter morning. That
is the truth which makes us happy today. But how do we know that Christ rose from the grave? How do we know that there was a first Easter, which gives all the meaning to this Easter of 2008? The primary proof for the Resurrection we might put in this way: Jesus Christ is truly risen from the grave, if the Apostles were not deceived or mistaken, and if they did not deliberately deceive or mislead.

1. The Apostles were not deceived.

A. The resurrection of Christ from the grave is something that comes under human observation. In other words, the Apostles could see that the stone was rolled away, and that the grave was empty. They had heard of the statement of God's messenger that He was not there, that He had risen. They could also hear the silly excuse of the sol­diers that Christ's friends had stolen His body while the guards were asleep.

B. During forty days, at various times, to various individuals and groups, Christ appeared, talked, and even shared food with them.

C. They definitely did not want to be deceived because they refused belief. Think of St. Thomas, the Apostle, refusing to believe unless he would put his finger into the wounds of the risen Christ.

D. But when they were finally convinced, the Apostles went forth into the whole world to preach the resurrection of Christ, in the face of ridicule, torture and even death. All but one laid down their lives for this truth.

2. The Apostles did not deceive.

A. Christ's followers, especially the faithful eleven of His chosen twelve, had no reason to deceive or mislead others with regard to the Lord's rising from the grave. On the. contrary, they had every rea­son not to deceive.
i. God would punish their lie and deception.
ii. Men would persecute and punish them for their deception.
B. Furthermore, the Apostles had no way or means of deceiving.
i. Of themselves they were timid, uneducated, men without influ­ence. How could they convince the world of such a lie?

ii They knew the world would never believe such a statement, if it were not true.

iii. Nevertheless, a great part of the world has accepted the fact of the resurrection. Accepting that fact and that truth has made the world better, and has made the world sure that Christ, who taught such a high way of life, was really God.

3. Added to these reasons are many others:
the prophecies carried out; the testimony of the angels, especially of the angel at the tomb; the Jewish council giving bribes to the guards to tell a lie; the appearances of our Lord to others beside the Apostles; the constant belief and teaching of Christ's Church; the firm faith of the Apostles and martyrs in dying for this truth; the conversion of the world because of this belief; yes, and the unshaking faith of entire Christendom today, including ourselves, who believe without doubt that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by His own power, rose from the grave on the third day after He was put to death.

That is why on this Easter day we wish you all a Happy Easter. Mother Church decks out her altar with fragrant flowers; she puts on her brightest vestments; she sings her most joyous songs; she greets your shining faces and your shining souls with the words of the angel:
"He has risen, he is not here."
Yes, if Frank Headland had compiled a book with the location of the graves of all who ever died, he would have to leave out the name of Jesus. But for that very reason, for the reason that Christ rose from the grave, the graves of all others become places of hope rather than despair. Because Jesus rose, we will rise.

Because the grave of Jesus is empty, all the graves of all time will one day be empty. That is part of the joy; the blessed joy and hope, we wish all of you this morning. Amen.
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Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

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Reflection: Easter - The Joy of the Church

"He is not here, but has risen." St. Luke, 24:5.

World-famous and full of wonders is the Vatican Museum in Rome. One long corridor leaves a particularly lasting impression upon the visi­tor. Along one side you see a row of epitaphs or writings on tombs, to­gether with emblems of the heathens and their idols. On the other side you see Christian memorials. The heathen part is cold and cheerless; the Christian part is full of hope and happiness. The heathen side is dark and joyless; the Christian, bright and cheery. The heathen relics make death the end of all; the Christian relics make death the beginning.

Along that lengthy corridor one sees clearly the contrast between faith and no faith, the striking contrast between those who believe in Easter and those who do not. Face to face those two worlds stand, One brings despair; the other brings hope. On the one side is death; on the other life. Look one way and you see destruction, represented, for in­stance, by lions seizing on horses. Look the other way and you see the Good Shepherd carrying home the lamb. On one side the stone is still there; on the other, the stone is rolled away.

That corridor echoes the contrast between Christianity and paganism through the centuries. We find an example in the catacombs, where we read inscriptions like this: "Alexander is not dead, but lives above the stars."

At the same time the Roman people were reading Cicero's hopeless letters to Sulpicius on bereavement.

In a word, the difference between faith and no faith is the difference between bright hope and black despair, the difference between shining joy and gloomy fate. One source of our Christian joy is the resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate today. That is why, with deepest convic­tion and sincerity, I wish everyone of you a Happy Easter. The Catho­lic Church is happy today for several reasons, reasons which make us individually happy also:

1. Because of her intense love of Jesus, the Church is happy that Christ has risen from the grave. No bride loves her bridegroom, no mother loves her child, as the Church loves Christ, her Spouse and Redeemer. We Catholics love Christ for His own sake; because He is so loving and lovable in Himself. We love Him because He has been good to us. He has done everything for His Church, His spouse. That is why we are happy beyond words as we behold this loving Savior come forth from the tomb this Easter morning.

2. The Church is happy because of the graces she received from the resurrection of Christ. That resurrection introduced the Church to the world. Without Easter there would be no Catholic Church. She would have been helpless. No one would have believed the apostles, for they preached the resurrection as the cornerstone of the new faith. The fact that Christ rose from the grave led men to believe in Him.

3. Another reason for the Easter joy of the Church is that she is now assured she will continue to the end of time. Our Lord promised that the powers of evil and error would never prevail against His Church. His resurrection proved Christ was God and that He would keep this promise. Never will His Church be destroyed. We Catholics share that joyful confidence today, when our brothers and sisters in Christ are suf­fering in many lands. The enemies of Mother Church may oppress us; they can never suppress us. He who rose from the grave will be with us to the end.

4. The Church is particularly happy on Easter day, because the resur­rection proves the truth of Catholic faith and Catholic teaching. Our faith has come directly from Christ, the Son of God. Not only are we sure that we received the faith pure and clear as it came from the lips of Christ, but we are also sure that His Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, will keep that faith pure and clear to the end of time. He who conquered death and the grave, will also conquer error and mistakes in faith and morals. Mother Church is the official teacher of truth. She has the God-given right and the God-given duty of instructing all na­tions in what is true and what is right. Her motherly hand must lead all to their heavenly home.

5. The Church is glad today because the words of the angel, "He is risen," confirm her power for the salvation of all men. Christ appointed the Church as His representative on earth. To her He gave the power to announce His teaching, to offer the Holy Sacrifice, to confer the sacra­ments. To her Christ gave everything needed to purify and sanctify man. To her He said:
"Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." St. Matthew, 18:18.

Not often enough and not deeply enough do we think of the God­-given powers of the Catholic Church. World leaders have power over the bodies of men, and just for a time. Mother Church has power over the souls of men, and for all eternity. At times the world may seem to triumph. In certain places at certain periods the material may temporar­ily triumph over the spiritual.

But, on Easter morning the spiritual wins a decisive victory. Christ conquers death and the grave and the merely material. His spirit over­comes the physical; He rises, up from a grave, up to the heights of Easter happiness. With Mother Church we have every reason to rejoice on this glorious day.

Yes, that corridor in the Vatican museum, with blind fate on one side, and bright faith on the other, stretches through the world, right down into our own town. The family living next door or across the street, may not have that faith. Oh, what they are missing.

Thanks to the risen Savior, you and I are on the bright side, the happy side. You and I stand in the camp of those who know that Christ has risen from the grave. In that certainty we are happy; in that cer­tainty I can wish everyone of you a truly Happy Easter. Amen.
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Adapted from Lent and His Last Words
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1953)

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Reflection: Mental Prayer for Easter Sunday-The Resurrection

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: Jesus, risen from the dead, give me a strong belief in all the truths of faith You teach.

Mental Picture (cf. Matt. 28:1-15): Outside Jesus' tomb before dawn... three Roman soldiers sprawl in sleep on the ground... a huge stone blocks the entrance to the tomb... inside on a slab lies the body of Jesus, cold in death. Dawn... the first rays of sunlight gild the temple towers... suddenly the ground heaves and shudders as an earthquake rolls over Judea. Back rolls the huge stone... and there stands Jesus, glorious, shining, the majestic smile of victory on His face. Christ has risen­...our Leader and King lives!

My Personal Application: Christ's greatest mira­cle! The foundation of our faith! For three years He taught us the truths of faith and the sure way to heaven. As a proof that He was truly God, He often predicted this miracle. Now He fulfills it. Truly dead after Calvary, He rises to life in triumph. Do I realize that this miracle proves Jesus was God beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do I see that it stamps the seal of Divinity on every truth that Jesus taught? And among them, the truth that He leads His army to certain victory.

I Speak to Christ: Jesus, newly risen in glory, I adore You. I believe You are truly God's Son. I believe in the truths of faith You taught. I believe that Your commandments are my way to heaven. Strengthen my faith. Make it firm in the faithless world in which we live today.

Thought for Today: "He is risen as He said."
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Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

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The True Meaning of Easter

The Resurrection represents the eternal and definitive triumph of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the complete defeat of his adversaries, and the supreme argument of our faith. Saint Paul said that, if Christ had not resurrected, our faith would be vain. The whole edifice of our beliefs is founded on the supernatural fact of the Resurrection. Let us then meditate about this highly elevated subject.

* * *

Christ Our Lord was not resurrected: He resurrected. He was dead. Lazarus was resurrected. Someone other than him, in this case, Our Lord, called him back to life. As for the Divine Redeemer, no one resurrected Him. He resurrected Himself, needing no one to call Him back to life. He took his life back when He so willed....
Continued here at America Needs Fatima.

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Gospel for Saturday Evening, The Easter Vigil

The Resurrection of the Lord

From: Luke 24:1-12

The Women Are Told That Jesus Is Risen


[1] But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body. [4] While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; [5] and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. [6] Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." [8] And they remembered his words, [9] and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. [10] Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; [11] but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. [12] But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.
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Commentary:

1-4. The affection which led the holy women to make the necessary preparations for the embalming of Jesus' body was, perhaps, an intuition of faith which the Church would express more elaborately much later on: "We firmly believe that when his soul was dissociated from his body, his divinity continued always united both to his body in the sepulchre and to his soul in limbo" ("St Pius V Catechism", I, 5, 6).

5-8. True faith concerning the resurrection of Jesus teaches that he truly died, that is, his soul was separated from his body, and his body was in the grave for three days; and that then by his own power his body and soul were united once more, never again to be separated (cf. "St Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 7).

Although this is a strictly supernatural mystery there are some elements in it which come within the category of sense experience--death, burial, the empty tomb, appearances, etc.--and in this sense it is a demonstrable fact and one which has been verified (cf. St Pius X, "Lamentabili", 36-37).

Jesus Christ's resurrection completes the work of Redemption, "For just as by dying he endured all evil to deliver us from evil, so was he glorified in rising again to advance us towards good things, according to Rom 4:25 which says that 'he was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification'" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 53, a. 1, c.).

"'Christ is alive.' This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. 'Do not be amazed' was how the angels greeted the women who came to the tomb. 'Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here' (Mk 16:6). 'This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it' (Ps 117:24).

"Easter is a time of joy--a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, for it should always be present in the Christian's heart. For Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory.

"No, Christ is alive, Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His Resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: 'Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you' (Is 49:15). And he has kept his promise. His delight is still to be with the children of men (cf. Prov 8:31)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 102).

Through Baptism and the other sacraments, a Christian becomes part of the redemptive mystery of Christ, part of his death and resurrection: "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2: 12). "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:13).

9-12. The first people to whom the angel announced the birth of Christ were the shepherds at Bethlehem; and the first to be told of his resurrection are these devout women: one further sign of God's preference for simple and sincere souls is the fact that he gives themthis honor which the world would not appreciate (cf. Mt 11:25). But it is not only their simplicity and kindness and sincerity that attracts him: poor people (such as shepherds) and women were looked down on in those times, and Jesus loves anyone who is humbled by the pride of men. The women's very simplicity and goodness lead them to go immediately to Peter and the Apostles to tell them everything they have seen and heard. Peter, whom Christ promised to make his vicar on earth (cf. Mt 16:18) feels he must take the initiative in checking out their story.
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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.

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Principles and Practices - April 4

Christ's Purpose in Marriage

Instituted for the three-fold purpose of propagating the human race, of securing the mutual happiness of the husband and wife, and of educating the offspring, neither husband nor wife might by a guilty abuse of their powers frustrate the divine purpose. They might not be blind to the respect and love and confidence due to their helpmate. They might not criminally neglect the physical or moral well-being of their little ones, or omit to train them to be useful to them­selves and society in life and to fit them for citizen­ship in the eternal kingdom of heaven.

-Lonergan, S.J.
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From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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The School of Love & Other Essays, April 3

ONE ANOTHER

[continued from yesterday]

...So again with a wasted alms. I may not approve of promiscuous alms-giving, but that does not prevent me from seeing that even promiscuous alms-giving is not wholly bad.

Nine times out of ten I may be cheated; but if the tenth time I failed, in a case of real dis­tress, could I ever forgive myself? And besides it is not every wastrel that is wholly reprobate; even among tramps there have been saints. The wastrel who meets you may not deserve your penny; if he receives it he may even chuckle at his fortune, and your weakness; nevertheless, as often as not, he goes away with something more than a penny in his hand, something in his heart of which he is not aware, but which some day will bear fruit; the memory of one who has treated him above that which he has deserved, the memory of a kind deed done.

Talk some day, if you like, with any common tramp. Get his con­fidence and see what he will have to say; not with the object of deceiving you, but on a footing of equality. A hundred to one he will harp upon one or two subjects; the kind­ness he has received from someone or other in a moment of particular crisis, or the wish, perhaps I should call it despair, lying at the back of his heart that he could have been or could be different.

He may make no change in his life after he has spoken; he may show his deliberate intention to make no change; he may spend your twopence at the next ale­house. But he will probably add your memory to that of others who did not treat him wholly as a pariah; who for a moment let him feel that in spite of all he was a man among men. Perhaps some of us would not think that in such a case our alms was wholly wasted.

Similarly we might argue about that still more hopeless matter, the conversion of one dear to us; more hopeless in one sense, be­cause the special end we have in view seems so seldom to be gained, but surely not more hopeless when we think of the supernatural forces with which we are venturing to deal. Here more than anywhere else we have the guarantee of God Himself that our efforts are not in vain; and in those safe hands we are content to trust our all....

[continued tomorrow]
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From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Principles and Practices - April 3

The Good Shepherd

The first of all 'special devotions' practised by the children of the Church - the devotion of the Church in the Catacombs - was devotion to the Good Shepherd. They were in conflict with the world, with the persecutor's cruel power, with the unbeliever's immorality; and they turned from strife and conflict for rest and peace, to the Good Shepherd, who still seemed to say to them, 'Fear not, little flock.'... Then, too, Our Lord Himself displayed an evident preference for this name, for He said, speaking of Himself: 'I am the Good Shepherd.'

-Rev. Kenelm Digby Best.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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The School of Love & Other Essays, April 2

ONE ANOTHER

[continued from yesterday]

...Or again, we may be roused to indignation against some confirmed criminal, some utterly bad man. But we may not know that the same poor creature is equally disgusted and indig­nant with himself; that it is his circumstances more than himself that stand responsible for his condition; that if we had had his chances and no more, our fate would have been a poor thing; that even as it is his outlook is such as would make us happier creatures envious; that for all his wickedness there are never­theless those who know him better than we, and understand him better than we, and have an unaccountable attraction and affection for something he possesses.

Even Bill Sykes was loved by Nancy - and by his dog; and to be loved with sincerity by one who knows us implies something in us that is lovable. Who that has dealt much with criminals has not felt this lovableness peering out in all sorts of places?

The second principle is that of hope; and this means that we should be confident that no good deed we ever. do is wasted. It is true we may fail in our immediate object; we may not always gain the good effect we intended. We may work for a conversion, and our friend may die without any sign of having once ever given the matter a thought. We may give an alms and find we have only been encouraging a wastrel. We may labour to exhaustion in teaching a child, and the child may turn out nothing but a shame to its instructors. Still none of these cover the whole matter.

A good deed done is like a stone dropped in deep water; the circles of waves continue to go out from that centre, on and on, and to and fro, long after the stone has settled at the bottom.

Let us examine these cases in some detail. I teach a child and seem to myself to have failed, to have wasted my time and energy. But others do not see it in the same light; the child itself does not.

Others have been stimu­lated by that which I have done, in ways and to efforts altogether out of my ken. The child itself has a memory stored away in its heart, which some day will lead to its repentance.

And besides these waves of blessing that have been started, with results more far-reaching than any dream of mine would have fancied, there is the lasting good done to myself, there is the fulfilment of a noble duty to mankind, there is the glory of a sacrifice given to God, there is the likeness to Jesus Christ, then most of all when my effort is least rewarded: and none of these may be neglected in the reckoning....

[continued tomorrow]
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From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Gospel for Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

The Gospel for Good Friday is from: St John 18:1-19:42

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

The Arrest of Jesus
[1] When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. [2] Now Judas who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples. [3] So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. [4] Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" [5] They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. [6] When he said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. [7] Again he asked them, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." [8] Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go." [9] This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken, "Of those whom thou gayest me I lost not one.' [10] Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. [11] Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?"

Jesus Before Annas and Caiaphas. Peter's Denials
[12] So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. [13] First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. [14] It was Caiaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

[15] Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, he entered the court of the high priest along with Jesus, [16] while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maid who kept the door, and brought Peter in. [17] The maid who kept the door said to Peter, "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" He said, "I am not." [18] Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

[19] The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. [20] Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly. [21] Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said." [22] When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" [23] Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me? [24] Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

[25] Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, "Are not you also one of his disciples? He denied it and said, "I am not." [26] One of the servants the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him? [27] Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed.

The Trial before Pilate: Jesus is King
[28] Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover. [29] So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" [30] They answered him, "If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over." [31] Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." [32] This was to fulfill the word which Jesus had spoken to show by what death he was to die.

[33] Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" [34] Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" [35] Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" [36] Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." [37] Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." [38] Pilate said to him, "'What is truth?"

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, "I find no crime in him. [39] But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?" [40] They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.

The Scourging at the Pillar and the Crowning with Thorns
[1] Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. [2] And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and array him in a purple robe; [3] they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. [4] Pilate went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime him." [5] So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man! [6] When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him." [7] The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God." [8] When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; [9] he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave no answer. [10] Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" [11] Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin."

Pilate Hands Jesus Over
[12] Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar." [13] When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. [14] Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" [15] They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." [16] Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
[17] So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. [18] There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. [19] Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." [20] Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. [21] The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews."' [22] Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

[23] When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; [24] so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

[25] So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" [27] Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

[28] After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." [29] A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. [30] When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus' Side is Pierced. His Burial
[31] Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross of the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

[32] So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; [33] but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. [35] He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe. [36] For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him shall be broken." [37] And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced."

[38] After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. [39] Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. [40] They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. [41] Now in the place where he was crucified there was garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one has ever been laid. [42] So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
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Commentary:

1. The previous chapter, dealing as it did with the glory of the Son of God (cf. Jn 17:1, 4, 10,22,24), is a magnificent prologue to our Lord's passion and death, which St John presents as part of Christ's glorification: he emphasizes that Jesus freely accepted his death (14:31) and freely allowed himself to be arrested (18:4, 11). The Gospel shows our Lord's superiority over his judges (18:20-2 1) and accusers (19:8, 12); and his majestic serenity in the face of physical pain, which makes one more aware of the Redemption, the triumph of the Cross, than of Jesus' actual sufferings....

Continued here (long)

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Satan behind media attacks on the Pope, asserts Italian exorcist

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2010 / 11:47 am (CNA).- Noted Italian exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, commented this week that the recent defamatory reporting on Pope Benedict XVI, especially by the New York Times, was “prompted by the devil.”

Speaking to News Mediaset in Italy, the 85-year-old exorcist noted that the devil is behind “the recent attacks on Pope Benedict XVI regarding some pedophilia cases.”

“There is no doubt about it. Because he is a marvelous Pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the devil wants to ‘grab hold’ of him.”...
Continued here.

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Principles and Practices - April 2

How Venial Sin Spoils

Venial sin is a very great evil in its effects. As dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment, so venial sin corrupts virtuous actions; and when it affects the foundation or prin­cipal intention of them it diminishes their value to such a degree that, ceasing to be acts of a supernatural order, they no longer merit eternal rewards.

-Bellecius.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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The School of Love & Other Essays, April 1

ONE ANOTHER

[continued from yesterday]

...It follows from this that a man can, if he likes, always have a kindly feeling for his fel­low-man, no matter what may be the provoca­tion to the contrary. Indeed he has a duty to do so; and the greater he is, the less will he be influenced by a single point of view, the more will he endeavour to see all round, and upon the whole conception to pass his judg­ment.

Let us then, in our dealings with others, remind ourselves of one or two prin­ciples, quite platitudinous in themselves, but which, nevertheless, if we will keep them in mind, will save us many a rash judgment, and harsh word, and hasty action.

For such things are the characteristics of small people; when we ourselves are guilty of them, we know how puny and despicable we are in our own eyes, and in those of others; moreover they culti­vate puniness, and react upon their perpetra­tors in a multitude of ways.

The first principle is to accept what has already been said, that is to believe in everybody; let us call it the principle of faith. There are some who preach the opposite; they say the prudent man will believe in nobody.

But the doctrine of such people condemns itself; for it forbids us to believe in them. If they merely said: "Put implicit faith in nobody," they might have a case; for there is no one who has not a weak point somewhere, on which, for his sake as well as for our own, it is unfair to put too much reliance.

But there is a world of difference between putting an implicit trust in others and believing in them. The former may be, and more often than not is, an act of weakness, a mere leaning for self ­support, an endeavour to shift one's own responsibility to the shoulders of another; the latter is the deliberate act of a strong man, and is usually a support and strengthening to others even more than to oneself. By believ­ing in others, then, we mean the conviction that the evil a bad man may do does not repre­sent the whole man; that the failure of a man does not show all his capabilities; that what­ever may be a man's weakness, it is usually only a covering for something very strong and beautiful underneath.

We may pass by unnoticed a quiet, harmless, passive creature, and ignore him with the pitying comment that he has nothing in him; but we may also be ignoring as deep a soul as we shall ever meet in our lifetime. We may set aside a man because he is a miserable failure; but we may be also trampling on a throbbing, bleeding heart, whose yearnings are far greater than our own, which feels its failures greater than do we, which has failed while we have suc­ceeded chiefly because its ideals are greater than ours....

[continued tomorrow]
___________
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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News Updates, 4/01

US bishops voice concern for clergy abuse victims
Praised Pope for leadership in dealing with scandal

Suit: Vatican knew about Florida priest's past
Refugee boys raise accusations of sex crimes, coverup

Catholic students attack media over abuse charges
4,000 handed the beleaguered Pope a letter of support

Catholic bishops intervene in British election
Urge voters to consider candidates' positions on marriage

Swiss Catholic bishops apologize over abuse
Admitting they underestimated extent of problem

Milwaukee archbishop addresses sex abuse scandal
Acknowledged mistakes made in case of late Fr. Murphy

Cardinal accuses Hugo Chavez of persecuting foes
Says adversaries 'imprisoned for their opinion'

Denmark's Catholic Church to probe abuse cases
Bishops under pressure from media, human rights groups

German bishop accused of physically abusing children
Former students claim 'spankings with a carpet beater'

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gospel for Holy Thursday (Evening Mass of the Last Supper)

From: John 13:1-15

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
[1] Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. [2] And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, [3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, [4] rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. [5] Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [6] He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" [7] Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." [8] Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me." [9] Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" [10] Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you." [11] For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, "You are not all clean."

[12] When He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and resumed His place, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done for you? [13] You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. [14] If then your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done for you."
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Commentary:
1. Jewish families sacrificed a lamb on the eve of the Passover, in keeping with God's command at the time of the exodus from Egypt when God liberated them from the slavery of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:3-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8). This liberation prefigured that which Jesus Christ would bring about--the redemption of men from the slavery of sin by means of His sacrifice on the cross (cf. 1:29). This is why the celebration of the Jewish Passover was the ideal framework for the institution of the new Christian Passover.

Jesus knew everything that was going to happen; He knew His death and resurrection were imminent (cf. 18:4); this is why His words acquire a special tone of intimacy and love towards those whom He is leaving behind in the world. Surrounded by those whom He has chosen and who have believed in Him, He gives them His final teachings and institutes the Eucharist, the source and center of the life of the Church. "He Himself wished to give that encounter such a fullness of meaning, such a richness of memories, such a moving image of words and thoughts, such a newness of acts and precepts, that we can never exhaust our reflection and exploration of it. It was a testamentary supper, infinitely affectionate and immensely sad, and at the same time a mysterious revelation of divine promises, of supreme visions. Death was imminent, with silent omens of betrayal, of abandonment, of immolation; the conversation dies down but Jesus continues to speak in words that are new and beautifully reflective, in almost supreme intimacy, almost hovering between life and death" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Homily on Holy Thursday", 27 March 1975).

What Christ did for His own may be summed up in this sentence: "He loved them to the end." It shows the intensity of His love--which brings Him even to give up His life (cf. John 15:13); but this love does not stop with His death, for Christ lives on and after His resurrection He continues loving us infinitely: "It was not only thus far that He loved us, who always and forever loves us. Far be it from us to imagine that He made death the end of His loving, who did not make death the end of His living" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 55, 2).

2. The Gospel shows us the presence and activity of the devil running right through Jesus' life (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:3; John 8:44; 12:31; etc.). Satan is the enemy (Matthew 13:39), the evil one (1 John 2:13). St. Thomas Aquinas (cf. "Commentary on St. John, in loc.") points out that, in this passage, on the one hand, we clearly see the malice of Judas, who fails to respond to this demonstration of love, and on the other hand great emphasis is laid on the goodness of Christ, which reaches out beyond Judas' malice by washing his feet also and by treating him as a friend right up to the moment when he betrays Him (Luke 22:48).

3-6. Aware that He is the Son of God, Jesus voluntarily humbles Himself to the point of performing a service appropriate to household servants. This passage recalls the Christological hymn in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant..." (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ had said that He came to the world not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). In this scene He teaches us the same thing, through specific example, thereby exhorting us to serve each other in all humility and simplicity (cf. Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3). "Once again He preaches by example, by His deeds. In the presence of His disciples, who are arguing out of pride and vanity, Jesus bows down and gladly carries out the task of a servant.[...] This tactfulness of our Lord moves me deeply. He does not say: `If I do this, how much more ought you to do?' He puts Himself at their level, and He lovingly chides those men for their lack of generosity.

"As He did with the first twelve, so also, with us, our Lord can and does whisper in our ear, time and again: `exemplum dedi vobis' (John 13:15), I have given you an example of humility. I have become a slave, so that you too may learn to serve all men with a meek and humble heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 103).

Peter understands particularly well how thoroughly our Lord has humbled Himself, and he protests, in the same kind of way as he did on other occasions, that he will not hear of Christ suffering (cf. Matthew 8:32 and par.). St. Augustine comments: "Who would not shrink back in dismay from having his feet washed by the Son of God....You? Me? Words to be pondered on rather than spoken about, lest words fail to express their true meaning" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 56, 1).

7-14. Our Lord's gesture had a deeper significance than St. Peter was able to grasp at this point; nor could he have suspected that God planned to save men through the sacrificing of Christ (cf. Matthew 16:22 ff). After the Resurrection the Apostles understood the mystery of this service rendered by the Redeemer: by washing their feet, Jesus was stating in a simple and symbolic way that He had not come "to be served but to serve". His service, as He already told them, consists in giving "His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Our Lord tells the Apostles that they are now clean, for they have accepted His words and have followed Him (cf. 15:3)--all but Judas, who plans to betray Him. St. John Chrysostom comments as follows: "You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. That is: You are clean only to that extent. You have already received the Light; you have already got rid of the Jewish error. The Prophet asserted: `Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil from your souls' (Isaiah 1:16).... Therefore, since they had rooted evil from their souls and were following Him with complete sincerity, He declared, in accordance with the Prophet's words: `He who has bathed is clean all over'" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 70, 3).

15-17. Jesus' whole life was an example of service towards men, fulfilling His Father's will to the point of dying on the Cross. Here our Lord promises us that if we imitate Him, our Teacher, in disinterested service (which always implies sacrifice), we will find true happiness which no one can wrest from us (cf. 16:22; 17:13). "`I have given you an example', He tells His disciples after washing their feet, on the night of the Last Supper. Let us reject from our hearts any pride, any ambition, any desire to dominate; and peace and joy will reign around us and within us, as a consequence of our personal sacrifice" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 94).
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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.

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Principles and Practices - April 1

An Invocation

The Lord preserve thy going out,
The Lord preserve thy coming in,
God send His angels round about,
To keep thy soul from every sin;
And when thy going out is done,
And when thy coming in is o'er,
When in death's darkness all alone,
Thy feet can come and go no more,
The Lord preserve thy going out
From this dark world of grief and sin,
While angels standing round about
Sing! God preserve thy coming in.

-Anon.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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The School of Love & Other Essays, March 31

ONE ANOTHER

IT does not require much insight or philosophy to discover that in spite of much that appears on the surface, and in spite of endless warn­ings and gruesome pictures, human nature is not wholly evil. Nay more, we can without much fear go further and say that no human being was yet made who was wholly evil.

Shakespeare tried to create one; but he acknowledged in the end that the being he had created was not human. Dickens tried several times over; but he did so only by omit­ting the human element in every case; the more fiendish are his characters, the less are they drawn from life.

In some human beings, it is true, the good that is in them may be much covered over; in others it may have had little opportunity for development; in others, again, it may be of a nature so little akin to the good that is in ourselves that we almost call it something else; yet others may have so preponderating a balance of evil in their com­position that the good may be utterly eclipsed.

Nonetheless is it there somewhere.

Human nature being what it is, we cannot doubt that it is never wholly evil; that belongs to the devil only, and even of the devil there are points of view which leave us mystified. At all events I do not know a description of a devil in literature which does not leave one with some sense of sympathy.

Milton's devils are admirable; Dante's devils stir our pity; Goethe's devil makes us feel what a good thing has been wasted. Human nature seems incapable of imagining that which is wholly bad, just because it is not wholly bad itself...

[continued tomorrow]
___________
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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Reflections for Holy Week

A Meditation for the Week - Eucharistic Devotions
At the blessing of the palms, the priest reads the following:
GOSPEL (Matt. XXI. 1-9.) At that time, when Jesus drew nigh to Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto Mount Olivet; then he sent two disciples, saying to them...

Vigilate et orate...
"Watch and pray." Matthew 26:41
The words I have chosen for my text today were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to His three disciples - Peter, James, and John - in the Garden of Gethsemani. Entering that garden of sorrow with the three whom He had chosen as His companions at that awful hour, He said to them: "Stay you here, and watch with me." And when, returning from His agony and prayer, He found those three asleep, His words of reproach were: "What! are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour with me? Peter, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour! Watch, and pray that you enter not into temp­tation." And at last, when the time of His prayer and agony, and of His disciples' sleep was over, "Rise," said He, "Rise, pray that you enter not into temptation."...

A Meditation for Palm Sunday - Duties of Teachers
"Blessed is he who comes in the_name of the Lord." St. Matthew, 21:9

The great Italian artist, Michaelangelo, was one day walking with some friends through a back street of Florence, Italy. He noticed a block of marble lying in a yard, half buried with dirt and rubbish. He stopped, and regardless of his holiday attire, fell to clearing away the filth and dirt, and trying to lift it from the slime and mire. When his companions asked him what he wanted with that worthless chunk of rock, he gave his famous answer: "Oh, there's an angel in that stone, and I must let it out."...

Faith
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." St. Matthew, 21:9.

A wealthy business man in the middle west had large signs printed and placed all over the town. He stated that if any man in the town owed debts, and would come to his office on a certain day between nine and twelve in the morning, he would pay the debts. Naturally that promise was the talk of the town. Very few believed it. They thought there was a catch somewhere....

His Dying Words
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." St. Matthew, 21:9
"He was crucified." Creed.

Surely, you have all read the tragic tale of Evangline, especially as told by the poet Longfellow. The people of Acadia were being driven from their homes on orders, from the king of England. By some deceit the men had been lured into the church, there to learn that the entire village was to be exiled. Feelings ran high; bitter resentment and open defiance were evident. They were helpless to resist. When the tension was at its height, the village priest, Father Felician, took his place before them. He counselled patience and resignation and forgivness. He reminded them of the inno­cent Christ and His sufferings. Then pointing to the crucifix, he went on...

Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?"
When Pilate asks, "Quid est veritas?" (What is truth?), Jesus does not answer him.
This is because the answer to Pilate's question is contained within the question itself.
By rearranging the letters of the words in the question, one can find the answer to it:
"Est vir qui adest."
(IT IS THE MAN WHO IS BEFORE YOU)



Tuesday of Holy Week - "I Am Thirsty!"
Presence of God. Stop for a few minutes from your day, retreat from the world and think about the serious and important act of speaking to God - This act of prayer which you are beginning.


The Presence of Christ
"This is my body...this is my blood." St. Matthew, 26:27,28.

In the not so distant days of persecution in old Mexico, it was against the law to meet and conduct any kind of religious service without permission. Despite this devilish regulation, many groups of Catholics met se­cretly to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion. A spy betrayed one of these groups to the police. An officer with several soldiers surprised them one night at their place of prayer. The officer was angry; he was deter­mined to punish everyone present. He ordered a soldier to count all present and write down their names....

Your Crucifix
"Wear your crucifix with reflection," St. Andre-Hubert Fournet, "this other Cure of Ars" as he was so fittingly called, used to say to the Daughters of the Cross....

More Reflections for Good Friday
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Good Friday-Dispositions for Holy Communion

Good Friday - Charity

Good Friday - Christ, Model of Obedience

Alter Christus - Fulget Crucis Mysterium

A Reflection for Good Friday - The Two Thieves

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

News Updates, 3/31

Remembering Terri Schiavo: A Five-Year Anniversary Marked By Cruel Bigotry
March 31st will mark the five-year anniversary of the needless death of my sister, Terri Schiavo. It is difficult to believe this much time has passed since that horrible event which will be forever seared into my memory. I wish I could say things have changed for the better since my sister’s death or that people with cognitive disabilities are now better protected in response to the horror she had to endure....

Canon lawyer in Milwaukee case corrects record
Provides devastating critique of New York Times account 

German diocese: 20 priests accused of sex abuse
'Shocking' allegations involved crimes from 50s to 1990. 

Christian militia members indicted on conspiracy
Group planned to kill police officer at funeral 

Baltimore diocese files federal suit against city
Objects to pregnancy center ordinance requirements 

Nuns face guns, impunity in trying to save Amazon
Violent death was meant for diminutive 64-year-old 

Bishop defends Benedict, criticizes Weakland
Says it's wrong to point fingers at Pope over US case 

Christian child killed in attack on Mosul
'There is still fear amongst the Christian community' 

Criticism of Vatican in Wis. over abuse scandal
Victim says no one would listen to him then or now 

George Weigel scores NY Times report on scandal
Says Church shouldn't be portrayed as epicenter of abuse



Army Officer Seeks Truth About Obama's Eligibility
The flight surgeon charged with caring for Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey's pilots and air crew wants President Obama to prove his eligibility now....

[B. Hussein Obama is a malignant narcissistic fraud. Where are his:
1. Grade School records
2. High School records
3. Occidental College records
4. Columbia University records
5. Columbia thesis
6. Harvard Law School records
7. Harvard Law Review articles
8. Articles from the University of Chicago
9. Passport History
10. Medical records
11. Files from his years as an Illinois state senator
12. Illinois State Bar Association records
13. Adoption records.]

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Gospel for Wednesday of Holy Week

From: Matthew 26:14-25

Judas Betrays Jesus
[14] Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests [15] and said, "What will you give me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. [16] And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him.

Preparations for the Last Supper
[17] Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the Passover?" [18] He said, "Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.'" [19] And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared for the Passover.

[20] When it was evening, He sat at table with the twelve disciples; [21] and as they were eating, He said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." [22] And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to Him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" [23] He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me, will betray Me. [24] The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." [25] Judas, who betrayed Him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."
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Commentary:
15. It is disconcerting and sobering to realize that Judas Iscariot actually went as far as to sell the man whom he had believed to be the Messiah and who had called him to be one of the Apostles. Thirty shekels or pieces of silver were the price of a slave (cf. Exodus 21:32), the same value as Judas put on his Master.

17. This unleavened bread, azymes, took the form of loaves which had to be eaten over a seven-day period, in commemoration of the unleavened bread which the Israelites had to take with them in their hurry to leave Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:34). In Jesus' time the Passover supper was celebrated on the first day of the week of the Unleavened Bread.

18. Although the reference is to an unnamed person, probably our Lord gave the person's actual name. In any event, from what other evangelists tell us (Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10), Jesus gave the disciples enough information to enable them to find the house.

22. Although the glorious events of Easter have yet to occur (which will teach the Apostles much more about Jesus), their faith has been steadily fortified and deepened in the course of Jesus' public ministry (cf. John 2:11; 6:68-69) through their contact with Him and the divine grace they have been given (cf. Matthew 16:17). At this point they are quite convinced that our Lord knows their internal attitudes and how they are going to act: each asks in a concerned way whether he will prove to be loyal in the time ahead.

24. Jesus is referring to the fact that He will give Himself up freely to suffering and death. In so doing He would fulfill the Will of God, as proclaimed centuries before (cf. Psalm 41:10; Isaiah 53:7). Although our Lord goes to His death voluntarily, this does not reduce the seriousness of Judas' treachery.

25. This advance indication that Judas is the traitor is not noticed by the other Apostles (cf. John 13:26-29).
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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.

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Principles and Practices - March 31

St. Thomas Aquinas

Once, when a number of clever men had a great dispute about the Blessed Sacrament, they decided to ask St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominican Doctor, to settle it. He had all the different opinions put in writing, so that he might understand the other side.

Then, after much prayer and penance, he wrote an answer. When it was finished, he took what he had written into the church, laid it before the tabernacle, and asked Our Blessed Lord to make known to him whether what he had said was true, and not to allow him to teach any error.

Some other Dominicans who were present tell us that Jesus answered his prayer by saying: 'Thou hast written worthily of the Sacra­ment of My Body.'

Another time, also, Our Lord told him he had written well, and asked him what reward he would like. St. Thomas gave this beautiful answer: 'None other than Thyself, O Lord."

-Behold tbe Lamb.
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From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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The School of Love & Other Essays, March 30

Friendship

[continued from yesterday]

"Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is scandalised, and I am not on fire?" - "Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friend." Where is all this to be found, united in anyone human being? Where indeed!

Insist on the last drop of blood, and you will find it nowhere; nowhere except in One.

There is no human friendship but it can be snapped, none but it can be tried beyond its strength, even though it means the death of the one or the other. In One only is it invincible. One mind alone understands, better far than I understand myself, and has understood from the beginning, without any need of words of mine to tell it. One heart has bled, first from Its own crushing, but more because of the crushing of my heart, and bleeds on still, the more when my own has ceased to do so.

One soul has made Itself in all things like to mine, has shown me all It has and all It is, Its strength and Its seeming weakness, Its gladness and Its broken part, Its temptations, Its indignations, Its tears, Its appeals for help, Its cries of pain, and distress and desolation. One will alone has refused to set limits alike to Its giving and to Its receiving, has asked for no terms, has made no stipulations, has found me as I am, and has become one with me, my good and my evil, my weakness and my strength, without a word, without a thought of what It set aside for my sake.

One alone has not only borne my sor­rows and carried my griefs, but has shown me His own, has "become sin" for me, has made Himself one with me and taken all the consequences; and yet withal, remains unex hausted. There is still no cry that He has given enough, that He can descend no lower, that He declines to show me, even me, every side of His nature.

Then have I not reason to be contented?

I show Him all my failures and my troubles, knowing that He does not merely listen, and pity, and patronise, but gives me of His own, and lets me see His wounds and His weak­ness in return. I bring Him all my strength, my little doughty deeds of which I am so childishly proud, and I know He does not make too much of my vainglory, much less does He make too much of me.

Instead, He rejoices with me when I rejoice, weeps with me when I weep, but then, and most of all, swallows up my rejoicing and weeping in His own. Yes, even on earth, I have found a per­fect friend.

Inveni quem diligit anima mea, tenui eum nec dimittam - "I have found Him whom my soul loveth; I have held Him and will not let Him go."

Illum dilige, et amicum tibi retine, qui, omnibus recedentibus, te non relinquet, nec patietur in fine perire. Ab omnibus oportet te aliquando separari, sive velis, sive nolis - "From all others, willy nilly, you must some day be torn apart. Love Him and keep Him for your friend, Who, when an else secedes, will not leave you, nor suffer you to perish in the end!" (Imit. X ti. ii. 7).
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From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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News Updates, 3/30

Planned Parenthood lauds nuns' support of health bill
Says it was important for sisters to break from bishops

Ted Kennedy Jr. to face Brown in Senate race?
Connecticut layer has kept residence in Massachusetts

Vatican cardinal calls for sex abuse 'housecleaning'
Kasper defends Pope, says needs of victims come first

Even NCR's John Allen defends Pope against charges
'The first casualty of any crisis is perspective'

Crucifix could be 'porn' under Indonesian law
Fear that Muslims will use it to penalize non-Muslims

Abuse victims may bring suits against Vatican
Holy See Press Office reiterates Pope not involved

Philosopher: Why we should ditch religion
Sam Harris says we need to look elsewhere for morality

Polish Catholic chief defends pope over abuse
Voices his 'spiritual support and cordial communion'

In Turkey, Pope gunman says Benedict should resign
Media gives ear even to Pope John Paul II killer

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Gospel for Tuesday of Holy Week

From: John 13:21-33, 36-38

The Treachery of Judas Foretold
[21] When Jesus had thus spoken, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." [22] The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He spoke. [23] One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; [24] so Simon Peter beckoned to Him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom He speaks." [25] So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" [26] Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when He had dipped the morsel, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. [27] Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." [28] Now no one at the table knew why He said this to him. [29] Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what you need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor. [30] So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.

[31] When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and in Him God is glorified; [32] if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. [33] Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me, and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.' [36] Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow Me afterward." [37] Peter said to Him, "Lord, why cannot I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You." [38] Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied Me three times."
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Commentary:
21. Christ's sadness is proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Judas was one of those whom Jesus chose to be an Apostle: he had been on intimate terms with Him for three years, he had followed Him everywhere, had seen His miracles, had heard His divine teaching, and experienced the tenderness of His affection. And despite all that, when the moment of truth comes, Judas not only abandons the Master but betrays Him and sells Him. Betrayal by an intimate friend is something much more painful and cruel than betrayal by a stranger, for it involves a lack of loyalty. The spiritual life of the Christian is also true friendship with Jesus; this means it is based on loyalty and uprightness, and on being true to one's word.

Judas had already decided to hand Jesus over and had made arrangements with the chief priests (cf. Matthew 26:14; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). Temptation had been burrowing its way into Judas' heart for some time back, as we saw at the anointing at Bethany when he protested Mary's loving gesture; St. John commented in that connection that he did it not out of love for the poor but because he was a thief (cf. John 12:6).

23. In that period, on important occasions the customary thing was to eat reclining on a kind of divan called a "triclinium". The diner rested on his left elbow and ate with his right hand. This meant it was easy to lean on the person on one's left and talk to him without people hearing. In this verse we can see the intimacy and trust which obtained between the Master and the beloved disciple (cf. John 19:27; 20-2; 21:23), a model of Jesus' love for all His true disciples and of theirs for their Master.

26-27. The morsel which Jesus offers him is a sign of friendship and, therefore, an invitation to him to give up his evil plotting. But Judas rejects the chance he is offered. "What he received is good", St. Augustine comments, "but he received it to his own perdition, because he, being evil, received in an evil manner what is good" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 61, 6). Satan entering into him means that from that moment Judas gave in completely to the devil's temptation.

29. "These details have been recorded that we may not bear ill will against those who wrong us, but may reproach them and weep over them. Indeed, not those who are wronged, but those who do wrong deserve our tears. For the covetous man and the slanderer, and the man guilty of any other wrongdoing injure themselves most of all....] Christ repaid the man who was going to betray Him with just the opposite. For example, He washed his feet, reproved him without bitterness, censured him in private, ministered to him, allowed him to share in His table and His kiss. Yet, though Judas did not become better because of these things, Jesus Himself persevered in His course of action" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 71, 4).

30. The indication that "it was night" is not just a reference to the time of day but to darkness as an image of sin, an image of the power of darkness whose hour was beginning at that very moment (cf. Luke 22:53). The contrast between light and darkness, the opposition of good and evil, is frequently met with in the Bible, especially in the Fourth Gospel: even in the prologue we are told that Christ is the true Light which the darkness has not overcome (cf. John 1:5).

31-32. This glorification refers above all to the glory which Christ will receive once He is raised up on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). St. John stresses that Christ's death is the beginning of His victory: His very crucifixion can be considered the first step in His ascension to His Father. At the same time it is glorification of the Father, because Christ, by voluntarily accepting death out of love, as a supreme act of obedience to the Will of God, performs the greatest sacrifice man can offer for the glorification of God. The Father will respond to this glorification which Christ offers Him by glorifying Christ as Son of Man, that is, in His holy human nature, through His resurrection and ascension to God's right hand. Thus the glory which the Son gives the Father is at the same time glory for the Son.

Christ's disciple will also find His highest motivation by identifying himself with Christ's obedience. St. Paul teaches this very clearly when he says: "Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14).

33. From this verse onwards the evangelist recounts what is usually called the discourse of the Last Supper; in it we can distinguish three parts. In the first, our Lord begins by proclaiming the New Commandment (verses 33-35) and predicts Peter's denials (verses 36-38); He tells them that His death means His going to His Father (Chapter 14), with Whom He is one because He is God (verses 1-14); and He announces that after His resurrection He will send them the Holy Spirit, who will guide them by teaching them and reminding them of everything He told them (verses 15-31).

The second part of the discourse is contained in Chapters 15 and 16. Jesus promises to those who believe in Him a new life of union with Him, as intimate as that of a vine and its branches (15:1-18). To attain this union one must keep His New Commandment (verses 9-18). He forewarns them about the contradictions they will suffer, and He encourages them by promising the Holy Spirit who will protect them and console them (verses 18-27). The action of the Paraclete or Consoler will lead them to fulfill the mission Jesus has entrusted to them (16:1-15). The fruit of the presence of the Holy Spirit will be fullness of joy (verses 16-33).

The third part (Chapter 7) gives Jesus' priestly prayer, in which He asks the Father to glorify Him through the cross (verses 1-5). He prays also for His disciples (verses 6-19) and for all those who through them will believe in Him, so that, staying in the world without being of the world, the love of God should be in them and they should bear witness to Christ being the envoy of the Father (verses 20-26).

36-38. Once again Peter in his simplicity and sincerity tells his Master that he is ready to follow Him even to the point of dying for Him. But he is not yet ready for that. Our Lord, St. Augustine comments, "establishes here a delay; He does not destroy the hope, indeed He confirms it by saying, `You shall follow afterwards! Why are you in haste, Peter? As yet the rock has not made you strong inwardly: do not be brought down by your presumption. Now you cannot follow Me, but do not despair: later you will'" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 66, 1). Peter had certainly meant what he said, but his resolution was not very solid. Later on he would develop a fortitude based on humility; then, not considering himself worthy to die in the way his Master did, he will die on a cross, head downwards, rooting in the soil of Rome that solid stone which endures in those who succeed him and forming the basis on which the Church, which is indefectible, is built. Peter's denials, which are signs of his weakness, were amply compensated for by his profound repentance. "Let everyone draw from this example of contrition, and if he has fallen let him not despair, but always remember that he can become worthy of forgiveness" (St. Bede, "In Ioann. Evang. Expositio, in loc".).
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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.

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