Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gospel for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 16:1-13

The Unjust Steward
[1] He (Jesus) also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. [2] And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear from you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' [3] And the steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. [4] I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' [5] So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' [6] He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' [7] Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' [8] The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence; for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation that the sons of light. [9] And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of up­righteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

[10] "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. [11] If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? [12] And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? [13] No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

1-8. The unfaithful steward manages to avoid falling on hard times. Of course, our Lord presumes that we realize the immorality of the man's behavior. What he emphasizes and praises, however, is his shrewdness and effort: he tries to derive maximum material advantages from his former position as steward. In saving our soul and spreading the Kingdom of God, our Lord wants us to apply at least the same ingenuity and effort as people put into their worldly affairs or their attempts to attain some human ideal. The fact that we can count on God's grace does not in any way exempt us from the need to employ all available legitimate human resources even if that means strenuous effort and heroic sacrifice.

"What zeal people put into their earthly affairs: dreaming of honors, striving for riches, bent on sensuality. Men and women, rich and poor, old and middle-aged and young and even children: all of them the same. When you and I put the same zeal into the affairs of our souls, we will have a living and operative faith: and there will be no obstacle that we cannot overcome in our apostolic undertakings" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 317).

9-11. "Unrighteous mammon" means temporal goods which have been obtained in some unjust, unrighteous way. However, God is very merciful: even this unjust wealth can enable a person to practise virtue by making restitution, by paying for the damage done and then by striving to help his neighbour by giving alms, by creating work opportunities etc. This was the case with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, who undertook to restore fourfold anything he had unjustly taken, and also to give half his wealth to the poor. On hearing that, our Lord specifically declared that salvation had that day come to that house (cf. Lk 19:1-10).

Our Lord speaks out about faithfulness in very little things, referring to riches - which really are insignificant compared with spiritual wealth. If a person is faithful and generous and is detached in the use he makes of these temporal riches, he will, at the end of his life, receive the reward of etemal life, which is the greatest treasure of all, and a permanent one. Besides, by its very nature human life is a fabric of little things: anyone who fails to give them their importance will never be able to achieve great things. "Everything in which we poor men have a part - even holiness - is a fabric of small trifles which, depending upon one's intention, can form a magnificent tapestry of heroism or of degradation, of virtues or of sins.

"The epic legends always relate extraordinary adventures, but never fail to mix them with homely details about the hero. May you always attach grrat importance to the little things. This is the way!" ([St.] J. Escriva, The Way, 826).

The parable of the unjust steward is a symbol of man's life. Everything we: have is a gift from God, and we are his stewards or managers, who sooner or later will have to render an account to him.

12. "That which is another's" refers to temporal things, which are essen­tially impermanent. "That which is your own" refers to goods of the spirit, values which endure, which are things we really do possess because they will go with us into eternal life. In other words: how can we be given heaven if we have proved unfaithful, irresponsible, during our life on earth?

13-14. In the culture of that time "service" involved such commitment to one's master that a servant could not take on any other work or serve any other master.

Our service to God, our sanctification, requires us to direct all our actions towards him. A Christian does not divide up his time, allocating some of it to God and some of it to worldly affairs: everything he does should become a type of service to God and neighbour - by doing things with upright motivation, and being just and charitable...
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.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 18

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

...Books that we recommend

The Land of the Eucharist

A thrilling story of old Portugal. Its every page is full of interest.

Read Me or Rue It

This booklet fully deserves its title. It puts before its readers the great doctrine of Purgatory in a striking way, quoting as authorities the great Saints and Doctors of the Church. It grips the attention from the start and takes a message straight to the heart.

How to Avoid Purgatory

It is not too much to say that these pages will confer an inestimable benefit on those who peruse them with attention.

The author gives clear and weighty reasons to show that it is quite possible to avoid Purgatory. Best of all, the means he points out to attain this end are well within the reach of all devout Catholics.

St. Patrick and the Irish

A little work that will fill the heart of every lover of Ireland with a great and just joy.

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 17

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

...Books that we recommend

All about the Angels
This book on the Angels comes at a most opportune moment, for no better remedy can be found for the suffering in the world at the present moment than the all-powerful protection of God's Angels.

The Angels are our best friends, and you tell your readers all about them in a way so full and interesting that your book will awaken a great love and confidence in these glorious Princes of Heaven. In return they will obtain for us many graces and deliver us from great evils.
Accept my warmest thanks for your precious book on the Angels. It is most interesting and opportune. Give us more books of this kind, which will bring comfort, truth and consolation to all.
All About the Angels is a book so full of charm and delight that it is with a feeling of regret we reach the last page and find that there is nothing more to read.

The Catholic Voice says:
Written with the object of spreading a devotion largely unknown even among good practicing Catholics, this book on the Angels introduces us to new and startling revelations about the great power and love for us of those glorious beings.

Supported by facts and irrefutable proofs, the book reads like a fairy tale.

It is a book that will charm all, priests and people young and old.

It is certainly one of the most beautiful books on the Angels yet published.

Above all, this book on the Angels does all who read it one incalculably great benefit; it makes them know and love their Angel Guardian, whom so many ignore as if he did not exist! Yet he is their most loving, most powerful, dearest friend. He has done them countless favours, for which they have never thanked him! He will do them still greater favours if they only know and love him. They want happiness; he will make them happy."
...[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/17

Papal trip: Live observations from The Telegraph
Follow the latest news, commentary and reaction...

65,000 Catholics enjoy a day in the sun
Pope Benedict' Mass in Glasgow a 'spiritual triumph'

Pope: abusive clergy suffering from 'illness'
Abusers represent a 'perversion' of their ministry

In pictures: Pope in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park
Benedict XVI arrives in Scotland to begin British tour

Pope Benedict's first UK speech in full
Queen and Pope exchange gifts before each made speech

Pope's visit brings out the worst in Britain
Aggressive atheists and anti-papists have their say

Pope admits abuse failures on UK visit
Aaid Church had dropped its guard on pedophilia

Top Scot calls for Cardinal Kasper to apologize
For comparing Britain to a 'Third World country'

Illinois bishop named new leader of Seattle
J. Peter Sartain of Joliet taking over as archbishop

Irish bishop: Cover-ups made child abuse worse
Dublin's Martin was Vatican diplomat prior to 2004

German Jesuits offer compensation to abuse victims
Symbolic gesture meant to be 'financially painful'

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gospel for Friday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor

From: Luke 8:1-3

The Holy Women
[1] Soon afterward He (Jesus) went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, [2] and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, [3] and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

1-3. The Gospel refers a number of times to women accompanying our Lord. Here St. Luke gives us the names of three of them--Mary, called Magdalene, to whom the risen Christ appeared beside the Holy Sepulchre (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9); Joanna, a lady of some position, whom we also meet among the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10), and Susanna, whom the Gospel does not mention again. The role of these women consisted in helping Jesus and His disciples out of their own resources, thereby showing their gratitude for what Christ had done for them, and in cooperating in His ministry.

Men and women enjoy equal dignity in the Church. Within the context of that equality, women certainly have specific characteristics which must necessarily be reflected in their role in the Church: "All the baptized, men and women alike, share equally in the dignity, freedom and responsibility of the children of God.... Women are called to bring to the family, to society and to the Church, characteristics which are their own and which they alone can give--their gentle warmth and untiring generosity, their love for detail, their quick-wittedness and intuition, their simple and deep piety, their constancy.... A woman's femininity is genuine only if she is aware of the beauty of this contribution for which there is no substitute--and if she incorporates it into her own life" ([St] J. Escriva, "Conversations", 14 and 87).

The Gospel makes special reference to the generosity of these women. It is nice to know that our Lord availed Himself of their charity, and that they responded to Him with such refined and generous detachment that Christian women feel filled with a holy and fruitful envy (cf. [St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 981).
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.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 16

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

...Books that we recommend

The Wonders of the Holy Name

This is what the Mercier Press has to say of "The Wonders of the Holy Name."
This little booklet, "The Wonders of the Holy Name", is one which every Catholic should read. The average well-instructed Catholic will find much in this book to astonish him regarding the enormous efficacy of the simple repetition of the Holy Name and the abundance of graces and blessings which flow from its recital.
Packed into this little work are an explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Name, of its meaning and how to use it.

Then follows a collection of the most wonderful stories of delivery from wars and plagues by its recitation, of miracles performed by the Saints through its power. It is a book most timely for our troubled era.

This booklet is warmly recommended by Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops. More than 300,000 copies have been sold in a short time.

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/16

Planned Parenthood Rabbi Given Pulpit at Austin Catholic Church
Spokesman for Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez told LSN that the bishop was not made aware of Rabbi Freedman’s affiliation with Planned Parenthood prior to approving the use of the Church for the Jewish services

Pope's UK trip criticized in luminaries' letter
50 public figures object to 'honor' of state visit

Catholic abuse survivors demand justice from Pope
Using papal visit to UK to issue their demands

Belgium: Amid sex scandals, de-baptism gains favor
Scandals lead Belgians to formally renounce religion

Retired Dutch bishop accused of sexual abuse
78-year-old Jo Gijsen is denying wrongdoing

'Pregnant nun' ice cream ad banned after outcry
...on the eve of the Pope's visit to Britain

Nashville nuns lead nation in number of newcomers
Doing it by sticking to tradition, wearing habits

Minn. bishops preparing gay marriage campaign
Catholics urged to contact their legislators

Spokane, Wash. diocese faces sale of parishes
Must raise $800,000 this fall to pay sex abuse claims

Sacred places increasingly under attack
Increasing instances of shootings, arson and vandalism

Faithful Have 'Obligation' to Disobey Abortion Law: Spanish Archbishop
The archbishop made it clear that his words are directed against Spain's new "abortion law," which permits women to terminate the lives of their unborn children for any reason up to the 14th week of pregnancy.

Same-sex "Marriage": Who Sounded the Retreat?

by John Horvat
In the history of war, we can observe many cases of battles where someone mistakenly sounds the retreat when victory was in sight.

This seems to be the case against same-sex “marriage.” Traditional marriage has never been defeated. Thirty-one times it has been taken to the polls and thirty-one times it has won. Even in the bluest of blue states—California—it won against all expectations. In Maine, pro-family activists overturned the decision of the legislature. In New York, a same-sex “marriage” measure was defeated despite every effort by the Democratic majority in both houses to force it through...
Continued here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gospel for Sept 16, Memorial: St Cornelius, pope and martyr, and St Cyprian, bishop and martyr

Thursday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 7:36-50

The Woman Who was a Sinner

[36] One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at table. [37] And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, [38] and standing beside him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears; and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. [39] Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner. [40] And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” [41] A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” [43] Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” [44] Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. [46] You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. [47] Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.” [48] And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” [49] Then those who were at table with him began to say among them- selves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” [50] And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

36-40. This woman, moved no doubt by grace, was attracted by Christ’s preach- ing and by what people were saying about him. When dining, people reclined on low divans leaning on their left arm with their legs tucked under them, away from the table. A host was expected to give his guest a kiss of greeting and offer him water for his feet, and perfumes.

41-50. In this short parable of the two debtors Christ teaches us three things – his own divinity and his power to forgive sins; the merit the woman’s love deserves; and the discourtesy implied in Simeon’s neglecting to receive Jesus in the conventional way. Our Lord was not interested in these social niceties as such but in the affection which they expressed; that was why he felt hurt at Simeon’s neglect.

“Jesus notices the omission of the expression of human courtesy and refinement which the Pharisee failed to show him. Christ is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo (Athanasian Creed). He is perfect God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and perfect man. He comes to save, not to destroy nature. It is from him that we learn that it is unchristian to treat our fellow men badly, for they are crea- tures of God, made in his image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26)” (Bl. J. Escriva, Friends of God, 73).

Moreover, the Pharisee was wrong to think badly of this sinner and of Jesus: reckoning that Christ did not know anything about her, he complained inwardly. Our Lord, who could read the secret thoughts of men (which sowed his divinity), intervened to point out to him his mistake. True righteousness, says St. Gregory the Great (cf. In Evangelia homiliae, 33), is compassionate; whereas false righteousness is indignant. There are many people like this Pharisee: forgetting that they themselves were or are poor sinners, when they see other people’s sin they immediately become indignant, instead of taking pity on them, or else they rush to judge them or sneer at them. They forget what St Paul says: “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12); “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness […]. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2).

We should strive to have charity govern all our judgments. Otherwise, we will easily be unjust towards others. “Let us be slow to judge. Each one see things from his own point of view, and with his own mind, with all its limitations, through eyes that are often dimmed and clouded by passion . . . Of what little worth are the judgments of men! Don’t judge without sifting your judgment in prayer (Bl. J. Escriva, The Way, 451).

Charity and humility will allow us to see in the sins of others our own weak and helpless position, and will help our hearts go out to the sorrow of every sinner who repents, for we too would fall into sins as serious or more serious if God in his mercy did not say by our side.

“It was not the ointment that the Lord loved”, St. Ambrose comments, “but the affection; it was the woman’s faith that pleased him, her humility. And you also, if you desire grace, increase your love; pour over the body of Jesus Christ your faith in the Resurrection, the perfume of the holy Church and the ointment of charity towards others” (Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.).

47, Man cannot merit forgiveness for his sins because, since God is the offended party, they are of infinite gravity. We need the sacrament of Penance, in which God forgives us by virtue of the infinite merits of Jesus Christ; there is only one indispensable condition for winning God’s forgiveness – our love, our repentance. We are pardoned to the extent that we love; when our heart is full of love there is no longer any room in it for sin because we have made room for Jesus, and he says to us as he said to this woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Repentance is a sign that we love God. But it was God who first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:1:10). When God forgives us he is expressing his love for us. Our love for God is, then, always a response to his initiative. By forgiving us God helps us to be more grateful and more loving towards him. “He loves little”, St Augustine comments, “who has little forgiven. You say that you have not committed many sins: but why is that the case? […] The reason is that God was guiding you […]. There is no sin that one many commits, which another may not commit also unless God, man’s maker, guides him” (Sermons, 99, 6). Therefore, we ought to fall ever more deeply in love with our Lord, not only because he forgives us our sins but also because he helps us by means of his grace not to commit them.

50. Jesus declares that it was faith that moved this woman to throw herself at his feet and show her repentance; her repentance wins his forgiveness. Similarly, when we approach the sacrament of Penance we should stir up our faith in the fact that it is “not a human but a divine dialogue. It is a tribunal of divine justice and especially of mercy, with a loving judge who ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; I desire that the wicked turn back from his way and live’ (Ezek 33:11)” (Bl. J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 78).
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.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 15

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

Books that we recommend

The E.D.M. series of books are eminently suited to help their readers to grasp the great truths of our holy Religion in an easy and practical way. They are warmly recommended by Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops.

If read in the manner we have just explained, they will prove a wonderful help and stimulus in the spiritual life.

How to Be Happy - How to Be Holy

This work has some excellent pages on Prayer. Hosts of readers declare that by reading them they have learned to pray as they never prayed before. Prayer has become a pleasure to them. They feel that they are speaking to God.

This book explains each of our daily prayers, throwing a flood of light on them, which gives the prayers a completely new value.

Many Catholics repeat these prayers without even thinking of the words, much less of their meaning!

This book, too, gives a beautiful and thrilling account of the Rosary, a story utterly unknown to most of those who are saying the Rosary every day of their lives.

It gives an admirable explanation of the Mass which every Catholic would do well to read. It shows how the graces we receive even in one Mass exceed anything we can imagine.

His Grace the Archbishop of Evora says, "This book is a veritable manual of piety, eminently practical and suitable to all readers."

His Grace the Archbishop of Aveiro: "When reading this book the soul of the reader is insensibly filled with a feeling of piety and with an earnest wish and desire to be holy. The thoughts are at once elevated and practical, sublime and yet simple."

His Lordship the Bishop of Guarda: "This book is worthy of all praise. It is splendid and, if carefully read, will be a powerful help to us in the accomplishment of all our duties."

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gospel for Sept 15, Memorial: Our Lady of Sorrows

Wednesday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

For the Alternate Gospel according to John 19:25-27, click here.

From: Luke 2:33-35

Simeon's Prophecy

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34] and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, "Behold this child is set for the fall the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against [35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy about the Child's future and His Mother's. His words become clearer in the light of our Lord's life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject Him--and for this reason He will be their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son's redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son's sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary's pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, "that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed", link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by whether one accepts or rejects Christ.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 14

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

...We ourselves see every day the wonderful results obtained by the reading of even short, pithy pamphlets.

A celebrated London barrister, himself a convert, distributes small pamphlets, leaving them in trams and trains, on benches in the parks or streets. By this means he has done considerable good.

We shall mention one case. Returning home after a busy day, he put one of these leaflets on a railing in front of a house. A Protestant policeman seeing it, put it in his pocket and went home.

As a result of reading it, he and all his family became fervent Catholics.

Frank Estis, a young American officer, wounded in the War, found the long hours in bed so tiresome that he asked his friends to bring him something to read. They brought Catholic magazines, which were eagerly read, not only by Frank but by all the men in the hospital ward. At the end of eight months, he was able to count on many conversions of Protestants and lapsed Catholics!

On leaving the hospital, he and some others began to visit the hospitals, prisons of the city, the houses of the poor, and they now count hundreds of conversions every year.

It is then sheer madness for Catholics not to give ten or fifteen minutes every day to reading some good book.

No one should dare to dispense himself from this imperative duty.

St. Dominic, great Saint as he was, though constantly preaching, and spending whole nights in prayer, yet found time to read assiduously the lives of the Saints.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, a prodigy of learning and sanctity, did likewise and found his delights in such reading.

And so, too, did all the Saints.

Good reading is so pleasant and easy a way of reaching an eminent degree of sanctity that it commends itself to everyone....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/14

Parents sue Catholic school over vaccinations
Son denied admission, religious objection not honored

African priests offer salvation for French Church
Vocation crisis alleviated by influx of immigrants

Lawyer who smoked holy books goes on leave
Videoed himself puffing on pages of Bible and Koran

Belgian Church: We feared compensation claims
Bishop says abuse apology would have meant financial ruin

US man's healing prompts Newman's beatification
Deacon instantaneously recovered from spinal surgery

Church officials to investigate second Newman miracle
Severely deformed baby born in perfectly normal condition

Catholic college bans gay-rights club recruitment
Says group's ideology conflicts with Church teachings

Man admits stealing $52K from Catholic church
Contracted to do masonry work, stole checks, paid self

Muslim hacker destroys website defending convert
Erased most data, disabled blog, left obscene message

Antidote to Stephen Hawking's faulty logic
Scientist claims we don't need God to explain nature

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gospel for Sept 14, Feast: Triumph of the Cross

From: John 3:13-17

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)
(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [13] "No one has ascended into Heaven but He who descended from Heaven, the Son of Man. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." [16] For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God sent the Son into world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

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

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

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

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

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

16-21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ's death is the supreme sign of God's love for men (cf. the section on charity in the "Introduction to the Gospel according to St. John": pp. 31ff above). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God's kindness, mercy and love for us. `God is love' (1 John 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. `(He) loved me, St. Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself--`He loved me, and gave Himself for me'(Galatians 2:20)" (Paul VI, "Homily on Corpus Christi", 13 June 1976).

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

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

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

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

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

"The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man's sin and the blessing of God.[...] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, savior, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 13

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

The power of a good book.

...St. Augustine was one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. Unfortunately, he was plunged for many years in error and vice. One of the chief means which made him a great Saint was the reading of a good book, the life of St. Antony of the Desert.

St. Ignatius was a rough soldier, trained in the camp and not given much to piety, yet by reading one book he became the great saint that he is. He himself has written a book, The Spiritual Exercises, which has converted and sanctified thousands of its readers.

St. John Columbini was a very lax and indifferent Christian. Dinner was delayed one day, and he became very irritated. His wife offered him a book to amuse him until such time as dinner was served. Glancing at the title and seeing that it was a pious book, he flung it on the floor in a fury. Regretting this insult to his wife, he picked it up sat down and began to read it.

So great was the impression it made on him that he changed his whole life and became a Saint.

La Harpe taught the most impious doctrines, which he published in books very cleverly written, causing great harm to his readers.

He was thrown into prison, where the solitude proved almost intolerable. He found a pious book, which though far from his liking, he read for amusement.

Gradually, he became engrossed in it and read chapter after chapter. He was completely converted.

On leaving the prison, he dedicated the rest of his life to writing charming books, in a noble effort to undo all the mischief he had formerly done.

One of the gravest problems. that defied the ablest American statesmen for many years was abolition of slavery. Congress after Congress, Administration after Administration came and went in the effort to help the unfortunate slaves.

Finally, a lady writer published a book, the story of a poor slave, which aroused the indignation of all who read it. This book made it feasible for the government to abolish slavery forever in the United States and to set free the millions of slaves who were held in cruel bondage.

A good book that appeals to us is the best and most powerful of preachers. It enlightens us, it stimulates us, it consoles us....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/13

Pope: Church Must Reject All 'Alternative Models of Family Life'
Encourages Christians to reinforce faith as foundation for culture

Monastery accused of taking man's $1.6 million
Former postulant files fraud suit against schismatics

Senator Promotes Bill to Force Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
With a federal judge having declared the executive order Pres__ent Barack Obama issued to force taxpayers to finance embryonic stem cell research invalid, a Democratic senator is pushing legislation to overturn the federal law the judge said Obama's mandate violated.

Artist rescues statues from closed Catholic churches
His future includes being curator of an unusual museum

Belgian Church to abusers: Turn yourselves in
'We want to repeat this call with force,' says bishop

Pope breaks own rule to beatify Anglican convert
Will Newman ceremony unleash Anglican-Catholic tensions?

Catholics in England suffered long repression
Pope to visit Thomas More site at Westminster Hall

Colombian drug dealer repents, makes confession
Man asked police for permission to meet with priest

Vatican library reopens after 3-year restoration
Climate-controlled rooms now protect ancient manuscripts

Pope says biotech could harm human dignity
Begs vigilance on application of scientific discoveries

N Ireland's Ian Paisley to protest Pope's UK visit
Says he's 'a champion' for victims of child sex abuse

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gospel for Sept 13, Memorial: St John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

Monday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 7:1-10

The Centurion's Faith
[1] After He (Jesus) had ended all His sayings in the hearing of the people He entered Capernaum. [2] Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. [3] When he heard of Jesus, he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him to come and heal his slave. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have You do this for him, [5] for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue." [6] And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; [7] therefore I did not presume to come to You. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. [8] For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it." [9] When Jesus heard this He marvelled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed Him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." [10] And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.

1-10. "They besought Him earnestly" (verse 4). Here is an example of the effectiveness of the prayer of petition, which induces Almighty God to work a miracle. In this connection St. Bernard explains what we should ask God for: "As I see it, the petitions of the heart consists in three things [...]. The first two have to do with the present, that is, with things for the body and for the soul; the third is the blessedness of eternal life. Do not be surprised that He says that we should ask God for things for the body: all things come from Him, physical as well as spiritual things [...]. However, we should pray more often and more fervently for things our souls need, that is, for God's grace and for virtues" ("Fifth Lenten Sermon", 8f). To obtain His grace--of whatever kind--God Himself expects us to ask Him assiduously, confidently, humbly and persistently.

What stands out here is the centurion's humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is the route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it. Speaking of his own conversion experience, St. Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering Himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man--to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. "Confessions", VII, 18, 24).

6-7. Such is the faith and humility of the centurion that the Church, in its eucharistic liturgy, gives us his very words to express our own sentiments just before receiving Holy Communion; we too should strive to have this interior disposition when Jesus enters our roof, our soul.
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.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 12

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

...One fact, one conversation, one little story has often changed the whole tenor of a man's life. The following incidents related to the writer by a dear old priest show that even what appears at first sight trivial may exercise a lasting impression on one's conduct.

"When a student in college," he told me, "my confessor kindly gave me some advice one day in recreation. It seemed simplicity itself, yet that advice has given me the most profound consolation all the long years of my life and has moreover enabled me to give similar consolation to the souls of many who have consulted me."

"A second incident was my hearing a short story about the Mass some months after my ordination. This left a vivid and indelible impression on me so that I have never celebrated the Holy Sacrifice without thinking of it, and as a result I enjoy deep devotion in saying every Mass."

A third fact which this good priest mentioned is no less surprising.

"A lady friend of mine once said to me: I confess that I feel no special sympathy for your young curate. One thing, however, that he does impresses me very much. When he passes in front of the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, he genuflects so reverently and looks with such devotion at the Tabernacle that it would seem as if he saw God."

"This remark was made to me thirty years ago, and never once since then have I myself passed in front of the Blessed Sacrament without imitating the example of my curate. This has given me a notable increase of faith in the Real Presence."

If then a short conversation, a little story, a few words of advice can make such a deep impression on one's mind, a book is likely to make much more, for it may contain scores of such facts....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949