Saturday, November 20, 2004

Cardinal Ratzinger Says It's Time to Fight for Christian Freedom

VATICAN CITY, November 19, 2004 ( - In an interview published today in the Italian newspaper "La Reppublica" and re-distributed world-wide via the Vatican Information Service, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues a serious warning to Christians to defend against, "an aggressive secular ideology."
This is another article regarding Cardinal Ratzinger's interview.

The Vaticn Information Service Link. titled "GOD IS ON THE SIDELINES IN MODERN SOCIETY" is here.

Cardinal Ratzinger on Laicism and Sexual Ethics

Q: Where is God in modern society?
Cardinal Ratzinger: He has been put on the sidelines...
Zenit Article.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Text of the Vatican decree regarding St. Stanislaus Parish

This is the text of the Decree from the Congregation for the Clergy on Protest No. 20041975, filed by the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in North St. Louis:
Whereas, the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish (the “parish”) was founded in 1880 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis by the Most Reverend Peter R. Kenrick, the Ordinary of the Archdiocese, and organized as a civil corporation in 1891 bearing the name “Polish Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Parish” (the “civil corporation”);

Whereas, the board of directors of the civil corporation was intended to function as an advisory board to the pastor in accordance with the norms of the law of the Roman Catholic Church in force at the time of the formation of the civil corporation;

Whereas, in light of the Response from the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of Legislative Texts, dated 29 April 1987, which received Papal approval on 20 June 1987, promulgated on 12 December 1988 (cf. AAS 80 [1988] 1818), in which the following question was posed and answered:

Editor’s note: the next two paragraphs in the decree are in Latin, translated as follows:

D. Whether a group of faithful, lacking juridical personality and even recognition envisaged in canon 299, No. 3, can legitimately make hierarchical recourse against a [decree] of its own diocesan bishop?

R. Negative as a group, affirmative as individual members of the faithful acting either singly or together, provided that they really have a grievance. However, in estimating the grievance, the judge must be allowed suitable discretion.

Editor’s note: the decree from this point resumes in English:

Whereas, the board of directors of a civil corporation lacks the aforementioned “juridic personality” to proceed in hierarchical recourse;

Whereas, the current board of directors of the civil corporation, in cooperation with the members of the corporation, have amended the By-Laws of the civil corporation in such a way as to deny the authority of the parochus (editor’s note: Latin for pastor) and the canonically provided oversight of the Archdiocese of St. Louis;

Whereas, the current board of directors and members of the civil corporation have amended the corporate documents of the civil corporation so that the parish is not in conformity with the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, namely cann. 209, 519, 532, 536, 537, 1257, and 1276;

Whereas, on 19 March 2004, the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, wrote to all of the faithful of the parish insisting that the parish structure comply with the norm of Church law, or it would be declared to be no longer a Roman Catholic Parish;

Whereas, the current board of directors and members of the civil corporation, through their duly appointed representative Roger C. Krasnicki, have made recourse to the Congregation for the Clergy against the dispositions of the Most Reverend Ordinary as set forth in the letter of 19 March 2004;

and Whereas, considering that the current board of directors lacks the juridic personality to proceed in this hierarchical recourse, this Congregation accepts the petition for recourse as being made by Roger C. Krasnicki in his individual capacity.

Now, therefore, the Congregation for the Clergy hereby decrees that the petition for recourse against the Most Rev. Ordinary’s dispositions of 19 March 2004 is rejected both de decernendo and de procedendo and judged to have no basis in law or in fact.

(Signed Dario Cardinal Castrillon)

Given at the Seat of the Congregation for the Clergy, 11 November, 2004.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary Christmas Novena

The seminarians of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary are inviting the public to join them for the 2004 Seminary Christmas Novena at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, through Tuesday, Dec. 7, at the seminary, 5200 Glennon Drive in Shrewsbury. The celebration features the seminary chorus. Call (314) 792-6100 for more information.

St. Louis Latin Mass beauty

A letter to the editor from the St Louis Review:

My family recently returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri where I was fortunate enough to attend the Latin High Mass by the Community of St. Philippine Duchesne. At 37 years old, I have never experienced this unbelievably sacred and transcendent rite.

I have known for years that the various (and there certainly are a variety) Novus Ordo liturgies presented by the many parishes I have been a part of lacked the focus and commitment to the sacrificial nature of the Mass, but never knew what I was missing.

I would urge the archdiocese to support any effort to make the Latin Mass widely available to the faithful here in St. Louis. I would also urge anyone who knows that liturgies need to be refocused to support the Latin Mass.

Matthew Grahek

Abp. Burke, Bp. Hermann to meet Pope next week

Bishops from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska will be making their ad limina visit next week.

Keep them in your prayers that they may have successful meetings.


Baby Murderers to set up shop in St. Peters?

I have received two reports, the first was yesterday about a meeting at city hall which was to have been held last night. I assume the purpose was for Planned Paternthood to make a case to council members to allow them to set up shop in, of all places - St. Peters, MO.

I was unable to attend the meeting last night due to having a previous commitment.

A second email that I received this morning informed me that a priest who was attendance indicated that, indeed, the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies was likely to begin in the near future. Hopefully, more information will be available regarding what transpired at the meeting at city hall.

And speaking of Soulforce....

The group has issued a report on their 'nonviolent' protests at the recent USCCB meeting in Washington DC.

Of course, they were greeted by Bishop Gumbleton in their efforts to reject the irreversible and immutable teaching of the Church that homosexuality is intrinsically disorded and evil.
We sang songs of hope and joy, of freedom and faith. Bishop Gumbleton came out to greet us, as usual.

Although change seems excruciatingly slow in the Catholic Church, as well many of the Protestant denominations, we remain determined and dedicated to changing the hearts and minds of religious leaders, the root of discrimination and prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. As change was brought about in the view of the rainbow cross as an affirmation of faith, we remain hopeful that is only the beginning of many more transformations to come.
I would think and hope that someone has told them that the Church's acceptance of homosexuality as a good and noble lifestyle will never happen - no matter how many protests they have.


People of Faith for Homosexual Rights?

How is it possible for one to be a person of faith yet openly embrace that which is disordered?

Last Tuesday evening while we were blessed to hear Archbishop Burke discuss the subject of Catholic Morality and the Common Good, a protest by "Holy Families" (of St Cronan's Parish) and Catholic Action Network (in conjunction with Soulforce) was occurring on the steps of the Cathedral.
"People of Faith for Gay Rights" Vigil
Over 100 participants joined the Catholic Action Network on the steps of the Cathedral to call for an end to the anti-gay rhetoric and practices of the Catholic hierarchy in St. Louis and nationally.
Let's be truthful, here. These people are calling for the end to the natual law and Catholic moral teaching against homosexuality and sodomy. It is a call to do away with sin, a call, in essence, to rebuke God.

Protest pictures are proudly displayed here.

Catholic bishops approve national adult catechism

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the English version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was that Rome insisted on using exclusively male terms for references to all humanity. Many bishops, including Wuerl, thought that would alienate younger women. The United States Catechism for Adults uses gender-inclusive language for human beings while retaining male pronouns for God.

The bishops voted 218-10 for the text at the end of their meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Before it can be published, it must receive approval in Rome, which Wuerl hopes will take no more than a year. The earliest likely publication date would be spring 2006.
I'm eager to see what the Holy See thinks.


The 2005 Gateway Liturgical Conference

This year's conference will be on Thursday and Friday, April 7 & 8, 2005. Francis Cardinal Arinze, of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is scheduled as a speaker.

Mark the date on your calendar...Details to follow as they become available.

Gospel for Friday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 19:45-48

Jesus in the Temple
[45] And He (Jesus) entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, [46] saying to them, "It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer'; but you have made it a den of robbers."

[47] And He was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy Him; [48] but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon His words.
45-48. Jesus' indignation shows His zeal for the glory of His Father, to be recognized at this time in the temple itself. He inveighs against the traders for engaging in business which has nothing to do with divine worship (cf. Matthew 21:12; Mark 11-15). Even the priests allowed some of these abuses to go on--perhaps because they benefited from them in the form of taxes. The traders did perform services necessary for divine worship but this was vitiated by their excessive desire for gain, turning the temple into a marketplace.

"My house shall be a house of prayer": Jesus uses these words from Isaiah (56:7; cf. Jeremiah 7:11) to underline the purpose of the temple. Jesus' behavior shows the respect the Temple of Jerusalem deserved; how much more reverence should be shown our churches, where Jesus Himself is really present in the Blessed Sacrament. (cf. notes on Matthew 21:12-13; and Mark 11:15-18).

[The notes on Matthew 21:12-13 states:
12-13. Although God is present everywhere and cannot be confined within the walls of temples built by man (Acts 17:24-25), God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle where He would dwell among the Israelites (Exodus 25:40). Once the Jewish people were established in Palestine, King Solomon, also in obedience to a divine instruction, built the temple of Jerusalem (1 Kings 6-8), where people went to render public worship to God (Deuteronomy 12).

Exodus (23:15) commanded the Israelites not to enter the temple empty-handed, but to bring some victim to be sacrificed. To make this easier for people who had to travel a certain distance, a veritable market developed in the temple courtyards with animals being bought and sold for sacrificial purposes. Originally this may have made sense, but seemingly as time went on commercial gain became the dominant purpose of this buying and selling of victims; probably the priests themselves and temple servants benefited from this trade or even operated it. The net result was that the temple looked more like a livestock mart than a place for meeting God.

Moved by zeal for His Father's house (John 2:17), Jesus cannot tolerate this deplorable abuse and in holy anger He ejects everyone--to show people the respect and reverence due to the temple as a holy place. We should show much greater respect in the Christian temple--the Christian churches--where the eucharistic sacrifice is celebrated and where Jesus Christ, God and Man, is really and truly present, reserved in the tabernacle. For a Christian, proper dress, liturgical gestures and postures, genuflections and reverence to the tabernacle, etc. are expressions of the respect due to the Lord in His temple.

[The notes on Mark 11:15-18 states:
15-18. Our Lord does not abide lack of faith or piety in things to do with the worship of God. If He acts so vigorously to defend the temple of the Old Law, it indicates how we should truly conduct ourselves in the Christian temple, where He is really and truly present in the Blessed Eucharist. "Piety has its own good manners. Learn them. It's a shame to see those `pious' people who don't know how to attend Mass--even though they go daily,--nor how to bless themselves (they throw their hands about in the weirdest fashion), nor how to bend the knee before the Tabernacle (their ridiculous genuflections seem a mockery), nor how to bow their heads reverently before a picture of our Lady" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 541).]
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.

Reading for Thursday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Reading From: Revelation 10:8-11

The Author Is Given the Little Scroll to Eat
[8] Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, "Go, take the scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." [9] So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, "Take it and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth." [10] And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. [11] And I was told, "You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."
8-11. Cf. note on 10:2. The book described by Ezekiel 2:8-3:3 was sweet as honey when eaten; but when Ezekiel began to prophesy, his heart was filled with bitterness (cf. Ezek 3:14). The same symbolism of the two kinds of taste is used here--no doubt to indicate that the prophecy contains grace and blessing, and also judgment and condemnation. The sweetness can also be interpreted as reflecting the triumph of the Church, and the bitterness its affliction.

Although nothing is said about what is written on scroll John is given to eat, it is reasonable to suppose that it has to do with the passage about the two witnesses which now follows, before the blowing of the seventh trumpet; this would make it a prophetic oracle, brought in here as a preview of the final eschatological battles, to show that evil apparently triumphs on earth.

[The note on 10:2 states:
2. The open scroll carried by the angel is different from the sealed scroll in the vision recounted in Revelation 5:2. It is more like the scroll described by the prophet Ezekiel (cf. Ezek 2:9-3:1) which was also meant to be eaten by the seer. The fact that it is open indicates that its content is not secret. The eating of the scroll symbolizes that what the prophet has to say after he eats it is really the word of God. It also indicates that God speaks through the medium of a written text. So, this imagery helps to strengthen people's faith in the divine inspiration of sacred writings, that is, the Bible, and to recognize them for they are--holy books because they are the very word of God which reaches the Church in written form via inspired authors: by reading these books publicly the Church is in fact proclaiming their divine inspiration.

We are not told what this little scroll contains; so, the only reason the writer brings in this symbol is to make it clear that he is a prophet. He wants people to be in no doubt about the fact that his prophecies apply to all creation--both heaven and earth (v. 6).]

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Who could have imagined this?

Western Media Misinforming About Iraq, Says Kirkuk Prelate
The Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk criticized Western media "misinformation" about his country and insisted that Iraqis are looking forward to elections "because they will be useful for national unity."

"It is not all death and destruction," explained Archbishop Louis Sako in an interview Tuesday published by AsiaNews. "Much is positive in Iraq today," he said.
Good news just doesn't go over very well...And in many cases, neither does the "Good News"!

Keep the people of Iraq in your prayers as well as all of those in the military and other services who are helping Iraq to achieve its desire of self governance.


Coming Soon to a Western Country Near You

Dutch Cardinal: Moral Breakdown Has Left Holland Open to Islamic Takeover

The abandonment of Christian morality, the Divine law and natural law always leaves a wasteland of a country ready to be occupied by anyone willing to take it over and develop another culture...
The rise of Islam, Cardinal Simonis said, is related to "the spectacle of extreme moral decadence and spiritual decline that we offer" to young people.

"Nowadays political leaders ask whether the Muslims will accept our values," the Dutch cardinal observed. "I ask, 'What values are those? Gay marriage? Euthanasia?'"
We mustn't forget abortion and contraception! These too result in a rapid decline of a culture, namely, people, future citizens, children of God!
Commenting on the Dutch tradition of tolerance, Cardinal Simonis observed that the notion of "tolerance" as it is understood there today is a recent development. "For three centuries, Catholics were barred from public office.," he noted. The current penchant for "tolerance," he said, "came later, after a common loss of faith-- roughly 40 years ago."
40 years ago...? Wasn't that about the time of Vatican II, and rebellion, disobedience, the sexual revolution, the Great Society, contraception, 'free' sex, the death of SIN, and on and on??? Oh, and tolerance!

LifeSiteNews Article.

US Court Rules Catholic School Within Rights in Firing Pro-Abortion Teacher

School officials say that the woman was fire because she publicly opposed Church teaching...she had earlier signed her name to a newspaper advertisement supporting abortion rights.

She may not be able to teach, but she can probably receive Holy Communion without any penalty.

Anyway, she claims she was illegally fired, in part, because she is a WOMAN...I can understand that. Maybe the school officials were unaware that she is a WOMAN and only became aware of later - perhaps AFTER she signed her name to the Pro-Death ad? She claims that the MEN who do not follow Church doctrine are not penalized like she was...Well, that must be because they are MEN...The article doesn't tell us how many of them signed the same ad, however...It was probably none...But IF they had, they would not have been fired, being MEN...Is it all clear?

Praise God that there was a judge who understands the First Amendment:
Ruling that courts may not hinder the right of religious institutions to teach their own values, U.S. District Judge Kent A. Jordan dismissed Michele Curay-Cramer's case in a 20-page decision released Tuesday.

The DelawareOnline article states that she is now teaching out of state...Maybe at a Catholic school near you?

Lifesite Article here.

Petition Launched to Save Mt. Soledad Cross

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA — In an effort to save the famous 43-foot concrete cross, which has stood atop Mount Soledad in San Diego, CA for the past fifty years, the Thomas More Law Center and other concerned groups and citizens have launched a national petition drive urging federal officials to declare the Mount Soledad Veterans War Memorial a national memorial.

The historic site includes the 43- foot cross and memorial walls containing plaques honoring the service of thousands of American veterans from all wars. The cross has been the subject of a 15- year federal lawsuit brought by an avowed atheist that resulted in a federal court order requiring the Mt. Soledad Cross to be removed. Law Center attorneys believe a successful petition effort to have Mt. Soledad designated a National Memorial would allow the Cross to remain.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center commented, “We are deeply disappointed that after 15 years of fighting to keep the cross, the Mt. Soledad Memorial association joined forces with the atheist to remove it. However, by declaring the Mt. Soledad memorial and cross a national memorial, this entire controversy can be put to rest, and I ask that the Association join us in this endeavor. ”

The petition will be presented to a host of government officials whose responsibilities include the designation of historic sites as national memorials. The petition reads in part,

“Whereas, the Mount Soledad Cross and the Mount Soledad Veterans War Memorial represents our collective admiration and respect for veterans from all wars who have honorably served our nation in the Armed Forces…Whereas, a federal lawsuit by an avowed atheist has resulted in a court order requiring the Mt. Soledad Cross to be removed, and designation of the site as a National Memorial would allow the Cross to remain; We therefore, urge you to take the necessary steps to designate the Mt. Soledad Cross and the Mt. Soledad Veterans War Memorial a National Memorial.”

The petition also quotes from a May 22, 2001 letter from President George W. Bush describing the Soledad site as a “place to reflect on our past, be inspired by true American patriots, and offer war veterans our heartfelt gratitude for the freedom we all enjoy today.”

Please view and sign the petition today!
This came in today from the Thomas More Law Center.

St. Louis Review: Vatican rules on St. Stanislaus case

The St. Louis Review had a 'Breaking News' Item the other day on this case.
The Link is here.

Updated to fix broken Link....

My question was answered in Zenit's Liturgy Section

Of course, I had written the pastor before concerning this, but the practice continued...
Code: ZE04111622
Date: 2004-11-16

Picture of Martin Luther King Jr. in a Church

ROME, NOV. 16, 2004 ( Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: Is it permitted to place a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. in the church proper during the time when the U.S. celebrates the holiday in his honor? Many times the picture is decorated and may even have one or more candles lit around it. This seems to violate Canon 1187 which states that only those saints and blessed[s] which the Church has approved are to be venerated. This seems to be more common here in the U.S. I have even encountered this during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament when his picture was placed in the sanctuary near the altar with lit candles. -- L.S., O'Fallon, Missouri

A: As you note, Canon 1187 is clear that "It is permitted to reverence through public veneration only those servants of God whom the authority of the Church has recorded in the list of the saints or the blessed."

The reasons for this can be deduced from the canon that precedes it.

Canon 1186 states: "To foster the sanctification of the people of God, the Church commends to the special and filial reverence of the Christian faithful the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, whom Christ established as the mother of all people, and promotes the true and authentic veneration of the other saints whose example instructs the Christian faithful and whose intercession sustains them."

Therefore the reason for public veneration of Mary and the saints is twofold: example and intercession.

When the Church reverences a person through public worship she thereby makes a statement that she holds, not only that the person is an example to others but also that that person is certainly in heaven and the faithful may pray so that the saint or blessed intercedes before God on their behalf.

In order to be assured that the said person can be thus reverenced, the Church carries out a stringent process that usually lasts several years.

Except in the case of martyrdom, which usually requires proof that the person's death was primarily related to his or her Christian faith, it is first necessary to determine that the person in question can be presented as an example in all aspects of life. He or she has had to have lived the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance to a heroic degree.

If heroic virtues cannot be proved, then the cause does not proceed, and only after these have been declared do Church authorities commence the examination of any supposed miracles.

The miracle is used as a proof that the person can effectively intercede before God and obtain special graces. This is usually the final step before beatification.

In order to proceed to canonization or sainthood, proof of another miracle is required of all those declared blessed, including martyrs.

These conditions are so stringent that jumping the gun by publicly reverencing a person in anticipation of official approval can stop a beatification process in its tracks.

While many may be convinced that a particular non-Catholic is enjoying the beatific vision, the Church as such takes no official stand regarding his or her heavenly state. Nor does it initiate a canonization process for those who adhered to other creeds -- not even in the case of those commonly esteemed to be martyrs of the faith as, for example, the Anglican companions of Uganda's St. Charles Lwanga certainly were.

Thus no liturgical veneration may be attributed to non-Catholics and so their images should not be located in churches in any way that would cause confusion by implying that Catholics are solemnly affirming their blessed state or, what is more important, praying for their intercession.

This does not mean that exemplary figures of non-Catholics may not be admired by Catholics, or that their good deeds may not be extolled and recommended for imitation.

Given the details you describe as to how the image of Dr. King is decorated, it would appear that a real danger of confusion does exist. A more theologically appropriate means of honoring his memory should be found on a par with that offered to other similar historical figures graced by public holidays such as Lincoln and Washington.

There may be some rare occasions when a deceased person's image may be temporarily placed in a Church.

Although it does not appear to be a widespread custom, on some occasions, especially if the cause of death was especially tragic, photos of a deceased person are placed near a casket or in some visible area if no mortal remains are present.

In such a case the reason is not veneration or reverence but a means of asking others to join in prayers for the soul of the deceased.

St. Stanislaus looks at options

I heard on the radio this morning that board directors of St. Stanislaus met last night to discuss various options now that the Holy See has denied their request.

The report stated that three options were discussed: 1. doing what Archbishop Burke has stipulated, 2. Changing the church into a museum, or 3. breaking away from the Church and becoming independent.

For anyone to even consider option 3 as a legitimate alternative only shows the depths of the confusion of some people.

But that's not all:
"We're going to give that [one last meeting] a shot and see what happens," said Roger Krasnicki, a retired attorney and longtime St. Stanislaus parishioner. "We want to show good faith and that we really want to come to an agreement with them, notwithstanding their past intransigence."
WHAT!? What is this 'past intransigence' business??? The Archdiocese has been intransigent? This is completely understandable considering how 'flexible' and accomodating the board had been for the past decades, right? Someone call timeout for a reality check!
Krasnicki has said options for the parish, aside from giving in to Burke's demands, may include breaking from the Roman Catholic church and having an independent Catholic group minister to the parish.

One option is the Polish National Catholic Church, which formed in 1878 in Pennsylvania over a local bishop's desire to wrest property from Polish immigrants. The congregation got its own priest to minister to them. As a result, they were excommunicated.
Anyone who considers this as an option demonstrates that he is no longer capable of lucid, rational thought and should be considered an enemy of the faithful of the parish. Those who would consider schism as viable are not worthy to be in any leadership position.

It looks more and more like the issue is really over money...And this raises several other questions.

Article here.

Looking forward to Cardinal McCarrick's Retirement...

Here is the Task Force's report on Catholic Politicians. He withdrew the discussion of the report from the agenda and anyone can see why - it is meaningless drivel, nothing at all new...But then could anyone have realistically expected anything else from him?

As an aside, at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception which is in his diocese, the Communion song, for those that missed it was "Gimme that old time religion."

I wish now I would have taped it..

Gospel for Thursday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 19:41-44

Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem
[41] And when He (Jesus) drew near and saw the city He wept over it, [42] saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. [43] For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, [44] and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation."

41-44. When the procession reaches a place where there is a good view of the city, they are disconcerted by Jesus' unexpected weeping. Our Lord explains why He is weeping, by prophesying the destruction of the city which He loved so much: not one stone will remain on another, and its inhabitants will be massacred--a prophecy which was fulfilled in the year 70, when Titus razed the city and the temple was destroyed. These historical events will be a punishment for Jerusalem failing to recognize the time of its visitation, that is, for closing its gates to the salvific coming of the Redeemer. Jesus loved the Jews with a very special love: they were the first to whom the Gospel was preached (cf. Matthew 10:5-6); to them He directed His ministry (cf. Matthew 15:24); He showed His word and by His miracles that He was the Son of God and the Messiah foretold in the Scriptures. But the Jews for the most part failed to appreciate the grace the Lord was offering them; their leaders led them to the extreme of calling for Jesus to be crucified.

Jesus visits every one of us; He comes as our Savior; He teaches us through the preaching of the Church; He gives us forgiveness and grace through the sacraments. We should not reject our Lord, we should not remain indifferent to His visit.
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.

Reading for Thursday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Reading From: Revelation 5:1-10

The Sealed Scroll and the Lamb
[1] And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; [2] and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" [3] And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, [4] and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. [5] Then one of the elders said to me, "Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

[6] And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; [7] and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. [8] And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; [9] and they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are thou to take the scroll and to open itsseals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, [10] and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth."
1-5. The sealed scroll contains God's mysterious plans for the salvation of mankind; no one on earth can disclose them (v. 3). Only the risen Christ can take the scroll and make its contents known (vv. 6-7). On this account he is praised by the four living creatures, by the elders (vv. 8-10), by a whole host of angels (vv. 11-12) and by all creation (vv. 13-14).

The image of a scroll (or book) containing God's hidden plans for mankind was used before, particularly by the prophet Daniel (cf. Dan 12:4-9; also Is 29:11), who refers to a prophecy remaining sealed until the end of time. St John uses this image to make the point that the End Time, the Last Days, have already begun with Christ, so now he can reveal God's plans. The fact that there are seven seals stresses the hidden nature of the scroll's contents; and its being written on both sides shows its richness.

The author of the Book of Revelation, and everyone in fact, really does need to know what is written on the scroll; for, if he knows God's plans he will be able to discover the meaning of life and cease to be anxious about events past, present and future. Yet no one is able to open the scroll: that is why the author weeps so bitterly.

The scroll is sealed: the Revelation of the salvation of mankind and the consolation of the Church is being delayed. Soon, however, the seer ceases to weep, for he learns that Christ (here called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" and "the Root" or descendant of David: cf. Gen 49:9; Is 11:1, 10) has conquered and therefore is able, to break the seven seals.

The Church contemplates Christ's victory when it "believes that Christ, who died and was raised for the sake of all, can show man the way and strengthen him through the Spirit in order to be worthy of his destiny [...]. The Church likewise believes that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 10).

"In fact," the Council adds, "it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (cf. Rom 5:14). Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling" (ibid., 22).

6-7. Christ is able to open the scroll on account of his death and resurrection--an event symbolized by the Lamb standing upright and victorious and at the same time looking as though it had been immolated. In the Fourth Gospel, John the Baptist calls Christ "the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:29, 36); in the Apocalypse this _expression is the one most often used to refer to him: he is the Lamb raised to the very height of God's throne and has dominion over the entire cosmos (cf. 5:8, 12-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-10; 13:8; 15:3; etc.). This Christological title, which is a feature of St John's writings, has great theological depth; the Church reverses it, using it frequently in the liturgy-- particularly in the Mass, after the kiss of peace when the Lamb of God is invoked three times; also, just before Holy Communion is distributed the host is shown to the faithful as him who takes away the sin of the world and those who are called to his marriage supper are described as "happy" (cf. Rev 19:9).

The image of the Lamb reminds us of the passover lamb, whose blood was smeared on the door frames of houses as a sign to the avenging angel not to inflict on Israelites the divine punishment being dealt out to the Egyptians (cf. Ex 12:7, 13). St Paul refers to the Lamb in one of his letters: "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor 5: 7). At a high point in Old Testament prophecy Isaiah portrays the Messiah as the suffering Servant of Yahweh, "a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (Is 53:7). St Peter, on the basis of that text, states that our Lord "bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet 2:24).

The Lamb is a sacrifice for sin, but the Apocalypse also focuses attention on the victorious power of the risen Lamb by showing him standing on the throne, in the center of the vision; the horns symbolize his power and the eyes his knowledge, both of which he has to the fullest degree as indicated by the number seven. The seven spirits of Christ also indicate the fullness of the Spirit with which Christ is endowed and which he passes on to his Church (cf. notes on Rev 1:4 and 4:5). This completes the description of the risen Christ, who through his victory reveals the mystery of God.

8-10. The greatness of Christ the Lamb is duly acknowledged and proclaimed through the worship rendered him, firstly, from the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, then from all the angels and finally from the whole of creation (vv. 11-13). St John selects these three points to highlight on the praise rendered by the heavenly Church, with which the pilgrim Church on earth joins through its own prayer (symbolized by the image of the golden bowls). Later on (15: 7ff), seven bowls appear again, this time filled with God's wrath, which is caused by the complaint of the righteous who are being cruelly tormented by the agents of evil.

All this shows the value of the prayers of those who stay loyal to God: "the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (Jas 5:16), for "the prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord" (Sir 35:17).

The "new song" proclaims that Christ alone decides the destinies of the world and of mankind; this is a consequence of himself being offered in sacrifice as the atoning victim "par excellence". By shedding his blood Christ has won for himself an immense people, from every nation under heaven; in them, a holy people, his chosen ones that people which was originally assembled in the Sinai desert (cf. Ex 19:6; 1 Pet 2:9f) has come to full maturity. When it says that they have been ransomed from every tribe and nation, it is pointing out that God's salvific plans extend to the whole human race: he "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). This does not exempt us from making an effort to merit salvation, for, as St Augustine teaches, "God who created you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation" ("Sermon" 169, 11). Here is how another early writer puts it: "we know that God will give to each individual the opportunity to be saved--to some in one way, to others in another. But whether we respond eagerly or listlessly depends on ourselves" (Cassian, "Collationes", 3, 12).

"Didst ransom men for God": in many important Greek manuscripts this reads, "you ransomed us for God", and some even change the reading of the following verse: "you made us a kingdom...and we will reign". The earlier Latin translation, the Vulgate, chose that reading, which emphasizes that those who are entoning the chant are men, that is, members of the Church triumphant in heaven. The new official Latin version, the New Vulgate, follows what it considers to be the most reliable Greek text. But the meaning does not really change.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Law Center President To Debate Tonight on the O'Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel

Just in...
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of Thomas More Law Center, will appear tonight on The O'Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel.

Thompson will debate Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, on whether American cities and schools are unfairly discriminating against Christians.

Thompson is expected to discuss several Law Center cases including the defense of the Ten Commandments in Utah, Nativity displays in New York, and the cross on Los Angeles County seal.

Tune in tonight at 8 or 11 PM (Eastern) to the FOX News Channel.
The "Reverend" Barry Lynn is due for a 'clock cleaning'...

And one more from "Town Talk"...

Election about God, gays and guns

God didn't help Bush get re-elected because God is against war and the death penalty. The Pope is the real leader of the Catholic Church. Arch Bishop Burke is not the leader of the Catholic Church. Real moral values are not going to war and killing our young soldiers or innocent people. Real moral values are taking care of our own people who are hungry and out of jobs, not spending 200 billion dollars in Iraq. This war was Bush's choosing not a necessity. This election was about God, gays and guns not the important issues like jobs, social security, healthcare and the deficit. We got the shaft.
"God is against war and the death penalty." How can this statement be reconciled with Sacred Scripture? Simply put, it cannot be. Certainly, God is against unjust wars and the unjust application of the death penalty, but the statement made above is patently false and demonstrates an ignorance of God and God's Revelation.

"Archbishop Burke is not the leader of the Catholic Church." Contrary to this opinion, he is a legitimate successor of the Apostles, and as such, he is the leader of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and is in union with the Holy Father.

"Real moral values are not going to war and killing our young soldiers or innocent people." Sometimes, war is inevitable, and may even be the only morally obligatory thing to do. The intentional killing of innocent human beings is ALWAYS wrong and immoral - this includes unborn children. It appears that someone has not read the Catechism to obtain a basic understanding of what is moral and what is not.

"Real moral values are taking care of our own people who are hungry and out of jobs." And as Christians, we should be doing all we can to help those people. However, it not the responsibility of government to provide jobs to those who do not have them. Its policies should enable business to grow in such a manner as to permit job creation. Government should refrain from creating policies which stifle and choke businesses which result in job loss.

"This election was about God, gays and guns..." Pure speculation, unsupported by any factual data.

"We got the shaft." God does, indeed, work in mysterious way, does He not?


Results of Public Education or Genetic Manipulation

Some more Town Talk excerpts for the Post
Tax the clergy

READING YOUR COLUMN in the paper I think its high time that the government starts charging the churches and especially the Catholic Church for taxes. I think the church itself should be tax free, but I think all the properties and all the things that they own, their home and everything, should be taxed like any other person that lives in this world. And it seems like these preachers and priests all have something to say on how we vote, how we live and what we eat. I think it's high time that they live like we do. If they want us to live like they do then they should pay taxes like we do.
Unless something has changed, they do pay taxes...
Catholic slant

AS A LIFE-LONG citizen and Catholic, I can't thank Archbishop Burke, the other archbishops and the clergy of other states for their campaigning to help the Republican party. Due to their direct efforts, the citizens of the United States will be subject to four more years of more intrinsic evils than can be listed in the time allowed. By the way, members of the clergy did you notice that California under the leadership of a Republican governor voted Nov. 2 to fund stem-cell research?
As a life-long Catholic, it appears you have a catechism and read it. Re-read Archbishop Burke's Pastoral Letter. Get prepared for the test which will result in where you spend eternity. You won't want to flunk that one like you have failed so far...
Beer and wenches

THIS IS FOR the drunken Catholic caller that quoted Benjamin Franklin as for as beer goes. Well, Benjamin Franklin also said that when a man is choosing a mistress he should chose an older woman because they are so grateful. So I think we should all go out and get ourselves good and liquored up, go pick up some old gal and head for the nearest Catholic church picnic.
Do this guy know how to party or what?

Bishops reject Bible tutorial

The headline really doesn't tell the whole story. The bishops actually rejected a proposal to produce another document to 'enlighten' Catholics on how to study the Bible. One bishop who favored the motion to remand it back to committee, actually stated that Catholics could study the Catechism to learn how to read the Bible. Now there's a novel idea...However, it doesn't pay the same to bureaucrats at the USCCB.

After watching the discussion, I was pleased that the conference voted to remand the proposed document back to committee. For one of the very few times in my life, I agreed with Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk.

Monday, the bishops approved a resolution which would develop a means to assign priorities to projects and, hopefully, to reduce the number of largely unread documents coming out of the USCCB. This was the point of Archbishop Pilarczyk's motion - to abide by the previous day's vote.

A USCCB administrative committee approved $150,000 for a study on how Catholics use the Bible, using funds from the sale of the New American Bible.


Nov 17 Gospel, Memorial: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Gospel From: Luke 19:11-28

Parable of the Pounds
[11] As they heard these things, He (Jesus) proceeded to tell a parable, because He was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
[12] He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive kingly power and then return.
[13] Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, `Trade with these till I come.'
[14] But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.'
[15] When he returned, having received the kingly power, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading.
[16] The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.'
[17] And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'
[18] And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.'
[19] And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.'
[20] Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin;
[21] for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.'
[22] He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?
[23] Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?'
[24] And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.'
[25] (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!')
[26] `I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
[27] But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'"

The Messiah Enters the Holy City
[28] And when He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
11. The disciples had a wrong concept of the Kingdom of Heaven: they thought it was about to happen and they saw it in earthly terms: they envisaged Jesus conquering the Roman tyrant and immediately establishing the Kingdom in the holy city of Jerusalem, and that when that happened they would hold privileged positions in the Kingdom. There is always a danger of Christians failing to grasp the transcendent, supernatural character of the Kingdom of God in this world, that is, the Church, which "has but one sole purpose--that the Kingdom of God may come and the salvation of the human race may be accomplished." (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 45).

Through this parable our Lord teaches us that, although His reign has begun, it will only be fully manifested later on. In the time left to us we should use all the resources and graces God gives us, in order to merit the reward.

13. The "mina", here translated as "pound", was worth about 35 grammes of gold. This parable is very like the parable of the talents reported in St. Matthew (cf. 25:14-30).

14. The last part of this verse, although it has a very specific context, reflects the attitude of many people who do not want to bear the sweet yoke of our Lord and who reject Him as king. "There are millions of people in the world who reject Jesus Christ in this way; or rather they reject His shadow, for they do not know Christ. They have not seen the beauty of His face; they do not realize how wonderful His teaching is. This sad state of affairs makes me want to atone to our Lord. When I hear that endless clamor--expressed more in ignoble actions than in words--I feel the need to cry out, `He must reign!' (1 Corinthians 15:25)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 179).

17. God counts on our fidelity in little things, and the greater our effort in this regard the greater the reward we will receive: "Because you have been `in pauca fidelis', faithful in small things, come and join in your Master's happiness. The words are Christ's. `In pauca fidelis!... Now will you neglect little things, if Heaven itself is promised to those who mind them?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 819).

24-26. God expects us to strive to put to good use the gifts we have received--and He lavishly rewards those who respond to His grace. The king in the parable is shown to be very generous towards his servants--and generous in rewarding those who managed to increase the money they were given. But he is very severe towards the lazy servant who was also the recipient of a gift from his Lord, who did not let it erode but guarded it carefully--and for this his king criticizes him: he failed to fulfill the just command the king gave him when he gave him the money: "Trade till I come." If we appreciate the treasures the Lord has given us--life, the gift of faith, grace--we will make a special effort to make them bear fruit--by fulfilling our duties, working hard and doing apostolate. "Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 1).

28. Normally in the Gospels when there is mention of going to the Holy City it is in terms of "going up" to Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 20:18; John 7:8), probably because geographically the city is located on Mount Zion. Besides, since the temple was the religious and political center, going up to Jerusalem had also a sacred meaning of ascending to the holy place, where sacrifices were offered to God.

Particularly in the Gospel of St. Luke, our Lord's whole life is seen in terms of a continuous ascent towards Jerusalem, where His self-surrender reaches its high point in the redemptive sacrifice of the Cross. Here Jesus is on the point of entering the city, conscious of the fact that His passion and death are imminent.
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.

Nov 17 Reading, Memorial: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Reading From: Revelation 4:1-11

God in Majesty
[1] After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place after this."
[2] At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne!
[3] And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.
[4] Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads.
[5] From the throne issue flashes of lighting, and voices and peals of thunders and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; [6] and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: [7] the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. [8] And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

[9] And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, [10] the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, [11] "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created."
1. The second part of the Apocalypse begins at this point and extends to the start of the Epilogue. The author describes visions concerning the future of mankind, particularly the ultimate outcome of history when our Lord Jesus Christ will obtain the final victory, at his second coming. It begins with a formal introduction (chaps. 4-5); this is followed by a first section as it were (6:11-11:14) covering the visions of the seven seals and the first six trumpets, which describes the event prior to the final battle. The war begins with the sound of the seventh trumpet and it goes on (this is the second section 11:15-22:5) until the beast is completely routed and the Kingdom of God is definitively established in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This introductory vision (chaps 4-5) begins with God in heaven in all his glory being worshipped and celebrated by all creation (chap. 4). He alone controls the destiny of the world and the Church.

Only Jesus knows God's salvific plans, and he, through his death and resurrection, reveals them to us. All this is expressed in chapter 4 by the image of the Lamb who is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

1-3. The risen and glorified Christ, who spoke to St John previously (cf. 1:10-13), now invites him, in a new vision, to go up into heaven to be told God's plan for the world. "I looked," "I was in the Spirit," "I went up to heaven" all describe the same phenomenon--God revealing something to the writer. Because the things he is being told are things man could not possibly discover for himself, the writer speaks about going up to heaven: this enables him to contemplate heavenly things, that is, God. Going up to heaven is the same as being in ecstacy, "being in the Spirit", being taken over by the Holy Spirit so as to be able to understand what God wants to reveal to him (cf. note on 1:10).

He is going to be shown "what must take place after this"; it is something which has already begun to happen in the writer's own time but it will not reach its climax until the end of the world. The revelation he is given shows him the ultimate meaning of contemporary events, the outcome of which is guaranteed by the authority of the revealer, Jesus Christ.

The description given here of heaven stresses the majesty and power of God. Heaven is depicted with a throne at its center, an image taken from Isaiah (cf. Is 6:1) and Ezekiel (cf. Ezek 1:26-28; 10:1). God's appearance is described in terms of the vivid coloring of precious stones; this avoids the danger of defining God in human terms (an inversion of values). The rainbow round the throne further emphasizes the sublimity of God and is also a reminder (cf. Gen 9:12-17) of God's merciful promise never to destroy mankind.

4. God's sovereignty over the world--as symbolized by the throne--is shared in by others whom the vision also portrays as seated on thrones. They are symbolically described as twenty-four elders who act as a kind of heavenly council or senate. These elders appear frequently in the course of the book, always positioned beside God, rendering him tribute of glory and worship (cf. 4:10; 5:9; 19:4), offering him the prayers of the faithful (cf. 5:8) or explaining events to the seer (cf. 5:5; 7:13). It is not clear whether they stand for angels or saints; the Fathers and recent commentators offer both interpretations.

The symbolic number (twenty-four) and the way they are described suggest that they stand for saints in the glory of heaven. They are twenty-four --twelve plus twelve, that is, the number of the tribes of Israel plus that of the Apostles. Our Lord in fact promised the latter that they would sit on thrones (cf. Mt 19:28). The twenty-four elders, then, would represent the heavenly Church, which includes the old and the new Israel and which, in heaven, renders God the tribute of perfect praise and intercedes for the Church on earth. The number twenty-four has also been seen as reflecting the twenty-four priestly classes of Judaism, thereby emphasizing the liturgical dimension of heaven (cf. 1 Chron 24: 7-18; 25:1, 9-13). Whichever is the case, the white garments indicate that they have achieved everlasting salvation (cf. 3:5); and the golden crowns stand for the reward they have earned (cf. 2:10), or theprominence among Christians, who have been promised that, if they come
out victorious, they will sit on Christ's throne (cf. 3:21).

Through these visions laden with symbolism the Apocalypse shows the solidarity that exists between the Church triumphant and the Church militant--specifically, the connection between the praise that is rendered God in heaven and that which we offer him on earth, in the liturgy. The Second Vatican Council refers to this: "In the earthly liturgy we take part in the foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God [...]. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he our life shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory" ("Sancrosanctum Concilium", 8).

5. This vision is similar to the Old Testament theophanies, especially that of Sinai. There too the Lord's presence was revealed with thunder and lightning (cf. Ex 19:16). Storms are frequently used to symbolize the salvific power and majesty of God at the moment of revelation (cf. Ps 18:14; 50:3; etc.). Further on, the author will again describe, in more detail, the signs accompanying God's self-revealing; this gives the book a sense of on-going revelation with an increasing tempo (cf. Rev 8:5; 11:19; 16:18; etc.). It is generally accepted Church tradition to interpret fire as a manifestation of the Spirit of God. On the seven spirits, see the note on 1:4.

6-7. To describe the majesty of God, St John uses symbols which are sometimes quite difficult to interpret. This is the case with the sea as transparent as glass, and the four living creatures round the throne and on each side of it. The scene may be a kind of heavenly replica of the arrangements in Solomon's temple where there stood in front of the Holy of Holies a huge water container called the "molten sea" supported by figures of oxen, twelve in number (cf. 1 Kings 7:23-26; 2 Chron 4: 2-5). This similarity between heaven and the temple would be a way of expressing the connection between liturgy on earth and worship of God in heaven.

The crystal sea may also be an allusion to God's absolute dominion over all forms of authority on earth. In biblical tradition the sea is often used as a symbol for the powers of darkness (cf. Rev 13:1; 21:1). To God, however, the sea is crystal-clear, that is, he is its master; cf. the way the spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters in Genesis 1:2.

Elsewhere in the Apocalypse (15:2) it speaks of the sea of glass supporting the blessed while they praise God: just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, so those who have conquered the beast will cross this solid sea to make their way to God.

The author of the Book of Revelation avails of images used by the prophets to describe the glory of Yahweh. The four living creatures are very like those in the prophet Ezekiel's vision of the chariot of the Lord drawn by four angels representing intelligence, nobility, strength and agility (cf. Ezek 1:10; 10:12; Is 6:2).

Christian tradition going back as far as St Irenaeus has interpreted these four creatures as standing for the four evangelists because they "carry" Jesus Christ to men. The one with the face of a man is St Matthew, who starts his book with the human genealogy of Christ; the lion stands for St Mark: his Gospel begins with the voice crying in the wilderness (which is where the lion's roar can be heard); the ox is a reference to the sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem, which is where St Luke begins his account of Christ's life, and the eagle represents St John, who soars to the heights to contemplate the divinity of the Word.

8-11. The chant of the four living creatures is virtually the same as that which the prophet Isaiah heard the six-winged seraphim sing in his vision of God in the temple of Jerusalem (cf. Is 6: 1-3). St John changes the ending by bringing in the new name of God which is an elaboration of the name "Yahweh" (cf. note on Rev 1:4). The four creatures (who, because there are four of them stand for government of the entire universe) take the lead in worshipping and praising God; but they are joined by all the people of God, as represented by the twenty-four elders, that is, the Church victorious in heaven. They throw down their crowns to show that they realize their victory is due to God, and that all power belongs to him. Essentially what they are praising here is God as creator. By reporting this vision the author of the Apocalypse is inviting the pilgrim Church on earth to associate with the worship and praise offered God the creator in heaven.

The Church uses these words of praise in its eucharistic liturgy: at the end of the Preface, it chants the angelic Sanctus in preparation for the Canon. This angelic chant, performed as it is in heaven and on earth, reminds us of the sublimity of the Mass, where the worship of God crosses the frontiers of time and space and has a positive influence on the entire world, for, "through the communion of the saints, all Christians receive grace from every Mass that is celebrated, regardless of whether there is an attendance of thousands or whether it is only a boy with his mind on other things who is there to serve. In either case, heaven and earth join with the angels of the Lord to sing: "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus ..." ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 88). The saintly Cure of Ars refers to this intercommunion of praise and thanksgiving, of grace and forgiveness: "The Holy Mass is a source of joy to all the heavenly court; it alleviates the poor souls in purgatory; it draws down to earth all kinds of blessings; and it gives more glory to God than all the sufferings of all the martyrs taken together, than all the penances of all the hermits, than all the tears shed for them [the holy souls] since time began and all that will be shed from now till the end of time" ("Selected Sermons", second Sunday after Pentecost).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Waiting for the calls for the lions...???

Catholic League president William Donohue called attention today to the anti-Christian explosion under way at the Village Voice:

Sharon Lerner...makes it clear that it is the Christians she fears.

Michael Feingold says: "Christianity as currently preached and practiced in Middle America is virtually Satan, by the standards of anyone who strives to follow the teachings of Jesus.”

Sydney H. Schanberg states: “there’s a feel of holy-war fever in America.”

Kudos to Fr. William Cleary of Andover, Mass.

Pro-Abortion Legislator Outraged over Priest's Direction to Quit Church Choir

ANDOVER, Massachusetts, November 16, 2004 ( -St. Augustine's Catholic church in Andover has a choir and state Rep. Barbara L'Italien likes to sing. The pro-abortion politician is a cantor and head of the parish youth choir and has refused to quit when asked by Fr. William Cleary, the new priest. She says she will only leave the volunteer post if she receives the request in writing.
Email your support of Fr. Cleary for his courageous stance to:
Fr. Cleary's e-mail:


Jan 14-16, Marian Conference of St Louis

Mark your calendars for this very special event...Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 14-16, 2005, at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown St. Louis.


Marian Conference of St. Louis 2005 to be held January 14, 15, 16, 2005
at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown St. Louis, Missouri

Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis, will open the Conference on Friday, January 14th at 4:30 p.m.

Confirmed speakers are:
Father Charles Becker,
Patty Schneier,
Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.,
Father Eugene Morris,
Msgr. John J. Hickel,
Rosalind Moss,
Colleen & John Willard,
Raymond Arroyo,
Father Bill Casey,
Michael Cumbie,
and Wayne Weible.

Mark Forrest, International Irish Tenor, in Concert Friday.

Cost for the 3-day event is only $35 ($40 after 12/28); ($40 at the door);
($40 for Saturday only); (group of 8 or more $25 prior to 12/28); Young Adults $15; Children (5-11) $5. Registration for Priests, Deacons, Vowed Religious is no

Gift registrations are available.

The Conference will be held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown St. Louis which
is located 20 minutes from Lambert International Airport. When making your reservations at the Adam's Mark, please ask for the discounted rates for the Conference of $67 + tax (single or double occupancy) $77 + tax (triple or quad).
Please make hotel reservations early: 1-800-444-ADAM.

Jean Ann and Joe Hand will provide the music ministry for the entire weekend.

TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE: Please provide name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, e-mail address by calling or faxing the Marian Centre of St. Louis, 8015 Monroe Street, St. Louis, MO. 63114
Phone (314) 423-1075 - fax (314) 423-9973. E-mail :

VISA, MC, DISCOVER charges are acceptable which would require the usual:
Account Number___________________________Exp. Date____/____
Name on Card ____________________________

How is it possible? Where is Cardinal Arinze when we need him?

Bishop Trautman has been selected as the head of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy.

I wish I knew the vote guess is that it may be similar to the number who selected Bp. Skylstad as President...

The BCL slides further and further into decay...I can't wait to see the reruns tonight!

Some details:
In the 1990s, Bishop Trautman led opposition to the Holy See's intervention in translation both of Scripture (Lectionary) and other liturgical translations (International Commission on English in the Liturgy's "Sacramentary" revision).

"When we encounter those who advocate a 'reform of the reform', we must say, 'Do not quench the Spirit'. The Holy Spirit was present at Vatican II and gave us new liturgical direction. When we encounter people who harken back to rigidity in rubrics, we must say. 'Do not quench the Spirit'. When inculturation is denied and one liturgical form is forced on all, we must say, 'Do not quench the Spirit'. When the Scripture translations in our Lectionary are flawed and not proclaimable, we must say, 'Give us the richness of God's Word: Do not quench the Spirit'. The Holy Spirit prompted the renewal and reform of the liturgy. Now, more than ever, we must say, 'Do not quench the Spirit'".

"When such Roman liturgical drafts call us to return to a liturgical mentality prior to Vatican II, we need to say to one another: Keep up your courage. When liturgical expertise is not respected, we must say to one another: Keep up your courage. When fundamental principles of liturgical renewal are reversed, we must remind one another: Keep up your courage. When liturgical offices are closed and liturgical budgets are slashed, we must say to one another: Keep up your courage. When we see liturgical renewal still wanting in many parishes and when we feel the pain of the clerical sex abuse scandal and its impact on worshipping assemblies and presiders, let us give hope to one another".
Source here (Adoremus) and here.

Please, Show Your Support for Archbishop Burke

It seems that Archbishop Burke has been inundated recently with letters and petitions from a number of people from St. Agatha's parish concerning its possible closing and the transfer of the Tridentine Mass to St. Francis de Sales. For the record, I too, would prefer to see St. Agatha's stay open, however, when the Archbishop renders his decision, we should abide by it. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities that St. Agatha may remain open. Besides sending charitable letters, one should also pray fervently.

A couple of things come to mind:
First, if anyone is complaining about what the Archbishop is doing, it would seem unlikely that he (the one complaining) possesses the vision of Archbishop Burke in this matter. As a strong promoter and defender of the Tridentine Mass, it seems that those who are accustomed to the Latin Mass should be grateful that the Archbishop is taking steps to ensure that it will be available to all who desire it, even if it may not be in the same church building.

Secondly, with Fr. Rodis getting up in years, Archbishop Burke should be supported in his efforts to be proactive in establishing priests in the diocese who will be able to fulfill the desires of the faithful with regard to the Latin Mass. Unless, there is some miraculous intervention, I don't believe Fr. Rodis is going to live forever, and he currently has some medical problems. If something were to happen to Fr. Rodis, God forbid, what would these people then do? Petition the Archbishop, perhaps?

I wish to pass on a suggestion which was made to me the other evening. This suggestion applies to all, whether or not they attend the Latin Mass, since Archbishop Burke's vision certainly goes beyond this. Please write a letter of support , a letter of encouragement, or a letter of thanks to Archbishop Burke and do it today.

As a strong defender of the faith and a faithful shepherd of the Church, he is attacked from all sides daily. Please take this moment to write a note or letter to Archbishop Burke. It could be a simple as telling him that he is in your daily prayers, or an encouragement to keep up the good work he is doing.

Let's try to mitigate any negative correspondence he has received recently for whatever reason by showing our support for him and his efforts to lead us toward Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Assure him of your prayers for his intentions and for him personally.

Also if time permits, write letters of support and encouragement to those deacons, priests, or others whom you know to be defenders of the faith and devoted to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Father.

His mailing address is:
Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke
Archdiocese of St. Louis
4445 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108

If you wish to fax your note or letter, the number is: 314-633-2302.

One last request, lest we forget - let us avail ourselves of these means of prayer for Archbishop Burke, our priests and religious, for the Holy Father, and for the Church:
Attend Daily Mass, if at all possible
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration
The Holy Rosary
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
The Litanies
The Liturgy of the Hours

Great News! McChesney out!

The former FBI agent who established the child protection office created by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops said Monday she will step down in February after more than two years on the job.

Kathleen McChesney said she has fulfilled her commitment to set up the Office for Child and Youth Protection and is ready to leave.
Adios, Kathleen!


As an aside, I got the impression last night watching the Bishops' meeting that the Pro-Abortion Pamela Hayes is no longer on the National Review Board...I may have to watch it again to be certain, but that's what Bishop Gregory seemed to say, I think.

Homosexuals upset with National Catechism draft

A draft already is circulating among Catholics. Two people from metro Detroit who traveled to Washington this week to protest against the bishops' antigay activism already have criticized the catechism.

"It's just more of the same stuff they've been saying all along," Paul Mattson, a social worker from Detroit, said of the text condemning gay relationships. "The biggest reason I'm not Catholic anymore is that I'm gay and there's an obvious conflict here."
Does he really think that God would approve his actions? But of course, those opposed to the truth and the good maintain that the Church should disregard the divine and natural laws to accomodate anyone with sinful inclinations. Pray for them.


Post Dispatch Continues Series on St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary

As scandal breaks, the search for truth begins

Will the Post Dispatch do a followup report as suggested here?

Why does the Post-Dispatch continue to bash the Catholic church and dredge up old news for its front page? Due to your comprehensive reporting, the readers should be more than fully informed about the Catholic church priest sex abuse problem.

Facts that may not be reported are:

On Feb. 27, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York issued a comprehensive accounting of abuse in the Catholic church. The report found that 4,392 priests allegedly abused minors between 1950 and 2002. That amounts to 4 percent of priests who served during that time period.

A report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Law found that between 6 percent and 10 percent of public school children across the country have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers. The report, issued this March, is very disturbing and more worthy than the back-page attention it received.

Can one hope that a follow-up article will focus on sexual abuse in other religions and in our public school system? The tragedy of sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem that will go away once the guilty priests are punished.

Christine Mejia
Rock Hill
I suspect that this Letter to the Editor will be the extent of the Post's reporting because, it seems, facts tend to get in the way when it comes to reports on the Catholic Church.


Vatican backs Archbishop Burke on St. Stanislaus

A ruling from Rome has dealt a blow to parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka church in a dispute with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis over control of the church, its property and its purse strings.

The Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican office that handles parish matters, rejected a petition from parishioners seeking to retain control of the St. Louis church.

"It's devastating for us," said Roger Krasnicki, a spokesman for St. Stanislaus. "We had hoped there would be a more conciliatory approach to this."

Krasnicki called the decree "hogwash" but said there was little recourse left within canon law and said a suit under civil law was not an option. Nonetheless, the battle is not over, he said.

"We're not ready to cave in to the archdiocese on this," he said. "We have to sit down and decide what our options are."
They appealed to the Vatican but the Vatican's ruling is "hogwash"...One wonders why the appeal was submitted if a negative ruling was to be rejected. It's time for those who claim to be Catholic and represent St. Stanislaus demonstrate humility and repentance for the situation they have caused and practice obedience to the Church and hierarchy of which they claim to belong. Their childish antics have gone on far too long.


Maintaining the Status Quo at the USCCB

Apparently not eager to break with 'tradition' in electing a new conference president, 52% of the bishops chose Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, WA, over others in the first round of voting. It took three votes to choose the VP.

The sad part of this is that Archbishop Chaput garnered a mere 6 votes in the first round of balloting for the president's position.

Clerics decide upon Gregory's successor

Dec 5 - An Open House at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

On December 5, 2004, from 2:00pm -5:00pm, Meet the priests of tomorrow today!

Tours will be given during this time.

o Refreshments will be served
o Explore the Seminary grounds
o Meet your future priests
o Find out more about Seminary Life
o Take a guided tour with your family

Please join the seminarians later in the evening for the Christmas Novena at 7:30pm.

For more information, call 314-792-6100.

Deeper and deeper into the abyss...

The phrase "Man and Woman" doesn't really mean male and female in the Nazareth of Jesus' life anymore...
The Nazareth District Court ruled 2-1 yesterday that Israel is required to recognize inheritance rights between homosexual couples....the judges said the phrase "man and woman" does not mean "not a man and a man" or "not a woman and a woman," but rather "a couple who is not married."
Words no longer mean anything - the destruction of culture goes hand-in-hand with the destruction of language. Reality is whatever one wishes it to be...The truth is a lie, lies are the truth...Light is darkness, virtue is vice, good is evil, and so on and on and utter and complete destruction. The learned and 'enlightened' judges have become complete fools, deceived by their own confused minds.


Pressure Against Specter Continues to Build: Opponents Not Letting Up

Pressure to keep Senator Arlen Specter out of the Chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee is beginning to have an effect.

Last week, Specter, after making weak assurances of impartiality, was embarrassed again when newspaper interviews and a fundraising letter he had written in 1995 showed him to be an active promoter of abortion and the anti-Christian movement in the US government.

Chris Slattery, a pro-life leader from New York who is helping to organize the protest said, "The lives of many millions of unborn children are in the hands of future Supreme Court justices. Sen. Specter 'Borked' Judge Robert Bork and now all judicial conservatives are in his sights. He must not become chairman or our children are in peril."

To Contact Senator Frist:
Office of Senator Bill Frist
461 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-228-1264 (fax)
LifeSite article here.

Gospel for Tuesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Gospel From: Luke 19:1-10
The Conversion of Zacchaeus
[1] He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through. [2] And there was a rich man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. [3] And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." [6] So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." [9] And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost."
1-10. Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind; He has healed many sick people, has raised the dead to life and, particularly, has brought forgiveness of sin and the gift of grace to those who approach Him in faith. As in the case of the sinful woman (cf. Luke 7:36-50), here He brings salvation to Zacchaeus, for the mission of the Son of Man is to save that which was lost.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector and, as such, was hated by the people, because the tax collectors were collaborators of the Roman authorities and were often guilty of abuses. The Gospel implies that this man also had things to seek forgiveness for (cf. verses 7-10). Certainly he was very keen to see Jesus (no doubt moved by grace) and he did everything he could to do so. Jesus rewards his efforts by staying as a guest in his house. Moved by our Lord's presence Zacchaeus begins to lead a new life.

The crowd begin to grumble against Jesus for showing affection to a man they consider to be an evildoer. Our Lord makes no excuses for his behavior: He explains that this is exactly why He has come--to seek out sinners. He is putting into practice the parable of the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-7), which was already prophesied in Ezekiel: "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak" (34:16).

4. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus, and to do so he has to go out and mix with the crowd. Like the blind man of Jericho he has to shed any kind of human respect. In our own search for God we should not let false shame or fear of ridicule prevent us from using the resources available to us to meet our Lord. "Convince yourself that there is no such thing as ridicule for whoever is doing what is best" ([Blessed] J. Escriva, "The Way", 392).

5-6. This is a very good example of the way God acts to save men. Jesus calls Zacchaeus personally, using his name, suggesting he invite Him home. The Gospel states that Zacchaeus does so promptly and joyfully. This is how we should respond when God calls us by means of grace.

8. Responding immediately to grace, Zacchaeus makes it known that he will restore fourfold anything he obtained unjustly--thereby going beyond what is laid down in the Law of Moses (cf. Exodus 21:37f). And in generous compensation he gives half his wealth to the poor. "Let the rich learn", St. Ambrose comments, "that evil does not consist in having wealth, but in not putting it to good use; for just as riches are an obstacle to evil people, they are also a means of virtue for good people" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc."). Cf. note on Luke 16:9-11).

10. Jesus' ardent desire to seek out a sinner to save him fills us with hope of attaining eternal salvation. "He chooses a chief tax collector: who can despair when such a man obtains grace?" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Reading for Tuesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Reading From: Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
Letter to the Church of Sardis
[1] "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead. [2] Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. [3] Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. [4] Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. [5] He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. [6] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

Letter to the Church of Laodicea
[14] "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. [15] "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! [16] So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. [17] For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. [18] Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. [19] Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. [21] He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"
1. Sardis, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south-east of Thyatira, was an important hub in the highway system; it was also famous for its acropolis, which was located in an unassailable position. Herodotus describes its inhabitants as immoral, licentious people (cf. "History", 1, 55). The Christians of the city were probably somewhat infected by the general atmosphere.

Christ is now depicted as possessing the fullness of the Spirit, with the power to effect radical change by sanctifying the churches from within (cf. note on 1:4). He is also portrayed as the sovereign Lord of the universal Church (cf. note on 2:1), ever ready to imbue it with new life.

The church of Sardis is accused of seeming to be alive but in fact being dead: in other words, although its external practice of religion makes it look Christian, most of its members (not all: cf. v. 4) are estranged from Christ, devoid of interior life, in a sinful condition. Anyone who lives like that is dead. Our Lord himself described the situation of the prodigal son as being a kind of death: "my son was dead, and is alive again", the father exclaims in the parable (Lk 15: 24); and St Paul invites Christians to offer themselves to God "as men who have been brought from death to life" (Rom 6:13). Now, in this passage of Revelation, we are told that the cause of this spiritual, but real, death is the fact that the works of this church are imperfect in the sight of God (v. 2); they were works which led to spiritual death, that is, what we would term mortal sins. "With the whole tradition of the Church", John Paul II says, "we call 'mortal sin' the act by which man freely and consciously rejects God, his law, the covenant of love that God offers, preferring to turn in on himself or to some created and finite reality, something contrary to the divine will ("conversio ad creaturam") [...]. Man perceives that this disobedience to God destroys the bond that unites him with his life-principle: it is a mortal sin, that is, an act which gravely offends God and ends in turning against man himself with a dark and powerful force of destruction" ("Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia", 17).

2-3. Vigilance is always necessary, particularly in certain situations like that of Sardis where there was a number of people who had not fallen victim to sin. In this kind of peril, Christians need to be alerted and confirmed in the faith. They need to remember what they learned at the beginning, when they were instructed in the faith, and try to bring their lives into line with that teaching. And so they are not simply exhorted to conversion but told how to go about it--by comparing their lives with the Word of God and making the necessary changes: "no one is safe if he ceases to strive against himself. Nobody can save himself by his own efforts. Everyone in the Church needs specific means to strengthen himself--humility, which disposes us to accept help and advice; mortifications, which temper the heart and allow Christ to reign in it; the study of abiding, sound doctrine, which leads us to conserve and spread our faith" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 81).

"I will come like a thief": an image also found elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. Mt 24:42-51, Mk 13:36; Lk 12:39ff; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3: 10). This does not mean that our Lord is lying in wait, ready to pounce on man when he is unawares, like a hunter waiting for his prey. It is simply a warning to us to live in the grace of God and be ready to render our account to him. If we do that we will not run the risk of being found empty-handed at the moment of death. "That day will come for us. It will be our last day, but we are not afraid of it. Trusting firmly in God's grace, we are ready from this very moment to be generous and courageous, and take loving care of little things: we are ready to go and meet our Lord, with our lamps burning brightly. For the feast of feasts awaits us in heaven" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 40).

4-5. Despite the corrupt environment in which they were living, there were some Christians who had not been contaminated by the immoral cults and lifestyles of the pagans: their loyalty is symbolized by white garments. In the course of narrating his visions St John mentions white garments a number of times (cf. 7:9, 13; 15:6; 19:14); this color symbolizes purity and also the joy of victory.

The symbol of the "book of life", which occurs often in the Apocalypse (cf. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; etc.), is taken from the Old Testament, where those who belong to the people of Israel are described as enrolled in the "book of the living", which is also referred to as the book of the Lord (cf. Ps 69:28; Ex 32:32ff). Those whose names are in the book will share in the promises of salvation (cf. Is 4:3), whereas those who are unfaithful to the Law will be excluded from the people of God and their names blotted out of the "book of the living". Other New Testament texts use the same image (cf., e.g., Lk 10:20; Phil 4:3).

The names of the victors will stay in the "book of life" which lists those who have proved loyal to Christ, as well as those who belonged to the people of Israel.

Finally, on Judgment Day, those Christians who have kept the faith, will be spoken for by Christ (cf. Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8).

14. Laodicea was a city on the border of Phrygia, about 75 kilometers (45 miles) south-west of Philadelphia. It is also mentioned by St Paul when he suggests to the Colossians that they exchange his letter to them for the one he sent the Laodiceans (cf. Col 4:16).

Jesus Christ is given the title of "the Amen"; a similar description is applied to Christ in 2 Corinthians 1:20. Both texts are instances of a divine name being applied to Christ, thereby asserting his divinity. "Amen", so be it, is an assertion of truth and veracity and connects with the title of "the true one" in the previous letter. It highlights the fact that our Lord is strong, dependable and unchangeable; the words that follow, "faithful and true witness", spell out the full meaning of the "Amen" title (cf. 1:5).

The most satisfactory interpretation of the phrase "the beginning of God's creation" is in terms of Jesus Christ's role in creation: for "all things were made through him" (Jn 1:3) and therefore he, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is the Creator of heaven and earth.

15-16. The prosperity Laodicea enjoyed may have contributed to the laxity and lukewarmness the church is accused of here (Israel tended to take the same direction when living was easy: the people would become forgetful of Yahweh and adopt an easy-going lifestyle: cf., e.g., Deut 31:20; 32:15; Hos 13:6; Jer 5:7).

The presence of hot springs close to the city explains the language used in this passage, which amounts to a severe indictment of lukewarmness. It shows God's repugnance for mediocrity and bourgeois living. As observed by Cassian, one of the founders of Western monasticism, lukewarmness is something that needs to be nipped in the bud: "No one should attribute his going astray to any sudden collapse, but rather [...] to his having moved away from virtue little by little, through prolonged mental laziness. That is the way bad habits gain round without one's even noticing it, and eventually lead to a sudden collapse. 'Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall' (Prov 16:18). The same thing happens with a house: it collapses one fine day due to some ancient defect in its foundation or long neglect by the occupiers" ("Collationes", VI, 17).

Spiritual lukewarmness and mediocrity are very closely related: neither is the route Christian life should take. As Monsignor Escriva puts it, "'In medio virtus'.... Virtue is to be found in the middle, so the saying goes, warning us against extremism. But do not make the mistake of turning that advice into a euphemism to disguise your own comfort, calculation, lukewarmness, easygoingness, lack of idealism and mediocrity.

"Meditate on these words of Sacred Scripture: 'Would that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth"' ("Furrow", 541).

17-19. The Christians of Laodicea did not realize how precarious their spiritual situation was. The city's flourishing trade and industry, and the fact that the church was not being persecuted in any way, made them feel prosperous and content: they were proud as well as lukewarm. They had fallen victim to that self-conceit the wealthy are always inclined to feel and which moved our Lord to say that rich people enter heaven only with difficulty (cf. Mt 19:23); he often pointed to the dangers of becoming attached to material things (cf. Lk 1:53; 6:24; 12:21; 16:19-31; 18:23-25). The Laodiceans had become proud in their prosperity and did not see the need for divine grace (which is worth more than all the wealth in the world). As St Paul says in one of his letters: "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:7-8).

There was an important textile industry in Laodicea which specialized in the manufacture of black woolen cloth. Instead of wearing that material, the Laodiceans must dress in garments which only our Lord can provide and which are the mark of the elect (cf., e.g., Mt 17:2 and par; Rev 3:4-5; 7:9). The city was also famous for its oculists, like Zeuxis and Philetos, who had developed a very effective ointment for the eyes. Jesus offers an even better ointment--one which will show them the dangerous state they are in. This dire warning comes from God's love, not his anger: it is his affection that leads him to reprove and correct his people: 'the Lord reproves whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Prov 3:12). After quoting these same words the Epistle to the Hebrews adds: "It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons" (12:7-8).

"Be zealous": stop being lukewarm and enter the fervor of charity, have an ardent zeal for the glory of God.

20-21. Christ knocking on the door is one of the most touching images in the Bible. It is reminiscent of the Song of Songs, where the bridegroom says, "Open to me, my sister, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the might" (Song 5: 2). It is a way of describing God's love for us, inviting us to greater intimacy with him, as happens in a thousand ways in the course of our life. We should be listening for his knock, ready to open the door to Christ. A writer from the Golden Age of Spanish literature evokes this scene in poetry: "How many times the angel spoke to me:/'Look out of your window now,/you'll see how lovingly he calls and calls.'/ Yet, sovereign beauty, how often/I replied, 'We'll open for you tomorrow',/ to reply the same when the morrow came" (Lope de Vega, "Rimas Sacras", Sonnet 18).

Our Lord awaits our response to his call, and when we make the effort to revive our interior life we experience the indescribable joy of intimacy with him. "At first it will be a bit difficult. You must make an effort to seek out the Lord, to thank him for his fatherly and practical concern for us. Although it is not really a matter of feeling, little by little the love of God makes itself felt like a rustle in the soul. It is Christ who pursues us lovingly: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock' (Rev 3:20). How is your life of prayer going? At times during the day don't you feel the impulse to have a longer talk with him? Don't you then whisper to him that you will tell him about it later, in a heart-to-heart conversation [...]. Prayer then becomes continuous, like the beating of our heart, like our pulse. Without this presence of God, there is no contemplative life; and without contemplative life, our working for Christ is worth very little, for vain is the builder's toil if the house is not of the Lord's building (cf. Ps 126:1)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 8).

Jesus promises that those who conquer will sit beside him on his throne. He gave a similar promise to St Peter about how the Apostles would sit on twelve thrones to Judge the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Mt 19:28; 20:20ff). The "throne" is a reference to the sovereign authority Christ has received from the Father. Therefore, the promise of a seat beside him is a way of saying that those who stay faithful will share in Christ's victory and kingship (cf. 1 Cor 6:2-3).