Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dr. Ed Peters Comments on the Following...

Admitting children of same-sex couples to Catholic elementary schools: thinking beyond the clichés

A Special Canon Law Blog
Opinion / Analysis

As the moral fabric of Western society continues to unravel, novel problems such as those facing parents, teachers, and Church officials in the Diocese of Orange—namely, how Catholic schools should handle requests to admit children of same-sex couples—will continue to arise. Moreover, as the pace of social disintegration quickens, these new problems will be both more numerous and more complex. Just ten years ago, did parents paying for their children to attend a Catholic kindergarten really have to worry about explaining (assuming it is explainable) to their own youngsters why some of their classmates have two mommies or two daddies?
. . .
What I am suggesting is simply this: The issues raised by admitting into Catholic grade schools children from same-sex households are much deeper than implied by the statements offered so far in favor of or in opposition to such admission. Catholic schools are dogged by the impression that they are basically refuges for the rich fleeing failed public education. I think that view is unfair, but when parental contempt for the fundamental goals of Catholic education is so flagrant, how do Church officials escape the charge that one’s willingness to pay tuition is more important than one’s own willingness to live by and cooperate in the transmission of the vital values being taught? Certainly a Catholic child’s right to a Catholic education is of great importance (1983 CIC 217, 229, 793-795). But since when does this particular right become the prime directive before which all other considerations yield (1983 CIC 223)?
Full article here.

Heated Debate Over Fate of St. Stanislaus

This was emailed to me by a parishioner of St. Stanislaus. I have posted it here since Fox2News does not archive its reports.

The heated debate over the fate of St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church took center stage on FOX 2 News in the Morning. Both sides joined us for a spirited debate over who should control the church and it's money the Archdioscese as Canon Law dictates or a lay board which has been doing so for years.

St. Stanislaus Spokesman Roger Krasnicki (pictured left): "The Archdiocese has continually attacked us. They took away our priests. They took away the Sacraments. People can't get baptized, they can't get married, and they can't have the Eucharist...the center of our faith. And the Archbishop is standing there with the Eucharist in his hand and he's saying to us 'You can have this. All you need to do is give me your property and your money.' What he's doing is exactly what the devil did to Jesus in the desert after the forty days of fasting. The devil came up to Jesus with a loaf of bread and said 'you can have this if you only worship me', and that's exactly what's happening in this case."

Archdiocese Spokesman Jamie Allman (pictured right): "Comparing the Archbishop to the devil is beyond the realm of comprehension here. This is an example of how these individuals, who previously were considered to be honorable individuals, would go out and accuse the Archbishop. Comparing him to the devil is beyond me."

Krasnicki: "Are you calling me a dishonorable person?"

Allman: "It is an example of how you all are not dealing with the Archdiocese in good faith."

In a letter this week, Archbishop Burke said the board members have until February 4th to hand over control or the members could be censured and not be able to participate in the liturgy or Sacraments of the Catholic church. A church spokesman says the Archbishop hasn't even made a threat that strong to pedophile priests.
I wish I would have known this was on - I would have taped it. Surely, one can see through the deceptive language in this:
"The Archdiocese has continually attacked us. They took away our priests. They took away the Sacraments. People can't get baptized, they can't get married, and they can't have the Eucharist..."
Archbishop Burke arranged for Holy Mass and the Sacraments at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Parish. Why does Mr. Krasnicki persist in not telling the truth? Are the people from St Stanislaus who attend Mass at St John's denied Holy Communion?

(Picture by Mark Kempf - from the St. Louis Review)
[ARCHBISHOP RAYMOND L. BURKE meets Jan. 2 with those who had attended the 9 a.m. Mass in Polish at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Parish in Downtown St. Louis. The archbishop used an interpreter to deliver his homily to the faithful, most of whom are Polish immigrants who have attended the weekly Polish-language Mass at St. John since the Polish apostolate was transferred there last summer from nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish.]

Thursday night, for example, Richard? Bach, a spokesman for St. Stanislaus, was on 97.1 Talk FM radio and he was given free reign to distort facts as they have been presented by Archbishop Burke and free reign to distort Catholic teaching regarding conscience and obedience. I called in to inform him that he was mistaken regarding his understanding of obedience but was unable to drive, talk, shift and listen - and I was in a bad cell besides...Many of the callers, it seemed, were siding with the St. Stanislaus board, who seems to have been eager to get as much publicity as possible from this incident which the board alone has created - based upon the history probvide by the Archbishop and others.

One only has to recall some of the details of the confidential letter Archbishop Burke sent to them which, somehow, was quoted in a recent story by the Post Dispatch...What was the purpose of revealing all or part of a confidential letter if not for eliciting sympathy or presenting oneself as a "victim"?

Archbishop Burke Seeks Unified St. Stanislaus Parish

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is asking members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish to tell the parish’s board of directors of their desire that the parish be fully Catholic — following the model of all the parishes of the archdiocese.

The archbishop recently wrote a letter to parishioners of St. Stanislaus regarding their decisions on the future of the parish. He also addressed the matter in his homily at a Mass for Polish immigrants at St. John Apostle and Evangelist Church Downtown.

The archbishop told the Review Jan. 5 that he’d written a confidential letter to the board of directors of St. Stanislaus discussing possible disciplinary action.

"I’m under an obligation to do what the Congregation for the Clergy (in the Vatican) has instructed me to do, plus I have an obligation to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus. I had no choice but to apply some discipline in the matter," the archbishop said.

He said the imposition of an interdict is considered more "medicinal" than "punitive."

In the interview and in his letter, Archbishop Burke said he will take three steps to assure parishioners of his commitment. The steps are to place all assets of the parish in an irrevocable charitable trust, enforceable by the state attorney general; establish an endowment fund within the trust to ensure the maintenance of parish property; and conduct an independent public audit to provide assurance of responsible financial management.
Full story at the St. Louis Review.

Gospel for Saturday after Epiphany

From: John 3:22-30

John Again Bears Witness

[22] After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized. [23] John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized. [24] For John had not yet been put in prison.

[25] Now a discussion arose between John's disciples and a Jew over purifying. [26] And they came to John, and said to him, Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him." [27] John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. [28] You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. [29] He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. [30] He must increase, but I must decrease.

22-24. A little later on (Jn 4:2) the evangelist makes it clear that it was not Jesus himself who baptized, but his disciples Our Lord probably wanted them from the very beginning to get practice in exhorting people to conversion. The rite referred to here was not yet Christian Baptism--which only began after the resurrection of Christ (cf. Jn 7:39; 16:7; Mt 28:19)--but "both baptisms, that of St John the Baptist and that of our Lord's disciples [...], had a single purpose--to bring the baptized to Christ [...] and prepare the way for future faith" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 29, 1).

The Gospel gives the exact time and place of this episode. Aenon is an Aramaic word meaning "wells". Salim was situated to the north-east of Samaria, south of the town of Scythopolis or Beisan, near the western bank of the Jordan, about twenty kilometers (thirteen miles) to the south of the Lake of Gennesaret.

The Gospel notes that "John had not yet been put in prison" (v. 24), thus rounding out the information given by the Synoptics (Mt 4:12; Mk 1:14). We know, therefore, that Jesus' public ministry began when John the Baptist's mission was still going on, and, particularly, that there was no competition of any kind between them; on the contrary, the Baptist, who was preparing the way of the Lord, had the joy of actually seeing his own disciples follow Jesus (cf. Jn 1:37).

27-29. John the Baptist is speaking in a symbolic way here, after the style of the prophets; our Lord himself does the same thing. The bridegroom is Jesus Christ. From other passages in the New Testament we know that the Church is described as the Bride (cf. Eph 5:24-32; Rev 19:7-9). This symbol of the wedding expresses the way Christ unites the Church to himself, and the way the Church is hallowed and shaped in God's own life. The Baptist rejoices to see that the Messiah has already begun his public ministry, and he recognizes the infinite distance between his position and that of Christ: his joy is full because he sees Jesus calling people and them following him.

"The friend of the bridegroom", according to Jewish custom, refers to the man who used to accompany the bridegroom at the start of the wedding and play a formal part in the wedding celebration--the best man. Obviously, as the Baptist says, there is a great difference between him and the bridegroom, who occupies the center of the stage.

30. The Baptist knew his mission was one of preparing the way of the Lord; he was to fade into the background once the Messiah arrived, which he did faithfully and humbly. In the same way, a Christian, when engaged in apostolate, should try to keep out of the limelight and allow Christ to seek men out; he should be always emptying himself, to allow Christ fill his life. "It is necessary for Christ to grow in you, for you to progress in your knowledge and love of him: for, the more you know him and love him, the more he grows in you. [...] Therefore, people who advance in this way need to have less self-esteem, because the more a person discovers God's greatness the less importance he gives to his own human condition" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St John, in loc.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

May the priest or the deacon change the words at Mass?

The answer comes to us from Father Thomas Keller, who is archdiocesan master of ceremonies and associate director at the archdiocesan Office of Worship.
Sometimes. The liturgical texts direct us to true active participation where we offer ourselves with Christ on the altar of the cross in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. Many of these prayers have nourished saints and sinners for nearly two millennia. Some have emerged from the collective wisdom of the Church in the modern world. All of them belong to the people in the pews.

All liturgical texts may be divided into two kinds. The first kind is where the Roman Missal (Sacramentary) offers the option "in these or in similar words." Here, the sacred minister may vary the texts to help direct the assembly to greater participation.

The other texts in the Missal may not be changed. The Second Vatican Council’s "Constitution on Sacred Liturgy" offers this general norm: "(N)o other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority" (No. 22.3).

The regulation of the liturgy belongs solely to the Holy See and where the law determines, the local bishop.

Also, the new instruction on the liturgy, "Sacrament of Redemption," insists on adherence to the proper texts: "The reprobated practice by which priests, deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy" (No. 59).

It is an abuse of power to change the words for novelty, to distort theology or even to increase one’s own popularity. In doing so, the assembly is robbed of its right to fully participate. The prayers are deprived of their power; instead the power resides in the one who alters them.
Now if only this were put into practice...


Friday, January 07, 2005

Archbishop Burke Discusses "Vocation and Vocations"

On this coming Jan. 9 to 15, we will observe National Vocation Awareness Week. Beginning with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, Jan. 9, the annual celebration gives us many helps in considering our share in Christ’s vocation and mission for the salvation of the world, which was revealed to the world at His baptism in the Jordan by John.

We are called to follow Christ in holiness of life. This is our vocation. We are called to follow Christ as a married person, a dedicated single person, a consecrated person or an ordained priest. These are the vocations by which we respond to the universal vocation to holiness of life.

We say in the Church that our vocation is our way to salvation, and it is true. It is through our vocation that we most fully express our life in Christ and realize our share in His mission of salvation. We are called to life in Christ, so that, when we reach adulthood, we may give our lives in response to God’s call. Therefore, it is important that children and young people pray each day to know their vocation in life, and that those of us, who have already responded to God’s call by embracing our vocation, pray each day for the virtues of fidelity and generosity in living our vocation.

Because of the importance of National Vocation Awareness Week for the Church and because prayer is the foundation of the apostolate of vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life, I urge you to set aside special time for prayer for vocations during National Vocation Awareness Week, making time for prayer for vocations a part of your daily living. Please pray that the young men and women whom God is calling to the priesthood and consecrated life will respond faithfully and generously to God’s call. (Emphasis added)
Complete article here.

Meeting Series at St Joseph-Cottleville

Speaker-discussion series

The public is invited to a speaker-discussion series based on universal social teachings in the administration building at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Motherhead Road, Cottleville.

The first gathering will begin with an overview at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Monthly themes will be: Life and Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family, Community and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable; the Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers; Solidarity and [Subsidarity] and Care for God's Creation.

Participants can attend any or all of the sessions. Information: Sandy Garrett at 636-300-1515 or e-mail Walt Gemmer at
Taken from the Post Dispatch.

Archdiocese of New York Reviews Selling Property

Officials of the Archdiocese of New York, one of the city's largest property owners, expect to sell off a significant number of church buildings, schools, and charitable facilities in the next year, to compensate for shifts in Catholic population concentrations, a church spokesman said yesterday.

A report on two mosques in Baghdad and the elections

Countdown to Voting in Iraq: The Mosques Are Clashing, Too
by Sandro Magiste

The Shiite mosques preach in favor of peaceful elections. Some of the Sunni ones are preaching against them, and justifying the bombings.

The Holy See has repeatedly encouraged the birth of a democratic Iraq: it did so most explicitly last November 4, when it received at the Vatican the head of Baghdad's provisional government, Iyad Allawi. the voting draws near, Iraqi Muslims are profoundly divided.

And there is one principal arena in which this division is being expressed: the mosques.

But the point is, there's preaching and then there's preaching. On the same Friday in Baghdad, one can hear two diametrically opposed sermons about the imminent elections.

The Baratha mosque, for example, which belongs to the Shiite Muslims, is decisively in favor of the vote. The Um al-Qura mosque, which is Sunni, is against it.
Full story here

Bishop Listecki brings new perspective

...some needs, [Bishop] Listecki said, remain common to all Catholics.

"When I assume the leadership role, I will do an assessment of the particular needs of the diocese," he said. "There's always a need for all Catholics to support the dignity of life. ... Given the fact that we have new technologies, resources, given the fact that we have the ability to privatize so many things, respect for the dignity of human life is crucial."

Although his predecessor didn't back down when it came to certain hot-button issues, Listecki said that as of now, he doesn't know if he would change any of Burke's decisions.

"Bishop Burke was, always in my mind, a person who was thorough and very spiritual and very pastoral," he said. "That's not a person I would see as controversial or rash. ... (But) until I meet or confront those issues, I couldn't give you a definite answer."

The Bishops are Back

[I]t turned out that in 2004, the American bishops played a decisive role in turning the presidential candidacy of Sen. John Kerry into a teaching moment about Catholics in public life. It was no mean accomplishment.

The challenge to pro-abortion politicians emerged on the national scene as the result of Archbishop Raymond Burke’s decision to bar certain politicians from receiving holy Communion just before he moved from La Crosse to St. Louis. Within days, the relevant documents from La Crosse were readily available on websites, and bishops all over the country were being asked whether they agreed or disagreed.

A national debate no longer requires national institutions to take the initiative. Neither the major media nor the bishops’ conference had the abortion/Communion question on the agenda at the end of 2003. That an individual bishop can break into the national conversation this way is an encouraging development — especially for those bishops who face unfriendly mainstream media on the local scene.
Excerpts from an editorial in the National Catholic Register by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza.

Gospel for Friday after Epiphany

From: Luke 5:12-16

The Cure of a Leper

[12] While he (Jesus) was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." [13] And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. [14] And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." [15] But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. [16] But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

12. The words of the leper are a model prayer. First, they show his faith. "He did not say, 'If you ask God for it...', but 'If you will"' (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St Matthew", 25). He rounds this off by saying, "You can"--an open confession of Christ's omnipotence. The psalmist expressed this same faith: "Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in the deep" (Ps 135:6). Along with this faith he shows confidence in God's mercy. "God is merciful; there is no need therefore to ask him; all we have to do is show him our need" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St Matthew", 8, 1). And St John Chrysostom concludes: "Prayer is perfect when it is joined to faith and confession; the leper showed his faith and confessed his need out loud" ("Hom. on St Matthew", 25).

"'Domine!--Lord--"si vis, potes me mundare"--if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.' What a beautiful prayer for you to say often, with the faith of the poor leper, when there happens to you what God and you and I know! You will not have to wait long to hear the Master's reply: '"Volo, mundare!" I will: be thou made clean!"' ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 142).

13. Jesus listens to the leper's petition and cures him of his disease. All of us suffer from spiritual ailments and our Lord is waiting for us to approach him: "He is our physician, and he heals our selfishness if we let his grace penetrate to the depths of our soul. Jesus has taught us that the worst sickness is hypocrisy, the pride that leads us to hide our own sins. We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and then we have to say, 'Lord, if you will'--and you are always willing--'you can make me clean' (Mt 8:2). You know my weaknesses; I feel these symptoms; I suffer these failings. We show him the wound, with simplicity, and if the wound is festering, we show the pus too. Lord, you have cured so many souls; help me to recognize you as the divine physician when I have you in my heart or when I contemplate your presence in the tabernacle" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 93).

16. The Third Gospel frequently draws attention to Jesus going off, alone, to pray (cf. 6:12; 9:18; 11:1). By doing this Jesus teaches us the need for personal prayer in all the various situations in which we find ourselves.

"Forgive me if I insist, but it is very important to note carefully what the Messiah did, because he came to show us the path that leads to the Father. With our Lord we will discover how to give a supernatural dimension to all our actions, even those that seem least important. We will learn to live every moment of our lives with a lively awareness of eternity, and we will understand more deeply man's need for periods of intimate conversation with his God, so as to get to know him, to invoke him, to praise him, to break out into acts of thanksgiving, to listen to him or, quite simply, to be with him" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 239).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ignorance Displayed in Post's Letters re:St Stanislaus

It's unfortunate that the Post has not, to my knowledge, printed a complete background of the St. Stanislaus issue so that their readers might be able to come to intelligent and well reasoned understandings of the situation. Perhaps, it makes better copy to keep fanning the flames, so to speak. As a result of the this, the Post prints a couple letters which demonstrate a severely deficient understanding of the issue:
The archbishop should apologize

Archbishop Raymond Burke should repent of his recent behavior toward the board of St. Stanislaus Church, admit his errors and apologize to the board and to the archdiocese. His actions regarding the good, harmless people of the parish and his interdict against the board are nothing more than bare-knuckles brawling for control.

It is a scandal for a representative of Jesus Christ, who preached a message of mercy, humility and peace, not canon law.

And Burke needs to find a new spokesman. Jamie Allman's comments are not conciliatory, but inflammatory.

Kevin McGrane
And then there is this:
The archbishop's spokesman, Jamie Allman, speaking of the penalty threatened against the St. Stanislaus board, said: "It might be rare, but it's even rarer for a board of directors to hijack a Catholic church." Give me a break!

If it weren't for the board of St. Stanislaus and like-minded parishioners, there wouldn't even be a church left to hijack.

It seems to me the only hijacking attempt here is from the archdiocese wanting the $9 million in parish assets.

An interdiction is probably a blessing. Who really wants to belong to an organization that protects pedophiles and persecutes good men?

Becky Elfrink

Bishop Olmsted takes firm hold of diocese

Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who just marked his first year as head of the 500,000-member Diocese of Phoenix, has become known for his conservative, orthodox ways and his willingness to confront aspects of American culture he views as anti-religious.

Olmsted is sending Valley Catholics strong messages about homosexuality and abortion and implementing stricter church rules governing the Mass, aimed at restoring reverence to the service.

Olmsted's appointment ... continued a trend in bishop appointments of relatively conservative, highly orthodox priests, many with experience working in the Vatican.
And for this, we should be ever grateful to the Holy Father, but especially to our Lord.
The Rev. Charles Goraieb, pastor of St. Henry, the Catholic church in Buckeye, said the bishop's "decisiveness" is "clear, not arbitrary, because it is based on church law and teaching."

The bishop, he said, exhibits "extraordinary pastoral charity."

"It is a wonder to watch him with people who disagree with him," Goraieb said. "He is kind, patient, so gentle and forbearing, but he doesn't give an inch."

"He holds his priests accountable. He also is uncompromising in his fidelity to the church," said the Rev. John Ehrich, associate pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix. "He is very present to his priests and communicates with us very well."
Phoenix is on a course of a genuine renewal of the faith due primarily, it seems, to having a true shepherd leading the faithful. Of course, fidelity causes problems for others:
Marta Pecuch, a Catholic who declines to give her parish affiliation, said, "There are many people who are unhappy with this bishop. I hope all their views are represented."

Another, Robert Blair Kaiser of Phoenix, an author and journalist who has focused his career on the Catholic Church, said the bishop, along with others throughout the United States, is trying to "widen the regrettable chasm between the clergy and the rest of us."

"(This effort is) driving more and more good Catholics from regular attendance at Mass," Kaiser said.

Tom Van Dyke, 53, who attends Our Lady of the Valley in Phoenix, said that although he applauds several of Olmsted's changes, the bishop seems to be "a theological policeman" who believes the role of the laity is to "pray, pay and obey."
Frankly, we would be much better off if more Catholics did pray and obey.

Also, how is it possible that a bishop who would promote fidelity to the teachings of the Church and demands the same from his priests "widens the regrettable chasm between the clergy and the rest of us?" The statement makes absolutely no sense because it is patently false - UNLESS - the "US" refers to those who claim to be Catholic while. at the same time, reject Church teaching.

The other statement about "more good Catholics" being driven from regular Mass attendance because of the bishop's efforts must also be viewed as a distortion of the truth. Good and faithful Catholics would not be driven from regular Sunday Mass by a faithful and determined bishop - A bishop (or priest for that matter) who exercises his duties with humility, charity, and fidelity, who speaks the truth in season and out of season, can only help draw more people to Christ. Only those "Catholics" who are opposed to the truth are driven away by faithful bishops and priests.

Bishop Olmsted says:
"My job requires different duties. I try to explain the teachings, apply them and at times defend them, and there will be times I have to speak strongly," he said. "But I also try to express my thoughts persuasively and with a reasoned explanation arising out of a rich intellectual heritage."

He said he is focused on church teaching, not his own, and that his role is more that of a servant than an authority.

"The work of the [C]hurch is Christ's work, and [H]e works through me," he explained.
Our good bishops and priests need our loving support and our prayers. Remember to pray for them daily as they fulfill they work for which they were called.

Article here.

Gospel for Thursday after Epiphany

From: Luke 4:14-22

Jesus Fasts and is Tempted in the Wilderness (Continuation)

[14] And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning Him went out through all the surrounding country. [15] And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Jesus Preaches in Nazareth

[16] And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the Sabbath Day. And He stood up to read; [17] and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, [18] "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, [19] to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." [20] And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. [21] And He began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. [22] And all spoke well of Him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"

16-30. For the Jews the Sabbath was a day of rest and prayer, as God commanded (Exodus 20:8-11). On that day they would gather together to be instructed in Sacred Scripture. At the beginning of this meeting they all recited the "Shema", a summary of the precepts of the Lord, and the "eighteen blessings". Then a passage was read from the Book of the Law--the Pentateuch--and another from the Prophets. The president invited one of those present who was well versed in the Scriptures to address the gathering. Sometimes someone would volunteer and request the honor of being allowed to give this address--as must have happened on this occasion. Jesus avails Himself of this opportunity to instruct the people (cf. Luke 4:16ff), as will His Apostles later on (cf. Acts 13:5, 14, 42, 44; 14:1; etc.). The Sabbath meeting concluded with the priestly blessing, recited by the president or by a priest if there was one present, to which the people answered "Amen" (cf. Numbers 6:22ff).

18-21. Jesus read the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 where the prophet announces the coming of the Lord, who will free His people of their afflictions. In Christ this prophecy finds its fulfillment, for He is the Anointed, the Messiah whom God has sent to His people in their tribulation. Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit for the mission the Father has entrusted to Him. "These phrases, according to Luke (verses 18-19), are His first messianic declaration. They are followed by the actions and words known through the Gospel. By these actions and words Christ makes the Father present among men" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

The promises proclaimed in verses 18 and 19 are the blessings God will send His people through the Messiah. According to Old Testament tradition and Jesus' own preaching (cf. note on Matthew 5:3), "the poor" refers not so much to a particular social condition as to a very religious attitude of indigence and humility towards God, which is to be found in those who, instead of relying on their possessions and merits, trust in God's goodness and mercy. Thus, preaching good news to the poor means bringing them the "good news" that God has taken pity on them. Similarly, the Redemption, the release, which the text mentions, is to be understood mainly in a spiritual, transcendental sense: Christ has come to free us from the blindness and oppression of sin, which, in the last analysis, is slavery imposed on us by the devil. "Captivity can be felt", St. John Chrysostom teaches in a commentary on Psalm 126, "when it proceeds from physical enemies, but the spiritual captivity referred to here is worse; sin exerts a more severe tyranny, evil takes control and blinds those who lend it obedience; from this spiritual prison Jesus Christ rescued us" ("Catena Aurea"). However, this passage is also in line with Jesus' special concern for those most in need. "Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 8).

18-19. The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent His Son into the world--to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. It is true that in the course of His public ministry Christ, in His mercy, worked many cures, cast out devils, etc. But He did not cure all the sick people in the world, nor did He eliminate all forms of distress in this life, because pain, which entered the world through sin, has a permanent redemptive value when associated with the sufferings of Christ. Therefore, Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that He had a God-given mission to bring everyone to eternal salvation.

The Church carries on this mission of Christ: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). These simple and sublime words, which conclude the Gospel of St. Matthew, point out "the obligation to preach the truths of faith, the need for sacramental life, the promise of Christ's continual assistance to His Church. You cannot be faithful to our Lord if you neglect these supernatural demands--to receive instruction in Christian faith and morality and to frequent the Sacraments. It is with this mandate that Christ founded His Church [...]. And the Church can bring salvation to souls only if she remains faithful to Christ in her constitution and teaching, both dogmatic and moral.

"Let us reject, therefore, the suggestion that the Church, ignoring the Sermon on the Mount, seeks a purely human happiness on earth, since we know that her only task is to bring men to eternal glory in Heaven. Let us reject any purely naturalistic view that fails to value the supernatural role of divine grace. Let us reject materialistic opinions that exclude spiritual values from human life. Let us equally reject any secularizing theory which attempts to equate the aims of the Church with those of earthly states, distorting its essence, institutions and activities into something similar to those of temporal society" ([St] J. Escriva, "In Love with the Church", 23 and 31).

18. The Fathers of the Church see in this verse a reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity: the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) of the Lord (the Father) is upon Me (the Son); cf. Origen, "Homily 32". The Holy Spirit dwelt in Christ's soul from the very moment of the Incarnation and descended visibly upon Him in the form of a dove when He was baptized by John (cf. Luke 3:21-22).

"Because He has anointed Me": this is a reference to the anointing Jesus received at the moment of His Incarnation, principally through the grace of the hypostatic union. "This anointing of Jesus Christ was not an anointing of the body as in the case of the ancient kings, priests and prophets; rather it was entirely spiritual and divine, because the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him substantially" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 77). From this hypostatic union the fullness of all graces derives. To show this, Jesus Christ is said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit Himself--not just to have received the graces and gifts of the Spirit, like the saints.

19. "The acceptable year": this is a reference to the jubilee year of the Jews, which the Law of God (Leviticus 25:8) lays down as occurring every fifty years, symbolizing the era of redemption and liberation which the Messiah would usher in. The era inaugurated by Christ, the era of the New Law extending to the end of the world, is "the acceptable year", the time of mercy and redemption, which will be obtained definitively in Heaven.

The Catholic Church's custom of the "Holy Year" is also designed to proclaim and remind people of the redemption brought by Christ, and of the full form it will take in the future life.

20-22. Christ's words in verse 21 show us the authenticity with which He preached and explained the Scriptures: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus teaches that this prophecy, like the other main prophecies in the Old Testament, refers to Him and finds its fulfillment in Him (cf. Luke 24:44ff). Thus, the Old Testament can be rightly understood only in the light of the New - as the risen Christ showed the Apostles when He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (cf. Luke 24:45), an understanding which the Holy Spirit perfected on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:4).

22-29. At first the people of Nazareth listened readily to the wisdom of Jesus' words. But they were very superficial; in their narrow-minded pride they felt hurt that Jesus, their fellow-townsman, had not worked in Nazareth the wonders He had worked elsewhere. They presume they have a special entitlement and they insolently demand that He perform miracles to satisfy their vanity, not to change their hearts. In view of their attitude, Jesus performs no miracle (His normal response to lack of faith: cf., for example, His meeting with Herod in Luke 23:7-11); He actually reproaches them, using two examples taken from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17:9 and 2 Kings 5:14), which show that one needs to be well-disposed if miracles are to lead to faith. His attitude so wounds their pride that they are ready to kill Him. This whole episode is a good lesson about understanding Jesus. We can understand Him only if we are humble and are genuinely resolved to make ourselves available to Him.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Latin High Mass at St. Agatha Tomorrow Evening

I was informed today that A Latin High Mass will be celebrated by a priest from the Institute of Christ the King at St Agatha Church in St. Louis tomorrow evening at 7:00PM to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

To that end, then, I have include an excerpt on the Feast of the Epiphany from Fr. Leonard Goffine's "The Church's Year".
What festival is this?

This festival is set apart to solemnly commemorate the coming of the three wise men from the East, guided by a miraculous star which appeared to them, and directed them to Bethlehem, where they found Christ in the stable; here they honored and adored Him and offered gifts to Him.

Why is this day called Epiphqnid Domini, or Apparition of the Lord?

Because the Church wishes to bring before our mind the three great events in the life of Christ, when He made known to man His divinity: the coming of the wise men from the East, through whom He revealed Himself to the Gentiles as the Son of God; His baptism, on which occasion His Divinity was made known to the Jews, and His first miracle at the marriage of Cana, by which He revealed Himself to His disciples.

GOSPEL (Mt. 2:1-12).
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda; for so it is written by the prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda, for out of thee shall come forth the ruler that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother and falling down they adored him. And opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country.

What caused the three kings to undertake so tedious a journey?

A star which God permitted to appear in their land, at the sight of which they were inwardly enlightened, so that they at once recognized its signification. Let us learn from these kings who so readily responded to the inspiration of God, by immediately undertaking so difficult a journey, to follow without delay the promptings of divine grace, and from their zeal, and the fearlessness with which they asked Herod where the Messiah would be found, we should learn to seek and practice, without fear of men, whatever is necessary for our salvation.

Why did Herod fear, and all Jerusalem with him?

Because Herod, a proud, imperious, cruel, and therefore jealous king, was afraid, when he heard of a new-born king, that he would be deprived of his throne, and punished for his vices. A bad conscience is always ill at ease, and has no peace. There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord God (Is. 57:21). Jerusalem, that is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, feared because many of them were attached to Herod, and others, especially the chief priests and the scribes, feared they would be punished for their secret crimes, when the Messiah would come, of whom they knew that He shall judge the poor with justice, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked (Is. 11:4).

Why did Herod assemble the chief priests and the scribes?

Partly to find from them where the Messiah was to be born, partly and principally because God so directed it, that Herod and the chief priests, knowing the time and place of the Messiah's birth, would have no excuse for their infidelity. In the same way God often makes known to us, in the clearest manner the most wholesome truths, yet we heed them as little as did the Jews who had sufficient knowledge of the Messiah, indeed, even showed the way to the three kings, but made no use of it for themselves, and were therefore cast away.

Why did Herod say he wished to adore the child?

This he did out of wicked hypocrisy and dissimulation. He had no other intention than to put Jesus to death, and therefore affected piety to find out exactly the time and place of His birth. Thus do those murderers of souls who desire the fall of the innocent; they do not let their evil intentions be made known at once, and so they put on sheep's clothing, feign piety and devotion, until they creep into the heart from which, by flattery and irony about religion and virtue, and by presents, they expel shame, the fear of God, and thus murder the soul.

Why did the kings fall down and adore Christ?

Because by the light of faith they saw in the Infant at Bethlehem God Himself, and, notwithstanding the poverty of His surroundings, recognized in Him the expected Messiah, the new-born king of the Jews, and by prostrating themselves before Him paid Him the homage of their country.

Why did the kings offer gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Because it was the ancient Eastern custom, never to appear without presents before a prince or king, and the three kings, as the holy Fathers universally teach, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, desired by their presents to honor Christ as God, as king, and as man. Of this the venerable Bede writes: "The first of the kings, named Melchior, offered gold to Christ the Lord and king; the second, named Caspar, frankincense to the divinity of Christ; and the third, Balthassar, myrrh, by which was expressed that Christ, the Son of man, must die."

How can we bring similar offerings to Christ?

We offer gold to Him, when we love Him with our whole heart, and out of love to Him, present Him our will by perfect obedience and continual self-denial, as our will is our most precious treasure. We also offer Him gold when we assist the poor by alms given in His name. We offer Him frankincense when we devoutly and ardently pray to Him, especially when we meditate upon His omnipotence, love, goodness, justice and mercy. We offer Him myrrh when we avoid carnal desires, mortify our evil inclinations and passions, and strive for purity of body and soul.

Why did the kings return by another way to their own country?

This they did by command of God. From the example of the three wise men we should learn to obey God rather than man, that we must be obedient to His directions, even if we do not understand them; so the three kings obeyed, although they may not have understood why God commanded them to flee from Herod. After we have found God we should walk in the path of virtue, and not return to our old sinful ways. "Our fatherland is paradise, heaven," writes St. Gregory. "We have departed from it by pride, disobedience, abuse of the senses, therefore it is needed that we return to it by obedience, contempt of the world, and by taming the desires of the flesh; thus we return to our own country by another road. By forbidden pleasures we have forfeited the joys of paradise, by penance we must regain them."

Give me, O divine Savior, the faith of those East­ern kings. Enlighten my understanding with the light which en­lightened them, and move my heart, that I may in future follow this light, and sincerely seek Thee who hast first sought me. Grant also, that I may really find Thee, with the wise men may adore Thee in spirit and in truth, and bring to Thee the gold of love, the frankin­cense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification, that, having here offered Thee the sacrifice of my faith, I may adore Thee in Thy eternal glory. Amen.
Special thanks to Marc P. for informing me of this special Mass.

The Denial of Personhood to Justify Abortion & ESCR

Today, a letter in the Post Dispatch by a "professor" of historical theology attempts to justify embryonic stem cell research by using false arguments to deny that personhood begins at conception. He, wrongly, asserts that since St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, because they did not view a fetus as a person, it must therefore follow that it is permissible to destroy the fetus or the embryo. Evidently, the knowledge obtained in the intervening centuries must be of no importance. Amazingly, he does not mention the first century document, the Didache, which clearly and unambiguously forbids abortion by any means.
Avoiding the issue

Lawrence A. Weber's Jan. 1 letter, "Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of life," disingenuously avoids the real issue. No one disputes that stem cell research involves the "disaggregation of a human embryo."

The question is whether a human embryo, tiny in size, months from developing a central nervous system, and not implanted in a woman's womb, could be called a human person. Being alive with human DNA differs from being alive with the sentience required for human personhood.

The great weight of Western tradition, including Christian (and thus Catholic) thought, has recognized this. Not until the 17th century, when through faulty biology scientists thought fertilized eggs were fully developed but miniature creatures, did the "fetus as a person" argument develop. Neither Sts. Augustine (354-430) nor Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), for example, thought the fetus was a person until later in pregnancy. Augustine compared the early developing fetus to vegetation.

There is precious little scriptural, historical or theological reason to think that the embryonic human life "disaggregated" in stem cell research bears any connection to a human person being destroyed. Weber's arguments could use more clarity of thought and language and less self-righteous sarcasm.

John W. Riggs
Professor of Historical Theology
and Church History,
Eden Theological Seminary
Webster Groves
Perhaps, Mr. Riggs would be well served to read Dr. Peter Kreeft's excellent article, "Human Personhood Begins at Conception", which can be read here.

Jamie Allman Highlighted in Post Article

Former television reporter takes on new role with Archdiocese
Julie Randle
Of the Suburban Journals
Oakville-Mehlville Journal

The beginning of the new year marked a change in career positions for longtime television personality Jamie Allman.
I was not aware that Jamie is a recent convert to the faith. An interesting article here.

Millstadt's ‘Father Bernie' leaving

After about 30 years as a priest, the Rev. Bernard Goedde, pastor of St. James Catholic Church in Millstadt, is taking a sabbatical beginning next week.

This is good news for him—six months in sunny California at the Vatican II Institute for the Clergy in Menlo Park, Calif.—but not such good news for Millstadt.

When "Father Bernie" returns he will not be coming back to St. James, but will be reassigned elsewhere, perhaps to a smaller parish, St. James trustee, Rich Brune said.

Archbishop Burke Issues Ultimatum to St. Stanislaus Board

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has threatened to withhold the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church, including Communion, from board members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in a dispute over control of the church.

"I warn you that your refusal to comply with the legitimate directives of the Holy See and me, your Archbishop, carries with it, the punishment of 'interdict or other just penalties,'" wrote Burke in a letter to the board members. The archbishop set a date of Feb. 4 for the board to comply with his directives.
I think Archbishop Burke has been more than generous with his patience with this group. They continue to act like spoiled children who are upset because they are being called to obedience.
The penalty of interdict would be issued by Burke, not by the Vatican, but its effect for the board members would be in place throughout the Catholic world, not just in the archdiocese of St. Louis. If Burke issues the penalty, the board members would be given an opportunity to respond during what would amount to an appeal. It would also be lifted if any of those penalized were to repent.

"I consider it a badge of honor," said board member Robert Zabielski. "I'm sticking up for what is right. Pedophiles in this church are transferred from diocese to diocese while good, faithful people are excommunicated." Zabielski said he was not surprised to receive the letter. "It was only a matter of time before something like this came," he said.

Roger Krasnicki, a St. Stanislaus spokesman, called Burke's warning "a heinous act."

"Archbishop Burke has gone far beyond his authority," he said, "and he has abused his authority in executing an order like this."
A badge of honor? A heinous act? It's shameful language that these menu use.

These professed Catholic men are in for a rude awakening, I believe. A proud and arroganct person always becomes disobedient and this rejection of humility and obedience always ends in spiritual death. The scandal that the board members give to others is yet another source of sin. For the sake of money, many people have abandoned our Lord, just as Judas did. I fear that some at St. Stanislaus are intent on doing the same. Perhaps with prayer and God's grace, these people will avoid further rupturing any bonds with the Church that they still have.


Gospel, Jan 5, Memorial: St. John Neumann, Bishop

From: Mark 6:45-52

Jesus Walks on Water
[45] Immediately he (Jesus) made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. [46] And after he had taken leave of them, he went into the hills to pray. [47] And when evening came the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. [48] And he saw that they were distressed in rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, [49] but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; [50] for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." [51] And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, [52] for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

48. The Romans divided the night into four parts or watches, whose length varied depending on the season. St Mark (13:35) gives the popular names for these watches: evening, midnight, cockcrow, morning. Therefore, it is towards dawn that Jesus comes to the disciples.

He wishes to teach us that even when we are in very pressurized and difficult situations, he is nearby, ready to help us; but he expects us to make an effort, to strengthen our hope and temper our resolve (cf. note on Mt 14:24-33); as an early Greek commentator puts it: "The Lord allowed his disciples to enter danger to make them suffer, and he did not immediately come to their aid: he left them in peril for the whole night, to teach them to be patient and not to be accustomed to receiving immediate succor in tribulation" (Theophylact, "Enarratio In Evangelium Marci, in loc.").

52. The disciples do not yet see Jesus' miracles as signs of his divinity. They witness the multiplication of the loaves and the fish (Mk 6:33-44) and the second multiplication of the loaves (Mk 8:17), but their hearts and minds are still hardened; they fail to grasp the full import of what Jesus is teaching them through his actions--that he is the Son of God. Jesus is patient and understanding with their defects, even when they fail to grasp what he says when he speaks about his own passion (Lk 18:34). Our Lord will give them further miracles and further teaching to enlighten their minds, and, later, he will send the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and remind them of everything he said (cf. Jn 14:26).

St Bede the Venerable comments on this whole episode (Mk 6:45-52) in this way: "In a mystical sense, the disciples' effort to row against the wind point to the efforts the Holy Church must make against the waves of the enemy world and the outpourings of evil spirits in order to reach the haven of its heavenly home. It is rightly said that the boat was out on the sea and He alone on the land, because the Church has never been so intensely persecuted by the Gentiles that it seemed as if the Redeemer had abandoned it completely. But the Lord sees his disciples struggling, and to sustain them he looks at them compassionately and sometimes frees them from peril by clearly coming to their aid" ("In Marci Evangelium Expositio, 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.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Teens accused of priest's beating....But....

City police mum on possible motive
Two teenage boys were arrested Monday for allegedly beating a Catholic priest in a Springfield park two weeks ago.

Police, however, were tight-lipped on why they think Jamie E. Gibson, 17, and a 15-year-old boy attacked Monsignor Eugene E. Costa, 54, in Douglas Park on Dec. 21, or why they think the two were in the park that night.
Why they were in the park that night? We still haven't heard why the priest was in the park that night...In fact, why were any of them there considering earlier reports that it is a cruising spot for homosexuals?
"We can't give the information that was given to us in the statements by these two individuals," Lt. Rickey Davis said. "But we do have a motive, and maybe that will come out in court."
Maybe it will come out in court? It seems that if a credible motive is to be established, it should come out in court, if not before.


Post Dispatch Correction-St. Stanislaus


Because of an editing error, a news article published Saturday on plans for the future of Catholic parishes in north St. Louis incorrectly referred to the controversy at St. Stanislaus Kostka. Archbishop Raymond Burke and some St. Stanislaus parishioners are in conflict over control of the parish, not whether it would be closed.

Social Science Confirms Harmful Effects of Contraception

From Today's email update...

January 4, 2005 Volume 2, Number 22

Social Science Confirms Harmful Effects of Contraception

The predictions found in Pope Paul VI's encyclical affirming the Catholic Church's constant teaching that artificial contraception is wrong have been confirmed by the social sciences which show that ignoring the Church doctrine on sex and marriage is harmful to individuals and society. These are the findings of a Nobel Prize winning social scientist.

Writing in the current issue of Touchstone Magazine University of Virginia professor W. Bradford Wilcox writes that when the encyclical, "Humane Vitae," was published in 1968 it was surrounded with controversy. In it Pope Paul said widespread use of contraception would lead to "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality." The Pope said men would no longer respect women but would treat them as a "mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion."

"Humane Vitae's" publication was met with vigorous protest by many prominent American clergy who were also academics. They said the Church's continued ban on contraception proved that Church authorities were indifferent to the plight of "real people." Thirty-six years later Wilcox says that an examination of the effects of the contraceptive mentality on society shows that it is those who dissent from "Humane Vitae" that are indifferent.

Wilcox, an assistant professor of sociology at UVA, cites research by six scholars which shows contraception to be responsible for a significant rise in divorce and illegitimacy, both of which lead to other social ills like heightened rates of criminal behavior and increased high school drop out rates. Wilcox also argues that the poor are especially susceptible to the harms caused by the contraceptive culture. Wilcox notes that the research is not partisan. "The leading scholars who have tackled these topics are not Christians, and most of them are not political or social conservatives".

Robert Michael, of the University of Chicago, believes that sudden widespread use of artificial contraception and the availability of abortion is responsible for "about half of the increase in divorce from 1965 to 1976." Wilcox cites George Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist, who provides an economic explanation for why widespread use of artificial contraception resulted in an increase in illegitimacy rather than a decrease as many predicted.

According to Akerlof, traditional women who wanted to either abstain from sex or at least receive a promise from their boyfriend that he would marry her in the case of pregnancy could no longer compete with "modern" women who embraced contraception. This created an environment in which premarital sex became the norm and women "felt free or obligated to have sex." "Thus, many traditional women ended up having sex and having children out of wedlock, while many of the permissive women ended up having sex and contraception or aborting so as to avoid childbearing. This explains in large part why the contraceptive revolution was associated with an increase in both abortion and illegitimacy."

Wilcox says contraceptives remove one of the key reasons to getting married, the moral incentive. And while many members of the middle and upper classes marry because they know it serves their economic interest, the second key incentive for marrying, the poor are much more likely to marry solely for moral reasons. The result is that in the contraceptive era the poor have even less of an incentive to marry than do other classes. For this reason the poor have been hit even harder by the negative consequences that came about through widespread use of contraceptives.

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Confusing homilies persist, confusion spreads...

This past Christmas Eve, we attended Mass at our local church. There were two Masses at the same time - one in the chapel and one in our new church. We went to the one in the chapel since there was to be "Danced Prayer" at Mass in the church...I figured I did not need to witness even more liturgical abuses on Christmas Eve and have my blood pressure rise too much...

As it turned out, the Mass in the chapel was equally replete with abuses which started with skipping the the penitential rite. And at times, when I closed my eyes, the piano "music" sounded like it was the latest from the local piano bar. Perhaps the worst part was the homily during which the priest began talking about how Jesus really didn't know He was God when He was a small child...He learned it as He grew older...the priest stated that because Jesus was a small child just like the little ones he had come up and sit at the steps of the sanctuary, He learned just as we all did.

All I can say is that ALARMS were going off in my mind like crazy...two women who attended a catechism class I facilitated a couple of years ago, both in unison, as if on cue, turned and looked at me for some reaction and they probably saw my lower jaw on the floor. My wife grabbed and patted my knee to calm me since she could sense I was ready to stand up and walk out...Anyway I stayed and pray for the priest and for all of those who were there who may have actually taken his heretical words to heart - another instance among so many of passing on to profesed Catholics heretical views from the sanctuary.

I try to recall the saying which goes something like, "Never attribute to malice the actions or words of another, when it is entirely possible that it came about because of ignorance or stupidity." My guess is that this 60 something year old priest, while he has a good heart, is infected with an unhealthy dose of modernism. I can say this rather confidently because of previous conversations I have had with him.

Anyway, I did not get a chance to "talk" to him after Mass but I did find out that he did this again at a later Mass and was charitably asked about his comments. Apparently, he became rather annoyed at being questioned - he has done this with me before as well. He, like far too many other priests, seems to have been improperly educated in theology and philosophy - or not educated in the subject at all. Sometimes, it seems like they get their "ideas" from the latest heterodox rag making the circuit in an attempt to 'enlighten' priests and others with the latest heretical theological opinion on some matter of the faith.

These men needs our prayers and they should be rebuked or confronted in private. If they continue to reject the truth as revealed by God and proposed by the Church, the Archbishop should be made aware of the situation so that some remedial education in the doctrines of the Church might be scheduled. The souls of the faithful are at risk.

How round is purple?

This question, as well as other similar ones come to mind when I see articles or hear reports such as this:

Eco-Extremists Exploit Tsunami Tragedy to Promote Global Warming Ideology
January 3, 2005 ( - publisher Steven Milloy has been decrying the callous exploitation of the tsunami tragedy by global warming, anti-development eco-extremists.

Milloy provides evidence contradicting the claims of the eco-extremists and their apparent lack of genuine concern for the welfare of the people in the nations devastated by the tsunami. He writes, "It's bad enough that environmentalists continually try to advance their agendas based on what can only be described as comically wrong information. But what's really troubling is that they seem hell-bent on denying poor nations the opportunity to develop economically so as to pull themselves out of their abject poverty".
Article here

Gospel, Jan 4, Memorial: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

From: Mark 6:34-44

First Miracle of the Loaves

[34] As he (Jesus) landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. [35] And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; [36] send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat." [37] But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" [38] And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." [39] Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. [40] So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. [41] And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. [42] And they all ate and were satisfied. [43] And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. [44] And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

34. Our Lord had planned a period of rest, for himself and his disciples, from the pressures of the apostolate (Mk 6:31-32). And he has to change his plans because so many people come, eager to hear him speak. Not only is he not annoyed with them: he feels compassion on seeing their spiritual need. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos 4:6). They need instruction and our Lord wants to meet this need by preaching to them. "Jesus is moved by hunger and sorrow, but what moves him most is ignorance" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 109).

37. A denarius was what an artisan earned for a normal day's work. The disciples must, therefore, have thought it little less than impossible to fulfill the Master's command, because they would not have had this much money.

41. This miracle is a figure of the Holy Eucharist: Christ performed it shortly before promising that sacrament (cf. Jn 6:1ff), and the Fathers have always so interpreted it. In this miracle Jesus shows his supernatural power and his love for men--the same power and love as make it possible for Christ's one and only body to be present in the eucharistic species to nourish the faithful down the centuries. In the words of the sequence composed by St Thomas Aquinas for the Mass of Corpus Christi: "Sumit unus, sumunt mille, quantum isti, tantum ille, nec sumptus consumitur" (Be one or be a thousand fed, they eat alike that living bread which, still received, ne'er wastes away).

This gesture of our Lord--looking up to heaven--is recalled in the Roman canon of the Mass: "Et elevatis oculis in caelum, ad Te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem" (and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father). At this point in the Mass we are preparing to be present at a miracle greater than that of the multiplication of the loaves--the changing of bread into his own body, offered as food for all men.

42. Christ wanted the left-overs to be collected (cf. Jn 6:12) to teach us not to waste things God gives us, and also to have them as a tangible proof of the miracle.

The collecting of the leftovers is a way of showing us the value of little things done out of love for God--orderliness, cleanliness, finishing things completely. It also reminds the sensitive believer of the extreme care that must be taken of the eucharistic species. Also, the generous scale of the miracle is an _expression of the largesse of the messianic times. The Fathers recall that Moses distributed the manna for each to eat as much as he needed but some left part of it for the next day and it bred worms (Ex 16:16-20). Elijah gave the widow just enough to meet her needs (1 Kings 17:13-16). Jesus, on the other hand, gives generously and abundantly.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Start of an Allman/McClellan Feud?

It's a good year for a feud, eh Jamie Allman?
By Bill McClellan

For readers who may have missed the offending item, I gave out some awards in Sunday's column and one went to Archbishop Raymond Burke. He was "Newsiest Newcomer." The item, in its entirety, follows: "Archbishop Raymond Burke arrived in January and quickly became a headliner. He was big for George W. Bush. He lobbied the Missouri Legislature against stem cell research. He pulled the priest from St. Stanislaus. He is currently weighing which parishes will be closed, and he has hired a TV reporter as his personal spokesman."

I am not sure what sacred laws of journalism I violated with that item. Did Burke arrived in January? Yes. Was he big for Bush? Yes. You might remember he made national news when he said he wouldn't give Communion to Kerry. Then the archbishop published his 25-page pastoral letter - "On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good" - which sure seemed in line with the Bush campaign. Gay marriage, you might remember, was more intrinsically evil than war or the death penalty. And hey, all that is fine with me. I never criticize religious leaders for taking political stands, but things are what they are. Maybe Allman wants to pretend that the archbishop was neutral in the last election, but the rest of us don't have to pretend that.
McClellan really doesn't get it, but then, I'm not too surprised.

Full article here.

A Big Week For St. Stanislaus?

"This is going to be a really big week for the future of St. Stan's," [archdiocesan spokesman Jamie] Allman said.
I saw a broadcast last night on the news of Archbishop Burke talking to those gathered at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Catholic Church. Archbishop Burke noted that this disent and disobedience of those at St. Stanislaus is a source of grave scandal - I could not agree more.
On Sunday, the archdiocese ratcheted up the rhetoric against the lay board of directors that governs St. Stanislaus' finances. Burke described the board as "defiant" and its treatment of him as a "scandal," according to parishioners who attended the Mass at St. John.
But those opposed to Burke's demands to change St. Stanislaus' structure see it differently: "That's a Mass of anti-solidarity, to me," said board member Robert Zabielski, who noted that the board had not been notified of Burke's appearance.
The epitome of arrogance - Zabielski is critical because the board was not told that the Archbishop would be making an appearance at Mass. What arrogance these men display.
Both sides are trying to get out their respective messages to parishioners who will vote next Sunday on whether to remain part of the archdiocese and turn over control of church assets or splinter from the archdiocese.
One must really wonder if the board really wants to remain in union with the Church or realy wants to control money and assets.

Full story here.

Gospel for Monday after Epiphany

From: Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

Preaching in Galilee. The First Disciples Called

[12] Now when He (Jesus) heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee; [13] and leaving Nazareth He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, [14] that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: [15] "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- [16] the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." [17] From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

[23] And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. [24] So His fame spread throughout Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and He healed them. [25] And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

15-16. Here St. Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 8:23-9:1. The territory referred to (Zebulun, Naphtali, the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan), was invaded by the Assyrians in the period 734-721 B.C., especially during the reign of Tilgathpilneser III. A portion of the Jewish population was deported and sizeable numbers of foreigners were planted in the region to colonize it. For this reason it is referred to in the Bible henceforth as the "Galilee of the Gentiles".

The Evangelist, inspired by God, sees Jesus' coming to Galilee as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. This land, devastated and abused in Isaiah's time, will be the first to receive the light of Christ's life and preaching. The messianic meaning of the prophecy is, therefore, clear.

17. See the note on Matthew 3:2 This verse indicates the outstanding importance of the first step in Jesus' public ministry, begun by proclaiming the imminence of the Kingdom of God. Jesus' words echo John the Baptist's proclamation: the second part of this verse is the same, word for word, as Matthew 3:2. This underlines the role played by St. John the Baptist as prophet and precursor of Jesus. Both St. John and our Lord demand repentance, penance, as a prerequisite to receiving the Kingdom of God, now beginning. God's rule over mankind is a main theme in Christ's Revelation, just as it was central to the whole Old Testament. However, in the latter, the Kingdom of God had an element of theocracy about it: God reigned over Israel in both spiritual and temporal affairs and it was through Him that Israel subjected other nations to her rule. Little by little, Jesus will unfold the new-style kingdom of God, now arrived at its fullness. He will show it to be a Kingdom of love and holiness, thereby purifying it of the nationalistic misconceptions of the people of His time.

The King invites everyone without exception to this Kingdom (cf. Matthew 22:1-4). The Banquet of the Kingdom is held on this earth and has certain entry requirements which must be preached by the proponents of the Kingdom: "Therefore the Eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence priests teach the faithful to offer the divine Victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass, and with the Victim to make an offering of their whole lives. In the spirit of Christ the pastor, they instruct them to submit their sins to the Church with a contrite heart in the Sacrament of Penance, so that they may be daily more and more converted to the Lord, remembering His words, `Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand'" (Vatican II, "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 5).

23. "Synagogue": this word comes from the Greek and designates the building where the Jews assembled for religious ceremonies on the Sabbath and other feast days. Such ceremonies were non-sacrificial in character (sacrifices could be performed only in the Temple of Jerusalem). The synagogue was also the place where the Jews received their religious training. The word was also used to designate local Jewish communities within and without Palestine.

24. "Epileptic" (or, in some translations, "lunatic"). This word was applied in a very general way to those who had illnesses related to epilepsy. The disease was popularly regarded as being dependent on the phases of the moon (Latin: "luna").

23-25. In these few liens, the evangelist gives us a very fine summary of the various aspects of Jesus' work. The preaching of the gospel or "good news" of the Kingdom, the healing of diseases, and the casting out of devils are all specific signs of the Messiah's presence, according to the Old Testament prophecies (Is 35:5-6; 61:1; 40:9;52:7).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Is there something wrong with this 'story'?

In a previous post regarding St. Louis priest, Fr. Michael Freymuth, the Post Dispatch says:
The second accuser came forward about three weeks ago. The man, Timothy Bartin of rural Missouri, said Friday that he was about 12 when the inappropriate conduct took place.

Bartin said he was invited to a private dinner at the rectory with Freymuth and given wine by the priest. He alleged the inappropriate conduct occurred while watching a movie.
It is my understanding that Fr. Freymuth was not available for comment because he is on some sort of cruise at the present time. His family also denies the allegations and they have called for retractions to be made by the Post and a local TV news station here.

I have no doubt that Archdiocese would remove a priest if a credible allegation comes to light, but the allegation states (according to the Post) that the "inapproriate behavior" occurred when Bartin was about 12, that is roughly 23 or 24 years ago, considering that Bartin is now about 36 years old. That would have been around 1980.

It seems that Fr. Freymuth was an Associate Pastor from 1985-1991 at Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish in St. Louis. I am not certain at this time when he was ordained, but there is something which seems to be out of order here.

Timothy Bartin states he was also abused by a Fr. Romano Ferraro at about the same time as the Post claims the Freymuth thing occurred in this article from the Kansas City Star in May 2004:
Tim Bartin, 35, alleges he was abused by Ferraro in the early 1980s as an 11- or 12-year-old altar boy at St. Joan of Arc Parish. He filed his lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court against the priest, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its Archbishop Raymond Burke.
The Ferraro case has been adjudicated and SNAP had a press release after Ferraro's sentencing. Timothy Bartin has own comments at this site as well.

I'm certain that the facts will be known in time regarding this case. I hope and pray that Fr. Freymuth's family are correct and that these allegations are without merit.

Gospel for Sunday, The Epiphany of the Lord

From: Matthew 2:1-12

The Adoration of the Magi
[1] Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, [2] "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him." [3] When Herod the kind heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; [4] and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. [5] They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: [6] `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'"

[7] Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; [8] and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the Child, and when you have found Him bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him." [9] When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. [10] When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; [11] and going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. [12] And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

1. "King Herod": four different Herods are mentioned in the New Testament. The first is Herod the Great, referred to in this passage and in the next; the second, his son, Herod Antipas, who had St. John the Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12) and who abused our Lord during His passion (Luke 23:7-11); the third, Herod Agrippa I, a nephew of Herod the Great, who executed the Apostle St. James the Greater (Acts 12:1-3), imprisoned St. Peter (Acts 12:4-7), and died suddenly and mysteriously (Acts 12:20-23). The fourth, Herod Agrippa II, was Herod Agrippa's son. It was before him that St. Paul answered Jewish accusations when he was a prisoner in Caesarea (Acts 25:23).

Herod the Great, who appears here, was the son of non-Jewish parents. He came to power with the aid and as a vassal of the Romans. He was a consummate politician and among other things he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem on a lavish scale. Herod the Great had a persecution complex; everywhere he saw rivals to his throne. He was notorious for his cruelty: he killed over half of his ten wives, some of his children and many people of standing. This information derives largely from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote towards the end of the first century, and it confirms the cruel picture drawn in the Gospels.

"Wise men": these were learned men, probably from Persia, who devoted themselves to the study of the stars. Since they were not Jews, they can be considered to be the very first Gentiles to receive the call to salvation in Christ. The adoration of the wise men forms part of the very earliest documented tradition: the scene is already depicted at the beginning of the second century in the paintings in the catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome.

2. The Jews had made known throughout the East their hope of a Messiah. The wise men knew about this expected Messiah, king of the Jews. According to ideas widely accepted at the time, this sort of person, because of his significance in world history, would have a star connected with his birth. God made use of these ideas to draw to Christ these representatives of the Gentiles who would later be converted.

"The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews. In this way the birth of Jesus would be known to all" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 7).

St. John Chrysostom also points out that "God calls them by means of the things they are most familiar with; and He shows them a large and extraordinary star so that they would be impressed by its size and beauty" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 6). God called the wise men in the midst of their ordinary occupations, and He still calls people in that way. He called Moses when he was shepherding his flock (Exodus 3:1-3), Elisha the prophet ploughing his land with oxen (1 Kings 19:19-20), Amos looking after his herd (Amos 7:15).... "What amazes you seems natural to me: that God has sought you out in the practice of your profession! That is how He sought the first, Peter and Andrew, James and John, beside their nets, and Matthew, sitting in the custom-house. And--wonder of wonders!--Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seed of the Christians" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 799).

"Like the Magi we have discovered a star--a light and a guide in the sky of our soul. `We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.' We have had the same experience. We too noticed a new light shining in our soul and growing increasingly brighter. It was a desire to live a fully Christian life, a keenness to take God seriously" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 32).

4. In all Jewish circles at the time of Jesus, the hope was widespread that the Messiah would come soon. The general idea was that he would be a king, like a new and even greater David. Herod's worry is therefore all the more understandable: he governed the Jews with the aid of the Romans and cruelly and jealously guarded his crown. Due to his political ambition and his lack of a religious sense, Herod saw a potential King-Messiah as a dangerous rival to his own worldly power.

In the time of our Lord, both Herod's monarchy and the occupying Romans (through their procurators) recognized the Sanhedrin as the representative body of the Jewish people. The Sanhedrin was, therefore, the nation's supreme council which ruled on day-to-day affairs, both religious and civil. The handling of the more important questions needed the approval of either the king (under Herod's monarchy) or the Roman procurator (at the time of the direct Roman occupation of Palestine).

Following Exodus 24:1-9 and Numbers 11:16, the Sanhedrin was composed of 71 members presided over by the high priest. The members were elected from three groupings: 1) the chief priests, that is, the leaders of the principal priestly families; it was these families who appointed the high priest (the chief priests also included anybody who had formerly held the high priesthood); 2) the elders, or the leaders of the most important families; 3) the scribes, who were teachers of the Law or experts on legal and religious matters; the majority of these scribes belonged to the party or school of the Pharisees.

In this passage of St. Matthew only the first and third of the above groups are mentioned. This is understandable since the elders would have no authority in the matter of the birth of the Messiah--a purely religious question.

5-6. The prophecy referred to in this passage is Micah 5:1. It is worth noting that Jewish tradition interpreted this prophecy as predicting the Messiah's exact place of birth and as referring to a particular person. The second text thus teaches us once more that the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

8. Herod tried to find out exactly where the Child was--not, of course, to adore Him, as he said, but to dispose of Him. Such was Herod's exclusively political view of things. Yet neither his shrewdness nor his wickedness could prevent God's plans from being fulfilled. Despite Herod's ambition and his scheming, God's wisdom and power were going to bring salvation about.

9. "It might happen at certain moments of our interior life--and we are nearly always to blame--that the star disappears, just as it did to the wise kings on their journey.... What should we do if this happens? Follow the example of those wise men and ask. Herod used knowledge to act unjustly. The Magi used it to do good. But we Christians have no need to go to Herod nor to the wise men of this world. Christ has given His Church sureness of doctrine and a flow of grace in the Sacraments. He has arranged things so that there will always be people to guide and lead us, to remind us constantly of our way" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 34).

11. The gifts they offered--gold, frankincense and myrrh--were those most valued in the East. People feel the need to give gifts to God to show their respect and faith. Since they cannot give themselves as a gift, which is what they would wish, they give instead what is most valuable and dear to them.

The prophets and the psalmists foretold that the kings of the earth would pay homage to God at the time of the Messiah (Isaiah 49:23). They would offer Him their treasures (Isaiah 60:5) and adore Him (Psalm 72:10-15). Through this action of the wise men and the offering of their gifts to Jesus, these prophecies begin to be fulfilled.

The Council of Trent expressly quotes this passage when it underlines the veneration that ought to be given to Christ in the Eucharist: "The faithful of Christ venerate this most holy Sacrament with the worship of latria which is due to the true God.... For in this Sacrament we believe that the same God is present whom the eternal Father brought into the world, saying of Him, `Let all God's angel worship Him' (Hebrews 1:6; cf. Psalm 97:7). It is the same God whom the Magi fell down and worshipped (cf. Matthew 2:11) and, finally, the same God whom the Apostles adored in Galilee as Scriptures says (Matthew 28:17)" (Decree, "De SS. Eucharista", Chapter 5).

St. Gregory of Nazianzen has also commented on this verse, as follows: "Let us remain in adoration; and to Him, who, in order to save us, humbled Himself to such a degree of poverty as to receive our body, let us offer not only incense, gold and myrrh (the first as God, the second as king, and the third as one who sought death for our sake), but also spiritual gifts, more sublime than those which can be seen with the eyes" ("Oratio", 19).

12. The involvement of the wise men in the events at Bethlehem ends with yet another act of respectful obedience and cooperation with God's plans. Christians also should be receptive to the specific grace and mission God has given them. They should persevere in this even if it means having to change any personal plans they may have made.
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.