Friday, June 03, 2005

Antichrist Alert! Cardinal Biffi Rouses the Church

The archbishop emeritus of Bologna delves back into the famous story by Vladimir Soloviev and applies it to the Christianity of today. A collateral target: Cardinal Martini

by Sandro Magister

Gospel for Friday, June 3, Solemnity: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

From: Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus Thanks His Father

[25] At that time Jesus declared, "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; [26] yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will. [27] All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. [28] Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."

25-26. The wise and understanding of this world, that is, those who rely on their own judgment, cannot accept the revelation which Christ has brought us. Supernatural outlook is always connected with humility. A humble person, who gives himself little importance, sees; a person who is full of self-esteem fails to perceive supernatural things.

27. Here Jesus formally reveals His divinity. Our knowledge of a person shows our intimacy with Him, according to the principle given by St. Paul: "For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him?" (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Son knows the Father by the same knowledge as that by which the Father knows the Son. This identity of knowledge implies oneness of nature; that is to say, Jesus is God just as the Father is God.

28-30. Our Lord calls everyone to come to Him. We all find things difficult in one way or another. The history of souls bears out the truth of these words of Jesus. Only the Gospel can fully satisfy the thirst for truth and justice which sincere people feel. Only our Lord, our Master--and those to whom He passes on His power--can soothe the sinner by telling him, "Your sins are forgiven" (Matthew 9:2). In this connection Pope Paul VI teaches: "Jesus says now and always, `Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' His attitude towards us is one of invitation, knowledge and compassion; indeed, it is one of offering, promise, friendship, goodness, remedy of our ailments; He is our comforter; indeed, our nourishment, our bread, giving us energy and life" ("Homily on Corpus Christi", 13 June 1974).

"Come to Me": the Master is addressing the crowds who are following Him, "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). The Pharisees weighed them down with an endless series of petty regulations (cf. Acts 15:10), yet they brought no peace to their souls. Jesus tells these people, and us, about the kind of burden He imposes: "Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ's actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs down, but Christ's gives you wings. If you take a bird's wings away, you might seem to be taking weight off it, but the more weight you take off, the more you tie it down to the earth. There it is on the ground, and you wanted to relieve it of a weight; give it back the weight of its wings and you will see how it flies" (St. Augustine, "Sermon" 126).

"All you who go about tormented, afflicted and burdened with the burden of your cares and desires, go forth from them, come to Me and I will refresh you and you shall find for your souls the rest which your desires take from you" (St. John of the Cross, "Ascent of Mount Carmel", Book 1, Chapter 7, 4).
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, June 02, 2005

Blinded by Pride, Dissidents Gather & Promote "Nun" & Film

In the May 22 Bulletin of one of the parishes which was allowed to stay open, we see this little blurb:
In Good Conscience - Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith: A film by Barbara Rick Film Screening, Discussion & Reception - Sunday, June 5, 2005 - 3:30-6:30 p.m. @ Nerinx Hall Academy (530 East Lockwood). Tickets: $15 for movie & reception. Reserve over the phone: 314/721-2977 or email See flyer inserted in this week’s bulletin for more info. Sponsored by The Catholic Action Network for Social Justice.
Of course, the "Catholic" Action Network, which is not really Catholic at all, but serves, it seems, to promote all that conflicts with the teaching of the Church. One must wonder, then, why Betty Cuniberti of the Post Dispatch gives this woman such praise for defying the Church which she claims to love? What does the article say?
Censured nun brings her gay ministry to St. Louis

When she was, as she says, "Knee high to a grasshopper, just 7 years old, I felt God was calling me."
A call to repentance and conversion, no doubt.
He was. No matter how difficult it became in the next 55 years, God has never stopped calling Sister Jeannine Gramick.
Yes, He never fails to call us to be humble and obedient, to repentance and conversion, even when we reject Him and His Church.
Not even the man who would become pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, could stop Sister Jeannine from answering God's call to minister to lesbian and gay Catholics, who she feels are as deserving of a place in the church as anyone else.
Is this not a distortion of the actual facts? "Sister" Jeannine may "feel" all sorts of things, however, is she truly able to discern God's call for her? I think not.
The 62-year-old nun censured by Ratzinger six years ago and then ordered to be silent is on her way to St. Louis. And she's not coming quietly.
Of course not. Most dissidents rarely have time for those things which require quiet contemplation. Many are too concerned with a prideful self-importance and human respect to be quiet.
On Sunday at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves, Sister Jeannine will talk about her controversial 28-year Catholic ministry after a 3:30 p.m. public showing of the documentary about it, "In Good Conscience," put on by the St. Louis Catholic Action Network.
And promoted, as well in a recent bulletin by St. Cronan's Parish.
Rather than be expelled or comply with the order of silence from the Rome office of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who sent the gag order a year after Ratzinger's censure, Gramick left that group. Last summer, she joined the Sisters of Loretto, who run Nerinx.
Ahhh...the dying order of the Sisters of Loretto who abandoned the call of the Lord to teach and chose to embark on a mission of self destruction. I can, though, still vividly recall the wonderful Sisters of Loretto who were my teachers in grade school. Then the Lord's work was being accomplished. For whom do they work now?
Explaining to a gay Catholic why she defies the Vatican and remains Catholic, she says in the movie, "When Jesus walked the Earth, there were no bishops or cardinals. They are not the essence of what Christianity is about. You stay
Catholic because the church is the people of God."
Spoken like a true anti-Catholic protestant, yes? And I do not intend this as a slam against protestants as indicated by the lowercase "P"...It is intended as a statement of fact that those who claim to be Catholic yet openly defy the Church also openly "protest" and defy our Lord who established His Church on earth. Perhaps "Sister" Jeannine never understood that it was Jesus Himself who commissioned his Apostles as leaders of His Church?

She also repeats the mantra that the "[C]hurch is the people of God." While true, it must be understood that the "people of God" do not openly reject Him or His commandments, for if they do, they certainly cannot legitimately claim to be members of His Church after having abandoned it.
She believes sexual preference is no more a measure of morality than one's race or gender. There wasn't much silence in our telephone interview last week, either.
Sexual preference is like race or gender???? What is one is into beastiality or some other grossly immoral behavior? Is that to be permitted?
The Church has repeatedly stated that a disordered attraction to members of the same sex may not sinful unless the inclination is acted upon. Those people are to be respected with charity as we are to respect the dignity of every person.

When white smoke rose from St. Peter's last month, someone called her. She ran to the television.

"I watched the cardinal come out, and as soon as he said 'Joseph,' then I
knew," she told me. "There was a long pause, and my heart - really I had this
physical reaction in my body - I felt like my heart dropped down to my shoes."
Yes....and I bet Satan had the same feeling! How unfortunate!
What she calls the Catholic faith's "best-kept secret," primacy of conscience, is what compels her to stay and fight, when others just leave.
Again, a bit a misinformation is spread. We should all be perfectly aware of the responsibilities we have to properly form our consciences. Their is a certain culpability in failing to properly form one's conscience and that culpability can increase by spreading errors caused by a malformed conscience to others.
She was a good little nun, she says in the movie, "until I met a gay man."
A "good little nun"? Sure she was!
She hasn't revealed her own sexual orientation because she is not the issue. And it shouldn't matter. But in the movie, she says she had been in love before she went into the convent right out of high school and again once afterward.
In love or in lust? Can we get a clarification?
She notes that the Bible, in addition to saying man should not lie with man, "says we shouldn't eat shellfish or ordain humpbacked priests. We hold on to that passage (condemning homosexual acts) to justify prejudice."
Spoken like a true Catholic!?! Apparently she wishes to debate God on matters of the natural and moral law...Is this not reminiscent of the serpent telling Eve that she and Adam could be like God, knowing good and evil, if only they would disobey Him?
She told me about her only face-to-face meeting with Ratzinger, which is not in the film. She had failed to be granted an appointment with him in Rome. But years later she ended up on the same flight with him from Rome to Berlin, a year before he would censure her.

She was well aware she was being investigated by Ratzinger, who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When she sat next to him and introduced herself, "He said, 'Oh, I've known you for 20 years,' " she recalled.

He told her he didn't mind that she arranged Masses in the homes of gay Catholics, but going to other dioceses and preaching against the policies of the Vatican are another matter.
As it is for any and all professed Catholics. But then, some are wiser than the the Church and, no doubt, they receive a similar grace of infallibility...Right, Sister?
"He said, 'Do the bishops invite you?' " Sister Jeannine said. "I told him, 'Some do, some don't. I go to colleges and retreat houses.'

"These bishops still act like feudal lords, like you have to have permission of feudal lords to enter their territory."
Again, an indication of open rebellion against lawful ecclesiastical authority. We should always remember, "He who rejects you, rejects Me and the One Who sent Me."
By the way, she did not seek permission from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to come here. But she told me his view that Catholics who vote for a pro-choice candidate shouldn't receive Communion "crosses the line."
Moronic statements coming from an apostate should not come as a surprise to faithful Catholics.
Her conversation with Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, "for me," she said, "put a human face on this institution. He was very gracious, very kind and had a sense of humor. I asked if he knew gay Catholics, and he said, 'Oh, yeah. When the pope and I were in Berlin, there were gays demonstrating.' So, that is his experience with gay people - confrontational."
Call me stupid, but I can't follow the logic here. Homosexual activists are demonstrating and the Holy Father's experience with them is "confrontational"...?
She told him gay Catholics she met are filled with faith.
With what kind of faith are they filled?
"They feel persecuted from two sides. The lesbian and gay community mocks them for staying in this church that is so condemnatory. And the leaders of our church condemn them. They have to have great faith to stay in the church."
The Church does not condemn them but their sins - just as she condemns all sin rather than sinners. It is disheartening to see these distortions from one who claims to be an educated Catholic.
Their talk didn't sway Cardinal Ratzinger from censuring her a year later. But she hopes that "maybe it might influence his heart. Maybe one day."
Yes, perhaps he'll bring back a wave of excommunications to deal with the rampant poison of heresy, apostacy, and schism going on today. All in a gentle medicinal way, of course.

Check Out This Bulletin Article

A recent bulletin article from the same parish which promoted the Sr. Jeanne Grammick File, Catholic Action Network, and the "unHoly Familes" group, apparently felt it necesary to justify its participation in the the the Aquinas Institute's Apollos Program. Fr. Gerry Kleba of St. Cronan's explains:

I was certainly saddened to read the Post-Dispatch account of the parishes accepted into the Apollos Program. Jamie Allman, the archdiocesan spokesman, spoke so disparagingly about the pastors of the nine St. Louis parishes that had been accepted into the program. The notion was that the pastors had failed in getting Archbishop Burke’s blessing and didn’t know his thoughts on the program. There was no sense that the Archbishop might sharpen his understanding of pastoral theology by listening to the pastors who saw this type of education and future leadership a MUST for a church system that is hitting a theological iceberg with a dwindling supply of ordained leaders and a reduced number of parishes. Then to add insult to injury it is noted that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is about to become allied with Ave Maria University to prepare lay leaders rather than the Aquinas Institute. For an Archbishop who prides himself on his conservative traditionalism to choose to align his theological underpinnings with a five year old school founded by a billionaire pizza baron rather than the thousand year old Dominican tradition that produced St. Thomas himself is at least disheartening. I hope the Captain of the Unsinkable Ship of Peter has his eye out for icebergs. Of course, they are inevitable.
A sad commentary from a priest who prides himself on "going against the flow" at every opportunity - of criticzing the Church and her leaders, a man who seems to think he knows more than the Church herself. One would think that this parish of heterdoxy would at least be thankful that they are still allowed to exist within the diocese, having been spared being closed. The failure to eradicate this cancer from the Archdiocese may have been a grave mistake, but I place my trust in the Archbishop and his decision to allow it to stay open. I am not privy to the REAL reasons it was not closed. Whatever good that might come from this parish, is constantly overshadowed by its embrace of heterodox opinions and practices. What buffoonery!

These confused souls are in need of our prayers.

Gospel for Thursday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All

[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" [29] Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' [31] The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [32] And the scribe said to Him, "You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask Him any question.

28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus' earlier reply (verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth. And His teaching finds its way into the man's heart. The scribe repeats what Jesus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encourages his definitive conversion: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." This encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doctrinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:
In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf. "Commentary on St. Matthew", 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: "This commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). However, if we love man for man's sake without reference to God, this love will become an obstacle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God's sake is clear proof that we love God: "If anyone says, `I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself": here our Lord establishes as the guideline for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen that God requires us to put our neighbor's need before our own; in others, not: it depends on what value, in light of God's love, needs to be put on the spiritual and material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor's, must be the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human freedom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)--an unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God's love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God's great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: "would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stronger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means requisite thereto" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Archbishop Curtiss Asks Fr. Peter Stravinskas to Leave

Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss has told a priest whose handling of a south Omaha parish's money is under police investigation that he should leave the Omaha Archdiocese. The Rev. Peter Stravinskas remains temporary administrator of St. Anthony Catholic Church, 32nd and S Streets. But Curtiss has reported to a gathering of archdiocesan priests that he "suggested to Father Peter (Stravinskas) that he needed to locate in another diocese," according to minutes of the gathering.

Bishop enforces appropriate liturgical practice in diocese

Richmond, May. 31, 2005 (CNA) - One year after his began in the Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo has already set up a commission to enforce appropriate liturgical practice, and has implemented other measures and solutions, which he says the people want and which meet the current needs of the diocese, reported the Times-Dispatch.
... some churches were functioning outside the traditional norms of Catholicism.
Maybe because these groups gave up Catholicism years ago? Anyway, kudos to Bishop DiLorenzo!

Gospel for June 1, Memorial: St. Justin, Martyr

From: Mark 12:18-27

The Resurrection of the Dead

[18] And Sadducees came to Him (Jesus), who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked Him a question, saying [19] "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. [20] There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; [21] and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; [22] and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. [23] In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife."

[24] Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? [25] For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in Heaven. [26] And as for being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? [27] He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong."

18-27. Before answering the difficulty proposed by the Sadducees, Jesus wants to identify the source of the problem--man's tendency to confine the greatness of God inside a human framework through excessive reliance on reason, not giving due weight to divine Revelation and the power of God. A person can have difficulty with the truths of faith; this is not surprising, for these truths are above human reason. But it is ridiculous to try to find contradictions in the revealed word of God; this only leads away from any solution of difficulty and may make it impossible to find one's way back to God. We need to approach Sacred Scripture, and, in general, the things of God, with the humility which faith demands. In the passage about the burning bush, which Jesus quotes to the Sadducees, God says this to Moses: "Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).
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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Gospel for May 31, Feast: The Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

From: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation

[39] In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, [40] and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. [41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [42] and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessedare you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [43] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

The Magnificat

[46] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, [47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, [48] for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; [49] for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. [50] And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. [51] He has shown strength with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, [52] He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; [53] He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. [54] He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, [55] as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

[56] And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

39-56. We contemplate this episode of our Lady's visit to her cousin St. Elizabeth in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: "Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company...and you will hear the traditions of the House of David.... We walk in haste towards the mountains, to a town of the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:39).

"We arrive. It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. Elizabeth gratefully hails the Mother of her Redeemer: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? (Luke 1:42-43).

"The unborn Baptist quivers...(Luke 1:41). Mary's humility pours forth in the "Magnificat".... And you and I, who are proud--who were proud--promise to be humble" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary").

39. On learning from the angel that her cousin St. Elizabeth is soon to give birth and is in need of support, our Lady in her charity hastens to her aid. She has no regard for the difficulties this involves. Although we do not know where exactly Elizabeth was living (it is now thought to be Ain Karim), it certainly meant a journey into the hill country which at that time would have taken four days.

From Mary's visit to Elizabeth Christians should learn to be caring people. "If we have this filial contact with Mary, we won't be able to think just about ourselves and our problems. Selfish personal problems will find no place in our mind" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 145).

42. St. Bede comments that Elizabeth blesses Mary using the same words as the archangel "to show that she should be honored by angels and by men and why she should indeed be revered above all other women" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

When we say the "Hail Mary" we repeat these divine greetings, "rejoicing with Mary at her dignity as Mother of God and praising the Lord, thanking Him for having given us Jesus Christ through Mary" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 333).

43. Elizabeth is moved by the Holy Spirit to call Mary "the mother of my Lord", thereby showing that Mary is the Mother of God.

44. Although he was conceived in sin--original sin--like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb--thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy (cf. Luke 1:15).

St. John Chrysostom comments on this scene of the Gospel: "See how new and how wonderful this mystery is. He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions [...]; he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun; he has not yet been born and he is keen to act as Precursor. The Lord is present, so he cannot contain himself or wait for nature to run its course: he wants to break out of the prison of his mother's womb and he makes sure he witnesses to the fact that the Savior is about to come" ("Sermo Apud Metaphr., Mense Julio").

45. Joining the chorus of all future generations, Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, declares the Lord's Mother to be blessed and praises her faith. No one ever had faith to compare with Mary's; she is the model of the attitude a creature should have towards its Creator--complete submission, total attachment. Through her faith, Mary is the instrument chosen by God to bring about the Redemption; as Mediatrix of all graces, she is associated with the redemptive work of her Son: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to His death; first when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the Precursor leaps with joy in the womb of his mother [...]. The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. John 19:25), in keeping with the Divine Plan, enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 57f).

The new Latin text gives a literal rendering of the original Greek when it says "quae credidit" (RSV "she who has believed") as opposed to the Vulgate "quae credidisti" ("you who have believed") which gave more of the sense than a literal rendering.

46-55. Mary's "Magnificat" canticle is a poem of singular beauty. It evokes certain passages of the Old Testament with which she would have been very familiar (especially 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Three stanzas may be distinguished in the canticle: in the first (verses 46-50) Mary glorifies God for making her the Mother of the Savior, which is why future generations will call her blessed; she shows that the Incarnation is a mysterious __expression of God's power and holiness and mercy. In the second (verses 51-53) she teaches us that the Lord has always had a preference for the humble, resisting the proud and boastful. In the third (verses 54-55) she proclaims that God, in keeping with His promise, has always taken care of His chosen people--and now does them the greatest honor of all by becoming a Jew (cf. Romans 1:3).

"Our prayer can accompany and imitate this prayer of Mary. Like her, we feel the desire to sing, to acclaim the wonders of God, so that all mankind and all creation may share our joy" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 144).

46-47. "The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are peace and joy. And the Blessed Virgin had received within herself all the grace of the Holy Spirit" (St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 32). Mary's soul overflows in the words of the "Magnificat". God's favors cause every humble soul to feel joy and gratitude. In the case of the Blessed Virgin, God has bestowed more on her than on any other creature. "Virgin Mother of God, He whom the heavens cannot contain, on becoming man, enclosed Himself within your womb" ("Roman Missal", Antiphon of the Common of the Mass for Feasts of Our Lady). The humble Virgin of Nazareth is going to be the Mother of God; the Creator's omnipotence has never before manifested itself in as complete a way as this.

48-49. Mary's __expression of humility causes St. Bede to exclaim: "It was fitting, then, that just as death entered the world through the pride of our first parents, the entry of Life should be manifested by the humility of Mary" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

"How great the value of humility!--"Quia respexit humilitatem.... It is not of her faith, nor of her charity, nor of her immaculate purity that our Mother speaks in the house of Zachary. Her joyful hymn sings: `Since He has looked on my humility, all generations will call me blessed'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 598).

God rewards our Lady's humility by mankind's recognition of her greatness: "All generations will call me blessed." This prophecy is fulfilled every time someone says the Hail Mary, and indeed she is praised on earth continually, without interruption. "From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the people of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: `all generations will call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me'" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 66).

50. "And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation": "At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the Resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the people of God, marked with the sign of the Cross and of the Resurrection and `sealed' with the sign of the paschal mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy is [...] from generation to generation' [...].

"Mary, then, is the one who has the "deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy". She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the "Mother of Mercy": Our Lady of Mercy, or Mother of Divine Mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which `from generation to generation' people become sharers according to the eternal design of the Most Holy Trinity" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 9).

51. "The proud": those who want to be regarded as superior to others, whom they look down on. This also refers to those who, in their arrogance, seek to organize society without reference to, or in opposition to, God's law. Even if they seem to do so successfully, the words of our Lady's canticle will ultimately come true, for God will scatter them as He did those who tried to build the Tower of Babel, thinking that they could reach as high as Heaven (cf. Genesis 11:4).

"When pride takes hold of a soul, it is no surprise to find it bringing along with it a whole string of other vices--greed, self-indulgence, envy, injustice. The proud man is always vainly striving to dethrone God, who is merciful to all His creatures, so as to make room for himself and his ever cruel ways.

"We should beg God not to let us fall into this temptation. Pride is the worst sin of all, and the most ridiculous.... Pride is unpleasant, even from a human point of view. The person who rates himself better than everyone and everything is constantly studying himself and looking down on other people, who in turn react by ridiculing his foolish vanity" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 100).

53. This form of divine providence has been experienced countless times over the course of history. For example, God nourished the people of Israel with manna during their forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4-35); similarly His angel brought food to Elijah (1 Kings 19:5-8), and to Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 14:31-40); and the widow of Sarepta was given a supply of oil which miraculously never ran out (1 Kings 17:8ff). So, too, the Blessed Virgin's yearning for holiness was fulfilled by the incarnation of the Word.

God nourished the chosen people with His Law and the preaching of His prophets, but the rest of mankind was left hungry for His word, a hunger now satisfied by the Incarnation. This gift of God will be accepted by the humble; the self-sufficient, having no desire for the good things of God, will not partake of them (cf. St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 33).

54. God led the people of Israel as He would a child whom He loved tenderly: "the Lord your God bore you, as a man bears his son, in all the way that you went" (Deuteronomy 1:31). He did so many times, using Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc., and now He gives them a definitive leader by sending the Messiah--moved by His great mercy which takes pity on the wretchedness of Israel and of all mankind.

55. God promised the patriarchs of old that He would have mercy on mankind. This promise He made to Adam (Genesis 3:15), Abraham (Genesis 22:18), David (2 Samuel 7:12), etc. From all eternity God had planned and decreed that the Word should become incarnate for the salvation of all mankind. As Christ Himself put it, "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
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, May 30, 2005

Minority Church, Church of the Masses: The Two Strategies of R. & R., Inc.

How Ratzinger and Ruini agree and disagree on the future of the Church. A creative minority, or a civil religion?

An analysis by Silvio Ferrari.
by Sandro Magister

Bioethicist shatters stem cell myths

Proponents spin, hype and oversell embryonic stem cell facts and myths

True or False? The Catholic Church opposes stem cell research. In the high stakes debate over this emerging therapy the answer to that question, says Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, is not necessarily obvious.

“We must discriminate the truth claims from all the hype that’s out there,” said Father Pacholczyk, a bioethicist who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Yale University and currently serves as director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

‘Pope Michael’ performs duties in Kansas plains

DELIA, Kan. (AP) The weathered, blue farmhouse stands just off a dirt road in the rolling hills northwest of Topeka.

There are children’s toys lined up in the yard and irises blooming in the garden around a statue of the Virgin Mary. Satellite dishes and solar panels point toward the southern sky.

"Good morning," the dark-haired man on the front porch says. "How are you? I’m Pope Michael."

This is David Bawden.

He has never been ordained as a priest and hasn’t been to Mass since 1989. But to his tiny flock, numbering about 100 and scattered as far away as India and Australia, he is the rightful leader of the Catholic Church.

Gospel for Monday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:1-12

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

[1] And he began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. [2] When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. [3] And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. [4] Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. [5]And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. [6] He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' [7] But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' [8] And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. [9] What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others. [10] Have you not read the scripture: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; [11] this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" [12] And they tried to arrest him but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.

1-12. This parable is a masterly summary of history of salvation. To explain the mystery of his redemptive death, Jesus makes use of one of the most beautiful allegories of the Old Testament the so-called "song of the vineyard," in which Isaiah (5:1-7) prophesied Israel's ingratitude for God's favors. On the basis of this Isaiah text, Jesus reveals the patience of God, who sends one messenger after another--the prophets of the Old Testament--until at last, as the text says, he sends "his beloved son", Jesus, whom the tenants will kill. This _expression, as also that which God himself uses to describe Christ at Baptism (1:11) and the Transfiguration (9:7), points to the divinity of Jesus, who is the cornerstone of salvation, rejected by the builders in their selfishness and pride. To the Jews listening to Jesus telling this parable, his meaning must have been crystal clear. The rulers "perceived that he had told the parable against them" (v. 12) and that it was about the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy (cf. note on Mt 21:33-46).
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, May 29, 2005

Gospel for Sunday, Solemnity: Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

From: John 6:51-58

The Discourse on the Bread of Life (Continuation)

(Jesus said to the Jews,) [51] "I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh." [52] The Jews disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" [53] So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; [54] he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. [55] For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. [58] This is the bread which came from Heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."

49-51. The manna during the Exodus was a figure of this bread--Christ Himself--which nourishes Christians on their pilgrimage through this world. Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives Himself to us: "the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh". These words promise the manifestation of the Eucharist at the Last Supper: "This is My body which is for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24). The words "for the life of the world" and "for you" refer tothe redemptive value of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In some sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were a figure of the sacrifice of Christ, part of the animal offered up was later used for food, signifying participation in the sacred rite (cf. Exodus 11:3-4). So, by receiving Holy Communion, we are sharing in the sacrifice of Christ: which is why the Church sings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "O sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: His sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with His grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours" ("Magnificat Antiphon", Evening Prayer II).

52. Christ's hearers understand perfectly well that He means exactly what He says; but they cannot believe that what He says could be true; if they had understood Him in a metaphorical, figurative or symbolic sense there would be no reason for them to be surprised and nothing to cause an argument. Later, Jesus reaffirms what He has said--confirming what they have understood Him to say (cf. verses 54-56).

53. Once again Jesus stresses very forcefully that it is necessary to receive Him in the Blessed Eucharist in order to share in divine life and develop the life of grace received in Baptism. No parent is content to bring children into the world: they have to be nourished and looked after to enable them to reach maturity. "We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion to nourish our souls and to give us an increase of grace and the gift of eternal life" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 289).

54. Jesus clearly states that His body and blood are a pledge of eternal life and a guarantee of the resurrection of the body. St. Thomas Aquinas gives this explanation: "The Word gives life to our souls, but the Word made flesh nourishes our bodies. In this Sacrament is contained the Word not only in His divinity but also in His humanity; therefore, it is the cause not only of the glorification of our souls but also of that of our bodies" ("Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

Our Lord uses a stronger word than just "eating" (the original verb could be translated as "chewing") which shows that Communion is a real meal. There is no room for saying that He was speaking only symbolically, which would mean that Communion was only a metaphor and not really eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ.

"All these invitations, promises and threats sprang from the great desire which (Jesus) had of giving us Himself in the holy Sacrament of the altar. But why should Jesus so ardently desire us to receive Him in Holy Communion? It is because love always sighs for, and tends to a union with, the object beloved. True friends wish to be united in such a manner as to become only one. The love of God for us being immense, He destined us to possess Him not only in Heaven, but also here below, by the most intimate union, under the appearance of bread in the Eucharist. It is true we do not see Him; but He beholds us, and is really present; yes, He is present in order that we may possess Him and He conceals Himself, that we may desire Him, and until we reach our true homeland Jesus Christ wishes in this way to be entirely ours, and to be perfectly united to us" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, "The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced to Practice", Chapter 2).

55. In the same way as bodily food is necessary for life on earth, Holy Communion is necessary for maintaining the life of the soul, which is why the Church exhorts us to receive this Sacrament frequently: "Every day, as is desirable, and in the greatest possible numbers, the faithful must take an active part in the sacrifice of the Mass, avail themselves of the pure, holy refreshment of Holy Communion and make a suitable thanksgiving in return for this great gift of Christ the Lord. Here are the words they should keep in mind: `Jesus Christ and the Church desire all Christ's faithful to approach the sacred banquet every day. The basis of this desire is that they should be united to God by the sacrament and draw strength from it to restrain lust, to wash away the slight faults of daily occurrence and to take precautions against the more serious sins to which human frailty is liable' (Decree of the S.C. of the Council, 20 December 1905)" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Mysterium Fidei").

"The Savior has instituted the most august sacrament of the Eucharist, which truly contains His flesh and His blood, so that he who eats this bread may live forever; whosoever, therefore, makes use of it often with devotion so strengthens the health and the life of his soul, that it is almost impossible for him to be poisoned by any kind of evil affection. We cannot be nourished with this flesh of life, and live with the affections of death. [...]. Christians who are damned will be unable to make any reply when the just Judge shows them how much they are to blame for dying spiritually, since it was so easy for them to maintain themselves in life and in health by eating His Body which He had left them for this purpose. Unhappy souls, He will say, why did you die, seeing that you had at your command the fruit and the food of life?" (St. Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life", II, 20, 1).

56. The most important effect of the Blessed Eucharist is intimate union with Jesus Christ. The very word "communion" suggests sharing in the life of our Lord and becoming one with Him; if our union with Jesus is promoted by all the sacraments through the grace which they give us, this happens more intensely in the Eucharist, for in it we receive not only grace but the very Author of grace: "Really sharing in the body of the Lord in the breaking of the eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. `Because the bread is one, we, though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread' (1 Corinthians 10:17)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 7). Precisely because the Eucharist is the sacrament which best signifies and effects our union with Christ, it is there that the whole Church manifests and effects its unity: Jesus Christ "instituted in His Church the wonderful sacrament of the Eucharist, by which the unity of the Church is both signified and brought about" (Vatican II, "Unitatis Reditegratio", 2).

57. In Christ, the Incarnate Word sent to mankind, "the whole fullness of deity, dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9) through the ineffable union of His human nature and His divine nature in the Person of the Word. By receiving in this sacrament the body and blood of Christ indissolubly united to His divinity, we share in the divine life of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. We will never be able to appreciate enough the intimacy with God Himself--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--that we are offered in the eucharistic banquet.

"We can therefore do nothing more agreeable to Jesus Christ than to go to Communion with the dispositions suitable to so great an action, since we are then united to Jesus Christ, according to the desire of this all-loving God. I have said with `suitable' and not `worthy' disposition, for who could communicate if it was necessary to be worthy of so great a Savior? No one but a God would be worthy to receive a God. But by this word suitable, or convenient, I mean such a disposition as becomes a miserable creature, who is clothed with the unhappy flesh of Adam. Ordinarily speaking, it is sufficient that we communicate in a state of grace and with an anxious desire of advancing in the love of Jesus Christ" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, "The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced to Practice", Chapter 2).

58. For the third time (cf. 6:31-32 and 6:49) Jesus compares the true bread of life, His own body, with the manna God used to feed the Israelites every day during their forty years in the wilderness--thereby, inviting us to nourish our soul frequently with the food of His body.

"`Going to Communion every day for so many years! Anybody else would be a saint by now, you told me, and I...I'm always the same!' Son, I replied, keep up your daily Communion, and think: what would I be if I had not gone'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 534).
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.