Friday, August 05, 2005

Gospel for Friday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection (Continuation)

[24] Then Jesus told His disciples, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. [25] For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [26] For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? [27] For the Son of Man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done. [28] Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom."

24. "Divine love, `poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us' (Romans 5:5), enables lay people to express concretely in their lives the spirit of the Beatitudes. Following Jesus in His poverty, they feel no depression in want, no pride in plenty; imitating the humble Christ, they are not greedy for vain show (cf. Galatians 5:26). They strive to please God rather than men, always ready to abandon everything for Christ (cf. Luke 14:26) and even to endure persecution in the cause of right (cf. Matthew 5:10), having in mind the Lord's saying? `If any man wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me'" (Matthew 16:24) ("Apostolicam Actuositatem", 4).

25. A Christian cannot ignore these words of Jesus. He has to risk, to gamble, this present life in order to attain eternal life: "How little a life is to offer to God!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 420).

Our Lord's requirement means that we must renounce our own will in order to identify with the will of God and so to ensure that, as St. John of the Cross comments, we do not follow the way of those many people who "would have God will that which they themselves will, and are fretful at having to will that which He wills, and find it repugnant to accommodate their will to that of God. Hence it happens to them that oftentimes they think that that wherein they find not their own will and pleasure is not the will of God; and that, on the other hand, when they themselves find satisfaction, God is satisfied. Thus they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God" ("Dark Night of the Soul", Book 1, Chapter 7, 3).

26-27. Christ's words are crystal-clear: every person has to bear in mind the Last Judgment. Salvation, in other words, is something radically personal: "He will repay every man for what he has done" (verse 27).

Man's goal does not consist in accumulating worldly goods; these are only means to an end; man's last end, his ultimate goal, is God Himself; he possesses God in advance, as it were, here on earth by means of grace, and possesses him fully and forever in Heaven. Jesus shows the route to take to reach this destination--denying oneself (that is, saying no to ease, comfort, selfishness and attachment to temporal goods) and taking up the cross. For no earthly--impermanent--good can compare with the soul's eternal salvation. As St. Thomas expresses it with theological precision, "the least good of grace is superior to the natural good of the entire universe" ("Summa Theologiae", I-II, q. 113, a. 9).

28. Here Jesus is referring not to His Last Coming (which He speaks about in the preceding verse) but to other events which will occur prior to that and which will be a sign of His glorification after death. The Coming He speaks of here may refer firstly to His Resurrection and His appearance thereafter; it could also refer to His Transfiguration, which is itself a manifestation of His glory. This coming of Christ in His Kingdom might also be seen in the destruction of Jerusalem--a sign of the end of the ancient people of Israel as a form of the Kingdom of God and its substitution by the Church, the new Kingdom.
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, August 04, 2005

Gospel for Aug 4, Memorial: St. John Vianney, Priest

From: Matthew 16:13-23:

Peter's Profession of Faith and His Primacy

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, by My Father who is in Heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." [20] Then He trictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection

[21] From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. [22] And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You." [23] But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."

13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time, this authority will be passed on to Peter's successors down through history. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms:
"We teach and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon, Christ had said, `You shall be called Cephas' (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had acknowledged Christ with the confession, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were spoken by the Lord: `Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven' (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus conferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over His whole fold with the words, `Feed My lambs....Feed My sheep' (John 21:15-17) [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: let him be condemned.

"Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, `no one doubts, in fact it is obvious to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,' and governs, `and exercises judgment in his successors' (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter's primacy over the whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself [...]. For this reason, `because of its greater sovereignty,' it was always `necessary for every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement' with the same Roman Church [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord Himself, that is, by divine law, that St. Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of St. Peter in the same primacy: let him be condemned [...].

"We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, We, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks "ex cathedra", that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.

"(Canon) But if anyone presume to contradict this our definition (God forbid that he do so): let him be condemned" (Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", chaps. 1, 2 and 4).
23. Jesus rejects St. Peter's well-intentioned protestations, giving us to understand the capital importance of accepting the cross if we are to attain salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Shortly before this (Matthew 16:17) Jesus had promised Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon"; now He reproves him: "Get behind me, Satan." In the former case Peter's words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, whereas what he says now comes from his own spirit which he has not yet sloughed off.
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, August 03, 2005

Forensic Pathology and the Crucifixion of Jesus - EWTN LIVE- Tonight!

Fr. Mitch Pacwa welcomes Dr. Zugibe to his program this evening. Dr. Zugibe, former Medical Examiner for Rockland County (NY), has done extensive studies on the Shroud of Turin.

Gospel for Wednesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman

[21] And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. [22] And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." [23] But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." [24] He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [25] But she came and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, help me." [26] And He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." [27] She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." [28] Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

21-22. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast, in present-day Lebanon. They were never part of Galilee but they were near its northeastern border. In Jesus' time they were outside the territory of Herod Antipas. Jesus withdrew to this area to escape persecution from Herod and from the Jewish authorities and to concentrate on training His Apostles.

Most of the inhabitants of the district of Tyre and Sidon were pagans. St. Matthew calls this woman a "Canaanite"; according to Genesis (10:15), this district was one of the first to be settled by the Canaanites; St. Mark describes the woman as a "Syrophoenician" (Mark 7:26). Both Gospels point out that she is a pagan, which means that her faith in our Lord is more remarkable; the same applies in the case of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).

The Canaanite woman's prayer is quite perfect: she recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (the Son of David)--which contrasts with the unbelief of the Jews; she expresses her need in clear, simple words; she persists, undismayed by obstacles; and she expresses her request in all humility: "Have mercy on me." Our prayer should have the same qualities of faith, trust, perseverance and humility.

24. What Jesus says here does not take from the universal reference of His teaching (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Our Lord came to bring His Gospel to the whole world, but He Himself addressed only the Jews; later on He will charge His Apostles to preach the Gospel to pagans. St. Paul, in his missionary journeys, also adopted the policy of preaching in the first instance to the Jews (Acts 13:46).

25-28. This dialogue between Jesus and the woman is especially beautiful. By appearing to be harsh He so strengthens the woman's faith that she deserves exceptional praise: "Great is your faith!" Our own conversation with Christ should be like that: "Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 101).
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, August 02, 2005

Gospel for Tuesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14

True Cleanness

[1] Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, [2] "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat."

[10] And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: [11] "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but whatcomes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." [12] Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" [13] He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. [14] Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

10-20. Our Lord proclaims the true meaning of moral precepts and makes it clear that man has to answer to God for his actions. The scribes' mistake consisted in concentrating on externals and not giving pride of place to interior purity of heart. For example, they saw prayer in terms of exact recital of fixed forms of words rather than as a raising of the soul to God (cf. Mt 6:5-6). The same thing happened in the case of dietary regulations.

Jesus avails of the particular cases dealt with in this passage to teach us where to find the true center of moral action: it lies in man's personal decision, good or evil, a decision which is shaped in his heart and which then is expressed in the form of action. For example, the sins which our Lord lists are sins committed in the human heart prior to being acted out. In the Sermon on the Mount he already said this: "Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28).
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.

What is "Faithful Dissent"....????

Catholic Action Network, a local group of malcontents and dissenters, maintains that its members are "progressive" Catholics who are engaging in "Faithful Dissent", whatever that is supposed to mean. This position is maintained even while the group promotes and encourages efforts which are in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church. What does the group say?:
CAN is a network of progressive Catholics seeking justice both in the Catholic Church and in the world. To that end, our views diverge from that of the Vatican on some issues. We remain Catholics, supported by our mission statement:

The Catholic Action Network for Social Justice organizes grassroots actions which address the ever present need for a Catholic voice for social justice in the St. Louis community. It is an independent and inclusive organization that offers education, action, and prayer to work for social justice within the Catholic Church and in our world. The members of CAN provide a vehicle to the St. Louis community to put faith into action. well as the Catholic tradition that supports the primacy of conscience, the initiation of the laity, and the option for Catholics, having fully formed their consciences, to dissent from 'official' Church teaching:

It belongs to the laity, without waiting passively for orders and directives to take the initiative freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws, and structures of the community in which they live.
Pope Paul VI, 1971

The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious liberty. Freedom of this kind means that all [humans] should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power...
Vatican II Council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty, 2

... [D]issent is possible because the teachings mentioned in the canon can be and de facto have been mistaken. To search for the truth is everyone’s duty and right (c748)
American Canon Law Society’s commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law
Of course, one of those intellectual giants upon whom it relies for its position is none other than the pseudo-theologian and "priest", Charles Curran...I refuse to call him "Fr." Curran as his positions are no different than those of any other heretic, apostate, or schismatic the Church has seen thoughout her history- while he may have been ordained a priest, he is one who should have been laicized decades ago as an heretic (IMO). He and others who believe in his prideful and arrogant rhetoric and dissent against the Church (and of Christ) will have much for which to answer someday...May God grant them the humility to recant their positions against the Church and may God grant me the charity to pray for their immortal souls.

Of course, CAN posts a recent Curran screed on the Church's moral teachings while repeating the idiotic reasons on how the Church has erred in the past in her doctines. Some of these have even been presented to me by the pastor of my parish as if he, too, was a Curran disciple...


Monday, August 01, 2005

Required Reading: A Brief Catechism on the Clash of Civilizations

Everyone is talking about it, but few know what it is. The Vatican is confusing matters. Pietro De Marco analyzes Islamic terrorism and the Christian response to it in the light of Huntington's theory.
bySandro Magister

ROMA, August 1, 2005 – "There is no clash of civilizations, there are only small groups of fanatics," Benedict XVI responded last July 20 to a journalist who asked if Islamic terrorism shows that a clash of civilizations is underway. The pope had been besieged by journalists during his first public appearance outside the protected solitude of his mountain retreat, at Les Combes in Introd, close to Mont Blanc, and this was one of his fragmentary responses.

But on July 7, a few hours after the terrorist attacks in London, in an interview broadcast by the major television networks, cardinal secretary of state Angelo Sodano expressed himself differently: "I appeal to the many men of good will to be found in all religions. In the name of the same Father who is in heaven, we must end this clash of civilizations."

That same day, in a preview granted to the press of the telegram of condolences for the victims, the Vatican secretariat of state defined as "anti-Christian acts" the terrorist attacks in London, an expression that was modified for the final statement to read "barbaric acts against humanity." The media interpreted this modification as indicating disagreement among the Vatican leadership over whether to accept or reject the thesis of the "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the Christian West.

Gospel for Aug 1, Memorial: St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

From: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water

[22] Then He (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. [23] And after He had dismissed the crowds He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, [24] but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. [27] But immediately He spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

[28] And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to You on the water." [29] He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; [30] but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" [32] And when they got into boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, "Truly You are the son of God."

[34] And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. [35] And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent round to all the region and brought to Him all that were sick, [36] and besought Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well.

22-23. It has been a very full day, like so many others. First, Jesus works many cures (14:14) and then performs the remarkable miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a symbol of the future Eucharist. The crowd who have been following Him were avid for food, teaching and consolation. Jesus "had compassion on them" (14:14), curing their sick and giving them the comfort of His teaching and the nourishment of food. He continues to do the same, down the centuries, tending to our needs and comforting us with His word and with the nourishment of His own body. Jesus must have been very moved, realizing the vivifying effect the Blessed Sacrament would have on the lives of Christians--a sacrament which is a mystery of life and faith and love. It is understandable that He should feel the need to spend some hours in private to speak to His Father. Jesus' private prayer, in an interlude between one demanding activity and another, teaches us that every Christian needs to take time out for recollection, to speak to His Father, God. On Jesus' frequent personal prayer see, for example, Mark 1:35; 6:47; Luke 5:16; 16:12. See the notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

24-33: This remarkable episode of Jesus walking on the sea must have made a deep impression on the Apostles. It was one of their outstanding memories of the life hey shared with the Master. It is reported not only by St. Matthew, but also by St. Mark (6:45-52), who would have heard about it from St. Peter, and by St. John (6:14-21).

Storms are very frequent on Lake Gennesaret; they cause huge waves and are very dangerous to fishing boats. During His prayer on the hill, Jesus is still mindful of His disciples; He sees them trying to cope with the wind and the waves and comes to their rescue once He has finished praying.

This episode has applications to Christian life. The Church, like the Apostles' boat, also gets into difficulties, and Jesus who watches over His Church comes to its rescue also, after allowing it to wrestle with obstacles and be strengthened in the process. He gives us encouragement: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (14:27); and we show our faith and fidelity by striving to keep an even keel, and by calling on His aid when we feel ourselves weakening: "Lord, save me" (14:30), words of St. Peter which every soul uses when he has recourse to Jesus, his Savior. Then our Lord does save us, and we urgently confess our faith: "Truly you are the Son of God" (14:33).

29-31. St. John Chrysostom ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 50) comments that in this episode Jesus taught Peter to realize, from his own experience, that all his strength comes from our Lord and that he could not rely on his own resources, on his own weaknesses and wretchedness. Chrysostom goes as far as to say that "if we fail to play our part, God ceases to help us." Hence the reproach, 'O man of little faith" (14:31).

When Peter began to be afraid and to doubt, he started to sink, until again, full of faith, he called out, "Lord, save me." If at any time we, like Peter, should begin to weaken, we too should try to bring our faith into play and call on Jesus to save us.

34-36. Learning from the faith of these people on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, every Christian should approach the adorable humanity of the Savior. Christ--God and Man--is accessible to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

"When you approach the Tabernacle remember that He has been awaiting you for twenty centuries" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 537).
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.