Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Christ-like Catholic (1st Sunday of Advent)

"Look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand." St. Luke, 21:28

A famous artist once met a friend walking dejectedly with his head hanging down, a perfect picture of disappointment, discouragement and depression. He had the air and carriage of one who had made a great mis­take, a mistake he felt it impossible to correct.

The artist took an interest in this friend. He wanted to help him. He studied the discouraged man, got to know him more intimately, and then set to work painting a portrait. When the painting was completed the artist invited his friend to his studio, and announced with pride: "This painting is my masterpiece. I shall never do anything better."

The artist drew aside the curtain, and there the discouraged man saw himself on the canvas. Yes, it was himself; yet, it was not himself. It had his figure and features, but the head was erect, the shoulders thrown back, the eyes were bright and hopeful, and the mouth was determined and turned up at the corners. There was ambition and desire in every line.

"You think I am like that?" asked the friend. "Do you see all that in me?"

"Yes," came the quiet, confident answer of the artist.

"Then," declared the despondent one, with a ring of determination in his voice, "in God's name, I'll be that which you see in me."

Today Christ tells us to "look up, and lift up your heads," and He tells us the reason, "because your redemption is at hand." That redemption means especially the coming of Christ the Redeemer at Christmas. But Christ can come and go a thousand times with no benefit to some of you, unless you decide to live according to the plan and program laid down by Christ. No doubt many of you are discouraged and disappointed with your own failure to live up to the high calling of a Christian and a Catholic. Some of you express it like this:

"Father, I seem to make no progress."

During the Church year which we begin today, we intend to consider some of the means to a better Catholic life. We intend to consider Prayer, Precepts, and Virtues. Like that artist, who painted a picture of his friend as that friend wanted to be, we will paint a picture of the practical, Christ­-like Catholic, the kind you ought to be, the kind you want to be. Don't be disheartened if it seems too difficult. Make a start. "Look up and lift up your heads." We intend to consider this year:
1. The six principal precepts or commandments of the Church.
2. We will consider the meaning of prayer, its kinds, its need, its blessing.
3. We intend to explain each part of the Our Father, and also to say a few words about the Hail Mary.
4. We will spend a lot of time and thought on the virtues, those powers of the soul which make us like Christ, His Mother and His saints.
5. Again we will listen to the Eight Beatitudes or ways to happiness as Christ tells them to us in the Sermon on the Mount.
6. What is conscience? What is sin? What is mortal sin? What is venial sin? What do we mean by cooperation in sin? These are some of the vital questions we will attempt to answer.
7. Then the capital sins will be considered.
8. Lastly we will outline a program for a Christ-like life.
We hope there are very few, if any, among you who belong to that class of Catholics who are content with attending Sunday Mass and receiv­ing Holy Communion two or three times a year. Outside of that they make no effort to be Christ-like. To such Church laws are not necessary or obliging. Prayer? Never think of it. No time for it. We hope you are not one of these anaemic, tubercular, jelly-spined, rubber-legged Catholics, who do the very least possible for their souls and still call themselves Catholics.
Christ wants whole-hearted followers. He wants men and women who will serve Him out of love and sincerity, who will generously and lovingly follow His program and His plan as we explain it this year.

Our Catholic religion is so definite, clear-cut and so complete. It lays out the program as Christ laid it out. It gives us helps to follow that plan, the helps given by the God-man Himself.

Men are looking for a way of life. They want to know what to do and how to do it. They want to know what is right and what is wrong. Too many flounder around with this way of thinking and that way of living. They grab at one system or another only to find that it fails them.

Thank God, we of the Church which Christ founded have His plan and His way, which we will try to explain during the coming year.

The artist of our story painted a picture of his despondent friend, a picture that showed him how he wanted to be, how he ought to be. The picture for you and me is the picture of Christ. Behold His statue there, the Christ we want to be like. Keep Him before you all through this year. What we explain is what Christ was and what Christ wants us to be. Ask Him to make you like Him more and more every day. Look up to Him, lift up your eyes to Him. He is your redemption in this world and your salvation in the glory of the next. Amen.
Adapted from Prayer, Precepts and Virtues by Fr. Arthur Tonne (1949)

Be careful what you say....

Vatican clips condom campaigner from Christmas concert lineup
ROME, Italy (AP) -- A Brazilian singer who promoted the use of condoms in an anti-AIDS campaign has been dropped from the lineup of next month's Christmas concert at the Vatican, organizers said Friday.

Daniela Mercury was dropped after Vatican authorities read statements by her in the Brazilian press that went "against the moral doctrine of the church," said Eligio Ermeti, a spokesman for the agency organizing the event.
Source (CNN)

Of course, CNN, thinking that thruth is determined by polls, asks the following question: Was the Vatican right to drop a singer who promotes condom use to prevent Aids from its Christmas concert?

After I voted ...... "Yes" (duhhhhh....), the results were displayed to show out of touch with reality I am:
YES....23%....14902 votes
NO.....77%....48555 votes

My self esteem having been shattered because I apparently voted the wrong way, I closed the CNN window and went back to working with our Christmas"Holiday" lights and decorations.

Gospel for Saturday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 21:34-36

The Need for Vigilance

(Jesus said to His disciples), [34] "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; [35] for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. [36] But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."


34-36. At the end of His discourse Jesus emphasizes that every Christian needs to be vigilant: we do not know the day nor the hour in which He will ask us to render an account of our lives. Therefore, we must at all times be trying to do God's will, so that death, whenever it comes, will find us ready. For those who act in this way, sudden death never takes them by surprise. As St. Paul recommends: "You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Vigilance consists in making a constant effort not to be attached to the things of this world (the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life: cf. John 2:16) and in being assiduous in prayer, which keeps us close to God. If we live in this way, the day we die will be a day of joy and not of terror, for with God's help our vigilance will mean that our souls are ready to receive the visit of our Lord; they are in the state of grace: in meeting Christ we will not be meeting a judge who will find us guilty; instead He will embrace us and lead us into the house of His Father to remain there forever. "Does your soul not burn with the desire to make your Father-God happy when He has to judge you?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 746).

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.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Philippine Politician Wants Church Declared National Security Threat

MANILA, November 25, 2005 ( – A Filipino politician, frustrated by the Catholic Church’s opposition to a population control bill, has suggested that the Church be labelled a threat to national security.

Alagad Partylist Representative Rodante Marcoleta charged that the Catholic Church is responsible for hindering the passage of population-control Bill 3773. “It’s an open secret that there’s strong lobbying by the Catholic Church,” Marcoleta said, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Do you treat the Catholic Church (as) a national threat?”
The evil one succeeds in recruiting more and more accomplices and collaborators of murder into his army of death and despair. He has garnered a large number of benefactors to help spread his pestilence over all the earth. We should expect that these followers of Satan will continue to seek to outlaw and then destroy the Church...

LifeSiteNews link.

Archbishop Burke on Thanksgiving

Archbishop Burke has another great article in the Review this week. He discusses Holy Mass, Father Solanus Casey, OFM Cap: Hero of thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving for the gift of life.

It is especially critical today that we understand, as much as possible, God's gift of life to us and that we vigorously oppose those who would choose to thwart or destroy that life and that we should help others to open their hearts and minds to God's gift of life, thanking Him for His great love for us. In speaking about "Thanksgiving for the gift of life", Archbishop Burke writes:
Reflecting upon the habit of thanksgiving which we should always cultivate, I draw your attention once again to the critical challenge which the state of Missouri faces in the coming months. The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative will be working diligently to have placed on the ballot for next November a referendum to give citizens of Missouri the right to destroy innocent and defenseless human life at its beginning through embryonic stem-cell research and so-called "therapeutic" cloning. In last week’s edition of the St. Louis Review, I wrote about the matter at length. If you did not take the time to read my column of Nov. 11, I ask you, for the sake of our most tiny and defenseless brothers and sisters, to read it now. None of us can justify remaining ignorant of a matter which means life or death for a brother or sister.

On this coming Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, your parish priest will be presenting to you the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life from the moment of its inception, a most fitting teaching as we prepare to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord, who, in His all-gracious love, took our human nature by His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. As we reflect on how the life of our Lord began in the womb of Mary, through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, we recognize that He, like each of us, was once a tiny embryo. Our Lord has redeemed human life in its totality, in every stage of its development. We must, then, do all that we can to stop the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, to protect our brothers and sisters who have no one else to protect them. [all emphasis is mine]
This column can be read in full here.

Don't Sign Danforth's Petition-It's a LIE!

Former Senator John Danforth is promoting a lie in TV spots airing locally. The St. Louis Review has a special section in the paper exposing the deception. Part of that article follows below:

Pro-lifers respond to TV ads featuring Danforth, initiative on stem-cell research
Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

That’s the message leaders of several pro-life groups here and across the state want to share with Catholics in response to two television ads supporting embryonic stem-cell research.

The ads, sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, began airing last weekend and promote the coalition’s Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The effort would add an amendment to the state constitution preventing a ban on embryonic stem-cell research.

"The deception is just outrageous. It has me sputtering mad," said Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, one of several pro-life organizations that have been working to ban human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research in the state.

A 30-second spot features former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, who says, "My entire political career I voted pro-life, and that is exactly why I favor the stem-cell initiative. I believe in saving human life. I want cures to be found, and I want the scientists, the physicians, who are here in our state of Missouri to participate in finding these cures. Please join me in supporting the stem-cell initiative."

What Fichter and other pro-life groups said they want the public to know is that the ads do not clearly state the details of the initiative and what it means for voters.

For example, one of the ads claims that the initiative will ban human cloning, said Fichter, but according to the coalition’s stance on the issue, the ban would only include reproductive human cloning — which is defined as cloning a human to be brought to term.
. . .
"They don’t point out that embryonic stem cells have not been responsible for a single successful treatment, and adult cells have," she said, Adult stem cells are "ethical, and they’re legal, and they don’t destroy human life."

It's unfortunate that many people will be mislead by this self-proclaimed "pro-life" former Senator and 'minister'. I believe that further investigation will show that a member of the Danforth family is one of a number who will benefit financially by conducting "experiments" on human embryos - all while claiming they are not human. One might legitimately wonder why there is such a push to promote this lie? As with many thing of this nature, may one reasonably assume that it is all about money? Might one assume it's not really about saving lives but hoping one might obtain a lucrative patent? How is it even possible to believe people who propose to experiment and kill the most innocent human life? Pathetic!

Perhaps the good 'minister' should review some basic biology, ethics, and morality...Maybe then, he might respond to graces God is giving him so that he might abandon this demonic effort in which he is engaged. We can hope and pray!

The St Louis Review article is here. (Again, the Review article is by subscription only - Why, you ask? Good question! They wouldn't answer me.)

Archbishop of Dublin: Gays Not Excluded from Priesthood

Dublin, Nov. 25 ( - The Archbishop of Dublin has said that homosexual men are not excluded from ordination as Catholic priests, according to a report in the Irish Times.

The archbishop's remarks on the Vatican document appeared to contradict the text of the Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education. But they matched previous statements from Archbishop Martin, who had earlier told The Tablet: "You don't write off a candidate for the priesthood simply because he is a gay man."
The Archbishbishop is furthering a distortion of the language and its meanings: "Gay" is NOT the same as "homosexual orientation". Rather "gay" means "practicing homosexual"...He is engaging in a gross distortion and is promoting scandal and confusion among the faithful by his choice of words.

This prelate should be recalled to Rome for some training in terminology...He probably needs to hear an explanation of the dcoument from the Holy Father, as well.
During his prepared remarks, the archbishop spoke about the problems he saw arising from religious conservatism in the United States; he remarked on the temptation toward "fundamentalism in a time of insecurity."
So, fidelity to Christ and His teachings as taught by His Church amounts to, in the confused minds of some, "fundamentalism in a time of insecurity." Pity the poor Catholics of Dublin. Pray for them!


Gospel for Friday, 34th Week and Final Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 21:29-33

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem
and the End of the World (Continuation)

[29] And He (Jesus) told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; [30] as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. [31] So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. [32] Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. [33] Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."


31. The Kingdom of God, announced by John the Baptist (cf. Matthew 3:2) and described by our Lord in so many parables (cf. Matthew 13; Luke 13:18-20), is already present among the Apostles (Luke 17:20-21), but it is not yet fully manifest. Jesus here describes what it will be like when the Kingdom comes in all its fullness, and He invites us to pray for this very event in the Our Father: "Thy Kingdom come." "The Kingdom of God, which had its beginnings here on earth in the Church of Christ, is not of this world, whose form is passing, and its authentic development cannot be measured by the progress of civilization, of science and of technology. The true growth of the Kingdom of God consists in an ever deepening knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, in an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, in an ever more fervent response to the love of God, and in an ever more generous acceptance of grace and holiness by men" ("Creed of the People of God", 27). At the end of the world everything will be subjected to Christ and God will reign for ever more (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).

32. Everything referring to the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled some forty years after our Lord's death--which meant that Jesus' contemporaries would be able to verify the truth of this prophecy. But the destruction of Jerusalem is a symbol of the end of the world; therefore, it can be said that the generation to which our Lord refers did see the end of the world, in a symbolic way. This verse can also be taken to refer to the generation of believers, that is, not just the particular generation of those Jesus was addressing (cf. note on Matthew 24:32-35).

[The note on Matthew 24:32-35 states:
32-35. Seeing in the destruction of Jerusalem a symbol of the end of the world, St. John Chrysostom applies to it this parable of the fig tree: "Here He also foretells a spiritual spring and a calm which, after the storm of the present life, the righteous will experience; whereas for sinners there will be a winter after the spring they have had [...]. But this was not the only reason why He put before them the parable of the fig tree, to tell them of the interval before His coming; He wanted to show them that His word would assuredly come true. As sure as the coming of spring is the coming of the Son of Man" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 77).

"This generation": this verse is a clear example of what we say in the note on Matthew 24:1 about the destruction of Jerusalem being itself a symbol. "This generation" refers firstly to the people alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But, since that event is symbolic of the end of the world, we can say with St. John Chrysostom that "the Lord was speaking not only of the generation then living, but also of the generation of the believers; for He knows that a generation is distinguished not only by time but also by its mode of religious worship and practice: this is what the Psalmist means when he says that `such is the generation of those who seek Him' (Psalm 24:6)" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 77).]

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, November 24, 2005

Gospel for Thursday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 21:20-28

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem
and the End of the World (Continuation)

(Jesus said to his disciples), [20] "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. [21] Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; [22] for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. [23] Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; [24] they shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; [24] they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

[25] "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, [26] men fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [27] And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. [28] Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.


20-24. Jesus gives quite a detailed prophecy of the destruction of the Holy City. When the Christians living there saw the armies getting closer, they remembered this prophecy and fled to Transjordan (cf. Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History," III, 5). Christ had advised them to flee as soon as possible because this is the time when God would punish Jerusalem for its sins, as the Old Testament predicted (Is 5:5-6).

Catholic tradition sees Israel as symbolizing the Church. In fact, in the Book of Revelation the Church triumphant is called the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. Rev 21:2). Therefore, by applying this passage to the Church, the sufferings the Holy City experiences can symbolize the contradictions the pilgrim Church will experience due to the sins of men, for "she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the children of God" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 48).

24. "The times of the Gentiles" means the period in which the Gentiles, who do not belong to the Jewish people, will become menbers of the new people of God, the Church, until the Jews themselves are converted at the end of the world (cf. Rom 11:11-32).

25-26. Jesus refers to the dramatic changes in natural elements when the world is coming to an end. "The powers of the heavens will be shaken"; that is to say, the whole universe will tremble at the Lord's coming in power and glory.

27-28. Applying to himself the prophecy of Daniel (7:13-14), our Lord speaks of his coming in glory at the end of time. Mankind will see the power and glory of the Son of man, coming to judge the living and the dead. Christ will deliver this judgment in his human capacity. Sacred Scripture describes the solemnity of this event, when the sentence passed on each person in the particular judgment will be confirmed, and God's justice and mercy to men throughout history will shine out for all to see. "It was necessary not only that rewards should await the just and punishments the wicked, in the life to come, but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment. Thus they will become better known and will be rendered more conspicuous to all, and a tribute of praise will be offered by all to the justice and providence of God" ("St Pius V Catechism", I, 8, 4).

This coming of the Lord is, then, a day of terror for evildoers and of joy for those who have remained faithful. The disciples should hold their heads high because their redemption is at hand. It is the day they will receive their reward. The victory won by Christ on the cross--victory over sin, over the devil and over death--will now be seen clearly, with all its implications. Therefore St Paul recommends that we be "awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit 2:13).

"He [Christ] ascended into heaven whence he will come again to judge the living and the dead, each according to his merits. Those who have responded to the love and compassion of God will go into eternal life. Those who have refused them to the end will be consigned to the fire that is never extinguished" (Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God", 12).


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, November 23, 2005

Catholic "leaders" promote gay agenda

From by Matt C. Abbott

The following is a lengthy but eye-opening article from the Nov. 17, 2005 issue of The Wanderer (not available on the publication’s website), which I am reprinting with the permission of Al Matt, Jr., publisher and editor of The Wanderer. I did not write the article, but I am an occasional contributor to the publication.

(The following “special to The Wanderer” report was filed by a veteran reporter who attended all sessions of the NACDLGM meeting described below. Since The Wanderer first began reporting on these NACDLGM conferences, the NACDLGM organizers have become increasingly hostile, threatening libel lawsuits, to Catholic reporters attending, thus the reporter who offered this account to The Wanderer went “undercover” and has requested anonymity -- Al Matt. Jr., publisher.)
Read it here.

Task Force on the Vatican's Document on Homosexuality?

I was just wondering when a new "Task Force" would be put together by Cardinal McCarrick or others to "study" this new Instruction from the Holy See? Certainly it will have to be "reviewed" in order that it be properly "nuanced" for our culture, yes?

Catholic school fires pregnant, unwed teacher

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An unmarried teacher says she was discriminated against and fired from her job at a Roman Catholic school in New York for being pregnant and has filed a federal complaint.
. . .
[Michelle] McCusker, 26, was dismissed from the school after telling school administrators she was pregnant and did not plan to marry.
. . .
In a statement, McCusker said she did not "understand how a religion that prides itself on being forgiving and on valuing life" could fire her for choosing to have a baby.

This baffles the mind...What kind of example does one wish to set before the children enrolled in a Catholic school? Does one wish to present an example that fornication is not morally wrong, perhaps something to be promoted? Then there is the statement about the Church being forgiving...I must have missed the part where she first asked for forgiveness. Of course, we should always be willing to forgive and we must forgive those who ask for forgivness.

One would have thought that, in order to avoid being a source of scandal to children, she might, at least, have requested a transfer to some other position where the possibility of scandal would have been greatly diminished.

It would have been an inexcusable dereliction of duty had the principal ignored such a violation of the Sixth Commandment. It would have been the epitome of incompetence had the principal made the choice to allow this teacher to continue to teach children who are, one hopes, being educated in the Faith, which include, lest one forgets, morality and virtue. The resulting scandal would be inexcusable.

It's unfortunate that some accomodation could not have been made. Since we may not know enough of the details, we can only speculate. However, there are principles to which the school must adhere. There are also principles to which teachers must adhere. A great responsibility rests on those who choose to educate children and who are, in some measure, accountable to God for the souls of those children.

Based on current available information and if this teacher demanded that she be allowed to continue teaching, I don't see that the principal had any other choice than to terminate her employment.

Gospel for Wednesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 21:12-19

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem
and the End of the World (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples), [12] "But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for My name's sake. [13] This will be a time for you to bear testimony. [14] Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; [15] for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. [16] You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; [17] you will be hated by all for My name's sake. [18] But not a hair of your head will perish. [19] By your endurance you will gain your lives."


19. Jesus foretells all kinds of persecution. Persecution itself is something inevitable: "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). His disciples will have need to remember the Lord's warning at the Last Supper: "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you" (John 15:20). However, these persecutions are part of God's providence: they happen because He lets them happen, which He does in order to draw greater good out of them. Persecution provides Christians with an opportunity to bear witness to Christ; without it the blood of martyrs would not adorn the Church. Moreover, our Lord promises to give special help to those who suffer persecution, and He tells them not to be afraid: He will give them of His own wisdom to enable them to defend themselves; He will not permit a hair of their heads to perish, that is, even apparent misfortune and loss will be for them a beginning of Heaven.

From Jesus' words we can also deduce the obligation of every Christian to be ready to lose life rather than offend God. Only those will attain salvation who persevere until the end in faithfulness to the Lord. The three Synoptic Gospels locate His exhortation to perseverance in this discourse (cf. Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13) and St. Matthew gives it elsewhere (Matthew 10:22) as does St. Peter (1 Peter 5:9)--all of which underlines the importance for every Christian of this warning from our Lord.

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, November 22, 2005

The long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuality in seminaries has been released

I received this via email from Catholic World News a short while ago:
Special Advisory from Catholic World News

The long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuality in seminaries has been released, in its entirety, by an Italian news service.

CWN sources in Rome indicate that this document is authentic. The formal
release of the document was expected early next week.

CWN will have full coverage of the document this afternoon.
We'll keep up to date and post it when we find out about it.

*** Updated ***
The document (in Italian) can be viewed at the Adista News site here.

*** Second Update ***
Apparently, the document states, in part:
"...the church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture."

"Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship between men and women. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies..."

"If instead it is a case of homosexual tendencies that are merely the expression of a transitory problem, for example as in the case of an unfinished adolescence, they must however have been clearly overcome for at least three years before ordination as a deacon."
Clearly, if this is the case, then those deeply afflicted with this disorder cannot be ordained, nor can those who engage in homosexual acts, nor can those who aid and abet the "gay" culture.

It appears, based on this translation, that only those who may have had some 'transitory' problem may be admitted to the seminary PROVIDED this 'transitory' problem was overcome at least three years prior to his request for admittance to the seminary.

*** Update #3 ***
The UNOFFICIAL English text follows (copied from freerepublic):


In continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and, in particular, with the decree Optatam totius on priestly formation, the Congregation for Catholic Education has published various documents to promote an adequate integral formation of future priests, offering guidelines and precise norms concerning its different aspects. The Synod of Bishops in 1990 also reflected on priestly formation in the current circumstances, with the intention of complementing the conciliar teaching on this issue and make it more explicit and incisive in the contemporary world. Following this Synod, Pope John Paul II published the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis.

In light of this rich teaching, the present Instruction does not intend to dwell on all the issues in the affective or sexual realm that require attentive discernment throughout the entire period of formation. It contains norms regarding a particular issue, made more urgent by the current situation, and that is the admission or not to Seminaries and Holy Orders of candidates that have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

1. Affective maturity and spiritual fatherhood

According to the constant Tradition of the Church, only baptised males validly receive sacred Ordination. Through the sacrament of Orders the Holy Spirit configures the candidate, with a new and specific designation, to Jesus Christ: the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, Head, Shepherd, and Spouse of the Church. Because of this configuration to Christ, the entire life of the sacred minister must be animated by the gift of his entire person to the Church and by authentic pastoral charity.

The candidate for ordained ministry, therefore, must attain affective maturity. Such maturity will allow him to relate properly with men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood for the ecclesial community that will be entrusted to him.

2. Homosexuality and Ordained Ministry

Since the Second Vatican Council up until today, various documents from the Magisterium – especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church – have confirmed the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented grave sins. Tradition has always considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. As a consequence, they can never be approved under any circumstance.

As regards to deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are present in a certain number of men and women, these also are objectively disordered and are often a trial for such people. They must be accepted with respect and sensitivity; every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.

In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, together with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, deems it necessary to clearly affirm that the Church, even while deeply respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to Seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women. The negative consequences that can result from the Ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be obscured.

When dealing, instead, with homosexual tendencies that might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem, as, for example, delayed adolescence, these must be clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal Ordination.

3. The Church’s discernment of the suitability of candidates

There are two inseparable aspects of every vocation: the free gift of God and the responsible freedom of man. The vocation is a gift of divine grace, received through the Church, in the Church, and for service of the Church. By responding to the call of God, man offers himself freely to Him in love. The mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive sacred Ordination. It rests with the Church – in her responsibility to define the necessary requirements for reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ – to discern the suitability of the one who wishes to enter the Seminary, to accompany him during the years of formation, and to call him to Holy Orders, if he is judged to possess the required qualities.

The formation of the future priest must articulate, in an essential complementarity, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is important to recall the particular importance of human formation as the necessary foundation of all formation. To admit a candidate to diaconal Ordination, the Church must verify, among other things, that the candidate for priesthood has attained affective maturity.

The call to Orders is the personal responsibility of the Bishop or the General Superior. Keeping in mind the view of those to whom they entrusted the responsibility of formation, the Bishop or General Superior, before admitting the candidate to Ordination, must arrive at a morally certain judgment regarding his qualities. In the case of a serious doubt, he must not admit him to Ordination.

The discernment of the vocation and the maturity of the candidate is also the grave duty of the rector and other formators in the Seminary. Before every Ordination, the rector must give his judgment on the qualities of the candidate required by the Church.

In discernment of the suitability for Ordination, the spiritual director has an important task. Even though he his bound by secrecy, he represents the Church in the internal forum. In meetings with the candidate, the spiritual director must clearly recall the Church’s demands regarding priestly chastity and the specific affective maturity of the priest, as well as help him discern if he has the necessary qualities. He has the obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the personality and assure that the candidate does not have sexual disorders that are incompatible with priesthood. If a candidate is actively homosexual or shows deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, as well as his confessor, has the duty to dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards Ordination.

It remains understood that the candidate himself is primarily responsible for his own formation. He must offer himself in trust to the discernment of the Church, of the Bishop that calls him to Orders, of the rector of the Seminary, of the spiritual director, and of any other educator in the Seminary to which the Bishop or General Superior has given the task of forming future priests. It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination. Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty, and availability that must characterise the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministerial priesthood.


This Congregation reaffirms that it is necessity that Bishops, Superior Generals, and all those responsible carry out an attentive discernment regarding the suitability of candidates to Holy Orders, from the admission to Seminary to Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a concept of ministerial priesthood that is in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Bishops, Episcopal Conferences, and Superior Generals should assure that the norms of this instruction are faithfully observed for the good of the candidates themselves and to always assure for the Church suitable priests, true shepherds according to the heart of Christ.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, on 31 August 2005, approved this Instruction and ordered its publication.

Rome, 4 November 2005, Memorial of St Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries.

Zenon Card. Grocholewski, Prefect
+ J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., Titular Arch. of Vertara, Secretary


Addendum: Catholic World News also has the full tect of the document on its site here. The text above may be from CWNews. I have not checked it thoroughly enough to make that determination.

Another translation can be read at New Oxford Review.

A brief, cursory reading seems to indicate that the document lacks "teeth"...This needs to be studied further.

US Catholic Politicians Confused About Faith, Bishop Says

Now, that's a News Flash! In all seriousness though, we must continue to pray for and support Archbishops/Bishops Gomez, Burke, Chaput, Bruskewitz, Sheridan and others, so that they will continue to have the courage to proclaim the teachings of the Church amid cries of rebellion and dissent.
Nov. 22 (CNA/ - During the International Congress on Churches, the Lay State and Society, Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, Texas said most Catholic politicians in the United States have fallen into "a distorted understanding of what their faith is."

During a speech on Catholics and public life in the US, Archbishop Gomez noted that "today 70% of politicians who claim to be Catholic in Congress and the Senate support abortion, and that figure reaches almost 90 percent in traditional Catholic states such as Massachusetts or New York."

Many Catholic politicians, inspired by the interpretation of some influential theologians, consider all the teachings of the Church to be on equal footing. "They respect ‘a large part’ of that doctrine, especially in social matters, but they disagree on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and homosexual unions. According to them, they adhere to a ‘large part’ and say they are adhering to it all."
More here.

Pope, in rare move, disciplines Assisi monks

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict's decision to turn the screws on Franciscan monks in Assisi -- considered too leftist by some Italian Catholics -- has provoked a political storm in Italy as the country approaches national elections.

Benedict at the weekend issued a rare decree curbing the autonomy of the monks who are the guardians of the body of St Francis and who welcome millions of visitors from around the world to his burial place in the central Umbria region.

The decree by the conservative Pope put the monks under control of three people -- the local bishop, a Vatican cardinal, and the head of the Italian bishops conference.
. . .
In the past decades, the monks of Assisi, which is one of the holiest and most visited sites in all Christendom, have been associated with leftist political parties and leftist causes.
. . .
The monks themselves sought to play down the papal curb, saying in a statement they would continue carrying out their duties in the "spirit of St. Francis".
Probably much the same way that some here in the U.S. and elsewhere invoke that enigmatic "spirit of Vatican II"???

Complete article here.

Pope expels Australian priest

A NEW South Wales priest excommunicated from the Catholic Church has been stripped of his holy orders and responsibilities by the Pope because of his association with William Kamm's religious sect.

Kamm, known to his followers as The Little Pebble, was last month jailed for at least three-and-a-half years for indecently assaulting a then 15-year-old member of his outlawed Order of St Charbel, at Cambewarra, near Nowra on the south coast.

Malcolm Broussard, who has been with the sect for 20 years, is a self-proclaimed bishop and major superior residing in the Cambewarra community known as Gethsemene.

One of Kamm's staunchest supporters, Mr Broussard was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1978, in Houston Texas, for the diocese of Galveston-Houston.

He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in June 2003 for attempting to have himself consecrated as a bishop without papal consent within the sect.
Deluded...and in need of prayers.

Article here.

Archbishop Burke Discusses the Remedy of Liturgical Abuses

In his ongoing discussion of the Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, Archbishop Burke discusses liturgical abuses and their remedies. He notes:
....a liturgical abuse is, in fact, "a real falsification of Catholic liturgy." Constant vigilance is required against such falsification and, when it occurs, it must be corrected. It makes no sense for the Church to acknowledge serious wounds inflicted upon her sacred worship by us without providing us, at the same time, the effective remedy to treat the wounds.

The weighty responsibility for the correct celebration of the sacred liturgy belongs to the priest and bishop. The instruction quotes St. Thomas Aquinas, who declared in his Summa Theologica:
"The vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed" (n. 169).
I know it might be viewed as wishful tihnking, but perhaps, with God's grace, some of those who continually engage in illicit changes of and additions to the sacred liturgy, might be moved to heed the words of His Excellency...

Complete article is here.

Gospel for Nov 22, Memorial: St. Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr

From: Luke 21:5-11

Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End of the World

[5] And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, He (Jesus) said, [6] "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." [7] And they asked Him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" [8] And He said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and, 'The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. [9] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once."

[10] Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; [11] there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven."


5-36. The disciples are in awe of the magnificence of the temple, and Jesus uses the occasion to give a long discourse, known as the "eschatological discourse" because it has to do with the last days of the world. The account given here is very similar to those in the other Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 24:1-51; Mk 13:1-37). The discourse deals with three inter-connected subjects--the destruction of Jerusalem (which took place some forty years later), the end of the world, and the second coming of Christ in glory and majesty. Jesus, who also predicts here the persecution of the Church will experience, exhorts His disciples to be patient, to pray and be watchful.

Our Lord speaks here in the style and language of prophecy, using images taken from the Old Testament; also, in this discourse prophecies which are going to be fulfilled very soon are mixed in with others which have to do with the end of the world. It is not our Lord's intention to satisfy people's curiosity about future events, but to protect them from being discouraged and scandalized about what is going to happen in the days immediately ahead. This explains why He exhorts them: "Take heed that you are not led astray" (v. 8); "do not be tempted" (v. 9); "watch at all times" (v. 34).

8. On hearing that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed, the disciples ask what sign will be given as a warning of these events (vv. 5-7). Jesus answers by telling them "not to be led astray," that is to say, not to expect any warning; not to be misled by false prophets; to stay faithful to Him. These false prophets will come along claiming to be the Messiah ("I am He!"). Our Lord's reply in fact refers to two events which in the Jewish mind were interrelated--the destruction of the Holy City and the end of the world. This is why He goes on to speak of both events and implies that there will be a long gap between the two; the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem are a kind of sign or symbol of the catastrophes which will mark the end of the world.

9-11. Our Lord does not want His disciples to confuse just any catastrophe--famine, earthquake, war--or even persecution with the signals of the end of the world. He exhorts them quite clearly: "Do not be tempted," because although all these has to happen, "the end will not be at once;" in spite of the difficulties of all kinds the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth. Difficulties should not paralyze the preaching of the faith.
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, November 21, 2005

LifeTeen founder arrested

Phoenix, Nov. 21 ( - Msgr. Dale Fushek, the fouder of the popular LifeTeen youth program, was arrested today in Mesa, the Arizona Republic has reported. He will face several charges of assault, indecent exposure, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Msgr. Fushek, who was the vicar general of the Phoenix diocese under Bishop Thomas O'Brien, was replaced in that role in 2003, after Bishop O'Brien resigned and was replaced by Bishop Thomas Olmstead. Fushek was suspended from active ministry in December of last year after he was accused of involvement in the sexual abuse of a minor. He has consistently said that he is not guilty of the charges.

From the Arizona Republic we read:
Fushek resigned as pastor of St. Timothy's in April after someone claimed to have recovered a repressed memory involving sexual improprieties by Fushek in 1985.
Ah yes, the extraordinary "recovered" memories claim. I wonder how long it took to 'plant' these 'memories' and have them grow?

The Arizona Republic article is here.

Perversion in Brazil

Abuser priest provides checklist for selecting victims

As mush as I dislike NCR, this article shows the depths of depravity into which some 'priests' have ventured. It appears they have received their instructions directly from Satan himself. I was sickened as I read this excerpts of the list of instructions on how to go about the premeditated crime of sodomy and rape. I find it surprising that I have not heard of similar instances here...
A Brazilian newsmagazine has reported that two priests recently convicted for sexual abuse of minor boys kept diaries of their experiences, often featuring graphic sexual details, as well as in one instance a set of "rules" for selecting victims. . .

According to [a] report, a 48-year-old Brazilian priest named Tarcisio Tadeu Spricigo, convicted in 2003 of the sexual abuse of a nine-year-old boy, kept a diary in which he listed 10 guidelines for identifying potential victims and acting with impunity. They included:

"Age: 7, 8, 9 or 10"
"Sex: Male"
"Social condition: poor"
"Family condition: preferably a boy without a father, living with a single mother or a sister"
"Where to find him: in the streets, in schools or in families"
"How to lure him: guitar lessons, or service as an altar boy or girl"
"Very important to keep the family at a distance"
"Possibilities: an affectionate young man, calm, without inhibitions, missing a father, without moralisms"
"Find out what pleases the young man and, departing from that premise, lead him to give everything to me"
"How to present yourself: always certain, serious, dominating, like a father, never ask questions, always have certainties"

Ritual of renewal: 1,200 gather for cathedral rededication

The faithful returned to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday for a grand rededication ceremony featuring ancient prayers and blessings.
It was the first time in more than two years the public was able to see the $34 million renovated cathedral.

Bishop William K. Weigand, spiritual leader of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, led a procession into the packed downtown cathedral to begin the elaborate worship service "baptizing" the church.
. . .
Every aspect of the 116-year-old cathedral has been updated. Some of the biggest changes - and the most mentioned by parishioners - are the 2,000-pound crucifix hanging over the altar, the chapel inside the church and the improved lighting.

But the dome, which was closed in the 1930s, received the most attention. For the first time in 70 years, parishioners were able to see the inside of the dome.
May God be praised for allowing His House to refurbished in such a wonderful manner. The cathedral looks beautiful from the pictures. Bishop Wiegand also deserves a special thanks for keeping the renovation effort from becoming a 'wreck-ovation' as we have seen at other cathedrals in the past.

Link to article here. (May require registration)

Nuns follow call of circus ministry

Being at the circus can be fun. Participating in the circus can be great. Becoming part of the circus can be divine, especially if you're a missionary.

That's the assignment given to Sister Dorothy Fabritze and Sister Bernard Overkamp, Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart.

The Catholic nuns joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to serve the spiritual or religious needs of the performers and workers.
I have never heard of this before but apparently it's been going on for decades. I believe priests were initially assigned to help.


The Church’s Infallible and Immutable Doctrine on Contraception Stands Amid Growing Opposition

This is a MUST READ article...As a matter of fact, a copy should be sent to those who are ambivalent or confused about AIDS & condom use and other issues regarding this topic.
Recent statements by Cardinals George Cottier and Javier Lozano Barragán that condom use is legitimate in certain circumstances to prevent the spread of AIDS1 are creating confusion among Catholics worldwide and causing enormous scanda(l).

Unfortunately, these high-ranking prelates, both holding important posts in the Roman Curia, have joined a growing number of prominent Church figures around the world who affirm publicly that use of condoms is sometimes permissible.(2)

Such statements are particularly unfortunate in the context of an eroticized society where sexual obsession imbues the whole culture and a powerful and active homosexual movement seeks to impose its ideology on every nation.(3)

It is with great consternation that we find ourselves obliged to oppose the public statements of such eminent cardinals. However, we cannot ignore the continuous infallible teachings of the Supreme Magisterium of the Church in such a delicate matter as the use of contraceptive devices in conjugal relations.
More here.

Bishop Finn: Opus Dei has strengthened my spiritual life

KANSAS CITY - Though he didn't summon a press conference to announce his connection to Opus Dei, Bishop Robert W. Finn insists he didn't keep it a secret, either.

Those listening carefully at his May 3, 2004, Mass of consecration as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph would have heard the name of Opus Dei's founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, intoned at the bishop's request during the Litany of Saints. They might have noticed an unfamiliar priest, Father Jay Alvarez, a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei, serving as an attendant, whom Bishop Finn introduced to all who asked as his spiritual director.
More here.

Another of the bishops who came from the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Gospel for Nov 21, Memorial: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Luke 21:1-4

The Widow's Mite

[1] He (Jesus) looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; [2] and He saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. [3] And He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; [4] for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living she had."


1-4. Our Lord, surrounded by His disciples, watches people putting offerings into the treasury. This was a place in the women's courtyard, where there were various collection boxes for the offerings of the faithful. Just then, something happens whose significance Jesus wants His disciples to notice: a poor widow puts in two small coins, of very little value. He describes this as the greatest offering of all, praising the generosity of giving alms for this purpose, particularly that of those people who give part of what they need. Our Lord is moved by this tiny offering because in her case it implies a big sacrifice. "The Lord does not look", St. John Chrysostom comments, "at the amount offered but at the affection with which it is offered" ("Hom. on Heb", 1). Generosity is of the essence of almsgiving. This woman teaches us that we can move God's heart if we give Him all we can, which will always amount to very little even if we give our very lives. "How little a life is to offer to God!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 42).

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, November 20, 2005

An Audio Slideshow of the Renovated Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento

Gospel for Sunday, Solemnity: Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

From: Matthew 25:31-46

The Last Judgment

[31] "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. [32] Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, [33] and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left. [34] Then the King will say to those at His right hand, `Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; [35] for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, [36] I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.' [37] Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see Thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? [38] And when did we see Thee a stranger and welcome Thee, or naked and clothe Thee? [39] And when did we see Thee sick or in prison and visit Thee?' [40] And the King will answer them, `Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of My brethren, you did it to Me.' [41] Then He will say to those at His left hand, `Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; [42] for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, [43] I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' [44] Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?' [45] Then He will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.' [46] And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."


31-46. The three parables (Matthew 24:42-51; 25:1-13; and 25:14-30) are completed by the announcement of a rigorous last judgment, a last act in a drama, in which all matters of justice are resolved. Christian tradition calls it the Last Judgment, to distinguish it from the "Particular Judgment" which everyone undergoes immediately after death. The sentence pronounced at the end of time will simply be a public, formal confirmation of that already passed on the good and the evil, the elect and the reprobate.

31-33. In the Prophets and in the Book of Revelation the Messiah is depicted on a throne, like a judge. This is how Jesus will come at the end of the world, to judge the living and the dead.

The Last Judgment is a truth spelled out in the very earliest credal statements of the Church and dogma of faith solemnly defined by Benedict XII in the Constitution "Benedictus Deus" (29 January 1336).

35-46. All the various things listed in this passage (giving people food and drink, clothing them, visiting them) become works of Christian charity when the person doing them sees Christ in these "least" of His brethren.

Here we can see the seriousness of sins of omission. Failure to do something which one should do means leaving Christ unattended.

"We must learn to recognize Christ when He comes out to meet us in our brothers, the people around us. No human life is ever isolated. It is bound up with other lives. No man or woman is a single verse; we all make up one divine poem which God writes with the cooperation of our freedom" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 111).

We will be judged on the degree and quality of our love (cf. St. John of the Cross, "Spiritual Sentences and Maxims", 57). Our Lord will ask us to account not only for the evil we have done but also for the good we have omitted. We can see that sins of omission are a very serious matter and that the basis of love of neighbor is Christ's presence in the least of our brothers and sisters.

St. Teresa of Avila writes: "Here the Lord asks only two things of us: love for His Majesty and love of our neighbor. It is for these two virtues that we must strive, and if we attain them perfectly we are doing His will [...]. The surest sign that we are keeping these two commandments is, I think, that we should really be loving our neighbor; for we cannot be sure if we are loving God, although we may have good reasons for believing that we are, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor. And be certain that, the farther advanced you find you are in this, the greater the love you will have for God; for so dearly does His Majesty love us that He will reward our love for our neighbor by increasing the love which we bear to Himself, and that in a thousand ways: this I cannot doubt" ("Interior Castle", V, 3).

This parable clearly shows that Christianity cannot be reduced to a kind of agency for "doing good". Service of our neighbor acquires supernatural value when it is done out of love for Christ, when we see Christ in the person in need. This is why St. Paul asserts that "if I give away all I have...but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3). Any interpretation of Jesus' teaching on the Last Judgment would be wide of the mark if it gave it a materialistic meaning or confused mere philanthropy with genuine Christian charity.

40-45. In describing the exigencies of Christian charity which gives meaning to "social aid", the Second Vatican Council says: "Wishing to come to topics that are practical and of some urgency, the Council lays stress on respect for the human person: everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as another self, bearing in mind, above all, his life and the means necessary for living it in a dignified way, `lest he follow the example of the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the poor man' (cf. Luke 16:18-31).

"Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of every man, no matter who he is, and if we meet him, to come to his aid in a positive way, whether he is an aged person abandoned by all, a foreign worker despised without reason, a refugee, an illegitimate child wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of Christ: `As you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" ("Gaudium Et Spes," 27).

46. The eternal punishment of the reprobate and the eternal reward of the elect are a dogma of faith solemnly defined by the Magisterium of the Church in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): "He [Christ] will come at the end of the world; He will judge the living and the dead; and He will reward all, both the lost and the elect, according to their works. And all these will rise with their own bodies which they now have so that they may receive according to their works, whether good or bad; the wicked, a perpetual punishment with the devil; the good, eternal glory with Christ."

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

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