Saturday, April 01, 2006

Dr. Peters Asks: Is Bishop Bruskewitz right on this one?

Gospel for Saturday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 7:40-53

Different Opinions About Jesus (Continuation)

[40] When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This is really the prophet." [41] Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee? [42] Has not the Scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" [43] So there was a division among the people over Him. [44] Some of them wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

[45] The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why did you not bring Him?" [46] The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this man!" [47] The Pharisees answered them, "Are you led astray, you also? [48] Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in Him? [49] But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed." [50] Nicodemus, who had gone to Him before, and who was one of them, said to them, [51] "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" [52] They replied, "Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee." [53] They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.


40-43. "The prophet" refers to Deuteronomy 18:18, which predicts the coming of a prophet during the last times, a prophet to whom all must listen (cf. John 1:21; 6:14); and "the Christ" ("the Messiah") was the title most used in the Old Testament to designate the future Savior whom God would send. This passage shows us, once again, the range of people's attitudes towards Jesus. Many Jews--not taking the trouble to check--did not know that He had been born in Bethlehem, the city of David, where Micah (5:2) says the Lord will be born. It was their own fault that they used this ignorance as an excuse for not accepting Christ. Others, however, realized from His miracles that He must be the Messiah. The same pattern obtains throughout history: some people see Him simply as an extraordinary man, not wanting to admit that His greatness comes precisely from the fact the He is the Son of God.

46. The truth begins to influence the straightforward souls of the servants of the Sanhedrin but it cannot make headway against the obstinacy of the Pharisees. "Notice that the Pharisees and scribes derive no benefit either from witnessing miracles or reading the Scriptures; whereas their servants, without these helps, were captivated by a single discourse, and those who set out to arrest Jesus went back under the influence of His authority. And they did not say, `We cannot arrest Him, the people will not let us'; instead they extolled Christ's wisdom. Not only is their prudence admirable, for they did not need signs; it is also impressive that they were won over by His teaching on its own; they did not say, in effect, `No man has ever worked such miracles,' but `No man ever spoke like this man.' Their conviction also is worthy of admiration: they go to the Pharisees, who were opposed to Christ, and address them in the way they do" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. On St. John", 9).
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, March 31, 2006

Totus Tuus: The Source of John Paul's Greatness

From an Email received earlier today:

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this event in honor of
the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

Totus Tuus: The Source of John Paul's Greatness is the title of a talk that will be given by John Mallon on April 2, 2006 at 3:00 pm at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. St Francis Church is located at 1901 N W 19. the Church will be open at 2:45 with the talk beginning at 3pm. We will conclude with the praying of the Rosary.

Here is some info on John Mallon:

John Mallon received his bachelor's degree, Cum Laude, in theology from Boston College in 1989, where he was nominated to the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. Franciscan University of Steubenville offered him The University's Disciples of Christ Scholarship for a master¹s degree in theology, which he earned in 1993. In 1996 John received the Alumni Citizenship Award from Franciscan University in recognition of his contributions to civic life. As editor of the Sooner Catholic from 1994-97 the paper won 11 journalism awards. John has been an editorial consultant and a columnist for The Daily Oklahoman.

He served as a speech writer and communications director for Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and attended the 2002 U.S. Bishops' meeting in Dallas at the invitation of, and as a consultant on Catholic issues to then-Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.

From 1997 to the present he has been Contributing Editor for Inside the Vatican magazine, where he has a monthly column, Status Ecclesiae. His work has also appeared in The Washington Times, , The National Review Online , WorldNetDaily , the Boston Globe, Catholic World Report, AD 2000 (Australia), The National Catholic Register, Crisis, The Boston Pilot, Catholic Online , The Fact , The Messenger of St. Anthony (Italy), Columbia magazine, This Rock, Hearth (now Canticle), and The New Oxford Review. His articles have been translated into German, French and Spanish.

His book contributions include Spiritual Journeys: Towards the Fullness of Faith; The Madison Center Common Sense Guide to American Colleges 1991-1992; Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience, by Philip Lawler; Their Faith has Touched Us: The Legacies of Three Young Oklahoma City Bombing Victims, by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda.

John Mallon's Column Status Ecclesiae appears monthy in Inside the Vatican magazine and now on the ITV website here:

See John Mallon's Archive at TheFactIs.Org Here:

And his Reality Check Archive on Catholic Online at

Also visit John Mallon's Archive at

And Blog:

Janet Smith debates Charles Curran on Contraception

Courtesy of the American Papist...

TFP asks, "Is San Francisco Intolerant?"

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors lashes out against the Vatican and Catholic morality. It urges Catholics, including newly-installed Archbishop George H. Nierderauer, to defy the Vatican's directives forbidding placement of children with homosexual pairs.

More here.

Charlotte Bishop: Foot-washing for men only

And, of course, because of the failure to be obedient to liturgical law, some parishioners and priests question why women are being left out. Perhaps, as this optional rite suggests, it is to help recall that evening with Jesus and his Apostles, and the institution of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. This detail seems to be forgotten today, especially in an atmosphere of political correctness and "active participation" of the lay faithful...
The head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is reminding priests that only men's feet are to be washed at Holy Thursday services, a move creating a buzz among many N.C. Catholics this Lenten season.

"I have vowed respect and obedience to my bishop. With sadness, I will obey Bishop (Peter) Jugis, with apologies to the women of St. Ann's parish," the Rev. Conrad Hoover of St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte said Thursday.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Jenifer Register, a member of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, who describes herself as "fired up" over the issue. "I feel that women are a huge part of the church. The church would not survive without women."
For many, the issue is about "ME"...and for what it is worth, the "ME" should always be last, not foremost in our minds. We cannot follow our Lord's example of being a servant if we are so concerned with ourselves before others.

When the Church reinstituted this rite in 1955, the reasoning was clear. It only became muddied later with priests and bishops who decided they knew more than the Church.
Jugis is following Vatican guidelines in reminding priests that foot-washing is for men only on Holy Thursday, this year on April 13. Holy Thursday, he added, reflects what happened at the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of the 12 disciples, all men, as a symbol of servanthood.
Bill Ryan, a spokesman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, said bishops in each of the nation's 195 dioceses can set their own foot-washing guidelines.
Mr Ryan is mistaken, but then, he speaks for the USCCB. Perhaps that explains his inability to comprehend the liturgical guidelines.


Bishop Bruskewitz Issues a Must-Read Statement

Bishop Bruskewitz released this statement on March 31:

Some woman named Patricia O'Donnell Ewers, who is the Chair of something called "A National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People", has said that her Board "calls for strong fraternal correction of the Diocese of Lincoln." The Diocese of Lincoln has nothing to be corrected for, since the Diocese of Lincoln is and has always been in full compliance with all laws of the Catholic Church and with all civil laws. Furthermore, Ewers and her Board have no authority in the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Lincoln does not recognize them as having any significance.

It is well known that some of the members of Ewers' Board are ardent advocates of partial birth abortion, other abortions, human cloning, and other moral errors. It is understandable then how such persons could dislike the Diocese of Lincoln, which upholds the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.

The words attributed to Ewers seem to confirm the suspicion that the members of her Board are unfamiliar with Catholic teachings, Catholic ecclesiology, and even the basic rudiments of the Catholic Catechism. Rather than concerning themselves with the Diocese of Lincoln about which they appear completely ignorant, Ewers and her colleagues would occupy themselves in a better way by learning something about the Catholic religion and the traditions and doctrines and laws of the Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Lincoln does not see any reason for the existence of Ewers and her organization.
Thank God for Bishop Bruskewitz...The National Review Board is a joke!

Patricia Ewers wrote, in part (Link, USCCB PDF File):
In just three years, dioceses/eparchies have worked extremely hard to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. This conclusion is strongly supported by the audit results.

It disheartens the Board, however, that the bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the eparch of the Eparchy of Newton for Melkite Catholics in Newton, Massachusetts, have refused to participate in the audit process, and the Board calls for strong fraternal correction in these refusals.

Though their governance authority is fully understood by the Board, nonetheless, these refusals go against all of the efforts of the Church to be open and transparent in addressing child protection and reaching out to victims to help with their healing. (my emphasis)


Gospel for Friday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus Goes Up to Jerusalem During the Feast of Tabernacles

[1] After this Jesus went about in Galilee; He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. [2] Now the Jews' feast of Tabernacles was at hand. [10] But after His brethren had gone up to the feast, then He also went up, not publicly but in private.

[25] Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, "Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? [26] And here He is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to Him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? [27 Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from. [28] So Jesus proclaimed, as He taught in the temple, "You know where I come from? But I have not come of My own accord; He who sent Me is true, and Him you do not know. [29] I know Him, for I come from Him, and He sent Me." [30] So they sought to arrest Him; but no one laid hands on Him, because His hour had not yet come.


1-2. The Jewish custom was for closer relatives to be called "brothers", brethren (cf. notes on Matthew 12:46-47 and Mark 6:1-3). These relatives of Jesus followed Him without understanding His teaching or His mission (cf. Matthew 3:31); but because He worked such obvious miracles in Galilee (cf. Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10, 22-26) they suggest to Him that He show Himself publicly in Jerusalem and throughout Judea. Perhaps they wanted Him to be a big success, which would have indulged their family pride.

2. The name of the feast recalls the time the Israelites spent living under canvas in the wilderness (cf. Leviticus 23:34-36). During the eight days the feast lasted (cf. Nehemiah 8:13-18), around the beginning of autumn, the Jews commemorated the protection God had given the Israelites over the forty years of the Exodus. Because it coincided with the end of the harvest, it was also called the feast of ingathering (cf. Exodus 23:16).

10. Because He had not arrived in advance of the feast (which was what people normally did), the first caravans would have reported that Jesus was not coming up, and therefore the members of the Sanhedrin would have stopped planning anything against Him (cf. 7:1). By going up later, the religious authorities would not dare make any move against Him for fear of hostile public reaction (cf. Matthew 26:5). Jesus, possibly accompanied by His disciples, arrives unnoticed at Jerusalem, "in private", almost in a hidden way. Half-way through the feast, on the fourth or fifth day, He begins to preach in the temple (cf. 7:14).

27. In this chapter we often see the Jews disconcerted, in two minds. They argue with one another over whether Jesus is the Messiah, or a prophet, or an impostor (verse 12); they do not know where He gets His wisdom from (verse 15); they are short-tempered (verses 19-20); and they are surprised by the attitudes of the Sanhedrin (verse 26). Despite the signs they have seen (miracles, teaching) they do not want to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Perhaps some, thinking that He came from Nazareth and was the son of Joseph and Mary, cannot see how this fits in with the notion usually taken from Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 53:1-8) about the Messiah's origin being unknown--except for His coming from the line of David and being born in Bethlehem (cf. Matthew 2:5 which quotes Micah 5:2; cf. John 7:42). In fact Jesus did fulfill those prophetic predictions, though most Jews did not know it because they knew nothing about His virginal birth in Bethlehem or His descent from David. Others must have known that He was of the house of David and had been born in Bethlehem, but even so they did not want to accept His teaching because it demanded a mental and moral conversion which they were not ready to make.

28-29. Not without a certain irony, Jesus refers to the superficial knowledge these Jews had of Him: however, He asserts that He comes from the Father who has sent Him, whom only He knows, precisely because He is the Son of God (cf. John 1:18).

30. The Jews realized that Jesus was making Himself God's equal, which was regarded as blasphemy and, according to the Law, was something punishable by death by stoning (cf. Leviticus 24:15-16, 23).

This is not the first time St. John refers to the Jews' hostility (cf. John 5:10), nor will it be the last (8:59; 10:31-33). He stresses this hostility because it was a fact and perhaps also to show that Jesus acts freely when, to fulfill the Father's will He gives Himself over to His enemies when His "hour" arrives (cf. John 18:4-8). "He did not therefore mean an hour when He would be forced to die, but one when He would allow Himself to be put to death. For He was waiting for the time in which He should die, even as He waited for the time in which He should be born" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang., 31, 5).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The State of the Catholic Church Today - according to...

...the following:

"Bishop" Patricia Fresen who was "forced" to leave her Dominican community after her "ordination" to the priesthood in August 2003.(More info here) and here.

Marek Bozek, the excommunicated priest who was hired to be the "pastor" of St Stanislaus Church (which is no longer Catholic, by the way).

And the "Reverend" Frank Krebs, the "pastor" of Sts. Clare & Francis Ecumenical "Catholic" Community. He is an ex Catholic priest who is, as has been reported, living with his "partner" in homosexual relationship.

This group of terribly confused people were all interviewed on KWMU radio on Today, Thursday, March 30, 2006. You may wish to use this link below to hear it - the MP3 is about 20MB or so.

As I am still listening to it, I must reserve my comments for the time being except for this. All of them are setting themselves above the Magisterium of the Church. All of them publicly deny the authority of the Church. Yet they continue to attempt to represent themselves "Catholic" when, in fact, they are not.

This interview should be quite "enlightening". My media player says it lasts about 50 minutes. Enjoy!

Zenit - Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday

Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, states:
We already addressed the theme of washing women's feet in our column of March 23, 2004, and the subsequent follow-up on April 6.

Since then, there has been no change in the universal norm which reserves this rite to men as stated in the circular letter "Paschales Solemnitatis" (Jan. 16, 1988) and the rubrics of the 2002 Latin Roman Missal.

No. 51 of the circular letter states: "The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.' This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained."

About a year ago, however, the Holy See, while affirming that the men-only rule remains the norm, did permit a U.S. bishop to also wash women's feet if he considered it pastorally necessary in specific cases. This permission was for a particular case and from a strictly legal point of view has no value outside the diocese in question.

I believe that the best option, as "Paschales Solemnitatis" states, is to maintain the tradition and explain its proper significance.

This means preparing the rite following liturgical law to the letter, explain its meaning as an evocation of Christ's gesture of service and charity to his apostles, and avoid getting embroiled in controversies that try to attribute to the rite meanings it was never meant to have.
Complete article is here.

One year ago today...

...Pope John Paul II went to the window of his apartment for what was to be the last time that he would make a public appearance.
Unable to speak, the Pope stood silently in the window for about 4 minutes. Three messages were read aloud in his name to different groups in the crowd: one message in Italian, one in German, and the last in his native Polish. In those messages the Pope thanked the people for being there, bearing witness to their support for him, and keeping him in their prayers. After the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, the Pope gave his blessing-- still in silence, tracing the Sign of the Cross with his hand.
. . .
Three days after that appearance, in the evening of April 2, Pope John Paul was dead.

Gospel for Thursday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 5:31-47

Christ Defends His Action (Continuation)

(Jesus said to the Jews,) [31] "If I bear witness to Myself, My testimony is not true; [32] there is another who bears witness to Me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to Me is true. [33] You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. [34] Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. [35] He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. [36] But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted Me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear Me witness that the Father has sent Me. [37] And the Father who sent He has Himself borne witness to Me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen; [38] and you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He has sent. [39] You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me; [40] yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life. [41] I do not receive glory from men. [42] But I know that you have not the love of God within you. [43] I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. [44] How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? [45] Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. [46] If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. [47] But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"


31-40. Because Jesus is Son of God, His own word is self-sufficient, it needs no corroboration (cf. 8:18); but, as on other occasions, He accommodates Himself to human customs and to the mental outlook of His hearers: He anticipates a possible objection from the Jews to the effect that it is not enough for a person to testify in his own cause (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15) and He explains that what He is saying is endorsed by four witnesses--John the Baptist, His own miracles, the Father, and the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament.

John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God (1:34). Although Jesus had no need to have recourse to any man's testimony, not even that of a great prophet, John's testimony was given for the sake of the Jews, that they might recognize the Messiah. Jesus can also point to another testimony, better than that of the Baptist--the miracles He has worked, which are, for anyone who examines them honestly, unmistakable signs of His divine power, which comes from the Father; Jesus' miracles, then, are a form of witness the Father bears concerning His Son, whom He has sent into the world. The Father manifests the divinity of Jesus on other occasions--at His Baptism (cf. 1:31-34); at the Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1-8), and later, in the presence of the whole crowd (cf. John 12:28-30).

Jesus speaks to another divine testimony--that of the Sacred Scriptures. These speak of Him, but the Jews fail to grasp the Scriptures' true meaning, because they read them without letting themselves be enlightened by Him whom God has sent and in whom all the prophecies are fulfilled: "The economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so orientated that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, Redeemer of all men, and of the Messianic Kingdom (cf. Luke 24:44; John 5:39, 1 Peter 1:10), and should indicate it by means of different types (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11). [...] Christians should accept with veneration these writings which give __expression to a lively sense of God, which are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 15).

41-47. Jesus identifies three obstacles preventing His hearers from recognizing that He is the Messiah and Son of God--their lack of love of God, their striving after human glory and their prejudiced interpretation of sacred texts. His defense of His own actions and of His relationship with the Father might lead His adversaries to think that He was looking for human glory. But the testimonies He has adduced (the Baptist, the miracles, the Father and the Scriptures) show clearly that it is not He who is seeking His glory, and that the Jews oppose Him not out of love of God or in defense of God's honor, but for unworthy reasons or because of their merely human outlook.

The Old Testament, therefore, leads a person towards recognizing who Jesus Christ is (cf. John 1:45; 2:17, 22; 5:39, 46; 12:16, 41); yet the Jews remain unbelievers because their attitude is wrong: they have reduced the Messianic promises in the sacred books to the level of mere nationalistic aspirations: this outlook, which is in no way supernatural, closes their soul to Jesus' words and actions and prevents them from seeing that the ancient prophecies are come true in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

4th Week of Lent - The Way of the Cross

"There followed him a great crowd." St. John, 6:2

"He suffered under Pontius Pilate." Creed.

Among the heroes of World War Number One was a young man by the name of Joyce Kilmer. A convert to the Catholic Church, Kilmer was a well-known poet, the author of the poem we love so much, "Trees", which begins with the haunting lines, "I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree."

Although he had a wife and three children, he enlisted as a private. In the service he could write few poems. One of these efforts, he calls, "Prayer of a Soldier in France." When his pack grows heavy, he thinks of the cross on Christ's shoulder; when his feet burn, he remembers the pierced feet; when officers shout and curse, he recalls the shouting mob; when his rifle hand grows numb and stiff, he thinks of the nailed hands of Jesus.

From the sufferings of Christ this poet-soldier drew courage in his own sufferings. In the middle of Lent we want to meditate on the way of the cross, too, because it was one of Christ's principal pains. We will join that great crowd that followed Him. Those stations lining the walls of the church will help us keep our thoughts on the main steps of that painful procession.

After the torture of the whips and thorns, the week-kneed Pilate, wish­ing to satisfy Christ's enemies, "handed him over to them to be crucified." St. John, 19:16. A coward's crime, to condemn an innocent man in order to save his own job. Perhaps we sometimes play the part of Pilate. We make Christ suffer by preferring evil to good, by choosing dishonesty, impurity, and unkindness in preference to honesty, purity and charity.

Roman and Jewish law demanded that the execution follow the sentence as soon as possible. Between eleven and twelve o'clock on that first Good Friday Pilate condemned Christ to crucifixion. His enemies lost no time in carrying out that cruel sentence, as we see in the second station.

The cross is brought forth. Tenderly Christ embraces it, lovingly He kisses it, as the rough wood bears down on His wounded shoulder. The painful procession starts, headed by the soldier carrying the so-called cause of the punishment, a tablet on which the governor had written: "Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews."

Unintentionally that title paid tribute to the real King, not only of the Jews, but of all men. Soldiers surround our Savior. Behind Him walk the two thieves, carrying their crosses and sur­rounded by other soldiers. Then come the judges, the chief religious rulers of the people on horseback, followed by a large crowd on foot. From roofs and doorways others look on, cursing and blaspheming.

Through the narrow, crowded street they push and prod our Lord. Dragging His heavy cross, He is overcome with weakness, He stumbles and falls to the ground. Roughly they force Him to His feet. In the crowd Christ catches sight of His Blessed Mother. What agony in Mary's soul! Would that she could help Him. The sight of her so saddens Christ that He totters and almost falls.

A strong-looking stranger by the name of Simon of Cyrene is forced to help Him. Had Simon known who the Victim was, he would have gladly gone to His help. You and I know. We have been invited to help. Too often we have to be forced.

Louder and louder grows the shouting as the procession moves, along that street of Sorrows. Th1e heat is smothering; the dust is stifling. Sud­denly a door flies open and a veiled, noble-looking woman rushes through the crowd and past the soldiers. She offers a linen napkin to the tortured Victim, to wipe from His face the blood and sweat and spit and dust. In speechless gratitude Jesus covers His countenance with the cloth, and silently returns it. Veronica takes it quickly into her home, there to find, painted by Divinity Himself, the lines and features of His Sacred Face.

No more such scenes do the soldiers want. They hurry Jesus on, but the effort and exhaustion again make Him fall to the ground. The cruel ex­ecutioners pull Him to His feet, and half drag, half carry Him through the Gates of the Holy City. At the foot of a steep hill a crowd of weeping women meet Him, offering words and tears of consolation. Jesus appreci­ates their pity, but His trembling lips remind them: "Daughters of Jeru­salem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." St. Luke, 23:28.

Climbing that hill takes all the strength of Christ. Even with the help of Simon our Lord stops, reels with dizzying pain, and crumples in a heap beneath the cross. Four strong soldiers step forward, jerk Him up, and drag both cross and Victim to the top of Calvary.

One would think that hate had had enough. One would think that cruelty had filled its cup. We have followed Jesus along the last mile of His life. For another day we will reserve the consideration of the crucifixion itself.

More we cannot stand.

But those sad and suffering steps, the stations of the cross, will be burned upon our hearts. As we make the stations these Lenten days, remember that you are walking with Christ to Calvary. Realize the pain, the weari­ness, the anguish. Yes, He really suffered. He went through it all, to the lengths of love - for you and for me.
Adapted from Talks on the Creed
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, 1946

Day of Truth - The Truth Cannot Be Silenced

On Thursday, April 27, students from across the country will stand together on the Day of Truth...will you be one of them?

This year marks the second year of the Day of Truth, which was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.

Last year more than 1,100 students from over 350 schools participated and shared the Truth with their classmates. But there are so many more who need to hear the Truth, spoken in love.

To learm more or to get involved, click here.

Hat tip to Darla for the link...

Dr Edward Peters: Baptizing TomKat's baby

Let's assume that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are just two terribly catechized Catholics who don't have the faintest idea what it really means to be "married in the Church." That would explain how they (and the clueless media) could even be talking about their "being engaged" despite Tom's two previous putative marriages (c. 1085) and his apparent apostasy (cc. 751, 1071) to Scientology on the one hand, and the stress of Katie's metapublic pregnancy and her own dalliance with Scientology on the other. The point I wish to address, however, deals not so much with them, as with their baby, due shortly. As things stand now, their baby cannot be licitly baptized in the Catholic Church.
And some may ask, "Why not?"

The answer is here.

4th Week of Lent - Why Holy Communion?

"There followed him a great crowd." St. John, 6:16

In the early sixteenth century the Lord Chancellor of England was a man by the name of Thomas More. He is known today as St. Thomas More. His was a position of many duties. Yet, on even his busiest day he heard Mass and received Communion. Asked why he did not devote that time to the affairs of government, the brilliant and saintly chancellor gave answer:
"Your reasons for wanting me to stay away from Holy Communion are exactly the ones which cause me to go so often. My distractions are great ­but it is by Holy Communion that I recall myeslf. Many times a day I am tempted to sin - it is through my Communion I overcome. I have many weighty affairs to manage - and I have need of light and strength to do so well. It is in Communion that I find all this."

For these and many other reasons Christ gave us Holy Communion. This week and next we will consider some of those reasons.

1. Christ gave us Himself as the life of our souls. "He who eats me, he also shall live because of me. . . He who eats this bread shall live forever." St. John, 6:58,59. Communion gives us the fullness of Divine Grace, for it gives us the very Author of grace. It increases sanctifying grace, making the soul even more healthy spiritually.

It also gives sacramental graces, special helps to live in, by and through Christ. It weakens our wish to sin; it cools the passions and makes both body and soul pleasing to God; it gives spiritual joy and devotion to God; it makes us more like Christ in all the virtues, especially in humility, pa­tience and charity.

2. Holy Communion is food for our souls, just as the Manna of the Old Testament was food for bodies. The Manna fell from heaven; from heaven our Eucharistic Lord comes to us. The Manna was for God's children only; Communion is only for the members of God's Church. Not until they had passed the Red Sea did the chosen people receive the Manna; only after passing through the waters of Baptism can we receive Holy Communion. The Manna had every taste; Holy Communion has every spiritual taste and delight. The Jews received Manna on their journey through the desert; we receive the heavenly Manna during our journey through the desert of this life. Manna was food for the body, and the Jews ate it every day. Holy Communion is food for the soul. How often do you receive Communion?

3. Holy Communion was given as a strength and support for the body as well as the soul. We read of this in the lives of many saints, like St. Catherine of Siena, St. Juliana, St. Rose of Lima and St. Angela of Foligno. In recent times there was a striking instance of this in the person of a German peasant woman by the name of Theresa Neumann. For twenty years her only food had been the Sacred Host received devoutly every morning. Com­munion helps the health in another way. A virtuous life is always a healthy life. By helping us avoid excess and lead regular lives Holy Communion helps our health, helps our bodies.

4. Holy Communion gives strength in time of Temptation. To live worthy of the Holy Communion you have received and worthy of the Holy Communion you will receive next, is to be sure of strength against the promptings of the world, the flesh and the devil. We read in Exodus, 12:23, that the destroying angel spared the houses marked with the blood of the lamb. Even more warily the devil who destroys souls will avoid the human temple that houses the Lamb of heaven. The Blood of Christ is all-powerful, especially against the assaults of Satan. The Holy Eucharist does not remove temptation, but it does give supernatural strength to resist it.

Holy Communion has other effects, of which we will speak next week.

The Bible tells us of a great crowd that followed Christ because of the wonders He worked on those who were sick. Join that crowd. Join that army of saints and sinners who feel the need for this heavenly Food. Follow Him, receive Him, despite distance, duties and indifference.

Think of St. Thomas More, hero of those horrible days of King Henry VIII, when a man was put to death if he opposed in any way the whims of the king. In Holy Communion More received the courage and strength to stand up for God and God's Church, even to the point of placing his head on a block and having it chopped off. If such a busy man could find time and take time to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, surely you can find time to receive the Bread of Angels more frequently.

When we see what Holy Communion did for a man like that we begin to realize what Holy Communion will do for us, what Christ intended that His body and blood should do for us. Knowing that, realizing that, we will give Christ a chance to work His wonders for us too.
Adapted from Talks on the Sacraments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, 1947

In Anticipation of Holy Thursday...

Paths to Rome: Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday
By Father Jerry Pokorsky

"For I have given you an example, that you also should do"

On Holy Thursday, in parishes throughout the United States, twelve men and women will assemble in the sanctuaries during the Mass of the Lord's Supper to have their feet ritually washed by a priest. Although many Catholics -- both men and women -- are disburbed by the practice of washing women's feet, probably most barely take notice.

Almost no one will be aware that, despite documents approving the practice from the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (BCL), there is no clear evidence that the Vatican has confirmed the practice of ritually washing women's feet on Holy Thursday. Actually, there is only evidence to the contrary.
The liturgical innovation of ritually washing women's feet on Holy Thursday demonstrates the persistence of those promoting the feminist ideology at the highest levels of the Church's liturgical establishment in America. If the Holy See allows traditional liturgical practices such to be changed for merely "pastoral", sociological or ideological reasons, the Church may discover that not all of the paths lead to Rome -- or to Christ.
And of course, despite the clear and unabiguous rubrics in the Missal, countless parishes will engage in 'political correctness' and change the liturgy to suit its whims...But then, refusal to abide by the instructions and directives of the Holy See has become all too commonplace - one would think that this attitude of rebellion and disobedience is to be expected, even praised by those who engage in subverting the authority of the Church to regulate the liturgy. How few are those priests and parishes who are faithful? Pray that more priests and bishops will find the courage to be obedient...

The link to Fr. Pokorsky's article is here.

4th Week of Lent - Temporal Duties Toward Children

"Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" St. John, 6:5

Agnes was a little Chinese girl about five years old. Her father died when she was a tiny girl, leaving her mother almost penniless. The mother decided to follow the old Chinese custom of selling her daughter to the parents of some boy who would later marry her. Twenty dollars was usu­ally paid, and twenty dollars would mean a lot to the mother of Agnes.

But the little one got wind of it. She saw her mother talking to a neigh­bor. Every now and then they would look at Agnes. Then she heard the words, "twenty dollars." Finally it dawned on her that she was going to be sold.

She rushed to her mother, after the man left, and begged her not to sell her:
"Don't sell me, mama, don't sell me."

But the mother paid no attention to the pleadings of her little one.

Agnes decided to run away. But where could she go? She thought and thought and at last remembered hearing that the Catholic missionary often took in little boys and girls. She ran to the mission church and sobbed out her story to the missionary. She told him she could not think of going so far away and living with strange people.

The priest was so touched by her sad situation that he arranged to give the mother twenty dollars so that Agnes could be taken care of in his or­phanage. You can imagine how happy and thankful the little tot was. A year later she made her first Holy Communion, and ever since she received Holy Com­munion every day in thanks for being saved from a heathen life of misery.

A story like this gives us the shivers. How could a mother be so cruel and unnatural as to sell her own child? How brutal and benighted such peo­ple must be? We must pray to God that our country might be stopped from proceeding down the path of paganism and irreligion.

Right here in the United States we have thousands of parents who are just as cruel and unnatural as that Chinese mother. We see parents neglecting to provide for the physical needs of their little ones, neglecting what nature demands... neglecting what the very animals provide for their offspring. We want to speak of those temporal duties of parents:

1. The first duty is to give a child life. That requires prudence and care on the part of the parents before birth. It means avoiding anything that will harm the health of the child before it enters the world. For proof of cruelty in this regard just think of the hundreds of tens, and hundreds of thousands of abortions, child murders, right here in the United States every year.

2. Parents are bound to provide food and clothing for their children suitable to their rank and condition. Yes, we know the terrific expense that entails, but we also know that some parents who are able do not provide as they should for their little ones. Money that should go for food and clothing, goes instead into entertainment, liquor, vanity and junk food. In one investigation of the causes of juvenile delinquency it was revealed that many of the teen-agers hailed into court very seldom had a warm and decent meal served in their homes.

3. Making home a comfortable, pleasant and inviting place is another duty of parents. Thank God, many take a just and commendable pride in their homes. Nevertheless, some of you might be making nothing more of your home than a hotel and restaurant. Modern life has bent and even broken many ties of home life. There are so many outside activities and distractions that home takes last place in the minds of too many.

Parents who haunt beer joints, mothers who think more of a bridge table than of a kitchen table, fathers who spend more money on sports events and mothers who spend more on shows in one week than they spend in a month on improving their homes, are not fulfilling their parental duties. Parents who are home as little as possible, who set their children adrift with money for the show, and no care about when or where they go and when they return, are neglecting a rock-bottom duty to their children. It takes genius and talent, we admit, but fathers and mothers have the solemn duty of making home a pleasant place, an inviting place, and the further duty of spending a certain amount of time at home with the children.

4. With regard to the state of life or vocation of their children, parents have a serious responsibility. Many a child has been forced to live a life of poverty, ill-health and insufficient education because parents used for for drugs or liquor what should have gone for proper training.

See that your boy learns a trade or profession. Help your girl by teach­ing her domestic arts-cooking, sewing, cleaning, and interior decoration.

With regard to a religious vocation, no father or mother is to persuade or push a child into the priesthood or sisterhood, but an ordered, pleasant and religious home is the best nursery of religious vocations.

5. We must mention the making of a will. It is necessary as a provision for the children. It prevents quarrels and enmities later. It forestalls ex­pensive court action. Make a clear will for the benefit of your children - now. I might add that a "Will to Live", for health care reasons would be in order as well.

These material duties of parents are serious. You need God's help in meeting these obligations. In the Gospel passage above we see Jesus faced with the task of feed­ing thousands with practically nothing. Many a parent has been in a sim­ilar situation. Christ can and will help you.

We want to say a heartfelt word of congratulation to the many parents who make every sacrifice for the physical care of their chil­dren. But we want to issue a warning to parents who by their extravagance, love of luxury and style, their desire for ease and selfish satisfaction, neglect their temporal duties to their little ones.

May Jesus, who miraculously fed thousands, help you parents to be true fathers and mothers.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments, (1948)
by Fr. Arthur Tonne

Gospel for Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 5:17-30

The Cure of a Sick Man at the Pool at Bethzatha (Continuation)

[17] But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working still, and I am working." [18] This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath but also called God His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Christ Defends His Action

[19] Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does likewise. [20] For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. [21] For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. [22] The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

[25] "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself, [27] and has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. [28] Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice [29] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

[30] "I can do nothing on My own authority; as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me."

17-18. "My Father is working still, and I am working": we have already said that God is continually acting. Since the Son acts together with the Father, who with the Holy Spirit are the one and only God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can say that He is always working. These words of Jesus contain an implicit reference to His divinity: the Jews realize this and they want to kill Him because they consider it blasphemous. "We all call God our Father, who is in Heaven (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8). Therefore, they were angry, not at this, that He said God was His Father, but that He said it in quite another way than men. Notice: the Jews understand what Arians do not understand. Arians affirm the Son to be not equal to the Father, and that was why this heresy was driven from the Church. Here, even the blind, even the slayers of Christ, understand the works of Christ" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang., 17, 16). We call God our Father because through grace we are His adopted children; Jesus calls Him His Father because He is His Son by nature. This is why He says after the Resurrection: "I am ascending to My Father and your Father" (John 20:17), making a clear distinction between the two ways of being a son of God.

19. Jesus speaks of the equality and also the distinction between Father and Son. The two are equal: all the Son's power is the Father's, all the Son does the Father does; but they are two distinct persons: which is why the Son does what He has seen the Father do.

These words of our Lord should not be taken to mean that the Son sees what the Father does and then does it Himself, like a disciple imitating his master; He says what He says to show that the Father's powers are communicated to the Son through generation. The word "see" is used because men come to know things through the senses, particularly through the sight; to say that the Son sees what the Father does is a way of referring to all the powers which He receives from Him for all eternity (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, "Comm. on St. John, in loc.").

20-21. When He says that the Father shows the Son "all that He Himself is doing", this means that Christ can do the same as the Father. Thus, when Jesus does things which are proper to God, He is testifying to His divinity through them (cf. John 5:36).

"Greater works": this may be a reference to the miracles Jesus will work during His lifetime and to His authority to execute judgment. But THE miracle of Jesus was His own resurrection, the cause and pledge of our own (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20ff), and our passport to supernatural life. Christ, like His Father, has unlimited power to communicate life. This teaching is developed in verses 22-29.

22-30. Authority to judge has also been given by the Father to the Incarnate Word. Whoever does not believe in Christ and in His word will be condemned (cf. 3:18). We must accept Jesus Christ's lordship; by doing so we honor the Father; if we do not know the Son we do not know the Father who sent Him (verse 23). Through accepting Christ, through accepting His word, we gain eternal life and are freed from condemnation. He, who has taken on human nature which He will retain forever, has been established as our judge, and His judgment is just, because He seeks to fulfill the Will of the Father who sent Him, and He does nothing on His own account: in other words, His human will is perfectly at one with His divine will; which is why Jesus can say that He does not do His own will but the Will of Him who sent Him.

22. God, being the Creator of the world, is the supreme Judge of all creation. He alone can know with absolute certainty whether the people and things He has created achieve the end He has envisaged for them. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, has received divine authority (cf. Matthew 11:27; 28:18; Daniel 7:14), including the authority to judge mankind. Now, it is God's will that everyone should be saved: Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save it (cf. John 12:47). Only someone who refuses to accept the divine mission of the Son puts himself outside the pale of salvation. As the Church's Magisterium teaches: "He claimed judicial power as received from His Father, when the Jews accused Him of breaking the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. [...] In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men, even in this life" (Pius XI, "Quas Primas, Dz-Sch 3677"). Jesus Christ, therefore, is the Judge of the living and the dead, and will reward everyone according to his works (cf. 1 Peter 1:17).

"We have, I admit, a rigorous account to give of our sins; but who will be our judge? The Father [...] has given all judgment to the Son. Let us be comforted: the eternal Father has placed our cause in the hands of our Redeemer Himself. St. Paul encourages us, saying, Who is [the judge] who is to condemn us? It is Jesus Christ, who died [...] who indeed intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). It is the Savior Himself, who, in order that He should not condemn us to eternal death, has condemned Himself to death for our sake, and who, not content with this, still continues to intercede for us in Heaven with God His Father" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, "The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced To Practice", Chapter 3).

24. There is also a close connection between hearing the word of Christ and believing in Him who sent Him, that is, in the Father. Whatever Jesus Christ says is divine revelation; therefore, accepting Jesus' words is equivalent to believing in God the Father: "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me.... For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me the commandment what to say and what to speak" (John 12:44, 49).

A person with faith is on the way to eternal life, because even in this earthly life he is sharing in divine life, which is eternal; but he has not yet attained eternal life in a definitive way (for he can lose it), nor in a full way: "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). If a person stays firm in the faith and lives up to its demands, God's judgment will not condemn him but save him.

Therefore, it makes sense to strive, with the help of grace, to live a life consistent with the faith: "If men go to so much trouble and effort to live here a little longer, ought they not strive so much harder to live eternally?" (St. Augustine, "De Verb. Dom. Serm.", 64).

25-30. These verse bring the first part of our Lord's discourse to a close (it runs from 5:19 to 5:47); its core is a revelation about His relationship with His Father. To understand the statement our Lord makes here we need to remember that, because He is a single (divine) person, a single subject of operations, a single I, He is expressing in human words not only His sentiments as a man but also the deepest dimension of His being: He is the Son of God, both in His generation in eternity by the Father, and in His generation in time through taking up human nature. Hence Jesus Christ has a profound awareness (so profound that we cannot even imagine it) of His Sonship, which leads Him to treat His Father with a very special intimacy, with love and also with respect; He is aware also of His equality with the Father; therefore when He speaks about the Father having given Him life (verse 26) or authority (verse 27), it is not that He has received part of the Father's life or authority: He has received absolutely all of it, without the Father losing any.

"Do you perceive how their equality is shown and that they differ in one respect only, namely, that one is the Father, while the other is the Son? The _expression `He has given' implies this distinction only, and shows that all other attributes are equal and without difference. From this it is clear that He does everything with as much authority and power as the Father and is not endowed with power from some outside source, for He has life as the Father has" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 39, 3).

One of the amazing things about these passages of the Gospel is how Jesus manages to express the sentiments of God-Man despite the limitations of human language: Christ, true God, true man, is a mystery which the Christian should contemplate even though he cannot understand it: he feels bathed in a light so strong that it is beyond understanding, yet fills his soul with faith and with a desire to worship his 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, March 28, 2006

Testicular cells may help reduce use of embryonic stem cells

The number of human embryos needed for medical research could be greatly reduced following the announcement yesterday that doctors have found that testicular cells can turn into a wide range of other types found in the body.

...a forthcoming study in the journal Nature will describe how a team in Germany, where [human] embryo research is forbidden, has successfully isolated highly flexible stem cells from adult mouse testes that exhibit properties similar to embryonic stem cells.
The team which reports the advance, led by Prof Gerd Hasenfuss of the Georg-August-University of Goettingen, show that the testis cells are remarkably flexible: capable of forming all three "germ layers" - the basic three cellular layers, ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm - from which the body's organs and tissues develop.

4th Week of Lent - Holy Mary

"This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world." St. John, 6:14.

Several years ago a working man came to a Catholic rectory in Lan­cashire, England, with this request:
"1 would be most grateful, sir, if you would come and visit my sick wife."

"Are you a Catholic?" asked the priest. "No, sir," was the answer.

"But your wife is a Catholic?"

"No, sir," the man again replied, "but she insists on seeing you. She will not have a clergyman of any other religion."

The priest was eagerly welcomed by the sick woman.

"I am convinced," she exclaimed, "of the truth of the Catholic religion, and I beg you to tell me about your faith."

For six weeks the priest gave her instructions. As death approached, he baptized her and administered the last sacraments. Wanting to know how she received this great grace, he inquired:
"Did you ever speak to a priest before I came to your house?"

"No, Father," she replied.

"Did you ever say any prayer before I came?"

The woman smiled and slowly answered:
"Well, when I was a little girl, I often played with Catholic children. I caught a few words they used to say at times, especially when they wanted some favor. For many years, at least once a day, I repeated those words."

"What were the words?" the priest asked gently.

"Hail, Mary, full of grace. . ." she began, continuing through the entire prayer.

Here was the secret of her conversion. Every day she had prayed the Hail Mary. And now Mary had come to claim her own.

When Jesus worked the miracle of feeding over five thousand, the­c rowd declared: "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world."

Of the best helper of our Lord, His Mother, we can say: "This is indeed the Mother of the Prophet who is to come into the world."

To that Mother we pray in the Hail Mary, especially in the latter part, which begins beseechingly: "Holy Mary, Mother of God."

"Holy Mary." Who more holy than she? Who was ever "full of grace" as she? Who possessed all virtue as she did? Who led a more perfect life? Who could ever have been more pleasing to God?

"Mother of God," was the title given her at the Council of Ephesus, in 431. What a bother the misunderstanding go to, in order to take this title from her. She was the sole earthly parent of Jesus. As His Mother, she is above all other creatures of God. She is adorned with graces befitting her high office. She is our Mother, too. It is a privilege just to talk to her.

"Pray for us." If we ask sinful mortals to pray for us, how much more reasonable to ask the sinless one to intercede for us. Her prayer is more powerful than our own. She will be heard, when others may not, because she was so pleasing to God, because of her relationship to Jesus, because it is unnatural not to hear a mother's request, and because she is appointed as our advocate.

We are all "sinners" in the sight of God. We ask Mary to pray for all sinners, not just for ourselves. She is also Mother of those who acknowl­edge her not. When you say those words, "pray for us sinners," realize the horror of sin, and determine, with her help, to avoid it.

Right "now" we need Mary's intercession. Here we are in the midst of a struggle to be good. Here we are striving to do the will of God. We need help - right now. We need grace to repent of past sins; we need grace to resist present temptations; we need strength to fulfill our duties; we need faith and resignation and courage. And we also need many tem­poral things. For these, too, we ask Mary's help - right now.

"And at the hour of our death." The last hour is the most important. We ask Mary to be with us when we are dying. We ask the grace of repentance, the grace of perseverance, the joy of Holy Viaticum, the strength of the Anointing of the Sick, the warmth and security of her encircling, motherly arms. Perhaps we may not be able to speak or pray at that hour. That is another reason to ask her now to be with you then.

The woman of our story had repeated that request throughout most of her days. Mary was with her when she died. God grant that grace to each of us. That is why we say fervently, "Amen," so be it, that is what we want, for that great favor we pray.

In addition to begging these precious favors from God, we have other reasons for saying the Hail Mary:
1. To put us in mind of the Incarnation, the fact that the Son of God became man, taking His human nature from the most loving, the most beautiful, the most virtuous woman that ever lived.

2. To honor our Lady. Christ honored her. Every son wants others to honor his mother. Christ wants us to honor Mary.

3. To ask favors of all kinds. Every day a dozen desires spring up in our hearts, desires for things of the soul and things of the body. Every day there are trials and temptations, joys and sorrows, success and failure. The Hail Mary fits every occasion.
May that precious prayer be ever in our heart and on our lips. Say it quietly through the day. Say it without fail every morning and every evening. Say it as you ride to work, as you watch the baby at home, as you wait for the bus. Say it daily, as the woman of our story said it.

And may our Blessed Mother, whom we hail and greet with great affection, be with you that day when you prepare to join her and her Son, our Lord, in heaven.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, 1949

Alter Christus - The Love of Our Daily Cross

One of the most practical fruits of these meditations on the Passion must be to make us love our daily cross. When we see what Christ has suffered for our sake, there naturally springs up in all noble souls a desire to suffer with Him and for Him: we readily profess with St Paul a sincere longing "to be nailed with Christ to the Cross". But often perhaps this remains only a vague aspiration, or a readiness to bear generously any future great tribulation that may come our way. We fail to draw the logical and more practical con­clusion to embrace joyfully the ordinary crosses that mark our everyday life. Yet, how wise and salutary this would be - for our peace and happiness - for our growth in per­fection - for the fruitfulness of our ministry.


Suffering, under some form or other, is so rife in our daily life that we cannot for long preserve our peace of mind and joy of heart, unless we bring ourselves to love the cross and are prepared to welcome it whole-heartedly at every turn of the road. It comes to us from any quarter, at any time, in body and soul: we may find ourselves handicapped by ill health, overburdened with work, a prey to worries and anxieties, discouraged by failure or lack of appreciation and support, disgusted with so much meanness and evil witnessed around us, perhaps also by our own weakness under temptation and want of fervor or lack of all con­solation. . .

Some men accustom themselves to face trouble calmly by adopting an attitude of stoic indifference, which is un­worthy of a Christian. Others resign themselves to the inevitable, and accept the will of God patiently enough though hardly with joy. Far greater peace and happiness will come to us if we embrace whole-heartedly our daily crosses, looking upon each of them - great or small - as a dispensa­tion of the loving Providence of our heavenly Father, as an abundant source of merits, as a sure way to imitate and unite ourselves to Christ who, "having joy set before Him, endured the cross".

* Are these thoughts of faith prominent in my habitual outlook on life's daily crosses?

How do I behave in trying circumstances? Giving to bystanders the example of cheerful (and cheering) patience, or shocking them by my fretfulness?

Let me school myself to look at all my troubles in the transfiguring light of Jesus' Cross: that way lies the realization of the Apostle's lofty feelings: "Super­abundo gaudio in omni tribulatione . . . ".


A great help for reconciling ourselves to the frequent tribulations of life, is to remember that no one can hope to make great progress towards perfection unless he travels by "the royal road of the Cross". Read and meditate on the emphatic teaching of The Imitation of Christ in the 12th Chapter of the 2nd Book. It is but a logical inference of the solemn warning of the Master: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily" (Luke 9:23 ).

We can progress in the love of God only in the degree in which we are purified from our own self-love: and nothing helps more to this purification than crosses and trials borne with a true spirit of faith. They detach us from self and from creatures, disencumbering our soul from its many obstacles to the working of divine grace. . .Therefore the more earnest we are in our desire for perfection, the greater must be our readiness to welcome suffering and adversity in all its forms, knowing well that they are permitted by God - indeed often sent directly by Him - for our greater good: "Omnem (palmitem) qui fert fructum purgabit eum, ut fructum plus afferat."

* Am I seeing in every cross that comes my way a step­ping-stone to holiness of life?

And so, do I esteem and prize them as I do holiness itself?

Why then be so reluctant to face them, so anxious to shake them off?

If I would grow in Jesus' love, I must conquer my natural repugnance to suffering, the price of love.

Shall I not make my own the courageous prayer of a generous lover of Christ (Fr W. Doyle): "Jesus, make me a saint, and don't spare me in the making"?


Another powerful reason to make us love our daily crosses is their great value for our apostolic ministry. Christ has redeemed the world by dying on the Cross: ever since, those who share with Him the work of saving souls are destined to share also His Cross... To all apostolic souls, His "vessels of election" , Our Lord will show "how great things they must suffer for His name's sake" ... We too, then, must surrender ourselves gladly, like St Paul, to that vocation of daily sacrifice and immolation.

Remember the example of the two great Patrons of the Missions, St Francis Xavier and the Little Flower. "As Our Lord (wrote the latter) had made me understand that it was by the cross that He would give me souls, the more crosses I met with, the stronger grew my attraction for suffering." . . .

Jesus lives in His priest, to continue His apostolic life on earth, His ministry of preaching and of kindness, but also His suffering and perhaps His crucifixion. Hence the priest takes his little crosses in his stride, as part of his vocation; thus he is ready for the big cross if Christ asks him to carry one. "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, itself remains alone..." (John 12:24). "I make up in my flesh what is lacking to the sufferings of Christ, on behalf of his body, which is the Church" (Co1. 1, 24 ).

* Would my daily troubles not look very different to me, if I kept in mind their apostolic value?

And could I not lighten and brighten up also the life of many a poor sufferer in my flock, by showing them how they can turn the hard metal of their sufferings into pure gold?

Let me try to grow in that apostolic love of suffering, every morning, when at the altar I commune with the Divine Victim.
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 40.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

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The Vatican’s New Policy on China Has a Color: Cardinal Red

Its emblem is the new cardinal Zen, bishop of Hong Kong. “The color of my garments,” he said, “is the blood of the unknown heroes who have suffered for their fidelity to the Church”
by Sandro Magister

Gospel for Tuesday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 5:1-16

The Cure of a Sick Man at the Pool at Bethzatha

[1] After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [2] Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. [3] In these lay a multitude of invalid, blind, lame, paralyzed. [5] One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there for a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" [7] The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me." [8] Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." [9] And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. [10] So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." [11] But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'" [12] They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk'?" [13] Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. [14] Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you." [15] The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. [16] And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because He did this on the Sabbath.

1. We cannot be certain what festival this was; it probably refers to the Passover, known the world over at the time as the national festival of the Jewish people. But it could refer to another festival, Pentecost, perhaps.

2. This pool was also called the "Probatic" pool because it was located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, beside the Probatic Gate or Sheep Gate (cf. Nehemiah 3:1-32; 12:39) through which came the livestock which was going to be sacrificed in the temple. Around the end of the nineteenth century the remains of a pool were discovered: excavated out of rock, it was rectangular in shape and was surrounded by four galleries or porches, with a fifth porch dividing the pool into two.

3-4. The Fathers teach that this pool is a symbol of Christian Baptism; but that whereas the pool of Bethzatha cured physical ailments, Baptism cures those of the soul; in Bethzatha's case only one person was cured, now and again; shown through the medium of water (cf. Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 36, 1).

The Sixto-Clementine edition of the Vulgate includes here, as a second part of verse 3 and all of verse 4: "waiting for the moving of the water; [4] For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water' whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had." The New Vulgate, however, omits this passage, assigning it to a footnote, because it does not appear in important Greek codexes and papyri, nor in many ancient translations.

14. The man may have come to the temple to thank God for his cure. Jesus goes over to him and reminds him that the health of the soul is more important than physical health.

Our Lord uses holy fear of God as motivation in the struggle against sin: "Sin no more, that nothing worse may befall you". This holy fear is born out of respect for God our Father; it is perfectly compatible with love. Just as children love and respect their parents and try to avoid annoying them partly because they are afraid of being punished, so we should fight against sin firstly because it is an offense against God, but also because we can be punished in this life and, above all, in the next.

16-18. The Law of Moses established the Sabbath as a weekly day of rest. Through keeping the Sabbath the Jews felt they were imitating God, who rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. St. Thomas Aquinas observes that Jesus rejects this strict interpretation: (The Jews), in their desire to imitate God, did nothing on the Sabbath, as if God on that day had ceased absolutely to act. It is true that He rested on the Sabbath from His work of creating new creatures, but He is always continually at work, maintaining them in existence. [...] God is the cause of all things in the sense that He also maintains them in existence; for if for one moment He were to stop exercising His power, at that very moment everything that nature contains would cease to exist" ("Comm. on St. John, in loc.").

"My Father is working still, and I am working": we have already said that God is continually acting. Since the Son acts together with the Father, who with the Holy Spirit are the one and only God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can say that He is always working. These words of Jesus contain an implicit reference to His divinity: the Jews realize this and they want to kill Him because they consider it blasphemous. "We all call God our Father, who is in Heaven (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8). Therefore, they were angry, not at this, that He said God was His Father, but that He said it in quite another way than men. Notice: the Jews understand what Arians do not understand. Arians affirm the Son to be not equal to the Father, and that was why this heresy was driven from the Church. Here, even the blind, even the slayers of Christ, understand the works of Christ" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang., 17, 16). We call God our Father because through grace we are His adopted children; Jesus calls Him His Father because He is His Son by nature. This is why He says after the Resurrection: "I am ascending to My Father and your Father" (John 20:17), making a clear distinction between the two ways of being a son of God.

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, March 27, 2006

Forgiveness and Cooperation

Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the man spoke, and the people marvelled.
(St Luke 11:14)

Come with me today into the cell of a condemned prisoner, one sentenced to pay for his many crimes with the forfeit of his life. Long had he gone free, working evil with impunity; at last the stern hand of justice seized him: he was tried, found guilty, and sentence of death was imposed. Now he has no prospect before him but the stern execution of that sentence. He lies in prison awaiting the fatal day.

A thousand times, by day and by night, in his dreams and in his waking hours, there rises, hated and unbidden, but not driven away, the black image of the scaffold. Over his head, all the time, hovers the dark form of death. Like a man at the edge of a precipice, shrinking yet fascinated, he cannot forbear to look over into the deep and dark abyss of the unknown, down which he is soon violently to be hurled. His whole soul recoils in horror, yet into that gloomy gulf of death he must look - he cannot keep his mind from it. His nights are a horror, his days a dread; existence is a living death. He cannot keep his limbs from trembling; thought is a confusion; like a hunted beast he looks vainly for a way of escape, but there is none. Worst of all, he cannot escape from himself, from his own thoughts, with all the horrors they conjure up before him.

Again and again he rehearses the last scenes, and in spirit is led out to execution, and taken, in his wild imaginings, up to the very threshold of death-and his doom stares him in the face, and his soul madly recoils, only to travel again and again and many times over in his thoughts that terrible road.

Think of the horror, the bitter despair of such a soul; think of the hopeless future, the vain regrets, the unavailing remorse.

At last the fatal day has dawned-his last on earth. He rises from his uneasy bed, and waits. Now he hears footsteps approaching his dark and lonely cell. He trembles; all the accumulated dread and horror of the days of waiting come upon him in one combined and overwhelming avalanche of despair. The door is flung open. Two men enter; only two - the warden of his prison, and one other. But he sees no armed guard to conduct him to the place of execution. "So," he thinks, "the time is not yet; there are some hours more yet of torture to be endured." But listen, one of his visitors is speaking: he is reading from a paper which he holds in his hand; he is explaining something to the unhappy criminal.

What is this he is saying-Pardon? Release? Life? It cannot be! This is but a new torture of the imagination playing tricks. But he hears again the words-You are pardoned; you are free; the sovereign has exercised his prerogative of mercy and has pardoned you; you are a free man. All he asks is that you will be loyal to him for the future.

Oh, the indescribable relief, the rush of joy and gratitude that fills the soul of that poor man. "Non moriar, sed vivam" -"I shall not die," he cries, "but live" (Ps. 117:17). "Life is given back to me; life and hope; a new life, a new hope-a life to be given to better things; a life that shall efface the past; a life that, filled with a deep sense of gratitude, shall make up for the errors, the sins, the crimes of old days." And he goes forth from his prison a new man, he breathes again; the dark images of horror that op­pressed him flyaway; once more there is joy for him in the light of the sun, in the freshness of the air of heaven, in the life and movement of the earth.

A picture, dear brethren, of what has happened to us; of what happens whenever a poor sinner, touched by God's grace, released, like the poor possessed man in the Gospel, from the devil of dumbness that has made him go about with a load of unconfessed and unforgiven sin upon him; a picture of what happens when his tongue is loosed, and he seeks reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance.

The horror of the prisoner's condemnation to physical death is as nothing to the supreme horror of the sentence of eternal death from which we are set free in this great Sacrament of Mercy. Oh, what damned soul, sentenced and about to be buried in hell, would not gladly change places with the condemned criminal in his prison cell!

And even if they are only venial sins that we have to confess ­ even then our release is from prison, from long and terrible and bitter punishment; yes, and from that ever-present danger of mortal sin and consequent risk of eternal damnation which the careless committal of venial sin involves.

But by the Sacrament of Penance; by humble and true and con­trite confession, 'With a firm will to amend, all is pardoned; life and hope, grace and spiritual strength are restored to the soul; and men can cry out joyfully, "I shall not die; but live."

Dear brethren, some people, many people, I fear, stop there. They t are satisfied with having received pardon. They do just enough ~ to obtain pardon, and then they go away and forget the great thing that the Lord has done for them. In the Gospel we have a terrible warning against this in the description given by our Divine Lord of the action of the unclean spirit who was cast out of a man, and who afterwards returned with seven others to repossess that unhappy soul.

"He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathers not with me, scatters. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he says, I will return into my house whence I came out: and when he is come, he finds it swept and garnished. Then he goes, and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

Brethren, this is not a warning to impenitent sinners, but to those who have confessed their sins, whose souls have been swept and cleansed by their humble confession, and garnished with Divine grace. After this effort, there is always the danger of remaining satisfied, of neglecting that positive cultivation of virtue, of prayer and of piety of which a good confession should be the beginning, not the end. So, the house is left empty-and when the devil comes again to tempt the soul to sin, he comes with sevenfold force; there is nothing to keep him out, and so "the last state" of that soul easily becomes "worse than the first."

Brethren, we are apt to forget that the Sacrament of Penance is not only the Sacrament of Pardon, but also the Sacrament of Perseverance. Not only does it confer the grace of pardon; but it confers, and was instituted to confer, grace to persevere.

But you know well that in all the Sacraments a certain amount of willing effort and cooperation on our part is necessary. We cooperate--it may certainly be hoped that we cooperate sufficiently with the grace of pardon to obtain its healing effects-but it is to be feared that often, very often, we lose the grace of perseverance by failure to cooperate with that. We show ourselves to the priest; we are cleansed; then we do no more.

It is a sad, it may easily be a fatal mistake, to stop at this point. You have been to confession, God has pardoned you; God's priest has done his part; now is YOUR time; now it is for YOU to act. Annexed to the Sacrament are great graces for the future, graces that will support you in temptation, will enable you to keep from sin, to root out bad habits, to overcome your passions, to go on bravely and successfully in the Christian life.
God is waiting for you; He has those graces ready-they are yours, you have a right to them in virtue of the Sacrament of Penance which you have received; you have but to stretch forth your hand and take them.

The Sacrament does not destroy your passions and evil inclinations all at one blow; it does not all at once root out bad habits; one confession is not going to make you a saint. But, again I say I it, to the Sacrament of Penance are annexed graces of perseverance which you have a right to on account of the Sacrament you have received, graces that will make your fight successful; that will lead you to victory after victory over your passions; that will enable you to root out your bad habits-if only you will cooperate with those graces. And you must cooperate by what you do after confession.

How important then is the time after confession! Let me conclude by giving you a few practical hints as to the use of that time.

First, do not be in a hurry to get away from the church. Thank God. Go before the Tabernacle and thank our dear Lord for the pardon and release He has granted to you who were a condemned criminal, worthy of eternal death. Spend at least some moments in rousing up sincere gratitude in your hearts.

Then, in the presence of Jesus, renew your good and firm resolution - first to avoid all mortal sin, and then to overcome yourselves in some particular matter-to keep from dangerous occasion – to practice some virtue specially necessary for you. We should fix on such things in our preparation: our examination of conscience should reveal to us what special point we ought to fix upon. In this, too, the advice of our confessor is a guide by no means to be neglected. How many people give careful attention to what the priest says in confession? How many think over it afterwards, when they are making their thanksgiving ! Yet your confessor does not speak at random; and God enlightens him especially in the confessional. It may not be necessary or even useful for him to give you special advice every time if your confessions are frequent; but from time to time he will do so. Listen and mark what he says; and think upon it after confession when you are renewing your resolutions in the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle.

And, lay your plans for the future. Before you leave the church, let there be one or two definite things that you have determined to do, with a fixed determination which you are resolved not to go back upon. These special resolutions should not be many in number - one or two at the most - but carefully selected, going to the root of some evil that you are conscious of in your spiritual life-care1essness in prayer, or sloth, or a bad companionship, or an occasion that must be avoided, or some unworthy self­indulgence. If you have examined yourselves well, with a view to discovering such things, this little plan of campaign which I recommend after confession will not take many moments.
And I would add this--ask your confessor to advise you about this plan of campaign. This is a thing in which you should not be afraid to take the initiative. Your confessor cannot do everything for you, and you should give him a chance to help you by seeking his advice. And when you go to confession again you should mention your special resolution and how you have succeeded. This is not necessary for absolution, but it is the way to cooperate with the graces of perseverance which may be had through this great Sacrament if we will do our part.

Finally, speak to our dear Lord with the utmost confidence and love. He has put His love, Divine charity, into your souls. You have now the right to love Him and the right to be loved by Him. Claim this right, act on that right. Say to Him, dearest Lord, I was Thy enemy; now I am Thy friend and Thou art mine. Now, dear Lord, Thou will refuse me nothing. I wish to live for Thee: for Thee I will live. Give me Thy strong grace. Temptation will come again; but I will turn to Thee the very moment that it comes. By virtue of this Holy Sacrament and of Thy Blood sprinkled upon my soul - my soul that is now knit close to Thee in charity - help me to be faithful, help me to persevere, help me to make amends by a new life, for the evil that is past. "I shall not die, but live; and shall declare the works of the Lord."
Adapted from Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers (1916)

An Open Letter to Michael Schiavo

Thank God Fr. Pavone has issued this letter. As I listened to the Schindlers on Catholic Radio Friday, I was again reminded of the pain they endured as they witnessed their daughter being murdered at the hands of the State. And last night the horror of all of this comes back as Michael Schiavo retells his pathetic story on NBC TV last night as he promotes his new book. Truly demonic!

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and an eyewitness to Terri Schiavo’s final hours, released the following open letter to Michael Schiavo tonight. Fr. Pavone will read it to a worldwide audience on an internationally broadcast religious service on Sunday morning, March 26.

A year ago this week, I stood by the bedside of the woman you married and promised to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health. She was enduring a very bad time, because she hadn’t been given food or drink in nearly two weeks. And you were the one insisting that she continue to be deprived of food and water, right up to her death. I watched her face for hours on end, right up to moments before her last breath. Her death was not peaceful, nor was it beautiful. If you saw her too, and noticed what her eyes were doing, you know that to describe her last agony as peaceful is a lie.
Continued here...

Gospel for Monday, 4th Week of Lent

From: John 4:43-54

[43] After two days Jesus departed to Galilee. [44] For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. [45] So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him, having seen all that He had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast.

The Cure of the Royal Official's Son

[46] So He came again to Cana in Galilee, where He had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. [47] When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." [49] The official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." [50] Jesus said to him, "Go, your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. [51] As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. [52] So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." [53] The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live"; and he himself believed, and all his household. [54] This was now the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.


46. St. John is speaking about a royal official, probably in the service of Herod Antipas who, although he was only tetrarch or governor of Galilee (cf. Luke 3:1), was also referred to as king (cf. Mark 6:14). The official, therefore, would have been someone of high rank (verse 51), who lived in Capernaum, a town with a customs post. This is why St. Jerome thought he must have been a "palatinus", a palace courtier, as the corresponding Greek word implies.

48. Jesus seems to be addressing not so much the official as the people of Galilee who flock to Him to get Him to perform miracles and work wonders. On another occasion our Lord reproaches the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for their disbelief (Matthew 11:21-23), because the miracles He worked there would have been enough to move the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, and even Sodom itself, to do penance. The Galileans in general were more inclined to watch Him perform miracles than listen to His preaching. Later on, after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, they will look for Jesus to make Him king--but they are slower to believe when He tells them about the Eucharist (John 6:15, 53, 62).
Jesus asks people to have a strong, committed faith which, though it may draw support from miracles, does not require them. Be that as it may, in all ages God continues to work miracles, which help bolster our faith.

"I'm not one for miracles. I have told you that in the Holy Gospel I can find more than enough to confirm my faith.--But I can't help pitying those Christians--pious people, `apostles' many of them--who smile at the idea of extraordinary ways, of supernatural events. I feel the urge to tell them: Yes, this is still the age of miracles: we too would work them if we had faith!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 583).

49-50. In spite of Jesus' apparent coldness, the official keeps trying: "Sir, come down before my child dies". Although His faith is imperfect, it did bring him to travel the thirty-three kilometers (twenty miles) between Capernaum and Cana, and despite his important position here he was, begging our Lord for help. Jesus likes the man's perseverance and humility; he rewards his faith: "`Si habueritis fidem, sicut granum sinapis! If your faith were the size of a mustard seed!...' What promises are contained in this exclamation of the Master!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 585).

The Fathers compare this miracle with that of the centurion's servant, contrasting the amazing faith of the centurion--from the start--with the initially imperfect faith of this official from Capernaum. St. John Chrysostom comments: "Here was a robust faith [in the case of this official]; therefore, Jesus made him the promise, so that we might learn from this man's devotion; his faith was as yet imperfect, and he did not clearly realize that Jesus could effect the cure at a distance; thus, the Lord, by not agreeing to go down to the man's house, wished us to learn the need to have faith" ("Hom. on St. John", 35).

53. The miracle is so convincing that this man and all his family become believers. All parents should do what they can to bring their household to the faith. As St. Paul says, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). Cf. Acts 16:14, where we are told that Lydia brought her whole household along with her to be baptized; Acts 18:8 mentions Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue doing the same thing, as does the prison warden (Acts 16:33).

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>