Saturday, December 16, 2006

The 3rd Sunday of Lent, Gaudete Sunday - Sunday Mass

"In the midst of you there has stood one whom you do not know." St. John, 1:26.

An uplifting story of World War Two concerns a group of British and American prisoners of war, who limped, barefooted and ragged, into a British camp in the Pacific after a march of 60 miles from a Japanese prison camp. Can you guess their first request? What did they want first of all? Was it food - clothing - a shave - a shower? Was it bandages for their sore and bleeding feet?

Their first request, expressed by an American officer, Lieutenant Whiley, was that Mass be said for the group. Without their breakfast, without clean clothes, without a shower or shave or any other comfort, those bedraggled boys knelt around the altar and attended Holy Mass. Every single one received Holy Communion.

One of the colonels, a non-Catholic, remarked that it was the most won­derful and touching thing he had ever witnessed. Some of those men had not been to Mass and the sacraments for three years.

Love of the Mass is ever the distinguishing mark of the true Catholic. No matter what the cost, a true Catholic attends Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, not only because it is a law of the Church, but because he knows what the Mass really means. What it means is made clear for us by one of the keenest minds of history, that brilliant convert, Cardinal Newman. He is speaking of the death of Christ on Calvary:

"Such a sacrifice was not to be forgotten. It was not to be - it could not be ­a mere event in the world's history, which was to be done and over, and was to pass away except in its obscure, unrecognized effects. If that great deed was what we believe it to be, what we know it is, it must be present though past; it must be a standing fact for all times."

And a standing fact it is. Mass is offered every minute of every day of every week of every year - all over God's earth. Because of what the Mass really is, rather than as discipline, Mother Church has made the law that every Catholic must hear Holy Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. In the United States the following are holy days of obligation: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8; Christmas; New Year's; Ascension; the Feast of the Assumption, August 15; and the Feast of All Saints, November 1. To miss Mass on Sunday or on one of these days through one's own fault is a mortal sin.

This first law of the Church is an explanation of the Third Command­ment of God: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. The very least a Catholic can do is attend Mass. How much time and attention do we give God during the week? At least on His own day we should pay some attention to God. We Catholics do that in a perfect way - by attending Holy Mass.

There are other ways of keeping Sunday holy:
1. By prayer. Free from work-a-day cares, one should do more praying, or at least some praying on the Lord's day.

2. By hearing instructions. For the average Catholic that means listening attentatively to the sermon. We try to give you some food for serious thought each Sunday. Take it home. Make it part of your thinking and living.

3. By spiritual reading. Spend some Sunday time with your Bible, or with good, solid Catholic magazines, papers or books.

4. By attending special services. There should be at least one member from each family at every service, so that your family will share in the blessings.

5. The prescribed and best way of keeping Sunday holy is by hearing Holy Mass:
A. It is the continuation of the Last Supper and the death of Christ on Calvary, the most perfect act of homage and attention we can give to God.

B. You fulfil your obligation by attending any Mass in any Catholic church. If possible, attend Mass in your parish church.

C. One must attend a complete Mass. Be on time. Punctuality is the courtesy of kings, especially of the King of kings. To come late to Mass is an insult to God, to the priest, and to the congregation. Don't be stingy with God.

D. It is enough to attend one Mass, should a holy day of obligation fall on a Sunday.

E. Most important, you must attend Mass with the right dispositions of mind and body. Take your nap some other place. Pick your teeth and trim your fingernails some other place. So, too, plan your work and dinner and your picnic anywhere, but not in church during Mass. Give God a respectful and attentive service of your body. Give Him your full attention of mind by using a missal.

F. A further Sunday obligation is to rest from manual labor or servile work, unless excused by necessity, charity or piety.

Look at the Mass as did that group of British and American soldiers, who had been imprisoned for three years, who had been deprived of Holy Mass and Communion during that long and trying time. How they longed for God. How they longed for the Holy Sacrifice. Go to Mass every Sunday with that same longing and eagerness.

Christ is right there in the midst of you, in your town, in your com­munity, in your church. Some of you know Him not. But you do want to know Him. You meet Him, you adore Him, you receive Him right there in your church. Amen.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Advent, Preparation, and St John the Baptist

Dear brethren in Jesus Christ:

We have now reached the third Sunday of the holy season of Advent, during which the Church calls upon us to direct our thoughts to the "Advent," or coming, of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

With that wisdom which is from on high, which she has by the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit, she puts before us in her holy offices during this time, everything that can most vividly remind us of that coming. She brings to our mind, not one only, but three comings of our Blessed Lord: His first coming in meekness and lowliness to save us; His present coming by His grace into our hearts to sanctify us; His last great coming in dreadful power and majesty to judge us.

To use the words of St. Bernard: "In the first coming He comes in the flesh, and in weakness; in the second, He comes into our souls in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty." "And," adds the saint, "it is by the second that we pass from the first to the third." That is, it is by His dwelling in our souls by sanctifying grace that we are led from our low earthly condition, which He shared with us, sin apart, in His first coming, to a share in the glory and triumph of His final Advent.

You will already have noticed how, even before the beginning of Advent, on the last Sunday after Pentecost, the Gospel read in the Holy Mass gave us a terrible description of the last Judgment; while on the first Sunday of this season the same lesson was repeated in the words of another of the Evangelists. In the Epistle for that day the Church cried out to us in the words of St. Paul: "Brethren, the hour is come for us to rise from sleep: the night is passed; the day is at hand: let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light." In another Epistle, we were told of the "Root of Jesse," who should rise up to rule the Gentiles, and in whom the Gentiles should hope; while the Gospel showed us that same Root of Jesse, the Healer of the Nations, Jesus Christ the Just One, going about doing good, and confirming His Divine Mission by appealing, to His Works: "The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them."

The Church, then, has a twofold object in appointing this time of preparation and penance: she desires to prepare us for two events-for the worthy keeping of the great festival of Christmas, in memory of our Blessed Lord's first coming, and also for a joyful and confident meeting with the same Lord Jesus at His last coming; and this can only be by preparing ourselves to receive Him now, when He graciously condescends to come into our hearts.

It is quite in keeping with this two-fold purpose that the Church brings before us again, in the Gospel, that wonderful saint of whom we read last Sunday; who was chosen by God to be the fore-runner and herald of His Son at His first coming into this world. For how can we better prepare our hearts to welcome our Divine Savior at Christmas, than by listening to the words and looking at the deeds of St. John the Baptist, of whom it was written, "Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee"? (Mal. 3:1). And how can we better prepare for the last Advent, "the great and terrible day of the Lord," than by listening to the great preacher of repentance, with his reiterated cry of warning: "Do penance; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

If the preaching and example of the Baptist were fitted to "make straight the way of the Lord" in the hearts of the children of Israel, they are none the less fitted to do the same work in our hearts now. We are the spiritual Israel, the chosen seed, who 'through faith inherit the promises" made "to Abraham and his seed for ever"; and, therefore, the inspired message of the Baptist is as much for us as for those who heard him preach in the desert wilds of Judea.

You are familiar, dear brethren, with the wonderful facts that attended the birth of the forerunner. How that birth was foretold by the Archangel Gabriel: how Zachary, the father of the child, was struck dumb for his want of faith, and remained so till the day of the circumcision of the child. You remember how, his tongue being suddenly loosed, he broke forth into that sublime canticle of praise and prophecy, "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" - -Blessed be the Lord God of Israel - because He hath visited and wrought the Redemption of His people. And hath raised up a horn of Salvation-that is to say, a mighty and invincible power of Salvation-for us in the house of David, His servant: "Salvation from our enemies, and from the hands of all that hate us."

And having thus spoken of the Redeemer of Israel, he turned to the child before him, and prophesied, as the Holy Spirit inspired him, his glorious future: "And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for thou shalt go before the Face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of Salvation to His people, for the remission of their sins" (Luke I, 76-77).

We know how this child of promise was sanctified in his mother's womb by the approach of God Incarnate hidden within His Virginal shrine; and how he kept unsullied through life the grace then bestowed upon him. "And the child grew up," writes St. Luke, "and was strengthened in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel" This was his preparation for the work he had to do: "He was in the deserts."

Although, coming of a priestly family, he might have assumed the dignity of the priestly office, yet, in obedience to the call of God, he went apart from men, into the wild and rugged hill-country that stretches southward from Jerusalem, and eastward to the desolate shores of the Dead Sea, stricken and blasted by the awful judgment that fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah. There, dwelling in caves and holes of the earth, giving up utterly all the luxuries and conveniences, and what other men would have called the necessities of life, he lived, as St. Matthew tells us, on locusts and wild honey, and clothed himself in a rough garment of camel's hair, with a leather girdle about his waist.

Here, in the wilderness, in lonely communing with God, he learned the lesson he had to teach, and practiced, in a most exalted degree, the penance he was to preach to others. Here, too, he doubtless pondered upon the sayings of the prophets, which foretold his own coming and work, and especially upon those words of Isaias, which he afterward applied to himself: "The voice of one crying in the desert: prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted; and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken" (Isaias 11). Living in this wilderness of high hills and steep boulders, broken by rugged and precipitous gorges, with rough and narrow paths winding their dangerous way among the rocks, these words of Isaias must have been brought home to his soul by the scenes he saw around him.

Among these scenes he meditated on the mission God had given him, and gained strength by prayer and fasting for the work he was to do; to bring down the high hills of pride in the souls of men; to fill up the deep and mired valleys of sensuality and sloth, and to prepare in human hearts by word and by example a straight and even pathway for their Lord.

When his time of preparation was completed, the Baptist sud­denly came forth from his retreat. He came at a time very favor­able for his pnrpose, for it was the Sabbatical year, a year of rest which the Jews kept once in every seven. During this year the land was allowed to lie fallow, and the fruits which it bore of itself were given up to the stranger and the poor. All debts were forgiven, and all slaves set free. Everyone therefore was at liberty to follow the Baptist and listen to his preaching.

His coming pro­duced at once a remarkable effect. All eyes were turned to that thin, rough-clad figure, whose appearance reminded them so strongly of the great Elias who had been caught up to heaven in a chariot of fire from those same fields on the Jordan's banks. All hearts were moved by the holiness and penance which shone out from every feature of the saint. Nor must it be forgotten that God's grace was powerfully and abundantly poured out at that season upon men's hearts, at it always is when He has some special message to deliver to us, or some special call to make upon us, so that we may be helped to answer to His call, and to do our part.

So then, there came to St. John, people of all classes from the surrounding districts, flocking to see and hear, as the news of the great prophet who had arisen spread far and wide over the land. From both sides of the Jordan, near to which the Baptist always stayed to perform his baptisms, they came in eager crowds, "from Jerusalem, from Judea, and from all the country about Jordan," says the Evangelist, "and they were baptised by him in Jordan, confessing their sins."

And all the time, the text of his preaching was very simple: he preached two things; the need of penance, and the near approach of the Kingdom of God: "Do penance, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

Can we afford, dear brethren, to set aside these words?

Have we not all need of penance? Is not the Kingdom of Heaven near at hand for us? The longest life comes to an end, and death, when­ever it comes, always seems sudden at the last.

Multitudes, especially of the poor and needy, came to St. John, and submitted to his baptism in Jordan, and were cleansed by true inward contrition from the sins which that Baptism had no power in itself to wash away. And they gave good proof of heartfelt sorrow by humbly confessing the sins of their past lives. Among the rest, not to be outdone by the vulgar crowd in any outward religious observances, came certain Pharisees; only to be met by the terrible denunciation: "You brood of vipers, who has showed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruit worthy of penance, and think not to say within yourselves 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I tell you, God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham: for now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree, therefore, that
yielded not good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire."

We, dear brethren, must take care that we merit not this severe rebuke. Let us not say to ourselves, "We have Abraham for our father," or rather, "We have the Church for our mother, and all will be well with us," thinking ourselves to be safe without taking trouble, by the observance of certain outward formalities -- going to our duties now and then just to keep within the law; receiving the Sacraments occasionally in a formal way, reciting our prayers without care or attention, and all the time living a life unworthy of our profession as children of the Church; for God can raise up other children to the Church from the very stones; that is, He is able to bring in others from the ranks of heresy and schism to take our place and to take our crown if we prove unworthy of it.

I may not stay, dear brethren, to dwell at length upon the preaching of the Baptist; to show you how, in answer to the anxious cry of the multitude seeking the way of Salvation, he pointed out the plain and straight forward path of daily duty; bidding them amend what was amiss in their daily lives. We must go on to consider the incident related in the Readings and Gospels of this season.

At this period of Jewish history, there still sat at Jerusalem that great national and religious council known as the Sanhedrin, con­sisting of seventy-one members, chosen from the priests, the scribes, and the Ancients, or elders of the people. Their Roman masters allowed to this council a certain remnant of their original power and authority; and, among other things, one of their most important offices was to approve and sanction all religious move­ments within the Jewish Church. The members of this supreme council were for a time indifferent to the preaching of the Baptist. But when the news reached them that this rough, ignorant preacher, as they thought him, had pointed out One to the crowds that fol­lowed him, and had declared "This is He of whom I spake: He that cometh after me is preferred before me," the cquncil began to think that perhaps St. John might have some connection with the Saviour of the People for whom all were looking at that time.

They heard, too, that many took John to be the Messias himself already come. To clear up this doubt, and to find out for certain who this man was that preached and baptised without reference to their authority, they sent some of their members to him, to de­mand an account of himself and his doings. "Who are you?" asked the messengers.

St. John knew that it was in their minds that he might be the Christ, and he had already been called upon to deny this. Therefore, "He confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed, I am not the Christ."

They asked again, "Art thou Elias?"

Again he answered, "No."

"Are you the Prophet?" they then asked, thinking of the great prophet one day to be raised up according to the promise of Moses: "The Lord thy God shall raise up to thee a prophet of thy nation and of. thy brethren like unto me : Him shalt thou hear."

And the Baptist answered also to this question, "No."

"Who are you then, that we may give an answer to the council, whose messengers we are? What account have you to give of yourself?"

"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord."

What self-abasement, my brethren; what unselfishness! What entire devotion to the one duty of his life! He does not think of his own advancement, nor of claiming any credit. He does not take into account the wonderful graces bestowed upon him from the beginning of his existence. He knows, and he acknowl­edges, that he has but to prepare the way for One mightier than he, that he is only the Bridegroom's friend, not the Bridegroom Himself; that he, the forerunner, must now begin to decrease, while that Great One whom he came to announce, must increase. He is only the humble slave running before the great King to prepare the way for Him. And so he calls himself a "voice" - the sound of a cry, that fades upon the air so soon as it is uttered.

Then they ask him of his Baptism, and by what authority he baptises, since he is neither the Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet.

"I baptise with water," he replies, "but there hath already stood among you One Whom you knew not. The same is He that shall come after me, Who is preferred before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am unworthy to unloose."

And, on the next day, the Saviour Himself, coming from His fasting and temptation in the wilderness, arrived at the place where St. John was, Whom, when he saw Him, he pointed out to all, crying, "Behold the Lamb of God: behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world."

Brethren, let us fulfill the Baptist's bidding. That is, let us turn with all our hearts to Him Who taketh away the sins of the world; and is ready and willing to take away our sins also. Let us prepare in our hearts a way for our Lord Jesus Christ, and make His paths straight.

Is it not true that for a long time He has been knocking at the door of our hearts, and we have not opened to Him?

Is it not true that our pride, our self-love, our sensuality and sloth still set up barriers which hinder Him from entering our hearts and working within them the work of grace which His loving Heart desires?

St. John the Baptist points the way; and, as we have seen, he preaches even more forcibly by his example than by his words. We know what we ought to do. The forerunner speaks as plainly to us as he did to the Jews of old. Amend those daily faults; give up those besetting sins; carry out those good resolutions, so often made, so seldom put into action. Give up that amusement or that enjoyment, which sensuality would say is harmless, but which conscience knows to be wrong, or which, at least, has often led to sin. Imitate the grand humility of the Baptist; above all listen to the burden of his message, "Do penance: for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

If we have been negligent of the lessons of this season of preparation and penance, we have still some time left before Christmas comes; and we must at once earnestly beg of the Infant Saviour grace to do those things necessary to prepare our hearts for His coming - so the blessed feast of His Nativity will not find us wanting; and the way will be open within us for those floods of grace which He will pour down upon us at that holy time. So, too, His Second Advent will not find us wanting, and while the wicked are withering away for fear in that day, we shall look up with joy, and shall lift up our heads, because our Redemption is at hand.
Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers, Vol II
Homily from the 3rd Sunday of Advent by Fr. H.G. Hughes
(© 1916)

Mental Prayer for December 17, What the Sodality Movement Is

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To understand and to fulfill my part in this tremendous work.

The Idea: The Sodality is a fighting, working, world-wide movement to restore the world to Christ! Praised again and again by the popes as a force for spreading and defending Catholic doctrine, the Sodality strives in every way it can to bring men to Christ and to bring Christ into every walk of life. The Sodality is under the direction of the bishops, and the Pope has instruct­ed Sodalists to undertake enthusiastically any apostolic work assigned by their Bishop. The Sodality is to train leaders and is to work hand-in­-hand with other Catholic Action groups in re­making the world for Christ. The Pope wants us to seek out and perform those corporal and spiritual works of mercy that are open to us. Ours is to be the life and work of Christ!

My Personal Application: Have I caught the fighting, fiery spirit of this tremendous movement? Am I doing all I can to prepare myself to take a
more active part in the fight for Christ's kingdom? Am I working hard at building up my own spiritual and intellectual life so that I will have something solid to bring to others?

I Speak to Mary: I have enrolled under your banner, Mary. You are my patroness and pro­tectress. You know how much is at stake; help me to fulfill my part in the great Sodality move­ment! I depend on your constant help.

Thought for Today: I'm to help remake the world for Christ!
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

[Note: The Sodality Movement was known as the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which at its height in the early 1950s, included over two million members.

The Sodality movement was best characterized by the charismatic Rev. Daniel Lord, S.J., who produced numerous pamphlets on Christian life, Summer Schools of Catholic Action, and whose stirring pageants helped make the Sodality an important part of Catholic experience in the U.S. in the mid-twentieth century. I understand that that a change of the name to "Christian Life Communities" was made at some point in time and reflects the organization's shift of attention from developing one's individual spirituality in order to grow in holiness and help convert the world to small group sharing and activity. So much for "progress"...]

Gospel for Saturday, 2nd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

The Transfiguration (Continuation)

[9] And as they were coming down the mountains, [10] (And) the disciples asked Him (Jesus), "Then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come?" [11] He replied, "Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; [12] but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will suffer at their hands." [13] Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them of John the Baptist.


10-13. Malachi 4:5 (3:23 in the Hebrew) speaks of the coming of Elijah the prophet before "the great and terrible day of the Lord", the Judgment Day. When Jesus says that Elijah has already come, He is referring to St. John the Baptist, whose mission it was to prepare the way for the First Coming of the Lord, the same as Elijah will have to do prior to His last coming. The scribes failed to grasp the meaning of the prophecy of Malachi; they thought it referred simply to the coming of the Messiah, the First Coming of Christ.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 16, The Ideal in My Life

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To understand how important it is for me to have a clear ideal and grace to follow it.

The Idea: Everybody has an ideal... something to aim at. Living is progress - I'm going some­where - I'm becoming somebody - and whether I realize it or not, I'm becoming somebody like my ideal. Maybe my ideal is very clear - my mother, my father, a lawyer, a nurse, a movie star, a ball­player. Maybe my ideal is vague - the "man of distinction," the "perfect wife." In any case I have an ideal. Without one, I just stop - just stop becoming anything. I must have something to live for, somebody to die for. My ideal draws me on to my goal, on to what I want to be. The closer I follow the pattern, the ideal, the closer I come to my goal.

My Personal Application: Is my ideal just the goal of part of my life? If it is, then it is not the right, the full ideal. Who should be my ideal? Some­thing to live for - what greater cause could there be than that of saving souls? Somebody to die for - what man or woman could be more worthy to give my life for than Christ, my King! Could there, is there, will there be anyone greater than He?

I Speak to Christ: My King, it is so hard for me to understand this - to really realize this. I want to become what I said I would in my consecration. I know I can't do it without help from you. Please help me to carry out my dedication.

Thought for Today: "Something to live for­ - somebody to die for."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel, Friday, 2nd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus Reproaches People for their Unbelief

(Jesus spoke to the crowds), [16] "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates. [17] `We piped to you, and you did not dance, we wailed and you did not mourn.' [18] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon'; [19] the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

16-19. Making reference to a popular song or a child's game of His time, Jesus reproaches those who offer groundless excuses for not recognizing Him. From the beginning of human history the Lord has striven to attract all men to Himself: "What more was there to do for My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" (Isaiah 5:4), and often He has been rejected: "When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?" (Isaiah 5:4).

Our Lord also condemns calumny: some people do try to justify their own behavior by seeing sin where there is only virtue. "When they find something which is quite obviously good," St. Gregory the Great says, "they pry into it to see if there is not also some badness hidden in it" ("Moralia", 6, 22). The Baptist's fasting they interpret as the work of the devil; whereas they accuse Jesus of being a glutton.

The evangelist has to report these calumnies and accusations spoken against our Lord; otherwise, we would have no notion of the extent of the malice of those who show such furious opposition to Him who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). On other occasions Jesus warned His disciples that they would be treated the same as He was (cf. John 15:20).

The works of Jesus and John the Baptist, each in their own way, lead to the accomplishment of God's plan for man's salvation: the fact that some people do not recognize Him does not prevent God's plan being carried into effect.
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, December 14, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 15, With Him All the Way

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To hear and follow Christ's call.

The Idea: Christ spoke the truth, fearlessly, at all times. By His words and good works, He earned a lot of hatred from evil men. And so, by doing God's work, He moved surely and rapidly toward the cross, until after years of unselfish labor, He was cast out by the very people He tried to help. Abandoned by His followers, He was stripped of His last few possessions and executed as a criminal. Thus the most perfect life ever lived, the life that has been the admiration of all succeeding ages, ended in imprisonment, suffering, failure, and death.

My Personal Application: And that's Christ's secret: the most perfect way to go about this soul-saving business is unselfish labor for others, expecting no reward in this life. Christ lived this way to its fullness. All Christians get some taste of the same thing. And the more closely I try to follow Christ, the more likely I am to get the same. And the more willing I am to take this
suffering patiently for His sake, the more souls I will be able to serve.

Suffering is a mystery, of course, but it is also at the very heart of Christianity. There is no necessity of my following this way which is the way of Christ and the best way. But He calls me to willingly follow Him in His labor and sufferings if I so wish. Let me think it over, and if I find the courage, consecrate myself as follows:

I Speak to Christ: Dear Lord, I make this offering with your help, in the presence of your Mother and all the saints: I firmly and deliberately resolve to follow you in the way of poverty, labor, and humiliation in this world for the good of souls, in order to share with you one day in the glory of the Father. If only you wish to send these things to me, I will receive them gladly for the spreading of your kingdom, for the salvation of the world. I am only one small person, but all I have and am is at your disposal. Take me, and use me as you wish. I am with you all the way.

Thought for Today: "If you want to come with me, you must work along with me; as you share in the labors, so will you share in the victory."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

I didn't cheat...

...but I think maybe someone made a mistake...? I took this What Kind of Christmas Ornament Am I? quizzie thingie and the result is:

You Are an Angel

A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.

Free Speech Only for Those More Equal than Others

William Donohue has something to say today about more "Anti-Christmas Fever":
“Like most Jews, Olympic skater Sasha Cohen is not offended by Christmas carols. But that didn’t stop a government employee from trying to protect her. While Cohen was skating at a rink in Riverside, California, a high-school choir started singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,’ immediately sending Michelle Baldwin into orbit. She summoned a cop and got him to institute a gag rule: he ordered the choir to stop singing. Baldwin maintained that because Cohen was Jewish, she would be upset by the carol. But she never bothered to ask the skater if she objected. As it turns out, Cohen couldn’t have cared less. As usual, those who say we must be careful not to offend non-Christians at Christmastime are the ones who object to Christmas—not those whom they falsely claim to represent...."

The AP has the story here:
A "silent night" as carolers told to stop singing at skating show
Associated Press
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen out of concern the skater would be offended because she's Jewish.

A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday...

Choir director Staci Della-Rocco said she complied with the request "because a policeman told me to stop. I didn't want to have a big old huge scene in front of my kids," according to the newspaper.

Free speech denied in the People's Republik of Kalifornia - coming soon to your area, no doubt.

It seems that we now have the right, if not the duty, to demand that anyone who says or sings something in public with which we disagree, to immediately cease and desist - and the demand will probably carry more weight if one can persuade a cop to assist. What a country! I can think of several clowns which should never speak in puhlic again...And it shouldn't be too hard to find an "impartial" judge who would agree these days...

Gospel for December 14, Memorial: St John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

From: Matthew 11:11-15

The Mission of John the Baptist. Jesus' Reply

(Jesus spoke to the crowds,) [11] "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. [12] From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. [13] For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; [14] and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. [15] He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

11. With John the Old Testament is brought to a close and we are on the threshold of the New. The Precursor had the honor of ushering Christ in, making Him known to men. God had assigned him the exalted mission of preparing His contemporaries to hear the Gospel. The Baptist's faithfulness is recognized and proclaimed by Jesus. The praise he received is a reward for his humility: John, realizing what his role was, had said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

St. John the Baptist was the greatest in the sense that he had received a mission unique and incomparable in the context of the Old Testament. However, in the Kingdom of Heaven (the New Testament) inaugurated by Christ, the divine gift of grace makes the least of those who faithfully receive it greater than the greatest in the earlier dispensation. Once the work of our redemption is accomplished, God's grace will also be extended to the just of the Old Alliance. Thus, the greatness of John the Baptist, the Precursor and the last of the prophets, will be enhanced by the dignity of being made a son of God.

12. "The Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence": once John the Baptist announces that the Christ is already come, the powers of Hell redouble their desperate assault, which continues right through the lifetime of the Church (cf. Ephesians 6:12). The situation described here seems to be this: the leaders of the Jewish people, and their blind followers, were waiting for the Kingdom of God the way people wait for a rightful legacy to come their way; but while they rest on the laurels of the rights and rewards they think their race entitles them to, others, the men of violence (literally, attackers) are taking it, as it were, by force, by fighting the enemies of the soul--the world, the flesh and the devil.

"This violence is not directed against others. It is a violence used to fight your own weaknesses and miseries, a fortitude, which prevents you from camouflaging your own infidelities, a boldness to own up to the faith even when the environment is hostile" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 82).

This is the attitude of those who fight their passions and do themselves violence, thereby attaining the Kingdom of Heaven and becoming one with Christ. As Clement of Alexandria puts it: "The Kingdom of Heaven does not belong to those who sleep and who indulge all their desires, but to those who fight against themselves" ("Quis Dives Salvetur", 21).

14. John the Baptist is Elijah, not in person, but by virtue of his mission (cf. Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:10-12).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

News of the Weird?

From the Baltimore Sun:
Pelosi to stress family, faith
Focus on Baltimore working-class background is meant to change image of new speaker as liberal

Originally published December 12, 2006
WASHINGTON // As she introduces herself next month to a national audience, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be stressing her roots in working-class, Catholic Baltimore as a way of recasting the liberal image with which Republicans have tried to brand her.

An unusual four-day schedule of festivities to celebrate her swearing-in is tentatively scheduled to begin in Baltimore on Jan. 2 at the Church of St. Leo the Great in Little Italy. Pelosi's childhood in that neighborhood, where she attended Mass, went to parochial school...

...Pelosi will be using the appearance in Baltimore - as well as a Mass at her alma mater, a reception at the Italian Embassy and other events - to present a very different image: that of a Roman Catholic mother and grandmother who worked her way up from working-class roots to become the first Italian-American and first woman speaker.
Another pro-abort, pro-death "Catholic" politician using a Catholic church to spout lies about how "Catholic" and "pro-family" she is...Is episcopal leadership absent in Baltimore? How is it possible that the pastor of St Leo the Great is allowing this travesty to occur? What is to be said of the outrageous scandal being aided and abetted by Church officials in Baltimore? What a disgrace!

How can someone who receives a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America even begin to claim to be "Catholic"? Whatever faith Pelosi claims to embrace certainly is not the Catholic faith. The same can be said of her so-called "family" values...whatever they are, they are not in accord with right reason or the natural moral law. That this scandal is even being considered is utterly despicable!

Labeling of Catholics as "Hateful" is Constitutional

Federal Judge Says San Francisco's Labeling of Catholics as "Hateful" is Constitutional
Urges Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities to defy Church directives on adoptions by homosexuals

By John-Henry Westen
SAN FRANCISCO, December 13, 2006 ( - In March of this year the City of San Francisco issued one of the most startling attacks on the Catholic Church coming from a governmental body in the United States in half a century. The governing body of the city of San Francisco - the Board of Supervisors - voted unanimously to approve a resolution blasting the Catholic Church for its opposition to homosexual adoption. That resolution has been deemed "constitutional" by Federal Judge Marily Hall Patel, in a recent ruling which is being appealed by the Thomas More Law Center.
. . .
In her decision upholding the resolution against the Law Center's constitutional challenge, the federal judge defended the City by essentially claiming that the Church invited the attack by publicly expressing its teaching on moral issues. In her written opinion, the judge stated, "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its [doctrinal] statement. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of this provocation."

As we all know, there are any number of judges who are incapable of rational thought - and worse, many have a defective understanding of justice and the law. Humanity has always had its share of reprobates, racists, and bigots, and some of these have been in positions of power. It's regrettable that such individuals occupy such positions in this country. What's worse is that these people are permitted to remain in office when they should be impeached and removed from office. This country should not allow such bigots to be judges. They are a disgrace to humanity. It's obvious that we need to pray more, despite the fact that many will choose to reject God's grace, opting instead to side with evil and embrace hatred of others.

Mental Prayer for December 14, The Complete Pattern of His Life

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Not to be deaf to His challenge, but ready and eager to do His holy will.

The Idea: Now, more specifically, what was the life of Christ like? What was His special way of saving the souls of men? We know the answer: above all, Christ saved men by freely and gener­ously suffering on the cross, making Himself a sacrifice for others.

But His whole life followed that same pattern. The cross was only its climax. Christ devoted His entire life to giving Himself unselfishly for the good of others; He traveled unceasingly from one village to another, teaching men, comforting them in their troubles, curing their sicknesses, streng­thening them to live good lives. He worked at these self-imposed and difficult tasks unsparingly and to the point of exhaustion again and again. Christ did all of this without aiming at any reward in this life for Himself, without any hope of reward, just because it was a good thing to do.

My Personal Application: No wonder men have always admired the life of Christ - even atheists and unbelievers have been forced to admit that He left all of us an admirable example, the most outstanding ever seen in all human history.

This is the life after which I should be patterning my own. And the key to that life is unsparing devotion to the good of others, even to the point of death if necessary, an unselfish labor for the love of God. Do other people mean that much to me? Can I hope to improve my attitude? Have I been giving that great life of Christ's the study it deserves?

I Speak to Christ: Dear Jesus, if I could ever become one-thousandth the person you were, I would be happy and would make others happy all my life long. I would like to follow the examples of my favorite saints, of the finest people I know here and now, unselfish, generous people I really like, and try to be more like you.

Thought for Today: "The Son of God came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Picturing Mary: Air Dates for Missouri

Picturing Mary will be distributed to public television stations nationwide by American Public Television (APT) for broadcast beginning on December 1, 2006. To find out when Picturing Mary will be seen in your area, click on your state from the list above to see a list of stations, dates and times for broadcasts.

St. Louis.....KETC.....12/24/06....noon
Kansas City...KCPT.....12/25/06...10:00 pm

For More Info, click here.

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.

Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Deranged criminals and their willing accomplices rule in many parts of the world. Slavery and genocide are the daily routine of these animals. May God have mercy on all of us!

HT to Patte G for the link.

The 2007 World Day of Peace – Everyone to “Grammar” School

It is the natural law imprinted by God upon the heart of every man, Benedict XVI writes in his message. Those who desire peace must also defend the right to life and to religious freedom.
by Sandro Magister

Q & A with Founder of Courage, Father John Harvey

During a recent trip to Denver Father John Harvey, founder of Courage, a Catholic ministry to people with same-sex attractions, spoke to El Pueblo Católico about his apostolate. The interview has been edited for space and clarity. Part 1 is below. Part 2 will run next week.

Q: How would you define the Courage apostolate?
Father Harvey: A brief definition of Courage would be, simply, a spiritual support system for men and women with same-sex attraction who desire to live a chaste life. It involves both confidentially and anonymity. The members only go by their first name and they are bound to confidentiality at their meetings. In other words, confidentially is very strict.

Three Reasons the Church’s Enemies Hate The Immaculate Conception

The linked text is adapted from a lecture Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on June 15, 1973. It has been translated and edited for publication without his revision. Note, in this text, he uses the words Revolution and Counter-Revolution as he defined them in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution. In this sense, the Revolution is a centuries-old process, motivated by pride and sensuality, and therefore egalitarianism and liberalism, that dominates the modern world and seeks to destroy Christian civilization. Counter-Revolutionaries are those dedicated to defeating this process and defending the rights of God. –Ed.

Freak Show in Milwaukee

Bishop Sklba will Celebrate Winter Solstice with Congregation of the Great Spirit, Milwaukee

Gospel for December 13, Memorial: St Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

From: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus Thanks His Father (Continuation)

(At that time Jesus declared,) [28] "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."


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

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

"All you who go about tormented, afflicted and burdened with the burden of your cares and desires, go forth from them, come to Me and I will refresh you and you shall find for your souls the rest which your desires take from you" (St. John of the Cross, "Ascent of Mount Carmel", Book 1, Chapter 7, 4).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 13, The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To come to know Christ better.

The Idea: Let us take a look at the Leader who calls us to His service. There is another aspect to following Him that we have not thought much about before. This is the fact that as our Leader, Christ shows us in His life the way the battle must be fought, the way the world can be won. For that is what He came on earth to do, and He chose the best way to do it. Men who want to become great in any line of work study the lives and techniques of others who have been great in that line.

My Personal Application: I want, if possible, to help save the world. Christ is the Savior - He has done the job perfectly as my Leader and calls me now to take my part in it, share the task after and with Him. He shows me in His life the best way to do the job. As my life is more like His, so it will be more a successful life for this great work. And to make my life like His, I must study His life carefully and try to understand it. Have I ever read a book on the life of our Lord? Do I own a New Testament? Read it? Suppose a non­Catholic challenged me today: "You try to tell me about Christ! Have you ever read the four Gospels all the way through?" What's my answer?

I Speak to Christ: Dear Lord, I will study your life again carefully; read it slowly, thoughtfully in the Gospels. Your life is the most important life ever lived. I will read what other people have written about you. And I want it to be a model of mine. Open my eyes to it.

Thought for Today: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Learn of me."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Vatican: Dissident Catholics More Worrying than Atheists

VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2006 ( - The new man in the position of Secretary of State in the Vatican, a position second only to that of the Pope himself, has said that dissident Catholics are more worrisome than atheists. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's comments were published in the December 7 edition of L'Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference.
. . .
In April of this year the Pope signalled the loving way of dealing with dissidents in the Church - "drastic severity."...

It's certainly encouraging to hear that the Vatican is aware of the tremendous problems of dissent. Dissent is poison, usually disguised, and needs to be addressed quickly lest more of faithful succumb to its deadly effects.

It's Not Too Late: Three Steps to a Successful Advent

"Obedience to the truth,..."

“Habemus Papam.” Twenty Months Later, a Portrait
Benedict XVI doesn’t seek applause, he doesn’t harangue the crowds, but he’s still extremely popular. He himself has explained his secret: it is “obedience to the truth, not to the dictatorship of popular opinion”
by Sandro Magister

A good article...A number of statements jump out from the page:

As pope, Benedict XVI doesn’t give an inch to the preconceptions that were formed about him as a cardinal. He doesn’t thunder condemnations, he doesn’t hurl anathemas. He reasons staunchly, but serenely. His criticisms against modernity or against the “pathologies” that he sees even within the Church are fully elaborated. That is part of the reason why he has practically silenced Catholic progressivism: not because this has turned friendly toward him, but because it is not able to reply to him with arguments of similar persuasive power.
Upon reading this paragraph (and others), I thought of Joe and others similarly frustrated by their own misguided beliefs and actions which are often times opposed to the Church.

I must confess that I feel a certain sadness for those who find it necessary to constantly fight against Holy Mother Church and the Truths of our Faith as handed on to us from Christ and his Apostles, and their successors.

We are tremendously blessed that our Lord has given us such leadership in His Church at this time in history. We have an extraordinary Pope and some of us have extraordinary bishops and priests. Let us not forget to thank God daily for all that He has given us and to ask Him for more faithful bishops and priests.

Gospel for December 12, Feast: Our Lady of Guadalupe

From: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation

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

The Magnificat

[46] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, [47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior [.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

46-47. "The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are peace and joy. And the Blessed Virgin had received within herself all the grace of the Holy Spirit" (St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 32). Mary's soul overflows in the words of the "Magnificat". God's favors cause every humble soul to feel joy and gratitude. In the case of the Blessed Virgin, God has bestowed more on her than on any other creature. "Virgin Mother of God, He whom the heavens cannot contain, on becoming man, enclosed Himself within your womb" ("Roman Missal", Antiphon of the Common of the Mass for Feasts of Our Lady). The humble Virgin of Nazareth is going to be the Mother of God; the Creator's omnipotence has never before manifested itself in as complete a way as this.
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, December 11, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 12, Total Surrender

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To make a real consecration of my­self to the cause of Christ; and strength to live up to it forever.

The Idea: My life, starting today, can have the same importance as the life of any great statesman, general, doctor, or writer. I can play a really significant role in the world from today on. How? By deciding now to use my life and all my powers to follow Christ.

My Personal Application: Others have made this complete self-offering even younger than I. Many of the saints started out at an early age - why am I waiting?

They saw their chance, and they took it. And all the "clever" people who lived with them and used to warn them to make money for themselves, have more fun, work to be famous and rich - all those people are forgotten now. But the saints who worked only for God are still remembered by millions; their feast days are celebrated; their lives are read and studied and loved. And the saints themselves are alive today with God. Who were really more "clever"?

Of course it will be hard for a time - perhaps for a lifetime. The world will not love me and thank me for trying to save it. The world will kill me, if it can, as it killed Christ, my Leader, before me. But in the long run, I can't lose. Will I consecrate myself to Christ under these conditions? If I will, let me say:

I Speak to Christ: O Christ, you are my Lord and King because you created me from nothing. But I want freely to make you my King and Leader in a special way, by consecrating myself to you today. Here, before all the angels and saints of heaven, I tell the world that I want to serve you every moment of my life, and help in your work of saving souls, spreading the truth, teaching men to love you and love one another for your sake. I want to do this in spite of every possible difficulty, because this is the most worthwhile cause on earth; this cause will conquer in the end, and I hope to reign with you in heaven forever. Help me. Amen.

Thought for Today: "Lord, I will follow you wherever you go."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Ecclesia Dei Commission to Meet on Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Vatican, Dec. 11, 2006 ( - The pontifical Ecclesia Dei commission will meet in a plenary session on Tuesday, December 12, to discuss plans to allow broader use of the traditional Latin Mass.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for us and for the Church that, at the very least, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be accorded the reverence and awe it so rightly deserves, that groteseque and blasphemous liturgical abuses are corrected and that priests and laity are properly catechized, and that those who are separated from Holy Mother Church will be reconciled soon.

Twas the Night Before Christmas...(Adapted)

The True Gift of Christmas Exchanged and Discarded?
Dec 4, 2006

'Twas but days before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying,
Nor taking a stand.

Why the "PC" Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say,
December 25th is just a "Holiday".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,
Pushing folks down just to get at "it"!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas was nowhere to be found.
At Best Buy and Staples and Pennys and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, and sensitive, and Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Pelosi, now Durbin, now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they ridiculed our faith,
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded,
The reason for the season, stopped before it had started.
As you celebrate "Winter Break" beneath your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, please listen to me.

Choose your words carefully,
Choose what you say,
NOT Happy Holiday!

(Slightly adpated)

A "Way Too Kewl" Device...

...brought to you by Jeff Miller...

Ron Coe Church Products introduces the latest in Church tech - The Mass Communicator.

Have you ever seen or heard something during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that does not quite fit? Noticed a liturgical abuse that upsets you? Have you ever talked to your priest about it only to get called a pharisee for being such a stickler to liturgical norms? Are you positive that letters to your bishop are used to keep the diocesan shredder in prime condition? Have you ever griped to your spouse on the way home or blogged the latest liturgical abuse you encountered?

If so, the Mass Communicator is the device just for you.

Were I unfortunate enough to attend a Catholic parish where the pastor considered himself to be the Pope, especially when it comes to the Liturgy, I might feel compelled to invest in one of these devices...

I do know some people, though, that could really benefit from such a tool. Let's not forget that Christmas is right around the corner.

A special HT to Darla for the update!

Gospel for Monday, 2nd Week in Advent

From: Luke 5:17-26

The Cure of the Paralytic in Capernaum

[17] On one of those days, as He (Jesus) was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with Him to heal. [18] And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; [19] but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. [20] And when He saw their faith He said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." [21] And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" [22] When Jesus perceived their questionings, He answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? [23] Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'? [24] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the man who was paralyzed--"I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home." [25] And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. [26] And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."


17. A little earlier, beside the lake, Jesus addressed His teaching to crowds (verses 1ff). Here His audience includes some of the most educated Jews. Christ desired not only to teach but also to cure everyone--spiritually and, sometimes, physically, as He will soon do in the case of the paralytic. The evangelist's observation at the end of this verse reminds us that our Lord is ever-ready to use His omnipotence for our good: "I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil', God declared through the prophet Jeremiah (29:11). The liturgy applies these words to Jesus, for in Him we are clearly shown that God does love us in this way. He did not come to condemn us, to accuse us of meanness and smallness. He came to save us, pardon us, excuse us, bring us peace and joy." ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 165). On this occasion also Jesus wanted to benefit His listeners, even though some of them would not receive this divine gift
because they were not well-disposed.

19-20. Our Lord is touched when He sees these friends of the paralytic putting their faith into practice: they had gone up onto the roof, taken off some of the tiles and lowered the bed down in front of Jesus. Friendship and faith combine in obtaining a miraculous cure. The paralytic himself had a like faith: he let himself be carried around, brought up onto the roof and so forth. Seeing such solid faith Jesus gives them even more than they expect: He cures the man's body and, what is much more, cures his soul. Perhaps He does this, as St. Bede suggests (cf. "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc."), to show two things: that the illness was a form of punishment for his sins and therefore the paralytic could only get up once these sins had been forgiven; and that others' faith and prayer can move God to work miracles.

In some way, the paralytic symbolizes everyone whose sins prevent him from reaching God. For example, St. Ambrose says: "How great is the Lord who on account of the merits of some pardon others, and while praising the former absolves the latter!...] Therefore, let you, who judge, learn to pardon; you, who are ill, learn to beg for forgiveness. And if the gravity of your sins causes you to doubt the possibility of being forgiven, have recourse to intercessors, have recourse to the Church, who will pray for you, and the Lord will grant you, out of love for her, what He might have refused you" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

Apostolic work should be motivated by desire to help people find Jesus Christ. Among other things it calls for daring--as we see in the friends of the paralytic; and it also needs the intercession of the saints, whose help we seek because we feel God will pay more attention to them than to us sinners.

24. Our Lord is going to perform a public miracle to prove that He is endowed with invisible, spiritual power. Christ, the only Son of the Father, has power to forgive sins because He is God, and He uses this power on our behalf as our Mediator and Redeemer (Luke 22:20; John 20:17-18, 28: 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 53:4-5). Jesus used this power personally when He was on earth and after ascending into Heaven He still uses it, through the Apostles and their successors.

A sinner is like a paralytic in God's presence. The Lord is going to free him of his paralysis, forgiving him his sins and enabling him to walk by giving him grace once more. In the sacrament of Penance, if Jesus Christ, "sees us cold, unwilling, rigid perhaps with the stiffness of a dying interior life, His tears will be our life: `I say to you, My friend, arise and walk,' (cf. John 11:43; Luke 5:24), leave that narrow life which is no life at all" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 193).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 11, The Bigger the Prize

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Not to be deaf to Christ's challenge, but ready and eager to do His holy will.

The Idea: Doctors, in public and private, seem to be always warning men and women to watch out for their health, not to overwork or strain. Yet how many articles have I ever read or seen warning anyone not to work himself to death in spreading Christ's cause, in doing good to others, in teaching Christ's truth? Why not? Isn't it strange that so many people should literally kill themselves with work in order to make money? They have to leave it behind when they die anyway. And so few make any noticeable effort at all to win a reward they will never lose.

My Personal Application: In my ordinary affairs, the bigger the prize, the greater the effort I make to win. That's only common sense. Yet do I really follow through on that common-sense principle when it comes to working for Christ, helping my own soul and the souls of others? I am playing for the biggest stakes imaginable - ­eternal life. Do I act like it?

Others think nothing of devoting their whole days, all their free time, giving up food and sleep to make their business a success, to win an election, to pass an important examination. Well and good, but what of myself and the effort I make for the success of the one completely important job in the world - spreading the kingdom of Christ?

I Speak to God: My God, I do not like to think of myself as a coward or a slacker. Yet there must be something wrong. Maybe I just haven't thought seriously enough about the way things really are until today. Pour light into my mind that I may see more and more what is really important in this life and what part I should have in it.

Thought for Today: "Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

From: Luke 3:1-6

The Preaching of John the Baptist

[1] In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, [2] in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; [3] and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [4] As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [5] Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; [6] and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

1. The Gospel identifies very precisely the time and place of the public appearance of John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ, "Tiberius Caesar" was the second emperor of Rome, and the fifteenth year of his reign corresponds to A.D. 27 or 29, depending on which of the two possible calculations is correct.

"Pontius Pilate" was governor or "praefectus" of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36. His jurisdiction also extended to Samaria and Idumea.

The "Herod" referred to here is Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great, who succeeded to part of his father's territory with the title of tetrarch, not king. "Tetrarch" indicated that he exercised his power in subordination to Roman authority. It was Herod Antipas, who died in A.D. 39, who had St John the Baptist beheaded. On the identity of the four Herods in the New Testament, see the note on Mt 2:1.

"Philip", another son of Herod the Great and stepbrother of Herod Antipas, was tetrarch in the territory mentioned here up to the year 34 B.C. He married Herodias, who is spoken about in Mk 6:17-19.

2. The high priest at the time was "Caiaphas", who held the position from A.D. 18 to 36. Annas, his father-in-law, was still so influential that he was considered as the "de facto" head of Jewish religious and political life. That is why, when Christ was arrested, he was first interrogated before Annas (Jn 18:12-24). St Luke therefore is perfectly justified in calling him the high priest.

2-3. Here St Luke formally introduces St John the Baptist, who appears in his gospel a number of times. When Christ praises the Baptist (cf. Mt 11: 7-9) he refers particularly to his strength of will and his commitment to his God-given mission. Humility, austerity, courage and a spirit of prayer figure strongly in John's personality. So faithful was he to his mission of preparing the way for the Messiah that Christ praises him in a unique way: he is the greatest of those born of woman (cf. Mt 11:11), "a burning and shining lamp" (Jn 5:35). He burned with love, and shone by the witness he bore. Christ "was the light" (Jn 1:9); the Baptist "came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him" (Jn 1:7).

John the Baptist appears on the scene preaching the need for repentance. He prepares "the way of the Lord". He is the herald of salvation: but his mission does not go beyond that; he simply announces that salvation is coming. "Among you stands one...who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worth to untie" (Jn 1:27). He points Christ out: "Behold, the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:29, 36), behold "the Son of God" (Jn 1:34); and he rejoices to see his own disciples leave him to follow Christ (Jn 1:37): "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).

4-6. In the second part of the Book of Isaiah (chaps. 40-55), which is called the "Book of the Consolation of Israel", the Jewish people are told that they will once again suffer exile and a new exodus in which their guide will be, not Moses, but God himself; once again they will make their way through the desert to reach a new promised land. St Luke sees the preaching of the Baptist, who announces the arrival of the Messiah, as fulfilling this prophecy.

Because the Lord is imminent, people must prepare themselves spiritually, by doing penance for their sins, to receive the special divine grace the Messiah is bringing. This is what he means by levelling the mountains and making the Lord's path straight.

Every year in its Advent liturgy the Church proclaims the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior, exhorting every Christian to purify his or her soul by a new interior conversion.
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.