Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 31, Thanksgiving to God

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Appreciation for all that God has done for me, and help to give Him a return for His love.

The Idea: I am a Catholic in the United States. Did it ever occur to me that the odds were better than 100 to 1 against this? I had a much better chance of being born a pagan native of India or China... with little chance of living very long... and if I did live, I would have been sick and hungry most of my life. The odds are that I would never have learned to read, never have traveled. As a pagan I would never have heard of Christ, never peen baptized, never attended Holy Mass, never received Holy Communion. In my mind now let me picture such a person, someone I could very easily have been. Then picture myself as I am now, a Catholic in America. That I am not a sick, hungry young man or woman, ignorant of God, living in savage­ry, is due to the special love God has for me. He gave me the chance to be what I am today.

My Personal Application: How am I to thank Him? By doing! Not by saying, but by doing. God is showing His special love for me in a special way. I show Him my love by using the gifts He gives me in the way He wants me to use them... the right use of everything He has made. How am I using these gifts of God to me? My intelligence and my schooling... to know Him better; my friends... in whom I can see Christ and whom I can lead closer to Him; some of the money or clothes I have, for instance... for Christ's poor; my prayer... that all men may come to know and love Him. ­

I Speak to God: Thank you, God, for what you have done for me. Help me to appreciate and realize your special love for me. Help me to show my love by using your gifts well.

Thought for Today: "What do I have that God has not given me?"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Reflection on the Feast of the Holy Family

"Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men." St. Luke, 2:52.

Did you ever gaze at a distant house as the sun dropped over the hill? Did you ever notice the windows shining in the setting sun? Didn't they look like windows of gold? Didn't those houses seem to be bursting with gold? Did you ever hike over to see - to see whether those houses were really houses of gold?

A ten-year-old boy once did that. From his house on the hill he saw another house on another hill. In the setting sun the far-off windows seemed like windows of gold. It seemed the owner pulled down the blinds, because after a while the boy could not see the golden windows. He would find out. He would see for himself. He set off.

It was a long walk, but he finally arrived, only to find that the house was like any other building - no gold in its windows, no gold inside. With his chin in his hands he leaned upon the fence and stared disappointedly at the dismal windows. Weariedly he turned toward his own home, to dis­cover to his joy that its windows were made of gold. His own house was bursting with gold.

The trip home took much less time. It was already dark. But as he plodded nearer the gate the light of the lamp in the windows made them look like gold; the flare of the fireplace across the lawn was golden like the setting sun. The lamp and the fireplace gave the best golden glow after all.

Whether or not your home is filled with gold will depend on how closely it is modeled after a certain home of long ago. It was an unusually humble place in a little town called Nazareth. There lived the three most precious people in the world. Like that little boy of our story we will hurry to the tiny dwelling whose brightness shines across the world and across the centuries. The glow of a heavenly calm and happiness fills it to overflowing. The very walls and ceiling seem to have been made with materials from heaven. It might be the poorest, the smallest, but certainly it is not the darkest house in Nazareth. We are drawn to it. We want to stop. We want to look in. We want to enter. We want to stay there.

Peek in for a moment. We see a middle-aged man, rather tall, muscular, and strongly silent. He is sharpening tools. In a homemade rocking chair sits a very youngish looking woman, with heaven glowing in her face, so that the wool with which she works seems spun of gold. A boy about twelve sits on a stool near the man, watching every move closely, picking up everything he lays down, handling it, gazing at it proudly, and then placing it in the row of tools upon the floor.

A very ordinary family, to be sure, and yet extremely extraordinary. Evidently there is abundance of love, not sniveling sentimentality, or indif­ferent indulgence, or carefree negligence, but thoughtful, self-sacrificing, understanding affection.

Looking at those holy three, you get the idea they would rather be there than anywhere else in the world; you get the impression that they are their own best company.

Much as we want, we cannot stay, Still there are countless cottages built on the plan of that place in Pa1estine. Perhaps you would like to come with me as I visit one this morning.

As we enter the front room we know it is another Nazareth, for there upon the wall we notice a picture of the little Family we just left in imagi­nation. On the reading table we catch titles of good Catholic publications. Fingering through the piles of papers and periodicals, we should not find not a single publication that might bring a purple blush to Jesus, Mary or Joseph. We take a book-worm's view of the bookcase; quite a few Catholic titles there. Into the dining room our hostess leads us; a fine plaque of the Last Supper clings to the farther wall. The sideboard boasts a standing picture of one of the Saints, who seems to feel at home, and who makes me feel at home.

"Father, come see our kitchen."

The kitchen includes two small pictures of the Sacred Heart and our Blessed Mother, smiling at each other, and no doubt smiling at every step and stroke our mother hostess takes. With all its modern conveniences, this cuisine still echoes the kitchen of Nazareth.

"Look, Father, this is where I keep my rosary and prayerbook, right here in the corner of this drawer," says the little girl of the house. No Sunday morning, last minute looking for "church utensils" in this family.

"See this little table, Father? That's where we have our crib and May altar and during June mother puts the Sacred Heart there. We take turns dust­ing and decorating."

The invitation to dinner we gladly accept, if for no other reason than to hear the tiniest lisping: "Bless us, 0 Lord. . . ."

As the meal concludes, I sense a sort of quiet. All join in a prayer for several intentions of concern to the family.

An appointment at the rectory pulls me away from this 21st century Nazareth, this house of gold in a world of dross. There are many such homes; and should be millions more.

Through my thoughts kept running the words of the blessing of a new house.

"Let the angels of light dwell within its walls, and guard it and those that dwell therein."

Perhaps in your own home and for your own home you would like to repeat the Church's official prayer for a house:
"Mercifully hear us, O holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God: and deign to send thy holy angel from heaven to guard, foster, protect, visit, and defend all that dwell in this house. Through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Adapted from Occasional Talks
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

An Interview with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz

To believing Catholic Americans, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska is a hero because he is faithful to the Magisterium, he teaches his flock, he encourages the devout life and he enforces Canon Law. Since His Excellency was consecrated bishop in 1992, he has upheld Catholic tradition. His diocese, for example, permits only young men to be altar servers. While the Church has suffered a crisis of vocations for decades in most U.S. dioceses, by comparison, the diocese of this steadfast bishop suffers no shortage of priests. Furthermore, 31 men are in formation at the diocesan seminary, Saint Gregory the Great.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our High Priest, Prophet and King, we hope you will enjoy the wisdom of this exemplary bishop.

This interview comes from Celebrate Life magazine, a publication of American Life League.

HT to Darla for the link - very timely considering the anti-life mentality permeating the so-called "Catholic" leadership of our country.

Day of Remembrance, 6th Annivesary of the Death of Fr. John Hardon

Six years ago today, Fr John A. Hardon, SJ, died in Clarkston, Michigan, at 86 years of age at Columbiere, a residence for elderly Jesuits.

Fr. Hardon was one of the greatest teachers of the Catholic faith during the 20th century. Some Online Tributes to Fr Hardon are:

Requiéscat in Pace

Society of St. John Cantius

A Priestly Prophet

Fr. John Hardon

For those who may not be aware of it, a Cause for the Beatification of Fr Hardon is underway and for this, your prayers, daily Rosaries, and Mass intentions are ernestly sought. And do not forget to ask for Fr. Hardon's intercession for your needs, from the simplest to the most profound and troubling.

From the most recent issue of The Tilma, the magazine of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, we read, in part:

...Archbishop Burke has been strongly advised by the Vatican to begin to gather a vast array of testimonials from those who knew Fr. Hardon during his lifetime, or whose lives were in some way affected by Fr. Hardon's witness of faith. This is an enormous and exciting task. Fr. Hardon touched so many lives!
. . .
All of the gathered testimonials will be helpful in establishing a picture of Fr. Hardon as he lived and breathed and carried out God's work among us. Some individuals will be asked to give a longer personal. interview, at Archbishop Burke's direction. All of this work is currently underway, and your prayers are most gratefully needed as the Cause develops.
. . .
The completion of such a Cause may take many years. As Archbishop Burke continues to take the preliminary steps to open this work, we can all rely on the profound intercession of Fr. Hardon himself, who so carefully watches over us all from Heaven.

Again, as Fr. Hardon relied on prayer as the mainstay of his apostolic work, may his life, patterned after the life of Christ, be a model for us and for our life in Christ and in prayer.

Gospel for the 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas

From: Luke 2:36-40

Anna's Prophecy

[36] And there was a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Ahser; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, [37] and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. [38] And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Childhood of Jesus

[39] And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. [40] And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.

36-38. Anna's testimony is very similar to Simeon's; like him, she too has been awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God, and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. "She spoke of Him," that is, of the Child--praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three different ways--first, by the shepherds, after the angel's announcement; second, by the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in men's eyes, become instruments the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to other. In His plan of redemption God avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy Family fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. "Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described as full of wisdom and grace" (St. Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
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 29, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 30, Christ Comes to Me Today

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To understand and appreciate the importance of Holy Communion in a Catholic's life.

The Idea: Christ was born in Bethlehem - many years ago. I wasn't there. He knew I couldn't be there and yet He wanted to be with me. That's why He was born: to be with me. So to the miracle of His birth, He added the miracle of the Blessed Sacrament. In Holy Communion the Son of God comes to me personally. The priest calls Him from heaven during Mass and He comes to me in Holy Communion. It's Christmas all over again. Only instead of a cold manger in a poor cave, what does He find? My heart! He comes to me to change my heart as He came in Bethlehem to change the world. He comes to make me holy, to help me live the life of a faithful Catholic, to help me change the world with Him.

My Personal Application: What is my attitude toward Holy Communion? Do I understand the impor­tance of coming close to Christ through Holy Communion? How often do I receive? Could I easily be receiving Holy Communion more often than I do? Do I think often of the fact that Christ really wants to come to me in Holy Communion?

I Speak to God: Heavenly Father, I want to appre­ciate the great gift of your Son. Help me to understand that He comes to me in Holy Com­munion... that He wants to come to me. Help me to see that Holy Communion is an important fact in my life and, through me, in the lives of all whom I hope to bring to Christ through Christ.

Thought for Today: I will read, pray and try to under­stand better the great importance of Holy Communion and being properly disposed to receive my Lord in this wonderful Sacrament.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Will Archbishop Wuerl be Guilty of Dereliction of Duty

This is a followup to this previous post.

January 3 is 5 days away - the day which Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to attend Mass at Trinity College in Washington as an endorsement of her alma mater and her Catholic faith. Does Archbishop Wuerl have the grace and fortitude to protect the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege and scandal from those who advocate and promote the killing of unborn babies? Will he choose to do his duty to God and the Church and protect this woman and others from engaging in acts of mortal sin...?

This issue will be a test of Archbishop Wuerl's leadership, or lack thereof. Pelosi, by her own record, has consistently rejected the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life. If the doctrines and disciplines of the Church can be ignored by those in positions of political power, can not the rest of the "faithful" do likewise and remain good and faithful Catholics?

A St Louis Judge Who "Gets it"

A liberal-bashing book by a veteran St. Louis judge is to become available publicly this week, but it is already causing a stir in political and legal circles — and prompting some to say it could cost him his job.

Speak the truth and wait for the's to be expected. First, a couple of excerpts from his book:

"This is liberal law in a nutshell. History and tradition count for nothing; the language of the Constitution itself counts for little; the only criterion is whether a ruling will advance the liberal agenda." (from the chapter "Ozzie and Harriet are dead" about abortion and the attack on the traditional family)

Sounds like it's right on the money...and another:

"Just as we saw with the femifascists, illiberal liberals don't want equality; they want to make some people more equal than others. And they've made it happen through their dominance of the courts over the past seventy-five years. Liberals have converted the courts from the 'least dangerous' branch of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers to the most dangerous." (from a chapter titled "Making some Americans more equal than others" about the 14th Amendment and equal protection under the law).

I can picture the pigs walking out on their hind legs...Besides reading the book, we were fortunate enough to see the movie "Animal Farm" in a public junior high school English class...To this day, my mind automatically converts the images that I see of people mentioned above into those images of the upright walking pigs...perhaps that's a gift of knowing exactly who they are?

Anyway, it's nice to see a judge expose elements of the judiciary and the abuses of the justice system and our constitution.

Chapter 1 of Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr.'s book, "The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault," has circulated via e-mail since last month and been widely read in legal circles, lawyers and judges say.

And this has some people going ballistic. Some want him removed from his position. God only knows what the intolerant fringe desires...

State Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, filed a complaint with the commission [Missouri's Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline] last month, citing her concerns with the first chapter. Bray said, "I'm still worrying about women in Missouri being treated fairly in the courtroom." She said she plans a follow-up complaint, based on conversations with lawyers and judges, that would include a complaint that Dierker was violating judicial rules by using his position to promote the book.
. . .
Dierker said that he would fight any challenge vigorously, including potentially taking any discipline to federal court.
. . .
Dierker said that he had to be "polemical" in the book to get attention, and said "controversy is inevitable." But, he said, the controversy may draw attention to an issue that is permeating the law and the judiciary. "If I wrote a law review article, who would read it?" he asked.

"I think unquestionably, the more controversy, the more interest it generates from the mundane to the philosophical," he said.

Dierker said criticism of the book may be unpleasant. But, he adds, "If you dish it out, you have to be able to take it."
That's part of the problem - the intolerant leftists and socialists can't handle the truth...It should be interesting. The official promotion and rolloutof the book is next Tuesday, Jan 2, when Dierker will appear on Bill O'Reilly's show.


Gospel for the 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas

From: Luke 2:22-35

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons."

Simeon's Prophecy

[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. [27] And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, [29] "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; [30] for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation [31] which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to Thy people Israel."

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34] and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, "Behold this child is set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against [35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."


22-24. The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfill the prescriptions of the Law of Moses--the purification of the mother and the presentation and then redemption or buying back of the first-born. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, a woman who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary most holy, ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she conceived without intercourse, nor did Christ's birth undo the virginal integrity of His Mother. However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was under no obligation to do so.

"Through this example, foolish child, won't you learn to fulfill the holy Law of God, regardless of personal sacrifice?

"Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more than atonement, Love. Love as a searing iron to cauterize our soul's uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fourth Joyful Mystery).

Also, in Exodus 13:2, 12-13 it is indicated that every first-born male belongs to God and must be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God. However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God's service, and to show that they continued to be God's special property, a rite of redemption was performed.

The Law also laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser victim--for example, a lamb or, if they were poor, a pair of doves or two pigeons. Our Lord, who "though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9), chose to have a poor man's offering made on His behalf.

25-32. Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man, obedient to God's will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this moment has "now" come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Consolation of Israel, the Light of the nations.

Simeon's canticle (verses 29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas: the first (verses 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy for having seen the Messiah. The second (verses 31-32) is more obviously prophetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to all men without exception--something foretold in many Old Testament prophecies (cf. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 2:6; 42:6; 60:3; Psalm 28:2).

It is easy to realize how extremely happy Simeon was--given that many patriarchs, prophets and kings of Israel had yearned to see the Messiah, yet did not see Him, whereas he now held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10).

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy about the Child's future and His Mother's. His words become clearer in the light of our Lord's life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject Him--and for this reason He will be their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son's redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son's sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary's pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, "that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed", link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by whether one accepts or rejects Christ.

36-38. Anna's testimony is very similar to Simeon's; like him, she too has been awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God, and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. "She spoke of Him," that is, of the Child--praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three different ways--first, by the shepherds, after the angel's announcement; second, by the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in men's eyes, become instruments the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to other. In His plan of redemption God avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy Family fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. "Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described as full of wisdom and grace" (St. Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
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 28, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 29, My Christmas Gift to Christ

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To give our Lord the best Christmas gift I can.

Mental Picture: The Infant Jesus in Mary's arms. This baby is my King. This baby, this King, God Himself, is God's Christmas gift to me.

My Personal Application: What gift can I give to my infant King in return? The greatest of all gifts, the most dear to Him, is myself. Yes, my­self! For me He became man; can I not give a complete return to Him?

This is not a promise to become a religious or a priest or to give away everything I have or will have! It is giving myself, in whatever state of life I may be, to Christ, with no questions asked. It is living a good life - like His - for Him. I must keep His commandments, practice His vir­tues, love and serve His Church.

I Speak to Christ: In my own words: Not about promises but about my own gift of self to Him­ who gave Himself completely to me.

Thought for Today: "My son, give me your heart."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Mother Upset after Abortion Video Shown at Catholic School

KENDALL, Fla. -- A parent of a 15-year-old girl at a Catholic high school in Kendall is upset after her daughter was shown a video of a live abortion without parental consent.

Dawn Jackson said her daughter was shown the video at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Miami.

"I couldn't even speak," Jackson said. "I couldn't even believe that they had shown her this without my permission...I'm very worried that a lot of people don't know about this...That they don't know that they are using scare tactics."

So now, showing the horrific truth of abortion is resorting to "scare tactics" - the rhetoric of the culture of death. The video has been part of the high school curriculum for seven years yet it seems that this is the first complaint.

I can understand the anti-life crowd voicing complaints, but certainly not parents who send their teenagers to a Catholic high school. I can't help but wonder what's missing from this story.

In case you missed this - Gumbleton removed from parish

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, announced at Sunday Mass Dec. 17 that he was being asked to leave St. Leo’s Parish in Detroit, where he has been stationed since 1983.

Gumbleton told NCR that he expects a new pastor to be appointed within a month. He also said he expects to continue his weekly column, The Peace Pulpit, on the NCR website.
Source: "Nominally" Catholic Reporter.

Another Exercise in Futility by CTA

From The National Catholic Distorter, one reads:
Nicole Sotelo, codirector of national Call to Action, said her organization intends to mount a letter-writing campaign to Lincoln, Neb., Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, with copies to Bishop William Skylstad, bishop of Spokane, Wash., and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The letters will protest Bruskewitz's refusal to comply with the bishops' conference policies on child abuse by clergy, she said. Asked about the timing of the campaign, just after an announcement that the Vatican has upheld the excommunication of the Lincoln chapter of Call to Action, she said it would counter Bruskewitz’s "attempts to silence" the organization. "Justice cannot be silenced," she said.

Diogenes has a report on this called "Bruskewitz besieged!" which deserves a few minutes of your time.

For those who have the stomach to read the CTA Press Release, it is here (PDF File). It says, in part:
“Bishop Bruskewitz may try to excommunicate our Nebraska members, but he cannot excommunicate our efforts for justice,” says Rachel Pokora, President of CTA/Nebraska. “We want our daughters to be able to be altar girls and we want to protect the children in our diocese in the wake of the sexual abuse revelations...The bishop has excommunicated us for simply wanting justice in our diocese.”

Uhhhh, no, that's not the reason, Rachel dear...Justice demands that CTA and others who reject the teachings of the Church receive the medicinal treatment of excommunication...

Nicole Sotelo, CTA/USA Co-Director and Media Coordinator [states:] “Does this mean that any Catholic is at risk of excommunication when they disagree with their bishop or Catholic teaching? What about the more than 90% of US Catholics who disagree with the Vatican’s stance on birth control? What about the two-thirds of US Catholics who desire women’s ordination?

Clearly then, these people have rejected aspects of the faith - they embrace heresy instead ... Are they Catholic? Probably not...

And at the CTA Conference in Milwaukee...

...good times were had by all:

Roman Catholic Womenpriests Celebrate Eucharist at
CALL TO ACTION 30th Anniversary Conference
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
A 3:55 minute video of this lunacy is here...

Let's not forget that some from the St Louis area attended this conference, such as: Hired "priest", Marek Bozek.

Gospel for Dec 28, Feast: The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

From: Matthew 2:13-18

The Flight Into Egypt

[13] Now when they (the Magi) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him." [14] And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, [15]and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son."

The Massacre of the Innocents

[16] Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: [18] "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."

14. St. John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, draws a particular attention to Joseph's faithfulness and obedience: "On hearing this, Joseph was not scandalized, nor did he say, `This is hard to understand. You yourself told me not long ago that He would save His people, and not He is not able to save even Himself. Indeed, we have to flee and undertake a journey and be away for a long time...'. But he does not say any of these things, because Joseph is a faithful man. Neither does he ask when they will be coming back, even though the angel had left it open when he said `and remain there till I tell you.' This does not hold him back: on the contrary, he obeys, believes and endures all trials with joy" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 8).

It is worth noting also how God's way of dealing with His chosen ones contains light and shade: they have to put up with intense sufferings side by side with great joy: "It can be clearly seen that God, who is full of love for man, mixes pleasant things with unpleasant ones, as He did with all the Saints. He gives us neither dangers nor consolations in a continual way, but rather He makes the lives of the just a mixture of both. This was what He did with Joseph" ("ibid".).

15. The text of Hosea 11:1 speaks of a child who comes out of Egypt and is a son of God. This refers in the first place to the people of Israel whom God brought out of Egypt under Moses' leadership. But this event was a symbol or prefiguration of Jesus, the Head of the Church, the New People of God. It is in Him that this prophecy is principally fulfilled. The sacred text gives a quotation from the Old Testament in the light of its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament achieves its full meaning in Christ, and, in the words of St. Paul, to read it without keeping in mind Jesus is to have one's face covered by a veil (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18).

18. Ramah was the city in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, concentrated the Israelites he had taken prisoner. Since Ramah was in the land of Benjamin, Jeremiah puts this lament for the children of Israel in the mouth of Rachel, the mother of Benjamin and Joseph. So great was the misfortune of those exiled to Babylon that Jeremiah says poetically that Rachel's sorrow is too great to allow for consolation.

"Rachel was buried in the racecourse near Bethlehem. Since her grave was nearby and the property belonged to her son, Benjamin (Rachel was of the tribe of Benjamin), the children beheaded in Bethlehem could reasonably be called Rachel's children" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St Matthew", 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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 28, Why Did Christ Come in Poverty?

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To realize God's love for me; to love Him in return.

Mental Picture: Cold, blustering, drizzling day... a cave, shelter for animals... walls and ceiling dripping... smelly, dark... smoke from a tiny fire of sodden sticks. A man and woman also seeking shelter while their baby is born. Gypsies? No! A King's guardian... a King's mother... the King of this world... and of heaven!

My Personal Application: There is only one tragedy: not to love God. To die thus is to live for all eternity without the only one who is my complete good and happiness.

But how easy God has made it to love Him. He became man, even a helpless baby, to prove His love. He who was all-rich made Himself poor for my sake. How poor? Look! Look around His stable-home.

The things around me can keep me from loving God... even though they can and ought to increase my love of Him. Do I make the good things of this world my heaven? Do I see how tragic it is to love things more than God who gives them? - He - more wonderful than all of them. Do I realize the value of doing without things, to love Jesus more, to be like Him, to become strong and not love anything more than God Himself?

I Speak to Christ: Jesus, I thank you for making it so easy to love you. Today I will give up some­thing for love of you. Give me the grace, at least to want to give up something for you every day of my life so that I may always realize earth is not my heaven.

Thought for Today: Poor child Jesus - my God of abundance!
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

MIT Stem Cell Researcher Threatens Hunger Strike Over Tenure Denial

Boston, MA ( -- A black Massachusetts Institute of Technology stem cell researcher who doesn't support human cloning says he is planning a hunger strike for next February if the prestigious college doesn't reverse its decision to deny him tenure. Dr. James L. Sherley, an associate professor of biological engineering, says he is a victim of racism.

Sherley has been an outspoken advocate against human cloning -- including the kind of therapeutic cloning his colleagues and other scientists want to use to create and destroy human embryos for their stem cells.
. . .
Sherley told the Boston Globe in January 2005 that fellow professors label him “stubborn” instead of “independent-minded" because he refuses to endorse human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

In fact, Sherley, the son of a Baptist minister, is vocal in saying the practices involve the destruction of human life and shouldn't be supported and he was once involved in a shouting match with a colleague at a local restaurant.
. . .
Sherley told the Globe that Douglas A. Lauffenburger, the director of the Biological Engineering division, told him that he had strong recommendations letters for tenure but that he was denied it because of his views on stem cell research. [my emphasis]

This is to be expected - those who oppose the wanton murder and destruction of defenseless human life are not welcomed in a paganized, secular society. Do not the elitists say:
Really now, are those who oppose cloning and embryonic stem cell research really that intelligent?
Aren't the death peddlers the ones they want us to look up to? That is what the "elitists" of the country and world would have us believe. Sherley has been a vocal opponent and critic of ESCR and SCNT and now, he is asked to pay an even higher price in the form of additional discrimination.

It's sad and frightening what we see happening every day...but persevere we must; pray, we must; fight, we must; educate, we must...following the natural moral law and following Christ is not easy - pray for Dr. Sherley and for all of those persist in exposing the frauds, deceptions and lies of the evil one. Ask Jesus for His help in these trying times - He will not give us a burden which we can not carry.

Ahmadinejad Sends Letter to Pope Benedict

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI through his Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, the Vatican said in a communique.

Wednesday's statement did not reveal the contents of the letter, but earlier Wednesday a press officer at the Iranian presidency in Tehran told AFP that the letter, the latest in a series of missives to world leaders, was "not political."

An unconditional surrender and resignation would be nice...

A Summary Account of Four Voyages – And a Year’s Pontificate

This is the synthesis that Benedict XVI read in person to the Roman curia, in the traditional pre-Christmas address. At the center of it all is the question of God. Everything relates to this – the clash of civilizations, Islam, the Holocaust, the drop in the birth rate, gay marriage, clerical celibacy...
by Sandro Magister
Click here to continue...

Gospel for Dec 27, Feast: St. John, Apostle & Evangelist

From: John 20:1a, 2-8

The Empty Tomb

[1a] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." [3]Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. [4] They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; [5] and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, [7] and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. [8] Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.

1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes "lying" and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem...and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32).

John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the Apostles.

5-7. The words the Evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant. The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.

"The linen clothes lying there": the Greek participle translated as "lying there" seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared--as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later He entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being "fallen", "flat" "lying", which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus' body--which had filled them--left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

"The napkin...rolled up in a place by itself": the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed on one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as "rolled", seems to indicate.

From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus' body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44).

8-10. As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two Apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they know began to understand what the Master had so often told them about His death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; etc....)

The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ's resurrection is a real, historic fact: His body and soul were re-united. But since His was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus', far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required--the gift of faith--to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas can say that "the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ's resurrection, but taken together,in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Luke 24:25-27), the angelic testimony (cf. Luke 24:4-7) and Christ's own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. John 3:13; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 55, a. 6 ad 1).

In addition to Christ's predictions about His passion, death and resurrection (cf. John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, His resurrection (cf. Psalm 16:9; Isaiah 52:13; Hosea 6:2). The Apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Sacred Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.
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 26, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 27, Why Did Christ Come?

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: That in realizing why Christ came, I may be spurred on to help bring Him to other people.

The Idea: "He has come!" The long-awaited Savior of the world has arrived. The Son of God has become man that men might become the sons of God. Here is the tremendous reality of our salvation, this newborn infant in the crib at
Bethlehem. Christmas has come and gone again, and what has it meant to the people around me? Has it been just a time to exchange gifts, and to have a pleasant holiday? Did Christ and the Mass enter at all into their Christmas? Have they been simply on the surface of things, never penetrating down into the marvelous reality of what Christmas really is and means? The Christ­mas tree withers; the candy is eaten; the orna­ments are packed away. And what of Christ? Is He just as easily forgotten? Does His coming mean anything to the people that I will come in contact with today? Are they different in any way because He has come? If not, why not?

My Personal Application: Christ must come again with His grace to each person to save him. He must be born again, not in the stable of Bethlehem, but in the heart of each man. And how am I to help Him? My fellow men may not see Christ, but they can see me, a Christian. They cannot hear Christ the King directly, but they can hear Him through me, a soldier of His.

I Speak to Christ: My infant King, help me to bring all men to realize what your coming means. Never let me rest as long as there is a soul that has not heard of you, a person that does not love you, a human being that does not follow you, my King and my God.

Thought for Today: "Why did He come?"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for Dec 26, Feast: St. Stephen, First Martyr

From: Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus' Instructions to the Apostles

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [17] Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, [18] and you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. [19] When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; [20] for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. [21] Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; [22] and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."


16-23. The instructions and warnings Jesus gives here apply right through the history of the Church. It is difficult for the world to understand the way of God. Sometimes there will be persecutions, sometimes indifference to the Gospel or failure to understand. Genuine commitment to Jesus always involves effort--which is not surprising, because Jesus Himself was a sign of contradiction; indeed, if that were not the experience of a Christian, he would have to ask himself whether he was not in fact a worldly person. There are certain worldly things a Christian cannot compromise about, no matter how much they are in fashion. Therefore, Christian life inevitably involves nonconformity with anything that goes against faith and morals (cf. Romans 12:2). It is not surprising that a Christian's life often involves choosing between heroism and treachery. Difficulties of this sort should not make us afraid: we are not alone, we can count on the powerful help of our Father God to give us strength and daring.

20. Here Jesus teaches the completely supernatural character of the witness He asks His disciples to bear. The documented accounts of a host of Christian martyrs prove that He has kept this promise: they bear eloquent witness to the serenity and wisdom of often uneducated people, some of them scarcely more than children.

The teaching contained in this verse provides the basis for the fortitude and confidence a Christian should have whenever he has to profess his faith in difficult situations. He will not be alone, for the Holy Spirit will give him words of divine wisdom.
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 25, 2006

Mental Prayer for December 26, The Shepherds

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Holy Spirit, give me the grace to understand why God first showed Himself to shepherds.

Mental Picture (cf. Luke 2:8-18): Later... just before dawn... watching Mary and her Son.... we hear voices... see torches... "There it is - the
cave the angel said - hurry." What is this? Shepherds? Coming in they see the child and kneel to adore Him. One of them speaks: "In the hills... by the fire... watching the stars... listening to the sheep... suddenly... music... and an angel... 'Fear not... today is born your Savior... in a cave... go find Him in the manger'... and then thousands of angels singing... 'Glory to God... peace on earth.' We ran over here to adore the Savior."

My Personal Application: Who are these men?...these shepherds? Poor, ordinary, humble work­men. Their hearts are not crowded with them­selves. There is room for God, for the Child - ­Christ. They come to adore Him, to give them­selves completely to Him. God showed Himself first to these simple men, but He still shows Him­self to me too - every day. Do I come to see Him, to adore Him, to offer Him myself?

I Speak to God: Father in heaven, don't pass me by. Here I am; show your Son to me. There's room for Him in my heart. It's not much, I know, but I'll make more. But I need your help so very much. Give me the grace to be like the shepherds, that I may see your Son.

Thought for Today: "Come, let us adore Him."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Finding Christmas Peace

Some great quotes and insights:

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you. As she cooked meals in her Nazarene home, as she nursed her aged cousin, as she drew water at the well, as she prepared the meals of the village carpenter, as she knitted the seamless garment, as she kneaded the dough and swept the floor, she was conscious that Christ was in her; that she was a living Ciborium, a monstrance of the Divine Eucharist, a Gate of Heaven through which a Creator would peer upon creation, a Tower of Ivory up whose chaste body He was to climb "to kiss upon her lips a mystical rose."

As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellowman a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through. If you knew He spoke through your lips, then your speech, like Peter's, would betray that you had been with the Galilean. If you knew that He wants to use your mind, your will, your fingers, and your heart, how different you would be. If half the world did this there would be no war! 

"King of Kings yet born of Mary
As our Lord on earth He stood
Lord of Lords in human vesture
In the body and the blood
He will give to the faithful
His own self for heavenly food,"

- from "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent" (French Carol)

"The Eucharist began at Bethlehem in Mary's arms. It was she who brought to humanity the Bread for which it was famishing, and which alone can nourish it. She it was who took care of that Bread for us. It was she who nourished the Lamb whose life-giving Flesh we feed upon,"

- St. Peter Julian Eymard

"When we worship you in the form of bread... we always see you as an adult. But every year at Christmas, you reveal yourself to us as a child born in a crib. We stand in silent amazement...

In silent adoration we stand before the mystery, like Mary when the shepherd came and told her what they had seen and heard: 'She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.'

- Chiara Lubich

"The shepherds - simple souls - came to adore the Infant Savior. Mary rejoiced at seeing their homage and willing offerings they made to her Jesus... How happy is the loving soul when it has found Jesus with Mary, His Mother! They who know the Tabernacle where He dwells, they who receive Him into their souls, know that His conversation is full of divine sweetness, His consolation ravishing, His peace superabundant, and the familiarity of His love and His Heart ineffable,"

- St. Peter Julian Eymard

"Where is the new-born King of the Jews?" inquired the three Magi of Herod, king of Jerusalem. "Where is He?" they repeat in their great desire to find Him. "We have seen His star in the East, and we have come to adore Him. Ah, tell us where He is; we desire so much to see Him; we have made so long a journey in order to become acquainted with Him!"...

But now there is no need of traveling far or of making many inquiries to find Him. He is, as we know by faith, in our churches, not far from our homes. The Magi could find Him in one place only; we can find Him in every part of the world, wherever the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Are we then not happier than those who lived at the time of our Saviour Himself?

- from The Blessed Eucharist, by Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.R.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

The little town of Bethlehem is taken from two Hebrew words which mean "House of Bread." He Who called Himself "the Living Bread descended from Heaven" was born in the "House of Bread" and was laid in the place of food, the manger. The first temptation Christ had in the beginning of His public life was to become a bread King, and to win men by supplying them with food. On one occasion when they attempted to make Him King after multiplying the bread, He fled into the mountains. Rome once rang with the cry: "Bread and circuses." But the Bread that was brought at Bethlehem was an entirely different kind: "Not by bread alone does man live."

The body has its bread. Shall not the soul have its food too? Those who have nourished themselves solely on the bread of the stomach and ignored the Bread of the soul have cried out with some of the bitter disappointment of the Lord Chesterfield: "I have seen the silly rounds of business and pleasure, and have done with them all. I have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world and consequently know their futility, and do not regret their loss. Their real value is very low; but those who have not experienced them always over-rate them. For myself, I by no means desire to repeat the nauseous dose."

Merry Christmas! A holy night, a silent night with Mother and child, all is calm, all is bright. This inspiring hymn came to us because an organ in Germany broke down about one hundred years ago.

Without an organ the parish priest in this small country church said it would be a "Silent Night". The organist would compose a melody. The priest would write the lyrics and the choir would just sing the soft praises of this hymn for midnight Mass.

That is all it was meant to be, just a simple hymn sung once and forgotten. Then a snowstorm prevented the man who fixed the organ from coming until the snow melted in the spring. After he finished he noticed the music left on the organ since Christmas night and took it back to Munich. The rest is history. "Silent Night" has reverberated throughout the ages. With its quiet sounds of love and peace it has inspired millions and millions, touching the lives of countless people.

It is the same with a holy hour. We leave it in the chapel like the music to "Silent Night," and God turns our hour of prayer into a never-ending stream of graces for His people. A single holy hour of prayer touches more hearts through God’s grace, than all the people who have ever been touched by "Silent Night". From a single holy hour of prayer God’s graces reverberate throughout the world until the end of time and will continue for all eternity.

This is because of the divine appreciation God has for those who love His Son in the Blessed Sacrament. The Father will spend all eternity thanking you and loving you in heaven because you have honored His Son on earth in the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament is the continuation of Christ’s Incarnation on earth.

Coming to the Blessed Sacrament we find the same humility and gentleness that the shepherds found in "the babe lying in a manger". (LUKE 2:15). The hunger in the heart of God for the love of man is expressed in the profound humility of these two words, Baby Jesus.

How great is God’s desire for intimacy with man! Jesus came as a Babe, because no one is ever afraid to come close to a baby. A baby is lovable in its vulnerability. A baby reaching our for love with open arms is irresistible.

The Sacred Host embodies the Divine Tenderness of the Incarnation. So gentle and humble, so loving and small and vulnerable, the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus saying "Come to Me...for I am gentle and humble of Heart". (Mt. 11:30).

Only the humble hear His voice. Only those with a childlike heart seek His Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. This is why Jesus says: "Let the children come to Me; do not prevent them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mk 10:13).

- Excerpts from Letters To A Brother Priest

More can be found here.

Homily of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, Midnight Mass

The homily of the Pope, Midnight Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Vatican Basilica, December 24, 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have just heard in the Gospel the message given by the angels to the shepherds during that Holy Night, a message which the Church now proclaims to us: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:11-12). Nothing miraculous, nothing extraordinary, nothing magnificent is given to the shepherds as a sign. All they will see is a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, one who, like all children, needs a mother’s care; a child born in a stable, who therefore lies not in a cradle but in a manger. God ’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Only in their hearts will the shepherds be able to see that this baby fulfils the promise of the prophet Isaiah, which we heard in the first reading: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder" (Is 9:5). Exactly the same sign has been given to us. We too are invited by the angel of God, through the message of the Gospel, to set out in our hearts to see the child lying in the manger.

God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him. The Fathers of the Church, in their Greek translation of the Old Testament, found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: "God made his Word short, he abbreviated it" (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28). The Fathers interpreted this in two ways...

Continued here...

A Blessed and Holy Christmas to All

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. [Luke 2:11]

Thanks to Patte G for the great graphic.

Gospel of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

From: John 1:1-18


[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God; [3] all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came for testimony to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

[9] The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. [10] He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. [11] He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. [12] But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

[14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father. [15] (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") [16] And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. [17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [18] No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.


1-18. These verses form the prologue or introduction to the Fourth Gospel; they are a poem prefacing the account of Jesus Christ's life on earth, proclaiming and praising his divinity and eternity. Jesus is the uncreated Word, God the Only-begotten, who takes on our human condition and offers us the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God, that is, to share in God's own life in a real and supernatural way.

Right through his Gospel St John the Apostle lays special emphasis on our Lord's divinity; his existence did not begin when he became man in Mary's virginal womb: before that he existed in divine eternity as Word, one in substance with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This luminous truth helps us understand everything that Jesus says and does as reported in the Fourth Gospel.

St John's personal experience of Jesus' public ministry and his appearances after the Resurrection were the material on which he drew to contemplate God's divinity and express it as "the Word of God". By placing this poem as a prologue to his Gospel, the Apostle is giving us a key to understand the whole account which follows, in the same sort of way as the first chapters of the Gospels of St Matthew and St Luke initiate us into the contemplation of the life of Christ by telling us about the virgin birth and other episodes to do with his infancy; in structure and content, however, they are more akin to the opening passages of other NT books, such as Col 1:15-20, Eph 1:13-14 and 1 Jn 1-4.

The prologue is a magnificent hymn in praise of Christ. We do not know whether St John composed it when writing his Gospel, or whether he based it on some existing liturgical hymn; but there is no trace of any such text in other early Christian documents.

The prologue is very reminiscent of the first chapter of Genesis, on a number of scores: 1) the opening words are the same: "In the beginning..."; in the Gospel they refer to absolute beginning, that is, eternity, whereas in Genesis they mean the beginning of Creation and time; 2) there is a parallelism in the role of the Word: in Genesis, God creates things by his word ("And God said ..."); in the Gospel we are told that they were made through the Word of God; 3) in Genesis, God's work of creation reaches its peak when he creates man in his own image and likeness; in the Gospel, the work of the Incarnate Word culminates when man is raised--by a new creation, as it were--to the dignity of being a son of God.

The main teachings in the prologue are: 1) the divinity and eternity of the Word; 2) the Incarnation of the Word and his manifestation as man; 3) the part played by the Word in creation and in the salvation of mankind; 4) the different ways in which people react to the coming of the Lord--some accepting him with faith, others rejecting him; 5) finally, John the Baptist bears witness to the presence of the Word in the world.

The Church has always given special importance to this prologue; many Fathers and ancient Christian writers wrote commentaries on it, and for centuries it was always read at the end of Mass for instruction and meditation.

The prologue is poetic in style. Its teaching is given in verses, which combine to make up stanzas (vv. 1-5; 6-8; 9-13; 14-18). Just as a stone dropped in a pool produces ever widening ripples, so the idea expressed in each stanza tends to be expanded in later verses while still developing the original theme. This kind of exposition was much favored in olden times because it makes it easier to get the meaning across-- and God used it to help us go deeper into the central mysteries of our faith.

1. The sacred text calls the Son of God "the Word." The following comparison may help us understand the notion of "Word": just as a person becoming conscious of himself forms an image of himself in his mind, in the same way God the Father on knowing himself begets the eternal Word. This Word of God is singular, unique; no other can exist because in him is expressed the entire essence of God. Therefore, the Gospel does not call him simply "Word", but "the Word." Three truths are affirmed regarding the Word--that he is eternal, that he is distinct from the Father, and that he is God. ''Affirming that he existed in the beginning is equivalent to saying that he existed before all things" (St Augustine, "De Trinitate", 6, 2). Also, the text says that he was with God, that is, with the Father, which means that the person of the Word is distinct from that of the Father and yet the Word is so intimately related to the Father that he even shares his divine nature: he is one in substance with the Father (cf. "Nicean Creed").

To mark the Year of Faith (1967-1968) Pope Paul VI summed up this truth concerning the most Holy Trinity in what is called the "Creed of the People of God" (n. 11) in these words: "We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. He is the eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, and one in substance with the Father, "homoousios to Patri", and through him all things were made. He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was made man: equal therefore to the Father according to his divinity, and inferior to the Father according to his humanity and himself one, not by some impossible confusion of his natures, but by the unity of his person."

"In the beginning": "what this means is that he always was, and that he is eternal. [...] For if he is God, as indeed he is, there is nothing prior to him; if he is creator of all things, then he is the First; if he is Lord of all, then everything comes after him--created things and time" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 2, 4).

3. After showing that the Word is in the bosom of the Father, the prologue goes on to deal with his relationship to created things. Already in the Old Testament the Word of God is shown as a creative power (cf. Is 55:10-11), as Wisdom present at the creation of the world (cf. Prov 8:22-26). Now Revelation is extended: we are shown that creation was caused by the Word; this does not mean that the Word is an instrument subordinate and inferior to the Father: he is an active principle along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The work of creation is an activity common to the three divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity: "the Father generating, the Son being born, the Holy Spirit proceeding; consubstantial, co-equal, co-omnipotent and co-eternal; one origin of all things: the creator of all things visible and invisible, spiritual and corporal." (Fourth Lateran Council, "De Fide Catholica", Dz-Sch, 800). From this can be deduced, among other things, the hand of the Trinity in the work of creation and, therefore, the fact that all created things are basically good.

4. The prologue now goes on to expound two basic truths about the Word--that he is Life and that he is Light. The Life referred to here is divine life, the primary source of all life, natural and supernatural. And that Life is the light of men, for from God we receive the light of reason, the light of truth and the light of glory, which are a participation in God's mind. Only a rational creature is capable of having knowledge of God in this world and of later contemplating him joyfully in heaven for all eternity. Also the Life (the Word) is the light of men because he brings them out of the darkness of sin and error (cf. Is 8:23; 9:1-2; Mt 4:15-16; Lk 1:74). Later on Jesus will say: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12; cf. 12:46).

Vv. 3 and 4 can be read with another punctuation, now generally abandoned but which had its supporters in ancient times: "All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made; in so far as anything was made in him, he was the life and the life was the light of men." This reading would suggest that everything that has been created is life in the Word, that is, that all things receive their being and activity, their life, through the Word: without him they cannot possibly exist.

5. "And the darkness has not overcome it": the original Greek verb, given in Latin as "comprehenderunt", means to embrace or contain as if putting one's arms around it--an action which can be done with good dispositions (a friendly embrace) or with hostility (the action of smothering or crushing someone). So there are two possible translations: the former is that given in the Navarre Spanish, the latter that in the RSV. The RSV option would indicate that Christ and the Gospel continue to shine among men despite the world's opposition, indeed overcoming "it", as Jesus later says: "Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33; cf. 12:31; 1 Jn 5:4). Either way, the verse expresses the darkness' resistance to, repugnance for, the light. As his Gospel proceeds, St John explains further about the light and darkness: soon, in vv. 9-11, he refers to the struggle between them; later he will describe evil and the powers of the evil one, as a darkness enveloping man's mind and preventing him from knowing God (cf. Jn 12:15-46; 1 Jn 5:6).

St Augustine ("In Ioann. Evang.", 1, 19) comments on this passage as follows: "But, it may be, the dull hearts of some cannot yet receive this light. Their sins weigh them down, and they cannot discern it. Let them not think, however, that, because they cannot discern it, therefore it is not present with them. For they themselves, because of their sins, are darkness. Just as if you place a blind person in the sunshine, although the sun is present to him, yet he is absent from the sun; in the same way, every foolish man, every unrighteous man, every ungodly man, is blind in heart. [...] What course then ought such a one to take? Let him cleanse the eyes of his heart, that he may be able to see God. He will see Wisdom, for God is Wisdom itself, and it is written: 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.'" There is no doubt that sin obscures man's spiritual vision, rendering him unable to see and enjoy the things of God.

6-8. After considering the divinity of the Lord, the text moves on to deal with his incarnation, and begins by speaking of John the Baptist, who makes his appearance at a precise point in history to bear direct witness before man to Jesus Christ (Jn 1:15, 19-36; 3:22ff). As St Augustine comments: "For as much as he [the Word Incarnate] was man and his Godhead was concealed, there was sent before him a great man, through whose testimony He might be found to be more than man" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 2, 5).

All of the Old Testament was a preparation for the coming of Christ. Thus, the patriarchs and prophets announced, in different ways, the salvation the Messiah would bring. But John the Baptist, the greatest of those born of woman (cf. Mt 11:11), was actually able to point out the Messiah himself; his testimony marked the culmination of all the previous prophecies.

So important is John the Baptist's mission to bear witness to Jesus Christ that the Synoptic Gospels stage their account of the public ministry with John's testimony. The discourses of St Peter and St Paul recorded in the Acts of the Apostles also refer to this testimony (Acts 1:22; 10:37; 12:24). The Fourth Gospel mentions it as many as seven times (1:6, 15, 19, 29, 35; 3:27; 5:33). We know, of course, that St John the Apostle was a disciple of the Baptist before becoming a disciple of Jesus, and that it was precisely the Baptist who showed him the way to Christ (cf. 1 :37ff).

The New Testament, then, shows us the importance of the Baptist's mission, as also his own awareness that he is merely the immediate Precursor of the Messiah, whose sandals he is unworthy to untie (cf. Mk 1:7): the Baptist stresses his role as witness to Christ and his mission as preparer of the way for the Messiah (cf. Lk 1:15-17; Mt 3: 3-12). John the Baptist's testimony is undiminished by time: he invites people in every generation to have faith in Jesus, the true Light.

9. "The true light..." [The Spanish translation of this verse is along these lines: "It was the true light that enlightens every man who comes into the world."] The Fathers, early translations and most modern commentators see "the Word" as being the subject of this sentence, which could therefore be translated as "the Word was the true light that enlightens every man who comes into the world...". Another interpretation favored by many modern scholars makes "the light" the subject, in which case it would read "the true light existed, which enlightens...". Either way, the meaning is much the same.

"Coming into the world": it is not clear in the Greek whether these words refer to "the light", or to "every man". In the first case it is the Light (the Word) that is coming into this world to enlighten all men; in the second it is the men who, on coming into this world, on being born, are enlightened by the Word; the RSV and the new Vulgate opt for the first interpretation.

The Word is called "the true light" because he is the original light from which every other light or revelation of God derives. By the Word's coming, the world is fully lit up by the authentic Light. The prophets and all the other messengers of God, including John the Baptist, were not the true light but his reflection, attesting to the Light of the Word.

A propos the fullness of light which the Word is, St John Chrysostom asks: "If he enlightens every man who comes into the world, how is it that so many have remained unenlightened? For not all, to be sure, have recognized the high dignity of Christ. How, then, does he enlighten every man? As much as he is permitted to do so. But if some, deliberately closing the eyes of their minds, do not wish to receive the beams of this light, darkness is theirs. This is not because of the nature of the light, but is a result of the wickedness of men who deliberately deprive themselves of the gift of grace (Hom. on St. John, 8, 1).

10. The Word is in this world as the maker who controls what he has made (cf. St Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 2, 10). In St John's Gospel the term "world" means "all creation, all created things (including all mankind)": thus, Christ came to save all mankind: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:16-17). But insofar as many people have rejected the Light, that is, rejected Christ, "world" also means everything opposed to God (cf. Jn 17:14-15). Blinded by their sins, men do not recognize in the world the hand of the Creator (cf. Rom 1:18-20; Wis 13:1-15): "they become attached to the world and relish only the things that are of the world" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 7). But the Word, "the true light", comes to show us the truth about the world (cf. Jn 1:3; 18:37) and to save us.

11. "his own home, his own people": this means, in the first place, the Jewish people, who were chosen by God as his own personal "property", to be the people from whom Christ would be born. It can also mean all mankind, for mankind is also his: he created it and his work of redemption extends to everyone. So the reproach that they did not receive the Word made man should be understood as addressed not only to the Jews but to all those who rejected God despite his calling them to be his friends: "Christ came; but by a mysterious and terrible misfortune, not everyone accepted him. [...] It is the picture of humanity before us today, after twenty centuries of Christianity. How did this happen? What shall we say? We do not claim to fathom a reality immersed in mysteries that transcend us--the mystery of good and evil. But we can recall that the economy of Christ, for its light to spread, requires a subordinate but necessary cooperation on the part of man--the cooperation of evangelization, of the apostolic and missionary Church. If there is still work to be done, it is all the more necessary for everyone to help her" (Paul VI, General Audience, 4 December 1974).

12. Receiving the Word means accepting him through faith, for it is through faith that Christ dwells in our hearts (cf. Eph 3:17). Believing in his name means believing in his Person, in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. In other words, "those who believe in his name are those who fully hold the name of Christ, not in any way lessening his divinity or his humanity" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St John, in loc.").

"He gave power [to them]" is the same as saying "he gave them a free gift"--sanctifying grace--"because it is not in our power to make ourselves sons of God" ("ibid."). This gift is extended through Baptism to everyone, whatever his race, age, education etc. (cf. Acts 10:45; Gal 3:28). The only condition is that we have faith.

"The Son of God became man", St Athanasius explains, "in order that the sons of men, the sons of Adam, might become sons of God. [...] He is the Son of God by nature; we, by grace" ("De Incarnatione Contra Arrianos"). What is referred to here is birth to supernatural life: in which "Whether they be slaves or freemen, whether Greeks or barbarians or Scythians, foolish or wise, female or male, children or old men, honorable or without honor, rich or poor, rulers or private citizens, all, he meant, would merit the same honor. [...] Such is the power of faith in him; such the greatness of his grace" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 10, 2).

"Christ's union with man is power and the source of power, as St John stated so incisively in the prologue of his Gospel: '(The Word) gave power to become children of God.' Man is transformed inwardly by this power as the source of a new life that does not disappear and pass away but lasts to eternal life (cf. Jn 4:14)" (John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 18).

13. The birth spoken about here is a real, spiritual type of generation which is effected in Baptism (cf. 3:6ff). Instead of the plural adopted here, referring to the supernatural birth of men, some Fathers and early translations read it in the singular: "who was born, not of blood...but of God", in which case the text would refer to the eternal generation of the Word and to Jesus' generation through the Holy Spirit in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary. Although the second reading is very attractive, the documents (Greek manuscripts, early translations, references in the works of ecclesiastical writers, etc.) show the plural text to be the more usual, and the one that prevailed from the fourth century forward. Besides, in St John's writings we frequently find reference to believers as being born of God (cf. Jn 3:3-6; 1 Jn 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18).

The contrast between man's natural birth (by blood and the will of man) and his supernatural birth (which comes from God) shows that those who believe in Jesus Christ are made children of God not only by their creation but above all by the free gift of faith and grace.

14. This is a text central to the mystery of Christ. It expresses in a very condensed form the unfathomable fact of the incarnation of the Son of God. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman" (Gal 4:4).

The word "flesh" means man in his totality (cf. Jn 3:6; 17:2; Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5); so the sentence "the Word became flesh" means the same as "the Word became man." The theological term "incarnation" arose mainly out of this text. The noun "flesh" carries a great deal of force against heresies which deny that Christ is truly man. The word also accentuates that our Savior, who dwelt among us and shared our nature, was capable of suffering and dying, and it evokes the "Book of the Consolation of Israel" (Is 40:1-11), where the fragility of the flesh is contrasted with the permanence of the Word of God: "The grass withers, the flower fades; but the Word of our God will stand for ever" (Is 40:8). This does not mean that the Word's taking on human nature is something precarious and temporary.

"And dwelt among us": the Greek verb which St John uses originally means "to pitch one's tent", hence, to live in a place. The careful reader of Scripture will immediately think of the tabernacle, or tent, in the period of the exodus from Egypt, where God showed his presence before all the people of Israel through certain sights of his glory such as the cloud covering the tent (cf., for example, Ex 25:8; 40:34-35). In many passages of the Old Testament it is announced that God "will dwell in the midst of the people" (cf., for example, Jer 7:3; Ezek 43:9; Sir 24:8). These signs of God's presence, first in the pilgrim tent of the Ark in the desert and then in the temple of Jerusalem, are followed by the most wonderful form of God's presence among us--Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect Man, in whom the ancient promise is fulfilled in a way that far exceeded men's greatest expectations. Also the promise made through Isaiah about the "Immanuel" or "God-with-us" (Is 7:14; cf. Mt 1:23) is completely fulfilled through this dwelling of the Incarnate Son of God among us. Therefore, when we devoutly read these words of the Gospel "and dwelt among us" or pray them during the Angelus, we have a good opportunity to make an act of deep faith and gratitude and to adore our Lord's most holy human nature.

"Remembering that 'the Word became flesh', that is, that the Son of God became man, we must become conscious of how great each man has become through this mystery, through the Incarnation of the Son of God! Christ, in fact, was conceived in the womb of Mary and became man to reveal the eternal love of the Creator and Father and to make known the dignity of each one of us" (John Paul II, "Angelus Address" at Jasna Gora Shrine, 5 June 1979).

Although the Word's self-emptying by assuming a human nature concealed in some way his divine nature, of which he never divested himself, the Apostles did see the glory of his divinity through his human nature: it was revealed in the transfiguration (Lk 9:32-35), in his miracles (Jn 2:11; 11:40), and especially in his resurrection (cf. Jn 3:11; 1 Jn 1:1) The glory of God, which shone out in the early tabernacle in the desert and in the temple at Jerusalem, was nothing but an imperfect anticipation of the reality of God's glory revealed through the holy human nature of the Only-begotten of the Father. St John the Apostle speaks in a very formal way in the first person plural: "we have beheld his glory", because he counts himself among the witnesses who lived with Christ and, in particular, were present at his transfiguration and saw the glory of his resurrection.

The words "only Son" ("Only-begotten") convey very well the eternal and unique generation of the Word by the Father. The first three Gospels stressed Christ's birth in time; St John complements this by emphasizing his eternal generation.

The words "grace and truth" are synonyms of "goodness and fidelity", two attributes which, in the Old Testament, are constantly applied to Yahweh (cf., e.g., Ex 34:6; Ps 117; Ps 136; Osee 2:16-22): so, grace is the __expression of God's love for men, the way he expresses his goodness and mercy. Truth implies permanence, loyalty, constancy, fidelity. Jesus, who is the Word of God made man, that is, God himself, is therefore "the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth"; he is the "merciful and faithful high priest" (Heb 2:17). These two qualities, being good and faithful, are a kind of compendium or summary of Christ's greatness. And they also parallel, though on an infinitely lower level, the quality essential to every Christian, as stated expressly by our Lord when he praised the "good and faithful servant" (Mt 25:21).

As Chrysostom explains: "Having declared that they who received him were 'born of God' and 'become sons of God,' he then set forth the cause and reason for this ineffable honor. It is that 'the Word became flesh' and the Master took on the form of a slave. He became the Son of Man, though he was the true Son of God, in order that he might make the sons of men children of God. ("Hom. on St John", 11,1).

The profound mystery of Christ was solemnly defined by the Church's Magisterium in the famous text of the ecumenical council of Chalcedon (in the year 451): "Following the holy Fathers, therefore, we all with one accord teach the profession of faith in the one identical Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We declare that he is perfect both in his divinity and in his humanity, truly God and truly man, composed of body and rational soul; that he is consubstantial with the Father in his divinity, consubstantial with us in his humanity, like us in every respect except for sin (cf. Heb 4:15). we declare that in his divinity he was begotten in this last age of Mary the Virgin, the Mother of God, for us and for our salvation" (Dz-Sch, n. 301).

15. Further on (On Jn 1:19-36) the Gospel tells us more about John the Baptist's mission as a witness to the messiahship and divinity of Jesus. Just as God planned that the Apostles should bear witness to Jesus after the resurrection, so he planned that the Baptist would be the witness chosen to proclaim Jesus at the very outset of his public ministry (cf. note on Jn 1:6-8).

16 "Grace upon grace": this can be understood, as it was by Chrysostom and other Fathers, as "grace for grace", the Old Testament economy of salvation giving way to the new economy of grace brought by Christ. It can also mean (as the-RSV suggests) that Jesus brings a superabundance of gifts, adding on, to existing graces, others--all of which pour out of the one inexhaustible source, Christ, who is for ever full of grace. "Not by sharing with us, says the Evangelist, does Christ possess the gift, but he himself is both fountain and root of all virtues. He himself is life, and light, and truth, not keeping within himself the wealth of these blessings, but pouring it forth upon all others, and even after the outpouring still remaining full. He suffers loss in no way by giving his wealth to others, but, while always pouring out and sharing these virtues with all men, he remains in the same state of perfection" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 14, 1).

17. Here, for the first time in St John's Gospel, the name of Jesus Christ appears, identified with the Word of whom John has been speaking.

Whereas the Law given by Moses went no further than indicate the way man ought follow (cf. Rom 8:7-10), the grace brought by Jesus has the power to save those who receive it (cf. Rom 7:25). Through grace "we have become dear to God, no longer merely as servants, but as sons and friends" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St John", 14, 2).

On "grace and truth" see note on Jn 1:14.

18. "No one has ever seen God": in this world men have never seen God other than indirectly: all that they could contemplate was God's "glory", that is the aura of his greatness: for example, Moses saw the burning bush (Ex 3:6); Elijah felt the breeze on Mount Horeb--the "still small voice" (RSV)--(1 Kings 19:11-13). But in the fullness of time God comes much closer to man and reveals himself almost directly, for Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15), the maximum revelation of God in this world, to such an extent that he assures us that "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9). "The most intimate truth which this revelation gives us about God and the salvation of man shines forth in Christ, who is himself both the mediator and the sum total of Revelation" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 2).

There is no greater revelation God could make of himself than the incarnation of his eternal Word. As St John of the Cross puts it so well: "In giving to us, as he has done, his Son, who is his only Word, he has spoken to us once and for all by his own and only Word, and has nothing further to reveal" ("Ascent of Mount Carmel", Book II, chap. 22).

"The only Son": the RSV note says that "other ancient authorities read "God" (for Son); the Navarre Spanish has "the Only-begotten God" and comments as follows: some Greek manuscripts and some translations give "the Only-begotten Son" or "the Only-begotten". "The Only-begotten God" is preferable because it finds best support in the codexes. Besides, although the meaning does not change substantially, this translation has a richer content because it again explicitly reveals Christ's divinity.
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.