Saturday, January 06, 2007

A "Thought of the Day" for the Epiphany

Here's a special "Thought of the Day", from ProLifeSearch, for the Epiphany tomorrow:

"Following the example of the Wise Men we adore the newborn King, and offer Him the gold of a loving heart, the frankincense of persevering prayer, and the myrrh of our readiness to labor and suffer for Him."

The Lord be with you...

"Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I wilI fear no evil, for Thou, O Lord, are with me." Psalm 22:4.

Little Mary was in the first grade of Sacred Heart school. One day sister explained to the class that God is everywhere, that we should find Him and keep Him. At the supper table that evening Mary asked her mother:

"Mommy, is God everywhere?"

"Yes, he is darling," answered mother.

"Is He in this house?" queried Mary.

"Yes, He is," replied mother.

"Is He in this room?"

Again mother answered, "Yes,"

"Is He in my cup?" eagerly asked Mary pointing with a determined finger.

"Yes, He is in your cup," answered her weary mother.

Quick as a flash Mary put her hands over the cup and shouted:
"I got Him."

Would that it were as easy as that to get God and keep Him. Yet, it is almost as easy, for God is everywhere and is waiting for us to "get" Him and keep Him. Especially during Holy Mass the Lord is offered to us again and again, when the priest turns and expresses the blessing: "Dom­inus vobiscum - the Lord be with you."

Immediately after the Gloria the celebrant turns to the people, extends his hands the width and height of his shoulders, and says or sings:
"The Lord be with you."

1. The priest extends his hands to show his deep desire that the blessing be bestowed upon all. He joins his hands to show that he humbly mistrusts his own strength and abandons himself to the Lord.

2. Opening the hands is a common gesture. We speak, don't we, of open­-handed generosity, meaning that we offer everything to those we wish to help. How simple and significant this ceremony of the Mass! The priest is offering you the Lord. He holds Him in his hands during the Mass. He offers our Lord, open-handedly, to all who wish to receive Him.

3. The Lord is with us in the highest and best way in Holy Communion. But He is with us at other times and in other ways, too. He is with every­one at Holy Mass by His power. You want to be with Him. At Mass the priest prays for this unspeakable blessing.

4. The words, "The Lord be with you," go back to the Old Testament where we read in the Book of Ruth that Boaz greeted his reapers in the field with the words:
"The Lord be with you."

And they answered:
"The Lord bless thee." Ruth, 2 :4.

The Angel Gabriel greeted our Blessed Mother: "The Lord is with thee." St. Luke, 1:28.

Eight times during Mass that greeting is repeated by the priest, some­times as he faces the altar, other times as he faces you. It is repeated so often in order constantly to excite, increase and awaken your desire for the Lord. By the words, "The Lord be with you," the priest wishes you all the good things connected with the presence of the Lord.

5. As the priest repeats this greeting just before the principal prayer of the Mass, he expresses the wish that the faithful have the grace, light and strength needed for a good and perfect prayer. Without the help of God we cannot pray as we ought. Too rarely do we ask the Lord to help us pray as we ought, for what we ought, and when we ought.

6. That greeting, "The Lord be with you," includes many other blessings, in fact, all the best of blessings. When the Lord is with us He gives us the desire and relish for everything that is good. When the Lord is with us He gives us the riches of His grace, the glory of His smile, the peace of His friendship, the joy and happiness of His love. All these precious things the priest wishes to you as He prays: "The Lord be with you."

7. The bishop uses the words, "Peace be to you," instead of "The Lord be with you." The greeting means practically the same but the bishop is privileged to repeat the words of Jesus Himself on the first Easter as He addressed the Apostles, the first bishops of His Church. Only the bishop has the fullness of the priesthood in the sense that he alone can give the priesthood to another.

8. After the priest has greeted the people, they return the greeting through the servers or through the choir by saying or singing: "And with thy spirit."

This is as much as to say: "The Lord be with you too, Father."

The celebrant needs the Lord. He needs Him keenly as he offers Holy Mass. That return greeting is one you should have in mind as the priest salutes you during Mass. The priest is praying for you; you must pray for the priest.

How do you receive that prayerful wish? Are you thinking of some­thing else? Are you praying for something else? Why not get into the spirit of the Mass, watch the priest as he turns to you, and in your heart return the blessings?

If I offered you a gift and you turned to look at something else or listen to another, you might not even see or realize that you are receiving a gift. The same with the Mass.

Thank God, we do not have to capture God in a cup. The Lord is offered to us every time we attend Holy Mass. In Communion He is offered to us Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The words of the priest, "The Lord be with you," are not a mere wish. Neither are they merely a prayer. They are a blessing, an effective, precious blessing. The celebrant is actually offering you the Lord with all the good things the Lord brings us. Keep that in mind during the Holy Mass, dur­ing every Holy Sacrifice. Then the Lord will, as I sincerely pray, be with you now---and forever. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Mass
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1950)

Mental Prayer for January 7, The Flight Into Egypt

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Grace to see the mystery, to know that there are many things in our Lord's life that require deep, prayerful thought, and to try to understand.

The Idea (cf. Matt. 2:13-16): Just when things are going along so well for the Child and His parents - a tragedy. It is a good thing to try to figure out the meaning of it. The very night the wise men left, the whole life of the Holy Family is shaken up. An angel tells Joseph they must leave at once. The rest of the night is one jumble of hurried packing - packing for a six-day trip to a foreign country. And they don't even know for how long.

My Personal Application: What's it all about? This is serious business; God doesn't do things aimlessly. Herod finds out that the wise men went home without telling him where Jesus was. He decides to kill all of the boys of Bethlehem around Jesus' age so he'll be sure to get Him. So the Holy Family moves. That's the story...Why did it happen? Why did the Jesus, Mary and Joseph have to slip away in the middle of the night? The little Child is God. And Joseph and Mary know this. If He was God, He could have found an easier way to do it, couldn't He? Why did He do it this way? Ask yourself! Try to answer for your­self!

I Speak to God: My God, you are all-wise. You know what you are doing. I surely don't know why you made it so hard for your Son. A miracle would have been an easy way out - but you wanted me to realize that your Son was also human just as I am, and you wanted to help me realize that the easiest way is not always the best way.

Thought for Today: Lord, teach me to think more the way you do.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for the Saturday before Epiphany

From: Mark 1:4-5; 7-11

The Ministry of John the Baptist

[4] John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [5] And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

[7] And he (John the Baptist) preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. [8] I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Jesus Is Baptized

[9] In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; [11] and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."


4. St John the Baptist presents himself to the people after spending five years in the desert. He invites the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by doing penance. The figure of St John points to the continuity between the Old and New Testaments: he is the last of the prophets and the first of the witnesses to Jesus. Whereas the other prophets announced Jesus from afar, John the Baptist was given the special privilege of actually pointing him out (cf. Jn 1:29; Mt 11:9-11). The baptism given by the Precursor was not Christian Baptism: it was a penitential rite; but it prefigured the dispositions needed for Christian Baptism-faith in Christ, the Messiah, the source of grace, and voluntary detachment from sin.

5. "Confessing their sins": by seeking John's baptism a person showed that he realized he was a sinner: the rite which John performed announced forgiveness of sins through a change of heart and helped remove obstacles in the way of a person's acceptance of the Kingdom (Lk 3: 10-14).

This confessing of sin was not the same as the Christian sacrament of Penance. But it was pleasing to God because it was a sign of interior repentance and the people performed genuine penitential acts (Mt 3:7-10;Lk 3:7-9). In the Sacrament of Penance, in order to obtain God's forgiveness one must confess one's sins orally. In this connexion John Paul II has said: "And keep in mind that the teaching of the Council of Trent on the need for confession of all mortal sins still holds and will always hold(Sess. XIV, chap. 5 and can. 7). The norm taught by St Paul and by the same Council of Trent, according to which the worthy reception of the Eucharist must be preceded by the confession of sins when one is conscious of mortal sin, is and always will be in force in the Church (Sess. Xlll, chap. 7 and can. 11 )" (Address to penitentiaries of the four major basilicas in Rome, 30 January 1981).

8. "Baptizing with the Holy Spirit" refers to the Baptism Jesus will institute and shows how it differs from the baptism of John. In John’s baptism, as in the other rites of the Old Testament, grace was only signified, symbolized. "By the baptism of the New Law, men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and this is accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was cleansed by the water"(St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae, III, q. 38, art. 2 ad 1). Unchristian Baptism, instituted by our Lord, the baptismal rite not only signifies grace but is the effective cause of grace, i.e. it confers grace.” Baptism confers the first sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtues, taking away Original Sin and also personal sins if there are any, together with the entire debt of punishment which the baptized person owes for sin. In addition, Baptism impresses the Christian character in the soul and makes it able to receive the other sacraments" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 295). The effects of Christian Baptism, like everything to do with the sanctification of souls, are attributed to the Holy Spirit, the "Sanctifier". It should be pointed out, however, that like all he "ad extra" actions of God (i.e. actions external to the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity), the sanctification of souls is the work of all three Divine Persons.

9. Our Lord's hidden life takes place (apart form his birth at Bethlehem and the time he was in Egypt) in Nazareth of Galilee from where he comes to receive John's baptism.

Jesus has no need to receive this baptism of conversion. However, it was appropriate that he who was going to establish the New Alliance should recognize and accept the mission of his Precursor by being baptized with his baptism: this would encourage people to prepare to receive the Baptism which WAS necessary. The Fathers comment that our Lord went to receive John's baptism in order to fulfill all righteousness (cf. Mt 3:15), to give us an example of humility, to become widely known, to have people believe in Him and to give life-giving strength to the waters of Baptism.

"Ever since the Baptism of Christ in the water, Baptism removes the sins of all" (St Augustine, "Sermon" 135).

"There are two different periods of time which relate to Baptism--one the period of its institution by the Redeemer; the other the establishment of the law regarding its reception. [...] The second period to be distinguished, that is, the time when the law of Baptism was made, also admits of no doubt. Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when he gave to his Apostles the command to go and 'make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost' (Mt28:19) the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved" ("St. Pius V Catechism", Part II).

10. The visible presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove marks the beginning of Christ's public ministry. The Holy Spirit will also appear, in the form of tongues of fire, on the occasion when the Church begins its mission to all the world on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts2:3-21).

The Fathers usually interpret the dove as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between God and men. It first appears in the account of the flood (Gen 8:10-11) as a sign that God's punishment of mankind has come to an end. Its presence at the beginning of Christ's public ministry symbolizes the peace and reconciliation he will bring.

11. At the very beginning of his public life the mystery of the Holy Trinity is made manifest: "The Son is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father is heard" (St Bede, "In Marci Evangelium expositio, in loc."). "The Holy Spirit dwells in him,” the same author goes on, "but not from the moment of his Baptism, but from the moment he became man." In other words, Jesus did not become God's son at his Baptism; he is the Son of God from all eternity. Nor did he become the Messiah at this point; he was the Messiah from the moment he became man.

Baptism is the public manifestation of Jesus as Son of God and as Messiah, ratified by the presence of the Blessed Trinity.

"The Holy Spirit descended visibly in bodily form upon Christ when he was baptized so that we may believe him to descend invisibly upon all those who are baptized afterwards" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 39, a. 6 and 3).
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, January 05, 2007

Mental Prayer for the First Saturday of January

Fifth Glorious Mystery (Mary's Queenship)

The Memorare

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To remember to call on Mary when I am in need.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary: Remem­ber, Mary, this is not the first time I've called on you... How can I ever forget the other times you have helped me!... Have you ever let me down?... Have you ever let anybody down?

That never was it known: Every time you have been called upon, you have come through with your help... in time of sickness... in time of tempta­tion... in time of discouragement.

That anyone: That's one thing about you, Mary... You don't care who it is that is asking for help... You're ready to help anybody... even me.

Who fled to thy protection: That's what I am doing, Mary... I'm running for your protection... from my enemy, the devil... from my own im­prudence... from my own passions.

Implored thy help: Humbly I ask you, me... I need you... I can't do it alone... I must have help... I am so weak... without you, I'm no good at all... but with you I can do all things, conquer all obstacles... all problems... all temp­tations.

Or sought thy intercession: I need grace, Mary, and every grace I get comes through you... Talk to your Son for me... plead with Him for me... tell Him, as only a mother can, tell Him all the things I have to have.

Was left unaided: I trust in you, my Mother... I trust that you will obtain from your Son all the help I need... Mary, I am yours... I belong to you - I am one of your children... I know you'll help me.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Thought for Today: Never was it known....
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)


Apostate Catholic Turned Muslim is "Acting Chair" of Religious Studies at Catholic University

On Attending a Marriage Outside the Church

From the Dear Father column in the St Louis Review, a cogent and thoughtful answer is given by Fr. Matthew Mitas to a person who asks:
"Is it permissible for a Catholic to be a witness at the wedding of another Catholic who is marrying outside the Church?".

It depends on what you mean by "marrying outside the Church." In a case like this, you want to make sure whether this marriage will be valid in the eyes of the Church.

It is possible that a marriage taking place in a Protestant church has been given a dispensation from the bishop. Also, if the Catholic in question has formally and publicly denounced his Catholic faith (for example, by joining another religion) then he is no longer a subject of Catholic Church law and thus not required to be married in the presence of a priest.

In either case, a Catholic could serve as a witness in good conscience. In most cases like the one you describe, however, the marriage truly is invalid, and no Catholic may serve as a witness to it.

At the heart of this lies scandal. Jesus’ last words to us were a command that we teach, make disciples of and baptize all nations. He expects every one of us to promote the truth and virtue of the Gospel. Not only that, but he saved his harshest condemnation for those who give scandal (see Matthew 18:5). Teaching along the same lines, St. Paul makes it clear that even when a behavior is otherwise innocent, if it causes someone to be scandalized, it must not be done (1 Corinthian 8:1-13).

An important distinction must be made. There’s a difference between behavior that shocks and that which truly scandalizes. Shocking though it may be, it scandalizes only when it causes someone else to lower his own standards, imitate the bad behavior or refrain from any good or virtuous act he might otherwise have done. It’s conceivable that one man’s shocking behavior may actually jolt another into reaffirming his own sense of righteousness. When scandal occurs, it is a gravely serious matter.

I bring this up to make a point, that we Catholics have already been scandalized with regard to marriage. We’ve lost our sense of marriage as being the sacred thing that Christ established, only to descend into our society’s attitudes toward marriage. I’m referring to the silly notions that love is a feeling and not a commitment (and so people fall out of love as quickly as they fall in it), that a wedding is something "romantic" and not holy (and so they seek to be married in a place merely because it’s pretty) and the selfish belief that a person gets married for his own happiness and not as a response to a vocation from God. As a consequence, divorce is seen by many as an easy solution to a spouse’s not feeling fulfilled.

Years ago, entertainer Jackie Gleason underwent rehab for alcoholism. When he came out, he was quoted as saying that all the while he was boozing, nobody ever told him it was wrong. It seemed preposterous; anybody should know that that’s not the way to live. He was probably right; I suspect he was surrounded by people who lacked the courage to confront him.

It’s the duty of Catholics, especially in this day of scandal, to stand tall for the faith. It’s high time that when a Catholic is asked to compromise his faith to take part in a marriage outside the Church, he should remind his brother of his obligations before God for the sake of his soul. This is what Christ commanded (Matthew 18:15-17). God forbid it should lead to scandal. (my emphasis)

First Ordinations in the US for the Institute of Christ the King!

Great News!!!

Dear friends,

It is my great joy to officially announce that the Archbishop of Saint Louis, His Grace Raymond L. Burke, will ordain two of our Deacons to the Holy Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saint Louis on the Feast of the Sacred Heart on Friday, June 15, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. This will be the first time that the priests of the Institute are ordained in the United States.

The Ordinations will take place in the presence of our Prior General, Monsignor Gilles Wach, and a large number of seminarians from Gricigliano, who will travel to the United States for this special occasion.

All are cordially invited to attend this joyous occasion of great solemnity.

Yours very truly in Christ the King,
Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz
Vicar General in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
Provincial Superior for the Institute in the United States

A Special thanks to Marc P for the tip!

Ecclesia Dei Commission finalizes Latin Mass document and canonical structure for SSPX

From the Jan. 4 issue of The Wanderer, the oldest Catholic weekly in the United States

After months of rumors of a pending motu proprio that will reportedly lift restrictions on the Traditional Roman rite of Holy Mass, Cardinal Medina offered some brief insights on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe that emerged from a 4-hour plenary meeting from the Ecclesia Dei Commission, charged with reconciling traditionalist Catholics....

Ashley's Treatment was a Travesty, from Dr Ed Peters

Stories of depravity anger me, but when depravity is portrayed as compassion, I go numb for a while.

It took me some time to grasp the reality that (in 2004, though the story is "breaking" only now) parents in Seattle directed a team of doctors to cut out the breast-buds of their nine-year-old, severally disabled daughter, remove her womb, and pump her full of growth-retarding hormones so that she stays little.

Gospel for Jan 5, Memorial: St. John Neumann, Bishop

From: John 1:43-51

The Calling of the First Disciples (Continuation)

[43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." [44] Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. [45] Philip found Nathaniel, and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." [46] Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." [47] Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and said to him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" [48] Nathaniel said to Him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." [49] Nathaniel answered Him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! [50] Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." [51] And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."


43. "Follow Me" is what Jesus usually says to all His disciples (cf. Mt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9). During Jesus' lifetime, His invitation to follow Him implied being with Him in His public ministry, listening to His teaching, imitating His lifestyle, etc. Once the Lord ascended into Heaven, following Him obviously does not mean going with Him along the roads of Palestine; it means that "a Christian should live as Christ lived, making the affections of Christ his own, so that he can exclaim with St Paul: "It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 103). In all cases our Lord's invitation involves setting out on a journey: that is, it requires one to lead a life of striving always to do God's will even if this involves generous self-sacrifice.

45-51. The Apostle Philip is so moved that he cannot but tell his friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) about his wonderful discovery (verse 45). "Nathanael had heard from Scripture that Jesus must come from Bethlehem, from the people of David. This belief prevailed among the Jews and also the prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying: `But you, O Bethlehem, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel' (Micah 5:2). Therefore, when he heard that He was from Nazareth, he was troubled and in doubt, since he found that the announcement of Philip was not in agreement with the words of the prophecy" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 20, 1).

A Christian may find that, in trying to communicate his faith to others, they raise difficulties. What should he do? What Philip did--not trust his own explanation, but invite them to approach Jesus personally: "Come and see" (verse 46). In other words, a Christian should bring his fellow-men, his brothers into Jesus' presence through the means of grace which He has given them and which the Church ministers--frequent reception of the sacraments, and devout Christian practices.

Nathanael, a sincere person (verse 47), goes along with Philip to see Jesus; he makes personal contact with our Lord (verse 48), and the outcome is that he receives faith (the result of his ready reception of grace, which reaches him through Christ's human nature: verse 49).

As far as we can deduce from the Gospels, Nathanael is the first Apostle to make an explicit confession of faith in Jesus as Messiah and as Son of God. Later on St. Peter, in a more formal way, will recognize our Lord's divinity (cf. Matthew 16:16). Here (verse 51) Jesus evokes a text from Daniel (7:13) to confirm and give deeper meaning to the words spoken by His new disciple.
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, January 04, 2007

Planned Disruption at the Cathedral after Mass

I received this bit of news in a weekly email newsletter from a local "Ecumenical Catholic Community"...a group which pretends to be Catholic while denying that which is Catholic...go figure...

SNAP Vigil
Sunday, January 7th, 11:00-11:30 am
St. Louis Cathedral on Lindell

January 7th, 2007 will be the 5th anniversary of the Boston Globe story revealing the abuse in Boston. We are planning vigils across the country to remind people that while some things have changed, the church is still operating in much the same way - the perp comes first, PR campaigns cover a multitude of errors and they can buy the best legal advice available. We will be in front of the Cathedral on Lindell at 11:00 am for just 30 minutes. There are still many perps active in Saint Louis - we need to make people aware that the crisis is not over. This is a simple action you can take that will protect kids. Please bring your family and friends and join SNAP members at this vigil.

If there are so many "perps" still active in St Louis as this group contends, then why do they not protest in front of the residences of the "perps"? And how does this childish behavior "protect kids"? At least, it's doesn't appear to be a "Candlelight Vigil"...(for those who do not understand that reference, click here.)

Perhaps, if these people would get on their knees in prayer and beseech our Lord's mercy and help, they would accomplish much more good. We, too, should do likewise.

Mental Prayer for January 5, The Way to Christ

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Grant me, O Holy Spirit, grace to understand and to follow your voice.

Mental Picture: (cf. Matt. 2:2-12) : Think of the long journey made by the three wise men... across the desert following a star! Most people must have thought they were insane. See their camels plodding slowly on across the sand. Watch the star as it leads them to Jerusalem. Then it is gone. The star disappears. What can they do? They ask questions. They are sent to Bethlehem.
The star reappears, moving to stop above the house of the Prince. Bone-tired and dusty from the desert the three wise men climb off their camels and knock at the door. (Imagine the wonder in their minds... they expect to see a king... this is an ordinary house.)

Joseph opens the door. And they find Jesus with His Mother Mary. Bowing down they adore Him and give Him their gifts.

My Personal Application: So the star led them to the King after all. They weren't crazy - they were wise. Leaving home was worth it. The heat and thirst and sweat was worth it. The bumping up and down on the camel's back was worth it. My King calls me to follow Him. The Holy Spirit will lead me. The difficulties are worth it. The important thing is to hear the call and listen to the directions of the Holy Spirit. Of course, I hear no voice in thunder and lightning. Neither did the wise men. They had a star, and when the star disappeared, they asked questions. I have Christ's plan for His kingdom and for my life as an active, apostolic Catholic to lead me on in God's service. And when doubts or difficulties arise, I have access to spiritual directors, learned priests and counselors to ask my questions.

I Speak to God: O Holy Spirit, teach me to listen and to ask the right questions. The way to my King may be difficult, but I know it is worth it.

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

New Congress To Vote Quickly on Federal Funding of Embryo-Killing Research

This is NOT a joke! But those who support it are...

From the Illinois Federation for Right to Life:

The leaders of the new Democratic majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have announced that one of their first priorities will be passage of legislation to mandate federal funding of the type of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos.

The House of Representatives is currently expected to take up such legislation (H.R. 3) on Thursday, January 11.

Democratic leaders in the Senate have indicated that they also regard passage of this legislation as a priority.

The text of H.R. 3 is not yet available, but it will be similar or identical to 2006 bill H.R. 810, which President Bush vetoed last July. The previous, Republican-controlled House sustained President Bush's veto. (To view the July 19, 2006, House roll call on sustaining the veto, visit:

The new 110th Congress, which is being sworn in today (January 4), will include more than 60 new lawmakers who were not members when the issue came up last year.

Your help is needed! Please IMMEDIATELY call your representative in the U.S. House, and your two U.S. senators, urging them to oppose federal funding of research that requires the killing of human embryos. Urge other pro-life citizens to do the same.

It is especially important to call lawmakers who were recently elected to Congress for the first time, and who therefore will be voting on this legislation for the first time. But do not take your returning representatives' votes for granted -- they need to hear from you, too, since the biotech industry and other powerful lobbies are working hard to change votes.

To get the specific phone numbers for your U.S. House representative and your two U.S. senators, visit: and enter your zip code in the "Call Now" box. Our handy tool will provide you with the correct names and phone numbers for your federal representatives, along with suggestions on what to say when you make your calls. The tool will also help you to send us quick reports, by e-mail, regarding the responses you receive from your representatives' offices, if you wish to do so.

For further information on embryonic stem cell research, visit: and

Pelosi Takes Charge, Calls for Abortion Ban

(2007-01-04) — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, became the first female Speaker of the House today, and immediately called for a ban on abortion to promote social justice because almost 60 percent of aborted children are ethnic minorities.
. . .

The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, she said, was “a Republican plot to wipe out non-white racial groups, especially the poor, and thus to slow the growth of the Democrat party.”

Just so you don't think you've gone stark-raving mad, this is from

We can rest assured that until pro-abort "Catholic" Congress'men', Senators, governors and other public officials are punished for their scandalous repudiation of the faith, nothing will change - the sacrament of abortion, being but one of many others evils embraced by the likes of Pelosi and others, is, and will remain, sacrosanct among proponents of the culture of death.

Gospel for Jan 4, Memorial: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Married Woman, Religious

From: John 1:35-42

The Calling of the First Disciples

[35] The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; [36] and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" [37] The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. [38] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to Him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are You staying?" [39] He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [40] One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. [41] He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah' (which means Christ). [42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon, the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).


35-39. Through these words of the Baptist, these two disciples are moved by grace to approach the Lord. John's testimony is an example of the special graces God distributes to attract people to Himself. Sometimes He addresses a person directly by stirring his soul and inviting him to follow Him; at other times, as in the present case, He chooses to use someone close to us who knows us, to bring us to meet Christ.

The two disciples already had a keen desire to see the Messiah; John's words move them to try to become friends of our Lord: it is not merely natural curiosity but Christ's personality which attracts them. They want to get to know Him, to be taught by Him and to enjoy His company. "Come and see" (John 1:39; cf. 11:34)--a tender invitation to begin that intimate friendship they were seeking. Time and personal contact with Christ will be needed to make them more secure in their vocation. The Apostle St John, one of the protagonists in this scene, notes the exact time it took place: "it was about the tenth hour", roughly four in the afternoon.

Christian faith can never be just a matter of intellectual curiosity; it affects one's whole life: a person cannot understand it unless he really lives it; therefore, our Lord does not at this point tell them in detail about His way of life; He invites them to spend the day with Him. St Thomas Aquinas comments on this passage saying that our Lord speaks in a lofty, mystical way because what God is (in Himself or in grace) can only be understood through experience: words cannot describe it. We grow in this understanding by doing good works (they immediately accepted Christ's invitation and as a reward "they saw"), by recollection and by applying our mind to the contemplation of divine things, by desiring to taste the sweetness of God, by assiduous prayer. Our Lord invited everyone to do all this when He said, "Come and see", and the disciples discovered it all when, in obedience to our Lord, "they went" and were able to learn by personal experience, whereas they could not understand the words alone (cf. "Commentary on St John, in loc".).

40-41. The Evangelist now gives us the name of one of the two disciples involved in the previous scene; he will mention Andrew again in connection with the multiplication of the loaves (John 6:8) and the last Passover (John 12:22).

We cannot be absolutely sure who the second disciple was; but since the very earliest centuries of the Christian era he has always been taken to be the Evangelist himself. The vividness of the account, the detail of giving the exact time, and even John's tendency to remain anonymous (John 19:16; 20:2; 21:7,20) seem to confirm this.

"St John the Apostle, who pours into his narrative so much that is first-hand, tells of his first unforgettable conversations with Christ. `"Master where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They went and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.'

"This divine and human dialogue completely changed the life of John and Andrew, and Peter and James and so many others. It prepared their hearts to listen to the authoritative teaching which Jesus gave them beside the Sea of Galilee" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ is Passing By", 108).

Those hours spent with our Lord soon produce the first results of apostolate. Andrew, unable to contain his joy, tells Simon Peter the news that he has found the Messiah, and brings him to Him. Now, as then, there is a pressing need to bring others to know the Lord.

"Open your own hearts to Jesus and tell Him your story. I don't want to generalize. But one day perhaps an ordinary Christian, just like you, opened your eyes to horizons both deep and new, yet as old as the Gospel. He suggested to you the prospect of following Christ earnestly, seriously, of becoming an apostle of apostles. Perhaps you lost your balance then and didn't recover it. Your complacency wasn't quite replaced by true peace until you freely said 'yes' to God, because you wanted to, which is the most supernatural of reasons. And in its wake came a strong, constant joy, which disappears only when you abandon Him" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 1).

42. What was it like when Jesus looked at someone? From what He says here, He seems both imperious and tender. On other occasions His glance is enough to invite a person to leave everything and follow Him, as in the case of Matthew (Matthew 9:9); or He seems to be full of love, as in His meeting with the rich young man (Mark 10:21), or He seems angry or sad, because of the Pharisees' unbelief (Mark 2:5), or compassionate, towards the widow of Nain (Luke 7:13). He is able to move Zacchaeus' heart to conversion (Luke 19:5); and He Himself is moved by the faith and generosity of the poor widow who gave in alms everything she had (Mark 12:41-44). His penetrating look seems to lay the soul bare to God and provoke one to self-examination and contrition--as happened to the adulterous woman (John 8:10) and to Peter who, after denying Christ (Luke 22:61) wept bitterly (Mark 14:72).

"You shall be called Cephas": naming something is the same as taking possession of the thing named (cf. Genesis 17:5; 22:28; 32:28; Isaiah 62:2). Thus, for example, Adam when he was made lord of creation, gave names to creating things (Genesis 2:20). "Cephas" is the Greek transcription of an Aramaic word meaning stone, rock: therefore, St. John, writing in Greek, has to explain the meaning of the word Jesus used. Cephas was not a proper name, but our Lord put it on Peter to indicate his role as His vicar, which He will later on reveal (Matthew 16:16-18): Simon was destined to be the stone, the rock, of the Church.

The first Christians regarded this new name as so significant that they used it without translating it (cf. Galatians 2:9, 11, 14); later its translation "Peter" (Petros, Petrus) became current, pushing the Apostle's old name--Simon--into the background.

"Son of John": ancient manuscripts include variants, such as "son of Jona".
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, January 03, 2007

Jan 12-14, 8th Annual Marian Conference

From the St Louis Marian Conference Website:
Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis, will open the Conference on Friday, January 12th at 4:30 pm.

You will hear the truth in Catholic doctrine, theology, Scripture, Tradition, and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. You will hear of God's healing power in the Eucharist. You will be encouraged, satisfied, and full of hope and truth in this grace-filled weekend. Let the Conference weekend at the Adam's Mark be a winter retreat, a new start, new resolutions in living our life as Jesus lives in us.

Archbishop Raymond Burke; Father Bill Casey, CPM: Patrick Madrid; Father Charles Becker; Msgr. John J. Hickel; Susan Tasonne; Father Joe Fessio, SJ; Father Kevin Barrett; Michael Cumbie; Father Don Calloway; Father Wade Menezes, CPM; Father Louis Guardiola, CPM

This is a "must attend" annual event, particularly if you are in the region...

For more information, click here.

Mental Prayer for January 4, The Wise Men

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: O Holy Spirit, give me the grace to listen to your voice.

Mental Picture (cf. Matt. 2:2): Have you ever stood on a hill or a roof on a clear, cool night and watched the marvelous stars? In a far-off land of the East three men - wise men - stand on a palace roof talking of the troubled world and marveling at the quiet brilliances of the stars. In a flash of majestic flame they are astounded at the birth of a new star. And at the same time they are struck with a great light from the Holy Spirit. "A sign," they realize, "a sign of the birth of a great Prince." It seems to beckon them to follow. With eager joy they accept the invitation.

My Personal Application: "Come, let us follow." Wise words from wise men who know the whisper­ings of the Holy Spirit and aren't afraid to listen and obey. I have a call too. It's the call of my King to His service. Last month I meditated on that call. Am I listening? Do I know how to listen? Do I see that my call to God's service comes every day, no matter what my position or my occupation? And yet it is not bound by space or time; I can listen to God's call at home by my actions. I can travel farther than the wise men by my prayer... prayer for the poor and persecuted in Africa, the priests and faithful in China, the persecuted Christians and poor of India, the faithless in Russia, the pagans of the U.S. and the West. Am I wise enough to understand the quiet insistence of the Holy Spirit to give myself to the following of my King?

I Speak to God: Holy Spirit, don't let my mind be so cluttered up with daily trifles that I miss the call of my King. Fill my soul with the grace to be wise enough to listen and brave enough to follow.

Thought for Today: "Come and see...Come, follow me."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

More Support for the Latin Mass

Polish intellectuals join campaign to support Latin Mass

“We are with you, Holy Father,” read the headline of a statement signed by 30 Polish opinion leaders. Their statement-- which came in the wake of similar statements by groups in France and in Italy-- was signed by the speaker of the Polish parliament, Marek Jurek; two members of the country’s delegation to the European parliament, Marcin Libicki and Konrad Szymanski; the editor of the quarterly "Christianitas", Pawel Milcarek; and composer Wojciech Kilar, whose works include the scores for "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and Roman Polanski's "The Pianist.”

HT to Patte G for the link...

'Cathedral of South St. Louis' Needs Steeple Repair

...And the Latin Mass Community in St Louis is thriving...

An effort to save the towering steeple of St. Francis de Sales Oratory is one indication of the spiritual revival occurring at the church known as the Cathedral of South St. Louis.

When the building at 2653 Ohio Ave. was a parish church about 80 to 100 people attended its Sunday Masses in English.
. . .
Then the parish closed on June 30, 2005, along with a number of other South Side Catholic parishes. And Archbishop Raymond L. Burke designated the church as a place for the traditional Latin Mass for the St. Louis area.

Now known as the St. Francis de Sales Oratory, the 99-year-old landmark along Gravois Avenue west of Jefferson Avenue attracts 600 to 800 people to its Sunday Masses. Around 1,200 to 1,400 came to all of its Christmas Masses recently.
. . .
The oratory has initiated a drive to raise several million dollars to repair the church, particularly the [300 foot tall] steeple.

The steeple itself will cost $1 million to fix, [Fr. Karl] Lenhardt said. Altogether, the cost will be much more, he said.

Fr. Lenhardt is a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a society of priests that celebrates the traditional Latin Mass.

To help in the restoration or to make a contribution, send a check directly to St. Francis de Sales Oratory, 2653 Ohio Ave., St. Louis, Mo. 63118.

For more information, please call (314) 771-3100 or go to

For the full story, click here.

As a side note, this church is extraordinarily beautiful - one senses immediately upon entering the church that one has left the outside world and entered into a house of God. One cannot help but know that this is a sacred place which fills one with reverence and awe.

A special HT to Marc P for the update on this wonderful and worthwhile project.

Poll Shows Support for Funding Culture of Death

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two of the Democrats' top goals - a higher minimum wage and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research - enjoy broad public support as the party takes control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years.
. . .
Some 56 percent of adults support easing restrictions on using federal money to pay for research on embryonic stem cells. Supporters say such research could lead to treatments for everything from Parkinson's disease to spinal cord injuries. Bush and other opponents say the embryos from which the cells are extracted are human lives that should not be destroyed in the name of science.
. . .
Last summer, he [President Bush] used the first veto of his presidency to reject a bill that would have directed more federal dollars toward embryonic stem cell research.

Democrats have pledged to reverse that outcome, setting up a possible veto showdown with the president.
Of course they have - now lead by the professed Catholic Nancy Pelosi, the Congress is ready to pursue a full scale assault on the most vulnerable of human beings. Not only are many of the socialistic democrats in Congress and the Senate deplorable and revolting men and women, but those who claim to be Christian and Catholic and who push for even more widespread slavery and infanticide, with the tacit approval of their silent bishop and priest accomplices who fail to admonish them - these are the truly evil ones in our midst. They advance and promote the agenda of the evil one; the lies spew forth from their lips; darkness and evil surround them; their hatred of God and His most innocent children seems limitless.

How saddened and remorseful we are at the prospect of the steady advancement and implementation of Satan's plans of battle for the very soul of our nation and the souls of so many of its peoples. But, we should remember that despair is a tool of the devil! So we look with hope and anticipation to our Lord and His Mother.

We must have hope and continue to pray for the conversion of these men and women whose wicked ways seek to destroy all that is good and just. We must beg our Lord's forgiveness and mercy and make reparations for our sins and the sins of those too proud or too ignorant to do so themselves. May God's will be made known to every man and woman!

Gospel for Jan 3, The Days of Christmas

Optional Memorial: The Holy Name of Jesus

From: John 1:29-34

The Witness of John (Continuation)

[29] The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! [30] This is He of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for He was before me.' [31] I myself did not know Him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that He might be revealed to Israel." [32] And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from Heaven, and it remained on Him. [33] I myself did not know Him; but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' [34] And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God."


29. For the first time in the Gospel Christ is called the "Lamb of God". Isaiah had compared the sufferings of the Servant of Yahweh, the Messiah, with the sacrifice of a lamb (cf. Isaiah 53:7); and the blood of the paschal lamb smeared on the door of houses had served to protect the firstborn of the Israelites in Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:6-7): all this was a promise and prefiguring of the true Lamb, Christ, the victim in the sacrifice of Calvary on behalf of all mankind. This is why St. Paul will say that "Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7). The _expression "Lamb of God" also suggests the spotless innocence of the Redeemer (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-20; 1 John 3:5).

The sacred text says "the sin of the world", in the singular, to make it absolutely clear that every kind of sin is taken away: Christ came to free us from Original Sin, which in Adam affected all men, and from all personal sins.

The Book of Revelation reveals to us that Jesus is victorious and glorious in Heaven as the slain lamb (cf. Revelation 5:6-14), surrounded by saints, martyrs and virgins (Revelation 7:9, 14; 14:1-5), who render Him the praise and glory due Him as God (Revelation 7:10).

Since Holy Communion is a sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, priests say these words of the Baptist before administering it, to encourage the faithful to be grateful to our Lord for giving Himself up to death to save us and for giving Himself to us as nourishment for our souls.

30-31. John the Baptist here asserts Jesus' superiority by saying that He existed before him, even though He was born after him. Thereby he shows us the divinity of Christ, who was generated by the Father from all eternity and born of the Virgin Mary in time. It is as if the Baptist were saying: "Although I was born before Him, He is not limited by the ties of His birth; for although He is born of His mother in time, He was generated by His Father outside of time" (St. Gregory the Great, "In Evangelia Homiliae", VII).

By saying what he says in verse 31, the Precursor does not mean to deny his personal knowledge of Jesus (cf. Luke 1:36 and Matthew 3:14), but to make it plain that God revealed to him the moment when he should publicly proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, and that he also understood that his own mission as precursor had no other purpose than to bear witness to Jesus Christ.

32-34. To emphasize the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Evangelist includes here the Precursor's testimony regarding Jesus' Baptism (cf. the other Gospels, which describe in more detail what happened on this occasion: Matthew 3:13-17 and paragraph). It is one of the key points in our Lord's life, in which the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is revealed (cf. note on Matthew 3:16).

The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, of whom it is said in Genesis 1:2 that He was moving over the face of the waters. Through this sign of the dove, the Isaiah prophecies (11:2-5: 42:1-2) are fulfilled which say that the Messiah will be full of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Baptist points to the great difference between the baptism he confers and Christ's Baptism; in John 3, Jesus will speak about this new Baptism in water and in the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5; Titus 3:5).

"The Son of God": it should be pointed out that in the original text this _expression carries the definite article, which means that John the Baptist confesses before his listeners the supernatural and transcendent character of Christ's messiahship--very far removed from the politico-religious notion which Jewish leaders had forged.
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, January 02, 2007

Mental Prayer for January 3, Ingratitude to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament

In order to prepare for today's meditation, let us recall the meditation on the Holy Name of Jesus from yesterday.

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To respond more generously to our Lord's gift of Himself.

The Idea: If a young lady made little of the present her fiance spent hours carefully picking out for her, you could justly doubt that she was worthy of the young man's love.

Among us a gift expresses the desire of the giver to give himself to the object of his love. To ignore or make little of a gift is to make little of the giver. God in His infinite love offers us a gift which not only represents Him, but is His own Body and Blood. He loves us so much that He wants to be united to us as closely as possible. And how do I respond to His gift... to Him?

My Personal Application: Do I receive Holy Com­munion with little or no preparation? Do I excuse myself from going to Communion for very little inconveniences? If I do, did I ever realize that I am ignoring one who loves me enough to die for me? Or does my preparation begin from the moment I awake? Are my thoughts turned im­mediately to the fact that I will receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Himself? Do I make acts of love for Him, of hope that He will keep me close to Himself, of faith that it is not bread but His Body and Blood that I shall receive?

I Speak to Christ: Dear Lord, teach me that true love comes from a knowledge and union with you. Let me realize that by ignoring or making little of the opportunity to be so closely united to you in Holy Communion I wound your Sacred Heart.

Thought for Today: "If thou didst know the gift of God."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

What would Jesus' Birth be like today?


Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

Bethlehem, Judea - Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth.

During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph, also of Nazareth, attempted to stop the social workers. Joseph, aided by several local shepherds and some unidentified foreigners, tried to forestall efforts to take the child, but was restrained by the police.

Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be wise men from an eastern country. The INS and Homeland Security officials are seeking information about these that may be in the country illegally. A source with the INS states that they had no passports, but were in possession of gold and other possibly illegal substances.

They resisted arrest saying that they had been warned by God to avoid officials in Jerusalem and to return quickly to their own country. The chemical substances in their possession will be tested. The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning. The manager of the Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district.

The prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful. Asked about when Jesus would be returned to his mother, a Child Protective Service spokesperson said, "The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in Nazareth to determine what their legal relationship is."

Joseph has admitted taking Mary from her home in Nazareth because of a census requirement. However, because she was obviously pregnant when they left, investigators are looking into other reasons for their departure Joseph is being held without bond on charges of molestation, kidnapping, child endangerment, and statutory rape. Mary was taken to the Bethlehem General Hospital where doctors are examining her. Charges may also be filed against her for endangerment. She will also undergo psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.

The director of the psychiatric wing said, "I don't profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others - in this case her child - we must consider her a danger to others. The unidentified drugs at the scene didn't help her case, but I'm confidant that with the proper therapy regiment we can get her back on her feet."

A spokesperson for the governor's office said, "Who knows what was going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening. There is much we don't know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end."

HT to Joe for the email!

Pro-Abortion Pelosi Insults Catholic Faith

Judie Brown of American Life League has a column today in Human Events Online:
The new speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, is showing what I consider extreme arrogance, even for a pro-abortion figure in public life who claims to be a faithful Catholic. Her handlers are making it abundantly clear that anything goes in their effort to showcase Pelosi and her life story, including the use of a Catholic Mass to cement her public image as a Catholic mother and grandmother.

That, my friend, is a disgrace that I cannot ignore.

As a practicing Catholic mother and grandmother, I am highly offended that this woman would use the influence of her new office to flaunt her Catholic label while advocating the brutal murder of preborn children without apology. This “mother and grandmother” from California’s 8th District in San Francisco has been one of the most outspoken advocates for unrestricted abortion in Congress.

We will soon know if Archbishop Wuerl has chosen to protect the Blessed Sacrament from sacrilege and the faithful of the world from scandal.

Gospel for Jan 2, Memorial: St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen...

...Bishops and Doctors
From: John 1:19-28

The Witness of John

[19] And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" [20] He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." [21] And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No." [22] They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" [23] He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."

[24] Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. [25] They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" [26] John answered, "I baptize with water; but among you stands One whom you do not know, [27] even He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." [28] This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

19-34. This passage forms a unity, beginning and ending with reference to the Baptist's "testimony": it thereby emphasizes the mission given him by God to bear witness, by his life and preaching, to Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. The Precursor exhorts people to do penance and he practices the austerity he preaches; he points Jesus out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; and he proclaims him boldly in the face of the Jewish authorities. He is an example to us of the fortitude with which we should confess Christ: "All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of the word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which the put on in Baptism" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 11).

19-24. In this setting of intense expectation of the imminent coming of the Messiah, the Baptist is a personality with enormous prestige, as is shown by the fact that the Jewish authorities send qualified people (priests and Levites from Jerusalem) to ask him if he is the Messiah.

John's great humility should be noted: he is quick to tell his questioners: "I am not the Christ". He sees himself as someone insignificant compared with our Lord: "I am not worthy to untie the thong of His sandal" (verse 27). He places all his prestige at the service of his mission as precursor of the Messiah and, leaving himself completely to one side, he asserts that "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

25-26. "Baptize": this originally meant to submerge in water, to bathe. For the Jews the rite of immersion meant legal purification of those who had contracted some impurity under the Law. Baptism was also used as a rite for the incorporation of Gentile proselytes into the Jewish people. In the Dead Sea Scrolls there is mention of a baptism as a rite of initiation and purification into the Jewish Qumran community, which existed in our Lord's time.

John's baptism laid marked stress on interior conversion. His words of exhortation and the person's humble recognition of his sins prepared people to receive Christ's grace: it was a very efficacious rite of penance, preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah, and it fulfilled the prophecies that spoke precisely of a cleansing by water prior to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the messianic times (cf. Zechariah 13:1; Ezekiel 36:25; 37-23; Jeremiah 4:14). John's baptism, however, had no power to cleanse the soul of sins, as Christian Baptism does (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4).

"One whom you do not know": Jesus had not yet publicly revealed Him- self as Messiah and Son of God; although some people did know as a man, St. John the Baptist could assert that really they did not know Him.

27. The Baptist declares Christ's importance by comparing himself to a slave undoing the laces of his master's sandals. If we want to approach Christ, whom St. John heralds, we need to imitate the Baptist. As St. Augustine says: "He who imitates the humility of the Precursor will understand these words. [...] John's greatest merit, my brethren, is this act of humility" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 4, 7).

28. This is a reference to the town of Bethany which was situated on the eastern bank of the Jordan, across from Jericho--different from the Bethany where Lazarus and his family lived, near Jerusalem (cf. John 11:18).
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, January 01, 2007

Mental Prayer for January 2, Remembering the Holy Name of Jesus

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Jesus, give me light to see how I may serve you by my conversation.

The Idea: At this time of the year, many store owners consider taking inventory. Since January is the traditional month of recalling the Holy Name of Jesus, today would be a good time to take an in­ventory of my knowledge and practice of the Second Commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

Swearing, or taking an oath, means to ca1l upon God as a wit­ness to the truth of what I am saying, and ob­viously to ask God to do this for me, I must have a sufficient reason.

Blasphemy, which is always a mortal sin, means real contempt for, or real insult to, God. How rare among Catholics of this country does this occur today?
Cursing means to wish physical or spiritual harm to someone. Normally, however, the expressions used are not meant seriously.

Profanity, or the disrespectful use of the Holy Name in anger or thoughtlessly, is an­other way in which we can offend the God of majesty and goodness. Vulgar expressions of themselves are not sinful, though they hardly become anyone.

Of course, there is much more to all this than avoiding wrong. Our first aim shall be to praise God positively, not simply to stop sinning. It only takes a second or two to say a short prayer such as "Blessed be the name of Jesus" or "Blessed be His Holy Name."

With this, too, we can help make reparation for sins of speech we have committed.

Thought for Today: Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Reflection for the New Year-Living Your Religion

"His name was called Jesus." St. Luke 2:21.

One of the most heroic figures in the founding of the United States was a patriot by the name of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Carroll was a thorough, practical Catholic, the last of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He died on November 14, 1832. One hundred years after his death another American, Joseph Gum, wrote the life of this Catholic patriot and published the biography as a commemoration of the centennial. Every American, especially every Catholic American, ought to read that life story.

Incidentally, some of our so-called Catholic Americans of today who call in ques­tion the Teachings of the Church ought to read and re-read this inspiring story of a man who was true to his country and true to his faith, who was loyal to his country because he was loyal to his Catholic faith.

Many a precious lesson and thrilling inspiration has Carroll left us, but none more valuable than the words he wrote near the end of his long and useful life: "I have lived to my ninety-sixth year: I have enjoyed con­tinued health: I have been blessed with great wealth, prosperity, and most of the good things which the world can bestow - public apprreciation, esteem, applause. But what I now look back on with greatest satisfaction to myself is that I have practiced the duties of my religion."

Would that everyone of us could write the same words at the end of our lives. Would that everyone of us could say as the shadows lengthen that we have tried to live up to the duties of our religion. Would that everyone here this morning might have that satisfaction.

But especially today, New Year's day, would that all of us could look back upon that part of our lives which ended at midnight last night and say in the words of Carroll that we look back over 1948 with satisfaction, because during that last year we lived up to the duties of our glorious Catholic faith. If each one of us could say that, then this would be a happy year that has ended and there would be promise of a happy year beginning today.

1. What are those duties of our religion? During this year we should reconsider the Commandments of God. They tell what God expects of us. We should realize how the First Commandment requires that we know our religion. Today we would like to consider briefly how the First Com­mandment demands that we live our religion, our faith.

Faith means taking God at His word. Faith means accepting everything that God has told us, everything that God now tells us through His divinely guided Church. Like every other power we have, unless it is used, faith wastes away. Unless it is put into practice it weakens and dies. Un­less it is carried out in everyday life, it rusts and breaks down.

2. Our first duty is to strengthen our faith by deeds and prayers of faith. 2007 will be a happy year if every day each one of us offers some prayer of faith. That prayer may be brief, but it must be to the point and sincere. Let me repeat for you the act of faith many learned as children, a prayer you should repeat every day:
"O, my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived."

3. Put that faith into daily practice. When you learn, as we have recently, that God demands worship, then give that worship. When you learn that you must know the teachings of your religion, then begin, begin at once to learn those truths.

4. Our faith is put into practice by acts of religion. Attending Holy Mass, receiving Holy Communion, making visits to the Blessed Sacrament, at­tending Lenten devotions and making a mission, taking part in a holy hour and joining in the Rosary - these are all part of the practice of your religion. May the New Year find you happy in that practice!

5. Our religion demands charity toward everyone. It demands justice in everything we do. It demands a purity of heart and respect for the good name and reputation of our neighbor. It calls upon us to honor the Holy Name of Jesus, the name which, according to today's gospel, was brought by an angel from heaven,the name in which we begin this New Year and every task in it.

6. Our faith demands that we make open profession of it. How can a weak-kneed, jelly-fish, unfaithful Catholic be happy? How can anyone be happy if he is ashamed of his religion, if he backs up and denies it at the slightest criticism or the least difficulty? Be proud of your faith. Keep the commandments. Follow the Church's rules. Tell others about it. Explain your faith to those who ask.

Suppose that life ended today for you, as it ended at the age of ninety­-six for the great Catholic patriot, Charles Carroll. Could you look back and say that your happiest memory is that you lived up to the duties of your religion? Can you look back over 2006 and say that? Next New Year will you be able to look back over 2007 and say that?

You will if you look forward today to 2007 with a determination to live up to the obligations of the religion God has planted in your heart. If you are determined to do your religious duty as you see it, then the coming year will be happy.

That is my prayer this day, that is my hope, that is my wish for everyone of you - a truly happy New Year. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

Gospel for Jan 1, Solemnity: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

From: Luke 2:16-21

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Continuation)

[16] And they (the shepherds) went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. [17] And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. [19] But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. [20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The Circumcision of Jesus

[21] And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angels before he was conceived in the womb.


15-18. The birth of the Savior Messiah is the key event in the history of mankind, but God wanted it to take place so quietly that the world went about its business as if nothing had happened. The only people he tells about it are a few shepherds. It was also to a shepherd, Abraham, that God gave his promise to save mankind.

The shepherds make their way to Bethlehem propelled by the sign they have received. And when they verify it they tell what they heard from the angel and about seeing the heavenly host. They are the first witnesses of the birth of the Messiah. "The shepherds were not content with believing in the happy event which the angel proclaimed to them and which, full of wonder, they saw for a fact; they manifested their joy not only to Mary and Joseph but to everyone and, what is more, they tried to engrave it on their memory. 'And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.' And why would they not have wondered, seeing on earth him who is in heaven, and earth and heaven reconciled; seeing that ineffable Child who joined what was heavenly--divinity--and what was earthly--humanity--creating a wonderful covenant through this union. Not only were they in awe at the mystery of the Incarnation, but also at the great testimony born by the shepherds, who could not have invented something they had not heard and who publish the truth with a simple eloquence" (Photius, "Ad Amphilochium", 155).

16. The shepherds hasten because they are full of joy and eager to see the Savior. St Ambrose comments: "No one seeks Christ halfheartedly" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam., in loc."). Earlier on, the evangelist observed that our Lady, after the Annunciation, "went in haste" to see St Elizabeth (Lk 1:39). A soul who has given God entry rejoices that God has visited him and his life acquires new energy.

19. In very few words this verse tells us a great deal about our Lady. We see the serenity with which she contemplates the wonderful things that are coming true with the birth of her divine Son. She studies them, ponders them and stores them in the silence of her heart. She is a true teacher of prayer. If we imitate her, if we guard and ponder in our hearts what Jesus says to us and what he does in us, we are well on the way to Christian holiness and we shall never lack his doctrine and his grace. Also, by meditating in this way on the teaching Jesus has given us, we shall obtain a deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ, which is how "the Tradition that comes from the Apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 8).

21. On the meaning and rite of circumcision, see the note on Lk 1:59. "Jesus" means "Yahweh saves" or "Yahweh is salvation", that is, Savior. This name was given the Child not as the result of any human decision but in keeping with the commandment of God which the angel communicated to the Blessed Virgin and to St Joseph (cf. Lk 1:31; Mk 1:21).

The Son of God became incarnate in order to redeem and save all men; so it is very fitting that he be called Jesus, Savior. We confess this in the Creed: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven." "There were indeed many who were called by this name [...]. But how much more appropriate it is to call by this name our Savior, who brought light, liberty and salvation, not to one people only, but to all men, of all ages--to men oppressed, not by famine, or Egyptian or Babylonian bondage, but sitting in the shadow of death and fettered by the galling chains of sin and of the devil" ("St Pius V Catechism", I, 36).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Good Priestly Vocations Video

Check it out if you have seen it. Better yet, send a copy or the link to someone who may have a call to the priesthood.

Video (WMV format)

A Year Ending Reminder of Schismand Its Effects

A reader forwarded this article to me today, from the News-Leader in Springfield, in which the reporter lavishes ignorant praise upon an excommunicated priest for his obstinance toward, defiance to , and antipathy of ecclesiastical authority and the Church:

A year ago, Father Marek Bozek presided over the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in St. Louis...A year later, the church is growing.

Keep that thought in mind...

Bozek felt the needs of the congregation were more compelling than the rules of his church.
Let's not forget that the Board was "priest shopping" for quite some time. And Bozek rejected reason and his promises to his bishop because he "felt" the oppression of the people...

The people of St. Stanislaus agreed. The parish has been in a tug of war with the St. Louis Archdiocese over the ownership of the parish property for several years.

The reporter fails to mention that the reason for the "tug of war" was that the Board had illegally changed the bylaws of the parish.

The fallout after Bozek accepted the congregation's call to be their priest included a declaration of automatic excommunication by Burke and a still-pending appeal by the parish to the Vatican.

Bozek and comrades refuse obedience to the Archbishop and the Church yet, they await a ruling on an appeal...And when the appeal is rejected or decided against them, can you guess what the press release will say?

In the past year, the church has doubled in size to about 550 families, Bozek said. And it has become a welcoming home for people who have felt unwelcome in the traditional Catholic church. That includes divorced and remarried couples and gay couples.

Since it is a mortal sin to receive Communion from this excommunicated priest who has no faculties to celebrate or perform any of the sacraments, it is not surprising to see Bozek welcomes all who wish to heap sacrilege upon sacrilege and mortal sin upon mortal sin upon their souls. And let's not forget that Bozek has no power to give absolution in the Sacrament of Penance - not that fear of eternal damnation means much to those who persist in living in rebellion against the Church.

"My philosophy ... is that (the members of the parish) have now had first-hand experience of being excluded and persecuted," Bozek said. "It helped them to realize that there are others who are also unjustly excluded and persecuted."

Sin being irrelevant, it seems...

Bozek leads a traditional Latin Mass on Friday nights...

Without permission, of course.

Another area of growth has been among non-Catholics.

"It's almost an irony of fate," said Bozek. "A church that has been called schismatic has drawn people to itself who want to become Catholic ... .

"That is the major proof that we are doing something good over here."

Unfortunately, people are still being deceived by this charade of a Catholic church and an imposter "priest" - marriages are invalid, the can be no Confirmations, yet some think that they are becoming Catholic. A pity, really. Another reason, sometimes forgotten, that we need to pray fervently for the conversion of these people to the one, true Church - the Church they abandoned in a display of pride and rebellion.

And let's resolve to pray for Archbishop Burke and his intentions at least weekly, if not daily, especially by praying the Rosary.

A Special Hat Tip to Ken C. for this article...

Mental Prayer for January 1, New Year's Resolutions

Monthly Check-Up for January

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To make this a big year for you and me!

The Idea: New Year's is the traditional time for making resolutions for the coming year. As a close follower of Christ, I want to give serious thought now to my program for the new year. Keeping in mind my obligations as a Catholic (sanctifica­tion of myself and others and by being faithful to Christ and his Church), why not draw up a list of particular points that I should work on - items that are especially pertinent to me, to my own situation, needs, characteristics?(Plan to check on these, too, in the daily Particular Examination.)

My Personal Application: I should work out several good resolutions (not too many nor beyond what I can do). They shall include something on mental prayer, something on Mass, confession, Holy Communion, much on the love and imitation of Christ.

I am what I think! I become what I fill my thoughts with, what I set my heart on. I'll be­come saintly and Christlike if that's what I give my whole attention to.

I Speak to Mary: Help me to achieve your perfect imitation of Jesus. Help me see that the first duty of charity is to give God to my neighbor. This means that I must already possess Him through sanctifying grace; it means, too, letting others see Him in my words and actions. Mary, help me !

Thought for Today: Brave resolutions - for Christ!
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

For the Last Day of the Year

The end of the year should naturally make you think of the end of your life. This reflection should in­duce you to place yourself in the state in which you would like to be found at the hour of your death. We ought, said a great saint, to ask of God, through Jesus Christ, the grace to repair all the spiritual losses we have sustaineed through our negligence. We should beseech Him, in the name and through the merits of this divine Saviour, to enable us to attain that degree of perfection to which He wished to conduct us, if we had corresponded with fidelity. This practice suits particularly the end of the year.

In thanksgiving to almighty God, for the spiritual and temporal blessings bestowed on you, on your parents, children, friends, neighbors, on all mankind, during this past year, recite with lively sentiments of gratitude the Te Deum or Magnificat.

And in expiation of your infidelities, recite the Miserere (Psalm 51, The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance):
Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness,
in your abundant compassion
blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt;
from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my offense;
my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty, a sinner,
even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;
in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God,
that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips;
my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

An Offering of the New Year

O my God! another year is added to the number of those for which I am accountable to Thee.

Well may I recount them all in the bitterness of my soul, for they have been filled with infidelities and ingratitude.

Thou hast granted them to me to know, to love, and serve Thee, and every one if them brings to my recollection numberless omissions of these essential duties.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me, for I have no hope but in Thy mercy.

It now offers me this new year to repair the evils and retrieve the losses of those which are past.

Grant, O Lord, that it be entirely consecrated to Thy glory, sanctified by Thy love, and wholly employed in Thy service. Amen.
Adapted from Prayer Book for Religious
by Fr. F. X. Lasance (© 1904)

Gospel for Sunday, Feast: The Holy Family

From: Luke 2:41-52

The Finding in the Temple

[41] Now his (Jesus') parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. [42] And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; [43] and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, [44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; [45] and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. [46] And after three days they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; [47] and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. [48] And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." [49] And he said to
them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" [50] And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.

The Hidden Life of Jesus at Nazareth

[51] And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

[52] And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.


41. Only St Luke (2:41-50) reports the event of the Child Jesus being lost and then found in the temple, which we contemplate in the "Fifth Joyful Mystery" of the Rosary.

Only males aged twelve and upwards were required to make this journey. Nazareth is about 100 km (60 miles) from Jerusalem as the crow flies, but the hilly nature of the country would have made it a trip of 140 km.

43-44. On pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Jews used to go in two groups -- one of men, the other of women. Children could go with either group. This explains how they could go a day's journey before they discovered the Child was missing when the families regrouped to camp.

"Mary is crying. In vain you and I have run from group to group, from caravan to caravan. No one has seen him. Joseph, after fruitless attempts to keep from crying, cries too.... And you.... And I.

'Being a common little fellow, I cry my eyes out and wail to heaven and earth..., to make up for the times when I lost him through my own fault and did not cry" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery).

45. The concern which Mary and Joseph show in looking for the Child should encourage us always to seek Jesus out, particularly if we lose him through sin.

"Jesus, may I never lose you again.... Now you and I are united in misfortune and grief, as were united in sin. And from the depths of our being comes sighs of heartfelt sorrow and burning phrases which the pen cannot and should not record" ("Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery).

46-47. The Child Jesus must have been in the courtyard of the temple, which was where the teachers usually taught. Listeners used to sit at their feet, now and again asking questions and responding to them. This was what Jesus did, but his questions and answers attracted the teachers' attention, he was so wise and well-informed.

48. Ever since the Annunciation our Lady had known that the Child Jesus was God. This faith was the basis of her generous fidelity throughout her life -- but there was no reason why it should include detailed knowledge of all the sacrifices God would ask of her, nor of how Christ would go about his mission of redemption: that was something she would discover as time went by, contemplating her Son's life.

49. Christ's reply is a form of explanation. His words--his first words to be recorded in the Gospel--clearly show his down Sonship; and they also show his determination to fulfill the will of his Eternal Father. "He does not upbraid them--Mary and Joseph--for searching for their son, but he raises the eyes of their souls to appreciate what he owes him whose Eternal Son he is" (St Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc."). Jesus teaches us that over and above any human authority, even that of our parents, there is the primary duty to do the will of God.

"And once we are consoled by the joy of finding Jesus--three days he was gone!--debating with the teachers of Israel (Lk 2:46), you and I shall be left deeply impressed by the duty to leave our home and family to serve our heavenly Father" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery"). See note on Mt 10:34-37.

50. We must remember that Jesus knew in detail the whole course his earthly life would take from his conception onwards (cf. note on Lk 2:52). This is shown by what he says in reply to his parents. Mary and Joseph realized that his reply contained a deeper meaning which they did not grasp. They grew to understand it as the life of their Child unfolded. Mary's and Joseph's faith and their reverence towards the Child led them not to ask any further questions but to reflect on Jesus' words and behavior in this instance, as they had done so on other occasions.

51. The Gospel sums up Jesus' life in Nazareth in just three words: "erat subditus illis", he was obedient to them. "Jesus obeys, and he obeys Joseph and Mary. God has come to the world to obey, and to obey creatures. Admittedly they were very perfect creatures--Holy Mary, our mother, greater than whom God alone; and that most chaste man Joseph. But they are only creatures, and yet Jesus, who is God, obeyed them. We have to love God so as to love his will and desire to respond to his calls. They come to us through the duties of our ordinary life--duties of state, profession, work, family, social life, our own and other people's difficulties, friendship, eagerness to do what is right and just" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 17).

Jesus lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working at the same trade as St Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. "His hidden years are not without significance, nor were they simply a preparation for the years which were to come after--those of his public life. Since 1928 I have understood clearly that God wants our Lord's whole life to be an example for Christians. I saw this with special reference to his hidden life, the years he spent working side by side with ordinary men. Our Lord wants many people to ratify their vocation during years of quiet, unspectacular living. Obeying God's will always means leaving our selfishness behind, but there is no reason why it should entail cutting ourselves off from the normal life of ordinary people who share the same status, work and social position with us.

"I dream--and the dream has come true--of multitudes of God's children, sanctifying themselves as ordinary citizens, sharing the ambitions and endeavors of their colleagues and friends. I want to shout to them about this divine truth: If you are there in the middle of ordinary life, it doesn't mean Christ has forgotten about you or hasn't called you. He has invited you to stay among the activities and concerns of the world. He wants you to know that your human vocation, your profession, your talents, are not omitted from his divine plans. He has sanctified them and made them a most acceptable offering to his Father" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 20).

52. As far as his human nature was concerned Jesus matured like anyone else. His growth in wisdom should be seen as referring to experiential knowledge--knowledge acquired by his mind from sense experience and general experience of life. It can also be taken as referring to the external expression of his wisdom; in this sense everything he did was done perfectly, in keeping with whatever age he was at the time.

As man Jesus had three kinds of knowledge: 1. "The knowledge of the blessed" (vision of the divine essence) by virtue of the hypostatic union (the union of his human nature with his divine nature in the one person of the Word). This knowledge did not allow of any increase. 2. "Infused knowledge", which perfected his intellect and which meant that he knew everything, even hidden things; thus he was able to read men's hearts. Here again his knowledge was complete; it could not grow. 3. "Acquired knowledge": he acquired new knowledge through sense experience and reflection; logically, this knowledge increased as time went by.

As far as grace, in the strict sense of the word, was concerned, Jesus could not grow. From the first instant of his conception he possessed grace in all its fullness because he was true God by virtue of the hypostatic union. As St Thomas explains: "The end of grace is the union of the rational creature with God. But there can neither be nor be conceived a greater union of the rational creature with God than that which is in the person of Christ [...]. Hence it is clear that the grace of Christ cannot be increased on the part of grace. But neither can it be increased on the part of Christ, since Christ as man was a true and full 'comprehensor from the first instant of his conception. Hence there could have been no increase of grace in him" ("Summa Theologiae", Ill, q.7, a.12).

However, we can speak of his growing in grace in the sense of the "effects" of grace. In the last analysis, this matter is one of the mysteries of our faith, which our minds cannot fully grasp. How small God would be if we were able fully to fathom this mystery! That Christ should conceal his infinite power and wisdom by becoming a Child teaches our pride a great lesson.
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.