Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 16

Love others much, but visit them seldom.

-St. Catherine of Siena
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 16, Cloistered

Speaking of religious who do not practice their Rule, but who follow from afar their ideal of life, St. Francis de Sales makes this comment: "Cloistered persons without doubt, but no religious at all."

Father Lallemant, speaking to some young priests of the Society of Jesus, used a similar comparison, exhorting them not to be mere shadows of religious, that is, men in soutanes, whose souls are not wholly given to God, who are more like walking ghosts than true saints endeavoring to translate into their life the ideal of their vocation.

Let me examine myself seriously: I am someone in the monas­tery; my name is on a door, or my number on a lingerie shelf; I walk through the halls as a figure in regulation dress. But these are merely appearances.

In reality what am I? If at this minute, I should appear before the Tribunal of God, what judgment would be passed upon me? In the community I can still keep up appearances, although more than one soul of keen insight must have seen through my life for some time. In any case, before God I am ex­actly what I am; and again, what am I?

What are the most glaring defects of my life? What observations are emphasized for my benefit in retreats? What faults am I asked to correct? What predominating cowardice does my examen reveal to me?

I must reflect, I must change, and to have the courage for this, I must pray much.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Sept 15, Memorial: Our Lady of Sorrows

Old Calendar: Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary; St. Nicomedes, martyr

From: John 19:25-27

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (Continuation)

[25] So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" [27] Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.


25. Whereas the Apostles, with the exception of St. John, abandon Jesus in the hour of His humiliation, these pious women, who had followed Him during His public life (cf. Lk 8:2-3) now stay with their Master as He dies on the cross (cf. note on Mt 27:55-56).

Pope John Paul II explains that our Lady's faithfulness was shown in four ways: first, in her generous desire to do all that God wanted of her (cf. Lk 1:34); second, in her total acceptance of God's will (cf. Lk 1:38); third, in the consistency between her life and the commitment of faith which she made; and, finally, in her withstanding this test. "And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness. Mary's 'fiat' in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent 'fiat' that she repeats at the foot of the Cross" ("Homily in Mexico Cathedral", 26 January 1979).

The Church has always recognized the dignity of women and their important role in salvation history. It is enough to recall the veneration which from the earliest times the Christian people have had for the Mother of Christ, the Woman "par excellence" and the most sublime and most privileged creature ever to come from the hands of God. Addressing a special message to women, the Second Vatican Council said, among other things: "Women in trial, who stand upright at the foot of the cross like Mary, you who so often in history have given to men the strength to battle unto the very end and to give witness to the point of martyrdom, aid them now still once more to retain courage in their great undertakings, while at the same time maintaining patience and an esteem for humble beginnings" (Vatican II, "Message To Women", 8 December 1965).

26-27. "The spotless purity of John's whole life makes him strong before the Cross. The other apostles fly from Golgotha: he, with the Mother of Christ, remains. Don't forget that purity strengthens and invigorates the character" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 144).

Our Lord's gesture in entrusting His Blessed Mother to the disciple's care, has a dual meaning (see p. 19 above and pp. 35ff). For one thing it expresses His filial love for the Virgin Mary. St Augustine sees it as a lesson Jesus gives us on how to keep the fourth commandment: "Here is a lesson in morals. He is doing what He tells us to do and, like a good Teacher, He instructs His own by example, that it is the duty of good children to take care of their parents; as though the wood on which His dying members were fixed were also the chair of the teaching Master" (St Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 119, 2).

Our Lord's words also declare that Mary is our Mother: "The Blessed Virgin also advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim who was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to His disciple" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 58).

All Christians, who are represented in the person of John, are children of Mary. By giving us His Mother to be our Mother, Christ demonstrates His love for His own to the end (cf. Jn 13:1). Our Lady's acceptance of John as her son show her motherly care for us: "the Son of God, and your Son, from the Cross indicated a man to you, Mary, and said: 'Behold, your son' (Jn 19:26). And in that man He entrusted to you every person, He entrusted everyone to you. And you, who at the moment of the Annunciation, concentrated the whole program of your life in those simple words: 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word' (Lk 1:38): embrace everyone, draw close to everyone, seek everyone out with motherly care. Thus is accomplished what the last Council said about your presence in the mystery of Christ and the Church. In a wonderful way you are always found in the mystery of Christ, your only Son, because you are present wherever men and women, His brothers and sisters, are present, wherever the Church is present" (John Paul II, "Homily in the Basilica of Guadalupe", 27 January 1979).

"John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, brought Mary into his home, into his life. Spiritual writers have seen these words of the Gospel as an invitation to all Christians to bring Mary into their lives. Mary certainly wants us to invoke her, to approach her confidently, to appeal to her as our mother, asking her to 'show that you are our mother'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 140).

John Paul II constantly treats our Lady as his Mother. In bidding farewell to the Virgin of Czestochowa he prayed in this way: "Our Lady of the Bright Mountain, Mother of the Church! Once more I consecrate myself to you 'in your maternal slavery of love'. 'Totus tuus!' I am yours! I consecrate to you the whole Church--everyone to the ends of the earth! I consecrate to you humanity; I consecrate to you all men and women, my brothers and sisters. All peoples and all nations. I consecrate to you Europe and all the continents. I consecrate to you Rome and Poland, united, through your servant, by a fresh bond of love. Mother, accept us! Mother, do not abandon us! Mother, be our guide!" ("Farewell Address" at Jasna Gora Shrine, 6 June 1979).
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, September 14, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 15

Often read spiritual books; then, like a sheep, ruminate the food thou hast taken, by meditation and a desire to practice the holy doctrine found therein.

-St. Antonius
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 15, The Seven Sorrows of Mary

Mary, from the time of the Annunciation, did not pass a single day without suffering, and that for a very simple reason; she knew that the life of her Son would end in the Crucifixion.

This suffering which permeated her whole life became more acute under certain circumstances which the Church wishes us to medi­tate on particularly.

The Purification: "Oh, poor child," exclaimed Simeon in sub­stance, "the world will be torn in two on account of Him: there will be those who will be for Christ and those, and how numerous they are, who will be against Him. And for you, poor mother, a sword. . . ."

Then again consider the command Joseph received to Take the child and its Mother and flee into Egypt. . . . What an exodus, what a precipitate departure, and to such a place!

Jesus lost in the temple: I must be about my Father's business.

The meeting of Mary with Jesus on the Ascent to Calvary. What a scene! Contemplate their tender exchange of glances; compassionate these two broken hearts; I will unite myself with their hearts.

The three hours at the Foot of the Cross: How she suffered, our poor Mother! And for me! Chancellor Gerson claims that if Jesus would have tried to descend from this cross, Mary, through love for men, would have begged Him to remain nailed to it.

Mary holds Jesus in her lap after His removal from the Cross: Isn't it true that anyone of these scenes would suffice to nourish my contemplation for days and weeks?

Mary, after a last look at her dead Jesus, leaves the tomb to return to Jerusalem, the evening of Good Friday.

"Ah," cried the prophet years before, "do not forget the groans of your mother!"
I wish that they would resound so profoundly in me that never, never, would I forget them; that in hearing them, I would under­stand the whole price of my divine life, of the divine life in all souls.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Burke to Discuss Latin Mass on EWTN

Host Raymond Arroyo will interview Archbishop Raymond L. Burke about the recent decree issued by Pope Benedict XVI on the traditional Latin Mass, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, on "The World Over" program on Catholic television network EWTN.

The program will be aired the day the new regulations go into effect permitting a wider celebration of the Latin Mass according to the Missal of 1962.
Source: St Louis Review

More at EWTN here.

Gospel for Sept 14, Feast: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From: John 3:13-17

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)

(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [13] "No one has ascended into Heaven but He who descended from Heaven, the Son of Man. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." [16] For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God sent the Son into world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.


13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into Heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God's secrets, except God Himself who became man and came down from Heaven--Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of Man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Daniel 7:13), to whom has been given eternal lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when He is on earth as man, He is in Heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Christ is in Heaven as man also.

14-15. The bronze serpent which Moses set up on a pole was established by God to cure those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpents in the desert (cf. Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus compares this with His crucifixion, to show the value of His being raised up on the cross: those who look on Him with faith can obtain salvation. We could say that the good thief was the first to experience the saving power of Christ on the cross: he saw the crucified Jesus, the King of Israel, the Messiah, and was immediately promised that he would be in Paradise that very day (cf. Luke 23:39-43).

The Son of God took on our human nature to make known the hidden mystery of God's own life (cf. Mark 4:11; John 1:18; 3:1-13; Ephesians 3:9) and to free from sin and death those who look at Him with faith and love and who accept the cross of every day.

The faith of which our Lord speaks is not just intellectual acceptance of the truths He has taught: it involves recognizing Him as Son of God (cf. 1 John 5:1), sharing His very life (cf. John 1:12) and surrendering ourselves out of love and therefore becoming like Him (cf. John 10:27; 1 John 3:2). But this faith is a gift of God (cf. John 3:3, 5-8), and we should ask Him to strengthen it and increase it as the Apostles did: Lord "increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5). While faith is a supernatural, free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which a person can practise and thereby develop: so the Christian, who already has the divine gift of faith, needs with the help of grace to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow.

16-21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ's death is the supreme sign of God's love for men (cf. the section on charity in the "Introduction to the Gospel according to St. John": pp. 31ff above). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God's kindness, mercy and love for us. `God is love' (1 John 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. `(He) loved me, St. Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself--`He loved me, and gave Himself for me'(Galatians 2:20)" (Paul VI, "Homily on Corpus Christi", 13 June 1976).

Christ's self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to His great love for us: "If it is true that God has created us, that He has redeemed us, that He loves us so much that He has given up His only-begotten Son for us (John 3:16), that He waits for us--every day!--as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Luke 15:11-32), how can we doubt that He wants us to respond to Him with all love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget Him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of His grace" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 251).

"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This [...] is why Christ the Redeemer `fully reveals man to himself'. If we may use the __expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity.[...] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly [...] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into Him with all his own self, he must `appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself.

How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he `gained so great a Redeemer', ("Roman Missal, Exultet" at Easter Vigil), and if God `gave His only Son' in order that man `should not perish but have eternal life'. [...]

`Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ's mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection" (John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in Him as a first prerequisite to sharing in His love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. "He who does not believe is condemned already" (verse 18).

"The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man's sin and the blessing of God.[...] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, savior, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 8).
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, September 13, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 14

Raise thy heart and thy love toward the sweet and most holy cross, which soothes every pain!

-­St. Catherine of Siena
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 14, My Cross and Christ's Cross

In my difficulties I ought to take my crucifix. It is not without reason that, on the day of my vows, I received the image of my sorrowful Savior. The Church foresaw that to keep my Rule which I received that day, the image of Christ nailed to the wood would not be too much. And then besides how many trials both from health and from my apostolate can spring up!

When the Arabs invaded Cordova, they built a mosque in the city. They attached to one of its pillars a former Spanish noble­man reduced to slavery; he remained steadfast in his faith until death, but in order to support his faith in the frightful struggle, he had by dint of effort dug with his nails a cross on the stone column to which he was chained. This mosque has since become a Catholic Church; and the cross dug into the pillar can still be seen.

In order to encourage himself to suffer, the tortured prisoner wished to have near him the sight of the cross. He thus felt less alone. He remembered all that Christ had suffered and that helped him to endure, for love of his Savior, all that the tormentors in­flicted on him.

"My Jesus who suffered so much for me, encourage me in my diffi­cult moments. You know how weak and cowardly I am before sacrifice. May my crucifix help me in necessary renunciations, help me as much as the cross on the pillar helped the Spanish prisoner of the Arabs. May the thought of Your suffering help me offer You my suffering and may Your love stimulate mine."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Sep 13, Memorial: St John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

Thursday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:27-38

Love of Enemies

[27] "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. [29] To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. [30] Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. [31] And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

[32] "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. [34] And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. [35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. [36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

[37] "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; [38] give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."


27. "In loving our enemies there shines forth in us some likeness to God our Father, who, by the death of His Son, ransomed from everlasting perdition and reconciled to Himself the human race, which previously was most unfriendly and hostile to Him" ("St. Pius V Catechism", IV, 14, 19). Following the example of God our Father, we must desire for everyone (even those who say they are our enemies) eternal life, in the first place; additionally, a Christian has a duty to respect and understand everyone without exception, because of his or her intrinsic dignity as a human person, made in the image and likeness of the Creator.

28. Jesus Christ teaches us by example that this is a real precept and not just a pious recommendation; even when nailed to the cross He prayed to His Father for those who had brought Him to such a pass: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34). In imitation of the Master, St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, when he was being stoned, prayed to our Lord not to hold the sin against his persecutors (cf. Acts 7:60). In the liturgy of Good Friday the Church offers prayers and suffrages to God on behalf of those outside the Church, asking Him to give them the grace of faith; to release from their ignorance those who do not know Him; to give Jews the light to the truth; to bring non-Catholic Christians, linked by true charity, into full communion with our Mother the Church.

29. Our Lord gives us more examples to show us how we should act if we want to imitate the mercy of God. The first has to do with one of what are traditionally called the "spiritual works of mercy"--forgiving injuries and being patient with other people's defects. This is what He means in the first instance about turning the other cheek.

To understand what our Lord is saying here, St. Thomas comments that "Sacred Scripture needs to be understood in the light of the example of Christ and the saints. Christ did not offer the cheek to be struck in the house of Annas (Jn 18:22ff), nor did St. Paul when, as we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, he was beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:22f). Therefore, we should not take it that Christ literally meant that you should offer the other cheek to some to hit you; what He was referring to was your interior disposition; that is, if necessary we should be ready not to be intolerant of anyone who hurts us, and we should be ready to put up with this kind of treatment, or worse than that. That was how the Lord acted when He surrendered His body to death" ("Commentary on St John", 18, 37).

36. The model of mercy which Christ sets before us is God Himself, of whom St. Paul says, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions" (2 Cor 1:3-4). "The first quality of this virtue", Fray Luis de Granada explains, "is that it makes men like God and like the most glorious thing in Him, His mercy (Lk 6:36). For certainly the greatest perfection a creature can have is to be like his Creator, and the more like Him he is, the more perfect he is. Certainly one of the things which is most appropriate to God is mercy, which is what the Church means when it says that prayer: 'Lord God, to whom it is proper to be merciful and forgiving...'. It says that this is proper to God, because just as a creature, as creature, is characteristically poor and needy (and therefore characteristically receives and does not give), so, on the contrary, since God is infinitely rich and powerful, to Him alone does it belong to give and not to receive, and therefore it is appropriate for Him to be merciful and forgiving" ("Book of Prayer and Meditation", third part, third treatise).

This is the rule a Christian should apply: be compassionate towards other people's afflictions as if they were one's own, and try to remedy them. The Church spells out this rule by giving us a series of corporal works of mercy (visiting and caring for the sick, giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty...) and spiritual works of mercy (teaching the ignorant, correcting the person who has erred, forgiving injuries...): cf. "St Pius X Catechism", 944f.

We should also show understanding towards people who are in error: "Love and courtesy of this kind should not, of course, make us indifferent to truth and goodness. Love, in fact, impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all men the truth which saves. But we must distinguish between the error (which must always be rejected) and the person in error, who never loses his dignity as a person even though he flounders amid false or inadequate religious ideas. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; He forbids us to pass judgment on the inner guilt of others" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 28).

38. We read in Sacred Scripture of the generosity of the widow of Zarephath, whom God asked to give food to Elijah the prophet even though she had very little left; He then rewarded her generosity by constantly renewing her supply of meal and oil (1 Kings 17:9ff). The same sort of thing happened when the boy supplied the five loaves and two fish which our Lord multiplied to feed a huge crowd of people (cf. Jn 6:9)--a vivid example of what God does when we give Him whatever we have, even if it does not amount to much.

God does not let Himself be outdone in generosity: "Go, generously and like a child ask Him, 'What can You mean to give me when You ask me for "this"?'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 153). However much we give God in this life, He will give us more in life eternal.
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, September 12, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels -

It ordinarily happens that God permits those who judge others, to fall into the same or even greater faults.

-St. Vincent Ferrer
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 13, The Consciousness of My Weakness

"We must not let the consciousness of our weaknesses make us lose the consciousness of our strength." (Vauvenargues.) That compares with what another moralist, La Rochefoucauld, once said, "We would do many more things if we believed them less impossible."

The victory belongs to those who think they can win. Do I mistrust myself too much?

Perhaps I have experienced that I am not capable of much. In my examens each day, I come face to face with evidence which is not very encouraging. How can I possess, after that, the beautiful self-confidence that some persons enjoy?

If I must have confidence, it is not so much by leaning on my own possibilities, scanty as they are in truth, but by leaning, rather, on the strength of God. Father Charles de Foucauld used to say, God is the master of the impossible, and without doubt the hermit of the Sahara was referring to events, but I can apply the truth to my wretchedness.

What I cannot realize with my own strength, which is after all only weakness, I can realize with the strength of God. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me, said St. Paul. I must trust more to Divine help in fulfilling the duties of my state; in my efforts for sanctification; in difficulties of what­ever nature they may be.

"O God, Omnipotent Master of the impossible, help me to triumph over my impressions, and over the paralyzing consciousness of my weakness. Grant that in the knowledge of my incapability for many things, I apply myself the more to complete confidence in You."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

From Vienna, a Lesson on How to Sing the Mass (Chiesa)

Haydn's polyphony and the Gregorian antiphons of the ancient missal accompanied the papal liturgy in the Austrian capital, all of which was celebrated with "the gaze fixed upon God." A model for Catholic Masses in the Latin rite all over the world
by Sandro Magister

Gospel for Sep 12, The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Optional Memorial)

Wednesday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes and the Curses

[20] And He (Jesus) lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. [21] Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. [22] Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. [26] Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."


20-49. These thirty verses of St. Luke correspond to some extent to the Sermon on the Mount, an extensive account of which St. Matthew gives us in Chapters 5 to 7 in his Gospel. It is very likely that in the course of His public ministry in different regions and towns of Israel Jesus preached the same things, using different words on different occasions. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit each evangelist would have chosen to report those things which he considered most useful for the instruction of his immediate readers--Christians of Jewish origin in the case of Matthew, Gentile converts in the case of Luke. There is no reason why one evangelist should not have selected certain items and another different ones, depending on his readership, or why one should not have laid special stress on some subjects and shortened or omitted accounts of others.

In this present discourse, we might distinguish three parts--the Beatitudes and the curses (6:20-26); love of one's enemies (6:27-38); and teaching on uprightness of heart (6:39-49).

Some Christians may find it difficult to grasp the need of practicing the moral teaching of the Gospel so radically, in particular Christ's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is very demanding in what He says, but He is saying it to everyone, and not just to His Apostles or to those disciples who followed Him closely. We are told expressly that "when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching" (Matthew 7:28). It is quite clear that the Master calls everyone to holiness, making no distinction of state-in-life, race or personal circumstances. This teaching on the universal call to holiness was a central point of the teaching of (Blessed) Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer. The Second Vatican Council expressed the same teaching with the full weight of its authority: everyone is called to Christian holiness; consider, for example, just one reference it makes, in "Lumen Gentium", 11: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state--though each in his or her own way--are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father Himself is perfect."

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is not proposing an unattainable ideal, useful though that might be to make us feel humble in the light of our inability to reach it. No. Christian teaching in this regard is quite clear: what Christ commands, He commands in order to have us do what He says. Along with His commandment comes grace to enable us to fulfill it. Therefore, every Christian is capable of practising the moral teaching of Christ and of attaining the full height of his calling -- holiness --not by his own efforts alone but by means of the grace which Christ has won for us, and with the abiding help of the means of sanctification which He left to His Church. "If anyone plead human weakness to excuse Himself for not loving God, it should be explained that He who demands our love pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the fervor of His love, and this good Spirit our Heavenly Father gives to those that ask Him. With reason, therefore, did St. Augustine pray:
`Give Me what Thou command, and command what You please.' As, then, God is ever ready to help us, especially since the death of Christ our Lord, by which the prince of this world was cast out, there is no reason why anyone should be disheartened by the difficulty of the undertaking. To him who loves, nothing is difficult" ("St. Pius V Catechism", III, 1, 7).

20-26. The eight Beatitudes which St. Matthew gives (5:3-12) are summed up in four by St. Luke, but with four opposite curses. We can say, with St. Ambrose, that Matthew's eight are included in Luke's four (cf. "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc."). In St. Luke they are in some cases stated in a more incisive, more direct form than in the First Gospel, where they are given with more explanation: for example, the first beatitude says simply "Blessed are you poor", whereas in Matthew we read, "Blessed are the poor in spirit", which contains a brief explanation of the virtue of poverty.

20. "The ordinary Christian has to reconcile two aspects of this life that can at first seem contradictory. There is on the one hand "true poverty", which is obvious and tangible and made up of definite things. This poverty should be an _expression of faith in God and a sign that the heart is not satisfied with created things and aspires to the Creator; that it wants to be filled with love of God so as to be able to give this same love to everyone. On the other hand, an ordinary Christian is and wants to be "one more among his fellow men", sharing their way of life, their joys and happiness; working with them, loving the world and all the good things that exist in it; using all created things to solve the problems of human life and to establish a spiritual and material environment which will foster personal and social development [...].

"To my way of thinking the best examples of poverty are those mothers and fathers of large and poor families who spend their lives for their children and who with their effort and constancy--often without complaining of their needs--bring up their family, creating a cheerful home in which everyone learns to love, to serve and to work" ([Blessed] J. Escriva, "Conversations" , 110f).

24-26. Our Lord here condemns four things: avarice and attachment to the things of the world; excessive care of the body, gluttony; empty-headed joy and general self-indulgence; flattery, and disordered desire for human glory--four very common vices which a Christian needs to be on guard against.

24. In the same kind of way as in verse 20, which refers to the poor in the sense of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the "rich" are to be understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless of whether or not they are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are detached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scriptures a number of people to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possessed considerable wealth--Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.

As early as St. Augustine's time there were people who failed to understand poverty and riches properly: they reasoned as follows: The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor, the Lazaruses of this world, the hungry; all the rich are bad, like this rich man here. This sort of thinking led St. Augustine to explain the deep meaning of wealth and poverty according to the spirit of the Gospel: "Listen, poor man, to my comments on your words. When you refer to yourself as Lazarus, that holy man covered with wounds, I am afraid your pride makes you describe yourself incorrectly. Do not despise rich men who are merciful, who are humble: or, to put it briefly, do not despise poor rich men. Oh, poor man, be poor yourself; poor, that is, humble [...]. Listen to me, then. Be truly poor, be devout, be humble; if you glory in your ragged and ulcerous poverty, if you glory in likening yourself to that beggar lying outside the rich man's house, then you are only noticing his poverty, and nothing else. What should I notice you ask? Read the Scriptures and you will understand what I mean. Lazarus was poor, but he to whose bosom he was brought was rich. `It came to pass, it is written, that the poor man died and he was brought by the angels to Abraham's bosom.' To where? To Abraham's bosom, or let us say, to that mysterious place where Abraham was resting. Read [...] and remember that Abraham was a very wealthy man when he was on earth: he had abundance of money, a large family, flocks, land; yet that rich man was poor, because he was humble. `Abraham believed God and he was reckoned righteous.' [...] He was faithful, he did good, received the commandment to offer his son in sacrifice, and he did not refuse to offer what he had received to Him from whom he had received it. He was approved in God's sight and set before us as an example of faith" ("Sermon", 14).

To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a person's heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abundance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if someone is not well-off he is not justified in God's sight on that account, if he fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.
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, September 11, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 12

If you wish to raise a lofty edifice of perfection, take humility for a foundation.

-St. Thomas Aquinas
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 12, The Name of Mary

And the name of the Virgin was Mary.

St. Bernard in the homily that the Church has chosen as a lesson for the second Nocturn of today's feast gives us this triple counsel: Call upon Mary; Look at Mary; Think of Mary.

Call on Mary every time a difficulty arises or sorrow strikes. St. Bernard says that as the sailor when he has lost his way and his compass during a storm at sea, seeks to guide himself by the arch of the heavens which from time to time reveals a star, so ought we, when the tempest lets loose upon us, seek in the heights her whom the Church calls Stella Maris, Star of the Sea.

We must not only call on Mary when all goes wrong, but try to look upon her when all goes well, to seek her presence; to claim encouragement; to offer her our effort; to unite our love with hers. What occupation could be sweeter than to gaze on Mary? Is there any creature in the world, after Jesus, who has such appealing beauty?

And when I say look, I do not mean merely to gaze upon her features, but to measure all her inward wealth. What splendor in her immaculate perfection; what magnificence in the plenitude of the divine life she encompasses from her birth; what grandeur in her attitude of loving service throughout her life; in her heroic oblation at the foot of the cross! Look, consider all that in long and quiet contemplation.

And what does it mean to think of Mary?

It means that when I do not have her benign image to look at, her memory at least will encompass me. Quite naturally, then, her memory will evoke her person, and her name will come to my lips.

O Mary, give me devotion to your Name!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Missourians Against Human Cloning Update

An update from Jaci Winship of MAHC:

Missourians Against Human Cloning is pleased to assist the Cures without Cloning campaign. We will begin to collect signatures very soon to place this important initiative on the ballot in 2008.

Many volunteers are needed! There are numerous places you can circulate petitions and collect signatures. You can participate in the venues where you are most comfortable.

Please plan to attend a training session to learn more about the petition process and the campaign to prohibit human cloning in our state.

Thursday September 13 7:00 pm:
Buder Branch St. Louis Public Library 4401 Hampton Ave. St. Louis Mo 63109

Saturday September 15 11:00 am:
St. Louis County Public Library 5430 Telegraph Rd. St. Louis, MO 63129

Sunday September 16 7:00 pm:
Zion Lutheran Social Hall 3866 Harvester, St. Charles

Monday September 17 7:00 pm:
MAHC Office, 229 Chesterfield Business Parkway, Chesterfield, MO 63005

Monday September 17 7:00 pm:
Julia Davis Library, 4415 Natural Bridge St. Louis, MO

Thursday September 20 7:00 pm:
Hope Lutheran Church Neosho @ Brannon, St. Louis, MO

Saturday September 22 11:00 am:
Hope Lutheran Church Neosho @ Brannon, St. Louis, MO

Monday September 24 7:00 pm:
MAHC Office, 229 Chesterfield Business Parkway Chesterfield, MO 63005

Contact Kathy at 636-536-9877 or email to if you plan on attending a session.

Thank you,
Jaci Winship
Executive Director

Gospel for Tuesday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: Sts. Protus and Hyacinth, martyrs

From: Luke 6:12-19

The Calling of the Apostles

[12] In these days He (Jesus) went out into the hills to pray; and all night He continued in prayer to God. [13] And when it was day, He called His disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom He named Apostles: [14] Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew, his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew, [15] and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, [16] and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

The Sermon on the Mount

[17] And He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; [18] and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. [19] And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came forth from Him and healed them all.


12-13. The evangelist writes with a certain formality when describing this important occasion on which Jesus chooses the Twelve, constituting them as the apostolic college: "The Lord Jesus, having prayed at length to the Father, called to Himself those whom He willed and appointed twelve to be with Him, whom He might send to preach the King dom of God (cf. Mark 2:13-19; Matthew 10:1-42). These Apostles (cf. Luke 6:13) He constituted in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which He placed Peter, chosen from among them (cf. John 21:15-17). He sent them first of all to the children of Israel and then to all peoples (cf. Romans 1:16), so that, sharing in His power, they might make all peoples His disciples and sanctify and govern them (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; and par.) and thus spread the Church and, administering it under the guidance of the Lord, shepherd it all days until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:20). They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Act 2:1-26) [...]. Through their preaching the Gospel everywhere (cf. Mark 16:20), and through its being welcomed and received under the influence of the Holy Spirit by those who hear it, the Apostles gather together the universal Church, which the Lord founded upon the Apostles and built upon Blessed Peter their leader, the chief cornerstone being Christ Jesus Himself (cf. Revelation 21:14; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20). That divine mission, which was committed by Christ to the Apostles, is destined to last until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:20), since the Gospel, which they were charged to hand on, is, for the Church, the principle of all its life for all time. For that very reason the Apostles were careful to appoint successors in this hierarchically constituted society" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 19-20).

Before establishing the apostolic college, Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. He often made special prayer for His Church (Luke 9:18; John 17:1ff), thereby preparing His Apostles to be its pillars (cf. Galatians 2:9). As His Passion approaches, He will pray to the Father for Simon Peter, the head of the Church, and solemnly tell Peter that He has done so: "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:32). Following Christ's example, the Church stipulates that on many occasions liturgical prayer should be offered for the pastors of the Church (the Pope, the bishops in general, and priests) asking God to give them grace to fulfill their ministry faithfully.

Christ is continually teaching us that we need to pray always (Luke 18:1). Here He shows us by His example that we should pray with special intensity at important moments in our lives. "`Pernoctans in oratione Dei. He spent the whole night in prayer to God.' So St.Luke tells of our Lord. And you? How often have you persevered like that? Well, then...." ([Blessed] J. Escriva, "The Way", 104).

On the need for prayer and the qualities our prayer should have, see the notes on Matthew 6:5-6; 7:7-11; 14:22-23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 11:1-4; 22:41-42.

12. Since Jesus is God, why does He pray? There were two wills in Christ, one divine and one human (cf. "St. Pius X Catechism", 91), and although by virtue of His divine will He was omnipotent, His human will was not omnipotent. When we pray, what we do is make our will known to God; therefore Christ, who is like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15), also had to pray in a human way (cf. "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 21, a. 1). Reflecting on Jesus at prayer, St. Ambrose comments: "The Lord prays not to ask things for Himself, but to intercede on my behalf; for although the Father has put everything into the hands of the Son, still the Son, in order to behave in accordance with His condition as man, considers it appropriate to implore the Father for our sake, for He is our Advocate [...]. A Master of obedience, by His example He instructs us concerning the precepts of virtue: `We have an advocate with the Father' (1 John 2:1)" ("Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.").

14-16. Jesus chose for Apostles very ordinary people, most of them poor and uneducated; apparently only Matthew and the brothers James and John had social positions of any consequence. But all of them gave up whatever they had, little or much as it was, and all of them, bar Judas, put their faith in the Lord, overcame their shortcomings and eventually proved faithful to grace and became saints, veritable pillars of the Church. We should not feel uneasy when we realize that we too are low in human qualities; what matters is being faithful to the grace God gives us.

19. God became man to save us. The divine person of the Word acts through the human nature which He took on. The cures and casting out of devils which He performed during His life on earth are also proof that Christ actually brings redemption and not just hope of redemption. The crowds of people from Judea and other parts of Israel who flock to Him, seeking even to touch Him, anticipate, in a way, Christians' devotion to the holy Humanity of Christ.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 11

Your heart is not so narrow that the world can satisfy it entirely; nothing but God can fill it.­

- St. Ignatius
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 11, Antipathy

The Venerable Marie of the Incarnation, an Ursuline of Canada, gives this excellent advice, "Exercise yourself in pious, charitable affection towards those for whom you have a natural antipathy; take their actions in good part and judge of their intentions ac­cording to the order of charity."

That's lovely advice, but difficult to practice.

There can be some very perverse characters in a community. One can easily see, and above all sense in various ways, those who differ. Such differences come from temperament; from early for­mation; from different types of educations received or acquired; from heredity; and from difference in age which separates one generation from another.

Practically speaking, some individuals are out of harmony with nearly everything. All these things are mere nothings, of course, but mere nothings have a power of accumulating and finally create among souls, if not barriers, at least occasions of irritation, manifested at first by a lack of sym­pathy, which grows little, by little, if one does not watch, into a veritable antipathy.

There is nothing intentional in it. One would not consent really to do wrong for anything, or to wound anyone at all in the com­munity. But it happens more quickly than one thinks. "She is so irritating! How can a person say such a thing? How could anyone think of acting that way? It was she, again, who must have thought of that, made that complaint, pushed that measure ahead. She never misses a chance." And thus we arouse our­selves and then bristle up.

We must above all not give expression to any of this, but keep these unseasonable agitations to ourselves. It is much better always to try to put the best interpretation on the actions of others. The height of charity, if we can reach it, is to endeavor in a natural way, of course, avoiding all artificiality or anything stilted, to render service to someone who irritates us, and to asso­ciate more with those persons whose companionship costs us something.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Burke on Canon 915

From Dr. Ed Peters:

One of America 's sharpest canon lawyer bishops (Abp. Raymond Burke of St. Louis ), has just published a terrific article in perhaps the world's most prestigious canon law journal (Periodica de re Canonica in Rome ), on a topic of vital interest to the Church in the world (the correct application of Canon 915 on denial of Holy Communion). Best of all, it's available on-line here.
Read his introduction to Archbishop Burke’s article here:

Creighton U.'s Unfortunate History of Dissent

From Thomas Peters at AmericanPapist:

Most of you have probably heard about Jesuit-run Creighton U.’s recent invitation (and subsequent dis-invitation) of pro-euthanasia, pro-abortion speaker/writer Anne Lamott.

Some of you have probably heard that the President John Schlegel of Creighton then circulated a memo claiming that his change of heart happened, to quote him, “well before the bloggers latched upon the invitation.”

Instead, he claims, he came to his decision as a result of “prayerful reflection upon reading her latest book.”

Taking him at his word, I ask why the same course of prayerful reflection didn’t raise any red flags for him when he invited the speakers previous to Anne Lamott. The last two speakers – while not equally offensive – are certainly far from appropriate choices for a Catholic University to invite and have speak to Catholic faithful on the topic of “Women & Ethics”.

I reflect upon the situation and present some unfortunate facts regarding Creighton U.’s previous track record of invited speakers:
In many so-called Catholic universities, the Faith has been replaced by something else, something worldly...would some of these institutions return to their Catholic roots, if more Catholics, having become better informed, were to withhold funds and support from such institutions, many of which have become breeding grounds of dissent and rebellion?

Fatima Public Square Rosary Campaign

Oct 13-Mark Your Calendars!

Please mark your calendars for Saturday October 13, from Noon to 2PM and join your fellow St. Louis area Catholics for a “Public Square Rosary” underneath the Gateway Arch!

In commemoration of the 90th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance and the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, America Needs Fatima is sponsoring over 2000 Public Square Rosary Campaigns across the country.

Cick here for more information:

Here is a sample for a bulletin announcement that you can use to help promote this event around the diocese. If you cannot make it to the Arch on October 13th, perhaps you can go to another site around town. There cannot be TOO many Public Square Rosary events in our city on that day!

Public Square Rosary - America Needs Fatima is sponsoring a “Public Square Rosary” on Saturday October 13th to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Our Lady’s appearance and the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. This is part of a nationwide campaign to fulfill Our Lady’s wish to pray the Rosary in a public way; over 2000 events are being planned across the country. Our main location for praying the Rosary in St. Louis will be in front of the Gateway Arch from 12 Noon to 2PM on October 13th. Anyone interested in participating or leading a Public Square Rosary of their own should contact Mark Serafino 573-459-5531, valmark5(at)

Please feel free to circulate this announcement within your parish, on Catholic Blogs, in book stores etc. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at the number listed above.

If you know that you CAN make it that day, please drop me a line. It would be nice to get somewhat of a ‘headcount’ in advance…

Please pray for a large crowd and MANY Public Rosaries in St. Louis and ask that our efforts are only and always pleasing to Our Lord.

HT to Mark S for the info!

Gospel for Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Nicholas of Tolentino, confessor

From: Luke 6:6-11

The Cure of a Man with a Withered Hand

[6] On another Sabbath, when He (Jesus) entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and the Pharisees watched Him, to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against Him. [8] But He knew their thoughts, and He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. [9] And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" [10] And He looked around on them all, and said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. [11] But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.


10. The Fathers teach us how to discover a deep spiritual meaning in apparently casual things Jesus says. St. Ambrose, for example, commenting on the phrase "Stretch out your hand," says: "This form of medicine is common and general. Offer it often, in benefit of your neighbor; defend from injury anyone who seems to be suffering as a result of calumny; stretch your hand out also to the poor man who asks for your help; stretch it out also to the Lord asking Him to forgive your sins; that is how you should stretch your hand out, and that is the way to be cured" ("Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc".).

11. The Pharisees do not want to reply to Jesus' question and do not know how to react to the miracle which He goes on to work. It should have converted them, but their hearts were in darkness and they were full of jealousy and anger. Later on, these people, who kept quiet in our Lord's presence, began to discuss Him among themselves, not with a view to approaching Him again but with the purpose of doing away with Him. In this connection St. Cyril comments: "O Pharisee, you see Him working wonders and healing the sick by using a higher power, yet out of envy you plot His death" ("Commentarium in Lucam, in loc.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 10

Look not to the qualities you may possess, which are wanting to others; but look to those which others possess and which are wanting to you, that you may acquire them.

-Ven. Lous De Granada
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 10, My Nothingness

"Every profound union or approach to intimacy with God, if real and founded in truth, involves, at first, an overwhelming reali­zation of the distance which separates the creature from the Crea­tor." - L. de Grandmaison.

There is in me at one and the same time splendor and noth­ingness.

Splendor: I carry the divine; God has His dwelling within me.

If anyone love me, said our Lord, My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. (John xiv, 23.) I know that; it is the whole doctrine of sanctifying grace. God grant that I may understand the incomparable beauty of it and that I may make of it the center and the soul of my spiritual life.

But, I carry all this divine life in a created reliquary, that is weak, made from nothingness. By nature, I am essentially a drop of nothingness, lost among other drops of nothingness which com­pose with me the world of nothing, the world of the created.

If the divine life within me ought to cause me unspeakable joy and boundless admiration, my nothingness ought to establish me in a humility of limitless depths.

The more a soul is elevated by the thought of the divine gran­deur within it, the more does it realize its native misery and nothingness.

A crushing view? I should think so! What a distance between this nothing which is the human being and that All which is the divine! And what mercy God has showered on me for having con­descended to set the rare pearl of His own life within the wretched setting of my insignificant life!

Admiration! Humility! I am nothing, yet bear All within me as my very own.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 14:25-33

Conditions For Following Jesus

[25] Now great multitudes accompanied Him (Jesus); and He turned and said to them, [26] "If any one comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. [27] Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. [28] For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? [29] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, [30] saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' [31] Or what king, going to encounter another king in a war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? [32] And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. [33] So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple."


26. These words of our Lord should not disconcert us. Love for God and for Jesus should have pride of place in our lives and we should keep away from anything which obstructs this love: "In this world let us love everyone," St. Gregory the Great comments, "even though he be our enemy; but let us hate him who opposes us on our way to God, though he be our relative [...]. We should then, love, our neighbor; we should have charity towards all--towards relative and towards strangers--but without separating ourselves from the love of God out of love for them" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 37, 3). In the last analysis, it is a matter of keeping the proper hierarchy of charity: God must take priority over everything.

This verse must be understood, therefore, in the context of all of our Lord's teachings (cf. Luke 6:27-35). These are "hard words. True, `hate' does not exactly express what Jesus meant. Yet He did put it very strongly, because He doesn't just mean `love less,' as some people interpret it in an attempt to tone down the sentence. The force behind these vigorous words does not lie in their implying a negative or pitiless attitude, for the Jesus who is speaking here is none other than that Jesus who commands us to love others as we love ourselves and who gives up His life for mankind. These words indicate simply that we cannot be half-hearted when it comes to loving God. Christ's words could be translated as `love more, love better', in the sense that a selfish or partial love is not enough: we have to love others with the love of God" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 97). See the notes on Matthew 10:34-37; Luke 2:49.

As the Second Vatican Council explains, Christians "strive to please God rather than men, always ready to abandon everything for Christ" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem, 4).

27. Christ "by suffering for us not only gave us an example so that we might follow in His footsteps, but He also opened up a way. If we follow that way, life and death becomes holy and acquire a new meaning" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 22).

The way the Christian follows is that of imitating Christ. We can follow Him only if we help Him bear His cross. We all have experience of suffering, and suffering leads to unhappiness unless it is accepted with a Christian outlook. The Cross is not a tragedy: it is God's way of teaching us that through sin we can be sanctified, becoming one with Christ and winning Heaven as a reward. This is why it is so Christian to love pain: "Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain....Glorify pain!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 208).

28-35. Our Lord uses different examples to show that if mere human prudence means that a person should try to work out in advance the risks he may run, with all the more reason should a Christian embrace the cross voluntarily and generously, because there is no other way he can follow Jesus Christ. "`Quia hic homo coepit aedificare et non potuit consummare! He started to build and was unable to finish!' A sad commentary which, if you don't want, need be made about you: for you possess everything necessary to crown the edifice of your sanctification--the grace of God and your own will." ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 324).

33. Earlier our Lord spoke about "hating" one's parents and one's very life; now He equally vigorously requires us to be completely detached from possessions. This verse is a direct application of the two foregoing parables: just as a king is imprudent if he goes to war with an inadequate army, so anyone is foolish who thinks he can follow our Lord without renouncing all his possessions. This renunciation should really bite: our heart has to be unencumbered by anything material if we are able to follow in our Lord's footsteps. The reason is, as He tells us later on, that it is impossible to "serve God and Mammon" (Luke 16:13). Not infrequently our Lord asks a person to practice total, voluntary poverty; and He asks everyone to practice genuine detachment and generosity in the use of material things. If a Christian has to be ready to give up even life itself, with all the more reason should he renounce possessions: If you are a man of God, you will seek to despise riches as intensely as men of the world seek to possess them" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 633). See the note on Luke 12:33-34.

Besides, for a soul to become filled with God it must first be emptied of everything that could be an obstacle to God's indwelling: "The doctrine that the Son of God came to teach was contempt for all things in order to receive as a reward the Spirit of God in himself. For, as long as the soul does not reject all things, it has no capacity to receive the Spirit of God in pure transformation" (St. John of the Cross, "Ascent of Mount Carmel", Book 1, Chapter 5, 2).
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.