Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just for Today, January 6

To some I speak things common, to others things more particular; to some I sweetly appear in signs and figures, to other in great light I reveal mysteries.
-Bk. III, ch. xliii.

Since Christmas Celine had begun to share my most intimate thoughts. Our Lord wished us to make pro­gress together, and so united us in a bond closer than mere ties of blood by making our very souls sisters. I love to recall our conversations at that time, as we sat in the belvedere looking out at the starry sky. I believe that we received many graces; as the author of the Imitation says: To some I sweetly appear in signs and figures, to others in great light I reveal mysteries. He revealed Himself to our hearts, and the veil that hid Him was almost transparent. To doubt would have been impossible; whilst yet on earth we had found, through love, Him whom we sought, so that faith and hope were in abeyance.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 6

Prayer is a pasturage, a field, wherein all the virtues find their nourishment, growth, and strength.

-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 January 6, The Epiphany

The gifts of the Magi are preserved, it is believed, at the monas­tery of Mount Athos in Greece. Whether it be fact or legend does not matter here; let us consider now their symbolic value. We are shown twelve little triangles in gold filigree work and seventy­-two grains of incense and myrrh.

Twelve and seventy-two, may that not have been a figure of the twelve Apostles and the seventy-two disciples? For us, however, the interest of these eighty-four little objects lies elsewhere; they are not massive ingots or great quantities of perfume, but simply thin filigree and tiny grains.

We dream sometimes of giving Our Lord substantial worth­while gifts, but certainly, the three vows which are symbolized by the gold, incense and myrrh, are not negligible. How we ought to bless God for having allowed us to offer them to Him. But the sacrifices God asks of us through our Rule and vows are slight in themselves. Is it just because it is a question of little things that we often sin by omission? While waiting for important occa­sions that never come, we neglect the little offerings. The filigree is too fine, the grains of myrrh and incense almost imperceptible!

Poor tactics! Therefore the lesson that comes to us from Mount Athos is very significant.

"O Jesus, You wished to appear in Your crib as a Tiny Babe in order not to frighten me, but to make me understand that if I have only little things to offer, You will not be offended. You understand my nothingness and my inability to offer You anything but trifles. Grant me enough simplicity to dare to offer You these trifles, enough gener­osity not to refuse them to You and enough love to make these trifles really valuable.

"Divine Little One, grant me the virtue of fidelity in little things and deign to see in it my thirst for a greater love of You."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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

Old Calendar: St. Telesphorus, pope and martyr

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.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Just for Today, January 5

Love feels no burden, values no labours, would willingly do more than it can; complains not of im­possibility, because it conceives that it may and can do all things. It is able, therefore, to do anything, and it performs and effects many things, where he that loves not, faints and lies down.
-Bk. III, ch. v.

For the first time in my life I was to pay a visit without my sisters, and the visit was to be to a bishop! I, who never spoke unless someone asked me a question, had now to explain my reasons for wanting to enter Carmel, and show that my vocation was genuine. What it cost me to overcome my shyness! But how true it is that: love complains not of impossibility, because it conceives that it may and can do all things.

Nothing but love of Our Lord could have made me face these difficulties and those that were to follow, for I was to pay dearly for my happiness. Looking back today, the cost seems trifling, and if it had still to be paid I would willingly go through trials a thousand times worse.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 5

Place before your eyes as models for imitation, not the weak and cowardly, but the fervent and courageous.

-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 January 5, The Poverty of the Crib

St. Therese of the Child Jesus writes that as a postulant she de­lighted in having nice things for her use and in never being with­out anything she needed.

"And Jesus," she said, "suffered that patiently because He does not like to disclose everything at once to the soul. He is accus­tomed to give His light little by little."

She did not realize then that it was more perfect to want for even necessary things in religious life; she was not yet so far ad­vanced in perfection as to desire the least agreeable to nature, either through charity for others, or to free her soul from every attachment to the comforts of this life.

Later, God attracted the attention of Therese to the riches and advantages of poverty.

"I was seized," she says, "with a veritable love for the ugliest and most worn things. I experienced joy when I saw a pretty little pitcher taken from my cell and replaced by a clumsy one badly cracked."

"O Jesus, model of perfect detachment; Jesus, born in a stable; so often without shelter during your public life; utterly indifferent as to food and clothing; grant that I may be entirely detached from objects given me to use. Permit me, when I may choose, to seek without undue eagerness, but with courage and simplicity, what is poorest, and when nothing is wanting to me, let me manage voluntarily to deprive myself of necessities.

"Jesus, who loves poverty, make me poor, truly poor, in spirit and in truth."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Phoenix Diocese Urges Catholics Not to Attend Fushek Services

The Diocese of Phoenix is urging Catholics not to attend a suspended priest's non-denominational services, but Dale Fushek's magnetism keeps filling the Mesa Convention Center while he awaits trial on misdemeanor sex charges.

The former longtime pastor of St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, Fushek's latest service at his Praise and Worship Center is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the Mesa Convention Center. His last service on Dec. 23 drew an estimated 700 people and his first service on Thanksgiving drew about 500.

"We're actually encouraging Catholics to refrain from attending. We would hope that they don't," said Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the Diocese. "I think most leaders in the church would say your devotion should be to Christ, not an individual leader..."
Maybe St Louis' new priestesses could learn from him? He certainly draws a crowd...Anyway, since Fushek is suspended, he should not be engaging in public activities like this - it only fosters more dissent and disobedience and division.

Archdiocese Organizes Trip to New York for Mass with Pope Benedict XVI

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is organizing a trip to New York April 17-21 for the visit there by Pope Benedict XVI.

The pilgrimage will include attending a papal Mass at Yankee Stadium Sunday, April 20.

"The first pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our nation is, indeed, a historic event," said Archbishop Raymond Burke in announcing the pilgrimage.

The Archdioceses of Washington, D.C., and New York "have graciously offered the possibility of participation by faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis," he said. The pope will be in Washington for two days before going to New York.

"Having received the invitation of the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, I wanted to organize, with the help of Msgr. Henry J. Breier and Ms. Jennifer Stanard, a pilgrimage of archdiocesan faithful to meet the Holy Father when he visits New York," Archbishop Burke said.

He said all of the seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury will have the opportunity to meet the pope in New York when he gathers with seminarians from across the nation.

Msgr. Breier, secretary to the archbishop, said that tickets are limited and that the archdiocese has asked for 100. "We wish we could get more so more people could go," said Msgr. Breier, who will lead the pilgrimage...
For the schedule and more information,

Worth Reading...

Conservative Activists Warn "Aggressive Cover-up" of Pro-abortion, Pro-gay Romney Legacy

BOSTON, January 3, 2008 ( - A number of Massachusetts conservative leaders are warning pro-life and pro-family voters to pay close attention to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's decisions as governor on marriage, life, children, and family, saying that a number of conservatives are covering up a pro-abortion, pro-gay legacy to sustain his candidacy...

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.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just for Today, January 4

In this, most of all, hast Thou shown me the sweetness of Thy love, that when I had no being Thou hast made me; and when I strayed far from Thee, Thou hast brought me back again, that I might serve Thee; and Thou hast commanded me to love Thee. O Fountain of everlasting love, what shall I say to Thee? How can I ever forget Thee, who hast vouchsafed to remember me, even after that I was corrupted and was lost? Thou hast beyond all hope shown mercy to Thy servant, and beyond all my desert bestowed Thy grace and friend­ship on me.

What return shall I make to Thee for this favour? for it is a favour not granted to all, to forsake all things and renounce the world, and choose a monastic life. Can it be much to serve Thee, whom the whole creation is bound to serve? It ought not to seem much to me to serve Thee; but this seems rather great and wonderful to me, that Thou vouchsafest to receive one so wretched and unworthy into Thy service, and to associate him to Thy beloved servants.
-Bk. III, ch. x.

Opening the Gospels my eyes fell upon these words: Going up into a mountain he called to him whom he would (Mark iii, 13). These words sum up the mystery of my vocation and of my whole life, and above all the mystery of the special graces bestowed on my soul. He does not choose those who are worthy, but those whom He is pleased to call. As St Paul says, quoting Exodus: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy (Exod. xxxiii, 19). So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy (Rom. ix, 16).
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 4

Leave to everyone the care of what belongs to him, and disturb not thyself with what is said or done in the world.

-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 January 4, The Shepherds and the Magi

Jesus between the rich and the poor! He reaches out His hand to save both the one and the other. The poor arrive sooner be­cause they are nearer and have fewer obstacles to overcome. The Magi come from afar; they must cross mountains and traverse extensive plains.

An angel is sent to the shepherds, only a star to the Magi; as though God wanted to show more honor to those who are least in the eyes of the world.

What folly to wish to separate the poor and the rich or to pit them one against the other. Both have access to the cross of the Savior; the poor, to learn to bear their poverty; the rich, to learn to detach themselves from their wealth for the sake of the poor.

Let the poor take courage from the example of our Lord suffering privations. To deny that Christ endured privations would be to deny the whole Gospel, from Bethlehem to Calvary; that does not mean, however, that Christ denounces those who possess more of this world's goods.

First of all, the goods of the earth are of little account, and secondly, those who possess them have a weighty responsibility; the care of their brethren is incumbent upon them and on the last day they must answer for the use of their goods. The account will be exacting as is only just.

But besides this lesson for the human race as a whole, what special lesson does this mystery hold for me?

If the poor are the Savior's favorites, I know how to become one of His elite. The more I am detached, the more Jesus of the manger will recognize me as His own. Even in religious life, where poverty is not only proper but required, one can be rich. And might it not be to purify religious from all dross of attachment to worldly goods that, from time to time, a persecution comes to snatch everything from those who have formally vowed poverty?

I must not wait to be forcibly expelled from my convent to live poor. My poverty must not come from circumstances, but from love.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Dr Edward Peters on "Accomodating the Deaf"

To best "accomodate the deaf", let's begin by getting to know them

I am not deaf and I do not presume to speak for them. But, as one with some exposure to certain issues facing deaf Catholics, I think a response to Rev. Edward McNamara's January 1 Zenit post entitled "Accommodating the Deaf" is needed. One "M.D.", a Canadian, had asked Fr. McNamara whether Catholic churches should have American Sign Language and closed-captioning available at Mass and whether deaf people were allowed to enter religious life. I recognize Fr. McNamara's expertise in liturgical matters and applaud his desire to see deaf Catholics accorded their basic rights, but I found his discussion of these matters markedly wanting.
Read the rest at:

Priest endures 'painful journey'

Christmas came two days early this week for parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Church when their beloved priest, Father Al Gondek, was allowed to return to the parish cleared of allegations that he sexually abused a boy at a summer camp in 1960...

Gondek was placed on administrative leave Oct. 12 by the Diocese of Charlotte after 59-year-old Michael Sowden of Wilmington, Del., said Gondek fondled him while swimming when he was a boy at a summer camp in Maryland...

Sowden's attorney alleged in a news release in October that Sowden was fondled by Gondek while swimming at the camp in 1960. The investigation showed, however, that the camp did not open until 1961 and Gondek was not assigned there until 1962...

When Gondek left Lexington for Washington in October, he was told to pack for two weeks. The weeks turned into months. Prayer got him through those dark hours, he said.

"I was just relieved," he said of getting a call from his superior that the investigation was over. "It's been a painful journey."

He spent his time at the seminary praying and attending three masses each day..."My faith has deepened...," Gondek said, "...My prayer life has sustained me."

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.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Starting Monday, Jan 7- Annual Novena for Archbishop Burke

Once again, we look forward to participating in and help to promote this Annual Novena:

Happy New Year!

What better way is there to start a New Year than to offer a nine day novena for our beloved Archbishop Raymond L. Burke?

Good Catholics in St. Louis and around the world admire and appreciate the example and leadership of His Grace. As we enter into this election year, we have no doubt that once again our Archbishop will courageously lead Catholics and all citizens of good conscience by his teachings and example, especially on issues of life and family.

Please join us then, in praying for his intentions the Irresistible Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, beginning on Monday January 7th and ending on Tuesday January 15th

As you can see from the text provided specific intentions have been provided for each of the 3 parts of the daily prayers. Special thanks to Father Karl Lenhardt for his assistance.

For those of you who are residents of the St. Louis Metropolitan area, you are invited to conclude this Novena at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mass (on the 15th of January) at St. Francis De Sales Oratory at 6:30 PM.

Please forward this to all of your friends, family and Catholic Bloggers, in St. Louis and around the world!
Special Thanks to Mark S. for his leadership in this annual Novena

Irresistible Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O my Jesus, Thou didst say:
"Amen, I say to you, ask and you shall receive;
seek and you shall find;
knock and it shall be opened unto you."
Hence I knock, I seek, and I ask for the grace of continued wisdom for our beloved Archbishop Raymond that he may share in the most profound way the intentions of your most Sacred Heart.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

O my Jesus, Thou didst say:
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you ask
of the Father in My name,
He will give unto you.”
Hence I ask the Father, in Thy name, for the grace of fortitude for our beloved Archbishop Raymond that he may continue to exercise his apostolic ministry according to the example of the Good Shepherd.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

O my Jesus, Thou didst say:
"Amen, I say to you, heaven and earth shall pass away,
but My words shall not pass away."
Encouraged by Thy infallible words,
I now ask for the grace of spiritual consolation for our beloved Archbishop Raymond that he may be comforted when he finds himself as faithful disciple of Thy Son under His Cross.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

Let us pray

Sacred Heart of Jesus, for Whom one thing alone is impossible, namely, not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace we ask of Thee, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy tender Mother and ours.

Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us,
And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of they womb, Jesus.
O clememt. O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, 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.

Saint Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!
Heart of Jesus, rich unto all that call upon Thee, have mercy on us!
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us

Just for Today, January 3

What shall I give Thee for so many thousands of favours? O that I could serve Thee all the days of my life! O that I were able, if it were but for one day, to serve Thee worthily!
-Bk. III, ch. x.

Oh! what is my life but a passing hour,
So brief I can scarce call it mine!
Then just for today I will love Thee, Lord,
That each moment of it may be Thine!
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 3

All perfection consists in the love of God; and the perfection of divine love consists in the union of our will with that of God.

-St. Alphonsus
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 January 3, Follow the Star

Many, no doubt, saw the star in the Orient; all remarked, "What a magnificent star! It is really extraordinary!" But the Magi alone decided to follow it.

Some of the townspeople criticized them. "They are in too great a hurry," they said. "Why do they take such a risk without more certainty? Let us wait until we are better informed." They did not say, "Let us follow them that we too may adore the King of the Jews."

The Magi saw; they set out. What noble, dauntless courage!

And what faith! On the way they ask, Where is He that is born king of the Jews? (Matt. ii, 2.) And when they are at Bethlehem: We are come to adore Him. They profess aloud His divinity and lay at His feet the treasures they brought with them.

What a lesson for me!

Do I see the star? Yes, every day I discern more or less dis­tinctly, and sometimes even with perfect clearness, God's special invitations. Yes, this would be a beautiful act of virtue; it would be well to follow that inspiration; to omit that act of vanity; to sacrifice that comfort; to answer that call to intimate recollection....

And that is as far as I go. Instead of setting out, I am content to look; sometimes, lest the invitation be too pressing, I neglect to look.... How disconcertingly true! I see it only too well! I lack courage; my life is paved with good intentions which never materialize. I spend my life in being just a capable person, remaining forever in a state of immobility and stagnation.

"Magi come from afar, teach me that I can find Jesus only when I leave my Orient; that I will arrive in Bethlehem only after a long peril­ous journey, that I must no longer remain here, but set last!"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

New Streaming Video Series Released - Catholic Insight

New Streaming Video Series Released - Catholic Insight

Keep The Faith is pleased to announce the release of a new Streaming Video series entitled CATHOLIC INSIGHT, available FREE - 24/7 at

Keep The Faith's Catholic Insight is a popular streaming video series on various topics pertaining to the Catholic Faith and apologetics.

After a brief interlude, Catholic Insight is now back again hosted by Father John Perricone.

Father Perricone is a gifted speaker, a learned scholar and an experienced teacher.

Presently a Professor of Philosophy at St. Francis College in New York, Father Perricone begins this series with a highly informative and fascinating overview of "The Five Ways" of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Proofs of the Existence of God.

Over the next several weeks, Father will present 6 different talks on the proofs of the existence of God.

Following a series of talks on Natural Theology, Father Perricone will also cover other points of Catholic doctrine and morality

Now more than ever, Catholics need to strengthen their faith and nourish their intellects on the revealed truths of God and the teachings of such great saints as
St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anselm and others.

Great talks for the "devout and doubtful" alike, homeschooling families, recent converts and cradle Catholics, this series will help you understand and appreciate more deeply than ever the wonderful truths of our Catholic Faith.

Click here to join this excellent primer on "The Five Ways" at Keep The Faith!!

Keep the Faith has a number of excellent downloadable MP3's or tapes of talks, catechetical series, and such, featuring various speakers (Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Dr William Marra, Fr John Hardon, Fr William Most, and many others), as well as information on the Latin Mass with resources for priests and for the laity...Be sure to check it out - I found it to be a treasure trove of listening and learning delight.

Lawsuit Against the the Diocese of Superior Dismissed

...[a] lawsuit against the Catholic Church was dismissed in court Monday after the murders of two Wisconsin men.

Father Ryan Erickson took his own life when Hudson Police questioned him about the shooting deaths of Dan O’Connell and James Ellison in 2002.

The O’Connell family filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Superior....

Judge Eugene Harrington called the O’Connell’s suit an "ambitious request" and dismissed the case Monday.

Ellison and O’Connell were found murdered at the O’Connell family’s funeral home in February of 2002.
When will the truth about this case be known?

40 Days for Life Campaign

In its "News from the trenches," California Catholic Daily has an encouraging story:

...California Catholic Daily presents an interview with Wynette Sills, a veteran sidewalk counselor and co-director of the 40 Days for Life Campaign in Sacramento. Wynette is a Catholic wife and mother of three. She and her husband, Ed, are organic farmers north of Sacramento....

One of the comments which stood out as an example of something for which we all should strive, is this:

Does the intensity of this kind of campaign take a toll on you?

Our whole family experiences a sacrifice in service to Him with regards to this Sidewalk Ministry, particularly prior to and during these "40 Day" periods. Yet, we persevere through prayer, knowing all that Christ sacrificed for our sake.
Sacrifice...Persevering through prayer...Recalling Our Lord's suffering and death for our salvation...

The Cardinal Writes, the Prince Responds. The Factors that Divide the Pope from the Muslims

The contrast is not only one of faith. It also concerns the achievements of the Enlightenment: from religious freedom to equality between men and women. The Catholic Church has made these its own, but Islam has not. Will they be able to discuss this, when Benedict XVI and the Muslims of the letter of the 138 meet together?

by Sandro Magister

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

Old Calendar: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

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.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Just for Today, January 2

Christ will come to thee, discovering to thee His consolation, if thou wilt prepare Him a fit dwelling within thee. Many a visit doth He make to the internal man, sweet is His communication with him; delightful His consolation, much peace, and a familiarity exceedingly to be admired.
- Bk. II, ch. i.

She had been looking at a picture in which Our Lord was represented with two children. The younger child was sitting on His knee caressing Him, whilst the other shyly and reverently kissed His hand. "I am the little one on Our Lord's knee," she said, "who looks up fear­lessly and kisses Him. I prefer him to the other child, who is behaving like a grown-up person."
-Esprit de Sainte Therese
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 2

When we receive with an entire and perfect resignation the afflictions which God sends us they become for us favors and benefits; because conformity to the will of God is a gain far su­perior to all temporal advantages.

-St. Vincent de Paul
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 January 2, Jesu Dulcis Memoria

We often sing Jesu, dulcis memoria. Can I sing this with sin­cerity? Is it true, Jesus, that You are a sweet memory to me, that I experience joy in invoking or pronouncing Your name? Or is Your name just an ordinary name, a name that means no more to me than any other?

It is not a question of being sensibly moved or of feeling conso­lation in pronouncing Your name, O Jesus, but it is a matter of increasing in love, in a generous desire for renunciation, in a burn­ing thirst for souls.

Jesus means Savior.

Savior signifies the gift of oneself; I will give myself more com­pletely to You. The invocation of the name of Jesus, of sweet memory, will help me to love You more fervently.

That signifies sacrifice, to fulfill the task of the Redemption and God knows what that cost the Good Master, since He shed His blood already at the Circumcision. The invocation of the name Jesus, of sweet memory, will help me to conquer myself.

That signifies zeal for the salvation of souls. The invocation of Your name, O Jesus, will incite me to increase or, at least, to in­tensify my zeal.

During this month, I will be more attentive each time the name of Jesus comes to my lips either in a community prayer or in an ejaculation of my own. At these moments I will call upon all my powers of loving; may the invocation of the name of Jesus bring peace to my soul; may it prove anew my love for Thee, my Jesus.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Cardinal George Visits the Shrine of Christ the King

On Saturday, Decemer 29th, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George visited the Shrine of Christ the King to solemnly crown the statue of the Divine Infant King. The rare ceremony occurred during a Solemn High Mass celebrated by Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz, at which His Eminence assisted. The Mass was celebrated inside the church building, which is under restoration.

Msgr. Schmitz, Cardinal George, Fr. Lenhardt (front)
and other priests of the Institute

More details, including many pictures, can be seen here.

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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Just for Today, January 1

Let not the authority of the writer offend thee, whether he was of little or great learning; but let the love of pure truth lead thee to read. If thou wilt re­ceive profit, read with humility, simplicity and faith.
- Bk. I, ch. v. [1]

O Lord, who hast said: Unless ye become as little children ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven: grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin, St Teresa, that we may secure everlasting rewards. Amen.

-Collect of the Mass of Sf Teresa.

[1] Challoner's translation
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 1

There are two guarantees of a wise rule of conduct: the thought before action, and self­-command afterward.

-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 January 1, The Circumcision

When Madame Elizabeth, the holy sister of King Louis XVI, was in prison, she composed this prayer at the beginning of the New Year.

"I do not know what will happen to me today, O my God. All I know is that nothing will befall me but what Thou hast foreseen from all eternity. That is sufficient, O my God, to keep me in peace. I adore Thine infinite designs, I submit to them with all my heart. I adore Thine eternal ordinances and subject myself to them with all my heart. I desire to have all things as Thou wilt; I offer everything to Thee, in union with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, my Divine Redeemer. In His Name and through His infinite merits, I entreat the grace of patience in my sufferings, and entire submission to all that Thou dost permit and will. Amen."

Without a doubt, God plans for me many more joys than crosses. I will thank Him in advance for all the joys and entrust all the crosses to His love. If He sends me trials, I shall remember that the feast of the Circumcision, which ushers in the New Year, shows me the Child Jesus suffering at the very beginning of His life; I shall be encouraged by His example.

And for each day of the year I shall take these resolutions sug­gested by a soul close to God:

"I will smile at You, my God.

"I will smile at all my neighbors.

"I will smile at myself.

"It is easy to smile at You, my God, when You caress me; when You send me trials and suffering, I wish to smile, too.

"I will smile at my neighbors.

"It is easy to smile at some. But at others....It is at those I wish to smile.

"I will smile at myself.

"Ah! that is the most difficult. But You wish, my God, that I have charity for my own soul, that I encourage it gently. I wish to smile at it, too.

"Each morning I shall greet the new day joyfully, saying to You, my God, that I will be happy with You and every one else. Amen."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Clarification of Summorum Pontificum Coming Soon?

New Vatican document to clarify Summorum Pontificum

Vatican, Dec. 31, 2007 ( - The Vatican will soon issue a new document clarifying the terms of Summorum Pontificum, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has revealed.

Confirming reports that have circulated around Rome in recent weeks, the Vatican Secretary of State told the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana that the Ecclesia Dei commission will issue instructions to "clarify the criteria for the application of the motu proprio" in which Pope Benedict XVI broadened access to the traditional Latin Mass.

Cardinal Bertone said that the new document was needed because there have been some "confused reactions" to the motu proprio....
There have been both "confused" reactions as well as deliberately confusing and disobedient reactions. Some have, no doubt, legitimate questions, but others wish to extinguish the lights and leave the faithful in darkness.

Gospel for the 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas

From: John 1:1-18


[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God; [3] all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came for testimony to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The only Son": the RSV note says that "other ancient authorities read "God" (for Son); the Navarre Spanish has "the Only-begotten God" and comments as follows: some Greek manuscripts and some translations give "the Only-begotten Son" or "the Only-begotten". "The Only-begotten God" is preferable because it finds best support in the codexes. Besides, although the meaning does not change substantially, this translation has a richer content because it again explicitly reveals Christ's divinity.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.