Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gospel for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: John 6:44-51

The Discourse on the Bread of Life (Continuation)
(Jesus said to the Jews,) [44] "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. [45] It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. [46] Not that any one has seen the Father except Him who is from God; He has seen the Father. [47] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. [48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."
44-45. Seeking Jesus until one finds Him is a free gift which no one can obtain through his own efforts, although everyone should try to be well disposed to receiving it. The Magisterium of the Church has recalled this teaching in Vatican II: "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth" ("Dei Verbum", 5).

When Jesus says, "They shall all be taught by God", He is invoking Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:33ff, where the prophets refer to the future Covenant which God will establish with His people when the Messiah comes, the Covenant which will be sealed forever with the blood of the Messiah and which God will write on their hearts (cf. Isaiah 53:10-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

The last sentence of verse 45 refers to God's Revelation through the prophets and especially through Jesus Christ.

46. Men can know God the Father only through Jesus Christ, because only He has seen the Father, whom He has come to reveal to us. In his prologue St. John already said: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known" (John 1:18). Later on Jesus will say to Philip at the Last Supper: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), for Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him (cf. John 14:6).

In other words, in Christ God's revelation to men reaches its climax: "For He sent His Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all men, to dwell among men and to tell them about the inner life of God (cf. John 1:1-18). Hence, Jesus Christ, sent as `a man among men', `utters thewords of God' (John 3:34), and accomplishes the saving work which the Father gave Him to do (cf. John 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see His Father (cf. John 14:9)" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 4).

48. With this solemn declaration, which He repeats because of His audience's doubts, (cf. John 6:35, 41, 48), Jesus begins the second part of His discourse, in which He explicitly reveals the great mystery of the Blessed Eucharist. Christ's words have such a tremendous realism about them that they cannot be interpreted in a figurative way: if Christ were not really present under the species of bread and wine, this discourse would make absolutely no sense. But if His real presence in the Eucharist is accepted on faith, then His meaning is quite clear and we can see how infinite and tender His love for us is.

This is so great a mystery that it has always acted as a touchstone for Christian faith: it is proclaimed as "the mystery of our faith" immediately after the Consecration of the Mass. Some of our Lord's hearers were scandalized by what He said on this occasion (cf. verses 60-66). Down through history people have tried to dilute the obvious meaning of our Lord's words. In our own day the Magisterium of the Church has explained this teaching in these words" "When Transubstantiation has taken place, there is no doubt that the appearance of the bread and the appearance of the wine take on a new expressiveness and a new purpose since they are no longer common bread and common drink, but rather the sign of something sacred and the sign of spiritual food. But they take on a new expressiveness and a new purpose for the very reason that they contain a new `reality' which we are right to call "ontological". For beneath these appearances there is no longer what was there before but something quite different [...] since on the conversion of the bread and wine's substance, or nature, into the body and blood of Christ, nothing is left of the bread and the wine but the appearances alone. Beneath these appearances Christ is present whole and entire, bodily present too, in His physical `reality', although not in the manner in which bodies are present in place.

For this reason the Fathers have had to issue frequent warnings to the faithful, when they consider this august Sacrament, not to be satisfied with the senses which announce the properties of bread and wine. They should rather assent to the words of Christ: these are of such power that they change, transform, `transelement' the bread and the wine into His body and blood. The reason for this, as the same Fathers say more than once, is that the power which performs this action is the same power of Almighty God that created the whole universe out of nothing at the beginning of time" (Paul VI, "Mysterium Fidei").

49-51. The manna during the Exodus was a figure of this bread--Christ Himself--which nourishes Christians on their pilgrimage through this world. Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives Himself to us: "the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh". These words promise the manifestation of the Eucharist at the Last Supper: "This is My body which is for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24). The words "for the life of the world" and "for you" refer to the redemptive value of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In some sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were a figure of the sacrifice of Christ, part of the animal offered up was later used for food, signifying participation in the sacred rite (cf. Exodus 11:3-4). So, by receiving Holy Communion, we are sharing in the sacrifice of Christ: which is why the Church sings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "O sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: His sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with His grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours" ("Magnificat Antiphon", Evening Prayer II).
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.

Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/11

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 9)

This method of prayer may be applied to the Hail Mary, and, indeed, to any other prayer, though no prayer will be found to contain so much as this divine prayer of Our Lord.

The Lord's Prayer, used in this manner, may also be applied to any subject that you may take up for meditation; as, if the meditation is on any particular virtue, this prayer may be made to refer to that virtue; if on the nativity, our Father, King, and Spouse may be represented as present in our souls as an infant, while we use the different petitions, as above pointed out.

If the subject be the Passion, then we may represent Our Lord present to our souls as suffering and abandoned by all, and so on.

A few words about the ordinary method of meditation. Though it is best for those who are accustomed to meditate according to the usual formal method to stick to the subject they have chosen, yet great latitude should be allowed one's self as to the way of developing the points, and full liberty also to stop upon any point, or to dwell upon any affection that may arise, as long as the soul is drawn to do so, or finds any satisfaction in it, so that, if, during the whole time of meditation, you do not advance beyond the first point, the object of the meditation will be gained; for the consideration of the subject and the reasoning over the points are designed to rouse affections and movements of the will towards God, and when that happens, it would be a mistake to smother these ascensions of the heart and will toward God, in order to go on and begin to reason upon another point. Indeed, if the soul is thus roused at the commencement when the picture of the mystery is proposed to the imagination, she should stop there, until her affections begin to flag, when she can go on further. You need have no fear of being unfaithful by following this rule...

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

Friday, August 10, 2012

News updates, 8/10

Amnesty International pushes unlimited abortion
Group uses maternal deaths to bolster lethal stance

Guest speakers at LCWR assembly push dissent
NCR publisher's 'Just say No' elicits audible groans

Romney ad addresses Obama's war on religion
'Be Not Afraid' ad features endorsement by Lech Walesa

DeSales University denies petition for gay club
Spokesman reiterates: School will not change policy

U.K. pro-life prayer vigils grow despite threat
Abortion zealots bully, accuse peaceful protestors

China: Increased interest in faith among young
Christians 'prove their value' to skeptical officials

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/10

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 8)

As to the rest of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, what has already been said of the first four is sufficient to show how the devout soul may occupy her time with each of the others.

It is enough to say that in the petition, "Forgive us our trespasses," special consideration should be given to the second clause "As we forgive those who trespass against us."

For here we can make acts of patience under annoyances, of ready forgiveness of all injuries, offer ourselves to be ill-treated, humiliated, and insulted, and pray for the spirit of meekness.

Here, also, in this connection, we can bring in the sacred Passion of Our Lord, and consider the meekness and patient love with which He endured so many outrages; and so, thinking upon this petition can set us to meditatmg or the Passion of Christ.

The next petition, "Lead us not into temptation," refers especially to the temptations, wiles, and machinations of the devil; and the last petition refers, not only to temporal and spiritual evils, from which we ask to be delivered, but also to this life of exile, from which the devout soul may beg to be set free, if it be God's will, in order to enter upon the possession of her heavenly kingdom, which is the kingdom of her Spouse...

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Baltimore Archbishop: Catholic Voters Can’t Vote for a Candidate Who Stands for an Intrinsic Evil

This has been stated time and time again. Nevertheless, it bears repeating.

“This is a big moment for Catholic voters to step back from their party affiliation,” Baltimore archbishop William E. Lori tells me from the Knights of Columbus annual convention in Anaheim, Calif.

For Catholic voters in November, Lori advises, “The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person.”
. . .
“Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs?” the pope, perhaps prophetically, asked during his 2008 visit to Washington, D.C.

...“If we are going to transform the culture from within, which we are called to do, and defend our basic freedoms,” it will be primarily the role of the laity, Lori tells me.

“The bishops are teachers,” he said, but political leadership “really needs to come from the laity as citizens and mothers and fathers and voters.”

When it comes to election advice for Catholics: “The reality is we are defending something that transcends party. The defense of religious liberty,” he said, “should not be a Democratic or Republican issue.” For a Catholic voter, this should be “fundamental, as people of faith.”...
More here

Is it possible to see some PUBLIC EXCOMMUNICATIONS of those "Catholics" who publicly and obstinately defy the Church and her shepherds?

For example, Archbishop Lori could address the scandal occurring from the words and actions of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who is promoting same-sex "marriage" and is urging Catholics to uphold Maryland's same-sex "marriage" law at the polls. She is pushing Catholics to oppose Church teaching.

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/09

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 7)

In the next petition we ask Him to "Give us this day our daily bread."

Those who have given themselves up to God in an interior life, and have cast themselves upon His providence, have no need to importune their divine Master to give them their earthly bread for their bodily support, for as they have forsaken the love of the world for Him, He will provide for them, as He is in a manner bound to do. So, in this petition, we beg for our spiritual necessities.

Pray here for all the graces you need, for strength to support you in temptation, for light to know the will of Our Lord, since we can not do His will, as we have asked that it might be done, without the assistance and light of the Holy Ghost.

Also, when you are overburdened with grief, or temptations, or other trials, it is right you should pray for relief, as far as relief is needful for you; and in times of long-continued dryness, it is not wrong for you humbly to ask a little of the bread of consolation, if it be Our Lord's will.

But this petition may, in a special manner, be applied to the Blessed Sacrament, in which Our Lord Himself becomes our daily or supersubstantial bread; and we can turn this clause into a contemplation upon the real presence, and holy communion...

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

News Updates 8/9

LCWR leaders believe nuns don't want to submit
NCR: Sisters don't need to be part of formal church

Dissident Catholics oppose Erie Bp. Trautman
Groups side with government in HHS mandate lawsuit

Arabian bishop moves residence to Bahrain
Shepherd of two million gains from kingdom's 'openness'

Missouri 'Right to Pray' amendment passes
About 83 percent of voters favored the measure

Hawaii: Federal judge upholds traditional marriage
Reserving union of man & woman 'not unconstitutional'

Komen announces major leadership shake-up
Foundation's president departs and Brinker shifts roles

From yesterday:

N.Y. archdiocese defends Obama dinner invitation
Spokesman shuns Al Smith Dinner-Notre Dame comparison

Decision Monday on prosecution of Gabriele in Vatileaks case
The Vatican will announce on August 13 whether Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's valet, will face trial for stealing confidential papal documents

Archbishop of St. Louis speaks to LCWR group
Carlson: Dialogue should be faithful, not politicized

Gingrich on Sebelius:
'She Is Waging War on The Catholic Church’

Plaintiffs total 280 in Montana abuse lawsuits
Claims involve dozens of clergy, span seven decades

Catholic Latino leaders meet to discuss politics
Group seeks ways to preserve, promote faith and values

Three gunmen kill 19 at central Nigeria church
Boko Haram group is blamed for 660 killings this year

Romney maintains wrong stance on gay scouts
Pundit: Governor is de-motivating his conservative base

Pelosi 'Swears' Spirit of Susan B. Anthony Spoke to Her
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) told a recent gathering of the Women’s Political Committee that the spirits of suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul spoke to her at the White House

Gospel for Thursday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 16:13-23:

Peter's Profession of Faith and His Primacy

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, by My Father who is in Heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." [20] Then He trictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection

[21] From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. [22] And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You." [23] But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."


13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time, this authority will be passed on to Peter's successors down through history. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms:
"We teach and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon, Christ had said, `You shall be called Cephas' (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had acknowledged Christ with the confession, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were spoken by the Lord: `Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven' (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus conferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over His whole fold with the words, `Feed My lambs....Feed My sheep' (John 21:15-17) [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: let him be condemned.

"Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, `no one doubts, in fact it is obvious to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,' and governs, `and exercises judgment in his successors' (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter's primacy over the whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself [...]. For this reason, `because of its greater sovereignty,' it was always `necessary for every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement' with the same Roman Church [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord Himself, that is, by divine law, that St. Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of St. Peter in the same primacy: let him be condemned [...].

"We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, We, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks "ex cathedra", that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.

"(Canon) But if anyone presume to contradict this our definition (God forbid that he do so): let him be condemned" (Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", chaps. 1, 2 and 4).
23. Jesus rejects St. Peter's well-intentioned protestations, giving us to understand the capital importance of accepting the cross if we are to attain salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Shortly before this (Matthew 16:17) Jesus had promised Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon"; now He reproves him: "Get behind me, Satan." In the former case Peter's words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, whereas what he says now comes from his own spirit which he has not yet sloughed off.
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, August 08, 2012

When does a dinner invitation become a scandal?

When it involves the fabled Al Smith Dinner in New York, all you have to do is invite President Obama:

By tradition, the storied Al Smith Dinner has provided a few hours of comic relief from the angry volleys of the campaign trail — a white-tie charity banquet held in the weeks before Election Day, hosted by the archbishop of New York and featuring speeches by the two presidential candidates on the condition that they lob nothing more than good-natured jibes.

But the Catholic hierarchy’s fierce feud with President Obama, abetted by the increasingly sharp tone of the 2012 elections, is threatening to invade this demilitarized zone and give New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan a case of pre-dinner agita.

Dolan has reportedly extended an offer to Obama (as well as his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney) to attend this year’s dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, scheduled for Oct. 18, and reports say the president has accepted. That has mobilized abortion opponents, who view Obama as the worst thing since Roe v. Wade and an enemy of religious liberty because of his administration’s controversial birth control mandate.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, a leading abortion opponent based in Staten Island, said Monday (Aug. 6) that “the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.”

“There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church,” Pavone wrote in an email. “So no, I don’t think the invitation is appropriate at this time.”

“Better to cancel the event than have it become another cause for scandal in the Catholic Church,” Randy Engel, head of the U.S. Coalition for Life, told, an anti-abortion website.

The New York Archdiocese has not formally announced that Obama and Romney have been invited, or have accepted. But Meghan McGuinness Myers, executive director of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, which organizes the annual fundraiser on behalf of various children’s charities, told LifeSiteNews that Obama had been invited and had accepted.
Read more.
From The Deacon's Bench

A Petition to Cardinal Dolan & the Archdiocese of New York: Disinvite President Obama from the Al Smith fundraising dinner

Pope: U.S. faces threats to religious freedom of ‘unprecedented gravity’

ROME, Italy, August 7, 2012 ( – Pope Benedict XVI is warning that the United States is facing threats of “unprecedented gravity” to religious freedom.

In a letter on behalf of the pope to Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone observed that “concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom.”

The comments come as the U.S. bishops campaign for religious liberty in the face of attacks such as President Obama’s HHS mandate, which requires employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance packages.

The bishops recently concluded their “fortnight for freedom” - two weeks of intensive “prayer, study, catechesis, and public action.” Shortly before launching the event, the bishops had reaffirmed their condemnation of the HHS mandate, nothing that the rule effectively punishes Catholic institutions for operating in the public sphere.

“Those deemed by HHS not to be ‘religious employers’ will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world,” they wrote....
More here

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/08

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 6)

Next follows the petition, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

And here we speak to Our Lord as to a spouse: for while respect and veneration are owed to the name of Father, and between a king and his subjects there is the interchange of commands and obedience, so, between two who are so closely united as two spouses, there is an interchange of wills, each being desirous to do the will of the other. For all that one has is the other's, and their affairs are in common.

So Our Lord makes all He has ours - and all He desires is that we should make all that is ours His; and when there are common interests, there should be one will. He desires us to give Him our will; and when we have done so, and sincerely desire and do His will, He, in return, does our will, and all that we ask of Him He grants us; so that, as St. Teresa says, Our Lord is pleased that thus He and the faithful soul should command by turns, as it were - the soul doing His will, and He doing hers.

In His kingdom in heaven His will is perfectly done; so it is no more than right, if we desire His kingdom to be on earth (as we have asked in the former petition), that His will should be done in this kingdom as in the other. Here, then, you can earnestly pray for this perfect conformity of your will with His will; in this conformity consists all perfection....

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

Gospel for August 8, Memorial: St John Vianney, Priest

Wednesday, the 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman
[21] And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. [22] And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." [23] But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." [24] He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [25] But she came and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, help me." [26] And He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." [27] She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." [28] Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

21-22. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast, in present-day Lebanon. They were never part of Galilee but they were near its northeastern border. In Jesus' time they were outside the territory of Herod Antipas. Jesus withdrew to this area to escape persecution from Herod and from the Jewish authorities and to concentrate on training His Apostles.

Most of the inhabitants of the district of Tyre and Sidon were pagans. St. Matthew calls this woman a "Canaanite"; according to Genesis (10:15), this district was one of the first to be settled by the Canaanites; St. Mark describes the woman as a "Syrophoenician" (Mark 7:26). Both Gospels point out that she is a pagan, which means that her faith in our Lord is more remarkable; the same applies in the case of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).

The Canaanite woman's prayer is quite perfect: she recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (the Son of David)--which contrasts with the unbelief of the Jews; she expresses her need in clear, simple words; she persists, undismayed by obstacles; and she expresses her request in all humility: "Have mercy on me." Our prayer should have the same qualities of faith, trust, perseverance and humility.

24. What Jesus says here does not take from the universal reference of His teaching (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Our Lord came to bring His Gospel to the whole world, but He Himself addressed only the Jews; later on He will charge His Apostles to preach the Gospel to pagans. St. Paul, in his missionary journeys, also adopted the policy of preaching in the first instance to the Jews (Acts 13:46).

25-28. This dialogue between Jesus and the woman is especially beautiful. By appearing to be harsh He so strengthens the woman's faith that she deserves exceptional praise: "Great is your faith!" Our own conversation with Christ should be like that: "Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 101).
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, August 07, 2012

LCWR Assembly Begins; Vatican representative told attendance 'would not be helpful'

"Assembly 2012" begins today in St Louis

Previously from Catholic Culture:
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been charged by the Vatican with responsibility for supervising a reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), has been told by the group’s leaders that his presence “would not be helpful” at the LCWR’s annual assembly this week.

As the LCWR prepared for the annual meeting, at which members will discuss the Vatican’s demand for reform, the group’s president, Sister Patricia Farrell, told reporters that the group would continue to question Church teachings. She expressed concern that in the Vatican’s eyes, “that questioning is seen as defiance.”

“I would also say that there are very few doctrines in the Church that are not discussable, that are absolutely infallible,” the LCWR president said. She voiced her conviction that the women religious of the LCWR would “continue raising and responding to questions, according to our own consciences and according to new information and questions that arise in our day.”...

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/07

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 5)

St. Teresa says that the petition "Thy kingdom come" follows very naturally from the preceding one, since a father's kingdom belongs to his children. "Say, then," she continues, "to your heavenly Father: 'Since the world, the devil, and the flesh reign upon earth, do Thou reign over us as our King, and destroy in our souls these kingdoms of avarice, pride, arid sensuality.’”

In this petition we address Him as our King, and beg Him to reign over us, and set up His kingdom in our souls. How many aspirations may we not make to that effect, and how much time may we not spend upon this petition! But this is not all; for we beg and pray Him in this petition to establish His kingdom in other souls also, that all men may love Him.

And we also pray that the kingdoms of the world may recognize the principles of religion and truth and justice, and the nations become truly Christian. Also that God's kingdom, which is the Catholic Church, may be triumphant in the world, the Vicar of Christ delivered from his enemies, and all people recognize the Catholic religion as the one true faith.

Thus we may make this petition a prayer of intercession for the whole world. Again we pray in this place that God would give us His kingdom, that is, the kingdom of heaven - thus praying for our everlasting salvation, and that of our neighbor. And finally we pray for His second coming, when "The kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever;" when all Wrongs shall be righted and all justice done, and the proud shall be cast down; and the meek shall inherit the kingdom, and Satan and his ministers shall be chained in everlasting darkness; "when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor any more sorrow, for the former things are passed away." (Apoc. xxi. 4.)

Behold all the matter of prayer contained in this one petition. Well might we spend upon it the whole time of our prayer...

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

Gospel for Tuesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water
[22] Then He (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. [23] And after He had dismissed the crowds He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, [24] but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. [27] But immediately He spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

[28] And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to You on the water." [29] He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; [30] but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" [32] And when they got into boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, "Truly You are the son of God."

[34] And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. [35] And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent round to all the region and brought to Him all that were sick, [36] and besought Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
22-23. It has been a very full day, like so many others. First, Jesus works many cures (14:14) and then performs the remarkable miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a symbol of the future Eucharist. The crowd who have been following Him were avid for food, teaching and consolation. Jesus "had compassion on them" (14:14), curing their sick and giving them the comfort of His teaching and the nourishment of food. He continues to do the same, down the centuries, tending to our needs and comforting us with His word and with the nourishment of His own body. Jesus must have been very moved, realizing the vivifying effect the Blessed Sacrament would have on the lives of Christians--a sacrament which is a mystery of life and faith and love. It is understandable that He should feel the need to spend some hours in private to speak to His Father. Jesus' private prayer, in an interlude between one demanding activity and another, teaches us that every Christian needs to take time out for recollection, to speak to His Father, God. On Jesus' frequent personal prayer see, for example, Mark 1:35; 6:47; Luke 5:16; 16:12. See the notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

24-33: This remarkable episode of Jesus walking on the sea must have made a deep impression on the Apostles. It was one of their outstanding memories of the life hey shared with the Master. It is reported not only by St. Matthew, but also by St. Mark (6:45-52), who would have heard about it from St. Peter, and by St. John (6:14-21).

Storms are very frequent on Lake Gennesaret; they cause huge waves and are very dangerous to fishing boats. During His prayer on the hill, Jesus is still mindful of His disciples; He sees them trying to cope with the wind and the waves and comes to their rescue once He has finished praying.

This episode has applications to Christian life. The Church, like the Apostles' boat, also gets into difficulties, and Jesus who watches over His Church comes to its rescue also, after allowing it to wrestle with obstacles and be strengthened in the process. He gives us encouragement: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (14:27); and we show our faith and fidelity by striving to keep an even keel, and by calling on His aid when we feel ourselves weakening: "Lord, save me" (14:30), words of St. Peter which every soul uses when he has recourse to Jesus, his Savior. Then our Lord does save us, and we urgently confess our faith: "Truly you are the Son of God" (14:33).

29-31. St. John Chrysostom ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 50) comments that in this episode Jesus taught Peter to realize, from his own experience, that all his strength comes from our Lord and that he could not rely on his own resources, on his own weaknesses and wretchedness. Chrysostom goes as far as to say that "if we fail to play our part, God ceases to help us." Hence the reproach, 'O man of little faith" (14:31).

When Peter began to be afraid and to doubt, he started to sink, until again, full of faith, he called out, "Lord, save me." If at any time we, like Peter, should begin to weaken, we too should try to bring our faith into play and call on Jesus to save us.

34-36. Learning from the faith of these people on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, every Christian should approach the adorable humanity of the Savior. Christ--God and Man--is accessible to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

"When you approach the Tabernacle remember that He has been awaiting you for twenty centuries" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 537).
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, August 06, 2012

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/06

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 4)

"Hallowed be Thy name."
In this first petition we address God as our Father and Lord; and as His children we pray, and ought greatly to desire, that our lives may :be sanctified, in order that we may live up to our holy vocation as children of such a Father.

Let us, then, while meditating on tills petition, greatly desire to become holy, to become saints, as children of God ought to be. Then we should make acts of self-contempt and :indignation against ourselves, because we are so unworthy of such a high dignity, and are so full of sin and ingratitude to so good a Father; and make acts of contrition for our sins, by which we have offended Him, and do continually offend Him. We should not be content with this, but should grieve over all the sins, crimes, sacrileges, and other evils that are continually being committed by sinners, since by them God's name is not hallowed, but dishonored and outraged.

We should offer up the most precious blood in satisfaction for all these evils, together with the merits of the most blessed Mother of God and of all the saints. Then we should beg that God, for the honor of His holy name and for the salvation of souls, would raise up great saints on the earth who are so much needed in these times of spiritual darkness, these last days of the world, as very likely they are....

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914

Gospel for August 6, Feast: The Transfiguration of the Lord

From: Mark 9:2-10

The Transfiguration
[2] And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them, [3] and His garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth bleach them. [4] And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. [5] And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah." [6] For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. [7] And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son; listen to Him." [8] And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.

[9] And as they were coming down the mountain, He charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man should have risen from the dead. [10] So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

2-10. We contemplate in awe this manifestation of the glory of the Son of God to three of His disciples. Ever since the Incarnation, the divinity of our Lord has usually been hidden behind His humanity. But Christ wishes to show, to these favorite disciples, who will later be pillars of the Church, the splendor of His divine glory, in order to encourage them to follow the difficult way that lies ahead, fixing their gaze on the happy goal which is awaiting them at the end. This is why, as St. Thomas comments (cf. "Summa Theologia", III, q. 45, a. 1), it was appropriate for Him to give them an insight into His glory. The fact that the Transfiguration comes immediately after the first announcement of His passion, and His prophetic words about how His followers would also have to carry His cross, shows us that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

What happened at the Transfiguration? To understand this miraculous event in Christ's life, we must remember that in order to redeem us by His passion and death our Lord freely renounced divine glory and became man, assuming flesh which was capable of suffering and which was not glorious, becoming like us in every way except sin (cf. Hebrew 4:15). In the Transfiguration, Jesus Christ willed that the glory which was His as God and which His soul had from the moment of the Incarnation, should miraculously become present in His body. "We should learn from Jesus' attitude in these trials. During His life on earth He did not even want the glory that belong to Him. Though He had the right to be treated as God, He took the form of a servant, a slave (cf. Philippians 2:6)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 62). Bearing in mind WHO became man (the divinity of the person and the glory of His soul), it was appropriate for His body to be glorious; given the PURPOSE of His Incarnation, it was not appropriate, usually, for His glory to be evident. Christ shows His glory in the Transfiguration in order to move us to desire the divine glory which will be given us so that, having this hope, we too can understand "that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

2. According to Deuteronomy (19:15), to bear witness to anything the evidence of two or three much concur. Perhaps this is why Jesus wanted three Apostles to be present. It should be pointed out that these three Apostles were specially loved by Him; they were with Him also at the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37) and will also be closest to Him during His agony at Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Cf. note on Matthew 17:1-13.

7. This is how St. Thomas Aquinas explains the meaning of the Transfiguration: "Just as in Baptism, where the mystery of the first regeneration was proclaimed, the operation of the whole Trinity was made manifest, because the Son Incarnate was there, the Holy Spirit appeared under the form of a dove, and the Father made Himself known in the voice; so also in the Transfiguration, which is the sign of the second regeneration [the Resurrection], the whole Trinity appears--the Father in the voice, the Son in the man, the Holy Spirit in the bright cloud; for just as in Baptism He confers innocence, as signified by the simplicity of the dove, so in the Resurrection will He give His elect the clarity of glory and the refreshment from every form of evil, as signified by the bright cloud" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 45, 1.4 ad 2). For, really, the Transfiguration was in some way an anticipation not only of Christ's glorification but also of ours. As St. Paul says, "it is the same Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:16-17).

10. That the dead would rise was already revealed in the Old Testament (cf. Daniel 12:2-3; 2 Maccabees 7:9; 12:43) and was believed by pious Jews (cf. John 11:23-25). However, they were unable to understand the profound truth of the death and Resurrection of the Lord: they expected a glorious and triumphant Messiah, despite the prophecy that He would suffer and die (cf. Isaiah 53). Hence the Apostles' oblique approach; they too do not dare to directly question our Lord about His Resurrection.
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, August 05, 2012

Book 1: Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/05

A Talk About Prayer* (Part 3)

Next come the words "Who art in heaven." Our Father is in heaven-therefore heaven is our country; and the devout soul may make acts of desire and longing for her heavenly home. Again, wherever God is, by His grace and love, there is heaven. His presence makes heaven. Now we know by divine faith that God is everywhere, and intimately present in all things and in all places; therefore, He is present in our own souls; and in a special manner, as He is more particularly present to spiritual substances than to other things. He is present there really and actually, at every moment, by His essence and His power, and, let us humbly and confidently trust, also by His grace and love.

Therefore, heaven is in our souls. Every time we say: "Our Father. Who art in heaven," we can look at God continually abiding in the very centre and essence of our souls, so that He is not far off from us, nor must we go to the: heavens above to find Him, as St. Teresa says, but He is very near to us, as near as our own souls, to our own bodies. And this all the time, at any and every moment; and with the Father we have the Son and the Holy Ghost.

So there are the Three Persons of the Trinity, enacting their wonderful relations one with another, working Their mighty works, upholding the entire universe, all within our own soul-wondrous thought! And since Jesus Christ our Lord is God the Son, then Jesus our Lord is present in our souls, making heaven there; and, by a sort of spiritual concomitance, we can represent to ourselves His sacred humanity as present also, and His blessed Mother, too, who is not separated from Him, and the saints and angels who constitute His court; these also we can represent to ourselves as present, though in a spiritual sense and not with the same actuality that the Divinity is present.

Since God then, and heaven, are present in our souls, at all times and in all places, we surely should have but little trouble in finding Him or in speaking with Him in our thoughts, or in making Him hear us: and this makes it very easy for us in time of prayer to form acts of love, etc., and to converse with Him. And not only in time of prayer, but at all times, all we have to do is to look within, and God is really and actually present. This should help us greatly to be recollected everywhere, and we should endeavor, little by little, to learn to keep up a continual conversation in our souls with God, Who is so much nearer to us than our dearest friend can ever be.

In this way we would always be on our guard against offending one who inhabits our very soul, and we would be habitually filled with a holy filial fear and love. The heaven that is within our souls by this divine presence will begin to project itself upon our surroundings, and we will be almost living in heaven, the world about us and our lives becoming tinged with its light. Behold all there is in the Our Father in this manner of prayer, before we come to the first petition.

And many other holy thoughts with accompanying requests and acts of the will and aspirations will present themselves to your minds, as God the Holy Ghost within you may direct....

(Continued tomorrow)

* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."

From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914