May the Holy Spirit make you creative in charity, persevering in your commitments, and brave in your initiatives, so that you will be able to offer your contribution to the building up of the “civilization of love”. The horizon of love is truly boundless: it is the whole world!--Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today's Gospel Reflection-Does Yes lead to Joy?

by Winston Elliott III

Luke 1:39-56
39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. 40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? 44 Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.' 46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; 48 because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, 50 and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him. 51 He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart. 52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly. 53 He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty. 54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love 55 -according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. 56 Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.

I write this on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary who at the news of the pregnancy of her cousin Elizabeth immediately sets off "into the hill country to a town in Judah." From her love of her cousin, and prompted no doubt by the Holy Spirit, Mary takes what is believed to be a four day journey into the hills. It must have been a strenuous walk for a pregnant teenage girl. Imagine the scene. Arriving tired she most likely wishes for  a chance to rest and freshen up. But, she is greeted with another in a series of awe inspiring moments in her life. For Elizabeth greets her with "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?" What an amazingly powerful greeting packed with theological punch. The most blessed of all women, all women in all of time. First the angel Gabriel with the startling news of the Annunciation and now Elizabeth. Was Mary still reeling from Gabriel's message? Perhaps she already was experiencing the inner peace of those blessed ones who respond to God with a resounding Yes. Mary's fiat is a joy for her and a gift to us. But, let's not pass over the rest of Elizabeth's greeting: "Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled." Mary is saluted not only for being the Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord. She is our marvelous inspiration for she believes the "promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled." What an incredible faith. Do we have such a faith? Have we asked the Lord to pour forth His grace upon us so that we may have the faith that Mary has? The faith that both comes from and leads to believing His promises to us will be fulfilled?

What would we do with a faith as strong as Mary's? I think I know. You see it is revealed to us in the words of Elizabeth. Here's what will happen to us if we allow ourselves to fully live the Annunciation, Mary's fiat, Elizabeth's greeting, and our Mother's marvelous Magnificat. Lean in, listen closely, this is where it gets good: "Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy." John leapt for joy. Even in the confinement of Elizabeth's womb, John leapt for joy. Will we leap for joy? Just stand up for a moment. Give it a go. Just start with a little leap. We should leap you know. I think Jesus would appreciate a leap. Mary, our Mother, would smile at our leaps. Maybe you have been a Christian your whole life. Maybe you are a convert like me.  It doesn't matter how long you have believed the promises of our Lord would be fulfilled. It matters that you believe what Mary believed. And then you say Yes. Mary says "the Almighty has done great things for me." Hasn't He done great things for us too? Now, how about that leap?

O Lord God, Blessed Father, Son and Holy Spirit hear my prayer.  Give me the grace to say Yes. Let it be done unto me according to Your Word. Teach me to leap for joy. For You are Love, Joy, Truth, Beauty and Goodness. And You offer everything to me. I want to say Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times Yes. With Your grace, even in my weakness, please help me to say Yes. This day and every day, Yes.

Mary, Mother of God, Bearer of the Son, our Mother. Thank you for your Yes. Pray for us Mother. Especially today. Pray that we may learn to leap.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Joy of Joys! Dedication of the new Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

First Holy Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham!
On May 28, 2011 the new Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was dedicated in Houston. Thank you Blessed Mother for guiding our parish and for Your Yes which brought us the gift of Your Son. (More photos here.)
Cardinal DiNardo gives the Homily at the Mass of Dedication
Prayer for the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham 

O blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon us, our parish, our country, our homes, and our families, and upon all who greatly hope and trust in your prayers.  By you it was that Jesus, our Savior and hope, was given to the world; and he has given you to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us your children, whom you did receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of your Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we all may be made worthy to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home. Amen.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

On Mourning, Broken Families and our Earthly Pilgrimage

It is troubling to watch good Catholic families in pain, job loss, separation, divorce.The Faith is not a bullet proof defense from our broken world full of broken pilgrim souls in a society which has forgotten God. When I first became Catholic I thought you would be safe if you went to daily Mass and were obedient. How foolish of me. A childish hope in a temporal salvation. How much I didn't know, and still don't. Our Lord's tears would flood the world I fear.

O that it be easier or that we were stronger Lord. Please immerse us in Your Grace. I know I wasn't seeking a journey, but a safe home. That is yet to come as in this world of toil and troubles peace is only to be found in spiritual union with the Blessed Trinity. The safe is home is not yet. And yet it is here in our hearts, in our souls, in the Blessed Sacrament. O Lord I need you so for I am broken and weak. In my brokenness I need you more than in my strength. Thank you Lord. For I need you all the time. I weep Lord. Bathe me in Your love. Nothing less will bring me home.

Blessed Mother of us All, pray for wounded families that they may be healed. That we may see the loving community of the Holy Trinity as our inspiration, our strength and our refuge. Amen.

Today's Gospel Reflection-Witnesses to the Truth

by Winston Elliott III

Jn 15:26-16:4a
26 When the Paraclete comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. 27 And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. 1 I have told you all this so that you may not fall away. 2 They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God. 3 They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or me. 4 But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you. I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you;

"When the Paraclete comes...he will be my witness." Who is the Paraclete? Our Lord says He is the Spirit of truth. Jesus also proclaims the Paraclete is "my witness."  But wait, why does the Son of God, He who says "I am the Way; I am Truth and Life" need a witness? Moreover, the Spirit of truth is not to be the only witness. Jesus' disciples too "will be witnesses." What is happening here? Is Jesus on trial? Why does he need witnesses at all? Didn't over five thousand participate in the miraculous meal of loaves and fishes? How many witnesses are needed? Jesus is offering a preview of the trials to come for Him and for His disciples. Trials which will lead to torture and death, His own included. Its going to get rough for "the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God."

The Paraclete will witness for Jesus. To us and to the whole world. Who will we witness to?  Will we testify on our Lord's behalf, will we share His story of forgiveness, love and salvation? Those who persecute Him, and us, "...will do these things because they have never known either the Father or me." Perhaps this is an answer to why witnesses are needed. Our Lord tells us these persecutors know neither Him nor His Father. So perhaps we should start with them. Let us witness to those who persecute us. It doesn't mean they will stop the persecutions. Not right away. Not completely. But through us they may meet Jesus and His Father. Introduce them to "the Way...Truth and Life." They probably won't thank you for it. But wait...perhaps if you are a faithful witness you may hear those beautiful words...well done good and faithful servant,  join the company of saints. You are welcome here in My Father's house.

Come Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Spirit of Truth! Please witness to me and to the whole world. Teach me to testify for Jesus, who is the Way, Truth and Life. Without Him there is no life within us. We are creatures and the Lord God, Three in One, is our Creator. Blessed and Holy Trinity pour forth your grace upon us so that we may brighten the whole world with the light of Your truth.

Holy Mary, our Hope, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jesus is Catholic

Jesus Is Catholic | Hans Urs von Balthasar | From In The Fullness of Faith: On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic

Jesus must be Catholic, otherwise his Church, which follows him and is promised his fullness, could not be called Catholic. Being Catholic means embracing everything, leaving nothing out. How can an individual human being do this, even if he is the only begotten Son of God? We shall not explain this by theological speculation. It is something that can reveal itself to us only if, in the openness of faith, we let our eyes rest on his self-manifestation. He is the revelation of someone else, of the Father, who is "greater" than he, and yet with whom he is "one". This is the message of his words and his life.

He can reveal the Father in this way only through a twofold movement: he steps forward (with divine authority) in order to make the Father visible, and simultaneously he steps back (as the Suffering Servant) in order to reveal the Father, not himself. We must not fail to discern him in his mode of stepping back, for he is the only way to the Father. In other words, the Father reveals himself by revealing the Son; he gives himself by giving his Son: dando revelat, et revelando dat (Bernard). Nor must we cling to him in his stepping forth, for, in all the density of his flesh, his whole aim is to be transparent, revealing the heart of God. In the same breath he can say, "My flesh is food indeed" and "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail." We must not hedge him round with a pietistic Jesus-spirituality on the grounds that "only the Son knows the Father"; he is the Door, and a door is not for clinging to: it is for going through. He is "the way": we are not meant to stand still on it but walk along it, toward "my Father's house", which has "many rooms". And at the same time we do not leave these rooms and this path behind us, for Jesus is also the light of the world, the truth, the Resurrection, the presence of eternal life. But he is these things, not in his own power, but because he manifests the Father's love.

Lest we become completely confused and wearied by this riddle of his simultaneous stepping forward and stepping back, his appearances and disappearances, he goes beyond it: when he rises from the dead and goes back to the Father, he sends the Holy Spirit from the Father. This Holy Spirit is the one, whole, personal manifestation and confirmation of this baffling unity between Father and Son, the divine "We" that is more than the mere "I" and "Thou". It leads beyond the endless process of counting up, of supplementary definitions, to the reality of mutual presence and indwelling, without causing Father and Son to submerge in the Spirit. The Spirit comes to the aid of our helplessness in the face of the unity of opposites so clearly expressed in the gospel. He rewards us for not trying to resolve this apparent contradiction by our own efforts-for this would be to destroy the core of the Catholic reality: if we are to see things properly, we must include the opposite of what we have seen. It is not that what we see suddenly turns ("dialectically") into its opposite, but that in the lowliness of Jesus there is a direct revelation of his lofty nature; that in his severity we discern his mercy, etc.

And it is not that, in his human lowliness, he shows the greatness of the divine Father; it is not that his human severity prepares the way for the Father's compassion. Rather, his lowliness reveals the humiliation of the Father's love, and that shows his greatness. Thus, too, his human severity reveals the unshakable nature of the Father's love, and hence of its compassion. So, in the distinction between Father and Son, we discern simultaneously the unity of the divine essence, and, within it, the possibility of uniting those qualities that seem to us irreconcilable. The famous Catholic "and"--Scripture "and" Tradition, etc.--which is the object of Protestant criticism, has its true origin here, and here alone.

A Church can be Catholic only because God is Catholic first, and because, in Jesus Christ and ultimately in the Holy Spirit, this catholicity on God's part has opened itself to the world, simultaneously revealing and giving itself. The Spirit is "Person", the "We" in God: he provides the basis for the "we" that exists between God and ourselves, and hence too between men. But we would know and possess nothing of this if Jesus Christ had not stood at the alpha and omega of all God's ways in the world, as the form of revelation available to anyone who is open to it, i.e., is prepared to believe.

The Spirit Proves...What Is Beyond Proof

The Spirit's chief quality, in obediently allowing himself to be sent out into the world by Father and Son, is his freedom. He blows whither he will and cannot be fixed in any particular form. He appears as a hovering presence (the "dove"), communication ("tongues"), devouring transformation ("flame"), a breeze that allows us to breathe deeply ("wind"). He "interprets" the mysterious figure of Jesus, revealing its divine being, its trinitarian dimensions, its mystery-quality; in this way the Spirit proves and "convicts" (Jn 16:8). He withdraws Jesus from all rationalistic incursions, and he also prevents Scripture (which he inspired), dogma (which interprets) and the Church's discipline from being swallowed up in purely worldly categories. He lends his wings to the Woman of the Apocalypse so that she may flee to the desert. He refuses to let himself be caught and domesticated, not even by pneumatic "methods" of prayer. We must not cling to Jesus, but let him ascend "to my Father and your Father"; only if we exhibit a readiness that stipulates no conditions can the Spirit, in his freedom, prove to us that the entire Catholic revelation-God, Christ, the Church- was and remains a project undertaken by the sovereign free love of God.

God's Love Is Catholic

God's love is ever greater; we can never catch up with it. It has no other ground but itself. It comes to us from ever further afield and goes forth to embrace wider vistas than I could ever imagine. That is why, in my limitedness, I always have to add an "and"; but what I thus "add" has always been there in the love of God.

When God, in sovereign freedom, enters into a world, he is not doing something else, something additional (as if God were Catholic in himself and became even more Catholic by bringing what is not-God, creation, into his totality); the Father of Jesus Christ is never any other than the Creator, who, showing them great care, carries all his creatures in his bosom. Everything temporal has its place within God's eternity. The Incarnation is not an episode in the life of God: the Lamb is slain from all eternity, and hence was born, grew up, and rose again from all eternity too. In itself, the adopting of human nature, with all its ignorance and limitation, into the divine nature is not an event in time, although the human nature so adopted, like ours, was something living and dying in time. (C. S. Lewis) Furthermore, the process of integrating creation into God's world (and within the time-dimension it really is a process: the lost sheep is searched for, carried home and put back into the flock) is always present in God's plan of salvation (cf. Eph 1 :1-10) as a complete design; it is carried out in a sequence that is unbreakable (cf. Rom 8:29f.) and in which neither human nor divine freedom is overplayed.

At the beginning there stands the "and" in "God and the world". In its abstractness, in this context of juxtaposition, however, it would not be a Catholic "and" unless it were contained, right from the outset, in the concrete "hyphen" represented by the incarnate Son (and he is more than a mere "mediator" between two parties: he is the One who creates unity: Gal 3:20) and the sending of the Holy Spirit, who brings everything to a conclusion (yet definitively opens everything up), enabling the creature to participate in the "divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4) as well as embracing it-as the divine "We"--in the community of the Trinity. This community cannot perfect itself apart from the mutual presence to one another of the divine Persons; equally, it cannot do without the reciprocity of God and his creature if it is to show forth its precious richness.

Just as this catholicity goes beyond a dialectic of reversed opposites, it also goes beyond a coincidentia oppositorum. Rather, it is an inclusion: nature is included in grace, the sinner is included in forgiving love, and all plans and purposes are included in a supreme gratis--"for nothing".

Today's Gospel Reflection-If you love Me?

by Winston Elliott III

John 14:15-21
15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Jesus begins these words from John 14 with the a loaded question. "If you love me..." But wait. Isn't he talking to his disciples? Why does he begin his teaching with "IF you love me..." At this point in the story Judas has left the room. Surely our Lord does not need to begin by saying "If you love me..." These are His closest friends and they are still asking Him "to show us the Father." If this is the state of His closest friends then what chance do we have? They had spent three years living with our Lord and still didn't know him. He still had to begin His teaching with the words "IF you love me..."

But, the love of our Lord for His disciples, and the whole world, is demonstrated in the words that follow. "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever." The Counselor is coming and is here. The "Spirit of truth...for he dwells with you." What is possible with this Spirit? The most amazing, wonderful, joy filled, transforming possibility of all. For with the guidance of the Counselor, the grace of the Father, and the inspiring love most beautifully demonstrated by the great community of love, the Blessed Trinity, we may yet be what we were Created to be. With the help of the Holy Spirit we may become "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

O Lord we are heartily sorry that our poverty of spirit makes it necessary for you to begin with "IF you love me..." We are weak and sinful, just like Your first disciples. But our gratitude is great for You have not left us alone in our sin. You came and showed us true Love. And You and the Father presented us with the Counselor, so that we may follow your commandments and be loved by Your Father and You. Come Holy Spirit, show us the Father and the Son. Please teach us to love as the perfect Triune God loves. Help us to love with beauty so that our Joy may be complete. You in us and we in You.

Mary, our Hope, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us. Amen

Prayer for the Light of Truth-Cardinal John Henry Newman

O my God, I confess that You can enlighten my darkness. I confess that You alone can. I wish my darkness to be enlightened. I do not know whether You will: but that You can and that I wish, are sufficient reasons for me to ask, what You at least have not forbidden my asking. I hereby promise that by Your grace which I am asking, I will embrace whatever I at length feel certain is the truth, if ever I come to be certain. And by Your grace I will guard against self-deceit which may lead me to take what nature would have, rather than what reason approves. -Cardinal John Henry Newman

Saturday, May 28, 2011

St. Augustine-The Easter Alleluia

Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice for ever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time we make our petitions to him. Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning. We have been promised something we do not yet possess, and because the promise was made by one who keeps his word, we trust him and are glad; but insofar as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over; then praise alone will remain.

Because there are these two periods of time—the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy—we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after. The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess. This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head. The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial—shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbor, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do. But see that your praise comes from your whole being; in other words, see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.

We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church; but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.

Today's Gospel Reflection-A Caution, An Inspiriation, A Slap in the Face

by Winston Elliott III 

John 15: 18 - 21

18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.

Today's Gospel reading is a caution, an inspiration and possibly a slap in the face. A caution as Jesus warns us of the forces who will attack us if we follow him. An inspiration in that our Lord tell us that "if they kept my word, they will keep yours also." What a great grace for Him to share His creative omnipotence with us.  But we can't forget the slap in the face.

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own." Does the world love us more than it should? Do we hesitate to fully offer our service to Christ for fear that the world (family, friends, boss) would love us less? Are we so attached to the world (pride, luxury, anger) that we do not allow the love of our Lord to fully transform us? 

"Because you are not of the world...therefore the world hates you." Is this a slap in the face? Then remember, its not too late for the world to hate you for His sake. They will persecute you because "they do not know him who sent me." A servant is not above his master. But, the love of our Master is the love of a Friend and a Brother. Let's run to the side of our Lord. Don't stop, run. Now.

O Lord, please give us the strength to be in the world but not of the world. Only through Your grace will we turn our eyes to You and away from those who persecute You. Immerse us in Your love so that we will transform ourselves, and the whole world, in Your Holy Name.

Mary, our Hope, Seat of wisdom, pray for us. Amen

“Queen of peace, pray for us”

Holy Mary is the Queen of peace, and thus the Church invokes her. So when your soul or your family are troubled, or things go wrong at work, in society or between nations, cry out to her without ceasing. Call to her by this title: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis -- Queen of peace, pray for us.'' Have you at least tried it when you have lost your calm? You will be surprised at its immediate effect. -St. Josemaria Escriva (Furrow, 874)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Its Been You Lord, Right Down the Line

Some of us will remember this song, Right Down the Line, by Gerry Rafferty. I gladly offer these lyrics as a tribute to my marvelous wife, Barbara. I also offer these lyrics in praise and thanksgiving for the Blessed Mother Mary. A loving Mother who never leaves us alone. Never should we be truly lonely as She will always bring a gentle caress and be by our side. She will whisper gentle words to her Son so that we may be healed and comforted. And of course, with small editing, these words serve as a tribute to our Lord-Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My Northern Star. The Blessed Trinity. The Triune Community of Love and Joy. O God, welcome us into Your presence. We find our Joy in You source of all that is True, Good and Beautiful.

Right Down the Line

You know I need your love
You've got that hold over me
Long as I've got your love
You know that I'll never leave
When I wanted you to share my life
I had no doubt in my mind
And it's been you woman
Right down the line

I know how much I lean on you
Only you can see
The changes that I've been through
Have left a mark on me
You've been as constant as a Northern Star
The brightest light that shines
It's been you woman right down the line

I just wanna say this is my way
Of tellin' you everything
I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
That every day I'm lovin' you so much more
'Cause you believed in me through my darkest night
Put somethin' better inside of me
You brought me into the light
Threw away all those crazy dreams
I put them all behind
And it was you woman
Right down the line

I just wanna say this is my way of tellin' you everything
I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
Everything I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
That every day I'm lovin' you so much more

If I should doubt myself, if I'm losing ground
I won't turn to someone else
They'd only let me down
When I wanted you to share my life
I had no doubt in my mind
And it's been you woman
Right down the line

The Civic Duties of Catholics

"In their patriotism and in their fidelity to their civic duties Catholics will feel themselves bound to promote the true common good; they will make the weight of their convictions so influential that as a result civil authority will be justly exercised and laws will accord with moral precepts and the common good."--Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam actuositatem 14

Prayers for a Marriage

Please friends in Christ storm the heavens with your prayers for a good friend of mine whose marriage is in great difficulty. Please intercede for him, his wife and his children. Mary, Mother of us all and patron of families, please intercede for this family. A miracle is needed.

No Bloodless Myth: Jesus of Nazareth as the Eternal High Priest and Sacrificial Victim

by Tracey Rowland

The second volume of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth covers the events in the life of Jesus from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem to his even more triumphal resurrection. 

One emphasis which flows through the chapters like a watermark is the pivotal position of Christ bridging the Old and Testaments, bringing one to fulfilment and inaugurating the other.  In the mysteries of Holy Week Jesus is revealed as the eternal high priest and sacrificial victim as well as the King of his people.

In an address given in Jerusalem in 1994 at the invitation of Rabbi Rosen, Joseph Ratzinger described Christ’s crucifixion as an ‘act endured in innermost solidarity with the Law and with Israel’ and he noted that the crucifixion was the perfect realisation of what the signs of the Jewish Day of Atonement signify.  As he explained, all sacrifices are acts of representation, which, from being typological symbols in the Old Testament, become reality in the life of Christ, so that the symbols can be dropped without one iota being lost:

The universalising of the Torah by Jesus, as the New Testament understands it, is not the extraction of some universal moral prescriptions from the living whole of God’s revelation.  It preserves the unity of cult and ethos.  The ethos remains grounded and anchored in the cult, in the worship of God, in such a way that the entire cult is bound together in the Cross, indeed, for the first time it has become fully real.

Similarly, in an address to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in Paris he noted that both the Letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John go beyond the link of the Last Supper to the Pasch and view the Eucharist in connection with the Day of Atonement.  Christ, who makes an offering of himself on the Cross, is the true and eternal high priest anticipated symbolically by the Aaronic priesthood.  To borrow a phrase from the Oxford Professor of Poetry, Geoffrey Hill, this was ‘no bloodless myth’.
The Atonement of Christ as both the eternal high priest and sacrificial victim not only fulfils the Old Testament in the sense of transfiguring its symbols into a new reality it also gives rise to a new sovereignty, a new kingship.

This theme of the sovereignty of Christ has been addressed by a number of high profile contemporary theologians, including John Milbank and William T. Cavanaugh.  In the fifth chapter of Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon Milbank provides an application of Giorgio Agamben’s account of the homo sacer in Roman jurisprudence to an analysis of the trial of Jesus.  According to a treatise of Pompeius Festus, after the secession of the plebs in Rome it was granted to them the right to pursue to death someone whom they as a body condemned.  Such an individual was declared homo sacer, and his death was not exactly by homicide, punishment, or sacrifice, rather, such a person was sacer, in the sense of cast out and utterly abandoned.

Today's Gospel Reading-"I Have Called You Friends"

"I have called you friends." In today's Gospel reading (below) Jesus says his friendship is in sharing with us "all that I have heard from my Father." So may I say that friendship for me must include sharing what I know of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost with my friends? Jesus further says that we are his friends "if you do what I command of you." Then he commands us "to love one another." Jesus wants to be friends with us and we can be friends if we follow his command. It sounds simple. But, simple things can also be very difficult.

Lord, please pour forth your Grace upon us so that we may follow Your command and be Your friends. As our Friend strengthen us with Your wisdom and assist us so that we may be better friends to You and to our brethren. What you ask, "love one another as I have loved you," seems impossible. We are not strong enough to love as You love. And yet, we desire to do Your will. Lord we ask You this favor, friend to friend, help us to love as you love. Then our joy will be complete.

Mary, our Hope, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

John 15: 12 - 17

12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 This I command you, to love one another.