Saturday, 28 June 2014

THE Question


When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This gospel passage for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, contains two of the most important questions we may ever be ask to answer. We might characterize them in this way; 

  • the first is about religion ( “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” )
  • the second is about faith (“But who do you say that I am?” )

Few questions receive more attention than questions about religion. What people say about religion can vary greatly: 

  • about God, is there a God or not?
  • if there is a God what is God like?
  • are there many gods?
  • why does God matter to us?
  • which religion has got it right?
So many questions like these make up the discussion, or the debate, or the argument about religion. In places like the Middle East, religion and conflict seem to go hand in hand. Here in our country the question seems to have become more muted, deciding instead that it no long matters that much, or just keep it to yourself if you have an opinion about religion.

In the gospels, we see Jesus very much engaged in the religion questions of the day, but his purpose is to get to the deeper question, the question of faith, for it is what you believe that shapes the way you conduct your life. It is one thing to form theories and have opinions about religion, it is quite another to embrace with certainty what you are convinced is true. St. Paul made it quite clear when he said, that if it is not a certain fact that Jesus has been raised from the dead, our whole faith structure collapses into nothing. (1Cor. 15:14)

It is the official position of our liberal, democratic society not to have a definitive answer to the questions of religion. As long as we do not impose our beliefs on others, or deny them their rights granted them by law, we can practice what ever religious beliefs we have. It is our country's guarantee of religious freedom under the law. So question one asks, "... what are people saying about ...?"

After exploring the question of religion, Jesus turns to the question of faith. Jesus has come into the world to bring together and form a communion of people over which he will be the head. ("I will build my church." ) The nature of this communion will be to have a real yet mystical union with Jesus as head and a true and fraternal union with one another. Their instruction will come, by way of revelation and inspiration by the Holy Spirit forming and guiding their minds and hearts. ( “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”Their purpose is to live holy lives and be a sign and example for all the world to follow. (Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.)

In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him. 1 John 4:8-16

The fact that in this county we have the freedom of religious belief and practice, which we respect, and see as a blessing, does not diminish the importance of the fundamental question: What do you believe - "who do you say I am?". And if your answer concerning Jesus is the same as Peter's, what is the state and condition of your "communion" in the Church that Jesus builds in the world?

And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Corpus Christi

Prayer of Presence and Adoration

Jesus, my Lord and my God / I adore you present on our altar. / I bow down before you, my Savior and my God. ( pause to bow ) / Because of your great love and infinite mercy, / you have given us this wonderful sacrament / by which you are always with us. / Here I behold the fulfillment of your promise, / “I am with you always, even to the end of time.” / I knell before you in all my unworthiness. / I am disfigured by my sins. / Cover me with the mantle of your Divine Mercy. / Cleans me in the waters of forgiveness, flowing from your pierced heart. / It is not I who have sought you, you have sought me. / I was content to remain in the darkness of my unbelief. / I let myself be drawn in by the world, / by its persuasive arguments and its clever deceits. / Because of this, my faith has grown weak and uncertain. / I no longer love you as I once did. / I no longer trust you with my life. / My peace is gone, doubt and worry have invaded my soul. / Like Peter, sinking under the waves, / I cry out to you, “Lord save me! / Come O Lord with your healing Mercy. / Enkindle in my heart the fire of your love. / Send forth your Spirit to renew and strength my sagging heart. / Let me know again the consolation of your presence, / Let me acclaim with joy and certainty to all the world, / “Jesus is Lord! He is here with us now! / Reach out and touch Him and be healed!” 
(Fr. Curtin - from Eucharistic Devotions)

Prayers from the Liturgy of Corpus Christi

Entrance Antiphon
He fed them with the finest wheat
and satisfied them with honey from the rock.

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament
have left us a memorial of your Passion,
grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries 
of your Body and Blood
that we may always experience in ourselves
the fruits of your redemption.
Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer over the Offerings

Grant your Church, O Lord, we pray,
the gifts of unity and peace,
whose signs are to be seen in mystery
in the offerings we here present.
Through Christ our Lord.


It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For at the Last Supper with his Apostles,
establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross,
he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb,
the acceptable gift of perfect praise.
Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery,
you make them holy, so that the human race,
bounded by one world,
may be enlightened by one faith
and united by one bond of charity.
And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament,
so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace,
we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.
Therefore, all creatures of heaven and earth
sing a new song in adoration,
and we, with all the host of Angels,
cry out, and without end we acclaim:


On the night of the Last Supper,
he took bread and said the blessing,
broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my body,
which will be given up for you.

In a similar way, when supper was ended,
he took the chalice, gave you thanks
and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:
take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.

do this in memory of me.

Communion Antiphon Jn 6:57 

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Grant, O Lord, we pray,
that we may delight for all eternity
in that share in your divine life,
which is foreshadowed in the present age
by our reception of your precious Body and Blood.

Who live and reign for ever and ever.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Error In Individualism

There was a time when this branch was alive, strong and secure, where birds found a shelter to build their nest and raise their young. 

But it broke away from the tree that give it life. It fell to the ground and died.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. John 15:

In the Church today, we see increasing numbers of its people detaching themselves from the life of the Church and going it alone. They continue to describe themselves as believers, just that they see no need to go to church, they are sufficient in themselves. 

To paraphrase a notorious voice from the book of Genesis, "... you will be able to determine for yourself what is to be good or evil, not needing to be taught. Gen. 3:5"

Today in our society people confuse the notion of freedom of religious expression, which is part of our liberal democratic rights as citizens, with a kind of infallibility - you believe it, so that makes it right for you. Yes, in Genesis God gives man the freedom to choose, but the choice to get it right or to get it wrong, not to be the author of what is right and wrong. The error in the popular notion of individualism today is the suggestion that I do not need to be taught.

The position of the atheist takes is to remove God from the picture altogether; at least they are taking responsibility when it all goes wrong. It's the "half-believer" who is in the worse condition, mixing up the true God with the me-god, claiming credit for what goes right and blaming God for what goes wrong. The Book of Revelation addresses the situation this way.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev 3:14
Similar to us today, the people of the church in Laodicea were affluent and so had become lukewarm in the practice of their Faith. "You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." 

It matters greatly that we stay firmly attached to the life of the Church, which unites us to the life of God. It is within the Church that we remain in communion with Christ and able hear his Voice; discovering, uncovering, and discerning His word to us, so that we may learn more perfectly what is right and true. We mature in the truth, like the branches of a tree, and so are able to bear the fruit of truth by the lives we live.

Fr. Robert Barron's Sermon for Trinity Sunday

The Church, the Tree of Life

Friday, 13 June 2014

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

You may have notice from time to time, while watching TV, usually a live event where a crowd is gathered, someone in the back ground hold up a sign with this written on it, "John 3:16". It refers of course to this text of scripture, this same text which is chosen as the gospel reading for this feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Someone, at a grass roots level, is taking advantage of the TV exposure to evangelize. One might wonder how effective this effort might be, but if you google just the numbers "3:16" you are taken immediately to the bible passage.

No doubt there are those who consider this as an unwelcome intrusion of another's religious belief into an nonreligious public event. In other words, "... didn't ask, not interested, keep your religion to yourself"

But as Catholics, we are hearing a great deal about the New Evangelization and our vocation to be evangelists in our world today. Clearly, if we are called to be evangelists we are not meant to keep our religious beliefs to our self. So what is expected of us? Matthew ends his gospel account with these words of Jesus, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mtt 28:19

In some places in the world, people are imposing their religious beliefs on everyone by forcing it upon them, without any choice. Clearly this is wrong and an offence against the God of love. (Now the next time you are bring a protesting child to church with you don't let them use this quote against you, :-)

So the question that arises here is how are we expected to evangelize? Recently I listened to a lecture given by Archbishop Richard Smith, bishop of the diocese of Edmonton and former president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is part of the Catholic Culture series hosted by Salt & Light TV, a recording of which is found on their web site. I have added a link to this talk at the end of this post.

Bishop Smith points out that by virtue of our baptism we are all commissioned to be evangelists. He goes on to explore the way evangelizing works. It has two main components, word and sign, both are necessary. Word alone cannot convey the full message of the Good News, because people may not take from the words we use the same meaning that we intend to communicate. He gives this example. When we use the word joy people often hear pleasure, truth is heard as opinion, conscience is heard as feeling, justice is heard as vengeance, covenant is heard as nonbinding agreement. But when our words are accompanied by a corresponding sign, gesture, personal witness, then what we mean to say is made clear.

I think this is well described by St. Peter when he says, "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence." 1Pt. 3:15. First, people must see it in your life, then your words will have a convincing sign of reference to endorse them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion these days and words are flying like a sand storm. What is lacking is signs of truth to accompany them. The true evangelist must be both sign and word.

I recommend that you listen to Bishop Smith's talk and take time to study it.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Where Is Your God?

During times when the only voice you hear is your own, echoing back to you, as one lost, empty and forgotten, let not you voice fall silent, for no one who prays is ever forsaken or abandoned; and in the silent wilderness of your heart, you will learn to recognize His Voice once again.

Psalm 42

Like the deer that yearns
 for running streams,
 so my soul is yearning
 for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God,
 the God of my life;
 when can I enter and see
 the face of God?

My tears have become my bread,
 by night, by day,
 as I hear it said all the day long:
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, my soul,
 why groan within me?
 Hope in God; I will praise him still,
 my savior and my God.

By day the Lord will send
 his loving kindness;
 by night I will sing to him,
 praise the God of my life.

I will say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
 Why do I go mourning
 oppressed by the foe?”

With cries that pierce me to the heart,
 my enemies revile me,
 saying to me all day long:
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, my soul,
 why groan within me?
 Hope in God; I will praise him still,
 my savior and my God.

Father in heaven, when your strength takes possession of us we no longer say: Why are you cast down, my soul? So now that the surging waves of your indignation have passed over us, let us feel the healing calm of your forgiveness. Inspire us to yearn for you always, like the deer for running streams, until you satisfy every longing in heaven.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Pentecost 2014

The following are some of the voices of Pentecost
to assist in your prayer and reflection

Dear brothers and sisters, we have now begun our Pentecost Vigil, after the example of the Apostles and disciples, who with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, persevered in prayer, awaiting the Spirit promised by the Lord; like them, let us, too, listen with quiet hearts to the Word of God. Let us meditate on how many great deeds God in times past did for his people and let us pray that the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent as the first fruits for those who believe, may bring to perfection his work in the world. (from the Vigil Mass of Pentecost)

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.” He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. Jn 7:37-39

 Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jn 20:21-23

The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills. Rom 8:26

We have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. With all who are baptized, let us give glory to the Lord, and ask him:
Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to make us holy.

Send us your Holy Spirit,
– that we may acclaim you before the world as Lord and king.
Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to make us holy.

Give us a sincere love,
– that the Church may be a loving family.
Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to make us holy.

Give your life-giving grace to all the faithful,
– that they may receive with joy the gifts of the Spirit.
Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to make us holy.

Give us the power of your Holy Spirit,
– to heal our wounds and make us strong.
Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to make us holy.
                                        (Morning prayer, Pentecost)

O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast sanctify your whole Church in very people and nation, pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and, with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (Mass of Pentecost)

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Thursday, 5 June 2014


As Jesus approached his HOUR, when he would defeat Satan by his perfect submission to the will (the Truth) of the Father, by rejecting Satan's seductions, characterized in the threefold temptations in the wilderness, Jesus reveals the Father's plan of salvation for all peoples.

The most popular depictions of Satan is that of a fierce, fiery, beast devouring his victims. A more accurate depiction might look more like one who is benignly teaching another what well may be true - but not what is the whole truth.

Now (Satan) was the most cunning of all ... He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from "ANY" of the trees in the garden’?” Gen 3:1

Chesterton rightly noted that the Devil takes facts that are true and strings them together in such a way that they lead to a conclusion which is false. As sincere and intelligent as one may be, we are no match for the "Father of Lies". The scripture is the Word of God, but see how Satan twists it to endorse his deception. 

This is why Pentecost is so important. It is God's plan that the Spirit will lead us to what is TRUTH. 
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. John 16: 12-13
In Jesus' priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus refers to the "world". But this is not the world that is God's good creation of the natural order. Rather, it is the worldly systems created by man to reorder nature for his own purposes; systems that are inevitably so vulnerable to the deceits of the Devil. 

We live out our lives in this world and so we must deal each day with its complexity and its confusing mix of fact and error. Jesus tells his disciples that they do not have to confront this challenge alone, he is sending the the Spirit to guide them.

In John 16 Jesus refers to the Spirit as "the Advocate" and "the Spirit of Truth".
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. John 16:7
Using the term "Advocate" to describe the Spirit is most revealing to us. An Advocate is akin to a defense lawyer who stands at your side, before the judge, and defends you again the false accusations being leveled against you. (Remember the text in Revelations: 
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night. They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Rev 12:10
All through our journey of faith we must cope with falsehood in the world, attempting to persuade us to follow. Without the Advocate at our side, challenging such falsehood, pointing out the error and deception it contains, our faith cannot survive, intact, strong and vital. The Spirit is present to us in many ways, principally through the magisterium of the Church. Remaining in communion with the Church is vital. So too is personal prayer. It tunes our hearts to the Voice, the voice of the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world my need for your presence in my life. I am alone and in darkness without you. I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. Even though I struggle against them, it is sin that so easily dominates my life. Who can save me but you alone, my Lord and my God. Deliver me from the Evil One. Touch my life with that power which flows from your resurrection. Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory reign now in my heart. Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. Raise me up to a New Life in you. Amen.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Toward Pentecost: One

While Apollos was in Corinth,
Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples.
He said to them,
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”
They answered him,
“We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
He said, “How were you baptized?”
They replied, “With the baptism of John.”
Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.. 
Altogether there were about twelve men. Acts 19:1-8 (Monday 7th Wk. Easter)


We generally think of Pentecost as that day the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus' disciples gathered in the upper room. But Luke, in his Acts of the Apostles, tells us that, this same outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost, was experienced by many throughout this whole apostolic  period, as the Spirit worked to bring to life Christ' Church. We might actually sight five Pentecost experiences described by Luke.
  1. The day of Pentecost with the disciples in the upper room. (Acts 2:1)
  2. The baptism of the Ethiopian and the Spirit coming upon the Samaritans. (Acts 8:1)
  3. The conversion of St Paul. (Acts 9:1)
  4. The Gentile Pentecost and the baptism of Cornelius and family. (Acts 10:1)
  5. The baptism of the disciples of John the Baptist. (Acts 19:1)
In each of these accounts, we see the effects of the Holy Spirit at work in these people. These effects are evident and clearly perceptible, to those being baptized in the Spirit, as well as those who are witnessing this extraordinary gift.

On Pentecost day: 
  • Those being filled with the Holy Spirit broke out in joyful praise of God, seen and heard by everyone around them. So uninhibited and expressive was their praising, that some thought they had been drinking.  
  • They experienced the charism on speaking discernible languages they had not learned, so that other could understand them.
  • They showed no fear of reprisal where earlier they had been in hiding. 
The Baptism of the Ethiopian Official and the Spirit Coming Upon the Samaritans:
  • The charism of the True Christian Faith comes through the Spirit filled preaching of Philip, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Samaritans had been baptized in the name of Jesus, but were yet to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The Conversion of St. Paul:
  • Paul sees the apparition of the glorious, risen Christ.
  • He hears the Lords voice speaking to him. His companions also heard his voice.
  • The physical effect of temporary blindness was experienced by Paul.
  • The zealot Paul became humble and docile to the direction of the Spirit.
  • Paul is given his true vocation by the Spirit.
  • Visions are seen by Paul and Ananias.
  • The True Christian Faith is born in Paul.  
The Conversion of Cornelius and the Gentiles.
  • Peter is taught of the plan of universal salvation through visions.
  • Visions prepare Cornelius for Peter's coming.
  • Everyone in the household is filled with the gift of the Spirit.
  • The charism of Praise and Tongues was manifested.
  • The gift of True Christian Faith was given to all.
The Baptism of John the Baptist Disciples:
  • They had been baptized in John's baptism.
  • At Paul preaching they were baptized in the name of Jesus.
  • When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
In earlier postings, I include a series on the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" 
(go to - SPECIAL SERIES SECTION - side column) I recommend these for your review and prayer at this time. 

See also Novena to the Holy Spirit (click)


Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world my need for your presence in my life. I am alone and in darkness without you. I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. Even though I struggle against them, it is sin that so easily dominates my life. Who can save me but you alone, my Lord and my God. Deliver me from the Evil One. Touch my life with that power which flows from your resurrection. Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory reign now in my heart. Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. Raise me up to a New Life in you.

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