Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Office of Reading - Second reading
From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop

Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God

The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.

Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who bear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live.

God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him.

From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all in due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. Where there is order, there is also harmony; where there is harmony, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage.

The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Meditation for the 12th Sunday

It is pretty clear that people of ancient times believed this world was under the control of gods in the heavens. It was these gods who caused the cataclysmic events – floods, earthquakes, famines, and the like – usually because they were angry with the people of the earth. So, most ancient religion was all about keeping the gods happy.

People of the O.T. dismissed all these gods as not having any power over the world – only the One True God had such authority and power – but held on to the belief that God still used such events to discipline and punish people of the world.

In today’s gospel – Jesus confirms that God has such authority and power – but God does not use the forces of creation to harm people.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.

But now, our modern world with its scientific knowledge, has a natural/scientific explanation for the cataclysmic events happening in the world – (today it is more likely that man is the one causing them now).

So, with nothing to fear from the gods, who needs religion? Jesus in the gospel today teaches that it’s not the weather we need to be concerned about – rather its the character of our living now, and the future of our existence after this life. If we would truly love and care for this planet, and for one another living here, like God does, life on this planet would be a whole lot better than we have it now.

But even more important – God has given us a choice where we will live after this life – either with our loving God or in the caverns of darkness and death. A question we might ask of these days – as we see more and more the pews of our churches turning up empty – is the new god that rules this generation a view of science and technology that denies God’s existence – have we just replaced the old gods of the heavens with the new gods, fashioned out of reason?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Sacrifice of the Mass - Corpus Christi

From a work by Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest
O precious and wonderful banquet!

Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation. 

From the Office of Readings For Corpus Christi

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Trinity Sunday - 2017

"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.”

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 holding up a sign with this written on it, just these numbers,  3:16". If you have not made the connection - it refers to this text of scripture, which is chosen as the gospel reading for this feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

Clearly, 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 by virtue of our baptism, we as Catholics have a mandate and responsibility to be Evangelists.

Pope John Paul II, in 1983, first exhorted the Church to undertake the mission of a New Evangelization in his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio. The Holy Father, described three situations requiring three unique approaches to Evangelization:
1.       Evangelization to the nations: This is a situation where “Christ and his Gospel are not known.”
2.       Evangelization of Christian communities: This is the ongoing evangelization of those “fervent in the faith.”
3.       New Evangelization: “where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”
The new evangelization pertains to a very specific group of people: fallen-away Christians. For most Catholics in the western world, we see the need for this type of evangelization all around us. Everyone knows someone who was once baptized but who no longer practices the faith.

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict established The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization which gave direction to this mission of New Evangelization, which continues to be our calling in the church today.

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

So just how are we to evangelize today? A couple of years ago, Archbishop Richard Smith, bishop of the diocese of Edmonton and former president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave a talk on the new evangelization. In his talk, Bishop Smith pointed out that by virtue of our baptism we are all commissioned to be evangelists.

He then went on to explore the way evangelizing works. It has two main components,
WORD and SIGN, and both are necessary together. 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. Bishop Smith gave this example.
·         When we use the word joy people often hear pleasure,
·         truth is heard as opinion, (we hear a lot about “alternate facts” these days),
·         conscience is heard as feeling, (morality comes from the way you feel),
·         justice is heard as vengeance.

But when our words are accompanied by a corresponding sign, gesture, personal witness, then what we mean to say is made clear. Remember, one who says one thing and does another is called a hypocrite

 This was first laid out for us 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.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Pentecost 2017

On the side panel of this Blog page, under the title Labels - Links to These Subjects, there are six links to former Posts dealing with Pentecost. I recommend them to you for a revisit this Pentecost.  

From the Second Reading of the Office of Readings, Pentecost
From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop
The sending of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.

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