Bishop Robert Barron gives a most accurate yet troubling assessment of the condition of religious faith in this our age - in a word, "ignoring" God.
Here is the ...... LINK ......!
Monday, 16 July 2018
Sunday, 15 July 2018
Sunday, 8 July 2018
Let us focus for a moment on the 2nd Reading of today's Liturgy of the Word.
Paul is writing to the Church in Corinth, and he is defending his reputation as a preacher of the gospel, which is being challenged. He said in the previous chapter 11, verse 5; “I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 2 Cor 11:5. Some preachers have come to Corinth who are very skilled and persuasive preachers – which Paul admits he himself is not. Paul is not questioning their silver tongues but the accuracy of their message.
“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.” Chp 11:4
In his defence, Paul points to the profound revelations he has been given. But he lays claim not to these but his weaknesses, to his imitation of the Cross of Jesus. And one weakness above all others is Paul’s personal “thorn in the flesh.” So what exactly was this “thorn in the flesh” that Paul suffered?
There is no clear consensus among scripture scholars to exactly what Paul is referring to. Perhaps it is something physical or something spiritual; perhaps a person, a nagging adversary. Given the context of preaching here, maybe it was some kind speech impediment.
“Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Chp. 12:8
This is a most powerful lesson for each of us to grasp, a lesson for our generation. The church has been calling the faithful to be active evangelist in today’s secularist society. Secular humanism is casting a grave dark shadow over the message of the gospel today. But we say, what could I possibly say or do that might have the slightest value for such evangelization?
Here, Paul shows us that evangelization is not about “silver tongues” it’s about witnessing. It is about “knowing Jesus, personally, and living a truly holy life in imitation of Christ. Every good work, every work of mercy we manifest in this world speaks volumes. When this generation sees real, living examples of the message of the gospel which Jesus taught, the work of evangelization is accomplished.
Let none of us say I are not qualified to be an evangelist, little weak thing that I am, let us remember these words of Paul:
"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:26-31
Sunday, 1 July 2018
God is like an Inaccessible Rock
The feelings that come to a man who stands on a high mountain peak and looks down onto some immense sea are the same feelings that come to me when I look out from the high mountain peak of the Lord’s words into the incomprehensible depths of his thoughts.
When you look at mountains that stand next to the sea, you will often find that they seem to have been cut in half, so that on the side nearest the sea there is a sheer drop and something dropped from the summit will fall straight into the depths. Someone who looks down from such a peak will become dizzy, and so too I become dizzy when I look down from the high peak of these words of the Lord: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
These words offer the sight of God to those whose hearts have been purified and purged. But look: St John says No-one has seen God. The Apostle Paul’s sublime mind goes further still: What no man has seen and no man can see. This is the slippery and crumbling rock that seems to give the mind no support in the heights. Even the teaching of Moses declared God to be a rock that was so inaccessible that our minds could not even approach it: No-one can see the Lord and live.
To see God is to have eternal life – and yet the pillars of our faith, John and Paul and Moses, say that God cannot be seen. Can you understand the dizziness of a soul that contemplates their words? If God is life, whoever does not see God does not see life. If the prophets and the Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, attest that God cannot be seen, does this not wreck all the hopes of man?
It is the Lord who sustains our floundering hope, just as he sustained Peter when he was floundering in the water, and made the waters firm beneath his feet. If the hand of the Word stretches out to us as well, and sets us firm in a new understanding when these speculations have made us lose our balance, we shall be safe from fear, held safe in the guiding hand of the Word. Blessed, he says, are those who possess a pure heart, for they shall see God.
A homily on the Beatitudes by St Gregory of Nyssa (Office of Readings)
Friday, 29 June 2018
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 have competed well; I have finished
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day,
and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.
Monday, 25 June 2018
Thursday, 21 June 2018
Saturday, 16 June 2018
This past Wednesday, June 13, was the feast St. Anthony of Padua. On June 13, 1985 I had the privilege of celebrating this feast with the people of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Kincardine ON. as their newly arrived pastor.
Now, you may recall that this past June 1, the gospel text for the mass included the account about Jesus cursing a fig tree.
The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!" Mk. 11:11
St. Anthony gives us some excellent insight into the meaning behind Jesus action. In the Office of Readings for the feast of Anthony, referring to preachers and teachers, Anthony says: “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves.”
As Christians, we might be full of words about religion but empty of the actions that demonstrate the truth of which we speak. The fig tree Jesus encountered was not in season, and so not expected to bear fruit. But for us, disciples of Jesus, every season is in season – in season for us to bear fruit – the fruit of the Spirit which we received in baptism.
Listen to Jesus charge to St. Timothy:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.… 2 Tim4:2
We are in one of those times. More and more the message of the gospel is falling on deaf ears. Now is a time for our actions to speak louder and louder. Paraphrasing St. Peter in his First Letter he exhorts:
“Knowing we are all residence of this world only for a time, do not let yourselves be lured into a life of indulgence. Living as we often do among unbelieving neighbours, you must conduct yourselves honorably. Then even if they accuse you of acting wrongly, they will come see your honorable behavior as the true way, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Pt. 2:11
Taking direction from Jesus in today’s gospel, let us spread the seeds of our true and honorable good deeds wherever we go, that a harvest of goodness may come to pass.
Saturday, 9 June 2018
History clearly demonstrates the truth of the principle of, "divide and conquer", which Jesus sites in his defense. But Jesus is not talking about politics, rather about spiritual warfare - the battle between Satan and the Kingdom of God that Jesus is bringing into the world. The most powerful weapon that Satan has in his arsenal is DIVISION.
It is deployed by spreading falsehood, lies that directly oppose the TRUTH. Today it has been given an interesting new title, "Alternative Facts".
Jesus makes clear how destructive a weapon this is. To call falsehood truth (thus making the Word of revelation from the Spirit appear false) is blasphemy, and as long as one embraces it they cut themselves off from salvation.
From earliest times, the Church has suffered trials over theological disputes among Christians that have caused divisions within the churches, thus weakening the effectiveness of their witness to an unbelieving world. But in recent times genuine efforts have been undertaken to reach out and heal these divisions. St. Paul, addressing the Christian community in his second letter to Timothy writes;
Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen. Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation. 2Tim. 2:14
It would be most helpful for each of us to examine our own contribution to the work of healing and reconciliation among Christians today. We are not the enemy, Satan is, and he works tirelessly to divide the Church and discredit the gospel message. Today"Alternative Facts" comes largely through the proponents of atheism. As deniers of God, they relentlessly harp on the faults of believers, with the result that this emerging generation is less and less drawn to the Church.
The question we must ask ourselves in light of today's gospel: am I becoming bound by "disputes over words", "alternative facts", and the many controversy's that we encounter today?
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. 2 Tim 4:3
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. ..... For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Gal 5:At an ecumenical prayer service this past January Pope Francis addressed the importance for Christians to strive to heal the wounds of disunity that have plagued the Church these past five centuries.
"Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other's gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first,"
The Relatives of Jesus
In today's gospel reading there is also mention of the relatives of Jesus and mention of Jesus' brothers and sisters. Just who are these brothers and sisters?
For a Catholic perspective on this question visit Catholic Answers and their examination of this question. [ . . . LINK . . . ]
Thursday, 7 June 2018
The following is an insightful image of the spiritual life taken fromthe Moral Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great, pope.
The Church moves forward like the advancing dawn.
Since the daybreak or the dawn is changed gradually from darkness into light, the Church, which comprises the elect, is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn. While she is being led from the night of infidelity to the light of faith, she is opened gradually to the splendor of heavenly brightness, just as dawn yields to the day after darkness. The Song of Songs says aptly: Who is this who moves forward like the advancing dawn? Holy Church, inasmuch as she keeps searching for the rewards of eternal life, has been called the dawn. While she turns her back on the darkness of sins, she begins to shine with the light of righteousness.
This reference to the dawn conjures up a still more subtle consideration. The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, the one mixed with the other, as it were. Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life daybreak and dawn? While we do some things which already belong to the light, we are not free from the remnants of darkness. In Scripture the Prophet says to God: No living being will be justified in our sight. Scripture also says: In many ways all of us give offense.
When he writes, the night is passed, Paul does not add, the day is come, but rather, the day is at hand. Since he argues that after the night has passed, the day as yet is not come but is rather at hand, he shows that the period before full daylight and after darkness is without doubt the dawn, and that he himself is living in that period.
It will be fully day for the Church of the elect when she is no longer darkened by the shadow of sin. It will be fully day for her when she shines with the perfect brilliance of interior light. This dawn is aptly shown to be an ongoing process when Scripture says: And you showed the dawn its place. A thing which is shown its place is certainly called from one place to another.
What is the place of the dawn but the perfect clearness of eternal vision? When the dawn has been brought there, it will retain nothing belonging to the darkness of night. When the Psalmist writes: My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I go and see the face of God?, does he not refer to the effort made by the dawn to reach its place? Paul was hastening to the place which he knew the dawn would reach when he said he wished to die and to be with Christ. He expressed the same idea when he said: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
From the Office of Readings, Thursday of the 9th Week.
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Thursday, 31 May 2018
Those who have experience a personal encounter with Christ, also known as the "Grace of Renewal", or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the uncaused grace of Consolation, are taken up into a deep sense of peace and direct communion with the Lord; from which there is no desire to be separated.
In this state of "all-well-being", where the soul seems to be raise up out of this life's burdens, the soul desires to remain. [Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah ...” Lk. 9:33]
But the Lord does not let the soul cling to this consolation. It remains as an indelible evidence of the glory that awaits, but there is much maturing that must be accomplished first.
Saints and mystics all attest to this way the hand of the Lord moves in our lives. The following is St. Augustine's describing his experience.
From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop
All my hope lies in your great mercy
Where did I find you, that I came to know you? You were not within my memory before I learned of you. Where, then, did I find you before I came to know you, if not within yourself, far above me? We come to you and go from you, but no place is involved in this process. In every place, O Truth, you are present to those who seek your help, and at one and the same time you answer all, though they seek your counsel on different matters.
You respond clearly, but not everyone hears clearly. All ask what they wish, but do not always hear the answer they wish. Your best servant is he who is intent not so much on hearing his petition answered, as rather on willing whatever he hears from you.
Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
When once I shall be united to you with my whole being, I shall at last be free of sorrow and toil. Then my life will be alive, filled entirely with you. When you fill someone, you relieve him of his burden, but because I am not yet filled with you, I am a burden to myself. My joy when I should be weeping struggles with my sorrows when I should be rejoicing. I know not where victory lies. Woe is me! Lord, have mercy on me! My evil sorrows and good joys are at war with one another. I know not where victory lies. Woe is me! Lord, have mercy! Woe is me! I make no effort to conceal my wounds. You are my physician, I your patient. you are merciful; I stand in need of mercy.
Is not the life of man upon earth a trial? Who would want troubles and difficulties? You command us to endure them, not to love them. No person loves what he endures, though he may love the act of enduring. For even if he is happy to endure his own burden, he would still prefer that the burden not exist. I long for prosperity in times of adversity, and I fear adversity when times are good. Yet what middle ground is there between these two extremes where the life of man would be other than trial? Pity the prosperity of this world, pity it once and again, for it corrupts joy and brings the fear of adversity. Pity the adversity of this world, pity it again, then a third time; for it fills men with a longing for prosperity, and because adversity itself is hard for them to bear and can even break their endurance. Is not the life of man upon earth a trial, a continuous trial?
All my hope lies only in your great mercy.
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Monday, 21 May 2018
Sunday, 20 May 2018
It is impossible to over state the importance of this day of Pentecost. Stating the importance of Easter St. Paul says: “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” 1Cor 15:17. So too, of Pentecost Paul states with equal consequence: “… and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:3
As examples of the necessity of the Holy Spirit let us look at just two figures in scripture, the Apostle Thomas and the Apostle Paul. The disciples’ faith in Jesus was scandalized and totally crushed by the Cross of Jesus and they fled in despair – as the two disciples on the road to Damascus lamented “we had hoped …” They believed Jesus had come from God, as Luke describes it, "And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” Lk 4:36). But to believe Jesus WAS God, and all things were under his authority, including our very lives – this required a direct intervention of Grace.
Thomas put it well (especially for our generation): "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Jo. 20:25. Only when, he gazed into the face of the risen Lord, could he then exclaim: “My Lord and my God!” Jo. 20:27
And St. Paul after being knocked to the ground on the road to Damascus – when he saw and heard: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”, could he realize who Jesus truly was and turn from being an enemy to apostle. Acts 9:5.
But as convincing as these visions and encounters were, there was about to happen a different plan for revealing Jesus and convincing believers. This plan was to become the norm for all generations to follow – so for us today. It began on Pentecost.
A true living faith would be the result of a direct encounter with the Holy Spirit – an encounter that would take place in the depths of a believer’s soul. And the unfolding of this plan is what we have just witnessed as we have been pondering and praying through the Acts of the Apostles these past Easter Days.
Here are just two examples from Acts:
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Acts 10:44.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:
Remember that amazing and prophetic prayer Pope John XXIII offered up to open the Second Vatican Council 1961:
“Divine Spirit, renew your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the holy church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen”
At nine o’clock on the morning of October 12, 1962, twenty-four hundred Roman Catholic bishops began a lone procession through St. Peter’s Square toward the Basilica for the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council, and a new Pentecost is what has been happening in the Church these last 56 years since that prayer.
And it’s not over by a long shot. A new Pentecost awaits any and all who desire to know the Lord. Let us be like the father of the possessed boy seeking Jesus help, when Jesus said to him that all things are possible for those who have faith: “… cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mk. 9:24
Cry out your prayer, loud and clear: 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.