Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Spiritual Warfare

On this Feast of St.Michael the Archangel, our thoughts are raised towards the reality of spiritual warfare. St. Teresa of Jesus has this to say:

"I am certain that those who seek perfection do not ask the Lord to free them from trials or temptations or persecutions or struggles. This is another very great and certain effect of the contemplation and the favors His Majesty gives and of the Lord's Spirit rather than of an illusion...These persons desire, ask for, and love trials. They are like soldiers who are happier when there are more wars because they then hope to earn more. If there is no war, they receive their wages but realize they won't get rich.

"Believe, sisters, that the soldiers of Christ, those who experience contemplation and engage in prayer, are very eager to fight. They never fear public enemies very much; they already recognize them and know that their enemies have no power against the strength the Lord gives and that they themselves always come out victors and with much gain. They never turn from these enemies. Those whom they fear...are the traitorous enemies, the devils who transfigure themselves into angels of light, who come disguised. Not until they have done much harm to the soul do they allow themselves to be recognized. They suck away our blood and destroy our virtues, and we go about in the midst of the same temptation but do not know it. With regard to these enemies, let us ask and often beg the Lord in the Our Father to free us and not let us walk into temptation, so that they will not draw us into error or hide the light and truth from us, that the poison will be discovered...

"Consider, daughters, the many ways these enemies can cause harm. Don't think that they do so only by making us suppose that the delights and consolations they can feign in us are from God. This seems to me the least harm...they can cause: rather it could be that by means of this they will make one advance more quickly. For, in being fed on that delight, such a person will spend more hours in prayer. Since he doesn't know that the delight is from the devil and since he sees he is unworthy of these consolations, he doesn't stop thanking God. He will feel greater obligation to serve Him and, thinking the favors came from the hand of the Lord, he will strive to dispose himself so that God will grant him more.

"Strive always, sisters, for humility and to see that you are unworthy of these favors; do not seek them. I hold that the devil loses many souls who strive for this humility. He thinks he is going to bring them to perdition, but the Lord draws good from the evil the devil aims at. His Majesty looks at our intention, which is to please and serve Him and remain with Him in prayer; and the Lord is faithful. It's good to be on one's guard lest there be a break in humility, or some vainglory emerge. If you bessech the Lord to free you from this, do not fear that His Majesty will allow you to be favored very much by anyone other than Himself.

"The way the devil can do a great deal of harm, without our realizing it, is to make us believe we have virtues when we do not. This is a pestilence. In regard to the delights and consolations, it seems merely that we are receiving and that we have the greater obligation to serve. In regard to our thinking we are virtuous, it seems we are serving and giving and that the Lord is obliged to pay. Thus little by little this latter notion does great harm. On the one hand, it weakens humility, and on the other hand, we grow careless about acquiring that virtue which we think we have already acquired. Well, what is the remedy, sisters? That which seems best to me is what our Master teaches us: prayer and supplication to the Eternal Father not to let us enter into temptation.

St. Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection, XXXVII, 1-5.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Reinventing Jesus

In the bookstore, I found this book published in 2007 by Dr. Erwin Lutzer, a senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. Little may he have realized it but Dr. Lutzer was proving the Popes right in their teachings against Modernism:

"Living as we do at the beginning of a new century, many new Jesuses are being fabricated year by year; this is the age of designer Jesuses. Often the only similarity is the name; the character traits are entirely different. So your Jesus might not be my Jesus and mine might not be the Jesus of my-next-door neighbor.

"...The Jesus whose biography is found in the New Testament is being treated like putty in the hands of those who wish to refashion Him to fit to their particular view of the world. Just take a moment to browse your neighborhood bookstore and you will find dozens of books, with topics ranging from Jesus and women's rights to Jesus and Zen to Jesus and inner healing. Jesus is used - or rather, misused - for every cause imaginable, from gas-saving minivans to religious zealots. I'm reminded of the words of the late Yasser Arafat, who at a press conference at the United Nations in 1983 called Jesus "the first Palestinian fedayeen who carried his sword." Think of it: Jesus was the first freedom fighter for Islam!

"It seems as though everyone wants Jesus in their parade," writes Joseph Stowell: 'From gay activists to abortionists to religious leaders to politicians, making Jesus fit their agenda and flying His flag provides a guise of propriety and credibility.'

"Stowell is right, but we have to ask: How can scholars take the radical, all-demanding Jesus of the Gospels and reinvent Him so that He, like a book on the shelf, is wholly within our power to do with Him as we will? This Jesus allows us to be in charge, never insisting that we come under His authority, never asking us to stake our eternal destiny on His claims.

"No other name has inspired such great devotion and so much controversy; no other person has been tweaked to serve so many agendas. Scholars are writing books not about Christianity, but about 'Jesusanity', as my friend Darrel Bock describes it. Learning about these evolving images of Jesus will help us identify the one Jesus who stands above all others and is actually as good as His word!"

E. Lutzer, Slandering Jesus: 6 Lies People Tell About The Man Who Said He Was God, 4-5.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Benedict XVI on Secularism and New Forms of Christianity

In his address to the Evangelical churches of Germany, the Holy Father made reference to two concerns: the emergence of a new form of Christianity and the secularization of society:

To be sure, the risk of losing it is not unreal. I would like to make two brief points here. The geography of Christianity has changed dramatically in recent times, and is in the process of changing further. Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability. This worldwide phenomenon -- that bishops from all over the world are constantly telling me about -- poses a question to us all: what is this new form of Christianity saying to us, for better and for worse? In any event, it raises afresh the question about what has enduring validity and what can or must be changed -- the question of our fundamental faith choice.

The second challenge to worldwide Christianity of which I wish to speak is more profound and in our country more controversial: the secularized context of the world in which we Christians today have to live and bear witness to our faith. God is increasingly being driven out of our society, and the history of revelation that Scripture recounts to us seems locked into an ever more remote past. Are we to yield to the pressure of secularization, and become modern by watering down the faith? Naturally faith today has to be thought out afresh, and above all lived afresh, so that it is suited to the present day. Yet it is not by watering the faith down, but by living it today in its fullness that we achieve this. This is a key ecumenical task in which we have to help one another: developing a deeper and livelier faith. It is not strategy that saves us and saves Christianity, but faith -- thought out and lived afresh; through such faith, Christ enters this world of ours, and with him, the living God. As the martyrs of the Nazi era brought us together and prompted that great initial ecumenical opening, so today, faith that is lived from deep within amid a secularized world is the most powerful ecumenical force that brings us together, guiding us towards unity in the one Lord. And we pray to him, asking that we may learn to live the faith anew, and that in this way we may then become one.

ZENIT - Papal Words to Germany's Evangelical Church

On Interior Silence

"The tongue is a small member, but it does big things. A religious who does not keep silence will never attain holiness; that is, she will never attain holiness; that is, she will never become a saint. Let her not delude herself - unless it is the Spirit of God who is speaking through her, for then she must not keep silent. But, in order to hear the voice of God, one has to have silence in one's soul and to keep silence; not a gloomy silence, but an interior silence; that is to say, recollection in God. Once can speak a great deal without breaking silence and, on the contrary, one can speak little and be constantly breaking silence. Oh, what irreparable damage is done by the breach of silence! We cause a lot of harm to our neighbor, but even more to our own selves.

"In my opinion, and according to my experience, the rule concerning silence should stand in the very first place. God does not give himself to a chattering soul, which, like a drone in a beehive, buzzes around but gathers no honey. A talkative soul is empty inside. It lacks both the essential virtues and intimacy with God. A deeper interior life, one of gentle peace and of that silence where the Lord dwells, is quite out of the question. A soul which has never tasted the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others. I have seen many souls in the depths of hell for not having kept their silence; they told me so themselves when I asked them what was the cause of their undoing. These were souls of religious. My God, what an agony it is to think that not only might have been in heaven, but they might even have become saints! O Jesus, have mercy!"

St. Faustina, Diary, 118.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Go to the Vineyard!

The catechetical landscape of the Diocese of Cubao is deteriorating because in spite of the the decrease in the public school population from last year’s 163, 686 students to this year’s 159,740, there is an increase in the number of uncatechized students from last year’s 31, 623 students to this year’s 36, 389. 4, 766 more students this year are added to the increasing number of those who will not hear the teachings of Jesus for this school year. This is due to the decreasing number of catechists this year.

Every September, we celebrate the Catechetical Month. Everytime we do this, we make an appeal for volunteer catechists. Like the landowner in today’s parable, we come out time and again to look for laborers to work in the vineyard. The appeal does not change, it has been repeated year after year: “You go into the vineyard.” It has remained unchanged because the Harvest is rich but the laborers are few. The once-a-week teaching of catechism is already a bad situation because the catechetical instruction does not stand a chance against the constant bombardment our youth receive from elements that are hostile to the gospel of Jesus. This is made worse by the absence of regular parental guidance and even worse still, the lack of catechists..36, 389 might seem to you a faceless numbers. But behind the figures are real human beings who are condemned to ignorance of Jesus Christ and of his truth that sets all men free. Many young people do not seek the Lord because they do not know that He wants to be found. Many young people do not call on the Lord because they do not know that He is near. Being deprived of catechesis, many people are condemned to a linited world view that stretches no further than the here and now. They are deprived of the opportunity to raise their thoughts to the thoughts of God which is higher and wider than ours: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.” And these many people do not know what they are missing. Like slaves that think that everything is fine because they do not know what being free means, many people think that they are satisfied with what the world has to offer because they do not know that they are meant for something more: they are destined to live for ever in heaven.

It is his knowledge of Jesus Christ that implants in the heart of St. Paul the sincere concern that the gospel be preached to those who have not heard it. While he finds death to be profitable because it would mean that he would enjoy the company of Christ for ever, he prefered to labor and toil in preaching the Gospel for the benefit of those who would hear it. If only each of us would have the heart of St. Paul. If only we had enough generosity of heart to respond to the call of Christ: “You go into my vineyard!”

When we hear these words: You go into my vineyard, we always think that the Lord meant to speak to other people...but not to me. But the Lord is really addressing these words to you! If only parents took seriously their catechetical obligation towards their children, the catechetical situation would not be so bad. We see these signs around us: Aso ko, tali ko; Tapat ko, linis ko. We recognize our responsibility towards our dog and toward our environs. But why do we not recognize our responsibility towards our own children: Anak ko, turo ko! Many parents do not recognize that they are the primary catechists of their own children. Godparents do not recognize that they are the secondary catechists of their godchildren. Many are like the men who, at late afternoon, hear the Lord's reproach: "Why are you standing here idle all day? You go to my vineyard!" Late in have not yet worked in the vineyard? You go to the vineyard!

Dare to respond generously to the invitation of Christ…for the Lord is never outdone in his generosity. Not only does he pay us what is just. He gives us more out of the abundance of his mercy: “Those that glorify and proclaim My great mercy, I shall protect them Myself at the hour of death as My own glory. And even if the sins of soul are as dark as night, when the sinner turns to My mercy he gives Me the greatest praise and is the glory of My Passion. When a soul praises My goodness, Satan trembles before it and flees to the very bottom of hell.” (Diary, 378.)

Our Lady of La Sallete on the negligence of the Sunday Obligation and Blasphemy

on September 19, 1846, the Blessed Virgin appeared to two shepherd children Maximin and Melanie. She appeared with profuse tears falling from her eyes because of a grave message she brought mankind:

"If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy that I can no longer restrain it.

"How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat Him without ceasing. But you take no heed of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up to me what I have endured on your behalf.

"I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself, yet no one will give it to me. This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so crushing.

"The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's Name. These are the two things which make my Son's arms so heavy."

"...Do you say your prayers well, my children?

"Ah! my children, it is very important to do so, at night and in the morning. When you don't have time, at least say an 'Our Father' and a 'Hail Mary,' and when you can, say more.

"Only a few rather old women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long, And in winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion. During Lent, they go to the butcher shop like dogs."

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Catechetical Dimension of Liturgy

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone gave this address to the 62nd Italian Liturgical Week, in behalf of the Holy Father. Here are salient points:

"The Church, especially when she celebrates the divine mysteries, recognizes and manifests herself as a reality that cannot be reduced to a solely earthly and organizational aspect. It must appear clearly in these mysteries that the beating heart of the community should be recognized beyond the narrow yet necessary limits of ritualism, because the liturgy is not what man does, but what God does with his admirable and gratuitous condescendence. This primacy of God in the liturgical action was highlighted by the Servant of God Paul VI at the closing of the second period of the Vatican Council, when he announced the proclamation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: "In this event we observe that the correct order has been respected of the values and duties: thus we have recognized that the post of honor is reserved to God; that as first duty we are called to raise prayers to God; that the sacred Liturgy is the primary source of this divine exchange in which the life of God is communicated to us; it is the first school of our soul, it is the first gift that must be made by us to the Christian people." (Paul VI, Address for the Closing of the Second Period, December 4, 1963, AAS [1964], 34).

"In addition to expressing the absolute priority of God, the liturgy manifests its being "God with us," since "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." (Benedict XVI, encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 1). In this connection, God is the great educator of his people, the loving, wise, tireless guide in an through the liturgy, the action of God in the today of the Church."

"From this foundational aspect, the 62nd National Liturgical Week is called to reflect on the educational dimension of the liturgical action, in as much as it is a "permanent school of formation around the Risen Lord, educational and relative place in which the faith acquires form and is transmitted" (Italian Episcopal Conference, Educare alla Vita Buona del Vangelo, n. 390). For this purpose, it is necessary to reflect ever better on the relation between catechesis and liturgy, yet rejecting all undue instrumentalization of the liturgy with "catechetical" ends. In this regard, the living Patristic tradition of the Church teaches us that the liturgical celebration itself, without losing its specificity, always has an important catechetical dimension (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 33). In fact, in as much as it is the "the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit" (ibid., 14), the liturgy can be called the permanent catechesis of the Church, the inexhaustible source of catechesis, precious catechesis in act (cf. Italian Episcopal Conference, Il Rinnovamento della catechesis, Feb. 7, 1970, 113). As an integrated experience of catechesis, celebration and life, it expresses in addition the maternal support of the Church, thus helping to develop the growth of the believer's Christian life and the maturation of his conscience.

ZENIT - Papal Message on Liturgy as Source of Catechesis

Discrimination against Christianity

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for external Church relations, gave an address at the opening session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) high-level meeting on anti-Christian violence. Here are salient points of his talk:

"If in Europe, and in the OSCE region, voices can be heard against the presence of Christian symbols in public life, and there are signs of other forms of an intolerant attitude towards Christians, then this is a good occasion to think upon the reasons for such things. There is a simple axiom, understandable to every educated European. European civilization is a culture that has developed on a Christian foundation. Today Europe, and indeed the entire OSCE region, has acquired a clearly expressed multicultural nature, having become a place of contact between peoples and religions from all over the world. Yet, does this mean that the cultural and religious diversity of Europe definitely threatens her Christian roots? Not at all. The real threat is not in offering to the continent’s new religious and national communities the chance to make use of Christian hospitality. The basic danger is in attempting to use religious diversity as an excuse to exclude signs of Christian civilization from the public and political realities of the continent, as though this would make our continent friendlier towards non-Christians. I am convinced that society, which has renounced its spiritual heritage under the pretext of the radical separation of religious life from public life, becomes vulnerable to the spirit of enmity in relation to representatives of any religion. This indeed does create an atmosphere of intolerance in relation to Christians, as well as to representatives of other traditional religions."

"...Organizations in the OSCE countries responsible for notifying the public about cases of Christianophobia regularly report cases of persecution of Christians who criticize social evils, albeit that they are legally recognized. For example, clergy and lay believers who criticize homosexuality as sinful often face public ostracism or severe discrimination. Statutory guarantees of freedom of speech laid down in international law are always ignored in such cases.

"Christians in the OSCE region are consistently attacked because of their position on abortion and euthanasia. Opponents not only fail to see that behind their false justifications lie the deprivation of human life, but they also question Christians’ right to present their views and their democratic efforts to have them reflected in European legislation. It has been an encouragement and inspiration to see the recent recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe upholding the right to conscientious objection for medical workers who refuse to take part in such operations. I hope that refusal on grounds of conscientious objection will be an accepted approach in the educational and in public service spheres."

ZENIT - Russian Orthodox Church on Discrimination Against Christianity

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kneeling no more?

Yesterday, I visited the seminary I studied in and I decided to say a prayer in the big chapel. The seminarians were just about to pray the Midday Prayer for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. I observed one thing which disturbed me...the seminarians did not kneel at any point of the prayer. They sat through the hymn (we said it standing) and the psalms and reading. They stood for the collect and then, for the Angelus (In our time, we knelt during the Angelus during weekdays and stood for it during Sundays.) Afterwards, at the end of the prayer, some simply left while the others sat for some silent prayer. I did not see anyone kneel.

In the evening, I shared this with some members of the exorcism team. One of them said that when a seminarian kneels in prayer, he is oftentimes judged as a showoff! I am disturbed at this prevailing culture in the seminary. Now I am not at all surprised that many priests are reluctant to make acts of reverence. Perhaps, they do not like to look too pious? But then, aren't priests supposed to be pious? Shouldn't acts of reverence (like kneeling) be second nature to them? How can priests lead the faithful in acts of piety if they themselves are not pious?

The Belgian missionaries then taught us the value of piety. Towards the end of my stay in that seminary, small group Masses in the oratories became more and more fashionable and the big chapel was used less and less. I remember that the oratories did not encourage kneeling as these were in the amphitheater style. Perhaps kneeling became less fashionable also to the point that this is now seen as a sign of religious hypocrisy.

But we should kneel before the Lord. "So that at Jesus' Name, every knee should bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth..." so would St. Paul say. Man becomes most a man when he kneels before his Creator!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our Lady of Sorrows: Co-Redemptrix

It is only fitting that the Blessed Mother should be found standing beneath the Cross of our Lord. After all, she has been his most intimate associate in the work of salvation. It was for this moment that she became Mother. The Incarnation, which took place in her womb, was for the purpose of giving the Son of God a human nature that is capable of both suffering and death. The Body of the Lord, which hung upon the cross, was taken from the womb of Mary. The Blood that became the price of our redemption, Jesus received from his own Mother. From the very first instant of his Incarnation, Jesus our Lord has closely associated his Blessed Mother to Himself in the work of Redemption.

If it were not for Our Lady, Our Lord, the only begotten Son of the Father, could not be both Priest and Victim. Had he not assumed human nature in the womb of the Virgin, Our Lord could not have become the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Indeed, from the beginning of his Mortal life, Our Lord has closely involved his Mother in his work of redemption.

Thus, it is only fitting that, inasmuch as Our Lady was His partner from the very beginning, she should accompany Him to the very end - to the consummation of the Sacrifice upon the Cross. And when our Lord said to His Mother, "Behold your son," He did not only entrust His disciples to the care of His Mother. The Lord showed His Mother the fruit of their partnership...the disciple whom Christ wanted Mary to consider her son. It was as if He was telling her: "Mother, here is the one whom I have bought with the Blood I took from you. Here is the one I redeemed with this Body that you gave me. Because he was redeemed by the Blood that I took from you, you have every right to claim him...He is yours. Call him your son."

Indeed, we are hers. She has every right to call us her children. She has every right to be called "Mother" by us. We are the fruit of the partnership of Mother and Son.

Mary gave Jesus a human nature that suffers and dies. Jesus shares with Mary His suffering, His desolation, His pain...but most of all, He shares with her the fruits of His sacrifice: the redeemed. We are hers. She is our Mother!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Calvary and the Mass by Fulton Sheen

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we celebrate the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum four years ago. I started celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite everyday when the Motu Propio was promulgated. The Prologue of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to his work "Calvary and the Mass" is worth our consideration on this blessed day:

THERE are certain things in life which are too beautiful to be forgotten, such as the love of a mother. Hence we treasure her picture. The love of soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their
country is likewise too beautiful to be forgotten, hence we revere their memory on Memorial Day. But the greatest blessing which ever came to this earth was the visitation of the Son of God in the form and habit of man. His life, above all lives, is too beautiful to be forgotten, hence we treasure the divinity of His words in Sacred Scripture, and the charity of His deeds in our daily
actions. Unfortunately this is all some souls remember, namely His Words and His Deeds; important as these are, they are not the greatest characteristic of the Divine Saviour.

The most sublime act in the history of Christ was His Death. Death is always important for it seals a destiny. Any dying man is a scene. Any dying scene is a sacred place. That is why the great literature of the past which has touched on the emotions surrounding death has never passed out of date. But of all deaths in the record of man, none was more important than the Death of Christ. Everyone else who was ever born into the world, came into it to live; our Lord came into it to die. Death was a stumbling block to the life of Socrates, but it was the crown to
the life of Christ. He Himself told us that He came "to give his life as redemption for many"; that no one could take away His Life; but He would lay it down of Himself.

If then Death was the supreme moment for which Christ lived, it was therefore the one thing He wished to have remembered. He did not ask that men should write down His Words into a Scripture; He did not ask that His kindness to the poor should be recorded in history; but He did ask that men remember His Death. And in order that its memory might not be any haphazard narrative on the part of men, He Himself instituted the precise way it should be

The memorial was instituted the night before He died, at what has since been called "The Last Supper." Taking bread into His Hands, He said: "This is my body, which shall be delivered for you," i.e., delivered unto death. Then over the chalice of wine, He said, "This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins." Thus in an unbloody symbol of the parting of the Blood from the Body, by the separate consecration of Bread and Wine, did Christ pledge Himself to death in the sight of God and men, and represent His death which was to come the next afternoon at three. He was offering Himself as a Victim to be immolated, and that men might never forget that "greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends," He gave the divine command to the Church: "Do
this for a commemoration of me."

The following day that which He had prefigured and foreshadowed, He realized in its completeness, as He was crucified between two thieves and His Blood drained from His Body for the redemption of the world.

The Church which Christ founded has not only preserved the Word He spoke, and the wonders He wrought; it has also taken Him seriously when He said: "Do this for a commemoration of me." And that action whereby we re-enact His Death on the Cross is the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which we do as a memorial what He did at the Last Supper as the prefiguration of His Passion.

Hence the Mass is to us the crowning act of Christian worship. A pulpit in which the words of our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than to His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar, and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ, is the
center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion. Its value does not depend on him who says it, or on him who hears it; it depends on Him who is the One High Priest and Victim, Jesus Christ our Lord.
With Him we are united, in spite of our nothingness; in a certain sense, we lose our individuality for the time being; we unite our intellect and our will, our heart and our soul, our body and our blood, so intimately with Christ, that the Heavenly Father sees not so much us with our imperfection, but rather sees us , the Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. The Mass is for that reason the greatest event in the history of mankind; the only Holy Act which keeps the wrath of God
from a sinful world, because it holds the Cross between heaven and earth
, thus renewing that decisive moment when our sad and tragic humanity journeyed suddenly forth to the fullness of supernatural life.

What is important at this point is that we take the proper mental attitude toward the Mass, and remember this important fact, that the Sacrifice of the Cross is not something which happened
nineteen hundred years ago. It is still happening. It is not something past like the signing of the Declaration of Independence; it is an abiding drama on which the curtain has not yet rung down. Let it not be believed that it happened a long time ago, and therefore no more concerns us than anything else in the past. That is why, when our Blessed Lord ascended the heights of Calvary, He was fittingly stripped of His garments: He would save the world without the trappings of a passing world. His garments belonged to time, for they localized Him, and fixed Him as a dweller in Galilee. Now that He was shorn of them and utterly dispossessed of earthly things, He belonged not to Galilee, not to a Roman province, but to the world. He became the universal poor man of the world, belonging to no one people, but to all men.

To express further the universality of the Redemption, the cross was erected at the crossroads of civilization, at a central point between the three great cultures of Jerusalem, Rome, and Athens, in whose names He was crucified. The cross was thus placarded before the eyes of men, to arrest the careless, to appeal to the
thoughtless, to arouse the worldly. It was the one inescapable fact that the cultures and civilizations of His day could not resist. It is also the one inescapable fact of our day which we cannot resist.

The figures at the Cross were symbols of all who crucify. We were there in our representatives. What we are doing now to the Mystical Christ, they were doing in our names to the historical Christ. If we are envious of the good, we were there in the Scribes and Pharisees. If we are fearful of losing some temporal advantage by embracing Divine Truth and Love, we were there in Pilate. If we trust in material forces and seek to conquer through the world instead of through the spirit, we were there in Herod. And so the story goes on for the typical sins of the world. They all blind us to the fact that He is God. There was therefore a kind of inevitability about the Crucifixion. Men who were free to sin were also free to crucify.

As long as there is sin in the world the Crucifixion is a reality. As the poet has put it:

"I saw the son of man go by,
Crowned with a crown of thorns.
'Was it not finished Lord,' said I,
'And all the anguish borne?'

"He turned on me His awful eyes;
'Hast Thou not understood?
So every soul is a Calvary
And every sin a rood.'"

We were there then during that Crucifixion. The drama was already completed as far as the vision of Christ was concerned, but it had not yet been unfolded to all men and all places and all times. If a motion picture reel, for example, were conscious of itself, it would know the drama from beginning to end, but the spectators in the theater would not know it until they had seen it unrolled upon the screen. In like manner, our Lord on the Cross saw in His eternal mind, the
whole drama of history, the story of each individual soul, and how later on it would react to His Crucifixion; but though He saw all, we could not know how we would react to the Cross until we were unrolled upon the screen of time. We were not conscious of being present there on Calvary that day, but He was conscious of our presence. Today we know the role we played in the theater of Calvary, by the way we live and act now in the theater of the twentieth century.

That is why Calvary is actual; why the Cross is the crisis; why in a certain sense the scars are still open; why Pain still stands deified, and why blood like falling stars is still dropping upon
our souls. There is no escaping the Cross not even by denying it as the Pharisees did; not even by selling Christ as Judas did; not even by crucifying Him as the executioners did. We all see it, either to embrace it in salvation, or to fly from it into misery.

But how is it made visible? Where shall we find Calvary perpetuated? We shall find Calvary renewed, re-enacted, re-
presented, as we have seen, in the Mass. Calvary is one with the Mass, and the Mass is one with Calvary, for in both there is the same Priest and Victim. The Seven Last Words are like the seven parts of the Mass. And just as there are seven notes in music admitting an infinite variety of harmonies and combinations, so
too on the Cross there are seven divine notes, which the dying Christ rang down the centuries, all of which combine to form the beautiful harmony of the world's redemption.

Each word is a part of the Mass. The First Word, "Forgive," is the Confiteor; the Second Word, "This Day in Paradise," is the Offertory; the Third Word, "Behold Thy Mother," is the Sanctus;
the Fourth Word, "Why hast Thou abandoned Me," is the Consecration; the Fifth Word, "I thirst," is the Communion; the Sixth Word, "It is finished," is the Ite, Missa Est; the Seventh
Word, "Father, into Thy Hands," is the Last Gospel.

Picture then the High Priest Christ leaving the sacristy of heaven for the altar of Calvary. He has already put on the vestment of our human nature, the maniple of our suffering, the stole of priesthood, the chasuble of the Cross. Calvary is his cathedral; the rock of Calvary is the altar stone; the sun turning to red is the sanctuary lamp; Mary and John are the living side altars; the Host is His Body; the wine is His Blood. He is upright as Priest, yet He is prostrate as Victim. His Mass is about to begin.

(CNA) Conversion of Planned Parenthood Manager

Sherman, Texas, Sep 9, 2011 / 04:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ramona Trevino has a compelling story to tell about her exodus from the nation's largest abortion provider. But in her first public appearance, she chose to emphasize what God accomplished through a vigil outside the clinic she used to manage.

“My message is to glorify God, and to glorify what wonderful things all of you are doing and continue to do. I'm so excited, and honored, to hopefully be a part of that,” she told 40 Days for Life participants at a recent event outside the defunct Planned Parenthood facility in Sherman, Texas.

“People like me everywhere are waiting for a miracle. And that is indeed what happened … Three months later, this place is out of business.”

Trevino, its former manager, had already taken a “leap of faith” on May 6, “leaving behind my job … half of my family's income.” It meant “having to worry about how we were going to survive, and pay the mortgage, and put food on the table.”

She told the assembled members of 40 Days for Life that there had been “a tugging in my heart, on and off, during the three years that I was managing. And it was a tugging that it shames me to say, I did ignore.”

Although Trevino's clinic did not perform abortions, she “still had a hand in the referrals. I still had to give out the number, I still had to give out the information on the locations … where they could get an abortion.”

“That's a truth I finally had to face. And that was a truth that would be brought to light due to the wonderful 40 Days for Life vigil that was held out here.”

In an interview with CNA, Trevino gave more details of her story, explaining how she tried to reconcile her Catholic faith with her work at Planned Parenthood. She also described the dramatic change of heart that coincided with the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

“I was raised Catholic, but I didn't really have a lot of formation in my faith as a kid,” said Trevino. “When I was a little girl … I felt like I was being called to the religious life.” But she “didn't have the formation, as a young child, to elaborate on that calling.”

Instead of becoming a nun, Trevino became pregnant in high school. She left school, and was in a non-Catholic marriage for eight years.

Two years after her subsequent marriage within the Church, Trevino learned about a part-time position at Planned Parenthood from a coworker at her former government job. She had gone through more extensive Catholic formation to prepare for marriage, but still lacked a proper understanding of issues surrounding sexuality and human life.

“I think there was still a lot about my faith that I didn't know – that I didn't get,” she recalled.

Trevino, who says she was “always pro-life,” also lacked an understanding of Planned Parenthood's leading role in the abortion industry. She associated the organization mostly with contraception, which she regarded as wrong for Catholics, but not for others.

“It didn't take me long before I became uncomfortable working there,” she remembered. “It was probably within the first three or four months. The thing that struck me hard was when I had to do my first referral for an abortion.”

“We provided pregnancy tests. So a lot of women would come in to confirm pregnancy, and if they were pregnant sometimes they would want an abortion. And we would have to counsel them on the information, the referrals, how far along they were, and that type of thing.”

“I remember the very first time I had to do that. I went into my office, I closed the door, and I cried. I guess it was something that I didn't think I was actually going to have to do. I was naïve, and I was too focused on the opportunity of being a manager.”

The referrals came relatively infrequently in the small Texas town, and other staff sometimes handled them. When they did occur, Trevino found ways to soothe her conscience.

“I would say prayers for them, and I would justify my actions all the time. I'd come home a wreck, and ask my husband 'Am I guilty?' And I would talk myself out of it, to justify it: 'Really, I'm not making the decision for her; when she walks out the door or gets off the phone, it's up to her what she does. I really am not responsible for what she chooses.''”

I would constantly try to feed myself lies,” she said. “Eventually it got to me. I wasn't standing up for those babies. I wasn't trying to save their lives … Over time, I couldn't deny it to myself anymore.”

Trevino also became disillusioned with policies she said were geared toward “pushing things on people” for financial gain. “It's about making money. You didn't get the sense that they really, truly cared about these women they way they say they did.”

But the clinic manager's decision to leave Planned Parenthood and its practices behind, is mysterious even to her.

“I can't explain it on a human level. To me, it's all divine.”

The point when she says “everything began to change” was December 2010. She tuned in to her local Catholic radio station for the first time, and heard a show on women's post-abortion experiences. Almost every caller spoke of having an abortion through Planned Parenthood. She also learned about “the workings of contraception,” and its ability to cause an abortion.

“I began to tune in every day,” she said. She learned about Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood employee who chronicled her pro-life conversion in the bestselling book “UnPlanned.”

One night, coming back from the clinic, “I was listening to Catholic radio … I remember a woman saying: 'One day, when we die and we meet our maker, he's going to ask: “What did you do to prevent and stop abortion?”’ Right there, it was like a dagger in my heart.”

She began praying the Rosary during Lent, and said that on the third day, “the blinders just completely came off my eyes.” She dropped her excuses about working at a non-abortion-facility, and “understood why working for Planned Parenthood was wrong.”

“Shortly after, the first 40 Days for Life vigil was held outside the clinic. I got the courage to go out and talk to them, and ask for their prayers.” Trevino says she felt the strength God gave her through the prayers of the pro-life volunteers.

And it's possible that another intercessor, whom the Church celebrated just after Easter, may have been offering his prayers as she neared her decision.

It was on Divine Mercy Sunday, the day that Blessed Pope John Paul II was beatified … At that time, I said I was probably going to leave Planned Parenthood in June. But I remember, on Divine Mercy Sunday … I just couldn't control my tears. Because at that moment I just felt God calling me.”

“I just took that leap of faith, and trusted God, and said: 'I'm out. I'm done.'”

Trevino, who hopes to pursue a pro-life ministry in the future, will give a keynote speech in Dallas on Sept. 27 as 40 Days for Life begins its fall campaign.

On the Mandate of Catholic Universities

In a meeting, I learned from a concerned parent about the predicament of her son who is uncomfortable with an atheist philosophy teacher who is employed by a renowned Catholic university run by the Christian Brothers. I am sad that Catholic universities have forgotten their mandate to educate in the Catholic faith. What is an atheist teacher doing in a Catholic university? Why is he promoting atheism in an institution that is supposed to form students in Christ? Pope Benedict has very relevant teachings about this:

In helping the spiritual, intellectual and moral faculties of their students to mature, Catholic schools should continue to develop a capacity for sound judgment and introduce them to the heritage bequeathed to them by former generations, thus fostering a sense of values and preparing their pupils for a happy and productive life (cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 5). I encourage you to continue to pay close attention to the quality of instruction in the schools present in your Dioceses, to ensure that they be genuinely Catholic and therefore capable of passing on those truths and values necessary for the salvation of souls and the up-building of society.

Of course, Catholic schools are not the only means by which the Church seeks to instruct and to edify her people in intellectual and moral truth. As you know, all of the Church’s activities are meant to glorify God and fill his people with the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32). This saving truth, at the heart of the deposit of faith, must remain the foundation of all the Church’s endeavours, proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise. The capacity to present the truth gently but firmly is a gift to be nurtured especially among those who teach in Catholic institutes of higher education and those who are charged with the ecclesial task of educating seminarians, religious or the lay faithful, whether in theology, catechetical studies or Christian spirituality. Those who teach in the name of the Church have a particular obligation faithfully to hand on the riches of the tradition, in accordance with the Magisterium and in a way that responds to the needs of today, while students have the right to receive the fullness of the intellectual and spiritual heritage of the Church. Having received the benefits of a sound formation and dedicated to charity in truth, the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the Christian community will be better able to contribute to the growth of the Church and the advancement of Indian society. The various members of the Church will then bear witness to the love of God for all humanity as they enter into contact with the world, providing a solid Christian testimony in friendship, respect and love, and striving not to condemn the world but to offer it the gift of salvation (cf. Jn 3:17). Encourage those involved in education, whether priests, religious or laity, to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. Enable them to reach out to their neighbours that, by their word and example, they may more effectively proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6).

A significant role of witness to Jesus Christ is carried out in your country by men and women religious, who are the often unsung heroes of the Church’s vitality locally. Above and beyond their apostolic labours, however, religious and the lives they lead are a source of spiritual fruitfulness for the entire Christian community. As they open themselves to the grace of God, religious men and women inspire others to respond with trust, humility and joy to the invitation of the Lord to follow him.

In this regard, my Brother Bishops, I know that you are aware of the many factors which inhibit spiritual and vocational growth, particularly among young people. Yet we know that it is Jesus Christ alone who responds to our deepest longings, and who gives true meaning to our lives. Only in him can our hearts truly find rest. Continue, therefore, to speak to young people and to encourage them to consider seriously the consecrated or priestly life; speak with parents about their indispensible role in encouraging and supporting such vocations; and lead your people in prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send many more labourers into this harvest (cf. Mt 9:38)

Pope Benedict XVI, To the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of India,
8 September 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Eucharist as Antidote to Individualism

The Holy Father gave this homily at the close of the National Eucharistic Congress in Ancona.

"This is a hard saying!" It is hard because we often confuse liberty with the absence of chains, with the conviction of being able to make do by ourselves, without God, who is seen as a limit to liberty. This is an illusion that is soon turned into delusion, generating unrest and fear and leading, paradoxically, to longing for the chains of the past: "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt," said the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 16:3), as we heard. In reality, it is only in openness to God, in the acceptance of his gift, that we become truly free, free from the slavery of sin that disfigures man and the capacity to serve the real good of brethren.

"This is a hard saying!" It is hard because man often falls into the illusion of being able to "transform the stones into bread." After having put God aside, or having tolerated him as a private choice that must not interfere with public life, certain ideologies have aimed at organizing society with the force of power and the economy. History shows us, tragically, how the objective of ensuring development, material well-being and peace to all, doing without God and his revelation, has resulted in giving men stones instead of bread. Bread, dear brothers and sisters, is the "fruit of man's work," and enclosed in this truth is all the responsibility entrusted to our hands and to our ingeniousness; but bread is also, and even first "fruit of the earth," which receives from on High sun and rain: It is a gift to be requested, which takes away all arrogance and makes us invoke with the trust of the humble: "Father (...), give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

Man is incapable of giving life to himself, he is understood only from God: it is the relationship with Him that gives consistency to our humanity and renders our life good and just. In the Our Father we pray that His name be hallowed, that His will be done. It is first of all the primacy of God that we must recover in our world and in our lives, because it is this primacy that enables us to rediscover the truth of what we are, and it is in knowing and following the will of God that we find our true good -- to give time and space to God, so that He will be the vital center of our existence.

From whence should we start, as the source, to recover and reaffirm the primacy of God? From the Eucharist: Here God makes Himself so close as to become our food, here He becomes the strength on the way that is so often difficult, here he makes himself a friendly presence that transforms. Already the Law given through Moses was considered as "bread of Heaven," thanks to which Israel became the people of God, but in Jesus the last and definitive Word of God becomes flesh, comes to meet us as Person. He, the Eternal Word, is the true manna, he is the bread of life (cf. John 6:32-35) and to carry out the works of God is to believe in Him (cf. John 6:28-29). In the Last Supper, Jesus summarizes his whole existence in a gesture that is inscribed in the great Paschal Blessing of God, a gesture that He lives as Son as thanksgiving to the Father for his immense love. Jesus breaks the bread and shares it, but with a new profundity, because He gives himself. He takes the chalice and shares it, so that all can drink from it, but with this gesture He gives the "new covenant in his blood," he gives himself. Jesus anticipates the act of supreme love, in obedience to the will of the Father: the sacrifice of the Cross. His life will be taken from him on the Cross, but already now He offers it on his own. Thus Christ's death is not reduced to a violent execution, but is transformed by Him into a free act of love, of self-giving; he goes victoriously through death itself and confirms the goodness of creation which came from the hands of God, humiliated by sin and finally redeemed. This immense gift is accessible to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: God gives himself to us, to open our existence to Him, to link it to the mystery of love of the Cross, to render it a participant in the eternal mystery from which we come and to anticipate the new condition of full life in God, in the expectation of which we live.

However, what does this starting from the Eucharist to reaffirm the primacy of God entail for our daily life? Eucharistic communion, dear friends, tears us away from our individualism, it communicates the spirit of Christ dead and risen, it conforms us to Him; it unites us intimately to brethren in that mystery of communion which is the Church, where the one Bread makes of many just one body (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17), carrying out the prayer of the early Christian community reported in the book of the Didache: "as this broken bread was scattered on the hills, and gathered became only one thing, thus your Church from the confines of the earth is gathered in your Kingdom" (IX, 4). The Eucharist sustains and transforms the whole of daily life. As I reminded in my first encyclical, "Eucharistic communion includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn," for which reason "a Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented" ("Deus Caritas Est," 14).

The 2,000-year history of the Church is studded with men and women saints whose life is an eloquent sign of how in fact from communion with the Lord, from the Eucharist a new and intense assumption of responsibility is born at all levels of community life; born hence is a positive social development, which has the person at the center, especially the poor, the sick and the straitened. To be nourished by Christ is the way not to remain foreign and indifferent to the fortunes of our brothers, but to enter into the very logic of love and of gift of the sacrifice of the Cross; he who is able to kneel before the Eucharist, who receives the Lord's body cannot fail to be attentive, in the ordinary course of the days, to situations unworthy of man, and is able to bend down personally to attend to need, is able to break his bread with the hungry, share water with the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (cf. Matthew 25:34-36). He will be able to see in every person the Lord who did not hesitate to give the whole of himself for us and for our salvation. Hence, a Eucharistic spirituality is a real antidote to individualism and egoism that often characterize daily life, and leads to the rediscovery of gratuitousness, the centrality of relationships, beginning with the family, with a particular care for binding the wounds of the broken. A Eucharistic spirituality is the soul of an ecclesial community that overcomes divisions and oppositions and appreciates the diversity of charisms and ministries putting them at the service of the unity of the Church, of her vitality and of her mission. A Eucharistic spirituality is a way to restore dignity to man's days and, hence, to his work, in the quest for reconciliation with the times of celebration and the family and in the commitment to surmount the uncertainty of precariousness and the problem of unemployment. A Eucharistic spirituality will also help us to approach the different forms of human fragility conscious that they do not obfuscate the value of the person, but require closeness, acceptance and help. Drawn from the Bread of life will be the vigor of a renewed educational capacity, attentive to witnessing the fundamental values of life, of learning, of the spiritual and cultural patrimony; its vitality will make us inhabit the city of men with the willingness to spend ourselves on the horizon of the common good for the building of a more equitable and fraternal society.

ZENIT - Papal Homily at Close of Eucharistic Congress

The Holy Name of Mary

Ave Maria! This name was inserted (in the Angelic Salutation) not by the Angel, but by the devotion of the faithful. The blessed Evangelist Luke says significantly, "and the name of the Virgin was Mary" (Luke 1:27). This most holy, sweet, and worthy name was eminently fitting to so holy, sweet, and worthy a virgin. For Mary means bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminatrix. Mary is interpreted lady. Mary is a bitter sea to the demons; to men she is the star of the sea; to the angels she is illuminatrix, to all creatures she is lady...

Let us pray, let us pray most devoutly to Mary and say: O Mary, Bitter Sea, help us, that we may plunged into the bitter sea of penance! O Mary, Star of the Sea, help us that we may be guided rightly through the sea of this world! O Mary, Light-giver, help us, that we may be eternally illumined in glory! O Lady Mary, help us by your government and empire that we may be filially governed. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

St. Bonaventure, OFM
Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Self-denial according to St. Faustina

The Lord's way is one of self-denial. What does self-denial mean? I was browsing over the pages of St. Faustina's diary and I found something worth our consideration:

1. The denial of my reason. Subjecting it to the reason of those who represent God to me on earth.

2. The denial of my will. Doing the will of God, which is revealed in the will of those who represent God to me and which is contained in the rule of our order.

3. The denial of my judgment. Accepting immediately and without reflection, analysis or reasoning all orders given by those who represent God to me.

4. The denial of my tongue. I will not give it the least bit of freedom; but in one case only I will give it complete freedom; that is, in proclaiming the glory of God. Whenever I receive Holy Communion, I will ask Jesus to fortify and cleanse my tongue that I may not injure my neighbor with it. That is why I have the greatest respect for the rule which speaks about silence.

(St. Faustina, Diary, 375)

Retalliation, Mercy, and 9/11

Today is the 10th anniversary of that infamous 9/11 attack. We look to that dreadful day when, a decade ago, 3,000 lives perished as a result of a well-orchestrated terrorist act. The war on terror and the death of Osama Bin Laden became the retaliation of the Western world to Muslim terrorists. But as so many things have taken place in a decade, why is it that the papers continue to speak of the US facing new threat on the 10th year of 9/11?

I find it so providential that the 10rh anniversary of 9/11 should fall on that Sunday when the word of God teaches us about retaliation and mercy. The initial international response to the terrorist act was a war on terror. Undeniably, this is an act of retaliation. Call it by so many other names, justify it with so many reasons, but the war on terror will always be a retaliation against the attack that killed so many lives. But the question is: has retalliation accomplished its goal? Is it working? Is it right?

The Book of Sirac speaks in very clear terms against revenge: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail.” Our desire for retaliation stems from the false impression that healing comes with revenge. However, even the relatives who witnessed the execution of their loved ones’ assailant would confess that the death of the criminal does not fill in the vacuum left by the crime in their lives. The word of God gives us the only legitimate option that assures healing to any damage created by injustice: that solution is forgiveness. “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then, when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, and seek pardon for his own sin? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins?” The Lord himself brings out the necessity of forgiveness:”I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”

Healing does not begin when you have gotten even with your enemy. Healing begins with forgiveness. “Unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart, so will my heavenly Father do to you.” Oftentimes, we still feel the pain despite getting even because we continue to nourish anger against the unjust one. But instead of harbouring that grudge against the offender, why not simply forgive and live everything to God? Remember that we have our own debts to pay to the Lord. We ourselves are in need of his mercy. If you need mercy, then be merciful because Jesus himself says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” “Remember your last days, set emnity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin. Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbot; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”

Perhaps this is the reason why the war on terror goes on with no end in sight. We stubbornly stick to a paradign of revenge that has accomplished nothing but further damage to the world. By doing so, we dig more graves, deeper graves for more dead. We still refuse to try forgiveness as a genuine step to healing, peace, and real security. Peace continues to be elusive because we never turn to mercy. Jesus himself said to St. Faustina: “Mankind will not have peace until it turns in trust to My mercy.” (Diary, 300).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Missionary Zeal

Eternal Love, I want all the souls You have created to come to know You. I would like to be a priest, for then I would speak without cease about Your mercy to sinful souls drowned in despair. I would like to be a missionary and carry the light of faith to savage nations in order to make You known to souls, and to be completely consumed for them and to die a martyr's death, just as You died for them and for me. O Jesus, I know only too well that I can be a priest, a missionary, a preacher, and that I can die a martyr's death by completely emptying myself and denying myself for love of You, O Jesus, and of immortal souls.

St. Faustina, Diary, 302.

How we wish that such ardent missionary desire would still be present in Catholic souls! If only we would have that desire to make the Merciful Jesus known to many souls drowned in despair! Here is the solution to the problem of suicide the world over: Make the Divine Mercy known and loved to all the world!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cast in Mary's mold

That infamous 9-11 attack in the United States will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. How quickly time flies because it seemed just like yesterday. The issue of international security once again takes center stage. So much has happened in 10 years:the war on terror and the death of Al Quaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. So much has happened and yet, we ask: Is the world now at peace?

The Feast of the Birth of Mary is an appeal for peace. At the Opening Prayer, we petitioned the Lord: May the celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace. Many people are so much engrossed with 9-11 that they missed 9-12 which is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, a feast so closely associated with today’s feast. The Feast of Mary’s Holy Name commemorates the victory of Christian forces against the Moslems in the battle of Vienna in 1683. It was a feast that disappeared in the reform of the liturgical calendar but was restored by Blessed John Paul in the year 2000, a year before that fateful 9-11. The coincidences are too fantastic to miss. Obviously, the Lord has entrusted the work of Peace to his own Blessed Mother.

“The Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne…He shall stand fast to shepherd his flock…He shall be peace.” The work of peace was entrusted by the Lord to the Virgin Mary because she is the Mother of Him who is our Peace. The One born of her is called Wonder-counsellor, God-hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace. The One born of her is the One who broke down the walls dividing Jews and Gentiles. “He is our Peace,” so said St. Paul. Obviously, peace is achieved permanently in the rule of Christ whose kingdom lasts for ever. This is the formula that the world has never tried: Pax Christi in Regno Christi. Peace comes only when Christ rules over us. Peace comes only when Christ is formed in us. Thus, we should understand why the work of peace was entrusted to the Virgin Mary.

St. Louis Marie de Monfort wrote: “If Mary is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to the practices of this devotion, she will bear her fruit in her own time, and her fruit is none other than Jesus Christ. How many devout souls do I see who seek Jesus Christ…and oftentimes, after they have toiled much throughout the night, they say: ‘We have toiled all night, and have taken nothing!’ (Lk. 5:5)…But by that immaculate way of Mary…we toil during the day, we toil in a holy place, we toil but little. There is no night in Mary, because there is no sin nor even the slightest shade (in her). Mary is a holy place, and the holy of holies where saints are formed and molded…Saints are molded in Mary. There is a great difference between making a figure by blows of hammer and chisel, and making a figure by throwing it into a mold. Sculptors labor much to make figures in the first manner, but to make figures in the second manner, they work little and do their work quickly. St. Augustine calls our Blessed Lady “the mold of God” – the mold fit to cast and mold gods. He who is cast in this mold is presently formed and molded in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in him. At a slight expense and in a short time he will become God because he has been cast in the same mold which has formed a God…Those who embrace the secret of grace which I am revealing to them I may rightly compare to founders and casters who have discovered the beautiful mold of Mary, where Jesus was naturally and divinely formed; and without trusting in their own skill, but only in the goodness of the mold, they cast themselves and lose themselves in Mary, to become the faithful portraits of Jesus…But remember that we cast in a mold only what is melted and liquid, that is to say, you must destroy and melt down in yourself the old Adam to become the new one in Mary.” (True Devotion to Mary, 218-221.)

Only in such way can there be peace if we are molded into Christ who is our Peace. Therefore, let Christ be formed in us. Let us be formed in Christ. Let this be done in the mold of Mary. May our celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace.