Friday, October 19, 2012

Christ our only Treasure

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“… he went away sad, for he had many possessions” – this sentence might cause us to wonder what the rich man could be sad about. After all, he had many possessions. Is this not the stuff that makes all of us happy? With many possessions, you can do anything…you can have everything you want. The world teaches us: “Money makes the world go round.” If this were so, then why did the rich man go away sad?

St. Catherine of Genoa says “God has created the soul, pure and simple…endowed with a beatific instinct towards God.” And it experiences joy insofar as the love of God flows into the soul. However, St. Catherine refers to a certain “rust” which covers the soul and impedes such a flowing in of God. This “rust” is sin…and perhaps, every attachment to the things of the world. St. Catherine said, “If an object is covered, being under the sun, it cannot receive the reflection of the sun – not because of defect of the sun which continually shines; but because of what is covering it.” The cover prevents the object from receiving whatever the sun has to offer. The thicker the cover is, the more it is shielded from the rays of the sun, the less it absorbs the reflection of the sun. The thicker the “rust” that covers the soul, the less the soul experiences joy because the love of God is not able to flow into it.

Because the man has many possessions, he could not appreciate the fact that Jesus was looking at him and loving him. His many possessions prevented him from doing so. Therefore, his possessions prevented him from experiencing the joy that only the love of the Lord can give. The responsorial psalm tells us: “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!”

The possessions we value too much are “rust” in reality. In the Book of Wisdom spoke of Wisdom: “I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison to her, nor did I liken any precious gem to her; because all gold, in view of her (wisdom), is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness, I loved her, and I chose to her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.” And who is this Wisdom of God? It is Jesus. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is our true treasure. Si Hesus ang ating tunay na yaman. Si Hesus ang ating tanging yaman.

Ikaw ang aking tanging yaman na di lubusang masumpungan. Ang nilikha mong kariktan, sulyap ng yong kagandahan. Jesus, you are my unique treasure. The beautiful things that you have created are but a glimpse of your beauty, Lord.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Monday, October 8, 2012

UST: True to its Catholic Name

The Main Building with the images of the Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity

This Article on the "Varsitarian" speaks well of the University of Santo Tomas as a Catholic University. I find the following paragraphs as worthy of our considration:

"If faculty members of UST and other Catholic schools feel they need to invoke their academic freedom to make known their stand in conflict with the bishops regarding the RH bill, then they’re free to do so. But they must resign from UST. They must give up their Catholic academic affiliation. They must have the courage of their intellectual conviction. Upholding their conscience, they must respect the Church and her teachings."

"The Ateneo and La Salle professors therefore have been treated with kid gloves by the Jesuits and the Christian Brothers. Although they’re religious and members of Catholic orders, the Jesuits and Christian Brothers have failed to uphold orthodoxy and defend the Church. As far as the RH bill and support for it among their faculty are concerned, they’re lemons. And as far as the Pro-RH Ateneo and La Salle professors are concerned, they’re dishonest and don’t have the courage of their intellectual conviction. Contradicting the bishops and defending the RH bill, they have clung on to their faculty membership in Catholic institutions. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. They’re intellectual mercenaries, nothing more, nothing less.
It is quite gratifying that UST has cracked the whip and reminded its faculty members that they’re members of a Catholic institution and should toe the line."

"In short, over and above academic freedom, the Catholic university exists for evangelical purposes. By going against the stand of the bishops, the Ateneo and La Salle professors are saying they don’t agree with the Church’s mission. If so, they’re free to leave. In fact, they must leave. They must resign if they have the courage of their conviction."

Link: RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of lemons and cowards

Friday, October 5, 2012

Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith

The Apostolic Penitentiary published the Decree Granting Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith.

The following are the salient parts:

"During the whole span of the Year of Faith, proclaimed from October 11, 2012 to the whole of November 24, 2013, all individual faithful truly repentant, duly confessed, communing sacramentally, and who pray according to the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, will be able to acquire a Plenary Indulgence from the temporal punishment for their sins imparted by God’s mercy, applicable in suffrage to the souls of the deceased faithful.
"a.- Every time they take part in at least three instances of preaching during the Sacred Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of Vatican Council II and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in any church or ideal place;
"b.- Every time they visit by way of pilgrimage a Papal Basilica, a Christian catacomb, a Cathedral; Church, a sacred place designated by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example between the Minor Basilicas and the Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Holy Apostles and to Patron Saints) and take part there in some sacred function or at least pause for an apt time of recollection with pious meditations, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, according to the case, to Holy Apostles or Patrons;
"c.- Every time, in days determined by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example on the solemnities of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the feasts of the Holy Apostles and Patrons, on the Chair of Saint Peter), in any sacred place they participate in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form;
d.- A day freely chosen, during the Year of Faith, for the pious visit of the baptistery or other place, in which they received the sacrament of Baptism, renewing the baptismal promises in any legitimate formula.

Diocesan or Eparchial bishops, and those who in law are equivalent to them, in the most appropriate day of this time, on the occasion of the main celebration (for example November 24, 2013, on the solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, with which the Year of Faith will close) will be able to impart the Papal Blessing with the Plenary Indulgence, to be gained by all the faithful who receive this Blessing devoutly.
"The truly repentant faithful, who cannot take part in solemn celebrations for serious reasons (as, first of all, nuns that live in convents of perpetual cloister, anchorites and hermits, prisoners, the elderly, the sick, as well as those that, in hospitals or other nursing places, give continuous service to the sick …), will obtain the Plenary Indulgence in the same conditions  if, united in spirit and thought to the faithful present, particularly in moments in which the Words of the Supreme Pontiff or of the Diocesan Bishops are broadcast on television or radio, recite in their own home  or where the impediment keeps them (for example in the chapel of the convent, of the hospital, of the nursing home, of the prison …) the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers in keeping with the objective of the Year of Faith, offering the sufferings or discomforts of their life."

For the Text of the Decree, go to the link: ZENIT - Decree Granting Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith

Liturgy is the Place where the Church is Fully Experienced

Liturgy is a going out of being closed in on ourselves...

The Holy Father, in the General Audience (October 3, 2012), gave a catechism on the Ecclesial Nature of Liturgical Prayer. The highlights would be the following:

"In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church” (n. 1097); therefore, it is the “whole Christ”, the whole Community, the Body of Christ united with her Head who celebrates. The liturgy then is not a kind of “self-manifestation” of a community; instead, it is a going out of simply “being ourselves” -- of being closed in on ourselves -- and the portal to the great banquet, the entrance into the great living community, in which God himself nourishes us. The liturgy involves universality, and this universal character must enter ever anew into everyone’s awareness. The Christian liturgy is the worship of the universal temple, which is the Risen Christ. His arms are extended on the Cross in order to draw all men into the embrace of God’s eternal love. It is the worship of heaven opened wide. It is never merely the event of a single community, with its own position in time and space. It is important that every Christian feel and really be inserted into this universal “we”, which provides the foundation and refuge for the “I” in the Body of the Christ, which is the Church.
"In this, we must always be mindful of and accept the logic of the Incarnation of God: He has drawn close, become present, by entering into history and into human nature, by becoming one of us. And this presence continues in the Church, his Body. The liturgy then is not the memory of past events, but rather the living presence of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which transcends and unites both time and space. If the centrality of Christ does not emerge at the forefront in the celebration, we will not have Christian liturgy, which is totally dependent upon the Lord and sustained by his creative presence. God acts by means of Christ and we cannot act except through him and in him. Every day, the conviction must grow in us that the liturgy is not ours, my own “doing”; rather, it is God’s action in us and with us.
"Therefore, it is neither the individual – priest or faithful – nor the group who celebrates the liturgy; rather, it is primarily God’s action through the Church, who has her own history, her own rich tradition and her own creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is proper to the liturgy as a whole, is one of the reasons why it cannot be designed or modified by individual communities or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
Even in the liturgy of the smallest communities, the entire Church is always present. For this reason, there are no “strangers” in the liturgical community. In every liturgical celebration the whole Church participates together, heaven and earth, God and men. The Christian liturgy, although it is celebrated in a concrete place and space and expresses the “yes” of a particular community, is by its very nature catholic; it comes from the whole and leads to the whole, in unity with the Pope, with the Bishops, with believers of all times and ages and from all places. The more a celebration is animated by this awareness, the more fruitfully will the authentic meaning of the liturgy there be realized.
"Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in charitable works, in missionary endeavors, in the personal apostolate that every Christian should carry out in his own environment. But the place where she is fully experienced as the Church is in the liturgy: it is the act, we believe, whereby God enters into our reality and we can encounter him, we can touch him. It is the act whereby we enter into contact with God: He comes to us, and we are enlightened by him. Therefore, when in our reflections we focus our attention only on how we may render it attractive, interesting, beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for us; it is his work; he is the subject; and we should open ourselves to him and allow ourselves to be guided by him and by his Body, which is the Church."
The Link: ZENIT - On the Ecclesial Nature of Liturgical Prayer

The Humility of Christ and the Cross (25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Today, if it were not a Sunday, is the Feast of St. Padre Pio, a Franciscan friar who lived in our lifetime and who was known as the priest who bore the sacred wounds of our Lord in his own flesh for 50 years. There are many devotees to this saint today because they consider him as a great miracle worker. But very few realize that this man taught us to love the Cross of Christ and embrace it in our own bodies.

As in last Sunday’s gospel, the Lord teaches us, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and 3 days after his death, the Son of Man will rise.” At the very heart of the mystery of Christ is the mystery of the Cross. It is Christ who is the Just One referred to in the Book of Wisdom – the One whom the wicked find obnoxious because “he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for our transgressions, and challenges us with violations of our training.” Jesus is the Just One who is put to the test “with revilement and torture…so that we may have proof of his gentleness and patience.”  And indeed, he was put to test. On the Cross, in the face of much cruelty and revilement, the Lord was the perfection of gentleness and patience. He is truly the Wisdom from above, as the Apostle St. James said: “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” On the Cross, Jesus truly manifested himself as the Son of God. His gentle compliance to the will of the Father was the fulfillment of the 1st reading: “If the just One be the Son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.” On the Cross, Jesus truly became the last of all and the servant of all. He manifested this when on the night he was betrayed, he washed the feet of his disciples. He, who is the first born of all creation, lowered himself to wash his disciples’ feet.

It is the simplicity of the Son of God on the Cross that Padre Pio emulated. Even though he was famous on account of the stigmata on his body, Padre Pio continued to be a very simple man: “I am only a friar who wants to pray.” Padre Pio says: “Jesus likes to give Himself to simple souls; we must make an effort to acquire this beautiful virtue of simplicity and to hold it in great esteem. Jesus said: Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. But before He taught us this by His words he had already put it into practice. He became a child and gave us the example of that simplicity he was to teach us later also by his words. Let us empty our hearts and keep far from us all human prudence. We must try to keep our thoughts pure, our ideas upright and honest and our intentions holy." (From a letter to Padre Agostino from Pietrelcina, July 10, 1915. Diflumeri, Father Gerardo, ed. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Letters, Vol. 1, Correspondence with His Spiritual Directors (1910-1922). 2nd ed. Vol. 1. San Giovanni: Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, 1984. 677-678.)

As on the Cross, Jesus lowered himself to become last of all, so should we go with him into the depth of his self-abasement. "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross." (August 14, 1914, Epistolario II, p. 155.) 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

The Difference between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of men

Jesus, I trust in you!

St. Mark addressed his Gospel to the Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Thus, the image of Jesus which he presents to them is that of the Suffering Servant of God, one who teaches that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise again after three days.” He rebukes Peter for resisting our Lord’s destiny as the Suffering Servant. He calls Peter “Satan” because he was “thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

The Lord shows the difference of the thoughts of God from the thoughts of man. Man naturally thinks in terms of convenience, comfort, and ease. This is the reason why the RH bill is very attractive to many people. It promises couples of a life of ease and comfort because, admittedly, the less children they have, the less responsibilities they still need to fulfill. Less responsibility mean a lifestyle of comfort and ease. That is why, as I have said a few weeks ago, many people would rather listen to the human teachings that guarantee comfortable lives than the commandments of God that challenge us to transcend the narrow limitations of the human point of view.

But human beings do not think as God does. Men think in terms of convenience but God thinks in terms of righteousness and truth. Men think in terms of accumulation but God thinks in terms of self-emptying. Men think in terms of honors and applause but God thinks in terms of humiliations and self-denial. The ways of God, the way of suffering, self-denial, and daily cross, can only be explained by who God is: God is Love. Padre Pio used to say: “He who begins to love must be willing to suffer.” This willingness to suffer is due to the fact that love and sacrifice go together. Love and sacrifice is what the Cross is about.

We constantly search for what will make us happy. Wrongly do we think that happiness is brought by convenience and material satisfaction. True happiness is found in God. True happiness is found in heaven. And the only way to heaven is through the Cross. Christ entered his glory only through the Cross. “The foot of the Cross is the gateway to heaven.” “Life is a Calvary and we must climb it cheerfully…From Calvary, we go to Tabor.” The way of suffering is the way of glory. “Glory will be ours on the condition that we endure suffering.”

By the Cross, the Lord proved his love for us. By the Cross, let us prove our love for Him. “In suffering, we give to God something which we cannot do in paradise…The angels are jealous of us because they cannot suffer.” “Suffering is a sure sign that God loves us…Accepting sufferings will perfect us and sanctify us.” Let us deny ourselves, carry our Cross, and follow Jesus.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!