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Monday, November 23, 2015

Beings of time and space and flesh, our faith must be lived with faithful endurance and constancy

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love. If you have a generous supply of these, they will not leave you ineffectual or unproductive: they will bring you to a real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But without them a man is blind or else short-sighted; he has forgotten how his past sins were washed away. Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:1-11)

Christian without the Eucharist?


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jesus is not soft, but he is merciful

'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

On today's Gospel reading (Luke 19:11-28), Jesus relates a parable that is jarring, as it was likely intended to be. But up front I would say that this is not intended to convey a cruel, bloodthirsty Messiah. I will quickly point out that Jesus proceeds to Jerusalem, to his most merciful act of sacrifice for any who are open to his mercy. As all parables do, this one sticks to particular points and no more. First, the demands of the kingdom are high because the stakes are high. If we who receive gifts as capital did nothing to earn them, then it is only fair to do something with that capital as three fiber expected. Even a modest gain is better than nothing, although the invitation is there to dare more, strive more, and merit more rewards. Nothing unreasonable there. Second, I think the arrogance of the citizens, heading off the king-to-be with a delegation behind his back, is foolish and futile. The reality is that the man is to be made king. It is not a popular election; it is not up to them. Balanced with Jesus heading to Calvary, the brutal disposal of the dissidents is not the self-serving execution that we might think it to be. God takes no pleasure in the death of the sinful man, but prefers his conversion and fidelity. The reality is that they have no place in the kingdom if they want nothing of its eternal king. They made that choice. It seems fitting that the parable is so brutal in the seeming reprisal in contrast to the Cross. There is an otherwise easy tendency to undervalue the grace and mercy of God - to our everlasting detriment. How long should we sit on the fence? It becomes too easy to postpone making a stand if we think that we can get away with it.

The stakes are high. God is merciful but he will not violate our free will. If we reject him, what can he do?

Continued rumblings after the synod

Sometimes I think that the seeming to-and-fro, not only of Pope Francis' mind, as reported here and there, but the synod proceedings as a whole, reflects a discernment process. It seems like it anyway. It is like some form of annealing, like a boggle game shaken vigorously. and no one knows what it will say when the pieces come to rest.

Apart from that, it is an interesting spectacle to watch how the different characters and groups react and reveal their minds and their cards. Some, God bless them, are simply orthodox. Others are unapologetically less interested in orthodoxy, despite the fact that it is Christ at the giving end of the doxos. Some are close to panic, others are calm but vigilant, and others yet, smug, indifferent, or both. It's interesting to consider that they - we - are all being tested on this. Christ, as always, is a stumbling block and a cause to reveal the secrets of our intentions. Our intentions are on the scales. Is our position chosen out of charity or selfishness, fidelity or worldliness, conviction or comfort, faith or despair?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peace, not Affliction

The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You will call upon me, and I will answer you, and I will lead back your captives from every place.

From the Mass entrance antiphon today, Jeremiah 29.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Divorce is a big deal to the Christian faith, because it is breaking faith and unity

From Malachi 1:1-14,2:13-16 in the Office of Readings today:

And here is something else you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and wailing, because he now refuses to consider the offering or to accept it from your hands. And you ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, the wife with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant. Did he not create a single being that has flesh and the breath of life? And what is this single being destined for? God-given offspring. Be careful for your own life, therefore, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and I hate people to parade their sins on their cloaks, says the Lord of Hosts. Respect your own life, therefore, and do not break faith like this.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sharing in the body and blood of the Lord sanctifies us

St Fulgentius of Ruspe's Tract against Fabian

When we offer the sacrifice the words of our Saviour are fulfilled just as the blessed Apostle Paul reported them: On the same night he was betrayed the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and said: ‘This is my body, which is for you: do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

  So the sacrifice is offered to proclaim the death of the Lord and to be a commemoration of him who laid down his life for us. He himself has said: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. So, since Christ died for us, out of love, it follows that when we offer the sacrifice in commemoration of his death, we are asking for love to be given us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We beg and we pray that just as through love Christ deigned to be crucified for us, so we may receive the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that by that grace the world should be a dead thing in our eyes and we should be dead to the world, crucified and dead. We pray that we should imitate the death of our Lord. Christ, when he died, died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God. We pray, therefore, that in imitating the death of our Lord we should walk in newness of life, dead to sin and living for God.

  The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to us. When we share in the Lord’s body and blood, when we eat his bread and drink his cup, this truly means that we die to the world and have our hidden life with Christ in God, crucifying our flesh and its weaknesses and its desires.

  Thus it is that all the faithful who love God and their neighbour drink the cup of the Lord’s love even if they do not drink the cup of bodily suffering. Soaked through with that drink, they mortify the flesh in which they walk this earth. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ like a cloak, their desires are no longer those of the body. They do not contemplate what can be seen but what is invisible to the eyes. This is how the cup of the Lord is drunk when divine love is present; but without that love, you may even give your body to be burned and still it will do you no good. What the gift of love gives us is the chance to become in truth what we celebrate as a mystery in the sacrifice.

From the Office of Readings today, via Universalis.com

Thursday, September 24, 2015

St. Augustine to pastors today

Well then, shepherds, hear the words of the Lord. As I live, says the Lord God... See how he starts. It is like an oath sworn by God, calling his very life to witness. As I live, says the Lord God. The shepherds are dead but the sheep are safe. As I live, says the Lord God. What shepherds are dead? Those who have sought their own interests rather than Christ’s. So what of the shepherds who seek Christ’s interests and not their own? Of course there will be such shepherds, of course they will be found: there is no lack of them and there never will be.

(From the Office of Readings, 22 September)