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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)

Friday, September 11, 2015

It is not Christ's will to forgive without the Church

From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot -

There are two things that are God’s and God’s alone: the honour of receiving confession and the power of granting forgiveness. Confession is what we must make to him, and forgiveness is what we must hope to receive from him. The power to forgive sins belongs only to God, and this is why we must confess them to him. But God has taken a bride. The Almighty has taken the feeble one, the Most High has taken the lowly one – out of a servant he has made a queen. She was behind and beneath him and he raised her to be at his side. From out of his wounded side she came, and he took her to be his bride. Just as all that the Father has is the Son’s, so too what the Son has is the Father’s, since they share the same undivided nature. In just the same way the bridegroom gave all that was his to the bride and shared all that she had, making her one with himself and the Father. Hear the Son making his plea to the Father for his bride: I desire that just as you and I are one, so these should be one with us. The bridegroom is one with the Father and one with his bride. Whatever in her was foreign to her nature he took away from her and nailed to the cross. He carried her sins with him onto the tree and by the tree he took them away from her. Whatever was natural and proper to her he took on and clothed himself in it. Whatever was divine and proper to him, he bestowed on her. He took away what was diabolical, took on what was human, conferred what was divine, so that all that the bride possessed should be the bridegroom’s also. Thus it is that he who has committed no sin, on whose lips is no deceit, can say Take pity on me, Lord, for I am weak – for he who shares in his bride’s weakness must share in her lament, and thus all that is the bridegroom’s is the bride’s also. Here is where the honour of confession comes from, and the power of forgiveness, so that it can truly be said: Go and show yourself to the priest! The Church can forgive nothing without Christ, and it is Christ’s will to forgive nothing except with the Church. The Church can forgive no-one except the penitent – that is, one who has been touched by Christ – and Christ does not wish to forgive anyone who does not value the Church. What God has united, man must not divide, says Christ, and Paul adds, I am saying that this great mystery applies to Christ and the Church. Do not sever the head from the body so that Christ is whole no longer. For Christ is not whole without the Church, nor is the Church whole without Christ. This is why he says No-one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man who is in heaven. He is the only man who can forgive sins.

(From the Office of Readings, 11 September)

From Lamentations to Hope

Brooding on my anguish and affliction is gall and wormwood. My spirit ponders it continually and sinks within me. This is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope: Heth the favours of the Lord are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted; every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness. ‘My portion is the Lord’ says my soul ‘and so I will hope in him.’ Teth The Lord is good to those who trust him, to the soul that searches for him. It is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save. It is good for a man to bear the yoke from youth onwards, Yod to sit in solitude and silence when the Lord fastens it on him, to put his lips to the dust – perhaps there still is hope – to offer his cheek to the striker, to be overwhelmed with insults. Kaph For the Lord does not reject mankind for ever and ever. If he has punished, he has compassion so great is his kindness; since he takes no pleasure in abasing and afflicting the human race. (Lamentations 3:1-33)

Hope flares the brightest in the midst of darkest despair.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

We don't hear this from the Gospel very often

‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

Luke 6:20-26

Is it the case that we Christians tend to get to comfortable in the West? We probably did, while the gospel does not go out to the nations where it must be preached, where now they are in dire need of God's healing and peacemaking mercy. They must have looked at the Christian West as no more than rich, spoiled and not good for much.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Lord is Faithful

This is a rebellious people, they are lying sons, sons who will not listen to the Lord’s orders. To the seers they say, ‘See no visions’; to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy the truth to us, ‘tell us flattering things; have illusory visions; turn aside from the way, leave the path, take the Holy One out of our sight.’
.. thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: Your salvation lay in conversion and tranquillity, your strength, in complete trust; and you would have none of it. ..
But the Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you, for the Lord is a just God; happy are all who hope in him.

Isaiah 30:1-18

The new eMANgelization

Catholic Report says Catholic men are keen for priests to lead and challenge them.

Definitely resonates with this man.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who will proclaim the Good News to the rich?

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’ (Matthew 19:23-30 )

For rich men, without the grace of God, the kingdom of heaven is unattainable, apparently. Why? Having everything they need and more, what need have they of God? What make them think about the hereafter? Unfortunately, their riches will not give them eternal life, not even a supernatural life now, where the treasures are charity and sacrifice. In a rich, materialistic life, there is no call for charity, the heroic sort that hurts, and has little to do with warm and fuzzy feelings. In a luxurious life of toys and leisure, there is no need for virtue. One is in control, so who has need for faith, or God?

So who will introduce charity and virtue to the rich of this world, whose attention us so riveted on the material world and it's pleasures? Will they tear their senses from material possessions long enough to pay any attention? Only by the grace of God.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Love and Marriage

So they defiled themselves by their deeds and broke their marriage bond with the Lord till his anger blazed against his people; he was filled with horror at his chosen ones.

Part of today's Psalms at Mass (Ps 105), is a common theme in the writings of the prophets as well, associating the relationship between Man and God with marriage, and so infidelity is the abomination of worshipping other gods. One of the questions that come to mind when many bishops suggest that divorced and remarried Christians can be worthy of Holy Communion while remaining in the same state of adultery, is this: is there still such a thing as fidelity? Where, too, is justice, given the price of redemption and given the aggrieved other half of the abandoned marriage? If fidelity is impossible for some people, is it claimed that the grace of God is insufficient?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Communion for persons who have divorced and remarried civilly

about the “challenge” of “Christians who are in a marital situation theologically called ‘irregular’… ”: “We must help them, certainly, but not in a reductive way. It’s important to get close to them, to create contact and maintain it because they are members of the Church as everyone else, they are not expelled and even less so excommunicated. They are supported, but there are problems in regard to the sacramental life…. The question of access to the sacramental life must be addressed sincerely on the basis of Catholic teaching …. twenty years ago, after a long and laborious negotiation, John Paul II didn’t accept that remarried Christians could accede to the Eucharist. Now, we can’t ignore his teaching and change things.”

- Archbishop Georg Gänswein