“Marriage is the most difficult area of pastoral work." -Pope Francis
Marriage itself is hard work.
Today, we find ourselves before the battle of a sickness that has pervaded our world. I repeat: the battle of a sickness. That is what we face. I call this sickness “the liquidation, the eclipse of God.” Pope Francis describes the causes of this “sickness.” I quote:
“Religious liberty is not only that of thought or private worship. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent upon the truth found, be it privately or publicly. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought – which is like a sickness – also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance ends up by persecuting those who defend the truth about man and the ethical consequences.”
What are the remedies to this sickness? What should we do to protect the family, religious freedom, and marriage – as revealed to us by God?
Find out his answers here.
Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life,
the place where life is conceived and cared for,
it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place
where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life,
and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child
growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body
can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself
and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being.
Pope Francis cuts to the core of the pro-life argument:
it is a new abolitionism, and nothing else.
The Gospel of Jesus — the Good News of the fatherhood of God — is the most radical doctrine in the history of ideas. If we really believed that God is our father and that every person is a child of God made in his image the world could be changed overnight.
With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts. This is something we all need!
He alone, he alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.
Where God is born, hope is born. He brings hope. Where God is born, peace is born.
-Urbi et Orbi 2015
I taught my first grade students about the Invisible Dragon disguised as one's Self, who tries to put the "Y" first so it no longer spells "J O Y" --
--you must resist the lies of the Invisible Dragon and instead put Jesus first, and Others before Yourself last, if you wish to know joy.
Sometimes monstrous evil rises up, like in the Garden, when the nahash threatened Adam and Eve, and they listened to the lie instead of listening to God's will. It did not bring them joy.
When we follow the commands of Love, then we know joy.
The Word of the Father speaks to all a word of Mercy, a Word that seeks to welcome, to lift up, to heal, to restore, to repair, to give hope and ultimately to give life. All throughout the Gospels, we hear these stories over and over of how Jesus, as the Word of the Father, made a difference in the lives of those He met – because He lived a different way. He revealed to us the Father’s tenderness, His caress, His affection for all – not in condemnation, but in an invitation to live through following Jesus, His Son. He abides with us today fulfilling His mission to be a voice of reason, of hope, of mercy to a waiting world. So, Christmas celebrates family, celebrates life born of a babe in Bethlehem, and celebrates hope for you and me. Christianity is an event that recognizes God’s love for us in a person and invites each, in freedom, to follow. Indeed, we come to adore Him even today because Jesus is truly the “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."
- Christmas Message of my Bishop
So when we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, “to reject godless ways” and the richness of the world, in order to live “temperately, justly and devoutly” (Tit 2:12).
In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.
Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: “Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation” (Ps 85:8).
-Christmas Homily of the Bishop of Rome
So both apostolic teachers instruct us to live soberly a life of reason, a way that is simple, merciful, and discerns what is essential. We must invite others to look upon the Child and see what the world cannot offer them.
"...whenever mercy is obliviated self-love is at the root.
In the world, this takes the form of exclusively seeking one’s own interests, pleasures and honours joined with the desire to accumulate wealth, whereas in the life of a Christian it is often disguised in hypocrisy and worldliness. All of these things are contrary to mercy.
Surges of self-love, which make mercy a stranger in the world, are so abundant and numerous that we are often unable to recognize them as limitations and as sin.
This is why it is necessary to recognize ourselves as sinners, so as to strengthen within us the certainty of divine mercy. “Lord, I am a sinful man; Lord, I am a sinful woman: come with your mercy”. This is a beautiful prayer. It is an easy prayer to say every day:
“Lord, I am a sinner: come with your mercy”.
-from the Holy Father's Wed. Audience, Dec.9, 2015
I spent the past week as a Master of Ceremonies preparing for the Mass of the Dedication of an Altar. Whenever the bishop of any diocese is going to pray the Mass at a local parish, there is advance work that needs to be done. That only multiplies when the ceremony to be done is an Altar Dedication.
I spent three hours rehearsing with the altar servers team one evening, another three hours with the priest and the priest-MC a second evening, and then three hours the night before making sure all the furnishings were in place. I spent another hour afterwards returning items to their respective locations.
Through it all, I've been trying to keep up with my obligations to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
What was in the Office of Readings this past week? The story of Judas Maccabeus and the dedication of the altar of holocaust. Curious, curious...
Then, as if to put a too-fine point on it, the Lord sent into my inbox the following series of posts from my Divine Mercy Daily subscription:
February 7, . Today, the Lord said to me, I demand of you a perfect and whole-burnt offering; an offering of the will. No other sacrifice can compare with this one. I Myself am directing your life and arranging things in such a way that you will be for Me a continual sacrifice and will always do My will (Diary, 923).
And for the accomplishment of this offering, you will unite yourself with Me on the Cross. I know what you can do. I Myself will give you many orders directly, but I will delay the possibility of their being carried out and make it depend on others (Diary, 923)
But what the superiors will not manage to do, I Myself will accomplish directly in your soul. And in the most hidden depths of your soul, a perfect holocaust will be carried out, not just for a while, but know, My daughter, that this offering will last until your death (Diary, 923).
I am marveling at what the Lord has done for me spiritually this week. Preparing for this event with His Excellency was hard work, but it was gratifying on a level I can't find words to describe. The liturgy was ad orientem, because the new altar is a reconstruction of the one that was removed by liturgical deconstructionists in the post-Vatican II frenzy to deny that Council's continuity with the past. As if that weren't beautiful enough, the brazier was used, and an actual cloud of incense rose up to the heights of the reredos, the backing of the main altar wherein the saints each have an alcove.
So, there I am, adoring the Lord in the hands of my Bishop as he faced liturgically Eastward, and the choir began to chant the Magnificat.
It really doesn't get much better than that! I wish to make of myself a holocaust, dedicating my heart as an acceptable altarstone, that the Lord might place a clean heart within me. Those are the words I pray as I dress into my alb before these litrugies commence, "Wash me of my iniquities; cleanse me of all my sin. A clean heart create for me O Lord, and a steadfast spirit place within me."
May it be ever so.
I found a cleaner, less-raw translation at News.Va--
The Church, as “communio” of believers, is at the service of humanity with the word of God, with the sacrificial offering of its life-giving salvation and with the demonstration of the being-for-others of Christ in the diaconate* for the poor, for the disinherited, and for those to whom dignity and justice are denied.
Of decisive importance, in the Council, are the philosophical-anthropological categories of person, dialogue, and communication. The significance and importance given to the one to whom God communicates himself lies precisely in his being a person, and, more precisely, in his being a person inserted corporally-materially into the space of history, society, and culture.
Now, without the Church advancing any totalitarian claim on society - because it acquires its identity by means of faith in Christ and clearly distinguishes itself from other orientations of faith and other religions - it nonetheless follows that it - and with it every ecclesial community and every individual Christian - precisely on the basis of the faith must take on its responsibility for human society as a whole, exerting itself in the areas of the world of work, of the international economy, of social and individual justice, of peace in the world and so on.
-Cardinal Muller, prefect of the CDF, in his assessment of the Theology of Liberation
*note the use of the word diaconate in this fashion..how curious
Natl. Catholic REGISTER has suggested going to this website to seek from among the list of participants someone to pray over. I chose the following:
Mrs. Penny and Mr. Ishwar Bajaj, Hindu-Christian couple from the diocese of Mumbai, India
Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, S.J., Magnificent Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University
Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey, C.R.B., of Sion, Sitten, Switzerland
Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-Mien of Hsinchu, China
When you pray, use this one composed by the Holy Father for the occasion: