Just words

 I think it’s fair to say that those of us of the Christian faith, regardless of our denomination, have been touched and moved by Pope Francis.  Now, some of it is his words -- his message of justice and inclusion, especially for the poor and the outcast.  He implores us to see the inherent dignity in each human being.  But it’s also his deeds, simple yet profound -- hugging the homeless man, and washing the feet of somebody who normally ordinary folks would just pass by on the street.  He reminds us that all of us, no matter what our station, have an obligation to live righteously, and that we all have an obligation to live humbly.  Because that’s, in fact, the example that we profess to follow.
So I had a wonderful conversation with Pope Francis, mostly about the imperatives of addressing poverty and inequality.  And I invited him to come to the United States, and I sincerely hope he will.  When we exchanged gifts he gave me a copy of his inspiring writings, “The Joy of the Gospel.”  And there is a passage that speaks to us today:  “Christ’s resurrection,” he writes, “is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world.”  And he adds, “Jesus did not rise in vain.  May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!” 
So this morning, my main message is just to say thank you to all of you, because you don’t remain on the sidelines.  I want to thank you for your ministries, for your good works, for the marching you do for justice and dignity and inclusion, for the ministries that all of you attend to and have helped organize throughout your communities each and every day to feed the hungry and house the homeless and educate children who so desperately need an education.  You have made a difference in so many different ways, not only here in the United States but overseas as well.
I get the feeling that when the President says "inherent dignity in each human being" or "justice and dignity and inclusion" he means same-sex marriage as well as race.

When the Pope says it, it clearly refers to children in the womb and the elderly and the poor.

To be so close and yet so far away...

He doesn't actually believe that children in the womb are human beings. Not if the mother doesn't want the pregnancy. So he has no qualms about daring to speak of human dignity.


I can't wait to prove this true

My concern is that the Planned Parenthood 'catholics' are going to read this as a vindication rather than the veiled indictment it actually is:

Pope Francis then went on to describe how the theology of the Pharisees “becomes a slave to this pattern, this pattern of thought: a narrow line of thought,” and observed that “there is no possibility of dialogue.”

Continuing, he emphasized that with this mentality “there is no possibility to open up to new things which God brings with the prophets,” stating that “they killed the prophets, these people; they close the door to the promise of God [read 'close the door to the promise' as 'contra-cept'].”

“When this phenomenon of narrow thinking enters human history, how many misfortunes,” he lamented, adding that “we all saw in the last century, the dictatorships of narrow thought, which ended up killing a lot of people [including the 50 million in the womb]...when they believed they were the overlords, no other form of thought was allowed [which is why they think all women want abortion to be legal]. This is the way they think.”

Explaining how even now people foster this idolatry of “a narrow line of thought,” Pope Francis emphasized that “today we have to think in this way and if you do not think in this way, you are not modern, you're not open or worse [you're not a real feminist].”

“Often rulers say: ‘I have asked for aid, financial support for this,’ ‘But if you want this help, you have to think in this way and you have to pass this law, and this other law and this other law,” [referring to the fact that we require developing countries to legalize abortion before we supply aid] he expressed, noting that type of dictatorship “is the same as these people.”

“It takes up stones to stone the freedom of the people, the freedom of the people, their freedom of conscience [see- they're totally going to think he's on their side], the relationship of the people with God. Today Jesus is Crucified once again [instead of seeing this statement as the indictment of legalized abortion referred to in the third paragraph that it so majorly is].”



Serious Error

The Second Vatican Council had stern words for this separation in its document “Gaudium et Spes”: “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments. Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other.
“The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example of Christ who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all their earthly activities … by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values” (GS, 43).


What a competition, eh?

"You, dear newlyweds, compete in esteeming and helping one another." -Pope Francis, in his greetings following a catechesis on the Sacrament of Matrimony


Manly men

"Being tender is not lacking manliness but a true manifestation of a dimension of manliness present in the very heart of God the Father, reflected in the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the person of God the Father."

-Father Bloom at Catholic Exchange


Do as I do, not as I say

Of St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Avila said:
“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity – but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth – for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him – so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions,” (Autobiography, VI, 9).
I have found this to be true in my own experiences as well.
Perhaps it’s natural that people have forgotten about St. Joseph, given that we have no recorded words in Scripture from the foster father of Jesus. Yet, that’s a great disservice for the man who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and the Christ Child. It is as if the fact that his lack of biological contribution somehow made him less the head of the Holy Family.
And yet this is not the case. For just as Mary’s fiat was necessary for the salvation of mankind, so too was Joseph’s fiatnecessary for the fulfillment of the prophecies that the Son of Man would come from the House of David. Mary’s “yes” was reinforced and augmented by Joseph’s consent to be united to Mary in a virginal marriage and take her into his home. This “yes” protected Mary and the Christ Child from shame and the violence that may have otherwise come upon her because of Christ’s conception.


Certainly, Christ was obedient to his earthly father. Joseph himself is a tremendous example of obedience, as demonstrated by the way he trustingly took Mary to be his wife. We also see Joseph’s obedience at work when he travels to Bethlehem for the census, despite having a wife in an advanced stage of pregnancy. And we see his obedience to the will of God when he flees to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and when he returns to Jerusalem after Herod’s death. Joseph’s actions demonstrate in a profound way that love means obedience. Christ certainly modeled that kind of obedience in subjecting himself to the will of His Heavenly Father, all the way to his passion and death upon the Cross.

Joseph, the carpenter, is also an exemplary model of humility. Consider his wife — the Immaculate Conception — and Son. Joseph, a sinner, was asked to care for the very Son of God. How unworthy must he have felt in comparison to his sinless wife and Son? And yet he concedes to raise the Christ Child as his own. Did he feel inadequate or somehow not up to the task? Scripture shows him as determined, as silent, and as just. Christ models a similar humility as a shepherd to his flock of tax collectors, prostitutes, the blind, the lame, lepers, and other outcasts of his day. He invites them, forgives their sins, and charges them to “sin no more.”

Finally, Joseph is a man of action. Perhaps this is why we are given no words from Joseph. His very actions speak of the great love that he has — for his wife, for his Son, and for His God. Just as Mary and Jesus were united with the Holy Spirit, so too do Joseph’s actions demonstrate his union with the will of God and his surrender to the Holy Spirit. No man acting of his own accord would travel a great distance with an expectant wife. No man acting of his own accord would flee with his wife and newborn to a foreign land. In these actions, we see Joseph’s cooperation with the Holy Spirit.



Hail St. Joseph the Just

Wisdom is with you.

Blessed are you among all men,

and blessed is JESUS,

the fruit of Mary, your faithful spouse.

Holy Joseph, worthy foster-father of Jesus Christ,

pray for us and obtain for us

Divine Wisdom,

now and at the hour of death.



Tough it out

People are still encouraged “to give up something” for Lent as a sacrifice. (An interesting note is that technically on Sundays and other solemnities like St. Joseph’s Day [March 19] and the Annunciation [March 25], one is exempt and may partake of whatever has been offered up for Lent. Nevertheless, concerning the Sunday exemption, I was always taught, “If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don’t act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole.”) Moreover, an emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending daily Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading, and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution.
Fr. Saunders doesn't think you should eat desserts on Sundays either.


Pro-Life Pope

"A society truly welcomes life when it recognizes that it is also precious in old age, in disability, in serious illness and even when it is fading; when it teaches that the call to human fulfillment does not exclude suffering; indeed, when it teaches its members to see in the sick and suffering a gift for the entire community, a presence that summons them to solidarity and responsibility. This is the Gospel of life which, through your scientific and professional competence, and sustained by grace, you are called to spread."- Holy Father's address to Pontifical Academy for Life

I will hold the Christ light for you

I never thought of St. Patrick in this light, in connection to Easter.

And I've never heard this story before, from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

On Easter Day the missionary band having at their head the youth Benignus bearing aloft a copy of the Gospels, and followed by St. Patrick who with mitre and crozier was arrayed in full episcopal attire, proceeded in processional order to Tara. The druids and magicians put forth all their strength and employed all their incantations to maintain their sway over the Irish race, but the prayer and faith of Patrick achieved a glorious triumph. The druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse than Egyptian darkness. Patrick defied them to remove that cloud, and when all their efforts were made in vain, at his prayer the sun sent forth its rays and the brightest sunshine lit up the scene. Again by demoniac power the Arch-Druid Lochru, like Simon Magus of old, was lifted up high in the air, but when Patrick knelt in prayer the druid from his flight was dashed to pieces upon a rock. Thus was the final blow given to paganism in the presence of all the assembled chieftains. It was, indeed, a momentous day for the Irish race.

read the entirety


Hymn before going to bed

Christ, who art the light and day, You drive away the darkness of night, You are called the light of light, For you proclaim the blessed light. We beseech you, Holy Lord, Protect us this night. Let us take our rest in you; Grant us a tranquil night. Let our sleep be free from care; Let not the enemy snatch us away, Nor flesh conspire within him, And make us guilty in your sight. Though our eyes be filled with sleep, Keep our hearts forever awake to you. May your right hand protect Your willing servants. You who are our shield, behold; Restrain those that lie in wait. And guide your servants whom You have ransomed with your blood. Remember us, O Lord, Who bear the burden of this mortal form; You who are the defender of the soul, Be near us, O Lord. Glory be to God the Father, And to his only Son, With the Spirit, Comforter, Both now and evermore. Amen.

1. O Christ, who art the Light and Day,
Thou drivest darksome night away;
We know thee as the Light of light
Illuminating mortal sight.

2. All holy Lord, we pray to thee,
Keep us tonight from danger free;
Grant us, dear Lord, in thee to rest,
So be our sleep in quiet blessed.

3. Let not the tempter round us creep
With thoughts of evil while we sleep,
Nor with his wiles the flesh allure
And make us in thy sight impure.

4. And while the eyes soft slumber take,
Still be the heart to thee awake,
Be thy right hand upheld above
Thy servants resting in thy love.

5. Yea, our Defender, be thou nigh,
To bid the powers of darkness fly;
Keep us from sin, and guide for good
Thy servants purchased by thy blood.

6. Remember us, dear Lord, we pray,
While in this mortal flesh we stay:
'Tis thou who dost the soul defend
Be present with us to the end.

7. Blest Three in One and One in Three,
Almighty God, we pray to thee,
That thou wouldst now vouchsafe to bless
Our fast with fruits of righteousness.

Ne gravis somnus irruat,                   May the deep sleep (i.e. of death) not rush upon us;
Nec hostis nos subripiat,                    Nor let the enemy snatch us from below;
Nec caro illi consentiens                     Nor let the flesh consenting to him
Nos tibi reos statuat.                          Render us guilty in Thy sight.
Since we are weaker in our tiresome moments right before sleep, and the demons take advantage of this, we pray for God’s strength to withstand the temptations to sin. Even more importantly, we also ask for deliverance from a sudden and unforeseen death, lest our bodies fail at a time when the enemy has taken hold of our souls, which keep watch toward God even while our eyes are asleep, as the next verse proclaims.
A later verse points to the hymn’s Lenten character, looking to the passion and death of Jesus as the source of satisfaction for our sins and the salvation of our souls:
Defensor noster aspice,                      Look upon us, our Defender,
Insidiantes reprime,                           And fight off those who lie in wait;
Guberna tuos famulos,                       Guide us Thy servants,
Quos Sanguine mercatus es.             Whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy Blood.
Before ending with a standard doxology, the hymn makes one more call to God to protect us in the frailty of our flesh:

Memento nostri, Domine,                   Remember us, Lord,
In gravi isto corpore;                           In this heavy body of ours;
Qui es defensor animae,                      For you are the defender of our souls:
Adesto nobis, Domine.                        Be with us, Lord!

[No translation seems to me as evocative as that third one. The Enemy who lies in wait to snatch us from below...gives me shivers! My thanks to Dominicana for posting it. I wish they would translate the entirety.]


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