New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mother Mary Month of May - St. Josemaria Escriva,

“In this month of May which begins tomorrow I would like each of us to begin to offer one little extra sacrifice: a bit more study, finishing off a piece of work better, a smile…; a sacrifice that is an effort of our devotion and a proof of our dedication. Generously let yourself be led by our Lady, my children. We don’t want a day to go by without our loving the Love of Loves more and more! And with Mary we can do just that, because our Mother lived out a sweet and total self-giving.”

How people like to be reminded of their relationship with distinguished figures in literature, in politics, in the army, in the Church!... Sing to the Immaculate Virgin, reminding her: Hail Mary, daughter of God the Father: Hail Mary, Mother of God the Son: Hail Mary, Spouse of God the holy Spirit...Greater than you, none but God!
The Way, 496

Wanting to speak to the Mother of God:
In a very natural way we start wanting to speak to the Mother of God, who is also our mother. We want to treat her as someone who is alive. For death has not triumphed over her; she is body and soul in the presence of God the Father, her Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If we want to understand Mary's role in the Christian's life and to feel attracted to her, to be in her company, we don't need to go into the theological theory, even though it is an inexhaustible mystery that she is the Mother of God.

A sign of God's special love:
The Catholic faith sees Mary as a sign of God's special love. God calls us his friends; his grace acts in us, winning us from sin, enabling us to reflect in some way the features of Christ, even though we are still wretched dirt. We are not stranded people whom God has promised to save. His salvation is already at work in us. In our relationship to God, we are not blind men yearning for light and crying in anguished darkness. We are children who know our Father loves us.

Straight to our heart:
Mary tells us about this warmth and security. That's why her name goes straight to our heart. Our relationship with our own mother may show us how to treat Mary, the Lady of the Sweet Name. We have to love God with the same heart with which we love our parents, our brothers and sisters, the other members of our family, our friends. And we must love Mary with that same heart, too.

How does a normal son or daughter treat his mother?
In different ways, of course, but always affectionately and confidently, never coldly. In an intimate way, through small, commonplace customs. And a mother feels hurt if we omit them: a kiss or an embrace when leaving or coming home, a little extra attention, a few warm words.

In our relationship with our mother in heaven, we should act in very much the same way. Many Christians have the custom of wearing the scapular; or they have acquired the habit of greeting those pictures — a glance is enough — which are found in every Christian home and in many public places; or they recall the central events in Christ's life by saying the rosary, never getting tired of repeating its words, just like people in love; or they mark out a day of the week for her — Saturday, which is today — doing some special little thing for her and thinking particularly about her motherhood.
Christ is Passing By, 142

Mary, the most holy Mother of God, passes unnoticed, as just one more among the women of her town.
Learn from her how to live with 'naturalness'.
The Way, 499

From the Opus Dei web site

What Is Tolerance? - Dr. Plinio Correa

When it comes to tolerance, confusion reigns supreme. Everyone talks about it, but few seem to know exactly what it is.

What Then is Tolerance?
Imagine a man with two sons, one with sound principles and a strong will, and the other with undecided principles and a vacillating will. One day a professor passes by the town and wants to teach a summer school course that would be of extraordinary use to both of them. The father wants his sons to take the course, but sees that this will mean depriving them of various outings that both enjoy.
Weighing the pros and cons, he decides that it would be better for his sons to forego their diversions, however legitimate, rather than miss this rare opportunity for intellectual betterment. The youths react to this decision in different ways.
The first son, after a moment of reluctance, accepts his father’s wish. The other complains and implores his father to change his mind, showing such irritation that his father fears a serious act of rebellion. In face of this, the man upholds his decision with his good son. On the other hand, considering the difficulty his mediocre son would have in following the academic routine and foreseeing many occasions of dissension that would arise in their daily relationships, he decides, for long-term safeguarding of immutable moral principles, that it is better not to insist. He relents, and this son does is not required to take the course.
Acting thus with his mediocre son, the father reluctantly gave his permission, but it was not in any way an approval. It was a blackmailed permission. To avoid an evil (friction with his son) he granted him a lesser good (the holiday trips) and relinquished the greater good (the summer course). It is this kind of consent, given without approval and even with censure, that we call tolerance.
True, tolerance sometimes means not so much accepting a lesser good to avoid an evil, but a lesser evil to avoid a greater one. Such would be the case of a father who, having a son who has acquired several serious vices that would be impossible to overcome all at once, plans to combat them successively. Thus , while trying to thwart one vice, he closes his eyes to the others, reluctantly acceding to them as a way to avoid a greater evil, which would be to make the moral correction of his son impossible. This is characteristically seen as an attitude of tolerance. As we have just seen, tolerance can only be practiced in abnormal situations. In fact, if there were no bad children there would be no need for tolerance on the part of parents.
The more that family members are forced to practice tolerance among themselves, the more abnormal their situation would be.
This reality becomes even starker when one considers the case of a religious order or an army whose superiors must habitually practice unlimited tolerance with their subordinates. Such an army would be unlikely to win battles, and such an order would not be aspiring to the rugged summits of Christian perfection. In other words, tolerance can be a virtue. But it is a virtue characteristic of abnormal, difficult and dangerous situations. We can say, then, that it is the daily cross of the fervent Catholic in times of desolation, spiritual decadence and the ruin of Christian Civilization.
For this reason, one understands how necessary it is in a catastrophic century like ours. At every moment, the Catholic of our time encounters the prospect of tolerating something. On the train or bus, on the streets, in the workplace, within the homes he visits, in hotels where he stays, he encounters abuses at every instant that provoke an interior cry of indignation. It is a cry that he is sometimes forced to restrain in order to avoid a greater evil. It is a cry that in normal circumstances would be a duty of honor and coherence.
It is a curious thing to note the contradictions which the fans of this century incur. On one hand they can’t praise its qualities enough while down playing its defects. On the other hand, they are quick to denounce Catholics as intolerant while clamoring and demanding tolerance in favor of this century.
They do not tire of affirming that this tolerance should be constant, all-encompassing and unlimited. It is hard to understand how they cannot perceive their inconsistency. For, if there is tolerance only in abnormality, then proclaiming the necessity for more tolerance affirms the existence of abnormality.
Given these conditions, it is easy to perceive how erroneous is the current usage regarding tolerance.
In fact, the word is commonly used eulogistically. When someone says that another is tolerant, the affirmation is accompanied by a series of implicit or explicit compliments. And, logically, qualifying someone as intolerant brings with it a series of implicit or explicit reproaches.
In reality, nothing is further from the truth. If there are cases in which tolerance is a good, there are cases in which it is not. Therefore, no one merits praise for being tolerant or intolerant systematically, but rather for being one or the other as circumstances demand.
The question, then, is somewhat different: It is not the case to decide whether someone should be tolerant or intolerant systematically. What matters is to decide when one ought to be one or the other. Before all else, it is appropriate to point out that there is a situation in which the Catholic must always be intolerant, that is, toward sin, to which there are no exceptions. One cannot tolerate committing some sin in order to please others or to avoid a greater evil. Since all sin is an offense against God, it is absurd to imagine that in a certain situation God can be virtuously offended. This is so obvious that it may seem superfluous to state it, but, in practice, this is very necessary to remember this principle.
For example, no one has the right, in order to be tolerant with friends and gain their sympathy, to dress immorally or to adopt the licentious or frivolous manners of those who lead disordered lives. Nor does anyone have the right to exhibit rash, questionable or even erroneous ideas, nor to boast of vices that in reality —thanks be to God—they do not have.
To give another example, a Catholic who is conscious of the duties of fidelity entrusted to him by Scholasticism but who professes another philosophy solely to win sympathy in certain circles, practices an unacceptable form of tolerance. He sins against the truth by professing a theory that he knows contains errors, even if they are not against the faith.
The obligation of intolerance, in cases such as these, goes even further. It is not enough that we abstain from practicing evil; it is necessary that we never approve of it by action or omission. The Catholic who takes a sympathetic attitude in face of sin or error sins against the virtue of intolerance. This is what happens when he overhears an immoral conversation, or when in a discussion he admits a right of others to embrace their own opinion about the Catholic Faith. This is not respect for the adversary but rather for the adversary’s errors
or sins. This is to approve of evil, a point to which no Catholic can go.
At times, however, one reaches that point thinking he has not sinned against intolerance. Such is the case when silence, in face of error or evil, gives an idea of tacit approval. In all of these cases, tolerance is a sin, and virtue is found only in intolerance.
* * *
It is understandable that certain readers will be irritated on reading these affirmations. The instinct of sociability is natural in man, and it is this instinct that allows us to socialize with others in an agreeable and harmonious way.
Within the logic of our argumentation, the Catholic is obliged in an ever-increasing number of circumstances to repeat before the world the heroic “non possumus” of Pius IX: We cannot imitate, we cannot agree, we cannot remain silent. Consequently, an ambience of conflict soon forms around us, and the supporters of the errors and fashions of our epoch persecute with implacable intolerance, in the name of tolerance, all those who dare to disagree with them. A curtain surrounds and isolates us—ostracism puts us at the fringe of modem ambiances.
Men fear this almost as much as, or even more, than death itself. We are not exaggerating. In order to have the right of citizenship in such ambiences, there are men who work themselves to death from heart attacks and women who fast to the point of seriously jeopardizing their health. Now, to forfeit a “citizenship” of such “value” merely out of love of principles, one must dearly love those principles. And besides, there is laziness. In order to study a subject in depth, to have the arguments entirely in hand for any opportunity, to justify a position, requires much effort, and laziness is so appealing.
Laziness in regard to speaking out, or discussing, is evident. Yet, even greater is the laziness in regard to study, and, above all, the supreme laziness regarding thinking with seriousness about something, mastering something, identifying oneself with an idea, or a principle! How far removed from the subtle, imperceptible,
manifold laziness regarding being serious, thinking seriously, and living seriously is the inflexible, heroic, and imperturbable intolerance that on certain occasions and in certain matters—perhaps it would be better to say on so many occasions and in so many matters—is the duty of the true Catholic, today as always.
Laziness is the sister of indifference. Many will ask, why so much effort, so much combat, so much sacrifice if our attitude isolates us and the others do not improve? Strange objection! As if we should practice the commandments only so others will also practice them and are dispensed from doing so if the others do
not imitate us.
We witness before men our love of good and hatred of evil in order to give glory to God. Even if the entire world disapproves, we must continue doing so.
The fact that the others do not accompany us does not diminish the right that God has to our complete obedience.
However, these are not the only reasons for disdaining intolerance. There is also opportunism. To be in concert with the dominant tendencies is something that opens all the doors and facilitates all careers. Prestige, comfort, money, everything, but everything becomes easier and more obtainable if one accepts the prevailing influence.
From this perspective, one sees how costly is the duty of intolerance.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Scapular Protects a Young Lady from the Devil - Cure D'Ars

The Scapular Protects a Young Lady from the Devil

A young lady went to confession to the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney. Before she began her confession, Saint John Vianney said to her, “Remember a few days ago in the ballroom a goodlooking young man who danced with all the girls but you? And you felt ashamed? And remember you saw sparks coming off his feet when he left? Know that it was the devil in human form, and the only reason he didn’t dance with you is because you were wearing the Scapular. Thank the Blessed Mother for that.”

Easter antiphon

The Church and the dignity of the person - Pope John Paul II

Man has been compelled to submit to a conception of reality imposed on him by coercion, and not reached by virtue of his own reason and the exercise of his own freedom. This principle must be overturned and total recognition must be given to the rights of the human conscience, which is bound only to the truth, both natural and revealed. The recognition of these rights represents the primary foundation of every authentically free political order.

No one can consider himself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family. No one can say that he is not responsible for the well-being of his brother or sister (Genesis 4:9, Luke 10:29-37, Matthew 25:31-46).
Since it is not an ideology, the Christian faith does not presume to imprison changing socio-political realities in a rigid schema, and it recognizes that human life is realized in history in conditions that are diverse and imperfect. Furthermore, in constantly reaffirming the transcendent dignity of the person, the Church's method is always that of respect for freedom.

But freedom attains its full development only by accepting the truth. In a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation and man is exposed to the violence of passion and to manipulation, both open and hidden. The Christian upholds freedom and serves it, constantly offering to others the truth which he has known (John 8:31-32), in accordance with the missionary nature of his vocation. While paying heed to every fragment of truth which he encounters in the life experience and in the culture of individuals and of nations, he will not fail to affirm in dialogue with others all that his faith and the correct use of reason have enabled him to understand.

Man's principal resource is man himself. His intelligence enables him to discover the earth's productive potential and the many ways in which human needs can be satisfied. It is his disciplined work in close collaboration with others that makes possible the creation of ever more extensive working communities which can be relied on to transform man's natural and human environments.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Church and art - Pope John Paul II

(Giotto di Bondone - Last Supper - Cappella Scrovegni padua 1304-06)

Art too in all its manifestations - and to these must be added the potential offered by the cinema and television - has humanity as its fundamental theme: the human image, human truth. Though appearance may often be to the contrary, even contemporary art is cognizant of these deep-down assertions and demands. The religious and Christian origin of art is by no means exhausted. Themes such as guilt and grace, deceit and liberation, injustice and justice, compassion and freedom, solidarity with and love for one's neighbor, hope and consolation, all have their place in today's literature, in text-books and film scripts, and get ample feed-back.

Collaboration between the Church and art regarding humanity is based on the fact that both seek to set humanity free from slavery and want it to become self-aware. They open the way to freedom for humanity: freedom from the pressures of needs, of productivity at any cost, of efficiency, of programming and functionalism.

Catechesis and orthodoxy - Pope John Paul II

Christians today must be formed to live in a world which largely ignores God or which, in religious matters, in place of an exacting and fraternal dialogue,stimulating for all, too often flounders in a debasing indifferentism, if not maintaining a scornful attitude of suspicion in the name of the progress it has made in the field of scientific 'explanations', To 'hold on' in this world, to offer to all a 'dialogue of salvation' in which each person feels respected in his or her most basic dignity - the dignity of one who is seeking God - we need a catechesis which trains the young people and adults of our communities to remain clear and consistent in their faith, to affirm serenely their Christian and Catholic identity, to 'see him who is invisible' and to adhere so firmly to the absoluteness of God that they can be witnesses to him in a materialistic civilization that denies him. Without monopolizing or enforcing uniformity, the parish remains the preeminent place for catechesis. It must rediscover its vocation, which is to be a fraternal and welcoming family home, where those who have been baptized and confirmed become aware of forming the People of God. In that home, the bread
of good doctrine and the Eucharistic Bread are broken for them in abundance, in the setting of the one act of worship; from that home they are sent out day by day to their apostolic mission in all the centres of activity in the life of the world.

Family catechesis precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis. Furthermore, in places where anti-religious legislation endeavours even to prevent education in the Faith, and in places where widespread unbelief or invasive secularism makes real religious growth practically impossible, 'the Church of the home' remains the one place where children and young people can receive an authentic catechesis.
Thus there cannot be too great an effort on the part of Christian parents to prepare for this ministry of being their own children's catechists and to carry it out with tireless zeal. Encouragement must also be given to the individuals or institutions that, through person-ta-person contacts, through meetings and through all kinds of pedagogical means, help parents to perform their task the service they are doing to catechesis is beyond price.

Christians: Witnesses of Easter's New Path - Pope Benedict XVI

"Christ resurrected from the dead", the Holy Father asserted, "is the foundation of our faith that radiates throughout the Church's liturgy, giving it content and meaning ... Christ's resurrection is the door to a new life that is no longer subjected to the termination of time, a life immersed in the eternity of God. With Jesus' resurrection begins a new condition of human being, which illuminates and transforms our daily path and opens a qualitatively new and different future for all humanity".

"In his Epistle to the Colossians, St. Paul says 'If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth'". However, Benedict XVI emphasized, the apostle "is far from inviting Christians, any of us, to shun the world in which God has placed us. It is true that we are citizens of another 'city', our true home, but the path toward this goal must be traversed every day in this land. To participate, from this moment, in the life of the resurrected Christ, we must live as new men and women in this world, at the heart of this earthly city".

"This is the path", the Holy Father continued, "to transform not only ourselves but also to transform the world, to give the city a new face that favors the development of humankind and society within the logic of solidarity, goodness, and profound respect for the dignity proper to each ... Easter offers the newness of a profound and complete passage from a life subject to the slavery of sin to a life of freedom, inspired by love, the force that breaks down barriers and builds new harmony in our hearts and in our relationships with others and with things".

Every Christian, just as every community, "that lives the experience of this passage to the Resurrection, cannot help but be new leaven in the world giving themselves without reserve to the most urgent and just causes, as seen by the witness of the saints in every age and place. The expectations of our time are also great: believing firmly that the resurrection of Christ has renewed humankind without separating it from the world in which it builds its history, we Christians must be the radiant witnesses of Easter's new path".

"Easter is, therefore, a gift that must be welcomed in faith more deeply each time, to work in any situation with the grace of Christ, according to the logic of God, the logic of love", the pontiff concluded.

The relationship between the Magisterium and theology - Pope John Paul II

The Church particularly needs her theologians in this day and age, which is so deeply marked by radical change in every sphere of life and society. The Bishops of the Church, to whom our Lord has entrusted the task of preserving the unity of the Faith and the proclamation of the message - individually for their dioceses and collegially with Peter's Successor for the Universal Church - all need your work as theologians, your dedication and the fruit of your reflections. We want to hear you and are eager to receive the great help which your training as responsible scientists can be to us.

But this authentic theological training and, by the same, token, your teaching of theology cannot be sound and fruitful unless you concentrate on what inspires it and where it comes from - that is to say, the word of God contained in Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church, as intetpreted by the authentic Magisterium down the ages ( Dei verbum 10). True academic freedom must be seen in relation to the final purpose of academic work, which looks to the total truth of the human person.

The theologian's contribution will only enrich the Church if it takes into proper account the proper function of Bishops and the rights of the faithful. To Bishops, theology attributes the duty of safeguarding Christian authenticity, the unity of the Faith and moral instruction, in accordance with the Apostle Paul's exhortations: 'Proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error,' recall to obedience is the right of the faithful not to be disturbed by theories and hypothesis on which they are not qualified to pass judgement, or which can easily be simplified or manipulated by public opinion for purposes remote from the truth. On the day he died, John Paul I stated: 'Among the rights of the faithful, one of the greatest is to receive the word of God in all its entirety and purity .. .' (28 September 19791. It is right that the
theologian should be free, but that freedom should be an openness to the truth and light that come from faith and from loyalty to the Church. The Church wants theological research to be independent and not identified with the Church's magisterium, but to recognize that, with the magisterium, it is committed in common service to the truth of the Faith and to the People of God. That tensions and even conflicts will arise cannot be ruled out. But this cannot be ruled out either regarding relations between the Church and science. The reason for this
is to be found in the finite nature of the human mind, which is limited in its scope and therefore open to error. Nonetheless, we can always hope for a re-conciliatory solution, if we take our stand precisely on the ability of the human mind to reach the truth. 
Theology is a science with all the potentialities of human knowledge. It is free as to the way it applies its methods and analyses. Yet, theology must be mindful of the relationship in which it stands to the Church. We do not owe the Faith to ourselves; it is 'founded on the Apostles, and Christ himself is the corner-stone' (Ephesians 2:20). Even theology has to presuppose the Faith. It can clarify and promote it, but it cannot produce it. Even theology must always stand on the shoulders of the Fathers in the Faith. It knows that its specific sphere doesn't consist of dates and historical facts in a vas ciusum, but rather of the living Faith of the Church. So theologians teach on behalf of and by the mandate of the Church - that is, of the communion of faith. They can and should put forward new suggestions for understanding the Faith, but these are only offered to the Church at large. Many corrections and adaptations are needed before the Church at large can accept them.

Theology is a very disinterested service to the community of believers, in the deepest sense, for it essentially entails objective discussion, brotherly dialogue, openness and a readiness to change its own opinion. Believers have the right to know how far they can go regarding the Faith. Theology should show us
where to call a halt. The magisterium intervenes only to state the truth of God's word, above all when this is threatened by distortions and false interpretations. In this context too is to be seen the infallibility of the Church's magisterium.
Love for the institutional Church, which also involves loyalty to the witness of faith and to the Church's magisterium, does not distract theologians from their work, nor does it take away any of their inalienable independence. Magisterium and theology each have a different task. Hence neither can diminish the other. Both of them serve the same cause. Precisely because they are so linked, constant dialogue
has to be maintained between them. In the years since the Council there have been many examples of good collaboration between theology and magisteriurn. Strengthen this foundation and, even though new conflicts will probably arise, go on with your common work in the spirit of the common Faith, of that same hope and the love that unites us all."
This studying of theology, here and everywhere in the Church, is thinking about the Faith, and thinking within the Faith. A theology that doesn't deepen faith, that doesn't lead to prayer, may discourse eloquently about God; but the discourse can never be truly about God, the Living God, the God who Is, and whose Being is Love. From this it follows that theology can be authentic only within the Church, within the community of faith. Only when the teaching of theologians conforms to the teaching of the Bishops united with the Pope, can the People of God know with certainty that this teaching is 'the faith which has been once and for all entrusted to the saints' (Jude 3).
This is no limitation for theologians but a liberation, since it preserves them from changes in fashion and keeps them safely bound to Christ's unchangeable truth, the truth that sets us free (John 7:32)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Regina Coeli: Learning to be Witnesses of the Risen Lord

"Christ has conquered death, caused by our sin, and brings us again to eternal life. The entire life of the Church and our very existence as Christians comes from this event. Today, Monday of the Angel", the Pope said, "we read in the first missionary address of the nascent Church: 'God raised this Jesus', the apostle Paul proclaimed, 'of this we are all witnesses'.

"How can we meet the Lord, each time becoming more and more his true witnesses?" the Holy Father asked, explaining that St. Maximus of Turin affirmed, "whosoever wishes to reach the Savior must first put themselves, in their very faith, at the right hand of the divinity, and place themselves in heaven with the belief of their hearts". This is constantly learning to direct the mind's and the heart's gaze toward the heights of God where the risen Christ is. In prayer and in adoration God encounters the human being ... Only if we know how to direct ourselves toward Him and pray to Him can we discover the deepest meaning of our lives and our daily path will be illuminated with the light of the Risen One".

Finally, Benedict XVI recalled that today the Church in the East and the West celebrate St. Mark the Evangelist, patron of the Italian city of Venice, and that he will make a pastoral visit there on 7 and 8 May of this year. After praying the Regina Coeli he greeted the members of the Meter Association, founder of the National Day for children victims of violence, abuse, and indifference. "I encourage you", he said, "to continue your work of prevention and raising awareness side by side with the various educational associations. In particular, I am thinking of the parishes, societies, and other ecclesial institutions that generously dedicate themselves to the formation of the new generations".

Resurrection Gives Strength to Human Hope - Pope Benedict XVI

"Easter morning brings us news that is ancient yet ever new: Christ is risen! The echo of this event, which issued forth from Jerusalem twenty centuries ago, continues to resound in the Church, deep in whose heart lives the vibrant faith of Mary, Mother of Jesus, the faith of Mary Magdalene and the other women who first discovered the empty tomb, and the faith of Peter and the other Apostles".

"Just as the sun's rays in springtime cause the buds on the branches of the trees to sprout and open up, so the radiance that streams forth from Christ's resurrection gives strength and meaning to every human hope, to every expectation, wish and plan. Hence the entire cosmos is rejoicing today, caught up in the springtime of humanity, which gives voice to creation's silent hymn of praise. The Easter Alleluia, resounding in the Church as she makes her pilgrim way through the world, expresses the silent exultation of the universe and above all the longing of every human soul that is sincerely open to God, giving thanks to him for his infinite goodness, beauty and truth".

"'In your resurrection, O Christ, let heaven and earth rejoice.' To this summons to praise, which arises today from the heart of the Church, the 'heavens' respond fully: the hosts of angels, saints and blessed souls join with one voice in our exultant song. In heaven all is peace and gladness. But alas, it is not so on earth! Here, in this world of ours, the Easter Alleluia still contrasts with the cries and laments that arise from so many painful situations: deprivation, hunger, disease, war, violence. Yet it was for this that Christ died and rose again! He died on account of sin, including ours today, he rose for the redemption of history, including our own. So my message today is intended for everyone, and, as a prophetic proclamation, it is intended especially for peoples and communities who are undergoing a time of suffering, that the Risen Christ may open up for them the path of freedom, justice and peace".

"May the Land which was the first to be flooded by the light of the Risen One rejoice. May the splendour of Christ reach the peoples of the Middle East, so that the light of peace and of human dignity may overcome the darkness of division, hate and violence. In the current conflict in Libya, may diplomacy and dialogue take the place of arms and may those who suffer as a result of the conflict be given access to humanitarian aid. In the countries of northern Africa and the Middle East, may all citizens, especially young people, work to promote the common good and to build a society where poverty is defeated and every political choice is inspired by respect for the human person".

"May help come from all sides to those fleeing conflict and to refugees from various African countries who have been obliged to leave all that is dear to them; may people of good will open their hearts to welcome them, so that the pressing needs of so many brothers and sisters will be met with a concerted response in a spirit of solidarity; and may our words of comfort and appreciation reach all those who make such generous efforts and offer an exemplary witness in this regard".

"May peaceful coexistence be restored among the peoples of Ivory Coast, where there is an urgent need to tread the path of reconciliation and pardon, in order to heal the deep wounds caused by the recent violence. May Japan find consolation and hope as it faces the dramatic consequences of the recent earthquake, along with other countries that in recent months have been tested by natural disasters which have sown pain and anguish".

"May heaven and earth rejoice at the witness of those who suffer opposition and even persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. May the proclamation of his victorious resurrection deepen their courage and trust".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Women's role in the Church - Pope John Paul II

In the context of Christian anthropology, every human person has his or her dignity and as persons women have no less dignity than men. Too often, women are regarded as objects because of male egoism, of which there have been endless manifestations in the past and of which there are still many today. In today's situation there are all sorts of cultural and social reasons for this, and these need calm and objective consideration. Even so, it is not hard to detect the influence of a tendency to domination and arrogance, a tendency which has found and is still finding its victims especially among women and young girls.

However, the phenomenon has been and still is more general than this, having its origins has (as I wrote in Christifideles laici) 'in that unjust and deleterious mentality which considers the human being as a thing, as an object to buy and sell, as an instrument for selfish interests or for pleasure only' (n. 49).

The Christian laity are called to fight against all the forms which this mentality takes, including advertising, which is motivated by the intention to accelerate the frenetic race for consumer goods. But women themselves have a duty to play their part in obtaining respect for their personality, by not lowering themselves to any form of complicity with anything which militates against their dignity.

Perfection for women does not mean being like men, masculizing themselves until they lose their specifically womanly qualities. Their perfection - with its self-affirmation and relative autonomy - is to be women, equal to men but different. In civil society and in the Church too, the fact that women are equal and different has to be recognized. Difference does not mean an inevitable and almost implacable opposition. In the Bible story of the creation, co-operation between man and woman is laid down as the condition for the development of the human race and for its work of mastering the universe: 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it' (Genesis 1:28). In the light of this command from the Creator, the Church holds that 'the married couple and the family constitute the first and basic expression of the social dimension of the faithful' (Christifideles laici 40). On a more general plane we may say that the renewal of the temporal order can only come about by the co-operation of men and women.

Women have understanding, sensitive, compassionate hearts, giving them a tactful and practical approach to charity. In the Church, we know, there have always been many women - religious and lay, mothers of families and single women - who have devoted their lives to alleviating human suffering. What wonderful pages they have contributed to the annals of dedication to the needs of the poor, the sick, the infirm, the paralyzed, and all those rejected by society, both in former times and in today's world. How many names leap from heart to lips when we only intend to make a passing mention of those heroic figures who exercised charity with a tact and skill entirely feminine, be it within the family or in Institutes, in hospitals or in dealing with people vulnerable to moral anguish, oppression or exploitation. Nothing of this escapes God's eye, and the Church too treasures the names and exemplary activities of those many, many noble representatives of charity; sometimes she enters them in the register of her Saints.

A significant field for the female apostolate in the Church is that of contributing to the Liturgy. Women's attendance at church services, where they usually outnumber the men, shows their commitment to the Faith, their spiritual sensitivity, their inclination to piety and their attachment to liturgical prayer and the Eucharist.

In this co-operation of women with the priest and other members of the faithful in the eucharistic celebration, we may see a type of the Virgin Mary's cooperation with Christ in the Incarnation and the Redemption. Ecce ancilla Domini: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word' (Luke 1:38). Mary is the model of Christian womanhood, spreading the mystery of the incarnate and redeeming Word through the world.

The true promotion of women consists in promoting them to that which is proper to them and suited to them as women - that is, as creatures different from men, called, no less than men, to be a model of human personality. This is 'emancipation' as indicated and intended by Jesus, who wished to assign women a mission of their own, appropriate to their natural difference from men. Discharging this mission allows women to develop their personalities and thus to serve humanity, and particularly the Church, in a way consistent with their qualities.

Quite recently and even in Catholic circles, a claim has been advanced by some women to be admitted to the priestly ministry. The claim is in fact based on a false assumption. For the ministerial priesthood is not a job which one can take on the basis of social qualification or legal procedures, but only in obedience to the will of Christ. Now, Jesus entrusted the task of the ministerial priesthood to members of the male sex alone. In spite of having also invited certain women to follow him and in spite of having asked them to work with him, he did not call or admit any of them to the group whom he had entrusted with the ministerial priesthood of his Church. His will is made plain by the sum of his behaviour, as also by significant actions, which Christian tradition has always interpreted as pointers to be followed.

Thus we see from the Gospel that Jesus never sent women on preaching missions, as he did the group of the Twelve, who were all men (Luke 9:1-6); similarly with the Seventy-Two, among whom no female presence is mentioned (Luke 10:1-20). Only to the Twelve does Jesus give authority over the Kingdom: 'Now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me' (Luke 22:29). Only on the Twelve does he confer the mission and power of repeating the Eucharist on his behalf (Luke 22:19). Only to the Apostle does he give the power to remit sins (John 20:22-23) and to undertake the work of universal evangelization (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16.:16-18).

Christ's will was followed by the Apostles and by those subsequently responsible for the earliest communities, thus giving rise to the Christian tradition which has been in force in the Church ever since. I felt it my duty to confirm this tradition in my Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis (22 May 1994),declaring that 'the Church has no power whatever to confer priestly ordination on women, and that this ruling should be held as definitive by all the Church's faithful' (n. 4). Here faithfulness to the pastoral ministry as instituted by Christ is at stake.

The True Meaning of Easter - Dr. Plinio Correa

The Resurrection represents the eternal and definitive triumph of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the complete defeat of his adversaries, and the supreme argument of our faith. Saint Paul said that, if Christ had not resurrected, our faith would be vain. The whole edifice of our beliefs is founded on the supernatural fact of the Resurrection. Let us then meditate about this highly elevated subject.

Christ Our Lord was not resurrected: He resurrected. He was dead. Lazarus was resurrected. Someone other than him, in this case, Our Lord, called him back to life. As for the Divine Redeemer, no one resurrected Him. He resurrected Himself, needing no one to call Him back to life. He took his life back when He so willed.

Everything that is said about Our Lord can be analogically applied to the Holy Catholic Church. We often see, in the history of the Church, that precisely when She seemed irremediably lost and all the symptoms of catastrophe seemed to undermine Her, events took place that kept Her alive against all the expectations of Her adversaries. A rather curious fact is that sometimes it is the Church’s enemies that come to Her aid, rather than Her friends. For example, in a most sensitive time period for Catholicism like Napoleon’s era, an extremely unusual episode took place: a conclave was convened for the election of Pius VII under the protection of Russian troops, all of them schismatic and under the command of a schismatic sovereign. In Russia itself, the practice of the Catholic religion was curbed in a thousand ways. Yet, in Italy, Russian troops ensured the free election of a Sovereign Pontiff precisely at the moment when a vacancy in the See of Peter would have caused such grievous damages for Holy Church that, humanly speaking, she might never have been able to overcome them.

Such are the marvelous means that Divine Providence employs to demonstrate that God has the supreme government of all things. However, let us not think that the Church owed Her salvation to Constantine, Charlemagne, John of Austria, or Russian troops. Even when She seems to be entirely abandoned and when She lacks the most indispensable natural resources for survival, let us be certain that Holy Church will not die. Like Our Lord, She will rise with Her own, divine strength. And the more inexplicable the seeming resurrection of the Church may be from the human standpoint (we say seeming, because, unlike Our Lord, the Church will never die a real death), the more glorious Her victory will be.

In these murky and sad days, let us thus confide. However, in order to restore all things in the Kingdom of Christ, let us confide not in this or that power, man, or ideological current but in Divine Providence, which will once again force the sea to open wide, move mountains and cause the whole earth to tremble if necessary to fulfill the divine promise: “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Sunday mass at the Toronto Oratory Sounds like

This is about as close to what Sunday mass at the Toronto Oratory sounds like, if you are ever in this part of town do drop by

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Regina Caeli

Victimae Paschali Laudes with amazing pipe organ

This one made a few babies in church wail. Quite amusing

CHRISTIANS, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise.

The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb; and Christ, the undefiled, hath sinners to his Father reconciled.

Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life's own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.

Tell us, Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way. The tomb the Living did enclose; I saw Christ's glory as He rose! The angels there attesting; shroud with grave-clothes resting.

Christ, my hope, has risen: He goes before you into Galilee. That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.

Victorious King, Thy mercy show!

Amen. Hallelujah.

Victimae Paschali

Today morning at mass this was the sequence, first time I heard it.

Victimæ paschali laudes inmolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis,
angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea;
præcedet suos in Galileam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere.

Tu nobis victor Rex, miserere.

Amen. Alleluia.

Happy Easter 2011