New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Eucharist, the core of Christian life - BL. Pope John Paul II

From the Eucharist we all receive the grace and strength for everyday life, for living a truly Christian existence, in the joy of knowing that God Loves us, that Christ has died for us and that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
Our full participation in the Eucharist is the true source of that Christian spirit we should like to see in our own lives and in every aspect of society. Wherever we work - in politics, in the economy, in culture, in the social or scientific fields - it does not matter what our job may be - the Eucharist is a challenge to our daily lives.
There must always be consistency between what we believe and what we do. We cannot live on the glories of our Christian past. Our union with Christ in the Eucharist must be manifest in the truth of our lives today: in our actions, in our sense of values, in our life-style, in our relationships with others.
For each of us the Eucharist is a summons to make an even greater effort to live as true followers of Christ: truthful in what we say, generous in what we do, caring for and respectful of the dignity and rights of all, whatever their class or their income may be; ready to make personal sacrifices, loyal and just, generous, prudent, compassionate and self-disciplined; aiming at the good of our families, of our young people, of our country, of Europe, of the world. The truth of our union with Christ in the Eucharist is attested by whether or not we truly love our neighbour, whoever that may be, and by the way we treat other people, especially our own families: husbands and wives, children and parents, brother and sisters. It is attested by the effort we really make to be reconciled with our enemies, to forgive those who wrong us or offend us.
Given the agnostic society - a sadly hedonistic and permissive one - in which we live, it is essential to deepen our teaching on the august Mystery of the Eucharist, in such a way as to acquire and maintain absolute certainty over the nature and purpose of the Sacrament which is rightly called the core of the Christian message and of the life of the Church. The Eucharist is the mystery of mysteries; so its acceptance means totally accepting the nexus 'Christ-and-the-Church', from the preambles of the Faith to the doctrine of the Redemption, to the concept of sacrifice and of consecrated priesthood, to the dogma of 'transubstantiation', to the importance of legislation in liturgical matters.
Today this certainty is necessary before all else, in order to restore the Eucharist and priesthood to their absolutely central position, to have a proper sense of the the importance of Holy Mass and Holy Communion, to return to Eucharist pedagogy, this being the source of priestly and religious vocations and inner strength for practising the Christian virtues...
Today is a time for reflection, for meditation and for prayer for Christians to recover their sense of worship, their fervour. Only from the Eucharist profoundly known, loved and lived can we hope for that unity in truth and charity which is willed by Christ and urged on all by the Second Vatican Council.
The the sacrament of his Body and Blood, which he himself has offered once and for all (Hebrews 9:26-28) , to set us free from sin and death, and which he has entrusted to his Church for her to make the same offering under the species of bread and wine and so to feed his faithful people forever - that is, us who stand about his altar. The Eucharist is thus the sacrifice par excellence, that of Christ on the Cross, by means of which we receive Christ himself, Christ entire, God and man...
The Son's sacrifice is unique and unrepeatable. It was made one single time in human history. And this unique and unrepeatable sacrifice 'endures'.The happening on Golgotha belongs to the past. The reality of the Trinity constitutes a divine 'today' for ever. Thus it is that all humanity shares in this 'today' of the Son's sacrifice. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the unfathomable 'today'. The Eucharist is the sacrament  - the greatest one the church has - by which the divine 'today' of the Redemption  of the world meets our human 'today' in a manner ever human.
We must once again emphasize how important it is, in obedience to the precept of the Church, to take part in the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist. For everyone, this is the highest act of worship in the exercise of the universal priesthood, just as the sacramental offering of the Mass is the highest act of worship, for priests, in the exercise of the priestly ministry. participation in the Eucharistic banquet is a vital condition for everyone for union with Christ, as he himself has said: 'In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will have no life in you' (John 6:53). The Cathecism of the Catholic Church reminds all the faithful about the significance of participating in the Sunday Eucharist (nn 2181 - 2182). Here I wish to conclude with those famous words in the First Letter of Peter, which portray the laity participating in the Eucharist-Church mystery: 'You too must become living stones making a spiritual house as a holy priesthood, to offer the spiritual sacrifices made acceptable to God through Jesus Christ' (1Peter 2:5)
For every faithful Catholic, participation at Holy mass on Sunday is at once a duty and a privilege: a sweet obligation to respond to God's  love for us, so that we can then bear witness to this love in our daily lives...The fulfilling of the dominical precept ought, for every Christian family, to be a fundamental source of joy and unity.  Every Sunday, all and every one of you have an appointment with God's love.
Don't fail to keep it..

Friday, May 27, 2011

Perseverance in prayer - Bl. Pope John Paul II

If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for him to grow and last, you must be diligent in prayer. This is key to the vitality of your life in Christ. without prayer, your faith and your love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in attendance at Sunday Mass, your love for Jesus will grow. And your heart will know such joy and deep peace as the world could not give you.
Nourish your day with as much prayer as you can and allowing for moments of particular intimacy with the Lord, whether individually or in a group. Only prolonged contact with Him can transform each of us inwardly into a disciple of his. Only by being nourished by long hours of prayer, meditation, concentration and silent listening to God, will a believer be able to speak to other people about the Divine Mystery, to hand it on and to bear witness to it in the presence of others.
The Gospel reminds us of 'the need to pray continually and never to lose heart' (Luke18:1). So everyday, devote a little while to conversing with God, as proof of the face that you sincerely love him; for love always seeks to be close to the beloved. This is why prayer must come before everything else; people who do not take this view, who do not put this into practice, cannot please the excuse of being short of time; what they are short of is love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why and how to pray - BL. Pope John Paul II

First of all, we should pray because we are believers. For prayer is the recognition of our limitations and of our dependence; from God we come, to God we belong, to God we shall return! Hence the least we can do is surrender ourselves to him, our Creator and Lord, in full and total trust. Some people assert and do their best to prove that the universe is eternal and that all the order we observe in the universe - human beings with their brain-power and freedom included - has only come about by chance. Scientific studies and the experience of many honest people, however, say that these ideas, despite being asserted and even taught, have not been proved and invariably leave those who hold them anxious and confused, since they are very well aware that any object in motion must have had a push from outside! They are very well aware that chance cannot produce the perfect order existing in the universe and in the human entity! Everything is marvelously ordered, from the infinitesimal particles making up the atom, to the galaxies that wheel around in space! Everything, points to a plan comprehending every manifestation of nature, from inert matter to human thought. Where there is order, there is supreme Intelligence whom we call 'God' and whom Jesus has revealed to us as Love and taught us to call 'Father'.
So, by reflecting on the nature of the universe and on our own lives, we understand and acknowledge that we are creatures, limited yet sublime, who owe our nature to the Infinite Majesty of the Creator! this being so, prayer is, before all else, an act of intelligence, a feeling of humility and thankfulness, an attitude of trust and surrender to him who has lovingly given us life. Prayer is a mysterious but nonetheless real dialogue with God, a dialogue of confidence and love.
However, we are Christians and so we ought to pray like Christians. Now, for the Christian, prayer takes on a particular character which totally changes its innermost nature and innermost value. Christians are disciples of Jesus; we truly believe Jesus to be the Incarnate Word, the Son of God, come to dwell among us on earth.
When Jesus was on earth, his life was one of ceaseless prayer, a continuous act of adoration and love addressed to the Father; and since the highest form of prayer is sacrifice, the climax of our Lord's prayer life was the sacrifice of the cross, anticipated in the Eucharist at the Last Supper and handed down in the Holy mass for all ages to come.
So Christians know that their prayer life is Jesus; all our prayer live start from Jesus; it is he who prays within us, with us, for us. All who believe in God pray; but Christians pray in Jesus Christ. Christ is our prayer!
The highest form of prayer is the Holy Mass because, in Holy Mass, Jesus himself is really present, renewing the sacrifice of the Cross. But every prayer is valuable, especially the 'Our Father', which Christ himself was pleased to teach the Apostles and everybody on earth.

In uttering the words of the 'Our Father', Jesus created a practical model and universal synthesis. For everything one can and should say to the Father is contained in those seven petitions which we all know by heart. In them is such simplicity that even a child can learn them; but at the same time there is such depth that one might spend a lifetime reflecting on their meaning.
A further reason why we should pray is that we are frail and guilty. Humbly and realistically we need to admit that we are poor creatures, confused in our ideas, tempted to wrong -doing, frail and weak, constantly in need of inner strengthening and consolation. Prayer gives us strength for high ideals, for keeping the Faith, for charity, purity and generosity. Prayer gives us the courage to rise above indifference, or above guilt, if we have been unlucky enough to yield to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us the light to see and consider events in our personal lives and in history itself in the salvific perspective of God and eternity.
So you must not stop praying! Let no day go by without praying a little! Prayer is a duty; it is also a great joy, since it is a dialogue with God through`Jesus Christ. Every Sunday, Holy Mass and, if you possibly can, sometimes on a weekday as well; everyday, prayers in the morning and at night, and when ever else you can find a moment!
St. Paul wrote to early Christians as follows: 'Be persevering in your prayers' (Collossians 4:2); 'With every sort of prayer and entreaty, keep praying on every possible occasion' (Ephesians 6:18).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jacob - Prayer: Battle of Faith, Call for Perseverance - Pope Benedict XVI

Continuing with his catecheses on prayer, Benedict XVI spoke in today's general audience about the Patriarch Jacob and his fight with the unknown man at the ford of the Jabbok. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square with 15,000 people in attendance.

The Bible, explained the Pope, describes Jacob as an astute man who obtains things through deception. At a certain point, he sets out to return to his homeland and face his brother, whose firstborn birthrights he had taken. Jacob waits overnight in order to cross the ford safely but something unforeseen occurs: he is suddenly attacked by an unknown man with whom he struggles the entire night. The story details their struggle, which has no clear winner, leaving the rival a mystery. "Only at the end, when the struggle is finished and that 'someone' has disappeared, only then will Jacob name him and be able to say that he had struggled with God".

Once the fight is over Jacob says to his opponent that he will only let him go if he blesses him. Jacob "who had defrauded his brother out of the first-born's blessing through deceit, now demands [a blessing] from the unknown man, in whom he perhaps begins to see divine traits, but still without being able to truly recognize him. His rival, who seems restrained and therefore defeated by Jacob, instead of bowing to the Patriarch's request, asks his name. ... In the Biblical mentality, knowing someone's name entails a type of power because it contains the person's deepest reality, revealing their secret and their destiny. ... This is why, when Jacob reveals his name, he is putting himself in his opponent's hands. It is a form of surrender, a complete giving over of himself to the other".

Paradoxically, however, "in this gesture of surrender, Jacob also becomes the victor because he receives a new name, together with the recognition of his victory on the part of his adversary". The name "Jacob", Benedict XVI continued, "recalls the verb 'to deceive' or 'to supplant'. After the struggle, in a gesture of deliverance and surrender, the Patriarch reveals his reality as a deceiver, a usurper, to his opponent. The other, who is God, however, transforms this negative reality into a positive one. Jacob the deceiver becomes Israel. He is given a new name as a sign of his new identity ... the mostly likely meaning of which is 'God is strong, God wins'. When, in turn, Jacob asks his rival's name, he refuses to say it but reveals himself in an unmistakable gesture, giving his blessing. ... This is not a blessing obtained through deceit but one given freely by God, which Jacob can now receive because, without cunning or deception, he gives himself over unarmed, accepts surrender and admits the truth about himself".

In the episode of the fight at the ford of Jabbok, the Pope observed, "the people of Israel speak of their origin and outline the features of a unique relationship between God and humanity. This is why, as also affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'from this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance'".

"Our entire lives", concluded the Holy Father, "are like this long night of struggle and prayer, passed in the desire of and request for God's blessing, which cannot be ripped away or won over through our strength, but must be received with humility from Him as a gratuitous gift that allows us, finally, to recognize the face of the Lord. And when this happens, our entire reality changes: we receive a new name and God's blessing".