New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pope Pius VI repeatedly condemned the false concept of liberty and equality of the French Revolution

Pius VI repeatedly condemned the false concept of liberty and equality. In the Secret Consistory of June 17, 1793, quoting the words of the encyclical Inscrutabilie Divinae Sapientiae of December 25, 1775, he declared:

“‘The most perfidious philosophers go farther. They dissolve all those bonds by which human beings are joined to one another and to their rulers and by which they are maintained in their sense of duty; they keep screaming and proclaiming to the point of nausea that human beings are born free and not subject to the rule of anyone, and that society is therefore a multitude of foolish human beings whose stupidity prostates them before priests, by whom they are deceived, and before kings, by whom they are oppressed; to such a point that concord between the priesthood and the empire is nothing other than a giant conspiracy against man’s innate liberty.’

“To this false and mendacious name of liberty, those vaunted patrons of the human race have added the equally deceptive name of equality, as if among human beings who have come together in civil society, although they are subject to various emotions and follow diverse and uncertain impulses according to their individual whims, there ought not be one who by means of authority and force might prevail upon, oblige, moderate, and recall them from their perverse ways of acting to a sense of duty, lest society itself, from the reckless and contrary impetus of many desires, should fall into anarchy and be utterly dissolved. It is like harmony, which derives from the agreement of many sounds and which, if it does not consist of a suitable combination of strings and voices, disintegrates into a disturbed and clearly dissonant clatter.” (Pii VI Pont. Max. Acta [Rome: Typis S. Congreg. De Propaganda Fide, 1871], Vol. 2, pp. 26-27.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Human History Is a History of Salvation - Pope Benedict XVI

During his general audience this morning the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to Psalm 126 which, he said, "celebrates the great things which the Lord has done for His people, and which He continues to do for all believers".

The Psalm "speaks of 'restored fortunes'", the Pope explained, "in other words, fortunes restored to their original state". This was the experience of the People of Israel when they returned to their homeland after the Babylonian exile, which had been such a devastating experience not only in political and social terms but also from a religious and spiritual point of view.

"Divine intervention often takes unexpected forms which go beyond what man might expect. ... God works marvels in the history of mankind. ... He reveals Himself as the powerful and merciful Lord, the refuge of the oppressed Who does not ignore the cry of the poor. ... Thus, with the liberation of the People of Israel, everyone recognises the great and wondrous things God has done for His People and celebrates the Lord as Saviour".

However, the Holy Father went on, "the Psalm goes beyond the purely historical and opens to a broader, theological dimension". It uses images which "allude to the mysterious truth of redemption, in which the gift we have received and the gift we await, life and death, intertwine".

The watercourses of the Neg'eb symbolise divine intervention which, like water, "is capable of transforming the desert into a vast expanse of green grass and flowers", the Pope explained. Later the Psalm also uses the image of peasants cultivating their fields "to speak of salvation. The reference here is to the annual cycle of agriculture: the difficult and arduous time of sowing then the overriding joy of the harvest. ... The seed sprouts and grows".

"This is the hidden mystery of life, these are the 'great and wondrous things of salvation which the Lord achieves in the history of mankind, but the secret of which is unknown to man. Divine intervention, when fully expressed, has an overpowering dimension, like the watercourses of the Neg'eb and the grain in the fields. This latter image also evokes the disproportion typical of the things of God: disproportion between the fatigue of sowing and the immense joy of the harvest".

"The Psalmist refers to all these things to speak of salvation. ... The deportation to Babylon, like other situations of suffering and crisis, ... with its doubts and the apparent distance from God is, in reality, ... like a seedbed. In the mystery of Christ and in the light of the New Testament, the message becomes even clearer and more explicit: the believer who passes through the darkness is like the seed of grain that falls to earth and dies, but brings forth much fruit".

"This Psalm teaches us that ... we must remain hopeful and firm in our faith in God. Our history, though often marked by suffering, uncertainty and moments of crisis, is a history of salvation and 'restoration of fortunes'. In Jesus our exile ends: ... in the mystery of His cross, in death transformed into life, like the seed which splits in the earth and becomes an ear of wheat".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sacraments and Christian prayer - Bl. Pope John Paul II

Instituted by the Saviour, Baptism is the first of the Sacraments; it abolishes 'original sin' and restores 'sanctifying grace' to the soul, introducing those who receive it into the trinitarian life of God and making them 'adoptive children' of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus, full members of the Christian Church - the Mystical body of Christ - and heirs to the eternal joys of Paradise.  To be born means entering into a specific divine plan: no one comes into the world by accident; on the contrary, everyone has a particular mission to perform, which, of course, we cannot know all about from the start but which will be made completely clear to us one day. So let us be guided by our awareness of being instruments of a God who has created us out of love and wishes to be repaid with love by us.
The sacrament of Confirmation is, as it were, a completing of Baptism, the stage of maturity on the journey to full admittance into the mystery of Christ and to responsible acceptance of one's vocation in the Church. To understand the meaning of this sacrament, we need first of all to reflect on the function of all the Sacraments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excerpts from 'The Joy of Loving' by Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

'Let us not be afraid to be humble, small, helpless to prove our love for God. The cup of water you give the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way you teach a dull child, the way you give medicine to a sufferer of leprosy, the joy with which you smile at your own at home - all this is GOd's love in the world today.'

' In Minneapolis, a woman in wheelchair, suffering continuos convulsions from cerebral palsy asked me what people like her could do for others. I told her: You can do the most. You can do more than any of us because your suffering is united with the suffering of Christ on the Cross and it brings strength to all of us. There is a tremendous strength that is growing in the world through this continual sharing, praying together, suffering together and working together.'

'There are sick and crippled people who cannot do anything to share in the work. So they adopt a Sister or a Brother, who then involves the sick co-worker fully in whatever he or she does. The two become like one person, and they call each other their second self. I have a second self in Belgium, and when I was last there, she said to me, 'I am sure you are going to have a heavy time, with all the walking and working and talking. I know this from the pain I have in my spine.' That was just before her seventeenth operation. Each time I have something special to do, it is she behind me that gives me all the strength and courage to do it.'

'God dwells in us. It doesn't matter where you are as long as you are clean of heart. Clean of heart means openness, that complete freedom, that detachment that allows you to love GOd without hindrance, without obstacles. When sin comes into our lives that is a personal obstacle between us and GOd. Sin is nothing but slavery.'

' To doctors: Have you experienced the joy of loving? You can do that as doctors. YOU have a beautiful opportunity when the sick come to you with great trust and confidence not only to receive a few tablets from you but to receive your tender love and care and especially when you have to make a sacrifice to look after the poor. Jesus said: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.'

'There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worse disease that any human being can ever experience.'

'To teachers: Do not neglect the weaker children. Consider the problems of the slow-witted, the dropouts - what will they become in society, if you do not look after them? Among the poor we have the rich poor - children who are better gifted. The rich poor child can still have a place but it is the child who is so dull, stupid, hungry that I must work for.'

'Let us beg form Our Lady to make our hearts 'meek and humble' like her Son's was. We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully. Do not let a chance pass you by. It is so easy to be proud, harsh, moody and selfish, but we have been created for greater things. Why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts?'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Never Surrender to the Lure of Pessimism - Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno, located in the region of Calabria in southern Italy. He began the day by travelling by plane from Ciampino airport in Rome to Lamezia Terme where he celebrated Mass at an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

"In this Sunday's liturgy we heard the parable narrating the wedding feast to which many guests were invited", said the Holy Father in his homily. "The image of a banquet is often used in Scripture to indicate joy in communion and in the abundance of the Lord's gifts. ... Many people were invited, but something unexpected happened: they refused to participate in the feast, they had other things to do". However this did not deter the king who was organising the feast. "He was not discouraged but sent his servants out to invite others. The refusal of the first invitees had the effect of extending the invitation to everyone, including the poor, the abandoned and the disinherited. ... However there was a condition to attending this wedding feast: guests had to wear the wedding robe. Entering the hall, the king realised that someone had chosen not to wear it and, for this reason, that guest was excluded from the feast".

To explain the significance of the "wedding robe", the Holy Father quoted from a commentary written by St. Gregory the Great. "In a certain sense, the guest who responded to God's invitation to participate in His banquet had faith, which opened the door of the hall to him, but he lacked something essential: the wedding robe, which is charity, love. ... In symbolic terms the robe is woven with two threads: ... love of God and love of neighbour. We are all invited to be guests of the Lord, to enter with faith into His banquet, but we must wear and preserve the wedding robe, which is charity, we must live with profound love for God and for neighbour".

"I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, the toils and commitments, the ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community", Benedict XVI told the faithful. "This beautiful region is seismic not only in a geological sense, but also in structural, behavioural and social terms. It is a land where problems are acute and destabilising, a land where unemployment is a great concern, where an often pitiless criminality damages the fabric of society, a land which seems to be in a perpetual state of emergency. To that emergency you people of Calabria have responded with surprising readiness, with an extraordinary capacity to adapt to difficulties. ... Never surrender to the lure of pessimism, never close in on yourselves. Draw on the resources of your faith and your human capacities; strive to increase collaboration, to look after one another and the public good; preserve the wedding robe of love".

The Pope then went on to recall that his visit coincided with the end of the five-year pastoral plan of the local Church. He praised the initiatives that had been completed during that time, including a school for the Social Doctrine of the Church, expressing the hope that "such initiatives will produce a new generation of men and women capable of promoting the common good more than private interests". He also had words of encouragement for clergy and lay people who work to prepare Christian couples for marriage and the family "providing a response that is both evangelical and effective to the many challenges facing the family and life today".

Finally, the Holy Father praised priests for the work they do, encouraging them "increasingly to root your own spiritual lives in the Gospel, ... detaching yourselves from the worldly consumer mentality which is such a recurring temptation in the times in which we live. ... Use discernment and ecclesiastical criteria to evaluate groups and movements", he said.

"Do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various fields of society, in the multifarious situations of human life", he concluded, addressing the faithful. "Thanks to the light of faith and the force of charity, you have every reason to be strong, trusting and courageous".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

St. Hubert - Patron of the Hunt

Confessor, thirty-first Bishop of Maastricht, first Bishop of Liège, and Apostle of the Ardennes, born about 656; died at Fura (the modern Tervueren), Brabant, 30 May, 727 or 728. He was honored in the Middle Ages as the patron of huntsmen, and the healer of hydrophobia (rabies). He was the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, and grandson of Charibert, King of Toulouse, a descendant of the great Pharamond. Bertrand’s wife is variously given as Hugbern, and as Afre, sister of Saint Oda. As a youth, Hubert went to the court of Neustria, where his charming manners and agreeable address won universal esteem, gave him a prominent position among the gay courtiers, and led to his investment with the dignity of “count of the palace”. He was a worldling and a lover of pleasure, his chief passion being for the chase, to which pursuit he devoted nearly all his time.

The tyrannical conduct of Ebroin caused a general emigration of the nobles and others to the court of Austrasia. Hubert soon followed them and was warmly welcomed by Pepin Heristal, mayor of the palace, who created him almost immediately grand-master of the household. About this time (682) he married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Louvain, and seemed to have given himself entirely up to the ponp and vanities of this world. But a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morn, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”. Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”

Accordingly, he set out immediately for Maastricht, of which place St. Lambert was then bishop. The latter received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert, losing his wife shortly after this, renounced all his honors and his military rank, and gave up his birthright to the Duchy of Aquitaine to his younger brother Eudon, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he entered upon his studies for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert’s chief associates in the administration of his diocese.

By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome and during his absence, the saint was assassinated by the followers of Pepin. At the same hour, this was revealed to the pope in a vision, together with an injunction to appoint Hubert bishop, as being a worthy successor to the see. Hubert was so much possessed with the idea of himself winning the martyr’s crown that he sought it on many occasions, but unsuccessfully.

He distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer, and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert translated St. Lambert’s remains from Maastrict to Liège with great pomp and ceremonial, several neighboring bishops assisting. A church for the relics was built upon the site of the martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year, the see being removed from Maastricht to Liege, then only a small village. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liege, of which Lambert is honored as patron, and St. Hubert as founder and first bishop.

Idolatry still lingered in the fastnesses of the forest of Ardennes—in Toxandria, a district stretching from near Tongres to the confluence of the Waal and the Rhine, and in Brabant. At the risk of his life Hubert penetrated the remote lurking places of paganism in his pursuit of souls, and finally brought about the abolishment of the worship of idols in his neighborhood. Between Brussels and Louvain, about twelve leagues from Liège, lies a town called Tervueren, formerly known as Fura. Hither Hubert went for the dedication of a new church. Being apprised of his impending death by a vision, he there preached his valedictory sermon, fell sick almost immediately, and in six days died with the words “Our Father, who art in Heaven . . . ” on his lips. His body was deposited in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Liège. It was solemnly translated in 825 to the Abbey of Amdain (since called St. Hubert’s) near what is now the Luxemburg frontier; but the coffin disappeared in the sixteenth century. Very many miracles are recorded of him in the Acta SS., etc. His feast is kept on 3 November, which was probably the date of the translation. St. Hubert was widely venerated in the Middle Ages, and many military orders were named after him.