Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Church in Pakistan

Let us pray for the brethren.
Six people – including two children – were burned alive in anti-Christian attacks on 1st August 2009. That same day, an elderly man – the children’s grandfather – was shot dead. The killings happened as thousands of people rampaged through the Christian quarter of Gojra in the Punjab Province. It had been reported that Christians had cut up pages of the Qur’an to make wedding confetti. The mob, carrying sticks, clubs and firearms, attacked property including more than 150 homes and two churches.

This attack – described in detail on pp103-04 – is one of many inextricably linked to the country’s blasphemy laws (paragraphs B and C of Section 295 of Pakistan’s Penal Code). Offences against the Qur’an receive a sentence of life imprisonment and insults against the Prophet Mohammed can be punished by death. According to the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), between 1986 and 2010 at least 993 people were charged with either desecrating the Qur’an or slandering Mohammed. Most of the charges have been brought against Muslims: 479 of the accused were Muslims (many from the Shia group) and 340 were Ahmadis, an Islamic religious movement regarded by many orthodox Muslims as heretical. 120 of those accused were Christians.

Reports show that the blasphemy laws are often invoked by people with a personal vendetta against a particular group or individual. Since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed by those using the blasphemy laws as a pretext. Accusations against alleged blasphemers are often false or motivated by petty interests, encouraging mobs to mete out rough justice without reference to the law. (Read more.)
HERE is an interview with a Pakinstani bishop, via Zenit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Birth of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa

Avila celebrates the birth of La Santa.
AVILA-SPAIN (28-03-2012).- A solemn celebration of the Eucharist, at which presided the Vicar Provincial of the Castile province, Fr Luis Javier Fernández Frontela, brought to the close a day full of events to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus.

Religious from throughout the city, together with a great number of others, gathered to take part in the Eucharist celebrated in the “La Santa” church which is built over the house where Teresa of Jesus was born.

In his sermon, Fr Luis Javier mentioned incidents from the childhood of this saint from Avila, and stressed the importance of family, the home and family house in the early years of the one who was to become the foundress of the Discalced Carmel. (Read entire post.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Illusion of Coziness

Easter, or Pascha as the Church calls it in her official liturgical books, is about moving out and moving on. Out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Out of darkness into light. Out of sin into holiness. Out of decrepitude into vigor. Out of a pitiful self-absorption into fascination with the beauty of holiness that shines on the Face of Christ. Out of death into life.
The Illusion of Coziness
It is a strange thing that, when it comes to getting on with it spiritually, some of us drag our feet. There is something inside us that remains attached to that old life of bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. We reminisce about the "bad old days" and our imagination twists them into the "good old days" that they never were. There is nothing worthy of nostalgia about living in sin, under sin, or with sin. One of the devil's ploys is to make us feel comfortable in our sins. He likes nothing better than to appeal to our innate desire for feeling cozy, and he creates the illusion of coziness by using our sins. In this way, he suggests that we really need not move forward, that things are fine just as they are, and that those think otherwise are either fanatics or idealists.
Today's Introit says that the Lord brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen ones with gladness. Joy because a new life was opening before them. Gladness because God had taken care of their enemies -- a symbol of the old sins that pursue us -- by sending them headlong into the churning waters of the Red Sea. Joy, because "the strife was o'er, the battle won." Gladness because, as the Exultet puts it, we have been "restored to grace . . . and separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sinners." (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rogation Days

Scott Richert explains what they are, since most of us have no idea. Rogation Days are one of those many things that the Second Vatican Council did not abolish but made optional, which then, for some reason, led to them being completely forgotten. Perhaps if we revive such public devotions in a spirit of penitence, God will guide the Church out of the bog of scandal into which she has fallen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mystogia

Fr. Angelo on the discipline of the secret.
Even so, we may regret, at least theoretically, the complete loss of the discipline of the secret, especially today when the introduction of the mundane and even the profane into the precincts of our sanctuaries have stripped the faithful of a sense of the sacred and mysterious.  The tragic consequence of this has been the systematic cultivation of irreverence.

But the discipline of the secret is built into the sacred mysteries we celebrate during Easter.  Our Lord celebrated the first Mass in the upper room into which he ensconced the apostles for the preservation of the mysteries of Holy Thursday.  Into that enclosed space they would return, as a huddled and fearful band, after the events of Good Friday, and into that enclosed and locked space Our Lord would reenter in order to reveal to them that which he did not reveal to all.  As St. Peter said of himself and his companions, the Lord manifested Himself not to all the people, but to witnesses preordained by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him, after he arose again from the dead (Acts 10:41).

Our Lord also initially hid Himself from His inner circle, as He did to St. Mary Magdalen at the Holy Sepulcher, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and to Peter and his companions at the Lake of Galilee.  Certainly this deprivation of their ability to recognize Him was symbolic of their own lack of faith and of the power of the Resurrection to break down that barrier against faith. They knew him in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35).  But may we not also reflect that the revelation of what was hidden underscores the mysterious content of the faith and the mystical or dark way in which the activity of God touches our soul?

St. Bonaventure says that we must enter the tomb with Jesus—into another enclosed space—and there we must die and experience the suspension of our senses.  He is not necessarily referring to ecstasy, but what belongs more fundamentally to the mystical life, namely, a new way of thinking that is not dependent on what we see, but on what the Lord tells us.  Of course, first of all that means what the Church teaches, but it also must mean the manner in which we assimilate it through our own efforts to surrender in faith in the silence of prayer. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Persecution

Our Holy Father the Pope invites us to face persecution with prayer, as did the martyrs before us.
As with the first Christian community, prayer helps us to interpret personal and collective history according to the right and faithful perspective, that of God. And we too want to renew the request for the gift of the Holy Spirit, that warms the heart and illumines the mind, to see how the Lord realizes what we plead for according to his will of love and not according to our ideas. Guided by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, we will be able to face every situation of life with serenity, courage and joy and boast with St. Paul “in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience proved virtue and proved virtue hope”: that hope that “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been bestowed upon us” (Romans 5:3-5). (Read entire post.)
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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Soul of the Apostolate

Dom Chautard and living a devout life in the world. As Fr. Angelo says:
As anyone who is trying to live the interior life knows, there is an inherent tension between the interior and active life, and though in no way mutually exclusive, one can tend to dominate and destroy the other.  In the vast majority of cases it is the active life and encroaches on the interior life, because, in fact, it is easier to be active than prayerful.  In fact, Dom Chautard writes that nothing is more difficult than fidelity to the interior life.  It also may and does happen that certain interior souls adopt unsound habits and allow their personal devotions to impinge upon their responsibilities, for example, a mother to her children, but by far the most common problem is that we sacrifice our prayer to our work.  This problem is critical because of the primacy of prayer over action: without grace our work has no merit and prayer is our conduit to the grace of God. (Read entire post.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Beauty

From a Carmelite friar (via The Association of Catholic Women Bloggers):
Rarely do we ever receive direct access into God, but when our lives are in harmony — with those around us, with nature, and especially interiorly — we become aware of all the interconnections and how exquisitely they are crafted. And in times of super-harmony, all the events of our lives make sense and fit together. Then, we begin to understand the Composer and even glimpse the Composer. Yes, I think we see God’s Beauty when we strive to live in harmony and peace with our neighbor and strive to find interior harmony and interior peace. Therefore, to live a spiritual life is to strive to live a harmonious life. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Come to Me

It is already the marriage supper of the Lamb. As Father Mark says:
How are we to understand this Introit today? Our Lord is addressing the newly-baptized. His first word to them is, "Come." Venite, benedicti Patris mei. Where else do we hear this same word, Venite, in the mouth of Jesus? In Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest." I see Our Lord pronouncing this word with His arms spread wide in a gesture of welcome. The hands nailed to the wood of the Cross shine with His glorious wounds. His Holy Face is radiant. A torrent of light flows from His Open Side. When He says, "Come," who can resist His invitation?

Our Lord calls the newly-baptized benedicti Patris mei, blessed of my Father. Is not this what Saint Paul develops in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians? "Blessed be that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself" (Eph 1:3). There is no greater blessing than incorporation into the Body of Christ that is the Church. The children of the Church, the Bride of Christ, are nourished from the altar of His Sacrifice with the mysteries of His Body and Blood. It is in the Eucharist that we are blessed, here and now, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself.
To receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion is to receive "the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34). The Most Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven. It is already the "Wedding Banquet of the Lamb" (Ap 19:9). The Orthodox theologian, Father Alexander Schmemann, calls the Eucharist, "the ascent of the Church to the heavenly altar." The kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world is offered to us sacramentally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the Church assumed into heaven, and heaven filling the Church.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To the City and the World

Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus “my hope”: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. “Christ my hope” means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfillment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fifty Days of Easter

We have only just begun to celebrate! As Scott Richert writes:
...The period from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), also known as the Octave (or eighth day) of Easter, is an especially joyful time. But the Easter season doesn't end there: Because Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar—even more important than Christmas—the Easter season continues on for 50 days, through the Ascension of Our Lord to Pentecost Sunday. (Indeed, for the purpose of fulfilling our Easter Duty, the Easter season extends until Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost!)

So keep on celebrating and wishing your friends a happy Easter! As St. John Chrysostom reminds us in his famous Easter homily, read in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter, Christ has destroyed death, and now is the "feast of faith."

You can read all about Easter, including its history, practice, how the date of Easter is calculated, what holidays fall during the Easter season, and much more in Easter 101: Everything You Need to Know About Easter in the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday of Holy Week

From Vultus Christi:
We confess the self-emptying obedience of Christ, obedience even to the death of the cross, calling him LORD. We summon the entire cosmos — things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — to adoration of his Name! Already, we lift our eyes to the see the glory of the risen and ascended Christ. The very melody of the introit scales an entire octave to soar into the heights, obliging us to “seek the things that are above” (Col 3:1). Dame Aemiliana speaks of “the irresistible, shining tone of triumph with which today’s Mass straightaway puts the approaching shadows of evening to flight.” Like Saint Stephen at the hour of his death, we see Christ in the glory of God the Father. “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). The Crucified is our Kyrios, the triumphant king, raised up into the glory of the Father.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday of Holy Week

From Vultus Christi:

The Eucharist is the awful reality of the Christus passus. The mystery of the suffering Christ is made present to us and for us. For our healing, his wounds are pressed against ours. For our cleansing, his Blood flows impetuous like a torrent. For our life, his breath is given over in death. The Eucharist is the Crucified “lifted up and drawing all men to himself”(cf. Jn 12:32). It is the Eucharist that causes us to cry out, “O great Passion! O deep wounds! O outpouring of Blood! O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life.”

Scott Richert discusses the spirit of sacrifice and Holy Week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Bridegroom

Thirty years among us dwelling
His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this he meets his passion,
For that this he freely willed;
On that cross the Lamb is lifted,
Where his lifeblood shall be spilled.

He endured the nails, the spitting,
Vinegar, and spear, and reed:
From that holy body beaten
Blood and water forth proceed:
Earth and stars and sky and ocean
By that flood from stain are freed.

Faithful Cross above all other,
One and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be;
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweet the Weight that hangs on thee!

Bend thy boughs, O tree of Glory!
Let thy rigid sinews bend;
For a while the ancient rigor,
That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty,
On thy bosom, gently tend.

Thou alone was counted worthy
This world's ransom to sustain;
That a shipwrecked race forever
Might a port of refuge gain;
With the sacred Blood anointed
Of the Lamb for sinners slain.

Glory be to God, and honor
In the highest! as is meet,
To the Son, and to the Father,
and eternal Paraclete,
Whose is boundless grace and power
Through the ages infinite.

Invocabo nomen tuum, Domine: ne avertas faciem tuam a clamore meo!

I will invoke Thy Name, O Lord, turn not thy face away from my cry!

In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur caelestium, terrestrium, et infernorum: et omnis lingua confiteatur, quia Dominus Jesus Christus in gloria et Dei Patris.

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that the Lord Jesus Christ rests in the glory of God the Father.
~ from The Monastic Diurnal

( Via Irenikon)
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