Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sanctifying the Intellect

From Mary Victrix:
At the time when our particular observance was in question, Fr. Peter provided the intellectual defense and the Franciscan-Marian metaphysics for St. Maximilian’s establishment of the City of the Immaculate, and the reason why this contribution to the Order was a true and permanently valid gift from the Immaculate.  Fr. Peter’s own personal commitment to this ideal has been an inspiration for many of us.

I can never be grateful enough to Fr. Peter, who through the years has been a source of inspiration, strength and enlightenment to me to persevere in this Franciscan vocation.  I know he has influenced and inspired many other friars, priests, religious and laypeople.  I am very thankful that the importance of his work is being acknowledged in this way.  Hopefully, it will inspire others to learn from this great Marian scholar. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pope Francis on Salvation

From Scott Richert:
Beginning with the reading from Acts, which speaks of the persecution in the wake of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the Holy Father stressed the centrality of the Church's missionary activity. Rather than continuing to preach only to the Jews, some reached out to the Greeks, prompted, Pope Francis said, by the Holy Spirit. But the Church in Jerusalem, the Holy Father noted,
became nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the [Congregation for the] Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.
This visit was important, because what Acts calls "the Church in Jerusalem" was the Church, and so the Church in Jerusalem was responsible for spreading and safeguarding the Gospel. She was a "Mother"; a "Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity." It is through her that we have our identity as Christians: "Christian identity is belonging to the Church."
And now Pope Francis has arrived at the crux of the matter, the part that will surprise both those who trumpet "the spirit of Vatican II" and those who denounce the council as a departure from tradition. We can only be Christians through the Church,
Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
This is why the missionary activity of the Church is so essential: We cannot know Christ outside of the Church. We are called to preach the Gospel to all nations, because that is the only way they can know Christ. Unless the Church is growing, preaching the Gospel and adding new members, we are not doing what we are called to do as Christians:
Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: "But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance.
"Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Yet we can know Christ only through the Church.
The Holy Father's words aren't a message of universal salvation; quite the opposite. Those who do not come into the Church "cannot believe in Jesus," and if they cannot believe in Jesus, then, as Christ Himself tells us, they cannot have eternal life. And that places a tremendous responsibility on our shoulders: We must expand the missionary activity of the Church in our own lives, bringing others to the Church not by "travel[ing] a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world," but by preaching the Gospel in its fullness, despite the very real possibility of persecution by a world that hates Christ as much today as it did at the time of Saint Stephen's martyrdom. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Song of the Found Sheep

Good Shepherd mine;
Whatever made You leave the ninety-nine
To come like this in search of one lost sheep?
What raging fire
Constrained Your loving Heart? What mad desire
Impelled You on to comb the mountain steep?

Strange mystery:
That you should find such joy in finding me
When it should seem the joy should all be mine.
Please hold me fast;
Don't let me stray again as in days past,
But hide me safe within Your arms divine.

When in the West
The sun of my life's day shall sink to rest,
Enfold me still, O Lord, in Love's embrace.
Then with the dawn
Of that new Day, when night fore'er is gone,
Dear Shepherd mine, let me behold Your Face.
By a Carmelite Nun

Published with the kind permission of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Rochester, NY

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Value of Suffering

From the late Fr. John Harden, SJ, of blessed memory:
Suffering by itself is not sanctifying. Many people who are suffering are not necessarily profiting from their suffering. Evidently, then, we should do something with and about the suffering to profit from the experience. Hence the importance of knowing what suffering is and how we can alchemize it from mere pain to sanctity.

Moreover, the role of suffering in the spiritual life is ultimately based on mysteries of our faith; and, as with so many mysteries, we are likely to live with them without attempting to fathom them. That is a mistake. We can never fully comprehend their meaning; but suffering is surely a mystery which needs to be better understood so that, as with other mysteries, we may more effectively experience it. This is one mystery that we don’t merely read about.

There is such a thing as making the mistake of identifying progress in virtue with the amount of suffering. This is very hard to disassociate, once people have made that wrong identification. Certainly suffering has much to do with sanctity, but it is not an arithmetic equation, “Suffering equals sanctity”. A person must not think, “The more suffering, the more holy I must be getting!” Maybe, but maybe not. In other words, those who suffer the most are not necessarily more holy than those who suffer less. It is what we do with the suffering, not the amount that we experience, that makes the difference.

There are three areas in our immediate scope of coverage. First, to examine what suffering is. Second, why there is suffering in the world. And third, how we can use the suffering that God sends us—or offers us—to grow in holiness. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Easter Sequence

Here is the Easter Sequence, to be sung before the Gospel during the Easter Octave:
Victimae Paschali laudes immolent 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: praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere: Tu nobis, victor Rex miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

++++++++++

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. Alleluia
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