Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Cross of Christ

The following reflection is taken from the Sermones of Saint Anthony of Padua, published in Saint Anthony: Herald of the Good News (translated by Fr. Claude M. Jarmak OFM Conv., Conventual Franciscan Friars, Ellicott City, Maryland, 1995).

Just a Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of God be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in him (Jn 3:14-15).

“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert.” In the Book of Numbers, we read that God sent poisonous snakes to bite the people who had murmured against Him. Then the Lord commanded Moses: “Make a fiery serpent and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover” (Num 21:18). The bronze serpent symbolizes Christ, God and man. Bronze, which does not deteriorate with age, signifies Jesus’ divinity; the serpent symbolizes His humanity, which was indeed raised up on the wood of the cross as the sign of our salvation.

Let us raise our eyes and “Keep them fixed on Jesus” (Heb 12:2), the author of our redemption. Let us contemplate our Lord, pierced with nails and suspended from the Cross. But lo, as Moses says in Deuteronomy (28:66), “Your life will hang before you, and you will not believe your life?” He does not say, “living life” but “hanging life”. What is more precious that a person’s life? The life of the body is the soul, and the life of the soul is Christ. Your very life hangs from the Cross. How can you not suffer with Him? How can you not partake in His sufferings? Christ hangs from the Cross before you to invite you to share in His sufferings as written in the Lamentations: “Come, all of you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering” (1:12).

“Your life hangs before you” on the Cross so that you might see yourself as in a mirror, examining and scrutinizing yourself in it. You can see how serious were your wounds that they could not be healed by any other medicine except by the blood of the Son of God. If you pause to reflect profoundly, you will realize how sublime is your dignity, and how excellent your worth, which demanded so high a price.

You cannot better appreciate your worth than by looking into the mirror of the Cross of Christ; there you will learn how you are to deflate your pride, how you must mortify the desires of the flesh, how you are to pray to your Father for those who persecute you, and to commend your spirit into God’s hands. But, sad to say, what happens to us is what Saint James writes: “A man who listens to God’s word but does not put it into practice, is like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with; he looks at himself then goes off and promptly forgets what he looks like” (1:23-24). In the same way, we look at the Crucified and recognize the image of our redemption, but grieve little. As soon as we turn our eyes away, we divert our hearts and return to vain worldly amusements.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday , so called from the incipit of the Introit at Mass,"Laetare Jerusalem" ("O be joyful, Jerusalem"), is a name used for today, the fourth Sunday of the season of Lent. This Sunday is also known as Mid-Lent Sunday (in French mi-carême), and Rose Sunday, because the golden rose sent by the popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time.

Priests are given the option to wear rose coloured vestments at mass held on this day, in place of the purple vestments normally worn during Lent.

Mid Lent. Rose vestments. Rejoice!

Time to pause in our Lenten observances. To think. To reflect. To rejoice, with the prodigal son, rejoicing in the Father's mercy.

During Lent, we often try to choose a penance, to draw closer to God, to practice self denial, to pray more.

Often, our Lenten sacrifices, our Lenten crosses as it were, end up being not those of our own choosing. Instead, the Lenten penances often seem to be chosen for us.

We suffer a little. We learn a lot. Through the Lenten sacrifices that we, perhaps, didn't choose but which are sacrifices that are real...with a cost...that draw us to Our the Sacraments...rather than those Clayton sacrifices that we may have chosen for ourselves, those sacrifices-you-make-when-you-are-not-really-making-a-sacrifice.

With the prodigal son, with the woman who committed adultery and was brought to Jesus, we learn more of God, of His mercy, His love.

This is what Lent is about. For Christians to walk, at least these forty days, more closely with God.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prayer Intention of the M.I. for March 2012


Immaculate Virgin Mary, my Mother, I consecrate myself to you this day and forever so that you may dispose of me as you wish for the salvation of souls. I ask you only, my Queen and Mother of the Church, that I may co-operate faithfully with your mission in the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. I offer to you, Immaculate Heart of Mary, all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day:

That united with Christ crucified this Lent we may be renewed in our defence of the unborn.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do no have recourse to you, especially for the enemies of the Holy Church and those recommended to you.


On Temptation

On Temptation

The Holy Father's Angelus address Sunday 26 February, 2012.

"It Is With Patience and With True Humility That We Become Stronger Than Every Enemy"

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Sunday of Lent we meet Jesus who, after having received baptism in the Jordan River from John the Baptist (cf. Mark 1:9), undergoes temptation in the desert (cf. Mark 1:12-13). St. Mark's narration is concise, lacking the details that we read in the other two gospels of Matthew and Luke. The desert of which he speaks has different meanings. It can indicate a condition of abandonment and solitude, the "place" of man's weakness where there are no footholds or certainties, where temptation is the strongest. But it can also mean a place of refuge and rest, as it was for the people of Israel, who had escaped from Egyptian slavery, where one can experience God's presence in a special way. Jesus "remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan" (Mark 1:13). St. Leo the Great comments that "the Lord wished to face the tempter's attack to defend us with his help and to instruct us with his example" (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138/A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215).

What can this episode teach us? As we read in the book "The Imitation of Christ," "as long as he lives man is never entirely free from temptation ... but it is with patience and with true humility that we become stronger than every enemy" (Liber I, c. XIII, Città del Vaticano 1982, 37), the patience and humility of following the Lord every day, learning to build our life not apart from him or as if he did not exist, but in him and with him, because he is the font of true life. The temptation to remove God, to create order in ourselves and the world by ourselves, counting on our own resources, is always present in human history.

Jesus proclaims that "the time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15), announces that in him something new is happening: God addressed man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete nearness, full of love; God becomes incarnate and enters into the world of man to take sin upon himself, to conquer evil and being man and the world back to God. But this announcement is accompanied by the request to correspond to a great gift. Jesus, in fact, adds: "convert and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15); it is the invitation to have faith in God and every day to convert our life to his will, orienting every action and thought of ours to the good. The time of Lent is the propitious moment to renew and strengthen our relationship with God, through daily prayer, gestures of penance, works of fraternal charity.

We supplicate Mary Most Holy with fervor that she accompany us on our Lenten path with her protection and help us to impress in our heart and in our life the words of Jesus Christ, to convert ourselves to him.