Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fifth Sunday of Lent

"We want to see Jesus", some Greeks ask the disciples. Why, we have no idea, but the desire is one that we can all share. Jesus recognizes that His hour is coming, when He is going to be like the grain of wheat that dies to produce much fruit of righteousness and eternal life. Those who desire to serve Jesus must follow Him (and whoever follows Him must serve Him, too). The glory that Jesus is about to reveal is for us, for those who serve and follow Him. He is to be glorified on the cross and will draw all to Himself. As we are drawn to Christ, may our desire to see Jesus be fulfilled!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Lent

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Perhaps the best known passage in Scripture (flashed at sports games by some rainbow haired men), this passage from today's Gospel tells us how much God loves us. The account of Nicodemus' encounter of Christ is the beginning of Jesus's proclamation of His purpose and ultimate message - salvation and God's love. Nicodemus came hidden in the darkness, but Jesus Christ, the light of the world, reveals the truth to him. God loves the world so much that He sent His Son, the second Person of the Trinity, to save it. But this salvation is not automatic - some may prefer the darkness of sins. Those who believe are not condemned, but their works have to show their belief, living the truth in the light, and our works done in God. There is a tender balance here - between the love of God and our human wills, and between presumption of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Just because God loves us does not mean we can sin with no consequences assuming God will simply save us.

God's love saves us, but we must respond to that love by living our vocations - that call of love in our lives.

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. John Vianney to be declared Patron of all Priests

ST. JEAN MARIE VIANNEY: PATRON SAINT OF ALL PRIESTS. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has plans to declare St. John Vianney the patron of all priests.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests" is the theme of the Year for Priests announced today by the Holy Father, according to a communique issued by the Holy See Press Office.

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on 19 June, presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica where the relics of the saintly 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. He will close the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Supreme Pontiff on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The Congregation for the Clergy, together with diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes, will undertake to promote and co-ordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.
OP/YEAR FOR PRIESTS/...VIS 090316 (230)

A Year for Priests

Today, the Holy Father announced a year for priests. The statement is as follows:
HOLY FATHER ANNOUNCES A SPECIAL YEAR FOR PRIESTS

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".

"The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".

Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

"The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.

"The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.

"The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".

Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".

"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Third Sunday of Lent

In the Cycle of readings for this Third Sunday of Lent (year B), we have the cleansing of the Temple. Jesus Christ is zealous and in a controlled anger about those that would make the temple area a marketplace. When asked for the sign of His authority, He tells them to destroy 'this temple' and He will raise it up in three days. Naturally, they assumed that He was speaking of the temple, but He was speaking of another dwelling place of God - Himself.

In the First Reading, we hear the 10 Commandments. By the Church Fathers to put this readings together, we could reasonable assume that we are to make the connection that Christ is emphatic about us living the commandments out. The people in the Temple area, while providing a necessary service, lacked the love and respect of God. Their selling and trading of animals needed for sacrifice and offering was more focussed on profit than God, and the location in the Temple area must have been especially concerning. Christ is challenging them to a respect of the Temple as a respect of God. We know that the standards of the Commandments are raised by Christ into responding not just to the 'letter' of the Commandments, but to the intention - Love of God and neighbor in works of mercy. We can only live these out with God's grace. Therefore, we must ask for His grace!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Second Sunday in Lent

"Rabbi, It is good that we are here!" Exclaims Peter as he beholds a glimpse of Christ in His glory in the Transfiguration. Peter wishes to stay, to build three booths for them to stay in. This glimpse gives a sense of purpose and meaning, and who does not like things clear and beautiful. But the glimpse is only that, and it is gone. The Voice speaks to listen to the Son, but the clarity of the moment is gone (though Peter years later recalls that he had seen Christ's glory on the mountain). They must return to the darkness of not knowing with that clarity. They must find the way to follow Christ through His arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion, and death. The ugliness of His death must have been a stark contrast to this glory, and it is precisely because of this that the Lord allows them the opportunity, that the scandal of the cross would not prevent them from listening faithfully to the Beloved Son of God. They must descend the mountain and faithfully walk with Christ through the darkness of Good Friday.

This listening to Christ is what we are about this Lent. We know of the resurrection, but we too must allow Christ to lead us through the darkness of our sins. Our joy on Easter is because of our journey in our Good Fridays - our recognition of our sin but more importantly the recognition of Christ's selfless love for us that He would die for our sins. Like Peter, may we learn not to simply stay at the place of comfort, but to follow Christ into the unknown darkness and the terrifying events that reveal God's love.

With regard to the transfiguration, it can provide us ample thought as we discern. We would like to stay in the familiar, the known. But if God is calling us to serve Him, we must listen to Him. May the glimpse of the Glory of God inspire us all to follow Him.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Parents' Duty Website

The Catholic Culture site often provides great reviews of various Catholic (or so-called Catholic) websites. They recently reviewed a site called Parents' Duty. I perused the site briefly, and it looks like an excellent resource for parents to help them raise their children aware of a Vocation. Check it out at www.parentsduty.com

Sunday, March 1, 2009

First Sunday of Lent

The Church gives us the temptation of Christ in the Wilderness every first Sunday of Lent. This year, we hear in two verses of the temptation from Mark's account. He was baptized, and then went to the wilderness, where we hear His was tempted by Satan. We do not know what Satan was tempting Him with from Mark's gospel (though Luke and Matthew tell us it had to do with claiming food, fame, and authority), but He successfully avoids it. Mark tells us that the wild beasts were present, and that the angels ministered to Him, showing that already the rift in creation was already being healed. Jesus begins His ministry with a call to repentance and belief in the Gospel - the good news - of God. That good news is that God loves us, and is going to save us.

We can grow so accustomed to the good news of salvation that it losses meaning - Lent is a time to stop remember just what lengths Christ took to save us. This Lent is a time for us to remember that Gospel. Like Jesus who enters this following baptism, we too should enter this 40 days of Lent preparing to live out this good news in whatever vocation God is calling us.

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?