In this e-weekly:
- Catholic All Year (Catholic Website of the Week)
- "Fatima" Movie Brings Hope to the World (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- A Prayer Before A Crucifix (under Praying Hands)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
The Crucifix - The Core Christian Image
What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" (Matthew 27:22-23)
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
The crucifix, that is, a cross with the body of our Lord upon it is the core Christian image. Some Christians say that Christ should not be portrayed upon the cross, since He is risen from the dead. Yet, for us who as St. Paul says, "make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:13)," the crucifix urges us on because it is the love of Christ (II Cor. 5:14) made visible.
The cross itself only has meaning and value because Jesus Christ, God made man, hung upon it. Crucifixion, a horrible means of execution and an ignominious death, has been transformed to be a means of life-giving love because sin and death died upon it. Jesus went forward to rise from the dead and to raise all who believe in Him.
But the further power of the crucifix is that it gives hope to us who suffer. It shows that good can be brought out of evil, especially the evil that strikes us or strikes those we love. It shows that suffering has value when it is united to God who suffered. Indeed, Christianity is the only religion that believes that God became human and that He suffered and died for humanity!
So if you do not have a crucifix in your house, get one! Indeed, every room should have one. And if you have a crucifix in your house, office, classroom, church, or elsewhere, look often upon it to be reminded of the love that God has for YOU and indeed all the world AND what you too can do through and for Jesus!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. >> Readings
P.S.S. At the end of e-weekly is the Sunday Readings with commentary and reflection questions.
557. What is the importance of Tradition in regard to prayer? (Catechism of the Catholic Church-CCC 2650-2651)
a) it helps us make sure prayer is from God and not something we ourselves make up
b) it directs us to God and not ourselves or false gods
c) it helps teach us how to pray
d) all of the above
AT THE WELLSPRINGS OF PRAYER
558. What are the sources of Christian prayer?(CCC 2652-2662)
a) Holy Bible
b) Mass and the Sacraments
c) theological virtues and everyday situations
d) all of the above
THE WAY OF PRAYER
559. In the Church are there different ways of praying?(CCC 2663)
d) Yes and No
560. What is the way of our prayer? (CCC 2664, 2680-2681)
a) Christ because prayer is directed to God our Father
b) only through Mary and the Saints
c) the authority of our own name
d) creation and the world
(Latin cruc, crux "cross" + figere "to fasten, to affix" = "to fasten to a cross"; crucifīgere "to crucify")
- an image of a cross with the body of Jesus upon it
[It is usually made of wood. Due reverence is always given to it. It is sometimes carried as a procession cross leading a line of clergy. Depicting the dead or suffering Christ, the crucifix did not come into general use until after the Reformation. The earlier ones represented Our Lord as the High Priest crowned, robed, and alive. Some men and women religious wear the crucifix as part of their habit. A crucifix is attached to the Rosary beads, and many liturgical blessings are to be given with it. A blessed crucifix is a sacramental and is commonly displayed in Catholic hospitals, homes, and institutions.]
- a Latin word meaning "body"
"Helpful Hints of Life"
I've reviewed the book. It is a basic presentation of the value, riches and beauty of Catholicism-all about why taking the Faith seriously should matter. After introducing the life-changing nature of Christ's mission and that of His Church, the book focuses in particular on Kelly's "Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality": Reconciliation, Contemplation, The Mass, the Bible, Fasting, Spiritual Reading and the Rosary. Rediscovering Catholicism is not for those who are already deeply committed and deeply knowledgeable; it is a deliberately breezy treatment designed primarily to get the lukewarm or indifferent excited about being Catholic, or perhaps those who, while not exactly lukewarm, are engaged in only a sort of secularized social Catholicism because they have been badly formed.
The book is available in single copies for the cost of shipping and handling ($5.95), and at $2.00 per copy for bulk distribution (with free shipping): Rediscovering Catholicism. It is well worth considering, but be warned: Though it is an easy read, it is over 300 pages long, so you have to ask yourself whether your intended recipients will actually read it.
For those with shorter attention spans, Catholic Answers' Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, developed originally for distribution at World Youth Days, is a 32-page booklet which provides a more succinct and classically-apologetical introduction to Catholicism. It's available for $1.00 plus shipping, or in bulk for as little as 50 cents. Either text could be just the thing to jump-start the nascent Catholics you hold dear.
"The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men". But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow [him]", for "Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps." In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven." -St. Rose of Lima
Catechism of the Catholic Church #618
Catholic All Yearhttp://www.catholicallyear.com/
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Best Parish Practices
PRAY AND FAST FOR YOUR PARISH AND THE CHURCH
“After Jesus and the disciples had gone back home and were alone, they asked him, "Why couldn't we force out that demon? He replied ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’"
Praying is doing something! And fasting is the greatest spiritual weapon you can bring to bear on spiritual evils and to assist right and good things in the physical order.
These are our top two weapons employed in spiritual warfare. At a time when many evils are being uncovered in our beloved Church, we can turn to these tried and true methods of interceding for the victims of abuse and for the Church as a whole. Suggestions on ways to pray and fast are below.
*Note: When fasting we give up a good, and are taught to offer the discomfort up for the intention we are praying for. To “offer something up” means that we are making a choice to not let our discomfort be wasted. Christ suffered to redeem us, and when He did, He changed the nature of suffering to make it possible for all human suffering to be united with His own in order to play a part in the redemption of the human race. How do we offer our challenges for a certain intention? We tell God, "I offer this up to You for….. or, Lord, please use this for….(the victims of abuse, the universal Church, etc.)”
Ways To Pray Ways To Fast
-Pray a Daily Rosary, even just once decade. -Give up dessert
-Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet -Give up your morning coffee
-Go to Adoration -Eat only bread and water for the day
-Attend a Daily Mass -Fast from Social Media for a day or a week
-Pray the Morning Offering -Fast from television
-Pray the Saint Michael Prayer -Fast from any creature comfort that you enjoy
Fatima Movie ‘Brings Hope to the World’
Cast members share their takeaways from filming the story of the Marian apparitions.
Joseph PronechenShortly before the premiere of Fatima, several cast members shared with the Register some experiences and thoughts about the film, which debuted Friday in theaters and on demand.
“I really like that it’s releasing at this point of the year because of the coronavirus and everything. It just brings faith to people’s hearts, and it’s really inspiring. It brings hope to the world at this time,” said 14-year-old Stephanie Gil, who plays young Lucia. Gil was 12 during the movie’s filming.
“I think that the main message of the film is to have hope and faith in general, and in yourself; and to believe in what you believe and not let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s just: Be strong and fight for what you believe.”
Gil said younger audiences will also like the film because they will feel they can relate to the seers, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, because they were 10, 8 and 7 during the 1917 apparitions, and going through that situation at their young age “is amazing, something really admirable for me. I want them [young people] to take out [as a message] how you should never give up. … In the film, Lucia is so devoted to her faith, and that’s what keeps her going.”
Gil said this role was “life-changing. I will never forget filming this film because it’s so special and close to my heart.”
Actor Goran Višnjić shared how he portrayed Arturo de Oliveira Santos, the atheist, unbelieving mayor, whose wife was a believer and churchgoer. “In Portugal at the time, the Church was really on the outskirts of society; the new government was against it. They were trying to portray the Church as superstitious people. [Yet] the core of the people was supporting the Church, and people were churchgoers. I was trying to find a kind of balance between those two things. And I was trying to portray him as a guy between a rock and a hard place.”
Višnjić believes Fatima will appeal to everybody, Catholic or not. “If it is really an honestly good and positive message, we can all recognize it. … The thought is important; the message is important. So this movie doesn’t matter who’s going to be watching it — Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or whatever — but the message of the film is beautiful. It’s love each other. Don’t make war. The message is pure, positive and beautiful.”
A Catholic himself, Višnjić went to Fatima while filming in Portugal. “You feel you’re in an amazing, special place. You feel a calm; I don’t want to say divinity. But it does feel very special, very different,” he said of his pilgrimage experience. “The whole process … was a bit special; it wasn’t like shooting any other film.”
Portraying Jacinta, 9-year-old Alejandra Howard makes quite an impression in Fatima, her first film.
She enjoyed playing the young saint “because we were very close to where it actually happened, and I heard all about Jacinta. I was on the internet learning about her,” Howard related. “I think it was easy for me.” The best part about playing Jacinta, Howard said, was having something in common with St. Jacinta. “I am kind of courageous, and she was courageous.”
For her part, Howard said the filming deepened her own faith. “I was already a believer of God. But I think after doing this movie I was more of a believer now than before.”
She encourages young moviegoers to see the film because “it’s a really interesting story, a true story that happened a hundred years ago, and [you] get a really good feeling of it.”
Lucia Moniz, who is not Catholic, portrays Lucia’s mother, Maria dos Santos. She shared how she “was very moved by the script, very moved by the way it was filmed. This film talked about an important issue, which is real lives and how this event affects people who believe and people who don’t believe. The most important thing I felt with this film and the message is that, beyond believing or not, the power of love is so important.”
Moniz brings that out on screen in her love for her daughter, despite her refusal to believe Lucia sees the Blessed Virgin Mary. “I always wanted to make sure of that even though this character doesn’t act right in most of this story in her reaction in not believing her [daughter], it’s not a question of how much she loves her daughter. It’s sometimes humans don’t know what to do, and they don’t know how to act.”
Joaquim de Almeida, who plays Father Ferreira, explained why this is such an important film. “There was the time of the pandemic then; the Spanish Flu was going on — so many parallels to what’s happening today. In Portugal in 1917, people in the country were very poor, and they were in need of hope, and belief and faith, and this was something that even if it was repressed in the beginning by the republican government, it ended with many people being attracted on Oct. 13 — 70,000 people were there” to see the “Miracle of the Sun.”
and Joaquim de Almeida plays Father Ferreira.
Whether viewers are “a believer or nonbeliever,” he thinks the film can touch all open hearts. “It’s appealing because it’s based on facts. A lot of believers come to Fatima every year, but it’s not just that. It’s the story in itself, and the comparison, the parallels to today. Most of all, it’s important that we have hope.”
In the opening of their letter, the women recall a quote from Pope Francis on the role of women in the Church: “You have said that you seek ‘a more incisive female presence in the Church,’ and that ‘women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.’” “We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers,” the letter notes.
Specifically, they are seeking answers to the questions raised in Vigano’s recent letter, which accused Pope Francis and other members of the Church hierarchy for covering up sexual abuse allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The women’s questions for Pope Francis include if or when he was made aware of any sanctions allegedly placed on then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, and whether he brought McCarrick back into public ministry despite knowing about these sanctions and accusations.
Asked these questions by journalists on his return flight from the recent World Meeting of Families in Ireland, Pope Francis responded by saying he “will not say a single word on this” and instead encouraged journalists to study the statement themselves and draw their own conclusions.
“To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate,” the signers of the letter say, addressing the Pope’s response. “They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.”
“Please do not turn from us,” they ask in the letter. “You’ve committed yourself to changing clerical ways in the Church. That a cardinal would prey on seminarians is abhorrent. We need to know we can trust you to be honest with us about what happened. The victims who have suffered so greatly need to know they can trust you. Families, who will be the source of the Church’s renewal, need to know we can trust you, and thus trust the Church.”
The women who have signed the letter serve in a variety of positions and vocations within the Church, in both private and public life. They describe themselves as “deeply committed to our faith and profoundly grateful for Church teachings, the Sacraments, and the many good bishops and priests who have blessed our lives.”
They are “wives, mothers, single women, consecrated women, and religious sisters. We are the mothers and sisters of your priests, seminarians, future priests and religious. We are the Church’s lay leaders, and the mothers of the next generation. We are professors in your seminaries, and leaders in Catholic chanceries and institutions. We are theologians, evangelists, missionaries and founders of Catholic apostolates.”
“In short, we are the Church, every bit as much as the cardinals and bishops around you,” they say. The letter is signed, “With love for Christ and the Church.”
Some prominent signers of the letter include Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O'Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Professor Janet E. Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Leah Darrow, a Catholic speaker, author and evangelist; Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association; Kathryn Jean Lopez with the National Review Institute; and Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa.
Other signers include professors and faculty from Catholic institutions including Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America, and the University of St. Thomas, as well as women who are mothers of seminarians, homeschooling mothers, business owners, philosophers and psychologists.
The letter, dated August 30, 2018, is described as the personal initiative of the original signatories and was not organized or sponsored by any group or organization. It had 5,300 signatures as of press time. (As of Saturday evening, Sept. 1, 2018, there are 25,820 signatures.
By Ann Schneible
Delivering his address to pilgrims and visitors, gathered under the hot sun for the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the pontiff stressed the importance of teaching children how to show love for God through prayer.
"It is beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady. What tenderness there is in this!" he said.
"In that moment the child's heart is transformed into a place of prayer. And this is a gift of the Holy Spirit."
However, in off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope lamented how there are children who are not taught the most basic prayers by there parents, a phenomena he said he has witnessed in the city.
"There are children who have not learned how to make the Sign of the Cross!" he said. "You, mother, father! Teach your children how to pray, how to make the Sign of the Cross!"
Children should learn prayer with "the same spontaneity" as when they learn to say "daddy" and "mommy," so that it stays with them forever, the Pope added.
The Pope's August 26 address was the latest in a series of catechesis dedicated to the family. Since late year, the pontiff has been centering his Wednesday catecheses on this theme as part of the lead-up to the World Meeting of Families in September, as well as October's Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In his catechesis, delivered in Italian, the Holy Father observed how many Christians know they need prayer, but do not have the time.
"Their regret is sincere, certainly, because the human heart always seeks prayer, even without knowing it; and if it does not find it, it does not have peace."
It is for this reason that Christians must cultivate a love for God, he said.
While it is good to believe in God, to have hope in him to help at difficult times, and to be grateful to him, Pope Francis asked whether or not we also love him.
He cited the scripture passage from Deuteronomy, repeated by Christ in Matthew's Gospel, in which we are called to love God with all our heart, our soul, and strength.
"(This) formula uses the intense language of love, poured into God," the Pope said.
Pope Francis acknowledged that we are able see God as the one who gives us life and from whom even death cannot separate us, the "great Being" and "Judge" who made all things and controls every act, the Pope said. However, these concepts only find their full significance "when God is the love of our loves."
"God could have simply made us know him as the supreme Being, given his commandments, and awaited the results."
This he has done, but also "infinitely more," the Pope said, adding in off-the-cuff remarks: "He accompanies us on the path of life. He protects us. He loves us."
Pope Francis acknowledged how there is little time available in family life. However, by finding time to pray, we "give time back to God." In so doing, we escape the obsession with not having enough time, rediscover "peace in the important things," and "discover the joy in unexpected gifts."
Encouraging the faithful to read the Gospel every day, as he has done on numerous occasions, the Holy Father said this is a particularly important practice for families.
"The Gospel, read and meditated on in the family, is like good bread which nourishes the hearts of everyone," he said.
Pope Francis concluded: "In the family of prayer, in strong moments and in difficult periods, may we be entrusted to one another, in order that everyone of us in the family may be protected by God's love."
"The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows." -St. Gregory of Nyssa
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2015
-Why do monkeys carry their babies on their backs? It would be a bit hard dragging a buggy all the way up the trees.
-Doctor says to the patient: “Your coughing sounds much better.” The patient replies: “And no wonder. I spent a lot of time practicing.”
-I have a very good feeling about my job interview today. The manager said they were looking for somebody responsible. “You’ve found your man,” I responded, “whenever there was a problem in my last job, they always said that I was responsible!”
-A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.
-Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?
-Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
-By the time a man realizes that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong.
-A TV can insult your intelligence, but nothing rubs it in like a computer.
-A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station…
From the Mouths of Infants and Babes:
-A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?" "I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
-After the church service a little boy told the pastor, "When I grow up, I'm going to give you some money." "Well, thank you," the pastor replied, "but why?" "Because my daddy says you're one of the poorest preachers we've ever had."
A pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message.
The man returned just before the conclusion of the service.
Afterwards the pastor asked the man where he had gone.
"I went to get a haircut," was the reply.
"But," said the pastor, "why didn't you do that before the service?"
"Because," the gentleman said, "I didn't need one then."
Cop With a Collar
A young clergyman, fresh out of seminary, thought it would help him better understand the fears and temptations his future congregations faced if he first took a job as a policeman for several months. He passed the physical examination; then came the oral exam to test his ability to act quickly and wisely in an emergency. Among other questions he was asked, "What would you do to disperse a frenzied crowd?"
He thought for a moment and then said, "I would take up a collection."
The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.
"Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But, you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."
During the service, the minister paused and said,
"Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up."
At that moment, the substitute organist played,
"The Star Spangled Banner."
And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!
Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee that Thou wouldst impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity,
with true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment,
while with deep affection and grief of soul
I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate Thy five Wounds,
having before my eyes that which David, the prophet, spoke of Thee, my Jesus:
"They have pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."
"The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited. In certain Eastern liturgies, the altar is also the symbol of the tomb (Christ truly died and is truly risen)."
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #1182
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time: August 30th, 2020
The First Reading - Jeremiah 20:7-9
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Does God really “deceive,” “entice,” “seduce” people? Jeremiah does not speak as a systematic theologian, much less as a moral philosopher. He speaks as a poet and a mystic, giving voice to his experiences in bold and even hyperbolic language. Clearly he is passionate for the LORD, the covenant God of Israel. Yet his passion for the LORD leads to conflict with the world, with his nation, his city, his people. The ways of the LORD are at odds with the ways of everyone around him, and the result is conflict and suffering. The prophet would like to avoid this conflict, but cannot, because his passion for the LORD is too great to be suppressed: “it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” The Church intends us to see Jeremiah’s words in a messianic sense. Jeremiah was a type, image, and forerunner of the Messiah. Jeremiah’s experiences strikingly prefigured the experiences of Jesus. Both preached against Jerusalem and the Temple (Jer 7 & 11); both were persecuted by the High Priests (Jer 20:1-6); both were tried and imprisoned by a sympathetic but weak-willed civil magistrate (Jer 38:14-28); both descended into the pit and were raised up again (Jer 38:1-13). In many ways, Jeremiah was God’s suffering servant; in fact, the argument has been made more than once that Isaiah was describing Jeremiah in his Suffering Servant Songs. It is not accidental that in last week's readings, the disciples tell Jesus that many think he, Jesus, is the prophet Jeremiah. Like Jeremiah, Jesus is impassioned for the LORD, and his passion will lead to his Passion, as we see in the Gospel Reading.
Adults - In what ways does living out your faith set you against the world?
Teens - What do you do when it is difficult to make the right decision and decide against the ways of the world?
Kids - How do Jesus give us the strength to live as Christians, even when it’s hard?
Responsorial- Psalm 63: 2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
We immediately recognize similarities between this psalm and the famous Psalm 42: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Ultimately this is not about physical thirst but about desire for God’s Spirit: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:14). The Spirit is communicated through the waters of Baptism but also in the Body and Blood of the Eucharist: “As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied.” Unlike the Jeremiah reading, this Psalm expresses hope. The suffering of the one who loves the Lord is temporary. There will be joy, satisfaction, and embrace. In the context of Mass, this Psalm serves to whet our appetite for the nuptial banquet we are about to receive.
-Where do you turn when you need hope?
The Second Reading- Romans 12:1-2
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Reflection - St. Paul employs priestly terminology here in his exhortation “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” His words reflect the belief that in the Church, every believer has come to share in Christ’s priesthood. We have become the priestly people that God intended for Israel at Sinai, before God’s plans were derailed by the idolatry of the Golden Calf (see Exod 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9). We are not necessarily ministerial priests whose vocation is specifically to preside at the liturgy. Nonetheless, we are true priests, and our sacrifice, like Jesus’, is our very lives, our very selves (our “bodies” in St. Paul’s terminology). St. Paul’s urging to give our very lives coincides nicely with Our Lord’s exhortation in the Gospel Reading.
-Do you offer up your daily struggles in prayer?
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
Reflection The contrast between the glorious things spoken to Peter in last Sunday’s Gospel and the sharp rebuke of Peter in this Gospel could hardly be more pronounced. It is quite intentional on the part of the evangelist, who wants us to observe, almost simultaneously, the divine promises given to Peter and Peter’s human weaknesses. The contrast between divine guidance and human weakness is the theme of the history of the Papacy. Catholics hold that the Pope is infallible in his teaching, not impeccable in his behavior. The distinction is often lost on non-Catholics, who understand us to believe the Pope is sinless. Obviously, the Popes have not been sinless, and a few well-chosen historical examples quickly demonstrate the fact. But we do not hold that the Pope is sinless. Nor that he always teaches in the best way, or says exactly the right thing at the right time. Papal infallibility is much weaker than some understand it. It simply the belief that the Pope is protected from error in his solemn or official teaching. In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus did not say to Peter: “You will never again sin.” He said: “What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” We mentioned that “bind and loose” were terms referring to the authority to judge halakhah, the application of divine law to real life circumstances. The sphere of halakhah is roughly what we Catholics call “faith and morals.” In the Greek of this passage, Jesus uses future perfect formation. Literally, “What you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; what you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.” In other words, it’s not so much that Peter’s decisions change heavenly policy, it is that the policy of heaven will be reflected in Peter’s teachings. In today’s passage, Peter is not making a decision about halakhah for God’s people. In fact, the Spirit has not even been poured out yet, and Peter has not formally assumed his role as royal steward, even as Jesus has not yet ascended to the right hand of the Father (see John 20:17; Acts 2:33). Peter gives an emotional reaction to a hard teaching of Jesus, and Jesus rebukes him sharply. Peter is wrong. Suffering and death will happen to Jesus. In fact, almost identical suffering and death is going to happen to Peter himself (John 21:18). All followers of Christ must be ready to follow Christ to death, including and especially the successor of Peter. In fact, many of Peter’s early successors did share in martyrdom.
Adults - What did you learn about the papacy from this reflection that you didn’t know before?
Teens - How do you think Peter felt when he was rebuked by Christ?
Kids - Say a special prayer for the pope this week!
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - Peter received This daily carrying of our Christian cross can be, and is for many, a prolonged martyrdom. Poverty, ill-health, cruelty and hardheartedness met with in the home and in one's neighbors, are heavy crosses which only a truly Christian shoulder can bear. But, if we were offered health, happiness, peace, wealth and power for the next fifty or seventy years on this earth, in exchange for an eternal heaven after death, what rational one among us would accept that offer? Christians know that this life is a period of training, which makes us ready hereafter to receive the eternal reward which Christ has won for us. Every trainee knows that one must endure certain hardships and sufferings in order to merit graduation into one's chosen profession or trade. On our Christian graduation day we shall, please God, hear the welcome words : "Well done good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater, come and join in your Master's happiness" (Mt. 25: 21). May God grant that every one of us will hear these words of welcome. -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
CATHOLIC QUESTIONS AND CATHOLIC ANSWERS
CHAPTER TWO: The Tradition of Prayer
557. What is the importance of Tradition in regard to prayer? d) all of the above
In the Church it is through living Sacred Tradition that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray. In fact prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of an interior impulse; rather it implies contemplation, study and a grasp of the spiritual realities one experiences. In other words, it is not simply by accident, but something we choose and keep responding to. And in Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus condemns false human, earthly tradition, not Sacred Tradition, which He Himself gave us.
AT THE WELLSPRINGS OF PRAYER
558. What are the sources of Christian prayer? d) all of the above
They are: the Word of God which gives us “the surpassing knowledge” of Christ (Philippians3:8); the Liturgy of the Church that proclaims, makes present and communicates the mystery of salvation; the theological virtues; and everyday situations because in them we can encounter God. “I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. … My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.” (The Curé of Ars, Saint John Mary Vianney)
THE WAY OF PRAYER
559. In the Church are there different ways of praying? a) Yes
In the Church there are various ways of praying that are tied to different historical, social and cultural contexts. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith. It is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning which is always related to Jesus Christ.
560. What is the way of our prayer? a) Christ because prayer is directed to God our Father
The way of our prayer is Christ because prayer is directed to God our Father but reaches him only if we pray – at least implicitly – in the name of Jesus. His humanity is in effect the only way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to our Father. Therefore liturgical prayers conclude with the formula: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ.”