Remember December: Mother and Child

from the archives

The month of December always encompasses the seasons of Advent and Christmas. It is a month of noteworthy days about mothers and children, all leading up to the birth of the One Child. It foreshadows joy and sorrow, new life and laying down of life, beginnings and preparation, and readying ourselves for the ultimate End: the 2nd coming of Christ Himself.

The month begins having just celebrated Christ the King. Walking through the days of preparation to mark His Birth, there is Nicholas, bishop and patron of children. The Immaculate Conception honors not only the purity of the soul of the Blessed Virgin, but also signals God’s preparation for the coming of the Sinless One. It also causes us to reflect upon her mother, St. Anne, who longed for a child, and her father, St. Joachim, whose name means Yahweh prepares.

Only days later, in the Americas, is the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Mother of our Lord appeared as a pregnant Indian-countenanced woman to request a shrine be built in her honor, and ended human sacrifice that ruled the day in the Aztec nation. Her image and devotion to her are understandably tied to the cause of all human life, most notably the unborn, today’s victims of human sacrifice.

In less than two weeks, the world falls silent in awe and wonder at the birth of Christ, the Infant King, Saviour, and Emmanuel – God with us.  A baby. In the flat timeline of human history, His Birth is like a spike on an EKG: marking everything before it, and defining everything thereafter.

Three days after the celebration of His Birth, the church remembers the little ones, the Holy Innocents, martyred for the sake of the kingdom and foreshadowing His own innocent death. Protected by the obedience of His earthly foster father, the Child and His Mother are safely taken off to Egypt.

The month concludes with the vigil for Mary, Mother of God, anticipating a new calendar year, new beginnings. His mother. Our mother.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)

At the root of every act of violence against one’s neighbour there is a concession to the “thinking” of the evil one, the one who “was a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44). As the Apostle John reminds us: “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother” (1 Jn 3:11-12). Cain’s killing of his brother at the very dawn of history is thus a sad witness of how evil spreads with amazing speed: man’s revolt against God in the earthly paradise is followed by the deadly combat of man against man. (Evangelium Vitae, #8)

photo courtesy Drudge

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now. Like Never Before.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.

We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.

We thank you for the opportunity that this election
year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.

Awaken your people to know that they are
not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Abortion, Catholic Teaching, Religious Liberty | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voting As A Catholic

Did you know that the Holy See has answered some questions on how Catholics participate in political life?

It can be found here: DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having received the opinion of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has decided that it would be appropriate to publish the present Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life. This Note is directed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church and, in a particular way, to Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful called to participate in the political life of democratic societies.”
Read. Pray. Act.

h/t: New Advent

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith Without Works Is Dead

Yesterday during his Wednesday audience the Holy Father spoke of  Catholic faith and its role in the life of the individual and the community at large. In particular he made the distinction between faith as personal yet not a private.

From the Vatican Information Service (emphases mine):

“Certainly, the act of faith is an eminently personal act“, he told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “It is something which happens in the most intimate depths of my being and causes a change of direction, a personal conversion. … But the fact that I believe is not the result of solitary reflection, … it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue … with Jesus which causes me to emerge from my ‘I’ … and to open myself to the love of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I discover that I am united not only to Jesus but also to all those who have walked and continue to walk along His path. And this new birth, which begins with Baptism, continues throughout the course of a person’s life.

“I cannot construct my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus”, the Pope added, “because faith is given to me by God through a believing community which is the Church. And faith makes me part of a multitude of believers bound by a communion which is not merely sociological, but rooted in the eternal love of God. … The Catechism of the Catholic Church states this very clearly: ‘Believing is an ecclesial act. The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the mother of all believers'”.

At the beginning of Christian history, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, “the nascent Church received the strength to accomplish the mission entrusted to her by the risen Lord: that of spreading the Gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of God, to the ends of the earth, and thus leading all men and women to meet Him, to the faith which saves. … Thus began the journey of the Church, the community which carries this message though time and space, the community which is the People of God”, whose members “do not belong to a particular social or ethnic group but are men and women from all nations and cultures. They are a ‘catholic’ people who speak new languages, who are open to welcoming everyone, beyond all confines, who break down all barriers”.

“Ever since the beginning, then, the Church has been the place of faith, the place where faith is transmitted. … The life of the Church, the announcement of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments form an unbroken chain which has come down to us and which we call Tradition. This gives us the guarantee that what we believe is Christ’s original message, as preached by the Apostles. … It is in the ecclesial community that personal faith grows and matures”.

“The tendency, so widespread today, to relegate the faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature. … We need the Church in order for our faith to be confirmed and to experience the gifts of God together . … In a world in which individualism seems to regulate dealings between people, making them ever more fragile, the faith calls us to be People of God, to be Church, bearers of the love and communion of God for the entire human race”, the Holy Father concluded.

I finds these words timely since they are given less than a week before the election, when so many  life and liberty  issues are at stake.

Then I think about this:

and I no longer wonder why? how? but instead understand because of Holy Father’s words.  Then I think about Jesus’s words: If you love me, you will keep my commandments”  (John 14:15).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer for the Election

Every election is important. Of course. Every election is historic. Obviously. But no other election had riding on it life and liberty like this one. Pray. Pray. Pray.

O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.

We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.

We thank you for the opportunity that this election
year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.

Awaken your people to know that they are
not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

h/t: Elizabeth Foss

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy 4th of July! Fireworks Cancelled?

In some areas of the country it’s just too dry to try – fireworks, that is. In case you’re missing out on the real thing this 4th of July, soothe your inner pyro here.

Happy 4th of  July!

And now, from dear Aunt Kate….

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Let Freedom Ring!

Today ends the Fortnight for Prayer throughout the country. “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (James 5:16). Now we wait and see…. 

All day this chorus has been going through my head:

Let Freedom ring, let the wight dove sing
Let the whole world know that today is a
Day of reckoning
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, Let the guilty pay, It’s
Independence Day

In his homily at the closing mass today for the fortnight, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia said the following…

“True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ. It has no love of riches or the appetites they try to satisfy. True freedom can walk away from anything — wealth, honor, fame, pleasure. Even power. It fears neither the state, nor death itself.

Who is the most free person at anything? It’s the person who masters her art. A pianist is most free who — having mastered her instrument according to the rules that govern it and the rules of music, and having disciplined and honed her skills — can now play anything she wants.

The same holds true for our lives. We’re free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God’s plan. When we do this, when we choose to live according to God’s intention for us, we are then — and only then — truly free.

This is the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. It’s the freedom of Miguel Pro, Mother Teresa, Maximillian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and all the other holy women and men who have gone before us to do the right thing, the heroic thing, in the face of suffering and adversity.

This is the kind of freedom that can transform the world. And it should animate all of our talk about liberty – religious or otherwise.

I say this for two reasons. Here’s the first reason. Real freedom isn’t something Caesar can give or take away. He can interfere with it; but when he does, he steals from his own legitimacy.

Here’s the second reason. The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom. Religious liberty is a foundational right. It’s necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It’s not an end in itself. In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ. What good is religious freedom, consecrated in the law, if we don’t then use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength?”

Read the rest here. It’s quite good!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections for the Fortnight for Freedom – Day 14 July 4, 2012

The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents. The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life difficult and dangerous for religious Communities.

This sacred Synod greets with joy the first of these two facts, as among the signs of the times. With sorrow, however, it denounces the other fact, as only to be deplored. The Synod exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family.

All nations are coming into even closer unity. Men of different cultures and religions are being brought together in closer relationships. There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that weighs upon every man. All this is evident.

Consequently, in order that relationships of peace and harmony may be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee, and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 15 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Fourteen

In concluding its Declaration of Religious Freedom, the Council rejoices in the fact that religious freedom has been enshrined in the constitutions of many countries as well as in international statements. How- ever, the Council Fathers are well aware that religious freedom is not guaranteed merely when it is stated on a piece of paper. It must be exercised by a living body of people. Moreover, there are actual governments that act against religious communities, sometime in the name of religion. The Council Fathers find such situations appalling and ask that Catholics and all people of goodwill work to rectify this injustice.

Since the Vatican Council, has religious freedom improved or deteriorated throughout the world? What is the relationship between growing religious diversity, as well as growing interactions among people of different faiths, and religious liberty?

Source: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/Fortnight-Reflections-pref-statement.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections for the Fortnight for Freedom – Day 13 July 3, 2012

In turn, where the principle of religious freedom is not only proclaimed in words or simply incorporated in law but also given sincere and practical application, there the Church succeeds in achieving a stable situation of right as well as of fact and the independence which is necessary for the fulfillment of her divine mission. This independence is precisely what the authorities of the Church claim in society.
At the same time, the Christian faithful, in common with all other men, possess the civil right not to be hindered in leading their lives in accordance with their conscience.

Therefore, a harmony exists between the freedom of the Church and the religious freedom which is to be recognized as the right of all men and communities and sanctioned by constitutional law.

Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 13 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Thirteen

While insisting upon the religious freedom of the Church, the Council Fathers do not wish to give the impression that in some manner the Catholic Church is special when it comes to religious liberty. Thus, the Council first states above that where the principle
of religious liberty is present, the Church is able to peaceably fulfill her divine mission. It is this amicable relationship between herself and civil authorities that the Church always wishes to pursue and ensure.

In the light of this, the Church also champions the religious and civil rights of all so that all people can live “their lives in accordance with their conscience.” In this way there is no conflict with what the Church demands for herself and what she demands for others—the freedom to follow one’s conscience in matters religious. This religious freedom for all is what the Council once more believes should be acknowledged and sanctioned within the constitutional law of countries.

In the United States, religious freedom is protected in the Constitution, as the Council desires. Are those constitutional protections enough? Are they growing stronger or weaker in our society today? What else, apart from the law, can strengthen or weaken religious liberty? What should Catholics do to defend and foster religious liberty in America today? What have Catholics done in the past when religious liberty was threatened?

Source: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/Fortnight-Reflections-pref-statement.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment