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Archive for January, 2013

 

 

Smith's later theology described Jesus and God...

Jesus and God the Father as two distinct physical beings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS)

 

– The first and most fundamental definition that the Creed teaches us about God is that He is the Almighty Father. This was the theme of Benedict XVI‘s Wednesday catechesis during today’s general audience that was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

 

“It isn’t always easy today to speak about fatherhood,” the Pope began, “…and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father. For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father, or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as Father or to confidently surrender themselves to Him. But Biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a ‘father’. Above all it is the Gospel that reveals to us this face of God as Father, who loves us even to the point of giving us the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity.”

 

In the light of the Scriptures and the writings of the evangelists, the Holy Father explained that God is our Father because “He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus. And, as Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us His Word, His teaching, His grace, His Spirit. …If He is so good as to ‘make His sun rise on the bad and the good and … rain to fall on the just and the unjust’, then we can always, without fear and in complete faith, entrust ourselves to His forgiveness as Father when we choose the wrong path.”

 

Tracing the history of salvation, Psalm 136 repeats “for his mercy endures forever”, and the pontiff emphasized, “The love of God the Father never fails, never tires of us. … Faith gives us this certainty that becomes the sure rock upon which to build our lives. We can face every difficulty and every danger, the experience of the darkness of times of crisis and pain, sustained by the confidence that God does not abandon us and is always near to save us and bring us to everlasting life.”

 

The kind face of the Father who is in heaven is fully shown in the Lord Jesus. “Knowing Him we know the Father and seeing Him we can see the Father. … Faith in God the Father requires that we believe in the Son, through the action of the Spirit, recognizing the Cross that saves as the definitive revelation of divine love. God is our Father, forgiving our sins and bringing us to the joy of the risen life.”

 

“We can ask ourselves, how is it possible to imagine an all-powerful God by looking at the Cross of Christ? … We would certainly like a divine omnipotence that corresponded to our thoughts and our desires; an ‘almighty’ God … who vanquishes our adversaries, who changes the course of events, and who takes away our pain. … Faced with evil and suffering, … it is difficult for many of us to believe in God the Father and to believe that He is all-powerful.”

 

“Faith in God the Almighty, however, leads us to follow very different paths: learning to understand that God’s thoughts and God’s paths are different from ours and that even His omnipotence is different?it isn’t expressed with mechanical or arbitrary force… Actually, God, in creating free creatures, in giving us freedom, gave up a part of His power, allowing us the power of our freedom. Thus He loves and respects love’s free response to His call. His omnipotence isn’t expressed in violence or destruction but rather through love, mercy, and forgiveness; through His tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance, and which is made of patience, clemency, and love.”

 

“Only the truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion. Only the truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because He made them all, reveals His strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion because He wants us as His children. …The omnipotence of love isn’t a worldly power, but is that of total gift and Jesus, the Son of God, reveals to the world the Father’s true omnipotence by giving His life for us sinners. This is the true … divine power: responding to evil not with evil but with good, responding to murderous hatred with a love that gives life. Evil is thus truly vanquished, because it is washed by God’s love. Death is thus definitively defeated, because it is transformed into the gift of life. God the Father resurrects His Son. Death, the great enemy, is swallowed up and deprived of its sting and we are freed from sin; we can grasp our reality as children of God.”

 

“So, when we say ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty’, we express our faith in the power of God’s love who?in His Son who died and rose again?conquers hate, evil, and sin and gives us eternal life, a life as children who desire to remain forever in the ‘Father’s House’.”

 

 

 

 

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St. Francis De sales

by Bishop Robert W. Finn

  • The Catholic Key
  • Publisher & Date:
    Diocese of Kansas City, January 25, 2013

When I was editor of the diocesan paper in St. Louis, my office had a statue of St. Francis DeSales, Bishop of Geneva, and Doctor of the Church. Francis died in 1622. He is regarded as a patron of journalists and of the Catholic Press. His feast day is January 24, and has been observed by the Vatican for many years as World Communications Day. Again this year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has used the occasion to give a message to us on Social Communications.

The Forty-Seventh World Communications Day Message is entitled “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.” Here the Pope speaks about the opportunities for evangelization made possible through social media. He also addresses the moral responsibility we have to use these media in respectful ways. For nearly a half-century these messages have affirmed the value of modern communication in the presentation of the Gospel.

The Church’s Canon law places on the local bishop a particular responsibility to use the media effectively in the work of the Gospel, and to call the media to fidelity in the use of means of social communications.

Canon 747: “It is the obligation and inherent right of the Church, … to preach the Gospel to all people, using for this purpose even its own means of social communication; for it is to the Church that Christ the Lord entrusted the deposit of faith, so that by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, it might conscientiously guard revealed truth, more intimately penetrate it, and faithfully proclaim and expound it.”

Canon 761: “While pride of place must always be given to preaching and catechetical instruction, all the available means of proclaiming Christian doctrine are to be used, … (including) the printed word and other means of social communication.”

Canon 831: “The Christian faithful are not, unless there is a just and reasonable cause, to write in newspapers, pamphlets or periodicals which clearly are accustomed to attack the Catholic religion or good morals.”

Canon 804: “The formation and education provided … through the means of social communication, is subject to the authority of the Church. It is for the Bishop’s Conference to issue general norms concerning this field of activity and for the Diocesan Bishop to regulate and watch over it.”

There is a Canon that deals with the abuse of the media, under the section of the Code – “Offences against Religion and the Unity of the Church.”

Canon 1369: “A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.”

I am very proud of the work of our diocesan Catholic paper, The Catholic Key, our writers, and all involved with its production for the conscientious manner in which they use the paper to teach Catholic doctrine, to provide trustworthy reflections on issues that take place in our culture, and to provide stories of apostolic life and work – particularly from our local diocese – that inspire us to live our Catholic faith more fully.

Similarly, the apostolate of Catholic Radio has blossomed locally. KEXS, 1090 AM, Catholic radio has helped Catholics to know and live their faith. Catholic radio is enjoyed by non-Catholics and has been the cause of many coming to the Faith and entering the Church.

In a different way, I am sorry to say, my attention has been drawn once again to the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper with headquarters in this Diocese. I have received letters and other complaints about NCR from the beginning of my time here. In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.

My predecessor bishops have taken different approaches to the challenge. Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name “Catholic” from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.

When early in my tenure I requested that the paper submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law, they declined to participate indicating that they considered themselves an “independent newspaper which commented on ‘things Catholic.’” At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.

In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name “Catholic.” While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level. For this we pray: St. Francis DeSales, intercede for us.

Image of pages from the Decretum of Burchard o...

Image of pages, the 11th-century book of canon law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© 2013 The Catholic Key. All Rights Reserved

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Junjun FAITHBOOK

Homily for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time year C 2013

During the week, not that I really liked to, but I happened to watch bits of the inaugural speech of President Barack Obama. I couldn’t help it because it had been shown in the  news around the country. I heard him saying as he sworn in ‘so help me God.’ It was a simple yet a beautiful short prayer. And upon hearing that I silently prayed that Obama really meant what he said then: that He would acknowledge God’s help in his role as the president of the United States.

Friends, I’m caught up with this because truly, we need God in our life. We need to complement with what God wills for us and what He wants of us. We need God no matter how much we deny his involvement in our life. We need…

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By Phil Lawler

 

January 25, 2013 8:46 AM

 

English: A sign promoting the saving of unborn...

English: A sign promoting the saving of unborn children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like the “fiscal cliff” debate. This is not merely a political contest but a spiritual battle.

 

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

 

Pro-lifers have been fighting the political battle against abortion for 40 years, and still the bloodshed continues. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the culture of death is one of those evils that “cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

 

Yes, certainly we should fast and pray. It’s appropriate to use spiritual weapons in spiritual combat. For that matter, in a struggle of this importance we should use every means at our disposal, every tool in our drawers. All the different forms of pro-life work—the lobbying and educational campaigns, the pregnancy-help centers, the fundraising, the speeches and demonstrations—have their place in a coordinated strategy. We should all be doing everything in our power, in the natural order as well as the supernatural, to end the abomination of legal abortion on demand.

 

But there is one powerful tool that has not yet been put to use in the pro-life struggle, and one group of people who have not yet done what they can do for the cause. I refer to the American Catholic bishops, and the use of ecclesiastical discipline.

 

Forty years after Roe there remain dozens of prominent politicians who identify themselves as Catholics, but actively promote the culture of death. These “pro-choice Catholics” are a source of confusion to the public and scandal to the Church.

 

The US Catholic bishops have issued many fine statements on the evils of abortion and the dignity of human life. But statements are one thing, actions another; and when one’s actions do not match one’s public pronouncements, those statements lose value. The bishops have warned that Catholic politicians who promote abortion are separating themselves from the communion of the Church. But they have not followed up, as necessary, by taking disciplinary action against those politicians who have not heeded their warning.

 

If a Catholic in his diocese is promoting abortion, a Catholic bishop has a solemn obligation to take three steps:

 

First, admonition. The bishop should call the erring politician to a private meeting, rebuke him, and warn him that he is putting his soul in jeopardy.

 

Second, denunciation. If the politician remains obstinate, the bishop should make his rebuke public, letting the world know that the Church views the politician’s actions as gravely wrong. A specific public statement, naming names, is necessary to address a public scandal, and to counteract the widespread impression that abortion is only one of many issues in which the Church takes an interest.

 

Third, exclusion from Communion. The Code of Canon Law (#915) instructs clerics to protect the Eucharist from scandal, by refusing to administer the sacrament to those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” The enforcement of Canon 915 is not optional; it is a moral obligation. Yet the American bishops have chosen to ignore that obligation.

 

As long as our bishops are not doing all that they can do (and only they can do), the American pro-life movement is not doing its utmost to fight for an end to abortion. Yes, we should fast and pray. Yes, we should engage in practical pro-life activism. But we should also beg our bishops to shoulder their own responsibility in this battle. Prayer and fasting can work wonders. However, as we pray, we must also do whatever we can, on the natural order.

 

Imagine that your doctor tells you that you must lose weight quickly or your life will be in danger. You pray that you will meet your weight-loss goals, and ask your friends to join with you in those prayers. Good. But if you continue routinely to tuck into second helpings of dessert, can you really expect those prayers to be answered?

 

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Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

Pelo Papa Bento XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

CWN – January 24, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI encourages an active and distinctively Christian involvement in the social media, in his message for the 47th World Communications Day.

The social media, the Pope writes, are “helping to create a new ‘agora,’ an open public square in which people share ideas, information, and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.” In his message he offers some cautions about the use of the social media, but also some suggestions on how Christians can use this new means of communication most effectively.

Pope Benedict, who has written frequently on the importance of a strong Christian presence on the internet, recognizes the immense influence of the new social media. “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world,” he writes, “but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.” In this new environment, he says, “people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how.” Consequently the social media offer many different sorts of opportunities for evangelization, for building Christian communities, and for providing help to others.

Pope Benedict is candid in addressing on some of the problems of the social media. He notices that these media appear to be ruled by popularity rather than the intrinsic value of messages. “At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information,” he also observes. To counteract these tendencies, the Pope calls upon the faithful who are active in the social media to “cultivate forms of discourse and expression that appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process.”

The new media call for new methods of communication, the Pope acknowledges. He urges Christians to be creative in finding new approaches. “Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination,” he says. Offering one strong suggestion on how this might be done, the Pope reminds the faithful that the “Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols.” Just as Catholic artists and musicians have expressed their faith through their creative work, the Pope says, Catholics can find ways to convey the faith through digital communications.

Along with the content of messages, the Pope also remarks on the importance of the style of participation in the social media. He suggests that users can bear witness through “a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence.”

The Pope also observes that the social media have allowed for new ways to bring together communities of the faithful. “The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith,” he writes.

The Pope’s message, entitled “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization,” was released on January 24. (The papal message for the World Communications Day is traditionally issued on that date: the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists.) The Pope’s message was introduced to the media at a press conference chaired by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The Pope’s general verdict on the social media is “a positive assessment, although not a naive one,” said Archbishop Celli. He called attention in particular to the Pope’s appeal that internet communications should be marked “with concern for privacy, with responsibility and dedication to the truth, and with authenticity.”

Msgr. Paul Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, added that the Pope has a keen appreciation for the influence of the internet, especially in the lives of young people. “It is a ‘continent’ where the Church must be present,” he said. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Msgr. Tighe said that the Pope’s message should be an encouragement to recognize the greater potential of the new media. “People often talk about ‘user-generated content,” he said, “but I think the Pope is guiding us to a ‘user-generated culture.’”

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By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bioarticles ) | January 18, 2013 4:57 PM

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We all know the Ten Commandments, or I think we do. I notice we do not have a handy copy of them on our website, but there is an excellent Scripture-based table of the Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among other things, the Commandments are an excellent basis for examination of conscience before Confession.

Hopefully we are also familiar with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which are an enumeration of specific mercies we are called to show to others as noted in Sacred Scripture. We cannot perform these works all of the time; we may have few opportunities for some and great opportunities for others. But they are a wonderful guide to what it means to live in true solidarity with our neighbors, treating them as Christ would treat them, from feeding the hungry to instructing the ignorant. Between confessions, if we have not been busy with any of these works, we ought to be asking ourselves why.

I’m not as sure that we all know the Beatitudes. I cannot recite them from memory myself, though I hope I have some grasp of the virtues they counsel. You’ll find the list of all eight in the first paragraph of the Catechism which deals with this subject. Here too we have the basis for an excellent examination of conscience, this time concerning not merely our avoidance of sin but our cultivation of the dispositions and virtues of the Christian life.

Finally, I suspect we almost never hear much about the Precepts of the Church. These are seldom mentioned from the pulpit and do not come up in Scripture readings. They are often treated as a sort of addendum or final check in an examination of conscience. But they can be explored more deeply with great profit. The five precepts can actually be used to orient our spiritual lives and fuel the New Evangelization.

The Church

The most important thing about the Precepts of the Church is that they are the precepts of the Church. We ought to pause to consider what the Church is, for it is no mere social body with purely human lines of authority and rules geared primarily toward its own preservation and growth. The Church is alternatively described in Scripture as the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:26-27; Col 1:18), the bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:25-27), and the embodiment on earth of Divine authority, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail (Mt 16:18).

The Church is the repository on earth of the power to forgive our sins (Jn 20:22-23). It is formed by our assimilation to Christ in the Eucharist (1 Cor 10:16-17). The hierarchy of the Church, despite being made up of sinful men, has the power to bind and loose on earth such that the same judgment is bound or loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19; Mt 18:18). The faith of the head of the hierarchy has been guaranteed by Christ Himself, for the purpose of ensuring a right faith in all the Church’s members (Lk 22:32). Thus the Church remains always the household of God, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Moreover, she is sent by Christ to preach and baptize, and secured by Christ until the end of time (Mk 16:15-16; Mt 28:19-20).

Much more could be said about the Church, into which Our Lord has poured His very life, including all the goods and graces necessary for perfection, union with God and salvation: Tradition, Scripture, the Sacraments, the hierarchy, the priesthood, Divine authority, the fullness of truth—all of which combine to produce the sublimity of her doctrine, the holiness of her saints, and her unparalleled works of charity.

Once we not only grasp the identity of the Church but begin to cherish the Church in her deepest reality, her precepts begin to glow in a whole new light. Though they are formulated as minimum requirements for the practicing Catholic, each one opens up a key aspect of a fully Christian life.

1. Observance of Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation

At the minimum, observance of Sundays and Holy Days means attending Mass and avoiding servile work on these days. The problem of servile work is tricky; many have very little choice about when they work. But following the precept means that we should arrange our affairs, insofar as we can, in a way that at least minimally enables us to properly honor the feasts in question.

The requirement may be minimal, but the reality is very deep. We ought to think about what it would mean to our spiritual growth if we truly arranged our lives to take full advantage of Sundays and holy days, disposing ourselves to honor Christ, Our Lady, the saints and the Church by joyfully participating in her celebrations, taking ample time for spiritual reflection, and marking the feasts with other signs of joy (such as special meals) which help the mysteries of faith to seep into our very bones.

The Liturgical Year section on CatholicCulture.org can be a particular help in this regard, providing numerous suggestions for families to bring the various feasts to life, frequently employing customs and forming habits that have long since faded from our culture. The feasts (and fasts) of the Church are meant to sanctify every aspect of culture, claiming everything for Christ.

Fulfilling this precept should not be a matter of grudgingly attending the Mass which interferes least with our other plans, and then taking advantage of the rest of the day to pursue a series of totally unrelated pleasures. Relaxation is, of course, an important way of observing a feast, but so are prayers, the development of family traditions, sharing the day and the meal with friends, and (as Pope John Paul II noted in On Keeping the Lord’s Day) visiting and helping those in need.

2. Annual Confession

Receiving the Sacrament of Penance is a signal act of cooperation with God’s salvific will. It is also, where serious sin is present, a prerequisite for the reception of the Eucharist, which we shall encounter in the third precept. It would seem presumptuous to assume that any of us could get through an entire year with nothing significant to confess. If we think we can, then our consciences are not very sensitive! So the requirement can hardly be considered either onerous or superfluous.

But let us put two and two together. Here we are, obedient to the first precept, attending Church at least weekly, plus a little more often when a holy day occurs. Now, could we possibly think that we ought to do this regularly without receiving Communion, which is the chief means by which Our Lord assimilates us to Himself, and by which the Church is built up into the One Body of Christ? I ask because we are not to receive Communion unworthily (see St. Paul in 1 Cor 11:27). And if we are to take advantage of Christ’s gift of Himself in the Eucharist with reasonable frequency, then we must be serious about overcoming our faults, gradually living the Christian life more deeply, and in general escaping the slavery of sin in favor of the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

Now it is precisely the Sacrament of Penance which is the single greatest help in this process, the very means of specific grace which Christ Himself ordained to be used to overcome our sins and remain firmly in His friendship. As St. Paul put it, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 1:5). The occasional sin is not a full submission to the yoke of slavery, but a refusal to take advantage of Confession is clearly an acceptance of this sinful yoke.

Here again we have a requirement which must, if we are serious about Christ, become the pattern and the work of a lifetime, and which will over time transform our lives in Him, making us with Him a light to the world.

3. Reception of the Eucharist during Eastertide

Part of our work on this third precept has already been done under the heading of the second. Clearly the command to receive the Eucharist but once a year is exceedingly minimal. If our opportunity to receive Our Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity were really so restricted, we ought to bemoan Our Lord’s absence and seek Him in every other way possible. But for most of us, the opportunity is far more frequent, typically weekly or even daily. To generally spurn this opportunity tells us something very serious about ourselves.

But we note here as well that the time of this annual solitary reception is specified to be during the Easter Season. This is so we can fully participate in the Paschal Mystery, the Church’s celebration of the passion, death and Resurrection, which is the focus and font of the entire cycle of our salvation as represented by the liturgical year. Surely by calling our attention to the Easter Season, the Church means to root our lives on this mystery, by which we are (quite literally) meant to be transformed forever.

At once, then, this third precept becomes a call to live the Paschal Mystery. This is not so much a challenge as a momentous invitation, but once again it is the work of a lifetime. Who would be so crass as to believe that this is no more than a ritual observance that we take care of once a year. The whole mission of our Lord and Savior was to shake people out of a reliance on externals and make religion into a relationship, a love affair, a work of the human heart in continuous conversation with God.

Again, the essence of the Christian life is not the external obedience to a rule. The rule is simply there to point to the deeper reality, and begin to habituate us to it. Ritual participation in the Paschal Mystery—which is renewed each Sunday and highlighted in a special way on each Holy Day—is something that we ought not to do as a requirement but as the glorious fulfillment of an ongoing interior work; and we should keep fulfilling ourselves in this way “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).

4. Observance of Days of Fast and Abstinence

Under current disciplines in the Latin Rite, rules of fast and abstinence are kept to a remarkable minimum in comparison with earlier times, so there is very little to observe at present. There is, in fact, just enough to establish an important principle: The Church has authority to impose such spiritual disciplines on the faithful as she alone thinks most conducive to their spiritual well-being. We may of course engage in much more strenuous penitential exercises as we see fit, but obedience to the Church is a far higher response than the fulfillment of our own desires. Such obedience recognizes that “he who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16).

Note carefully that the whole Scripture passage is far more gripping:

But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.” He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Lk 10:10-17)

In this precept, the Church insists in a special way on her own authority as the authority of Christ. No Catholic should be able to enumerate this fourth precept without reflecting on his relationship with this Church which, in every conceivable way, represents Christ. Not only the major teachings but even the most minor disciplines of the Church should be meat and drink to our spiritual lives, received with gratitude, performed with reverence and joy. To take this approach is to derive enormous spiritual benefit, no matter how small the sacrifice. Yet to think and act otherwise really is to reject God.

5. Provision for the Needs of the Church

The explanation of this fifth precept in the Catechism is somewhat confusing, as it indicates the obligation to both “assist with the material needs of the Church” and “provide for the material needs of the Church”, according to our abilities. The distinction might not be clear. It would seem to be a distinction between pitching in and helping personally, on the one hand, and donating the funds necessary to the continuation of the Church’s mission, on the other. Both are important.

We have said enough under the previous headings to recognize that what is given to the Church is, in essence, given to God. The sustenance of the Church is something that God demands we provide as if to Himself. To see the importance of this, we must remember that the Church is the chosen vessel by which Christ’s salvific mission is extended through time and space, the vessel of His own body, and the representation of His sacrifice down through the ages in every corner of the globe.

Obviously, the least reflection on our life in Christ would lead us to do what we can to ensure that the Church has what she needs to continue this mission. And this is where the New Evangelization enters the picture. The first four precepts are really about our own spiritual growth, our growth into the Church as the chief means of becoming one with Jesus Christ. But this fifth precept is about the expansion and extension of the Church’s mission.

At the level of a precept, our responsibility is to create the material conditions which make this possible. But at the level of our baptism—and more generally at the sacramental level which truly incorporates us into Christ—we are all prophets, priests and kings in our own right, with a duty to teach and sacrifice and govern wherever we can so as to build up the Kingdom of God. Reflection on this final precept takes everything we have gained through our interior obedience to the first four and orients it ad extra, to the preaching of the Gospel, the conversion of sinners, the formation of a culture that is, like ourselves, rooted in Christ.

All the precepts of the Church bind under pain of serious sin, but they are far more important than that. Each one ought to serve as a reminder, an inspiration and even a trigger for our own deeper entry into the life of Christ, and our own deeper determination to collaborate with Christ in transforming the whole world. “For behold,” says Our Lord in St. John’s vision, “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). But St. John the Baptist says, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:12; Lk 3:17).

The Kingdom of God is among us (Lk 17:21). The work has begun. The precepts of the Church initiate us into this great task.

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Only Today!

18FridayJan 2013

I recently read a beautiful book written by a Saint in India who conveyed a story about a successful businessman. After working for years he said that he would soon spend his time praying to God and contemplating about life. However, he first had to deal with some important affairs, which he assumed to finalize in four months. Sadly, he passed away before he was able to take a moment and reflect upon life and pray to the Divine. We all seem to have this approach towards many of our goals.We tell ourselves we will start working out next week, eat healthy from Monday, spend more time with our family after finalizing some business deal, we will pray properly when we are a bit older – and so we continue to postpone important matters along the way. But the question remains: will there be a tomorrow?

They say life is like a river. You can’t touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. So use your time wisely. Reflect upon your life purpose and act accordingly. Stop wasting time thinking about the unknown and dwelling in yesterday’s memories, as today might be all we got.

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.” (Hadith – Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alaihi Wasalam)

This is the time to seek, learn, experience, grow and develop! Love yourself unconditionally, heal yesterday’s pain, love and respect yourself and to discover the you within you!

Sending much love and light to all,
Shaidi

 Blog :  www.parchment9.wordpress.com

 

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