Perhaps you watched the Oscar awards, where Mother Dolores Hart’s short documentary, “God is Bigger than Elvis” was a nominee. After having co-starred in a couple of films with the king of rock and roll, she entered a monastery almost fifty years ago to live completely for the King of heaven and earth.
The most recent letter issued by Cardinal Dolan as the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Also, for a very clearly rendered analogy to the whole HHS kerfuffle, read this by Bishop Lori.
Since we last wrote to you concerning the critical efforts we are undertaking together to protect religious freedom in our beloved country, many of you have requested that we write once more to update you on the situation and to again request the assistance of all the faithful in this important work. We are happy to do so now. Continue Reading »
Fr. Shah’s Homily:
Israel spent 40 years in the desert, wherein she was instructed about God’s unique, elective love for her. Elijah took 40 days to reach the mountaintop, whereupon God’s presence was manifested, not in thunderous gusts or fiery flashes but in the whispering strum of the prophet’s own heart. And before beginning his public ministry, Christ spent 40 days in the desert, feeding solely upon his mission to reconcile all of God with all of man in one incarnate embrace.
With reason, then, Our Holy Father Pope Benedict says Lent is a time of first love. Continue Reading »
Our Holy Father’s masterful catechesis about the beginning and significance of Lent:
Dear brothers and sisters,
in this Catechesis I would like to dwell briefly on the season of Lent, which begins today with the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday. It is a journey of forty days that will lead us to the Paschal Triduum, memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, the heart of the mystery of our salvation. In the early centuries of the Church this was the time when those who had heard and accepted the message of Christ began, step by step, their journey of faith and conversion to receive the sacrament of baptism. It was a drawing close to the living God and an initiation of the faith to be gradually accomplished, through an inner change in the catechumens, that is, those who wished to become Christians and thus be incorporated into Christ and the Church.
Subsequently, penitents, and then all the faithful were invited to experience this journey of spiritual renewal, to conform themselves and their lives to that of Christ. The participation of the whole community in the different steps of the Lenten path emphasizes an important dimension of Christian spirituality: redemption is not available to only a few, but to all, through the death and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, those who follow a journey of faith as catechumens to receive baptism, those who had strayed from God and the community of faith and seek reconciliation and those who lived their faith in full communion with the Church, together knew that the period before Easter is a period of metanoia, that is, of inner change, of repentance, the period that identifies our human life and our entire history as a process of conversion that is set in motion now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time.
In an expression that has become typical in the Liturgy, the Church calls the period in which we are now entering “Quadragesima,” in short a period of forty days and, with a clear reference to Sacred Scripture, it introduces us to a specific spiritual context. Forty is in fact the symbolic number in which salient moments of the experience of faith of the People of God are expressed. A figure that expresses the time of waiting, purification, return to the Lord, the awareness that God is faithful to his promises. This number does not represent an exact chronological time, divided by the sum of the days. Rather it indicates a patient perseverance, a long trial, a sufficient period to see the works of God, a time within which we must make up our minds and to decide to accept our own responsibilities without additional references. It is the time for mature decisions.
The number forty first appears in the story of Noah.
This just man because of the flood spends forty days and forty nights in the ark, along with his family and animals that God had told him to bring. He waits for another forty days, after the flood, before finding land, saved from destruction (Gen 7,4.12, 8.6). Then, the next stop, Moses on Mount Sinai, in the presence of the Lord, for forty days and forty nights to receive the Law. He fasts throughout this period (Exodus 24:18). Forty, the number of years the Jewish people journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, the right amount of time for them to experience the faithfulness of God: ” Remember how for these forty years the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the wilderness… The clothing did not fall from you in tatters, nor did your feet swell these forty years, “says Moses in Deuteronomy at the end of the forty years of migration (Dt 8,2.4). The years of peace enjoyed by Israel under the Judges are forty (Judg. 3,11.30), but, once this time ended, forgetfulness of the gifts of God begins and a return to sin.
The prophet Elijah takes forty days to reach Horeb, the mountain where he meets God (1 Kings 19.8). Forty are the days during which the people of Nineveh do penance for the forgiveness of God (Gen 3.4). Forty were also the years of the reign of Saul (Acts 13:21), David (2 Sam 5:4-5) and Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), the first three kings of Israel. Even the biblical Psalms reflect on the meaning of the forty years, such as Psalm 95 for example, of which we heard a passage: “If you would listen to his voice today! ” Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert. There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works. Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways”(vv. 7c-10).
In the New Testament Jesus, before beginning of his public life, retires to the desert for forty days without food or drink (Matt. 4.2): he nourishes himself on the Word of God, which he uses as a weapon to conquer the devil. The temptations of Jesus recall those the Jewish people faced in the desert, but could not conquer. Forty are the days during which the risen Jesus instructs his disciples, before ascending to heaven and sending the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.3).
A spiritual context is described by this recurring number forty, one that remains current and valid, and the Church, precisely through the days of Lent, intends to maintain its enduring value and make us aware of its efficacy. The Christian liturgy of Lent is intended to facilitate a journey of spiritual renewal in the light of this long biblical experience and especially to learn how to imitate Jesus, who in the forty days spent in the desert taught how to overcome temptation with the Word of God. The forty years of Israel’s wandering in the desert present us with ambivalent attitudes and situations. On the one hand they are the first season of love between God and his people when He spoke to his heart, continuously indicating the path to follow to them. God had pitched his tent, so to speak, in the midst of Israel, He preceded it in a cloud or a pillar of fire, ensured its daily nourishment showering manna upon them, and bringing forth water from rock. Therefore, the years spent by Israel in the desert can be seen as the time of the special election of God and adherence to Him by the people. The time of first love. On the other hand, the Bible also shows another image of Israel’s wanderings in the desert: it is also the time of the greatest temptations and dangers, when Israel murmured against God and wanted to return to paganism and builds its own idols, as a need to worship a closer and more tangible God. It is also a time of rebellion against the great and invisible God.
This ambivalence, a period of special closeness to God, of first love and of temptation, the attempted return to paganism that characterized Israel in the desert, we find once again in a surprising way even in Jesus’ earthly journey, of course without any compromise with sin. After his baptism of repentance in the Jordan, in which he takes upon himself the destiny of the Servant of Yahweh God who renounces himself and lives for others and places himself among sinners, to take upon himself the sins of the world, Jesus went to stay in the desert for forty days in deep union with the Father, thus repeating the history of Israel and all these rhythms of forty days a year. This dynamic is a constant in the earthly life of Jesus, who always seeks moments of solitude to pray to his Father and remain in close and intimate communion with Him alone, and exclusive communion with Him, and then return among the people. But in these times of “desert” and special encounter with the Father, Jesus is exposed to danger and is assailed by temptation and the seduction of devil, who offers him another messianic way, far from God’s plan, because it passes through power, success, dominion and not through the total gift on the Cross. This is the alternative, messianism of power, of success, not messianism of gift and love of self.
This ambivalence also describes the condition of the pilgrim Church in the “desert” of the world and history. In this “desert” we believers certainly have the opportunity to profoundly experience God, an experience that makes the spirit strong, confirms the faith, nourishes hope, animates charity; an experience that makes us partakers of Christ’s victory over sin and death through the Sacrifice of love on the Cross. But the “desert” is also the negative aspects of the reality that surrounds us: the arid, the poverty of words of life and of values, secularism and the materialist culture, which shut people within a horizon of mundane existence, robbing them of all reference to transcendence. And this is also the environment in which the sky above us is obscured, because covered by the clouds of egoism, misunderstanding and deception. Despite this, even for the Church of today the time of the desert can be transformed into a time of grace, because we have the certainty that even from the hardest rock God can bring forth the living water that refreshes and restores.
Dear brothers and sisters, in these forty days that will lead us to Easter may we find new courage to accept with patience and with faith situations of difficulty, of affliction and trial, knowing that from the darkness the Lord will make a new day dawn. And if we are faithful to Jesus and follow him on the way of the Cross, the bright world of God, the world of light, truth and joy will be gifted to us once more: it will be the new dawn created by God himself. May you all have a good Lenten journey!
As you must have read in the NY dailies, if you did not otherwise know, our local shepherd was raised to the special rank of cardinal this past weekend. Here’s His Eminence’s own commentary, published both in the Daily News and the Post. What follows is Our Holy Father’s homily from the Mass. (The feast of the Chair of St. Peter was transferred to this past Sunday in Rome because it falls on a Sunday during Lent):
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter, we have the joy of gathering around the altar of the Lord together with the new Cardinals whom yesterday I incorporated into the College of Cardinals. It is to them, first of all, that I offer my cordial greetings and I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni for the gracious words he has addressed to me in the name of all. I extend my greetings to the other Cardinals and all the Bishops present, as well as to the distinguished authorities, ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful who have come from different parts of the world for this happy occasion, which is marked by a particular character of universality.
In the second reading that we have just heard, Saint Peter exhorts the “elders” of the Church to be zealous pastors, attentive to the flock of Christ (cf. 1 Pet 5:1-2). These words are addressed in the first instance to you, my dear venerable brothers, who have already shown great merit among the people of God through your wise and generous pastoral ministry in demanding dioceses, or through presiding over the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, or in your service to the Church through study and teaching. The new dignity that has been conferred upon you is intended to show appreciation for the faithful labour you have carried out in the Lord’s vineyard, to honour the communities and nations from which you come and which you represent so worthily in the Church, to invest you with new and more important ecclesial responsibilities and finally to ask of you an additional readiness to be of service to Christ and to the entire Christian community. This readiness to serve the Gospel is firmly founded upon the certitude of faith. We know that God is faithful to his promises and we await in hope the fulfilment of these words of Saint Peter: “And when the chief shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:4).
Today’s Gospel passage presents Peter, under divine inspiration, expressing his own firm faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. In response to this transparent profession of faith, which Peter makes in the name of the other Apostles as well, Christ reveals to him the mission he intends to entrust to him, namely that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19). This new name of “rock” is not a reference to Peter’s personal character, but can be understood only on the basis of a deeper aspect, a mystery: through the office that Jesus confers upon him, Simon Peter will become something that, in terms of “flesh and blood”, he is not. The exegete Joachim Jeremias has shown that in the background, the symbolic language of “holy rock” is present. In this regard, it is helpful to consider a rabbinic text which states: “The Lord said, ‘How can I create the world, when these godless men will rise up in revolt against me?’ But when God saw that Abraham was to be born, he said, ‘Look, I have found a rock on which I can build and establish the world.’ Therefore he called Abraham a rock.” The prophet Isaiah makes reference to this when he calls upon the people to “look to the rock from which you were hewn … look to Abraham your father” (51:1-2). On account of his faith, Abraham, the father of believers, is seen as the rock that supports creation. Simon, the first to profess faith in Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the resurrection, now, on the basis of his renewed faith, becomes the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.
Dear brothers and sisters, this Gospel episode that has been proclaimed to us finds a further and more eloquent explanation in one of the most famous artistic treasures of this Vatican Basilica: the altar of the Chair. After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. What does this sculptural composition say to us, this product of Bernini’s genius? It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.
The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital “O”, to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads. The Church is the place where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.
The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be Saint Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi. The magisterial chair also reminds us of the words spoken to Peter by the Lord during the Last Supper: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32).
The chair of Peter evokes another memory: the famous expression from Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, where he says of the Church of Rome that she “presides in charity” (Salutation, PG 5, 801). In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith. But the words of Saint Ignatius have another much more concrete implication: the word “charity”, in fact, was also used by the early Church to indicate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Sacramentum caritatis Christi [the sacrament of the love of Christ] through which Christ continues to draw us all to himself, as he did when raised up on the Cross (cf. Jn 12:32). Therefore, to “preside in charity” is to draw men and women into a eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences. The Petrine ministry is therefore a primacy of love in the eucharistic sense, that is to say solicitude for the universal communion of the Church in Christ. And the Eucharist is the shape and the measure of this communion, a guarantee that it will remain faithful to the criterion of the tradition of the faith.
The great Chair is supported by the Fathers of the Church. The two Eastern masters, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Athanasius, together with the Latins, Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the one Church. This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith. The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it. Within the ecclesial community, the Fathers of the Church fulfil the function of guaranteeing fidelity to sacred Scripture. They ensure that the Church receives reliable and solid exegesis, capable of forming with the Chair of Peter a stable and consistent whole. The sacred Scriptures, authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium in the light of the Fathers, shed light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history.
After considering the various elements of the altar of the Chair, let us take a look at it in its entirety. We see that it is characterized by a twofold movement: ascending and descending. This is the reciprocity between faith and love. The Chair is placed in a prominent position in this place, because this is where Saint Peter’s tomb is located, but this too tends towards the love of God. Indeed, faith is oriented towards love. A selfish faith would be an unreal faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist, discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of gift. True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love, leads on high, just as the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica. That window is given great prominence by the triumphant angels and the great golden rays, with a sense of overflowing fulness that expresses the richness of communion with God. God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light.
Dear brothers and sisters, the gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives. This is your task in particular, dear brother Cardinals: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love. We now entrust your ecclesial service to the Virgin Mary, who was present among the apostolic community as they gathered in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). May she, Mother of the Incarnate Word, protect the Church’s path, support the work of the pastors by her intercession and take under her mantle the entire College of Cardinals. Amen!
Theology on Tap-NYC
Young Adult Ministry for those in their 20s, 30s and early 40s) presents:
“Suffering…Why It Matters”
On March 12, 2012, Fr Jordan Kelly OP, Pastor of our sister parish of St Catherine of Siena , will address Theology on Tap about suffering: why we hate it, why we avoid it, but why we still need it. ToTNYC is located at Klub 45 Room-Connolly’s Bar, 121 West 45th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.
Event begins at 7:30pm and ends around 9pm. For more info, visit www.totnyc.org
Click below to hear prior provincial Fr. Brian Mulcahy’s homily from this morning’s mass. Also, click here to read a bit more about our Holy Father St. Dominic’s successor.
We were happy to have Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, OP in town for a few days — have a listen:
Our Sunday’s first lesson reminds us of man’s inexorable (and fallen) tendency to cast certain people outside of a society’s normal privileges. The Book of Leviticus states that lepers were to be deemed “unclean”–a fact they were themselves bound to declare–and that they were to “dwell apart,” “outside the camp.”
But this levitical instruction is not to be accounted in the mere terms of social history or cultural anthropology. That God became man is the principle by which we recognize God enters human history and culture in order to transform it. Therefore, we ought never interpret the laws and histories of God’s People merely in social or anthropological terms. Divine Revelation demands a theological account that looks for God’s providential design, not merely man’s typical tendencies.
Thus it appear that the lepers have been given a divine role. That they are to be held “unclean” is not to say that they are to be held as sinners, or morally depraved. “Clean” and “unclean” are religious categories that mark up reality in such a way as to orient people toward the overarching sense that reality is radically dependent upon divine wisdom. The role of the lepers, who are themselves taboo, is to manifest the hidden, mysterious, and even terrible presence of the all-transcendent God. They become sacrosanct, in both senses of the word. Thus, they are visible reminders of the way in which reality is utterly beholden to the divine actions of God. As they cry out “unclean,” they are reminders of God’s mysterious claim upon man’s reality.
God alone is able to unify man; God alone is able to heal man in his utter depths, such that the Original Sin by which we tend to cast people out of our social privileges becomes forgiven… even as we still struggle with the proclivity to do so. But God wants to lead us out of this divisive, inimical spirit. This exodus, which Jesus Christ perfectly accomplishes, is anticipated in Moses’ liberation of the Israelites from Egypt. Interestingly, when Moses needed encouragement that he would be an effective emissary, God manifested His aegis in the following way:
The LORD said to Moses, “Put your hand in your bosom.” He put it in his bosom, and when he withdrew it, to his surprise his hand was leprous like snow. The LORD then said, “Now put your hand back in your bosom.” Moses put his hand back in his bosom and when he withdrew it, to his surprise it was again like the rest of his body.” (Ex 4.6-7)
In other words, the proof of Moses’ divine delegation lies in his ability to stretch out his hand in such a way that it bridges the categories of clean and unclean.
Our discussion of Leviticus is especially important for us today. Our Archbishop, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan delivered a message to all the Catholic faithful of NY–his letter was to be read aloud at all Sunday Masses. It is about the contraception coverage required by the US Dept. of Health and Human services. The pretense of such free coverage for, say, abortion-inducing drugs that would be available free to minors and without parental consent is that it amounts to preventive medical care. That children in the womb, conceived under whatever circumstances, are to be considered as maladies to be prevented in the same way as cancer is abominable. Additionally, that Catholic employers (e.g., schools) would be forced to buy health care plans that would provide this coverage is a direct attack on religious liberty–that is, that very religious liberty that was at the heart of the founding of our nation.
In effect, in the ostensible desire to provide every opportunity for healing, our President’s administration is declaring the Catholic faith “unclean.”
Now, Christ came to heal all divisions, he came to draw all men to himself. And as we hear in the Gospel today, he “does will” that we be made clean, and accomplishes this act of healing restoration. He stretches forth his hand and he both heals and unifies.
But notice the consequences. Christ’s work is such that he is driven outside of the city. Christ himself becomes taboo for the world in order to save it. To use this week’s Pauline language, in giving glory to God through his human existence, Jesus sought “the benefit of the many” on the Cross, as he died outside the city walls. This means that, if we are truly to receive the healing ministry of Christ, we must be willing to follow him… even if it means becoming society’s lepers; for this will be an act of the greatest witness to God’s unavoidable presence.
Today the Obama administration has offered what it has styled as an “accommodation” for religious institutions in the dispute over the HHS mandate for coverage (without cost sharing) of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services. Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things.
This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy. It is certainly no compromise. The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust. Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.
It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not “paying” for this aspect of the insurance coverage. For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers. More importantly, abortion-drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives are a necessary feature of the policy purchased by the religious institution or believing individual. They will only be made available to those who are insured under such policy, by virtue of the terms of the policy.
It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers.
The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept as assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.
Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty. The administration still fails to understand that institutions that employ and serve others of different or no faith are still engaged in a religious mission and, as such, enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.
President, The Catholic University of America
Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
O. Carter Snead
Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
St. Catherine ecstatically experienced the Passion of our Lord. The deep contemplation of Christ’s Passion was so impressed upon our soul that her body likewise was shaped by the Cross–St. Catherine receiving the stigmata.
Another example of the way in which the Paschal Mystery of the Incarnate Word was so impressed upon her is her “Canticle of the Passion.” In this antiphonal song, a mesmerizing array of biblical passages from the Psalms, Lamentations, the Gospels (and elsewhere) is composed into one song of Christ’s victorious work of love.
Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on St. Catherine, and below is her canticle, copied from this post by Bro. Peter Martyr, OP of our studium in DC. With Our Lady’s Presentation of the Child in the Temple the other day, the Light of Christmas illumines the Cross of the Passion: Simeon’s eyes see the salvation who is the Light of the Nations, and he declares that a sword shall pierce the Mother’s heart (Lk 2.22-35). With Lent but a few weeks away, St. Catherine’s Canticle of the Passion is a beautiful and hope-filled meditation:
My friends and loved ones * draw near to me and stand aloof
I am shut up and I cannot come forth * mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction
and my sweat became like drops of blood * falling down on the ground
For dogs have compassed me * the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me
I gave my back to the smiters * and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair
I hid not my face from shame * and from those who spit on me
I am feeble and sore broken * I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart
The soldiers platted a crown of thorns * and put it on my head
They pierced my hands and my feet * I may tell all my bones
They gave me poison to eat * and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink
All they that see me laugh me to scorn * they shoot out the lip, they shake the head
They look and stare upon me * they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture
into your hands I command my spirit * redeem me, Lord, God of truth.
Remember your servant, O Lord. * when you come into your kingdom
Jesus cried with a loud voice * yielded up the ghost
The Mercy of the Lord * I will sing for ever
Surely he hath borne our griefs * and carried our sorrows
He was wounded for our transgressions * he was bruised for our iniquities
All we like sheep gave gone astray * we have turned every one to his own way
And the Lord hath laid on him * the iniquities of us all
Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord? * arise, and do not cast us off for ever
Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord? * arise, and do not cast us off for ever
Behold, God is my Savior * I will trust, and not be afraid
We ask you, come to help your servants * whom you have redeemed by your perilous blood.
V. Have mercy on us, O benign Jesus.
R. Who in Thy clemency didst suffer for us.
Look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, on this Thy family for which Our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered into the hands of the wicked, and suffer the torments of the Cross.
A number of people have been interested to hear more about the mandate excluding a conscience clause for health care provided by religious institutions.
Last week’s Sunday lessons presented Jesus in the synagogue healing a possessed man. To be possessed is to have one’s freedom utterly constricted; it is to be bound by an oppressive force. Despite Our Lord’s miraculous exorcism, the people are astonished more so by the authority with which such a one teaches — no mere scribe, he is the Word of God. He is the one about whom Moses prophesied: God will raise up (read: resurrect) one from amongst our kinsmen, one like Moses, to whom the people would listen. The way in which we hear the authoritative voice of the Good Shepherd — who has been resurrected — is by hearing those to whom he has imparted his authority in a particular way. “Authority” literally (in Greek) means out of one’s being; God alone is the perfect, self-subsistent authority. But by virtue of His Son’s incarnate mission, he is able to impart a particular, ministerial share in his authority to continue audibly and visibly after his resurrection and until he comes again. This he does through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, most particularly according to the rank of bishop. When bishops speak in unison, there is an especially charismatic resonance of the Good Shepherd’s teaching voice — not simply an opinion or commentary, but the Word of Life Himself.
Here is a link to a site where the author, Thomas Peters, collects all the bishops who have formally spoken about the HHS mandate. He has 126 letters. Many of them were required to be read at all Sunday Masses. That is really astounding.