Friday, November 21, 2008

To Become Mothers of Christ

Perhaps my favorite homily by Augustine on the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and my sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her—did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father's will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ's disciple than to have been his mother[!], and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power, and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God's word and kept it, so she is blessed [undeniably so]. She kept God's truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary's mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent—the most eminent—member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine—our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ?[you most certainly can!] He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare [!!!Don't we shy away from this idea?] to call you his mothers? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? "Of Mother Church," I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become mothers of Christ.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revolutionary Pope

Peter Seewald is a German journalist who had wandered far from his home in the Catholic Church. Then, in he sat down for an interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger, the seemingly polarizing head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher. Peter Seewald returned to the practice of his Catholic faith. Since then he has remained a friend with, now Pope Benedict.

He has a new book out Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait. Here is a sample of the preface:
The man from Bavaria--contrary to all the projections dumped onto his shoulders--is a revolutionary of the Christian type. Seeking out what was lost and saving it is the constant element in his life. An inconvenient man who can seize on the spirit of the times, who warns people against the aberrations of modern life. Anyone who really wants change, he cries out, needs a change in his consciousness and his personal behavior--anything else is insufficient. Now, as Benedict XVI, the most powerful German at the beginning of the new millennium may offer a new opportunity for Europe and, especially, for his homeland. And Peter's successor has given his own people an exciting motto for this: "We are not working to defend a position of power", he says. "In truth we are working so that the streets of the world may be open for Christ."
h/t: Carl Olson

Sounds like a good gift idea for the Papist in your family...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marvel at God's wonders in the Hail Mary

Has anyone ever bugged you about praying the Rosary? Have you ever bugged someone else about praying the Rosary? Need a new perception on Mary? I came across an article today by Dr. Edward Sri, professor at the Augustine Institute. Here is a snippet:

Put yourself in Gabriel's shoes:

...The first line -- "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" -- is drawn right from the angel Gabriel's words to Our Lady in the Annunciation scene (Lk. 1:28). To more fully appreciate the meaning of this opening line in the Hail Mary, imagine what these words originally meant to the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel is an angel who existed long before Mary did. Gabriel has been around a lot longer than the nation of Israel or the entire human family. In fact, Gabriel was there when God first created the world. From the beginning of his existence, Gabriel has been worshiping, adoring, and loving the infinite, almighty God, the Creator: the Blessed Trinity.

And now, this great angel is sent to a little planet in the universe called earth . . . to a small, insignificant village called Nazareth . . . to a tiny little creature, a woman named Mary -- in order to announce to her that the all-holy, all-powerful God he has been worshipping from the beginning of his existence is about to become a little baby in her womb. In awe over that profound mystery of his eternal God becoming a little embryo in Mary's womb, Gabriel greets Mary saying, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk. 1:28). Indeed, the Lord has not been with anyone like He is about to be with Mary. In joyful wonder, Gabriel recognizes this, and his words give praise to God for becoming man in her.

Do read it.

Are we being used or are we salt?

Fr. Neuhaus, of First Things, has a great article on their blog:
Christianity entered history as a revolutionary philosophy, a radically different understanding of cosmic reality, of the dignity of the human person, and a new proposal of nothing less than the story of the world centered in the life, death, resurrection, and promised coming again of the one who is both true God and true man, Jesus Christ. It is a very considerable demotion for Christianity to be treated as a useful appendage to the political competitions of the earthly city that is the Babylon of our exile. St. Augustine’s City of God promised ever so much more than that.
Read it all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

U.S. Bishops to President-Elect

For those of you with a real life, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have been at their semiannual meeting in Baltimore this week. Rocco reports a full text of the Bishops' statement to President Elect-Obama. I'm quite pleased, even if no one consulted me...[I'm in blue for our Lady.]
STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1) [Psalm 127 is one of my favorites, we are all under God's providence, no matter how great our earthly might.]
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country [we are not some crack-pot offshoot, we have been here and we are a valid part of society], we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods [earlier, Cardinal George said, "common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good."]
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself. [This is not a religious issue, but one of law, one of truth. Also this is not an issue for the art of politics and compromise.]
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted. [I am hoping that we are seeing a consolidation of the Bishops in their public address on abortion. This could be great fruit of this year.]
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. [That is precisely where President-elect Obama and his transition team are aiming: establishing ideological victories on what was a practical referendum.] Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. [This cannot be emphasized enough, though this letter isn't the place. Rights, order, and the common good are only assured when life is an absolute. The moment life becomes contingent on surroundings, functionality, or some other factor, then no right is assured. That is why we must persuade and win hearts.] Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. [We must take seriously our divine mandate of prayer for all leaders- remember, the Empire that Paul prays for will be the one who kills him. And if FOCA passes, Matthew 5:44: "Pray for those who persecute you."] Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Student at a Catholic School wonders

This editorial comes from St. Mary's College in California, where a student wonders: Are we Catholic? Sounds like a good question for each one of us to ask ourselves.

The student holds nothing back: "the late Pope John Paul II, who stated: "Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected. Any official action or commitment of the University is to be in accord with its Catholic identity." Does Saint Mary's uphold this creed? I answer that question simply and sadly: no."

By their fruit you shall know them...

Rally turns violent

-from CBS 2 in Palm Springs, we hear that opposition to the civil decision regarding marriage in California is getting hostile. It seems to me that the fruit is indicative of the seed that was sown:
A gay rights rally at the Palm Springs City Hall turned violent Friday night when a woman showed up carrying a styrofoam cross. A scuffle took place and an angry crowd even turned on our KPSP Local 2 crew.

"They began grabbing me. It was like a dog pack," Phyllis Burgess, a Prop 8 supporter, said.

All caught on tape, the video shows one protester grabbing the styrofoam cross from Burgess' hands. Another protesters is shown stomping on it. Burgess says she was struck on the head and spit on.

"The crowd was very angry that someone was here that they felt didn't belong here," Burgess said. "But I've lived in this city for 30 years."

"I don't want to keep it peaceful anymore," one protester yelled. "We should fight! We should fight!" he shouted.

During a live interview with KPSP Local 2, protesters encircled Burgess. Yelling expletives and hateful slurs, the crowd turned their anger on our news crew. Many were angry that the woman was given a chance to express her opinions.

Out of hundreds at the rally, only dozens were a part of the chaos. "The majority of the crowd didn't (get involved)," said Stan Janas, a gay rights supporter. "We stayed with our own agenda."
Thanks to Saint Louis Catholic.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank Your Bishop and One Other

In the days after this election, there has been some analyses stating that Bishops who spoke out against abortion were ineffective. The implied conclusion is that the Bishops should not speak out against abortion.

Hogwash.

Whatever happened, they were forming consciences. So please take some time in the next weeks to write a "snail-mail" note of thanks to your local bishop who spoke out and at least one other. Make it a spiritual bouquet or some other spiritual offering if you wish, but let him know of your gratitude. Bishops lives are filled with many crosses, maybe you can be Veronica or the Cyrene.

To find other bishops to support, check this link from Inside Catholic. If you need "snail mail" addresses, please check the various diocesan websites.

If "snail mail" is too intimidating, feel free to find an email address!