Lourdes

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Posted on February 15, 2009. Filed under: Lourdes, Our Lady of Lourdes |

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The Smile of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes March 3, 1858

Posted on February 14, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, Immaculate Conception, Jesus, Lourdes, Mary, Pope Benedict XVI, Virgin Mary |

LOURDES, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15:  Pope Benedict...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

excerpt from Le sourire de la Vierge – Vultus Christi

from the Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Esplanade in front of the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Rosaire, Lourdes
Monday, 15 September 2008

Seeking the Smile of the Virgin Mary
The psalmist, seeing from afar this maternal bond which unites the Mother of Christ with the people of faith, prophesies regarding the Virgin Mary that “the richest of the people … will seek your smile” (Ps 44:13). In this way, prompted by the inspired word of Scripture, Christians have always sought the smile of Our Lady, this smile which medieval artists were able to represent with such marvellous skill and to show to advantage. This smile of Mary is for all; but it is directed quite particularly to those who suffer, so that they can find comfort and solace therein. To seek Mary’s smile is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality, but rather the proper expression of the living and profoundly human relationship which binds us to her whom Christ gave us as our Mother.

Contemplating the Smile of the Virgin
To wish to contemplate this smile of the Virgin, does not mean letting oneself be led by an uncontrolled imagination. Scripture itself discloses it to us through the lips of Mary when she sings the Magnificat: “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46-47). When the Virgin Mary gives thanks to the Lord, she calls us to witness. Mary shares, as if by anticipation, with us, her future children, the joy that dwells in her heart, so that it can become ours. Every time we recite the Magnificat, we become witnesses of her smile.

Here in Lourdes, in the course of the apparition of Wednesday 3 March 1858, Bernadette contemplated this smile of Mary in a most particular way. It was the first response that the Beautiful Lady gave to the young visionary who wanted to know who she was. Before introducing herself, some days later, as “the Immaculate Conception”, Mary first taught Bernadette to know her smile, this being the most appropriate point of entry into the revelation of her mystery.

Turn Towards Mary
In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures, looking down on us, is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person. This smile, a true reflection of God’s tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope. Unfortunately we know only too well: the endurance of suffering can upset life’s most stable equilibrium; it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life. There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace. When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence: we seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but also the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith. Who could be more intimate to us than Christ and his holy Mother, the Immaculate One? More than any others, they are capable of understanding us and grasping how hard we have to fight against evil and suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews says of Christ that he “is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses; for in every respect he has been tempted as we are” (cf. Heb 4:15). I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness and for life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.

Gaze Frequently Into the Eyes of the Virgin Mary
How true was the insight of that great French spiritual writer, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, who in L’ âme de tout apostolat, proposed to the devout Christian to gaze frequently “into the eyes of the Virgin Mary”! Yes, to seek the smile of the Virgin Mary is not a pious infantilism, it is the aspiration, as Psalm 44 says, of those who are “the richest of the people” (verse 13). “The richest”, that is to say, in the order of faith, those who have attained the highest degree of spiritual maturity and know precisely how to acknowledge their weakness and their poverty before God. In the very simple manifestation of tenderness that we call a smile, we grasp that our sole wealth is the love God bears us, which passes through the heart of her who became our Mother. To seek this smile, is first of all to have grasped the gratuitousness of love; it is also to be able to elicit this smile through our efforts to live according to the word of her Beloved Son, just as a child seeks to elicit its mother’s smile by doing what pleases her. And we know what pleases Mary, thanks to the words she spoke to the servants at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (cf. Jn 2:5).

Maria, Fons Amoris
Mary’s smile is a spring of living water. “He who believes in me”, says Jesus, “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). Mary is the one who believed and, from her womb, rivers of living water have flowed forth to irrigate human history. The spring that Mary pointed out to Bernadette here in Lourdes is the humble sign of this spiritual reality. From her believing heart, from her maternal heart, flows living water which purifies and heals. By immersing themselves in the baths at Lourdes, so many people have discovered and experienced the gentle maternal love of the Virgin Mary, becoming attached to her in order to bind themselves more closely to the Lord! In the liturgical sequence of this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary is honoured with the title of Fons amoris, “fount of love”. From Mary’s heart, there springs up a gratuitous love which calls forth a response of filial love, called to ever greater refinement. Like every mother, and better than every mother, Mary is the teacher of love. That is why so many sick people come here to Lourdes, to quench their thirst at the “spring of love” and to let themselves be led to the sole source of salvation, her son Jesus the Saviour.
*****
Interesting to me that my birthday is 3 March. Until blogging this post I never realized that the smile of the Immaculate that St. Bernadette received was on the 3rd of March. I also know the Rosary Novena of Our Lady of Pompeii has the date of 3 March.

I am very grateful for the love of the Immaculata, Mother of the Church and our Mother.
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Your Prayer Petitions for the Grotto at Lourdes –

Posted on February 12, 2009. Filed under: Lourdes, Our Lady of Lourdes, Prayer |

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The Our Father by Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Dominican, Father, Lourdes, Our Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Prayer, Rosary |

Vol 62 No 1 – Jan – Feb ’09
The Our Father, Part V
Vol 61 No 6 – Nov.-Dec. ’08
The Our Father, Part IV
Vol 61 No 5 – Sep.-Oct. ’08
The our Father, Part III

Vol 61 No 4 – July- Aug. ’08
The Our Father, Part II
Vol 61 No 3 – May-June ’08

The OUR FATHER PART I

The OUR FATHERBy Father Reginald Martin, O.P.
The Perfect Prayer
In his account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, St. Matthew records the fifty-four words that we call either “The Our Father” or “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9-13). Composed as it is of the Savior’s own words, this prayer demands our attention, and sets the example for all other prayer.
St. Thomas Aquinas writes at some length on prayer in the Summa Theologica. When he considers the Lord’s Prayer, he quotes St. Augustine, who remarks, “if we pray rightly and fittingly, we can say nothing else but what is contained in this prayer of Our Lord” (II-II, 83.9). St. Thomas teaches that our prayer can only express a desire for something good, and since the Our Father consists of Jesus’ own words, we have Our Savior’s own guarantee that we are seeking everything we may properly desire when we offer this prayer.
But St. Thomas says we should also look at the way the Our Father is structured. The order of the petitions gives us the order in which we ought to desire the good things that God offers us. The Lord’s Prayer, thus, not only teaches us what to pray for, but teaches us the way we ought to ask for the things we desire. Before we consider the words of The Our Father in some depth, let us first consider some general observations on prayer.
The Ends and Means of Prayer
When we pray we do not ask God to bend His will so that it corresponds to ours. Rather, we ask for a clearer understanding of His love, which gives us the confidence to approach Him in prayer, and which reveals His will for us. The first thing we must desire is God, so the Our Father begins by praising God’s glory, and then asks that we may share it. As the prayer continues, we ask God to give us what we need to help us come to His everlasting life, and we ask Him to remove the obstacles that prevent us from devoting ourselves whole-heartedly to His will.
The Five Conditions of Prayer: Confidence
Scripture is filled with admonitions that encourage us to approach God with trust. “Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16), “let him ask in faith, with no doubting” (James 1:6), and when we say the words of the Our Father during the Mass, the celebrant invites us to “pray with confidence.”
The words of the Our Father are Jesus’ own words, and we pray them because they are the words Jesus commanded us to use. Simply knowing that we are following Jesus’ instructions should provide assurance that God will hear us. But the privilege of using Jesus’ own words is an additional sign of His friendship. One of the Church’s early theologians, St. Cyprian, remarked, “to plead with the Lord in His own words betokens the prayer of an intimate and devoted friend.”
Rectitude and Order
St. John Damascene, another of the Church’s early theologians, taught, “to pray is to ask fitting things of God.” This may seem obvious, but we need only consider some of our requests to realize that praying rightly is a more challenging task than it appears. St. Paul noted the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s assistance in our prayers, “for we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and St. James reminds us that we often pray for what we want, not necessarily what we need. “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2, 3).
To use Our Savior’s words is to pray with the confidence that we are asking God for the gifts proper to His children. And because the Lord’s Prayer asks first for God’s will to be done, and only then for what will satisfy our physical needs, we have the additional confidence that we are praying in the manner Jesus desires when he commands, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Devotion
The dictionary defines devotion as “religious ardor or zeal; ardent attachment or affection.” This definition reminds us that our prayer should be characterized by depth rather than length. Jesus introduces the Lord’s Prayer by warning His disciples not to “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). St. Augustine repeats this admonition, “Beware of praying with many words: it is fervent attention that secures a hearing.”
St. John Chrysostom makes a similar point. He notes that Scripture commands us to “be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:13), and makes a helpful distinction between the length of our prayer and the devotion with which we should pray.
He seems to me to command… that neither should we make our prayers long; long, I mean, not in time, but in the number and length of the things mentioned…perseverance…in the same requests is our duty.
St. Thomas asserts that devotion arises from charity, which is our friendship for God. God’s love enables us to love Him in return, and then to love creation as God loves it. In the Lord’s Prayer we express our love for God by calling Him “Father;” at the same time, we express our love for God’s creation by asking Him to “forgive our trespasses,” i.e., the offenses we have committed against others by not loving them as we should.
Humility
Jesus contrasted the example of the Pharisee’s prayer to that of a sinner, and concluded his parable with the words, “every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). The sinner in this story won Jesus’ praise for the simplicity of his prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” In the Lord’s Prayer we likewise express our utter dependence on God’s mercy, and we do so in the simplest possible terms.
The Benefits of Prayer: Remedy for Evil
The Scripture contains many examples of prayer’s ability to cleanse sinners from the punishment due their sinful actions. Perhaps the most compelling of these examples is that of the so-called “good” thief, who begs Jesus for mercy, and whom Jesus assures that he will share His life in heaven. But prayer is also a protection against falling into sin, as St. James counsels, when he writes, “Is any one of you in trouble, let him pray” (James 5:13).
The Object we Desire
The gospel is filled with assurances that our prayers will be answered. Jesus tells his disciples, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and you will” (Mark 11:24). Experience, however, teaches that God does not always give us what we ask for. The reason, St. Thomas suggests, is that we do not ask for what is useful to our salvation, and St. Augustine reminds us that God may not grant a request “so as to bestow something preferable.”
Friendship with God
The virtue of justice is the habit of giving each person what he deserves. Because God is infinitely greater than we are, we may not think of justice in our dealings with God. However, our acts of worship are nothing more than God deserves. Prayer is an expression of our willingness to offer God an acceptable gift; at the same time, prayer expresses our confidence, trust, and love. Therefore, prayer enables us to grow in the affection we show God, and equips us better to receive God’s love in return.
Our Father
To call God “Father,” as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, expresses a relation between God and us. St. Augustine wrote, “…by that appellation…love is stirred up – for what ought to be dearer to sons than a father?”
Moreover, we call God Father because He created us – and created us in a special way: in His image and likeness. This is a privilege not granted the rest of creation, and it admits us to an intimacy with God that He did not give His other creatures. We also call God “Father” because – like a human parent – He guides our actions. The rest of creation follows God’s will without choice or thought; God allows us to choose to serve Him, in freedom.
Finally, we call God “Father” because He has made us His children. This may seem no more than common sense, but we must consider what it means to be God’s child. A child is not simply a small person; as a legal entity, a child enjoys certain rights, including the right of inheritance. To call God “Father” acknowledges the greatness of God’s love for us, and expresses the confidence that we are legitimate heirs to His kingdom, a privilege not granted to slaves, clients, or hired hands.
Our Father
Every word of our prayer is important, and St. John Chrysostom reminds us that “by saying not ‘my Father’, which art in heaven, but ‘our Father’,” the Lord’s Prayer creates a bond among God’s children, in which an individual “nowhere [looks] to his own, but everywhere to his neighbor’s good.” This point must not be underestimated: to offer the Lord’s Prayer worthily we implicitly acknowledge both an equality among all people, and a willingness to be reconciled to our neighbor – even our enemies. Chrysostom writes,
…by this He at once takes away hatred, and quells pride, and casts out envy, and brings in the mother of all good things, even charity, and exterminates the inequality of human things, and show how far the equality reaches between the king and the poor man…in those things which are greatest and most indispensable we are all of us fellows…For to all hath He given one nobility, having vouchsafed to be called the Father of all alike.
We do not know how the words of the Lord’s Prayer struck those who heard Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, but we may imagine how startling the saints’ reflections on Our Lord’s words must have sounded to their contemporaries. St. Augustine warns,
Here… is an admonition to the rich and those of noble birth…when they have become Christians they should not comport themselves proudly towards the poor…since together with them they call God “Our Father,” – an expression which they cannot truly and piously use, unless they recognize that they themselves are brethren.
Our world no longer admits the rigid class distinctions that characterized life in Augustine’s or Chrysostom’s day, but we do not have to look far to discern ethnic tensions in our society, or very real signs of inequality and hostility among groups of individuals. St. Augustine reminds us that each of us stands equally poor and unworthy before God whom we call Our Father – “a relationship which can be brought about by no expenditure of ours, but solely by God’s goodwill.” Our radical equality before God challenges us to look beyond the differences that divide us, and to embrace one another in the common poverty of spirit that unites us before the immensity of God.
Our Rights and Obligations
God gives us the privilege of addressing Him as “Father,” a title that expresses His concern, compassion, and love for us. We may profitably inquire what God asks in return from the individuals He has thus blessed.
A Fourfold Debt: Honor
We are commanded to honor our human parents, and we must show our Father in heaven the same honor. This means giving God the praise due Him, and by living as beings created in His likeness. Our growth in virtue, our practice of the works of mercy, our growing closer to God in prayer are the common means by which we pay Our Father this honor He deserves.
Imitation and Obedience
As children we were all taught, “beauty is as beauty does.” If we are created in God’s image, we not only look like God, we ought to act as He does. St. Paul urges the Ephesians, “be ye imitators of God as most dear children and walk in love” (Eph 5: 1).
Here we must remember that imitating God is an active process. Mercy is not simply sorrow for another, but sorrow coupled with some action to relieve another’s distress. God showed us the greatest mercy by taking on our human nature; we must employ this same human nature to establish – to whatever extent we can – God’s kingdom on earth. We achieve this goal as Jesus did, by being made, as Jesus was, “obedient to the Father unto death” (Phil. 2:8).
Patience
“My son, reject not the correction of the Lord…for whom the Lord loves, He chastens” (Prov. 3:11). God’s plans are often obscure, and we frequently chafe under the delay that accompanies God’s answer to our prayers. The final way we manifest the intimacy of our relation with God is to abandon our own notion of what we need and when we should expect it. To wait is never easy; to wait in hope is to experience complete trust in God’s Providential love.
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The Our Father by Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Dominican, Father, Lourdes, Our Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Prayer, Rosary |

Vol 62 No 1 – Jan – Feb ’09
The Our Father, Part V
Vol 61 No 6 – Nov.-Dec. ’08
The Our Father, Part IV
Vol 61 No 5 – Sep.-Oct. ’08
The our Father, Part III

Vol 61 No 4 – July- Aug. ’08
The Our Father, Part II
Vol 61 No 3 – May-June ’08

The OUR FATHER PART I

The OUR FATHERBy Father Reginald Martin, O.P.
The Perfect Prayer
In his account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, St. Matthew records the fifty-four words that we call either “The Our Father” or “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9-13). Composed as it is of the Savior’s own words, this prayer demands our attention, and sets the example for all other prayer.
St. Thomas Aquinas writes at some length on prayer in the Summa Theologica. When he considers the Lord’s Prayer, he quotes St. Augustine, who remarks, “if we pray rightly and fittingly, we can say nothing else but what is contained in this prayer of Our Lord” (II-II, 83.9). St. Thomas teaches that our prayer can only express a desire for something good, and since the Our Father consists of Jesus’ own words, we have Our Savior’s own guarantee that we are seeking everything we may properly desire when we offer this prayer.
But St. Thomas says we should also look at the way the Our Father is structured. The order of the petitions gives us the order in which we ought to desire the good things that God offers us. The Lord’s Prayer, thus, not only teaches us what to pray for, but teaches us the way we ought to ask for the things we desire. Before we consider the words of The Our Father in some depth, let us first consider some general observations on prayer.
The Ends and Means of Prayer
When we pray we do not ask God to bend His will so that it corresponds to ours. Rather, we ask for a clearer understanding of His love, which gives us the confidence to approach Him in prayer, and which reveals His will for us. The first thing we must desire is God, so the Our Father begins by praising God’s glory, and then asks that we may share it. As the prayer continues, we ask God to give us what we need to help us come to His everlasting life, and we ask Him to remove the obstacles that prevent us from devoting ourselves whole-heartedly to His will.
The Five Conditions of Prayer: Confidence
Scripture is filled with admonitions that encourage us to approach God with trust. “Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16), “let him ask in faith, with no doubting” (James 1:6), and when we say the words of the Our Father during the Mass, the celebrant invites us to “pray with confidence.”
The words of the Our Father are Jesus’ own words, and we pray them because they are the words Jesus commanded us to use. Simply knowing that we are following Jesus’ instructions should provide assurance that God will hear us. But the privilege of using Jesus’ own words is an additional sign of His friendship. One of the Church’s early theologians, St. Cyprian, remarked, “to plead with the Lord in His own words betokens the prayer of an intimate and devoted friend.”
Rectitude and Order
St. John Damascene, another of the Church’s early theologians, taught, “to pray is to ask fitting things of God.” This may seem obvious, but we need only consider some of our requests to realize that praying rightly is a more challenging task than it appears. St. Paul noted the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s assistance in our prayers, “for we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and St. James reminds us that we often pray for what we want, not necessarily what we need. “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2, 3).
To use Our Savior’s words is to pray with the confidence that we are asking God for the gifts proper to His children. And because the Lord’s Prayer asks first for God’s will to be done, and only then for what will satisfy our physical needs, we have the additional confidence that we are praying in the manner Jesus desires when he commands, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Devotion
The dictionary defines devotion as “religious ardor or zeal; ardent attachment or affection.” This definition reminds us that our prayer should be characterized by depth rather than length. Jesus introduces the Lord’s Prayer by warning His disciples not to “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). St. Augustine repeats this admonition, “Beware of praying with many words: it is fervent attention that secures a hearing.”
St. John Chrysostom makes a similar point. He notes that Scripture commands us to “be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:13), and makes a helpful distinction between the length of our prayer and the devotion with which we should pray.
He seems to me to command… that neither should we make our prayers long; long, I mean, not in time, but in the number and length of the things mentioned…perseverance…in the same requests is our duty.
St. Thomas asserts that devotion arises from charity, which is our friendship for God. God’s love enables us to love Him in return, and then to love creation as God loves it. In the Lord’s Prayer we express our love for God by calling Him “Father;” at the same time, we express our love for God’s creation by asking Him to “forgive our trespasses,” i.e., the offenses we have committed against others by not loving them as we should.
Humility
Jesus contrasted the example of the Pharisee’s prayer to that of a sinner, and concluded his parable with the words, “every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). The sinner in this story won Jesus’ praise for the simplicity of his prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” In the Lord’s Prayer we likewise express our utter dependence on God’s mercy, and we do so in the simplest possible terms.
The Benefits of Prayer: Remedy for Evil
The Scripture contains many examples of prayer’s ability to cleanse sinners from the punishment due their sinful actions. Perhaps the most compelling of these examples is that of the so-called “good” thief, who begs Jesus for mercy, and whom Jesus assures that he will share His life in heaven. But prayer is also a protection against falling into sin, as St. James counsels, when he writes, “Is any one of you in trouble, let him pray” (James 5:13).
The Object we Desire
The gospel is filled with assurances that our prayers will be answered. Jesus tells his disciples, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and you will” (Mark 11:24). Experience, however, teaches that God does not always give us what we ask for. The reason, St. Thomas suggests, is that we do not ask for what is useful to our salvation, and St. Augustine reminds us that God may not grant a request “so as to bestow something preferable.”
Friendship with God
The virtue of justice is the habit of giving each person what he deserves. Because God is infinitely greater than we are, we may not think of justice in our dealings with God. However, our acts of worship are nothing more than God deserves. Prayer is an expression of our willingness to offer God an acceptable gift; at the same time, prayer expresses our confidence, trust, and love. Therefore, prayer enables us to grow in the affection we show God, and equips us better to receive God’s love in return.
Our Father
To call God “Father,” as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, expresses a relation between God and us. St. Augustine wrote, “…by that appellation…love is stirred up – for what ought to be dearer to sons than a father?”
Moreover, we call God Father because He created us – and created us in a special way: in His image and likeness. This is a privilege not granted the rest of creation, and it admits us to an intimacy with God that He did not give His other creatures. We also call God “Father” because – like a human parent – He guides our actions. The rest of creation follows God’s will without choice or thought; God allows us to choose to serve Him, in freedom.
Finally, we call God “Father” because He has made us His children. This may seem no more than common sense, but we must consider what it means to be God’s child. A child is not simply a small person; as a legal entity, a child enjoys certain rights, including the right of inheritance. To call God “Father” acknowledges the greatness of God’s love for us, and expresses the confidence that we are legitimate heirs to His kingdom, a privilege not granted to slaves, clients, or hired hands.
Our Father
Every word of our prayer is important, and St. John Chrysostom reminds us that “by saying not ‘my Father’, which art in heaven, but ‘our Father’,” the Lord’s Prayer creates a bond among God’s children, in which an individual “nowhere [looks] to his own, but everywhere to his neighbor’s good.” This point must not be underestimated: to offer the Lord’s Prayer worthily we implicitly acknowledge both an equality among all people, and a willingness to be reconciled to our neighbor – even our enemies. Chrysostom writes,
…by this He at once takes away hatred, and quells pride, and casts out envy, and brings in the mother of all good things, even charity, and exterminates the inequality of human things, and show how far the equality reaches between the king and the poor man…in those things which are greatest and most indispensable we are all of us fellows…For to all hath He given one nobility, having vouchsafed to be called the Father of all alike.
We do not know how the words of the Lord’s Prayer struck those who heard Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, but we may imagine how startling the saints’ reflections on Our Lord’s words must have sounded to their contemporaries. St. Augustine warns,
Here… is an admonition to the rich and those of noble birth…when they have become Christians they should not comport themselves proudly towards the poor…since together with them they call God “Our Father,” – an expression which they cannot truly and piously use, unless they recognize that they themselves are brethren.
Our world no longer admits the rigid class distinctions that characterized life in Augustine’s or Chrysostom’s day, but we do not have to look far to discern ethnic tensions in our society, or very real signs of inequality and hostility among groups of individuals. St. Augustine reminds us that each of us stands equally poor and unworthy before God whom we call Our Father – “a relationship which can be brought about by no expenditure of ours, but solely by God’s goodwill.” Our radical equality before God challenges us to look beyond the differences that divide us, and to embrace one another in the common poverty of spirit that unites us before the immensity of God.
Our Rights and Obligations
God gives us the privilege of addressing Him as “Father,” a title that expresses His concern, compassion, and love for us. We may profitably inquire what God asks in return from the individuals He has thus blessed.
A Fourfold Debt: Honor
We are commanded to honor our human parents, and we must show our Father in heaven the same honor. This means giving God the praise due Him, and by living as beings created in His likeness. Our growth in virtue, our practice of the works of mercy, our growing closer to God in prayer are the common means by which we pay Our Father this honor He deserves.
Imitation and Obedience
As children we were all taught, “beauty is as beauty does.” If we are created in God’s image, we not only look like God, we ought to act as He does. St. Paul urges the Ephesians, “be ye imitators of God as most dear children and walk in love” (Eph 5: 1).
Here we must remember that imitating God is an active process. Mercy is not simply sorrow for another, but sorrow coupled with some action to relieve another’s distress. God showed us the greatest mercy by taking on our human nature; we must employ this same human nature to establish – to whatever extent we can – God’s kingdom on earth. We achieve this goal as Jesus did, by being made, as Jesus was, “obedient to the Father unto death” (Phil. 2:8).
Patience
“My son, reject not the correction of the Lord…for whom the Lord loves, He chastens” (Prov. 3:11). God’s plans are often obscure, and we frequently chafe under the delay that accompanies God’s answer to our prayers. The final way we manifest the intimacy of our relation with God is to abandon our own notion of what we need and when we should expect it. To wait is never easy; to wait in hope is to experience complete trust in God’s Providential love.
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Reading today

Posted on February 10, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Latin Mass, Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI. Prayer, Rosary, Sacred Heart |

UK – alarming! Fr Z.

According to the testimony of Bernadette Soubi...Image via Wikipedia

Creative Minority Report: This Says It All

Capturing the Imagination?

Pledge prayers by poll for the intentions of the Holy Father (closes 11 February 2009)

Ideas for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Guide for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart
An electronic reproduction of the Guide for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus compiled from various sources by the Very Rev. Joseph Kreuter, OSB. Nihil Obstat: Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D., Censor Librorum. Imprimatur + Stephen J. Donahue, S.T.D., Administrator of New York; 1939. According to the United States Copyright Office the copyright has expired on this book. May the Sacred Heart draw many souls here to read, contemplate and be enkindled. Soli+Deo!

Come and See – February 20-22, 2009 Domincan Vocations for Men

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