Archive for September, 2010

May This Bring A Smile Upon Your Face…

Posted: September 30, 2010 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

For those who have been following my blog for a while now, you’d know that I had mentioned a few posts back that I was planning to get a bigger Cross Of The Renewal.  One because I have a rather large frame and secondly with good intentions I mentioned in that post.

Well either I clicked on the wrong item or the Holy Spirit decided to come in a BIG WAY… *grins*

[Audio http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6547844/Veni.mp3%5D

LATIN
Veni, creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti pectora.

English

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav’nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Scriptural Basis of the Prayer

The prayer we call the “Hail Mary” has evolved over time. The first two sentences (beginning with theangel’s greeting and closing with Elizabeth’s words,“blessed is the fruit of thy womb”) are taken directly from the Scripture (Lk. 1:28). The name of Jesus, to identify Mary’s Son, was added in the 13th Century, and the closing petitions, in which we acknowledge Mary as the Mother of God, and beg her prayers, were added in the 16th Century.

A Part of Early Public Worship

The opening words of the Hail Mary were part ofthe Church’s public worship by the 7th Century, and St. Gregory the Great included them as the Offertory verse for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. However, these words did not assume the form of a separate prayer until several centuries later, probably an outgrowth of monastic spirituality. By the end of the 12th Century,however, the bishop of Paris ordered his clergy to make certain the faithful were as well acquainted with the“Salutation of the Blessed Virgin” as they were with the words of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

Evolution of the Prayer

Initially, the words “Hail Mary,” etc. retained their character as a greeting, so the words often accompanied a genuflection or bow to honor the Blessed Virgin. As these exercises took more formal shape, we can probably see a connection with the formof the Rosary that we know today. One 12th Century saint repeated the words 150 times each day, kneeling one hundred times, and prostrating for fifty. St. Louis of France (1226 – 1270) knelt, stood, and then knelt again as he said the prayer. His biographers state he repeated this action fifty times each night, in additionto his other prayers.

A Prayer of Penance

Because such activity can soon become tiring,the Hail Mary often assumed a penitential characterwhen monastic communities adopted the practice ofattaching physical action to the prayer. Nevertheless,the practice was apparently widespread, and those who embraced it felt it reflected, on earth, the ceaseless hymns of praise the saints and angels offer in heaven.

Development of the Present Prayer

The Hail Mary began to assume its present form in the 14th and 15th centuries, as individuals added some sort of petition to the angel’s words of greeting. Initially, the words of petition reflected the personal devotion of those who said the prayer, but a prayer for help at the time of death gradually became the norm. The form of today’s prayer can be found in breviaries used in religious communities as early as 1514.

The Council of Trent

The catechism of the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) embraced the “Hail Mary” as we know it, applauding it as the organic effort of the Church to complete what the Scripture initiated. Most rightly has the Church of God added to this thanksgiving, petition also and the invocation of the most holy Mother of God, thereby implying that we should piously and suppliantly have recourse to her in order that by her intercession she may reconcile God with us sinners and obtain for us the blessings we need both for this present life and for the life which has no end. After the Council, in 1568, the “Hail Mary” in its present form appeared in the Roman Breviary. (This information is summarized from The Catholic Encyclopedia.)

Angels and Men

Scripture records numerous instances of angelic visits, and the honor paid to angels by our ancestors in the faith. However, the angel’s greeting to Mary, “Hail, full of grace,” is unique, the very first instance of an angel showing reverence to a human being. To understand the magnitude of the angel’s paying homage to Mary, we must understand how far superior angels are to us.

The Nature of Angels

Angels are pure, spiritual beings. Because they have no material component, as we do, angels are not subject to the corruption and decay that will destroy our mortal frame. Furthermore, the angel’s intellectual powers surpass ours. The human mind learns by steps, proceeding from one truth to another, and often making mistakes in the process. Angels, by contrast, understand truth immediately and completely.

The Angels’ Closeness to God

Although equality with angels is promised God’s saints (S.T., Ia 62.5), this everlasting happiness is something we look forward to, yet our progress in grace is often impeded by our bodily senses. An angel’s immaterial nature is not subject to such distraction, so angels are able to love God without hindrance. Thus, Scripture speaks of angels’ standing before God and ministering to Him. Our human experience of sin reveals how far we are from God, at least occasionally.

Angels and Grace

Grace moves both men and angels to love God. However, because nothing stands between angels andtheir vision of God, the angels share God’s love more fully than we can hope to, in this life.

The Sole Exception

Because angels surpass mankind in dignity, grace and nearness to Our Creator, they are worthy of our honor. We depend upon angels to assist us, but we do not expect them to pay us tribute. In the Virgin Mary, however, the angels discovered a human being whose closeness to God was greater than theirs. Reasonably, then, the angel honored Mary by saying, “Hail, full of grace!” which expressed the angel’s respect and awe when faced with Mary’s excellence.

Mary, Full of Grace

God’s gift of grace enables us to do good and avoid evil. By sparing Mary the stain of Original Sin, God gave her a greater measure of grace than any saint other than Christ, Himself. St Augustine turns to the Scripture to express this beautifully Except the Holy Virgin Mary, if all the saints… while living here below had been asked whether they were without sin, all would have cried aloud with one voice: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8).

The Model of All Virtue

When we read the lives of the saints we discover that certain individuals were known for particular good works; Mary excels in all virtue. For example, she shows her humility when she replies to the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” and her chastity when she asserts she has had no relations with a man.

A Spiritual Vessel

Although many saints are known for the penances they imposed on their bodies, the saints’ true claim to holiness lies in the holiness of their souls. By contrast, Mary was so filled with grace that it filled her body, making her flesh fit to bear God’s Son. One medieval theologian wrote “The Holy Ghost so kindled in her heart the fire of divine love that it worked wonders in her flesh… that she gave birth to God made man.”

A Gift to the World

Our theology teaches no gift is given simply to enrich the one who receives it. Thus, we honor the saints because their virtues are a source of inspiration for others. Mary surpasses all the saints in virtue so the grace her Son gives through her is immense enough to save all mankind.

The Lord is With Thee

Mary’s participation in the Incarnation gives her a unique place in relation to the Blessed Trinity. God’s Son is her son, something that can be said of no other individual, and the union between Mary and God the Father exceeds the intimacy of God with any other creature. In giving birth to Jesus, Mary gives flesh and blood to God’s Word. Christ is Lord of creation – even Lord of the angels – but He is Mary’s Son, a relation no one else can know. Because the Incarnation is the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary enjoys a union with the Trinity unknown to any of the saints or angels.

Mother of the Lord, Our Lady

In the Old Testament, the most significant woman in a kingdom was not the king’s wife, for rulers could have many wives; the highest honor was paid the king’s mother. We pay Mary similar honor in our devotion. When Elizabeth greets Mary, she asks, “why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43) The words, “Mother of my Lord,” echo the title given the queen-mother in Scripture. They are also the basis for one of the most common titles by which we address the Blessed Virgin. Because Mary is Mother of our Lord, she is “Our Lady.”

Blessed among Women

Mary is often called a “New Eve” because God spared her the punishments He pronounced on the wife of Adam. Chief among these is the mortality, which consigns our bodies to the dust from which they were created. Mary is “blessed” in herself because she was spared the punishments God imposed on mankind, but she is also blessed by the actions of her life – giving us Our Savoir, showing us the supreme example of Christian virtue, and, in her Assumption, giving us a promise of the glory that God’s love calls us to enjoy.

Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb

The notion of “fruit” provides further reason for considering Mary the New Eve. The first Eve ate fruit which, she was promised, would make her like God.  Instead, through her disobedience, she became unlike God and was sent out of the earthly Paradise. Eve’s children have suffered the same fate for millennia. Mary reverses the Original Sin. By sharing her Fruit – Jesus Christ – with the world, she invites us to reclaim the image and identity we lost in the Garden. “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him,” St. John promises, “for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2). Our baptism unites us with Christ and, through Him, to the Father, restoring in us the likeness of God sacrificed to sin.

Delight and Beauty

The book of Genesis tells us “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6). Once they tasted it, however, our First Parents realized, in an instant, the fruit of the tree was neither useful nor pleasant. Instead, it brought them shame and exile. The Fruit of Mary’s womb is both the summit of our humanity and food for our salvation, useful and beautiful. Eve discovered no pleasure in the fruit she ate, and ultimately we find as little pleasure in sin. In the Fruit Mary gives us, however, we find blessing, hope, and promise.

Pray for Us Sinners

The Hail Mary, as St. Thomas Aquinas knew it, and as he preached upon it during Lent in 1273, ends with acknowledgement of Our Savior, the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. Surely, these words from the Scripture are sufficient, and perfect in their simplicity. Why, we may ask, has the Church added to the “Angelic Salutation” we find in the gospel? Academic study will undoubtedly reveal manifoldanswers to this question, but human need can tell us as much. As children, we are taught that beauty is as beauty does, and the Hail Mary is a prayer that God will enable us to live up to the image in which we have been created. One of the Church’s hymns honors Mary by saying, “Mary, mother meek and mild, blessed was she in her Child.” When we pray the Hail Mary we begin by acknowledging Mary’s unique and honored place in our humanity. But as we continue the prayer, we realize that Mary is not simply blessed in who she is, but in what she has done. In the Hail Mary we ask for the grace to discover, as Mary did, all that our human frame is capable of – if we are willing to place ourselves in God’s hands and surrender to God’s will.

Dominicans and Rosary, 2008

Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, O.P., Master of the Order of Preachers, sent a New Year’s Day message to Dominican men and women throughout the world. Fr. Carlos noted that the Solemnity of the Epiphany, 2008, brought to a close the 800th anniversary of St. Dominic’s founding the first communities of Dominican women.…the whole Order has come to a better appreciation that the nuns are at the heart of the Order and that the foundation of our preaching is nothing less than the profound contemplation of our faith. The Master devoted one section of his address to the Rosary, and challenged Dominicans to rededicate themselves to the Rosary, which, for centuries, has been particularly associated with the spirituality and preaching of the Domincan Order. Citing the numerous visitors to international Marian shrines, such as Lourdes and Guadalupe, Fr. Carlos called the Rosary “a beloved universal prayer,” and said, “it is something we can touch, hold and even grasp at difficult moments, of our life; it is like grasping the hand of Mary herself.” Friends of the Rosary Center will surely share Fr. Carlos’ conviction that the prayers of the Rosary “are summaries of our faith,” that accompany the faithful throughout their lives, allowing one to say “thy will be done” at every moment, perhaps most importantly “at the hour of our death.”

The Rosary and the Life of Mother Teresa

Those investigating inspirational – and inspiring – reading during the days of Lent will be interested in the new book, Mother Teresa, In the Shadow of Our Lady. The author, Fr. Joseph Langford, MC, worked with Mother Teresa for thirty years, and she invited him to help establish the men’s branch of her Missionaries of Charity. Fr. Langford’s book is more than a diary of a long friendship with an astounding woman; it is a profound reflection on the power of Mary’s love to transform the world, one heart at a time.…Our Lady will begin to arrange the events and details of our life as soon as we give her permission. This remarkable promise appears in our life then increasingly becomes an adventure of grace as she takes the reins of our existence and begins to exercise her spiritual maternity. Fr. Langford’s story begins in 1947, when Mother Teresa experienced a profound revelation of God’s thirst for the salvation of His children. It continues by examining Mother Teresa’s first efforts to touch the lives of the poor and dying, and provides encouragement and practical steps to follow Mother Teresa in a life of contemplation lived in the world, through a deep commitment to the Blessed Virgin. The book understands that faithful individuals have many claims on their time, and gives practical guidance for deepening one’s spirituality, while coping with the realities of a busy life in the 21st Century. It was Mother Teresa’s daily encounter with Our Lady that strengthened and equipped her for her work…[and] lets us live beyond our limitations, wrapped in her presence and sharing her spiritand her heart. (Fr. Langford’s book is available from the Rosary Center; to order it, turn to the form that accompanies this bulletin or order it online at http://www.rosary-center.org)

Thought of the day…

Posted: September 28, 2010 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

In the beautiful words of Pope John Paul II:
“To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”

The Remission of Temporal Punishment

Posted: September 28, 2010 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Questions & Answers

INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING INDULGENCES.

Q. What is understood by an Indulgence?
A. An indulgence is a relaxation or remission of debt of the temporal punishment, which remains due to the Divine justice for sin, after the sin itself, and the eternal punishment have been remitted by the Sacrament of Penance.

Q. Has Jesus Christ given to his Church the power of granting indulgences?
A. He has, as appears evidently from holy scriptures; for,

First, He says to St. Peter, “Thou art Peter – and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven,” Matth. xvi. 18. in which words our Savior gives to St. Peter, as the chief pastor of his Church, whose authority as such extends over all her members, an ample and universal power of conducting the faithful to heaven, by loosing them from every thing that might hinder them from going there, provided always they be properly disposed, and perform the conditions required upon their part. Now, there are only two things that can hinder a soul from going to heaven, to wit, the guilt of sin, and the debt of temporal punishment; for till that debt be paid, none can enter there; consequently our Savior says, “whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven,” manifestly includes both, and assures us, when the Chief Pastor looses the faithful from their sins in the Sacrament of Penance, or from the debt of temporal punishment, by granting an indulgence, this sentence is ratified in heaven, and stands good in the sight of God himself.

Second, On another occasion, declaring, “that he that will not hear the Church,” that is, the bishops and pastors of the Church, is to be considered “as a heathen and a publican,” he immediately says to these pastors, in the persons of all the Apostles, “Amen, I say to you, whatsoever ye shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven,” Matth. xviii. 18. In which words, by the same reasoning as in the former case, we see the power of granting indulgences conferred on the first pastors or Bishops of the Church, as successors of the Apostles. It is given to the head of the Church, with regard to all the faithful, and to the bishops of the Church with regard to that portion of the faithful committed to their charge, to be exercised by them under such regulations as the Church herself, in her sacred councils, has judged proper to appoint.

Third, St. Paul, though not one of the twelve Apostles then present with our Savior, when this power was given them, both exercised it himself towards the incestuous Corinthian, and recommended to the pastors of that church to do the same; for, having first condemned and bound him to public penance, and “delivered him over to Satan for the destruction oft he flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord,” 1 Cor. v. 5; yet afterwards, being informed of his great repentance and vehement sorrows, he writes to that church, “To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient that is given by many; so that contrariwise, ye should rather forgive him – and to whom ye have forgiven any thing, I also. For what I forgive, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes that I done it, in the person of Christ,” 2 Cor. ii. 6. 10.

Q. When the Church grants an indulgence, by remitting the debt of temporal punishment due to the Divine Justice, does she offer any compensation to the justice of God in place of it?
A. Yes she does; to understand which, we must observe,

First, That God Almighty has given to his Church the infinite merits and superabundant satisfaction of his son Jesus, to be applied and dispensed to her children for the good of their souls, according to their wants. Thus St. Paul says, “Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world,” Gal. i. 4; and God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ,” Ephes. i. 3; “that he might show in the ages to come, the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus,” Eph. ii. 7; for “he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things!” Rom. viii. 32. Now, the Pastors of the Church are “the dispensers of the mysteries of God,” 1 Cor. iv. 1; to wit, of all these “spiritual blessings, abundant riches and graces of Christ,” which are the fruits of all his infinite merits and satisfactions. These are dispensed to the people and applied to their souls by the Pastors of the Church, when they administer to us the Holy Sacraments, and they are offered up to God as a compensation to his Divine Justice, for the debt of temporal punishment, when they grant us a relaxation from that debt by an indulgence.

Second, In the Creed, we are taught to believe that in the Church there is “the communion of saints;” that is, that all the members of the Church have a spiritual communication with one another in holy things, that the prayers, sacrifices, penances, and good works, which are performed by any of the faithful are accepted by Almighty God in such measure and manner as he sees fitting for all the others who put no impediment; and the reason is, because all the members of the Church compose but one spiritual body to Christ, of which he is the head; and therefore, all the faithful, as members of one another, mutually partake of one another’s prayers and good works, especially when they are expressly intended and applied for one another.

PRAYER AND GOOD WORKS AS A MEANS OF GRACE.

As nothing is more agreeable to God, than that all his followers should live together in unity, charity, and brotherly love, as members of one body, mutually helping one another, especially in spiritual things; so we find many examples of his readiness to bestow great favors upon his people, in reward of this mutual charity. Thus, when Job’s friends could find no acceptance with God of themselves, they found it immediately when Job offered up his prayers and sacrifices for them, Job. xlii. How often did the prayers and sacrifices of Moses and Aaron obtain forgiveness for their sinful people, both as to the sin and the temporal punishment, even when God was so provoked by their crimes, that he seemed determined to consumer and destroy them? How often does God declare in scripture, that he bears with the people of Israel, that he deals mercifully with them, that he bestows favors upon them, and the like, for the sake of his faithful servants, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, even long after they were out of this world? So also speaking of his care for Jerusalem, he says, “I will protect this city, and will save it for my own sake, and for David my servant’s sake,” 4 Kings xix. 34. Where observe, that he joins “his own sake” and “David’s sake” together, in the same sentence, as the joint motive of his protecting Jerusalem.
From the same principles, St. Paul so often recommends himself to the prayers of the Faithful, and when, on a certain occasion, he had met with some great afflictions, he says to the Philippians, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayers,” Phil. i. 19. Seeing then that the prayers, penances, and good works of the faithful, and especially of the Holy Saints of God, who are of all others the most in favor with him, are, through the merits of Jesus Christ, on whom they all depend, most readily accepted by Almighty God for the benefit of all the members of his Church, especially when, by a spirit of charity, they are offered up and applied for that purpose; therefore, when the Church grants an indulgence to her children, for relieving the debt of temporal punishment due to the Divine Justice, she also offers up with the infinite satisfaction of Christ, all the prayers, penances, and good works of his Holy Saints, as a most acceptable oblation to the justice of God, in satisfaction or compensation for the indulgence she grants, both in imitation of what God himself did, when he joined his own sake and David’s sake, as the joint motive for protecting Jerusalem, and as an exercise of that holy communion of Saints, which she professes in the Creed; so that “out of their abundance, our wants are supplied,” and our debt paid, 2 Cor. viii. 14.

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF INDULGENCES.

Q. How many kinds of Indulgences are there?
A. Two kinds, a Plenary Indulgence, which is obtained, would deliver us from all the debt of temporal punishment that we owe for our past sins; and a Partial Indulgence, which delivers us from it only in part, and is commonly expressed as given for a certain time, as of forty days, a year, or the like. The meaning of which is, that an indulgence is granted for such a proportion of the debt of temporal punishment we owe to God, as would have been remitted to him, had the sinner undergone, for that space of time, the severe penitential works prescribed by the primitive church for his sins.

Q. What things are required for gaining the benefit of indulgence?
A. Three things:

First, That a person be in the state of grace, and in friendship with God; for while one continues in the state of sin, and at enmity with God, and of course worthy of eternal punishment in the sight of the Divine Justice, he is not in a state capable of receiving an indulgence. And on this account it is, that in all grants of Plenary Indulgences, it is generally required as a condition for gaining them that the person apply first to the sacrament of confession, in order to put his soul in the state of grace, without which he is incapable of receiving that benefit.

INDULGENCES ALWAYS GRANTED ON CERTAIN CONDITIONS.

Second, That the conditions required in the grant of the indulgence be exactly performed; for, as indulgences are always granted on certain conditions, to be performed on our part, such as approaching to the Holy Sacraments, works of charity and mercy, exercises of piety and religion, prayers for the necessities of the Church, and the like; if these conditions required, are not exactly performed as required, we have no title to the favor of the indulgence.

Third, In order to gain the full effect of a Plenary Indulgence, it is also necessary to have a perfect repentance, and sincere detestation of all our sins, even the least venial sin; because, as the punishment of sin will never be forgiven, while the guilt of it remains in the soul, and as a sincere repentance is absolutely required for the remission of the guilty; therefore, this sincere repentance must precede the remission of the punishment. Hence we may see how few there are who gain the full effect of a Plenary Indulgence, as there are few who have a sincere and efficacious repentance of every venial sin, and a sincere and firm resolution of avoiding every sin, great or small, with all the occasions of sin. Yet this ought not to hinder us from using our beset endeavors for gaining a Plenary Indulgence when occasion offers; because, though we should not gain the whole effect of it, the more endeavors we use, and the better we be disposed, the more ample benefit we will reap from it; and whereas, we can never be certain how far we gain this benefit, and have but too much reason, from our own imperfect dispositions, to fear, that we may have yet a great debt remaining unpaid; therefore, our endeavoring to gain an indulgence ought not to make us remiss in leading a truly penitential life, but rather encourage us to do so the more exactly; because, the more we endeavor by works, worthy of penance, to satisfy the Divine Justice, the better we will be disposed, when the opportunity comes, for gaining the more abundant effects of indulgences; for, when we have done our best, it is perhaps little to what we ought to have done; and what we gain by indulgences makes up for the deficiencies of human infirmity, but can never be supposed to patronize negligence and sloth.

Q. When a person dies in the grace and friendship of God, but before he has discharged the debt of temporal punishment which he owes to the Divine justice, what becomes of him?
A. The soul is sentenced to purgatory, “out of which he shall not come till he pays to the last farthing,” Matth. v. 26.

Further exploration of Gaining Indulgences can be found HERE.

Thought Of The Day…

Posted: September 27, 2010 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

On a Facebook newsfeed this question was asked of Catholics :-

Share you faith with us, what’s good about being a Catholic?

Well I suppose you’d never think of such an answer unless you’ve been asked the question.

Here’s my answer (Comment on Facebook)….

The fullness and completeness of our faith together with it’s sacred traditions in total communion with the Holy Trinity and the Faithful built on a foundation of love.

What would your answer be dear brethren?


Rosalind Moss

Former Jew and Evangelical Christian

Tim Drake

How does a Jewish person of faith convert to Catholicism? To judge by Rosalind Moss’s eighteen-year journey into the Church, the answer is . . . very slowly. Raised in Brooklyn, in a conservative Jewish home with one older brother and one younger sister, Moss never even considered that she would ever be anything other than Jewish. “It’s what I was. We were God’s people. That was my identity,” says Moss.

“We waited for the Messiah to come,” adds Moss, “but He never did.” As a teenager, her brother David became an atheist; Rosalind became agnostic. “I figured that there was a God, but how could you know? I longed for meaning and purpose and to know why mankind was on the earth, but didn’t think that you could find God, or that merely knowing He existed could make a difference.”

“When I was thirty-two years old, I heard about Christ for the first time,” recalls Moss. “David brought me an article that said there were Jewish people who believed that Christ was the Messiah. I asked my brother, ‘You mean to tell me that the Messiah was already here? That He was the only hope the world ever had, and yet the Jewish people didn’t know this? That He came and left and there has been no impact, no change, no peace? That’s just insanity.’”

Not long after, Moss moved to California and met some of what she considered “neurotic” Jews who did in fact believe this. “They led me to the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world,” Moss said. “They showed me the Old Testament and pointed to John 1:29, which drove a knife through my heart. There I sat, shattered to think that this was true . . . that God, whose name we had written as G – d, had entered history and become a man to bring us home. It was an unbelievable thing.”

Moss immediately jumped into a nearby evangelical Protestant church and enrolled in every Bible study and outreach she could find. Her first Bible study was taught by an ex-Catholic who had been taught by a former priest. “So, right off, I knew that Catholicism was a cult and a false religious system. I spent the next eighteen years trying to save others from what I thought was the work of Satan,” recalls Moss.

“My brother’s search for truth led him first to a Baptist church. But it made no sense to him that God would have left us in so much confusion as thousands of denominations, and so he went seeking the Church God had intended. Two years later, David became a Catholic.

“In the summer of 1990, after having been a Catholic for eleven years, he gave me a copy of This Rock magazine. Inside was an advertisement for a four-tape series by a Presbyterian minister who had become Catholic — Scott Hahn. I had never heard of such a thing, and so I ordered the tapes.”
Just a week away from serving in a ministerial position at the Evangelical Church in Orange, California, Moss listened to the Hahn tapes. “I remember Scott’s words well. He said that for anyone who ‘would look into the claims of Catholicism would come a holy shock and a glorious amazement.’

“Here I knew that the Church was the work of Satan, and yet listening to that tape a ‘holy shock’ went through me. I knew, before God, that I had to look into the claims of the Catholic Church or I would be turning from God. Thus began my four-year agonizing journey toward the Church.”
The journey, Moss admits, was a difficult one. Right from the start, she decided to put the issue of Mary on a shelf and deal with her later, if she ever got that far. Instead, she first dealt with the sacramental nature of the Church.

“I had one hundred percent bought into the Calvinist thinking of total depravity. I believed that creation was absolutely corrupt, and that therefore God would not use things to bring about grace. It just didn’t make sense to me why God would use fallen creation.

“Yet in Scripture Christ uses mud and spit to heal the blind man. I wondered why He did that. He certainly didn’t have to. This led me to wonder why He changed the water into wine, when He could have just gone poof and made the change.

“Furthermore, I questioned the Incar-nation. Why would God have taken on flesh? I came to understand that creation is fallen, but not totally depraved, and that God can and does take creation and us and restore us to the dignity that He intended.”

Another issue Moss had a hard time understanding was the Eucharist. “I could not understand how, if we already had Christ, we could get Him. Did we get Him on Sunday and then lose Him during the week?”

One of Ross’ spiritual directors, Monsignor James O’Connor, helped answer her question. “He told me that ‘in a marriage relationship the husband and wife love each other and have each other all the time. Yet sometimes they are not very aware of that love. However, in the intimacy of the marital union it is the beloved giving to his loved, just as Christ, the Bridegroom, gives to His Church, the Bride, in the Eucharist, a total act of self-giving love that is unique to that time.’

“For me, that was extraordinarily beautiful. Monsignor O’Connor’s explanation of the Eucharist and the nature of the Mass as the once-for-all sacrifice of Calvary helped me into the Church.”

Moss’ final hurdle was understanding the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. “I could not understand how we could offer our lives with Christ,” she recalls. “It seemed as if we were saying that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t sufficient.

“What enabled that truth to get through to me was thinking of a mother who is in the kitchen baking a chocolate cake. She has all that she needs. She needs nothing.

“Then her daughter comes into the kitchen and asks, ‘Mommy, can I help you?’ and so the mother lets the daughter help. The mother doesn’t need her addition, but it is still a true addition.

“My sins put Christ to death on the cross. However, now that I’ve come to love Him, if I could go back and be at the foot of the cross, even though I once cried ‘Crucify him!’ wouldn’t I now crawl up on the cross and give myself with Him? Wouldn’t I want to do that?

“Calvary, through two thousand years, is brought to us. We are at the foot of the cross and we can give ourselves with Him, in Him and through Him. That is the Mass.”

In the end, having dealt with every Marian doctrine and coming to understand the communion of saints, Moss started praying through Mary. Five weeks later, at the Easter vigil, 1995, she took Mary’s Jewish name, Miriam, as her confirmation name and entered the Church. Life has never been the same.

“Evangelical friends ask me what I have now that I was missing as an Evangelical. I tell them that I have not more than Christ, but I have the whole Christ. I have all that God has given us in giving us His Church.”

Of her conversion, Moss states, “I looked at every Protestant work I could find against Catholicism. In the end, looking into two thousand years of Church history, I learned that the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s comment was truly the case: ‘There’s not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they mistakenly think the Catholic Church teaches.’

“My heart was taken halfway to heaven. I never believed that there could be such a design.”

Moss admits that her conversion has given her a far better understanding of what it means to be Jewish. “The most Jewish thing a person can do is to become Catholic. When I was trying to save my brother from becoming Catholic, I went to Christmas Mass with him. Afterwards, I told him, ‘That’s a synagogue, but with Christ!’”

She draws comparisons between the Passover and the Lord’s Supper. “Passover was celebrated to point to Israel’s temporal deliverance from bondage to Egypt. The final Passover, the Last Supper, points to our eternal deliverance from bondage to sin. Both events required the participants to eat of the lamb.”

Moss now spends the majority of her time on the road, speaking to parishes, conventions and conferences as a staff apologist with San Diego-based Catholic Answers. In addition, she writes for This Rock and Be magazine, is a frequent guest on Catholic Answers’ live radio program, and co-hosted a sixteen-part EWTN series with convert Kristine Franklin, titled Household of Faith. Moss was awarded a 1999 Envoy Award for Best New Evangelist.

She’s not alone in her ministry efforts. Her brother David now leads the Association of Hebrew Catholics, a community that helps Catholics of Jewish origin to realize that they need not abandon their heritage in becoming Catholic.

“My wish, from the moment I gave my life to Christ twenty-three years ago, was to find a megaphone and a ladder tall enough to get to the moon so that I could tell the world that there is a Savior. Now I want to spend the rest of my life telling Catholics what they have.”

September 26, 2010 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 26, 2010 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A Great Chasm

Readings:
Amos 6:1, 4-7
Psalm 146:7-10
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Luke 16:19-31

By Dr. Scott Hahn

The rich and powerful are visited with woe and exile in today’s Liturgy – not for their wealth but for their refusal to share it; not for their power but for their indifference to the suffering at their door.

The complacent leaders in today’s First Reading feast on fine foods and wines, reveling while the house of Joseph, the kingdom of Israel (see Amos 5:6), collapses around them.

The rich man in today’s Gospel also lives like a king – dressed in royal purple and fine linen (see 1 Maccabees 8:14).

The rich man symbolizes Israel’s failure to keep the Old Covenant, to heed the commandments of Moses and the prophets. This is the sin of the rulers in today’s First Reading. Born to the nation God favored first, they could claim Abraham as their father. But for their failure to give – their inheritance is taken away.

The rulers are exiled from their homeland. The rich man is punished with an exile far greater – eternity with a “great chasm” fixed between himself and God.

In this world, the rich and powerful make a name for themselves (see Genesis 11:4) and dine sumptuously, while the poor remain anonymous, refused an invitation to their feasts.

But notice that the Lord today knows Lazarus by name, and Joseph in his sufferings – while the leaders and the rich man have no name.

Today’s Liturgy is a call to repentance – to heed the warning of One who was raised from the dead. To lay hold of the eternal life He promises, we must pursue righteousness, keep the commandment of love, as Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle.

“The Lord loves the just,” we sing in today’s Psalm.

And in this Eucharist we have a foretaste of the love that will be ours in the next life – when He will raise the lowly to the heavenly banquet with Abraham and the prophets (see Luke 13:28), where we too will rest our heads on the bosom of our Lord (see John 13:23).

‘Who is the Rich Man’

Very few of us can be numbered among the rich and the powerful who have the power to exploit the poor.

So how are we to apply to our own lives the readings for the 25th and 26th Sundays in Ordinary Time (Cycle C), which are so preoccupied with questions of social justice, wealth and poverty?

These readings remind us that the law of love (see John 15:12; Romans 13:8) means that each of us in some way will be judged by the mercy we show to the poor.

As the rich man learns in the parable of Lazarus – the distance between ourselves and God in the next life may be the distance we put between ourselves and the poor in this life (see Matthew 25:31-46; James 2:8,14-17).

But we also need to hear these readings in context of the Gospel message in recent months. Recall that among the stories we’ve heard is that of the teacher who wanted to know, “Who is my neighbor?” (see Luke 10:25-37) and of the rich fool who tried to store up earthly treasures (see Luke 12:13-21).

We may not be “rich men” or exploiters of the poor, but each of us should take to heart the persistent message of the Liturgy – that what we have and desire to have can separate us from God and our neighbor; that our possessions can come to possess us; that true riches are to be found in sharing what we have with the poor; and that this will gain us what we truly desire – the inheritance of treasure in heaven.