Archive for December, 2011

January 1st, 2012 – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Posted: December 31, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

SUNDAY BIBLE REFLECTIONS BY DR. SCOTT HAHN

Children of God

Readings:

Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21


 

Today we give thanks to Mary, the Mother of God. Her response to the angel, born of a humble heart, brought us life and salvation in the Child conceived in her womb.

From before all ages, God had destined her for this decisive role in salvation history. She was to be the woman who in the fullness of time would bear God’s only Son, as Paul tells us in today’s Epistle.

In times past, God spoke to His chosen people, the Israelites, through prophets (see Hebrews 1:1-2), and imparted His blessings upon them through His priests, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

But now, He has sent His Son—to reveal His glory and His kingdom, to make His way of salvation known to all nations, as we sing in today’s Psalm. In the Infant lying in the manger, God has shone His face upon us (see John 14:8-9).

Jesus is made a child of Israel, an heir of God’s covenant with Abraham, by His circumcision in today’s Gospel (see Genesis 17:1-14). And we have been made adopted sons and daughters by Baptism, which is the circumcision of Christ, the true circumcision (see Colossians 2:11; Philippians 3:3).

As children of God, Paul says today, we are heirs of the Father’s blessings, which He promised to bestow on all peoples through the descendants of Abraham (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Galatians 3:14). This is the blessing which Aaron imparted to Israel, the people descended from Abraham. And this blessing comes to us through Mary and the Child.

This is the good news of great joy that the shepherds make known in Bethlehem today (see Luke 2:10).

Like the shepherds, we too should make haste today to find Jesus with Mary and Joseph, and to glorify God for His blessings. And like Mary, we should keep His word and reflect upon it, letting it dwell richly in our hearts (see Colossians 3:16).


From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot
(Sermo 1, in Epiphania Domini, 1-2: PL 133, 141-143)

The goodness and humanity of God our Savior have appeared in our midst. We thank God for the many consolations he has given us during this sad exile of our pilgrimage here on earth. Before the Son of God became man his goodness was hidden, for God’s mercy is eternal, but how could such goodness be recognized? It was promised, but it was not experienced, and as a result few have believed in it. Often and in many ways the Lord used to speak through the prophets. Among other things, God said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. But what did men respond, thinking thoughts of affliction and knowing nothing of peace? They said: Peace, peace, there is no peace. This response made the angels of peace weep bitterly, saying: Lord, who has believed our message? But now men believe because they see with their own eyes, and because God’s testimony has now become even more credible. He has gone so far as to pitch his tent in the sun so even the dimmest eyes see him.

Notice that peace is not promised but sent to us; it is no longer deferred, it is given; peace is not prophesied but achieved. It is as if God the Father sent upon the earth a purse full of his mercy. This purse was burst open during the Lord’s passion to pour forth its hidden contents—the price of our redemption. It was only a small purse, but it was very full. As the Scriptures tell us: A little child has been given to us, but in him dwells all the fullness of the divine nature. The fullness of time brought with it the fullness of divinity. God’s Son came in the flesh so that mortal men could see and recognize God’s kindness. When God reveals his humanity, his goodness cannot possibly remain hidden. To show his kindness what more could he do beyond taking my human form? My humanity, I say, not Adam’s—that is, not such as he had before his fall.

How could he have shown his mercy more clearly than by taking on himself our condition? For our sake the Word of God became as grass. What better proof could he have given of his love? Scripture says: Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him; why does your heart go out to him? The incarnation teaches us how much God cares for us and what he thinks and feels about us. We should stop thinking of our own sufferings and remember what he has suffered. Let us think of all the Lord has done for us, and then we shall realize how his goodness appears through his humanity. The lesser he became through his human nature the greater was his goodness; the more he lowered himself for me, the dearer he is to me. The goodness and humanity of God our Savior have appeared, says the Apostle.

Truly great and manifest are the goodness and humanity of God. He has given us a most wonderful proof of his goodness by adding humanity to his own divine nature.

A Reflection On Receiving The Eucharist

Posted: December 26, 2011 by CatholicJules in Meditations

When we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we are transformed into living tabernacles of our Lord, our God. How can our hearts not sing with joy? How can we not spread the Good News? How can we allow the evils of the world to rob us of this honour by our actions?

Catholicjules

Communion of Divorced and Remarried

Posted: December 26, 2011 by CatholicJules in Great Catholic Articles

Divorce. By itself civil divorce is not an obstacle to Communion. As a civil action all it does is settle the civil legal effects of marriage (distribution of property, custody of children etc.). However, understood as a moral action, the willful breakup of a marriage or abandonment of one’s spouse is indeed seriously wrong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear, following on Scripture, that God hates such divorce.

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

Thus, those who are actually responsible for the breakup of the marriage and the failure to be reconciled when possible are indeed guilty of sin and have an obligation to repent and confess their sin before receiving Communion, as would any grave sinner.

On the other hand, of the innocent party in a divorce the Catechism says,

2386  It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

Thus, the innocent spouse in a marital break-up has the same possibility to receive Communion as other Catholics, with the usual conditions (being free from mortal sin in other areas of life, going to Confession if not, Eucharistic fast and so on).


Remarriage
. As noted above in the citation from the Catechism 2382, a ratified and consummated Christian marriage is indissoluble. This is a marriage where the vows are exchanged by two baptized persons, with the proper intention, and consummated by sexual intercourse. No power on earth can declare such a marriage null and the parties free to remarry. However, a marriage tribunal of the Catholic Church is empowered to judge whether a marriage actually did occur and to issue a Decree of Nullity (popularly, but wrongly, called an annulment) when it judges it did not. (See: Annulment/Decree of Nullity) A person who receives a Decree of Nullity is free to marry in the Church since the first marriage was defective from its beginning (i.e. no marriage). A person who remarries in the Church after an annulment is free to receive the sacraments under the usual conditions (as noted above).

However, often times individuals or couples who have remarried but without a Decree of Nullity want to come into the Church, or if already Catholic approach the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist. Sometimes they are even told they can judge these matters in their own conscience without going to a Marriage Tribunal (sometimes called “the internal forum solution”).

In “Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced-and-Remarried Members of the Faithful” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a letter to the world’s bishops on October 14, 1994 said,

7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is  essentially a public reality. [/library/curia/cdfdivor.txt]

By this document the Holy See affirmed the continuous theology and discipline of the Catholic Church that those who are divorced and remarried without a Decree of Nullity for the first marriage (whether that marriage was made within or outside the Catholic Church) are in an objectively adulterous union that prevents them from honestly repenting, receiving absolution for their their sins, and receiving Holy Communion. Until the marital irregularity is resolved by a Marriage Tribunal, or other procedures which apply to marriages of the non-baptized, they may not approach Penance or Holy Communion. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in Reconciliation and Penance, the Church desires such couples to participate in the Church’s life to the extent possible (and this participation in Mass, Eucharistic adoration, devotions and so on is a great spiritual help to them), as they work toward full sacramental participation.

A Unique Case. One final situation is that of those who have repented of their illicit union, but remain together for a serious reason, such as for the sake of their children. Catholic pastoral practice allows that IF their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (meaning most people are unaware of their remarriage and consider them a married couple), then they may live together as “brother and sister” (without any sexual relations), and be admitted to the sacraments. If scandal can not be avoided, then they must either  separate or refrain from the sacraments.

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

The Birthday Of The Lord Is The Birthday Of Peace!

Posted: December 25, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope

Although the state of infancy, which the majesty of the Son of God did not disdain to assume, developed with the passage of time into maturity of manhood, and although after the triumph of the passion and the resurrection all his lowly acts undertaken on our behalf belong to the past, nevertheless today’s feast of Christmas renews for us the sacred beginning of Jesus’ life, his birth from the Virgin Mary. In the very act in which we are reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth. For the birth of Christ is the origin of the Christian people; and the birthday of the head is also the birthday of the body.

Though each and every individual occupies a definite place in this body to which he has been called, and though all the progeny of the church is differentiated and marked with the passage of time, nevertheless as the whole community of the faithful, once begotten in the baptismal font, was crucified with Christ in the passion, raised up with him in the resurrection and at the ascension placed at the right hand of the Father, so too it is born with him in this Nativity, which we are celebrating today.

For every believer regenerated in Christ, no matter in what part of the whole world he may be, breaks with that ancient way of life that derives from original sin, and by rebirth is transformed into a new man. Henceforth he is reckoned to be of the stock, not of his earthly father, but of Christ, who became Son of Man precisely that men could become sons of God; for unless in humility he had come down to us, none of us by our own merits could ever go up to him.

Therefore the greatness of the gift which he has bestowed on us demands an appreciation proportioned to its excellence; for blessed Paul the Apostle truly teaches: We have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. The only way that he can be worthily honored by us is by the presentation to him of that which he has already given to us.

But what can we find in the treasure of the Lord’s bounty more in keeping with the glory of this feast than that peace which was first announced by the angelic choir on the day of his birth? For that peace, from which the sons of God spring, sustains love and mothers unity; it refreshes the blessed and shelters eternity; its characteristic function and special blessing is to join to God those whom it separates from this world.

Therefore, may those who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God, offer to the Father their harmony as sons united in peace; and may all those whom he has adopted as his members meet in the firstborn of the new creation who came not to do his own will but the will of the one who sent him; for the grace of the Father has adopted as heirs neither the contentious nor the dissident, but those who are one in thought and love. The hearts and minds of those who have been reformed according to one and the same image should be in harmony with one another.

The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace, as Paul the Apostle says: For he is our peace, who has made us both one; for whether we be Jew or Gentile, through him we have access in one Spirit to the Father.

December 25, 2011 – Christmas Day

Posted: December 23, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

SUNDAY BIBLE REFLECTIONS BY DR. SCOTT HAHN

In the New Beginning
Readings:
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-5, 9-14


 

The birth of Jesus marks a new creation, the start of a new heavens and a new earth (seeIsaiah 65:172 Peter 3:13). That’s why the first words of today’s Gospel reprise the Bible’s first words – “In the beginning” (see Genesis 1:1).

Jesus is the Word that God spoke when He said, “Let there be,” and all things came to be (seeGenesis 1:326). The Wisdom through whom all things were made (see Proverbs 8:22-31;Wisdom 7:21-27), Jesus is also the mighty Word by whom God sustains all things.

The Word of God (see Revelation 19:13) has become flesh. This is the mystery we sing of in today’s Psalm – the revelation of mankind’s salvation in the sight of the nations.

The Word comes as God and king, we hear in today’s First Reading. Enthroned at God’s right hand (see Psalm 110:1), He is the royal Son who has recevied all the nations as His inheritance (see Psalm 2:8).

The Word comes, too, as a heavenly high priest, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Through His blood, He accomplished atonement and purification from sin (see Exodus 30:10Hebrews 6:2010:3-711-13).

And by this, He has made it possible for each of us to live as children of God, as “new creations” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17Galatians 6:15).

In the beginning, God made men and women in His image (see ). In the new creation, He brings that divine image to perfection in Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, and the firstborn from the dead (see Colossians 1:15,18).

Let us resolve this Christmas to give Jesus rule over our hearts, to ever more mold our hearts in the image of our Creator – that the Christ-child may be the firstborn of a worldwide family of God (see Colossians 3:10Romans 8:29).

The Magnificat

Posted: December 22, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book
Tags: , ,

From a commentary on Luke by Venerable Bede, priest
(Lib 1, 46-55: CCL 120, 37-39)

Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it, and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Savior, whom I have conceived in this world of time.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol his name together.

Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim his greatness and sanctify his name to the limit of their power, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. His name is called holy because in the sublimity of his unique power he surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that he had made.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. In a beautiful phrase Mary calls Israel the servant of the Lord. The Lord came to his aid to save him. Israel is an obedient and humble servant, in the words of Hosea: Israel was a servant, and I loved him.

Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul. But anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

The promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to his spiritual children. These are his descendants, sprung not from the flesh only, but who, whether circumcised or not, have followed him in faith. Circumcised as he was, Abraham believed, and this was credited to him as an act of righteousness.

The coming of the Savior was promised to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. These are the children of promise, to whom it is said: If you belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs in accordance with the promise.