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Monthly Archives: June 2013

“A HOLY LIFE SWEETENS THE THOUGHT OF DEATH, AND THOUGHTS OF DEATH MAKE FOR A HOLY LIFE”

“The day will come when you find yourself on your deathbed. In that moment, you will see clearly all the vanity of this illusory world, you will be separated forever from all the things you love and will leave behind all the people you hold dear.

What with the anxieties of your last illness, the temptations of the infernal enemy and the fear of divine justice, you will find yourself going through a very difficult time that caused even the greatest saints to tremble.

If you have been devoted to the loving Heart of Jesus all your life, O, how much peace, consolation and courage will be given you in those terrible moments! O, how He will help you to fight well and suffer well in that last and most decisive battle! O, how sweet death will seem to you after you have loved the Heart of Jesus who will judge you; if you take refuge in His Heart, you will not find there any condemnation.

If by contrast, you live far from the Heart of Jesus, in the midst of sins and vanity, O, what bitter desolation you will feel in those supreme moments! O, how many painful reproaches you will hear from that Heart which you have offended and treated unworthily! O, what trouble, remorse and anguish will accompany your awful death! Since the place of condemnation will not be a place of refuge, Christian, the Heart of

Jesus calls you to think clearly about death. A holy life sweetens the thought of death, and thoughts of death make for a holy life. Think about this and act on it…
HOMAGE: Honour the Sacred Heart by an act of trust and hope in His goodness, and if thinking of the four last things makes you afraid, repeat with St Margaret, ‘The Heart of my Jesus wishes me to fear nothing.’
PRAYER: Laetabitur in te, memores cordis tui.
Death, judgement, heaven and hell, call me to you, O eternal God.”
– Mons. Nicola Tafuri

 

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EXCERPT FROM ST AUGUSTINE’S SERMON ON THE SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL

“Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Both of them came to be seen as having different roles to play within the leadership of the Church: Peter in witnessing to the Lordship of Christ, and Paul developing an understanding of its meaning for Christ’s followers. Jew and Gentile alike, Peter and Paul have been remembered together on this day from the very early days of the Church.

For this day we have a sermon delivered by St Augustine, who died in the 5th century. Here are some of his words for our prayerful reflection.

‘This day has been made holy by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. We are, therefore, not talking about some obscure martyrs. For as scripture says, ‘Their voice has gone forth to all the world, and their message to the ends of the earth.’ These martyrs realised what they taught: they followed the path of integrity, they confessed the truth, and they died for it.

Saint Peter, the foremost of the apostles and a passionate lover of Christ, heard his merits acknowledged when the Lord addressed him: ‘I say to you that you are Peter.’ For he had himself said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Then Christ said: ‘And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ Therefore, I will build my Church on you, for you are Peter. The name Peter comes from the word for rock, just as the word Christian comes from Christ. In a virtually unique way then, Peter can be said to represent the entire Church. And because of the role which he alone had, he merited to hear the words: ‘To you I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’…

Paul emerges out of Saul, the lamb out of the wolf; at first an enemy, he becomes an apostle; at first a persecutor, he becomes the preacher. The Lord showed him the things that he too had to suffer for his name: chains, beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks. The Lord sustained Paul in his sufferings, and brought him to this day.

Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one, even although they were martyred on different days. Peter went ahead, Paul followed. Let our way, then, be made straight in the Lord. It is a narrow, stony, hard road we tread; and yet with so many gone before us, we shall find the way smoother. The Lord himself trod this way, the unshakeable apostles and the holy martyrs likewise. So let us celebrate this feast day made holy by the blood of these two apostles. Let us embrace their faith, their life, their labours, their sufferings, their preaching, and their teaching.'”
– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”

 

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THREE PRECIOUS BLOOD PRAYERS

Eternal Father, I offer You the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in atonement for my sins, and in supplication for the holy souls in Purgatory and for the needs of holy Church. Amen.

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Dear Jesus, moved by an impulse of love, and with purity of intention, I wish to cover my humble labours with Your merits and bathe them in the supernatural gold of Your Precious Blood. I desire to consecrate my life to the saving of souls and the extension of Your glory, and I beg the Heavenly Father for as many souls as You shed drops of Blood during Your Passion. Amen.

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Precious Blood, ocean of divine mercy:
Flow upon us!
Precious Blood, most pure offering:
Procure us every grace!
Precious Blood, hope and refuge of sinners:
Atone for us!
Precious Blood, delight of holy souls:
Draw us! Amen.

 

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WHY SOMETIMES THE CHURCH MAY SAY “NO” TO A BAPTISM

“A priest may not, in fact, lawfully baptise a child unless he has a solidly founded hope that the baby will be raised properly as a Catholic.”

THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM IS PERFORMED BY WASHING WITH WATER BY WAY OF IMMERSION OR POURING, ACCORDING TO LOCAL CUSTOM.

“It is true that, according to our earliest biblical records (as in Acts 2, for example), perhaps only adults were baptised, though we can’t be sure of that. Soon afterward, however, infants were included as whole families were brought into Christian communities.

All Eastern and most Western churches consider infant baptism as having been the norm from the beginning of the Christian era.

The three main sources for correct Catholic practice of baptism are the Rite of Baptism, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Canon Law.

Canon No. 854 says simply that baptism is to be conferred by immersion of the person into the water or pouring water over the person.

According to the baptism ritual (18.2), the sacrament is performed by washing with water by way of immersion or pouring, according to local custom.

The RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] is more explicit. If the individual is baptised by immersion, the whole body or the head only is immersed. If water is poured, it is poured three times over the bowed head (No. 226). Many prominent authors of sacramental theology have held that baptism of another major part of the body rather than the head (such as the breast or shoulders) is most probably valid, and the baptism would not need to be repeated.

All this notwithstanding, the Church’s principle is that in administering the sacraments the safest option should govern what we do. For baptism, this means that the head is immersed, or water is poured over it, as the baptism words are spoken.

Some priests do refuse baptism to an innocent child if they judge parents are not ‘Catholic’ enough. Others welcome infants with open arms, even if their parents are ‘fringe’ Catholics.

When Catholic parents (or a Catholic partner in an interfaith marriage) are seriously deficient in their Catholic practice, the priest is obliged to delay baptism until he can help the parents rethink their faith.

THE NEW TESTAMENT MAKES CLEAR THAT, FROM THE BEGINNING, BAPTISM WAS THE COMMON WAY TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN.

True, children should be baptised “within the first weeks” after birth (Canon 867). The law assumes, however, that parents are practising their faith, prepared to raise their children as faithful Catholic men and women. Thus, the same law requires that immediately after birth or before, the parents go to their parish priest to request the Sacrament of Baptism and to be properly prepared for it.

A priest may not, in fact, lawfully baptise a child unless he has a solidly founded hope that the baby will be raised properly as a Catholic. If evidence for this hope is lacking, he should delay the baptism and explain the reason to the parents (Canon 868).

The ritual for baptism emphasises the point. At least twice during the ceremony, Catholic parents profess adherence to the faith in which the child is being baptised and promise to give the example needed for the child to be raised in their faith. Normally, this promise cannot be made unless the Catholic parents themselves are faithful in their Catholic practice and are not simply bringing the child for baptism because of family tradition or a vague feeling that ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ In other words, the Church is concerned that parents not be placed in the position of making a profession of faith they do not honestly believe. But – and this is a crucial point – the story does not end there.

The parish priest is obliged to help parents who are not yet ready genuinely to profess their faith, to assist them in assuming responsibility for the religious education of their children and then to decide the right time for baptism…

It remains vital that Catholic parents desire in their own hearts that the baptism of their child will be what it was meant to be, an earnest recommitment of all their family to the faith they hope to share with their child.”
– This article by Father John was published in “The Catholic Universe”, issue Sunday 16th June, 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link).

• If you are an ADULT who wishes to learn about the Catholic faith in order to “brush up” or to be initiated for the first time, please type “RCIA” into this blog’s search engine for information whether your baptism is recognised by the Catholic Church (if you were for example baptised Protestant), and info for those of you who would like to become Catholic without having been baptised previously.

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 16:13-19)

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” he said, “who do you say I am?” Then Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING II (2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8, 17-18)

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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TODAY’S RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 33)

R. From all my terrors the Lord set me free.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad. (R.)

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free. (R.)

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress. (R.)

The angel of the Lord is encamped
around those who revere him, to rescue them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
He is happy who seeks refuge in him. (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.
And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.
Alleluia!

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING I (ACTS 12:1-11)

SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. “Get up!” he said, “Hurry!” – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, “Put on your belt and sandals.” After he had done this, the angel next said, “Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.” Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. “Now I know it is all true” he said. “The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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“AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT” – NOW THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYERS TRANSLATE INTO EVEN MORE SERVICE FOR CHRIST IN THE NEEDY

“BE INSPIRED BY PRAYER TO GO ABOUT DOING GOOD

For more than 1600 years there was only one Eucharistic prayer said at the heart of the Mass by the priest in silence. It was known as the Roman Canon, the great prayer of consecration after the offertory and from the preface to the Great Amen and the Our Father.

Following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1970s there were four Eucharistic prayers and later on two more for reconciliation and three for Masses for children were added.

In the average parish, Eucharistic Prayer II was the one most frequently used along with Eucharistic Prayer III. The Roman Canon (now Eucharistc Prayer I) was regarded as more formal for traditional occasions and Eucharistic Prayer IV, which was much longer, was only occasionally used.

The Eucharistic prayers were not originally the main concern of the Vatican II group looking at the liturgy but, after the Council, the emergence of a range of Eucharistic prayers emanating from the Dutch, German and French Churches called for a Liturgical Commission to deal with a range of approved Eucharistic prayers as options alongside the Roman Canon.

THE NEW TRANSLATIONS

More recently, getting this new range of Eucharistic prayers into good vernacular languages has been the main task resulting in our recent new English translations.

While the focus at the introduction of the new translations has largely been on appropriate individual words and phrases, the reintroduction of the response ‘and with your spirit’, the commentary around the Eucharistic prayers devoted much time to the introduction of the phrase ‘like the dewfall’ in Eucharistic Prayer II. Without diminishing the need to have the words and phrases well translated, perhaps the concentration on the individual leaves and branches has obscured the trees and the whole wood.

There are now 12 Eucharistic great prayers of thanksgiving to be used at the heart of the Mass, two for reconciliation and others for ‘special needs’ and occasions (such as for Church unity). The last one has been entitled ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’. The preface of this special Eucharistic prayer reminds us: ‘He always showed compassion for children and the poor, for the sick and sinners, and he became a neighbour to the oppressed and afflicted. By word and deed he announced to the world that you are our Father and that you care for all your sons and daughters,’ calling us, as Pope Benedict put it, to become not mere neighbours but brothers and sisters.

‘TO BECOME NOT MERE NEIGHBOURS, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS’

This Eucharistic prayer opens with the words ‘You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who loves the whole human race and who always walks with us on the journey of life.’ After the consecration, the prayer continues: ‘Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters, inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labour and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command. And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope.’

This new Eucharistic prayer sets a tone of real pastoral engagement and practical hope, exhorting us to draw strength from the Eucharist to go out into the daily world to serve those in real need.

We have a practical job to do in our own communities in witnessing to the Gospel. I am not sure about what the ‘special occasions’ are for the use of the Eucharistic prayer of ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’, but would suggest it could be used more often and not just to reinforce those already involved in the activities of the St Vincent de Paul societies, the mothers’ groups, the knights and Justice and Peace and CAFOD groups, but to underline the need for us all to move with the celebration of the Eucharist to more radical service.

Already building on the work of the SVP, many parishioners are starting to help with food banks, moving towards setting up parish personal debt advice sessions and promoting more credit unions.

Encouragingly, more and more are asking what can we do to practically help and assist. Gathering around the special Eucharistic prayer, ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’, provides a real driving inspiration for a Church now called to active witness in a world of real, ordinary, daily needs.”
– This article by John Battle, entitled “Be inspired by prayer to go about doing good” was published in “The Catholic Universe”, issue Sunday 16th June, 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link)

 

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“GUIDE THOSE HE HAS CHOSEN” – PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

Father, you have appointed Your Son Jesus Christ eternal High Priest. Guide those He has chosen to be ministers of word and sacrament and help them to be faithful in fulfilling the ministry they have received.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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