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THE WORKS OF THE LORD IN HIS HUMAN NATURE ARE A MANIFESTATION OF HIS DIVINITY (LK 4:23-30)

Homily of St Ambrose on Luke 4:23-30

No mean degree of envy was that which led these men to turn what should have been a reason for love into an occasion of bitter hatred, unmindful of the charity due to a fellow-citizen.

In this passage it is shown both by example and by word that, if you envy the fruits of virtue in other men, you will look in vain for the assistance of heavenly mercy. For the Lord is a despiser of the envious; and from those who persecute other men for possessing divine benefits, he turns away the wonders of his power. For the works of the Lord in his human nature are a manifestation of his divinity; and the invisible things of them are shown to us by means of those that are visible.

Envy of another’s spiritual benefits

Not without reason, therefore, does the Saviour excuse himself, that he worked miracles of his power in his own country; lest perchance anyone should consider that we ought to think lightly of affection for one’s own country. Indeed it was impossible for him not to love his fellow-citizens, since he loved all men; but it was they themselves who, in giving way to envy, forfeited the love due to fellow-citizens.

In truth I say to you: there were many widows in the days of Elia. Not that the days belonged to Elia, but that they were the days in which Elia worked; or that Elia made day appear to them who saw in his works the light of spiritual grace, and were converted to the Lord. And, therefore, heaven was opened to those who saw eternal and divine mysteries; it was shut and there was a famine when there was no longer an abundance of the knowledge of God. But of this we spoke more fully when we wrote concerning widows.

Heaven was opened to those who saw eternal and divine mysteries

“And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus, the Prophet; and none of them was cleansed but only Naaman, the Syrian.” By these words the Lord and Saviour clearly teaches and exhorts us to be zealous in our reverence for divine things: because no one is shown to be made whole and have his body freed from the defilements of disease, except the man who seeks to be healed through the performance of religious duties.

For, God does not bestow his blessings on the slothful, but on those who observe his commandments. In another book we said of that widow to whom Elia was sent, that she was set as a type that prefigured the Church. The people gathered together and formed the Church, that other people might follow what had been gathered together out of strange nations.

The people that before were leprous, the people that before were defiled, as soon as they had been baptised with the mystic waters, as soon as they had been washed from the stains of body and mind, were now no longer like a leper but became a spotless virgin without wrinkle.

– St Ambrose, Bishop, Bk. 4, on Luke, Ch. 4; from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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SHOULD I SECRETLY BAPTISE MY GRANDSON WHEN I AM BABYSITTING?

 

“QUESTION:

My grandson has not yet been baptised. I have tried to persuade my daughter to arrange this but she does not seem concerned about it. Could I secretly baptise him when I am babysitting?

 

ANSWER:

The ordinary minister of baptism is the bishop, priest or deacon and baptism should be carried out in the Church according to the full rite given in the liturgical books. In an emergency, if a child is in danger of death, any person (even a non-Catholic) may baptise a child validly if they pour water on the child, say ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’, and have the intention to do what the Church does.

 

It would be wrong to carry out an emergency baptism if there is no pressing necessity such as a serious danger to the child’s life. Baptism makes us Christians, children of God and members of the Church, with the duty of living the Christian life and living in accord with the teaching of the Church. The Church has always recognised the need for the consent of the parents and a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the practice of the faith.

 

If a baptism is carried out in an emergency, the parish priest should be informed so that he can offer pastoral care, and so that he can enter the details in the baptismal register. Should the child survive, he will arrange for the other ceremonies of the baptismal rite to be carried out in the Church at when convenient. The fact of baptism has important consequences in later life, especially in relation to marriage, so the parish priest should also be informed if a baptism is carried out when there was not any danger – though unlawful, such a baptism would be valid.

 

Many grandparents feel as you do. It is right for you to encourage the parents to have the child baptised, but you cannot force their decision. Try to show the value of the Christian faith gently, without nagging, but joyfully witnessing to the value of the Christian life.”

– This article by Fr Tim Finigan entitled “Catholic Dilemmas” was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue November 1 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link)

 

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“RENDER TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S” (MT 22:17-21) – ON MAN’S IMAGE WHICH WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF THE TRINITY

Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? She’s me the coin of tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They said to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.

” On the threefold image of God: ‘Show me the coin of tribute’

Note that the image is threefold: of likeness, of creation (in which man is created, namely reason), and of restoration, by which the created image is restored, namely the grace of God which is infused into the mind to be renewed.

The image of likeness is that according to which man was made in the image and likeness of the whole Trinity.

By memory he is like the Father, by understanding like the Son, by love like the Holy Spirit.

So St Augustine says, ‘Let me remember you, understand you, and love you.’

Man was made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27): his image in the understanding of truth, his likeness in love of virtue.

The light of God’s countenance is the grace of j stification, whereby the created image is imprinted.

The light is the whole and true good of man, whereby he is marked like a penny with the king’s image.

That is why the Lord adds in this Gospel: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, etc. It is as if he said: ‘As you give back to Caesar his image, so give back your soul to God, enlightened and signed with the light of his countenance.'”

– St Anthony of Padua

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ARTILLERY TO DEFEND THE FAITH

“Five hundred years ago this month, our holy father St Philip Neri was born in the early hours of 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Just hours later the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity were infused into his soul in Baptism. In the wretched heat and humidity that afflict Florence in high summer it was prudent to administer the Sacrament without delay.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard which when it is sown is the tiniest seed in the field, but when grown it becomes a tree in the branches of which the birds of the air come and make their nests. The seed that was planted in St Philip’s heart in the famous Baptistery of St John, and which germinated and took root during his childhood in Florence, would eventually flourish into a mighty tree in Rome. His own room was the nest (he actually called it his ‘nido’) in which the fledgling first Oratory would become the base for an apostolic mission that would earn him the glorious title Apostle of Rome.

The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation

As other Oratories began to be established, it was St Philip’s wish that each house remain autonomous, and this status is preserved to this day in the Church’s law. Nevertheless, every Oratory is to be like a branch that stems from and is animated by that supernatural life that was nurtured in St Philip’s ‘nido’ half a millennium ago. The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation is to give encouragement and direction to anyone who seeks spiritual refreshment in the shade of its bough. An Oratory is supposed to provide a spiritual home, usually in an urban context, in which friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured under the gentle guidance of St Philip and the protection of Our Lady.

…where friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured

Mention of the Counter Reformation conjures up images of the Church rolling out all the engines of war. Established religious orders were to be reformed or suppressed; new congregations would be equipped with spiritual and intellectual artillery to defend the Faith and reclaim territories lost to schism. Jesuits were to be deployed around Europe to engage heretics in public dispute, or despatched to risk life and limb recruiting converts from the heathen New World. In contrast to this, St Philip’s mission within the Church Militant took place entirely on the home front. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘He put away from him monastic rule and authoritative speech as David refused the armour of his king… His weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light and fervour and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him.” In other words, it was through personal contact and friendship that St Philip contributed to the success of the Catholic Reformation.

The Christian/spiritual meaning of friendship

Under the tyranny of sentimentalism that reigns supreme today, there is a danger that friendship can take on a shallow meaning and be understood mainly in terms of feelings and utility. To understand how friendship was so effective in St Philip’s apostolate, it is necessary to appreciate the classical and Christian traditions in which he had been formed by the Dominicans at San Marco, and through his later studies in Rome. In the Aristotelian understanding, friendship is a ‘settled disposition’ – a habit, based on virtue. It involves the recognition of an intrinsic good in the other, and a reciprocated commitment to serve that good and make it flourish. In a truly virtuous friendship, the parties will also work together for the common good. Whereas for Aristotele such friendship is only possible between equals (he said that the one good we must never desire for our friends is that they become gods because if our wish were fulfilled then we should immediately forfeit their friendship), St Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on Sanctifying Grace makes even friendship with God a reality, because God actually shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism.

The infectious spirit of generosity and charity

Saint Philip excelled in making men’s hearts receptive to this vocation to live as friends with God. His joyful influence fostered an ambience in which his spiritual children found pleasure in each other’s company and came to assist each other in living virtuously. A shy cobbler whom St Philip spotted sitting at the back of the Oratory was summoned to the front and hugged like a long-lost child returning to a family that included cardinals and princes. A watch-seller on the verge of bankruptcy found himself suddenly overwhelmed by eager customers at the Oratory, where St Philip’s friends had been primed to come to his assistance. This infectious spirit of generosity and charity was fostered by visits to attend to the poor in the Roman hospitals. Even those who came to the Oratory with unworthy motives were eventually captivated by the ‘Winning Saint’, and some found themselves taking Holy Orders or religious vows as a result.

This school of Christian friendship was the magnificent mustard tree which developed from that seed of the Kingdom planted in St Philip’s heart at his Baptism on 22nd July 1515. By his intercession, and under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, may it continue to flourish in the Oratory today and in the years to come.”

– From: “The Oratory Parish Magazine – From the Provost”, London Oratory, Vol. 92, No. 1130 (subheadings in bold added afterwards)

 

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (GALATIANS 3:22-29)

(Week 27 of the year: Saturday)

YOU ARE ALL SONS OF GOD THROUGH FAITH.

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe.

But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed.

Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue.

For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus.

For as many of you have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

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

 
 

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ONCE SHE STARTED GOING TO DAILY MASS, SHE BECAME VERY CALM, BALANCED AND CHEERFUL

OUR SOULS NEED GOD

“I once knew a family whose mother was in and out of a psychiatric ward. She was not a Catholic, though the rest of the family were. It seemed to me that if she became a Catholic and started going to the sacraments she would stay calm and keep out of hospital. She was happy to become a Catholic, so I instructed her and received her into the Church and she started going to daily Mass. She soon became very calm and balanced and cheerful – she seemed almost a different person.

HER CHILDREN SAID THE ROSARY FOR HER

Then she went back to West Africa on holiday, and her mother made her go to her own local church, one, I fancy, that dabbled in witchcraft. The poor woman came back as bad as ever, and when I went to see her in her psychiatric ward she would not even speak to me. However, her children started saying the rosary for her every day, and their mother came out of hospital and resumed her sacramental life. Once more she became peaceful and contented, and all was well again. When she went to the sacraments she was fine, but when she didn’t she lost her balance completely.

WE WERE NOT MEANT TO REMAIN MERE HUMAN BEINGS

I suppose you could say that in God’s original design we were never meant to remain mere human beings. We were meant to be also living that sharing in God’s life which we call the life of grace.

SIN TIES KNOTS IN THE SOUL, KNOTS THAT NO PSYCHIATRIST CAN UNRAVEL

The sin of our first parents introduced a flaw into the product. The sacraments are the remedy, the supplement, the correction, that God has provided to make good the fault. But it’s up to us to decide whether we use it or not.

Our Lord is like the doctor of our soul when he comes to us in the sacraments. The same Jesus who went around Galilee, doing good and healing all manner of diseases, is still healing our sick souls when we turn to him for help.

Sin ties knots in the soul, knots that no psychiatrist can unravel. But God can, and he does it in the sacraments, in baptism to begin with, and then in confession.”
– Fr Hugh S. Thwaites

 

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“THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES TO MEET US AND KINDLES FAITH IN US”

“On … Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, let us prayerfully reflect on some of the words contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Holy Spirit.

‘The HOLY SPIRIT comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.’ (Section 683).

‘The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation. But in these ‘end times’, ushered in by the Son’s redeeming Incarnation, the Spirit is revealed and given, recognised and welcomed in a person. Now can this divine plan, accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.’ (section 686)

The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:

• In the Scripture he inspired;

• In the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are already witnesses;

• In the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists;

• In the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us in communion with Christ;

• In prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;

• In the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;

• In the signs of apostolic and missionary life;

• In the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation (section 688).”
– From “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris” (June 2014)

 

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