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YOU ARE MY SON; THIS DAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU (Ps2:7)

YOU ARE MY SON; THIS DAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU (Ps2:7)

The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day I have begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalm 2:7, 8)

Christ did not become King to exact tribute, to equip armies, nor subdue visible foes

What a stupendous thing it was for the King of the ages to become King of men! For Christ did not become King of Israel to exact tribute, to equip armies with swords, nor subdue visible foes. He became King of Israel that he might rule over men’s souls, counsel them about eternity, that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven those who believe in him, hope in him, and love him.

Christ became King that he might rule over men’s souls, counsel them about eternity, that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven those who believe in him, hope in him, and love him.

Accordingly, it was not to increase his power, but condescension on his part that made him – the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, the Word by whom all things were made – wish to become King of Israel. It was an indication of his mercy; it did not augment his power.

He who on earth was called King of the Jews, in heaven is called Lord of the angels. But is Christ King of the Jews only, and not King of the Gentiles, too? Yes, he is King of the Gentiles, too. When in prophecy he said, “But I have established my kingdom upon Sion, my holy mountain. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord,” he added immediately so that the mention of Mount Sion might not lead men to believe he had been anointed King of the Jews solely: “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.

– St Augustine, Bishop, Treatise 51 on John 12-13, and Treatise 117 on John 19-20, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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CHRIST THE KING: HIS KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

CHRIST THE KING: HIS KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

For Part II, “Christ the King Possesses Dominion Over All Creatures”, please click here.

…But, nevertheless, a kingdom of this nature, in a certain special manner, is both a spiritual one, and also pertains to spiritual things, as these words, which we have quoted above from the Bible, most distinctly indicate, and moreover as Christ the Lord confirms them by reason of his own actions. Inasmuch as, on more than one occasion, when the Jews, indeed, when even the apostles themselves, erroneously imagined that it was imminent that the Messiah would set the people at liberty and would restore the Kingdom of Israel, he himself both dispelled and destroyed the fond hope.

Disclaiming the title of King from an encompassing multitude of admirers, he refused both the name and the honour by fleeing from them and by lying hid. In the presence of the Roman governor, he declared that his kingdom was “not of this world.”

It is such a kingdom, indeed, as is represented in the Gospels, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance, but they cannot enter except by faith and by baptism, which, although it is an external rite, nevertheless denotes and produces an interior regeneration. It is opposed in a very special manner to the kingdom of Satan and to the powers of darkness. It demands from its followers not only that, with their souls detached from riches and from worldly affairs, they display mildness of character, and hunger and thirst after justice, but that they deny themselves, and take up their cross.

But since Christ as Redeemer has both purchased the Church with his own blood, and as Priest offered his very self as a sacrifice for sin, and so offers himself in perpetuity, is it not evident to all that his kingly office assumes and participates in the nature of both one and the other office? On the other hand, one errs in a most unseemly manner if one takes away from Christ as man all authority over any kind of civil affairs whatever, since he obtains from the Father such a highly absolute jurisdiction over created things, that all things are placed under his power. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we appoint the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, annually…to be observed everywhere in the world. Likewise we enjoin, that the dedication of the human race to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be annually renewed upon that self-some day.

– From the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, December 11, 1925, from: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL (Mt 5:7) – HOW MERCIFUL DO WE NEED TO BE?

Blessed are the merciful

“You probably would feel quite offended if someone were to describe you as a cruel person. Yet, can you truthfully say that you never have caused unnecessary pain to another? You never have harshly criticised another, humiliated another or made cutting remarks to another? If you can answer, ‘Never’ (or even ‘Seldom’) to all such questions, then you are indeed close to the heart of Christ. ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ He has said, ‘for they shall obtain mercy.’

Vigilance, lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy

Few of us are so accomplished in this matter of mercy that we can afford to assume that we are included in our Lord’s blessing. Those of us who are in any position of authority, such as employers, supervisors, officials, teachers and religious superiors, have particular need to be vigilant lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy. It is so easy to be caustic towards those who cannot strike back.

Having others ‘at our mercy’

Failure in mercy is not confined, of course, to persons explicitly in positions of authority. There are many ways of having others ‘at our mercy’. We have the upper hand, for example, any time we enter a store or a restaurant. Since the customer is always right, clerks, waiters and managers must bear with our discourtesies in silent helplessness.

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those we love

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those who are bound to us by love. A husband snarls at his wife or a wife screams at her husband. Sometimes parents excoriate their children out of all proportion, making a capital offence of what is, at worst, a minor misdemeanor.

Venting our anger on the next best person

More often than not, the reason why we are grumpy or snappish toward another is because we have bottled-up feelings of resentment or frustration which press for ventilation. A teacher who has just been reprimanded by his principal, for example, will land like a charge of dynamite on the first pupil who steps out of line in the least degree. Nine-tenths of our temper explosions really do not belong at all to the hapless person who is rocked by our anger. Our victim simply happens to be the nearest and most defenceless object upon whom we can discharge our emotional pressure.

Reacting savagely to minor annoyances

Sometimes it is nervous fatigue or physical distress (such as a headache) which causes us to react savagely to minor annoyances. Like a sick animal, we growl and bare our teeth at anyone, however innocent, who happens to cross our path.

A gentleman never gives pain

Cardinal Newman has described a gentleman as one who never gives pain. A gentleman bears his own inner hurts and tensions with fortitude and does not visit them upon others. It is an infallible sign of a small mind and a weak character when a person is discourteous toward those over whom he has some advantage.

There are times, of course, when a person in authority must administer an admonition or a rebuke. Yet, even this can be done with gentleness and tact. It is so much better to say, ‘You are doing a fine job, George, but there is one small thing which I feel I should call to your attention,’ than to shout, ‘You stupid fool! See what you’ve done!’…

Our Lord Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for special attention

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ It is no wonder that Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for such special attention. This is the one virtue above all others which characterises Himself. His patience, His allowance for human weakness, His compassion, His quickness to forgive – all combine to give us confidence as we pray to Him, ‘Lord, have mercy!’

The people whose lives touch ours have enough suffering already. It is inexcusable if we add to their hurt by our discourtesy, ill-temper and vindictiveness. If we cannot be gentle, patient and forgiving toward one another, then Jesus has a right to ask, ‘What price My crucifixion? Was it, then, all in vain?'”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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BIBLE STUDY: BLESSED ARE THE MEEK: FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH (Mt 5:5)

In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating

“In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating. The disesteem which many people have for meekness probably stems from their misunderstanding of its nature. If asked to describe a meek person, the average individual would answer, ‘A namby-pamby sort with no spirit. The kind who never stands up for his rights and who is everybody’s doormat.’

It takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek

This popular concept of meekness is a very mistaken one. The truth is that it takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek, because the essence of meekness is self-control. A meek person is one who is complete master of his temper and has immense patience toward the stupidity, the weakness and even the malice of other people.

The don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual

Psychologists tell us that the easily irritated, don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual. His angry reaction to contradiction or annoyance is a defence against his inner feeling of uncertainty concerning his own basic worth. Only a man (or woman) who has a wholesome confidence in his ability to deal with the demands of life is able to remain calm when crossed or contradicted or frustrated. Such a person has no need to shout and smash in order to maintain his own self-respect.

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling. Yet, he is a humble person, inasmuch as he does not have an inflated sense of his own importance in God’s scheme of things. With humility he has a sense of humour, which means the wonderful gift of being able to laugh at himself. He has a sense of proportion, too, and understands that charity is much more important than self-vindication, that victory over self is much more significant than victory over another. The self-assertive, domineering person may win more battles than the meek man, but it is the meek man who wins the war.

How can I tell whether I possess the virtue of meekness?

If I wish to know whether I possess the virtue of meekness, there are a few pertinent questions which I can ask myself. For example, when an argument develops, do I raise my voice and feel a compulsion to prove myself right? Am I sharply critical of the mistakes of others, particularly when those mistakes inconvenience me? Do I react angrily to opposition? Am I irritable and snappish when others question my competency or the wisdom of my decisions? Do I brood unhappily over criticisms directed against me or go into a sullen pout when blocked from doing something I want to do? If I have to answer, ‘Yes, usually,’ to any of these questions, then I still am weak in the virtue of meekness.

Victory over self is much more significant than victory over another

There will be times, of course, when circumstances make it necessary for us to administer a correction to another person and to do so with firmness. However, firmness – even adamant firmness – is not incompatible with meekness. It is quite possible to be firm and still be gentle. In fact, the quiet firmness of the meek is likely to be much more effective than the thundering of the autocrat.

Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate meekness

No one is perfect, and even a meek person may have his bad moments in times of fatigue and stress. The great difference here between the meek and the non-meek is that the meek man feels ashamed of himself after an outburst of temper and is quick to make amends if his sharpness has hurt another. The self-assertive person, on the other hand, tells himself that his outburst was fully warranted. He must justify himself in his own mind to protect himself against his inner insecurity.

In view of the many ancillary virtues (humility, patience, charity, self-control) involved in the practice of meekness, it is no wonder that Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate this virtue. When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth,’ He was not promising world domination to the man of quiet strength. Jesus was saying, in poetic imagery, that the meek shall possess all things forever – which is heaven.

Meekness does not come easy. But, in terms of happiness here as well as hereafter, its development is well worth the effort.”

– Fr. Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough, 1966

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 5:1-12)

HOW HAPPY ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

“How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown to them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.”

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

 

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TO LIVE IN UNITY WITH JESUS WE MUST RENOUNCE THE WORLD (ST PAUL: “THE WORLD IS DEAD TO ME AND I AM DEAD TO THE WORLD”)

BY MONS. NICOLA TAFURI

I. Do you want perfect unity with Jesus? Then you must renounce the world. Reading the Gospels, it is clear that He launched many an attack on the world through His words and actions. He condemned it, and even excluded it from His divine prayers. The world then must be seen as a great enemy that you, O Christian, must wholly hate, seeing that it was so hated by the Heart of Jesus, eternal truth and infinite wisdom.

Despise the goods of the world, they contain nothing but seductions and the poison of death. Despise the maxims of the world, they are all false, hollow and contrary to divine law. Think nothing of the hatred of the world, if Jesus Christ was treated as a madman, it is no surprise that His followers are likewise treated. The world is mired in malice, friendship with it means enmity with God, an if you follow the world, you too will become worldly with the worldly, corrupt with the corrupt…therefore despise it all, so as to be able to say with St Paul, the world is dead to me and I am dead to the world.

II. Scorn the world with all your soul, live according to the true doctrine of the Heart of Jesus. And what is that doctrine? It can be wholly understood through the eight beatitudes.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, meaning those detached from all worldly things, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek, meaning those who accept all out of love for God, for they shall inherit the earth, the promised land of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, meaning those who, in this vale of tears, know the holy sadness of the cross, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, meaning those who desire virtue and perfection, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, meaning those who know how to love their neighbours and live in communion with them, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, meaning those who are pure, far from every sin and whose intentions are right, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, meaning those who know how to live in peace with God, with themselves and with others, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right, meaning through no faults of their own but because they uphold God’s truth, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This is Jesus Christ’s true doctrine, and the rewards in store for those who follow it, heaven and earth will pass away, but His word will not. These beatitudes will be like eight precious cords that fasten your heart to that of Jesus, eight springs of peace, joy and blessings, eight golden steps that will lead you to the blessedness of eternal paradise! Foolish is he who is wise according to the world! Knowledgeable is he who is foolish according to Jesus Christ! At the moment of your death, you will see the light of this truth.

III. So, all celestial wisdom has its beginning and fulfilment within the Heart of Jesus. From this Heart, like the many rays issuing from a shining sun, this wisdom is given to the hearts of His chosen ones. Here the innumerable saints have found every happiness in time and an immense fountain of glory in eternity. Therefore, O Christian, learn to see everything as the divine Heart sees it, loving what He loves and hating what He hates, judging things as He judges them.

He is the sure Way, the infallible Truth and the everlasting Life and following Him you will not walk in darkness but in continuous light, until you walk into the light of the glory of paradise. What would you gain by understanding everything, by speaking all the languages of men and angels and not following the teachings of Jesus? May the doctrine of the Sacred Heart…be the source of your every honour, greatness and wisdom. If you imitate it and find joy in suffering, glory in rejection and riches in poverty, O, what a secret of happiness you will have uncovered! O what an immense and eternal treasure!

[Daily] HOMAGE: Honour the Heart of Jesus by reciting five “Our Fathers” with your arms outstretched in the form of a cross, repeating with special devotion and feeling, “Thy Kingdom come”.

PRAYER: Mihi mundum crucifixus est, et ego mundo. [I am crucified to the world, and the world to me]
Wise, holy Heart of Jesus, I do not deserve to live, unless I serve You with all my life.

 

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“BLESSED ARE THEY WHO MOURN” (Mt 5:4) – FOR WHAT SHALL WE MOURN?

GOD NEVER IS CLOSER THAN WHEN, HUMANLY SPEAKING, LIFE SEEMS MOST HOPELESS. UNLESS HE CHOOSES TO BLOCK GOD OUT OF HIS LIFE, NO MAN EVER CAN TRUTHFULLY SAY, ‘I SUFFER ALONE’.

“If you are of cheerful disposition and generally inclined to look on the bright side of life, you may feel a little uncomfortable as you listen to Jesus say, in His Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are they who mourn.’ You may feel a twinge of guilt at the thought of your own inveterate cheerfulness, and may wonder whether it is quite Christian to feel as happy as you do. Just what does Jesus mean, anyway?

WHAT DOES JESUS MEAN, ANYWAY?

His first meaning is a literal one. He means exactly what He says. Jesus was addressing a crowd of people who, for the most part, were poor and who daily lived with sorrow. There was no social security, no unemployment insurance, no farm subsidies. There were few parents among his listeners who did not know at times the awful anxiety of being unable to provide bread for their children.

The science of medicine was rudimentary, too. There were no wonder drugs. The infant mortality rate was high. Childhood diseases and adult illnesses were too often fatal. Death and grief were frequent intruders in the homes of Christ’s hearers.

THE MEANING OF SUFFERING

Jesus wanted them (and us) to know that God is not indifferent to the sorrows of His children. Indeed, there is nothing which exerts a more powerful claim upon God for His compassionate attention than does the mental anguish of persons of good will. This is the type of suffering which is closest to the agony of God’s own Son.

God will give the strength to survive sorrow. God will give the grace to make grief a purifying and sanctifying force and a sure path to heaven. God never is closer than when, humanly speaking, life seems most hopeless. Unless he chooses to block God out of his life, no man ever can truthfully say, ‘I suffer alone.’ And in heaven there surely will be, very close to the martyrs, a degree of glory and happiness reserved for those who have been burdened with mental distress.

MORE THAN JUST THE LITERAL SENSE

When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted,’ He meant His word to be taken literally, but He did not l i m i t His meaning to the literal sense. No matter how free from other grief we may be, we all have the obligation to mourn for our sins, to sorrow for the times we have rejected God’s love and for the graces we have wasted. From this type of grief – tempered by our confidence in God’s mercy – we never must be free.

THOSE WHO REJECT GOD OR DO NOT KNOW HIM

There is still another kind of sorrow to which the Christian must not be a stranger. This is the sorrow engendered in us by the suffering – spiritual, mental and physical – of others.

We should be deeply concerned, for example, that so many of our brothers and sisters live their lives completely divorced from God. We should be concerned that so many choose to make sin a way of life. We should be concerned that so many have not yet heard of the Gospel message of God’s love and Christ’s redemption. We should be concerned that there are so many divisions among Christians. We should be concerned that there is so much hatred in the world, so many people at one another’s throats. We should be concerned that millions of our fellow men do not have decent shelter or enough to eat.

WE ARE LESS MOVED TO WEEP THAN TO TAKE ACTION

There is more than enough reason for us to mourn if we have the sense of responsibility for our neighbour which, as members of Christ’s Body, we must have. This is a type of grief which expresses itself less in the emotions than in the will. We are less moved to weep than we are to take action.

THE GRIEF WE SHARE WITH CHRIST AT THE MISERY OF OTHERS

What action we can take, either individually or as a member of a group, will vary with each of us. We shall pray for sufferers, of course, but we may not be content with prayer alone if there is something we can d o . The grief which we share with Christ at the misery of others is a dynamic force. It seeks for an outlet, for a deed to be done, and is not content until it has found that outlet.

If we have to confess, ‘I have done nothing during this past month (or two months or a year) to alleviate human suffering,’ we have reason to feel uneasy. We can hardly qualify for Christ’s promise: the promise of God’s healing and comforting embrace, here and hereafter, for all who mourn.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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