Thread: Daily Dose of Catholicism
August 7th 2007, 01:27 PM #136
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
The Lord was willing to hand over his body for destruction so that by the shedding of his blood we might be made holy through the remission of our sins. According to Scripture this refers to both Israel and us. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised by our iniquitites, by his wounds we are healed. He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, like a lamb that is dumb before to its shearer. What a debt of gratitude, then, do we owe to the Lord for letting us see the meaning of the past, for instructing us about the present and not leaving us in ignorance about the future. In the words of Scripture: Not unjustly are nets spread for birds. This means that a man is justly condemned if, knowing the right way, he heads into the way of darkness.
The Lord was ready to undergo suffering for our souls' sake, even though he is Lord of the whole earth, the one to whom God said at the foundation of the world: Let us make man in our own image and likeness. But, in that case, my brothers, how could he allow himself to suffer at the hands of men? This is the explanation. The prophets inspired by his grace foretold what he would do; he allowed himself to suffer because he had to be seen in the flesh, in order that he might destroy the power of death and manifest the resurrection from the dead. In this way he would carry out the promises that had been made to our forefathers, and while still on earth prepare for himself a new people; he would also show that, after the resurrection, he was to be our judge. Furthermore, by teaching Israel and working such great signs and wonders, he proclaimed the good news and showed the depths of his love for that people.
Having thus renewed us by forgiving our sins, he refashioned us; he gave us the souls of children, as though we had been born anew. For it is to us that Scripture refers when the Father says to the Son: Let us make man according to our own image and likeness; and let him rule over the beasts on the earth and the birds in the air and the fish in the sea. The Lord saw the beauty of our fashion and added: Increase and multiply and fill the earth.
All this God said to his Son. But let me now point out to you how he also speaks to us. It is indeed a second act of creation that the Lord has performed in these last days; that is why he says: Behold, I am making the last things like the first. It was this that the propeht had in mind when he said: Enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, and rule over it. It is true, you see, that we have been completely remade. This is what God means by the words of another prophet: Behold, says the Lord, I will take the stony hearts out of this people, that is, the people whom the Spirit of the Lord foreknew, and put hearts of flesh into them. For he willed to appear in the flesh and live among us.
And so, my brothers, the dwelling place of our hearts is a temple sacred to the Lord. Again, the Lord says: Let me give thanks to you in the assembly of the people. So it is we whom he has led into a fertile land.
Epistle attributed to Barnabas"Only friendliness produces friendship. And we must look far deeper into the soul of man for the thing that produces friendliness." G. K. Chesterton
August 10th 2007, 09:30 AM #137
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.
And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him. After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps. In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.
The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.
So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death. The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!
Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there. Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, If you have risen with Christ, savour the things that are above us, seated at God’s right hand.
~From a sermon preached by St. Augustine on this feast day"Only friendliness produces friendship. And we must look far deeper into the soul of man for the thing that produces friendliness." G. K. Chesterton
August 13th 2007, 10:40 AM #138
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Of his own free will Jesus ran to meet those sufferings that were foretold in the Scriptures concerning him. He had forewarned his disciples about them several times; he had rebuked Peter for being reluctant to accept the announcement of his passion, and he had made it clear that it was by means of his suffering that the world's salvation was to be accomplished. This was why he stepped forward and presented himself to those who came in search of him, saying : I am the one you are looking for. For the same reason he made no reply when he was accused, and refused to hide when he could have done so, although in the past he had slipped away on more than one occasion when they had tried to apprehend him.
Jesus also wept over Jerusalem because by her unwillingness to believe she was bent on her own ruin, and upon the temple, once so renowned, he passed sentence of utter destruction. Patiently he put up with being struck in the face by a man who was doubly a slave, in body and in spirit. He allowed himself to be slapped, spat upon, insulted, tortured, scourged and finally crucified. He accepted two robbers as his companions in punishment, on his right and on his left. He endured being reckoned with murderers and criminals. He drank the vinegar and the bitter gall yielded by the unfaithful vineyard of israel. He submitted to crowning with thorns instead of with vine twigs and grapes; he was ridiculed with the purple cloak, holes were dug in his hands and his feet, and at last he was carried to the grave.
All this he endured in working out our salvation. For since those who were enslaved to sin were liable to the penalties of sin, he himself, exempt from sin though he was and walking in the path of perfect righteousness, underwent the punishment of sinners. By his cross he blotted out the decree of the ancient curse: for, as Paul says: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the one who hangs on a tree. And by his crown of thorns he put an end to that punishment meted out to Adam, who after his sin had heard the sentence: Cursed is the ground because of you; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth for you.
In tasting the gall Jesus took on himself the bitterness and toil of man's mortal, painful life. By drinking the vinegar he made his own the degradation men had suffered, and in the same act gave us the grace to better our condition. by the purple robe he signified his kingship, by the reed he hinted at the weakness and rottenness of the devil's power. By taking the slap in the face, and thus suffering the violence, corrections and blows that were due to us, he proclaimed our freedom.
His side was pierced as Adam's was; yet there came forth not a woman who, being beguiled, was to be the death-bearer, but a fountain of life that regenerates the world by its two streams: the one to renew us in the baptismal font and clothe us with the garment of immortality, the other to feed us, the reborn, at the table of God, just as babes are nourished with milk.
~On the Incarnation of the Lord by Theodoret of Cyr, bishop"Only friendliness produces friendship. And we must look far deeper into the soul of man for the thing that produces friendliness." G. K. Chesterton
August 15th 2007, 12:26 PM #139
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
But even though, according to nature, your most holy and happy soul is separated from your most blessed and stainless body and the body as usual is delivered to the tomb, it will not remain in the power of death and is not subject to decay. For just as her virginity remained inviolate while giving birth, when she departed her body was preserved from destruction and only taken to a better and more divine tabernacle, which is not subject to any death . . . Hence I will call her holy passing not death, but falling asleep or departure, or better still, arrival. . . .
Your stainless and wholly immaculate body has not been left on earth; the Queen, the Mistress, the Mother of God who has truly given birth to God has been translated to the royal palaces of heaven. .
Angels and archangels have borne you upwards, the impure spirits of the air have trembled at your ascension. The air is purified, the ether sanctified by your passing through them. . . the powers meet you with sacred hymns and much solemnity, saying something like this: Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, elect like the sun? [cf. Cant 6:9] How you have blossomed forth, how sweet you have become! You are the flower of the field, a lily among the thorns [Cant 2.1] . . . Not like Elijah have you entered heaven, not like Paul have you been rapt to the third heaven; no, you have penetrated even to the royal throne of your Son himself . . . a blessing for the world, a sanctification of the universe, refreshment for those who are tired, comfort for the sorrowing, healing for the sick, a port for those in danger, pardon for sinners, soothing balm for the oppressed, quick help for all who pray to you. . .
Good Mistress, graciously look down on us; direct and guide our destinies wheresoever you will. Pacify the storm of our wicked passions, guide us into the quiet port of the divine will and grant us the blessedness to come.
~by St. John Damascene
August 17th 2007, 09:13 AM #140
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
God did not seek sacrifices and holocausts, but faith, and obedience, and righteousness, for the sake of their salvation. As God said, teaching his will through Hosea the prophet, What I want is love, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not holocausts. Our Lord taught the same, saying If you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. Thus he bore witness to the truth of the prophets’ teachings while convicting the people of culpable folly.
Giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of his own creation — not offering them as if God needed them but so that they themselves should not be sterile or ungrateful — he took a created thing, bread, gave thanks, and said This is my body. And as for the cup, which is part of the same creation as us, he proclaimed it to be his blood and taught that it was the new offering of the new covenant. The Church received this from the Apostles and offers it to God throughout the world, to the God who gives us food, the first-fruits of his gifts under the new covenant. Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, foretold this as follows: I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of Hosts; from your hands I find no offerings acceptable. But from farthest east to farthest west my name is honoured among the nations and everywhere a sacrifice of incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering too, since my name is honoured among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts. Thus he clearly indicated that the people of old (the Jews) would cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place a sacrifice would be offered, and a pure sacrifice at that; and his name would glorified among the nations.
What other name is there which is glorified among the Gentiles than that of our Lord, by whom the Father is glorified, and man also? Because it is the name of his own Son, who was made man by him, he calls it his own. Just as a king, if he himself paints a portrait of his son, is right in calling this portrait his own, both because it is because it is a portrait of his son and because he himself painted it, so also the Father professes the name of Jesus Christ, glorified in the Church throughout the world, to be his own, both because it is that of his Son, and because he himself wrote it and gave it for the salvation of mankind.
The prophet’s words are doubly appropriate, both because the Son’s name belongs properly to the Father, and because the Church everywhere makes her offering to almighty God through Jesus Christ: In every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice. For as John says in the Apocalypse, incense is the prayer of the saints.
~by St. Irenaeus from Against Heresies
August 20th 2007, 08:48 AM #141
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
The sin of Adam had come into all men. Through one man, the Apostle says, sin entered and through sin, death. Thus it has come to all men. Therefore, the justice of Christ must enter into men; and as the old Adam ruined his descendants through sin, so Christ must bring new life to all men through justice. The Apostle stresses this theme when he says: As through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so too, through the obedience of one man, many were made just. And, as sin brought death to the offender, so grace through justice brings birth to life eternal.
Someone may say to me: "But the sin of Adam is justifiably transmitted to his posterity. Since they were descended from him, and since we are not descended from Christ, how can we be saved because of him?" Do not think in physical terms about descent, then you will see how Christ is our father. In these times of salvation, Christ received body and soul from Mary. He came to save this soul, not to leave it in hell. He united it with his spirit and made it his own. And this is the marriage of the Lord, the union of two in one flesh, so that according to that great mystery, two become one flesh, Christ and his Church.
From this marriage the Christian people are born, by the descent of the spirit of the Lord. The essential nature of the soul, engendered by heavenly seed, grows in the womb of our mother, the Church, and at birth is given life by Christ. Therefore, the Apostle says: The first Adam was a living soul, the new Adam a life-giving spirit. Thus Christ continues in the Church through his priests, as the same Apostle says: In Christ, I have begotten you. And so, the seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God, brings forth the new man, nourished in the womb of his mother, welcomed at his birth at the font through the hands of the priests, while faith presides over the ceremony.
Christ must, therefore, be received in order to beget, for the apostle John says: To all who received him he gave the power to become sons of God. But these things cannot be accomplished except by the sacrament of the font, the chrism and the priest. For sin is washed away by the waters of the font; the Holy Spirit is poured forth in the Chrism; and we obtain both of these gifts through the hands and the mouth of the priest. Thus the whole man is reborn and renewed in Christ. Just as Christ rose from the dead, so we shall walk in the newness of life, that is, we put away the errors of our old lives and follow the new way through the Spirit in Christ.
~by St. Pacian
August 20th 2007, 05:18 PM #142
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.
The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?
Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.
What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?
~by St. Bernard of Clairvaux
August 23rd 2007, 04:08 PM #143
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Our Lord and Saviour lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven”.
When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions.
We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul”.
That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant. I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:
“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men”.
~by St. Rose of Lima
August 24th 2007, 03:43 PM #144
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgement, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!
In what way is it stronger? It made its way throughout the world and overcame all men; countless men sought to eradicate the very name of the Crucified, but that name flourished and grew ever mightier. Its enemies lost out and perished; the living who waged a war on a dead man proved helpless. Therefore, when a Greek tells me I am dead, he shows only that he is foolish indeed, for I, whom he thinks a fool, turn out to be wiser than those reputed wise. So too, in calling me weak, he but shows that he is weaker still. For the good deeds which tax-collectors and fishermen were able to accomplish by God’s grace, the philosophers, the rulers, the countless multitudes cannot even imagine.
Paul had this in mind when he said: The weakness of God is stronger than men. That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or a public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him!
How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?
It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.
by St. John Chrysostom
August 28th 2007, 12:20 PM #145
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Because the day when she was to leave this life was drawing near – a day known to you, though we were ignorant of it – she and I happened to be alone, through (as I believe) the mysterious workings of your will. We stood leaning against a window which looked out on a garden within the house where we were staying, at Ostia on the Tiber; for there, far from the crowds, we were recruiting our strength after the long journey, in order to prepare ourselves for our voyage overseas. We were alone, conferring very intimately. Forgetting what lay in the past, and stretching out to what was ahead, we enquired between ourselves, in the light of present truth, into what you are and what the eternal life of the saints would be like, for Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor human heart conceived it. And yet, with the mouth of our hearts wide open we panted thirstily for the celestial streams of your fountain, the fount of life which is with you.
This was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. Yet you know, O Lord, how on that very day, amid this talk of ours that seemed to make the world with all its charms grow cheap, she said, “For my part, my son, I no longer find pleasure in anything that this life holds. What I am doing here still, or why I am still here, I do not know, for worldly hope has withered away for me. One thing only there was for which I desired to linger in this life: to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. And my God has granted this to me more lavishly than I could have hoped, letting me see even you spurning earthly happiness to be his servant. What am I still doing here?”
What I replied I cannot clearly remember, because just about that time – five days later, or not much more – she took to her bed with fever. One day during her illness she lapsed into unconsciousness and for a short time was unaware of her surroundings. We all came running, but she quickly returned to her senses, and, gazing at me and my brother as we stood there, she asked in puzzlement, “Where was I?”
We were bewildered with grief, but she looked keenly at us and said, “You are to bury your mother here”. I was silent, holding back my tears, but my brother said something about his hope that she would not die far from home but in her own country, for that would be a happier way. On hearing this she looked anxious and her eyes rebuked him for thinking so; then she turned her gaze from him to me and said, “What silly talk!” Shortly afterwards, addressing us both, she said, “Lay this body anywhere, and take no trouble over it. One thing only do I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be”. Having made her meaning clear to us with such words as she could muster, she fell silent, and the pain of the disease grew worse.
~by St. Augustine from Confessions
August 30th 2007, 01:15 PM #146
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Brethren, let us follow that vocation by which we are called from life to the fountain of life. He is the fountain, not only of living water, but of eternal life. He is the fountain of light and spiritual illumination; for from him come all these things: wisdom, life and eternal light. The author of life is the fountain of life; the creator of light is the fountain of spiritual illumination. Therefore, let us seek the fountain of light and life and the living water by despising what we see, by leaving the world and by dwelling in the highest heavens. Let us seek these things, and like rational and shrewd fish may we drink the living water which wells up to eternal life.
Merciful God, good Lord, I wish that you would unite me to that fountain, that there I may drink of the living spring of the water of life with those others who thirst after you. There in that heavenly region may I ever dwell, delighted with abundant sweetness, and say: "How sweet is the fountain of living water which never fails, the water welling up to eternal life."
O God, you are yourself that fountain ever and again to be desired, ever and again to be consumed. Lord Christ, always give us this water to be for us the source of the living water which wells up to eternal life. I ask you for your great benefits. Who does not know it? You, King of glory, know how to give great gifts, and you have promised them; there is nothing greater than you, and you bestowed yourself upon us, you gave yourself for us.
Therefore, we ask that we may know what we love, since we ask nothing other than that you give us yourself. For you are our all: our life, our light, our salvation, our food and our drink, our God. Inspire our hearts, I ask you, Jesus, with that breath of your Spirit; wound our souls with your love, so that the soul of each and every one of us may say in truth: Show me my soul's desire, for I am wounded by your love.
These are the wounds I wish for, Lord. Blessed is the soul so wounded by love. Such a soul seeks the fountain of eternal life and drinks from it, although it continues to thirst and its thirst grows ever greater even as it drinks. Therefore, the more the soul loves, the more it desires to love, and the greater its suffering, the greater its healing. In this same way may our God and Lord Jesus Christ, the good and saving physician, wound the depths of our souls with a healing wound--the same Jesus Christ who reigns in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
~by St. Columban
August 31st 2007, 09:16 AM #147
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Return to me with all your heart and show a spirit of repentance with fasting, weeping and mourning; so that while you fast now, later you may be satisfied, while you weep now, later you may laugh, while you mourn now, you may some day enjoy consolation. It is customary for those in sorrow or adversity to tear their garments. The gospel records that the high priest did this to exaggerate the charge against our Lord and Saviour; and we read that Paul and Barnabas did so when they heard words of blasphemy. I bid you not to tear your garments but rather to rend your hearts which are laden with sin. Like wine skins, unless they have been cut open, they will burst of their own accord. After you have done this, return to the Lord your God, from whom you had been alienated by your sins. Do not despair of his mercy, no matter how great your sins, for great mercy will take away great sins.
For the Lord is gracious and merciful and prefers the conversion of a sinner rather than his death. Patient and generous in his mercy, he does not give in to human impatience but is willing to wait a long time for our repentance. So extraordinary is the Lord’s mercy in the face of evil, that if we do penance for our sins, he regrets his own threat and does not carry out against us the sanctions he had threatened. So by the changing of our attitude, he himself is changed. But in this passage we should interpret “evil” to mean, not the opposite of virtue, but affliction, as we read in another place: Sufficient for the day are its own evils. And, again: If there is evil in the city, God did not create it.
In like manner, given all that we have said above – that God is kind and merciful, patient, generous with his forgiveness, and extraordinary in his mercy toward evil – lest the magnitude of his clemency make us lax and negligent, he adds this word through his prophet: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent and leave behind him a blessing? In other words, he says: “I exhort you to repentance, because it is my duty, and I know that God is inexhaustibly merciful, as David says: Have mercy on me, God, according to your great mercy, and in the depths of your compassion, blot out all my iniquities. But since we cannot know the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and knowledge of God, I will temper my statement, expressing a wish rather than taking anything for granted, and I will say: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent? “ Since he says, Who, it must be understood that it is impossible or difficult to know for sure.
To these words the prophet adds: Offerings and tribulations for the Lord our God. What he is saying to us in other words is that, God having blessed us and forgiven us our sins, we will then be able to offer sacrifice to God.
~by St. Jerome
September 1st 2007, 08:18 PM #148
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
Do you want to honour Christ's body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me. What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.
Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honour Christ as he desires. For a person being honoured finds greatest pleasure in the honour he desires, not in the honour we think best. Peter thought he was honouring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honour, quite the opposite! Give him the honour prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.
Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ's table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honour? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?
Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.
~by St. John Chrysostom
September 4th 2007, 12:48 PM #149
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
My son, says the Lord, listen to my words, the most delightful of all words, surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world. My words are spirit and life and cannot be comprehended by human senses alone.
They are not to be interpreted according to the vain pleasure of the listener, but they must be listened to in silence and received with all humility and great affection.
And I said: Blessed is the man whom you teach, Lord, and whom you instruct in your law; for him you soften the blow of the evil day, and you do not desert him on the earth.
The Lord says, I have instructed my prophets from the beginning. Even to the present time I have not stopped speaking to all men, but many are deaf and obstinate in response.
Many hear the world more easily than they hear God; they follow the desires of the flesh more readily than the pleasure of God. The world promises rewards that are temporal and insignificant, and these are pursued with great longing; I promise rewards that are eternal and unsurpassable, yet the hearts of mortals respond sluggishly.
Who serves and obeys me in all matters with as much care as the world and its princes are served?
Blush, then, you lazy, complaining servant, for men are better prepared for the works of death than you are for the works of life. They take more joy in vanity than you in truth.
Yet they are often deceived in their hope, while my promise deceives no one, and leaves empty-handed no one who confides in me. What I have promised I shall give; what I have said I will fulfil for any man who remains faithful in my love unto the very end. I am the rewarder of all good men, the one who rigorously tests the devoted.
Write my words in your heart and study them diligently, for they will be absolutely necessary in the time of temptation. Whatever you fail to understand in reading my words will become clear to you on the day of your visitation.
I visit my elect in a double fashion, that is, with temptation and with consolation. And I read to them two lessons each day: one to rebuke them for their faults; the other to exhort them to increase their virtue.
He who possesses my words yet spurns them earns his own judgement on the last day.
~from The Imitation of Christ
September 5th 2007, 01:32 PM #150
Re: Daily Dose of Catholicism
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." It seems to me that Jesus meant the Jews in this episode to stand for sensual men and those desirous of carnal and sensual things. These Jews were angry at his expulsion of the people who were turning his Father’s house into a market. So they asked for a sign to justify these actions, a sign that would show that the Word of God, whom they refused to accept, was acting rightly. The Saviour’s reply combines a statement about the temple with a prophecy about his own body, for in answer to their question: What sign can you give to justify your conduct? he says: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
Indeed, I think that both the temple and the body of Jesus can be seen together as a type of the Church. For the Church is being built out of living stones; it is in process of becoming a spiritual dwelling for a holy priesthood, raised on the foundations of apostles and prophets, with Christ as its chief cornerstone. Hence it bears the name “temple”. On the other hand, it is written: You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it. Thus even the harmonious alignment of the stones should seem to be destroyed and fragmented and, as described in the twenty-first psalm, all the bones which go to make up Christ’s body should seem to be scattered by insidious attacks in persecutions or times of trouble, or by those who in days of persecution undermine the unity of the temple, nevertheless the temple will be rebuilt and the body will rise again on the third day, after the day of evil which threatens it and the day of consummation which follows. For the third day will dawn upon a new heaven and a new earth when these bones that form the whole house of Israel are raised up on that great day of the Lord, when death has been defeated. So the resurrection of Christ, accomplished after his suffering on the cross, embraces the mystery of the resurrection of his whole body.
For just as that physical body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward raised up, so in the same way the whole body of Christ’s holy ones has been crucified and lives no longer with its own life. For each of them, like Paul, makes his boast of nothing else but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he has himself been crucified to the world, and the world to him. But each Christian has not only been crucified with Christ and crucified to the world; he has been buried with Christ too, as Paul tells us: We have been buried with Christ. But as though already in possession of some pledge of the resurrection, Paul goes on to say: And we have risen with him.
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