JESUS ASKS WHO DO YOU SAY I AM

Last Sunday’s Gospel told the story at Caesarea Phillipi where Jesus asks his disciples “Who do people say I am? Then more directly asks his disciples who they say he is. Peter ultimately answered for all of them, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God!”

CATHOLIC SCRIPTURE

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

“Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:13-20

 CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

Soon the title “Christ” became Jesus’ second name. It is mentioned more than 500 times in the New Testament, almost always in the composite form “Jesus Christ” or “Our Lord Jesus Christ.”  To say “Christ” was not to call Jesus by his name, but to make an affirmation about him. Christ, we know, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Mashiah, or Messiah, and both mean “anointed.” The term derives from the fact that in the Old Testament kings, prophets and priests were consecrated through an anointing with perfumed oil.

Increasingly in the Bible there clearly is talk of a special anointed or consecrated one who will come in the end times to fulfill God’s promises of salvation to his people. The promise of the coming of the Messiah is in Gen. 3:15 where it summarizes what the Messiah will accomplish: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

In Isaiah 9:6, the birth of the Messiah and his attributes are described, “For to us a child is born, And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Messiah must be descended from King David, ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. “Jeremiah 23:5-6 

The Messiah would be the Son of God, “He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten YouPs 2:7 The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, “But thou Bethlehem Ephratha, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall One come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from old, from Ancient of Days.”

The Messiah would suffer.  While the Old Testament portrays the Messiah as a glorious King as well as both a human and divine figure, it also indicates that He will suffer and be put to death only to rise miraculously (resurrection from death.)  Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The whole early tradition of the Church is unanimous in proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth is the awaited Messiah.  Jesus himself, according to Mark, will proclaim himself such before the Sanhedrin. To the question of the High Priest: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” He replies: “I am” (Mark 14:61 ff.).

It is puzzling somewhat the way Sunday’s Scripture reading concludes. “And he commanded them energetically not to speak about him to any one.”  However, the motive is clear. Jesus accepts being identified with the awaited Messiah, but not with the idea that Judaism had made for itself of the Messiah.

In the prevailing opinion in Jesus’ day,  the Messiah was seen as a political and military leader who would liberate Israel from pagan dominion and establish the kingdom of God on earth by force.  Jesus had to profoundly correct this idea before allowing His disciples to talk of him as the Messiah. To this end he began to teach them that the “Son of Man must suffer many things.”

The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mark 8:30

The harsh words addressed to Peter, Get behind me, Satan!” seeking to dissuade Peter from such thoughts: “are identical with that addressed to the tempter (Satan) in the desert.  In both cases, in fact, it is about attempts to deflect Jesus from the path that the Father has indicated to him — that of the suffering servant of Yahweh –

Salvation will come from the sacrifice of himself, from “giving his life in ransom for many,” not from the elimination of the enemy. Jesus will not be fooled into following the wrong path.

Regrettably, we must state that Peter’s error has been repeated in history. Certain men of the Church, and even Successors of Peter, have behaved at certain times as if the Kingdom of God was of this world and should be affirmed with the victory (if necessary also with arms) over enemies, instead of doing so with suffering and martyrdom.

Even today, people have very diverse opinions on Jesus, is he :merely a prophet, a great teacher, a great personality, a good man etc. It has become fashionable to present Jesus in media and novels in the strangest ways. The “Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown is only the latest in a long series.

A leap of faith must be taken that does not come from the flesh or from blood, but is a gift of God which must be accepted through the humble obedience, an interior light from which faith is born. Every day there are men and women who take this leap.

One thing is certain: Those who have taken this leap will not go back for anything in the world to satisfy that hunger for the truth.   “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee,”.(St. Augustine)  Like St. Hillary of Poitiers, who converted when he was an adult, they are willing to exclaim: “Before knowing you, I did not exist.”

Jesus not only poses a question to his disciples, but he does to us today:

HOW DO WE ANSWER HIM????

AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES IN OUR LIFE OF DISCIPESHIP!

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TOLERANCE IS NOT ONE OF THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES

PROLOGUE

Back in 2015 I wrote a blog entitled “Gospel of Tolerance.  The purpose of that blog was to push back at secular laws and popular trends that were enveloping and intruding into our space as traditional Christians that hold certain God Made laws to be sacred to be followed by faithful Christians.

Enough was enough with their euphemisms, calling Euthanasia, Death with Dignity, Abortion, Women’s health care, and Same-Sex marriage, Marriage Equality. Also, judges spinning the phrase Gender Identity that would allow a biological man to use women showers and restrooms.

Some people dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their Creator. They decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves…. When freedom is so twisted into a creature creating him/herself then necessarily the Maker himself is denied.

Tolerance has became a hatchet job to suppress opposing points of views.  It wasn’t we should all just get along to go along to get along.  You also had to approve and shut your mouths or face law suits.  Those who didn’t tow the line will be punished.

Obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.”  It used to be that we could hate the sin and love the sinner, but the problem is now we’re not allowed to hate the sin anymore!

Today’s world says, we have to love the sin, celebrate the sin, and above all, stop calling it sin! Christians now find themselves in the sobering territory of the new Dark Ages, “…when evil is called good and darkness is … called light.”(Isaiah 5:20)

Under the “Gospel of Tolerance,” there is no freedom to disagree, no right to object. Well, here’s a radical piece of truth: tolerance is not listed among the Christian virtues.  Faith, Hope, Charity, justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance — these are Christian virtues.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH 814-826

THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.

Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God…. The Lord Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”…According to St. Paul, Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”If I have not charity,” says the Apostle Paul, “I am nothing.”

CARDINAL VIRTUES

Virtues are general character traits that provide inner sanctions on our particular motives, intentions and outward conduct. These moral virtues are attitudes, dispositions, and good habits that govern one’s actions, passions, and conduct according to right reason; and are acquired by human effort.  With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good.  It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.  The CARDINAL VIRTUES are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

Prudence, is the ability to govern and discipline oneself to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; Justice  is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. Temperance, is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

In today’s blog, I am going in a different direction with the ambiguous term, TOLERANCE. In the aftermath of the racist violence in Virginia, I heard and read again calls for tolerance like that is an answer.  Our Lord Jesus Christ called us to much higher standard, to “Love our enemies, do good to those that hate you etc.

Tolerance is not enough.  In fact, often when people have reached their personal limit of tolerance they act our in a very inappropriate way, sometimes violently, to the point of calling on someone to be assassinated as in the recent post by a Missouri legislator on her face book page.

When you can’t tolerate someone anymore, what do you do, kill that person???  Burn down their property???  Send hate mail through social media??? There has to be more at our core than tolerance which is bare minimum of getting along. I think of that pitiful cry from Rodney King, “Can’t we just get along?” Getting along to go along is no answer at all unless you are in an intolerable position like those incarcerated in prison.

Tolerance is weak, insipid, and a very dangerous way to live our relationships.  How many tolerate an abusive marriage until it ends in tragedy?  How long do you tolerate that crying baby before smothering it!  How long do you tolerate that rude driver before driving into the rear end of his car?

No, much more than tolerance is expected if we are to survive as a civilized society.  We must get back to our roots.  Our roots are in our Creator.  God is love.  He needs no one but out of love created this world with suns, moons, planets, animals, trees, plants and yes, people like you and me.

God has given us everything out of Love, even His own Son to save us from ourselves.  All He asks in return is for us to love Him and our neighbor who He loves as well.  Can we return love to the Father of all???  Or are we so stuck with what we like, what we want, that anything that doesn’t meet our standard must be opposed, crushed, and obliterated.

I will close with parable of weeds and wheat, Matthew 13:24-42

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.

Then He dismissed the crowds and his disciples asked for the meaning of the parable:  He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world,  the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age,* and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

LET GOD BE GOD!

TRUST IN GOD!

 

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM

NOT

THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD

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ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED???

PROLOGUE

Recently, I was having coffee with some of my friends and the sister of one of my friends was in town from San Diego so we invited her to join us. She had been raised Catholic like her brother but some time ago she left the Church for a non denominational fundamentalist church.

She seemed to be a very sincere Christian and follower of Christ, a teacher of Bible study in her own Church and certainly believed and practiced most of the teachings of Jesus, a very sincere and Christ like person,

I wasn’t interested in arguing Scripture or pressuring her to come back to the Catholic Church but rather curious why someone so devoted to Jesus, as she apparently was, would not take full advantage of all the aids in the Catholic Church to help us along the journey, namely the Sacraments.

Her explanation which included in part, her own interpretations of the founding of His Church on Peter, the first Pope, and scandals in the Catholic Church all mitigated against a need to be a practicing Catholic and that there were many direct sources of grace that were available to her as well.

This experience inspired me write this blog about how fortunate we are to be practicing Catholics in the Church Christ founded and avail ourselves ot the Sacraments Jesus has given us.  Jesus of course has risen and ascended into heaven but through Peter and His Church guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not leave us “orphans.”

While we are all saved by Jesus, does that mean that all will be saved?  Of course not! What if I refuse and reject Jesus and His commandments?   Why is hell mentioned more often than heaven by Jesus?  Well, because Jesus knows not all will repent and turn to Him and accept His gift of forgiveness.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

Many Non-catholic Christians believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us. in Matthew 19:16-17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. “…someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”

Did Jesus say, accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.”If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.

Certainly, Catholics will not be the only ones saved and in heaven. No orthodox Catholic I know believes otherwise.  God wills that all be saved.  Our separated brethren who call themselves Christians do so rightly.   They follow Christ and His teachings but are not yet in full Communion with the Church He founded..

WHAT IS MEANT BY CHURCH?
Jesus instituted His Church, the spiritual Body of Christ and its physical counterpart, the Catholic Church. In truth, Jesus instituted one physical Catholic Church, a reflection of the spiritual Body of Christ. To affirm this truth, Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” [Mt. 16:17-9]
THE FULLNESS OF THE MEANS OF SALVATION
‘…it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.'” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church # 816)

OUR SEPARATED BROTHERS AND SISTERS
 Speaking of the separation of our brothers and sisters… one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities that resulted from such separation’ and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers and sisters… All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers and sisters.”

(Catechism Of The Catholic Church# 818)

“Furthermore….many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. Catechism Of The Catholic Church #819

On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father for the unity of His Church. He stated, “The glory that you have given Me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become completely one...” [Jn. 17:22-3]

THE SACRAMENTAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH

A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace”. The sacraments confer grace. They penetrate us with the life of Christ. They show Christ’s presence in all the key moments of life: birth, coming of age, …death.  They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.

Incorporated into the Church through Baptism, the faithful are destined by the baptismal character for the worship of the Christian religion; reborn as children of God they must confess before men the faith which they have received from God through the Church. They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ.

Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with it. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God.

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance (also known as Reconciliation or Confession) obtain pardon from the mercy of God for the offence committed against Him and their neighbor. They are at the same time reconciled with the Church, Body of Christ, which they have wounded by their sins. By the sacred Anointing of the sick and the prayer of her priests, the whole Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that He may lighten their suffering and save them.

Those of the faithful who are consecrated by Holy Orders are appointed to feed the Church in Christ’s name with the word and the grace of God.  Those who choose the Sacrament of Matrimony signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church, they help each other to attain holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. The family is, so to speak, the domestic churc

In our modern world (often hostile to religion), religious families are extremely important centers of living faith. They are “domestic churches” in which the parents are the first heralds of faith (Second Vatican Council). The home is the first school of the Christian life where all learn love, repeated forgiveness, and prayerful worship.

KEEP OUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!  Then we will say with St. Paul in 2Timothy 4:7-9, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.[and persevered to the very end]”

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FEAST OF ASSUMPTION OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY INTO HEAVEN AUGUST 15

HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION

             DORMITION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

BACKGROUND

The Feast of the Assumption is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. The feast was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word which means “the falling asleep.”

The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don’t know how it first came to be celebrated.

For two centuries, under pagan rule, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city of Jerusalem,and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.

It wasn’t until the time of Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337) that Jerusalem began to be restored as a sacred city.  After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem.

One of the memories about his mother centered around the “Tomb of Mary,” where she was buried, close to Mount Zion. the highest point in ancient Jerusalem.  Also on the Mt. was the “Place of Dormition,” the spot of Mary’s “falling asleep,” where she had “died.”

When the tomb of Mary was rediscovered there were no remnants of a bodily corpse. There were no relics to display, just an empty tomb like her Son’s.  It is good to note here that Mary did not ascend into heaven like her Son did under His own power, but was taken up to heaven by God.  The Assumption completes God’s work in Mary since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption.

CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we celebrate on August 15, is defined Church dogma. In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the dogma (Munificentissimus Deus) of the Assumption by an ex cathedra pronouncement—that is, an authoritative teaching “from the chair” of Peter.  Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Pius XII recalled the close connection of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception (the Blessed Virgin was conceived without original sin) and her Assumption (that she was taken up to Heaven, body and soul, without seeing corruption).

“Immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.”

Pope Pius XII expressed hope that the definition of this dogma of the Church would  inspire us in our own journey home, knowing more fully the rewards of faithful perseverance in God’s grace, hope in the promises of Christ.

CATHOLIC SCRIPTURE

PiusXII recognized numerous Scriptural allusions to the Assumption. Though the event of the Assumption is not explicit in Scripture, it is consistent with what Scripture teaches us about the effects of sin and Jesus’ love for his holy mother. ). Pius XII aquotes Psalm 132:8, which has often been read symbolically of Mary’s Assumption: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”

In the First Reading for the Solemnity of the Assumption we read, “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 11:19, 12:1).

Mary is not only the New Eve, but is also the new Ark of the Covenant as she carried God in her womb. Mary is associated with the Ark of the Covenant when she visits her cousin Elizabeth.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice, how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

These words are almost the same words David greeted the Ark of the Covenant when it was brought to him in the book of Samuel. “David became frightened of the LORD that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”…..Then David came dancing before the LORD with abandon” (2 Samuel 6:9, 14)

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.

The prayer for the feast reads: “All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.”

Mary’s assumption is the proof of how profitable it is to make sacrifices. Not the least of these sacrifices is the surrender of our bodily pleasures that are contrary to the will of God. The eternal reward is worth the temporal price we have to pay in self-control.

By giving up now on earth what we like but what is sinful, and enduring what is painful to us but pleasing to God, we shall enjoy Heaven with Jesus and Mary – in body and soul – in the world to come.

Life is like a voyage on the Sea, often dark and stormy.  We look for the light!, stars at night…  Mary is that light and hope, Star of the Sea, hope of salvation (Spe Salvi)  Let us turn to Mary and ask for her maternal intervention that we will find the way to heaven, our true and lasting home.

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CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY BURY THE DEAD

PROLOGUE

CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (#2447 )

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.  ”

 CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

This month I am wrapping up the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy.  You may find all of them reviewed in past posts in the archives to the left of the home screen.  Those of you who are subscribers, you receive automatically my new posts in your email.  It may be in your spam folder so check there also.  You do not receive the complete blog, only a notification that one is posted and asks you to click on Read more to access the full blog. 

Every one of us has experienced the death of someone we love, whether it is a distant, elderly friend or the deep pain of losing a spouse or child. When possible, we certainly go in support at a wake or funeral of family members and friends.  Funerals also may be opportunities for family reconciliation if needed. Another act of mercy!

Burying the dead is the only of the Corporal Works of mercy not named in the parable of the sheep and the goats. (Matthew 25) It comes from the book of Tobit: “If I saw any of my nation dead, I buried him” (Tobit 1:17).  Through Christian burial, we celebrate the life of an individual and his hopeful return to God.

When the Church is present to a dying person, they absolve them from their sins, anoint their bodies, sealing them in holy oil for Christ, and give them Jesus in the Eucharist (Viaticum) for their journey home.  The Church sends them home with sweet assurance in the following prayer:

“Go forth Christian soul from this world in the name of God, the Almighty Father who created you.  In the name of Jesus, the Son of the Living God who suffered for you.  In the name of the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon you.   Go forth faithful Christian. 

May you live in peace this day.  May your home be with God, with Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, with Joseph and all the angels and saints.  May you return to your Creator who formed you from the dust of the earth.   May Holy Mary, the angels and all the saints come to meet you as you go forth from this life.  May you see your Redeemer face to face.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1020)

Funerals give us the opportunity to grieve and show others support during difficult times.  Through our prayers and actions during these times we show our respect for life, which is always a gift from God, and comfort to those who mourn.  Another thing to remember is it is in the weeks and months after the funeral when our support can mean the most.  A daily phone call or email just to let the grieving person know we care.

Standing at the gravesite of a loved one, recalls the dignity of each person and our yearning for our home in heaven. We may reflect on our own mortality and readiness to meet our Creator and Savior?

EPILOGUE

People who die untimely deaths may present special problems for us and others, especially if suicide is suspected.  First, we need to remember that in death as in life, we are all loved by God and God alone is our Judge.  It is important to “peel the onion,” and see what is really beneath the untimely deaths society tends to view so negatively Some may suffer with mental health issues or desperate life circumstances which sometimes result in suicide. “Judge not lest you be judged!” (Matthew 7:1-3)

Those with addictive behaviors which may have resulted in inappropriate or bizarre behavior during their life may be the result of genetic predisposition or exposure to difficult life circumstances. We need to recognize life’s complexities and set aside our biases, see people for who they are, a child of God who wills everyone’s salvation.

The Corporal Work of Mercy to “bury the dead” calls us to take action and support all who are facing death. We are called to help ease their suffering regardless of the circumstances.

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CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE TEACHING PART 2

Last week, I posted a blog Part I on Catholic Church teaching on Social Justice as found in Holy Scripture.

Let’s now take a look at some examples of Social Justice teaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  and Papal Encyclicals.  Social Justice in Catholic Church teaching always has the COMMON GOOD at its core as found in Scriptures and in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Our Catholic tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined.

We need to build on the good work already underway to ensure that every Catholic understands how the Gospel and church teaching call us to choose life, to serve the least among us, to hunger and thirst for justice, and to be peacemakers. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war.

Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.”  The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.

As a practicing Catholic we must not be assimilated into a society that promotes the “culture of death” and worship pagan idols of sex, wealth, and power.  But rather be “leaven” for the world. We must pick up where Jesus left off in building the kingdom of God.

The fundamental principles of Catholic Social Teaching focus on the dignity and sacredness of each human person. (CCC 1928-1942, 2419-2449)  In other words, Catholic Social Justice teaching calls on us the “people of God” to minister to our neighbor’s needs, to speak out against injustice, and to work for peace.

What is a human being?  What is his role in the world?  Where is he headed?  How does he get there?  If a human being is not yet perfected, what will perfect him?  How does he become whole without division or estrangement?

Common Good is understood as the sum total of social conditions which allow people as groups or individuals to reach their ultimate fulfillment more fully and more easily.

CCC #1907 Common Good presupposes respect for each person.  It requires the social well being and development of everyone, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, work, education etc.  It requires peace and justice for security of a just order.  Authority should, by morally acceptable means, provide for the security of society and its members

CCC #1929 Social Justice can be obtained only by respecting the transcendental dignity of each human person.

CCC #1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow naturally from this dignity.

CCC #1936 On coming into this world, man is not equipped with everything he needs for developing his bodily and spiritual life.  He needs others.  Talents and gifts are not distributed equally as expressed in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians chapter 12.

CCC #1937 These differences belong to God’s divine plan who wills that each receives what he needs from others and those endowed with particular talents share them with those who need them.  These differences encourage and sometimes oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods.

Now we will take a brief look at the history of social teaching of the Catholic Church in Papal Encyclicals and Vatican Council II.

Pope Leo’s Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in 1891 is a classic in laying out Catholic Church Social Justice teaching.   It promoted human dignity through distribution of wealth.  Worker’s rights were inherent in human nature and not something chosen for them or bestowed on them by a gracious state.  People had the right to work, to organize, to own property, to receive a just wage to raise and support their families.  Rights were tied to corresponding duties such as workers should not riot and destroy property and employers should maintain an environment respecting the worker’s innate dignity.

In the papal encyclical, Mater et Magister (Christianity and Social Progress) Pope John XXIII in 1961 addresses the disparity between the rich and poor and between rich and poor nations.  How can we have more than we need when there are those with less they need?  Arms’ spending contributes to poverty.  There is a duty of wealthy industrialized Nations to help the poor non-industrialized nations such as the millions living in poverty in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) Vatican Council II 1965 explores Catholic Church teaching as it relates to the modern world.  It explores the great technological and social changes in light of Christ, Lord of History.  Our mission as his disciple is to animate and improve the world.  Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves neighbor to every person no matter who they are.  If we meet our neighbor in need we must come to their aid whether he is an aged person, an innocent in the womb, a refugee, a starving human being, or those abandoned in prison.

In Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) 1981, Pope John Paul II teaches value and dignity of human labor as an essential human right and responsibility.  Work is for man not Man for Work.  Work is a fulfillment of God’s commands in Genesis to Adam and Eve “to subdue the earth” and make family possible “be fruitful and multiply.”  Without work the essential unit of God’s divine plan, family, is thwarted.  Work is redemptive.  Man is a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross of daily work that he is called to accomplish.  Work is a means of sanctification and animates earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.

Lord Jesus, Carpenter and King, supreme Sovereign of all men,

look with tender mercy upon the multitudes of our day

who bear the indignities of injustice everywhere.  

Raise up leaders in every land

dedicated to Your standards of order, equity, and justice.

Grant unto us,Lord Jesus, the grace 

to be worthy members of Your Mystical Body,

laboring unceasingly to fulfill our vocation

in the social apostolate of Your Church. 

May we hunger and thirst after justice always.  Amen.

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