Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ. Jesus lived in constant union with the Father and this is what made the disciples eager to have the same experience; from him they learned to live in communion and unceasing dialogue with God. If the priest is a "man of God", one who belongs to God and helps others to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God, abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word. Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have "seen" him personally, come to know him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.
Another aspect of the consecration belonging to the priesthood and the religious life is the complete gift of oneself to God. The Apostle John writes: "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 Jn 3:16). With these words, he invites the disciples to enter into the very mind of Jesus who in his entire life did the will of the Father, even to the ultimate gift of himself on the Cross. Here, the mercy of God is shown in all its fullness; a merciful love that has overcome the darkness of evil, sin and death. The figure of Jesus who at the Last Supper, rises from the table, lays aside his garments, takes a towel, girds himself with it and stoops to wash the feet of the Apostles, expresses the sense of service and gift manifested in his entire existence, in obedience to the will of the Father (cf. Jn 13:3-15). In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely to God. This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant and faithful devotion, and with the joy of becoming a companion on the journey to so many brothers and sisters, enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ, so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps. The story of every vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of the Kingdom of God. This is because the presence and words of a priest have the ability to raise questions and to lead even to definitive decisions (cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, 39).
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Those who live in Cincinnati's Westwood neighborhood, home to Our Lady of Lourdes, my parish of residence, might have noticed a silence over the last few weeks, as the bells have been pulled down by Vernon Bell Company to be retuned and cleaned and the tower refurbished. Here is a pic of the bells on display.
Friday, February 5, 2010
His series on the Bible and the Mass is not to be missed! Yes, it is expensive, but you will never attend Mass in the same way. I learned a great deal and use his course outline constantly in presentations and talks.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Jesus’ very last words in the Gospel of Matthew form a basis for the foundation and structure of the Church: “Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” As He says these words to the Eleven, He is taken back up into the glory of Heaven, entrusting His closest collaborators with continuing the mission He had been given by His Father from the foundation of the world. The Eleven (who soon return to Twelve) are to go forth and ‘teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’
What we see developing in this passage is that the authority that Jesus has exercised throughout his public ministry is now shared and passed on to the Twelve. They are able to do great things, as we see in the Acts of the Apostles, not on their own, but through their ongoing connection with Jesus Christ. Through His power, we see Peter, James and John curing the sick, performing miracles and even raising people from the dead.
This authority did not die with St. John, the last of the Apostles. Rather, we see in the later stages of the Acts of the Apostles and in the writings of St. Paul that this authority was handed to their successors through the laying on of hands: St. Matthias is made one of the Twelve through this ancient sign in the first chapter of Acts; Timothy and Titus are established as ‘Episcopoi’ or Elders later on in the same book. These early Elders pass on their authority to their successors, and it has been handed down right to our very day through this same sign of laying on of hands by at least three of his brother bishops.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church picks up these themes in discussing the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Paragraph 1536 states: ‘Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate.’ Through the leadership of the bishop, his coworkers in the priests and the assistance given by the deacons, Christ continues to lead and shepherd His Church.
This leadership is exercised in three ways by our bishops, who delegate some of their authority to their priests: to teach, to sanctify and to govern. The Catechism continues, in paragraph 888, that the bishop’s first responsibility is to preach the Gospel to all people, not just the faithful. He, together with the entire college of bishops and united under the leadership of the Holy Father, has been entrusted with caring for the deposit of faith, and his task, as commissioned at Vatican II, is to “present Christian doctrine in a manner adapted to the needs of the times.”
The Decree concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops continues that this pastoral ministry of teaching is not just for Catholics, but for all. The Bishop has a responsibility for every soul that resides in his diocese, ‘whether they be believers or not.’
In our world today, this is an area which modern society has sought to relegate the teaching office of the bishops to the side. During political debates; pundits often remark that the bishops should stick to their own matters in the faith. Yet, before God and men, they have the responsibility to lead the faithful in their apostolates of converting the world into a closer resemblance to the Kingdom of God.
Finally, this concern for the salvation of all souls in the diocese has a familial dimension. The Church is identified as the living Body of Christ, one family united in prayer before God. The leadership and pastoral care of the bishop enables this unity to come to fruition. Therefore, it is the responsibility and task of all the faithful to pray for their shepherd, that he might be a good and worthy steward of the gifts entrusted to his care.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The Lord's prayer: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil", takes on a specific meaning in the context of contemporary civilization, steeped as it is in elements of hedonism, self-centredness and sensuality. Pornography is unfortunately rampant, debasing the dignity of women and treating them exclusively as objects of sexual pleasure. These aspects of present-day civilization certainly do not favour either marital fidelity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God.Therefore if the priest does not foster in himself genuine dispositions of faith, hope and love of God, he can easily yield to the allurements coming to him from the world. On this Holy Thursday then, dear Brother Priests, how can I fail to address you in order to exhort you to remain faithful to the gift of celibacy which Christ has given us? In it is contained a spiritual treasure which belongs to each of us and to the whole Church.
This week, we cover the 1995 Letter which coincided with the UN Conference in Beijing on Women and is entitled 'The Importance of Women in the Life of a Priest.'
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