Monday, December 28, 2015

The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

I suspect that when most people think about the Holy Family, they imagine a picture of total happiness, where there is no suffering of any kind and where every day just turns out perfectly. Yes, Jesus and Mary were completely sinless, and Joseph was a most chaste and righteous man. But, they still had their difficulties.

The movie The Nativity Story is what first gave me a sense of this, but if you think about it, Scripture reveals it too. The Holy Family had many trials, including public scorn, homelessness, harsh environments and traveling conditions, a power-hungry and blood-thirsty king, and the pressures -- and ultimately the suffering -- that comes with knowing that your son must die to save the world.

What we can learn from this is that the Holy Family can relate to a family that struggles. A sword pierced Mary's heart, so that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed (cf. Lk 2:35). Joseph, for his part, had always on his shoulders the task of protecting and providing for this holiest of holy families. They both had quite a scare when, for three days, they had no clue where to find their son (cf. Lk 2:41-49). Of course, if anyone knows suffering, it is Jesus. As a family, they are acquainted with struggle, but more importantly, they also know how to overcome and to survive.

Because of their family experience, they are powerful intercessors when we wrestle with family issues. If you suffer because of your mother, find solace in Mary. She cares greatly for the entire Body of Christ, just as she cared for the literal body of Christ. Just as Sarah was the spiritual mother of the Jews (cf. 1 Pet 3:6), Mary is the spiritual mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). Her prayer for us will always be powerful because her will is always united with her Son's, and because "the prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects" (Jas 5:16).

If you suffer because of your father, find solace in St. Joseph, Jesus' father in this world. St. Joseph will never forsake his fatherly duty. He is the patron saint and the protector of families. With his powerful intercession, he protects God's children, just like he protected God's Child. As Mary's most chaste spouse, he also teaches boys how to be good men, and men how to be good men too. Pray that St. Joseph will help your father to be the man that God is calling him to be.

Of course, there is no intercession, no solace, no love, no source of strength and courage and hope like that of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our Salvation. In Him, we can do all things, overcome all things, be all things. Together, the mother, the father, and the Son are a triple threat against anything that threatens the integrity of the family.

For more on the Holy Family, see the following articles. I conclude with the words from a song about the Holy Family that we often sing at Mass.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary ... have mercy on us.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church ... pray for us.
Joseph, Protector of Families ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - - - - - -
Articles:
- - - - - - - - - -
Sing of Mary

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly, Virgin mothjer undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son most holy, Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother, God the Lord who came to earth;
Word made flesh, our very brother, Takes our nature by His birth.

Sing of Mary, pure and spotless, Born to bear the Holy Child;
Blest was she, to do God's bidding, Blessed, gentle, meek and mild.
Blessed, too, was good Saint Joseph, Foster father to the Lord;
Let us praise God's Holy Family Who brought forth God's Holy Word.

Sing of Mary, sing of Joseph, keepers of the wondrous Boy,
Called by God to high vocation, Sharing sorrow, sharing joy;
Sharing love, and by that loving in their home in Nazareth,
Forming One whose grace and glory suffered, died and conquered death.

Glory be to God the Father; Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit; Glory to the Three in One.
From the blessed Virgin Mary, From Saint Joseph praise ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes Unto earth's remotest ends.
- - - - -
Text: Vss. 1-2, Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, 1891-1985, © Estate of Roland Palmer. All rights reserved. Vs. 3, Herbert O'Driscoll, ©. Melody: Christian Lyre, 1830.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Online Catholic Scripture Commentaries on St. John's Gospel

In honor of St. John on his feast day, I present (as I do every year) the following online Catholic commentaries on his Gospel:

Read John's Gospel ... and soar on eagle's wings to new heights of spiritual wisdom. If you know of any other Catholic commentaries on John's Gospel that exist online, please let me know.

St. John the Evangelist ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Celebrating the Feast of St. Stephen with Good King Wenceslas

Many of you may have forgotten (I know I almost did!) that today is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who's life and death is accounted for us in Acts 6 and 7. Well, a popular Christmas carol gives us a helpful reminder. Listen via the YouTube video below. Follow along with the lyrics underneath.



Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


The "fisheaters" website has more on the connection between St. Stephen and Good King Wenceslas:
Because St. Stephen was the first Deacon, and because one of the Deacons' role in the Church is to care for the poor, St. Stephen's Day is often the day for giving food, money, and other items to servants, sevice workers, and the needy (it is known as "Boxing Day" in some English-speaking parts of the world).

Fittingly, then, St. Wenceslaus came to be associated with Stephen's Feast. The Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus," which uses an old medieval melody -- that of the 13th century song about springtime, "Tempus adest floridum" (click here to hear melody) mentions this Feast as it tells a tale of charity. St. Wenceslaus was a Bohemian prince born ca. A.D. 903 during a pagan backlash. He was persecuted by his mother, Drahomira, and his brother because of their hatred for his Christianity, and was eventually killed by his brother in front of the doors of the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian in A.D. 938. Many miracles have been attributed to his intercession, and he is now the patron of Czechoslovakia (his Feast is on 28 September).

For more on St. Stephen, see the following resources:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Know the Reason for the Season

Merry Christmas!

The following links are to articles that explore the true meaning of Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle, it's good to have a reminder. "Let every heart prepare him room / and heaven and nature sing." After these links is a Christmas poem by G. K. Chesterton.

Let us all make room for the birth of Christ!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - -
Articles
- - - - - -

A Christmas Poem
by G. K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost---how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wife's tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel

Here is the final O Antiphon for the Advent Season:



Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?".

Christ is near!!!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dec. 21 - O Oriens

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (cf. Isa 11:1, 10)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dec. 18 - O Adonai

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 18 - O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” (cf. Isa 11:4-5; 33:22)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dec 17 - O Sapientia

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 17 - O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” (cf. Isa 11:2-3; 28:29)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Are the "O Antiphons"?

The "O Antiphons" begin today, so now is a good time to consider what exactly they are and how they can enrich the Advent season.

An antiphon is a short verse from a psalm or other usually biblical source that is chanted (or at least recited) before and/or after a psalm. The O Antiphons are the antiphons chanted on each of the seven days before Christmas Eve, Dec. 17-23.

On each day, a different O Antiphon is sung during Evening Prayer, which is the portion of the Liturgy of the Hours that is prayed at sunset. They are called “O” antiphons because each one starts with the exclamation “O”, followed by a title of the Savior. They are meant to heighten our awareness of the coming of the Lord as we approach those precious few days before Christmas.

The seven O Antiphons are: O Sapientia (Oh Wisdom), O Adonai (Oh Lord), O Radix Jesse (Oh Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Oh Key of David), O Oriens (Oh Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (Oh King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Each one is named after the title of the Savior that begins the antiphon. Here are the antiphons for each day, in full, followed by the passages from Isaiah that inspire them:
Dec. 17 - O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” (cf. Isa 11:2-3; 28:29)

Dec. 18 - O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” (cf. Isa 11:4-5; 33:22)

Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (cf. Isa 11:1, 10)

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)

Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)

Besides praying these during the Liturgy of the Hours, families can also make up their own prayer services using the O Antiphons. For example, everyone could recite the Antiphon for the day together, then the father could read the appropriate passage from Isaiah, and then end with everyone singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” During Advent, it is always good to set aside some time to pray as a family.

For more on the O Antiphons, see the following articles:
Between now and Christmas, I will be posting a YouTube video for each day's antiphon, so that you can hear a bit of how they are chanted. They are really quite beautiful!

Have a Blessed Advent!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 12, 2015

For the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand."
-- Pope John Paul the Great, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1979

For a wealth of information about Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, see the following resources

ST. JUAN DIEGO

PRAYERS

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

This prayer, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, was composed by Pope Pius XII for the Marian Year (December 8, 1953-December 8, 1954), which was proclaimed to mark the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
  • Enraptured by the splendor of your heavenly beauty, and impelled by the anxieties of the world, we cast ourselves into your arms, 0 Immacuate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart appeasement of our ardent desires, and a safe harbor from the tempests which beset us on every side.

    Though degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by infinite misery, we admire and praise the peerless richness of sublime gifts with which God has filled you, above every other mere creature, from the first moment of your conception until the day on which, after your assumption into heaven, He crowned you Queen of the Universe.

    O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume! 0 Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

    O well-beloved of God, hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart. Bend tenderly over our aching wounds. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity in youth, protect the holy Church, make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, resounding harmoniously in heaven, may they recognize that they are brothers, and that the nations are members of one family, upon which may there shine forth the sun of a universal and sincere peace.

    Receive, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications, and above all obtain for us that, one day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which today is sung on earth around your altars: You are all-beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, you are the joy, you are the honor of our people! Amen.


    [Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954]


THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

It his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX declared as a dogma the belief that "the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin." This is the Immaculate Conception.

On this Holy Day of Obligation, try to spend some time learning more about this dogma. It's much deeper than you probably ever imagined! To facilitate that study and reflection, I offer the following links:

General Arguments

Exegesis of Luke 1:28

The Ark of the New Covenant

For my own defense of Mary's Immaculate Conception, see Mary's Sinlessness: Part 1 and Part 2.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Eucharist and the Thanksgiving Holiday

As the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches and you are busily cooking food, preparing your home for family and friends, and outlining your plan of attack for the Black Friday craziness, I suggest another, more sublime occupation: receiving the Eucharist.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "What does the Eucharist have to do with Thanksgiving?" Well, the word "eucharist" come from the Greek word that means, "thanksgiving." In Jn 6:11, before Christ multiplied the loaves and the fishes (an act that prefigures the Eucharistic feast), He "gave thanks" (eucharisteo). At the Last Supper, when He instituted the Eucharist, He "gave thanks" (eucharisteo) before He turned the bread and wine into His own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity (cf. Mt 26:27; Mk 14:23; Lk 22:17,19).

We use this word to refer to the Body of Christ that we receive in Holy Communion because it is in every way a moment of thanksgiving: It is Jesus thanking the Father:
  • for those of us who the Father has given Him to be united to Him through reception of the Eucharist, and
  • for the opportunity to perform the miracle that brings Him glory.

It is with a spirit of thanksgiving for all that God has given us that we offer the bread and wine that will become the Eucharist. Of course, we can't help but also thank Him for coming to dwell within us in such a profound way. That our Lord and Savior would come to be in our presence, veiled by bread and wine, and abide in us in a substantial way is a gift unlike any other. And so, on Thanksgiving, when we are to call to mind all that we are thankful for, we should not forget that which is the very meaning of "thanksgiving."

The Catechism is clear on the connection between the Eucharist and the virtue of thanksgiving:
1350 The presentation of the offerings (the Offertory). Then, sometimes in procession, the bread and wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood. It is the very action of Christ at the Last Supper - "taking the bread and a cup." "The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, when she offers what comes forth from his creation with thanksgiving" (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,18,4; cf. Mal 1:11). The presentation of the offerings at the altar takes up the gesture of Melchizedek and commits the Creator's gifts into the hands of Christ who, in his sacrifice, brings to perfection all human attempts to offer sacrifices.

1358 We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:

- thanksgiving and praise to the Father;
- the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.

Thanksgiving and praise to the Father

1359 The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity.

1360 The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all "thanksgiving."

1361 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation. This sacrifice of praise is possible only through Christ: he unites the faithful to his person, to his praise, and to his intercession, so that the sacrifice of praise to the Father is offered through Christ and with him, to be accepted in him.

To summarize, again from the Catechism:
1407 The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.

1408 The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord's body and blood. These elements constitute one single act of worship.

I realize that the secular holiday has Protestant roots (at least by the popular reckoning), but there's no reason why Catholics can't use this day to call to mind what they are the most thankful for: our Eucharistic Lord.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Is the Catholic Understanding of the Gospel?

Or, to put it another way: What is the message of the gospel? What exactly are we supposed to be preaching to people?

This is a very important question! After all, how can we “preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15) or “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15) if we don’t know what it is? “It is the power of God for salvation” ... yet many of us are entirely ignorant of it! I think it’s time we change that.

The best way to answer this question is to consult Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let's begin with the Bible. There are 93 references to the “gospel” in the New Testament, but most of these assume that the reader already knows what the gospel is and so they aren’t very helpful for determining the content of the gospel.

However, 15 of these passages say that the gospel is of something in a manner that indicates the content of it (instead of indicating the source of the gospel or the effects of the gospel). The gospel is a message that concerns Jesus Christ (cf. Mk 1:1; Rom 1:9; 15:19; 1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 2:12; 4:4; 9:13; 10:14; Gal 1:7; Phil 1:27; 1 Thes 3:2; 2 Thes 1:8) and His Kingdom (cf. Mt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14). The context of these passages will typically flesh this out even more, especially the opening passages to Paul's letter to the Romans and the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians:
Rom 1:1-4 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

1 Cor 15:1-4 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures

We see in Scripture that the notion of “salvation” is also closely linked with the gospel. Forms of the words “save” and “salvation” appear 129 times in the New Testament and hundreds of times in the Old Testament. Also, if we consider the immediate context of the “gospel” passages, these save/salvation words appear much more frequently than other terms that refer to Jesus’ work, such as “justification”, "sanctification", or “redemption”.

In other words, the way the New Testament speaks of the gospel, Christ is its central content and salvation is what he came to bring. So, we might state the gospel message this way:

Jesus Christ died and rose for our sins
so that we may be saved.

If you look up the words “gospel” and “Good News” in the Catechism, then you find affirmation of what we have discovered in Scripture. For example:
333 Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection (cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7).

389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side" of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Him

422 "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5). This is "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mk 1:1): God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation - he has sent his own "beloved Son" (Mk 1:11; cf. Lk 1:5,68).

571 The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished "once for all" (Heb 9:26) by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

638 "We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus" (Acts 13:32-33). The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:
"Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life." (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Easter)

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent (cf. Lumen Gentium 3, Ad Gentes 3). "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures" (LG 5).

1086 "Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan and from death and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 6).

1391 "On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, 'Christ is risen!' Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ" (Fanqith, Syriac Office of Antioch, Vol. I, Commun., 237a-b).

1846 The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God's mercy to sinners (cf. Lk 15). The angel announced to Joseph: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21).

2763 All the Scriptures - the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms - are fulfilled in Christ (cf. Lk 24:44). The Gospel is this "Good News." Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5-7); the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation.

Also, from the Glossary in the back of the Catechism:
GOSPEL: The “good news” of God’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is this Gospel or good news that the Apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the entire world (571, 1964). The Gospel is handed on in the apostolic tradition of the Church as the source of all–saving truth and moral discipline (75). The four Gospels are the books written by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which have for their central object Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son: his life, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church’s beginnings under the Spirit’s guidance (124, 514).

Now that you know what the gospel message is, go out and proclaim it by your words and your life! Memorize it so that it comes from the heart as a conviction, as a truth at the very core of your life. We should be able to proclaim to anyone, and at a moment's notice, the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

For more information, see the following articles:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Catholic Q&A: Part 39

This post continues my series of short answers to common (and not so common) questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

My pastor said that during the Easter season we should say the Regina Coeli prayer instead of the usual Angelus. When did that become the required practice?

I wasn't able to discover when it was decided that the Regina Coeli would replace the Angelus during the Easter Season, but I can say that this has been the practice for a long time. The Catholic Encyclopedia from 1910 mentions it, so the practice is at least that old, and I would say probably much older, since both prayers are from the 12th century.

I think the reason for the change makes sense once you consider the words of each prayer. The Angelus is all about the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Regina Coeli, however, is very much about the resurrection of Jesus, which is what we celebrate during the Easter Season. Here is the Regina Coeli:
V. Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia,
V. Has risen as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia,
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia,
R. For the Lord is truely risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, we beseech you, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, his mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

It is also filled with alleluia's, which is the great Easter word of praise. So, the change is very good and fitting.

I am in a debate with someone who thinks that Catholics contradict themselves by saying that Jesus is the foundation of the Church while also believing in the authority of the pope. How should I respond?

This does seem like a contradiction at first. But, Scripture provides the answer.

If there can only be one foundation to the Church, or if the Church is only built on the work of one person, then St. Paul must be entirely confused. After all, in 1 Cor 3:11 he says that the foundation is Christ, but in Eph 2:20 he says that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone). In Rev 21:14, we see that the "New Jerusalem", which is an image of the Church, has twelve foundations, each one representing a different apostle.

So, which one is it? Is the Church built on Christ or is it built on the apostles and prophets? It’s both. The foundation of the Church was first laid back in the Old Testament, with the covenants that God established with man and in the words of the prophets, who spoke of a great gathering of all mankind around the Messiah (cf. Gen 12:2-3; Exo 19:6; Ezek 20:41; Dan 7:14; etc.). When Jesus came, He chose 12 apostles and they worked together to further lay the foundation of the Church and to build upon it.

This is what the pope, as the successor of St. Peter, continues to do today. He works with Jesus -- or, to put it another way, Jesus works through the ministry of the pope -- to ensure the continued stability of the Church. Jesus Himself said that He would build His Church on Peter (cf. Mt 16:18), so it is quite logical that we would consider his successor to be a foundational figure.

He also says that Catholics aren’t Christians because the bible only refers to “Christians”, not to individual denominations.

Well, there is a sense in which he is right. Scripture does not envision the denominationalism that currently exists within Christendom. Christ did not build His Church with the hope that it would one day splinter and divide into thousands of different denominations. He built His Church to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

So, the only way to find His Church among the thousands of competing ecclesial communions is to ask oneself: Which of these has unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity as marks of its very nature? Only one does.

Another way to answer this question is to go back before the splintering began, look at the belief and practice of that Christian community, and see if any church exists today that has maintained continuity of belief and practice with that community. Only one has. It is a historical fact that, before groups began breaking off, to be Christian was to be Catholic.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Quick Explanation of Mary as Mediatrix of All Grace

In this month of Mary and the rosary, I thought it would be fitting to provide a short explanation of the fifth Marian doctrine, which proclaims that Mary is the Mediatrix of All Grace. This is a profound mystery, and difficult to explain simply, but after much thought -- and much practice presenting this teaching in RCIA every year -- I have come upon what I hope is the best way to go about it.

First of all, there is no doubt that this is a doctrine of the Church. As Pope Pius XI exhorted us in his encyclical on the Sacred Heart, "Let [the faithful] pray to Him, interposing likewise the powerful patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, for themselves and for their families, for their country, for the Church" (Caritate Christi Compulsi, no. 31). But, what does this title mean? When we say that Mary is the “Mediatrix of All Grace”, we mean that Mary cooperated and continues to cooperate in an extraordinary way in the saving mission of Christ, who alone is the unique mediator between God and man.

It may seem peculiar at first to think of a human being working with God to bring us grace, but Scripture says that all Christians are called to contribute to this vital work. Jesus alone is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Yet, He also wishes to give us some participation in it.

For example, St. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22). He considered himself a steward of God’s grace that was given to him for others (Eph 3:2; cf. Rom 11:13-14; 1 Cor 7:16; 1 Tim 4:16; 2 Tim 2:10). We are "God’s fellow workers" (1 Cor 3:9), “working together with Him” (2 Cor 6:1).

Now, Mary played her part just as Paul did, but her cooperation was and is uniquely exemplary. Essentially, there are three stages or events in her life in which we see her exercise this role.

First, in her fiat: Mary’s “yes” to God was the occasion for the Son to enter human history and take on our human nature. She gave Him the flesh that He nailed to the Cross for our salvation. In a very real way, she brought salvation to the world.

Secondly, at the foot of the Cross: Since she was sinless, she was able to stand with Jesus and unite her will and her suffering perfectly with the will and the suffering of her Son. This was undoubtedly rewarded with a tremendous outpouring of grace for the Church. How do we know this? Because we see from Scripture that whenever someone suffers for the sake of the Church, the Church is rewarded with an application of the grace of the Cross.

St. Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and … for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24). Paul is showing us that the Church benefits whenever we unite our sufferings with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. This is what he did (cf. 2 Cor 1:6; 4:8-15; Phil 2:17; 3:10; Col 1:24), this is what he encouraged others to do, and this is what Mary did.

Finally, in heaven: Once Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. She sits at the right hand of the King, as mothers always did in the Davidic Kingdom (cf. 1 Ki 2:19; Psa 45:9), and she intercedes on our behalf. Since “the prayers of the righteous are very powerful in their effects” (Jas 5:16), we can be sure that if anyone turns to Christ or does any good thing, it is because she intensely desired it and prayed for it.

If you would like to learn more about the fifth Marian doctrine, check out Dr. Mark Miravalle’s book Meet Your Mother. It is an excellent read.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, October 04, 2015

For Respect Life Sunday: The Catholic Church and the Death Penalty

What does the Catholic Church teach about capital punishment and the death penalty?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers this question just as well as I could. See the following paragraphs from its treatment on the Fifth Commandment ("Thou shalt not kill"):
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party (cf. Lk 23:40-43).

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent" (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, no. 56).

What this means is that the death penalty is not always wrong. If the only way to protect communities is to take the life of the aggressor, then states have a right to do so.

The debate then centers around the question of when the death penalty is ever actually necessary. More and more it seems that we seek the death penalty out of revenge rather than from a real desire to protect society. The fact that many on death row are innocent also makes the death penalty a tragic and potentially unjust reality. But, it is also true that from time to time a criminal emerges who would remain a threat to the common good even from behind bars.

Since Catholics are allowed to disagree on the appropriate application of the death penalty, we should not demonize each other as we engage in this debate. Instead, we must follow our consciences and Church teaching.

Since today is "Respect Life Sunday", our thoughts and activism is naturally focused on the unborn, and rightly so. But, we might also say a prayer or offer up the Mass today for those who are on death row, for those who have incurred the death penalty, and for those judges and politicians who decide how it is implemented. We desire, as with any moral issue, that the dignity of the human person be always respected.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, August 28, 2015

Reclaiming Augustine

Protestant apologists, especially of the Reformed/Calvinistic variety, love to claim Augustine as an early Church Father who professed their unique beliefs on grace, predestination, authority, and many other topics. I personally think such an exercise is an ahistorical grasping at straws and a false reading of a very Catholic man.

Since today is St. Augustine's feast day, it is as good a day as any to reclaim Augustine and plant his theology firmly within the mind of the Church. Dave Armstrong has a post on his blog that goes a long way towards achieving that end. On all of the following doctrines, Dave has provided quotes from the works of Augustine that show the Catholicity of his thinking:
  • Apostolic succession
  • Baptism
  • "Catholic" Church
  • Church authority
  • Contraception
  • Deuterocanonical books
  • Eternal security
  • Eucharistic adoration
  • Real Presence in the Eucharist
  • Faith Alone
  • Irresistible grace
  • Mary: Mother of God, perpetual virgin, sinless
  • Sacrifice of the Mass
  • Merit
  • Mortal and venial sin
  • The papacy and the Roman See
  • Penance
  • Primacy and preeminence of Peter
  • Prayers for the dead
  • Purgatory
  • Relics
  • Invocation/intercession/veneration of the saints
  • Scripture alone
  • Sacred Tradition

It really is an amazingly helpful post! He has several other articles on the thought of St. Augustine as well:
For my part, I have a small post that answers the question, "Did Augustine Invent Original Sin?" What do you think?

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, May 01, 2015

St. Joseph the Worker

May 1st is the optional memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. It is interesting that the "most chaste spouse" of Mary is distinguished from the many other "St. Joseph's" by his reputation as a worker. He is the symbol of the "hard-working man," the man who does his job well and with diligence because he hopes to serve the Lord and to support his family with it. Pope Pius XII created this feast day for the very purpose of emphasizing this noble purpose of work and to place all who labor under the patronage of St. Joseph.

For more on St. Joseph and this feast day, see the Catholic Culture Liturgical Calendar for May 1st, or see my previous post, In the Hands of St. Joseph, which is an extensive compilation of articles on this wonderful husband, father, and saint.

Also, check out the following video. It's a homily by Fr. Liam Cary, Pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Medord, OR:

St. Joseph: Devoted Father, Man of Pure Faith


St. Joseph the Worker and Mary's Most Chaste Spouse ... ora pro nobis.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
Related Posts with Thumbnails