Friday, January 22, 2016

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Some Resources to Help You Fight the Good Fight

Unfortunately, I only have a short amount of time to post today about an issue that grieves me perhaps more than any other. Below you'll find links to information about abortion and my few meager offerings (seriously) on this subject.

I'm sure there are many, many other pro-life websites one could visit besides the ones I have listed (leave your favorite in the combox!). What I have done here is to assemble the ones I know are from a Catholic perspective.

Articles
This chart is also very helpful: Quick Responses to Common Pro-Choice Arguments.

Blog Posts
Good luck to you in your fight against the culture of death, and if you are on the front-lines in Washington, DC today, don't forget your mittens!

Our Lady of the Unborn ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, January 18, 2016

On Martin Luther King Day: Black Catholics in the Church

Since today is Martin Luther King Day, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out the diversity that exists among the saints of the Catholic Church. Most of the time I think when a person hears the words "Catholic saint" the image of a white European guy comes to mind. But, Africans and African-Americans have also made a significant contribution to the life of the Church. This statement seems so obvious to me that it feels trite to even point it out. But, in the US there is a stereotype that Catholicism is only "for white people", and I want to put that to rest.

According to the National Black Catholic Congress, "270 million Catholics of African descent represent almost 25% of the one billion Roman Catholics throughout the world in more than 59 countries" (source). Almost 3 million of these live in the United States (source).

There are also many African and African-American saints. Here are just a few:

You may be surprised to find that at least three popes were of African descent:

For a list of current and deceased African-American and Black bishops, go here. Wikipedia's List of African-American Firsts is a great tribute as well. For more on Blacks in the Catholic Church, see The National Black Catholic Congress and the USCCB Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

In commemoration of today's Solemnity, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves: Why did Jesus consent to be baptized? I would like to offer three possible explanations.

First of all, he did it as an example for us.

Jesus’ entire life is an example for us of how to be human and how to follow God. His will was that people would repent of their sin and be baptized by John as a sign of their commitment to follow God. As a result, Jesus decided to be baptized, to show us how important it is to convert our hearts and make a public act of faith.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, gives us another reason. He says that Jesus’ baptism anticipates what He did for all mankind on the cross:
  • The act of descending into the waters of this Baptism implies a confession of guilt and a plea for forgiveness in order to make a new beginning. In a world marked by sin, then, this Yes to the entire will of God also expresses solidarity with men, who have incurred guilt but yearn for righteousness. The significance of this event could not fully emerge until it was seen in light of the Cross and Resurrection. Descending into the water, the candidates for Baptism confess their sin and seek to be rid of their burden of guilt. What did Jesus do in the same situation? Luke, who throughout his Gospel is keenly attentive to Jesus' prayer, and portrays him again and again at prayer -- in conversation with the Father -- tells us that Jesus was praying while he received Baptism (cf. Lk 3:21). Looking at the events in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind's guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross. He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, "Take me and throw me into the sea" (Jon 1:12). The whole significance of Jesus' Baptism, the fact that he bears, "all righteousness," first comes to light on the Cross: The Baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out "This is my beloved Son" over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to his death (cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50). (p. 17-18)

By descending into the waters of the Jordan, Jesus takes the place of all sinners, who were being called by John to do what Jesus was doing. He does the same thing on the Cross, where He pays the price for all man’s sin.

His going under the water is symbolic of burial and the destruction of sin that will take place on the cross. We see this purpose for water in the flood of Noah’s day, which buried and destroyed all the sin in the world.

His rising out of the water is symbolic of His resurrection. The dove that rests above Him and the voice that cries out from the heavens point to the glory that will be His once His work is finished.

St. Thomas Aquinas gives us yet a third reason. He says that the baptism of the Lord points to our Christian sacrament of baptism. The baptism of St. John the Baptist was merely symbolic. It was a way to publicly profess one’s commitment to conversion and repentance. It did not actually forgive sin or make one a member of the family of God like our sacrament of baptism does. But, when Jesus received the baptism of John, He “consecrated it” so to speak, just as His presence at the wedding feast of Cana is seen as God’s blessing over matrimony.

In other words, when the baptism of John is imbued with the presence of Christ, it becomes what we celebrate today, and in the baptism of Jesus we see glimpses of our sacrament. The water signifies the cleansing that takes place. The descent of the dove signifies the reception of grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The divine voice -- which cries out, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” -- signifies our adoption as beloved sons (or daughters) of God.

For more on the sacrament of baptism, see my previous blog posts:

Happy Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, January 03, 2016

For the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
-- Phil 2:9-11

The month of January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The Liturgical Calendar at Catholic Culture has some helpful information on today's feast day:
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite this feast is celebrated on January 2. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was removed, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial in the Ordinary Form on January 3.

The Church reveals to us the wonders of the Incarnate Word by singing the glories of His name. The name of Jesus means Savior; it had been shown in a dream to Joseph together with its meaning and to Our Lady at the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel.

Devotion to the Holy Name is deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. It was promoted in a special manner by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistrano and by the Franciscan Order. It was extended to the whole Church in 1727 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII. The month of January has traditionally been dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2.

The New Advent Encyclopedia tells us:
  • The Name of Jesus invoked with confidence
    • brings help in bodily needs, according to the promise of Christ: "In my name They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:17-18) In the Name of Jesus the Apostles gave strength to the lame (Acts 3:6; 9:34) and life to the dead (Acts 9:40).
    • It gives consolation in spiritual trials. The Name of Jesus reminds the sinner of the prodigal son's father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God.
    • It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who has conquered him on the Cross.
    • In the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has said: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23) Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ", etc.
    So the word of St. Paul is fulfilled: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil., ii, 10).

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read:
  • 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves" (cf. Ex 3:14; 33:19-23; Mt 1:21). The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him (Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20).

For more on the Holy Name, see the following articles:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

For the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

An "epiphany" is a sudden manifestation or revelation of something. When we speak of the "Epiphany of the Lord" we mean the moments when the Son of God was revealed to mankind.

On this day, our thoughts are naturally drawn to the revelation of the Christ Child to the Three Wise Men. What a sight it must have been! Jesus was surely a child of indescribable beauty and splendor. Note that, by being born of Mary and of the line of David, he comes to the Jews. In his appearing to the Magi, he comes to the Gentiles. And thus, he is revealed to the whole world.

But, two other events in the life of Christ are commemorated on this day as well: the baptism of Jesus and the wedding at Cana. These events, just as much as the visitation of the Magi, are epiphanies of the Lord.

When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, a dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit) rested upon Him and a voice cried out from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Even before the baptism, John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Set your eyes upon Him! Jesus is the anointed Son of God and Savior of the world.

The wedding at Cana is the context for another epiphany in that it is here where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. The gospel writer says of this miracle: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn 2:11). His glory was manifested on that day, a true epiphany.

Yet, is He not also revealed to us in the Mass? Does not the priest, after the consecration of the Eucharist, repeat the very same words as John the Baptist? “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world! Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!” I suggest to you that this moment too is an epiphany. Just as the divinity of the Lord was in a way veiled by his humanity, so too our Eucharistic Lord is veiled, hiding behind the species of bread and wine.

Yet, we know by faith that He is there, just as the Magi knew that this little child, born in a manger, was the long-awaited Messiah, just as John the Baptist knew as soon as he set eyes on Jesus that He was the Lamb of God who’s Precious Blood would wash away our sins -- and more important still -- just as Mary knew that she could ask anything of this Man and it would be done.

For more on the Epiphany of the Lord, see the following articles, as well as a hymn that we sung today at Mass:

What Child Is This?
Set to John Stainer's arrangement of the traditional tune "Greensleeves". Sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, 1995.



Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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