Weeks 571-580

Oratory Reflection 580: Word of Christ: Acts 11:19-26

“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” -Acts 11:19-26

“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” This line struck me. To tell the truth, it jumped off of the page and hit me between the eyes. The period of training had come to an end. The disciples of Jesus were no longer catechumens. Having sat at the feet of the apostles, the eager disciples plunged into the regenerating water of baptism and clothed themselves with Christ (CF. Gal. 3:27). The new name that was applied to the community of believers confirms Paul’s words. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) The Gospel is not just a philosophy to be studied. Rather, it is an implanted word that takes root in the human heart and saves our lives (CF. Jam. 1:21).

The author of Hebrews wrote, “The word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing between soul and spirit.” (Heb. 4:12) The Sacred Word separates the talkers from the walkers. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw that difference, that spirit, in the fledgling community there. In recognition of the community’s guiding spirit, they were given a new name: Christian. As the author of the letter to the Philippians puts it, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from where we eagerly await our Savior.” (Phil. 3:20) The proper meaning of the title Christian is a follower of Christ who has freely embraced all that Jesus taught and did, and now shapes his life by it. In the true believer, the Word of God would become flesh and dwell in them. They would become one with Christ in a palpable way. 

It is in Christ that believers live and move and have their being. They are thus to be called by the name of their dwelling place: Christians. Writing to the Church in Emphasis, St. Paul said, “If we cling to the truth in love, we shall grow up in every way into Him who is the head.” (Eph. 4:16) We need to conform ourselves to the message we have heard. Because our citizenship is in Christ, “we press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us.” (CF. Phil. 3:12) We come into the presence of the Lord to listen to his Word in simplicity and gratitude. Then we abandon ourselves to him. How great is the joy of those who hear and believe the Words that come forth from the mouth of God! How blessed are they who follow the Shepherd wherever he leads them. Having been grafted to Christ who is the Love of the Father made tangible, we become ministers of love for all our distressed brothers and sisters. 
-Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
Edited by Erica Faunce

Prayer: 
God of everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast kindles the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed. Amen. 

 

Quote:
We want to pray, but God is far; we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, not even the thought. We can only open ourselves, set our time at the disposal of God, waiting for him to help us enter into true dialogue. The Apostle says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, even the desire to enter into contact with God is a prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but carries, interprets, to God. It is precisely our weakness which becomes, through the Holy Spirit, true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is almost the interpreter who makes God and us ourselves understand what we want to say.
-Pope Benedict XVI

 

Questions: 

  1. Acts says that Barnabas “saw the grace of God” in the community at Antioch. What does this mean? 

  2. How does the grace of God manifest itself in a community? 

  3. What does it mean to be truly Christian? How does this vary from the secular understanding of Christianity? 

  4. How can we become more conformed to Christ? As individuals? As a community? 

  5. God says he will “write his Word” upon our hearts. How does he do this? 

  6. What are some ways that the Word of God comes to us through our community? 

  7. How can we respond to God’s Word?

-Erica Faunce

 
Oratory Reflection 579: The Tender Heart of God: Romans 5:5-11

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” -Romans 5:5-11

 

When we think of God, what are some notions and concepts that come to mind? He is omnipotent, or all-powerful. He is omniscient, or all-knowing. He is the Unmoved Mover, the Uncaused Cause, or First Cause. He is the Creator of the Universe. These ideas about God tend to be cool and aloof, distant, detached, uncaring, uninvolved. They are more intellectual than emotional. Or maybe from parts of the Old Testament, we derive an image of a God who is always angry, vengeful, and wrathful. 

 

In Jesus, we see the very human side of God. In Colossians 1:15 we read that he “is the image of the invisible God.” And in John 14:9 Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” When we read the New Testament, we see a God who has feelings, who can be hurt, who can be vulnerable, who can feel sad and cry, who can feel betrayed. That’s the purpose of contemplating the Sacred Heart: to remind us of God’s love, his tenderness, his longing for our love in return. Officially, we pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But in a way, we are praying to the Sacred Heart of the whole Trinity. 

 

Let’s take a look at a few examples from the Gospels that demonstrate just how tender the Heart of Jesus was. In Luke 22, Jesus says to Peter, his trusted friend whom he had made leader of his Church, “Simon, Simon! Remember that Satan has asked for you, to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may never fail. You in your turn must strengthen your brothers.” And Peter, in his exuberance replies, “Lord, at your side I am prepared to face imprisonment and death itself.” Yet, according to Jesus’ prediction, Peter denied him three times.

 

Luke tells us that at that very moment, “The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken to him, ‘Before the cock crows today you will have denied me three times.’ He went out and wept bitterly.” One of the attributes that we often assign to God is that he is impassible, incapable of suffering or feeling pain. But Jesus at that moment was anything but impassible. At his time of great trial and loneliness, Jesus desired a friend to encourage him and give him strength. But Peter abandoned him. One can only imagine the look of deep sorrow on Jesus’ face.

 

It might shake us to think of Jesus weeping or crying. In some cultures, it’s considered unmanly. Yet, the authors of our Gospels don’t seem to be at all ashamed of depicting that side of Jesus. In Luke 19:41, we read that he wept over Jerusalem and said, “If only you had known the path to peace this day, but you have completely lost it from view!” Elsewhere (Lk 13:34), Jesus exclaimed over Jerusalem, “How often have I wanted to gather your children together as a mother bird collects her young under her wings, and you refused me!”

 

In John’s Gospel, we read about the raising of Lazarus. Jesus had a deep bond with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, a family who had often invited him into their home. The very human heart of God is revealed in this scene. John relates for us, “When Mary came to the place where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord if you had been here my brother would never have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had accompanied her also weeping, he was troubled in spirit. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Lord, come and see,’ they said. Jesus began to weep.” This passage goes so far in demonstrating that the heart of God is not distant and aloof. He deeply cares for each one of us and cries when misfortune befalls us. 

 

So, as we contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us be thankful for the revelation of a God so close to us. In his tender love, he has made himself vulnerable. Let us not make any choices that would cause him to grieve. Let us pray, through Mary’s intercession and example, never to offend him, but rather always please him and become one with him. Let us share our sufferings and joys with him, so that our hearts may come to resemble his more and more. 

-Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer: 

Most sweet Jesus, redeemer of the human race, look down upon us, humbly prostrate before your altar. We are yours and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your most Sacred Heart. Many, indeed, have never known you; many too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart. Be you king, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be you king of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd. Be you king also of all those who sit in the ancient superstition of the Gentiles, and refuse not to deliver them out of darkness into the light and kingdom of God. Grant, O Lord, to your Church, assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor forever. Amen.

-Pope Leo XIII 

 

Quote from a Saint: 

“As to persons living in the world, they shall find in this devotion all the aids necessary in their state of life: peace in their homes, consolation in their work, the blessing of heaven upon all their enterprises, comfort in their sorrows, a secure refuge during life and especially at the hours of death. It is plainly evident that there is no one in the world who will not receive all kinds of heavenly blessings if they have a true love of Jesus Christ manifested by a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

-St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

Questions: 

  1. What are some attributes of the Sacred Heart? What do they tell us about God’s love for us? 

  2. Think of some of the everyday sufferings and joys that Jesus would have experienced in his lifetime. How are they reflected in the Sacred Heart? 

  3. In the Gospel, we see the great tenderness that Christ had for his friend Lazarus. How does he show this same tenderness towards us today? 

  4. How can we understand the Sacred Heart better through the Immaculate Heart of Mary? 

  5. How do we as Catholics reconcile the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful God with the idea of a God who is so human? 

  6. How has humanity injured the Sacred Heart of Jesus? How can we ever make it up to him?  

  7. What are some ways we can begin to recognize and venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus in others?

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory Reflection 578: Washed Clean: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20

“I, John, heard a voice saying to me: ‘Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates. ‘I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’ Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water. The one who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

-Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20

 

This reading suggests that we think about doing our dirty laundry. Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life. The next sentence begins, “I, Jesus,” so that here we have what may be the last recorded words that the Risen Lord spoke to us from heaven. They have the same form as the first words that Jesus spoke when he began his earthly ministry. According to St. Matthew, the first beatitude that Jesus spoke from the mountain was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” In Revelation, the last beatitude that he speaks from heaven is, “Blessed are they who wash their robes.” There’s a connection between the two. For, those who are spiritually impoverished are those who know they are sinners; and those who know they are sinners are the ones who need to wash their robes clean in the Blood of Jesus.

 

Cistercian writers have often seen this symbol of the robe as an expression for moral character. Their favorite parable was the parable of the prodigal son, where the father, in the sheer exuberance of his love, orders his servants to bring the finest robe and put it on his son instead of the rags he had been wearing. The Cistercian rite of solemn profession speaks of the white cowl as “appointed by our holy Fathers to be worn by those who renounce the world, as a sign of innocence and humility.”

 

Abbot Adam, the 13th-century abbot of Perseigne, speaks of this tradition when he says: “O how much innocence of heart and purity of conduct ought to be in my monks, who imitate the whiteness of the virginal lily both by the habit’s whiteness and by title of their name! They are especially called white monks not only because they shine in white clothing but because they stand out as the spiritual ministers of virginal innocence.” A robe in this sense is much more than an article of clothing. It represents the person. It is an outward sign of the inner life, and corresponds roughly to what we might call character. 

 

This mysterious robe that Jesus speaks about, the robe that stands for the moral life or character of the person, is made by each individual wearer in the course of his life. Every one of us, whether monk or layperson, carries about with us a mystical sewing machine, and we are always sewing this robe that we wear, with every thought and action becoming a thread in the robe. Moment by moment we make that mysterious thing that we call character. It is our own self, modified by our actions.

 

And all of our robes are dirty. Adam of Perseigne goes on to ask, “Why are we both poor and utterly dirty under our white habit?” It is a result of all that we have done in life, but if Jesus speaks of those who wash their robes clean, then there must be a way of doing so. The reading does not say how, but in another passage from the same Book of Revelation, we read that they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. And in the first letter of St. John, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. The Christian paradox is that the red blood washes the dirty robes, because it has the same source as the water of life. Both flow from the side of Christ on the Cross. All who want it may have their sins forgiven and their character sanctified.

 

And to show that he loved us to the end, he gave us his Blood in the Eucharist, so that sins may be forgiven, and so that our character may have the possibility of changing for the better. Jesus says, “Blessed are they who wash their robes,” meaning that there will be many washings before our robes are clean. We don’t wash them once and for all, but repeatedly throughout our lives, as St. Benedict knew when he had his monks take a vow of continuous conversion.

 

We’re always getting our robes dirty again. But we can always come to the Fountain of love and mercy which is Jesus himself. In the Eucharist, we have a chance to bring all our dirty robes to Christ, who alone can make us clean. It’s up to us to receive his precious Blood with humble faith in its purifying power, though faith itself is a gift from Christ. We can feed on “the tree of life” today and every day of our lives, and at last enter the city through its gates, for we will have washed our robes clean in the Blood of the Lamb.

-Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Edited by Erica Faunce 

 

Prayer: 

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word, and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity. And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures. Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us!

Amen.

 

Quote: 

“Every moment this Merciful Love renews me and purifies me, leaving in my soul no trace of sin.” 

-St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 

Questions: 

  1. What sorts of things can get our “robes” dirty? Is it always within our control? 

  2. What does it mean to be poor in Spirit? How is this a good thing? 

  3. In the lay vocation, how can we form for ourselves robes of purity and innocence? 

  4. Why does Jesus ask us to repeatedly wash our robes clean instead of doing so once and having done with it? 

  5. Why might Christ think it’s worthwhile to wash us clean over and over again? 

  6. In the reading from Revelation, how are thirst and cleanliness connected? 

  7. In the Old Testament, being marked with the blood of a sacrifice to God was a sign of purification and covenant. What does it mean when Christ himself is the sacrifice?

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory Reflection 577: Humble Moments: John 6:35-40

 

“Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.’” -John 6:35-40

 

Monastic tradition usually considers St. Benedict’s chapter on humility as the heart of the Rule, and the key to Benedictine spirituality. In that chapter, Benedict takes up a saying of our Lord that occurs in the Gospel. He writes: “The second step of humility is that a person loves not his own will nor takes pleasure in the satisfaction of his desires; rather he shall imitate by his actions that saying of the Lord: ‘I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.’”

 

St. Benedict associates this saying with humility because it is pride that does its own will, but humility that does the will of God. A monk must truly seek God, and he cannot find God by loving his own will or taking pleasure in the satisfaction of his desires. These will only be followed by other desires, and none of them will fully satisfy us, because our deepest hunger is for the infinite.

 

This practice of humility is not only true for those who live the monastic life, but for all. Only those who come to Jesus will never be hungry. They know from experience that he is the bread of real life, and they can never be satisfied with anything less than God. Our own will and desires are often for things that are less than God, and leave us wrapped up in ourselves; whereas humility takes us out of ourselves and leads straight to the mind and heart of God.

 

For St. Benedict, humility is not fully demonstrated in how we think about ourselves, but how we act. The moment of humility is a “step,” and the essential thing is to act, to imitate Christ by our actions, to do the will of God as Christ did. Humble people respond to the grace of the present moment and do neither more nor less than what God wants for them. They do thoroughly at every moment whatever it is they have to do, simply because it is the will of God.

 

St. Benedict does not hide the fact that this involves a battle. At the very beginning of the Prologue, he says, “this message of mine is for you, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience, to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” There will come a time in each and every life where mistakes are made, sometimes severe. The effort to get up after repeated falls is part of this battle, and plays an enormous part in the formation of the will. We can always come out of these efforts stronger in humility and more trusting in God, because we see where trusting in ourselves has led us.

 

Christ our King must be the driving power of our life, and the leader in this battle against the forces of self-will, of rejecting God’s divine plan, and therefore, rejecting his love. In this battle, we are both actors and witnesses of the marvelous designs of Love, and we can make the contribution of our own free will, moment by moment. That is how Christ himself did the will of the one who sent him, and became an example of humility for us to follow. May we heed his lesson of patient suffering, and so merit a share in his Resurrection.

-Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer: 

Lord Jesus Christ, who humbled himself in becoming man, and so subject to the weaknesses of man, who with most valiant obedience followed the will of the Father even unto suffering and death, be with us as we engage in battle against the evils that plague our own hearts. If there is any impurity, any part that resists the will of the Father, let it come to light, be healed, and forgotten. Let the only trace of it be our strengthened trust in the Father’s will, and our deeper understanding of your most Sacred Heart. Amen.  

 

Quote:

“Mary was the most simple of all creatures, and the most closely united to God. Her answer to the angel when she said: ‘Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’: contained all the mystic theology of her ancestors to whom everything was reduced, as it is now, to the purest, simplest submission of the soul to the will of God, under whatever form it presents itself. This beautiful and exalted state, which was the basis of the spiritual life of Mary, shines conspicuously in these simple words, ‘Fiat mihi’ (Luke i, 38).”

-Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence

 

Questions: 

  1. Jesus said, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” What does this tell us about our attachment to our own will over God’s?

  2. Where does giving in to our own will lead? What kind of person does one become if this habit is formed?

  3. What happens when we follow closely the will of God? What does life look like?

  4. Is experiencing pleasure in this life inherently bad? Why or why not?

  5. How can we stay vigilant against temptation without living in constant, unhealthy fear of sin?

  6. What does the Lord ask from each of us? Does he ever demand too much? 

  7. Jesus says he will not reject anyone who comes to him. What are some ways we can stay close to him in times of temptation? 

-Erica Faunce

 

 

Oratory Reflection 576: The Lord’s Splendor: Revelation 21:10-14

 

“He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” -Revelation 21:10-14

 

St. John writes of a tremendous vision of the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. His account is striking: “It gleamed with the splendor of God.” John is captivated, held, embraced by this splendor. The word “splendor” is a Latin word that means “brilliance, brightness, luster.” It carries the notion of extravagance and connotes something extremely abundant, something unrestrained. St. John recounts for us all the visible aspects of this splendor: precious stones, massive walls, twelve gates. But when all is said and done, such divine splendor exceeds any word and every description. What he sees is really beyond words.

 

We believe the splendor of God in human flesh is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He reveals that splendor, that brilliance, in His words to His disciples: “Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our dwelling with him.” What an awesome, splendid truth! When we try to live our journey of faith in obedience and love–keeping His word and loving our God and neighbor–our lives receive and express something of His splendor, His very self. We live caught up in God’s love, held in His embrace.

 

In the average activities of each day, the Lord Jesus, in a most personal way, says this is what must mark us, what must fill us, what must come forth: love and obedience. Both are graces, splendid gifts of our God to each of us. They lift us up to Him so that we are, in reality, in truth, His own sons and daughters, His beloved.

 

We receive these gifts of love and obedience by opening our hearts to His word, as we open our hearts to the Lord in the Holy Communion of the Mass. In all our humanness, we are embraced by the Lord’s splendor contained in the Sacred Word, hidden in the Host and Chalice. Our experience of the divine is not anything less than that of St. John and his vision.

 

As we gather to Mass in faith, in love and obedience, it is impossible for us not to experience God’s splendor, so long as our hearts are open. God dwells in a brilliance, a light we hope to see face to face one day. But already in this life, God shares that brilliance with us. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life in abundance.” That abundance begins now. 

 

In John’s vision, there is an important lesson for our own lives, a way to recognize the splendor of God’s grace personally. Although St. John did not see God face to face, he saw things that spoke of the reality of God’s splendor, and it’s the same for us. What does God’s splendor look like in us? How does it appear? When we believe in Him even in darkness; when we extend mercy and forgiveness to another; when we stretch to understand someone’s needs; when we go the extra mile in charity; when we hold on to hope no matter what.

 

In short, whenever we keep the Lord’s commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. These are not vague, abstract thoughts. Rather they are true signs that you and I have received and are receiving God’s fearful, majestic splendor. He gives it abundantly, prodigally, to the point of extravagance.

 

Do we truly believe this? Do we understand how abundantly the Lord pours out His love? Hopefully, we do. But in our humanness, we need to pray, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

-Fr. John Denburger, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer:

O God, restore the fortunes of your Holy City in Holy Mother Church. Realize the dream of exiles, returning to live together in peace. Replace the affliction of violence and fear with the glory of promises realized, divisions bridged, swords beaten into plowshares. From decay and tears, bring life and joy. We rejoice that you remember your people, and bless your Holy Name. We believe that for every instance of suffering, you will pour out your glory a hundred- or a thousandfold. Let us make of ourselves a home for you here on earth, that we may be granted an eternal home with you in Heaven. Amen. 

 

Quote from a Saint:

“Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its unconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.”

-St. Faustina Kowalska 

 

Questions: 

  1. What does John’s description of the Holy City tell us about the kingdom of Israel and the Apostles?

  2. We experience the splendor of God’s holy city here on earth. What are some examples of this?

  3. When we are at Mass, how can we prepare our hearts to be open to God? How can we do this outside of Mass?

  4. Every day, God gives us his whole self here on earth, but we won’t truly see Him until we reach Heaven. How is this possible?

  5. Why can’t we see God in His fullness right now the way we would if we were in Heaven? Why does He wait to reveal Himself? 

  6. How can we build up the Holy City and add to its splendor? What do we need that will equip us for this mission? 

  7. What can we do to help us hope for the beauty of God’s Kingdom even in times of darkness? 

-Erica Faunce

 

 

Oratory Reflection 575: Trinitarian Unity: Acts 23:6-11

 

“Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.’ When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?’ The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.’” -Acts 23:6-11

 

The scriptures contrast the false unity of the fallen world with the unity of the Trinity. The Pharisees unite against the Sadducees and the Sadducees against the Pharisees. Then the two unite together to murder Paul, just as former rivals Herod and Pilate became friends the day they together killed Jesus. Paul shrewdly escapes his predicament by reminding the two rival groups of the conflict between them.

 

Such false unity springs from the spirit of the Accuser. It shows up in our world as tribalism, nationalism, faction, rivalry, envy, and hatred in every form. It always seems to have an urgent, air-tight case against someone, and thinks in stark, black-and-white terms with no room for nuance or complexity, no time for multiple perspectives or approaches. It is a unity imposed from outside, in accord with a human storyline.

 

Jesus, by contrast, prays, not that one side may unite against another, or all unite against one common scapegoat, but that ALL may be one with the oneness he shares with the Father. What is this oneness, this unity? How is the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father? Each day in the liturgy, we pray to the Father through Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the love of the Father for the Son, of the Son for the Father, and the mutual love of them both; he is the offspring and overflow of this love that spills over into the gratuitous creation of the world, and the new creation in grace at Pentecost.

 

The unity of the Trinity expresses the unity of the divine nature, which is equally plurality: the triune God is just as much three as one; not three that later resolves into one or one that breaks out into three but both at once. Each divine Person gives himself completely to the other and makes way for the uniqueness and distinction of the other.

 

The oneness of God grounds and supports the distinction of each Person, as the distinction of Persons makes up the unity. Far from a unity based on exclusion, the oneness of God is identical with making way for the uniqueness of the other.

 

Where the unity of the world is built on unwilling victims, the unity of the Trinity comes into the world through the supreme sign of contradiction, Christ willingly crucified to save the world. On the cross, Jesus contradicts and unmasks all the powers and principalities, all the narrow ideologies that set themselves up in place of the unity that can only come from the transcendent God.

 

The false unity of the world built on exclusion, which unfaithfully impersonates the unity of the Trinity, is a greater threat to true unity than this or that personal sin, as the Sadducees and Pharisees represented a far greater threat to Jesus than the sins of tax collectors and prostitutes.

 

The unity of the Trinity—open, expansive, inclusive, transcending human reason—is like the unity of a vine: one stalk, many branches sprawling out all over, toward the one light of the sun. The branches do not grow backwards from the leaf, meeting only to veer away again, as that unity based solely on a single topic. The vine is totally one, growing from strong roots. 

 

As branches in the true Vine, pruned by the word, may we bear much fruit and so give glory to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

-Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer:

Lord God, let us not fall into the habit of identifying ourselves only by worldly standards. May we not put stock in groups and factions over the unity of Holy Mother Church, which is meant for all people. She calls to her children, confused, lost, and broken. May we never be a hindrance to their return by valuing our opinions over the love of our Lord. May our consciences be formed in unity with the Church, through your truth in the Word, Jesus Christ. Help us to know true, abundant love as we live in the unbreakable bonds of your Holy Trinity. Amen. 

 

Quote from a Saint: 

“A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him.”

-St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

Questions:

  1. Isaiah says, “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.” How does this reflect the unity that the Lord intends for his people? 

  2. The Lord Jesus invites us to love as he loves the Father, and as the Father loves him. What are some attributes of this love?

  3. Why do we have the desire to identify ourselves as part of a particular group? Is this good or bad? 

  4. How can we have unity of people in the Church when there is so much variation from person to person throughout the world? 

  5. What is the difference between the true unity of the Church in Jesus Christ and the false unity of this or that group? How can we tell which is which? 

  6. Can identifying with a group ever reflect the true unity of the Trinity? What does it look like? How does it vary from false unity? 

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory Reflection 574: Love In Suffering: Acts 10:37-43

“Peter proceeded to speak and said: ‘You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil,  for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.’” -Acts 10:37-43

If we only look at the surface of what God did through Christ, He seems to have fallen in love with our suffering. He has so passionately laid hold of it and made it his own. He is known to the whole world as the Man of Sorrows. Yet he came to give us a life full of joy. 

It’s not with our suffering that Christ fell in love, but with us. It was necessary for Him to identify himself so completely with our suffering, because our lives are necessarily made up of it. It is the inescapable consequence of sin. No one escapes it; everyone must somehow either come to terms with their suffering or be broken by it. No one can come close to another person without coming close to their suffering.

Christ did far more: He actually became one with our suffering. Humanity brought death into the world, and in taking His bride, Christ became one with death. In the consummation of his love, he gave the Bride his life. Christ has lived each of our lives. He has faced all our fears, suffered all our griefs, overcome all our temptations, labored in all our labors, loved in all our loves, died all our deaths. 

He took our humanity, just as it is, with all its wretchedness and ugliness, and gave it back to us just as His humanity is, transfigured by the beauty of his living, filled full of his joy. He came through death to give us His Risen Life as our life, so that no matter what suffering we meet, we can meet it with the whole power of the love that has overcome the world: “I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

He has come back as spring comes back out of the ground, to be a continual renewing of life in our hearts, so that we may continually renew one another’s life in his love, and be his Resurrection in the world. We are the resurrection, going on always, always giving back Christ’s life to the world.

In every life, there are many secret resurrections. In our sin, we are the tombs in which Christ lies dead, but at the first moment of sorrow for sin, He rises from the dead in us, the life of the world is renewed by our sorrow, and the soul that was in darkness radiates the morning light. In the moment that we are forgiven, the world is flooded with forgiveness. No wonder the angels rejoice when one sinner does penance, more than over the ninety-nine who need no penance, for the resurrection in the soul of the sinner is complete. It’s not just a poor sinner licking his wounds and limping on, crippled by the past; it is Christ risen, alive and whole. 

All day long, all over the world, there is resurrection. An infant is baptized, and Christ lives again, strong in His new life. A convert is received into the Church after the long tension of his conversion, and Christ comes back to the world. A young man bashfully tells of his sins in confession, the words of absolution are spoken, and Christ lives again in the heart of mankind. A forgotten old woman dies in a nursing home. To those who close her eyes and cover her quiet face, nothing extraordinary has happened. But in the eyes of the eternal Father, Christ has risen again from the dead. And the Church can once again sing her eternal song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

-Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer: 

Thank you, Lord, for all of your blessings in my life. Thank you for surrounding me with wonderful friends, family members, and neighbors. Thank you for giving us the gift of your beautiful world and all the skies, lands, and waters. Thank you for the thrill of celebration and the enrichment of music. Thank you for all of the animals and creatures of the earth. Thank you for giving us the promise of eternity and everlasting life. And most of all, thank you for the gift of yourself in your beloved son, Jesus Christ. When I am lost, please remind me of the many reasons I can be thankful, and guide my spirit toward your joy. Amen. 

 

Quote from a Saint: 

“Life is only a dream: soon, we shall awaken. And what joy! The greater our sufferings, the more limitless our glory. Oh! do not let us waste the trial Jesus sends.”

-St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 

Questions: 

  1. What are some examples of suffering and tribulation in the Old Testament that are reflected in the Passion and Death of Christ?

  2. After his Resurrection, why would Christ have chosen to reveal himself only to a chosen few and not to the whole world?

  3. In suffering, it’s often hard to feel that God is close to us. What are some ways we can invite him into our suffering? 

  4. Christ lies in the suffering heart of each person, whether they are aware of it or not. How can we begin to help others recognize the presence of Christ in themselves so that he may awaken?

  5. In the letter to the Colossians, St. Paul says that his suffering is “filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” How can this be if Christ’s Passion is already complete? 

  6. In his lifetime, Christ experienced the gravest suffering, but he also experienced joy more deeply than any other human being. What are some examples of this joy? How are they related to his suffering? 

  7. In this life, why are we unable to experience joy totally apart from suffering? Why must they both exist? 

-Erica Faunce

Oratory Reflection 573: Matters for Prayer: Mark 7:24-30

“Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.’ She replied and said to him, ‘Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.’ When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.”

-Mark 7:24-30

 

Saint Scholastica was the twin sister of Saint Benedict. She was consecrated to God at a very early age but probably continued to live in her parents’ home. It is said that she was as devoted to Jesus as she was to her brother. So when Benedict established his monastery at Monte Cassino, Scholastica founded a convent in nearby Plombariola, about five miles south of Monte Cassino. The convent is said to have been under the direction of Saint Benedict, and so she is regarded as the first Benedictine nun.

 

The siblings were quite close. According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, Benedict used to visit Scholastica once a year, and they would talk about spiritual matters. On one occasion they had passed the time as usual in prayer and pious conversation until the evening. Scholastica begged her brother to remain until the next day. Out of duty to his monastery, Benedict refused to spend the night. She had recourse to prayer and a furious thunderstorm burst so that Benedict could not safely return home. They spent the night in spiritual conferences. 

 

Just after his return to Monte Cassino, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica’s soul departing from her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. She died three days after their last meeting. He placed her body in the tomb he had prepared for himself and arranged to be buried next to her after his death. Saint Gregory comments, “so death did not separate the bodies of these two, whose minds had always been united in the Lord.”

 

There’s a lesson we can learn from the examples of the Greek woman in the Gospel, and Saint Scholastica. Both brought their petitions to the Lord: one for the healing of her daughter, and one simply for the company of her beloved brother. And God responded to both with mercy. 

 

Some people have the idea that we should only ask for God’s help in really important matters. But in the case of Saint Scholastica’s simple request, even then, the Lord responded in kind. On the other hand, we sometimes think our problems too great to bring before God, that we must handle our problems ourselves. But in the Gospel, we see that the opposite is true. A daughter in agony is the driving force behind the mother’s humility, and it is a noble thing for her to come to Jesus in her time of great need. 

 

We forget that God’s love is so great that he wishes to give us every good thing, great and small. He is always ready to hear our prayers, more ready to hear than we are to pray. And that includes all our prayers: praise and thanksgiving, petition, repentance, and intercession. Nothing is too great or too trivial to share with God our Father.

 

A prayerful person learns that everything we are and have comes from God’s infinite goodness; when we finally learn that lesson, we turn to him with all our hopes, dreams, and needs. Saint Scholastica and the woman in the Gospel are both among those who learned the lesson of their own need for God.

-Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer:

Oh, most gentle and gracious Father, I know I have not always taken recourse to thee when I should. Out of forgetfulness, pride, or fear of thy displeasure, I have not asked of thee the favors which thou so longs to bestow upon me. Put in me a trusting and unassuming heart, that I may approach thy Heavenly throne as a little child approaches his loving father. May I bring all of my petitions, for myself and for others, to the foot of thy cross, and allow you to shower down through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ the innumerable blessings which thou so desires to grant unto me. Amen. 

 

Quote from a Saint: 

“We must speak to God as a friend speaks to his friend, servant to his master; now asking some favor, now acknowledging our faults, and communicating to Him all that concerns us, our thoughts, our fears, our projects, our desires, and in all things seeking His counsel.”

-St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

Questions: 

  1. In the Gospel, why does Jesus at first seem to reply to the Greek woman’s petition with denial? What good comes from it?

  2. How does the relationship between St. Scholastica and St. Benedict reflect the relationship that God intends between men and women of God? 

  3. What is the Catholic understanding of humility? How does it differ from the world’s understanding of humility? 

  4. What areas of your life do you struggle to bring before God in prayer? 

  5. What is it that makes us forget God’s abundant love? How can we instead keep his mercy always before our eyes? 

  6. Think of a time you have asked something of God. How did he respond? 

  7. God reveals himself to be a loving Father. How can we return his love as we endeavor to be his beloved children? 

-Erica Faunce

Oratory Reflection 572: Acceptance and Joy: Hebrews 10:5-10

“When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, “As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.”’ First he says, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.’ These are offered according to the law. Then he says, ‘Behold, I come to do your will.’ He takes away the first to establish the second. By this ‘will,’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” -Hebrews 10:5-10

 

The Letter to the Hebrews puts these words into the mouth of Jesus: “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” And these words are contrasted with: “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”

 

These two phrases can represent the two different types of offerings we make to God each day. On the one hand, there are the things we choose ourselves. For instance, we can choose to say the rosary, to pass up dessert at dinner, to send a card to a shut-in. Then there are the things God chooses for us: illness, bodily aches and pains, a disruption of our plans, a person who rubs us the wrong way. Quite often, we have a natural inclination for the things we choose to offer to God, whereas we usually try to resist the things he chooses for us. He sees the areas in us where there is still room for growth. 

 

The first group of offerings are not bad, and are certainly to be encouraged. In the Old Testament, sacrifices, holocausts, and sin offerings were a good thing. Done with the proper disposition, they were true acts of piety. However, God says he neither desires them nor delights in them, because there is something even greater. Jesus came to be the supreme example of, “I come to do your will, O God.” 

 

Luisa Piccarreta, a spiritual writer and Servant of God, emphasized living in the Divine Will, embracing life’s circumstances as they unfold each day and seeing God’s hand in them. Her spirituality can lead us to a new perspective: This turn of events is certainly not something I would have chosen on my own, but I’m going to view it as the will of God and go with his plan rather than mine. I will offer it to him as a most pleasing prayer, and turn something negative into something positive. I can turn a set-back into a leap forward. 

 

To varying degrees based on our state in life, we have a lot of regulations in our everyday lives: responsibilities, rules, and customs. There is always the inclination to take shortcuts on the parts of that package that we find inconvenient or chafing. But God’s will can be found in the details. It would be silly to take on extra practices that we choose for ourselves and then neglect things that are required. When Jesus took up his cross and walked to Calvary, he didn’t try to exchange it for a cross of a lighter material, or negotiate how far he’d be carrying it. He accepted it with all its hideousness, with all its revulsion. At the time, he felt like he was being abandoned by his Father. But he kept reminding himself, “I come to do your will, O God.”

 

As for these two kinds of offerings, it’s not a matter of either/or, but both/and. The things we choose to offer to God on our own are pleasing to him and condition us to take on the more difficult offerings he chooses for us. There is a place for both in our lives. But the second is better than the first. The first can contribute to our pride and our spiritual complacency. We can hear ourselves in the words of the Pharisee when he was comparing himself with the tax collector: “I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on all I possess.” But the difficult circumstances that God allows us to face foster humility rather than pride. 

 

Those things chosen for us could be the ordinary, mundane things of everyday life: dealing with a flat tire, preparing a meal, cleaning the floor. We can do them in a brain-dead state of malcontent, or we can whisper to ourselves, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.” In this way, we give eternal value to everything. All the parts of our day have meaning and can be a source of joy and satisfaction. 

 

For most of us, the crosses we encounter are fairly light. But for some chosen souls, the cross they have to bear is crushing. At times, it feels like God is stretching them way beyond all conceivable limits. As St. Thérèse of Lisieux said toward the end of her life, “I never would have believed it was possible to suffer so much.” But God uses suffering to further his plan of saving souls. St. Thérèse led a seemingly insignificant life, and yet after her death, she has touched so many lives. 

 

A lesson we can take away is this: embrace the things we do not choose as God’s will, and offer them to him as a prayer and a demonstration of our love. 

-Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer:

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures - I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen. 

-St. Charles de Foucauld

 

Quote:

“This is the most holy thing, the greatest and the noblest, so full of Majesty and purity: wanting what God wants. Nobody else can reach such a sublime height, such an infinite value: wanting what God wants. God is holy, God is pure, God is order and goodness; by wanting what God wants, the creature wants what is holy, pure and good. In the fullness of His order, she feels reborn in God, and does what He does. God does everything, embraces all, moves in everybody, and she concurs in all God does; there is no higher good she could do.” 

-Luisa Piccarreta

 

Questions: 

  1. What keeps us from accepting the difficulties of life? Why are human beings apt to shrink from difficulty?

  2. If we are made for the perfection of Heaven, why does God allow us to experience imperfection on earth? 

  3. When hard things happen in our lives, how can we turn our attitude from one of grumbling into one of thanksgiving? 

  4. What kind of voluntary offerings can we make on a daily basis that help to prepare us to offer up the things that are out of our control? 

  5. What kinds of crosses do you personally tend to shrink away from? 

  6. How can we help each other to accept the crosses that the Lord gives us? 

  7. What would the world look like if each of us accepted our suffering with joy?

Oratory Reflection 571: Baptismal Promise: Isaiah 42:1-7

“Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out, nor shout, nor make his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow dim or be bruised until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its produce, who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it: I, the Lord, have called you for justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” -Isaiah 42:1-7

 

In the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus would have often heard this passage from Isaiah. Advancing in wisdom, age, and grace, He heard the scriptures more personally, because they resonated in Him as in no one else. He heard an intimacy, a closeness like no one else: “I, the Lord, called you. I grasped you by the hand. I formed you as a covenant of the people, a light to the nations to heal, to free, to save.” These words of power and anointing lived in His heart and filled His soul more intensely than we can imagine, deeply rooted within Him.

 

And one day, moved by the Spirit of His Father, He approached John to be baptized. Jesus, the Incarnate Word, having no need of repentance, in His Sacred Humanity “stood in line with sinful humanity” (Pope Benedict XVI). He willingly identified with the people, and at the same time was the living Good News to them.

 

The aftermath of Christ’s baptism was astonishing and fearsome to those who witnessed it. Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in bodily form like a dove, they heard a voice from heaven: “You are my beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.” Jesus, in His Sacred Humanity is embraced, affirmed, and loved. He then carried this with Him not just as a beautiful memory, but as a present reality. It was for Him always here and now because God is the “I AM”–the One always present, always here and now.

 

As we contemplate the Baptism of the Lord, what message can we take for our own lives? Even before Jesus had proclaimed any word, before He had performed any miracle, God the Father and the Holy Spirit revealed their love for Him without any word or public action on Jesus' part. The voice of the Father proclaims for all to hear, “You are my beloved Son, with You I am well pleased” –pleased simply because You are who You are: My Beloved!

 

In our own Baptism, there is the ritual of water, oil, white robe, candle, prayer: what one sees and hears. And there is the divine action one does not see, yet receives: the gift of the Holy Spirit, the acceptance of us as the Father’s beloved, in whom He is well pleased simply because we are His beloved. 

 

All our days, we bear the Spirit; we are the Father’s beloved. His love, His pleasure, His favor is upon us because we are His sons and daughters. Once we are baptized, it is our reality. We can refuse His love, ignore it, and sin against it, but it remains. In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul put it this way: “For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future…neither height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8) Such is our Baptism into Christ: a sacrament we receive in time, yet it remains for all time.

 

In being baptized, Jesus, as God and Man, identified Himself with us totally and will never deny us. He is the One who ate with sinners, prostitutes, outcasts, who came to the defense of a woman taken in adultery, who forgave a crucified thief. He hated the sin and loved the sinner better than anyone else on earth. His love received them and blessed them as He does us.

 

As we welcome brothers and sisters into the Church this Easter season, and renew our own Baptismal vows, let us praise and thank Our Lord for His solidarity, His humility, and His constant love. Let us pray for the conviction, the grace, and the courage to live with Him all our days.

-Fr. John Denburger, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

 

Prayer: 

V. Do you reject Satan?

R. I do.

V. And all his works?

R. I do.

V. And all his empty promises?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

R. I do.

V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

 

Quote: 

“The faith required of Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop.”

-CCC 1253

 

Questions: 

  1. What does Jesus demonstrate to us by receiving baptism before He began His ministry?

  2. In what ways can we show our gratitude for Christ’s humility in His Baptism? 

  3. Why do we renew our Baptismal Vows at Easter? 

  4. What is it like to be a “child of God”? How is it different from life outside the Church? 

  5. How does baptism lead us to “die to sin” and “rise with Christ”?

  6. Why does God give us the Church as our Mother in baptism if He is already the perfect Father? 

  7. How can we support each other in pursuing the growth of our faith?

-Erica Faunce