(beamed at you from Lancaster, Pa., where my mom and I are on pilgrimage to visit some family graves…)
Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” —Acts 7:56
St. Stephen was given a vision of the Lord Jesus in heaven. When the first martyr saw Christ at the right hand of the Father, why did he not also see our Lady up there?
Come on, numbskulls: Our Lady was still on earth when St. Stephen was martyred. She had not yet been taken up to heaven. She was still living with St. John.
As Pope John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Mother had a period in her life when she stayed close to her Son in the same way we do: through the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
Our Lady grew closer to Christ every day of her life, including during the years when He was in heaven and she was still on earth. She did it by going to Holy Mass.
Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal. –John 6:27
What is the seal that the Father has set on Christ?
Setting a seal involves impressing something upon a recipient, something that was not there before.
From all eternity, the Son of God is divine with the Father. There is no seal-setting in the generation of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Both Persons are eternally divine.
The seal that the Father set must therefore be in the humanity of the Son. It is the seal that has united human nature with God in such a way that there is only one Person: Christ, true God and true man.
We too have our share in this same seal, through the sacrament of Confirmation.
When we are confirmed, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Divine grace is impressed upon us in such a way that we are equipped to participate fully in the sacrifice of Christ. We become priests. We can come to the altar and offer acceptable sacrifice to God: ourselves and the whole world, along with the divine Victim…
…Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest characters ever created.
He has countless symphathetic qualities. One of them is his loving devotion to his father, who is known as “the Gaffer.” (‘Gaffer’ is a Hobbit term for ‘old man.’)
Sam always speaks of the Gaffer as an old friend whom he wants to make proud. He worries about the Gaffer’s well-being. Sam tenderly overlooks his father’s aged weaknesses.
When the Hobbits return from destroying the ring and conquering the evil Lord Sauron, Frodo tells the Gaffer that Sam is one of the great heroes of Middle Earth. But the Gaffer is not impressed. Sam takes his father’s incredulity humbly:
“It takes a lot o’ believing,” said the gaffer, “though I can see he’s been mixing in strange company. What’s come of his weskit? I don’t hold with wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.”
[weskit: waistcoat, vest. ironmongery: in this case, armor]
…Three years ago today, my dear dad went to his eternal reward. I had the privilege of receiving him into the Church, confirming him, and giving him Holy Communion shortly before he died in Easton, Maryland.
As the plan of God would have it, today is also the birthday of my new nephew. Raphael’s older brother is named after my dad, and he also has my dad’s monogrammed cufflinks. (Although, at three, he is not yet ready to wear French cuffs.)
May God be praised! May the dead rest in peace. And may the holy Archangel watch over his newborn namesake and guide him through a holy life.
When he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, “Come forward.” I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades accompanied him. –Revelation 6:7-8
If you have not given a listen to this Johnny Cash song, I heartily recommend it. (Click the link and the audio play button. The video is a Johnny Cash look-alike, who does not do the song as much justice as this guy.)
…All kinds of strange things in the water bottles these days. Sometimes it is hard to keep your cool.
Here is the first in a four-part series of homilies on Pope Benedict’s message to the United States when he visited a year ago…