Faith of the Holy Remnant

Gimli what are we waiting for

I imagine everyone knows that one of the disputed theological questions of the 20th cenury was: Who exactly belongs to the Church?

The Lord Jesus founded one Church and gave specific instructions about what to do and how to do it. Pope Pius XII explained how the Mystical Body of Christ is the visible Roman Catholic Church, governed by St. Peter’s successor in office. The invisible life of this visible Church is the Holy Spirit, given to us through the sacraments of faith.

But what about the holy fathers of old–and the holy mothers of old, too? What about Abraham and the prophets? What about Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist? St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the faithful citizens of ancient Israel, called the “holy remnant”–St. Thomas says that they made it to heaven by holding the faith of the Church, our faith.

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God, Christ, Mass

Three years ago our Holy Father made a quiet visit to the World Trade Center site in Manhattan.

Click HERE to read the prayer the Pope recited quietly…

…Interested in a sermon for First Holy Communion?

Here you go:

Last Sunday, when our Holy Father Pope Benedict preached at the Beatification Mass at St. Peter’s, he emphasized Blessed Pope John Paul II’s heroic faith.

John Paul II is blessed because of his strong, generous, apostolic faith…With the strength of a titan, …by his witness of faith, John Paul II helped believers throughout the world not be afraid to be called Christian…He gave us the strength to believe in Christ.

When the Lord Jesus walked with Cleopas and the other disciple on the way to Emmaus on Easter Sunday, He chided them for their lack of faith. “How foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe!”

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Personal with the Popes

Dear reader, perhaps you remember St. Polycarp Day, February 23.

Maybe you recall our little discussion about the difference between choosing death and embracing martyrdom.

Today is the Commemoration of the “troublesome priest” who did not seek death, but embraced martyrdom when it came.

We cannot recommend too highly LRS Hall-of-Famer T.S. Eliot’s play about St. Thomas Becket, “Murder in the Cathedral“…

…Speaking of embracing martyrdom: Pope Benedict is often contrasted with the Venerable Pope John Paul II. Their personalities are very different.

One common idea is that, while Pope John Paul spoke freely about himself, Pope Benedict is so intensely private that his personality is all but invisible.

I cannot agree with this.

Pope John Paul did indeed speak and write beautifully about his own personal experiences. A perfect example would be this section of his encyclical on the Holy Eucharist:

When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop, and as the Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it.

I remember the parish church of Niegowić, where I had my first pastoral assignment, the collegiate church of Saint Florian in Krakow, Wawel Cathedral, Saint Peter’s Basilica and so many basilicas and churches in Rome and throughout the world.

I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares…

This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world.(paragraph 8).

Pope Benedict also writes about himself. But he is subtle. He writes about himself by writing about others. For example, this section from his encyclical on hope:

The connection between love of God and responsibility for others can be seen in a striking way in the life of Saint Augustine.

After his conversion to the Christian faith, he decided, together with some like-minded friends, to lead a life totally dedicated to the word of God and to things eternal. His intention was to practice…the contemplative life…

Things turned out differently, however. While attending the Sunday liturgy at the port city of Hippo, he was called out from the assembly by the Bishop and constrained to receive ordination for the exercise of the priestly ministry in that city.

Looking back on that moment, he writes in his Confessions: “Terrified by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but you forbade me and gave me strength, by saying: ‘Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died.'” (paragraph 28)

Now, perhaps you are saying, ‘Father, this is not the Pope writing about himself. He is writing about St. Augustine. Can’t you read?’

But, dear friends, this is the way the Pope writes about himself. What happened to St. Augustine in 391 happened to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005.

He was going to retire, write his books, have a happy quiet life, and play the piano whenever he wanted. But He for Whom we live had other plans.

First Mass

upper-room1A year ago today, our group of priests concluded our pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a visit to the “Cenacle.”

This is the Upper Room, where our Lord instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, and where the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lady and the Apostles.

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October Teachings of Pope John Paul II

In the picture behind the blog title above, I am on my way down to kiss the ring of the late, beloved Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was chosen to be the Successor of St. Peter in October. Over the course of 26 and a-half years as Pope, John Paul managed to do something memorable in just about every month of the year. But October was always special.

In October of 2002, Pope John Paul II declared a Year of the Rosary. He gave us the five Luminous Mysteries to add to our meditations. October is the month of the Rosary–the month to start saying the Rosary again, or to start saying it better. In the letter he wrote that October, the Holy Father pointed out that praying Our Lady’s Rosary leads us to Christ. Praying the Rosary helps us to participate more prayerfully in the Sacred Liturgy. The Rosary, properly understood, is ecumenical.

In other words, you simply cannot go wrong by saying the Rosary every day–or at least one decade of the Rosary every day. If you do not know all the mysteries or have forgotten the prayers for the Rosary, the Vatican has a nice Rosary webpage.

In October of 2004, just six months before he went to meet the Lord, Pope John Paul inaugurated a Year of the Holy Eucharist. He urged all of us to draw close to the Blessed Sacrament, especially by visiting the tabernacle and going to Adoration.

In his Encyclical on the Eucharist, the Pope had written that we need a new sense of wonder about the unfathomable mystery of the Real Presence. In his October 2004 letter, John Paul wrote: “The presence of Jesus in the tabernacle must be a kind of magnetic pole attracting…souls enamoured of him, ready to wait patiently to hear his voice and, as it were, to sense the beating of his heart.”

The First Friday of every month is the day dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. So, on the First Friday of October (or the First Saturday, dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), let us…
…enter into the Sacred Heart of Jesus…
…which beats for us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar…
…by reciting Our Lady’s Rosary with devotion.