Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holy Family and the Year of Mercy

The theme of this Jubilee Year of Mercy ties in closely with the mystery of Christmas.  
The Jubilee of Mercy began with Pope Francis opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s in Rome on December 8th.  The opening of the door is meant to symbolically illustrate the idea that all of us are being offered a new path toward salvation during the time of jubilee.  And isn’t the birth of God Himself, laid in a manger in Bethlehem, an expression of the immensity of His love for us!  The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.  The history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness.  Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. The promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy.  And the Baby laid in the manger is the witness of this promise and its fulfillment.  As Pope Francis says, “in our life, everything is gift.  Everything is mercy.”
Today’s feast, the Holy Family is the pattern for families.  Today, as in every age, the Christian family is called to be holy, separate and set aside for the Lord.  That means the Christian family must be different from families where God is an afterthought, if any thought at all.  The Christian family must be a battlefield where evil is defeated now, and through the children in the future.  How to do this?
First of all, families need to keep the presence of the Lord alive in the home by nurturing His presence in each individual family member.  Secondly, families need to protect their homes from anything that would lessen His presence, by being careful about the subtle ways that evil compromises the integrity of the family.  Thirdly, families need to seek out the Lord’s presence in others, particularly those who need special care.  It is impossible for us to be perfect, but if we nurture the presence of the Lord in our families through prayer, if we are vigilant fighting against the attacks on the integrity of our families and if we reach out to the Lord in others, we will be holy families, set aside for the Lord and we will win for the Kingdom of God each battle that is waged in our homes.  Note that this includes grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles who can’t just sit back and be spectators. Sometimes you are the ones who help make the difference.  
On January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and the World Day of Peace.  In Pope Francis’ message for this day, he says that peace is to be worked at: it is not something that one gains without efforts, without conversion of mind and heart, without creativity and without engaging in discussion.  We just need to take a look around the world today to see the urgent need for peace in situations of intolerance leading to violence, disregard for the rights of entire peoples, exploitation of human beings, war with all its consequences.  But peace is possible where the rights of every human being are recognized and respected, heard and known, according to freedom and justice.  It is not enough to pray for peace, we must also work for it.  
May Mary Mother of God inspire us so to do the Father’s Will that we will learn to love our neighbor and be at peace.  Perhaps this could be the basis of a New Year’s resolution that we might actually practice longer than a week or two. 
May the New Year prove to be a time to bear fruit in our lives by embracing the warmth of the love of the Christ Child and paying it forward  to all we meet.              

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kingship of Christ

Have you ever seen a t-shirt that says, “I am a princess/prince because my Father is the King of Kings”? Who or what is the shirt talking about? As Christians, all we have to do is look at the Book of Revelation 19:16, “He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, King of kings and Lord of lords,” referring to Jesus. Jesus even had a sign nailed to his cross saying “King of the Jews.”

But do we ever go in deeper to discover what it truly means to call Jesus King of kings and Lord of lords. Is Jesus Christ truly our King and Lord or do we sometimes say out of habit, “Oh, I accept Jesus as my Lord so, I'm saved.” If we claim that He indeed is our Lord and King, should we not place Him first above all other things and model our lives after Him? What are some ways that we can show that Jesus comes first in our lives?

An excellent example for children: doing something nice or our daily chores without having to be told? As an adult, do we care about giving food to the poor, clothing the naked or visiting the sick or shut-ins? How many of us follow Jesus' example by not saying anything harsh to or about others? Refraining from gossip or sacrificing a moment of our time to stop and listen to someone who has had a bad day and needs a friendly ear? Can we be like Jesus in accepting our own sufferings, trials, or even the tiresome and annoying duties of our day?

Thankfully, Jesus our true King and Lord, is patient and merciful to us when we don't always put Him first. He is always ready to give us His love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. He only asks us to place Him first above all other things, and to allow Him to direct our lives. He only wants what is best for us and to make us happy. Perhaps this type of surrender to God is a bit hard or scary? Yes, of course, because we naturally want to be in control of our own lives. We fail to realize that in surrendering to Jesus, we will be given the ultimate freedom to be the “best version of ourselves”. The one that God has created us to be. Jesus so wants to be a part of our lives and He will continue to pursue us, until we give Him the chance to take the driver's seat.

We are reminded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #786: “The People of God share in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." For the Christian, "to reign is to serve him," particularly when serving "the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder." The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.”

On this Feast of Christ, Our King, let us truly say; “Jesus Christ is Lord!” by letting go of everything that is ruling our lives and placing all of our love and trust in His most Sacred Heart. “Jesus, I trust in thee.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Have you ever wanted to give your mother the greatest gift that would honor her forever? Our Lord Jesus did exactly that through His Church in its approved apparitions and traditional titles for Our Lady. Throughout the centuries Our Lady has acquired great titles such as: the Immaculate Conception, Mother of God, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes and even the title of Queen of Heaven and earth. These are powerful titles given to Mary by the Church, but when it comes to one popular devotion, the rosary we call her Our Lady of the Rosary.

When people pray the rosary they always use Sacred Scripture to help them meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary to help them deepen their relationship with Jesus through the intercession of His mother Mary. By praying the rosary people ask Mary to intercede on their behalf. In 1884 at Naples, Italy Our Lady appeared to Fortua Agrelli who was incurably sick and had fervently prayed the rosary. The Blessed Mother promised to restore her to health and said to her, “ Whoever wishes to receive favors from me should make three novenas of the prayers of the rosary in petition and three in thanksgiving.” (The Pieta Prayer Book, pg 43) This is now known as the 54 day Rosary Novena.

More recently, in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, our Lady appeared to three shepherd children and said to them “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” She then asked the three children to pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world. Is this not a great gift from our Mother herself ? By praying the rosary everyday, we are asking Mary our Mother to intercede on our behalf to help us draw closer to her son Jesus and to pray with her for the salvation of the world. So on October 7, let us pray the rosary to celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary, so that we as her children can give our mother a gift that she will cherish.

The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who so loves His Mother.”- St. Louis de Monfort

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St. Michael Archangel: Qui ut Deus!

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.  The dragon and its angel fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” (Rev 12:7-8).

On September 29 the Catholic Church will celebrate the feast day of three archangels Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  Each of these saints have been shown in sacred scripture to have played significant roles in helping and protecting God's chosen people.  St. Michael alone has the honor of being called “defender of the Church of Jesus Christ.”

For centuries the Catholic Church has built and dedicated many churches to this powerful archangel, invoking his special protection and help to defend the truths of God which are revealed through the person of Jesus Christ and his Church.  All the faithful in union with St. Michael should boldly acclaim Qui ut Deus meaning “Who is like unto God?” In this simple yet powerful phrase, St. Michael rebukes the rebellious angels in heaven and at the same time challenges us to rebuke our own rebellious nature if we wish to be true servants of the Lord.

One of the oldest devotions to St. Michael was given to the devout Servant of God Antonia d' Astonac by the archangel himself.  In recorded volumes of her life, Antonia d' Astonac recorded her encounter with the archangel and was given the prayers for his chaplet along with promises for those who would devoutly practice devotion to him.  The chaplet consists of nine salutation prayers in honor of the nine choirs of angels followed with one Our Father and three Hail Mary's. The chaplet is not just honoring St. Michael and the nine choirs, it is a request for increase in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.  This in turn will help us overcome sin and temptation, increasing one's fidelity and love of God.

Through St. Michael and the choir of Seraphim, we ask God for an increase in the Fear of the Lord which will help produce the fruits or virtues of temperance and hope.  An increase of the the gift of Fear which will bring us to a  greater love of God and neighbor: doing only what is pleasing to God. Devotion to St. Michael is a pledge to God that we will fight our flesh, the world and Satan for His sake.

As we grow in virtue we will also grow in knowledge of the truth about ourselves, truth about God and  about the truths that He reveals to us through His church.  Let us continuously pray to St. Michael that he will help us defend the revealed truth of God, as people continue to compromise their own faith and reject the almighty Lord and His authority.  Let us cry Qui ut Deus! Who is like unto God!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day and Freedom

We gather today to praise and thank Almighty God for the many graces and blessings, that He has showered upon our country since its founding over 200 years ago.

It was on July 4th, 1776 that our nation was founded, based on some very basic principles whose source was God. Our founding Fathers understood that God was the source of all rights and duties, and that He governed the world based upon certain truths. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In the Constitution the authors sought to secure certain freedoms for citizens within the government that they were establishing which was to be the hallmark of this new nation. In the Bill of Rights the framers laid out these rights among which the first right is the right and ability for one to practice one’s religion free from coercion or force. An important reason for this was because they had experienced religious oppression in their native lands and had come to this new land to escaped the religious oppression that was so commonplace at home. During the Fortnight for Freedom, at the request of the Bishops of the United States, the Catholic Community along with many people of other faiths have been praying and doing acts of penance invoking the help of Almighty God to combat what we see as a threats to this God given right to religious freedom. It is also true that around the world religious freedom is under attack and many have lost their lives while worshiping their God. One of the central issues is the question of defining what we mean by religion.

In contemporary times our society has moved more and more toward marginalizing God. For many religion is something that we do in a Church. Unlike our forefathers who understood God as the source of all truth and the guide for the proper ordering of society and of one’s life, there are many in our day that see man as the ultimate source of truth and man’s freedom to do whatever he chooses to be the ultimate good. For us as Catholics, religion is much more than our ability to worship God in a building or in our home. As we read in Sacred Scripture the Lord calls us to be a people that are His one who will cooperate with Him in building a society that is based on justice, love and truth. Our religion is not simply something that we do on Sunday; it is a lifestyle, a way of life. In truth, or life is to be our religion.

Throughout the course of our nation’s history, Catholics in the United States have been good Americans and have served our country well. We have never been asked to choose between being an American and being a Catholic. The threat that we wee arising now in our country is a divergence from the values that we hold dear as disciples of the Lord and some of the policies that are being established in our country that would make us chose between being faithful to the Gospel values that the Lord teaches us and the mandates of our government. For our Founding Fathers their understanding of God as the author of life and the guarantor of freedom is a message that needs to be emphasized in our own day and our own society. We must not let God be pushed to the margins of American life. We must let our voices be heard in the public square and we must not allow our freedom to practice our faith to be compromised by allowing it to be defined as simply a right to worship God within the confines of a Church building. (

May God bless America and may our faith flourish in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ascension of Christ: Call to Mission

“Picture the Ascension of Our Lord, as told in the Acts of the Apostles. The eleven go up to Mount Olivet and watch Jesus ascend into heaven. All they can do is stare up at the clouds. It takes an angel to bring them back to earth by asking them why they are just standing there gazing upward.

The implication is that there is work to be done, there is no time to waste here—get started on your mission. This message is also for us—and for all disciples throughout history. There is no time for standing around. We have the vocation as baptized Christians to carry out Jesus’ commission to “go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature”.

But like the Apostles, don’t you often wonder about what heaven will be like?

St. Luke says that “people will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

St. John tells us “ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

St. Paul says, “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

We read in Revelations, “ No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

In these passages, we see heaven described as a feast, as a homecoming which Christ has specially prepared for us, as the throne room of God where Christ dispels all fear and darkness. The feast of the Ascension is all about this. Jesus ascends into heaven, a place we cannot even imagine, “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, those things God has prepared for those who love Him.” He says that He must go to heaven to send the Advocate on the apostles. At the time, all the apostles understood was that Jesus was leaving them. They were afraid at being left “alone,” so they gathered in prayer with Mary and some of the disciples. They prayed for nine days, the first novena, before the Spirit descended upon them, dissipated their fears and impelled them to go out preaching the Good News.

When the Spirit came at Pentecost in wind and fire, the apostles were transformed. They realized that they were not alone, that Christ and the power of God lived within them. St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) put it this way: “Christ has no body here on earth but yours now, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; your eyes are the eyes through which Christ looks compassionately on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”

Let us set our sights on heaven as our goal, knowing that Christ is in us making all things possible.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

God Knows Me

I came across a quote from John Henry Cardinal Newman recently. I offer it for your reflection, especially during this time that we are reminded about our call to service.

“God knows me and calls me by my name…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.
I have my mission—
I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good. I shall do His work.
I shall be an angel for peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it,
If I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am. I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life. He may shorten it;
He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
Still he knows what He is about…
Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see— I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used. “

Thursday, March 19, 2015

St. Joseph, a Just Man

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph.

At morning Mass we were reminded in the homily that St. Joseph was simply ordinary and we could take inspiration from his silence hidden life knowing that we too, who are “just ordinary” are called to holiness by loving God and neighbor for His sake.

As I pondered these words, it seemed to me that scripture tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that St. Joseph was a “just man” one who listened to the word of God sent to him by the angel, and generously acted upon that word in trusting love of God's almighty promise to send a Messiah. Perhaps he did not know the details of this call that God was asking of him, to take Mary as his wife, to guard her child as his own, but he nevertheless trusted in the power of God and not himself. I find his greatness in this fact that he was so perfectly in-tune with God and His will, that even in the midst of what seemed to be a contradiction (Mary found with child) he was perfectly obedient and at peace.

Pope Benedict XVI in a homily on St. Joseph said this: “...the evangelist Matthew who gives the greatest prominence to the putative father of Jesus, pointing out that, through him, the Child was legally inserted in David's line and thus he realized the Scriptures, in which the Messiah was prophesied as the son of David. “

This is the grace I believe we can ask of St. Joseph. After the example of St. Joseph, we can learn to put Christ and His Church first in our own lives. To listen to God's will and respond with action.

Yes, St. Joseph may have been ordinary because scripture tells us little of his life, but we know of his greatness because God choose him to be his foster father on earth, and scripture calls him “Just” one of the highest honors given a man in Hebrew history.

Monday, March 2, 2015

St. Mary Magdalen, Companion for Lent

by Carlo Dolci
Lent is a time set aside to turn back to the Lord. If you are looking for a heavenly companion for your Lenten journey this year, St. Mary Magdalen is a great choice.  What we know about her life teaches us some good lessons.

St. Mary Magdalen was a woman out of whom Jesus drove seven devils (Mark 16:9).
Lent is the perfect time to make things right with God by frequent confession of our sins. And if we are honest with ourselves, we all have a few devils that the Sacrament of Penance will help knock out of us.  Once the devils were driven out, she joined a group of women who followed Our Lord, ministering to His needs (Luke 8: 2-3). She gave of what she had to Jesus Christ, a poor itinerant preacher, as he went about doing good.  During Lent almsgiving is the giving of money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, it is a witness to fraternal charity and a work of justice pleasing to God (CCC 2462).

Mary is well-known for sitting at the feet of Jesus while her sister Martha was busy in the kitchen. Prayer is another common practice during Lent.  Mary's example shows us that simply to be near Jesus and listen to Him is a prayer.  Different types of prayer appeal to different people.  Prayerful reading of Scripture, the Rosary, speaking to God in our own words - all these are good and helpful forms of prayer.  Of all prayers, the Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament hold preeminence.

Traditionally, St. Mary Magdalen is considered a repentant sinner.  Some believe that she was the woman who came in when Jesus was at dinner, washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.  Our Lord told the other guests that much was forgiven her.  Then he told her not to sin anymore.  She went away and avoided sin - she fasted from sinning.  Fasting encompasses more than just limiting the amount of food we eat.  In addition to the minimal amount of fasting from food that the Church enjoins on us, we can fast from sin, we can fast from TV and internet, we can fast from gossip and slander.  

St. Mary Magdalen was forgiven because she loved much. Her great love gained her the strength to be counter-cultural, to be identified with the Sign of our Salvation. All four evangelists record her standing at the foot of the Cross (Mark 15: 20; Matthew 27:56; John 19: 25; Luke 23:49).  Three days later, because of her great love she received another gift as she came early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus after the Sabbath.  St, Mary Magdalen could not tear herself away from the opened and empty tomb, but remained nearby mourning.  She was the first to whom Jesus appeared and was made the bearer of the good news of His resurrection to the apostles (John 20:11ff).

Let us ask St. Mary Magdalen to teach us how to kneel in tears at His feet, to love much and to be heralds of His Resurrection to all we meet.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ten Things to Remember for Lent

Journey to the Foot of the Cross

Each year as we prepare for the Season of Lent, I think we often get bogged down by resolutions and practices that are all too soon forgotten.  Sometimes we take on practices that will focus on self improvement and then lent becomes about me instead of God.  I found the following 10 points composed by Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin very helpful. Perhaps you can find inspiration in them as well.  Let us turn toward Jesus Christ during this holy season and beg for a renewed experience of His presence.  An understanding that through His merciful love all my weakness will be transformed.

1.   Remember the formula. The Church does a good job capturing certain truths with easy-to-remember lists and formulas: Ten Commandments, seven sacraments, three Persons in the Trinity. For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—as the three things we need to work on during the season.

2.  It’s a time of prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over forty days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him.

3.   It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. “What are you giving up for Lent? Hot dogs? Beer? Jelly beans?” It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.

4.   It’s a time to work on discipline. The forty days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive. “I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to pray more. I’m going to be nicer to my family, friends, and coworkers.”

5.   It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control—it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form.

6.   Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused. There’s a reason the Church works on these mysteries year after year. We spend our entire lives growing closer to God. Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent. That’s a recipe for failure.

7.   Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. In both cases, Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful, but recog- nizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.

8.   Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated. “What a bad person I am!” But that’s the wrong lesson. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.

9.   Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our com- passion for those who are hungry, suffering, or otherwise
in need. The third part of the lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the col- lection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience
of God’s unconditional love.

10. Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on the Cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and
learn to love like him.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

"In his account of the infancy of Jesus St Luke emphasizes how faithful Mary and Joseph were to the Law of the Lord. They fulfilled with profound devotion all the prescriptions prescribed following the birth of a firstborn male. Two of them were very ancient prescriptions: one concerns the mother and the other the newborn child. The woman was required to abstain from ritual practices for forty days, after which she was to offer a double sacrifice: a lamb as a burnt offering and a turtle-dove as a sin offering; but if she were poor, she could offer a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons (cf. Lev 12:1-8).

St Luke explained that Mary and Joseph offer the sacrifice of the poor (cf. 2:24) in order to emphasize that Jesus was born into a family of simple people, lowly but of steadfast faith: a family that belonged to the poor of Israel who form the true People of God. For the first-born male who, according to Mosaic Law, was set apart for God, redemption was prescribed instead, established as an offering of five shekels to be paid to a priest in any place. This was in everlasting memory of the fact that in the time of Herod God saved the firstborn of the Jews (cf. Ex 13:11-16).

It is important to note that these two acts — the purification of the mother and the redemption of the son — did not require a visit to the Temple. However, Mary and Joseph wished to fulfill all the prescriptions in Jerusalem, and St Luke shows us how the entire scene converges on the Temple and thus focuses on Jesus who enters it. And it is here, precisely through the prescriptions of the Law, that the principal event is transformed, namely, it becomes the “presentation” of Jesus in the Temple of God, which means the act of offering the Son of the Most High to the Father who sent him (cf. Lk 1:32, 35).

The Evangelist’s account is confirmed by the words of the Prophet Malachi which we heard at the beginning of the First Reading: “Behold”, says the Lord, “I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming... he will purify the sons of Levi.... Then the offering... will be pleasing to the Lord” (3:1, 3, 4)."

Pope Benedict XVI, Feb. 2nd, 2013

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Following the Star: Feast of Ephiphany

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. (Matt. 2:11)

As the Magi followed the star leading them to their life's work of searching for the truth, we can reflect on the relationship of the light of the star, grace and seeking the truth.  According to some of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the manifestation of the star has many meanings.

Saint Augustine writes:
"It was not one of those stars which since the beginning of creation observe the course appointed to them by the Creator; but this star was a stranger to the heavens, and made its appearance at the strange sight of a virgin in childbirth."

Saint John Chrysostom adds:
"The star does not seem fitting to a star but of some power endowed with reason. Consequently it seems that this was some invisible force made visible under the form of a star."

Pope Leo the Great also writes:
"A star of unusual brightness appeared to the three Magi in the east, which, though being more brilliant and more beautiful than the other stars, drew men’ gaze and attention: so that they understood at once that such an unwonted event could not be devoid of purpose."

And Erasmo Merikakis (author of biblical commentary)  writes the following:

"This moving star, this dynamic light, is a source of profound joy to the Magi, the long-awaited reward of a life of patient and humble search within a religion and a culture alien to the revelation received by Israel. But what is light to the seekers of the truth is also condemnation, a source of danger and exposure, to those who deal in darkness. Did the Magi not see the star again just outside Herod’s palace? What kept Herod from seeing it himself? Did he have to do more than step out onto one of his rooftop terraces, where he would have had the whole night sky of Palestine at his disposal? Herod was a prisoner in the airless sky of his own mind, where no stars can shine because the skull is too hard, impermeable to the light, the true Platonic cave. When the Magi saw the star, they were indeed looking at a manifest sign provided by grace; but they were also looking at the light of their own faith objectified in the airborne brightness, suspended in the night of the world. To find something that is given, one must first be looking for it. To understand an answer, one must first have asked the question, otherwise the explanation will sound like a foreign tongue, or like empty silence."

Grace is sufficient to see goodness and to find Christ everywhere.  It will penetrate the darkness of our weakness and sinfulness.  During this season of Christ's manifestation, what is it that I seek.  Is it the light of truth found in this Infant Babe come among us?  Will I let Him flood my life and soul with His grace, that He be the reason for my very life?