Saturday, June 29, 2019

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

"Follow me," Jesus says to a man in today's Gospel. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” This "mystery of God's call, the mystery of vocation," Pope Benedict said, is "part of the life of every Christian, but it is particularly evident in those whom Christ asks to leave everything in order to follow him more closely." In his message for the 2006 World day of Prayer for Vocations, he told the audience:
Before the creation of the world, before our coming into existence, the heavenly Father chose us personally, calling us to enter into a filial relationship with Him, through Jesus, the Incarnate Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dying for us, Jesus introduced us into the mystery of the Father’s love, a love which completely envelops his Son and which He offers to all of us. In this way, united with Jesus, the Head, we form a sole body, the Church.
... It is not surprising that, where people pray fervently, vocations flourish. The holiness of the Church depends essentially on union with Christ and on being open to the mystery of grace that operates in the hearts of believers. Therefore, I invite all the faithful to nurture an intimate relationship with Christ, Teacher and Pastor of his people, by imitating Mary who kept the divine mysteries in her heart and pondered them constantly (cf. Lk 2,19).
At the Plough, Vincent van Gogh (1884)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Sacred Heart, Year C

Today, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, one of the readings at Vigils is taken from Blessed Columba Marmion's Christ, the Ideal of the Monk:
At the supreme farewell hour, when Christ Jesus spoke for the last time with his Apostles before entering into his sorrowful Passion and sacrificing himself for the world’s salvation, what is the exclusive theme of his discourse and the first object of his prayer? Spiritual charity. A new commandment I give unto you… by this shall all men know that you are my disciples… Father… that they may be one, as we also are one, I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one. That is the testament of Christ’s Heart.
Our Blessed Father St Benedict, in concluding his Rule, also leaves us as his last testament, his magnificent teaching on good zeal. After having set forth in detail the ordering of our life, he sums up all his doctrine in this short chapter. And what does he tell us? Does he speak to us of prayer? Of contemplation? Of mortification? Undoubtedly, the holy Patriarch forgets nothing of all this, as we have seen; but having reached the end of his long life so full of experience, at the moment of closing the monastic code which contains for us the secret of perfection, he speaks to us, before all else, of mutual love; he wishes, with that intense desire which was that of Jesus at the Last Supper, to see us excel in most fervent love. This chapter is the worthy crowning of a Rule which is but the pure reflection of the Gospel.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Corpus Christi, Year C

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, celebrating the Lord's gift to us of himself in the Eucharist, we ask that the unity for which Christ prayed at the Last Supper may be granted to our broken world.

Below is part of Pope Francis's homily from the Corpus Christi Mass three years ago. The full text is given on the Vatican Radio website.
Tonight, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread which is His body, He makes a gift of Himself. We, too, are experiencing the “solidarity of God” with man, a solidarity that never runs out, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God draws near to us; in the sacrifice of the Cross He lowers Himself, entering into the darkness of death in order to give us His life, which overcomes evil, selfishness, death.
Last Supper miniature, Psalter Alsace (Strasbourg), ca. 1220-40
Jesus this evening gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our same journey – indeed, He becomes food, real food that sustains our life even at times when the going is rough, when obstacles slow down our steps. The Lord in the Eucharist makes us follow His path, that of service, of sharing, of giving – and what little we have, what little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God, which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.
Let us ask ourselves this evening, adoring the Christ truly present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let the Lord who gives Himself to me, guide me to come out more and more from my little fence, to get out and be not afraid to give, to share, to love Him and others?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Holy Trinity, Year C

In his 2005 Angelus talk given in St. Peter's Square, Pope Emeritus Benedict spoke these thoughts on Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity:

Today, the liturgy celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity almost to underline that in the light of the Pascal Mystery is fully revealed the centre of the universe and of history: God himself, eternal and infinite Love. The word that summarizes all revelation is this: “God is love” (I Jn 4: 8, 16); and love is always a mystery, a reality that surpasses reason without contradicting it, and more than that, exalts its possibilities.
Jesus revealed to us the mystery of God: he, the Son, made us know the Father who is in Heaven, and gave us the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father and of the Son. Christian theology synthesizes the truth of God with this expression: only one substance in three persons. God is not solitude, but perfect communion. For this reason the human person, the image of God, realizes himself or herself in love, which is a sincere gift of self.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Pentecost, Year C

On Pentecost Sunday in 2013, Pope Francis gave a wonderful homily in St. Peter's Square. He spoke about three words linked with the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission. The full homily is posted on the Holy See's website, and is well worth reading and reflecting on. These are his thoughts on newness:
Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.
But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? ...A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power” (cf. Acts 2:1-11).
Pentecost, El Greco, 1596
...Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own....This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises?” Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

7th Sunday of Easter, Year C

In the conclusion of Our Lord's Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper, read at today's liturgy, Jesus prays that his disciples be united to one another, to him, and to the Father. He gives his own body and blood to those who believe in him, and is himself the source of this unity.

St Cyril of Alexandria wrote in his commentary on St John’s Gospel:
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not pray only for the twelve disciples. He prayed for all in every age whom their exhortation would persuade to become holy by believing and to be purified by sharing in the Holy Spirit. “May they all be one, he prayed. As you Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us.”
...By his own wisdom and the Father's counsel he devised a way of bringing us all together and blending us into a unity with God and one another, even though the differences between us give us each in both body and soul a separate identity. For in holy communion he blesses with one body, which is his own, those who believe in him, and makes them one body with himself and one another. Who could separate those who are united to Christ through that one sacred body, or destroy their true union with one another? If we all share one loaf we all become one body, for Christ cannot be divided.
So it is that the Church is the body of Christ and we are its members. For since we are all united to Christ through his sacred body, having received that one indivisible body into our own, our members are not our own but his.

The Last Supper, Ugolino di Nerio, ca. 1325-30