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St. Agnes

January 21
Patron of the Children of Mary
Died: 304

St. Agnes was a Roman girl who was only thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom for her Faith. Agnes had made a promise, a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse."

Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!" In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. "I would offend my Spouse," she said, "if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.

Congregation For the Clergy Homily For The Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year B)

January 21, 2012

 

 

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

 

Citations of

Ion 3,1-5.10:                                   www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9absuja.htm

1Co 7,29-31:                                                www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9bm0ipg.htm                   

Mc 1,14-20:                                     http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9avvmta.htm

 

“This Sunday, like last week, is characterised by two vocation stories through which both the personal invitation to conversion and the call to participate in the conversion of all humanity clearly emerges.

 

The first reading is the story of Jonah.  He is a prophet called by God to travel to the distant city ofNinevahto preach repentance to its inhabitants.  Jonah was reluctant at first – he was convinced that it was useless to try and preach conversion to a city of pagans.  He considered that onlyIsraelcould be the recipient of God’s salvation.

 

However, he went to that city and when he arrived he was forced to change his mind.  His scepticism fell away as he discovered that the Ninevites listened to his word, believed and were converted.

 

In this way Jonah lived out his own personal conversion to God.  The prophet admitted to not knowing enough about the Lord who casts His merciful gaze to all people who are called to know Him and love Him.

 

Unlike Jonah, the four fishermen called to become apostles in the Gospel respond quickly to the call of Jesus.  But like Jonah, they too are called to trust the Lord to accomplish what, at first glance, seems illogical and dangerous: to leave their work behind and follow someone unknown.

 

The Apostles decision is undoubtedly determined by the words Jesus Himself proclaimed: “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.”

 

The first two statements reveal the presence of God and the fulfilment of his work; the other two appeal to each individual who is called to collaborate in the design of salvation which is completed in Jesus of Nazareth who is Lord and Christ.

 

The Word of God, therefore emphasises firstly that the vocation to the Christian life begins with a real personal conversion which can never be definitely completed and needs to be continually renewed at various times of our lives.  Secondly, then, the human response should always be full of confidence, even when it seems that what God asks is not immediately understandable, logical or useful.

 

Finally, every vocation must contain a missionary element that proclaims the ‘call to conversion’ that is often more effective when lived on a personal level.

 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of proclamation and discipleship, sustain the Church, all Christians and especially priests along this journey of continual conversion and, therefore, effective proclamation.”

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WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY BEGINS TOMORROW VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2012 (VIS)

January 17, 2012

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY BEGINS TOMORROW

 

VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2012 (VIS) – The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is due to begin tomorrow, 18 January, under the theme “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Week is promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Churches seeking unity, common witness and Christian service. The Catholic Church participates in this ecumenical initiative, despite not being a member of the WCC.

 

  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated from 18 to 15 January in the northern hemisphere, and around the time of Pentecost in the southern hemisphere. It brings together Christian parishes and congregations from different confessional families all over the world, who meet and pray together in special ecumenical celebrations.

 

  Each year ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text to ensure it is linked with the search for Christian unity. The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order which also accompanies the entire production process of the text. The final material is sent tomemberChurchesand Roman Catholic dioceses, which are invited to translate the text and contextualise it for their own use.

 

  This year’s theme comes fromSt. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians which promises the transformation of human life – with all its apparent dimensions of ‘triumph’ and ‘defeat’ – through the victory of Christ’s resurrection.

 

  Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Benedict XVI invited the faithful, “as individuals and in communities, to participate spiritually, and where possible practically in the Week of Prayer, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ”.

RV/                                                                                                  VIS20120117 (320)

 

THE PRAYER OF JESUS AT THE LAST SUPPER: Papal Weekly Audience

January 17, 2012

THE PRAYER OF JESUS AT THE LAST SUPPER

VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2012 (VIS) – Jesus’ prayer during the Last Supper was the theme of Benedict XVI’s catechesis during his general audience, which was held this morning in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 4,000 faithful.

The Pope explained how the emotional backdrop to the Last Supper, in which Jesus bade farewell to His friends, was the immanence of His approaching death. Moreover, in the days in which He was preparing to leave His disciples, the life of the Jewish people was marked by the approaching Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of Israel from Egypt.

“It was in this context that the Last Supper took place”, the Holy Father said, “but with an important novelty”. Jesus “wanted the Supper with His disciples to be something special, different from other gatherings. It was His Supper, in which He gave something completely new: Himself. Thus Jesus celebrated the Passover as an anticipation of His Cross and Resurrection”.

The essence of the Last Supper lay in “the gestures of breaking and distributing the bread, and sharing the cup of wine, with the words that accompanied them and the context of prayer in which they took place. This was the institution of the Eucharist: the great prayer of Jesus and the Church”. The words the Evangelists use to describe that moment “recall the Jewish ‘berakha’; that is, the great prayer of thanksgiving and blessing which, in the tradition of Israel, is used to inaugurate important ceremonies. … That prayer of praise and thanks rises up to God and returns as a blessing. … The words of the institution of the Eucharist were pronounced in this context of prayer. The praise and thanksgiving of the ‘berakha’ became blessing and transformed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus”.

Jesus’ gestures were the traditional gestures of hospitality which a host would extend to his guests, but in the Last Supper they acquired a more profound significance, Pope Benedict explained. Christ provided “a visible sign of welcome to the table upon which God gives Himself. In the bread and the wine, Jesus offered and communicated His own Self”. Aware of His approaching death, “He offered in advance the life that would shortly be taken from Him, thus transforming His violent death into a free act of the giving of Self, for others and to others. The violence He suffered became an active, free and redemptive sacrifice”.

“In contemplating Jesus’ words and gestures that night, we can clearly see that it was in His intimate and constant relationship with the Father that He accomplished the gesture of leaving to His followers, and to all of us, the Sacrament of love”, said the Pope. During the Last Supper Jesus also prayed for His disciples, who likewise had to suffer harsh trials. With that prayer “He supported them in their weakness, their difficulty in understanding that the way of God had to pass through the Paschal mystery of death and resurrection, which was anticipated in the offer of bread and wine. The Eucharist is the food of pilgrims, a source of strength also for those who are tired, weary and disoriented”.

Benedict XVI went on: “By participating in the Eucharist we have an extraordinary experience of the prayer which Jesus made, and continues to make for us all, that the evil we encounter in our lives may not triumph, and that the transforming power of Christ’s death and resurrection may act within each of us. In the Eucharist the Church responds to Jesus’ command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’, she repeats the prayer of thanksgiving and blessing and, therewith, the words of transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. Our Eucharistic celebrations draw us into that moment of prayer, uniting us ever and anew to the prayer of Jesus”.

“Let us ask the Lord that, after due preparation also with the Sacrament of Penance, our participation in the Eucharist, which is indispensable for Christian life, may always remain the apex of all our prayers”, the Pope concluded. “Let us ask that, profoundly united in His offering to the Father, we too can transform our crosses into a free and responsible sacrifice of love, for God and for our fellows”.

At the end of his catechesis the Holy Father delivered greetings in a number of languages to the pilgrims present in the Paul VI Hall, inviting them to participate with “faith and devotion” in the Eucharist which, he said, is indispensable for Christian life as well as being the school and culmination of prayer. Addressing young people, the sick and newlyweds, he pointed our that last Sunday’s Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord is an occasion to reflect upon our own Baptism. “Dear young people”, the Pope exclaimed, “live your membership of the Church, the family of Christ, joyfully. Dear sick people, may the grace of Baptism ease your sufferings and encourage you to offer them to Christ for the salvation of humanity. And you, dear newlyweds, … base your marriage on the faith which you received as a gift on the day of your Baptism”.

AG/ VIS 20120111 (880)

BENEDICT XVI ANGELUS St. Peter’s Square Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 17, 2012

BENEDICT XVI
ANGELUS
St. Peter’s Square
Sunday, January 15, 2012
( Video )

Dear brothers and sisters!
The Bible readings for this Sunday – the second Sunday in Ordinary Time – shows the theme of vocation in the Gospel is the call of the first disciples of Jesus in the first reading is the call of the prophet Samuel. In both stories highlight the importance of the person who plays the role of mediator, helping people called to recognize God’s voice and follow it. In the case of Samuel, it is Eli, a priest of the temple of Shiloh, where the ancient Ark of the Covenant was kept before being transported to Jerusalem. One night Samuel, who was still a boy and lived as a child in the service of the temple, three times in a row was heard calling in his sleep and went to Eli. But he was not calling him. The third time Eli knew, and said to Samuel: If you call again, you answer: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” ( 1 Samuel 3.9). So it was, and from then on Samuel learned to recognize the words of God and became his faithful prophet. In the case of the disciples of Jesus, the mediating figure is that of John the Baptist. In fact, John had a wide circle of disciples, and among them there were also two pairs of brothers Simon and Andrew, James and John, fishermen of Galilee. Just two of these the Baptist pointed to Jesus, the day after his baptism in the Jordan River. He pointed to them saying: “Behold the Lamb of God” ( Jn 1.36), which was tantamount to saying, Behold the Messiah. And those two followed Jesus, remained a long time with him and were convinced that it was really the Christ. Immediately they told others, and so was formed the first nucleus of what would become the college of apostles.
In light of these two texts, I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guide in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration to the service of God and his people. Even the Christian faith itself, in itself, presupposes the proclamation and witness: in fact it consists in adhering to the good news that Jesus of Nazareth died and risen, so too is God’s call to follow Jesus more closely, giving up to form their own family to dedicate themselves to the great family of the Church, normally passes through the testimony and the proposal for a “big brother”, usually a priest. This without forgetting the fundamental role of parents, who by their genuine faith and their love and happy marriage to show children that is beautiful and you can build a lifetime love of God
Dear friends, let us pray to the Virgin Mary for all educators, parents and especially the priests, because they have full awareness of the importance of their spiritual role, to encourage in young people, in addition to human growth, the answer to the call of God to say: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
________________________________________
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Millions of people are involved in the phenomenon of migration, but they are not numbers! They are men and women, children, young and old looking for a place to live in peace.
In my Message for this Day of Migrants and Refugees I called attention to the theme “Migration and the new evangelization,” stressing that migrants are not only recipients but also protagonists of proclaiming the Gospel in the contemporary world. In this context I am pleased to extend a cordial greeting to the representatives of migrant communities in Rome, present today in St. Peter’s Square. Welcome!
Then I would like to remember that 18-25 of this month of January will take place the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite everyone to personal and community level, to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ.
En cette Journée du migrant et du refuge, the thème de cette année ” Migrations et nouvelle Evangelisation “nous invite, Pèlerins chers francophones, à des etre de la Bonne Nouvelle porteurs infatigables auprès de nos Frères et sœurs Réfugiés et migrants. Soyons des Témoins Authentiques of the Gospel concrètement vivant en la Solidarité et la Charité chretienne, non seulement par la aussi par des actes prière corn. Mercredi commencera the Semaine de l’Unité des chrétiens prière pour. Prions pour la de cette unité et réalisation ” laissons transformer-nous par la Victoire de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ . ” Marie que nous accompanies sur le chemin vers la pleine communion! Avec Benediction but Apostolique!
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. This Sunday we hear in the Gospel of John how the first Apostles responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow HIM. This response is a total giving of oneself through Demonstrated Which is the change of Simon’s name to Peter. May we strive to Remain Open To The Lord’s will for our lives. I wish all of you a good Sunday. May God bless you!
Herzlich Willkommen sage ich und allen Brüdern Schwestern deutscher Sprache. Unser nicht auf einer Christsein gründet trockenen oder einer Theorie überholten Tradition. Christsein heißt Begegnung mit Jesus Christus, der mich und der lebt ruft. “Meister wohnst wo du?” Evangelium im fragen day ersten Jünger, Herr und der sie ein lädt: “kommt und Seht.” Auch diese Einladung gilts us, hier und heute. Je mehr wir uns nähern Christus, um werden wir von seiner know starker Liebe und Leben seinem erfüllt. Diese und wir wollen Herrn Begeisterung im an unsere Mitmenschen weitergeben. Er ist es, unser Leben der froh macht und hell. Einen ich euch allen Wünsche gesegneten Sonntag.
Salud de los Peregrinos cordially lengua española en esta presentes oración Marian profesores y en los Particular Alumnos the Instituto de Villafranca de los Barros, Spain. En este domingo segundo tiempo of the ordinary, and the Gospel Disciples nos habla de los primeros. También en las palabras de nosotros deben reson Juan el Bautista: “Este es el Cordero de Dios”, invitándonos to follow in Jesus, to live with El in sentirnos of mensaje por interpelados de Salvacion. Os exhorto to estar siempre la voz del Señor disponibles, ACOG on voluntad en Nuestras vidas y como nuestro confesar Redeemer. Que Dios os Bendigo.
Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruję do wszystkich Polakow. Dzisiaj w Światowy Dziena the migrants Uchodźcy szczególny sposób pamiętamy w or w modlitwie przebywających na obczyźnie. Przedmiotem naszej refleksji knows “in Nowa Migracje ewangelizacja”. Niece pomoże nam ona lepiej zrozumieć potrzeby migrantów the uchodźców to szczególnie ich pragnienie spotkania z Bogiem. Wam wszystkim to zwłaszcza Polakom żyjącym poza granicami ojczyzny, z serca błogosławię.
[A warm greeting goes to all Poles. Today, the “World Day of Migrants and Refugees”, in particular remember in prayer all those who live in a foreign land. The object of our reflection is “Migration and the new evangelization.” May it help us to better understand the needs of migrants and refugees, and especially their desire to meet God bless you all heart and especially the Polish people living outside the country.]
And finally, I greet with affection the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the guys in the catechism of signs, accompanied by the pastor and educators, and young people of Le Castella – Isola Capo Rizzuto, who on Sunday received the Sacrament of Confirmation. I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your attention. Happy Sunday!.

© Copyright 2012 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Pope’s Homily for Feast of Jesus’ Baptism Prayer Is the First Condition for Educating”

January 17, 2012

Pope’s Homily for Feast of Jesus’ Baptism

“Prayer Is the First Condition for Educating”

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s homily Sunday, celebrated in Rome as the feast of the baptism of Our Lord.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

It is always a joy to celebrate this Holy Mass with the baptism of children on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I greet all of you with affection, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers, and all of you relatives and friends! You have come — you have said this aloud — so that these newborns might have the gift of the grace of God, the seed of eternal life. You parents wished for this. You thought about baptism before your little boy or little girl was born. Your responsibility as Christian parents made you think immediately of the sacrament that marks the entrance into divine life, in the community of the Church. We can say that this was your first educative decision for your children as witnesses of faith: the fundamental decision!

The task of parents, helped by the godmother and the godfather, is that of educating your son or daughter. Educating is very demanding, sometimes it is quite hard on our always limited human capacities. But educating becomes a marvelous mission if it is done in collaboration with God, who is the first and true educator of every man.

In the first reading that we heard, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God addresses his people precisely as an educator. He warns them against the danger of quenching their thirst and satiating their hunger with what will not do so: “Why,” he asks, “do you spend your money on what is not bread, your earnings on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). God wants to give us good things to drink and eat, things that will be good for us; while we sometimes use our resources badly, we use them for what is useless, indeed, for what is harmful. God wants to give us above all himself and his Word: he knows that distancing ourselves from him we will soon find ourselves in difficulty, like the prodigal son of the parable, and most importantly we will lose our human dignity. And for this reason he assures us that he is infinite mercy, that his thoughts and his ways are not as ours — how fortunate for us! — and that we can always return to him, to the house of the Father. Moreover, he assures us that if we welcome his Word, it will bear good fruit in our life, like the rain that waters the earth (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11).

To this word that the Lord has addressed to us through the Prophet Isaiah, we have answered with the refrain of the Psalm: “With joy we will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” As adult persons we have a duty to draw from good sources, for our own good and for that of those entrusted to our responsibility, especially you, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers, for the good of these children. And what are “the springs of salvation?” They are the Word of God and the sacraments. Adults are the first ones who need to nourish themselves from these sources so that they can guide the younger people in their growth. The parents have to give much but to be able to give they also for their part have to receive, otherwise they will be emptied, they will run out. The parents are not the springs, as we priests are not the springs either: we are rather like channels through which the lifeblood of God’s love must past. If we stop receiving from the ultimate source, we too will first of all feel the negative effects and we will no longer be able to educate others. Because of this we have committed ourselves, saying: “With joy we will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.”

And we now come to the second reading and the Gospel. They tell us that the first and principal education comes through witness. The Gospel speaks to us of John the Baptist. John was a great educator of his disciples, because he lead them to Jesus, to whom he bore witness. He did not exalt himself, he did not want to hold onto the disciples for himself. And yet John was a great prophet, his fame was quite widespread. When Jesus came on the scene John stood back and pointed to Jesus: “One mightier than I is coming after me … I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8). The true educator does not bind people to himself, he is not possessive. He wants the child, or the disciple, to learn to know the truth and establish a personal relationship with it. The educator does his duty to the end, he does not withdraw his attentive and faithful presence; but his objective is that the learner hears the voice of the truth speak to his heart and follows it on a personal journey.

Let us return again to the theme of witnessing. In the second reading the Apostle John writes: “It is the Spirit who bears witness” (1 John 5:6). He is referring to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who bears witness to Jesus, testifying that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is also seen in the scene of the baptism in the Jordan River: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove, revealing that he is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father (cf. Mark 1:10). John underscores this aspect as well in his Gospel when Jesus says to his disciples: “When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you too will bear witness to me, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

This is a great comfort to us in educating others in the faith because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is supported by the Holy Spirit.

It is very important for you parents and also for you godfathers and godmothers to believe strongly in the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit, to call upon him and welcome him in you through prayer and the sacraments. He is the one in fact who enlightens the mind, who makes the heart of the educator burn so that he or she knows how to transmit the knowledge of the love of Christ. Prayer is the first condition for educating, because in praying we create the disposition in ourselves of letting God have the initiative, of entrusting our children to him, who knows them before we do and better than us, and knows perfectly what their true good is. And, at the same time, when we pray we open ourselves to the inspirations of God to do our part better, which in any case is our duty and we must accomplish. The sacraments, especially Eucharist and Penance, permit us to perform the educative action in union with Christ, in communion with him and continually renewed by his forgiveness. Prayer and the sacraments obtain that light for us that allows us to be both tender and strong, kind and firm, to be silent and to speak when the time is right, to rebuke and correct justly.

Dear friends, let us therefore together call upon the Holy Spirit, that he might descend abundantly upon these children, consecrate them in the image of Jesus Christ, and accompany them on the journey of their life. We entrust them to the maternal guidance of Mary Most Holy, that they might grow in age, wisdom and grace and become true Christians, faithful and joyful witnesses of God’s love. Amen.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

Why the Liturgy? What Does ‘Liturgy’ Mean? Commentary on Nos. 1066-1070 of the Catechism By Juan José Silvestre

January 17, 2012

Why the Liturgy? What Does ‘Liturgy’ Mean?

Commentary on Nos. 1066-1070 of the Catechism

By Juan José Silvestre

ROME, JAN. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- For this contribution to Don Mauro Gagliardi’s “Spirit of the Liturgy” column, Juan José Silvestre reflects on the meaning of liturgy.

Silvestre is a professor of liturgy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and a Consultor of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, as well as of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

* * *

In Part One of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the profession of faith is followed by the explanation of the sacramental life, in which Christ is present and acts, and continues building his Church. In fact, if the figure of Christ did not stand out in the liturgy, who is its principle and is really present to make it valid, we would not have the Christian liturgy, which depends completely on the Lord and is sustained by his presence.

Hence, there is an intrinsic relationship between faith and liturgy; both are intimately united. In reality, without the liturgy and the sacraments, the profession of faith would not be efficacious, as it would lack the grace that sustains Christians’ witness. “On the other hand, the liturgical action can never be considered generically, prescinding from the mystery of faith. Our faith and the eucharistic liturgy both have their source in the same event: Christ’s gift of himself in the Paschal Mystery.” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 34).

If we open Part Two of the Catechism we read that the word “liturgy” originally meant “service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God” (CCC, 1069).

What is this work of God in which we participate? The Catechism’s answer is clear and enables us to discover the profound connection that exists between faith and liturgy: “In the Symbol of the faith the Church confesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the plan of God’s good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9) for all creation: the Father accomplishes the ‘mystery of his will’ by giving his beloved Son and his Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world and for the glory of his name” (CCC, 1066).

In fact, “in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God,” Christ the Lord “accomplished this work principally by the Paschal mystery of his blessed Passion, Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension” (CCC, 1067). It is the Mystery of Christ that the Church “proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world” (CCC, 1068).

The “work of our redemption is accomplished” through the liturgy (Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2). As he was sent by the Father, so Christ sent the Apostles to proclaim the redemption and “to carry out the work of salvation they were proclaiming, through the sacrifice and the sacraments, around which the whole of liturgical life turns” (ibidem, 6).

We see, thus, that the Catechism synthesizes the work of Christ, in the Paschal mystery, which is its essential nucleus. And the nexus with the liturgy is obvious as, “[t]hrough the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church” (CCC, 1069).Thus, this “work of Jesus Christ,” the perfect glorification of God and sanctification of men, is the true content of the liturgy.

This is an important point as, although the expression and theological-liturgical content of the Paschal mystery should inspire theological study and liturgical celebration, this has not always been the case. In fact, “the greater part of the problems linked to the concrete applications of the liturgical reform have to do with the fact that it has not been kept sufficiently in mind that the Council’s point of departure is Easter […]. And Easter means inseparability from the Cross and Resurrection […] The Cross, with all its seriousness, is at the center of the Christian liturgy: a trivial optimism, which denies the suffering and injustice of the world and reduces being Christians to being educated, has nothing to do with the liturgy of the Cross. Redemption cost God the suffering and death of his Son. Hence its “exercitium,” which according to the conciliar text is the liturgy, cannot take place without the purification and maturation that come from following the cross” (J. Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Teologia della Liturgia, LEV, Vatican City, 2010, pp. 775-776; English translation of citation by ZENIT).

This language clashes with the mentality that is incapable of accepting the possibility of a real divine intervention in this world in aid of man. That is why, “those who share a deist vision consider fundamentalist the confession of a redeeming intervention of God to change the situation of alienation and sin, and the same judgment is made in regard to a sacramental sign which renders the redeeming sacrifice present. More acceptable, in their eyes, would be the celebration of a sign that would correspond to a vague feeling of community. However, worship cannot stem from our imagination; it would be a cry in the darkness or simple self-affirmation. True liturgy implies that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. ‘The Church can celebrate and adore the mystery of Christ present in the Eucharist precisely because Christ himself gave himself first to her in the sacrifice of the cross’ (Sacramentum Caritatis, 14). The Church lives from this presence and has, as her raison d’etre and existence, the spread of this presence in the whole world” (Benedict XVI, Address of 15.04.2010).

This is the marvel of the liturgy that, as the Catechism recalls, is divine worship, proclamation of the Gospel and active charity (CCC, 1070). It is God himself who acts and we feel attracted to his action, thus to be transformed in Him.

SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING: CONGREGATIO PRO CERICIS

November 19, 2011

Citations

Ez 34,11-12.15-17:                        www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9arcaobb.htm 

1Co 15,2026.28:                            www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9asuoao.htm

Mt 25,31-46:                                    http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9bp5uuy.htm

 

 

The celebration of the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King at the end of the liturgical year is like a symphony which celebrates, in its entirety, the mystery of God.  The liturgical readings announce the kingship of God and his full reign over all reality.  They introduce into the cosmos God’s saving power: “I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view… I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks.”  Through the words of the prophet Ezekiel they are introduced into the heart of the faith.

 

The Lord speaks to humanity, demonstrating his rightful lordship, firstly through the creation.  “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made,” (Romans 1:20).  Furthermore, the Father has come to meet humanity through his prophets: in fact, “in partial and various ways” he has spoken his word to his people “through his prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).  But the entire creation and all prophecy were orientated towards the fulfillment of God’s promise: “I shall look for the lost one… I am going to look after my flock myself.”  This promise was realised when, in the fullness of time, God sends his only begotten Son in the flesh.

 

He is no longer the ‘one’ who seeks the sheep, caring for them “in the name of God” like the prophets; rather, Jesus Christ is God himself made man.  The Father, in his Son, is now found in the midst of the sheep who had strayed.

 

In his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Blessed John Paul II writes: “here we touch upon the essential point… it is not simply a case of man seeking God, but of God who comes in Person to speak to man of himself and to show him the path by which he may be reached” ( no 6).  In this way Christ, the eternal Word made man, is the full manifestation of the glory of God and the definitive fulfillment of the Father’s project for humanity.

 

The prophet Ezekiel reveals that the divine condescension towards humanity is shown in the search that the Lord makes for his creatures: “I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong.”  In Jesus Christ, God the Father not only speaks to humanity, but he looks for us.  How mysterious is God’s attitude towards humanity!

 

This is what Christianity is: the Father who is in Jesus Christ and the Spirit seeking humanity.  This search has its origins in the inscrutable intimacy of the Holy Trinity.  It has its origins in the decision of the Father to choose every one of us, before the foundation of the world, because we were “to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1: 4-5).  “God therefore goes in search of man who is his special possession in a way unlike any other creature. Man is God’s possession by virtue of a choice made in love: God seeks man out, moved by his fatherly heart.” (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 7).

 

Why does God seek humanity?  Because, as the prophet teaches, we “have been scattered during the mist and darkness.”  God the Father’s search for humanity reaches its culmination in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Through Jesus of Nazareth, the man who has been sought for so long is finally found, the man who was lost for so long is finally brought home, the man who was wounded and sick for so long is healed and cured.  All this rests on the death and resurrection of Christ: “Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.”  Christ, by dying, has destroyed the true enemy, death.  Rising, he has given us the true life and restored the dignity of humanity’s origin.  In Jesus Christ, God has freed us from eternal death: “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” (Colossians 1: 13-14), making of us one people who are priests, prophets and kings.

 

What is the meaning of all this?  That “God will be all in all”, as the apostle tells us.

 

The meaning of it all is that as God remains close to humanity so humanity can remain close to God.  The meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God is that humanity can participate in the Father’s life.  This is what the Church’s liturgy celebrates on this great day: the mystery of the Father who creates everything and who, in the Son, tirelessly seeks out every one of us, so that freed by the redeeming passion of Christ and the gift of the Spirit, each of us can become a participant through the Son in the same life of the Father.

 

Christ’s regality consists in being able to present a redeemed humanity to the Father, and so they can become the sons of God. All of us are reunited in the one Church which is His spouse and His body.  The royal lordship of the Son is fulfilled in this marvelous plan in which we are called to participate right now, becoming ever more like Him, cooperating in the Church to His greater glory, and recognising Him truly and royally present in every one of us.

 

For this reason it is necessary that even temporal structures (with their legitimate autonomy) are directed by Christians to show the reign of Christ in his world.  The lordship of Christ is not just a spiritual reality.  There must be a real and concrete reign of Christ over and in history, which is visible to society in its own laws and in the knowledge that in everything we do, we will be called to give an account to the one true Lord.

 

Holy Mary and all the saints, in whom the royal power of Christ has worked miracles, sustain the Church in the difficult and permanent work of restoring all things in Christ!