Thursday, October 30, 2008

CCD Class Seven Readings

First Reading -- Dt. 6:4-9.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Second Reading -- Acts 1:8-9, 12-14; 2:1-4.
After He had suffered, Jesus showed Himself and said to the apostles: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." And after He had said these things, He was lifted up to heaven while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Third Reading -- Mt. 22:34-40; 5:17-19, 43-48; Jn. 13:34-35.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

[On another occasion, Jesus said,] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. . . . You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

[And on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus said,] "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sanctification of Man in the Love and
Truth that is the Holy Spirit
CCD Class Seven

The Holy Spirit and the Sanctification of Man (CCC 1691-2051)

Jesus calls us to universal holiness, to be perfect in love and truth, just as His Father in heaven is perfect. For this reason, so that we might not only be saved, but that we might become more like God ourselves, Jesus sends us His Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The teachings of Christ and His Church to be holy and perfect are very simply this – we are called to love and be loved in truth. (1) Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and (2) Love one another, as Jesus loves us, so we should love one another. Those are the teachings of Christ and His Church in a nutshell. This is our general vocation.

So what does that mean in practical terms?

(1) God is Truth, God is Transcendent, God is Reason (Logos), and God is Love, and we ourselves are not gods. So we should be humble; admit and know that there are things greater than ourselves. We should follow Truth; take love into our heart; take Christ and the Holy Spirit into our very being, spiritually and bodily, through the sacraments.

We should remain in communication with God, pray to Him in thanks for what we have and ask Him for what we need. We can do some of this ourselves, but it is only by prayer and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit that we humans can do the impossible and be perfect like God.

We must pray to God, especially in the liturgical prayer that is the Holy Mass, wherein we participate in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and receive Him through the Eucharist.

God does not force Himself on us; He does not save us against our will or without our consent. Thus, when we do wrong, we should be contrite and formally ask his forgiveness, generally and in the Sacrament of Confession. The only unforgiveable sin is the refusal to ask for or accept forgiveness, and thereby “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit. God will not force forgiveness on us and, thus, it is not He who sends us to Hell, which is separation from God; rather, we choose it by our own will.

(2) Love one another. We should love – truly love – as God loves, for His is the most perfect and complete kind of love. The Latin word for the kind of love that God is is caritas, from which we get the word “charity.” Such a love is more than an emotional feeling, more than an attraction or desire for personal happiness. Such true and total love is a conscious act of the will to subordinate oneself and unconditionally and selflessly seek the good and welfare of the other, including the gift of self for the other’s benefit, whether that love is returned or not and whether or not the other “deserves” to be loved.

The command that we should love “one another” means that we should acknowledge that we are not alone in the world -- there are other people, brothers, sisters, neighbors. Instead of being selfishly focused inward, our love must be selflessly turned outward. And because they too are children of God, we are all equal. If we wish to be forgiven our sins, we must forgive others when they injure us.

In all things, we should do good and avoid evil. To do good and avoid evil is to think and act in a manner which is consistent with truth and love. This is part of the natural law that is written on men’s hearts. We should endeavor to live a life of virtue, rather than vice, embracing virtues like the theological virtues of faith, hope, charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, while rejecting vices and capital sins like undue pride, covetousness, lust, vengeful anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.

In charitable love, we should affirm and respect the inherent dignity of every human person, no matter how seemingly insignificant, undesirable, or useless, from the very beginning of his or her creation, from the instant of existence. Love seeks the good of the other, including the good which is truth, namely, the truth of the other as a “person,” and not as a thing to be used for our amusement, a subject and not an object, an end in his or herself, and not merely a means to be exploited by us or used up and then tossed aside or thrown away as if they are trash. We all have intrinsic meaning, every one of us.

Charity means that we should give of ourselves to others, not take from them, help others, not hinder them. We should be willing to show compassion toward others, that is, to suffer with them, and not abandon them. We should also be merciful, that is, have compassion for, and, if possible, alleviate another's misfortune or misery (the Latin word miserere means “have mercy”), including the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. For example, we should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.

These are not harsh prohibitions or restrictions on our freedoms, but instead are truths that lead us to authentic freedom. Freedom necessarily is dependent and contingent upon truth. Thus, it is necessarily limited by truth, including moral truth. That is, authentic freedom is the ability to do what is right, and not the ability to do as one pleases. This is because one ought to do good, and what is good and right is that which is consistent with truth. And to do that which is inconsistent with truth is not freedom, but is instead being confined and controlled by error. Error causes disorder and leads to more error. The consequence of sin is that, by embracing a false and counterfeit “freedom,” we necessarily become a slave to error, even if we erroneously continue to insist that we are still free.

These truths are already written on our hearts, but because our ability to reason and discover these truths ourselves has been corrupted by sin and the temptations of the world, in order to help, the Holy Spirit guides the Church in teaching us and explaining these truths. And to help individuals overcome that temptation to sin and to attain sanctification, the Holy Spirit provide us grace – if we seek it and accept it. At times, it may be very difficult to love or forgive, it may seem to be impossible, but whatever may be lacking in our own will or power, God will give by grace to those who ask. These graces or powers of the Holy Spirit include wisdom, counsel, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord, charity, generosity, kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, chastity, modesty, self-control, joy, and peace.

Now, a gift -- any gift -- is not completed and is totally useless unless it is accepted by the recipient. If a gift is returned to sender, or is simply put in a closet, unopened, it is as if it was never received. Thus, it is necessary that you accept the gifts that are the graces of God.

Grace presupposes nature, it does not replace it. God does not simply wipe out our humanity in offering us his grace. He does not impose Himself upon us against our will and treat us as puppets. Rather, grace builds on and works within our nature to heal it, to perfect, elevate, and transform it. We must pray to God and say “yes” to Him, as Mary said “yes” to Him. We must allow the Holy Spirit and gift of grace to come into our hearts, and not simply set that grace aside and ignore it. And we must allow the fruits of that grace to grow within us. If we do, we will be not only redeemed, but sanctified, and have eternal life in heaven.

If we resist and ignore those graces, if we shut ourselves off from the Truth and Love which are the Holy Spirit, then life becomes much harder and unsatisfactory. If we turn away from the Light, it is much more difficult to find our way through life in the darkness. And if we resist too long, we will find ourselves forever in the darkness that is eternal death in hell.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Real Measure of Success

What is the measure of making a real difference throughout the world?

When we are young, we often think of success in material terms – that's why we go to college or graduate school. But making money is not the measure of success. Even if we have all the riches of the world, there will still be something missing, and it profits a man or a woman nothing to gain the whole world, if his or her soul is not saved. True success and happiness are not measured in material things, but in the transcendent Truth that is God.

Real success is measured in becoming closer to Him and helping others to know Him and become closer to Him. That is the greatest difference any of us can make. It doesn't take a high position or great worldly power. The person who made the greatest real difference ever in the world was a sim­ple, single, teenaged girl, who simply said "Yes" when God called. And through her, we all become closer to Him. Because of her, because of her "Yes," it is possible for us all to be with Him.

Heaven cares not about gold and riches, but all the angels sing and rejoice when the lowliest of the low are reconciled to Him. We should all be like that simple girl, that handmaid of the Lord. We should all say "yes," and help lead others to Him. Then, we will have truly made a difference. Then, we will have been a true success.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Litany of Saints for Life - 40 Days for Life

In his Son, risen from the dead, God has opened for us the way to everlasting life. Let us ask the Father, through the victory of Christ, to save those who are victimized by the scourge of abortion.

Lord, have mercy on us. ** Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. ** Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. ** Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. ** Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, ** have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, ** have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, ** have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, ** have mercy on us.

For children in the womb, mothers and fathers, those children who have or will die from abortion, and all others affected and impacted by abortion and all attacks on the dignity of human life –
Holy Mary, ** pray for them
Holy Mother of God, ** pray for them
Holy Virgin of virgins, ** pray for them
St. Michael, ** pray for them
St. Gabriel, ** pray for them
St. Raphael, ** pray for them
All you Holy Angels and Archangels, ** pray for them
St. John the Baptist, ** pray for them
St. Joseph, ** pray for them
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, ** pray for them
St. Peter, ** pray for them
St. Paul, ** pray for them
St. Andrew, ** pray for them
St. James, ** pray for them
St. John, ** pray for them
St. Thomas, ** pray for them
St. James, ** pray for them
St. Philip, ** pray for them
St. Bartholomew, ** pray for them
St. Matthew, ** pray for them
St. Simon, ** pray for them
St. Jude, ** pray for them
St. Matthias, ** pray for them
St. Barnabas, ** pray for them
St. Luke, ** pray for them
St. Mark, ** pray for them
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists, ** pray for them
All you holy Disciples of the Lord, ** pray for them
Sts. Anne and Joachim, ** pray for them
Sts. Elizabeth and Zechariah, ** pray for them
All you Holy Innocents, ** pray for them
St. Stephen, ** pray for them
St. Lawrence, ** pray for them
St. Polycarp, ** pray for them
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, ** pray for them
St. Vincent, ** pray for them
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian, ** pray for them
Sts. Cosmos and Damian, ** pray for them
St. Thomas More, ** pray for them
St. Agatha, ** pray for them
St. Lucy, ** pray for them
St. Agnes, ** pray for them
St. Cecilia, ** pray for them
All you holy Martyrs, ** pray for them
St. Sylvester, ** pray for them
St. Gregory, ** pray for them
St. Ambrose, ** pray for them
St. Augustine, ** pray for them
St. Jerome, ** pray for them
St. Martin, ** pray for them
St. Nicholas, ** pray for them
St. Anthony, ** pray for them
St. Benedict, ** pray for them
St. Bernard, ** pray for them
St. Dominic, ** pray for them
St. Francis, ** pray for them
St. Juan Diego, ** pray for them
St. Mary Magdalene, ** pray for them
St. Monica, ** pray for them
St. Anastasia, ** pray for them
St. Catherine of Sienna, ** pray for them
St. Clare, ** pray for them
St. Rita, ** pray for them
St. Bernadette, ** pray for them
St. Therese, ** pray for them
St. Gianna, ** pray for them
All you holy Virgins and Widows, ** pray for them
All you holy Saints of God, ** pray for them
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, ** pray for them
Servant of God John Paul II, ** pray for them

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, ** Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, ** Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, ** Grant us peace.

Let us pray:
God our loving Father, grant wisdom to those who govern us, compassion and courage to those who work to defend human life, and safety and care to every human being. For you alone who formed us in our mother's wombs, and who call us home to heaven, are God, forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Church is Mother and Teacher (CCC 85-87; 2030-2051)
CCD Class Six

The Church is both Mater et Magister (Mother and Teacher). The Church was established by Jesus Christ to not only confer the sacraments, but to teach the Word of God. Jesus said He would be with us always. So, after His Ascension to heaven, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit, so that the successors of Peter (the pope) and the apostles (bishops) are guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Faith is protected from error. That is, Jesus conveyed teaching authority upon the Apostles and their successors, commanding them to go and preach the Good News, while promising that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide and protect His Bride, the Church, from error.

The teaching office of the Church is known as the Magisterium. The teachings of the Magisterium, be they on matters of faith or morals, are not the personal opinions of the pope, and they are not the “policy positions” of the Church, although they are often erroneously described as such in the media. Because God is Love and Truth, the pope and the Church are bound in their moral teachings by love and truth. Moreover, because She was founded by Christ, we are not free to change the Church as we wish. Not even the pope is free to change the Church to suit his own tastes. Faith and Truth are not arbitrary, and they are not matters of opinion to be decided by majority vote. The Church is His Church before it is ours. She is the One, Holy, Catholic (universal), and Apostolic Church of Christ, not the “Church of do your own thing.”

The Magisterium provides the authoritative interpretation of Divine Revelation, both Holy Scripture and Tradition, and assures the truth of the Faith by use of Revelation and right reason, i.e. truth, as guided and protected by the Holy Spirit.

In addition to helping to form our faith, another function of the Magisterium is to teach us and assist us in the formation of our consciences, which involves an act of reason, not feeling. That is, moral conscience, present in the heart of the person, is a judgment of reason which at the appropriate moment enjoins him to do good and to avoid evil. Whereas the natural law discloses the objective and universal demands of the moral good, conscience is the application of the law to a particular case. In helping us to properly form our moral consciences, the Church does not really teach anything new, anything that was not previously revealed by God or is not already written as the natural law on men’s hearts and therefore discoverable and knowable by reason. Under the natural law, the concepts of truth, justice, good and evil, and values of right and wrong are deemed fundamental, absolute, and transcendent. As a component of transcendent truth, morality is objective, not subjective, relative, or situational.

The Catholic Church, the Sacraments, and the Bible
CCD Class Six

One criticism of the Catholic Faith is that it is supposedly not grounded in scripture. Try to see if you can identify the various sacraments and bases of Church authority that are mentioned or alluded to in these readings from CCD Class Six.

First Reading -- Joel 3:1-5
The LORD said: I will pour out my Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. And I will work wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke; the sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, at the coming of the Day of the LORD, the great and terrible day. Then everyone shall be rescued who calls on the name of the LORD.

Second Reading -- Acts 8:5-8, 12, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Once they began to believe Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Third Reading -- Mt. 16:13-19, 26:26-28, 28:18-20; Jn 14:16-17, 15:16, 20:21-23
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
[Later, on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,] while they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to His disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins."
[After the Supper, Jesus said,] "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."
[After He died and rose again, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and] said to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
[Later,] Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church (CCC 748-962; 1113-1134)
CCD Class Six

Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that no one could come to the Father except through Him. (Jn. 11:25-26; 14:6) Jesus not only taught, He established the Church as His Holy Bride, two become one, and He gave us the sacraments, which are administered by the Church, so as to help us come to the Father and be redeemed and sanctified.

Man was created as a social creature, intended to exist in relationship, not in solitude. Thus, Christ also established the Church so that we might fulfill our purpose of being in communion with each other, as well as Him. To be one with Jesus means to be one with the one holy Church, which is also the Body of Christ. Accordingly, we see that Jesus Christ and the Church are absolutely necessary for salvation.

In establishing the Church, from the Greek word Kyriake, meaning “what belongs to the Lord,” which is also called an ecclesia in Latin, “an assembly set apart,” Jesus called certain men as apostles, which is from the Greek for “emissary.” To the Apostle Peter, who was the first Pope, Jesus gave a special supreme authority. The original Apostles later appointed successors, whom we know today as bishops, and assistants, such as priests, who have the authority and power of teaching and administering the sacraments in persona Christi. Each bishop is the spiritual shepherd for a specific area, which is called a diocese, and he in turn delegates certain authority to pastors over a smaller area, which is called a parish.

To guide and protect the Church and us, Jesus sends us His Holy Spirit, thereby assuring that He will be with us to the end of time. By His Holy Spirit, Jesus provides us graces, both sanctifying and actual, including the graces of the sacraments. We are not merely spiritual, but also bodily creatures, who experience things and know things by the senses of our bodies. To help us understand the reality of the provision of certain graces, Jesus instituted the sacraments. A “sacrament” is an outward visible sign of the invisible reality of grace being imparted. A sacrament is also an efficacious sign, that is, a sign that brings about that grace. By the use of certain words and matter upon the body, we are thus able to know and understand that the Holy Spirit of Christ is acting upon us. Without such an outward, tangible sign, we might not fully realize or appreciate that God has done anything or that we have actually received these graces.

Jesus gave the authority to confer the sacraments on the Church. However, it is Christ who acts in the sacraments and communicates the sanctifying grace they signify, not the priest or bishop administering them. Thus, the efficacy of the sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness, or lack thereof, of the minister. On the other hand, the fruits of the sacraments do depend on the dispositions of the one who receives them.

(1) Sinful man is redeemed and saved from death by the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. In Baptism, one is immersed into this death of Christ, so as to rise again with Him. This baptism of the Triune God gives us sanctifying grace, so that the stains of Original Sin and individual sin are wiped away, and we are initiated into the communion of the Church. (Mt. 28:19) As Abraham was marked with the sign of the covenant, so too is the soul of the baptized person marked with the indelible seal of Christ.

(2) In Confirmation, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Christ in love and truth. The Holy Spirit descends upon us, completing and bringing an increase and deepening of baptismal grace. Just as when the Spirit descended upon the faithful at Pentecost, we too are given the strength and grace and perseverance to go out and spread the Good News and even endure persecution. (Acts 1:8; 2:11) If even only as a seed, the Holy Spirit, if you accept Him, will dwell within you and graces will grow within you, and, like the Apostles, disciples, martyrs, and saints, you will be able to do that which is impossible to do on your own. The water and chrism oil of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are sanctified by Jesus and the Cross. The very being of recipient is radically altered as he or she is anointed and joined with the Christ, which is Greek for “anointed one.”

(3) Baptism cleanses us of Original Sin, but it does not abolish the weakness of our impaired human nature nor our inclination to personal sin. If we examine our conscience and confess our personal sins with a contrite heart and a determination to avoid further sin, through the Sacrament of Penance, by the Crucifixion and Resurrection, we are absolved of our individual sins and reconciled to God. Furthermore, grace is given, if we accept it, to avoid further sin. (Jn. 20:22-23)

(4) While He was present amongst us, Jesus healed many who were sick. After Pentecost, Peter and the other Apostles similarly healed the sick. The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of healing, if not physically, then spiritually. Mostly, the Sacrament prepares us for the final journey in order to join God in heaven. (James 5:14-15) This sacrament confers a special grace which unites the sick person more intimately to the Passion of Christ. It gives comfort, peace, courage, and even the forgiveness of sins if the sick person is not able to make a sacramental confession.

(5) Man, male and female, is not merely a relational creature, but a spousal creature made in the image of God, who exists as a loving communion of persons in one being. Similarly, in the Sacrament of Matrimony, a man and woman are two made one in a communion of persons by the power of the Christ’s Holy Spirit of Love. (Gn. 1:28, 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6) This communion of persons is not only unitive, but fruitful and procreative, just as the love that is God is unitive, fruitful, and procreative.

(6) Those who do not marry are still, by human nature, called to love. We all exist to love and be loved in truth. Thus, if we are not called to marry, we may receive a calling to follow Christ. By the Sacrament of Holy Orders, instituted by Jesus calling His apostles, the Church is passed on to the generations throughout time. (Mt. 16:18-19; Jn 15:16) The one priesthood of Christ is made present in this ministerial priesthood. The anointing by the Spirit in ordination to this priesthood seals the priest with an indelible, spiritual character that configures him to Christ the priest and enables him to act in the name of Christ the Head. Episcopal ordination of a bishop as a successor of the Apostles confers the fullness of the Sacrament on him, including the offices of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling.

(7) In the most obvious sense, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist. (Lk 22:19-20; Jn 6:48-58) The Eucharist as the source (beginning) and summit (end) of the Faith, inasmuch as this Blessed Sacrament is the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus, even though under the appearance of bread and wine. In the Eucharist, the substance is transformed, that is to say, the fundamental basis of its being. This genuine transformation is called transubstantiation. As described by Pope Benedict, Christ takes possession of the bread and the wine, and He lifts them up out of the setting of their normal existence into a new order. Even if, from a purely physical point of view, they remain the same, they have become profoundly different.

Through the Eucharist in the one Mass, according to His Word, Jesus is with us, not merely spiritually or theoretically or as a philosophy, but physically, such that we, as bodily creatures who experience things through our senses, can be united with Him bodily as well as spiritually.

In a profoundly intimate way, we take His glorified Body and Blood into our bodies. The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist is not the encounter of a friend or a mentor or a teacher. It is a parental and spousal encounter. It is because the Eucharist is the Real Presence that such an encounter is the most intimate of intimate touchings. The person literally takes Christ within him- or herself both bodily and spiritually, so as to become one with Him in a mystical fashion, as in marriage, which also involves entering into another bodily and spiritually so as to become one in a communion of persons (unitive) and so as to receive life (procreative).

Only in this way is the totality of our person, body and spirit, able to be one with Him, Body and Spirit, fully and completely. Again, because we are creatures of both spirit and body, to receive Him in the entirety of our person, it is essential that we also experience the Body and Blood of Christ, which can be received only at Mass, in addition to His Spirit, which can be experienced at home. In this way, the Eucharist can truly be called Holy Communion.

The consecration of the bread and wine at Mass to become the Blessed Sacrament is not a re-sacrificing of Jesus. There is only One Mass, and there is only One Sacrifice, which is re-presented, that is, presented again. Remember, God transcends time and space, so that, not only does He extend across our concept of linear time, but for Him, specific points in time continue to exist forever. Thus, the Passion and Crucifixion were not isolated events in some distant past. Rather, His sacrifice is an on-going event. He is not crucified again and again, but is one sacrifice. He is perpetually being scourged, eternally on the Cross. In the Mass, in some mystical but true way, we transcend space and time and are made present at the Last Supper, we are made present at the foot of the Cross. And because we partake of His glorified Resurrected Body and Blood, so too are we made present at the Resurrection, and made One with He who rose to eternal life.

The Church was established not only to confer the sacraments, but to teach and proclaim the Faith to the faithful and the entire world. For example, at Mass, we also celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, and thereafter receive, in the homily, a teaching on the readings.

Jesus not only calls certain men to be priests and bishops, who sustain and hand on the Faith, He also calls some to be religious sisters, who dedicate themselves to the Lord like Mary and Martha. He told his apostles and disciples to spread the Good News and convert all nations, and He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to guide and protect this apostolic Church always, so that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against Her -- One Holy Church that exists universally, that is, "catholic" -- not only in history, but eternally and transcendent, not only horizontally, across nations, but vertically, a communion of the faithful in this world with the faithful in purgatory, and God and interceding saints in heaven above.

The Church, as Bride of Christ, who abides with us always, is protected by the Holy Spirit and is necessarily perfect, just as Her Spouse, Jesus, is perfect. And like Jesus, the Church does not hate; She has only love for all, including sinners. Members may and do sin, and in doing so, they may cause scandal, leading others to question the Faith or the Church, or to fall away from the Church. As members of the Body of Christ, we must be very careful in our words and actions, so that we do not reflect poorly on the Church and cause scandal.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

O merciful God, take pity on those souls who have no particular friends and intercessors to recommend them to Thee, who, either through the negligence of those who are alive, or through length of time are forgotten by their friends and by all.

Spare them, O Lord, and remember Thine own mercy, when others forget to appeal to it. Let not the souls which Thou hast created be parted from thee, their Creator.

May the souls of innocent unborn children slaughtered by abortion and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Intercessions for Life - 40 Days for Life

With joy at Christ’s rising from the dead, let us turn to God our Father in prayer. He heard and answered the prayers of the Son He loved so much: let us trust that He will hear our petitions.

For children who are unwanted by their parents, that God’s grace might send others to love and care for them; ** Lord hear our prayer

For the children of our country, especially those who are forgotten or neglected, that their presence might remind us of the infinite value of human life; ** Lord hear our prayer

For every little child: That we might accept and preserve each one as a sign of the infinite love of God for us; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all unborn children: that our love for them may keep them safe until the joyous day of their birth; ** Lord hear our prayer

For every child who lives in the womb, that the Lord, who rescues the life of the poor from the power of the wicked, might send an angel to guard and protect all unborn children; ** Lord hear our prayer

For every little child and especially for those who live in their mother’s womb, that they might grow in the image and likeness of the God who made them; ** Lord hear our prayer

For the littlest child in her mother’s womb, that in her life we may see the infinite love of God; ** Lord hear our prayer

For the safety of every little child: that love of every mother for her unborn child may grow and deepen each day; ** Lord hear our prayer

For the safety of all children: that God might give us the grace to recognize the infinite value of every human life, from conception to natural death; ** Lord hear our prayer

For little children who await the birth of a brother or sister: that they may learn to cherish the child in her mother’s womb; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all mothers, particularly those who are with child, that they may be supported by loved ones and warm friends, and that they may be understood and blessed; ** Lord hear our prayer

For young mothers everywhere, and especially those who are tempted to despair, that through the child they carry deep within, they might know hope and joy; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all mothers, especially those who are young or alone, beaten or addicted; that God might heal their broken hearts and seal them with his love; ** Lord hear our prayer

For mothers, especially those wracked with fear, depression or despair, that the new life of their child may touch them with the eternal love of God; ** Lord hear our prayer

For young mothers tempted to abort their child, that God’s grace might give them the wisdom and fortitude to preserve the gift they carry within them; ** Lord hear our prayer

For young parents tempted to abort their children: that God might teach us how to love and care for them; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all children who have died from abortion, that God might cradle them in his arms and grant them eternal peace with him; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all who suffer from the memories of abortion: that the mercy of God might bring peace to all who have turned from their sins; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all who do not embrace the rights of the unborn that, in love, they may come to know the dignity of every person in the eyes of God; ** Lord hear our prayer

For all the victims of the culture of death that like Lazarus, forgotten and poor, they may be welcomed into God’s eternal peace; ** Lord hear our prayer

Let us pray: God of the spirits and of all flesh, who have trampled death and annihilated the devil and given life to your world, may you yourself, O Lord, grant to the souls of the deceased innocents rest in a place of light, a verdant place, a place of freshness, from where suffering, pain and cries are far removed.

Do You, O good and compassionate Father take them into your loving arms. You alone are without sin and your justice is justice throughout the ages and your word is truth. Since you, O Christ our God, are the resurrection, the life and the repose of these innocent children, we give you glory together with your Heavenly Father and your most holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Habemus Papam!
His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Thirty years ago today, God gave the Church and the world a spectacularly wonderful gift.

On October 16, 1978, at 6:18 p.m. (Rome time), white smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Shortly thereafter, Pericle Cardinal Felici came out onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and announced, "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus papam! Emminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, dominum Carolum, sanctæ romanæ Ecclesiæ cardinalem Wojtyła, qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannis Pauli."

Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, the 58-year-old Archbishop of Kraków, Poland, had been elected as the successor of St. Peter and Pope John Paul the First, who had died suddenly a few weeks before. As Pope, he took the name of John Paul the Second, but toward the end of his papacy, and since his death, he has been known by many to be Pope John Paul the Great.

When it was clear after the first day of voting that none of the Italian papabili would be able to achieve the necessary two-thirds plus one needed for election, the cardinal-electors began to think the unthinkable by looking beyond Italy for a new shepherd of the Church. Having impressed those in the know for years, the name of Cardinal Wojtyla was advanced overnight, and he began to receive votes during the fifth round in the morning. During lunch, having gained votes in the sixth round, a shocked Cardinal Wojtyla was visibly upset by the voting coalescing around him. Poland's Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski took him aside and reminded him that he had a duty accept if God called him. At the end of the second day of voting, in the eighth round, with the certain guidance of the Holy Spirit, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected.

Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your – in our – Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.
--First Address of Pope John Paul II

John Paul II came from a far country - a country that had been ravaged by the Nazis and Communists, a country of martyrs, Christian martyrs, Jewish martyrs, who overcame their persecutors because of their faith in the Lord and the graces bestowed upon them by the Holy Spirit. Athletic, and fluent in Polish, Latin, Italian, English, French and German, having known much suffering in his life, the new Pope was not afraid to confront evil and proclaim the truth.

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. . . . Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man." He alone knows it. So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.

--Pope John Paul II, Mass of Installation

Prayer for the Intercession of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity, We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.

Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

All you Angels and Saints, may your guidance and example show fallen humanity the way to perfect joy and freedom and peace found only in unity with God in obedience to His will through salvation in Christ Jesus; and may your constant prayers be joined by those of all the little children whose precious lives are ended by abortion -- the "slaughtered innocents" -- as a "cloud of witnesses" interceding for sinful man.

God of power and mercy, maker and love of peace, to know you is to live, and to serve you is to reign. Through the intercession of St. Michael, the archangel, be our protection in battle against all evil. Help us to overcome violence against the dignity of human life and to establish your law of love and justice. Amen.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Extra Omnes!

Thirty years ago, on October 14, 1978, the cardinal electors processed into the Sistine Chapel and thus began the Conclave of October 1978 to select a new Successor of Peter, following the sudden and tragic death of Pope John Paul the First.

Among the papabili (likely candidates to be pope), were Giuseppe Cardinal Siri of Genoa, Corrado Cardinal Ursi of Naples, Giovanni Cardinal Benelli of Florence, and Salvatore Pappalardo of Sicily. Press accounts noted that various non-Italian longshots (no non-Italian had become pope since 1523) included Johannes Willebrands of The Netherlands, Eduardo Pironio of Argentina, Paulo Evaristo Arns of Brazil, George Basil Hume of Britain, and Karol Wojtyla from Communist Poland.

No votes were held the first day.

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

Father, the Holy Innocents offered you praise by the death they suffered for Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

O God, creator and lover of the human family, You remained with St. Gianna Beretta Molla when she painfully had to choose between her life and the life of the child she was expecting, a long-awaited gift. Trusting You alone and aware of your commandment to respect human life, St. Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say “yes” to her baby’s life, thus generously giving her own.

Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of St. Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the seeds of a new life. Help us all to have great respect for human life. Grant us the grace we seek and the joy to find an inspiration in St. Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others. Amen.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Litany of Our Lady for Life - 40 Days for Life

Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings. Look upon us with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. We come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession.

Our loving Mother, obtain our request for all those afflicted by abortion --
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of Christians; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, source of love; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the poor; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the handicapped; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of orphans; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all children; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all nations; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the Church; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, friend of the lonely; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of those who mourn; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, shelter of the homeless; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, guide of travelers; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, strength of the weak; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, refuge of sinners; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of the suffering; ** Pray for them
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the dying; ** Pray for them

Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent! Receive our gratitude, and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of heaven and enable them to make our peace with God. Amen.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, upon the vast numbers of the poor whose lives are made difficult, upon the vast numbers of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, upon the vast numbers of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Amen.


Friday, October 10, 2008

CCD Class Five Readings

First Reading -- Hos. 6:1-6. [The people cry,] "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
[The Lord says,] "What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Second Reading -- 1 Cor. 13:1-13. If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Third Reading -- Mt. 25:31-46. Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Salvation History and Jesus Christ -- CCD Class Five

Salvation History (CCC 50-73)

In Love and in Truth, God created “man,” male and female, in His image. Love is not truly love if it is not freely given, and love does not force itself or impose itself upon the other. As such, God gave us free will, which includes the ability to freely choose to return God’s love, or the freedom to reject Him and live our lives apart from Him.

The book of Genesis informs us that man used that freedom, not to embrace love and truth, but to turn away from love and truth, erroneously believing that we did not need God and, indeed, that we could be gods ourselves, with an ability to choose our own truth and own concepts of good and evil. In turning against love and truth in this way, man necessarily severed the relationship between mankind and God, who is Love and Truth, and so corrupted human nature that our ability to love and to reason and discern good from evil is impaired. In opposing God, who is Life, man necessarily brought death upon himself.

The result of this Original Sin is that a wide gulf of separation between God and humanity was created, a gulf so great that man is incapable of crossing it on his own. To be sure, following the Fall and expulsion of man from the Garden, mankind even began to lose knowledge of God. And not only are proper relationships between mankind and God severed, but proper relationships between human beings themselves are estranged, so that, instead of living a life of love and truth toward others, mankind has lived a life of selfish self-gratification and exploitation of others; instead of harmony, there is discord.

Now God, who is Divine Mercy, knew this rupture would happen, and the Church was prefigured in many ways throughout history. God knew that His covenant of love with Adam would be broken, and He already had a plan for reconciliation. This process of God calling humanity back to Himself is called “salvation history.” God did not abandon His creation, but sustains it and has even physically entered into its history. This history of salvation, which recounts the words and marvels of God, what He has done, continues to do and will do in the future, is organized in reference to and converges upon Jesus Christ. The structure of salvation history, of which creation and eschatology are its beginning and its end, includes the events in the Old Testament, by which God progressively prepared mankind for the Gospel, the life of Jesus, who brings Revelation to completion, and the history of the Church.

The first process of God calling humanity to Himself is, of course, creation itself, with God breathing his Holy Spirit into us to give us life, and man, male and female, being made in God’s image and likeness, thereby imprinting upon our very being a desire for God. Upon the Fall, in Genesis 3:15, in a passage known as the proto-evangelium, God tells the serpent who had tempted Eve in the Garden that her offspring would strike at his head, thereby foreshadowing the deliverance of mankind by Jesus Christ, who would demonstrate the serious nature of sin, and the high cost of redemption, by taking man’s sins upon Himself and dying on the Cross.

After man had forgotten God, the plan of redemption was to establish a relationship with a specific people and develop them so that they could learn to know God and live according to his will of love and truth. In progressive fashion over time, God revealed Himself to a greater and greater degree while also forming covenants with certain people.

God first established a covenant with Noah. During a time of great evil, the righteous Noah and his family were granted salvation by obeying God’s instruction to build an ark before the waters of the Flood came to wash away sin. Thus, as with Christ and His Church, through one man and the ark, the whole family of the faithful were saved from death and destruction at the end of the world.

God next established the great covenant with Abraham to set apart a people to be His own. To show that He was not merely the god of a particular place, as was believed to be the case by the polytheists of the time, but that He is the One God who is Lord everywhere, God told Abraham (then called Abram) to leave his home in Ur (present day southern Iraq) and go to a far land, Canaan (present day Israel), which would be given to him and his descendents. To demonstrate this covenant with Abraham and his descendents, the sign of the covenant, circumcision, was made on the instrument of procreation. Through these chosen people, God would bring salvation to all mankind.

At this time in human history, not only was polytheism widely practiced, but human sacrifice was a part of some of those religions. In order for Abraham (and we) to fully understand the gravity of the situation, and so that he could prove (to himself) that he had total faith in the Lord, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, God followed the expectations of the times and told Abraham to sacrifice him, which Abraham dutifully prepared to do. However, God does not, in fact, desire human sacrifice; He desires mercy and a loving heart (Hos. 6:6). And in order to graphically demonstrate that as well, He had Abraham proceed to the brink of sacrificing Isaac only so that He could then stop him. Neither Abraham nor any other member of mankind would be asked for such a sacrifice. Instead, as Abraham told Isaac, God Himself would provide for the sacrifice.

The covenant was renewed with Jacob, also called Israel. When Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and Joseph was then unjustly thrown into prison, God demonstrated His providence by bringing good out of evil. Joseph was later freed from prison and given a powerful position in Egypt, where he was able to save his family from famine. Thus, as with Christ, one innocent man suffered to bring life to God’s people.

In time, though, the people of Israel fell into slavery, so God revealed Himself to Moses, who would lead them out of bondage in Egypt, and they were saved from death by the blood of the Passover lamb, just as we are led out of the bondage of sin and death by the Paschal Lamb, who is Jesus Christ. And to help them know what He had already written on their hearts, God gave them the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law, reduced to physical written form and kept within the Ark of the Covenant. But still, the people chose to wander in the desert, and that has been the history of man throughout the ages. Nevertheless, God continued to protect His people, even providing them manna and water by which to survive.

Eventually, the people settled in Canaan, to be ruled for a period by military leaders known as “judges.” When they desired a king, God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul, who was succeeded by David. God established a covenant with David, saying that his descendent (the Messiah) would reign as King forever. David’s son Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem, but the kingdom was soon thereafter divided in two.

Meanwhile, various enemies and invaders threatened Israel, just as the Canaanites and Philistines had done previously. The Assyrians, Babylonians, and Macedonians all imposed their military might upon Israel. The land was conquered, many people were carried off into slavery and exile, and outsiders moved in, resulting in intermarriage amongst those who stayed behind. Eventually, however, the people would be restored.

This cycle of events occurred over and over in the history of the people of Israel – The people would rebel by falling into sin and God would allow them to suffer the consequences, such as by being conquered by their enemies. The people then cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness, so the Lord has compassion and forgives. Despite their repeated infidelities, God did not abandon them, but remained ever faithful to His people, so as to continue to prepare them for salvation.

During the unfaithful times, prophets arose, and God in various ways called the people to return to Him. During exile in Babylon, the messianic prophecies of Isaiah told of the Spirit of the Lord resting upon a descendent of David, a suffering servant who would endure pain, hardship, and even death for the sake of the people. In the book of Daniel, it is revealed that One would come like a “son of man” on the clouds of heaven to defeat the beasts of evil, and he would receive everlasting dominion and glory in a kingdom of salvation.

The prophets Jeremiah and Joel also told of God establishing a New Covenant, which would fulfill and exceed the old covenant, and would include the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon all mankind. Unlike the old covenants, He would write His law of love and truth on the hearts of the people. They would know Him and, from the least to the greatest, He would forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.

Upon the return from the Babylonian exile, the people of Israel found their land heavily influenced by Greeks and other foreigners. In time, those foreigners included the Romans, who conquered the area they called Palestine and installed Herod to rule as king.

It was then that God chose to bring salvation history to its culmination. A simple and humble girl was conceived immaculately, in the fullness of grace, without the stain of that Original Sin. In effect, in an image of God’s intended relationship with mankind, God proposed marriage to the human race. This young girl, Mary, was like a new Eve, and she accepted that proposal, saying “yes, let it be done” to her as God willed, when an angel announced to her that she would bear the Savior (Lk.1:26-45). Thus, we proclaim that Mary is the Theotókos, the Mother of God. Just as the first Eve was formed out of the first Adam, so Jesus, Son of God and the new Adam, was formed out of the new Eve, flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone.

God literally merged into mankind, becoming small, defenseless, and vulnerable while dwelling within Mary’s womb, in the most intimate of relationships. To be sure, to show that such an intimate relationship was not meant to be Mary's alone, to show that all the faithful are called to intimately receive Him into our own bodies, the newborn Jesus was placed in a manger. As with the straw that was food for the animals, so too Jesus is shown to be food for us. And Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, by becoming His mother, became our mother too, and the Mother of the Church. As our Mother, like at Cana when the wine ran out, Mary is sensitive and attentive to our needs, and she intercedes and asks her Son to provide for us. (Jn. 2:1-5)

The preparation of mankind for the coming of the Redeemer was completed by John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, who leapt for joy and was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary visited his mother Elizabeth. The Baptist proclaimed to the world that the long period of expectancy was over. The Christ (Messiah) was at hand. But the One anointed by God would not be as men expected, a military ruler, but the lowly suffering servant and Lamb of God, who would be the sacrifice provided by God to atone for man’s sins and, thus, redeem mankind.

Jesus Christ – God become man (CCC 422-682)

Just as the question of whether or not God exists is unavoidable, so too are the questions of who is Jesus? What is Jesus?

At His trial, Jesus was asked if He is the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One? In response, Jesus echoed the words of God in telling Moses His name, “I am.” (Mk 14:53-64) On other occasions, Jesus similarly declared “I am.” (e.g. Jn. 8:58)

With these words, there are only three possibilities -- either
(1) Jesus was rightfully condemned as a criminal for committing blasphemy by wrongfully taking the Lord’s name in vain and equating Himself with God;
(2) Jesus was delusional and insane, thereby mitigating His alleged blasphemy; or
(3) He is, in fact, the “I am,” that is, God.

Faith informs us that Jesus is the Christ, which is Greek for “the anointed one,” the one anointed by God. Jesus is the Son of God – God Himself – the Word (Logos) made flesh through whom the world was made. He is not only God in a spiritual sense, He is God incarnate, God become man. Fully God, yet fully human, united in one. He is one divine person with two complete natures, both human and divine, and two wills, with fully human freedom. Like us in all ways except for sin. He is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” (Mt. 2:23) He is not merely a pleasant story, he is not merely a nice philosophical idea, but an actual historical event. He is God entering into time and taking tangible physical and bodily form. And, as fully man, Jesus knows fully our human pain, suffering, fear, anguish, and sadness.

Why did He do this? One reason He did this is because God is Love.
(a) Because He loves us, as the name Emmanuel suggests, He wanted to be “with us,” like us, and among us – not only at a single point in time, but always and forever.
(b) He wanted to teach us, to give us a deposit of faith, and be a Light for us -- the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
(c) He wanted to “save” us -- to redeem us and repair the rift. Indeed, the Greek name “Jesus” (Yeshua or Joshua in Hebrew) means “God saves.” As the Son, consubstantial with the Father, Jesus wanted to reconcile Fallen Man to God, to bridge the gap that man had created and reunite us. Jesus is the culmination of salvation history.
(d) He wanted to sanctify us, to make us sharers in His divinity. Jesus assumed our nature so that He, made man, might make men gods.

The Transfiguration, which gave the Apostles a glimpse of His glorification, shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. And after fully revealing God’s love and truth, Jesus, the Son of God, gave us the grace of salvation and eternal life by becoming the spotless lamb who was sacrificed for sins, and whose blood would be sprinkled so that death would pass over, and we would be led from the bondage of sin and death to freedom and life. He is the innocent righteous man, the suffering servant, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord has descended, who is pierced for our iniquities, and who pays the ransom with His own life. By the transformative power of His love on the Cross and His resurrection, Jesus, the Son of Man, has defeated suffering and death and established His kingdom of salvation.

Because God transcends time and space, for Him specific points in time continue to exist forever. The Passion and Crucifixion were not isolated events in some distant past. Rather, His sacrifice is an on-going event. He is not crucified again and again, but is one sacrifice. He is perpetually being scourged, eternally on the Cross. Every sin of ours is another lash on His flesh, it is another pound of the hammer, driving nails deeper into His hands.

At the same time, to be one with Jesus means to be one with Him on the Cross. Although Jesus is fully man, and thus suffered greatly, He is also united with the Father of Love -- as He calls us all to be, and as we all can be -- and so that fully human and excruciating pain and suffering are transformed and overcome, and therefore made bearable. Through the Cross, even death is overcome, and He makes all things new. By uniting our sufferings with His, by offering them up to Him on the Cross, they obtain redemptive meaning. The martyrs could truly smile in joy amidst the flames and beasts that tore at their bodies because they too were one with Him, and so their agonies were transformed by love.

God’s plan for man does not stop at his redemption and salvation, that is, reconciling man to God, but continues toward our sanctification, that is, making men more like God. Jesus calls us to be holy and perfect in love and truth, just as His Father in heaven is perfect. He calls us to be true to the purpose for which we are made, to love and be loved in truth. Jesus, who is Divine Mercy, calls us to love God and love one another as Jesus has loved us, including extending forgiveness and mercy to others. And to help us attain that perfection, to help us love in truth, Jesus, promising to be with us always, to the end of the age, has established His Church and sent us His Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

Lord Jesus Christ, You took our human nature upon Yourself. You shared our life and death, our childhood and adulthood. You also shared our time in the womb. Lord, we ask You to bless and protect the children who today are in their mothers' womb. Save them from the danger of abortion. Give their mothers the grace to see the inherent worth of their children. Help all people to recognize in the unborn child a brother, a sister, saved by You, our Redeemer in the womb. Amen.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

O God, our Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son into this world that He might bless and consecrate all life to You. Your constant love protected Him as the ever Virgin Mary bore Him in her womb for nine months.

In His mission, He taught us the greatness of Your love and the sanctity of life. We pray that we may always cherish the life that You give us. In a special way we ask and pray that You grace and protect all unborn children with Your ever caring Love. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who is Lord, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Word is the True Reality

Address of Pope Benedict XVI
2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God

October 6, 2008

A passage from Psalm 118(119) begins like this: “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth.”

This refers to the solidity of the Word. It is solid, it is the true reality on which one must base one's life. Let us remember the words of Jesus who continues the words of this Psalm: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away". Humanly speaking, the word, my human word, is almost nothing in reality, a breath. As soon as it is pronounced it disappears. It seems to be nothing. But already the human word has incredible power. Words create history, words form thoughts, the thoughts that create the word. It is the word that forms history, reality.

Furthermore, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one's life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand.

Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. The realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life.

The following verse says: “all things serve you.” All things come from the Word, they are products of the Word. "In the beginning was the Word". In the beginning the heavens spoke. And thus reality was born of the Word, it is "creatura Verbi". All is created from the Word and all is called to serve the Word. This means that all of creation, in the end, is conceived of to create the place of encounter between God and his creature, a place where the history of love between God and his creature can develop.

“All things serve you.” The history of salvation is not a small event, on a poor planet, in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing which happens by chance on a lost planet. It is the motive for everything, the motive for creation. Everything is created so that this story can exist, the encounter between God and his creature. In this sense, salvation history, the Covenant, precedes creation. * * *

Christ is the protòtypos, the first-born of creation, the idea for which the universe was conceived. He welcomes all. We enter in the movement of the universe by uniting with Christ. “All things serve you.” In serving the Lord we achieve the purpose of being, the purpose of our own existence. * * *

At the end: “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.” All human things, all the things we can invent, create, are finite. Even all human religious experiences are finite, showing an aspect of reality, because our being is finite and can only understand a part, some elements: “your commands are boundless.” Only God is infinite. And therefore His Word too is universal and knows no boundaries.

Thus, by entering into the Word of God we really enter into the divine universe. We escape the limits of our experience and we enter into the reality that is truly universal. Entering into communion with the Word of God, we enter a communion of the Church that lives the Word of God. We do not enter into a small group, with the rules of a small group, but we go beyond our limitations. We go towards the depths, in the true grandeur of the only truth, the great truth of God. We are truly a part of what is universal. And thus we go out into the communion of all our brothers and sisters, of all humanity, because the desire for the Word of God, which is one, is hidden in our heart.

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

Oh God, who is the Beginning and the End, hear our prayers, as we cry out to you, to end the merciless shedding of innocent blood in our nation and throughout the world. Through death you have conquered death and through your life we experience eternal and everlasting life.

Cause life to spring forth in the hearts of all people and bring forth a love and respect for life that will dominate our culture. May your kingdom and church apprehend and overtake the culture of death that has prevailed through deceit and selfishness; may the Seed of the woman crush the head of the serpent through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Word Must be the Center of Life

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God

October 5, 2008

If we look at history, we are often obliged to register the coldness and rebellion of inconsistent Christians. As a result of this, although God never failed to keep his promise of salvation, he often had to resort to punishment. In this context it comes naturally to think of the first proclamation of the Gospel from which sprang Christian communities that initially flourished but then disappeared and today are remembered only in history books.

Might not the same thing happen in our time? Nations once rich in faith and vocations are now losing their identity under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture. There are some who, having decided that "God is dead," declare themselves to be "god," considering themselves the only architect of their own destiny, the absolute owner of the world. By ridding himself of God and not expecting salvation from him, man believes he can do as he pleases and that he can make himself the sole judge of himself and his actions. However, when man eliminates God from his horizon, declares God "dead," is he really happy? Does he really become freer? When men proclaim themselves the absolute proprietors of themselves and the sole masters of creation, can they truly build a society where freedom, justice and peace prevail? Does it not happen instead - as the daily news amply illustrates - that arbitrary power, selfish interests, injustice and exploitation and violence in all its forms are extended? In the end, man reaches the point of finding himself lonelier and society is more divided and bewildered. * * *

The comforting message that we gather from these biblical texts is the certainty that evil and death do not have the last word, but that it is Christ who wins in the end. Always! The Church never tires of proclaiming this Good News. * * *

When God speaks, he always asks for a response. His saving action demands human cooperation; his love must be reciprocated. Dear brothers and sisters, may what the biblical text recounts about the vineyard never occur: "[he] looked for it to yield grapes but it yielded wild grapes" (Is 5:2). The Word of God alone can profoundly change man's heart so it is important that individual believers and communities enter into ever increasing intimacy with his Word. * * *

To draw nourishment from the Word of God is [the Church’s] first and fundamental task. In fact, if the Gospel proclamation is her raison d'être and mission, it is indispensable that the Church know and live what she proclaims, so that her preaching may be credible despite the weaknesses and poverty of the people of whom she is comprised. We know, furthermore, that the proclamation of the Word, at the school of Christ, has the Kingdom of God as its content (cf. Mk 1: 14-15), but the Kingdom of God is the very person of Jesus who, with his words and actions, offers salvation to people of every epoch. * * *

"The harvest is plentiful" (Mt 9: 37) the Divine Teacher still repeats today: so many still do not know him and are awaiting the first proclamation of his Gospel; others, although they received a Christian formation, have become less enthusiastic and retain only a superficial contact with God's Word; yet others have drifted away from the practice of the faith and need a new evangelization. Then there are plenty of people of right understanding who ask themselves essential questions about the meaning of life and death, questions to which only Christ can give satisfactory answers. It is, therefore, becoming indispensable for Christians on every continent to be ready to reply to those who ask them to account for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3: 15), joyfully proclaiming the Word of God and living the Gospel without compromises.

Venerable and dear Brothers . . . we all know how necessary it is to make the Word of God the center of our lives, to welcome Christ as our one Redeemer, as the Kingdom of God in person, to ensure that his light may enlighten every context of humanity: from the family to the school, to culture, to work, to free time and to the other sectors of society and of our life. * * *

May the Lord grant that we approach with faith the two-fold banquet of the Body and Blood of Christ. May Mary Most Holy, who "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2: 19) obtain this for us. May she teach us to listen to the Scriptures and meditate upon them in an inner process of maturation that never separates the mind from the heart. May the Saints come to our aid, and in particular the Apostle Paul, whom during this year we are increasingly discovering as an undaunted witness and herald of God's Word. Amen!

Litany for Life - 40 Days for Life

Lord, have mercy. ** Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. ** Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. ** Lord, have mercy.

God of all creation, ** Lord, have mercy.
Christ, through whom all things were made, ** Lord, have mercy.
Spirit of life and truth, ** Lord, have mercy.
On each child just conceived, ** Lord, have mercy.
For their safety and health, ** Lord, have mercy.
For nine months of growth, ** Lord, have mercy.
That an angel may protect them, ** Lord, have mercy.
For peace and for hope, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all new fathers, ** Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who are alone, ** Lord, have mercy.
On young fathers who are afraid, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all new mothers, ** Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are alone, ** Lord, have mercy.
On young mothers who are afraid, ** Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are in pain, ** Lord, have mercy.
On those who defend life, ** Lord, have mercy.
On those who love the child in the womb, ** Lord, have mercy.
On those who pray for the unborn child, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who work to change unjust laws, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who live the Gospel of Life, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who work for life, ** Lord, have mercy.
On doctors of life and of truth, ** Lord, have mercy.
On doctors who gaze on life's mysteries, ** Lord, have mercy.
On physicians who see into the womb, ** Lord, have mercy.
On surgeons who heal the unborn child, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who defend the child in the womb, ** Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who love little babies, ** Lord, have mercy.
On nursing students, ** Lord, have mercy.
On those who first hear the heartbeat, ** Lord, have mercy.
On those who first feel a kick, ** Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who cradle the newborn, ** Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who foster the unborn, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who protect defenseless life, Lord, have mercy.
On all victims of abortion, ** Lord, have mercy.
On the woman whose memories cause her to cry, ** Lord, have mercy.
On the unborn who rest with God, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek mercy, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek peace, ** Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek healing, and mercy and perfect peace, ** Lord, have mercy.

Lord, You breathed life into Adam, ** Lord, you give us life!
You formed Eve from flesh, ** Lord, you give us life!
You heard the cry of innocent blood, ** Lord, you give us life!
You spared the life of Cain, ** Lord, you give us life!
You saved Noah from the flood, ** Lord, you give us life!
You filled Sarah's barren womb, ** Lord, you give us life!
You gave Abraham a son, ** Lord, you give us life!
You preserved the life of Jacob, ** Lord, you give us life!
You place before us life and death, ** Lord, you give us life!
You restore lost life, ** Lord, you give us life!
You nourish the aged and weak, ** Lord, you give us life!
You delivered Saul from David, ** Lord, you give us life!
You redeemed the life of David, ** Lord, you give us life!
You gave Solomon length of days, ** Lord, you give us life!
You raised the child by Elijah's cry, ** Lord, you give us life!
You are the Life that is the light of men, ** Lord, you give us life!
You are the bread of Life, ** Lord, you give us life!
You have the words of eternal life, ** Lord, you give us life!
You are the resurrection and the life, ** Lord, you give us life!
You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, ** Lord, you give us life!

Let us pray:
Almighty Father, give us courage to proclaim the supreme dignity of all human life and to demand that society itself give its protection. We ask this in your name, through the redemptive act of your Son and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Prayer for Life - 40 Days for Life

Loving God, we thank you for the gift of life you gave and continue to give to us.

Merciful God, I ask your pardon and forgiveness for my own failure and the failure of all people to respect and foster all human life.

Gracious God, we pray that with your grace, we and all people will reverence, protect, and promote all life and that we will be especially sensitive to the life of the unborn, the abused, neglected, disabled, and the elderly. We pray, too, that all who make decisions about life in any form will do so with wisdom, love, and courage.

Living God, We praise and glorify you as Father, Source of all life, as Son, Savior of our lives, and as Spirit, Sanctifier of our lives. Amen.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Sin – Original and Actual, Mortal and Venial
CCD Class Four

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Sin --

75. What was the first human sin?
When tempted by the devil, the first man and woman allowed trust in their Creator to die in their hearts. In their disobedience they wished to become “like God” but without God and not in accordance with God (Genesis 3:5). Thus, Adam and Eve immediately lost for themselves and for all their descendants the original grace of holiness and justice.

76. What is original sin?
Original sin, in which all human beings are born, is the state of deprivation of original holiness and justice. It is a sin “contracted” by us not “committed”; it is a state of birth and not a personal act. Because of the original unity of all human beings, it is transmitted to the descendants of Adam “not by imitation, but by propagation”. This transmission remains a mystery which we cannot fully understand

77. What other consequences derive from original sin?
In consequence of original sin human nature, without being totally corrupted, is wounded in its natural powers. It is subject to ignorance, to suffering, and to the dominion of death and is inclined toward sin. This inclination is called concupiscence.

392. What is sin?
Sin is “a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law” (Saint Augustine). It is an offense against God in disobedience to his love. It wounds human nature and injures human solidarity. Christ in his passion fully revealed the seriousness of sin and overcame it with his mercy.

393. Is there a variety of sins?
There are a great many kinds of sins. They can be distinguished according to their object or according to the virtues or commandments which they violate. They can directly concern God, neighbor, or ourselves. They can also be divided into sins of thought, of word, of deed, or of omission.

394. How are sins distinguished according to their gravity?
A distinction is made between mortal and venial sin.

395. When does one commit a mortal sin?
One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

396. When does one commit a venial sin?
One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

397. How does sin proliferate?
Sin creates a proclivity to sin ; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts.

The Baltimore Catechism on Sin --

274. How is sin divided?
(1) Sin is divided into the sin we inherit called original sin, and the sin we commit ourselves, called actual sin. (2) Actual sin is subdivided into greater sins, called mortal, and lesser sins, called venial.

Original Sin

265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?
The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.

266. Why is this sin called original?
This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.

253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?
We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.

258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?
The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.

259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?
Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.

260. What do we mean by "our nature was corrupted"?
When we say "our nature was corrupted" we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.

261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?
We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.

262. Why do we say our will was weakened?
We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam's sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.

263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?
This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.

264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?
This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.

Actual (Individual) Sin

275. In how many ways may actual sin be committed?
Actual sin may be committed in two ways: namely, by willfully doing things forbidden, or by willfully neglecting things commanded.

276. What is our sin called when we neglect things commanded?
When we neglect things commanded our sin is called a sin of omission. Such sins as willfully neglecting to hear Mass on Sundays, or neglecting to go to Confession at least once a year, are sins of omission.

278. What is actual sin?
Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the law of God.

279. How many kinds of actual sin are there?
There are two kinds of actual sin -- mortal and venial.

280. What is mortal sin?
Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.

281. Why is this sin called mortal?
This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life, which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation on the soul.

282. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?
To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

283. What do we mean by "grievous matter" with regard to sin?
By "grievous matter" with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.

284. What does "sufficient reflection and full consent of the will" mean?
"Sufficient reflection" means that we must know the thought, word or deed to be sinful at the time we are guilty of it; and "full consent of the will" means that we must fully and willfully yield to it.

285. What are sins committed without reflection or consent called?
Sins committed without reflection or consent are called material sins; that is, they would be formal or real sins if we knew their sinfulness at the time we committed them. Thus to eat flesh meat on a day of abstinence without knowing it to be a day of abstinence or without thinking of the prohibition, would be a material sin.

286. Do past material sins become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness?
Past material sins do not become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness, unless we again repeat them with full knowledge and consent.

287. How can we know what sins are considered mortal?
We can know what sins are considered mortal from Holy Scripture; from the teaching of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

288. Why is it wrong to judge others guilty of sin?
It is wrong to judge others guilty of sin because we cannot know for certain that their sinful act was committed with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

289. What sin does he commit who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin?
He who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin commits a sin of rash judgment.

290. What is venial sin?
Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.
291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?
No. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin, and in such cases we must leave the decision to our confessor.

292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?
Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.

293. Which are the effects of venial sin?
The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin.

294. How can we know a thought, word or deed to be sinful?
We can know a thought, word or deed to be sinful if it, or the neglect of it, is forbidden by any law of God or of His Church, or if it is opposed to any supernatural virtue.