Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost: What Really Happened?

As I wrote at the Washington Post two minutes after the show ended:

The Island was NOT Purgatory (as the writers said all along), but the Sideways World of the sixth season was a quasi-purgatory, an artificial construct that acted as a kind of waiting room. The Post has for some reason deleted the initial comments by me and others, but here are the others that are still up --

Everything that happened, happened (in the regular world, not in the Sideways Reality). Whoever survived the crash, survived the crash. But they were all dead at the end.

Boone died from the falling plane. Shannon was shot. Charlie drowned. Jack was knifed at the end.

Those that were alive at the end of tonight went on to live their lives, and they died whenever they died.

The Island was NOT purgatory, but the Sideways Reality WAS a kind of waiting room between death and the "next step," which we saw as the bright light when Christian opened the door. The Sideways Reality was an artificial construct, which did NOT take place in 2004, as we had supposed, but was timeless, it existed outside of time. It was a construct, as Christian said, so that, after their individual deaths, whenever they happened, they could "find" themselves.


If you are confused --

Ignore the Sideways Reality aspect for the moment. Just concentrate on the Island Reality and the mythology, etc. All of that happened. Exactly the way we saw, for all the reasons we saw -- to keep evil at bay and to protect "the light."

What we did not see was Hugo's long reign as "Jacob," which apparently he did very well, according to Ben.

All of that happened.

Now turning to the Sideways Reality -- that did NOT happen. It was artificial, and it happened after they had all died. Some died in 2004, some died in 2007, some died in 1977, perhaps some died 50 years from now. Perhaps Hugo and Ben went on to guard the Island for another 1000 years. But the Sideways Reality did NOT exist in parallel to the Island Reality, as we had supposed.


"Everyone dies." And all the characters died. But they did not all die during the course of the show. Some went on to live and died years from now.

What did James and Kate and Lapidus and Miles and Richard and Claire do in the interim? Who knows? Room enough there for a movie though.


For those who don't know about it, Jorge Garcia (Hurley) has had a Lost blog for a while now --

Go say "thanks" to him.


Beyond the "what really happened" questions, I have to say, even though Jack did redeem himself to a large extent (and he needed redeeming after his arrogant hubris did nothing except mostly get people killed), Hugo will make a MUCH better Jacob than Jack would have.

Hurley was always the most good-hearted person on the show.


(In response to the complaints of some that presumed that the writers killed off Aaron as a baby) -- just because Aaron appears in the church as a baby does not mean that he did not go and live to be 90 years old.

Eternity is timeless, which means that all moments in linear time exist simultaneously AND all individual moments exist in perpetuity. (If you wanted a Christian example, Jesus did not simply die on the Cross 2000 years ago, rather, He is on the Cross, from His perspective, right now.)

When did Lapidus and Miles and James and Kate and Claire and Desmond and (yes) Richard die? Who knows? If we did not see them die, then they haven't died yet, they die sometime after the end of the story.


**why did Sayid end up with Shannon after loving Nadia for so many years?**

He didn't "end up" with her. The only purpose that Shannon served was to connect Sayid back to the 815/Island people. She was his "constant," who allowed his dead consciousness to remember and for Hugo to tell him that, although he had done some really bad things, he was deep down a good guy.

The church scene does not mean that they all stayed together as a group, happily ever after. Rather, they eventually all "went into the light," where Sayid quite likely met up with Nadia - the real Nadia, and not the artificial one of the constructed Sideways World.


The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to think that Hurley was there for a VERY long time.

As the new Jacob, his purpose was to protect the light, and so long as the light was protected, he would continue to live to do the job (Jacob appears to have been over 2000 years old). Thus, so long as the Island was not threatened, and without having to keep MIB/Smoke Monster imprisoned there, since he was dead, Hurley would just keep on rolling.

Without MIB/SM in the picture, I can see how it would be a lot easier to protect the Island/light from outside threats, such that Hurley might have been the Protector until the end of the world, which might be in 2012 or in another 10,000 years. And if the latter, then the church scene, from a worldly linear time perspective, will not take place until 10,000 years into the future.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preparation for Adult Confirmation 2010:
Class Four

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
Preparation for Adult Confirmation

Class Outline for May 8, 2010

IV. The Holy Spirit and the Universal Call to Holiness
– our Heavenly Father and Jesus both call us to holiness, to be perfect, but God does not tell us to do something and then not give us the power to do it

A. The Holy Spirit – the Lord, the Giver of Life

1. Who and What is the Holy Spirit?
    (a) The Third Person of the Trinity
  • Spirit of Love and Truth in Person who proceeds from and between the Father and the Son
  • called “Holy” because He consecrates and sanctifies
  • the Holy Spirit first gives us life, then through His grace, even though He is the last of the persons of the Trinity to be revealed, He is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life with and in God
  • He is the Spirit of the New Covenant who, as promised by the Father, is poured out on mankind – the New Covenant is (i) a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; (ii) a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; and (iii) a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity
  • He is the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete promised by Jesus to guide and protect His Church
  • the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son from the Father
  • although the Holy Spirit was not poured out on mankind until Pentecost, He has been at work from the beginning, including speaking through the Prophets
    (b) Titles of the Holy Spirit
  • Lord, the Giver of Life
  • Sanctifier
  • Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Love
  • Paraclete, a Greek word which means advocate, counselor, comforter

2. Symbols and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit or His presence
  • water, which cleanses and both destroys and maintains life – water is sprinkled in Ezekiel and Psalms to purify God’s people; the water of Baptism, recalling the Flood and Red Sea, making us dead to sin and reborn to new life; and the living water that springs from the side of the Crucified Jesus
  • fire, which transforms, purges, and purifies – the burning bush; fire on Mt. Sinai; column of fire at the exodus from Egypt; tongues as of fire descending at Pentecost
  • dove – at the end of the Flood, a dove is released by Noah; at His Baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, thereby anointing Him and consecrating Him in His humanity
  • breath and wind – the word "Spirit" is from the Hebrew word ruah and the Latin word pneuma, which means breath, air, wind – at Creation, a mighty wind swept over the waters; God gave man life by breathing into him; Jesus breathed on the Apostles; at Pentecost, there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind
  • cloud – reveals the presence of God in the Old Testament; a cloud overshadows the mountain of the Transfiguration; Jesus ascends to heaven on a cloud
  • hands and fingers – the law is written on tablets of stone and human hearts by the finger of God; Jesus heals by laying on of hands; the Apostles and their successors confer the Sacraments by imposition of hands; the priest at Mass holds his hands over the bread and wine
  • chrism (anointing oil) – a symbol of consecration, dedication to God, and sanctification

3. The Actions and Mission of the Holy Spirit
  • the Spirit gives life and grace, including the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are permanent supernatural qualities that are given so that the faithful might bear the fruit of the Spirit
  • as the Spirit of Love, He restores to the baptized the divine likeness that was lost through sin and gives them a rebirth into the Church – “Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God ‘Father’ and to share in Christ's grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.” – St. Basil, De Spiritu Sanctu
  • the Spirit acts to convince the world concerning sin
  • the Spirit builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church – He inspired the human writers of the scriptures; He inspired the oral teachings (Tradition) of the Church; He guides and protects the Church from doctrinal error throughout history; He is the principal agent of the Church’s mission of evangelization
  • the Spirit is communicated by Christ through the Sacraments
  • the Holy Spirit is the agent of the Confirmation duty of the faithful to be a witness for Christ and to serve the Church in her mission

4. The Holy Spirit and Grace
  • Jesus says to be holy and perfect, to be true to our being man and woman made in the image and likeness of God, as He originally intended, and so that we imperfect humans might be able to be perfect, He gives us the grace of the Holy Spirit
  • justification by the grace of the Holy Spirit is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior person
  • grace is the Spirit poured into our hearts – it is a form of divine favor, assistance, help, or power so that we are able to be or do or attain something
  • all grace is completely gratuitous, a gift that is not earned by us or demanded as of right, but given to us by God as a matter of love and truth
  • the types of graces include (i) sanctifying (or habitual) grace, which purifies and perfects the state of the soul and provides a stable and supernatural disposition to live in holiness and attain salvation; (ii) sacramental graces, the various gifts that are proper to the different sacraments; (iii) special graces, also called charisms; and (iv) actual grace, the transient everyday forms of help to act in a given situation
  • the quintessential models of grace and righteousness are the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, and Joseph

5. The Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and Pentecost
  • fifty days after the Resurrection, at Pentecost, the glorified Jesus Christ poured out the Spirit in abundance and, on that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed
  • the Church was born at Pentecost by virtue of her anointing by the Holy Spirit, and the mission of Jesus and of the Spirit became the mission of the Church
  • what took place in Mary’s womb when the Holy Spirit came upon her at the Annunciation happens again at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the people and the Body of Christ comes into the world
  • by His coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the “last days,” the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated

6. The Unforgiveable Sin – Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
  • “I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” – Mt. 12:31-32
  • God loves us and seeks our love in return, but love, by its very nature, is something that must be freely given and freely received
  • God does not force His love or forgiveness on us, He does not save us against our will or without our consent – “He who made you without your participation does not justify you without your participation. He has made you without your knowledge; He justifies you if you will it.” – St. Augustine
  • the gifts of God’s forgiveness and salvation, like any gift, must be actually accepted, if we refused to accept a gift, it is necessarily not received
  • the refusal or failure to ask for or accept forgiveness for sin – whether out of obstinance, an erroneous belief that God lacks the power to forgive, or from a claim that one has a “right” to persist in sin – is to “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit, and such rejection of God and His forgiveness is, by its very nature, an unforgiveable sin
  • if one refuses to be forgiven, he cannot be forgiven; if one fails to accept the salvation offered to him, he cannot be saved – “The inner rejection of the Holy Spirit is the rejection of the very source of life and holiness.” – Pope John Paul II
  • God does not send anyone to Hell, which is eternal separation from God; rather, we choose it by our own will by not seeking or accepting His merciful love and forgiveness
  • by dying in a state of mortal sin, which separates us from God, one necessarily chooses to be separate from God – to be with Him eternally in Heaven, we must affirmatively choose to return to Him and be restored to a state of grace

B. The Sacrament of Confirmation – the Outpouring of the Spirit as at Pentecost

1. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” - Acts 1:8
  • The Sacrament of Confirmation is probably the least understood sacrament other than Anointing of the Sick, in part because of its breadth, such that its description is not easily reduced to a single phrase, as are the others, but this statement of Jesus from Acts comes as close to summing up Confirmation as we might find in scripture
  • In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as was promised by God the Father in the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31-34; Joel 3:1-5; Ez 36:25-28) and by Jesus in the Gospels (John 14:15-26, 15:26-27, 16:13-14), and as happened to the faithful at Pentecost (Acts 1:8-9, 2:1-33)
  • In the Sacrament, by the visible outward sign of the laying on of hands, anointing, and the words, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the recipient (confirmand) receives the invisible reality of the grace of the Holy Spirit in order to be sanctified and made perfect in love and truth, as our Father in heaven is perfect, including being a better servant and witness for the Son, and joining in the redemptive mission of Christ and His Church
  • Confirmation completes what began at Baptism – making us complete Christians – uniting us more firmly to Christ and binding us more perfectly to the Church
  • By Confirmation, instead of being merely passive members of the Church, we are called to actively participate in the redemptive mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus. Instead of being merely concerned with our own personal welfare and salvation, we are concerned with the welfare and salvation of others, helping Jesus in the work of salvation
2. The Who of Confirmation
  • the Holy Spirit – the Sanctifier and Paraclete promised to us by Jesus
  • the bishop or priest acting in persona Christi
  • the confirmand and sponsor
  • the communion of the entire faithful of the Church
3. The Where of Confirmation
  • in and by the Holy Catholic Church
  • preferably in the Mass, although those in danger of death may be confirmed outside of the Mass
4. The When of Confirmation
  • after Baptism, while the confirmand is still in a state of grace
  • in the Western Latin Church, Confirmation is conferred after the age of discretion and after a period of catechetical preparation (children in danger of death should be confirmed even if not yet at the age of discretion)
  • although Confirmation is received only once, it is not a one-time Sacrament, but is instead an everyday Sacrament – the graces received in Confirmation can and should be used in our everyday lives
5. The How of Confirmation – “the Holy Spirit has come upon you”
  • the minister first extends his hands over the whole group of confirmands (imposition of hands) while invoking the outpouring of the Spirit with prayer
  • the minister anoints the forehead of the confirmand with sacred chrism oil saying, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” while the sponsor lays his or her right hand on the right shoulder of the confirmand
  • the rite is concluded with a sign of peace signifying ecclesial communion with the bishop and all the faithful
  • a gift – any gift – is not completed and is totally useless unless it is accepted by the recipient and then actually used, so that for us to fully benefit from Confirmation, we must allow the Holy Spirit and gift of grace to come into our hearts and grow within us, and then utilize those graces in our everyday lives
6. The What of Confirmation – “you will receive power”
  • In Confirmation, we receive power, that is, certain graces from the Holy Spirit, to help us participate in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus. The recipient of Confirmation is given whatever power (grace) is needed in order to be an effective witness to others on behalf of Christ – the right tool for the job at hand.
    (a) Sacramental Graces
  • alters our very being in a fundamental way by imprinting on the soul an indelible spiritual seal and character, which marks us as belonging to Christ and perfecting us in the common priesthood of the faithful to profess faith in Christ publicly
    (b) Sanctifying Graces
  • an increase and deepening of sanctifying graces completing what began in Baptism and uniting the recipient more firmly to Christ
  • provides the strength, fortitude, and perseverance that are necessary to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ – we are made “soldiers of Christ” in order to fulfill our duty of witnessing to and defending the Faith and fighting against evil
  • the Spirit of Love and Truth dwells within us, even if we do not immediately perceive Him, planting graces in our heart which, if we nourish them, will grow and bear such fruit as to permit us to be perfect and do that which otherwise might be impossible to do on our own
    (c) Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:1-2)
  • wisdom, counsel, knowledge, and understanding
    • wisdom helps us to evaluate things properly; counsel helps us to solve moral problems and choose rightly; knowledge helps us to know truth and perfect our faith; and understanding gives us insight to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary
  • fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord
    • fortitude gives us strength and courage to persevere in the faith and do what is right even in the face of hardship; piety inspires us with a tender and filial confidence in God; and fear of the Lord, far from meaning making us afraid of God, helps us understand His greatness, so as fill us with a reverential awe and concern to avoid being unfaithful to Him
  • the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are specifically intended for the sanctification of the recipient – they are used by Isaiah to describe the Messiah, the Christ, and we too are anointed with them in a special way in Confirmation so as to be made a complete Christian
  • these gifts bring the virtues to perfection and help us share in the life and nature of God
    (d) The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in turn lead to the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • charity, generosity, kindness, gentleness, and patience
  • goodness, faithfulness, chastity, modesty, and self-control
  • joy and peace
  • the fruits of the Holy Spirit have the character of both qualities and acts, they are the effect of grace, but also give us a greater ability to do virtuous acts
    (e) Actual Graces and Virtues
  • grace presupposes nature, it does not replace it – grace builds on and works within our nature to heal, perfect, elevate, and transform it
  • we should strive to do what we can, but whatever may be lacking in our own will or power, God will give by grace to those who ask – “God does not command what is impossible; but when He commands, He exhorts you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot do” – St. Augustine
  • actual grace is granted by God for the performance of specific salutary acts and is present and disappears with the action itself
  • the Spirit of Truth and Love in Confirmation helps us to recognize and know the moral truths that God has written on our hearts and thereby properly form our consciences and overcome temptation to sin
  • a virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good, and the graces of Confirmation strengthen us in living a virtuous life and thereby be a more perfect witness for Christ, including –
    • the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (charity) (1 Cor. 13:13)
    • the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice
    (f) Examples of the Effects of Receiving the Holy Spirit in Confirmation
  • after the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus, the Apostles were afraid to go out in public, but after the Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost, they had the fortitude and perseverance to come out of hiding and immediately go out and loudly proclaim the Good News and even endure persecution and martyrdom
  • prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and other disciples often struggled with understanding the teachings of Jesus, but afterward, they began for fully comprehend what He taught them so that they could faithfully preach the Gospel to the world
  • by the power of the Spirit, the martyrs of the Church, like Saints Lawrence, Polycarp, Perpetua, and Felicity have been able to joyfully accept and endure the suffering of martyrdom for the sake of Christ
  • with God, all things are possible and, with His grace, we can do that which otherwise would be very difficult or impossible for us to do on our own, including the power to –
    • endure and withstand hardship, carry those crosses which are far too heavy for humans to carry, and accept suffering so as to transform it by the love and redemptive power of the Cross
    • love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us
    • forgive those who have committed “unforgiveable” and unspeakable crimes against us
    • love our families, neighbors, and strangers as God loves, truly, perfectly, and fully, without conditions or the selfishness that stems from our fallen nature
    • choose Christ, rather than the world, when we are pressured to do something which is contrary to the Faith or else suffer some sanction, such as the loss of a job

7. The Why of Confirmation – “you will be my witnesses”
  • we receive the anointing and graces of Confirmation in order to fully become a “Christian” and be able to join in the mission of the Church to serve and witness for Christ
  • to be a witness for Jesus means to (i) testify to the truth of the faith and (ii) to share the love of Christ with others
    (a) Testifying to the Truth

  • Testifying to the truth of the faith means, first, learning the deposit of faith and, secondly, spreading that Good News of Jesus Christ to the world – being a light of truth and love in a dark world and making disciples of all nations. (Mt. 28:19)
    (b) The Commandments of Love – Summation of the Whole Law and Prophets (Mt. 22:36-40)
  • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind
    • Jesus asks us for complete and total love, but He will accept a lesser love if that is all we think we can give, and He will offer us the grace to perfect that lesser love to a complete and total love
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself – as Jesus loves us, so too should we love one another
  • love can be “commanded” by God because it has first been given to us by God – the commandment to love is no more than a command to be true to ourselves inasmuch as we are made to love and be loved in truth
    (c) What is Love?
      (i) Types of Love
    • “Fundamentally, ‘love’ is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly” – Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, 8
    • eros – a joyous, passionate, ascending, intimate kind of love, longing to be with the other
    • philia – love between family, close friends
    • agape (caritas) – unconditional, outward-looking, subordinate love that seeks the good of the other and is prepared and willing to sacrifice oneself for the other
    • genuine (true) love is necessarily consistent with truth, including the truth of the other as a human person, and not that counterfeit “love” which seeks to possess, use and/or objectify the other
      (ii) Perfect and Complete Love
    • authentic, pure love involves the whole person, body and soul, and it embraces and transcends the whole of existence in each of its dimensions, including time and space
    • God is Love and God is Truth, so the highest, truest, and most perfect and complete kind of love is God’s love – to love perfectly and truly, we must love as God loves
    • God’s relationship with His chosen people, and Christ’s relationship with His Bride the Church, is repeatedly described in scripture in terms of betrothal and marriage, an elective, personal, monogamous eros-type of love
    • God’s love for mankind, especially as shown by Christ on the Cross, is also described as the unconditional, gratuitous, and sacrificial love of agape (caritas) – “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends”
    • mankind has given God little more than rejection and infidelity throughout history, and yet, He continues to love us fully, completely, and unconditionally – He refuses to stop loving us, even when we torture Him and murder Him
    • “God loves, and His love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape” – Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, 9
    • God’s love is both (a) a purified and supremely ennobled eros, a joyous, wanting, ascending, passionate kind of love, even a spousal/conjugal kind of love, a communion of two become one that is both unitive and fruitful, and (b) agape (caritas), a conscious, everlasting, merciful, radically oblative gift of self
    • genuine love is not merely a human sentiment, which comes and goes, or may not happen at all; rather, love is an action, it is a choice
    • love in its truest and fullest sense is a conscious act of the will to subordinate yourself, and to unconditionally and selflessly seek the good and welfare of the other, including the gift of yourself for the other’s benefit, including the ultimate sacrifice of your life, whether or not the other “deserves” it, and without concern for what you may or may not receive in return, although there is great joy when it is reciprocated
    • if we find that such complete love is difficult, if we cannot find the strength within ourselves to do this, then we must choose to ask God for help, we must ask for grace
    • we most become like God, not by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, but by eating from the Tree of Love, and true happiness in love is paradoxical because it is obtained, not by seeking happiness for yourself, but by giving of yourself
    (d) Love of God and Neighbor Necessarily Means Sharing with Them the Truth and Love of Christ
  • it is part of God’s plan to depend on His people to help Him in the salvation of mankind – whether He is dwelling in the womb of Mary, growing up as a child, or now, Jesus has chosen to need our assistance in His redemptive mission, including building up the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation
  • Jesus calls those in the Church to be His witnesses –
    • to go out and testify to the Truth and proclaim the Good News
    • to make disciples of all nations
    • to be a light of truth and love to the world – the light does not come from us, but comes from Jesus and is reflected by us, and from the Holy Spirit which dwells within us
  • Jesus promised us that, in being His witness, the world would hate us and persecute us, but that He would send the Spirit to give us strength, consolation, and perseverance
  • Jesus calls us to be perfect in love and truth as our heavenly Father is perfect
  • the most fundamental way to be a witness for Him is to love Him and love one another in truth as He has loved us
    (e) Our Vocation to Beatitude – Life in the Spirit (Mt. 5:3-10)
  • the Beatitudes are paradoxes, a transformation of worldly values, they bring hope and joy amidst affliction and hardship
  • the Beatitudes are words of both promise and spiritual direction, indicating the way of conversion and reform of life – teaching how to love God and one another and thereby be a light of truth to the world

    (i) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
    • the “poor in spirit” are not those who are spiritually deficient, but those who humbly are in need of God, who are detached from worldly things and rely on Him, unlike those who have no want or need for God
  • (ii) Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted
    • those who “mourn” are sorrowful, they have compassion for, and therefore suffer with, others and, in comforting others, they receive comfort as well
    (iii) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (the land)
    • one who is “meek” is humble and, as with the descendents of Abraham, their inheritance is the promised land of a secure home in which to live and worship God in peace
    (iv) Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied
    • those who look for good, who seek true justice, will find it in Christ
    (v) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy
    • to be forgiving and merciful to others is to show our love for the Lord who is Divine Mercy
    (vi) Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God
    • we see God with the eyes of the heart, not the eyes of the head – if we humbly seek Him, with love and truth in our heart, only then can we see and hear God
    (vii) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
    • those who help overcome enmity, especially with God, are reconciled to Him, such that, just as the Prince of Peace is the Son of God, so too are we allowed to be called children of God
    (viii) Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
    • in steadfastly keeping the faith and being one with the Crucified Christ, we will be one with Him in heaven
    (ix) Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Jesus, rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven
    • Jesus invites us to follow Him, even to the Cross

    (f) “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” – the only acceptable sacrifice is sacrifice of the human heart
  • charity (love) for others includes being merciful – as the Crucified Jesus in His mercy loves us, so too should we love one another
  • mercy is also an act of justice, giving others what they are due as children of God and doing unto others as we would have them do to us
  • God, who is “rich in mercy,” wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others, He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us
  • the Church’s mission is a mission of mercy – “the Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word” – Pope Benedict XVI
  • mercy is a virtue influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune or misery (the Latin word miserere means “have mercy”)
    • the three ways of exercising mercy toward others is by deed, by word, and by prayer
  • we should do works of mercy because even the strongest faith is of no use without works of love
    The Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt. 25:31-46)
  • feed the hungry
  • give drink to the thirsty
  • clothe the naked
  • shelter the homeless
  • visit the sick
  • visit the imprisoned
  • bury the dead
    The Spiritual Works of Mercy
  • counsel the doubtful
  • instruct the ignorant
  • admonish sinners
  • comfort the afflicted
  • forgive offenses
  • bear wrongs patiently
  • pray for the living and the dead

“Charity begins today. Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. Our work is for today, yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come—today, we have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. Today — do not to wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come. Tomorrow we will not have them if we do not feed them today.”
– Blessed Mother Teresa

      Monday, May 10, 2010

      Preparation for Adult Confirmation 2010:
      Class Three

      “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
      Preparation for Adult Confirmation

      Class Outline for May 6, 2010

      III. The Holy Catholic Church – the Universal Sacrament of Salvation
      -– the sign and instrument both of the reconciliation and communion of all of humanity with God and of the unity of the entire human race
      --the English word “church” is derived from the German word "kirche," which in turn is derived from the Greek word “kyriake,” meaning “what belongs to the Lord,” which is also called an “ecclesia” in Latin, “an assembly set apart”

      A. The Church – Children of the Father, Body of Christ the Son, Temple of the Spirit
        1. The Christian Faithful – People of God, Family of God
      • the origin of the People of God is the Heavenly Father, and it is His plan to save and sanctify men and women, not in isolation, but as part of a people that are gathered together, in their diversity and multiplicity, by the unity of the Trinity
      • they participate in Christ's priestly office insofar as the baptized are consecrated by the Holy Spirit to offer spiritual sacrifices
      • they share in Christ’s prophetic office when with a supernatural sense of faith they adhere unfailingly to that faith and deepen their understanding and witness to it
      • they share in his kingly office by means of service, imitating Jesus Christ who as King of the universe made himself the servant of all
        2. The Body of Christ
      • the faithful united to Christ by the Holy Spirit form one Body, the Church, which lives from Him, in Him and for Him
      • Christ and His Bride the Church are one, making up the “Christus totus” (whole Christ)
        • the mystery of the nuptial union of Christ and the Church is both unitive and fruitful – two different persons, yet one in the conjugal union
        • to be one with the nuptial union of Christ and His Bride is to one with that everlasting loving communion
      • Jesus, the Head of the Body, calls other parts of His Body to perform different roles
        3. The Holy Spirit Makes the Church the Temple of the Living God
      • the Holy Spirit inspires and sanctifies the Church – “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the members of Christ, that is, the Body of Christ, which is the Church.” - St. Augustine
      • the Holy Spirit builds up the Church in charity, by the Word of God, the sacraments, the virtues, and charisms (special graces which benefit the Church)
      • the Spirit confers different kinds of spiritual gifts for the various parts of the Body, including both the hierarchy and the lay faithful

      B. The Four Marks of the Church – One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
      – these four characteristics are inseparably linked to each other and they indicate essential features of the Church and her mission

        1. The Church is One – One God, One Truth, One Church, One Faith
      • the Church is one because of her source in and communion with the Trinity
      • visible bonds of communion of the Church on earth include (a) profession of one faith received from the Apostles, (b) common celebration of worship, especially the Sacraments, (c) apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders and under the leadership of the Pope, as successor of Peter, to whom Jesus entrusted the pastoral care of the Church
      • schisms, divisions, and dissensions have wounded this unity of Christ’s Body
        • while elements of sanctification and truth may be found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church, the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him
        2. The Church is Holy
      • Christ gave Himself up for the Church, so as to sanctify her, joining her to Himself as His Body and endowing her with the gift of the Holy Spirit
      • the Holy Spirit inspires the Church (gives her life) with charity, guiding and protecting her, and it is the Holy Spirit who is the principal agent of the Church’s mission
      • it is in the Holy Church, by the grace of God, that we acquire holiness and salvation – each of us is called to be holy and perfect in love and truth, just as God is perfect
      • the pilgrim Church on earth is endowed with a sanctity that is real, even though individual members are imperfect sinners ever in need of conversion and purification
        3. The Church is Catholic (Universal)
      • the Church is universal, existing as a communion of the faithful both horizontally across the world and throughout time and vertically with God, the angels, and saints in heaven, and the faithful in purgatory
      • the Church is universal because Christ is present in her and because she has been sent out by Him on a mission of love to proclaim the truth of the Good News to the whole world
      • particular local churches (dioceses) under the care of a bishop as their shepherd are fully catholic (universal) through their being in communion and accord with the Church of Rome, whose bishop is the Pope
        4. The Church is Apostolic
      • the word “apostle” is from the Greek for delegate, envoy, or emissary
      • the Church was and is built on the foundation of the Apostles – Jesus Himself is the Father’s emissary
      • the original Apostles took care to appoint successors and assistants, who are today’s bishops and their priests and deacons, so that the Church and her divine mission would continue to the end of time
      • the apostolic ministry of the Church is a continuation of the mission of Jesus
      • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the Church, to guide, teach, and sanctify the Apostles and their successors
        5. The Structure of the Pilgrim Church
      • in calling certain men to be Apostles and giving them special authority, together with special charisms of the Holy Spirit, Jesus established a certain structure for His Church, with a diversity of ministry, but unity of mission
      • to the Apostles and their successors, Christ entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in His name and by His power
      • the essential nature of ecclesial ministry is humble service
      • individual bishops exercise their pastoral office as shepherds of that portion of the People of God assigned to them, such as a diocese
      • Jesus named Peter the rock of His Church and instituted him as shepherd of the entire flock, and the Pope, as his successor, shares that primacy and pastoral office of Peter
        • the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church
      • the Magisterium, the authoritative teaching office of the Church, is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, and it includes authoritative interpretation of Divine Revelation, defining dogmas, discernment of moral truth, and assistance in the formation of the individual consciences of the faithful
        • Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one of them cannot stand without the others
      • the task of the Magisterium is to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error
        • the Pope possesses the charism of infallibility when he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals, acting either in virtue of his office as Supreme Pontiff, or together with the college of bishops in union with him, especially in an Ecumenical Council
        • in the exercise of his magisterial authority, the Pope is not free to simply impose his opinion or personal preferences, but is necessarily bound by and to love and truth
        • even when not making a formally infallible pronouncement, the teachings of the Magisterium should be given our religious assent as presumptively true
      • as successors of Peter and the other Apostles endowed with the Spirit, the Pope and his fellow bishops are owed our respect, harmony, Christian obedience in charity
      • Jesus established the Church: It is His Church, not ours – we are not free to reinvent it or the faith in the way that we would prefer it to be
        6. There is No Salvation Outside the Church
      • Jesus Christ is the one mediator and redeemer of mankind – no one can be saved by his or her own efforts and no one can be saved except by the Crucified and Risen One through His Body, the Church
      • the fullness of grace and truth, including the fullness of the means of salvation, was entrusted by Jesus to Peter and the other Apostles, their successors, and the faithful who make up the Catholic Church
      • there are some who, through no fault of their own, are separate from the One Church – such non-Christians and Christians not in communion with the Catholic Church might still be saved in God’s infinite mercy, but lacking the fullness of truth, it is more difficult and any such salvation is nevertheless by Jesus through the Catholic Church
      • God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth and those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation
      • mere membership in the Catholic Church does not guarantee salvation – one who does not persevere in charity or take advantage of the benefit of the graces of the Sacraments is not saved, one must have Jesus in his or her heart, not merely in the head or on the lips
        7. Vocations – the Universal Call to Holiness
      • a vocation (from the Latin vocare, to call) is a particular state of life or occupation to which one is especially drawn or called
      • we are each called by God to a life of holiness, a common vocation to love God and love one another
      • there are two specific ways to realize, in its entirety, the vocation to love – either marriage or the religious life, e.g. the priesthood or religious brother or religious sister (nun)
      • in the Sacrament of Confirmation, our vocation is to be a complete Christian, to be an active participant in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus to the world

      C. Liturgy and the Sacraments Generally
        1. Liturgy – Public Worship and Celebration of the Mysteries of the Lord
      • the entire Holy Trinity is at work in the liturgy – the Father is the source and the Son acts through the power of the Holy Spirit
      • liturgy is an action of the entire Church – God, angels, and all the faithful on earth and in heaven
      • the liturgy is celebrated particularly in making present Christ’s paschal mystery in the Mass
      • it is the whole Christ, as High Priest, who acts in the liturgy, with the bishops and priests acting in persona Christi
      • liturgy includes the Word, prayer, signs, symbols, and the Sacraments
        2. The Paschal Mystery in the Sacraments of the Church
      • a Sacrament is (i) an outward visible sign (ii) instituted by Christ (iii) to convey the invisible reality of sacramental and sanctifying grace, so that we might be redeemed and sanctified
      • the “outward sign” is composed of the matter (e.g. water) and form (words) together with the right and proper intention of the minister, that is, celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church
      • since we are bodily creatures who experience and come to know things through our bodily senses, the Sacraments offer us a way for us to know the reality of being provided certain graces
        • In his Theology of the Body, in a catechesis on the creation of mankind in the Book of Genesis, Pope John Paul II said of marriage, “there is constituted a primordial sacrament, understood as a sign that transmits effectively in the visible world the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial. And this is the mystery of Truth and Love, the mystery of divine life, in which man really participates. In the history of man, it is original innocence which begins this participation and it is also a source of original happiness. The sacrament, as a visible sign, is constituted with man, as a "body," by means of his "visible" masculinity and femininity. The body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus be a sign of it.” (February 20, 1980)
      • the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church, which has the authority to confer them or withhold them
      • it is Christ who acts in the Sacraments through the Holy Spirit
        • by virtue of the saving work of Christ, the Sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato – they convey the particular grace by the very fact that the sacramental action is performed
        • because it is Christ who is acting, the efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness of the minister
      • “sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament
      • the recipient must necessarily have the right disposition to receive the graces to be conferred
        • Baptism and Confession/Penance give sanctifying grace
        • the other Sacraments increase sanctifying graces in our souls, such that one must already be in a state of grace (rather than a state of sin) to receive them
      • additional ceremonies or actions are used in the rites in order to increase our reverence and devotion for the Sacraments and to explain their meaning and effects
      • the seven sacraments include --
        • the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
        • the Sacraments of Healing (Confession/Penance and Anointing of the Sick)
        • the Sacraments at the Service of Communion and Mission (Matrimony and Holy Orders)
          • just as Abraham was marked by circumcision with the sign of the covenant, so too is the soul of the recipient of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders marked with a permanent, indelible seal, so as to configure him or her to Christ and the Church, such that these Sacraments cannot be repeated

            D. The Seven Sacraments
              1. Baptism – Passage through the Water from Death to Life
            • in Baptism, one is immersed into the death of Christ, so as to rise again with Him
            • the water of Baptism is sanctified by Jesus and the Cross
            • Baptism by water in the name of the Triune God gives us sanctifying grace, so that the stains of Original Sin and individual sin are wiped away
            • in Baptism, by water and through the Spirit, we are reborn as children of God and thereby initiated into the communion of the Church
            • the ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop, priest, or deacon, although any person can baptize in case of necessity, provided he or she has the intention of doing what the Church does

              2. Confirmation – Consecrated and Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit

            • brings an increase and deepening of sanctifying grace so as to join us to the mission of the Church and thereby complete what was begun in Baptism
            • in being anointed with chrism oil, sanctified by Jesus and the Cross, the recipient is joined more intimately with the Christ, which means “anointed one”
            • in Confirmation, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Christ in love and truth, including the strength and perseverance to go out and spread the Good News and even endure persecution
            • the original minister of Confirmation is the bishop, as a successor of the Apostles, but if authorized by him, a priest may also confer the Sacrament

              3. The Eucharist – the Blessed Sacrament

            • before ascending to heaven, Jesus said that He would be with us always, to the end of the age – in the fullest and most obvious sense, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist, which is His Real Presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity
            • in the Eucharist, we have not only spiritual communion with Jesus, as we might praying at home, we have full communion with Him in the totality of our being, body and soul
            • reception of Holy Communion is both unitive and fruitful/procreative, that is, in the profoundly intimate encounter with Jesus that is the Eucharist, we are joined in a mystical fashion so as to become one in a communion of persons and to receive life
            • the ministers of the Eucharist are the bishop and priest
              • the power and authority of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is limited to assisting in the distribution of the Eucharist

              4. Penance/Confession/Reconciliation

            • while Baptism cleanses us of Original Sin, it does not abolish the weakness of our impaired human nature nor our inclination to personal sin
            • through a sacramental confession, by the Crucifixion and Resurrection, we are absolved of our individual sins and reconciled to God
            • the penitent should first make a careful examination of conscience and, to be a “good” confession, one must confess all serious and grave sins (because they would be mortal if not so confessed), and there must be an interior penance, that is, a contrite heart and determination to avoid further sin
            • in addition to expressing contrition, the penitent is obligated to perform the acts of penance given to him or her
            • in addition to absolution, grace is given, if we accept it, to avoid further sin
            • the ministers of Penance are a bishop or priest, although the forgiveness of certain grave sins that incur excommunication may be reserved to the Pope or particular bishop (except in case of imminent death)

              5. Anointing of the Sick

            • Jesus healed many who were sick, as did Peter and the other Apostles
            • anointing of the forehead and palms of the sick with chrism oil is a sacrament of healing, if not physically, then spiritually, including the forgiveness of sins if the recipient is not able to make a sacramental confession
            • a special grace is conferred which unites the sick person more intimately to the Passion of Christ
            • the Sacrament prepares us for the final journey in order to join God in heaven, offering us comfort, peace, and courage
            • the ministers of the Anointing of the Sick are the bishop and priest

              6. Matrimony – as it was “in the beginning” and the blessing of Jesus at Cana

            • Marriage is the primordial sacrament – "All the sacraments of the new covenant find in a certain sense their prototype in marriage" – Pope John Paul II
              • the entirety of Salvation History can be seen as a kind of spousal relationship between God and mankind
            • at the Creation, God said that it is not good for Man to be alone
            • Man, male and female, is not merely a social creature, but a spousal creature made in the image of the Triune God, who is a loving communion of persons in one being
            • God made us to love and be loved and, in creating man and woman for each other, He gave us the ability to share in His creative power, telling us to be fruitful and multiply
            • in Matrimony, a man and woman are two made one in a communion of persons by Christ through the power of the Spirit of Love, and spouses should love each other as Christ loves the Church
            • the Sacrament is conferred upon the giving of matrimonial consent, that is, when a man and a woman manifest the will to give themselves to each other irrevocably in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love
            • such matrimonial consent is sealed by God, and the Sacrament establishes a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses
            • this communion of persons in marriage is not only unitive, such that it is indissoluble, but fruitful and procreative, just as the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church, is unitive, fruitful, and procreative
            • a special grace is conferred to give the husband and wife the ability to maintain their union in accord with the original divine plan, even in the face of threats to the unity and fruitfulness of marriage
            • the ministers of Matrimony are the man and woman to be married, with the priest receiving that consent in the name of the Church and giving her blessing to the union

              7. Holy Orders

            • those who do not marry are still, by human nature, called to love in communion and, if we are not called to marry, we may be called to follow Christ, who is the fullness of Love
            • Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time, and the Church is passed on to the generations throughout time
            • some men may be called to follow Jesus in the ministerial priesthood, in which the one priesthood of Jesus Christ is made present, while other men and some women may be called to the religious or consecrated life
            • the Sacrament is conferred by the laying on of hands, anointing with chrism oil, and the consecratory prayer proper to each grade of the Sacrament: deacon, priest, or bishop
            • anointing by the Spirit in ordination to the priesthood seals a baptized and confirmed man with an indelible, spiritual character that configures him to Christ the Bridegroom of the Church and Christ the High Priest, enabling him to act in His name (in persona Christi), especially in the Sacraments
            • the Sacrament of Holy Orders makes one an alter Christus - just as Jesus is espoused to the His Bride the Church, so too is the priest, in a sense, “married” to the Church
            • 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
            • the minister of Holy Orders is the bishop

            E. Sacramentals and Forms of Popular Piety

              1. Sacramentals

            • sacred signs instituted by the Church to sanctify different circumstances of life, including
              • blessings, which are the praise of God and a prayer to obtain his gifts
              • the consecration of persons
              • the dedication of things for the worship of God
            • sacramentals always include a prayer, often accompanied by a physical sign, such as the sign of the cross, laying on of hands, or sprinkling water

              2. Forms of Popular Piety

            • expression of the religious sense of the Christian people in various forms of devotion which accompany the sacramental life of the Church
            • such forms of piety include the rosary and other Marian devotions, stations of the cross, veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, and processions
            • these expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it

            F. Prayer – a Personal and Living Relationship with God
            – prayer is our response to God’s revealing of Himself to us – our ongoing friendship with God requires ongoing communication with Him
            – a dialogue, not a monologue – we must allow God to speak to us also
            – the ultimate aim of prayer should be love and fidelity to God

              1. Types of Prayer

            • blessing and adoration – we bless God for having blessed us and we pay homage to He who made us
            • thanksgiving and praise – showing gratitude and giving glory to God for His own sake, sharing in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart
            • petition and intercession – entreating God for assistance for ourselves or others on earth or in purgatory, often extemporaneously and, if made in humility, is already a turning back to Him
              • may include asking others, such as saints in heaven, to intercede on our behalf
            • the Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer

              2. Expressions of Prayer

            • vocal – prayer with words, both aloud and interior, personal or communal
              • written and traditional prayer allows one to pray in communion with the whole Church
              • the model vocal prayer is the one Jesus taught us – the Our Father
            • meditation – a fairly active engagement of thought, imagination, emotion, and desire to discern and respond to what God is saying to us
            • contemplative – a fairly passive communion with the Holy Trinity and gaze of faith, fixed on the Lord, illuminating and purifying the heart
            • we pray with the entirety of our being, but it is most important to involve our heart in prayer

              3. Sources of Prayer

            • God Himself – Jesus’ prayer on the Cross, “I thirst,” reminds us that we thirst for God and that God also thirsts for us
            • sacred scripture and spiritual reading
              • Liturgy of the Hours, the official daily prayer of the Church
              • Lectio Divina
            • the liturgy, which proclaims, makes present and communicates the mystery of salvation
            • the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love
            • everyday situations

            G. The Church in History

              1. Persecutions of the Church – the On-Going Trial and Passion of Christ

            • the testimony of witnesses who have spread the Good News throughout history, especially during the early Church
              • testimony of Apostles and disciples who personally saw the Risen Christ, most of whom were killed, including St. Peter, the first pope, who was crucified in Rome and was the first of many martyred popes, and Paul, who was beheaded in Rome
              • testimony of other witnesses in the history of the Church who likewise submitted to tortures and death during various persecutions
              • the Greek word for “witness” is “martyr
            • “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” – Tertullian
            • If they were not certain that Jesus existed, and that He was the Christ, why would they submit to tortures and death?

              2. The Spread of Christianity, Followed by New Challenges

            • Roman persecutions ended with the legalization of Christianity by the Edict of Milan by the Emperor Constantine in A.D. 313
            • the Christian faith flourished and the Church spread throughout the Mediterranean and much of Europe
            • following the death of Mohammed in 632, Muslim armies conquered Christian lands in the Middle East and Northern Africa before passing into Europe and marching midway into France, where they were turned back in 732 by Charles Martel
            • after the Great Schism split Christendom in two, Muslim armies increased their siege of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Church, and in response to a request for assistance, Pope Urban II in 1095 called what has been called the first Crusade, additional crusades were held over the next few hundred years
            • military conflict existed between Christendom and Islam from the 7th century until the 17th century, when the forces of the Ottoman Empire were defeated in the Battle of Vienna

              3. Theological Issues within the Church

            • various disputes and heresies arose concerning such matters as application of the Jewish Law, the person and nature of Jesus Christ, etc., and ecumenical councils of bishops were held to definitively resolve these questions, e.g. Councils of Nicea and Constantinople
            • sometimes disputes led to schism, such as the Great Schism, which split the Church between East and West in 1054
            • in compiling the New Testament, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church discerned which of various writings were, in fact, authentically apostolic and inspired, and which were spurious and false
            • the canon of the Bible was formalized in the Vulgate produced by St. Jerome under the direction of Pope Damasus I at the end of the 4th century, and the Vulgate Bible was affirmed in the Council of Trent (1545-1563) as the sole, authorized Latin text of the Bible
            • in about the early 16th century, some rejected the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church, including denying the sacraments, Tradition, and the Magisterium, resulting in another major split in the Church, the Protestant Reformation
            • the Council of Trent was held in response to the Protestant Reformation

            Friday, May 07, 2010

            The Babies Are Here!

            Opens Today, May 7, 2010

            Babies (2010)
            by Steven D. Greydanus

            Everyone should see Babies. Even people who have cats instead of children should see Babies. There are a number of cats in this movie, and some feline moments that must be seen to be believed, especially for cat lovers.

            Directed by documentary filmmaker Thomas Balmès, who lives in Paris with his wife and three children, Babies is pro-life in the best possible sense: It is a celebration of new life, of love, of family, of the wonder of the world.
            Read the rest here.

            BABIES: The Biggest Smallest Adventure Ever
            by Tom Allen with Nick Dawson

            There is one universal thread that connects us all no matter how old we are, where we’re from, or what we believe: we were all babies once and we all remain fascinated with these smallest and most lovable of human creatures. Thomas Balmès’s new non-fiction feature BABIES, opening May 7, captures the earliest stages of our common human journey like no other film ever made. From birth to dramatic first steps, and against breathtaking natural backdrops on four continents, the film reveals our world and our human condition in a riveting, wholly original and powerfully life-affirming way.

            BABIES is poised to delight audiences with its joyful portrayal of the earliest stages in the lives of four babies from different parts of the globe: Ponijao in Namibia, Mari in Tokyo, Bayar in Mongolia and Hattie in San Francisco. Far from the usual breathless, cynical fare emanating from Hollywood, this film affirms life and honors the irreplaceable love between parents and their children. . . .

            Through Balmès’s lens we meet everyday couples from around the world who are connected to each other, and to us, through our shared experience caring for our children. BABIES is a moving cinematic experience for people of all ages. It is a lyrical work of art that brings the human family together around our common love for our smallest members. Best of all, it demonstrates that there is hope yet for both Hollywood and our worldwide human family.
            Read the rest here.

            Wednesday, May 05, 2010

            CCD Confirmation Prep Takes a Break for the Summer

            Seventh grade CCD had it's last class of the school year tonight. Following Mass, which included the Crowning of our Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Heaven, the students have been sent off for a time to be a light of Christ to the world in word and in deed.
            The Lord appointed seventy-two disciples whom He sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
            "Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
            "Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
            "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the One who sent me."
            --Luke 10:1-3, 8-9, 16

            Tuesday, May 04, 2010

            God Bless You, Ernie Harwell

            January 25, 1918 — May 4, 2010


            Sunday, May 02, 2010

            The Shroud of Turin:
            Passio Christi, Passio hominis

            "In the hour of extreme solitude, we shall never be alone:
            Passio Christi, Passio hominis."

            Meditation of Pope Benedict XVI
            Cathedral of Turin
            Pastoral Visit to Turin
            May 2, 2010

            Dear friends,

            This is a much-awaited moment for me. In another occasion, I found myself before the Holy Shroud, but this time I am living this pilgrimage and stop with special intensity. Perhaps, it is because the passing of years is making me understand even more the message of this extraordinary icon; perhaps, or I should say especially because I am here as the successor of Peter, I carry in my heart the entire Church, indeed the whole of humanity. I thank God for the gift of this pilgrimage, and for the opportunity of sharing this brief mediation with you, which was suggested to me by this solemn display, namely “the mystery of Holy Saturday.”

            It is possible to say that the Shroud is the icon of that mystery, the Icon of Holy Saturday. It is a burial linen that was wrapped around the body of a crucified man. It matches what the Gospels say about Jesus, who was crucified around noon and passed away at about 3 pm. In the evening, since it was the Parasceve, the eve of the solemn Sabbath of Passover, Joseph of Arimathea, a man of wealth, and a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin, courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus to bury in a new sepulchre that he had hewn out of the rock not far from Golgotha. After he got the permission and having bought a linen cloth, he took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in the tomb (see Mk, 15:42-46). This is what the Gospel of Mark says, which finds support in the other Evangelists. After that, Jesus remained in the sepulchre until the dawn of the day after the Sabbath. The Shroud of Turin offers us the picture of His body, laying in the tomb during this period, short in time (a day and half) but long and infinite in value and meaning.

            Holy Saturday is the day of God’s concealment. As an ancient homily says, “Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. . . . God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has risen up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear” (Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday, PG 43, 439). In the Creed, we also profess that Jesus Christ “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again."

            Dear brothers, in our times, especially in the last century, humanity has become especially sensitive to the mystery of the Holy Saturday. God’s concealment is part of the spirituality of today’s mankind, in an existential and almost subconscious way, as the heart’s emptiness has grown ever more. Towards the end of the 19th century, Nietzsche wrote, “God is dead. . . . And we have killed Him.”

            Christian tradition almost fulfils this well-known statement to the letter. We often repeat this during the Way of the Cross perhaps not fully realizing what we are saying. After two world wars, Nazi and Communist death camps, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age has become more like Holy Saturday. However, the Shroud is also a source that whispers in silence, and we can hear it and listen to it in the silence of Holy Saturday. The darkness of this day represents a question mark for all those who ask questions about life, especially believers. We too must cope with such darkness.

            Yet the death of the Son of God, of Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposite effect and is totally positive, a source of consolation and hope. For this reason, it makes me think that the Shroud is like a “photographic” document, with its “positive” and “negative” side. It is exactly like that, the darkest mystery of faith is at the same time the brightest sign of boundless hope.

            Holy Saturday is like a “no-man’s land” between death and resurrection. The One and Only has entered this “no-man’s land,” crossing it with the marks of His Passion for man: Passio Christi, Passio hominis. The Shroud speaks to us about that moment, witness to that unique and unrepeatable in-between moment in the history of humanity and the universe when God, through Jesus Christ, shared not only our death, but also our staying in death. This is the most radical form of solidarity.

            During this “time-beyond-time,” Jesus Christ “descended into Hell.”

            What does this mean? It means that God, as man, reached a point where He could find His way into the extreme and absolute solitude of mankind, a place untouched by any ray of love, where total neglect reigned and where no words of comfort could be heard, a place called Hell. Jesus Christ, by staying in death, crossed the threshold into the ultimate solitude in order to lead us into transcending it with Him.

            All of us have occasionally experienced a dreadful feeling of being neglected; this is what scares us the most about death. As children, we are afraid of being left alone in the dark, and only the presence of someone who loves us can reassure us. This is precisely what happened on Holy Saturday. In the reign of death, God’s voice rang out. The unthinkable happened: Love penetrated “Hell.” Thus, even at the darkest moment, when human solitude was at its most absolute, we could hear a voice call us, see a hand reach out towards us, taking and leading us out. Human beings live to love and be loved. If love could penetrate the realm of death, life could thus reach into it. In the hour of extreme solitude, we shall never be alone: Passio Christi, Passio hominis.

            This is the mystery of Holy Saturday. The light of a new hope appeared out of the darkness of the death of the Son of God: the light of the Resurrection. I think that looking at this sacred linen through the eyes of faith we can perceive something of this light. Indeed, the Shroud is immersed in that deep darkness, but it is also bright. I think that if thousands and thousands of people come to venerate it, not to mention those who contemplate at it in pictures, it is because they do not only see its darkness but also see its light. They do not see the defeat of life and love, but rather their victory, the victory of life over death and love over hatred. They see Jesus’ death but also catch a glimpse of His Resurrection.

            Within death, the pulsating beat of life can be felt because it is inhabited by love. This is the power of the Shroud. From the face of this “Suffering Man” -— bearing the passion of mankind in every age and place, including our passions, suffering, difficulties and sins, i.e. the Passio Christi, Passio hominis —- comes a solemn majesty and a paradoxical power. This face, these hands and these feet, this chest, all this body speaks. It is a word that we can listen in silence.

            How does the Shroud speak? It speaks with blood, the blood of life. The shroud is an icon written in blood, the blood of a man who was whipped, crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded on the right side of His chest. The image imprinted on the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of His life. Every trace of blood speaks of love and life, especially the large spot in the chest area, which marks where much blood and water flowed after being pierced by a Roman spear. Such blood and water speak of life. It is a source that whispers in silence. We can hear it and listen to it in the silence of Holy Saturday.

            Dear friends, let us praise the Lord for His faithful and merciful love. Starting from this holy place, let us behold in our eyes the image of the shroud, let us bear this word of love in our heart, and let us praise the Lord through a life full of faith, hope and charity. Thank you.