May 29, 2016

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ [Corpus Christi], May 29, 2016 Year C

Fr. Thomas J. Lane S.T.D.
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
Mt. St. Mary's Seminary
Emmitsburg, MD

(Click here for today’s readings)

Is Jesus in the Eucharist the center of your life?

We divide time into BC and AD; BC before Christ and AD, Anno Domini - in the year of Our Lord - since the birth of Jesus. This is our way of showing that Jesus is the center of history, Jesus is the most important event in history. Everything in history pales into insignificance compared to Jesus. It is the same in our lives. Jesus is or should be the center of our lives. Jesus is or should be the center of our week. Because Jesus is the center of our lives we come here to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and afterwards we go in peace to love and serve the Lord whom we encountered here in the Eucharist.

Just as we divide time into BC and AD, before Christ and after his birth, the Sacred Scriptures do the same and so we have the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament from time to time we get glimpses and hints of Jesus who is to come, in events or people who are pointing the way to Jesus. In the first reading today (Gen 14:18-20), the priest Melchizedek is one of those people in the Old Testament giving us a glimpse and hint of Jesus to come. Melchizedek was a priest and Jesus is the High Priest of the New Testament which the response to our Psalm today prophesied, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek brought bread and wine which is a foretaste of the Eucharist that Jesus would give. Melchizedek, in his role as priest, pronounced a blessing on Abram who gave him a tithe. There are other hints and glimpses of the Eucharist in the Old Testament; the manna which the Israelites received in the desert (Ex 16), and the food that sustained the prophet Elijah for forty days and nights until he reached Mount Horeb/Sinai (1 Kings 19).

In the Gospel today (Luke 9:11-17) Jesus performed a miracle by feeding thousands from only five loaves and two fish. This miracle is preparing for the greatest New Testament miracle, the Eucharist. Jesus performed the same four actions over the bread and fish when he multiplied them as he would do later over the bread during the Last Supper;

1.)   he took the bread and fish,

2.)   said the blessing over them,

3.)   broke them, and

4.)   gave them to his disciples.

The second reading (1 Cor 11:23-26) is a description of the Last Supper that is very precious to us because it is the oldest account of the Last Supper in the Scriptures, written even before the Gospels. Paul wrote this letter sometime during the 2½ years he spent preaching in Ephesus 54-57 AD. It is the earliest description of the Last Supper in the New Testament. Jesus said, “This is my body…” He did not say, “This is a symbol of my body” or “This represents my body” but Jesus said, “This is my body.” Transubstantiation is the name we give to the bread and wine changing into the body and blood of Jesus while maintaining the appearance of bread and wine. Trans – substance, the substance is transformed while maintaining its external appearance of bread and wine, transubstantiation.

Just as Jesus is the center of time, BC and AD, our celebration of Corpus Christi today reminds us to keep Jesus in the Eucharist at the center of our lives. Jesus desires that we live each day in intimate union with him, he is not a stranger to meet for just one hour every Sunday. Jesus is our best friend, or as some young children say, “our bestest friend.” Is Jesus your best friend? Can you live your entire day with Jesus and also spend special time in prayer with Jesus in the Eucharist. Just as Jesus is the center of time, and the center of our lives, I very much like when the Tabernacle is the focal point of the church. It has happened on a few occasions when visiting churches in Europe and in this country that I had to spend a few minutes wandering around the church to find the tabernacle. I was like Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday morning saying, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and I don’t know where they put him.” (John 20:13) Eventually I found the tabernacle and Jesus; isn’t it obvious that since we go to church to meet Jesus in a special way Jesus should be the focal point of the church. The instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum §130 states,
According to the structure of each church building and in accordance with legitimate local customs, the Most Holy Sacrament is to be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner…
We want to live our entire day with Jesus because he is our best friend. He suffered his passion and death for us. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist here we are reminded of the great love of Jesus for us by his giving himself for us in his passion and death. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote,
As if the better to remind us of His passion in the Sacrifice of the Mass, He chose bread and wine, both of which become what they are through a kind of Calvary. Wheat becomes bread and grapes become wine through a veritable passion of the grist-mill and the wine-press.”
(Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Life of All Living (Doubleday Image Book 111-112.)

Just as the wheat is beaten and crushed to become flour for bread, Jesus’ body was scourged and crucified. Just as the juice flows from the grape to make wine, Jesus’ blood flowed. The bread and wine which we offer in sacrifice during every Mass and are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus in the transubstantiation remind us of the passion and death of Jesus. Truly every Mass reminds us of Jesus’ total giving of himself for us.

Jesus is the center of time. There are many hints in the Old Testament that Jesus would come. In every Mass the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus for us, and how bread and wine are formed reminds us of Jesus’ passion and death. The Eucharist shows us Jesus’ love for us. Jesus is indeed our best friend. Jesus is the center of time. Is he also the center of your day? Do you live each day with Jesus your best friend?

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
___________________________________________

Reprinted with permission from www.frtommylane.com.

May 27, 2016

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena | 2016 | Day 4

Sacred Heart of Jesus

May 28, 2016 is Day 4 of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena

Let us pray for more generous hearts — that we may be like Christ in giving everything of ourselves to God and his people. That we may give to others not judging their worthiness, but instead, recognizing them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Prayers, Day 4

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”

Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Amen.

For more information, go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

Memorial Day | 2016


Heavenly Father,
On this Memorial Day, we pray for those
who courageously laid down their lives
for the cause of freedom.  
May the examples of their sacrifice
inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, 
our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bless the families of our fallen troops. 
Fill their homes and their lives
with Your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, 
embolden us to answer the call
to work for peace and justice, 
and thus, seek an end
to violence and conflict around the globe.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


St. Longinus

Truly, this was the Son of God.

— St. Longinus

St. Longinus was a Roman soldier at Christ's crucifixion. To learn more go here or see below.

***

Jesus heals the centurion's servant

A centurion was a professional officer of the Roman Imperial Army. Most centurions commanded groups of centuries of around 80-100 men. Senior centurions commanded cohorts (the basic tactical unit of a Roman legion) or took senior staff roles in their legion. They were soldiers of renown, greatly respected by their fellow citizens.

Two centurions figured prominently in the life of Jesus. The gospels render them nameless. In one instance, a centurion beseeched Jesus to cure an ailing servant who was critically ill. The story is related in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Luke writes:
When he had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, "He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. [Luke 7: 1-10]
Jesus is clearly impressed by the centurion's faith and humility. Not only does our Savior cure the centurion's servant, He commends the centurion demonstrably saying, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." For a thoughtful commentary on this Gospel miracle of Christ, read "A Centurion's Exemplary Faith".

St. Longinus

Saint Longinus (pictured) is the Roman centurion who pierced Jesus in the side with a lance. He is the soldier present at the Crucifixion, who testified, "Truly, this man was the son of God." Longinus converted to Christianity after the Crucifixion and became a martyr. (Although he is anonymous in the Gospel accounts, popular piety ascribes to him the name Longinus.)

In medieval folklore (i.e. The Golden Legend) the touch of Jesus's blood cures Longinus' blindness:
Christian legend has it that Longinus was a blind Roman centurion who thrust the spear into Christ’s side at the crucifixion. Some of Jesus’s blood fell upon his eyes and he was healed. Upon this miracle Longinus believed in Jesus.
Whatever their origin, assertions that Longinus was blind are dubious at best. That Longius was accorded faith and martyrdom through his interaction with Christ incarnate is indisputable.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena | 2016 | Day 3

Sacred Heart of Jesus

May 27, 2016 is Day 3 of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena


Let us pray that we may have more humble hearts in conformity with Christ's in humbling ourselves before others and before God.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Prayers, Day 3

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”

Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Amen.

For more information, go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

May 26, 2016

May 27th: Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Orthodox Icon of Pope St. Gregory the Great (left) & St. Augustine of Canterbury (right) pointing to Christ

Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Apostle of the English, was sent into England by blessed Gregory, and came thither in the year 597. At that time King Ethelbert held the chief power in Kent, and his sway reached even to the Humber. When this King had heard for what reason the holy man was come, he received him kindly, and bade him and his companions, who were all monks, to come to his own capital city of Canterbury ; being struck with astonishment the perfect blamelessness of their lives, and the power of the heavenly doctrine which they preached, and which God confirmed with signs following.

They drew nigh to the city in solemn procession, singing the Litany, and bearing before them for their standard a silver cross and a picture of the Lord our Saviour painted on a panel. Hard by the city, upon the east side, there was a church builded of old time in honour of Saint Martin, and wherein the Queen, who was a Christian, was used to pray. There they first began to meet together, to sing, to pray, to celebrate Masses, to preach and to baptize, until the King was turned to the Faith, and the most part of his people was led by his example, but not his authority, to take the name of Christian ; for he had learned from his teachers and his own soul’s physicians, that men are to be drawn, and not driven to heaven. And now, Augustine, being ordained Archbishop of the English and of Britain, lest he should leave unraveled any part of the Lord’s vineyard, asked from the Apostolic See a new band of labourers, among whom were Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus, and Rufinian.

By them Gregory sent hallowed vessels, altar-cloths, church vestments, and also relicks of the holy Apostles and Martyrs. He instructed them to turn the temples of the idols into places of Christian worship, by sprinkling them with hallowed water, building altars in them, and putting relicks therein. The Britons who, nearly an hundred and fifty years before, had been thrust into the uttermost part of the island, had some bishops, whom Augustine vehemently urged to lay aside their error concerning the keeping of Easter, and to labour along with him for the conversion of the English, but they left it all to him. He toiled much for the saving of souls. He was illustrious for his life. He made Mellitus Bishop of London and Justus Bishop of Rochester, and named Lawrence to succeed himself at Canterbury, and then finished his work in peace, and passed away to that life which is perfect blessedness, upon May 26th, in the year of our Lord 604, in the reign of Ethelbert.

From The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, St. Bede.

St. Augustine of Canterbury: Apostle of England

St. Augustine was the agent of a greater man than himself, Pope St. Gregory the Great. In Gregory's time, except for the Irish monks, missionary activity was unknown in the western Church, and it is Gregory's glory to have revived it. He decided to begin with a mission to the pagan English, for they had cut off the Christian Celts from the rest of Christendom. The time was favorable for a mission since the ruler of the whole of southern England, Ethelbert of Kent, had married a Christian wife and had received a Gaulish bishop at his court. Gregory himself wished to come to Britain, but his election as pope put an end to any such idea, and in 596 he decided to send an Italian monk following the comparatively new Rule of St Benedict. Augustine set out with some companions, but when they reached southern Gaul a crisis occurred and Augustine was sent back to the pope for help. In reply the pope made Augustine their abbot and subjected the rest of the party to him in all things, and with this authority Augustine successfully reached England in 597, landing in Kent on the Isle of Thanet. Ethelbert and the men of Kent refused to accept Christianity at first, although an ancient British church dedicated to St Martin was restored for Augustine's use; but very shortly afterwards Ethelbert was baptized and, the pope having been consulted, a plan was prepared for the removal of the chief see from Canterbury to London and the establishment of another province at York. Events prevented either of these projects from being fulfilled, but the progress of the mission was continuous until Augustine's death, somewhere between 604 and 609.

The only defeat Augustine met with after he came to England was in his attempt to reconcile the Welsh Christians, to persuade them to adopt the Roman custom of reckoning the date of Easter, to correct certain minor irregularities of rite and to submit to his authority. Augustine met the leaders of the Welsh church in conference but he unfavorably impressed them by remaining seated when they came into his presence. It is likely that in this he unfavorably impressed St Bede too. Augustine was neither the most heroic of missionaries, nor the most tactful, but he did a great work, and he was one of the very few men in Gaul or Italy who, at that time, was prepared to give up everything to preach the gospel in a far country.

Excerpted from The Saints, John Coulson, editor.

Patron: England.

Symbols: Banner of the crucifixion; King Ethelbert rising out of a font (Bishop baptizing a king); fountain; cross fitchée pastoral staff and book; cope, mitre and pallium.

Collect Prayer

O God, who by the preaching of the Bishop St. Augustine of Canterbury led the English peoples to the Gospel, grant, we pray, that the fruits of his labors may remain ever abundant in your Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena | 2016 | Day 2

Sacred Heart of Jesus

May 26, 2016 is Day 2 of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena

Let us pray that we may have more faithful hearts; that we may be like Christ in remaining faithful to our Father in Heaven in our commitments, relationships and vocations.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Prayers, Day 2

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”

Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Amen.

For more information, go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

May 25, 2016

Saint John Paul II on the Blessed Virgin Mary

As we celebrate this month dedicated to Our Lady, let us remember that Mary, the Mother of God, has received fully that perfection won by Christ and that she prefigures our own eternal destiny if we persevere in love.

Icon of the Madonna & Child
In the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the 'woman', Mary of Nazareth, who is the 'figure' of the Church. She 'precedes' everyone on the path to holiness; in her person 'the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle'
— St. John Paul II from Mulieris Dignitatem

May 26th: Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

St. Philip Neri
Born: July 22, 1515 in Florence, Italy

Died: May 26, 1595 in Rome

Beatified: 1615 by Pope Paul V

Canonized: 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

Patron: Rome; United States Army Special Forces.

Symbols: Rosary; lily; angel holding a book.

Also known as: Philip Romolo Neri; Apostle of Rome; Amabile Santo, the Apostle of Joy

The Life of St. Philip Neri

Though he was related to Italian nobility, Philip came from a poor family. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip's brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. He was a pious youth, taught humanities by the Dominicans.

He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome. Philip cut himself off from his family, and went there.

Befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in, and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian. He studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

Philip began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He was a friend of St. Ignatius. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550 he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

Philip entered the priesthood in 1551. He heard confessions by the hour. He could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.

Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. He founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

Excerpted from "St. Philip Neri" Patron Saints Index, Terry H. Jones.

Collect Prayer

Father, you continually raise up your faithful to the glory of holiness. In your love kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit who so filled the heart of Philip Neri. 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.

Prayer to Know and Love Jesus by St. Philip Neri

My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me. If You do not help me, I will never do any good. I do not know You; I look for You but I do not find You. Come to me, O Lord. If I knew You, I would also know myself. If I have never loved You before, I want to love You truly now. I want to do Your will alone; putting no trust in myself, I hope in You, O Lord. Amen.


   

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena | 2016 | Day 1

Sacred Heart of Jesus

May 25, 2016 is Day 1 of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena

Today, we pray that we might have hearts that are conformed to Jesus'.

Let us pray that we may have more forgiving hearts and that we may be like Christ in showing unlimited mercy to others.

This version of the novena comes from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque who is most commonly associated with the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Prayers, Day 1

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”

Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…

(Mention your Intention Here)

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Amen.

For more information, go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

May 24, 2016

May 25th: Optional Memorial of Saint Bede

St. Bede
Saint Bede was born in Wearmouth-Jarrow, England in 735 AD. He was sent to St. Peter and St. Paul Benedictine monastery when he was three and educated by Abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid. He became a monk, was ordained at thirty, and except for a few brief visits elsewhere, spent his entire life at the monastery, devoting himself to the study of Scripture and to teaching and writing. Bede was one of the most learned men of his time whose influence on English literature continues today. His enduring work, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People garnered him the title "The Father of English History". His writings were so revered for their sound doctrine that he was called "Venerable" while still alive.

In 1899, St. Bede was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII; he is the only native of Great Britain to be so designated. As a skilled linguist and translator, Bede's work made the Latin and Greek writings of the Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, contributing immeasurably to the development of English Christianity. His legacy is celebrated with the annual Jarrow Lecture, held at St. Paul's Church, Jarrow, since 1958.

Click to learn more about the Benedictine Order.

The Life of St. Bede

Bede occupies an important niche in Church history by bridging the gap between patristic and early medieval times, the era when the Germanic nations had just been Christianized. Through him Christian tradition and Roman culture came to the Middle Ages. He is also honored as the "father of English history." His writings were read publicly in churches while he was still alive; but since he could not be called "Saint," the title of Venerable was attached to his name, a usage which continued down through the centuries.

True Benedictine that he was, his life revolved around prayer and work. On the vigil of the Ascension he felt death approaching and asked to be fortified with the last sacraments. After reciting the Magnificat antiphon of the feast's second Vespers, he embraced his brethren, had himself placed upon a coarse penitential garment on the earth, and breathed forth his soul while saying softly: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."

How St. Bede loved the Bible! Anyone who intends to live with the Church must keep the Scriptures near — day in, day out. St. Bede explained the Bible to others. At times you too will have this privilege. Use it.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Lectors; historians.

Symbols: Pitcher of water and light from Heaven; scroll; pen and inkhorn; volume of ecclesiastical history.

Often portrayed as: Monk writing at a desk; old monk dying amidst his community; old monk with a book and pen; old monk with a jug.

Collect Prayer

O God, who bring light to your Church through the learning of the Priest Saint Bede, mercifully grant that your servants may always be enlightened by his wisdom and helped by his merits. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


The Twelve Promises of Christ to Those Who Honor His Sacred Heart

The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Pope Benedict XVI speaking of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus said: "In biblical language, 'heart' indicates the centre of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell. In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy. Practising devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life" (Benedict XVI, Angelus, June 5, 2005).

Christ's heart longs for us to know how much he loves us, and the extent of his endless care for his children who, blinded by selfishness and sin, are oblivious to the boundless love of their Creator. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the source of Divine Mercy through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Jesus made 12 promises to those who would honor His Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

  2. I will give peace in their families and will unite families that are divided.

  3. I will console them in all their troubles.

  4. I will be their refuge during life and above all in death.

  5. I will bestow the blessings of Heaven on all their enterprises.

  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

  8. Fervent souls shall rise quickly to great perfection.

  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored and will imprint My love on the hearts of those who would wear this image on their person. I will also destroy in them all disordered movements.

  10. I will give to priests who are animated by a tender devotion to my Divine Heart the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

  11. Those who promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.

  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence: they will not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
To receive these promises one must:

  • Receive Communion Frequently

  • Go to Confession and receive the Eucharist on the first Friday of each month, for nine consecutive months. (If it isn’t offered at your parish, you can go to Confession & offer your prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions).

  • Celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

For more on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his 12 promises go here.

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Begins May 25th

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was originated and made popular by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. She was inspired by visions of Jesus who instructed her to spread this devotion to the world. It has been a favorite devotion of many saints ever since, including Saint Padre Pio who prayed it every day.

The Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is all about uniting our hearts with Christ's and devoting ourselves to Him. By conforming ourselves to Christ's will we can live more perfectly in the imitation of our Lord.

When we say this novena together, we pray to transform ourselves to love as Jesus Christ does. In the words of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque wrote, "Since love makes lovers one in likeness, if we love, let us model our lives on His." The goal in praying this novena is to unite ourselves with Christ in all that we do — referring everything to His glory, and accepting all sufferings and difficulties as something to bring us even closer to the love He shares with us — with a real and physical heart, symbolizing his eternal and infinite charity.

Saint John Paul II named the feast of the Sacred Heart the "World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests". While praying the novena to the Sacred Heart, please include priests in your prayers.

Click for information on this novena as well as daily email reminders.

May 23, 2016

Plenary Indulgences Obtainable on the Feast of Corpus Christi [Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ]


Plenary indulgences are available to the faithful on the Feast of Corpus Christi. An indulgence remits our temporal punishment in purgatory due to our sins. It may be either partial or plenary. It is partial if it pardons part of the temporal punishment due to sin, and plenary if it pardons all punishment. Only one plenary indulgence per day can be earned. The following acts will merit a plenary indulgence — provided the conditions for a plenary indulgence are met. (See below.)

Down in adoration falling (Tantum ergo)

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who reigns on high,
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.

V. You have given them bread from heaven,
R. Having all sweetness within it.

Let us pray. O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of your Passion: grant, we implore you, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of your Redemption. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen. (From the Roman Breviary.)

A partial indulgence is granted to those who devoutly recite the above verses. But a plenary indulgence is granted on Holy Thursday and on the feast of Corpus Christi, if they are recited in a solemn manner.

Eucharistic Procession

A plenary indulgence is available to those who participate in Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

"The faithful who piously participate in solemn Eucharistic procession, either inside or outside of a Church, especially on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, may receive a plenary indulgence.

A partial indulgence is granted for visiting the Blessed Sacrament for adoration or for offering any approved prayer to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament." (From The Enchiridion of Indulgences 59., 1968.)

Requirements for Gaining a Plenary Indulgence

◗ Perform/recite the prescribed work or prayer.

◗ Worthily receive Communion. (Preferably, the day of the act or prayer.)

◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed".

◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the pope’s intentions (the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).

◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days.

◗ For a plenary indulgence, one must be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

For more on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences promulgated by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. Also The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Indulgences.

May 21, 2016

Trinity Sunday | 2016


Collect Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Heavenly Father,
You sent your Word
to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know
the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship You,
one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in You.
We ask You this, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
one God, true and living, for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily for Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2016, Year C

The Holy Trinity

Fr. Thomas J. Lane S.T.D.
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
Mt. St. Mary's Seminary
Emmitsburg, MD

(Click here for today’s readings)

"O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me."

That beautiful prayer to the Trinity is quoted in a book on Celtic prayer (The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination page 43 by Esther de Waal). It expresses beautifully the different qualities of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. The Father sought us. That reminds me of Psalm 139, a beautiful Psalm about God seeking us and being present with us at all times.

O Lord you search me and you know me,
You know my resting and my rising,
You discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
All my ways lie open to you.

Before ever a word is on my tongue
You know it, O Lord through and through.
Behind and before you besiege me,
Your hand ever laid upon me.
Too wonderful for me, this knowledge,
Too high, beyond my reach.

The Father was continually seeking us from the beginning. The Father called Abraham and called a people to himself out of all the peoples on earth. God called Moses and gave a covenant forming them into the Jewish people. The first reading (Prov 8:22-31) described the wisdom of God. Other passages in the Bible identify this wisdom with God’s Torah or Law or Commandments (Sir/Ecclus 24:23; Bar 4:1). God’s wisdom or his Commandments are one of the ways we see God seeking his people before Jesus. God’s commandments, his wisdom, is one way God reached out to his people to lead them to himself. The Father continued to seek his people by sending the prophets to call his people back to live according to the covenant when they were wandering away.

Unfortunately our spiritual ancestors, the Jews, did not listen, so then the Father revealed the great masterpiece of his plan to seek us; he sent his Son Jesus to buy us with his blood (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28; Rom 3:24-25; 5:9; Eph 1:7; 2:13; Col 1:20; Heb 9:12; Rev 5:9).

"O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me."

The second reading today says the same using other words, "...through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace..." (Rom 5:1) Jesus, the Son of the Father bought us. That reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 6:20, “You are not your own property, you have been bought at a price. So use your body for the glory of God.” How much are you worth? You are worth as much as the precious blood of Jesus because that is the price God paid for you, the blood of Jesus. In Rev 5:9 there is a hymn to Jesus, these words are addressed to Jesus,

"Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation."

Yes we were purchased for the Father by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is priceless so you are priceless.

The final part of God’s plan to save us is the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Jesus had ascended.

"O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me."

Jesus refers to the teaching quality of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel today,

"But when the Spirit of truth comes
He will lead you to the complete truth,
Since he will not be speaking as from himself
But will say only what he has learnt…" (John 16:13)

There are many ways in which we can see the Holy Spirit guiding the Church all down through the centuries. There is a very interesting example that I heard on Italian TV some years ago. Bishop Magee was being interviewed and mentioned that when he was secretary to Pope John Paul I, the Pope said to him one day that his successor was sitting opposite him during the conclave (first conclave of 1978). Bishop Magee did not think about it again until after the election of Pope John Paul II a short while afterwards and then he took out the map of the conclave that elected Pope John Paul I and saw that Cardinal Karol Woytyla who was to become Pope John Paul II was indeed sitting opposite Cardinal Luciani who became Pope John Paul I. How did Pope John Paul I know who his successor would be? I think we can say that somehow it was the Holy Spirit who had brought him to this conclusion.

"O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me."

Can you see in your own life that the Father has sought you, Jesus the Son bought you, and the Holy Spirit taught you? Can you see events in your own life that show the Father seeking you? Sometimes you would hear people say they felt that God had protected them from an accident or protected during an accident or that what at first looked to be disaster later turned out to be for the best. Can you see Jesus the Son buying you? Those who have seen the movie The Passion of the Christ are very aware of Jesus buying them with his blood. Can you see the Holy Spirit working in your life perhaps to expand your heart to be compassionate to someone or to forgive someone or to help someone? The Father, Son and Spirit work in the lives of each of us if we are open. Can you open your heart to the Father, Son and Spirit?

"O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me."

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
___________________________________________

Reprinted with permission from www.frtommylane.com.

Saint John Paul II on the Trinity

God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love.
— St. John Paul II

May 20, 2016

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

The Most Holy Trinity

[This prayer may be recited individually or as a family.]

***

V/ The true God, One in Three and Three in One, come, let us adore.

R/ The true God, One in Three and Three in One, come, let us adore.

V/ Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, Thou hast given to Thy servants grace for professing the true faith and acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of Thy majesty to worship the Unity; grant that by steadfastness in the same faith we may evermore be defended from all adversities. Through Christ our Lord.

R/ Amen.

V/ Be with us, O God, one and omnipotent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

R/ You are our hope, our salvation, our glory, O Blessed Trinity.

V/ Blessed are you, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven.

R/ Praiseworthy and glorious forever. Amen.

V/ Glory be to the Father and to Son and to the Holy Ghost.

R/ As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

May 19, 2016

The Virgin Mary is Prefigured by the Burning Bush

Orthodox icon of the burning bush
As we celebrate this month dedicated to our Lady, here is an article from our archive for your consideration. [Originally published in February 2013 as "Mary is the New Burning Bush".]

In Exodus 3:1-2 it is written:
Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock beyond the wilderness, he came to the mountain of God, Horeb. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed.
The theophany of the burning bush, in which God appeared to Moses, did not immolate itself. Not so much as a leaf was singed. This is a miracle precisely because the conflagration failed to scorch, burn or otherwise disfigure the plant. Moses was rightly amazed. So too, throughout Scripture, whenever God intervenes in human affairs the people He touches are neither disrespected or compromised. Moreover, God, the source of love and life, created us as rational beings. When acting on the human stage, He never violates our free will.

Consider the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ. While consenting to be the God bearer, in no way was her freedom or her personhood violated. This was also true in regard to her physical virginity. God never destroys His chosen instruments. The virginity of Mary was protected even in giving birth to our Savior. This might seem like an impossibility, however, nothing is impossible for God. Not burning bushes that remain intact. Not virgin births. Not Resurrection after death. Mary was preserved physically just like the burning bush.

Having completed the course of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. The stain of sin did not touch her, therefore, the specter of physical decay could not effect her. In the threefold preservation of her free will, her perpetual virginity and her miraculous assumption, Mary, the most holy Theotokos, is the new burning bush.

These hymns from the Orthodox Church celebrate the miracle of the burning bush as a prefiguration of the virgin childbirth of Mary.

Troparion – (Tone 1)

The miracle that Moses witnessed on Sinai in the burning bush
Foretold your virgin childbearing, O pure Mother.
We the faithful cry to you:
Rejoice, O truly living bush!
Rejoice, O holy mountain!
Rejoice, O sanctified expanse and most holy Theotokos!  

Kontakion (Tone 4)

You showed Moses, O Christ God,
An image of your most pure Mother
In the bush that burned yet was not consumed,
For she herself was not consumed,
When she received in her womb the fire of divinity!
She remained incorrupt after her pure childbearing!
By her prayers, O greatly merciful One,
Deliver us from the flame of passions,

And preserve your people from all harm!

May 18, 2016

In Honor of the 96th Anniversary of Saint John Paul the Great's Birth – A Retrospective

Saint Pope John Paul the Great

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born 96 years ago, on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, the youngest of three children, to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Wojtyla, (née Kaczorowska). The future pope's father was a non-commissioned officer of the Imperial Royal Army and a Polish Army captain. His mother had a premonition about her youngest child saying, "Karol is destined to be a great man." 

Young Wojtyla, c 1929 
Date of birth: May 18, 1920

Date of death: April 2, 2005

Birth place: Wadowice, Poland

Education: Doctorate in Philosophy, Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Jagiellonian University

Feast Day: October 22 (date of papal inauguration)

Apostolic Motto: Totus Tuus (Totally yours)

Notes of Interest:

Upon his election in 1978, John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. At 58, he was the youngest pope since the election of Pope Pius IX (age 54), in 1846. During his pontificate, he visited 129 countries, travelling over 680,000 miles. He beatified 1,340 individuals and canonized 483 saints. While Bishop of Rome, he survived two attempts on his life. John Paul II is the third longest serving pontiff in history, behind St. Peter (32 years) and Pope Pius IX (31 years 7 months). He authored 14 encyclicals, 7 plays, 3 compilations of poetry and 16 books. He learned as many as twelve languages and spoke nine fluently as Pope: Polish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

First pope to visit the White House.
 As a university student,
c 1938-39

First modern pope to visit a synagogue.

First pope to visit Cuba.

Most widely traveled pope. (It has been suggested that John Paul II was seen in person by more people than any other figure in history.) 

Canonized more saints than any other pontiff.

Created 232 cardinals.

Re-established diplomatic relations with Great Britain 

Re-established diplomatic relations with the United States

Timeline:

May 18, 1920 - Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in Wadowice, Poland, at 7 Koscielna Street. Nicknamed Lolek, he is the third and last child of Karol and Emilia. His brother Edmund was born in 1906 and a sister, Olga, died in infancy in 1914.

1938 - Karol graduates from high school. His family moves to Krakow. Karol attends Jagiellonian University until World War II begins in September 1939.

1941 - Wojtyla helps form an underground theater, called the Rhapsodic Theater. It presented works in Polish in defiance of the Nazis. During the day, Wojtyla labors in quarries and chemical factories.

1942 - Wojtyla studies at underground seminary run by Archbishop Sapieha.

Father Wojtyla, c 1947
1946 - Wojtyla is ordained a priest by Cardinal Sapieha.

1946-1948 - Wojtyla studies in Rome, earning a doctorate in philosophy. Later, he earns a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Jagellonian University.

1958 - Wojtyla is consecrated a bishop.

1962-1965 - Wojtyla participates in Vatican II. 

March 8, 1964 - Wojtyla is ordained Archbishop of Krakow.

June 26, 1967 - In a secret consistory, Wojtyla is elevated to cardinal. 
John Paul II upon his
election as pontiff.

October 16, 1978 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected the 264th pope.

October 2, 1979 - Addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations.

May 13, 1981 - Pope John Paul II is shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in Saint Peter's Square. He is seriously wounded in the abdomen, arm and hand. 

January 27, 1983 - He meets with Ali Agca at Rebibbia Prison.

December 26, 1994 - Time Magazine names him Man of the Year.

April 2, 2005 - Dies at 9:37 p.m. in his apartment in the Vatican.

April 8, 2005 - His funeral takes place in Saint Peter's Square. He is buried in a crypt under Saint Peter's Basilica.

May 2005 - Pope Benedict XVI waives the five year wait period for canonization.

May 1, 2011 - Is beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. 

April 27, 2014 - Is canonized a saint.

Pope John Paul II on Love - Chicago 1979:



Habemus Papam! Pope John Paul II presented to the world upon his election as Supreme Pontiff:



Prayer for the Intercession of Saint John Paul II 


O Blessed Trinity,
we thank You for having graced the Church
with Saint 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...
We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, 
forever and ever. Amen.

The Inner Life of the Most Holy Trinity is an Exchange of Persons

By Matthew Coffin

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is May 22nd. The Divine Family that is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. The mystery of the Trinity is the life that dwells in us and sustains us.
___________

"God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love."

— St. John Paul II

The Exchange of Persons in the Trinity

The three-leaf clover used in religion classes to explain the mystery of three Divine Persons in one God does not begin to penetrate the incomparable majesty, boundless love, and total communion, which the Church in her Tradition and creeds ascribes to the Trinity.

To the early Church Fathers the idea of perichoresis (the exchange of Persons in the Trinity), was indispensable to understanding God. This sublime, metaphysical concept is central to John Paul’s Theology of the Body. The inner life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Divine Love Itself, is dimly but unmistakably reflected in the beauty of the conjugal embrace, the nuptial meaning of our bodies, and the echo of original innocence that resides in the human heart.

Before continuing, the term "person" should be defined. A person has an intellect, with which to know and a will, with which to choose. As a result, a person is always a "someone," never a "something." Animals are not persons. Their intellects are governed by instinct and they do not have free will. Only persons can freely choose.

There are three types of persons: Divine Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), angelic persons (angels), and human persons (human beings). God alone possesses the Divine Nature that is the Divine Intellect and the Divine Will. As Persons, each member of the Trinity has a Divine Intellect and a Divine Will, separate from and in accordance with each other. Christ incarnate also possesses a human intellect and a human will. Angels are persons because they know and choose, as do human beings. This is what it means to say we are made in the image and likeness of God. Our personhood images the Divine Personhood of the Trinity.

The Inner Life of the Trinity

God’s perfection is to exist. This doesn’t sound very impressive until we consider the opposite of existence. Something that exists is more perfect than the mere conceptualization of that thing. Before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa he envisioned it in his mind. What resulted from his creative powers and artistry continues to fascinate, inspiring legions of impersonators, and bring joy to beholders. Had he not painted it his masterpiece would have disappeared along with his imagination. The Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre is superior in every way to the unrealized concept.

As the perfection of all that is, God the Father’s knowledge of Himself is perfect. The perfect self-knowledge of the Father exists. It is God the Son. Since Jesus is the perfect self-knowledge of the Father, the Person of Christ has always existed. God the Father and God the Son have no beginning and no end, a truth acknowledged in the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
The love of the Father for the Son is total. God the Father empties Himself completely, holding nothing back from the Son. The love of the Son for the Father is total. God the Son empties Himself completely, holding nothing back from the Father. The love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father exists. It is God the Holy Spirit. The love that is the exchange of Persons between Father and Son is the Life that is the Spirit, with no beginning and no end. The Creed affirms that the Third Person of the Trinity is coequal with and proceeds from the Father and the Son:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
The love of the Holy Spirit for the other Persons of the Trinity is total. God the Holy Spirit empties Himself completely, holding nothing back from the Father and the Son. The love of the Father and the Son for the Spirit is total. God the Father and God the Son empty themselves completely, holding nothing back from the Spirit. This exchange of Persons that is the inner life of the Trinity is the first family. Before God created the world there was only the Divine Family. But the life-giving love of the Trinity is spiritual not sexual in nature.

Mirroring the Trinity, man and woman consummate their love in marriage through a free and total self-donation of their persons in the intimacy of sexual union. Pope John Paul’s exhortation to couples that a man should give himself completely in a receiving way to his wife, and a woman should receive her husband completely in a giving way, reflects this. (Something contraception prevents entirely.)

Our Lord raises marriage to a sacrament. The words of Jesus confer on matrimony a dignity befitting its purpose: "…from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10:6-9, also Matthew 19:4-6)

Christ is referring to the first covenant, in Genesis, between man and man’s Creator. It is a marriage covenant. God’s command to Adam and Eve: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it," calls attention to a profound truth. Only persons can know and choose. Because they know and choose persons alone can love. Only the human person is able to bring into this world another person capable of still more love. The gift of human sexuality allows married persons to grow in intimacy and holiness, give themselves more completely to their spouse, and be co-creators with God in the procreation, raising, and education of children.