Sunday, January 30, 2011

Today's Audio Sermon from Fr. Robert Barron

Sermon 525 : Blessed Are We : 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Beatitudes reveal the true path of joy is found not in grasping at power but in the willing surrender to God's mysterious grace.

Friday, January 28, 2011

From the Word on Fire Blog

Spirituality: Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, who is one of the great patron saints of both Father Barron and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries as a whole. On the blog today, read a short reflection from Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master and watch Fr. Barron's video on his theological hero.  

"No account of the life and spirituality of Aquinas would be complete without a reflection on the events immediately preceding and surrounding his death. In Naples, on the feat of St. Nicholas, December 6, 1273, Thomas was, according to his custom, celebrating Mass in the presence of his friend, Reginald. Something extraordinary happened during that Mass, for afterward Thomas broke the routine that had been his for the previous twenty years. According to one source, he ‘hung up his instruments of writing,’ refusing to work, to dictate, to write. When his socius encouraged him to continue, Thomas replied very simply that he could not. Afraid that his master had perhaps become mentally unbalanced, the younger man persisted until Thomas, with a mixture of impatience and resignation, finally replied, ‘Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.’
To many, those are the most eloquent words that Thomas Aquinas ever uttered. After filling tens of thousands of pages with words about God, the great master very abruptly fell silent, convinced that everything he had written amounted to no more than refuse, perhaps persuaded that nothing finally can capture the strangeness and elusiveness of God. Some speculate that Thomas might have suffered a stroke (there is indeed some evidence that he was physically impaired after the December 6 incident) and others that he had what amounted to a psychological breakdown (many of his symptoms are consistent with burn-out, profound depression, or even a midlife crisis). Whatever explanation we offer, the simple fact of his remarkable silence remains.

In January of 1274, Thomas visited his sister but was scarcely able to speak to her. She described him as stupefactus (dazed or out of his senses). According to some sources it was during this visit that Thomas told Reginald that his work seemed like straw ‘compared to what had been revealed to him.’ If this is so, then Thomas’s silence takes on a stranger and more mystical quality.
Summoned to the Council of Lyons in early 1274, the dutiful Aquinas set out fro France but fell ill on the way. Anticipating his death, Thomas asked to be taken to the Cistercian monastery of Fassanuova. It was there that he died on March 7, some say after composing a commentary on the Song of Songs.”[1]

For further reading, here is a link to Father Barron's article entitled, America Needs You, Thomas Aquinas. 

[1] Robert Barron. Thomas Aquinas, Spiritual Master (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1996), 23-24

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus

In honor of their feast day...FROM HERE


Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Timothy and Titus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Having spoken at length on the great Apostle Paul, today let us look at his two closest collaborators: Timothy and Titus. Three Letters traditionally attributed to Paul are addressed to them, two to Timothy and one to Titus.

Timothy is a Greek name which means "one who honours God". Whereas Luke mentions him six times in the Acts, Paul in his Letters refers to him at least 17 times (and his name occurs once in the Letter to the Hebrews).

One may deduce from this that Paul held him in high esteem, even if Luke did not consider it worth telling us all about him.

Indeed, the Apostle entrusted Timothy with important missions and saw him almost as an alter ego, as is evident from his great praise of him in his Letter to the Philippians. "I have no one like him (isópsychon) who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare" (2: 20).

Timothy was born at Lystra (about 200 kilometres northwest of Tarsus) of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father (cf. Acts 16: 1).

The fact that his mother had contracted a mixed-marriage and did not have her son circumcised suggests that Timothy grew up in a family that was not strictly observant, although it was said that he was acquainted with the Scriptures from childhood (cf. II Tm 3: 15). The name of his mother, Eunice, has been handed down to us, as well as that of his grandmother, Lois (cf. II Tm 1: 5).

When Paul was passing through Lystra at the beginning of his second missionary journey, he chose Timothy to be his companion because "he was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16: 2), but he had him circumcised "because of the Jews that were in those places" (Acts 16: 3).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 Quote of the Week


Baptismal Grace

"And the bishop shall lay his hand upon them [the newly baptized], invoking and saying: ‘O Lord God, who did count these worthy of deserving the forgiveness of sins by the laver of regeneration, make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit and send upon them thy grace [in confirmation], that they may serve you according to your will" (The Apostolic Tradition 22:1 [A.D. 215]).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where is the Catholic Church?

This post is taken from Sean Patrick at the Called to Communion website. Please take the time to visit and read more of the articles provided there. 

Where is the Catholic Church?

Where is the Catholic Church?
If you are curious then I might first suggest that you try this exercise:
If you live in a small town, go to the corner store on the main street and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in a big city, go downtown and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in Singapore, go to the nearest market and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in Nigeria, go to town and ask the first people you meet, “Where is the Catholic Church?’
Pope Benedict 16th
In each scenario I am willing to wager that the vast majority of the people asked this question will give you directions to the nearest church. But not just any church. You will be given directions to a church which is pastored by a priest who has been entrusted by a bishop to celebrate the sacraments. And this bishop will be in communion with the bishop of Rome, Benedict the 16th.

I recently tested this theory. I work in Houston, TX in an office complex that is 40 stories high. I stood in the lobby for a few minutes and asked several passers-by if they knew where the Catholic Church is located. I asked ten people in the span of ten minutes. Two people said, ‘I do not know, sorry.’ The rest of them gave me rough directions to either St. Anne’s Catholic Church or St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Both parishes are about equidistant from the office. Both St. Anne’s and St. Michael’s are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. If I were to leave the office and follow the directions I was given I would pass at least a half dozen other churches but those churches were not identified as the ‘Catholic Church’ by any person that I asked. If I stood there all day and asked one hundred people the same question, I would be shocked if anybody pointed me to a church that is not in communion with the bishop of Rome.

You can also examine the question this way:
Go outside and go to your neighbor’s house. Knock on the door. Ask your neighbor what church they attend. If they attend a church then ask, ‘Which one?’ After they tell you which one ask, “Is that a Catholic Church?” If they answer in the affirmative then I would be willing to wager that the church in question will be a church pastored by a priest who is in communion with the bishop of Rome. If they say, ‘No, it is not a Catholic Church’ then I am willing to bet that their church will not be pastored by a priest who is in communion with the bishop of Rome.

What is my point? My point is that when it comes to the question, Where is the Catholic Church?: “Securus judicat orbis terrarum” or “The verdict of the world is conclusive.” – St. Augustine (Contra Epist. Parmen. III.24)

The word ‘Catholic’ comes from the Greek ‘kath-holan’ and literally means ‘embracing all or pertaining to the whole.’ Members of the Catholic Church have been calling themselves ‘Catholic’ since at least Ignatius (AD 107).
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out the appointment of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrneans
I believe that this is the very first extant example of the Church being called “Catholic” that we have. Notice how the identity of the Catholic Church is tied to the bishop and the celebration of the Eucharist and by the minister of the sacrament acting ‘in persona Christi.’

By the time the Apostles Creed is penned the usage is clearly widespread. The usage and understanding of the label ‘Catholic’ is not hidden within patristic sources.
St. Augustine writes:
For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual, men attain in this life…not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations…so does her authority…the succession of priests…and so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church…Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church…For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church…for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichaeus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you.
- Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, 4:5,5:6 (A.D 397)
Notice how St. Augustine defines the Catholic Church. It is not merely a set of people who agree on doctrine. The Catholic Church spreads across ‘nations.’ The Catholic Church has ‘authority.’ The Catholic Church has ‘the succession of priests.’
There are more fathers who express similar ideas:
Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another.
- Cyprian, To Florentius (A.D. 254)
This is what we mean by ‘Catholic Church.’