Is Sola Scriptura Scriptural? Part II: What Do The Apostles Say?  Ken Hensley: re-blogged

Ken Hensley

Ken is a well-known Catholic speaker and author on staff with CHN. To subscribe to his personal email list and browse his many recorded talks on Catholic apologetics, visit his website at kennethhensley.com

Is Sola Scriptura Scriptural? Part II: What Do The Apostles Say?

 Ken Hensley

This is part of an ongoing series by Ken Hensley. Read the previous installments: Introduction – Part I

We’ve seen that the rule of faith and practice for Christians living during the time of the Apostles was not sola Scriptura.

For them, authority resided in (a) the inspired Scriptures, (b) the oral teaching of the Apostles, and (c) the decisions of the Church’s leadership as it met in council to settle disputed matters (Acts 15). If you will: Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium.

In other words, a believer living in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, or Rome during the time of the Apostles would never have said what Protestant scholars Geisler and MacKenzie say in Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: “The Bible — nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else — is all that is necessary for faith and practice” (p. 178).

Objection, Your Honor

 Now, to this the thoughtful non-Catholic should respond:

“Hold your horses! Of course Christians weren’t ‘Bible only’ Christians during the time of the Apostles!

As Christ’s authoritative spokesmen, of course the Apostle’s oral teaching was authoritative as well as their writing. And, of course, decisions made in councils like in Acts 15 — which, by the way, you cleverly neglected to mention was led by Apostles — would be authoritative! We agree that the teaching and decisions of Apostles were authoritative.

The question that needs to be asked, then, in order to decide what the rule of faith and practice ought to be for Christians, is not ‘What was the practice of believers living during the time of the Apostles?’ but rather, ‘What should the practice of believers be now that there are no longer Apostles walking the earth?’ What should the Church’s rule of faith and practice be now that there are no longer inspired Apostles who can write and teach and meet in council to issue authoritative decrees?

This is the question that needs to be asked!”

I think thoughtful Catholics would have to agree that the objection should be sustained. Yes, sola Scriptura isn’t a rule that would apply while the Apostles were still alive, but only after.

The New Testament Teaching 

The questions that came immediately to mind were these:

Do the Apostles say anything about this?

Are there any direct statements to the effect that once they have departed this world, authority for individual Christians and for the Church, will reside in Scripture alone?

Are there hints in the New Testament books that the Apostles understood this?

Do we see them preparing their churches for such a fundamental change in how Christian doctrine would be determined and disputes settled?

Because I had always assumed the truth of sola Scriptura (after all, what is left but to look to Scripture alone once the Apostles are gone and public revelation is no longer being given?) reading the New Testament through with these kinds of questions in mind was a new experience for me. I saw things I had not seen before, or maybe better, things I had seen but not thought about.

In short, what I saw were evidences of a mindset that did not fit the notion that the Apostles had it in their apostolic heads that when they had passed from this life, Scripture would become for Christ’s followers the “sole and sufficient infallible rule of faith and practice.”

  1. For instance, it occurred to me that most of the Apostles didn’t act like men who were preparing their disciples for sola Scriptura — by the very fact that most of them didn’t bother to write at all.

Imagine you’re an Apostle traveling through modern-day Turkey evangelizing, teaching, establishing communities of believers, and ordaining leadership in those communities. And imagine you believe that when you die what you have written will become the sole doctrinal and moral authority for the churches you’ve founded and the Christians you’ve instructed.

Don’t you think you’d want to write down everything you wanted your spiritual children to know and believe, as opposed to relying on them to simply remember what you’d said?

 Now, I didn’t — and don’t — put much weight on this observation. Even though we only have the writings of three of the original twelve Apostles, Peter, Matthew, and John, I suppose it’s possible that the others wrote and their writings haven’t been preserved. But it’s hard to imagine the churches not treasuring and make sure to preserve the writings of inspired Apostles.

No, most of the Apostles seem to have been perfectly content to live out their days preaching the Gospel, establishing churches, and teaching them the doctrines of their most holy faith — without ever feeling the need to write down what they were teaching.

At the very least, this is strange, and it raises the question: what were they thinking in terms of the future preservation of their teaching?

Which leads to a second observation.

  1. It seemed to me that even those Apostles who did write, didn’t write in a mannerthat would make me think they had the eventual onset of sola Scriptura in their minds. 

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 15:29, Paul refers to baptisms being performed for the dead without explaining what he means. Apparently his readers understood what he was talking about and so he didn’t feel the need to explain himself.

It doesn’t seem to have crossed Paul’s mind that Christians in the future might also want to know what he was talking about!

Another example: in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul refers to the “man of sin” who is to be revealed and “who will take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Important stuff! Multiple millions of dollars have been made by Christian authors speculating on the identity of this “man of sin” and the circumstances of his being revealed. What’s Paul talking about?

Well, he begins to speak of this man of sin, but then, instead of explaining exactly who and what he’s referring to, he says, “Do you not remember that when I was with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time?”

I remember thinking, “Well, gee, thanks a lot, Paul! It’s great to know that the Christians in Thessalonica don’t need an explanation because, after all, you told them when you were with them. But what about those of us born a hundred years later, or five hundred later, or in the middle of the 20th century in Southern California? How am I supposed to know what you told the Thessalonian believers?”

But, of course, what Paul is doing here is quite natural. When he wrote letters to the various churches he had founded or visited, for the most part he was writing to people he had already spent a good deal of time with (e.g. three years in Ephesus, a couple of years in Corinth). In other words, he knows his readers are familiar with his teaching and therefore, quite naturally, doesn’t feel the need to spell everything out in this letters to them — or even to necessarily complete every thought he begins to express.

He can presuppose that his readers know what he’s talking about and will be able to fill in the blanks on their own.

Now, this applies to nearly all of the New Testament epistles. They’re what we call “occasional documents” — letters written to specific churches to address specific issues and problems. They weren’t written to summarize Christian doctrine and, except here and there, they don’t summarize Christian doctrine.

And yet, if the Apostles were thinking that sola Scriptura would very soon become the rule of faith and practice for the Christian communities, you’d think they would have been eager to do just that: write down clear summaries of Christian doctrine.

There’s no hint that they sensed the need.

In fact, with the Apostle John, we find the reverse! In the three very short letters we have from John (one five pages in length and two more one page each in length) we find him twice expressing an actual preference for speaking in person over writing!

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete (2 John 1:12).

I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face (3 John 1:13, emphases added).

In short, reading through the New Testament letters I did not see evidence of an apostolic mindset that said,

“Brothers, we need to be preparing our churches. So long as we are alive, they have us to teach them and answer their questions and authoritatively settle disputes. But as soon as we’re out of the picture, everything’s going to change. There’s no longer going to be an authoritative living voice for the Church. When Christians disagree, they’re going to have to fight it out among themselves, looking to the Bible alone. With this in mind, we need to make sure to spell out everything as clearly as possible and in writing!”

I didn’t see a hint that the Apostles possessed any such mindset.

  1. In fact, in the one case in which an Apostle actually talks about the preservation of his teaching beyond death, he talks about it in a way that led me to conclude that he was not at all thinking like someone who believed sola Scriptura would become the rule of faith and practice for the future Church. 

The truth is, he seemed to be thinking more like a Catholic.

I’m speaking here of St. Paul. Second Timothy appears to have been Paul’s farewell address to his spiritual son and successor in the ministry. In chapter 4, the Apostle speaks of his soon-to-come departure from this world: “For I am already on the point of being sacrificed, the time of my departure has come.”

With this in mind, he gives Timothy these instructions:

Follow the pattern of sound words, which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells in you (2 Tim 1:13-14).

I noticed a couple of things right away.

First, what Paul is talking about here is precisely the preservation of his teaching after his death. It becomes even clearer a few verses later that this is what the great Apostle has on his mind.

The second thing I noticed was that Paul doesn’t say a word here about his “writings.”

Interesting. Paul’s thinking about how his teaching is to be preserved once he has left this world and instead of talking about his inspired writings, he talks about a “pattern of sound words” Timothy has “heard” from Paul, that has been “entrusted” to him, and that he is to “guard” “by the Holy Spirit” who dwells in him.

And then, a few words later.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:1-2, emphasis added).

 Again, notice the focus on what Timothy has “heard.”

He is to guard by the Holy Spirit the body of teaching he has received from Paul — everything he has heard Paul teach — and then “entrust” this body of teaching to faithful men who presumably will do the same thing Paul is instructing Timothy to do; that is, they will guard by the Holy Spirit who dwells in them the truth entrusted to them by Timothy and entrust that truth to other faithful men who in turn will entrust the truth to still others, and so forth.

Why, I wondered, isn’t Paul acting like someone who believes that after his departure from this world Timothy and everyone else will be practicing sola Scriptura? Why isn’t his focus on what he has written? Why isn’t he instructing Timothy to collect his writings and begin the work of making copies of them? Why all this talk about what Timothy has heard, about a “pattern” of sound words and guarding things by the Holy Spirit? The process sounds so uncertain.

Paul didn’t sound at all like a good Protestant apostle would sound in similar circumstances. He didn’t seem to be thinking in the sorts of terms that I as a Protestant would have been thinking in.

Rather, in sharp contrast, Paul seems to have believed that the substance of his teaching would be preserved by the Holy Spirit through a process akin to apostolic succession, and this is what he’s thinking about as the time of his death approaches.

Like Father, Like Son

Of course, Paul’s way of thinking here is not without context. I could see, in fact, that it fits a pattern of thinking that is really at the heart of the New Covenant promise of the Spirit.

No doubt, Paul had noticed that when God the Father wanted to speak His most authoritative and eloquent Word, He spoke that Word by sending His Son, endowed with the Spirit, to teach by word and example. The Book of Hebrews begins,

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … who is the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Paul certainly had noticed as well that when the Son of God wanted to ensure that His teaching would continue in the world after He had ascended to the Father, He didn’t sit down and write a book.

Instead, He did precisely what His Father had done. He chose men (this time twelve), taught them, endowed them with His Spirit and authority, and sent them out to do as He had done.

And this is exactly what they did. Yes, when there were particular needs to be addressed in particular churches, the Apostles wrote letters to address those needs. But in reading what they wrote, I didn’t get the sense that they conceived of writing as their primary work. Rather, it was preaching, teaching, establishing churches, and training and ordaining leadership for those churches.

Finally, I could see that within this context, the things Paul said to Timothy all make sense. As the Father had sent the Son, endowed with the Spirit to teach and establish a Church; as the Son had sent His apostolic messengers into the world, endowed with the Spirit to teach and to establish the Church in Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world; so as Paul prepares to leave this world and wants to ensure that his teaching will be preserved and faithfully passed on, he doesn’t think first about writing. He doesn’t think as one would naturally think who had sola Scriptura in mind.

Instead, what he thinks about is teaching Timothy everything he wants him to know and sending him forth, endowed with the Spirit to pass the truth on to others.

In short, as shocking as it was to what remained of my Protestant sensibilities, Paul seemed to believe that the Christian faith would be preserved in the Church.

Up next: Is Sola Scriptura Scriptural? Part III: Circular Reasoning

New Testament Practice & Sola Scriptura Part 1 of 4  Ken Hensley : re-blogged

New Testament Practice & Sola Scriptura

Part 1 of 4

Ken Hensley

 

This is part of an ongoing series by Ken Hensley. 

My entire Christian life I had assumed the truth of sola Scriptura. Every believer I knew presupposed the notion that the Bible should function as the “sole and sufficient” infallible rule for deciding what I was to believe and how I was to live as a Christian. It was presupposed in my seminary education as well.

As an evangelical Protestant, sola Scriptura was a given.

Because of this, when I began for the first time to examine the doctrine of sola Scriptura, the most important question in my mind as a Bible Christian was: What does the Bible say about this?

I mean, does the Bible teach sola Scriptura? Does it actually teach us that, as Protestant scholars Geisler and MacKenzie put it, “the Bible — nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else — is all that is necessary for faith and practice”? Is sola Scriptura biblical?

Since, according to sola Scriptura, a Christian should believe concerning divine revelation only what can be shown to be clearly taught in Scripture — or necessarily implied by what is clearly taught in Scripture — surely the New Testament must clearly teach or imply sola Scriptura.

If it doesn’t, wouldn’t the doctrine appear to refute itself?

New Testament Practice

I began by looking at the practice of Jesus, the Apostles, and the earliest believers living during the time of the Apostles. What did they take to be authoritative and binding in their lives?

  1. Sacred Scripture

It wasn’t hard to see that Jesus, the Apostles, and the earliest Christians took the inspired writings of the Old and New Testaments, as they were being written, as authoritative and binding.

Three times Jesus responds to the temptations of the devil by quoting Scripture as a final word: “It is written … it is written … it is written!” (Matthew 4:3-10). For Jesus, Scripture is binding.

The same for the Apostles. In 2 Tim 3:16-17, St. Paul writes:

All Scripture is inspired by God (“God-breathed”) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good.

No need to multiply New Testament citations on this point. Catholics and Protestants, after all, are in full agreement that for Jesus, the Apostles, and the earliest Christians, Scripture is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative revelation of God.

  1. Apostolic Tradition

But then, it was also easy to see that for those living during New Testament times, the oral teaching of Jesus and the Apostles was also taken as authoritative and binding.

Now, of course, this would be true of Our Lord, who the author of Hebrews tells us was the “image of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus didn’t always say, “It is written” (emphasis added). Even more often He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you” (emphasis added) and when He did, His words carried the very authority of God speaking. His words were as binding on those who heard Him as the written words of inspired Scripture.

But what about Our Lord’s Apostles? Was this true of them as well? Did spoken words come with the authority of God? The answer, I could see, was yes, but with some clarification.

Of course, the Apostles weren’t “inspired” in the sense that anything and everything they said was special revelation from God. However, when Jesus sent His Apostles out, He gave them His Spirit and His divine authority and said to them, “The one who listens to you listens to me” (Luke 10:16), and it’s clear that the Apostles taught with an awareness that the substance of their teaching was as binding spoken as it was when written down.

We can see this in Paul. Writing to the believers in the Greek city of Thessalonica, he gave thanks to God that when he came for the first time preaching, the people had accepted his message “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). St Paul’s preaching was authoritative.

He later reminded the Thessalonians that they should “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (2 Thessalonians 2:15 emphasis added).

Now, to the Protestant ear the word “tradition” normally carries negative connotations. But in this case, at least, I could see that all that was meant was that whether it was something Paul had written in a letter to the Christians in Thessalonica or something he had taught them when he was with them, it was to be received with docility as authoritative Christian teaching.

And this made perfect sense. After all, wouldn’t it be absurd to think that when Paul wrote to the Church in Thessalonica that, for instance, the “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), his words were to be received as authoritative — inspired Scripture, after all! — but when he was teaching in Thessalonica and said exactly the same thing — “the dead in Christ will rise first” — his words were not necessarily to be received as authoritative?

No. For Christians living during the time of the Apostles, it was clear that both inspired Scripture and the oral teaching of Jesus and the Apostles were conceived as authoritative and binding.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood and addressed the crowds in Jerusalem, “Men of Israel, listen to these words…” He went on to announce to them authoritatively things that had never yet been written down in the pages of inspired Scripture. He interpreted texts from the Old Testament in ways that no Jew had ever interpreted them. And what he said that day was to be received as God’s word.

  1. The Church

But it was clear that there was yet a third aspect to this issue of what constituted binding authority for those living during New Testament times. There was Scripture. There was the oral teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. And then there was … well, Acts 15.

In this key New Testament passage, we read about the first serious theological dispute to arise in the early Church. And, more importantly, we read about how that dispute was settled.

The question was: must Gentile believers receive circumcision and keep the customs of Moses — essentially become Jews — in order to be saved?

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question (Acts 15:1-2).

What Acts chapter 15 goes on to describe is the first “council” of the Christian Church, referred to now as the Council of Jerusalem.

In a nutshell, here’s what happens:

(a) The Apostles and elders meet to discuss, debate, and decide the issue (vs. 6-21).

(b) A decree is issued — a letter drafted and sent out to all the churches informing them of the council’s ruling (vs. 22-30).

(c) In this letter the decision of the council (this is important!) is described as the decision of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements (vs. 27-28).

(d) The letter is received by the churches with joy.

So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and when they had gathered the congregation together they delivered the letter. And when they read it they rejoiced at the exhortation (vs. 30-31).

In other words, the ruling of the council is accepted as authoritative and binding. It is the ruling of the Holy Spirit. None of the Christians in Antioch think to respond, “Thank you very much for your guidance on this matter. We will examine the council’s decision in the light of Scripture and let you know our position.”

No, instead the Christians “rejoice” that the matter has been settled and now they can focus on living out the truths of their faith.

Conclusion

Now, at this point I had not begun to examine the teaching of Scripture on the question of whether Scripture should be treated as the Christian’s “sole infallible rule of faith and practice.” I was merely looking at the pattern of “practice” I could see of Christians living during the time of Jesus and the Apostles.

But I had to admit that looking at this pattern of practice, I did not see sola Scriptura. I did not see “the Bible — nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else — is all that is necessary for faith and practice.” At least at this point, Christians were not looking to the “Bible alone” for their understanding of the truths of Christianity

No. For believers living during the time of the Apostles, authority clearly resided in: (1) Sacred Scripture, (2) Apostolic Tradition (the oral teaching of the Apostles), and (3) the ability of the Church’s leadership, led by the Holy Spirit, to meet in council to settle disputes and decide important matters relating to doctrine and morals.

I knew that I needed now to examine the actual teaching of the New Testament on this issue. I knew the work wasn’t done.

At the same time, I had to admit that the basic pattern of practice I saw in the New Testament matched the basic pattern of practice we see throughout church history and to this day in the Catholic Church.    End part 1 of 4

Here is one simple solution to distractions during prayer by Philip Kosloski: re-blogged

Here is one simple solution to distractions during prayer

 Philip Kosloski

If you find your mind wandering during prayer, try this.

Prayer can often be difficult, especially when praying at home. Countless things can distract our attention, leaving us wondering if our time of prayer is worth it.

There are many different types of distractions during prayer and each need their own solution. For example, while some distractions may be divinely inspired, others are simply at the level of human distractions and require a certain attention that can easily dismiss them.

Read more: How to deal with distractions during prayer, according to St. Therese of Lisieux

In particular, one way we can reduce distractions during prayer is by placing ourselves in a location that fosters prayer.

The place of our prayer is often called an “oratory.” The word “oratory” comes from the Latin word “orare,” meaning “to pray” and is most commonly used to reference a small chapel.

The most common location for a lay person to pray is in the home. Most do not live across the street from a church or chapel and do not have the luxury of stopping by a church on a daily basis. This means that personal prayer is most often conducted in the home.

The primary challenges of praying at home are staying focused and getting into a disposition of prayer. It is not easy to pray when you sit down on the couch and stare at the turned-off TV or look around and see all the children’s toys scattered about the floor.

That is why it is important to dedicate a part of your home, apartment or room, for prayer. This is most often called a “prayer corner.” Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends this practice.

For personal prayer, this can be a “prayer corner” with the Sacred Scriptures and icons, in order to be there, in secret, before our Father. In a Christian family, this kind of little oratory fosters prayer in common. (CCC 1691)

A “prayer corner” can physically be located in a corner in one of your rooms or simply be a place that is somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of the house. In reality, the options are endless and are only constrained by your own creativity.

Eastern Christians maintain this tradition by creating an “icon corner” in their home for private and family prayer. They place several icons in a corner of a home, creating a sacred space in whatever room it is placed in.

When planning to dedicate a specific part of your house for prayer, it is appropriate to fill it with various religious items. This could be several pieces of your favorite religious artwork, candles that you light each time you pray, or even incense that fills the house with a prayerful aroma.

Whatever it is, the key is to be deliberate about it. Think of it as way of inviting God into your home and dedicating a specific part of your home to prayer. In this way, you can reduce some of the distractions you are experiencing in prayer and focus on God, instead of the pile of laundry that is staring at you END QUOTES …..

 A “Little Oratory” Can Build a Big Habit of Prayer

 Kathleen N. Hattrup

Walter A. Aue CC

Any small shelf or corner can become a spiritual retreat for the family

There are two seasons each year that work very well for a new start in the life of prayer, and one of them is practically upon us.

A basic tool to give an extra push to that “new start” is a prayer corner in the home.

So says Leila Lawler, who, with David Clayton, have published a book that serves as a guide for establishing a prayer corner, or as they call it, a “little oratory.”

Establishing a little oratory in the home will lead to a deeper participation in prayer and in the liturgy, Clayton says.

But who has the space, or the time, for a little oratory?

The authors claim we all do. They spoke with Aleteia via e-mail about the why and the how of establishing a little oratory in your house and doing it today—or at least before Nov. 29 (the first Sunday of Advent). Here are excerpts from what they told us:

Why have a prayer spot in the home? Isn’t kneeling beside your bed enough?

Clayton: The ideal is prayer that engages the whole person which means both the spiritual and material aspects. This is why the Church has always encouraged the appropriate use of images, music, incense and consideration of bodily posture (i.e., do we stand, kneel, bow and so on) as well as the directing of our thoughts to God. In fact when the externals are right, they lead the interior disposition into a deeper participation in the liturgy and in prayer.

With images, this not only engages our sight as we pray, but also helps to form the imagination of prayer, so to speak. So that if we are habitually praying with visual imagery then even when we pray with our eyes closed, the imagination is more likely to supply good images that support it.

An additional point is that when we pray in a way that harmonizes the material and the spiritual, if provides a template for making everything that we do in our dally lives in harmony with the forms of the liturgy. This has been lost for many people in today’s world, even Catholics, I think; and so it is why we find it so difficult to evangelize the culture.

Many might say, “I don’t have space for a prayer corner.” How do you answer that concern?

Lawler: The term “prayer corner” might unintentionally impose limits. And here you have a glimpse at what led us to name the book “The Little Oratory”: “oratory” meaning place of prayer, and “little” meaning “little”—so the person wishing to have a physical locus for prayer in the home understands that it may take the form of a prayer table, an icon corner or a spot on the mantelpiece. … In the book we purposely included many small line drawings that suggest simple places for an oratory. Even in a tiny apartment one could have a small tray on the kitchen table that has a candle, a crucifix, and a statue of Our Lady—and that would be the “little oratory” for that home. It might even be a five-inch icon on someone’s desk at the office.

So we really encourage everyone to pray about finding just the right spot wherever they happen to be.

Could I create a prayer corner today? Or does it take a lot of time?

Lawler: I suppose the answer to this question depends on whether you happen to have any religious art at hand—or whether you have bought the book, because at the back of the book are eight beautifully printed icons painted by David, all ready for inexpensive standard frames and a place in your icon corner. You could say the book is a kind of kit for making a prayer place!

I always say that if you have a candle and a crucifix you can get started now. Most people do have a few items that, grouped together on a corner shelf, mantelpiece or small table will make a lovely start to their home altar (as people have called it in the past). Why not just start? Simple and humble are lovely.

Is there a right and wrong way to make a prayer corner? 

Clayton: The short answer is that whatever supports good prayer and worship is right, while anything that undermines it is wrong. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are traditions that have been handed on to us because experience over generations has shown that certain layouts and images seem to help most people.

So in accordance with this, you would have three core images. First at the center would be the suffering Christ.  Then on the left an image of Our Lady. On the right an image of the glorified Christ—this Christ in heavenly glory, so this can be a Christ in Majesty, or face of the risen Christ as we might see in a traditional image called the Mandylion.

In regard to the style of imagery: this is very personal for the home. It is what seems to support your prayer. However, according to Benedict XVI, the styles that are most appropriate for the liturgy are the iconographic, the gothic and the baroque, so I would go for prints or originals in these styles.

What tips do you have for someone hoping to give a boost to their prayer lives this Advent?

Lawler: There are two seasons that work very well for a new start in the life of prayer—Advent and Lent. Advent is almost upon us, and I have always found that I am ready to “do more,” and children are very much open to preparing for the coming of Jesus with an intentional commitment to prayer. Along with a few very simple traditions such as the Advent calendar (preferably one with simple old-fashioned pictures and Scripture verses, culminating in a nativity scene) and the Advent wreath (with the children taking turns lighting the candles and singing a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”), Advent is a most opportune time to begin gathering at the little oratory for vespers (evening prayer) or Compline (Night prayer)—or even a shortened version of either of those hours if the children are small. Making an effort to get to daily Mass or at least pray the readings from it will add a lot to our faith during this season and help us prepare for the feast of the Nativity.

The liturgy—the Mass and the Divine Office—is how the Church imparts the life of Christ to the faithful. Advent is the perfect starting point for anyone who desires a deeper union with God, offering a natural “new beginning” as the Church lovingly recapitulates the whole story of salvation during this season in her liturgical prayer.

Multiple examples of little oratories may be viewed here, on Leila Lawler’s blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter.

David Clayton’s new book, The Way of Beauty, gives more detail on recognizing the styles of prayer imagery mentioned above. END QUOTES

Kathleen Hattrup is senior editor here at Aleteia.

 

 

On the Love of the Three Divine Persons for Man; ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: re-blogged; a “MUST” read

On the Love of the Three Divine Persons for Man

ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

On the Love of the Three Divine Persons for Man*

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Sermon XXIX of St Alphonsus Liguori

“Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
(Matthew 28:19)

St. Leo has said, that the nature of God is, by its essence, goodness itself. “Deus cujus natura bonitas.” Now, goodness naturally diffuses itself. “Bonum est sui diffusivum.” And by experience we know that men of a good heart are full of love for all, and desire to share with all the goods which they enjoy. God being infinite goodness, is all love towards us his creatures. Hence St. John calls him pure love—pure charity. “God is charity” (1 John 4:8). And therefore he ardently desires to make us partakers of his own happiness. Faith teaches us how much the Three Divine Persons have done through love to man, and to enrich him with heavenly gifts. In saying to his apostles, “Teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” [cf Matthew 28:19]. Jesus Christ wished that they should not only instruct the Gentiles in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, but that they should also teach them the love which the adorable Trinity bears to man. I intend to propose this day for your consideration [first] the love shown to us by the Father in our creation; secondly, the love of the Son, in our redemption; and thirdly, the love of the Holy Ghost, in our sanctification.

First Point. The love shown to us by the Father in our creation.

1. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). My son, says the Lord, I have loved you for eternity, and, through love for you, I have shown mercy to you by drawing you out of nothing. Hence, beloved Christians, of all those who love you, God has been your first lover. Your parents have been the first to love you on this earth; but they have loved you only after they had known you. But, before you had a being, God loved you. Before your father or mother was born, God loved you; yes, even before the creation of the world, he loved you. And how long before creation has God loved you? Perhaps for a thousand years, or for a thousand ages. It is needless to count years or ages; God loved you from eternity. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” As long as he has been God, he has loved you: as long as he has loved himself, he has loved you. The thought of this love made St. Agnes the Virgin exclaim: “I am prevented by another lover.” When creatures asked her heart, she answered: No: I cannot prefer you to my God. He has been the first to love me; it is then but just that he should hold the first place in my affections.

  1. Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity, and through pure love, he has selected you from among so many men whom he could have created in place of you; but he has left them in their nothingness, and has brought you into existence, and placed you in the world. For the love of you, he has made so many other beautiful creatures, that they might serve you, and that they might remind you of the love which he has borne to you, and of the gratitude which you owe to him. “Heaven and Earth,” says St. Augustine, “and all things tell me to love thee.” When the saint beheld the sun, the stars, the mountains, the sea, the rains, they all appeared to him to speak, and to say: Augustine, love God; for he has created us that you might love him. When the Abbé de Raneé, the founder of La Trappe, looked at the hills, the fountains, or flowers, he said that all these creatures reminded him of the love which God had borne him. St. Teresa used to say, that these creatures reproached her with her ingratitude to God. Whilst she held a flower or fruit in her hand, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her heart wounded with divine love, and would say within herself: Then, my God has thought from eternity of creating this flower and this fruit that I might love him.
  2. Moreover, seeing us condemned to hell, in punishment of our sins, the Eternal Father, through love for us, has sent his Son on the earth to die on the cross, in order to redeem us from hell, and to bring us with himself into Paradise. “God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son” (John 3:16), love, which the apostle calls an excess of love. “For his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, has quickened us together in Christ” (cf Ephesians 2:4, 5).
  3. See also the special love which God has shown you in bringing you into life in a Christian country, and in the bosom of the Catholic or true Church. How many are born among the pagans, among the Jews, among the Mahometans and heretics … Consider that, compared with these, only a few—not even the tenth part of the human race—have the happiness of being born in a country where the true faith reigns; and, among that small number, he has chosen you. Oh! what an invaluable benefit is the gift of faith! How many millions of souls, among infidels and heretics, are deprived of the sacraments, of sermons, of good example, and of the other helps to salvation which we possess in the true Church. And the Lord resolved to bestow on us all these great graces, without any merit on our part, and even with the foreknowledge of our demerits. For when he thought of creating us and of conferring these favours upon us, he foresaw our sins, and the injuries we would commit against him.

Second Point. The love which the Son of God has shown to us in our redemption.

5. Adam, our first father, sins by eating the forbidden apple, and is condemned to eternal death, along with all his posterity. Seeing the whole human race doomed to perdition, God resolved to send a redeemer to save mankind. Who shall come to accomplish their redemption? Perhaps an angel or a seraph. No; the Son of God, the supreme and true God, equal to the Father, offers himself to come on earth, and there to take human flesh, and to die for the salvation of men. O prodigy of Divine love! Man, says St. Fulgentius, despises God, and separates himself from God, and through love for him, God comes on earth to seek after rebellious man. “Homo Deum contemnens, a Deo discessit: Deus hominem diligens, ad homines venit” (Sermo in Nativitas Christi). Since, says St. Augustine, we could not go to the Redeemer, he has deigned to come to us. “Quia ad mediatorem venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dignatus est.” And why has Jesus Christ resolved to come to us? According to the same holy doctor, it is to convince us of his great love for us. “Christ came, that man might know how much God loves him.”

  1. Hence the Apostle writes: “The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared” (Titus 3:4). In the Greek text, the words are: “Singularis Deierga homines apparuit amor:” “The singular love of God towards men appeared.” In explaining this passage, St. Bernard says, that before God appeared on earth in human flesh, men could not arrive at a knowledge of the divine goodness; therefore the Eternal Word took human nature, that, appearing in the form of man, men might know the goodness of God. “Priusquam apparet humanitas, latebat benignitas, sed undetanta agnosci poterat? Venit in carne ut, apparante humanitate, cognosceretur benignitas” (Sermo i., in Eph). And what greater love and goodness could the Son of God show to us, than to become man and to become a worm [cf Psalm 22:7] like us, in order to save us from perdition? What astonishment would we not feel, if we saw a prince become a worm to save the worms of his kingdom! And what shall we say at the sight of a God made man like us, to deliver us from eternal death? “The word was made flesh” (John 1:14). A God made flesh! If faith did not assure us of it, who could ever believe it? Behold then, as St. Paul says, a God as it were annihilated. “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … and in habit found as a man” (Philippians 2:7). By these words the Apostle gives us to understand, that the Son of God, who was filled with the divine majesty and power, humbled himself so as to assume the lowly and impotent condition of human nature, taking the form or nature of a servant, and becoming like men in his external appearance, although, as St. Chrysostom observes, he was not a mere man, but man and God. Hearing a deacon singing the words of St. John, “and the Word was made flesh,” St. Peter of Alcántara fell into ecstasy, and flew through the air to the altar of the most Holy Sacrament.
  2. But this God of love, the Incarnate Word, was not content with becoming flesh for the love of man; but, according to Isaiah, he wished to live among us, as the last and lowest, and most afflicted of men. “There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him … despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:2, 3). He was a man of sorrows. Yes; for the life of Jesus Christ was full of sorrows. Virum dolorum.He was a man made on purpose to be tormented with sorrows. From his birth till his death, the life of our Redeemer was all full of sorrows.
  3. And because he came on earth to gain our love, as he declared when he said, “I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12:49), he wished at the close of his life to give us the strongest marks and proofs of the love which he bears to us. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). Hence he not only humbled himself to death for us, but he also chose to die the most painful and opprobrious of all deaths. “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). They who were crucified among the Jews, were objects of malediction and reproach to all. “He is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree” (Deuteronomy 21:23). Our Redeemer wished to die the shameful death of the cross, in the midst of a tempest of ignominies and sorrows. “I am come into the depths of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me” (cf Psalm 69:3).
  4. “In this,” says St. John, “we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). And how could God give us a greater proof of his love than by laying down his life for us? Or, how is it possible for us to behold a God dead on the cross for our sake, and not love him? “For the charity of Christ presseth us” (cf 2 Corinthians 5:14). By these words St. Paul tells us, that it is not so much what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our salvation, as the love which he has shown in suffering and dying for us, that obliges and compels us to love him. He has, as the same Apostle adds, died for all, that each of us may live no longer for himself, but only for that God who has given his life for the love of us. “Christ died for all, that they also who live, may not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). And, to captivate our love, he has, after having given his life for us, left himself for the food of our souls. “Take ye and eat: this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Had not faith taught that he left himself for our food, who could ever believe it? … Let us pass to a brief consideration of the third point.

Third Point. On the love shown to us by the Holy Ghost in our sanctification.

10. The Eternal Father was not content with giving us his Son Jesus Christ, that he might save us by his death; he has also given us the Holy Ghost, that he may dwell in our souls, and that he may keep them always inflamed with holy love. In spite of all the injuries which he received on earth from men, Jesus Christ, forgetful of their ingratitude, after having ascended into heaven, sent us the Holy Ghost, that, by his holy flames, this divine spirit might kindle in our hearts the fire of divine charity, and sanctify our souls. Hence, when he descended on the apostles, he appeared in the form of tongues of fire. “And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire” (Acts 2:3).

 

Hence the Church prescribes the following prayer: “We beseech thee, O Lord, that the Spirit may inflame us with that fire which the Lord Jesus Christ sent on the earth, and vehemently wished to be enkindled.”

This is the holy fire which inflamed the saints with the desire of doing great things for God, which enabled them to love their most cruel enemies, to seek after contempt, to renounce all the riches and honours of the world, and even to embrace with joy torments and death.

  1. The Holy Ghost is that divine bond which unites the Father with the Son; it is he that unites our souls, through love, with God. For, as St. Augustine says, a union with God is the effect of love. “Charity is a virtue which unites us with God.” The chains of the world are chains of death, but the bonds of the Holy Ghost are bonds of eternal life, because they bind us to God, who is our true and only life.
  2. Let us also remember that all the lights, inspirations, divine calls, all the good acts which we have performed during our life, all our acts of contrition, of confidence in the divine mercy, of love, of resignation, have been the gifts of the Holy Ghost. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings” (Romans 8:26). Thus, it is the Holy Ghost that prays for us; for we know not what we ought to ask, but the Holy Spirit teaches us what we should pray for.
  3. In a word, the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity have endeavoured to show the love which God has borne us, that we may love him through gratitude. “When,” says St. Bernard, “God loves, he wishes only to be loved.” It is, then, [not] just that we love that God who has been the first to love us, and to put us under so many obligations by so many proofs of tender love. “Let us, therefore, love God, because God first hath loved us” (1 John 4:19). Oh! what a treasure is charity! it is an infinite treasure, because it makes us partakers of the friendship of God. “She is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God” (Wisdom 7:14). But, to acquire this treasure, it is necessary to detach the heart from earthly things. “Detach the heart from creatures,” says St. Teresa, “and you shall find God.” In a heart filled with earthly affections, there is no room for divine love. Let us therefore continually implore the Lord in our prayers, communions, and visits to the Blessed Sacrament, to give us his holy love; for this love will expel from our souls all affections for the things of this earth. “When,” says St. Francis de Sales, “a house is on fire, all that is within is thrown out through the windows.” By these words the saint meant, that when a soul is inflamed with divine love, she easily detaches herself from creatures: and Father Paul Segneri, the younger, used to say, that divine love is a thief that robs us of all earthly affections, and makes us exclaim: “What, O my Lord, but thee alone, do I desire?”
  4. “Love is strong as death” (Canticle of Canticles/Song of Songs 8:6). As no creature can resist death when the hour of dissolution arrives, so there is no difficulty which love, in a soul that loves God, does not overcome. When there is question of pleasing her beloved, love conquers all things: it conquers pains, losses, ignominies. “Nihil tam durum quod non amoris igne vincatur.” This love made the martyrs, in the midst of torments, racks, and burning gridirons, rejoice, and thank God for enabling them to suffer for him: it made the other saints, when there was no tyrant to torment them, become, as it were, their own executioners, by fasts, disciplines, and penitential austerities. St. Augustine says, that in doing what one loves there is no labour, and if there be, the labour itself is loved. “In co quod amatur aut non laboratur, aut ipse labor amatur.”

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*De Liguori, A. (1882). Trinity Sunday: On the Love of the Three Divine Persons for Man. In N. Callan (Trans.), Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year (Eighth Edition, pp. 211–218). Dublin; London: James Duffy & Sons. End quotes

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Art for this post on the love of the three Divine Persons for mankind The Holy Trinity, miniature from the Grandes Heures [Great Hours] of Anne of Brittany, Queen consort of France (1477-1514). f. 155v. God the Father on left, Jesus on right, holding book with seven seals open to Alpha and Omega passage, dove of Holy Spirit in center, “animal” symbols of Four Evangelists in corners, Jean Bourdichon, 1503-1508, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

 

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual FormationDivine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio – Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to GodFinding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara30 Days with Teresa of AvilaInto the DeepLiving the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

 

TRINITY SUNDAY – IS IT TnityRELEVANT? by Marcellino D’Ambrosio {Dr. Itlay}: re-blogged

 

TRINITY SUNDAY – IS IT TnityRELEVANT?

Trinity Sunday- Does it make any Difference

By Marcellino D’Ambrosio {Dr. Itlay}

 

Trinity Sunday celebrates the Church’s faith in the triune God, one God in three persons. This doctrine has baffled people for 2,000 years. Given that it is so hard to accept, why bother with it? What difference does the trinitarian dogma really make to how we live our Christian lives?

Many are ready to give a polite nod of some sort to Jesus of Nazareth.  Most honor him as a great moral teacher.  Many even confess him as Savior.  But the Incarnation of the Eternal God?  Second person of the Holy Trinity?  God can’t be one and three at the same time.  Such a notion is at worst illogical, at best meaningless.  “This Trinity business was invented by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 AD,” scoff a motley crew ranging from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Da Vinci Code.

DID CONSTANTINE INVENT THE TRINITY?

Of course this charge has no historical leg to stand on.  St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote seven brief letters around 110 AD in which he called Jesus “God” 16 times, beating Constantine by over two centuries.

True, the word “trinity” is not in the bible.  But everywhere the New Testament refers to three distinct persons who seem to be equally divine, yet one (e.g. 2 Cor 13:13).  So over 100 years before Constantine, a Christian writer named Tertullian coined the term “Trinity” as a handy way to refer to this reality of three distinct, equal persons in one God.  It stuck.

WHY THE DOCTRINE MATTERS

But if the doctrine of the Trinity is authentically biblical, is it relevant?  Does it really matter?

If Christianity were simply a religion of keeping the law, the inner life of the lawgiver would not matter.  But if Christianity is about personal relationship with God, then who God really is matters totally.  Common sense tells us that some supreme being made the universe and that we owe Him homage.  But that the creator is a trinity of persons who invites us to intimate friendship with Himself — this we never could have guessed!  We only know it because God has revealed it.

GOD IS LOVE – A COMMUNITY OF THREE PERSONS

God is love, says 1 John 4:8 (see too John 3:16).  If God were solitary, how could he have been love before he created the world?  Who would there have been to love?  Jesus reveals a God who is eternally a community of three persons pouring themselves out in love for one another.  The Father does not create the Son and then, with the Son, create the Spirit.  No, the Father eternally generates the Son.  And with and through the Son, this Father eternally “breathes” the Spirit as a sort of personalized sigh of love.  “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.”  That’s what the conclusion of the Glory Be really means, that the self-giving of the three divine persons did not begin at a moment in time, but was, is, and is to come.

PERSONS MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE & LIKENESS

If we are truly to “know” our God, we must know this.  But if we are ever to understand ourselves, we must also know this.  For we were made in the image and likeness of God, and God is a community of self-donating love.  That means that we can never be happy isolated from others, protecting ourselves from others, holding ourselves back selfishly from others.  Unless we give ourselves in love, we can never be fully human.  And unless we participate in the life of God’s people, we can never be truly Christian either.  Because Christianity is about building up the community of divine love which is called the Church.  If God is Trinity, then there really is no place for free-lance, lone-ranger Christians.

FAMILY, AN ICON OF THE TRINITY

The family, the domestic Church, is a reflection of trinitarian love – the love of husband and wife, distinct and very different persons, generates the child who is from them but is nonetheless distinct from them, indeed absolutely unique.

And that is the final point.  One of the greatest treasures of Western culture is the concept of the uniqueness and dignity of the individual person.  You really don’t find this idea in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome or in other great world religions, such as Islam.

PERSONHOOD – DIGNITY, INDIVIDUALITY, FREEDOM

The concept of the irreplaceable uniqueness of each person came into Western culture straight from the doctrine of the Trinity, three who possess the exact same divine nature but who are yet irreplaceably unique in their personhood.

The irony?  As it progressively abandons the triune God, the Western world is undermining the very foundation of personal dignity, individuality, and freedom.

So yes, the Trinity does matter.

This essay on the Church’s trinitarian faith in the triune God, one God yet three persons,  is offered as a reflection on the scripture readings for Trinity Sunday (Exodus 34:4b-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18).  Trinity Sunday is observed annually the Sunday following Pentecost.

 

The Holy Spirit & Mary: Lessons for Pentecost by KATHLEEN BECKMAN: Re-blogged

The Holy Spirit & Mary: Lessons for Pentecost

KATHLEEN BECKMAN

She, who at the start of the Redemption gave us her Son, now by her most powerful intercession obtained for the newborn Church the prodigious Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit of the Divine Redeemer who had already been given on the Cross. … –Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 29 June 1943

Mary is our sure path to a closer friendship with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. At Pentecost the Blessed Virgin Mary received the Holy Spirit with unique fullness because hers is the freest human heart. The Lord promised to those who love Him: we will come to him and make our home with him (Jn 14:23). In Our Lady this promise is most fulfilled since she, the masterpiece of God is most prepared to be the living tabernacle of the Son of God and temple of the Holy Spirit. When the Angel greeted Mary: Hail, full of grace (Lk 1:28), she was already possessed by the Holy Spirit and filled with His grace. Yet, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and filled her soul in a new way. With God there is always more and ever-new grace for souls and the work of the Church.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Lk 1:35). Redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all creatures, both in Heaven and on earth. (Lumen gentium, 53)

The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost prepared Mary and the Apostles for their respective post Ascension missions. The tongues of fire that appeared in the Upper Room infused their hearts and minds with charisms and gifts required for their vital mission of evangelizing the world: worshipping, preaching, teaching, healing, administrating, serving and unifying the people of God. The Holy Spirit effected their transformation into Christ.

Christ did not send the Apostles forth immediately following His ascension. He directed them to the holy ground of the Upper Room where He had instituted two key sacraments for the birth of the Church: the sacrament of His body and blood—the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Holy Orders—the priesthood. Christ sent them to the Upper Room to be near Mother Mary who would prepare them to receive and respond to the Holy Spirit in an altogether new way of holy conviction.

Heart of the Church: Mary & The Holy Spirit, Collaborators

We cannot separate what God has joined together—Mary and the Holy Sprit are mystically espoused and always work in communion for the sanctification of souls.

From the birth of the Church up to our own day all the good that has been done is the work of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Evangelization of the nations
  2. Conversions to Christ Jesus
  3. Fortitude of the martyrs
  4. Holiness of its members
  5. Spiritual & corporal works of mercy
  6. Sacramental fruitfulness

St. Augustine teaches, “What the soul is to the body of man, the Holy Spirit is in the Body of Christ which is the Church. The Holy Spirit acts in the Church as the soul acts in the members of a body (Sermon, 267)”. The Church is Christ’s living mystical body breathing with two co-dependent lungs: institutional and charismatic—as St. John Paul said at the 1998 Pentecost Vigil in Rome. The Hebrew name for spirit is “ruah” meaning both breath and wind. The necessity of breath to a living organism is obvious. The breath of God is the life of the Christian, the love that animates the soul and fills it with the splendor of truth.

It is sublime to realize that the Holy Spirit is in love with us first. To be possessed by the Holy Spirit is to be loved in an absolutely perfect divine way that frees us from the tyranny of false loves. Mary is the perfect model of full possession by the Holy Spirit and therefore she magnifies God alone. She can teach us to do the same —to abide with the same docility to the Holy Spirit’s action in our soul.

All our good works, every prayer that we offer, the promptings and desires which impel us to be better, the necessary help to realize the inspirations of God, is the work of the Holy Spirit, our sweet divine guest, comforter, and sanctifier.

Our divine Teacher holds his school within the souls of those who ask him and who really want to have him as their Teacher. His action is preceded by the beaming rays of His light and knowledge. He comes with the truth of the real protector; for He comes to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console, to illumine in the first place the mind of the person who receives Him, and through that person’s works, the minds of others.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis on the Holy Spirit, 1.

He who receives the gift of the Holy Spirit finds his soul full of light, and raised above natural reasoning, able to see that which he did not know formerly. There is quite a distinction between my human judgment of things and the divine discernment of God derived from the Holy Spirit. Mary is the model discerner. God communes in various ways in the silence of a recollected soul, in the gentle whisper of a wind, or the shaking of the heart pierced by some truth. Mary is God’s chosen vessel who assists in attuning our hearts to perceive the Holy Spirit prompting us, “Go this way, not that way” or “Arise and begin this work that I am calling you to do.”

The Holy Spirit never ceases to act within the Church: awakening new desires of holiness, new and at the same time better children of God. Our Lady, collaborating always with the Holy Spirit in souls, exercises maternal wisdom for all her children. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus have provided for us the very Gift of God—the Holy Spirit. It is consoling to remember that Christ, at the time when His Ascension was near, taught that it was better (better!) that He go to the Father so that His Spirit would come and be poured into our hearts. We are not able to see Jesus as did the Apostles but we have God with us through the abiding gift of the Holy Spirit.

Simple Marian Lessons for Pentecost

  1. Luke 1:38: I am the handmaid of the Lord. Invoke the Holy Spirit to possess you more fully with His love and receive Him anew with docility and joy.
  2. Luke 1:38: Be it done unto me according to your word. Desire to receive, respond, and retain an active love relationship with the Holy Spirit.
  3. Luke 1:47: The Mighty One has done great things for me. Humbly pray for the Spirit’s fire to set your heart ablaze and welcome the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.
  4. Luke 1:46: My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Acknowledge before God and man that whatever is good in you and your life is the gratuitous work of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Luke 1:53: He has lifted up the humble. Stay in the middle of the collaborative action of Mary and the Holy Spirit so that you remain in the lovethat protects, sanctifies, equips you and empowers your mission.
  6. Luke 1:48. His mercy endures forever. Contemplate the Upper Room and Christ’s three interrelated initiatives for love and life: Eucharist, Priesthood & Pentecost.
  7. John 2:5: Do whatever He tells you. With expectant faith daily invoke the Holy Spirit as your soul’s best friend seeking loving companionship, counsel, courage, and direction.

Scriptural Prayer for Pentecost (cf. John 16:13-14 and John 14:26)

Christ said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Spirit of truth, guide me always, I pray.

Christ said, “He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Holy Spirit, help me to glorify The Father and to declare with my life that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Christ said, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and brings to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Divine Counselor, please enlighten my mind to the teachings of Christ, and help me to recall His words that are spirit and truth.

Holy Spirit, please come anew; fill me with your love, life, joy, peace, and wisdom as I pray for my personal Pentecost through the intercession of your beloved spouse, the Virgin Mary. Amen.

 END QUOTES

 

This is our History Do you know what the Jews celebrated on Pentecost?  Anthony Pagliarini | re-blogged

This is our History

Do you know what the Jews celebrated on Pentecost?

 Anthony Pagliarini

Now our feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit, this day was long celebrated by Jesus’ people.

Pentecost is a central feast of Judaism. Known as the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot in Hebrew, it is, together with Pesach and Sukkot, one the three pilgrimage feasts of Israel during which each adult male was required to be present in Jerusalem (cf. Ex 23:14-17).

In Christ, the celebration of these feasts, as with the whole of the Law, is recapitulated. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5:17).

Pesach (or Passover), recalls the sacrifice of the lamb whose blood, daubed on the doorposts of the Hebrews, delivered them from the 10th plague when, as the firstborn of the Egyptians were taken, God’s “first-born son” (Ex 4:22) was delivered from the death of slavery and began the wilderness wandering toward Sinai. In the Passion, “Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7), and by the blood of that sacrifice those who belong to Christ are, in a way that sums up and exceeds Israel’s deliverance, drawn out of death and into the newness of life. Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) and who, by his resurrection “makes all things new” (Rev 21:5). The Passover sacrifice becomes the sacrifice of the Mass.

Sukkot, known otherwise as the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, is named for the tents in which Israel dwelt during the years in the wilderness. The feast also recalls also the Tent of Meeting (Ex 25:8ff.), in which God was present to his people and the richness of the Promised Land toward which they journeyed. In Christ, God “has pitched his tent among us” (Jn 1:14) and has become the “pioneer of our faith” (Heb 2:10; 12:2) as he accompanies the pilgrim people of God in their journey toward the promised land of heaven. The feast of Sukkot is, then, recapitulated in every remembrance of the Incarnation—be it the feast of the Annunciation, the Nativity, or even a prayer such as the Angelus.

Shavuot, or Pentecost, celebrates the giving of the Law at Sinai. In Hebrew, the feast is sometimes called Atzeret Pesach, or “the gathering of Passover,” for it marks the conclusion—at least a proximate one—of what begins in the Exodus. In the first creation account of Genesis, we see the progression from the chaotic waters “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1-2) to the completion of creation on the sixth day, a whole that is “very good” and over which mankind is given the task of exercising dominion so as to lead creation into the Sabbath rest.

The Exodus narrates much the same. It likewise is a creation account, the making, as Dorothy Day liked to say, of “new society within the shell of the old” (cf. Industrial Union Manifesto).

As Terence Fretheim observes, “At this small, lonely place in the midst of the chaos of the wilderness a new creation comes into being. In the midst of disorder, there is order. The tabernacle,” in which Israel’s keeping or the Law comes to a head, “is the world order as God intended writ small in Israel.”

In this way, Shavuot is akin to the sixth day. It sees the creation of the people Israel and the assignment of a task, namely, the keeping of the Law, which promises to lead Israel (and the whole of creation with her) into God’s rest (Ps 95:11; Heb 4:11).

The whole of this is recapitulated on the day of Pentecost among those gathered not on Sinai but in the Upper Room (Acts 2:1ff.). We see then the giving of a new Law, the Holy Spirit, written “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3; cf. Jer 31:33).

It is creation of a new people, the Church, who herself takes up the mantle given to Israel to be a blessing unto others by leading them into God’s rest.

As St. Peter writes, alluding the words of the Lord at that first Pentecost in the wilderness, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, ” (1 Pet 2:9; cf. Ex 19:5-6). By the gift of the Spirit, the Church incorporates not only God’s “first-born,” but the whole of humanity, first Jew, then Gentile (Rom 1:16). By the gift of the Spirit, the chaos and division of Babel (Gen 11:1-9) are undone when the disciples “began to speak in other tongues … and each one heard them in his own language” (Acts 2:4, 6). By the gift of the Spirit, the whole is begun again to be knit together, to become “very good” (Gen 1:31), and by the offering of “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:4; Rom 12:1) to continue in that journey to enter into God’s rest.  END QUOTES

today’s Beautiful reading’s: re-blogged


Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jas 5:9-12

Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.
You have heard of the perseverance of Job,
and you have seen the purpose of the Lord,
because the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

But above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear,
either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath,
but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,”
that you may not incur condemnation.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Alleluia See Jn 17:17b, 17a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 10:1-12

Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan.
Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom,
he again taught them.
The Pharisees approached him and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But 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.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.

Bible Teachings are so revealing: re-blogged

USCCB <dailyreadings@usccb.org>
Thu 5/24/2018, 4:16 AM
You;

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jas 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 49:14-15ab, 15cd-16, 17-18, 19-20

R. (Matthew 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
This is the way of those whose trust is folly,
the end of those contented with their lot:
Like sheep they are herded into the nether world;
death is their shepherd and the upright rule over them.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Quickly their form is consumed;
the nether world is their palace.
But God will redeem me
from the power of the nether world by receiving me.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
“They will praise you for doing well for yourself,”
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Alleluia See 1 Thes 2:13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but as it truly is, the word of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 9:41-50

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”

“Love Is a Many Splendid Thing!” Another I AM a Catholic Lesson By Patrick Miron

 

“Love Is a Many Splendid Thing!”

Another I AM a Catholic Lesson

By Patrick Miron

 

My dear friends in Christ,

Allow me to begin this discourse with two definitions:

Definition of like

To enjoy (something) : to get pleasure from (something)

To regard (something) in a favorable way

To feel affection for (someone) : to enjoy being with (someone)

Definition of love

1a (1):  strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternallove for a child> (2):  attraction based on sexual desire:  affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) :  affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests<love for his old schoolmates>b :  an assurance of affection <give her my love>

2:  warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>

3a:  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love>b (1):  a beloved person:  darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British—used as an informal term of address

4a:  unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1):  the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2):  brotherly concern for others b:  a person’s adoration of God

 Matthew 5: 43-48

[43] “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the ame? [47] And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? [48] You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

 1 John 2: 7-8 [7] Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.[8] Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining”

The precise reason for humanities existence can be described in six-letters, and in two words. “TO LOVE”

In these two words, in the very fullness of their meaning and possibility is encased the totality of human existence. Indeed, in the entire Universe with its Billions of planets, stars and galaxies only one thing; only MAN, is able to love and, or hate, and only man can rationalize.  That dear friend is a thought worth pondering.

Love is an emotion, and emotions are the passageway for Satan to gain entry into our lives. The key to emotions in not only the outside influences that prompt them; but our ability to embrace or reject that prompting.

For example: the Catholic Church has long taught that we {all of us} are to “Love the sinner BUT hate the sin.”

“To be a member of God’s family is to live in {full} accord with God’s values” from the Little Black book: 02/20/2016

To live according to God’s values requires firstly that we know what those “values” are and what they embrace. Charity; another word for “love” begins at home and ends at home. “Home” meaning here our inner-most-selves.” So the “Golden Rule”, found in Matthew 7: 12So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”  … & Luke 6:31Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Sum up in a broad sense how each of us is to define for ourselves, what we are obligated to do in order to actually be members of God’s families.

Because the only bible that most people read is how we live our life’s as testimony to being obviously; members of God’s family.

This then demands that we know God’s Commandments, and God’s Moral teachings and Laws as taught by His Catholic Church, embrace them, accept and support them, and then demonstrate them consistency through our life choices.

1Pet.1 Verses 15 to 16 “[15] but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Matt.5 Verses 43 to 48 “[43] “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? [47] And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? [48] You, therefore, must be perfect, as you’re heavenly Father is perfect.”

One of my personal obligations as a Marian Catechist is to among other pious practices; to pray the Stations of the Cross every day. I do this with the help of Father John Hardon’s Catholic Prayer book. Here, from that book is the Fifth Station…”Simon the Cyrenian” is conscripted {forced} to help Jesus carry his Cross.

“Jesus is order to teach us that the cross ought to be carried both by the Redeemer and the redeemed, wished to share His cross with Simon the Cyrenian.

“I wish to constrain Jesus to carry my cross with me, directing all of my efforts that I may be united with Him: united in intellect by making all of His decisions mine; united in will and action, by allowing Jesus to work in and through me. May Jesus become the soul of my soul, the life of my life, since He is the head, I, the member; since He is the vine, and I, the branch. The consummation of this union takes place every day at the Communion of the Mass.”

Man’s exclusivity as the only thing in existence in the Created Universe and on Planet Earth with the ability to love, or hate and to rationalize, and we need to understand that with authority comes obligations. God will, because God must judge us not on our choices alone; but on what God makes possible for us to know as His right choices; make willingly and correctly.

Forgiveness begins with forgiving ourselves. There is no time like the present to begin striving to be a “perfect lover.” That my friend is our lives’ goal. 

We exist for a precise reason: to Discover God in our livers and then to permit that God to act in, with and through us. This takes humility. It takes courage and it takes Faith. Love is not truly LOVE if we don’t share it.

LOVE much my friends, pray much and have Faith, have Hope and have Charity. Amen!

Continued Blessings,

Patrick