Ten Practical Steps to a Sanctified Life FR. WADE L. J. MENEZES, CPM

Ten Practical Steps to a Sanctified Life

Let us turn to some practical aids that can encourage us to establish a strong spiritual life. This is by no means an exhaustive list; rather, it’s simply a starting point for your own exploration. And realize, too, that you won’t achieve these all in one week or even one month — and you’re not supposed to. As St. Philip Neri says, “One should not wish to become a saint in four days but step by step.”

And remember this: Show me a room with seven different Christians who are committed to a strong daily spiritual life, and I’ll show you seven different regimens of prayers and other devotions. Quite simply, we’re all different. St. Francis de Sales tells us that our spiritual lives should “be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.” Even so, there are some staples that everyone should acquire and practice over time.

1. Monthly Confession
It will suffice to say that the beautiful Tribunal of Mercy that is this Sacrament is an irreplaceable fountain of healing grace for our souls. And let us not be afraid to call on Our Lady of Mercy to assist us in making a sound confession.

2. Weekly Eucharist
This, of course, includes your Sunday Mass obligation — which is an obligation not because we fear God but precisely because we love Him. Try, though, to attend one or two weekday Masses if your schedule permits. After all, the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” You should also try to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament at least once per week. Whether it is a fifteen-minute visit or a Holy Hour, time spent in our Lord’s Eucharistic presence is invaluable.

3. Morning Offering
This is a simple practice every Christian can integrate into his or her daily life. After all, how do you know that today isn’t the day you’re going to die? How do you know you won’t be tempted to commit mortal sin? It is traditionally said that St. Philip Neri spoke these words each morning upon rising: “O Lord, stay by your Philip today, because if You do not, Your Philip will betray You before the day is over.” You might want to use St. Philip Neri’s model, write your own, or use any other Morning Offering found in a good Catholic prayer book. The Morning Offering can also be a great way to renew your consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

4. Daily Rosary
Try to pray just five decades a day — a fifteen- to twenty-minute practice. You can even incorporate the Rosary into your daily commute or walk — be creative. In family settings you can pray it with your spouse and children. You can give children a chance to participate by letting them take turns in announcing the mysteries of the Rosary and leading the decades of prayer.

5. Daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy:
This simple devotion reminds us of our sinfulness, but also of the beautiful fact that God is always waiting to embrace us with open arms — provided we honestly repent. If you don’t have time for the entire chaplet, just remember this simple prayer brought to us by St. Faustina that you can say throughout the day: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

This article is from a chapter in “The Four Last Things.” Click image to preview or order.

6. Fasting
Fast according to the mind of the Church at least one day per week, preferably on Fridays. By “according to the mind of the Church” I mean simply one main meal and then two smaller meals that together do not equal the one main meal. It’s really a very simple fasting rule. Fasting regularly can be a powerful tool to overcome habitual sin. As our Lord says in the Gospel, some demons can be cast out only by “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).
7. Two Daily Examinations of Conscience
I recommend a par¬ticular examen and a general examen every day. Each of these should take only about two or three minutes and should close with an Act of Contrition (either a formal one from a favorite prayer book, or one of your own wording).

The particular examen is done around midday and looks at a specific virtue that you’ve been trying to cultivate in your life, or at a specific vice that you’ve been trying to eliminate. It is as simple as asking yourself: “How have I done so far today?” Similarly, at the end of the day, just before you retire for bed, make a general examen of your entire day — that is, how you did overall that day in following God’s will. Recognize certain instances during that day when you practiced virtue; and don’t hesitate to recognize certain instances when you sinned.

These two daily examens help us to grow in self-knowledge by recognizing and admitting any sin we may have committed that day. If your sin is venial, your fervent Act of Contrition will wipe it away. If it is mortal, pray an Act of Contrition and get to the sacrament of Penance as soon as is reasonably possible.

8. Aspiratory Prayers
These are simple one-or-two-sentence prayers that can be said in a single breath — hence, “aspiratory.” These are great to get into the habit of saying because they help us recognize the presence of God throughout the day. These short prayers can be based on Scripture or other devotions. For example:
This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. (Ps. 23:1) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — I love you, save souls. My Guardian Angel, protect me.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.

Pick out a favorite passage from Scripture and make it your own aspiratory prayer, or invoke a favorite saint throughout the day.
9. Daily Liturgical Reading

Have a plan to read the daily Mass readings for the day, perhaps along with a short meditation, so that even if you don’t get to daily Mass you can still read the Scriptures with the Church. There are several daily devotionals you can subscribe to that have the daily Mass readings in them, and the readings are also available free online.

10. Sacramentals
Sacramentals are “Sacred signs which bear a certain resemblance to the sacraments, and by means of which spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church” (CCC, glossary). They can include blessed objects and places, such as holy water, shrines, and religious medals (for example, those of your patron saints). Sacramentals can also include blessings of persons, meals, and objects — for example, the blessing of a mother before childbirth, blessings before and after meals, and having one’s rosary blessed. These practices derive from the baptismal priesthood in which all the baptized share, as “every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing’ and to bless (cf. Gen. 12:2; Luke 6:28; Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:9)” (CCC 1669).
Suggested Reading

Lastly, there are four chief texts that I’d like to recommend that you become very familiar with:

1. Sacred Scripture: Try to read one chapter daily — roughly a five-minute exercise — leaving some time for meditation.
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church: Try to read and study three to five paragraphs each day. This is a great way to catechize yourself at your own pace and learn faithfully the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

3. Lives of the Saints: Try to read a condensed version of one saint’s life per week. Good, condensed versions will not take you more than a few minutes. While we can benefit from reading the life of any saint, particular benefits flow from focusing on those saints who shared our vocation and state in life. Remember: The saints lived in the modern world of their time just as we live in the modern world of our time. St. Faustina’s Diary: I have a particular affection for this beautiful piece of spiritual writing. Try to read three to five paragraphs per week. It will help you discover even more what an immense gift and treasure the mercy of God is.

4. St. Faustina’s Diary: I have a particular affection for this beautiful piece of spiritual writing. Try to read three to five paragraphs per week. It will help you discover even more what an immense gift and treasure the mercy of God is.

I hope that these ten spiritual exercises and the regular reading of these four staple texts will serve as a great foundation for you to begin a faithful regimen in the spiritual life. Again, this list is by no means exhaustive, nor do you need to incorporate each and every suggestion right away; it is simply a suggested plan of action meant to spur you on to a prayerful daily life. A strong spiritual life assists us all in staying in a state of sanctifying grace, which must always be our first goal.

Our Lord once told St. Faustina, “My Kingdom on earth is My life in the human soul.” What a wonderful truth! The soul in the state of grace is Christ’s Kingdom, allowing us to participate in God’s own divine life.
Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from Fr. Menezes’s The Four Last Things: A Catechetical Guide to Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. It is available as a paperback or an ebook from Sophia Institute Press.
Tagged as: Faustina Kowalska, holiness, Sanctity, Sophia Excerpts, Spiritual Life,St. Francis de Sales

By Fr. Wade L. J. Menezes, CPM
Fr. Wade L. J. Menezes, CPM is a member of the Fathers of Mercy, a missionary preaching Religious Congregation based in Auburn, Kentucky. Ordained a priest during the Great Jubilee Year 2000, he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Catholic Thought from the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto, Canada and his dual Master of Arts and Master of Divinity Degrees in Theology from Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.


10 Bible verses that will enable you to place your problems in God’s hands …. re-blogged

10 Bible verses that will enable you to place your problems in God’s hands

Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
Praying these short verses can set your heart, mind, and spirit at ease.

Nahum 1:7-8
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
a refuge on the day of distress,
Taking care of those who look to him for protection,
when the flood rages …

2 Cor, 4: 8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

Psalm 138:7
Though I walk in the midst of dangers,
you guard my life when my enemies rage.
You stretch out your hand;
your right hand saves me.

Psalm 31:8
I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy,
once you have seen my misery,
[and] gotten to know the distress of my soul.
Read more: How to give up control and find peace in surrender

Romans 8:28
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Psalm 121:1-2
I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
From whence shall come my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Matthew 6:34
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.
Read more: The one thing you most need after a day (or week) that just wouldn’t end

Philippians 4:6-7
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Grace or karma? BY Bishop Robert Barron

Grace or karma?
Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron: “If amazing grace has saved a wretch like me, I have to become a vehicle of grace.”
Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stephen Davis, retired professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont University. In preparation for the meeting, I read Dr. Davis’s book called Christian Philosophical Theology, which includes a chapter contrasting two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first—which can be found in much of the East—is a religion of karma, and the second—prominent in the Abrahamic religions of the West—is a religion of grace.

The first approach has a lot to recommend it—which explains its great endurance across the centuries. A karmic approach says that, by a cosmic spiritual law, we are punished or rewarded according to our moral activities. If we do bad things, we will suffer, either in this life or a life to come. And if we do good things, we will be rewarded, again either here or in the hereafter. Karma might not be immediate, as is the law of gravity (remember John Lennon’s playful song “Instant Karma”), but in the long run, people are rewarded or punished according to merit. And this satisfies our sense of fairness and justice.

Now a religion of grace is different. It teaches that all people are sinners and hence deserving of punishment, but that God, out of sheer generosity, gives them what they don’t deserve. Think of one of the most popular lines in Christian poetry: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” In terms of a karmic religion, wretches deserve a wretched fate, and it would be unfair for wicked people to be given a great gift. But devotees of a religion of grace exult in this generosity. Think in this context of the parable of the workers hired at different times of the day or the story of the Prodigal Son. Those make sense only in a religion-of-grace context.

Now lest Christians become self-righteous about espousing a generous religion of grace, we must keep in mind that there is a serious objection indeed to such a construal of religion. If grace is a gift, and if there is no real warrant for the gift, then how come only some get it and others don’t? How could it possibly be fair that some people receive the gift of eternal life—through no merit of their own—and others don’t? This complaint becomes even more acute when we realize that the Bible—from beginning to end—presents a God who chooses. God selects Abel and not Cain, Abraham and not Lot, Jacob and not Esau, David and not Saul. In fact, one of the most basic truths of the biblical revelation is that Israel itself is a chosen people, a holy nation, a people set apart. And God insists—just to make the point clearly—that Israel was not chosen because it was the greatest, most just, most accomplished of all the peoples of the world, just the contrary. So again, is any of this fair? In response to this charge, Christian thinkers have tended to say that no one deserves anything and therefore we should never complain about inequities in the distribution of free gifts. Still. Still.

In order to resolve this dilemma, it might be useful to look at a couple of biblical texts, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. No one could ever accuse the prophet Isaiah of underplaying Israel’s importance or the fact that Israel is the specially chosen people of God. But listen to these words from the 56th chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah:

“The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants—all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”
Israel was indeed chosen, singled out, uniquely graced—but precisely for the world and not for itself. What is grace? Gift! But when you cling to a gift, hoarding it for yourself, you undermine its nature as gift. The whole point of receiving the divine life is to give it away in turn. If you hoard it and make it your private prerogative, you undermine it; it turns to ashes. But when you give it away, it is renewed within you.

We see much the same thing in controversial and puzzling story of Jesus’ conversation with the Canaanite woman recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. The foreign woman comes to Jesus seeking a favor, but he protests that he has been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He seems to be operating out of an exclusivist understanding of Israel’s privileges. When she presses the matter, the Lord comes back harshly enough: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” At which point, the petitioner utters one of the great comebacks recorded in the Bible: “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Delighted not only by her cleverness and pluck but by the depth of her faith, Jesus says, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done to you as you wish.” Yes, the table of grace was set for the children of Israel, but the food from that table was not meant for Israelites alone, but for all those who would come to that table, by hook or by crook. Israel was chosen, yes, but for the sake of the world.

In regard to Dr. Davis’s categories, I will speak my mind clearly. Thank God we are not living in the dispensation of karma, for who of us would be able to stand in the fierce winds of pure justice? But we devotees of a religion of grace have to know that the gift is not for us alone; rather the generosity of God is meant to awaken a like generosity in us. If amazing grace has saved a wretch like me, I have to become a vehicle of grace to every lost soul around me.END QUOTES

Even If You Can’t Trust Anyone, You Can Still Trust God: BY Angelo Stagnaro

Even If You Can’t Trust Anyone, You Can Still Trust God

He will never lie to us. He will not deceive us. He will not change His mind.

Angelo Stagnaro

God is not like people, who lie; He is not a human who changes his mind.
Whatever He promises, He does; He speaks, and it is done. (Numbers 23:19)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

If God is omnipotent, can He create a stone so heavy that even He can’t lift it? If He can, then it would prove He’s not omnipotent because He won’t be able to pick it up. If He can create such a rock, then He’s obviously not omnipotent otherwise He’d be able to pick it up.
When an atheist says something as demonstrably illogical as this retort, you can rest assured he’s never read a book on logic… or history… or science… basically any book.

The above sentence is an example of the spurious, informal pseudologic known as the “Fallacy of Multiple Questions” (Argumentum ad plurium interrogationum)
It’s reminiscent of the sophomoric joke, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” as you can see, this questions contains two hidden questions inside of it:
1. Have you ever beaten your wife? And
2. Are you currently still beating your wife.

The expression “Do not be afraid!” or “Don’t worry!” appears 365 times in the Bible―once for each day of the year. Each of them spoken by God or by His angelic messengers. Why? Because, with God, we have a Friend. He will never lie to us. He will not deceive us. He will not change His mind. He will not go against His word.
No. Nay. Never.
What can we know about the nature of God? How do we can be sure about what we know about God? These are questions of faith and each of us must answer them for ourselves However, the Church has searched Scriptures for fairly consistent to these questions.

Thus, if you find yourself not trusting others or even ourselves, feel comforted that we can trust God. How do we know? “As the scripture says, ‘Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give Him advice?’ We, however, have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16):

1. God’s One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church cannot and will not, ever be destroyed.

“And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build My church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it.” (Mt 16:18)

2. The Catholic Church is God’s Church because He founded it once and for all time.
“A third time Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” Peter became sad because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and so he said to him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You!” Jesus said to him, “Take care of My sheep.” (Jn 21:17)

See also: Ps 125:22; Mt 7:25; Acts 5:39; and Rom 8:33–38.

3. God is Truth Itself―He cannot lie.
“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” (1 Samuel 15:29)
“So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:18)

“Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David.” (Psalm 89:35)
See also: Num 23:19; Rom 3:4; Titus 1:2; 1 Jn 1:10; and 1 Jn 5:10.

4. God is immutable―He cannot change.
“I am the Lord, and I do not change. And so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not yet completely lost.” (Mal 3:6).
“I will not break My covenant with him or take back even one promise I made him.” (Ps 89:34).

See also: Ps 90:2,4; Ps 102:27; Heb 13:8; Jam 1:17; and Rev 1:8.

5. God’s is omnipotent―His power cannot be stopped, manipulated or ursurped.
“He looks on the people of the earth as nothing; angels in heaven and people on earth are under his control. No one can oppose his will or question what he does.” (Dan 4:35).

“I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want.” (Job 42:2)

“Human wisdom, brilliance, insight—they are of no help if the Lord is against you.” (Pro 21:30)

“Or do we want to make the Lord jealous? Do we think that we are stronger than He?” (1Cor 10:22)

“I am God and always will be. No one can escape from my power; no one can change what I do.” (Isa 43:13)

“But if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them. You could find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 5:39)

6. God is fair―He doesn’t play favorites.
“Are you condemning the righteous God? Do you think that He hates justice? God condemns kings and rulers when they are worthless or wicked. He does not take the side of rulers nor favor the rich over the poor, for he created everyone.” (Job 34:17-19)

7. God is Trustworthiness Itself―He cannot break His promises.
The Lord is my protector; He is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with Him I am safe.

He protects me like a shield; He defends me and keeps me safe. (Ps 18:2)
“I will not break My covenant with him or take back even one promise I made him.” (Ps 89:34).

“But even then, when they are still in the land of their enemies, I will not completely abandon them or destroy them. That would put an end to my covenant with them, and I am the Lord their God.” (Lev 26:44)

“Remember your promises and do not despise us; do not bring disgrace on Jerusalem, the place of your glorious throne. Do not break the covenant you made with us.” (Jer 14:21)

“The promises of the Lord can be trusted; they are as genuine as silver refined seven times in the furnace.” (Ps 12:6)

“I have made a covenant with the day and with the night, so that they always come at their proper times; and that covenant can never be broken. In the same way I have made a covenant with my servant David that he would always have a descendant to be king, and I have made a covenant with the priests from the tribe of Levi that they would always serve me; and those covenants can never be broken. 22 I will increase the number of descendants of my servant David and the number of priests from the tribe of Levi, so that it will be as impossible to count them as it is to count the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore.” (Jer 33:20–22.)

8. God’s law cannot be annulled, broken, altered, amended or side-stepped.
“Scripture cannot be set aside, altered,” (Jh 10:35)

“In all he does he is faithful and just; all his commands are dependable. They last for all time; they were given in truth and righteousness. (Ps 111:7–8).
“Your word, O Lord, will last forever; it is eternal in heaven.” (Ps 119:89)

9. God can forgive sin but He cannot accept or acquiesce to it.
“Don’t think that the Lord is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help! It is because of your sins that He doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship Him.” (Isa 59:1–2).
“When good people pray, the Lord listens, but he ignores those who are evil. Prov 15:29

“Instead, your sins have kept these good things from you.” (Jer 5:25)
“For sin pays its wage—death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)

“Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant. 8 If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life.” (Gal 6:7–8)
“Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom.” (1 Cor 6:9–10)
See also: Eze 18:4, 20; Eze 39:23–24; Ps 76, Ps 130:3, 1 Sam 6

10. God is all-loving and loves a contrite heart―He cannot ignore even a single one.
“My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God; you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.” (Ps 51:17).

“He will hear His forsaken people and listen to their prayer.” (Ps 102:17)
See also: Ps 138:6; Lk 15:10; Rom 12:1

11. God is omnibenevolent and Love Itself―He cannot stop loving you.
“God is Love.” (1 John 4:8)
“Almighty God does not do evil; He is never unjust to anyone..” (Job 34:12)
“I appeared to them from far away. People of Israel, I have always loved you, so I continue to show you My constant love.” (Jer 31:3)

“The Lord did not love you and choose you because you outnumbered other peoples; you were the smallest nation on earth. But the Lord loved you and wanted to keep the promise that He made to your ancestors. That is why He saved you by His great might and set you free from slavery to the king of Egypt. Remember that the Lord your God is the only God and that He is faithful. He will keep His covenant and show His constant love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and obey His commands. (Deu 7:7–9)

Let us be grateful and praise God for Who He is and What He is… a God of loving care, compassion, and forgiveness. Aren’t you glad our God has limited Himself in these ways? He has set us the example and opened the way before us to follow in His steps. It is because God cannot do these things that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).
See also: Jer 31:3; Ps 103:17; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:3–6; 1 Jn 4:19.

12. God Will never abandon you―ever.
“He is a merciful God. He will not abandon you or destroy you, and He will not forget the covenant that He Himself made with your ancestors.” (Deut 4:31)
“Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” (Deut 31:6)
“King David said to his son Solomon, “Be confident and determined. Start the work and don’t let anything stop you. The Lord God, whom I serve, will be with you. He will not abandon you, but he will stay with you until you finish the work to be done on his Temple.” (1Chron 28:20)

“For the Lord loves what is right and does not abandon his faithful people. He protects them forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be driven out.” (Ps 37:28)

“Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God! e with me while I proclaim your power and might to all generations to come.” (Ps 71:18)
“When my people in their need look for water, when their throats are dry with thirst,

then I, the Lord, will answer their prayer; I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.” (Isa 41:17)
“Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me. I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken.” (Jer 2:19-21)

“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) END QUOTES

Biblical Evidence for Sacramentalism……. By Dave Armstrong

Biblical Evidence for Sacramentalism

“Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law…” (CCC 1210)
Dave Armstrong

God became man (Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior). The incarnation was the event in salvation history that raised matter to previously unknown heights. All created matter was “good” from the start (Gen 1:25), but was “glorified” by the incarnation.

Ritual and “physicality” were not abolished by the coming of Christ. Quite the contrary: it was the incarnation that fully established sacramentalism as a principle in the Christian religion. The latter may be defined as the belief that matter can convey grace.
It’s really that simple, at bottom, or in essence. God uses matter both to help us live better lives (sanctification) and to ultimately save us (regeneration and justification), starting with baptism itself.

The atonement or redemption of Christ (His death on the cross for us) was not purely “spiritual”. It was as physical (“sacramental”, if you will) as it could be, as well as spiritual. Protestants often piously refer to “the Blood of Jesus,” and rightly so (see Rev 5:9; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Jn 1:7; etc.). This is explicitly sacramental thinking.
It was the very suffering of Jesus in the flesh, and the voluntary shedding of His own blood, which constituted the crucial, essential aspect of His work as our Redeemer and Savior. One can’t avoid this: “he was bruised for our iniquities” (Is 53:5).

So it is curious that many Protestants appear to possess a pronounced hostility to the sacramental belief of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, seeing that it flows so straightforwardly from the incarnation and the crucifixion itself.
This brings to mind an analogy to the Jewish and Muslim disdain for the incarnation as an unthinkable (impossible?) task for God to undertake. They view the incarnation in the same way that the majority of Protestants regard the Eucharist.

For them God wouldn’t or couldn’t or shouldn’t become a man (such a thought is blasphemous; unthinkable!). For many (not all) Protestants, God wouldn’t or couldn’t or shouldn’t become substantially, physically, sacramentally present under the outward forms of bread and wine.
The dynamic or underlying premise is the same. If Christ could become man, He can surely will to be actually and truly present in what was formerly (and still looks like) bread and wine, once consecrated.

The New Testament is filled with incarnational and sacramental indications: instances of matter conveying grace. The Church is the “Body” of Christ (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 1:22-23; 5:30), and marriage (including its physical aspects) is described as a direct parallel to Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33; esp. 29-32).

Jesus even seems to literally equate Himself in some sense with the Church, saying He was “persecuted” by Paul, after the Resurrection (Acts 9:5).
Not only that; in St. Paul’s teaching, one can find a repeated theme of identifying very graphically and literally with Christ and His sufferings (see: 2 Cor 4:10; Phil 2:17; 3:10; 2 Tim 4:6; and above all, Col 1:24).

Matter conveys grace all over the place in Scripture: baptism confers regeneration (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21; cf. Mk 16:16; Rom 6:3-4; 1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:5). Paul’s “handkerchiefs” healed the sick (Acts 19:12), as did even Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15), and of course, Jesus’ garment (Mt 9:20-22) and saliva mixed with dirt (Jn 9:5 ff.; Mk 8:22-25), as well as water from the pool of Siloam (Jn 9:7).

Anointing with oil for healing is encouraged (Jas 5:14). We also observe in Scripture the laying on of hands for the purpose of ordination and commissioning (Acts 6:6; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6) to facilitate the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6), and for healing (Mk 6:5; Lk 13:13; Acts 9:17-18).
Even under the old covenant, a dead man was raised simply by coming in contact with the bones of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 13:21): which is also one of the direct evidences for the Catholic practice of the veneration of relics (itself an extension of the sacramental principle).

Sacramentalism is a “product” of the incarnation, just as the Church also is. But we must also understand that the sacraments are not “magic charms.” The Church also teaches that one should have the correct “interior disposition” when receiving them. Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.: the great catechist, wrote, in an entry on “Sacramental Dispositions”:

Condition of soul required for the valid and/or fruitful reception of the sacraments. . . . In the recipient who has the use of reason is required merely that no obstacles be placed in the way. Such obstacles are a lack of faith or sanctifying grace or of a right intention.

(Modern Catholic Dictionary, Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company, 1980, 477)

Likewise, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its section on ex opere operato (#1128), notes: “Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.”

The sacrament of the Eucharist, for example, will not have a positive effect or convey grace if received by a person in mortal sin (see 1 Cor 11:27-30; CCC #1415), and priestly absolution is null and void without the necessary prerequisite of true repentance.

This is all the more true of sacramentals (things like holy water, scapulars, blessings, miraculous medal, genuflection, etc.), which depend entirely on the inner state of the one using or receiving them. Intent, sincerity, motivation, piety, and suchlike are all supremely important in the Catholic life.
The scapular will not “work” for a person who neglects the pursuit of righteousness and obedience and views it as a “magic charm” (which is occultic superstition) rather than a Catholic sacramental. A piece of cloth cannot rescind the normal duties of the Catholic life.

Nor is God some sort of celestial “vending machine.” He wants our hearts; he wants us: not meaningless outward obedience without the proper interior motivation, in love, and by His grace. Sacraments help us, but we must do our part, too. END QUOTES

Josef Seifert: Does Pure Logic Threaten to Destroy the Entire Moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?

Josef Seifert: Does Pure Logic Threaten to Destroy the Entire Moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?


Editor’s note: In June 2016, Josef Seifert, a famous Austrian philosopher and friend of Pope John Paul II wrote an article in a German journal called, “The Tears of Jesus over Amoris Laetitia”. From our report:

In it, he [Seifert] compares the words of Our Lord in the Gospel to those found Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation.

Seifert reaches the inescapable conclusion, “How can Jesus and His Most Holy Mother read and compare these words of the Pope with those of Jesus and his Church without crying? Let us therefore cry with Jesus, with deep respect and affection for the Pope, and with profound grief that arises from the obligation to criticize his mistakes!”

Now, in a new paper released under an open license so that it might be published by anyone, anywhere in the world, Seifert tackles a larger question: whether a key logical conclusion drawn from Amoris Laetitia will bring the whole moral doctrine of the Church crashing down.
Does pure logic threaten to destroy the entire moral doctrine of the Catholic Church?
Josef Seifert
August 5, 2017
Aemaet Bd. 6, Nr. 2 (2017) 2-9

The question in the title of this paper is addressed to Pope Francis and to all Catholic cardinals, bishops, philosophers and theologians. It deals with a dubium about a purely logical consequence of an affirmation in Amoris Laetitia, and ends with a plea to Pope Francis to retract at least one affirmation of AL, if the title question of this little essay has to be answered in the affirmative, and if indeed from this one affirmation in AL alone pure logic, using evident premises, can deduce the destruction of the entire Catholic moral teaching. In a Socratic style, the paper leaves it up to Pope Francis and other readers to answer the title question and to act upon their own answer.

Amoris Laetitia has no doubt created much uncertainty and evoked conflicting interpretations throughout the Catholic World. I do not wish to present this entire controversy here nor to repeat – or develop further – the position I have defended on this matter in previous articles (See Josef Seifert, “Amoris Laetitia. Joy, Sadness and Hopes”) I might still do this in a reply to some critical comments I have received from my personal friend Buttiglione, with whom I agree on almost all other philosophical matters, and others.

There is a single affirmation in AL, however, that has nothing to do with a recognition of the rights of subjective conscience, by reference to which Rocco Buttiglione seeks to demonstrate the full harmony between the moral magisterium of Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis, against Robert Spaemann’s and other assertions of a clear break between them. Buttiglione argues that, regarding their contrary teaching on sacramental discipline, Pope John Paul II is correct if one considers only the objective content of human acts, while Pope Francis is right when one accords, after due discernment, to subjective factors and missing conditions of mortal sin (deficient knowledge and weakness of free will) their proper role and recognition.

The assertion of AL I wish to investigate here, however, does not invoke subjective conscience at all, but claims a totally objective divine will for us to commit, in certain situations, acts that are intrinsically wrong, and have always been considered such by the Church. Since God can certainly not have a lack of ethical knowledge, an “erring conscience,” or a weakness of free will, this text does not “defend the rights of human subjectivity,” as Buttiglione claims, but appears to affirm clearly that these intrinsically disordered and objectively gravely sinful acts, as Buttiglione admits, can be permitted, or can even objectively be commanded, by God. If this is truly what AL affirms, all alarm over AL’s direct affirmations, regarding matters of changes of sacramental discipline (admitting, after due discernment, adulterers, active homosexuals, and other couples in similar situations to the sacraments of confession and eucharist, and, logically, also of baptism, confirmation, and matrimony, without their willingness to change their lives and to live in total sexual abstinence, which Pope John Paul II demanded in Familiaris Consortio from couples in such “irregular situations”), refer only to the peak of an iceberg, to the weak beginning of an avalanche, or to the first few buildings destroyed by a moral theological atomic bomb that threatens to tear down the whole moral edifice of the 10 commandments and of Catholic Moral Teaching.

In the present paper, however, I will not claim that this is the case. On the contrary, I will leave it entirely to the Pope or to any reader to answer the question whether or not there is at least one affirmation in Amoris Laetitia that has the logical consequence of destroying the entire Catholic moral teaching. And I must admit that what I read about a commission convened in order to “re-examine” Humanae Vitae, an Encyclical that put, like later Veritatis Splendor, a definitive end to decades of ethical and moral theological debates, has made this title question of my essay a matter of extreme concern to me.

Let us read the decisive text (AL 303), which is being applied by Pope Francis to the case of adulterous or otherwise “irregular couples” who decide not to follow the demand addressed in the Encyclical Familiaris Consortio of Saint Pope John Paul II to such “irregular couples”. Pope John Paul II tells these couples to either separate entirely or, if this is impossible, to abstain entirely from sexual relations. Pope Francis states, however:

Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God (Relatio Finalis 2015, 85) and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal (AL 303).
From the previous as well as from the later context it is clear that this “will of God” here refers to continuing to live in what constitutes objectively a grave sin. Cf., for example, AL 298, Footnote 329:

“In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers’.”

In Gaudium et Spes, 51, from which the last quote is taken, the thought is taken as an invalid objection against the moral demand never to commit adultery or an act of contraception. In AL it is understood in the sense explained above, as a justification, even known to correspond to the objective will of God, to continue to commit objectively speaking grave sins.

In other words, besides calling an objective state of grave sin, euphemistically, “not yet fully the objective ideal,” AL says that we can know with “a certain moral security” that God himself asks us to continue to commit intrinsically wrong acts, such as adultery or active homosexuality. I ask: Can pure Logic fail to ask us under this assumption:

If only one case of an intrinsically immoral act can be permitted and even willed by God, must this not apply to all acts considered ‘intrinsically wrong’? If it is true that God can want an adulterous couple to live in adultery, should then not also the commandment ‘Do not commit adultery!’ be reformulated: ‘If in your situation adultery is not the lesser evil, do not commit it! If it is, continue living it!’?

Must then not also the other 9 commandments, Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and all past and present or future Church documents, dogmas, or councils that teach the existence of intrinsically wrong acts, fall? Is it then not any more intrinsically wrong to use contraceptives and is not Humanae Vitae in error that states unambiguously that it can never happen that contraception in any situation is morally justified, let alone commanded by God?

Must then not, to begin with, the new commission on Humanae Vitae Pope Francis instituted, conclude that using contraception can in some situations be good or even obligatory and willed by God? Can then not also abortions, as Mons. Fisichella, then President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, claimed, be justified in some cases and ‘be what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal’?

Must then not from pure logic euthanasia, suicide, or assistance to it, lies, thefts, perjuries, negations or betrayals of Christ, like that of St. Peter, or murder, under some circumstances and after proper “discernment,” be good and praiseworthy because of the complexity of a concrete situation (or because of a lack of ethical knowledge or strength of will)? Can then not God also demand that a Sicilian, who feels obligated to extinguish the innocent family members of a family, whose head has murdered a member of his own family and whose brother would murder four families if he does not kill one, go ahead with his murder, because his act is, under his conditions “what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal”? Does not pure logic demand that we draw this consequence from this proposition of Pope Francis?

However, if the title question of this paper must be answered in the affirmative, as I personally believe to be the case, the purely logical consequence of that one assertion of Amoris Laetitia seems to destroy the entire moral teaching of the Church. Should it not, therefore, be withdrawn and condemned by Pope Francis himself, who no doubt abhors such a consequence, which, if the title question needs to be answered affirmatively, iron and cool logic cannot fail to draw from the cited assertion of Pope Francis?

Thus I wish to plead with our supreme spiritual Father on Earth, the “sweet Christ on earth,” as Saint Catherine of Siena called one of the Popes, under whose reign she lived, while she criticized him fiercely (if Pope Francis agrees with this logical conclusion, and answers the title question of this essay in the affirmative) to please retract the mentioned affirmation. If its logical consequences lead with iron stringency to nothing less than to a total destruction of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, should the “sweet Christ on Earth” not retract an affirmation of his own? If the mentioned thesis leads with cogent logical consequence to the rejection of there being any acts that must be considered intrinsically morally wrong, under any circumstances and in all situations, and if this assertion will tear down, after Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor, likewise Humanae Vitae and many other solemn Church teachings, should it not be revoked? Are there not evidently such acts that are always intrinsically wrong, as there are other acts, which are always intrinsically good, justified, or willed by God? (See John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor. See also Josef Seifert, “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in ‘Veritatis Splendor’.” In: Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 2, 27-67. “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts II: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in ‘Veritatis Splendor’.” In: Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 3, 7-37.) And should not every Cardinal and Bishop, every priest, monk or consecrated Virgin, and every layperson in the Church, take a most vivid interest in this and subscribe this passionate plea of a a humble layperson, a simple Professor of Philosophy and, among other subjects, of logic?

Josef Seifert is the founding Rector of the The International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein, holder of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair for Realist Phenomenology at the IAP-IFES, Granada, Spain, and elected by Saint Pope John Paul II as ordinary (life-long) member of the Pontifical Academy for Life (a charge that ended with the dismissal of all PAV members by Pope Francis in 2016, and the failure to be re-elected as member of, a profoundly changed, PAV in 2017).
Email: jmmbseifertXYZcom (replace ‘XYZ’ by ‘12@gmail.’)
The Text is available under the Creative Commons License Attribution
3.0 (CC BY 3.0). Publication date: 08.05.2017.

The Newer Phariseeism ….By Father Timothy V. Vaverek

The Newer Phariseeism
By Father Timothy V. Vaverek

The debate over remarriage after divorce has resurfaced with an interpretation of controversial aspects of Amoris laetitia by Archbishop Victor Fernandez, a papal advisor rumored to have ghostwritten the document. Like many wishing to accommodate “second unions,” he seems to prefer vagueness and marginalizing those who raise objections rather than presenting a precise, comprehensive rationale. Nevertheless, it’s worth trying to clarify a few key points.
The problems begin with the human tendency to treat morality as a kind of legal system. This approach mistakenly identifies the rigorous application of rules with “justice” and circumstantial adaptation with “mercy.” Those who prefer “mercy” often label their opponents “Pharisees.” But they fail to recognize that, by contrasting justice and mercy, they expose their own pharisaical mindset. The correct assessment of a “second union” – or any moral situation – requires an understanding of morality based on Christ and the righteousness of God, not on approaches designed to favor allegedly just or merciful applications of legal precepts.

Human laws cannot anticipate every situation. Hence, judicial decisions tend either to apply the law strictly or to adapt it to circumstances. Because legal justice strives to give “what is due” to others, mercy toward an offender sometimes conflicts with justice for an aggrieved party.

But this is simply not the case for divine justice and mercy. God owes us nothing; his works of creation and salvation are acts of pure generosity. The Old Testament calls this generosity “justice” or “righteousness” (tzedeqah). It means giving to others “what is good” rather than “what is due.” God calls his people to practice this generous justice rather than mere legal justice.
Despite sin, God’s justice does not abandon us but offers “what is good” for us: truth, conversion, and union with Himself. Thus, divine justice reveals itself in merciful love (hesed) and fidelity (emet). Because God’s merciful love expresses his justice, they cannot be in tension. Covenantal justice is founded in love of God and neighbor. This foundation is personal, not legalistic, calling for the faithful gift of oneself in imitation of God’s gift of Himself.
Covenantal justice, merciful love, and fidelity are directed to authentic and realizable goods, not to subjective or idealized ones. In a fallen world, these goods may be unwelcome or entail considerable suffering – even death – because fidelity to the good cuts against our fallen condition, mistaken judgments, false attachments, and sinful inclinations.

Our commitment to God and neighbor causes pain when we see how we and others mistreat them. It also leads to suffering innocently from evil and from the animosity of the world.

Curses Against the Pharisees by James Tissot, c. 1890 [Brooklyn Museum]
God’s people proved unfaithful, under trials, in the Old Covenant. Responding with justice, God generously promised to wed them to himself in a New Covenant by sending his Spirit and giving them new, faithful hearts.

Through the incarnation, death, and glorification of Jesus, God fulfilled his promise. He now abides in us so that we share his justice, merciful love, and fidelity. This new covenantal relation makes possible a new righteousness. No longer is love measured by our human capacity (i.e., “with all your heart” and “as yourself”). Instead, Jesus’ love becomes the source and measure of our love (i.e., “as I have loved you”). The imitation of God is thereby achieved through an indwelling participation in his divine life, enabling us to be faithful in all circumstances.

Christian morality, then, is not based on the application of precepts or ideals, but on our nuptial union with God in Christ. The moral assessment of a situation, including a remarriage after divorce, is fundamentally a matter of recognizing what it means to join Jesus in doing what is truly good for us and others. This is always just, merciful, and faithful.

Jesus insisted that what is good for us will lead to crucifixion; we must be prepared to lose our loved ones and our lives if we are to love as he loves. (Mt 10: 37-39) Inevitably, this entails sacrifices and martyrdoms of many kinds, including the loss of the personal and financial support of a “second spouse” who abandons a family because a partner refuses adulterous sexual relations. In that situation, it is no act of mercy to offer a way around the Cross by declaring the sexual relations “good” since deliberate infidelity is not good, but harmful for each partner’s union with Jesus, their current relationship, children, and the first marriage.

Nuptial fidelity to one’s first spouse and to Christ must be chosen over adultery, regardless of the cost. That is the clear meaning of the fidelity, merciful love, and justice God has shown to us; a meaning reaffirmed by the Lord’s life and his teaching that remarriage after divorce is adultery; adultery is a sin; sin is a betrayal of Him; that it is better to suffer than to betray Him. (Mk 10:11; Jn 8:11; Mt 25:31-46; Mk 9:43)

Jesus condemned the Pharisees not only for the false burdens they created but also for the righteous duties they set aside. (Mk 7:1-15) In the past, strict priests wrongly burdened those in troubled marriages by refusing to consider the need for legal separation or the possibility of an invalid marriage. Now, accommodating priests wrongly declare sexual relations in a second union “good” by setting aside the first marriage in light of the current partners’ support for each other and their children.

This is not pastoral progress or mercy, but the replacement of an older pharisaical approach with a newer one – its mirror image. In the name of avoiding rigorism, this effectively “nullifies the word of God” regarding covenant fidelity, marriage, adultery, and sin.

This new pharisaical approach can be corrected only by viewing second unions in light of the first marriage and the union of Christ and the Church. For we call something “good” not because it fits a strict or accommodating application of moral principles, or because it suits our preference for a “just” or “merciful” solution, but because it conforms to Him who alone is good. (Mk 10:18-19) END QUOTES

© 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Historical evidence proves the existence of 23 figures in the New Testament….. RE-BLOGGED

Historical evidence proves the existence of 23 figures in the New Testament

Zelda Caldwell |

Roman historians’ writing and archaeological evidence confirms the identities of political figures during Jesus’ time.

What if it were possible to prove that the historical characters mentioned in the Bible actually existed?

One scholar is trying to do just that, and he believes that by establishing the Bible’s historical credibility, he will make it more accessible to believers and nonbelievers alike.

First, Purdue University professor Lawrence Myktiuk used the archaeological record to verify the existence of 53 individuals mentioned in the Old Testament. He subjected each figure to a rigorous test, using inscriptions to confirm that each person mentioned actually lived. His findings, published by the Bible Archaeology Review, include Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs among other notable figures.

Read more: Purdue professor proves 53 people in the Bible lived

Now, he is moving on to the New Testament. Using the works of Roman historians and archaeological evidence, Myktiuk, has compiled a list of New Testament political figures whose existence has been confirmed outside of the Bible.
Myktiuk’s list, published at the Bible Archaeology Review website, includes the names of 23 political figures including Roman emperors, members of the Herodian family, Roman legates and governors and other rulers mentioned in the New Testament, and the evidence he found to prove they actually existed.

In his “Evidence Chart,” Myktiuk notes that Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion, for example, ruled between the years 26 and 36, and was mentioned in Josephus’ Antiquities and Wars, Tacitus’ Annals, and Philo’s De Legatione ad Gaium. Further evidence of his existence, he notes, was found on the Pilate Stone discovered at Caesarea Maritima and on Roman coins.
After the publication of his findings on characters in the Old Testament, Myktiuk said that his work had done much to establish the credibility, from a historical point of view, of the Bible.

“This evidence shows that it is not essential to have religious faith in order to and accept much of what the Bible presents. It demonstrates that even on the basis of writings outside of the Bible alone, Scripture does have a considerable degree of historical credibility.” END QUOTES

Is Jesus Re-Sacrificed At EVERY Mass … re-blogged

Is Jesus “Re-Sacrificed” at Every Mass?

If Jesus is our high priest forever, He is still offering Himself, out of time, because that’s what priests do.

by: Dave Armstrong

The Bible plainly rules out the notion of Jesus being “re-sacrificed”:
Hebrews 7:27 (RSV) He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (cf. 9:12)

Hebrews 9:24-26 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. [25] Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; [26] for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (cf. 9:27-28)

The crucifixion was a one-time historical event. We must keep in mind, however, that Jesus is God. He was subject to time in His human nature, but in His Divine Nature, He is outside of time. Jesus is called “a priest for ever”: not for six hours on the cross only:

Hebrews 5:6 as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz’edek.” (cf. 6:20; 7:24)

Thus, the Apostle John referred to Jesus in heaven (after His resurrection and ascension) as “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain”:

Revelation 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; (cf. Heb 8:1; 9:24 above)

In this sense, the one crucifixion is “eternally present” and supernaturally “brought to us” in the Sacrifice of the Mass. The texts refer to the definitive, end-all nature of the crucifixion, but not to some solely natural, timebound analysis of it. The Council of Trent (Session 22, Chapter II), stated:
And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, . . . For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation).

First of all, there is the differentiation (first sentence) between “unbloody manner” and “once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross” – thus showing that the former is not regarded as the latter, repeated over and over again (as the contra-Catholic reasoning would claim), but rather, a different means of bringing the one sacrifice to us.

Secondly, there is the phrase, “the manner alone of offering being different,” thus showing that it is one sacrifice being re-presented (different “manner”).
Moreover, the phrase, “The fruits indeed of . . . that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one” shows that the reference was back to Calvary, whose benefit accrues to those partaking of Holy Communion, not to some imagined “repeated bloody sacrifice.”

To drive home the point in a different way, the council reiterates, “so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation).” The plain language of Chapter I reiterates this:

He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once on the altar of the cross unto God the Father, by means of his death, there to operate an eternal redemption; nevertheless, because that His priesthood was not to be extinguished by His death, in the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed, – that He might leave, to His own beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, . . . declaring Himself constituted a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech, . . .

Perhaps the language of Trent was not as careful and precise as it should be (one can always argue about style and content of words), but I think a reasonable reading of it arrives at the conclusions that Catholics hold, and have always held.

Another important factor in all this is the lack of understanding of the patristic background. The notion of eucharistic sacrifice (in the Catholic sense) was common in the Church fathers’ writings. Thus, one might misinterpret what Trent expressed, and come up with the notion of “sacrificed again and again”. But if the patristic background is known, then it is seen as merely further development of what had been believed long since.

As a man, Jesus’ sacrifice was in time and history. As God, outside of time (from thatperspective), it is not. His being God brings in a “supra-historical” aspect in which time is transcended. This is what Protestants often seem to neglect. If Jesus is our high priest forever, He is still offering Himself, out of time, because that’s what priests do. Otherwise, what is the “pure offering” of Malachi 1:11?

If His Body and Blood are truly present in the Eucharist, then the sacrifice on the cross alsomust be present in some sense, since that is where the sacrifice took place, and why we talk about Body and Blood at all. One can’t be separated from the other. END QUOTES

How to Respond to God’s No by Tom Hoopes

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How to Respond to God’s ‘No’


Sunday, Aug. 20, is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). Mass Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Everyone has experienced it: the terrible moment when God says, “No.”

No, you may not have that job you have been praying for. No, that temptation will not go away. No, your family member will not convert. Sometimes the No is final; sometimes God is saying it will take a while for our petitions to be resolved.

It is easy to simply give up and give in — to stop asking and live like it will never happen.

That is where persistence comes in.

Today’s Gospel tells us: Don’t take “No” for an answer.

“Have pity on me!” the Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus. “My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

First, Jesus ignores her — “Jesus did not say a word in answer to her,” says the Gospel. Then his disciples tell him: “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”

So he does. He tells her: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Being ignored didn’t make her give up. Hearing this “No” didn’t either.

“The woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’”

Then he made his “No” harsher: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She still won’t take “No” for an answer: “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

Only then does Jesus say, “O woman, great is your faith!”

We often get exactly these answers from God.

“Why is Jesus ignoring me?” we often wonder, maybe even thinking, “Apparently those granted jobs are more worthy. Why do others get the gift of a family full of faith, but not my family? Why are others not struggling as I am? Is the grace of the basics of a Godly life — work, faith and moral fortitude — not something God will extend to me?”

If the Canaanite woman feels offended, she doesn’t show it. She won’t stop asking. Instead, she adds an act of humility to her petition. She grants the premise that she is less worthy — and would like something small all the same, a “scrap that falls from the table” of those who are more favored.

We can do the same thing — because we are not worthy either.

God is infinitely greater than us and sees that better people than us are enduring far worse suffering and staying way more faithful.

We have not been perfect like the foreigners God answers in the first reading. We Catholics, the “People of God,” have disobeyed him as surely as the “Chosen People” did, as St. Paul points out in the second reading.

Tell God you know all that — and you would like a scrap anyway. Jesus responds to that kind of humility.

Take a tip from salesmen: You never get what you don’t ask for, and you can’t close the deal if you take “No” for an answer too soon.

“Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful.” So St. Josémaria Escriva reminds us. END QUOTES

Tom Hoopes is writer

in residence at

Benedictine College

and author of The Fatima Family Handbook