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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Peter's Sermon - Acts 4:8

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"Our first reading for today proposes a very serious challenge to the inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism that is taken for granted in our culture today. The chief of the Apostles says, “He is the stone rejected by you the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Stay with how uncomfortable this is—because in a way, that’s the point." Bishop Robert Barron.




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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Good Shepherd Sunday - 2018




Who's Voice do I hear ...

... and What Is That Voice Saying?

 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, ...

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” John 10:

 In Jesus time, it was the practice for shepherds to coral several flocks into a single sheepfold over night for their protection and safety. In the morning, a shepherd would come to the gate, call out to the sheep, and only his sheep would come out and follow him. Such was the recognition and influence of the shepherd's voice. Knowing this gives us insight into why Jesus chose to use it as an image of his influence in our lives. To be a follower of Christ, we must have His Voice imprinted on our hearts.

 This imprinting happens through our reflective, meditative prayer. When the Lord speaks, it has a positive effect on our hearts. When it is not the Lord's voice we are hearing, its effect is negative. In our previous Post, we discussed identifying these movements of our hearts as we prayed. In this Post, we will look at identifying and naming the specific things that are attached to the different movements of heart we feel. 

 This is particularly helpful in matters having to do with choices. Here is an example of what I mean.

 Supposing a friend invites you to spend a week with them at their new summer home. You are delighted with the invitation, especially since you are desperately in need of a break. You are about to accept when you remember, that it is the same week you promised another friend, that you would help them with some much needed renovations at their house. Both are good propositions; and after some thought, you decide to beg off helping your friend in favour of taking the week at the summer home.

 But, having made this choice makes you feel conflicted. You feel sad for turning down a friend in need. What to do?

 Now, a third friend calls you to commend you for offering to help your friend in need. They remark how kind and generous you are, especially since your friend could not possibly have done the work without you. This makes you feel very positive about yourself. So you reconsider your decision and choose to decline the holiday in favour of helping your friend in need.

  That call from the third friend is likened to the Lord's Voice in prayer. Having been presented with choices, you make a decision. Now you take your decision to prayer. You stack your decision up against the images, examples and thoughts you see as you pray the scriptures. This sheds new light on the process that lead to your decision. In the light of the "grace of prayer", ether a confirmation or a rethinking of your choice emerges. Like the friend's voice in our example, the Voice of the Lord will lead you to a better choice, confirmed by its positive thoughts and feeling.

 We can rationalize ourselves into all manner of choices. But there is no deceiving the Lord. A heart sincere and open to listening in prayer, will hear the Good Shepherd's voice. If your choice is a bad one you will want to move away from it. If it is a good one, it will draw you closer to the Lord.

 For a more complete and comprehensive treatment of this subject, prayer and choosing, visit the Ignatian Spirituality Site.

 "The sheep of the shepherd hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."



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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Beginnings of the Eucharistic Liturgy


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 From the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr
The celebration of the Eucharist

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The Eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

From the Office of Readings - Third Sunday of Easter.

















































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This special series of posts focuses on  Baptism In the Holy Spirit and guides one, through a process of prayer, to seek this experience or to renew one’s personal experience of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.




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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Third Sunday of Easter - 2018


However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. Jo. 16:13



A Meditation for the Third Sunday of Easter

Today’s gospel reading is taken from Luke’s gospel account – Chapter 24. This chapter has four parts: 1. Easter morning and the empty tomb of Jesus; 2. The encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus; 3. The appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem; 4. The Ascension of Jesus.

In each of these encounters, the people involved are overcome with amazement and struggle to understand what they are experiencing. Obviously, they did not understand what Jesus had been foretelling of his pending suffering and death, but that he would overcome death and return to them. The cross crushed all the hope they had in Jesus, as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reveal. That is evidence of the great power death has to tear apart the trust and hope of any believer.

With his resurrection Jesus begins the healing and restoration of their shattered faith, and it begins with physical evidence: “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” But Jesus does not intend that this physical way of coming to certain faith will be the way of the future. A more convincing and certain way is now to be revealed.

Do we not sometimes wonder why Jesus did not continue to remain physically present for every generation to see and be convinced?

Luke has given us two books to instruct us and answer that question. His first book is his Gospel Book, and his second book is the Acts of the Apostles. It is in Acts that we learn of this better way. Let me use an illustration to explain. Suppose I were to lead you to the entrance of a tunnel, and I explained that on the other side of this tunnel is a glorious ancient city, magnificent and beautiful. Now you know about the existence of that city, but only by the evidence of my reporting. But if you enter into that tunnel and pass through it to the other side, you will know for certain, by your own experience, of the existence of that city I described. Knowledge comes from hearing, certainty comes by experience.

Jesus wants to take us into the mystery of his resurrection by way of the “tunnel” of spirituality. This will be accomplished through the working of the Holy Spirit. We see the beginnings of this certifying of faith with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They asked one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Lk 24:32 <> Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Lk 24:45

When the Holy Spirit seeds the revelation of Jesus’ gospel, deep within our hearts, nothing, not even death itself can destroy such certain faith. This is work of the Holy Spirit and it happens within us when we engage in the practice a personal spiritual life. Lots of people know about Jesus and his teachings; indeed, great scholars have far more knowledge of scripture than you or I could ever hope to know, yet some of them are atheists. A dynamic living faith is a work of grace, and it is discovered when we enter the “Tunnel of Prayer”.
















































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This special series of posts focuses of  Baptism In the Holy Spirit
 and guides one, through a process of prayer, to seek this experience 
 or to renew of one’s  personal experience of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.





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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Litany of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.





Litany of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Lord have mercy on us; - - - Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us; - - - Christ graciously hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit of the living God; - - - Sent forth from the Father and the Son.

Holy Spirit of the thrice-holy God; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit of the Father and of the Son; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit who are poured into us; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit the Paraclete; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit the Comforter; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit the Advocate; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Oh, Holy Spirit the Spirit of freedom; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Oh, Holy Spirit the seal of our redemption; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Oh, Holy Spirit the first fruits of the redemption; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit the pledge of eternal glory; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit the strengthening and comforting anointing; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit who enlightens and inspires; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit who lives in our bodies as a temple; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit who sanctifies us into a dwelling place of God; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit who makes us the sanctuary of the Church; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit of the new creation through Whom the Lord makes all things new; - - - Come Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit out of Whom a person must be born again, in order to be the person God intends them to be for all eternity; - - - Come Holy Spirit.

Oh, Holy Spirit, the arouser of the glorified body; - - - Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Oh, Holy Spirit of adoption, testimony that we are the children of God; - - - Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Oh, Holy Spirit who searches the depths of God; - - - Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Oh, Holy Spirit fill me with your presence; - - - Fill the hearts of your faithful.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; - - - Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; - - - Fill our hearts with your presence.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; - - - Enkindle in our hearts the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit O Lord; - - - And we shall be created anew.

Let us pray,
Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world my need for your presence in my life. I am alone and in darkness without you. I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. Even though I struggle against them, it is sin that so easily dominates my life. Who can save me but you alone, my Lord and my God. Deliver me from the Evil One. Touch my life with that power which flows from your resurrection. Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory reign now in my heart. Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. Raise me up to a New Life in you.

Amen.


(Based on the descriptions of the nature and working of Holy Spirit in us by Karl Rahner in his book, "Spiritual Exercises".) - (created by Fr. James Curtin for private use.)

































































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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Divine Mercy Sunday



A Meditation

Divine Mercy Chaplet
Sung
With Video Images




Bishop Robert Barron
Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday
. . . LINK . . . 








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Friday, 6 April 2018

A Time to Die - A Time to be Born Again





An Easter Contemplation

Those who come to faith and are baptized as adults have a clear remembrance of that day. This memory is buried deep within for those baptized as infants. Regardless, the mystery of what is taking place in those moments requires much contemplation over many Easter times to come. The following is just such a contemplation. 

From the Jerusalem Catecheses
Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s passion

You were led down to the font of holy baptism just as Christ was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb which is before your eyes. Each of you was asked, “Do you believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?” You made the profession of faith that brings salvation, you were plunged into the water, and three times you rose again. This symbolized the three days Christ spent in the tomb.

As our Savior spent three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, so your first rising from the water represented the first day and your first immersion represented the first night. At night a man cannot see, but in the day he walks in the light. So when you were immersed in the water it was like night for you and you could not see, but when you rose again it was like coming into broad daylight. In the same instant you died and were born again; the saving water was both your tomb and your mother.

Solomon’s phrase in another context is very apposite here. He spoke of a time to give birth, and a time to die. For you, however, it was the reverse: a time to die, and a time to be born, although in fact both events took place at the same time and your birth was simultaneous with your death.

This is something amazing and unheard of! It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again. We only did these things symbolically, but we have been saved in actual fact. It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again, and all this has been attributed to us. We share in his sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality. What boundless love for men! Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails; he suffered the pain. I experience no pain, no anguish, yet by the share that I have in his sufferings he freely grants me salvation.

Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ. This is why Paul exclaims: Do you not know that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in his death? By baptism we went with him into the tomb.

When we were baptized into Christ and clothed ourselves in him, we were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Having destined us to be his adopted sons, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and living as we do in communion with Christ, God’s anointed, we ourselves are rightly called “the anointed ones.” When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of us.

We became “the anointed ones” when we received the sign of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, everything took place in us by means of images, because we ourselves are images of Christ. Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him, like resting upon like. So we also, after coming up from the sacred waters of baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.

Christ’s anointing was not by human hands, nor was it with ordinary oil. On the contrary, having destined him to be the Savior of the whole world, the Father himself anointed him with the Holy Spirit. The words of Peter bear witness to this: Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit. And David the prophet proclaimed: Your throne, O God, shall endure for ever; your royal scepter is a scepter of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above all your fellows.


The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself, who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy. But we too have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing we have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life. Beware of thinking that this holy oil is simply ordinary oil and nothing else. After the invocation of the Spirit it is no longer ordinary oil but the gift of Christ, and by the presence of his divinity it becomes the instrument through which we receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on our foreheads and senses, our bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, our souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.

Office of Readings Wednesday of Easter Week


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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter - He Is Risen




St Paul makes this most striking statement; in his first letter to the Church in Corinth he writes:
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all (people) men most to be pitied. 1 Cor. 15:16

That is why today, Easter, is the most important day we own! I encourage you to take your scriptures and read the four gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. Look at the people and the effect it has on them. See yourself right there is the midst of these wondrous happenings.

Now remember, many, including the Pharisees did expect there was to be a resurrection . . . but more like the resurrection Ezekiel describes in the vision of the “Dry Bones” - people wake up in their graves and be themselves again . . . living here on earth as they had been. (LINK)

But this Jesus . . . this body he has . . . the totally new way he lives and is present to them . . . they are overwhelmed, over joyed, dumbfounded. Jesus has to demonstrate in various ways that it is he. It is Jesus, yet his body is not bound by the laws of nature as they know them to be.

But let us grasp why today is the quintessential, the most important day of the Christian faith as St. Paul has pointed out. Today we come to the intersection of all belief, several roads to choose are before us. Some take a road leading to other religions. Some take the road of no religion; the agnostic, the atheist. How many seem to be taking that road today. Many just stand there confused, seemingly unable to know which way to go. You will see them all in the resurrection stories.

But now it is our turn to choose. Which road do I choose? Today the Church replaces the usual recitation of the Creed with the renewal of our baptism promises. Today, we too who stand at that crossroad of all crossroads will be challenged to make our decision. Which road do I choose for my life? Who do I believe?











































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Renewal of Baptism Commitment
Dear brothers and sisters, through the Paschal mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism, so that we may walk with him in newness of life. and so, now that our Lenten observance is concluded, let us renew the promises of holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.

Do you renounce Satan?
And all his works?
And all his empty show?

Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

May almighty God, the Father of our lord Jesus Christ, who has given us new birth by water and the holy spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our lord, for eternal life. all: amen.


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Saturday, 31 March 2018

Holy Week - Holy Saturday




From Earlier Post



So Joseph of Arimathea came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Joseph laid Jesus’ body in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and departed. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.





















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