Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday Angelus on Aquinas

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today, the liturgical calendar remembers St. Thomas Aquinas, great doctor of the Church. With his charism as philosopher and theologian, he offers a valid model of harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit that are fully realized in their reciprocal encounter and dialog.

According to St. Thomas, human reason 'breathes', so to speak - meaning, it moves through a horizon that is wide and open, in which it can express itself best. But when instead, man is reduced to thinking only of material and experimentable objects but closes himself off to the great questions about life, himself and God, he is impoverished.

The relationship between faith and reason constitutes a great challenge for the dominant culture in the Western world today, and precisely because of this, the beloved John Paul II dedicated an enyclical to it entitled, precisely, Fides et Ratio, faith and reason. I picked up the same theme recently in my discourse at the University of Regensburg.

In fact, modern advances in science have brought innumerable positive effects which will always be acknowledged as such. At the same time, it must be admitted that the tendency to consider true only that which is experimentable constitutes a limitation to human reason and produces a terrible schizophrenia between rationalism and amterialism, hypertechonology and unbridled instinct.

Therefore it is urgent to rediscover in a new way human rationality that is open to the light of the divine Logos (reason) and its perfect revelation in Jesus Christ, Son of God made man.

When it is authentic, Crhistian faith does not subdue freedom and human reason, so why should faith and reason fear each other if, in encounter and dialog, they can both be better expressed?

Faith presupposes reason and perfects it; and reason, illuminated by faith, finds the power to elevate itself to an awareness of God and of spiritual realities. Human reason loses nothing in opening itself to the contents of faith; rather the latter demands the free and conscious application of rwason.

With farsighted wisdom, St. Thomas Aquinas succeeded to establish a fruitful confrontation with the Arab and Jewish thinking in his time, and we consider him even today a master, always valid, of dialog with other cultures and religions.

He knew how to present that wonderful Christian synthesis of reason and faith that is a precious patrimony of Western civilization, which even today we can draw from in order to dialog effectively with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and of the South.

Let us pray that Christians, especially those who work in the academic and cultural fields, will know how to express the reasonableness of their faith and testify to it in a dialog inspired by love. Let us ask this gift of our Lord through the intercession of St. Thomas Aquinas and above all, of Mary, Seat of Wisdom.

From Papa Ratzinger Forum

Sunday, January 28, 2007

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thanks to Danny for reminding me about the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas usually celebrated on January 28 unless it falls on a Sunday like today.

Here is an excerpt of an excellent article written by the Dominican priest, Fr. Brian Mullady called "The Angelic Doctor - Thomas Aquinas". Fr. Mullady has been a regular guest in EWTN and is an excellent preacher.

St. Thomas is called the "Angelic Doctor" because he wrote a great deal about angels. Indeed, his use of the philosophy of Aristotle to distinguish essence and existence in angels (to show how they could be created, but without matter) was among his principal contributions to the history of philosophy.
St. Thomas has been called the "Common Doctor" because he unified Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, and philosophy in a neat synthesis that scholars have studied ever since.

He is called "Divine Thomas" because those who have studied his works feel they have met not only a genius, but someone who must have been inspired by God to write as much as he did with such depth, power, and faith.

It is a sign of his humility that he almost never shines through his voluminous pages personally, but rather sticks to the objective problem. Thus he reverses the egoism of our existentialist age, which tends in some cases to sacrifice the truth in favor of personal experience. Bishop Fulton Sheen, a great Thomistic scholar, once remarked that the problem of modern philosophy is that modern thinkers tend to view the universal as "an impoverished sense experience." The rose smells less sweet because it can be defined. Such a position has more in common with Kant than with Aquinas, who defines salvation as "the enjoyment of God."

More from here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Caption Time


Papa is reaching out to touch the Pillsbury Doughboy!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

St. Agnes Virgin and Martyr


Pope Benedict blesses two lambs on the occasion of the Feast of St. Agnes. In Rome, this is an annual tradition and here's a brief description of what happens.

Feast of St. Agnes in Rome By: S. Sheila Browne, RSM, Coordinator of the Office of Worship, Diocese of Rockville Centre

In January 2006, I had the opportunity to be in Rome and was able to participate in the Eucharist at the church of St. Agnes Outside the Walls on her feast day. What a good experience it was! This is the church where the traditional blessing of two lambs takes place. (Agnes is a derivative of the Latin word “agnus” which means “lamb”).

Before Mass began, people gathered in a beautiful anteroom of the church where two lambs were nestled in baskets. One had a garland of white roses and the letters AV (Agnes, virgin), the other a garland of red roses and the letters AM (Agnes, martyr). As you can see from the pictures below, the lambs were much admired, especially by the children who were present! When Mass began, the lambs were borne in the Entrance Procession, placed upon the altar and blessed by the Cardinal. There was much snapping of pictures, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a good picture of this! After the blessing they were taken out of the church, and mass continued. The congregation was quite culturally diverse, and they sang very well!

These two lambs were brought to the Carmelite monastery in Rome, and at Easter time their wool was shorn. This wool is used to make the pallium, a stole-like vestment which is worn by Archbishops. More images from here.

The Story of St. Agnes

Agnes was born of a noble Roman family--probably the Clodia Crescentiana. About age 10, Agnes consecrated herself to Christ, probably with her parent's permission, otherwise she would have been forced to marry the man of her father's choosing. It is likely that her father was also a Christian. About age 12 or 13, she rejected the advances of the son of a high official (the Prefect Maximum Herculeus?) with the words, "The one to whom I am betrothed is Christ whom the angels serve. He was the first to choose me. I shall be His alone." Thereupon she was denounced as a Christian.

Gill reports another version that says the prefect's son was attracted by her beauty and wealth, sought her hand in marriage, and was rebuffed because she had given her life to Christ 'to whom I keep my troth.' When he pressed her and she still refused his suit, he complained to her father, who, greatly disturbed when he discovered she was a Christian, considered her mad and treated her as such. She was urged by her family to submit, and when she still refused, they planned to make her a vestal virgin in a Roman temple. But young though she was, she showed great maturity and a determined will, "Do you think that I shall dedicate myself to gods of senseless stone!" "You are only a child," they replied. "I may be a child," she answered, "but faith dwells not in years, but in the heart" (Gill). In Gill's version, when it was realized that they could not prevail, they removed her clothes and thrust her into the open street, where, in shame, she loosened her hair to cover her nakedness.

Everyone thought that the sight of the tools of torture would cause Agnes to waver; when these elicited joy rather than terror in her, the governor became enraged and threatened to send her to a house of prostitution. "You may," said Agnes, "stain your sword with my blood; but you will never be able to profane my body, consecrated to Christ."

In all versions she was thrown into a brothel, but untouched because of her meekness and purity. She is said to have had blonde hair that was long enough to cover her nakedness (or spontaneously grew to do so) or that an angel brought her a robe, white as snow, to cover her body. Because of her declaration that God would not allow her body to be profaned, men were afraid to touch her. One man who was rude to her was suddenly blinded, but she restored his sight by prayer.
More from here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Our Queen Mother


Danny has written a great article on Our Lady.

Our Lady, Our Queen: On The Queenship Of Mary
Written by Danny Garland Jr.

Throughout history, Christians have referred to the Blessed Virgin Mary by many different titles. She is the Ark of the New Covenant, the New Eve, the Mystical Rose, the Seat of Wisdom, and Helper of Christians to name a few. Yet, "(o)f the many titles bestowed upon Our Blessed Lady, that of Queen most aptly expresses our sentiments of ardent loyalty and filial devotion towards the Mother of God." (1) In this article, through the intercession and maternal guidance of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and earth, I plan to explain exactly what it does and does not mean to call Mary "queen." We will also explore the foundations of the term found in Sacred Scripture and the history of its usage in Tradition and magisterial teachings, with the hope that what is presented will contribute to the recognition by all Christians of the Blessed Virgin as our True Queen and Mother.
More here.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Holy Father's State of The World Address


The Pope's State of the World address can be found in its entirety here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


119. Closely connected with the salvific events of the Epiphany are the mysteries of the Baptism of the Lord and the manifestation of His glory at the marriage feast of Cana.

Christmastide closes with the Baptism of the Lord. Only in recent times has the feast been rehabilitated, and hence has not given rise to any particular displays of popular piety. However, the feast presents an excellent opportunity for the faithful to be reminded of their rebirth as children of God in Baptism. The rite of asperges could be opportunely used at all Masses on this day, and homilies could well concentrate on the symbols associated with Baptism.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Catholic Devotions Meme


God bless Antonia for tagging me with the Catholic devotions meme.

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer.
The Holy Rosary.

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
I wear the brown scapular.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?
Yes, including water from Lourdes and the miraculous water from Madonna del Pozzo.

5. Do you "offer up" your sufferings?
Yes, at mass and whenever some suffering comes my way. It's the only way to survive.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?
Yes. My family has a devotion to the Two Hearts.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How Frequently?
Yes. I try to go at least once a week.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or a Sunday morning Mass person?
I was raised to go to mass on Sunday morning.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
Yes. Every mealtime.

10. Favorite saints:
St. Joseph, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Bernadette, St. Faustina, St. Michael the Archangel.

11. Can you recite the Apostles' Creed by heart?

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
Yes, I'm always moved to say, “Jesus, have mercy on me a poor sinner” or “Jesus I love you” and “Jesus I trust in You”.

13. Bonus Question: When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?
Yes, I say a Hail Mary and ask the Lord to protect them.

Added bonus question: Have you named your Guardian Angel?
I just call my angel, dearest Angel Guardian.

Hmmm.... now who can I tag? How about Danny and Amy
. Feel free to elaborate on your answers.

The Holy Father's Intentions For January 2007


General: That in our time, unfortunately marked by many episodes of violence, the Church’s bishops and priests may continue to indicate the way of peace and understanding among peoples.

Mission: That the Church in Africa may become a constantly more authentic witness of the Good News of Christ and be committed, in every Nation, to the promotion of reconciliation and peace.

Angelus Message on the Lord's Baptism


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which closes the season of the Nativity. The liturgy offers us the story of Jesus's Baptism in the Jordan as recounted by St. Luke (cfr 3,15-16,21-22).

The evangelist narrates that while Jesus was in prayer, after having received Baptism among so many who were attracted by the preaching of the Precursor, the heavens opened and in the form of a dove, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. And at that moment, a voice sounded from on high: "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Lk 3,22). The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is remembered and testified to, although in diffrent ways, by all four Evangelists.

Indeed, it formed part of apostolic preaching, since it constituted the point of departure for the entire arch of words and deeds to which the Apostles had to bear witness (cfr Acts 1,21-22; 10,37-41).

The apostolic community considered it very important, not only because that moment - for the first time in history - was the manifestation of the mystery of the Trinity in a clear and complete manner, but also because that moment began the public ministry of Jesus along the roads of Palestine.

The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is an anticipation of His baptism of blood on the Cross, and is also a symbol of the entire sacramental activity with which the Redeemer would realize the salvation of humanity. That is why the patristic tradition has dedicated much interst to this feast, which is the Church's oldest feast after Easter.

"In the Baptism of Christ," today's liturgy chants, "the world is sanctified, sins are pardoned; in water and in the Spirit, we become new creatures" (Antiphon to the Benedictus, Office of Lauds). There is a close relationship between the Baptism of Christ and our own Baptism. At the Jordan, the heavens opened (cfr Lk 3,21) to indicate that the Savior has opened to us the way of salvation and that we can walk along it, thanks precisely to our new birth 'in water and the Spirit" (Jn 3,5) which is realized in Baptism.

In Baptism, we become part of the mystical Body of Christ which is the Church; we die and resurrect with Him, we invest ourselves with Him, as the Apostle Paul underscores several times (cfr 1 Cor 12,13; Rm 6,3-5; Gal 3,27). The commitment that comes from Baptism is to 'listen' to Jesus: meaning, to believe in Him and follow him obediently, doing His will, the will of God. It is in this way that each one may aspire towards sainthood, a goal which, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, constitutes the calling of all who are baptized. May Mary - Mother of God's beloved Son - help us to be ever faithful to our Baptism.

Papa Ratzi

Angelus Message On Epiphany


The Solemnity of the Epiphany today celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Magi, an event to which St. matthew gives great importance (cfr Mt 2,1-12).

He narrates in his Gospel that some "Magi" - probably Persian religious leaders - arrived in Jerusalem guided by a 'star,' a heavenly phenomenon interpreted by them as the sign of the birth of a new King of the Jews. But nobody in the city knew anything.

Indeed, the king in charge, Herod, was very disturbed by the news and thought up the 'massacre of the innnocents' to eliminate the rival who was newly born. But the Magi trusted the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the prophesy of Micah according to which the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, situated 10 kms. south of Jerusalem (cfr Mic 5,1).

Proceeding in that direction, the Magi saw the 'star' again and, filled with joy, they followed it until it 'stopped' over a shed. They entered and found the Baby with Mary - they prostrated themselves in front of Him, and in tribute, they offered Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Why is this event so important? Because with it begins the adherence of pagan peoples to faith in Christ, according to the promise made by God to Abraham, about which the Book of Genesis says: "In you all the communities of the earth will find themselves blessed" (Gen 12,3). If Mary, Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem represent the people of Israel welcoming the Lord, the Magi are the first of the Gentiles called to be part of the Church, the new people of God, based no longer on ethnic, linguistic or cultural homogeneity, but only on common faith in Jesus, Son of God. The Epiphany of Christ, therefore, is at the same time the Epiphany of the Church, which means, a manifestation of its calling and universal mission.

More from Papa Ratzi

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Catholic Carnival


Don't miss reading the Catholic Carnival!

There are tons of good linked articles. It includes two of my posts Benedict the Benevolent and Meditating for the New Year.

Thanks to Sarah.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God

The Mother of God
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

We address Our Lady as Mother of God every time we recite the Hail Mary, and say, “Holy Mary, Mother of God.” This title is at once the most fundamental Marian profession of our Catholic faith, and the most endearing in Catholic piety.

Unless Mary is, indeed, the Mother of God, no other title, certainly no superlative title of the Blessed Virgin would have any meaning; and because she is God’s Mother, every title we might give her as the noblest of God’s creatures pales by contrast with this one, Mater Dei.

Read the rest here.
+ Consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary + Click to play "REGINA CAELI"

Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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