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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Pope Francis on Persecution

Timely Words from Today's Office of Readings

The Catecheses of St Cyril of Jerusalem

The Church, the bride of Christ

The Church is called ‘Catholic’: such is the proper name of the holy Church which is the mother of us all. She is also the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God (for it is written in the scripture, ‘Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her,’ and so on). Moreover she fulfils the type and carries out the pattern of the Jerusalem which is from above, which is free and the mother of us all. Though she was at first childless, she is now the parent of a mighty family.
After the former Church had been rejected, in the second, that is, the Catholic Church, God has appointed, as Paul says, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues and every type of virtue: I mean wisdom and intelligence, self-control and justice, mercy and humanity, and invincible endurance in persecution.
However, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, through honour and dishonour, first in persecutions and distress she wreathed her sacred martyrs with crowns of endurance interwoven with manifold and varied flowers; now in times of peace, she receives by the grace of God due honour from kings and men of rank, in a word from every sort and kind of person. And though the kings of nations spread round the world have limits to their sovereignty, it is the holy Catholic Church alone which in the whole earth rejoices in unlimited sovereignty; as it is written, God ‘has appointed peace as his boundary.’
In this holy Catholic Church, formed by its teaching and living as we ought, we shall possess the kingdom of heaven and inherit eternal life. For the sake of this we endure everything, that we may gain that life from the Lord. We have no modest aim, but the gaining of eternal life; that is the object of our striving. For this reason we are taught in the Creed that after ‘And in the resurrection of the flesh’ that is, of the dead, which we have already discussed, we affirm our belief ‘in life everlasting’. This is the object of our efforts as Christians.
Therefore, the Father is life really and truly. Through the Son he pours forth upon all in the Holy Spirit the gifts of heaven as from a fountain, and in his kindness to us men he has promised truly to each the good gift of eternal life

In The Details of The Gospel

Sometimes, it is easy to overlook a detail in the Gospel, especially when one is reading a dramatic piece of Christ's Life.

Take, for example, the trial of Christ before the Sanhedrin.

Today, because I experienced a particularly hectic day yesterday, partly from the Net being on and off for over 24 hours and partly for other reasons beyond my control, I meditated on this passage from Matthew 26:
57 But they holding Jesus led him to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled.
58 And Peter followed him afar off, even to the court of the high priest. And going in, he sat with the servants, that he might see the end.
59 And the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death:
60 And they found not, whereas many false witnesses had come in. And last of all there came two false witnesses:
61 And they said: This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to rebuild it.
62 And the high priest rising up, said to him: Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against thee?
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said to him: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ the Son of God.
64 Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priests rent his garments, saying: He hath blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy:
66 What think you? But they answering, said: He is guilty of death.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him: and others struck his face with the palms of their hands,
68 Saying: Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is he that struck thee?
The detail is that Jesus held his peace. 
Several things came to my mind while thinking of Jesus at peace while people yelled at Him, spit on Him, and slapped Him in the face.
First, He had peace amidst this chaos and hatred because He was totally dependent on the Father and the Holy Spirit. His life included a complete trust in God the Father, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, even in this scene of chaos, rested in peace within the Trinity. 
We all must come to this realization of the Indwelling of the Trinity given to us at baptism. This is our call to be holy in the world, even in chaos. Only in that Indwelling is there a deep, sustained peace.
Second, Christ was completely in the Will of God the Father. He had humanly willed what the Divine will desired. There was no conflict between Christ's humanity and His divinity, nor between His will and the will of the Father. 
For us, this means that only in a complete giving over of our wills can we find peace in the midst of chaos. Anxiety arises out of fear, and fear reveals a lack of trust not only in Providence taking care of us, but in the perfect plan of God's Will for us. Anxiety, which is a sin, causes us to make bad choices. We fall into self-perservation mode, rather than in trusting God, if we are anxious. 
Third, Christ did not have His plan for ordering the world into which He came, but submitted Himself to our chaotic world of sin and death, in order to defeat death. His comfort was not in re-ordering His environment, but responding in love to overcome to root of evil by sacrificing Himself on the cross.
Again, for us, this means that we cannot always control our environment and make a comfortable nest for ourselves. Americans, especially, pride themselves on creating the "perfect" home, car, dinner, etc., forgetting that this false world created by humans is totally temporary, and, too often, purely materialistic, not imbued with any spiritual life. We think that if we control our environment, we can find peace. Not so. We cannot shut out chaos, or evil, but must transcend both.
By allowing God to perfect us, to purify us, to take away all our sins and imperfections, we can come to the peace which passes all understanding.
Jesus held his peace. As I struggle with a third day of constant Net interruptions, and a lack of peace in my immediate surroundings, having to endure another move, when I face, again, downright persecution from those who should be closest to me, and when I am made aware, through grace, with the depth of my own sins, I beg God for this peace of the Indwelling of the Trinity.
It is only when standing before the Sanhedrin that we finally see the true nobility and depth of God's sacrifice for us. All Christ had at that moment was His Own peace.

We may very well find ourselves in similar circumstances. Christ held His peace throughout the entire Passion. Imagine. I ask myself, "Could I maintain such deep peace in this chaos of evil?"
Yesterday, when I had to face spiritual chaos of a kind I had not experienced since 2011, because of intense spiritual warfare, and then, on top of that, the realization of my own sins and imperfections, I could have been lost in anxiety. But, instead, God allowed me to grow in humility, in the awareness of my complete dependence on Him, and, in the importance of denying my will and accepting, totally, His Will for my life.
Jesus held his peace. May He, in His mercy, teach us, quickly, how to hold ours when chaos and hatred surround us.

Pray and Fast This Happens

More of the news on the site:

Top Stories
• New Senate Bill Introduced to Totally De-Fund Planned Parenthood, Senate Will Vote Next Week
• First Investigation of Aborted Baby Sales Begins in Texas, Planned Parenthood Refuses to Attend
• Hillary Clinton on Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies: “They Do Really Good Work”
• Planned Parenthood Caught Selling Aborted Babies Did Abortion on Raped Teen, Returned Her to Rapist
More Pro-Life News• Baby Trevor Was So Small a Wedding Ring Fit Around His Foot, a Year Later He’s Heading Homed
• Planned Parenthood Defends Selling Body Parts of Aborted Babies: “But We’re Not Making a Profit”• 11 Komen for the Cure Affiliates Give Planned Parenthood Hundreds of Thousands in Donations
• Planned Parenthood Gets Body Parts by Shooting Babies Through the Heart With Poison to Kill Them

• Florida Becomes 11th State to Investigate Planned Parenthood for Selling Aborted Babies• Attackers Who Beat Pregnant Teen and Burnt Her Stillborn Baby on Their Grill Not Charged With Murder
• Networks Covered Cecil the Lion More in 1 Day Than Abortion Videos in 2 Weeks

• Meet Pro-Life Senator Joni Ernst, She is Leading the Charge to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

• Ted Cruz Slams “Passionately Pro-Abortion Media” for “Hiding” Videos Exposing Planned Parenthood
• Networks Censor Video of Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies, Cover Shooting of African Lion
• Democratic Senator Fundraising Off of Planned Parenthood Selling Body Parts of Aborted Babies• “Pro-Life” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey: I Will Oppose Bill to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

St. Ignatius Loyola, Again

As I just shared lots on St. Ignatius of Loyola, I refer you to the Framing Prayer series in order to celebrate his feast day tomorrow.

Here is another prayer of his, or at least,one connected to the Jesuit spirituality.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.

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