Tag Archives: sacred scripture

The New Evangelization — I Don’t Need Your Catechism!

…the necessity of teaching doctrine to children.

EDITOR: The much-needed New Evangelization of America as proposed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI will take courage and patience to implement. Mr. De La Torre and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are the example.

From the Catholic Exchange today:

Posted By Marlon De La Torre On July 22, 2010

I Don’t Need your Catechism!

A couple of years ago, a Pastor asked me to provide a catechetical training day for teachers in his Catholic school and CCD program. One of my first questions to him was what issues had developed requiring my assistance. The Pastor voiced to me his concern over poor doctrinal formation he suspected the children were receiving. I asked him how he finally came to this point. He said; “I knew things were off when all I saw was glue, crayons, construction paper and scissors during an eighth grade religion class.” Right there and then I realized what I had to work with.

The inevitable day arrives. As the catechists walked into the parish center, we began with prayer and introductions.  I typically begin with a short story reflecting on the catechetical formation for the day. This process helps to gauge the audience and determine when to run when they have had enough. Kidding aside, the first segment involved preparing them for the day, the aim of the instruction, purpose, goals, desires and application for the classroom. A good strategy when teaching teachers is not to patronize them. They are teachers and know everything. I know I am one of them. In reality, the heart of instruction here lies with an authentic witness of the living Gospel of Jesus Christ in a gradual loving way.

Knowing that many teachers resort to arts and crafts because of a genuine fear and ignorance in teaching the Catholic faith to students I began the training by asking the catechists for the one thing they would like to know about the faith they still had questions on. After a subtle pause (pretty typical) hands were drawn. The questions asked centered on sin, true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, confession, purgatory, mass participation, is the Church biblical, Mary, how to read the bible, other religions etc. My next question to them was why they wanted to know about these particular doctrines. Their response was nothing short of amazing.  They did not know how these particular teachings came to be! Keep in mind, these catechists are supposedly teaching children the Catholic faith. Right there and then I realized we needed to start at the very beginning e.g. Do you believe in God the Father the almighty?

If the teacher does not have a sound understanding of how their life reflects the Gospel let alone living within the Story of salvation, then how are they going to impart the story onto their students?  Hence, the focal point of the problem we face in the catechetical field. Our catechists lack basic doctrinal formation. I charted a different course of action realizing that this group needed a systematic engaging approach to learn and apply Catholic doctrine in the classroom.

The result was a mini-RCIA course where I went through Salvation History and presented to them their role in light of Jesus Christ the Divine Teacher (Heb 11:6). In other words, they needed to see how the Church came to be, their role within the Church and the graces given to us by Christ at Baptism to continue His work in the Church He founded. A basic outline of the curriculum for this training session looked something like this:

  1. Introduction to God’s plan for salvation in our lives.
  2. Creation and God’s love for us.
  3. Original Sin and the fall from grace because of the first sin.
  4. Proto-evangelium (First Gospel)
  5. God’s covenants with his people i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses
  6. The role of our Blessed Mother as the “New Eve.”
  7. Summary on Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture
  8. Summary on Apologetics
  9. Summary of the Seven Sacraments
  10. Summary of the Ten Commandments
  11. Summary of Mortal Sin and Venial Sin
  12. The Incarnation
  13. Liturgy and the Mass
  14. The Church
  15. Lives of the Saints
  16. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

It was important the catechists saw the biblical basis for these doctrinal pillars. In addition, how the Catechism references the teachings of the Church through the footnotes. A short primer on how to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church and view the references, cross-references, and articles numbers to find a particular teaching gave the catechists a better grasp of the information.

This experience is common. A generation of uncatechized faithful over the past thirty-years has drifted throughout their Catholic life not knowing the graces they received through their Baptism. The recitation of our Baptismal promises appears as an afterthought to many. When asked within the Rite of Baptism, Do you reject, sin, and all his empty works, and all his empty promises . . . it begs to ask the question to these teachers whether they truly understand what sin is in order to reject it.

When I posed this very question to one of the teachers in the training session, the response was a common one. Why do we need to concentrate on sin, it is more important to focus on the works of Jesus? Do you see where this particular catechist has quietly misaligned the purpose of Christ and His Church. Whether its ignorance, issues with the doctrine of sin, or a personal experience initiating this response, the opportunity to discuss the nature of sin was difficult. Now, we must be careful when discussing the doctrine of sin from this pastoral perspective; we do not know what the person has gone through personally where a certain sinful act may have caused negative, spiritual harm or drawn out a bad experience. It is vital that a catechist be carefully aware of the audience they are instructing. However, we cannot shy away from addressing the dangers of sin itself.

Another teacher, noting her frustration in sitting through a dreadful class in her opinion said these magic words:You can keep your catechism, how do you expect me to apply it in the classroom?” Moreover, there you go, this brave soul echoed the sentiments of others who had resisted on using the catechism in the classroom. This “shot heard around the classroom,” reflected the genuine mentality of many teachers viewing the catechism as a useless tool because it probably did not provide cutouts for the kids to “draw” and “cut-out.” This comment troubled me because of an apparent ignorance towards the application or appreciation of the Catechism. There is fruit to the argument that it is not the teachers fault. From one perspective, this may be true; nonetheless, it does not negate the fact of what we are dealing with now. St. Augustine-the Father of Catechetics describes catechizing the ignorant in this way:

“The best method for instructing ignorant men in Christian doctrine, one that will bear much fruit is to ask questions in a friendly fashion after the explanation; from this questioning one can learn whether each one understood what he heard or whether the explanation needs repeating. In order that the learner grasp the matter, we must ascertain by questioning whether the one being catechized has understood, and in accordance with his response, we must either explain more clearly and fully or not dwell further on what is known to them etc. But if a man is very slow, he must be mercifully helped and the most necessary doctrines especially should be briefly imparted to him.”

As the Catechist trainer in this situation, you cannot scold nor demean these individuals. In many ways, ignorance is rooted in their responses due to a lack of formation. Thus, a gentle but firm disposition serves us well in this type of situation because we do not want to lose them.  Our hope rests in a genuine conversion for these teachers (1 Pt 3:15). The “you can keep your catechism” statement by the teacher mentioned earlier should not detract anyone from teaching the faith. My call for this person was to help her find God. An opportunity arose to present the Gospel, reveal the importance of Christ in our lives and provide her with an open opportunity to seek Him.

It is very important that the catechist reveal the relevance of doctrine in the lives of the faithful. Our faith is naturally explicit (1 Thess 2:13) because God has made Himself visible through His Church. Man naturally seeks what is visible and revealed. For instance, when we are able to observe and recognize a moral act the exercise of the doctrinal action takes effect on our senses. We are able to witness doctrine exercised.  The liturgy – a public work, provides a visible reality of the existence of faith and the exercise of doctrine.

By the end of the day, the teachers who survived my training session realized in a small way the necessity of teaching doctrine to children. The success of the day came not by how much doctrine I could expose them to, it was helping them realize how little they knew about the faith and what to do about. Not only for their souls but also for the souls of the children they teach.

The religion instructor must be prepared to proclaim the truth of the Catholic Church. His/her responsibility is to aid the development of the person they are instructing by explaining Church teaching carefully and appropriately through a careful transmission rooted in Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The door to the nourishing a soul in Catholic doctrine must be convincing so the person applies these doctrines to everyday life. The need for the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more relevant than ever if we genuinely desire to impart the Catholic faith. Our duty and responsibility is to answer the questions our students have. Clarity of truth is primary in our instruction.


Marlon De La Torre is the Associate Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

 

‘My Son, deliver your church from the National Catholic Reporter and…

 …dissipative structuring’

Fresh off its support for federally funded abortions the National Catholic Reporter turns on the Holy Father this week… 

 

Catholic columnists are beginning to state the obvious when it comes to the enemies of Pope Benedict exploiting the current sex abuse scandal for their own ends: “It’s payback time for Benedict.”  

But, that’s not the whole story, is it?

No, it’s not. There’s a more troubling side to the NCR story… 

Here’s a bit on the underlying movements flying just beneath radar detection “inside” NCR’s airspace this week:

  • VOTF is one of the Catholic reform groups that is joining others under the umbrella “American Catholic Council.” Their first gathering is scheduled for Pentecost, June 10-11, 2011 in Detroit.
  • The goal of the American Catholic Council, in simple terms, is to create and promote an autochthonous Church; a Church both Catholic and American modeled on, as ex-Jesuit Robert Blair Kaiser says, “the Maronites, the Melchites, the Byzantines, the Copts and sixteen other autochthonous churches in the Middle East that are loyal to the pope, but glory in their own governance, their own married clergy, and their own liturgies.”
  • Actually, there is nothing “loyal” about conveners of the American Catholic Council when it comes to the Chair of Peter and his teaching magisterium. These want an independent Catholic Church in America that elects its own priests and hierarchy, condones abortion, contraception, homosexual relations, married clergy, women priests, divorce and other “radically inclusive reforms.”
  • One such group under the ACC umbrella, and mentored by VOTF, is the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • Most telling of the many “tactics” the ACC is deploying in order to achieve its goal of re-creating a new ecclesiology, (i.e. a false Christ and false church), comes from CCCR co-chairman Bernie Rodel:

The tactic is called ‘dissipative structuring’. There are four basic characteristics of dissipative structures: 

1. Disorder and Disequilibrium – It is necessary for the system to generate sufficient disequilibrium (Disorder) within itself to create the degree of freedom within which the system’s change can take place.

2. Symmetry Breaking – For a new order to emerge, the old order must be demolished.

3. Experimentation – Breaking symmetry alone can lead to chaos unless it is also supplemented by activities which will generate new forms or configurations around which the system can reorganise.

4. Reformulation – The experimentation process leads to the development of new possible configurations, around which the system must reformulate.

  • To simplify: Dissidents believe under this theory that it’s necessary to create disorder (chaos) within the Church because the divinely instituted hierarchical nature of the Church in the world must be destroyed in order for the body of Christ on earth to finally accept the spurious proposals and reconfigured “American Church” VOTF, CCCR, and the American Catholic Council offers…

Yes, it’s payback time. But, the enemy’s attack by means of NCR and ACC proponents has nothing personal against Benedict himself per se, he’s merely a roadblock. No, this hell inspired attack on the papacy is aimed at weakening–with the intent to destroy–one of the three pillars of God’s divine revelation to man: Magisterial teaching. The hierarchal nature of the Church…

There’s a problem with this course of reformation, however, and something to seriously consider in your own reading of NCR’s article:  God is not a God of disorder but of peace… 1 Cor. 33  

The following is a combox appeal for the American Catholic Council from VOTF’s Sister Maureen Paul Turlish found on the NCR site following its attack article. I’ll leave it up to you to sniff out if it promotes a diabolic attempt at reformation of the one Church of God through means of the four basic characteristics of dissipative structures. My mind’s already made up…

This will be hard to believe

Submitted by Maureen Paul Turlish (not verified) on Mar. 26, 2010.

This will be hard to believe but the pope does have the power to turn the corner on this even at this very late date.

He is the only one who can but it depends on whether he has the will to do it. It will cost him everything and I do mean everything.

The curia has its own vested interest in opposing the pope but, again, the pope is the only one who has the power. He is the most knowledgeable of anyone about this given his former position as Head of the Holy Office. He knows. He always knew.

What will he have to do? Take the next step to start with.

For years he has been saying how sorry, etc., etc., he was and is that this happened. His sincerity is not doubted but he has not followed up by taking the next step.

He has apologized for “any mistakes that may have been made,” much like Boston’s Cardinal Law and the American bishops have said but they never actually ever said they were sorry for what they individually did or did not do, they never admitted that in so many cases that they committed crimes or were complicit in the commission of crimes.

While every country, Ireland, the States, Australia, Germany, etc., has its own variation on this horrid theme, the bishops, generally, have not admitted guilt. In the U.S. they have not.

In the United States no bishop, not even Cardinal Law, left his diocese in disgrace. Law was actually rewarded with his present position. He got to vote for Benedict XVI, he heads important church committees and such.

Auxilary bishops in Boston received their own dioceses like William Murphy and John McCormack to name just two.

Mostly the Catholics I have talked to fall into two groups. Those who have walked away from the institution, although they still think of themselves as “Catholic” and they always will be, and those who are angry and want to help in the reformation of the church. Voice of the Faithful members, www.votf.org have joined with others, the movement for an American Catholic Council, www.americancatholiccouncil.org, to start that going. Bishops in the U.S. and I suspect other countries have as we say, “cut a deal” with individual state prosecutors to avoid being charged criminally.

Yes, the church has lost its way. Leadership, all male remember, has failed big time but why?

Unless the pope admits that there were broad, fundamental, systemic and endemic reasons that allowed, permitted, facilitated this happening and then works with all interested parties to correct those flaws, developing a new paradigm for governmental leadership in the church, the church will evenually(sic) bleed out.

The church’s ministry is pastoral. It should be reaching out in every way possible, first to victim/survivors then to all members who have been affected by this this. The bishops should be welcoming of any group that wants to help, but they aren’t very welcoming.

Leadership hasn’t really been doing this, they refuse to meet with people, they bad mouth groups like Voice of the Faithful and they continue in the U.S. to viciously oppose statute of limitation reform in the individual states by the power of the states’ Catholic conferences, and remember, we have 50 of them!

No, actions need to follow words. They need to speak Truth to Power and they haven’t done that.

Actions have consequences and bishops in the U.S. should be removed from office as should some in other countries.

They have failed the People of God.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware, USA

You may contact sister with your concerns. Or, better yet, simply pray for her conversion as with all of these…

END OF POST

Sunday Angelus — Pope: Creation is temporal, Jesus’ words eternal 11.15.09

82164066With thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI focused his address on Sunday’s Mass reading from the Gospel of St. Mark. While creation is “destined to end,” he said, Jesus’ words are “eternal.”

On the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year, Pope Benedict expressed his thanks to God for another year in “the great family of the Church” almost complete: “It is an inestimable gift, which permits us to live in history the mystery of Christ, welcoming in the paths of our personal and communal existence the seed of the Word of God, an eternal seed that from the inside transforms this world and opens it to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

St. Mark, he added, today presents us a part of the discourse of Jesus on the end times: “In this discourse, there is a sentence that is striking for its clear synthesis: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’”

The expression “Heaven and earth,” Benedict XVI explained, appears frequently in the Bible to indicate all the universe, the entire cosmos. “Jesus,” he added, “declares that all that is destined to pass away, not only earth, but Heaven, which is included here in the cosmic sense, not as synonymous of God.”

“Sacred Scripture is unambiguous. All creation is destined to end, including elements divinized by ancient mythology. There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but a clear difference.”

“With such clear distinction, Jesus affirms his words ‘will not pass away,’ which stand by the part of God and accordingly, are eternal,” the Pope expounded. “Pronounced with the concreteness of his early existence, these are prophetic words par excellence, as Jesus affirms (in the Gospel of St. John) when he turns to the heavenly Father: ‘the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.’”

In a well-known parable in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus compares himself to a sower and explains that the seed is the Word. “The ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit” are part of the Kingdom of God, the Holy Father said.

“That is, they live under his rule, remaining in the world, but no longer part of the world. They bear in themselves…a principle of transformation that already now manifests itself in a good life, animated by love, and in the end, will produce the resurrection of the body. Behold the power of the Word of God.”

The Pontiff concluded by explaining that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the living sign of this truth: “Her heart was “good earth” that welcomed with complete openness the Word of God, such that all her existence, transformed according to the image of the Son, was introduced to eternity, soul and body, anticipating the eternal vocation of each human being.”

“Now, in prayer, let us make our own her response to the Angel ‘may it be done to me according to your word,’ so that following Christ along the way of the cross, we too can reach the glory of the resurrection.”

SOURCE

END OF POST

Fratres Daily Mass Readings: Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter 05.28.09

Father, they are your gift to me.

St. Dominic
St. Dominic

Reading 1

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Wishing to determine the truth

about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,

the commander freed him

and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene.

Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees,

so he called out before the Sanhedrin,

“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees;

I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”

When he said this,

a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees,

and the group became divided.

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection

or angels or spirits,

while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.

A great uproar occurred,

and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party

stood up and sharply argued,

“We find nothing wrong with this man.

Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

The dispute was so serious that the commander,

afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them,

ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst

and take him into the compound.

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.

For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,

so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;

I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”

O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,

you it is who hold fast my lot.

R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

or:

R. Alleluia.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;

even in the night my heart exhorts me.

I set the LORD ever before me;

with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,

my body, too, abides in confidence;

Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,

nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

or:

R. Alleluia.

You will show me the path to life,

fullness of joys in your presence,

the delights at your right hand forever.

R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Gospel

Jn 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:

“I pray not only for these,

but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

so that they may all be one,

as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

that they also may be in us,

that the world may believe that you sent me.

And I have given them the glory you gave me,

so that they may be one, as we are one,

I in them and you in me,

that they may be brought to perfection as one,

that the world may know that you sent me,

and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me.

I wish that where I am they also may be with me,

that they may see my glory that you gave me,

because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,

but I know you, and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name and I will make it known,

that the love with which you loved me

may be in them and I in them.”

Fratres Daily Mass Readings: Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter 05.27.09

_MG_0148

Reading 1

Acts 20:28-38

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus:

“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock

of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,

in which you tend the Church of God

that he acquired with his own Blood.

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you,

and they will not spare the flock.

And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth

to draw the disciples away after them.

So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,

I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.

And now I commend you to God

and to that gracious word of his that can build you up

and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

You know well that these very hands

have served my needs and my companions.

In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort

we must help the weak,

and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said,

‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

When he had finished speaking

he knelt down and prayed with them all.

They were all weeping loudly

as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,

for they were deeply distressed that he had said

that they would never see his face again.

Then they escorted him to the ship.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 68:29-30, 33-35a, 35bc-36ab

R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Show forth, O God, your power,

the power, O God, with which you took our part;

For your temple in Jerusalem

let the kings bring you gifts.

R. Sing to God, O Kingdoms of the earth.

or:

R. Alleluia.

You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God,

chant praise to the Lord

who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens.

Behold, his voice resounds, the voice of power:

“Confess the power of God!”

R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Over Israel is his majesty;

his power is in the skies.

Awesome in his sanctuary is God, the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.

R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Gospel

Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name

that you have given me,

so that they may be one just as we are one.

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,

and I guarded them, and none of them was lost

except the son of destruction,

in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to you.

I speak this in the world

so that they may share my joy completely.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them,

because they do not belong to the world

any more than I belong to the world.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world

but that you keep them from the Evil One.

They do not belong to the world

any more than I belong to the world.

Consecrate them in the truth.

Your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world,

so I sent them into the world.

And I consecrate myself for them,

so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”


Calling All Theologians – Bible: Divine Inspiration and Church Tradition by Pope Benedict XVI

2009_02_06t075729_450x338_us_cyprus_bible

VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 ( VIS ) – This morning the Pope received thirty representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who have just held their plenary assembly, dedicated to the theme: “Inspiration and truth in the Bible”. The president of the commission is Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Benedict XVI began by underlining the importance of the chosen theme, which “concerns not only believers, but the Church herself, because the Church’s life and mission necessarily rest upon the Word of God, which is the soul of theology and, at the same time, the inspiration of all of Christian life”. Moreover, “the interpretation of Sacred Scripture is of vital importance for Christian faith and for the life of the Church”.

“From a correct approach to the concept of divine inspiration and truth in Sacred Scripture derive certain norms that directly concern its interpretation”, said the Pope. “The Constitution ‘Dei Verbum’, having affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner. For a correct interpretation of Scripture we must, then, carefully examine what the hagiographers really sought to say and what God was pleased to reveal with their words”.

The Pope then recalled how Vatican Council II had identified “three perennially-valid criteria for interpreting Sacred Scripture in accordance with the Spirit that inspired it. In the first place, great attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture. Indeed, however different the books it contains may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God’s plan, of which Jesus Christ is the centre and the heart.

“In the second place”, he added, “Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. … In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning. The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan”.

The task of scholars, the Holy Father went on, “is to contribute, following the above-mentioned principles, to a more profound interpretation and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. The academic study of the sacred texts is not by itself sufficient. In order to respect the coherence of the Church’s faith, Catholic exegetes must be careful to perceive the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church”.

“The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be a merely an individual academic undertaking, but must always be compared with, inserted into, and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church. This norm is essential in order to ensure a correct and reciprocal exchange between exegesis and Church Magisterium. Catholic exegetes do not nourish the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers. The opposite is true, because these texts were not given to individual scholars ‘to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research’. The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ , to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity”.

“Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that its is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching”.

“Only within the ecclesial context can Sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic Word of God which is guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual development of believers. This means rejecting all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis [and hence] incapable of accepting the global meaning which, over the course of the centuries, has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God”.

Fratres Daily Sacrifice of the Mass Readings: Memorial of Saint Cyril, monk, and Saint Methodius, bishop 02.14.09

2009_02_06t075729_450x338_us_cyprus_bibleReading 1
Gn 3:9-24

The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

To the woman he said:

“I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”

To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,
“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”
The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments,
with which he clothed them.
Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us,
knowing what is good and what is evil!
Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand
to take fruit from the tree of life also,
and thus eat of it and live forever.”
The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he had been taken.
When he expelled the man,
he settled him east of the garden of Eden;
and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,
to guard the way to the tree of life.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 90:2, 3-4abc, 5-6, 12-13

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Before the mountains were begotten
and the earth and the world were brought forth,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Gospel
Mk 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over-seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.
He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

 Memorial of Saint Cyril, monk, and Saint Methodius, bishop

Sts. Cyril and Methodius
Patrons of Europe: Sts. Cyril and Methodius

              “The apostolic and missionary activity of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which belongs to the second half of the ninth century, can be considered the first effective evangelization of the Slavs. [ ] Their work is an outstanding contribution to the formation of the common Christian roots of Europe, roots which by their strength and vitality are one of the most solid points of reference, which no serious attempt to reconstruct in a new and relevant way the unity of the Continent can ignore [ ] Cyril and Methodius are as it were the connecting links or spiritual bridge between the Eastern and Western traditions, which both come together in the one great Tradition of the universal Church. For us they are the champions and also the patrons of the ecumenical endeavor of the sister Churches of East and West, for the rediscovery through prayer and dialogue of visible Unity in perfect and total communion…”

– Pope John Paul II
Slavorum Apostoli 23, 25, 27

[Note: Click here to read the 1985 Pope John Paul II encyclical, Slavorum Apostoli (Apostles to the Slavs) on the life and work of the brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius. Pope John Paul II declared Saints Cyril and Methodius co-patrons of Europe (in addition to Saint Benedict).]

Fratres Daily Sacrifice of the Mass Readings: Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time 02.13.09

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Reading 1
Gn 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.
When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden
at the breezy time of the day,
the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (1a) Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.

Gospel
Mk 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
” Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Fratres Daily Mass Readings 02.06.09: Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, martyr, and his companions, martyrs

james-on-the-beachReading 1
Heb 13:1-8

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.
Let marriage be honored among all
and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,
for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
Let your life be free from love of money
but be content with what you have,
for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.
Thus we may say with confidence:
The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
For he will hide me in his abode
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Gospel
Mk 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

St. Paul Miki and Companions

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Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, killing hundreds of thousands. Three and a half centuries before, twenty-six martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children-all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his church.

Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. While hanging upon a cross Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution:

“The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.”

When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity. But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith. Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Sources: Hat Tip/Catholic Culture – USCCB

Fratres Daily Mass Readings 02.05.09: Memorial St. Agatha Virgin Martyr

james-on-the-beachReading 1
Heb 12:18-19, 21-24

Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said,
“I am terrified and trembling.”
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently
than that of Abel.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 9, 10-11

R. (see 10) O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,”
the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
As we had heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
In the city of our God;
God makes it firm forever.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.

Gospel
Mk 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
-no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

St. Agatha Virgin and Martyr

(Third Century)

St. Agatha Virgin Martyr (3rd Century)
St. Agatha Virgin Martyr (3rd Century)

We have her panagyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta. (A.D. 251)

THE cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity.

Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha’s person and estate by means of the emperor’s edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil.” She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went.

On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty.

The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: “Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? “He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her.

But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: “Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul.” After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay.[1]

St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics,[2] which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great[3] ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus.[4] The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her intercession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.

The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer-sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest intrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, “Possess alone all that I am.”

ENDNOTES

1 Fronteau Cal. p. 25.

2 Dial. 1, 3, C. 30.

3 L. 1, 3p. 52.

4 Feb. t. 1, p. 647.

(Taken from Vol. I of “The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)

Hat Tip/ EWTN