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Thursday 2 August 2012

Priest and Church Week

When I started blogging this week, I did not realize that so many posts would have to do with priests and the nature of the Church. These themes will continue to Sunday. These doctrines of the Church make our Church unique, which She is--the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

There are many little series...

Re-visiting John 6:1-15

I am still looking at John 6:1-15, the Feeding of the Five Thousand. What has struck me today is the difference between Philip and Andrew, two saints, two apostles, in their response to the Lord. Philip states, 
"Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." He is the rationalist. He is the pragmatic one, the manager and organizer type who wants to figure out a way to deal with the problem with money and logistics.

Now, in itself, these traits are good and necessary, but Christ wants a different response. He wants pure trust and pure charity, that is love for Him as God.

Andrew is not quite so mathematical. He finds a boy, who has very little to offer. But, I think Andrew is showing faith in Christ's ablility to do something with little. He has not dismissed the problem as Philip has done. Here is what Andrew says: "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" Andrew has responded more in faith than Philip, but not yet enough, as he adds, "what are they among so many"? His first instinct is to find food and present it to Christ. That is good, but then Andrew pulls back into the doubt which he expresses.

John is watching all of this and with his amazing mind and charity for Christ, he notes mentally all the details.

He watches, he waits, he notes. He is like Mary. He trusts that the Son of God will do something.

More On Holiness and the Mystical Body of Christ from Pope Pius XII

If you continue to read this post, a follow-up on the one before, you can gently tell the priest who preaches on the invisible Church that he is wrong. It is our duty to point these things out as gently, but as firmly as we can. This heresy is rife in some areas. I have had comments indicating this, sadly. Another BIG posting day by necessity....

Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source. "Without me," He says, "you can do nothing."[89] If we grieve and do penance for our sins if, with filial fear and hope, we turn again to God, it is because He is leading us. Grace and glory flow from His inexhaustible fulness. Our Savior is continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear and piety, especially on the leading members of His Body, so that the whole Body may grow ever more and more in holiness and integrity of life. When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls.[90] He nourishes the redeemed with His own flesh and blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body, not merely because He, as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven, through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the Eternal Father, but because He selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person "according to the measure of the giving of Christ."[91] Hence it follows that from our Divine Redeemer as from a fountainhead "the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, into the edifying of itself in charity." [92]

And, we have not even gotten into the meat of the encyclical. Here is more:

60. And now, Venerable Brethren, We come to that part of Our explanation in which We desire to make clear why the Body of Christ, which is the Church, should be called mystical. This name, which is used by many early writers, has the sanction of numerous Pontifical documents. There are several reasons why it should be used; for by it we may distinguish the Body of the Church, which is a Society whose Head and Ruler is Christ, from His physical Body, which, born of the Virgin Mother of God, now sits at the right hand of the Father and is hidden under the Eucharistic veils; and, that which is of greater importance in view of modern errors, this name enables us to distin guish it from any other body, whether in the physical or the moral order.

And, here is the cruncher.

64. From what We have thus far written, and explained, Venerable Brethren, it is clear, We think, how grievously they err who arbitrarily claim that the Church is something hidden and invisible, as they also do who look upon her as a mere human institution possession a certain disciplinary code and external ritual, but lacking power to communicate supernatural life.[120] On the contrary, as Christ, Head and Exemplar of the Church "is not complete, if only His visible human nature is considered..., or if only His divine, invisible nature..., but He is one through the union of both and one in both ... so is it with His Mystical Body"[121] since the Word of God took unto Himself a human nature liable to sufferings, so that He might consecrate in His blood the visible Society founded by Him and "lead man back to things invisible under a visible rule."[122]
65. For this reason We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical. But this distinction which they introduce is false: for they fail to understand that the reason which led our Divine Redeemer to give to the community of man He founded the constitution of a Society, perfect of its kind and containing all the juridical and social elements - namely, that He might perpetuate on earth the saving work of Redemption,[123] - was also the reason why He willed it to be enriched with the heavenly gifts of the Paraclete. The Eternal Father indeed willed it to be the "kingdom of the Son of his predilection;"[124] but it was to be a real kingdom in which all believers should make Him the entire offering of their intellect and will,[125] and humbly and obediently model themselves on Him, Who for our sake "was made obedient unto death."[126] There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other - as do the body and soul in man - and proceed from our one Redeemer who not only said as He breathed on the Apostles "Receive ye the Holy Spirit,"[127] but also clearly commanded: "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you;"[128] and again: "He that heareth you, heareth me."[129]

On the Church and the Mystical Body of Christ-There is No Invisible Church

Some commentators are still sending things anonymously. There are notes all over this blog on that policy. However, I want to address one or two as the theology in some were so faulty as to need correction.

One-we can tell who is in the Mystical Body of Christ. The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and all baptized members in good standing, that is, not excommunicated or living in repeated states of deadly mortal sin, are members. This is an important point and goes back to all the blogs on baptism. If one removes one's self from the Catholic Church, such as in having an abortion, the removal must be corrected by both repentance and the lifting of the excommunication. Here I quote from Mystici Corporis Christi to clarify this idea. Not all sin destroys this link, but those listed do.

 Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness. It is owing to the Savior's infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet.[20] For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.

24. Let every one then abhor sin, which defiles the mystical members of our Redeemer; but if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not made him unworthy of communion with the faithful, let him be received with great love, and let eager charity see in him a weak member of Jesus Christ. For, as the Bishop of Hippo remarks, it is better "to be cured within the Church's community than to be cut off from its body as incurable members."[21] "As long as a member still forms part of the body there is no reason to despair of its cure; once it has been cut off, it can be neither cured nor healed." [22]

Two-the Church of Christ's inauguration IS the Catholic Church and not others. The only other true ones are listed in Dominus Iesus, which is linked on the side bar and here. The Catholic Church is the one, true, holy and apostolic Church. Also, I quote Mystici Corporis Christi.

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

Three-only baptized persons are children of God. See the CCC and other posts.

Four-to state that all Christian religions are the same as the Catholic Church is the heresy of eirenism, also written about many times here. We cannot pretend there are not differences and heresies. All the Protestants are heretics, and therefore, not members of the one, true Church. We invite all to enter in, but not all take up the invitation. We cannot judge, but can objectively state the situation.

Five-many priests are preaching in error about the "invisible" Church. There is no such thing. The Church is very visible and it is the Catholic Church.  Here is Pope Pius XII from the encyclical again:

But we must not think that He rules only in a hidden [59] or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth. You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the "little flock" [60] Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view of his primacy is only Christ's Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; [61] and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.

Six-there are many false religions. Sorry, a man-made religion is false. Again, look at the above document of the Church highlighted. Here is Dominus Iesus:

The Church's constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.
The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”;8 the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.

Seven-we can tell who is in the Mystical Body of Christ. We can pray for those who are not and we should also do penance. A person who follows Peter, that is the Pope, is in the Mystical Body of Christ. Here is Pope Pius XII again on this subject:

The Church which He founded by His Blood, He strengthened on the Day of Pentecost by a special power, given from heaven. For, having solemnly installed in his exalted office him whom He had already nominated as His Vicar, He had ascended into Heaven; and sitting now at the right hand of the Father He wished to make known and proclaim His Spouse through the visible coming of the Holy Spirit with the sound of a mighty wind and tongues of fire.[41] For just as He Himself when He began to preach was made known by His Eternal Father through the Holy Spirit descending and remaining on Him in the form of a dove, [42] so likewise, as the Apostles were about to enter upon their ministry of preaching, Christ our Lord sent the Holy Spirit down from Heaven, to touch them with tongues of fire and to point out, as by the finger of God, the supernatural mission and office of the Church.
34. That this Mystical Body which is the Church should be called Christ's is proved in the second place from the fact that He must be universally acknowledged as its actual Head. "He," as St. Paul says, "is the Head of the Body, the Church." [43] He is the Head from whom the whole body perfectly organized, "groweth and maketh increase unto the edifying of itself." [44]

There is a lot more. I suggest taking time and reading both documents.

From a good ole home town paper-this is real America, not what you see in Washington

Last Updated: Aug. 01, 2012, 8:29 pm From the Dispatch-Argus of Illinois

By Jonathan Turner,
MOLINE -- Carl Pottenger of Erie actually hates chicken, but that didn't stop him from standing in a long line Wednesday at SouthPark Mall, joining hundreds of other area residents who bought items from Chick-fil-A.

"I really do not eat chicken," said Mr. Pottenger, who was waiting to buy sandwiches to feed his dogs. He was part of the nationwide Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, where customers showed support for the restaurant chain and its embattled CEO, Dan Cathy. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee launched the effort to counter a boycott by gay marriage activists last week after Mr. Cathy said he was "guilty as charged" for not supporting gay marriage.

"The goal is simple," Mr. Huckabee wrote on the Facebook page for the event. "Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1."

On Friday, gay activists plan to occupy local Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country and stage a "same sex kiss day" to protest the company's support for traditional marriage, according to

"When they turn around and try to tell us their rights are more important than our rights, there's a problem," Mr. Pottenger said of gay-rights supporters, including the mayors of Boston and Chicago, who have opposed openings of the chain in their cities.

"You have politicians telling the company that has a personal opinion that their business is not welcome?

Last time I checked, this was still the United States of America," he said. "The Constitution gives citizens our freedom and to limit government."

"This company has never turned anybody away. They're just saying, 'This is what we believe,' " Mr. Pottenger said. "They're not refusing to serve anybody, refusing to hire anybody. It's a family business. They're private. They don't have stockholders. They can do what they want."

"I believe in traditional marriage, too. That's why I'm here," said Brian Mix of Moline, waiting in a line that stretched long down the mall corridor after 2:30 p.m. "I'm glad all these people are here. ... It's good to see young people stand up, not just old folks like us. Those are our future. That means they stand up for what's right."

Daniel Campbell, 21, of Rock Island, a student at Bible Missionary Institute, spent two hours earlier Wednesday at the Davenport Chick-fil-A, where company supporters displayed signs outside. He came over to the SouthPark location to meet friends. There were no signs or counter-protesters at the mall.

"It's important because only one side of the issue gets heard," Mr. Campbell said. "I think it's a good cause. If you believe in something, you should stand up for it."

He said Chick-fil-A shouldn't be ostracized by people who don't agree with them. People like himself should stand up for their principles.

"Too many times, we say 'Somebody else will do it,' " Mr. Campbell said. "People put feet to their words, what they believe in."

"People are standing up for their belief and are not backing off," said Mary Mead of Silvis.
"The other side says they're trying to preach tolerance, but they're the most intolerant people there are," Mr. Pottenger said. "They're hypocrites to the core."
Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A's executive vice president for marketing, issued a statement on the company's website Wednesday in which he stated the appreciation day "was not created by Chick-fil-A. We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A."
Mary Jacobs of Geneseo was in line with her granddaughter Kelista at SouthPark. They had come earlier but turned around after seeing the long line at the lunch hour.

"They're right," Ms. Jacobs said of company backers. "I feel free not to shop at a place that supports something I feel is wrong, so I feel free to shop at a place that supports something I think is right."

More on the Feeding of the Five Thousand

I am very fortunate to have found a Confessor who understands the power of meditation of the Scriptures over many days. St. Ignatius of Loyola taught us how to do this. That this priest gives penances which are meditations is brilliant.

I have been meditating on last Sunday's Gospel, for my weekly penance, in good Ignatian fashion, and today, what struck me was that the people were fed miraculously after they were healed of diseases.

Sometimes we must be healed of sin, sin which we commit and sin which others have committed against us before we can accept God's love.

Be open to his stripping away of the "old man" and be open to healing of all kinds. Be not afraid of new patterns of thought, of life. This usually happens gradually. But, if we are faithful, God is faithful. Have courage.

Once you are healed, you will receive the Bread of Heaven in a new and exciting way.

A Look at the Document from the Congregation for Catholic Education on Priestly Vocations: One

The document is not that long, but I shall highlight some sections on this blog over the next few days.  The document entitled, Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry. Some of the items have been discussed by me on this blog and others for years, such as the declining birth rate among Catholics as contributing to less vocations. In other words, contracepting parents have denied the Church priests and nuns.

Here are some snippets:The reduced birthrate also contributes to the diminishing of vocations to a special consecration. The life of the Catholic faithful is suffering the effects of the unbridled quest for material goods and the fall in religious practice, which discourage making courageous and demanding Gospel choices.
Therefore, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI has written: ‘Precisely in these times of ours we know very well how those who were invited first “say no”. In effect, Western Christians, that is the new “first invited”, now in large part withdraw; they do not have time for the Lord.’1
However much the pastoral ministry for vocations in Europe and in the Americas is organized and creative, the results obtained do not correspond to the efforts made. Nevertheless, along with the difficult situations, which one must look at with courage and truth, there are some signs of recovery, above all where clear and challenging proposals of Christian life are offered.

1 Benedict XVI, Homily for the Mass with the Members of the Bishops’ Conference of Switzerland (7 November 2006), original text in Insegnamenti, 11-2 (2006), 573.

The saying "no" is not a happy situation. Those who know and say no will ever be happy in anything they attempt. God invited them and He created them to do a certain thing in this world, as the prayer noted the other day on this blog. A vocation is not a job, it is who we are.

Another section reads: The family remains the primary community for the transmission of the Christian faith. It can be seen everywhere that many priestly vocations are born in families where the example of a Christian life in keeping with its calling and the practice of the evangelical virtues give rise to the desire for complete self-giving. Care for vocations presupposes, in reality, a strong family pastoral ministry.
In should be added that often the question of vocations to the priesthood is sparked in boys and young men as a result of the joyful witness of priests.

I am so happy with this part, as for years I have said that vocations begin in the family. Strong Catholic families, more vocations, and weak Catholic families, less vocations.

Also, good examples of priests provide an essential dimension to young men deciding to be priests.

In reality, priests are often witnesses to being dedicated to the Church, to the capacity for joyful generosity, to adapting humbly to the different situations where they find themselves working. Their example gives rise in others to the desire to undertake great commitment in the Church and the wish to give one’s life to the Lord and one’s brethren.1 In a special way, a powerful attraction for the young is exercised by the commitment of priests to people hungry for God, for religious values and in a general condition of great spiritual poverty.2
1 “The service of love is the fundamental meaning of every vocation, and it finds a specific expression in the priestly vocation” (Pastores dabo vobis, n. 40: AAS 84 [1992], 725).
2 “Your enthusiasm, your communion and your life of prayer and generous ministry are indispensable. It can happen that you feel weariness or fear as you face the new demands and problems, but we must trust that the Lord will give us the necessary strength to do what he asks of us. He - let us pray and we are sure - will never let vocations be lacking if we implore him with prayer and at the same time are concerned to seek and foster them with a fervent and imaginative youth and vocations ministry, which can reveal the beauty of the priestly ministry” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Meeting at Assisi with Clergy and Men and Women Religious in the Cathedral of Saint Rufinus, 17 June 2007, original text in Insegnamenti III-1 [2007], 1138).

Another point made is that volunteer work in the Church and community can foster vocations. I know some seminarians who said they discovered their vocation when they helped people and found out that in their hearts they had a great desire to serve, not as social workers, but as ministers of the sacraments. The document addresses the problem of priestly busyness. The role of the priest is not that of social worker but of Christ in the world, alter Christus.

Another point made is that priests have been placed outside the society, by ideology, of course, but by secularism and the misunderstanding of celibacy. This is huge in Protestant countries, and in highly secularized societies where celibacy is seen as either weird or not of value.

 Another aspect that goes against a priestly vocation is the gradual marginalization of the priest in social life, with the consequent loss of his relevance in the public sphere. Furthermore, in many places the choice of celibacy is questioned. Not only a secularized mentality, but also erroneous opinions within the Church bring about a lack of appreciation for the charism and the choice of celibacy. Furthermore, it is impossible to draw a veil of silence over the grave, negative effects of inconsistency and scandal caused by unfaithfulness to the duties of ministerial priesthood such as, for example, in the case of sexual abuse. This creates confusion in young men, even though they may otherwise be open to responding to the Lord’s call.
The actual life of priests, drawn into the whirlpool of exaggerated activism with its consequent overload of pastoral work, can cloud and weaken the shine of priestly witness. In this situation, encouraging young men in their personal spiritual journeys and offering them spiritual accompaniment offer fruitful opportunities for suggesting or discerning a vocation, and especially a priestly vocation.

I shall continue this in another post....

On the Maccabees and Hierarchies of Vocations: some to pray, some to minister, some to fight and some to do all three

Some Catholics have been taught erroneously that there is no longer a hierarchy of vocations. In the Midwestern part of the States, this was commonly taught by the priests in liberal dioceses: that marriage was equal to the call to the priesthood and religious life. Some priests insisted this "new teaching" was a result of Vatican II. Hmmm....

Blessed John Paul II has a neglected letter on this subject. In his Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, the Blessed writes this:

Many of the baptized throughout history have been invited to live such a life "in the image of Christ". But this is possible only on the basis of a special vocation and in virtue of a particular gift of the Spirit. For in such a life baptismal consecration develops into a radical response in the following of Christ through acceptance of the evangelical counsels, the first and essential of which is the sacred bond of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.This special way of "following Christ", at the origin of which is always the initiative of the Father, has an essential Christological and pneumatological meaning: it expresses in a particularly vivid way the Trinitarian nature of the Christian life and it anticipates in a certain way that eschatological fulfilment towards which the whole Church is tending.n the Gospel, many of Christ's words and actions shed light on the meaning of this special vocation.

All baptized and confirmed Catholics have the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but some are called to live this more clearly and closely in the Holy Spirit. Blessed John Paul II continues:

All are equally called to follow Christ, to discover in him the ultimate meaning of their lives, until they are able to say with the Apostle: "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). But those who are called to the consecrated life have a special experience of the light which shines forth from the Incarnate Word. For the profession of the evangelical counsels makes them a kind of sign and prophetic statement for the community of the brethren and for the world; consequently they can echo in a particular way the ecstatic words spoken by Peter: "Lord, it is well that we are here" (Mt17:4). These words bespeak the Christocentric orientation of the whole Christian life. But they also eloquently express the radical nature of the vocation to the consecrated life: how good it is for us to be with you, to devote ourselves to you, to make you the one focus of our lives! Truly those who have been given the grace of this special communion of love with Christ feel as it were caught up in his splendour: he is "the fairest of the sons of men" (Ps 45:2), the One beyond compare.

I think that one reason there have been less vocations is that children and adolescents have not been challenge to be that icon of Christ in the world, have not been challenged to follow the radical call.

All people like a challenge. The best and the brightest want to be marines, brain surgeons, great writers, even inventors. Those who are challenged at an early age rise to the challenge.

St. Ignatius 
We have two generations of mediocrity owing to the fact that parents have not challenged their children, or rarely. Some parents have even let their children decide for themselves whether they want baptism. Parents will stand before God and be judged for this laxity.

John Paul II continues the old, old idea that the religious life and priesthood are special callings from God. The evangelical counsels are thus above all a gift of the Holy Trinity. The consecrated life proclaims what the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, brings about by his love, his goodness and his beauty. In fact, "the religious state reveals the transcendence of the Kingdom of God and its requirements over all earthly things. To all people it shows wonderfully at work within the Church the surpassing greatness of the force of Christ the King and the boundless power of the Holy Spirit."The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world. To people's astonishment they respond by proclaiming the wonders of grace accomplished by the Lord in those whom he loves. To the degree that consecrated persons let themselves be guided by the Spirit to the heights of perfection they can exclaim: "I see the beauty of your grace, I contemplate its radiance, I reflect its light; I am caught up in its ineffable splendour; I am taken outside myself as I think of myself; I see how I was and what I have become. O wonder! I am vigilant, I am full of respect for myself, of reverence and of fear, as I would be were I before you; I do not know what to do, I am seized by fear, I do not know where to sit, where to go, where to put these members which are yours; in what deeds, in what works shall I use them, these amazing divine marvels!"

I talk to people who cannot see or do not want to see we are not all created the same. We all have different gifts and talents. I would love to be an Olympic swimmer. I have always loved tennis and wish I had more skill and talent. But, no, these are not my gifts.

There are levels of holiness. Even the Church recognizes this by calling some saints Great and some Doctors of the Church. All saints are holy, but they are not the same.

Tradition with a small "t" in the Church says that St. Francis is the saint most like Christ Himself. In the Old Testament, we are told in the Scriptures that St. David, the King, is "a man after God Own Heart".  St. Francis is not just the man who loved birds and tamed wolves. He has the stigmata. King David was not merely the one who killed Goliath and thousands of heathens, he ordered his kingdom and wrote beautiful hymns to God. He prophesied as well, and is a type of Christ.

By the way, yesterday in the old calendar, the Saints of the Maccabee Family use to be celebrated. Think on that-men who fought for freedom and the keeping of the Mosaic Law as well as the correct liturgical practices, who shed blood rather than witness the pollution of the sacred Temple, are saints.


This feast needs to be emphasized now, in this time.

That was there vocation, as was Joshua's, to be warriors. Are there any men out there responding to that call?

Parents, challenge your children. Priests, religious and all in the consecrated life, re-read this beautiful letter. Challenge others to follow by entering the narrow path.