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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

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September 14 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From the Saint Andrew Daily Missal:

On September 14, in 335, took place the dedication of Constantine’s basilica, which enclosed both Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre. “At this date,” says Etheria, “the cross was discovered. And the anniversary is celebrated with as much solemnity as Easter or the Epiphany.” Such was the origin of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. “When I shall be raised on high, I shall draw everything unto Me” (Gospel), Jesus has said. It is because of the Saviour humbled Himself, being obedient even to the death of the cross, that God exalted Him and gave Him a name above all other names (Epistle). Wherefore we must glory in the cross of Jesus, for He is out live and our salvation (Introit) and He protects His servants against the wiles of their enemies (Offertory, Communion, Postcommunion).

Towards the end of the reign of Phocas, Chosroes, King of Persia, says the legend of the breviary, took Jerusalem, where he put to death several thousand Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which St. Helen had placed on mount Calvary.

Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, had recourse to many fasts and prayers, imploring with great fervor the help of God. He assembled an army and defeated Chosroes. He then insisted on the restitution of the cross of the Lord. Thus the precious relic was recovered after an interval of fourteen years. On his return to Jerusalem, Heraclius carried it on his shoulders in great pomp to the mountain where the Saviour Himself had borne it (A.D. 629).

An extraordinary miracle marked the occasion. Heraclius, who was loaded with ornaments of gold and precious stones, was held back by an invisible force at the entrance gate of mount Calvary and vain were his efforts to enter.

As the Emperor and all those who witnessed the scene were astonished, Zacharias, Bishop of Jerusalem, said to him: “Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from imitating the poverty of Jesus Christ and His humility in bearing His cross.” Heraclius thereupon doffed his splendid garb and walked barefooted with a common cloak on his shoulders to Calvary, where he again deposited the cross. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the original spot, the anniversary of which was celebrated on this day, became of great importance.

Let us join, in spirit, the faithful who in the Church of the Holy Cross at Rome venerate on this day the relics of the sacred wood exposed for the occasion, so that, having been privileged to adore it on this feast when we rejoice for its exaltation, we may likewise possess for all eternity the salvation and glory the Cross has won for us (Collect, Secret).

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Jesus and the Ten Lepers (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

The Liturgy shows us that by faith we put all out hope in Jesus, for He is our refuge; and we ask for the virtue of charity, which renders us lovers of the Divine Law, and practitioners of it. Let us pray for an increase of faith, hope, and charity.

Collect

Omnipotens sempitérne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei, et caritátis augméntum: et, ut mereámur ássequi quod promittis, fac nos amáre quod praécipis. Per Dóminum nostrum.

Almighty and everlasting God, give to us an increase of Faith, Hope, and Charity: and that we may deserve to obtain what Thou dost promise, make us love what Thou dost command. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Gal. 3:16-22)

The Apostle of the Gentiles shows that the Mosaic Law is not the law which gives holiness of souls, since, before the Law, Abraham, father of the Hebrews, was sanctified in his faith in Jesus. All Jews or pagans, therefore, who enter into the Church and put their faith in the merits of the Passion of Christ will be saved.

Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Gospel (Lk. 17:11-19)

Our Divine Redeemer heals ten lepers, both Jews and Samaritans, who have recourse to Him. “Arise, they faith hath made thee whole.” Through His Church our Lord gives back health to the souls, Jews and Gentiles, who have recourse to Him.

At that time, as Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain town, there met Him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying: “Jesus, master, have mercy on us.” Whom when He saw, He said: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks: and this was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, “Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.” And He said to him: “Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.”

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(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

When discussing sin, hell, and damnation in relation to salvation, people sometimes bring up an objection citing a person in an isolated jungle who has never heard the Gospel. Surely, they claim, God would not be so “cruel” as to condemn this person to hell merely because he never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. This well-meaning, but utterly misguided, notion shows a deep lack of understanding regarding the true Catholic Faith. Let’s consider this situation a bit further to see if we can come to a better understanding regarding the Truth of God’s Law.

First, we very clearly need to distinguish that if a person outside Christ’s Church is saved, he is not saved because of his religion but in spite of it. Certainly God is completely free to save whomever He chooses, including those outside the Church, yet at the same time we cannot discount what He has told us through His Divine Revelation about His plan for Salvation.

Some within the Church, on both sides of the rail, have misinterpreted the teachings of Vatican II, either accidently or on purpose, to claim that every religion is just as good as any other and that the Catholic Church has no particular claim on the Truth, and therefore has no right or obligation to proselytize. This is a dangerous lie. Vatican II very clearly taught, in complete continuity with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, that the fullness of Truth subsists in the Catholic Church (here’s a link to a very important document from the CDF clarifying the meaning of the word “subsists:” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=162).

According to the Fathers of the Church, the most primitive religion is the natural religion of monotheism brought about by the work of God’s holy angels entrusted with the care of nations. As Fr. Jean Danielou says in The Angels and Their Mission, “The very regularity of the laws of nature is a sort of revelation through which man can recognize the existence of a provident God.” The angels were charged with the mission of providing protection and temporal assistance to nations, along with a primary spiritual role of leading pagan people towards God and retaining the spark of natural revelation. However, nations turned away from the natural religion due to the egotism and presumption of man, coupled with the activity of demons; instead of God, pagans turned to foolish worship of idols.

Thus, while elements of truth exist in other religions, they do not contain the fullness of Truth. God does not desire man to remain in the ignorance of false religion. Instead, those elements of truth in otherwise false religions are designed to prepare people for and lead them to the Truth, which is found only in the one, true, orthodox Catholic Faith. This is why missionary and apologetic activity remains critically important and why ecumenical activity should encourage dialogue but never compromise the Truth.

God is not cruel; He is pure and perfect love. As pure and perfect love, He grants us the free will to either accept or reject Him – for true love only exists if it is freely given and freely returned. Therefore, it is not God’s pure and perfect love which condemns us. It is we, through our own actions, who condemn ourselves. We forget that true love isn’t all smiley faces and warm puppies. Instead, true love is very often tough and difficult. Our Lord reminds us of this throughout Sacred Scripture. A close reading of Sacred Scripture shows us that salvation is anything but easy or a “given” – in fact our Lord clearly indicates the truth that not everyone is saved. In a misguided attempt not to “offend,” there’s been a de-emphasis of sin, the devil, and damnation in recent decades. Yet, isn’t it better to live in the Truth no matter how difficult it might be than to be “comforted” by a lie?

St. John pulls no punches when he tells us, “Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). Thus, the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1438-1445) declared: “the souls of those who die in mortal sin or with only original sin soon go down into hell, but there they receive different punishments.” Those two punishments are the “pain of loss” and the “pain of sense.” The “pain of loss” is the absence of the Beatific Vision. The “pain of sense” is brought about by actual sin and is felt by the senses even after the resurrection of the body. As Pope Innocent III summed it up, “the punishment for original sin is the loss of the vision of God, but the punishment for actual sin is the torment of an everlasting hell.”

The “pain of loss” is compatible with a state of natural bliss or perfect happiness – it merely lacks the Beatific Vision. This is the state many orthodox theologians throughout the history of the Church refer to as “limbo.” Limbo itself is not a dogmatic teaching of the Church, but is a strongly accepted theory among many eminent and solid theologians. I agree with the arguments for the existence of limbo and its role as the repository for souls who die without the Sacrament of Baptism. I don’t find this to be “cruel,” but instead simply a fact of the Truth. Those in limbo are in a state of perfect natural happiness; they are not being eternally punished as are those suffering “pain of sense,” instead they simply lack the Beatific Vision (they are happy, but unaware they could be more happy).

This notion that God wouldn’t be so “cruel” as not to save everyone comes down to believing what we wish to be true instead of what we’re told through Divine Revelation is actually the Truth. God clearly spells out His Law and the consequences of either rejecting or accepting that Law. Yet in our subjective and relativistic “me” centered society, we think it “unfair” and “cruel” if we’re held to an objective standard of Truth. However, at the end of the day, no matter how loudly we complain or how much we wish it were otherwise, we cannot break His Law, but only break ourselves against His Law.

As for our man we left standing alone in the middle of the jungle, did not our Lord command us to “make disciples of all nations?” If our man in the jungle dies without every hearing the Gospel, or worse yet turns to demon-inspired idolatry, then in a sense aren’t we at least partly to blame for not fully following the command of our Lord?

+JMJ

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The Good Samaritan

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

We have been initiated into spiritual life by the Sacrament of Baptism, and strengthened – perfected – by the Sacrament of Confirmation. The feast of Pentecost has celebrated the efficaciousness of Baptism and Confirmation: the graces and fruits given by the Holy Ghost. The Church recalls in the Liturgy today the duty of charity which derives from them.

Epistle – II Cor. 3:4-9

The law of our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect development of the Law of Moses. Let us not follow a pharisaical interpretation of the law which reduces our religious duties to a few outward practices. “The letter killeth, the spirit quickeneth.”

Brethren: Such confidence we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

Gospel – Lk. 10:23-37

The parable of the good Samaritan shows us that our neighbor is every man, known or unknown, friend or enemy, to whom we are united by the bonds of Christian charity.

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.” And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting Him, and saying, “Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?” But He said to him: “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” He answering, said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself.” And He said to him: “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” And Jesus answering, said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.’ Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers?” But he said: “He that shewed mercy to him.” And Jesus said to him: “Go, and do thou in like manner.”

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