Friday, December 28, 2007

Benedict XVI's provocative theme


Pope Benedict XVI chose a provocative theme for his first public audience of the autumn season in Rome: the solemn obligation of Catholic pastors to protect the truths of the faith. If only more Catholic bishops took that obligation so seriously!

In his commentary on St. Cyril of Alexandria, the Pope noted that the
5th-century theologian recognized his duty, as bishop, to be "custodian of
accuracy-- in other words, the custodian of the true faith."

The alternative, the Pope continued, is to allow novelties to creep into
the faith, so that what young Christians learn is not quite the same as
what their forefathers were taught, and the precious heritage of the
original faith is diluted.

This is not merely a question of differing opinions, the Holy Father
explained. Only the faithful preservation of the original Gospel message,
Pope Benedict concluded, provides us with "a guarantee of continuity with
the apostles and with Christ Himself."

If the Catholic faith changes from generation to generation, then we
Catholics of the early 21st century do not fully share the beliefs of the
first apostles. If our understanding of the Nicene Creed differs from the
understanding of the prelates who gathered for the Council of Nicea, then
we have no firm assurance that we are members of the same faith, the same
Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

The truths of the faith, then, are matters worth fighting for. A teacher
who leads his students to question the faith is endangering their
connection with the Church, and thus endangering their souls. False
teaching is a scandal, the Pope reminded his audience, and "anyone who
disturbs the least of those who believe in Christ will suffer unbearable

In the past decade we have learned to treat the scandal of sexual abuse
seriously. But what about theological abuse? What about the abuses involved
in false teaching and false preaching, which confuse the faithful and
squander the legacy of the Catholic faith?

Why can't Church leaders confront errors directly, and denounce them? Is
the façade of polite respectability more important than the reality of
Catholic orthodoxy?

The boisterous debates of the early Church helped to define orthodox
Christian doctrine. We know what we believe today in part because our
Christian ancestors for 15 or 16 centuries ago hurled insults and anathemas
at each other until finally, in a trial by intellectual combat, the truths
of the faith emerged.

Today, Pope Benedict suggests, the orthodox teachings of the Church are
endangered not by direct challenges but by studied indifference-- not by
declared enemies who demand that we renounce a doctrinal teaching, but by
supposed friends who tell us that it really doesn't matter. For many
Christians, perhaps this is how the faith ends: Not with a bang but a

Doctrine does matter. The fundamental truths of the faith, passed down from
the apostles, are our most precious heritage. It's a faith worth fighting

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Plunging into the ocean of infinite love

What is eternal life? This is how Benedict XVI depicts it in his new encyclical on Hope:

It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists. We can only attempt to grasp the idea that such a moment is life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Faith and Myths

An op-ed I wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 May 2005

THE saint-maker himself will be made a saint. Benedict XVI has just announced, to the applause of everyone, the opening of the cause for John Paul II's beatification. This holy man will most probably be called John Paul the Great for the great good he did to mankind. Holiness, faith and fidelity have always been drivers of human achievement.

Of course, some people do not see things this way. I still remember a mural in my college days, where students presented a time line of history. Science, arts and learning were in crescendo, except in one interlude when the Catholic faith allegedly cast its shadows during the Dark Age.

All that is now old hat-a myth dating back to the 18th century, thought up by the likes of Voltaire and drummed into our minds by Marxists and secularists.

It is an established fact, on the other hand, that the universities were born around the 12th century, under the aegis of the Catholic Church. It was the Church which stood as an oasis of learning during the "Barbarian Invasions." Drawing strength from Christianity and rich human milieu, a creative wind started to blow in the Late Middle Ages, then into the Renaissance and thereafter. Catholic artists like Dante, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Shakespeare brightened up the world. And in his Mona Lisa, Da Vinci gave us an exquisite image of Christian joy.

Historical research is now showing that the prodigious growth of science-biology, astronomy, medicine, and what have you-had its roots in 13th-century scientific method: observation, experimentation and quantification. And who formulated it? St. Thomas Aquinas, the Church's universal teacher. One of his disciples, Francisco de Vitoria, has been immortalized in a United Nations monument for laying down the principle of human rights. And thus he is a father of our modern democracy and economic growth.

In an age when Christianity is depicted as a myth, it is necessary to dismantle the myths that the secularists are spinning. A recent myth, for example, is that there was external lobbying at the conclave. It is true, of course, that the cardinals just elected somebody who was already chosen beforehand. But it was the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, who did the choosing. And this Person chose Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Not an old-fashioned doctrinaire, our Pope Benedict XVI has a bold, penetrating mind which can diagnose the roots of our present disorder. "My father is always working," he once said quoting the Bible. "We should then let him enter and let him work. And so things are born which open to the future and renew mankind...This, for me, is a message of greatest importance."

"It is a message," he says, "that leads to overcoming what could be considered the great temptation of our times: the pretense that after the 'big bang' God retired from history." God the Clockmaker, in this pretense, left the universe on its own, leaving our lonely ego to be "carried about by every wind of doctrine."

And so the Pope points to the importance of "real contact with Him who created us, and works through us...This is holiness...'It is not for me,' we tend to think, 'It is too high a goal.' Holiness then becomes a thing reserved for some 'greats' whose images we see on the altars, and who are completely different from us ordinary sinners."

With a phrase he likes to repeat, he clarifies: "Holiness is becoming a friend of God, speaking with him as if speaking with a friend. It is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy." Our Pope loves to stress "absolute fidelity to the Church's faith," because "the person who is bound to God no longer has fear....and in its place is born the courage to respond to today's world."

Our world faces many challenges: terrorism, poverty, conflict. But all these are exacerbated in a Godless landscape where selfishness darkens our view. Thus we create worse evils: abortions, marriage breakups, drug addiction, an eroticized society. To solve these, we need God's light which we find in "The Catechism of the Catholic Church." This "sure norm for teaching the faith" shows us that the Holy Spirit, Love in Person, has a dream:

"The Church's first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God," and her "structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members." (775; 774)

Driven by this God-given purpose, John Paul II wrote "Novo Millennio Ineunte," (At the Beginning of the New Millennium), "a program for all times." And he placed holiness, "the fullness of the Christian life," as the Church's top priority, a counterproposal to "a life of mediocrity marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity."

To reach this appealing end, the Holy See enjoins Christians to undergo "a training in holiness":

First, the art of prayer: dialoguing with our friend "until the heart truly 'falls in love.'" Second, going to confession, to let God enter the soul in grace. This is key. Third, attendance at Mass, where Christ gives us all our strength. Fourth, giving primacy to God's presence in the soul, so as not to fall into "doing for the sake of doing." Fifth, listening to God's word in catechesis, giving direction to our lives. Sixth, doing apostolate with "burning conviction...without ever hiding the most radical demands of the Gospel." For example: loving God with all our mind and the duty of "praying always," "uniting prayer to works and good works to prayer." (Lk 18:1; CCC 2742-5) Seventh, a "spirituality of communion" whereby we see and serve God in others, specially the poor. For this, the Church calls on Mary, "the radiant dawn."

It is the Catholic Church's purpose of seeking holiness that moves Pope Benedict XVI. It is this purpose that should move each member of the Church, whether he is a bishop, a priest, or a layperson.

It is time for all to take part in the dream and work boldly: If each one of the billion Catholics would work as one team against our Church's problems (Benedict XVI refers to ignorance of the faith, interior emptiness, the relativists' denial of truth, the secularists' obstruction of God) and follow faithfully the voice of the good shepherd in moving toward our first purpose of becoming saints-first things, first!-then the power of Christianity, the unlimited power of the "Person" whose divine beauty surpasses the imaginings of any myth, will unfold in all its brilliance.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In creation's beauty we touch God's beauty

By Benedict XVI

Question posed by Sara Simonetta :

"I believe in the God who has touched my heart, but I have many insecurities, questions and fears that I carry within. It is not easy to speak about God with my friends; many of them see the Church as a reality that judges youth, that opposes their desire for happiness and love. Faced with this refusal, I feel all of my solitude as human and I want to feel near God. Your Holiness, in this silence, where is God?".

Response of the Holy Father:

Yes, even though we are believers, we all know God's silence. In the Psalm we have just recited, there is this almost despairing cry: "Make haste to answer me, O Lord... Do not hide your face!", and a little while ago a book of the spiritual experiences of Mother Teresa was published and what we already all knew was a little more clearly shown: with all her charity and the power of her faith, Mother Teresa suffered from God's silence.

On the one hand, we must also bear God's silence in order to understand our brothers who do not know God.

On the other, with the Psalm we can always cry to God once again: "Answer us, show your face!".

And without a doubt, in our life, if our hearts are open, we can find the important moments when God's presence really becomes tangible even for us.

I now remember a little story that John Paul II told at the Spiritual Exercises he preached in the Vatican when he was not yet Pope. He recounted that after the war he was visited by a Russian official who was a scientist and who said to him as a scientist: "I am certain that God does not exist. Yet, if I am in the mountains, surrounded by his majestic beauty, by his grandeur, I am equally sure that the Creator does exist and that God exists".

The beauty of creation is one of the sources where we can truly touch God's beauty, we can see that the Creator exists and is good, which is true as Sacred Scripture says in the Creation Narrative, that is, that God conceived of this world and made it with his heart, his will and his reason, and he found it good.

We too must be good in order to have an open heart and to perceive God's true presence.

Then, hearing the Word of God in the solemn liturgical celebrations, in celebrations of faith, in the great music of faith, we feel this presence. I remember at this moment another little story which a Bishop on his ad limina visit told me a little while ago.

There was a very intelligent woman who was not a Christian. She began to listen to the great music of Bach, Handel and Mozart. She was fascinated and said one day: "I must find the source of this beauty", and the woman converted to Christianity, to the Catholic faith, because she had discovered that this beauty has a source, and the source is the presence of Christ in hearts, it is the revelation of Christ in this world.

Hence, great feasts of faith, of liturgical celebration, but also personal dialogue with Christ: he does not always respond, but there are times when he really responds. Then there is the friendship, the company of faith.

Now, gathered here in Loreto, we see that faith unites, friendship creates a company of travelling companions. And we sense that all this does not derive from nothing but truly has a source, that the silent God is also a God who speaks, that he reveals himself and above all, that we ourselves can be witnesses of his presence, and from our faith a light truly shines also for others.

Thus, I would say on the one hand, we must accept that God is silent in this world, but we must not be deaf to his words or blind to his appearance on so many occasions. We see the Lord's presence, especially in creation, in the beautiful liturgy, in friendship within the Church, and full of his presence, we can also give light to others.

Thus, I come to the second part, or rather, the first part of your question: it is difficult to speak to friends today about God and perhaps even more difficult to talk about the Church, because they see in God only the limit of our freedom, a God of commandments, of prohibitions, and the Church as an institution that limits our freedom, that imposes prohibitions upon us.

Nonetheless, we must try to make the living Church visible to them, not this idea of a centre of power in the Church with these labels, but the community of companions where, in spite of all life's problems that exist for everyone, is born our joy of living.

Here, a third memory springs to mind. I was in Brazil, in Fazenda da Esperança, this great community where drug addicts are treated and rediscover hope, the joy of living in this world; and they witnessed what the actual discovery that God exists meant for their recovery from despair.

They thus understood that their life has meaning and they rediscovered the joy of being in this world, the joy of facing the problems of human life.

Therefore, in every human heart, despite all the problems that exist, is a thirst for God, and when God disappears, the sun that gives light and joy also disappears.

This thirst for the infinite that is in our hearts is also demonstrated even in the reality of drugs: the human being wants to extend the quality of life, to have more than life, to have the infinite, but drugs are a lie, they are a fraud, because they do not extend life but destroy it.

The great thirst that speaks to us of God and sets us on the path that leads to him is true, but we must help one another. Christ came to create a network of communion in the world, where all together we might carry one another, and thus help one another together to find the ways that lead to life and to understand that the Commandments of God are not limits to our freedom but the paths that guide us to the other, towards the fullness of life.

Let us pray to the Lord to help us understand his presence, to be full of his Revelation, his joy, to help one another to go forward in the company of faith and with Christ to increasingly find the true Face of God, and hence, true life.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Loving includes being loved

A typical mistake is to view love exclusively as doing something for the beloved, external deeds and self-giving. Yes, it is true that all these are an integral component of love and form a most significant component.

However, it is a mistake to think that love is only composed of action and activities. According to our Pope, love includes receiving love. It includes eros.

When you visit the Blessed Sacrament, said St. Josemaria, you are there to love and to feel loved. That's what union with someone -- love -- is all about. And you can visit God in the chapel itself, or in your place of work with your heart and mind.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Devotion to the Holy Face

I found these sites today and have to read more on them:

They contain much information of a Vatican-approved devotion which has its own Feast on Shrove Tuesday, the day of the Mardigras. If only the world can rediscover this feast, which is such a great gift, I am sure the sensuality and coarseness of this day can be wiped out.

The promises of Jesus to Sister Marie Pierina and to Sister Mary of St. Peter are categorical:

"Every time my Face is contemplated I will pour out my love into the heart of those persons, and by means of my Holy Face the salvation of many souls will be obtained”.

"Those who will contemplate the wounds on My Face here on earth, shall contemplate it radiant in heaven."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Divine filiation

One of the contributions to Wikipedia.

Divine filiation is the condition of being a child of God, and thus a sharer in the life and role of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God and Redeemer of all men, according to Christian doctrine.

This is the fundamental state of each Christian due to baptism, and the purpose of Christ's redemption, according to Catholic doctrine.

Divine filiation implies divinization: "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God,"(St. Athanasius), "sharers in the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4)

Christians are supposed to "be always aware of the dignity of the divine adoption," so as to give meaning to what they do.[1] Thus, the Christian relates to God as a Father who is loving and provident, and becomes confident and daring as a Christian and apostle.

Divine filiation is the centerpiece of the Gospel: it is the reason why man was saved. And is also the purpose behind baptism[2] According to John Paul II, divine filiation is "the deepest mystery of the Christian vocation" and "the culminating point of the mystery of our Christian life...we share in salvation, which is not only the deliverance from evil, but is first of all the fullness of good: of the supreme good of the sonship of God."[3]

* 1 Basis
* 2 Meaning and significance
* 3 General consequences for Christian life
* 4 Piety of children
* 5 Responsibility for the Christian mission
* 6 Theologians on divine filiation
* 7 Footnotes
* 8 References


The very first point of the Catholic Catechism states that God's "plan of sheer goodness" is oriented towards man's divine filiation: "In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." (CCC 1; italics added)

The Gospel of John also begins by pointing to what Jesus brought: "to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God."

Benedict XVI explained that "The Fathers of the Church say that when God created man 'in his image' he looked toward the Christ who was to come, and created man, according to the image of the 'new Adam,' the man who is the criterion of the human... Jesus is 'the Son' in the strict sense - he is of one substance with the Father. He wants to draw all of us into his humanity and so into this Sonship, into his total belonging to God."[4]

The Fathers of the Church describe Jesus's work of salvation as a restoration of humanity's original dignity-- man made in the image of Christ, as children of God.

According to John Paul II in Redemptor hominis, his first encyclical, at the deepest root of the redemption of the world is the fullness of justice in the heart of Jesus Christ "in order that it may become justice in the hearts of many human beings, predestined from eternity in the Firstborn Son to be children of God and called to grace, called to love."[1]

Divine filiation is the "the deepest mystery of the Christian vocation: in the divine plan, we are indeed called to become sons and daughters of God in Christ, through the Holy Spirit."[5]

Thus, the Catechism states: "By his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His Resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life. [Justification] brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren." (CCC 654)

Meaning and significance

Christians are said to be children of God because they have the same nature as God the Father. St. Peter referred to Christians as "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pt 1:4)

Thus, the Fathers of the Church referred to the deification or divinization of the baptized. We are made gods, said St. Augustine.

St. Thomas Aquinas explained the terminology of the Fathers that Christians are "sons in the Son." He said that Christians enter the trinity through the Son, and they "have a certain participation in the filiation of the Second Person."

Thus, John Paul II said that divine filiation is "the culminating point of the mystery of our Christian life. In fact, the name 'Christian' indicates a new way of being, to be in the likeness of the Son of God. As sons in the Son, we share in salvation, which is not only the deliverance from evil, but is first of all the fullness of good: of the supreme good of the sonship of God."[3]

Divine filiation is at the core of Christianity. "Our divine filiation is the centerpiece of the Gospel as Jesus preached it. It is the very meaning of the salvation He won for us. For he did not merely save us from our sins; He saved us for sonship." [2]

Thus the incarnation and the redemption is for this:

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."[St. Irenaeus] "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."[St. Athanasius] "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."[St. Thomas Aquinas] (CCC 460)

The Christian then is another "Christ": "We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: .. through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other "Christs." " who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called "Christs." (CCC 2782)

The divinization of man through sonship is real and metaphysical. It is not metaphorical, i.e. a mere comparison with a real thing that is similar. In the Christian religion, God is really Father, and does not just act like human fathers. And God really made us share in his nature, and thus we are really children. Not in the same level as the Only Begotten Son, but truly sharing in his filiation and his divinity.[2]

And so St. John the Evangelist said with a tone of amazement, "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!" (1 John 3:1)

General consequences for Christian life

Since divine filiation is fundamental for the Christian life, a foundational point, then the various aspects of the Christian life follow from it, as shown by the frequent allusions of the Catechism to divine filiation:

* Abandonment to God the Father's providence, since Jesus said that "your heavenly Father knows what you need." (Mt 6:31; CCC 305) Thus the Benedict XVI said in Deus caritas est, "Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, [Christians] remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible."[6]
* Becoming child-like in piety, because it is a condition for entering the Kingdom. (Mt 18:3-4; CCC 526)
* Confidence to call God "Father" and asking him for gifts. "Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask.... What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?"
* Viewing the liturgy as "a meeting of God's children with thier Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit." (CCC 736; 1153)
* Loving the Church, for God "gathers all his children into unity." (CCC 845), and the Church is "the house of all God's children, open and welcoming". (CCC 1186). And with this the Christian keeps the communion of the saints. (CCC1474)
* Giving importance to baptism, by which the Christian become a child of God. (CCC 1243). The Christian should realize the "greatness of God's gift... by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians become children of God, partakers of the divine nature." (CCC 1692)
* Playing the role of the prodigal son. Because the "new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin," (CCC 1420) the Christian has the sacrament of healing called the sacrament of Reconciliation which "bring about restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God." (CCC 1468) "The whole of the Christian life," says John Paul II in his first encyclical Redemptor hominis, "is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature, especially for the "prodigal son", we discover anew each day."[1]
* Living in imitation of Christ: "Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be "imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love" by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the "mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus," and by following his example." (CCC 1694)
* Loving freedom (CCC 1828)
* Practising obedience. "Although he was a Son, [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered. How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience - we who in him have become children of adoption." (CCC 2825)

Piety of children

An important consequence of divine filiation is the prayer of Christians as children of God. Prayer is at the center of the life of Christ, the Son of God. Benedict XVI says that the person of Jesus is prayer. The "fundamental insight" of the Sermon of the Mount is, he says, "that man can be understood only in the light of God, and that his life is made righteous only when he lives it in relation to God." Thus, Jesus, after praying and after being asked by the disciples how to pray, teaches the Our Father, a prayer which aims to "configure [man] to the image of the Son," and trains him in the "inner attitude of Jesus."[4]

"Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more." (CCC 2712 )

Responsibility for the Christian mission

Since Christians are other "Christs", they are co-redeemers with him, and have the same role as Jesus Christ-- to save other men, and make them children of God. "As members, they share a common dignity from their rebirth in Christ, they have the same filial grace and the same vocation to perfection... Because of the one dignity flowing from Baptism, each member of the lay faithful, together with ordained ministers and men and women religious, shares responsibility for the Church's mission."[7]

Because the laity, ordinary Christians are children of God, they have a specific role to play in the world: "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer. The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church: Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church." (CCC 898-99)

Theologians on divine filiation

The Fathers of the Church have emphasized the meaning of salvation in terms of divinization and divine filiation.

Among contemporary authors, Scott Hahn, an American theologian and convert from Calvinism has written much about filiation in the context of the theology of the covenant. He sees the covenant as a real family bond. He has also written about filiation in the context of his journey as a member of Opus Dei, whose founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, is a leading writer on this topic. Escriva saw filiation as the "foundation of the Christian life," and had a mystical experience in early years of Opus Dei (1931) that led him to emphasize this aspect of Christian life. Fernando Ocariz, who wrote God as Father (1998) is another theologian who has several works on divine filiation.


1. ^ a b c John Paul II (1979). Encyclical Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of man). Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
2. ^ a b c Scott Hahn (2002). First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity. Doubleday Religion.
3. ^ a b John Paul II (1997). Message for World Day of Peace. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
4. ^ a b Benedict XVI (2007). Jesus of Nazareth. Doubleday.
5. ^ John Paul II (15 August 1990). Message to Youth. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
6. ^ Benedict XVI (2006publisher=Libreria Editrice Vaticana). Deus caritas est.
7. ^ John Paul II (1988). Christifideles laici. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.


* John Paul II, Message to Youth, 15 August 1990
* John Paul II on the Millenium and God as Father by Thomas McGovern
* World Day of Peace 1997

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What can we perceive in the face of Jesus?

If the face is the most expressive manifestation of the person, and Christians are supposed "to become one with Christ", alter Christus, ipse Christus, another Christ, Christ himself, then what can we learn from Christ's face?

To tell the truth, my answer proceeds from a reading of one of those rare books of Cardinal Ratzinger on spirituality, The Pierced One. There he said that the core of Jesus' person, the very center of Jesus, is prayer. Jesus is communication with the Father. Jesus is prayer.

And that is what I now see in Jesus' face in the Shroud. It is face of a man at peace. Wounded yes, but clearly at rest. It is the typical face of someone whose eyes are closed, deeply in prayer.

You will ask, isn't he supposed to be dead? The Catholic faith teaches that God never left his body. He was there in person continually. And remember: the image was imprinted by some kind of radioactive force, supposedly the force of the resurrection. So, aren't we seeing the face of the Rising Christ? A Rising Christ whose face is consistent with the face he had before being baptized, before choosing his twelve apostles, while he was in the desert battling with the devil, before he broke the bread, while he was agonizing in the Garden right before undergoing the torturous trial, while he was dying on the Cross? A face of prayer. Jesus was --and is!-- indeed a person of prayer.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The face of God

Christians would want to become friends with Jesus, to be acquainted with him, to get to know him as a person.

How do we best get to know a person? Usually talking to him face-to-face. The face is the single most powerful expression of a person. Somehow you get to know his personality through the nuances of his face. Is he cheerful? Is she serious? Is he attentive?

Thus, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the great saints have always sought to see the face of God, the face of Jesus. Heaven the Catechism says is "being with Jesus." To see God's face is to find the path we have to take, and to gaze at his face is what life is about.

Isn't the shroud of Turin the greatest material representation of this face?

Secondo Pia's negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin has an appearance suggesting a positive image. Many Christians believe this image to be the face of Jesus

If we believe that it is a miraculous representation of the real face of Jesus, of God, then it is worthwhile doing what many pious people do: contemplate the Holy Face as shown to us in the Shroud of Turin. For me it has been a great source of peace, joy and consolation, to gaze at the face of my Creator, the person who died for me, my ultimate goal, Love incarnate. I'm sure he left this image for a sublime, sanctifying purpose.

Benedict XVI is a prophet for our times

In Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI describes a prophet in this way:

His task is not to report the events of tomorrow or the next day in order to satisfy human curiosity or the human need for security. He shows us the face of God, and in so doing he shows us the path that we have to take. Among all the paths of history, the path to God is the true direction that we must seek and find.

The prophet shows us the face of God. And Jesus of Nazareth is Benedict's "personal search for the face of God" that he shares with us...Benedict is helping us as a prophet does, and with his help we can find the path that we have to take.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spirituality of sanctity vs other-centered spirituality?

There seems to be a current of thinking which considers the search for sanctity as something selfish, something centered on self rather than on others.

I think that's a great misconception. When Benedict XVI talked about St. Josemaria and sanctity, he talked about speaking to God as a friend speaks to a friend, letting the Other work, the only one who can make the world both good and happy.

Sanctity is about The Other.

A person whose mind is centered on my things, my time, my pleasure, my.., my.., can't be really going towards the self-giving, the self-exodus that love and sanctity is about.

But doesn't too much praying to God takes our time away from serving others?

Here is what a great Doctor of the Church has to say, St. John of the Cross:

Let those who are most specially active, who think they can win the world with their preaching and exterior works, observe here that they would help the Church and please God much more were they to spend at least half of this time with God in prayer, even though they might not have reached a prayer as sublime as this. Aside from this, they would be giving good example!

They would certainly achieve more, and with less effort, by doing one work than they would by a thousand. For through their prayer, they would merit this result, and be spiritually strengthened.

Without prayer they would do a great deal of hammering but accomplish little, and sometimes nothing, and even at times cause harm. God forbid that the salt should begin to lose its savor [Mt. 5:13]. However much they may appear to achieve externally, they will in the end be accomplishing nothing.

There is no doubt that one can do good works only by the power of God. Oh, how much could be written here on this subject!

Monday, July 23, 2007

What is God about?

If God is what Jesus brought to this world, if God is the axis on which everything depends, then the common question of the common man living in the 21st century would be, so...what's the fuss? What is this God, what is he about? What is it to me?

When we hear the word "God", what comes to mind?

The traditional answer to the question "who is God?" is "he is the supreme being". Now that people do not seem to connect much with this, we will have to go further.

Some other answers come to mind:

  • God is all-beauty.
  • God is the only one who can satisfy all the longings of your heart.
  • God is your creator, the one who designed your brain, your bodily movements, your psychological make-up.
  • God is the fullness of life. When you are connected with him, you are connected with supreme happiness.
  • God is I am who am-- ultimate reality.
An answer which Benedict XVI gives, an answer that needs a lot of thinking through, is that at the core of God is "the act of relating."

Today, while reading Tuesday with Morrie, a popular bestseller, I was struck with one of those aphorisms of Morrie, the Harvard Professor who was teaching his former student the meaning of life: "Death ends life, but not relationships." While my body dies, my relationships will last forever. Could this be a path to further illuminate Benedict's words of wisdom?

What does relating mean? Why is it eternal?

A preliminary answer could be, that the basic relationship is love, and love is indestructible.

Why? I don't know the answer. But I could sense that we are touching here the very heart of everything...

God is Love, Benedict keeps on reminding us. Love is at the heart of ultimate reality. It is this love that sustains us, holds us up each minute, and caresses us. It is Love which makes things happen around us and inside us.

And this Love, this God, is our eternal destiny. We are called to eternal bliss with him. And he wants us to answer to this call, through the only path on which love can pass: freely, through the path of freedom.

I choose God, I choose Love, because I want to.

God is Someone. God is not something, a thing we can be indifferent to, a force of sorts, an abstract principle. He is someone, a person. Someone we can relate to. Yes, someone to whom we can say, "I firmly believe that you are here, that you see me that you hear me."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Everything depends on this - Benedict XVI

"Everything depends on this". With these words Benedict XVI described the absolute importance of the central reason he wrote Jesus of Nazareth: to foster "intimate friendship with Jesus."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Message of Fatima: faith, hope and love

Remember what I posted earlier, Benedict's main point in his book, Jesus of Nazareth?

What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God. ....

He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope, and love.

The importance of "faith, hope and love" was already emphasized by then Cardinal Ratzinger in his book God and the World. There he quotes Sor Lucia on what is the real message of Fatima. Sor Lucia told him to tell the world this: Don't take notice of the other things related to the Fatima story. The only message that is important is "faith, hope and love."

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Economist praised Benedict XVI

The Economist praised Benedict XVI in its review of the Pope's book: "the pope's elegantly, almost tenderly written essay on the founder of his faith", "he finds himself going head to head --with perfect courtesy, it should be said-- with some Jewish critiques of the New Testament.

But the best part is how the Economist summarized the book:

Whatever Jesus was, the pope argues, he was not simply a free-thinking rabbi who told people to lighten up and ignore the finer points of the Mosaic law. On the contrary, he saw the law of Moses as God-given and supremely important—and it was only because of his own divinity that he had the right to reinterpret that law. In other words, the teachings of Jesus and his divinity are inseparable. That means there is no avoiding a hard argument with those who deny his divinity: either he was the Son of God, and entitled to remake God's law, or he was an impostor.

This is the classic dilemma --forwarded by the Economist for everyone to see -- which Christian apologists use to point out that choosing belief in Christ is the reasonable option. It is more irrational to think that Christ --a person who died for his beliefs, for the truth -- was a living lie.

See Economist:

St. Josemaria, the Tridentine Mass and the Mass of Paul VI

See my post at Wikipedia:

Monsignor Escrivá saying Mass Cover image from the book Homelias eucaristicas de San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, commented by Msgr. Javier Echevarría, 2003.
Monsignor Escrivá saying Mass

Escriva considered the Mass as the "center and root of the Christian's interior life," a terminology which was later used by the Second Vatican Council.

According to Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, "St. Josemaría strove with all his strength to make the Eucharist the center of his life...For him, Jesus was not an example to imitate from afar, an abstract moral ideal, but his Jesus, a person we should live alongside continuously."

According to the memoirs of the present prelate Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, Escriva strove to follow whatever was indicated by the competent authority regarding the celebration of Mass. When the new rites were adapted by the Catholic Church after Vatican II, Echevarria said that Escriva "accepted the reform with serenity and obedience." Since his prayer was much integrated with the liturgy for the past 40 years, Escriva found the shift difficult and asked Alvaro del Portillo, one of his assistants, to coach him in celebrating the new rites. He even prohibited del Portillo to ask for any dispensation for him "out of a spirit of obedience to ecclesiastical norms." However, when Msgr. Bugnini of the Vatican found out about Escriva's difficulties, he granted Escriva the possibility of celebrating the Mass using the old rite. Escriva celebrated this rite only in private.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tridentine Rite as extraordinary form: was never juridically abrogated

I posted this at Wikipedia:

Through his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, Benedict XVI has enabled the use of the Tridentine Rite as extraordinary form of the liturgical celebration, as "a matter of a twofold use of one and the same [Roman] rite." He stressed that this Mass "was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Relativism will end up collapsing like a house of cards

The letter of Fr. Javier Echevarria, the Prelate of Opus Dei is posted in the web.

And he does a marvelous job of using texts taken from the Benedict XVI to point out that relativism, a sort of dogma which asserts that there is no such thing as truth and therefore I can do whatever I fancy, "will end up collapsing like a house of cards, since it is not anchored in the truth of God the Creator":

In explaining the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Church, the Pope stresses another point of great importance for today’s world.

He states that the great error of the ancient pagan religions consisted in not adhering to the paths traced out by divine wisdom in the depths of man’s soul.

Therefore, the decline of the pagan religion was inevitable: it was a logical consequence of the detachment of religion-reduced to an artificial collection of ceremonies, conventions and customs-from the truth of being

The early Fathers and Christian writers, in contrast, made the choice of the truth of being against the myth of custom. Tertullian, the Pope recalls for us, wrote: Dominus noster Christum veritatem se, non consuetudinem, cognominavit. Christ our Lord affirmed that he was the Truth, not custom.

And Benedict XVI remarked: it should be noted in this regard that the term consuetudo, used here by Tertullian in reference to the pagan religion, can be translated into modern languages with the expressions "cultural fashion," "current fads."

Today as well, the shipwreck of those who try to do without God is certain. Despite the apparent victory of relativism in some places, this way of thinking and of living will end up collapsing like a house of cards, since it is not anchored in the truth of God the Creator and in his divine Providence, which directs the paths of history.

We Christians know that we are freer than anyone, because we do not allow ourselves to be dragged about by momentary fads.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI, A Saint?

Someone at Catholic Answers asked this question: do you think there is a possibility of Benedict being canonized some day?

Well, I'm sure Benedict himself is striving for sanctity, and therefore is saintly.

He himself said: "The saints are the true reformers. Only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world."

Since he wants to change the world, he is trying to be saint; and if he is trying to be a saint, God will grant what he asks for.

I heard from somebody that a German Cardinal quipped about Ratzinger: he has the intellect of 20 theologians and the simplicity of a child who just had his first communion. Well, if holiness demands both knowing God well and loving God as a child, then Pope Benedict must be holy! :)

If you remember his program of governance when he was installed as Pope, he said that it is about "listening to God" and "doing his will". What is that if not sanctity?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do you think Jesus really lived, died and came back to life? Why?

I was asked this question and I submitted this answer. The asker came back happy and thanked me for it. So am sharing my reply to more people.

As for his existence and death, these three things agree:

  • Eye witness accounts of gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John),
  • Credible and famous historians whom we trust with other data about the ancient world confirmed these accounts (Pliny the Younger is a Roman historian and governor; Flavius Josephus is a Jewish historian who became a member of the Roman aristocracy; Tacitus was a senator and historian of the Empire),
  • Archaeological data including the latest findings confirm all the above (actual locations of Calvary and the Sepulchre among other things). If only one archaeological finding confirmed the existence of Troy, once thought to be a myth, what more the abundance of Christian archaeological sites?

As for his actual death, we can add to the above the fact that his executioners were Roman soldiers. They were the best soldiers of antiquity who knew the business of killing.

As for his actual rising from the dead, we can add the daring and boldness of those who preached about the Resurrection, and about seeing him alive. (The gospel reports 500 who saw him after death).

If they were creating a myth or had certain doubts, the great number of Christian martyrs would not have died for their belief-- for what they saw.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why doesn't God make himself visible?

Again and again, this question arises: Why can't God just show himself, directly manage our affairs, then we will believe him and follow him? Frankly, I've thought about that myself so many times. It seems to be a frequent question, among many other people.

It's a question John Paul II and Benedict had to address a number of times.

John Paul II remarked that this type of questioning is only of recent vintage. For many centuries, it was obvious that God is God -- an infinite Mystery. And we are mere creatures -- limited, and really nothing in front of the Maker of the 120 billion galaxies in the "observable universe."

In fact John Paul said, God "has gone as far as possible" in showing himself: he became one of us, his creatures. He became man. "He could go no further. In a certain sense he has gone too far!" Proof of the above is the complaint of the Jews and the Moslems against Christianity. God is God, they say. He should keep his distance!

Benedict had his own chance to deal with this issue, when a kid was astonished when his teacher told him Jesus is present in the Eucharist: I can't see him!

What do you think was Benedict's reply? Well, he talked about electricity! "There are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential. For example: we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see ... an electric current, for example, yet we see that it exists; we see this microphone, that it is working, and we see lights. Therefore, we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects."

In God is Love, Benedict insisted that God has made himself visible --in Jesus.

He even said that God is "visible in a number of ways." What are these ways? Of course, he mentions Jesus' appearances in the bible, and also his visibility in people who "reflect his presence."

Then he says God is visible through the words in the Bible, through the sacraments (water of baptism, the forgiveness of the priest in confession, for example), and especially through the Eucharist, the white bread we see lifted up during Mass.

For me, that white bread is God-Love who is making himself visible today. If you see God from this perspective -- from an idea that the essence of God is self-sacrificing Love rather than power-tripping Omnipotence -- then it makes sense that he is visible as a piece of bread, available as supreme food for people he loves.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

How can I be holy if I am so weak and full of mistakes?

You and I, as everybody else, are called to holiness.

This is an established fact in Catholic doctrine. Now the question is: How can I be a saint, even commanded to be holy, if I am so weak and full of mistakes?

Benedict XVI answered this in 2002, on the 100th anniversary of St. Josemaria's birth. Still a cardinal, Ratzinger said that it was precisely Escriva who corrected the mistaken notion that holiness is "reserved for some extraordinary people" who are "completely different from ordinary sinners like us."

"To be holy," stated Cardinal Ratzinger, "does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy."

If you examine the first homily in St. Josemaria's first collection of homilies, Christ is Passing By, the founder of Opus Dei comments on the "encouraging" fact that the first people whom Jesus called to holiness "were nothing to boast about." The Twelve Apostles weren't educated. They weren't even bright. They weren't even simple or open. They had little faith. Then they faced obstacles that well up in the heart of all men: selfishness, lust, greed.

With so much weakness and real obstacles, how can we be holy?

It's interesting to note that St. Josemaria spends two entire sections in this homily to discuss a key point which Ratzinger summarized as letting the Other work. The over-arching principle for holiness, according to St. Josemaria is God's mercy: "It is under the 'umbrella' of God's mercy," he says, "that Christian existence should develop." Thus he urged us "to implore divine mercy," and to pray: "O my God, I trust in you."

Opus Dei's emphasis on the universal call to holiness, an integral part of Catholic teaching, hinges on the mercy of God who has the intent and the power to sanctify us.

Only God can make us holy. Because he, the Infinite Good, is the only source of goodness. The Only One, says Benedict XVI, who can really make the world both good and happy.

Thus, we poor creatures, full of mistakes and weaknesses, can only bank on his goodness, his Mercy.

It is then logical that God, after bringing about a world-wide awareness of the universal call to holiness, brought about a new world-wide devotion to the Divine Mercy. This is now a devotion officially endorsed by the whole Church, even established as a liturgical date on the Second Sunday of Easter!

Through the diaries of St. Faustina Helena Kowalska, we learn to plead to God:
Jesus, I trust in you.

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Through Opus Dei, we learn of the Catholic insistence on "frequent confession", of going to the sacrament of Divine Mercy, to receive God's help and direction.

We learn that it is through spending time in prayer at specific moments of the day, that we speak to God as to a friend, that we allow God to work. By finding time for God in prayer and living in God's presence in all the ordinary situations of each day, we then can convert our work and daily life into prayer. That's sanctity: when we are in God, and God in us all day long. When we work for God, and God works through us to reach others. When we become his instruments, despite all our weaknesses and mistakes. When we allow God to work our self-transformation, and the transformation of the world. Sanctity is God's work.

"Truly we are all capable, we are all called to open ourselves up to this friendship with God," said Benedict XVI, "to not leave the hands of God, to not neglect to turn and return to the Lord, speaking with him as if speaking with a friend, knowing well that the Lord really is a true friend of everyone, including those who cannot do great things by themselves."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth: the key question

What is the key point in Benedict's new book, Jesus of Nazareth, 1.5 million copies of which have been sold after only a month?

He answers it himself in the front and back flap of the book:

The great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God. ....

He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope, and love.

I'm more than half-way through the book. And yes, that is the key message. Everything revolves around God.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Benedict XVI now the leading German thinker

Benedict XVI is now considered the leading German thinker, surpassing secularist thinkers such as Gunther Grass and Jurgen Habermas. That's a possible sign that we might be heading towards a turn-around.

Consider: world behavior depends on the mindset crafted by influential thinkers. Just remember Marx and the influence of communism throughout the world. Just remember Freud and how the sexual revolution turned things upside down. Just remember Luther whose individualistic interpretation of religion has brought in the modern way of thinking. And what is the common denominator of these three? Not only had they had lasting world influence, they all belong to the great thinking race-- the Germanic tribe.

If Benedict can turn around the Germans, he can turn around the rest of the western world, and with it the rest of the world.

John Paul II was the Pope who slayed the Godless East. Benedict XVI is meant to slay the greater dragon -- the crassly materialistic and secularistic West.

Let's pray for this.

[For sources on Benedict's XVI rise to number one influential thinker in Germany, see:

I also saw this news in Spanish newspaper, ABC, in its May story on Jesus of Nazareth. ]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sanctity through prayer (John Paul II) and Love through contemplation (Benededict XVI)

John Paul II: Sanctity through a training in prayer

John Paul II: Sanctity through a training in prayer is the most important priority of the Church.
John Paul II: Sanctity through a training in prayer is the most important priority of the Church.

At the beginning of the new millennium, John Paul II placed sanctity as the most important pastoral priority of the Catholic Church in his Apostolic Exhortation Novo Millennio Ineunte. And for this he emphasized the need for a training in the "art of prayer". He said that Catholic communities should become schools of prayer.

A key paragraph is:

There is a temptation which perennially besets every spiritual journey and pastoral work: that of thinking that the results depend on our ability to act and to plan. God of course asks us really to cooperate with his grace, and therefore invites us to invest all our resources of intelligence and energy in serving the cause of the Kingdom. But it is fatal to forget that "without Christ we can do nothing" (cf. Jn 15:5). It is prayer which roots us in this truth. It constantly reminds us of the primacy of Christ and, in union with him, the primacy of the interior life and of holiness.

Benedict XVI: Love by receiving love through contemplation

Benedict XVI also took up the theme in his first encyclical, being the first of his papacy, it is considered emblematic.

In Deus Caritas Est, the Pope-theologian explained the exact theological meaning of what John Paul II preached. The essence of sanctity is love, and we become love by experiencing love, especially through contemplative prayer.

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith.

He would later say "I am convinced" that humanity truly needs the "essential message" that God is love. Thus, he says with echoes of John Paul's pastoral planning for the entire church: "Everything must start from here and everything must lead to here, every pastoral action, every theological treatise. As St Paul said, "If I ... have not love I gain nothing" (cf. I Cor 13:3)."

Benedict explained that God is love, and that man is made in God's image and is therefore made for love. This love grows to the extent that man receives God's love: "we have to receive for us to give". Thus he stressed the "importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."

Benedict XVI: Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.
Benedict XVI: Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.

He used the word urgent only once and in reference to the need for prayer: "Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed."

He even mentioned Blessed Mother Teresa three times to stress that the roots of effective Christian service and charity is in prayer:

In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service

On explaining one of the main themes, realization of true love via the union of agape and eros, he stresses that man "cannot always give, he must also receive."

Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift... Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God... Only in the way of contemplation will he be able to take upon himself the needs of others and make them his own.

To further stress this way of contemplation, his Lenten message for 2007 was titled "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37). There he invited everyone:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced on the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love.. On the Cross, it is God himself who begs the love of his creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us... One could rightly say that the revelation of God's eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of his agape.

He thus emphasizes that God's way of giving himself to us (agape) is by showing us that he wants us for himself (eros).

Benedict's point on the importance of "receiving love as a gift" is in line with his teaching in Introduction to Christianity on the primacy of receptivity or acceptance. The Christian's role is to "allow God to work" in us and through us, since God is "the only one who can make the world both good and happy." We allow God to work, he says, when we "speak to God as a friend speaks to a friend."

Taken from my article at Wikipedia:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

First Day of May, First Day of Mary´s Month

It´s May 1.

I am now in Madrid and it´s great to be breathing the air of the birthplace of Opus Dei and of many great things Catholic.

If Mary is the short cut to Jesus, what is the short cut to Mary? I suppose that would be St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrate today, May 1, the first day of Mary´s month.

And how do we deal with Mary? St. Josemaria recommended that we utter piropos, i.e. compliments uttered by gentlemen towards beautiful ladies. You can just imagine the piropos St. Joseph whispered to make her happy!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Alleluia: What does it mean?

"Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance... Therefore, Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the Feast of feasts... Easter is the Great Sunday. The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him." CCC 1168-9

Since Sunday, we have been congratulating Our Lady, as advised by St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Church itself has recommended to us how to do so-- the Regina Coeli.

Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!

For he whom you did merit to bear. Allelulia!

Has risen as he said. Alleluia!

What a great prayer! Especially, with the addition of the Alleluia, the prayer becomes a prayer of joy and exultation.

But, what does "alleluia" mean? especially now that we repeat it so often, even at the end of Mass?

Alleluia is from "Hallelu-jah". And hallelu is from hallel and hillel which means "praise be to you." And jah or yah refers to Yahweh.

So Alleluia means Praise to you, O God! or Praise the Lord!!! It's the ancient Catholic way of saying what Protestants love to say: Praise the Lord!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

God's eros is supreme agape!

In Benedict's Lenten message he says:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love...

On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us.

The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as "Lord and God" when he put his hand into the wound of His side.

Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God's eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape.

Wow! That last statement which I just italicized is perhaps one of those great words of wisdom which everyone should know of.

This brilliant Pope is telling us the deepest secrets of God! And the deepest secret of how we are to live!

This means that one of the best things to do is to see God's love in the dying Christ. Why? because the revelation of God's eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape.

The greatest gift that God gives us (agape is about giving) is to tell us that he passionately wants us for himself (eros is about wanting to be together).

Isn't that wonderful? It's such wonderful news that the Pope exclaims next: only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens.

St. Josemaria expressed God's eros this way:
Look how gently the Lord invites us. His words have human warmth; they are the words of a person in love: "I have called you by your name. You are mine." God, who is beauty and greatness and wisdom, declares that we are his, that we have been chosen as the object of his infinite love.