Categories
Mary

Holy Name of Mary

Excerpt from a homily by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

And the Virgin’s name was Mary. Let us speak a little about this name, which is said to mean “star of the sea,” and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother’s virginal integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendor shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices.

Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits, and giving us light by her example.

All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star unless you want to be overwhelmed by the hurricane.

If temptation storms or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary.

If you are tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary.

If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of your soul, turn your eyes to Mary.

If troubled by the enormity of your crimes, ashamed of your guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, you begin to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary.

In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary.

Let her name be even on your lips, ever in your heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life: “Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favored by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: ‘And the Virgin’s name was Mary.’

Categories
Eucharist

Consuming the Body and Blood of God for Eternal Life

Jesus is truly present at every Mass.

How do we know Jesus is truly present at every Catholic Mass in the physical appearance of bread and wine? Why must we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood? Answer: Jesus tells us and then doubles down when His followers question the weirdness of it.

To wrap our heads around this, we must look to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to the letters of St. Paul and the accounts of the early Church fathers.

John makes it very clear in Chapter 6 of his book, starting at Verse 25:

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 

Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever. This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper′na-um. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 

But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” 

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Wow, what an incredible chapter from John. Jesus makes it absolutely clear that if we want to live forever in the kingdom of God (aka Heaven), we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood.

Many are skeptical that simple bread and wine can be offered at Mass to become truly the Body and Blood of Jesus, as were the disciples at the time who said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” We may even be tempted to think, “Oh, Jesus was talking symbolically.” But Jesus reiterates over and over that no, we must eat His literal flesh to have eternal life. He does that FIVE times.
Also, if Jesus was explaining to just simply think of him while eating the offered up bread and wine (consuming the flesh and blood in a symbolic way), the disciple would not have responded as that being a “hard saying”. It might be weird but not hard for them to accept that.

Jesus acknowledges them being critical of this teaching, but then points out who He is. This is critical because this isn’t some ordinary person teaching a really strange lesson, it is Jesus Christ who literally is God who created everything we see around us from nothing!

It’s easy to fall into a routine and lose sight of the little miracles all around us. Unfortunately, it is even easy to fall into a routine and lose sight of the greatest miracle of all, happening right in front of us.

“It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail” is a line that gets confusing for many Christians. This line does not refer to the Flesh of Jesus, but the flesh meaning fallen human nature. Fallen human nature is powerless to raise itself up because we need God’s grace. The spirit gives life, while fallen human nature is of no avail. Whenever Jesus talks about His Flesh, He refers to it as “my flesh”, not “the flesh”.

Some neat extra facts from scripture about the reality of the Eucharist:

Interestingly, in the ancient Greek text of this scripture, there are two words used that we have just translated as ‘eat’: phago (basic eating) and trogo (gnawing, crunching, or chewing). And the word used in this context of eating his flesh is trogo, a graphic and more literal way to demonstrate eating, instead of using the more basic word phago which could be used in a more symbolic sense.

Also interestingly, the verse where the disciples walk away after hearing about Jesus double down on the importance of eating and drinking His Body and Blood is John 6:66 (666, yikes, according to the Book of Revelation, this is the number of Satan).

Finally, as we learned from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was born in a manger (a feeding trough). Jesus, the Bread of life, who we must eat to have eternal life was born in a feed trough. Coincidence?

Categories
Apologetics

Practical Strategies of Evangelization

Bishop Robert Barron – WordOnFire.org

First, deepen your knowledge of the Catholic tradition. A recent survey showed that, among the various religious groups, young Jews have the weakest sense of their own religious heritage, but second only to the Jews in this dubious distinction were young Catholics. This is nothing short of tragic. We have an extremely smart, rich, and profound tradition, including the incomparable Scriptures, treasures of theology, spirituality, art, architecture, literature, and the inspiring witness of the saints. To know this tradition is to enter into a densely textured and illuminating world of meaning; not to know it deprives one of spiritual joy, and perhaps even more regrettably, renders one incapable of explaining the Catholic faith to those who seek to understand it better. Most Catholics stopped their formal religious education in eighth grade, or perhaps in senior year of high school.

In a word, learn the tradition of Catholic Christianity, so as to be a better bearer of it to others.

Second, invite someone you know to come back to church. Evangelization can focus on the conversion of the nations, or on the Catholicizing of Protestant Christians, but it can also focus much more narrowly on the re-activizing of inactive Catholics. Everyone reading these words knows someone—a friend, a co-worker, a family member, perhaps even a godson or goddaughter—who has stopped attending Mass or availing himself of the sacraments. Resolve in the next year to send that person a note, give him or her a phone call, sit down for a good conversation—and urge him or her to come home to church. This overture might cost you; it might prove a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing. Evangelization is always a risk. For the sake of that person’s spiritual health, take it.

Third, let the language of the faith be naturally on your lips. Many of us Catholics—consciously or unconsciously—censor our own speech against anything smacking of our religious convictions. We learn early on the etiquette of a pluralist society: it is not polite to talk in public settings about politics or especially religion. To be sure, we should never be aggressive or overbearing in regard to our faith, but we should never acquiesce to social conventions that require a privatization of our religion.

Fourth, don’t be afraid to pray in public. How many times have you sat down with your family or with Catholic friends at a restaurant and have simply dug into your food without offering a word of thanks? Again, you need not be ostentatious, but a simple, unaffected prayer, publicly offered, can be a powerful witness to those around you. Do you remember that sentimental but effective painting by Norman Rockwell depicting an elderly woman and her grandchildren bowing their heads in prayer before taking a meal in a truck stop? What I’ve always loved are the looks of bewildered admiration on the faces of the regular denizens of the place. Don’t underestimate the evangelical power of demonstrating your faith in public.

Jesus told his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations… Don’t miss the opportunity to be an angel of God, a bearer of the impossibly good news.

Read the full article here on WordOnFire.org

Categories
Saints

Ten New Saints

Pope Francis celebrated Mass and the canonization of 10 men and women today on May 15th, 2022.

The follow is a brief overview of our new saints from St. Louis Review and CNS:

• Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, an Indian layman and father who was born to an upper-caste Hindu family in 1712 and converted to Christianity in 1745. The Vatican said his refusal to participate in Hindu ceremonies and his preaching about “the equality of all people,” denying the Hindu caste system, led to his arrest, torture and his death in 1752.

• Blessed César de Bus, the France-born founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a religious congregation dedicated to education, pastoral ministry and catechesis. Born in 1544, he enjoyed life and parties until he had a conversion experience in his early 30s and began dedicating his life to prayer and helping the poor. Ordained to the priesthood in 1582, he was a pioneer in educating the laity in the faith, using illustrations he painted himself and songs and poetry he wrote. He died in 1607.

• Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo, an Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor. Born in 1827, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1850. The Vatican biography said, “At that time there was an abundance of clergy and, like the majority of priests from wealthy families who stayed at home and generously dedicated themselves to good works, Don Luigi chose to devote himself to young people” at an oratory in a poor neighborhood. He opened a school that offered evening classes in reading and writing to men and boys before opening a separate oratory for girls and founding the Sisters of the Poor to run it.

• Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian who, on the day of his ordination to the priesthood in 1913, vowed to establish a religious order dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but his first attempt was stopped by his bishop. Eventually, though, he founded the Society of Divine Vocations for men and the Vocationist Sisters.

• Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858. He strayed from the faith during his adolescence, but during a trip to Morocco, he saw how devoted Muslims were to their faith, which inspired him to return to the Church and, eventually, to join the Trappists. After living in monasteries in France and in Syria, he sought an even more austere life as a hermit. Ordained to the priesthood in 1901, he lived among the poor and finally settled in Tamanrasset, Algeria. In 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders. His writings inspired the foundation, after his death, of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus.

• Blessed Anna Maria Rubatto, founder of the order now known as the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto, was born in Carmagnola, Italy, in 1844 and died in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1904.

• Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family. Born in 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and needy as well as assisting the sick and the elderly. She died in 1934.

• Blessed Titus Brandsma was born in Oegeklooster, Netherlands, in 1881 and entered the Carmelites in 1898. Ordained in 1905, he was sent to Rome for further studies and, while there, became a correspondent for several Dutch newspapers and magazines. When he returned home, he founded the magazine Karmelrozen and, in 1935, was named chaplain to the Dutch Catholic journalists’ association. During World War II, he was arrested and sent to Dachau for treason after defending Jews and encouraging Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda. He was killed with a lethal injection in 1942 at the age of 61 and cremated at the camp.

• Blessed Marie Rivier, a Frenchwoman who founded the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in 1796 during the time of the French Revolution, when many Catholic convents were closed and religious activities were outlawed. She was born in 1768 and died in 1838.

• Blessed Carolina Santocanale, also known as Blessed Mary of Jesus, an Italian nun born in 1852, who founded the Congregation of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes. She died in Palermo in 1923.

May all these newly canonized saints, pray for us!

Categories
Lent

Eating Meat This Friday Will Make You Holier

Tom Nash – Catholic Answers

Closing up our celebrations on Easter Sunday misses an important liturgical truth: the Easter season lasts for fifty days, and the first eight of those days, the Easter octave, are so important that the Church directs that we feast for the whole week—even on Friday!

Each day within the eight-day celebration of the Easter octave is a solemnity, the Church’s highest class of feast. This means Catholics must shift their thinking when it comes to the usual Friday penance. Whereas the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat, fast, or substitute some other penance on Fridays for almost the entire year, all of these practices are contrary to Church discipline when it comes to the celebratory spirit of the Easter octave!

The octave of Easter, by the way, is not the only octave in the liturgical calendar. Historically, there were several, including the octaves of Christmas, Epiphany, and Pentecost. Since 1969, only the octaves of Easter and Christmas remain. Although the Christmas octave is also a time of joyous celebration, it’s worth knowing that, unlike in Easter, the Friday of that octave retains its penitential character.

What makes Easter and the Easter octave—and Sundays in general, for that matter—so special? Easter annually commemorates Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. Thus, Easter is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides, the “feast of feasts” and the “solemnity of solemnities.” In addition, Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week” (John 20:1)—that is, on Sunday. Consequently, while most Sundays are not solemnities, Sundays in general are still considered on par with solemnities. In one sense, Sundays even transcend solemnities. Why? Because they are “little Easters” that commemorate the day on which Jesus rose from the dead. That is why every Sunday is a holy day of obligation that requires our participation in Mass, whereas many solemnities, including six of the eight days of the Easter octave, have no obligation.

The Church’s discipline that we should feast on a Friday—where else but Catholicism can you find discipline and feast in the same sentence?—is a wonderful reminder that we are ultimately made for celebration in our risen Lord Jesus Christ, and that suffering can be redemptive, not pointless (see 2 Cor. 12:8–10). Every penance, every sacrifice, every moment of carrying our cross (Luke 11:23–24) is ordered so we can participate—and participate well—in the life of our risen Lord, both here on earth and in the hereafter. So Lent is ordered toward Easter, Good Friday toward Easter Sunday, and our lives in general as the Church Militant in the temporal world toward our participation in the Church Triumphant in heavenly glory.

After a Lent full of redemptive suffering, we should be ready to feast for eight straight days, as is proper for the Easter octave. And if you want to get your children more interested in God and the Church, eight consecutive days of special meals, desserts, movies (for example, Jesus of Nazareth), etc. are guaranteed to foster their favorable attention. Participating in Mass on at least one day from Easter Monday through Easter Saturday is highly recommended, or at least reading the daily Mass readings at your festive family meals. And the Lenten-Easter journey can also demonstrate that the Church’s challenging moral teachings are not infringements on our freedom, but rather doctrines that liberate through genuine, disciplined love when patiently and joyfully embraced.

Read the full article on Catholic.com

Categories
Lent

Holy Thursday – Love One Another To Be Happy

Bishop Robert Barron – dailycatholicgospel.com

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. He is giving them a visual proclamation of his new commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

When we accept this commandment, we walk the path of joy. When we internalize this law, we become happy.
And so the paradox: happiness is never a function of filling oneself up; it is a wonderful function of giving oneself away.

When the divine grace enters one’s life (and everything we have is the result of divine grace), the task is to contrive a way to make it a gift. In a sense, the divine life—which exists only in gift form—can be “had” only on the fly.

Notice please that we are to love with a properly divine love: “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” Radical, radical, radical. Complete, excessive, over-the-top.

For more reflections like this, sign-up to receive daily gospel reflections in your email inbox at dailycatholicgospel.com

Read today’s Gospel (John 13:1-15)

Categories
Prayer

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

About the Angelus prayer (from Catholic.com):
The Angelus is traditionally offered at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. every day. It is one of the simplest yet most profound prayers in the Church: daily recalling to our minds that universe-shaking moment when the omnipotent, eternal God, through the consent of a teenage girl, willed himself to become a human embryo. It is so immense and absolute an idea that the very words almost resist being typed.
By praying the Angelus, boldly repeating the same words that set our salvation in motion even as we had just been eating or playing golf or watching TV, we reflect and re-present the Incarnation’s radical parameters. A little over 2,000 years ago in ancient Judea, the world was just going about its business when suddenly the King of the world burst into it and nothing was ever the same. Yet the world continued on its course, watching and waiting for the revelation of the gospel (in Christ’s ministry, now past) and the glory of the kingdom (in his Second Coming, still future). In the Angelus we interrupt our business to recognize the importance of that moment, then we, too, go back to the mundane labors and pleasures that make up regular life, watching and waiting for Christ to complete his work in us.

This prayer originated in the 12th century, but its present form was evolved in the 16th century. More information about it here at ourcatholicprayers.com

Categories
Lent

Ash Wednesday

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: “Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”
The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense.
Catholic Encyclopedia (Thurston, Herbert)

CODE OF CANON LAW
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

The formula for fasting is to only have two small meals and then one regular-sized meal that’s no larger than both those small meals put together.

Fasting isn’t meant to be very difficult, and the purpose isn’t for one to starve. What’s difficult is this is a fast day whether we like it or not. This is a day when we’re called to eat less. We’re called to act differently, whether we like it or not.

The same thing is true when it comes to Mass every Sunday and Holy days of obligation. It’s a thing that we’re called to do whether we like it or not.

Here’s why that’s so good:

What is love? Love is willing the good of the other. It’s willing or choosing the good of the other, so we’re called to love our neighbor, and we’re called to love the people in our families. We’re simply called to love others.
How do you love God? Love is willing the good of the other, so you’re typically providing for something they lack, or you’re giving them something they don’t have. But when it comes to God, He has everything.
How we can love God is basically through three ways:
– We can love God through giving Him glory. By praising Him, by giving Him thanksgiving, or by worshiping Him.
– We love God by serving our neighbor.
We love God through obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” We show our love by saying yes to God. Why? Because God has everything in the world, He has everything in the universe, except for one thing, and the one thing God doesn’t have is your heart.
When we say yes to His will, we’re giving Him our heart.
When we say yes to His law, we’re giving Him our heart.

It’s not about how hard the fast is, it’s about us doing this because we’re asked to do it. When it comes to going to Mass, it’s about going there because we’re asked to go there.
The heart of every sin is not caring what God wants and just doing what we want to do.

On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, God’s call for us is to fast and to abstain from meat. He asks us through His Scripture and through His Church. When we say yes to this, we’re saying yes to him, and being obedient is an ultimate expression of our love.

This Lent, what you and I are called to do, is simply obey God’s commands. Why? Because we want to show our love to Him.

Categories
Apologetics

Why Jesus Died for Our Sins Instead of Just Saying, “You’re Forgiven”

Highlights from Trent Horn – Catholic Answers

Satisfaction theory: Christ’s death on the cross is not a punishment as if he were a bad person, but it is a sacrifice and a reflection of him as a good person. Jesus did not HAVE to be crucified. Instead, Christ wanted to offer himself to the Father as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of love to demonstrate his love for humanity and desire for the sins of humanity to be forgiven.

What we would say, then, is that rather than Jesus being punished with all of our sins and that’s why our sins go away, rather we would say that Jesus’s death on the cross is so good, it’s so meritorious, it’s of infinite value, because Jesus is God and man—He’s divine, so what he offers the Father in that act is of infinite value, because He’s divine—that it outweighs the harm caused by our sins. It outweighs the damage, the punishment due. Imagine balancing the scales of justice, that when you have our sins put the scales one way, Christ’s sacrifice punches the scales infinitely in the other direction.

And he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

(1 John 2:2)

John says that Christ’s propitiation, or sacrifice, not just for our sins or the sins of believers, but for the sins of the whole world. Christ’s death on the cross was so good that it’s superabundant. More grace was merited in Christ’s death on the cross than would ever be necessary to atone for the sins of humanity. There’s more than necessary. Now, that doesn’t mean everybody’s going to heaven, it just means there’s more than necessary.

For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?

(Hebrews 10:26-29)

What can stop that grace is you choosing to not allow it to be applied to your life, or rejecting it later. Hebrews 10 says he who goes on sinning deliberately, for him “no sacrifice for sins remains.” The sacrifice of love outweighs our sins. It is more good than how bad our sins are, and we choose to let Christ apply that to our souls by receiving him primarily in baptism.

Jesus didn’t HAVE to do that, why? Aquinas offered several reasons. One of them that sticks out to me is that it’s a visceral reminder of God’s love for us. Why did God ask the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices? He didn’t HAVE to do that.

As human beings, ritual helps us…sometimes we understand things not just through what we are told, but through what we do. So offering your lambs and your goats and the animals you’d really like to eat, and killing them and giving them to God is a way to reinforce “Hey, God is more important than your lamb, your goat, your hut, your tent, your tabernacle—he’s more important than anything. So Jesus dying on the cross shows us that God loves us; a visceral, stark, and graphic reminder of how much God loves us and is willing to give of himself for us. It’s the supreme demonstration of Christ’s sacrificial love. As Jesus says of the Greek love “agape,” that no man has greater love than he who would lay down his life for a friend. It’s that stark demonstration of God’s love for us.

The suffering and death of Jesus does not mean that the Father poured out his wrath on the Son and punished him for our crimes because it doesn’t make sense to punish an innocent person for somebody else’s crimes.
Read Jimmy Akin’s article, “Did God Punish Jesus on the Cross?” to learn more about this subject.

A caller asks Trent Horn, Catholic Answers Apologist, why Jesus had to die for our sins instead of simply forgiving us. Was it a choice that God made or was Jesus’s death on a cross mandatory for our salvation?
Categories
Variety

Advent Season Resources

The exhortation to be watchful resounds many times in the liturgy, especially in Advent, a season of preparation not only for Christmas, but also for Christ’s definitive and glorious coming at the end of time. It therefore has a distinctly eschatological meaning and invites the believer to spend every day and every moment in the presence of the One ‘who is and who was and who is come,’ to whom the future of the world and of man belongs.

St. Pope John Paul II

Essentials

Give alms – Food basket donations, clothing donations, monetary donations to the Church and trusted charity organizations, volunteering your time to those who are in need, are needed all year long, but Advent is a good time to start. Praying for others is a very important way to help others too, and everyone can do it.

Home Advent Wreath – Light a candle each week during Advent leading up to Christmas Day. Weekly prayers are available here from Dynamic Catholic.

Arrange a Nativity Scene – Having a Nativity scene in your home can be a helpful reminder for you to reflect on the birth of Jesus. If possible, set up an outdoor Nativity scene in front of your home for people walking by to see.

Pray the Rosary – Praying the Rosary, especially the Joyful Mysteries, can help draw you closer to Jesus through Mary. See a Rosary Guide here.

Fast – Fasting is not just for lent, it is a great way to remind us of our need for God. It can be a great thing to do during Advent as we prepare for Christmas

Advent Music

Videos

Other Advent Activities

Advent Preparation with St. JosephClick here for a list of videos and resources from Ascension Press for a meditation and discussion on the Nativity through the eyes of St. Joseph.

Daily Gospel ReflectionsSign up for Bishop Barron’s daily email reflections during Advent from Word on Fire.

Family ActivitiesClick here to see a list of activities from Loyola Press for all age groups.