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June 2019

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred-heartA monumental sculpture of the Sacred Heart surmounts the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Tibidabo, Spain atop a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Jesus' love for us extends to the whole world in self-sacrificing generosity, a model of perfect love.

Can we spare some time with the Sacred Heart in prayer this day to acknowledge his great gifts to us?

St. Cyril of Alexandria

CyrilAs you can see from the sculpture, Cyril brooked no compromise with Nestorius or his views on the nature of Jesus Christ. Although the sculpture suggests it, Cyril did not actually kill Nestorius but the Council of Ephesus affirmed the truth that Mary is properly called the Mother of God and condemned Nestorianism. The Nestorians disputed that Mary, a human, could properly be called the Mother of God, only Mother of Jesus' humanity since it was not inextricably linked to his divinity. In fact, the Council of Chalcedon would later declare that the divinity and humanity of Christ are united indivisibly. 


Nativity of St. John the Baptist

JohnSt. John the Baptist certainly did point The Way, to the Lamb of God, serving a crucial hinge between the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Today the church celebrates his birth with a solemnity. I like this sculpture which shows his seriousness of purpose and his classic gesture of pointing the way to Christ. 


The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today as we pray about the mystical Body of Christ and His Real Presence among us and in the Eucharist, let us consider the spiritual and corporal blessings of human organ donation. The presence of a living portion of us abiding in another and giving them life and health is a spiritual consolation only living organ donors can savor, but a spiritual reality all Catholics who ponder the meaning of Jesus' salvific dwelling with us can appreciate.

Blood and blood components, bone marrow, kidney and in some cases portions of liver can be donated to those in need of them. For some of these donations the risk to the healthy donor is minimal, for others more significant. 

After death, many vital organs can be useful and life saving for others. Tissue donation, however,  is a bit more complicated and to some extent has become overly commercialized, in my opinion, for example by cosmetic companies who manufacture human based material. Donors may use to explore the use to which their tissues may be put. 

Permission for vital organ donation in the case of traumatic death is available for licensed drivers. Health care proxies and advanced directives can also specify organ donations of various kinds.


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

St. Aloysius' youthful zeal for spreading the gospel and his yearning to be closer to God are good examples for the tepid spirituality of many modern Christians. His courageous care for plague victims lead to his own death despite care from his superiors to shield him from the most infectious cases. Even his spiritual director  advised him to not be so strict with his fasting and other ascetic practices. We can still imitate his dedication and effort without following him in exact detail. 

GonzagaIt looks like the elements have taken their toll on the lily he holds.

And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

AppleToday's gospel reading of the Lord's Prayer recalls the words our Savior gave us. Recent discussions swirling around the translations of the Our Father from Greek to other languages have been highlighted by the decision of the French and Italian bishops' conferences to amend the French and Italian translations of the ending of the prayer.

The controversy involves not only the best literal translation from Greek to each language, but the proper idiomatic expressions to use in each language to convey the meaning. 

Pope Francis has been outspoken in support of changing language which can be misunderstood to mean God tempts us to failure but instead does in all in his power to aid our salvation. 

Several arguments for change and against change have been made. The English speaking bishops of the world and the US bishops will take up the matter at a future date.


St. Romuald

Shutterstock_618441725Saint Romuald was a hermit at heart who developed a style of living for monks who sought more solitude than typically afforded by the existing monastic communities.

A unique blend of "living alone with others," his Camaldolese monasteries are composed of monks living in individual, small "rooms" gathered around a communal chapel and refectory. 

Unlike the "cells" in other monasteries, they are not typically located under one roof as, for example, a dormitory, but each has its own small garden enclosed from the others. 

The monks take meals on solemn feasts together, but otherwise eat alone, coming into contact with other monks during the course of any assigned work they share in common. 

They are a potent sign of a needed balance between solitude and community for our own culture and for individual Catholics pursuing a closer prayer relationship with God. 

Lex Talionis Is No Laughing Matter


Here are the talons of an American Eagle, powerful enough to crush a human arm and latch closed in place without any further effort. The lex talionis was the law of the talon, the law of revenge which crushed enemies in vengeful acts of retaliation.

Jesus gives us the law of love in this morning's gospel. Instead of crushing revenge, an outstretched hand of mercy and reconciliation. 


St. Methodius of Constantinople

St. Methodius (different than the Methodius who shares a feast with St. Cyril) was a patriarch of Constantinople who sided against the iconoclasts and so is among the many who fought to continue to adorn places of worship with sacred art and icons. 

In later centuries, some Protestant reformers adopted positions similar to the iconoclasts of old, banning or severely limiting the use of sacred icons or art in churches. Islam and Judaism also prohibit the use of icons and images in worship. 

The Catholic church, deeply sacramental in nature, has embraced the proper use of sacred images and icons as a means of fostering our communion with God and the power of the intercession of the saints.


St. Anthony of Padua

StA modern facial reconstruction of St. Anthony based on his skull.

While he is certainly not the image on generations of holy cards and carved in so many statues, the artist has certainly captured a joyful and peacefully spiritual countenance. This is perhaps fitting for a saint who has enjoyed such popularity among the faithful.

Mary, Mother of the Church

Lippo_memmi _madonna_della_misericordia _Chapel_of_the_Corporal _Duomo _OrvietoThe Monday after Pentecost is designated for the universal celebration of Mary, Mother of the Church. This title honors her pivotal role as a model disciple in prayer at the foot of the cross and at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Let us ask Mary to extend her maternal care to our Church so in need of consolation, healing and renewal.

Mary, Mother of the ChurchOur own, specially commissioned stained glass windows also depicts Mary, Mother of the Church. Mary holding the infant Jesus is surrounded by symbols of the 12 apostles and the four evangelists.