Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is but a week away. It is time to prepare for the 40 days of lent. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for His earthly ministry, so we spend 40 days remembering what He did for us on the cross. He took the punishment we deserved for our sin and took it upon Himself.

Don't forget to go to Mass. Don't forget to decide what you will give up as a sacrifice for Christ. It is one of the most beautiful times in the Church calendar. Don't forget.

More later...

Spread the Stupidity

A friend sent this to me via email and I thought it hilarious.

Only in America drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

Only in America we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America we buy hot dogs in packages often and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.

Only in America they have drive-up ATM machines


Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin ?

Why women can't put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?

Why is "abbreviated" such a long word?

Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?

If flying is so safe,why do they call the airport the terminal?

I add: Why do we park on a driveway but drive on a parkway?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

St. Gregory Nazianzen - Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church

This except from a sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (Oratio 39 in Sancta Lumina, 14-16, 20: PG 36, 350-351, 354, 358-359) is used as the reading for the Feast of Baptism of the Lord. Here Gregory, one of the greatest preachers of the Early Church, points out that Christ was baptized not for His sake but for ours, sanctifying the waters of baptism for all generations to come and manifesting the the Trinity through the Spirit who comes to rest on him in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father that resounds from heaven.

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with Him, and rise with Him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps He comes to sanctify His baptiser; certainly He comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; He who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptised by You. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the Firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of Him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of Him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by You: we should also add, “and for You”, for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of His feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with Him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to Him as to an equal, bearing witness to His Godhead. A voice bears witness to Him from heaven, His place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is One with God.

Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom His every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of Him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received - though not in its fullness - a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Baptism of the Lord, Sunday Jan. 13, 2008

Baptism of the Son of God
by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D., Catholic Author and Speaker

The Jews were absolutely unique in the Ancient world. Not only did their religion forbid them to worship gods other than the Lord, but their prophets actually taught that the gods of the nations were mere figments of the imagination. They did not exist at all.

This seemed odd to the Greeks and Romans who not only had gods of their own, but gladly added others to their pantheon as they made their acquaintance through commerce and conquest. The exclusivist mentality of the Jews struck them as very narrow-minded indeed.

But devout Jews in the time of Jesus could care less. “Monotheism” was their distinctive hallmark and was ingrained in them from cradle to grave. They recited several times a day the verses of Deut 6:4-6 “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.”

So it should come as no surprise that the notion of Jesus as “Son of God” was a bit hard to take. John’s Gospel tells us this claim to divine son-ship was one of the main reasons for Jesus’ crucifixion. Hundreds of years later, Constantine had to call the first Ecumenical Council to reaffirm that Jesus was God, equal in glory and Majesty to the Father, in the face of heretical protests. Fifty years later yet another Council was called to definitively affirm the same thing about the Holy Spirit.

To this day, people from Da Vinci Code fans to Jehovah’s Witnesses ridicule the doctrine of the Trinity, alleging it was invented by Constantine.

But a close reading of the Scriptures shows that the Trinity was revealed when Jesus met his cousin in the wilderness. While John baptizes his superior, the voice of the Father resounds over the waters: “This is my beloved Son on whom my favor rests.” At that very moment, the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove. Here, for a brief instant, we glimpse the mystery of One God in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This momentary appearance of Jesus as the Son of the Father, anointed with the Spirit, is an Epiphany. In fact, in the Christian East, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the Epiphany are one in the same.

It is no accident that this revelation of the Trinity happened at the moment of Christ’s baptism. For Christian baptism, here instituted by Christ, is essentially different than the baptism of John. The Baptist preached cleansing from past sins and a change of lifestyle. Christian baptism certainly involves this, but accomplishes much more. It joins us to Jesus, as Savior and Lord, and connects us with the power of his death and resurrection. But since in baptism we become one with Jesus, members of his body, all that is His becomes ours. His Father now becomes our Father, and His Holy Spirit now takes up residence within us. Baptism does not just wash away our sins so that we can escape the fires of hell. No, it establishes an intimate relationship between us and the three persons of the Trinity. God is no longer a stern monarch, but our loving Father. God the Son calls us no longer servants but friends. God the Spirit becomes the power within us to make us new people and bring us to the fullness of joy.

The fact that baptism takes place through water is no accident either. Water cleanses, true. But it is also the symbol of birth. Are we not carried in water for nine months in our mothers' wombs? In baptism, we emerge from the waters of the Church’s womb to take up a new kind of life, a holy adventure that opens out into eternity!

That’s why when Jesus commands the apostles to baptize in Matthew 28:19 he commands them to do so not just in his own name, but in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And every time we make the sign of the cross, first impressed into our foreheads at our baptism, we recall not only this command, but that wonderful Epiphany when the Trinity was first manifested at the banks of the Jordan.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.

However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.

You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.

You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

Mary, Model of Faith

Model of Faith and First Believer
by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages. But what is beatitude, anyway? In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.

If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.” According to Matthew you’d be right, but not according to Luke. At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit. Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Lk 1: 45).

Is Marian devotion important in Christian life? This has been a bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants for nearly 500 years.

Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke. First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:29). Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.” Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

But it is Elizabeth’s final words to Mary that hold the key to understanding why she is she is to honored, namely, her faith.

One of the battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Faith Alone!” One key conviction that united the many disparate strands of the Reformation was that it is impossible to earn God’s favor by our good works, but rather we receive his love as a pure gift, a grace, through faith.

Now consider Mary. Did she criss-cross the Mediterranean planting Churches like Paul? Did she give eloquent sermons like Stephen (Acts 7). Did she govern the Church like Peter? No. Her claim to fame is that she simply said yes to God. She believed He could do as he said and would do as He said.

But true faith is not just intellectual conviction that God exists or that He can do thus and such. Faith involves entrusting oneself, abandoning oneself to God, willing to submit to his will. That’s why Paul talks about “the obedience of faith” (Ro 16:26). She surrendered her plan for her life, and yielded to God’s plan. And she did this not once, but again and again, even when he left her to begin his public ministry. And when that ministry led to the horror of Calvary, her faith stood its ground at the foot of the cross.

So Catholics honor Mary for being the perfect example of the greatest Protestant virtue. Ironic isn’t it? And the deepest meaning of that disputed doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, is that it was the grace of God working mysteriously from the moment of conception that made possible Mary’s exemplary life of faith. Even her faith is a gift of His grace. It’s all grace, according to Catholic doctrine.

Mary, of course, knew this. That’s why she responded to Elizabeth’s praise with the humble, exuberant prayer known as the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She is like the crystal-clear pool that reflects the suns rays back to the heavens. So no one needs to fear that honor given her will detract from the majesty of Her divine Son. She deflects all the praise given her right back to God, the source of her greatness.

So the answer is that Marian devotion is necessary in Christian life. But what is true devotion to Mary according to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council? Not sentimental piety or gullible preoccupation with every rumored apparition. But rather, imitation of her virtues, particularly her faith (Lumen Gentium 67).