Saturday, August 17, 2013

From today's Spiritual Reading: The Loving Dispensations of Divine Providence and Happiness

1. Nothing happens in this world but by the direction or permission of God.

2. Therefore, when we are robbed of our good name, despoiled of our wealth, abused, or otherwise wronged, we must ascribe it to the will of God. It is His hand that is visiting us; all is the work of His providence.

3. God wills you to be humbled and deprived of temporal goods, that thereby you may become better and more virtuous.

4. We must always discriminate between what God accomplishes through the instrumentality of men and what their own evil will may add thereto.

5. We should rest satisfied that, however hostile or inimical they may be toward us, they are only instruments of salvation in the hands of an All-good, All-wise, All-powerful God.

6. God deals with us in mildness. He takes into consideration the natural character, the talents of each individual.

7. God tries us only that we may attain perfection and this for the holiest and noblest end that can be conceived, His own glory and honor.

8. All things would contribute to our perfection if we corresponded to the intentions of Divine Providence.

9. Tribulations are, indeed, an essential feature in the means that work unto salvation.

10. God intends to fashion us to His own image; therefore, we must passively submit to His skillful hand. Every stroke is a master-touch toward our sanctification.

11. Perfection consists in nothing else than in conformity to the will of God. The more fully we submit to the Divine Will the more we advance; when we resist it, we go backward.

12. A soul truly resigned to God is like our Divine Lord, who, though scourged and fastened to the ignominious wood of the cross, yet ceased not to be happy. Immersed as He was in an ocean of suffering, His Sacred Heart still overflowed with infinite joy.

The Way of Interior Peace
Rev. Fr. De Lehen, SJ

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the Baptism of the Lord (Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message)

"May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, Rediscover the Beauty of being Reborn from Above"

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Sunday after Epiphany we conclude the liturgical season of Christmas: a time of light, the light of Christ that, as the new sun that appears on the horizon of humanity, disperses the darkness of evil and ignorance. We celebrate today the feast of the Baptism of Jesus: that Child, son of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his birth, we see today as an adult immersing himself in the waters of the Jordan River, and in this way sanctifying all water and the whole cosmos, as the Eastern tradition emphasizes. But why did Jesus, in whom there was no shadow of sin have himself baptized by John? Why did he wish to perform that gesture of repentance and conversion together with many others who wanted to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah? That gesture, which marks the beginning of Christ’s public life, is situated in the same line as the Incarnation, of God’s descent from the highest heaven to the abyss of hell (“inferi”). The meaning of this movement of divine abasement is summed up in a single word: love, which is the very name of God. The apostle John writes: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). This is why the first act of Jesus was to receive the baptism of John, who, when he saw him coming, said: “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

The evangelist Luke writes that while Jesus, after receiving the baptism, “was in prayer, the heavens opened and there descended upon him the Holy Spirit in bodily form, as a dove, and there came a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved: in you I am well-pleased” (3:21-22). This Jesus is the Son of God, who is totally immersed in the Father’s will of love. This Jesus is he who will die upon the cross and rise up by the power of the same Spirit that now comes to rest upon him and consecrates him. This Jesus is the new man who wishes to live as a son of God, that is, in love; he is the man who, in the face of the evil of the world, chooses the path of humility and responsibility, chooses not to save himself but to offer his life for truth and for justice. Being Christians means living in this way, but this way of life brings a rebirth: being reborn from above, from God, by Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism that Christ gave to the Church to regenerate men to new life. And ancient text attributed to St. Hippolytus: “Whoever enters this bath of regeneration, renounces the devil and aligns himself with Christ, renounces the enemy and recognizes that Christ is God, puts off slavery and puts on the filial adoption” (Sermon for Epiphany, 10: PG, 10 862).

Following tradition, this morning I had the joy of baptizing a large group of children, who were born in the last 3 or 4 months. At this time I would like to extend my prayer and my benediction to all newborns; but above all I would like to invite everyone to recall their baptism, that spiritual rebirth that opened for us to the path of eternal life. May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, rediscover the beauty of being reborn from above, from the love of God, and live as a child of God.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on the Feast of the Lord's Baptism

Dear brothers and sisters!

The joy that flowed from the celebration of Christmas finds its fulfillment today in the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. For us who are gathered together here there is a further reason for this joy. In the sacrament of Baptism that I will soon administer to these newborns there is in fact manifested the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit who, enriching the Church with new children, vivifies her and makes her grow and we cannot help but rejoice over this. I would like to address a special greeting to you, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers, who are witnessing to your faith today, asking for Baptism for these children, so that they might be begotten in the new life in Christ and become a part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of the baptism of Jesus that we heard today in the reading from St. Luke, displays the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to follow the Father’s plan, to be obedient to his will of love for man in all things, to the point of the sacrifice on the cross. Now an adult, Jesus initiates his public ministry, traveling to the Jordan River to receive a baptism of repentance and conversion from John. There occurs here something that might seem paradoxical in our eyes. Does Jesus need to repent and convert? Certainly not. And yet he who is without sin places himself among sinners to be baptized, to perform this gesture of repentance; the Holy One of God joins with those who recognize their need of forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion, that is, the grace to return to him with all their heart, to be completely his. Jesus wishes to place himself among sinners, making himself solidary with them, expressing God’s nearness. Jesus shows himself to be solidary with us, with our effort to convert, to leave our egoism behind, to turn from our sins, to tell us that if we accept him in our lives he is able to lift us back up and lead us to the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to say, a simple exercise of the mind and will. Jesus has truly immersed himself in our human condition, he lived it through and through, except for sin, and is able to understand weakness and frailty. For this reason he has compassion, chooses to “suffer with” men, to make himself a penitent with us. The work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish is this: the divine mission heals those who are wounded and to care for the sick, to take the sin of the world upon himself.

What happens in the moment that Jesus has himself baptized by John? With this act of humble love on the part of the Son of God the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifest as a dove, while a voice from on high expresses the Father’s pleasure, who points to his only begotten Son, the Beloved. This is an authentic manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity, which witnesses to Jesus’ divinity, his being the promised Messiah, he whom God sent to free his people so that they might be saved (cf. Isaiah 40:2). In this way the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the first reading is realized: the Lord God comes with power to destroy the works of sin and his arm exercises dominion to disarm the Evil One; but let us remember that this arm is the arm stretched out upon the cross and that Jesus’ power is the power of him who suffers for us: this is the power of God, different from the power of the world; in this way God comes to destroy sin. Jesus truly acts as the Good Shepherd who feeds the flock and gathers it together that it not be scattered (cf. Isaiah 40:10-11), and he offers his life itself so that it have life. It is through Jesus’ redemptive death that man is freed from the reign of sin and is reconciled with the Father; it is through his resurrection that man is saved from eternal death and is made victorious over the Evil One.

Dear brothers and sisters, what occurs in the Baptism that in a few moments I will administer to your children? It is this: they will be forever united in a profound way with Jesus, in the mystery of this power of his that is in the mystery of his death, which is the font of life, to participate in his resurrection, to be reborn in a new life. This is the wonder that today is repeated also for your children: receiving Baptism they are reborn as children of God, participants in the filial relation of Jesus with the Father, able to turn toward God calling him “Abbà, Father” with complete confidence. Upon your children too the heavens have opened, and God says: these are my children, children in whom I am pleased. Inserted in this relation and liberated from original sin, they become members of the one body that is the Church and are now able to live in the fullness of their vocation to sanctity so as to have the possibility of eternal life, obtained for us by Jesus’ resurrection.

Dear parents, in asking for Baptism for your children you manifest and witness to your faith, the joy of being Christians and of belonging to the Church. It is the joy that flows from the awareness of having received a great gift from God, precisely the faith, a gift that none of us was able to merit, but that was given to us gratuitously and to which we responded with our “yes.” It is the joy of recognizing ourselves as children of God, to find ourselves entrusted into his hands, to feel ourselves welcomed in the embrace of love, in the same way that a mother holds and embraces her child. This joy, which orients the journey of every Christian, is based on a personal relationship with Jesus, a relationship that orients the whole of human existence. He is in fact the meaning of our lives, he upon whom it is good to fix our gaze, to be enlightened by his truth and be able to live his fullness. The journey of faith that today begins for these children is thus founded on a certainty, the experience that there is nothing greater than knowing Christ and communicating friendship with him to others; only in this friendship is there really disclosed the extraordinary possibilities of the human condition and can we experience that which is beautiful and that which frees (cf. Homily for the beginning of the pontificate, April 24, 2005). Those who have had this experience are not willing to give up their faith for anything in the world.

You, dear godfathers and godmothers, have the important task of supporting and helping the parents in the work of education, assisting them in the transmission of the truths of the faith and in witnessing to the values of the Gospel, in making these children grow in an ever deeper friendship with the Lord. Always know how to give them your good example through the exercise of the Christian virtues. It is not easy to manifest openly and without compromises what we believe, especially in the context in which we live, faced with a society that often considers those live their faith in Jesus unfashionable and out of date. On account of the wave of this mentality, there may also be among Christians the danger of understanding this relationship with Jesus as limiting, as something that is harmful to one’s self-realization; “God is seen as the limit on our freedom, a limit that must be eliminated so that man might be completely himself” (“Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives,” 101 [Italian edition]). But this is not so! It is clear that such a vision does not understand anything of man’s relationship with God because precisely as one progresses in the journey of faith, we grasp how Jesus exercises the liberating love of God upon us, which draws us out of our egoism, from our being closed in on ourselves, to lead us to a full life in communion with God and others. “‘God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John4:16). These words from theFirst Letter of Johnexpress with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny” (“Deus caritas est,” 1).

The water with which these children will be signed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, will immerse them in that “font” of life that is God himself and makes them his true children. And the seed of the theological virtues, infused by God, faith, hope, and charity, a seed that today is placed in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, must always be cared for by the Word of God and the Sacraments, so that these Christian virtues might grow and reach maturity to make each of them a true witness to the Lord. As we invoke the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon these little ones, we entrust them to the protection of the Holy Virgin; may she guard them always with her maternal presence and accompany them in every moment of their life. Amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feast of the Lord's Baptism

119. Closely connected with the salvific events of the Epiphany are the mysteries of the Baptism of the Lord and the manifestation of his glory at the marriage feast of Cana.

Christmastide closes with the Baptism of the Lord. Only in recent times has the feast been rehabilitated, and hence has not given rise to any particular displays of popular piety. However, the feast presents an excellent opportunity for the faithful to be reminded of their rebirth as children of God in Baptism. The rite of asperges could be opportunely used at all Masses on this day, and homilies could well concentrate on the symbols associated with Baptism.

LITURGICAL YEAR: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


Christ is illumined, let us shine forth with him; Christ is baptized, let us descend with him, that we may also ascend with him. 

John baptizes, Jesus comes to him; perhaps to sanctify the Baptist himself, but certainly to bury the whole of the old Adam in the water; and before this and for the sake of this, to sanctify Jordan. As he is Spirit and flesh, so he consecrates us by Spirit and water.

John will not receive him: Jesus contends. I have need to be baptized by you, says the lamp to the Sun, the voice to the Word, the friend to the Bridegroom; he that is above all those who are born of women to him who is the First-born of every creature; he that leaped in the womb to him who was adored in the womb; he who was and is the Forerunner to him who was and is to be manifested. I have need to be baptized by you; add to this and for you; for he that he would be baptized by martyrdom, or, like Peter, that he would be cleansed not only as to his feet.

But further – Jesus goes up out of the water; for with himself he carries up the world and sees the heaven split open which Adam had shut against himself and all his posterity, as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword.

And the Spirit bears witness to his Godhead, for he descends upon One that is like him, as does the Voice from heaven (for he to whom witness is borne comes from thence) and like a dove seen in bodily form it bestows honour on his body, since this is also God by being deified. And moreover, the dove has from distant ages been wont to proclaim the end of the Deluge.

Let us however today venerate the Baptism of Christ, and let us celebrate the feast honourably.

Wash yourselves and keep yourselves clean. God rejoices in nothing so much as in the amendment and salvation of men, on whose behalf is every word and all the sacraments. Be cleansed so that you may be like lights in the world, a life-giving force to all other men, and stand as perfect lights beside that great Light, and learn the mystery of the illumination of heaven, enlightened by the Trinity more purely and clearly, of which even now you are receiving in a measure the One Ray from the one Godhead in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

St Gregory Nazianzen, Or 39, 14-16. 20, from The Divine Office Vol. I

Saturday, January 12, 2013



Calling to mind all that has been accomplished by the Saviour of the human race will be of great profit to us, beloved, if we set ourselves to imitate what we believe and venerate. Even his first moments when the Son of God was born from his virgin mother can further our devotion. For the upright of heart behold in one and the same person both human lowliness and divine majesty. He who is seen in the cradle as a newborn child is proclaimed by heaven and the heavenly hosts as their creator. This child with its tiny body is the lord and ruler of the world. His mother holds in her bosom him whom no limits can contain. But therein lies the healing of our wounds and the reversal of our abasement, for without the union of such diversity humankind could never have been reconciled to God.

It is not without reason that when the brilliance of a new star led the three Magi to worship Jesus they did not see him commanding demons, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk or the dumb to speak, or performing any other act pertaining to divine power. Instead, they saw a child silently resting under his mother’s watchful care – a child who showed no sign of power, but only the great marvel of humility.

So it was that the sight of this holy babe to whom the divine Son of God was united presented our eyes with a teaching that was not yet proclaimed in our ears. For the whole victory of the Saviour by which he overcame the devil and the world was begun in humility and consummated in humility. He began his allotted days under persecution and he ended them under persecution. The child was not without suffering, nor was he who was destined to suffer without the submissiveness of childhood. For by a unique abasement of his majesty the only Son of God freely undertook to be born as a human being and to be put to death by human beings.

If then almighty God has changed our wretched condition into a happy one by the singular grace of his humility, and if he has destroyed death and the author of death by not refusing any of the sufferings inflicted on him by his persecutors but calmly enduring in obedience to the Father the cruelties of those who raged against him, how humble and patient should we not be who never suffer any misfortune without deserving it? Thus the whole practice of Christian wisdom, beloved, consists not in many words, nor in skilful argument, nor in a desire for praise and glory, but in the genuine and voluntary humility which, in preference to any kind of power, our Lord Jesus Christ chose and taught from his mother’s womb to his death upon the cross.

St Leo the Great, In Epiphania Solemnitate sermo VII, 1-3 (SC 22, 276-280), from Word in Season 2