PresentationattheTemple

Here is the scene for this fourth devotion to St. Joseph. It is the time for the purification, Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it was written in the law of the Lord. Simeon is in the Temple when they arrive, he takes the child in his arms, blesses God and proclaims his great canticle. Joseph and Mary marvel at what is said by Simeon. Simeon blesses Mary and further proclaims that the child is “set for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and a sword will pierce through your own heart also.” (see Lk2: 35)

How does St. Joseph comprehend this? This child is the “salvation, the light for the revelation of the Gentiles, the cause of the falling and rising of many.” What can this mean, salvation is for the Jewish people, the chosen race, how can this child be the light for the Gentiles? This is a lot for Joseph to ponder and understand. But then Simeon tells Mary that a sword will pierce her heart. Will Mary be wounded? How will this come about? How can Joseph protect his wife from what must sound like an assault? We can begin to see what more is being asked of St. Joseph. His fear he keeps in his heart, but by his presence, he assures Mary that he will care for her and the child. As he experiences concern for his family, he also knows the joy of the coming salvation just foretold.

I imagine that many of us have been in the position of St. Joseph, standing by a loved one when they receive shocking and disbelieving news. Maybe a diagnosis of cancer or Alzheimer’s, or the loss of a job, or the death of a child – even though we may not be able to protect them from the pain and sorrow, we give them hope. St. Joseph is the sign of the silent, sure, faithful presence of hope.

O protector of Mary, Mother of Jesus, you know the joy of salvation and pain of loving someone who has been given a message of suffering. You take unto yourself her pain and let it be transformed in a visible sign of hope. By your witness and your intercession we ask to also be witnesses of hope for the glory of God. St. Joseph, stand by us on this journey.

Pray for us, blessed St. Joseph,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
In your infinite wisdom and love
you chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven,
particularly as we discern our chosen-ness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We are into our third day of the vigil leading up to Independence Day.  Are we growing weary or seeing our resolve weaken?  Our Lord calls us back to the task at hand with the words from today’s gospel from Matthew:  ‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.” (6:24) There it is; simply put.  We have a choice.

Our hearts say we love God and desire to serve him. Our minds say, but how will I care for myself and my family, how can I obtain what I need? (like health care) We can’t live happy and useful lives if we are internally divided.  Jesus knows our weakness, so he follows this admonition with: ‘therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.’ (6:25) He lovingly assures us that the Father cares for us if we let him.

This does not absolve us of our responsibility to make decisions, to use the gifts he has given us, to work diligently to assure a society of peace, justice, freedom, and prosperity, and to care for what has been placed in our stewardship.  He has given us the charge of caring for his creation and the right use of our gifts, but as we work with him in peace and in unity he will provide what we need.  He does not want us to work in fear and anxiety, which choke off his grace.  Jesus assures us that if we ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things (needs) will be yours as well.’ (cf 6:33)

Let us renew our resolve and be bolstered in spirit; shaking off any weariness or discouragement.  Our religious liberty is God’s gift to us that we may be equipped to seek the kingdom.  We trust in his Providence and commit ourselves to work for justice and in defense of this liberty.

 

Today we pray for Catholic Foster Care and Adoption Services

Saturday June 23 – BVM on Saturday

Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You Who reign over all, for all authority on earth is subject to You! Through the intercession of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, martyrs who did not compromise on their Catholic faith, grant the grace of conversion to those who profess the Catholic faith and yet promote that which is contrary to It through their support of legislation for abortion, same-sex marriage and the loss of Religious Liberty. Help our legislators, O Lord, to grow in humility. Lord Jesus, come reign over us! Amen

 

This morning as I was reflecting on the scripture for today, you came to mind.  I was inspired to write to you as encouragement in the battle that is before us to defend the sacred dignity of the human person, the sacred right of living in accord with one’s formed conscience and the sacred gift of religious liberty.

In today’s Gospel (Mk 2:1-12), four men carried a paralytic to Jesus hoping he would be healed.  Their faith and resulting determination were so strong that they carried him to the roof, removed the tiles and let the paralytic down through the roof into the room where Jesus was.  What faith!  What hope!  What determination!

This Gospel challenges us to be equally faithful, hopeful and determined to bring others to Jesus, to help our neighbors, friends, family and political leaders know the love of Jesus Christ that brings healing and great joy-filled peace.  But this is not enough, for like the four men who brought the paralytic to the home where Jesus was; we are to bring people to the Church.  Jesus created his church upon Peter and entrusted it to him and the other Apostles so that all people will come to know Him there and be united to Him through the sacraments, be incorporated into His Body, receive saving grace and life everlasting.  In His church all live in communion and grow to know Him through the great deposit of faith: the sacred Scripture, sacred Tradition and the teaching of the magisterium of the Church, which is under the authority and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

How is it that we can do this; by boldly and confidently living in the Truth.  Today we hear in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No…but in him it is always Yes.  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.  That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.  But it is God who established us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2Cor 1:18, 19b-22) We have all received this commission in our baptism.  By our baptism, we are consecrated in Christ who is Truth.  We are sealed in Christ and receive the Spirit in our baptism and confirmation.  By living our baptismal consecration faithfully, boldly, and joyfully, it should be our natural desire to bring others to know the love that fills and sustains us.  We possess in this love the great gift of saving hope, which the world desperately needs.  Our desire to share this gift inspires and spurs us on to draw others into his steadfast and healing love and to encounter Truth.  So together we may proclaim with the psalmist today:  “But thou hast upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in thy presence for ever.  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” (Ps 41: 12-13, RSV)

Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Divine Hope, may our Lord bless you with his mercy and bathe you in his hope, that you may be filled with his joy and peace and proclaim his Truth. Amen. Alleluia.

In Christ our Hope,

Sr. Susan Catherine, DDH

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

19 February 2012

Christian Citizenship

January 26, 2012

Sadly, citizens across our nation just commemorated the tragic Supreme Court decision that sanctioned the killing of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society, the unborn. In the 39 years since this decision, over 50 million infant people have been killed and their families’ lives changed forever.

This decision, and the subsequent acts flowing from it, has divided a nation that only half a century ago stood united in the protection and defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not only here but around the globe. Now we have a festering, gaping wound in our country, oozing pus throughout society as seen in the growing national policies that question the value of the lives of the elderly and the handicapped. Our government poured salt into that wound on January 20, when the Department of health and Human Services announced that nearly all employers will be forced to cover drugs and procedures that violate their conscience in their health plans. These include contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients. (More info: see http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/respectlife.htm). This is a direct assault on respect for conscience and religious liberty. As our government sanctions the killing of innocents, it now attacks the very core of the person and the heart of our nation.

St. Peter, in writing to the Gentiles in Asia Minor, called them to be good citizens and thus show themselves to be Christians by the witness of their lives.

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. (1Pet 2:13-17)

At the time of St. Peter’s writing, the leaders and authorities were appointed or usurped authority by military power. But in our country, the authorities and their policies are by our choosing – we elect them, from the White House to city hall. Therefore, our responsibility and duty as Christians is greater than what Peter asked of the Gentiles in the early church. We are all called and will answer for our participation in the political process that defines this nation. This is part of our response in love to Christ’s sending us forth into the world to proclaim His good news.

This duty is not simple or easy; it requires study, discipline, diligence and prayer. It is hard work, but work worthy of the dignity of the human person. We are called to act in conformity with our conscience, to put leaders in place that will uphold the laws of God, the giver of all authority, which our fore fathers acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them..” (Opening paragraph of the Declaration)

To undertake this sacred duty, we have first the responsibility of forming our own moral conscience.

Conscience is the voice inside the heart of every person that calls us to do good and to avoid evil. It is the law of truth present in each heart that aids each person to make prudent decisions congruent with the moral good. A person has integrity when he or she acts in accordance with his or her conscience. Within the conscience, a person judges an action to be good or evil; then, entrusting in hope and the promise of forgiveness, sets about to right their course toward the good. Conscience is the inner core, the seat of truth in each person. Therefore, man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”(Dignitatis Humane, The Declaration on Religious Liberty, 3)

Forming our conscience is a life-long endeavor of studying sacred scripture and the teaching of the Church, of participating in sacred liturgy, of seeking guidance from the wise and learned and of being aware of the church’s collective wisdom on current issues. As Christ sent his disciples out into the world to proclaim the kingdom, so we are sent forth. In our country, this calls us to engage in the political process, to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square and into the political, economic and social policies that define our nation. In doing this, we have an obligation to take into account the moral stance of politicians and other authorities. What is the foundation of the character of the person? What do they allow, what do they promote and encourage, and what do they stand for? Within the judgment of our well-formed conscience, can we support this particular person?

To fulfill this Christian duty, we need to be informed. What are the major issues that call us to take action and to take a stand? Our bishops, in their role of shepherds, have identified some: health care, education, immigration, just economy, debt, jobs (See http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/ and http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/) Most of us would identify the same issues as ones demanding our involvement.

Our voice is critical for the future of our nation and is our mandate from Christ to bring his message into the world. We are a people of Hope, and that Hope is much needed to overcome the discouragement, despair and apathy that takes root when a government sanctions the killing of the most vulnerable and infringes on the right of conscience and religious liberty of each person. Deep in the soul of each person, is the desire to know the face of Truth. With this desire is the freedom and right given by God, not by man, to the life and liberty necessary to seek, to know and to live in Truth. We are called to be people of Truth; loving God and living in his joy; proclaiming life and bringing his hope. By his grace and armed with knowledge, may we boldly undertake our responsibility as Christian citizens.

Our fore fathers had a profound sense of the rights given by God and the citizen’s responsibility in relationship to these rights. They captured that sense in the beginning of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

May the teaching of St. Basil the Great (+379) help us call to mind our sacred dignity and our response to this great goodness: ”

There is one gift that no thoughtful man can pass over in silence. God fashioned man in his own image and likeness: he gave him knowledge of himself; he endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures; he permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth…Nor was he content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination. How, then, shall we repay the Lord for his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires.” (Office of Readings, Tuesday, 3rd week Ordinary Time)

In Christ our Hope,

Sr. Susan Catherine, DDH

25 January 2012

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul