Church Life: October 2008 Archives

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There have been more than 40 million abortions in the United States since 1973.

HEART OF JESUS,
formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
have mercy on the nations soaked in the blood of the innocent.

May that vast army of infants slaughtered mercilessly in their mothers' wombs
raise their voices and plead before Thy throne in glory
for an end to the crime of abortion
that has so rightly merited Thy Father's wrath
and caused the nations to become an abomination in His sight.

Do what Thou must, O merciful Heart of Jesus,
to reveal to all the horror of this sin
and to bring us to repentance.

Immaculate Virgin Mary,
thou who didst bear Thy Son for nine months
in the inviolate sanctuary of Thy womb,
intercede for all who, confident in thy maternal protection,
seek to defend the life of unborn children.
Amen.

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Today at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod Assembly by preaching on the Gospel of the 27th Sunday of the Year A, Matthew 21, 33-43.

When God Resorts to Punishment

"This page of the Gospel applies to our own way of thinking and acting; it applies especially to those peoples who have received the proclamation of the Gospel. If we look at history, we are forced to recognize that it is not rare for inconsistent Christians to be cold and rebellious. As a result of this, although God never fails his promise of salvation, he has often had to resort to punishment.

Nations Once Rich in Faith and Vocations

It is spontaneous to think, in this context, of the first proclamation of the Gospel, which gave rise to Christian communities that at first were flourishing, but later disappeared and are now remembered only in the history books. Could not the same thing happen in our time? Nations that at one time were rich in faith and vocations are now losing their identity, under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture.

Man Without God: Unhappy and Alone

There are those who, having decided that 'God is dead', declare themselves 'gods', believing themselves the sole creators of their own destiny and the absolute owners of the world. In casting off God and not awaiting salvation from him, man believes that he can do whatever he likes and set himself up as the sole measure of himself and his action. But when man eliminates God from his horizon, is he truly more happy? Does he truly become more free? When men proclaim themselves the absolute owners of themselves, and the sole masters of creation, can they truly build a society in which freedom, justice, and peace reign? Does it not instead happen - as daily events abundantly demonstrate - that there is the expansion of arbitrary power, egoistic interest, injustice and exploitation, violence in all of its expressions? The result, in the end, is that man finds himself more alone, and society is more divided and confused."

There Will Be Other Peoples Ready to Accept the Faith

But "there is a promise in the words of Jesus: the vineyard will not be destroyed. Although he leaves the unfaithful keepers of the vineyard to their fate, the owner does not abandon his vineyard, and he entrusts it to other servants, who are faithful. This indicates that, if in some regions faith becomes weak to the point of disappearing, there will always be other peoples ready to accept it."

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From the Lineamenta. Read the entire document here.

Mary: Every Believer's Model for Receiving the Word

25. Salvation history has great examples of hearers and evangelizers of the Word of God: Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Sts. Peter and Paul, the other Apostles and the evangelists. In faithfully hearing the Lord's Word and communicating it to others, these people created a space for the Kingdom of God.

From this vantage point, the Virgin Mary assumes a central role as one who lived, in singular fashion, the encounter with the Word of God, who is Jesus himself. She is then a model of every aspect of hearing and proclaiming. Already possessing a familiarity with the Word of God in her intense experience of the Scriptures of the Chosen People, Mary of Nazareth, from the moment of the Annunciation to her presence at the foot of the Cross, and even to her participation at Pentecost, receives the Word in faith, meditates upon it, interiorizes it and intensely lives it (cf. Lk 1:38; 2:19, 51, Acts 17:11)). Because of her uninterrupted response of "yes" to the Word of God, she knows how to take into account what is happening around her and live the necessities of daily life, fully aware that what she receives as a gift from the Son is a gift meant for everyone: in the service of Elizabeth, at Cana and at the foot of the cross (cf. Lk 1:39; Jn 2:1-12; 19: 25-27). Therefore, the words, uttered by Jesus in her presence, are appropriately applied to her as well, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk 8:21). "Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate" (32).

Maria, Virgo Audiens

Mary's way of hearing the Word of God deserves special consideration. The Gospel text, "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19), means that she heard and knew the Scriptures, meditated upon them in her heart in an interior process of maturation, where the mind is not separated from the heart. Mary sought the spiritual sense of the Scriptures and found it, associating it (symallousa) with the written words, the life of Jesus and the moments of discovery in her personal history. Mary is our model not only for receiving the faith which is the Word, but also for studying it. It is not enough for her to receive it. She reflects on it. She not only possesses it, but values it. She not only gives it her assent, but also develops it. In doing so, Mary becomes an example of faith for all of us, from the most simple soul to the most scholarly of the Doctors of the Church, who seek, consider and set forth how to bear witness to the Gospel.

Maria, Virgo Obediens

In receiving the Good News, Mary is the ideal model of the obedience of faith, becoming a living icon of the Church in service to the Word. Isaac of Stella states: "In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary.... The Lord's inheritance is, in a general sense, the Church; in a special sense, Mary; and in an individual sense, the Christian. Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary's womb, he dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church's faith. He will dwell for ever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul (33)". She teaches us not to stand by as idle spectators before the Word of Life, but to become participants, making our own the "here I am" of the prophet (cf. Is 6:8) and allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, who abides in us. She "magnifies" the Lord, discovering in her life the mercy of God, who makes her "blessed," because "she believed that there would be a fulfilment of what had been spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45). St. Ambrose says that every Christian believer conceives and begets the Word of God. According to the flesh, Christ has only one mother; but, according to the faith, everyone gives him birth (34).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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