What’s in a Name?

Fr. John Foley, S. J.

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time,
August 28, 2011

Shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, I read a disturbing article of a young person who was choosing not to be confirmed because she felt the election of Cardinal Ratzinger was a signal that the Church was going backward rather than forward. I found it disturbing because it made me ask “where was her faith?”

The Church is here to help us grow in holiness in life. Christ gave us the Church so that we might come to hear the Good News, so that we would know to call God our Father, so that we would have his Word to ponder and thus come to a better understanding of who God is and who we really are, and so respond to him with faith, hope, and love.

Christ gave us the Pope so that the church would maintain the constant teaching handed down to us by Him and the fullness of that teaching. The Church is not here to salve our conscience or to console us and condone our sinful nature. Our society today has gotten so far away from the truth of the Gospel that we are calling that which is truly good evil, and that which is evil, good. There are many people today, for example, who consider the church’s teaching on chastity and purity as a repression of our natural instinct. Many of our young people today are living together without benefit of marriage, thinking that there is nothing wrong with it, to say nothing of the many Catholics who are using artificial birth control and who think nothing of abortion.

The keys that Jesus gave to Peter are a sign of his authority to teach, bind, and loose, to let in or to shut out. The readings this week help us to see this. In our first reading, God, through Isaiah the prophet, takes the keys from Shebna, strips him of his authority, and gives “Eliakim, son of Hilkah…the keys of the house of David,” the kingdom in other words. And what does God say upon investing Eliakim with this authority: “when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts no one shall open.”

This is the authority Christ has given to Peter and his successors and so we ought to listen when Peter or Pope Benedict XVI speaks, because when he speaks on the matter of morals or faith, it is not so much Peter who is speaking as it is our Lord speaking through him. Christ himself said this in Scripture: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me. And whoever rejects me, rejects the One who sent me.” (Luke 10:16).

I guess I am tired of hearing people say the Church doesn’t know what it is doing or what it is talking about. This is not our Church, it is Christ’s church, and if he wants us to go backward then we should be thankful and go backward, if he wants us to go forward then we will go forward, if he wants us to stay still then we will stay still. When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, he didn’t always go forward, many times they would stop and stay at a particular encampment for a long time, sometimes they would go back towards Egypt, but they followed the Lord to eventually get to the Promised Land.

So, sisters and brothers, we ought to trust that whoever is elected Pope is God’s choice and not simply the choice of some old men, and that he will lead us to the Promised Land of Heaven. God is faithful and he will never abandon the Church that he has built on Peter accepting, and living this will get us through those Pearly Gates. You can bet on it!


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 28, 2011

Peter the Rock – Peter, Satan?
Truth in advertising–after all the glowing reports of the benefits of a product, potential side effects need to be mentioned. Informed consent–before surgery, patients have to be told of all the things that could possibly go wrong. That way, they have the chance to opt out before it’s too late.

As soon had the truth came out at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus was the Messiah, the Lord made clear the unpleasant implications for his followers. When Jews thought of the Messiah in the first century, they thought of God’s anointed, David, gloriously triumphing over the Philistines and just about everyone else. They thought about the peace and prosperity of the empire ruled by Solomon.

Following Jesus Implies Suffering and a Cross
Today’s Gospel from Matthew 16:21-27 presents us with the first prediction of Jesus’ passion. It follows the story told in Mark 8:31-33 and serves as a corrective to an understanding of Jesus’ messiahship as solely one of glory and triumph. Matthew’s account of the first passion prediction is also about the sufferings of the Son of Man.

22nd Sunday: The Spiritual Life–Bursting with Excitement for the Lord
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t hold it in. He was bursting. Jeremiah, the prophet of the first reading, couldn’t control himself. He knew that if he proclaimed the truth burning within him he would be attacked by those who did not believe. They had attacked him before. He had been put into prison. He had been thrown into a cistern. He had been held in stocks. Maybe they would leave him alone if he just kept quiet. But he couldn’t do it. When you really believe in something, you can’t hold it in or you will burst. Jeremiah believed in God. And he had a message. God’s message was burning within him. He couldn’t endure keeping quiet. He had to let it out.

Are you following Jesus?
In today’s gospel, the disciples had to decide all over again: “Is this really what you want? Are you willing to pay the price of discipleship?”

Let’s look carefully at what Jesus said to the disciples in today’s gospel, and what Jesus says to us. DENY YOURSELF – that doesn’t mean what a lot of people think it means. It doesn’t mean to put yourself down, devalue yourself, deny yourself all pleasures and all good experiences in life. No, not that. Jesus said that he came to give us life, not to take it away.

Mass Changes Us
The implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal provides an occasion for all of us to reflect once again on the meaning and central significance of the Mass. As we prepare to welcome the changes that will go into effect on the First Sunday of Advent, it is a time to renew our own understanding and appreciation of the Eucharistic Liturgy.

Magisterium Part 2: A Complex and Diverse Reality
Part 2 of a four part series on the role the magisterium or sacred teaching office of the bishops and pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

If the term “Magisterium” means “teaching office” and refers to the teaching role of the Pope and bishops, where does that leave all the other teachers in the Church–parents, catechists, professors, priests and deacons? The answer is, it leaves them with a lot of work to do!

Why Devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary?
Why do Catholics have devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary? I call this “cordial devotion” (from the Latin cor, cordis meaning “heart”). English words such as “cordially” mean “heartfelt,” and our word “core” meaning “center” also comes from this Latin word.

What Does the Heart Signify?
The human heart is considered to be the symbolic center of the person and as such is signifies the will. When we are excited or scared our heartbeat rises. In times of stress or sorrow, we can feel a pain in our chest.

In Seeking Wisdom, Find Someone Who Has Suffered
Over 22 years ago as I was finishing seminary and about to be ordained my spiritual director gave me some advice on seeking a new spiritual director in my diocese. “Look for some one who has suffered,” He said. At the time I wondered about this but have come to find that it was true.

The Twelve Most Important Things to Know about Angels
1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture.
They are as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity.

2. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you.

The Power of a Father’s Presence
For fatherhood in America, these are the best of times and the worst of times. So says a new Pew Research Center report on fathering trends.

Why is Sunday the Christian Sabbath? (John Paul II)
The Jews by divine mandate rested and worshipped on the seventh day of the week since this is the day on which God “rested” and ceased creating the universe.

When Christ, the King of Creation died and rose on Sunday, He instituted a “new creation.” By rising on the day after the seventh day Sabbath, He fulfilled the promise of the eighth day which had been mystically represented in the Old Testament sacrament of circumcision (Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day).

Don’t just know Christ: Love him
Scripture tells us that after the crushing sadness of the crucifixion, the joy felt by the disciples in recognizing Jesus at Emmaus was intense. But as deep and personal as their joy was, it also compelled them to act. Their joy was alive; it was restless; it made them run back to Jerusalem through the darkness to bring the Good News to other disciples.

VirtuousPla.net, The Social Network for Young Adult Catholics
I’d like to announce a new Catholic website targeted for Young Adults:

VirtuousPla.net will be providing Catholic perspectives on every topic that matters to young adults–life, religion, relationships, and fun.

We have gathered 30 of some of the brightest young adult Catholics in the world that are already providing insightful articles ranging from current events to poetry.

Simply Divine — One Step at a Time
“Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.” –Ecclesiastes 8:1

The Transfiguration is a startling and elusive event. Although only briefly treated in Scripture, it is of utmost importance to Christian spiritual life, for it reveals the divine nature in which we are invited to partake (cf. II Peter 1:4). The Transfiguration is an apocalypse, an unveiling: atop Mount Tabor, the uncreated glory of God burst plainly into creation.

5 Paths to Repentance (by St John Chrysostom)
Here is some great spiritual advice from a doctor of the Catholic Church: it’s the five paths to repentance. It succinct and easily applicable. Please take a minute and read what St John Chrysostom has to say about it:

Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.

Climax of the Cross
Roman crucifixion was a horrendous way to die. It didn’t just bring a criminal to his death, but it did so with the greatest possible pain and humiliation

The last gasp of the Revolution that Failed
So some scholars from the Protestant Churches Nobody Goes to Anymore and a few tired Catholic scholars of the Woodstock Generation have come out with the new Yet Another Version of the Bible. It’s big selling point: Careful Laundering of the Pronoun Formerly Known as ‘He’. So the “Son of Man” becomes the “Human One” and the language of Genesis get pretzylficated into stuff that only a bureaucrat from the World Council of Church would say like, “with the rib taken from the human, the Lord God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being”. Seriously, does anybody on earth talk this way?

Biblical Images of the Church
Today we are going to talk about Biblical symbols that ‘are often used to convey the revelation of the kingdom [of God] and similarly the inner nature of the church.’

These “different images taken either from tending sheep or cultivating the land, from building or even from family life and betrothals, the images are prepared in the books of the Prophets.”

Principled opposition and the Dictatorship of Relativism
Ellen Meade recently wrote an article for the American Thinker entitled: “Why the Right is Wrong on Gay Marriage.” Her caviler “there are bigger fish to fry” approach to same-sex marriage is a growing phenomenon among conservatives, libertarians and Republicans. She said, “It saddens me that Republicans think it’s okay to trample on civil liberties if it’s for the right reasons: gay marriage, FISA, The Patriot Act.” Then she goes on to say, “But, there should be no room in the party for limiting liberty and freedom.” That’s right! Implied in Meade’s comments is that liberty and freedom are absolutes and ends in themselves. It doesn’t matter what you do with such liberty and freedom, as long as you are permitted to do what you want. As such, moral principles are totally arbitrary. If Meade gets her way, two things are bound to emerge with greater force: political despotism and social intolerance.

8 keys to keeping kids Catholic
“I can’t understand it!” she wailed. “I sent her to Catholic school for 12 years and she doesn’t even go to church!”

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