It Is Right and Just

WeeklyMessageHomilist: Fr. Phil Bloom

The First Sunday of Advent,
November 27, 2011

Bottom line: As we begin the season of Advent we ask for the grace to stay alert and watchful. We stand in awe of God’s coming to us – and we give him thanks. It is right and just.

Welcome to Advent – and welcome to the new missal! I would like to begin by practicing the introductory dialogue to the Preface.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

People: It is right and just.

As at the beginning of Mass, we have the apostolic greeting, “The Lord be with you” followed the response, “and with your spirit.” Then the priest says, “Lift up your hearts.” The Latin is “Sursum Corda,” – Hearts on high! In the third exchange, I say “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.” And you respond, “It is right and just.”

This succinct phrase then becomes the subject matter of the Preface. The Preface gives a short declaration about why it is right and just to praise God. For example, this Sunday we hear how God took on the lowliness of our human flesh. It’s like a Redwood being reduced to a tooth pick. In Jesus, God humbled himself (as the Preface states) to open the way to eternal salvation.

The Preface then indicates our response to what God has done: We “watch for that day” as we look forward to the “promise in which now we dare to hope.” The Preface concludes with an invitation to join the angels – the “hosts and Powers of heaven” – in their hymn of glory. We then sign the hymn based on the prophet Isaiah’s vision: “Holy, Holy, Holy…”

Today’s Scripture readings have themes similar to the Preface. Isaiah – the same man who had the vision of the heavenly court – speaks about the distance between God and man. As Isaiah says: He is our father; he forms us like a potter molds clay. We have no righteousness before him. Even our good deeds are like “polluted rages.” Those are hard words, but we need to realize that Isaiah does not say them so we will become discouraged. No, he wants us to experience awe before God – especially considering that he would come to us.

In the second reading St Paul speaks about exactly that: God comes to us in Jesus. Paul asks God for strength so that we will perservere until “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” St. Paul had seen people grow cold and weary. He knew that only by grace can we continue on – right up to “that day.”

Now, St. Paul did not invent the idea of the “day” – the Second Coming. He received his message from Jesus. We can see that in today’s Gospel. Jesus speaks about his return and he tells us, “Be watchful. Be alert.”

So, as we begin the season of Advent we ask for the grace to stay alert and watchful. We stand in awe of God’s coming to us – and we give him thanks. It is right and just. Amen.

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 27, 2011

Why didn’t Jesus tell us the day and the hour of his return?
Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

As we enter upon the season of Advent, the Church with all her children looks to the coming of the Christ. There are, of course, three advents of our Savior: First, when he came as a child (and this is the mystery celebrated on Christmas); second, when we will come at the end of time (and this is the focus of Christ the King and of the first days of Advent); and then a “middle coming”, when he enters the soul by sanctifying grace.

This Sunday’s Gospel focuses on the second coming, the Parousia, the Final Judgment. Our Savior stresses that we do not know the day or hour of his return, and therefore we must watch and pray. Still, we may ask why it was that Jesus didn’t tell us when he would return in glory. Would it not be helpful for us to know the exact time of the judgment?

Advent Reminds us-You Snooze You Lose
Have you ever had one of those days when you just wish God would show up, snap his figures and work miracles? The people of Israel had about 500 years worth days like that, groaning under the oppression of one tyrant after another. The book of Isaiah gives voice to these sentiments: “O that you would rip open the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you!” (Is 63:19).

The problem is that he answered their prayer. He showed up, in person, working miracles beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. But they failed to recognize him. In fact, they crucified him.

Preparations for Advent: It’s Time
As many of you will be certainly aware, the season of Advent is fast upon us, beginning this Saturday evening with First Vespers (with apologies to our Ambrosian readers who, of course, are already in the midst of Advent, being as they have six weeks of Advent rather than four). Of course, with that, that also means we are entering into a time of preparation for the great feast of the Incarnation, not to mention a time rich in customs and traditions.

10 Sneak Previews of the CATHOLICISM Series by Fr. Barron
Haven’t seen all or any of the CATHOLICISM series episodes by Fr. Barron yet? Well here are 10 sneak previews, one from each episode of the series (watch them below).

These previews have been released individually over the past year and I blogged about them each as they came out. But this is a nice post where you can watch all of the preview clips together in one post.

Why did God choose Mary?
As the Blessed Virgin, the true Ark of the Covenant, enters the Temple at the age of three, the heavens rejoice and earth is glad – for the long awaited promise of the Messiah is soon to be fulfilled. Let us enter into a period of contemplation together with our Lady in this season of Advent, may we prepare with her for the coming of Christ our God.

And yet, we ponder, why was it that God chose Our Lady?

The Risk of Creation
“I cannot tell how you came into my womb: for I neither gave you breath nor life, neither was it I that formed the members of every one of you; but doubtless the Creator of the world, Who formed the generation of man, and found out the beginning of all things, will also of His own mercy give you breath and life again.” –II Maccabees 1:22-23

Why did God conjure creation from the still, dark silence? Why does He even now, knowing the torments of this life, continue to draw men into the world, naked and helpless and rotten with sin?

Charity for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Several years back, I ordered some green scapulars from a Catholic apostolate. Upon reception of the package, not only the green scapulars were in the envelope, but a booklet came with it. I was pretty sure I didn’t order any booklets. I looked at the cover, and the title read ‘Read Me or Rue It’ by Fr. Paul Sullivan. Intrigued, I started reading it. It’s a very short booklet, with the latter section for prayers. When I was done reading, I was flabbergasted. I don’t even know if that’s the appropriate word. I was surprised, blown away.

Follow the Saints: Make a Spiritual Communion
Paula Magliocco of Pewaukee, Wis., is a busy mother of three and a Catholic elementary-school teacher. Yet, in spite of her hectic life, she finds time to make a spiritual communion, not just once, but several times throughout the day. Why? Because it’s easy, takes only a moment, and offers benefits beyond compare.

Learning to be Catholic
I think sometimes I take for granted all the tidbits of Catholicism that I know – and not just the facts, doctrines, and teachings but all the little nuances of how to live a Catholic life. This was really made clear when I attended a RCIA class with a good friend who has asked me to be her confirmation sponsor. The topic for the night was Advent and there was a presentation and handouts on how to keep this Catholic season. Some of it seemed so obvious to me and I felt a little silly to realize that not everyone grows up making green playdo rings with purple and pink birthday candles.

The Shushing Tyranny of “Be Nice!”
There is a lot to like about James Martin’s latest book, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. Aside from the amusing anecdotes and laugh-out-loud funny jokes (often ones that fry his own Society of Jesus, to his clear delight), Martin makes a fine intellectual, scriptural, and spiritual endorsement of G.K. Chesterton’s observation that “angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” A faith grounded in gratitude and a wider perspective, we understand, can create a solid tarmac from which we may soar.

Are You Scared of Spirituality?
Why is it that among ‘conservative Catholics’ there seems to be so little interest in spirituality? We’re big on apologetics. We’re big on dogma. We’re big on the moral teaching of the church. We’re big on the rules, the rubrics, the regulations and the routine.

But I think we’re a little bit scared of spirituality. If my hunch is right, then there are some good reasons for it. Over the last fifty years of the revolution in the Catholic Church ‘spirituality’ has developed a bad reputation. Catechesis which should have focused on doctrine focused on ‘relationships’ instead. People substituted sentimentality for spiritual direction and relativity for true religion.

Unless You Become Like This Little Child – What We Can Learn From “Stormin’ James Norman”
Meet James Norman Swender, son of some good friends of ours, born on October 24th, 2011, weighing in at 2.5 pounds and 14 inches in length. James was about 12 weeks premature, and he is currently residing in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Matthew 18 reminds us “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Despite James’ tiny frame, and that he has been on this Earth only about a month, he has a great deal to teach us that will help us on our journey to Heaven.

Scripture says…
“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality; and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God gives you.” – Deuteronomy 16:19-20

The New Roman Missal: The Mystery of Eucharist Union
Beautiful changes have been made to the translation of the prayer that comes shortly before Holy Communion is distributed.

Since Vatican II, the priest has said, “Happy are those who are called to His supper” as he held up the Eucharist. The new translation is more poetic and better fits the solemnity and mystery of the moment. The priest will now proclaim, “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.”

The new words command our attention. They underscore how the Eucharist is no ordinary meal, for they recall a climactic moment in the book of Revelation when Jesus comes to unite Himself to His people in a great heavenly wedding feast: the Supper of the Lamb.

So, you want to become a Doctor of the Church?
Brethren, Peace and Good to you in Jesus’ Name.

I’ve known some people that really like pursuing academic degrees, doctoral and post-doctoral studies, fellowships, etc. The most ambitious may even aim at this “Doctor of the Church” degree, probably granted by the Angelicum or the Gregorian in Rome. Uh, no. Though not unattainable, the requirements are pretty stringent.

The title “Doctor of the Church” is a title that the Church confers to men and women whose teaching present the Catholic Christian faith clearly and beautifully, exerting a great, salutary effect upon the entire Church for generations.

Why Do Catholics Call Priests “Father”?
A common objection to Catholicism is that Catholics ignore the Bible in calling priests Father. After all, in Matthew 23:9, Jesus says, “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”

It seems, on the surface, that Catholics are just violating Scripture wantonly. And really, how hard is it to just call the priest Reverend? But when you start to examine Scripture, you’ll quickly discover that Matthew 23:9 is one of the most misunderstood passages in all of Scripture.

So let me do three things: first, show that men are called “father” throughout the New Testament; second, that “father” is used as an honorific throughout the New Testament; and finally, explain why this is compatible with what Christ is talking about in Matthew 23:9.

It takes courage to stand in front of a firing squad….
…without a sign of fear. In fact, it takes more than courage, it takes above all else, faith. Especially if you stand with your back to a wall after refusing the customary blindfold and proclaim “Viva Cristo Rey!” in ringing tones.

Two seconds later the volley of shots rings out and a martyr’s crown is won in the only way possible, by giving up one’s life for love of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world.

We Cannot Excuse Ourselves
In these difficult times, it can be very challenging to think of others and not just ourselves. Our personal struggles often keep our focus inward and not towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. If these words resonate with you, I would like to provide some encouragement to break out of this inward focus and consider our Christian obligation to love and serve one another.

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