Pastoral Sharings: " Solemnity of Christ"

WeeklyMessageFather Cusick
November 24, 2013
Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The SOLEMNITY OF JESUS CHRIST, UNIVERSAL KING

Ezekiel 34, 11-12. 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15, 20-26. 28; Matthew 25, 31-46

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!
Christ conquers! Christ rules! Christ reigns!
 
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.” (Mt 25) We worship Jesus Christ as Lord and King because he is victorious in the battle over sin and death. In His resurrection, which we celebrate and in which we participate at every Eucharistic Sacrifice, our Lord established His rule over all creation, and overcame in Himself the effects of the sin of Adam. Christ is Lord, for he has conquered what we fear most and have no power against, the cruel and bitter specter of death. We cannot but exult and shout for joy with the knowledge that we can share in His Resurrection. We share in the Resurrection in the first place by meeting Christ in the liturgy, in Word and Sacrament. The Christ we receive in the Eucharist is the Easter Christ, the risen and glorified Christ as he is now victoriously seated at the right hand of the Father in glory.

The lesson of the final judgment in St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, verses thirty-one to forty-six, makes clear that we are to seek out and to meet Christ wherever he may be found, in a particular way in human life in all its stages and conditions. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)

The Lord associates himself in a mysterious way with the poor. We may have great reverence for His true and real presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and are called to love him with our whole heart, mind soul and strength. Yet, we cannot please God or love Him as we ought if we fail to love our neighbor as our self, doing so for love of Christ. The divine love and life poured out abundantly in the Eucharist is given both for love of God and love of neighbor.

The Catechism teaches that the requirement of charity for our neighbor flows from the presence of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit.

‘Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,’ is present in many ways to his Church: (Rom 8:34) in his word, in his Church’s prayer, ‘where two or three are gathered in my name,’ (Mt 18:20) in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, (Mt 25:31-46) in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But ‘he is present…most especially in the Eucharistic species’. (CCC 1373)

Our Lord Jesus has given His Body and Blood to us precisely so that we may overflow with the same love for others that he has first given to us. It is for this reason that he will judge us at the end of the world on the ways in which we have generously and self-sacrificingly offered ourselves for the life of others in imitation of the way in which He gives of His own life unceasingly for His bride, the Church.

It is fashionable today to take up such causes as feeding the hungry, building shelter for the homeless, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty. These are good and necessary, and a sign that Christ is at work among many men and women of good will. There remain, however, the many who are neglected, abandoned, whose lives are threatened. The Christian will be praised for feeding, clothing and helping the poor, for being with the lonely. These are good works and they must be taken up by the Christian community together with all men and women of good will. The Christian, however, is condemned and attacked for recognizing that these works of charity should also be extended to the confused and rejected young mother, to the unborn child, to the terminally ill, and to all those whose lives are determined to be not worth living.
 
The kingdom of Christ, a reign of charity and peace, is for all. The Lord sends us out as his disciples so that all mankind may be brought under his reign in the world. We the baptized are the agents through whom the social kingship of Christ will be realized. Our baptism is our commission and our grace for the apostolate.

Today after Mass, with others or with the whole congregation and with priest or deacon leading, pray together the “Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, in petition that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we “meet Christ in the liturgy” -Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission.)

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 24, 2013

Christ the King
Luke 23:35-43
Gospel Summary

After his arrest, Jesus has been accused before Pilate, the Roman governor, of being opposed to Caesar and of claiming to be the Messiah of God, a king. Now, having been condemned to death under Roman law, Jesus is being crucified along with two criminals. The rulers and the soldiers taunt Jesus and call out that if he is the Messiah and king of the Jews, he should be able to save himself. One of the criminals also reviles Jesus saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other criminal, however, recognizing his own crimes and the goodness of Jesus, says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus responds, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
…more

The Feast of Christ the King
The feast of Jesus Christ the Universal King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and is observed on the last Sunday of the Roman Catholic Liturgical Year. It causes us to meditate on the Second and Final Coming of Christ, the last Judgment, and the end of the world.
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Christ the King: Jesus, Our King
In the second half of the last century, Catholics took a deep look at their faith and at the meaning of being Christian Catholics.  The Church was suffering from those who emphasized the Divinity of Christ to such a degree that His Presence was seen as too great for the ordinary person to tolerate. This was really a heresy.  It removed the possibility for a person to have a personal relationship with the Lord.  That is not in keeping with Scripture, where Jesus calls His disciples and us His friends.
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God a ‘relentless warrior’ for our salvation, says Pope Francis
Preaching his homily during Mass at the chapel of Santa Marta in the Vatican, the Pope stressed God’s unwavering dedication to redeeming mankind.

“When the Lord takes up the defense of his people it is like this: he is a relentless warrior and saves his people,” Pope Francis said Nov. 16.

God “saves (and) renews everything: ‘All creation was made anew in its nature as before.’ ‘The Red Sea became a road without obstacles,’” the Roman Pontiff preached, recounting the first reading, from the book of Wisdom.
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What God Is and Isn’t
The most signal contribution of David Bentley Hart’s new book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (Yale University Press, 2013), is to clarify that serious theists and atheists, though they debate frequently concerning the reality of God, are hardly ever using the word “God” in the same way. This fundamental equivocation contributes massively to the pointlessness and meanness of many of these discussions.

It is not so much that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins disagree with Thomas Aquinas on the existence of God; it is that neither Hitchens nor Dawkins display any real grasp of what Aquinas even means when he speaks of God.
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50 Ways to Talk to God
I know there are people out there–lots of them–who show up Sunday morning and call it good for the week. I know there are people who check Catholic on forms but don’t have any kind of a relationship with Christ. I guess I just figured there was a solid core of believers who were in love with Christ–or at least trying to be.
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Pope prescribes daily rosary for what ails you
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis admitted he wasn’t a pharmacist, but he didn’t hesitate being the spokesman for the heart-healthy benefits of 59 little pills strung together: the rosary.
  
“I want to recommend some medicine for all of you,” the pope said Nov. 17 at the end of his Sunday Angelus address. “It’s a spiritual medicine.”
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God desperately wants to save us
This is primarily a tribute to my friend Tim. Tim died last year just before Christmas, and I’ve been mulling over his death and life ever since.
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10 Things You Need to Know About Advent
Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st.

Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church’s official documents actually say about Advent?

Here are some of the basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent.

Some of the answers are surprising!

Here we go . . .
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A Different Kind of King
From the dawn of civilization, kings have arisen who have dreamed of possessing a world-wide dominion, a universal kingdom that would last forever. Some have come close to conquering much of the known world – Alexander, Genghis Khan, Augustus Caesar, and Adolf Hitler, to name a few. And some kingdoms have lasted a very long time, such as Rome whose Eastern half lingered on for 2000 years.
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Is the fire of purgatory Jesus Christ himself?
The Catholic Church associates the image of fire with the final purification known as purgatory.

Why does it do this?

Is there a scriptural basis for this image?

Also, what kind of fire is this?
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The Cross Leads to Victory
The time is sunset — that dread day when at high noon the sun hid its light at the passing of Light. The holy body that was purpled with blood from the precious wardrobe of His side, was now at death, laid in a stranger’s grave, as at birth it was cradled in a stranger’s cave. The rocks, which but a few hours before were shattered by the dripping of His red blood, now have gained a seeming victory by sealing in death the One who said that from rocks He could raise up children to Abraham.
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The Word of God is not a mere text, He is a person. A meditation on the Personal Relationship we must have with the Word.
Many people think of the Word of God as an “it” when in fact, the Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come merely to give us information and exhortation. He came to give us his very self. He is the “Word made Flesh.”
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No One Sees God
If God exists, why doesn’t he make it more obvious? Why doesn’t he stop more evil, answer more prayers, or perform a steady stream of miracles – or better yet, all of the above? Why all the darkness and silence, especially in a world in such desperate need of clarity and hope?

For atheists and agnostics this is a common enough sentiment; what is striking though is how often holy people have dwelt on these very same questions. In fact, the Bible itself is saturated with a piercing sense of God’s obscurity. How do we make sense of this parallel between belief and unbelief?
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Practical Suggestions for Spiritual Growth
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them sanctifying grace, that is, they were able to partake in the Divine Nature – they had a share of the Divine Life in their souls. They had no right to this grace; it was freely given them by God. They also were granted what is referred to as the preternatural gifts of bodily immortality, integrity and infused knowledge.
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Charity in Praying for the Dead
On Saturday, November 2, we celebrated the feast of All Souls, that special feast in the church calendar in which we commemorate and pray for all of the holy souls in Purgatory. This Catholic feast and the beliefs which undergird it can be repugnant to many non-Catholics, and even ignored or denied by modern day Catholics. (I once heard a Catholic parish catechist claim, “Oh, Purgatory? Well…we just don’t really talk about that any more…”).
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Our Lady of Guadalupe
This past weekend, I was honored to join hundreds of other pastoral leaders from North and South America for a moving Pilgrimage and Encounter at the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

It was a grace for me.  For one, I enjoy visiting any sanctuary where Our Lady has appeared, such as Lourdes, Fatima, or Knock.

Two, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is patroness of all America . . . that’s us!
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QUAERITUR: How to pray a loved one into Heaven.
From a reader:

In your opinion, what is the most efficacious means of praying a loved one into Heaven?  The person is yet living, but not a family member, and a non-practicing Catholic.

First, it shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ll repeat it here: prayer for the dead is efficacious.  God hears our prayers and our prayers are never in vain.  We don’t know for sure the eternal destiny of many who die.  Nevertheless, our prayers and good works for our deceased loved one – and enemies – are in some way helpful for someone.

Second, it shouldn’t have to be said, but why wait to pray for people until after they die?
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Creating a Catholic Home
What does it mean to create a Catholic home?  To some, it primarily has to do with the customs and traditions a family celebrates.  To others, it has to do with the art and sacramentals (e.g., crosses, statues, holy pictures, etc) that adorn the house and remind the family of Christ’s presence in their everyday lives.  Still others might point to the charitable works their family is involved in.   And, of course, it has everything to do with celebrating the sacraments–especially the Eucharist–together and having a prayerful home.  All of these things are absolutely true.  But I believe there is another ingredient that is often overlooked by Catholic families; a Catholic home must, first and foremost, be an intimate and generously loving home.
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Motherhood Is A Full Contact Sport And The Eucharist Is My Spiritual PowerAde
I woke up on the Feast of All Soul’s keenly aware that four out of five children had migrated into my room in the middle of the night.  This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I weren’t weeks away from giving birth and already experiencing severe sleep disruptions.  With each of their noisy entrances, it took me an additional twenty minutes to go back to sleep, only to be interrupted again by another diminutive nighttime visitor.
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Overcoming Bitterness: 5 Steps for Healing the Hurt that Won’t Go Away
No one wants to be bitter.  It sneaks up on us.  Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.    The more we hold onto past hurts the more we become drunk on our pain and the experience can rob us of the joy we can find in anything. 

Bitterness occurs when we feel someone has taken something from us that we are powerless to get back.  We hold on to the hurt in an attempt to remind ourselves and others of the injustice we’ve experienced in the hopes that someone will save us and restore what we’ve lost.
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Sacramentals 101
The Church offers many kinds of sacramentals to assist us on our faith journeys, including sacred objects such as crucifixes, holy water, rosaries, religious medals, relics and statues.

The role of sacramentals is to prepare us to receive “the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1677).

Sacramentals are not to be confused with the sacraments, which confer the grace of the Holy Spirit.
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Is Baptism Really Necessary?
According to 1 Peter 3:21:

“Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

In keeping with this language, the Nicene Creed states:
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The Beautiful Story of how Kirsten Powers Found Jesus. What’s Your Story?Last Week I wrote my testimony of meeting Jesus on a fateful day in November of 1995 (HERE). I have also written of the need that Christians have to better witness in a personal way to the faith, and to the relationship they have with the Lord.

The other day I read a beautiful conversion story, a witness story of a woman I have long admired, Kirsten Powers. She is a Fox News Commentator. And while I do not always agree with her political perspectives, she is a solid journalist, she gives fair consideration to all issues, and is, to my mind, a very classy lady.
…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 24, 2013

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