Zeal For Our Own Houses: Lent, Purifications, and Keeping Our Souls Upright

J.M.J.

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My dear friends,

Tomorrow, March 8th, we’ll hear one of the more unsettling Gospel readings of the liturgical cycle. St. John relates the happenings for us (Jn. 2:14-17):

Jesus found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of chords and drove them all out of the temple area, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves He said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a market place.’ His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me.

Jesus-Picture-Driving-Out-The-Money-Changers-And-Merchants-From-The-Temple

The temple referred to here is, of course, a physical building, and Christ here is attempting to cleanse it of those who would use it improperly. But this reading, coming as it does during Lent, that penitential time of the Church’s calendar, makes me think of a second, and much more important, type of temple: human persons.

 I have such a difficult time remembering that my body and soul, really and truly, constitute a temple of God.  Being in God’s grace does not just mean that one is “without mortal sin,” or that one is “kinda, sorta right with God.” Being in the state of grace means the real, genuine, and personal indwelling of God within the soul. Our Lord said to His disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our dwelling with him” (Jn. 14:23). This wasn’t some kind of nice figure of speech that has no real effect on reality—it’s a genuine assurance, a real sign of God’s love for each person individually. The person who follows God is not just given a ticket to heaven when he dies, but rather, he receives the true indwelling of the Three Divine Persons in his soul.

Not only the soul, but the body, too, constitutes a temple. “Do you not know,” St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, bear and glorify God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

“You are not your own.”

It’s hard to remember that, isn’t it?

The passage from John’s Gospel quoted above says that “zeal for God’s house” consumed Our Lord as He drove everyone from the temple. If we, too, human persons, are temples, then what is Lent but a time to drive damaging vices, corruptions, and influences from ourselves? Zeal for the physical temple consumed the Lord Jesus, yet any physical temple is destined for decay.  The human soul, however, is a temple which will last forever, either in heaven or hell, depending on whom we have followed in our time on earth. The human body, too, the temple of the Holy Spirit, will be resurrected at the end of time, to add either to our glory and happiness in heaven with God, or our torment in hell apart from Him.

Part of the idea behind the customary Lenten sacrifices that Catholics take on is that they might be an aid in purifying the soul, quelling vices, and bringing one closer to God. But without a zeal for the soul as God’s temple, they can become an arbitrary chore that might as well not be taken on. Are you performing a sacrifice this Lent out of a sense of obligation, or do you truly want to grow closer to God through this offering? Is there some vice you want to eradicate? Perform your sacrifice with the mind of Christ in this Gospel: get a whip, knock over tables, and drive out that which makes your relationship with God a kind of contract, but not a relationship of personal and genuine love.

Let zeal for your house, for your temple, consume you.

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May God bless you all, and have a holy Lent.

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Quick Theological Musings: #1

NB: Unless I can think of topics for longer posts, there will be…..well, who knows how many more posts similar to this on various topics in the near future. Sometimes quick little posts like this end up far more interesting than longer ones anyway. Have fun reading!

“…and immediately there came out blood and water.” – John 19:34

One of the great things about Sacred Scripture is that there’s never just one rigid way of looking at things. An area where this is especially noticeable is in the quote I gave just above. 

The first reaction of . . . most anyone . . . is going to be, “Okay, Jesus seemed dead, and to be sure He was dead, they thrust a lance into His side, and water and blood came out. Cool story. Kinda random too. But hey, John felt like including that, I’m good with it.”

Understandable. Quite so. But as with everything, there’s more to it than that. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a proposal. Let’s pretend for the remainder of this post that in the Gospel, water is a symbol of the human and that two things, wine and blood, are symbols of the divine.

I think it’s no mistake, for example, that in John’s Gospel, the wedding at Cana immediately follows John the Baptist. John had his own preliminary baptism with water (which, again, we’re going to say is a symbol of the human), while the miracle at Cana, turning water into wine, symbolized the true baptism which Christ brought with Him: the lifting up of the human (water) to the divine (in this case, wine) which was the ultimate goal of the Redemption and which would be the goal of the baptism He would shortly preach about. With this in mind, that the wedding at Cana symbolizes baptism, I also don’t think it is a mistake that Our Lord begins preaching about this baptism almost immediately after the Cana miracle (Cana is the second chapter of John, the mention of baptism is the third chapter). 

Now I also said blood was a symbol of the divine. We are told that when Our Lord had His Sacred Heart pierced with a lance, blood and water came out of the wound.  If we keep rolling with this idea that water is the human and blood (or wine) is the divine, then this begins to really come together into something neat.  When the Blood of Christ came out with water on the Cross, it was a symbol of the new union between God, the Creator, and man, the Created. Up until that moment, only blood came out of the wounds of Jesus, but now, the purpose of His life accomplished and the Divine Goal fulfilled, there was union—and thus, as a way of saying, “Look at the reunited state of God and man!”, the Scriptures tell us that “immediately there came out blood and water.”

Have a good summer. I’ll post next whenever I can. God bless you all, in the meantime.

Doing Your Own Thing Again, Father?

It doesn’t take much to see that in the last fifty years, priests in the United States have liberally changed various parts of the Mass or put their own spins on them somehow. The examples are countless. The examples I’m going to give right now are comparatively pretty minor, but they help illustrate my point all the same.

What does the priest say when he concludes the Gospel reading? Come on, you should all know this. You in the back? Yeah! He got it!  The priest says, “The Gospel of the Lord” to which the congregation responds, “Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ”. Or at least, that’s how it should be.

At my church, he says not only “the Gospel of the Lord” but “the Good News – the Gospel of the Lord”. Now okay, it might sound like nitpicking. If he wants to add the words “Good News”, so what, right? Gospel means “good news” anyway, so he’s not declaring something heretical.

More on that in a minute while we observe a second thing. During the Concluding Rite, the priest SHOULD say this as he performs the Sign of the Cross: “May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

Our priest adds a slight change to that formula. He says, “May Almighty God bless US”. Now, again, this might sound like a nuance, since we do indeed want the Holy Trinity to bless the priest, too, but please consider some things.

1) The Mass is not the priest’s. The Church has prescribed that Mass, regardless of specific rites, is to be celebrated a certain way. The priest does not have the ability to change things as he sees fit. It doesn’t matter if he thinks it would make Mass better, it doesn’t matter if some otherwise dissident Catholics would give Mass a chance, it doesn’t matter what the priest’s personal opinions are. He cannot change the Mass.

2) The Mass isn’t a spotlight for the priest – it’s a spotlight for Our Lord, Who is present on the altar. A lot of priests treat Mass as though it’s their chance to entertain. They tell jokes during their homilies, they do crazy things in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, etc. etc. That’s not the purpose of the Mass. The purpose of the Mass is, chiefly, to make Calvary present here below and to be fed by the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Everything else about the Mass points to that. The priest is acting not in persona sui (in the person of himself) but in persona Christi. All his actions during Mass should reflect the One in Whose Person he is operating. If Christ Himself celebrated the Mass, would He be telling jokes or otherwise trying to make His congregation entertained? I doubt it. So why should the priest who represents Him here below?

3) The Mass is not about making the Church’s members happy. That the Mass should be full of joy is spot-on. But the problem is, when most people say the Mass should be joyful, they end up mistaking joy with “warm fuzzies” or “hymns that talk about community and God’s great affection”. I answer that joy is peace of mind, knowledge that one is right with God, in the state of grace, and prepared to come to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Mass should be absolutely full of that, but “joy”, if you mean “feelings”, really doesn’t matter at all. Jesus Himself underwent a terrible agony shortly before His death, but He never did one wrong thing in His entire life! Saying things like “May Almighty God bless us” rather than “you” and calling the Gospel the “Good News” just screams of, “Let’s make the congregation feel included and good about themselves”. But since when do feelings really matter?

There’s nothing quite like a Papal Mass, which is almost always a reverent, to-the-rubrics thing.

Basically, it all adds up to “the Mass is not ABOUT you, it is FOR you”. The Mass is a gift! It’s the nature of gifts that they’re given by someone else, and no one in his right mind receives a gift and asks for modifications to it. He simply says, “Thanks” and gladly–or not so gladly–accepts what he’s been given. Jesus is perfect. His gifts are only ever perfect. How can we say the Mass, the ultimate gift, isn’t good enough the way He gives it? It’s terribly ungrateful to demand that it be changed when it could not be better than He, through the Church, has determined it to be [on the note of gifts being given–that’s why I dislike when people speak of “taking Communion”; one does not take a gift, he receives it].

God bless,

Michael

Vi Verborum and the Real Presence

Credit for this argument goes to Fr. Robert Barron.

Those who say that Christ’s Eucharistic presence is merely symbolic rather than true and substantial miss something very important. This crucial point would be the power of His speech. Allow me to elaborate.

When we observe the very beginning of John’s Gospel, we see that the pre-incarnate Jesus is called the Word. He is the reason all creation is as it as, and He can change it as He pleases, being the Word responsible for all things. He is the definitive Word, the ultimate Word, the all-powerful Word and what He says goes.

Our Lord’s ability to affect reality by means of speech is seen time and time again throughout His public ministry. He says, “My son, your sins are forgiven” to the paralytic in Matthew 9 and from then on, the man’s sins are indeed forgiven. He says to the deceased Lazarus, “Come out!” (John 11:43) and sure enough, Lazarus comes out. He declares the centurion’s servant to be healed and sure enough, the servant is healed. He says that Jairus’ daughter isn’t dead; sure enough, she’s not dead. He tells the disciples that they’ll find fish by casting their nets as He directs, and sure enough, they find fish.

I’m sure by now you get the idea. Jesus can vi verborum, by the power of His words, affect the nature of things. If He says it to be so, then it is so.

At the Last Supper He said, “This is My body” and “This is the cup of My blood”. There was nothing in His speech to signify something other than literalness, just as there was nothing other than literalness in regard to His other miracles which changed reality. When the Lord performed the other miracles such as raising from the dead, everything He said was true at its face value. Why would that be different here? And you know that He does indeed have the power to change the reality of bread and wine into His own flesh and blood, so if He declares it, and He’s able, how could you deny that the Real Presence is true? As I said, His speech brought about  changes in other things. Is it likely that this is different?

The literalness of His declaration is made especially clear when He affects the change of the wine. He says not only, “This is the cup of My blood” but rather, He equates it in no uncertain terms with His very blood by saying “…which is poured out for many”. This is something which can only be said of the true, real, actual blood of Christ.

If the only argument that can be made against the Real Presence is “It’s gross” or “shocking” then I invite you to take a look at everything Jesus did. Sure, you could say, “No one in his right mind would want people to eat him”, but no one in his right mind would claim to be God, either. The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God, an outlandish thing, and yet we know that He is God indeed. They took Him literally about that, and He took Himself literally. They took Him literally when He said in John 6 that eating His flesh and drinking His blood is necessary for eternal life, and He was opposed to those who said, “Gross!”…just like He was opposed to those who denied His divinity.

Is Jesus God, or isn’t He? Can He or can’t He?

Think about it.

His blessings to you,

Mike

Yes, You Can

Hello to all of you, my readers!

I’ll begin the current post by asking you this: How many times have you heard people say, almost in humor, “I’m never going to be a saint!”? Or how many Catholics do you know who are content to say, “I’ll  try to make it to Purgatory at least” as though Purgatory were some middle road for the not-too-good and the not-too-bad?

Notwithstanding the fact that such a statement shows complete ignorance of what Purgatory is, there is a very real and very strong danger here. This would be the danger of being content with the middle road. Although I’m assuming most of you don’t see Purgatory as a “Heaven easier than Heaven”, how many of you end up thinking, “Eh, I’m probably gonna end up in Purgatory if I’m saved”?

This isn’t quite as bad as deliberately choosing Purgatory since it’s supposedly “easier to get to” than Heaven, but it still shows many qualities of that indifferentism which is so harmful.

Remember when the angel told Mary, “All things are possible with God” and when St. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me”? Do you ever feel tempted to simply brush statements like that off as a mere ideal which is not actually achievable by the common person?

If you do, resist such an urge. That’s precisely what the devil wants. He wants you to find real, deep sanctification impossible. Why? Because if you don’t think you can become, to quote Our Lord, “perfect as your heavenly Father is”, then you won’t even attempt to reach that goal.

It’s not impossible to be perfect. Hard, most definitely. But not impossible. The only thing stopping you from being a saint is your desire to be one and your trust that the Lord Who strengthened Paul can strengthen you. God does not plan for you to be a lukewarm soul. He made you and He made you for Heaven, not for Purgatory. Purgatory is a last resort and should never be looked at as a first choice. If you truly, truly want to go to Heaven without needing to enter Purgatory first, the Lord will be more than willing to grant your wish.

Ask Him and trust Him. He won’t ignore you.

On Revelation – Part 1: Jesus is Our God, Unmistakably

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your eyes! I’m going to make at least two posts about the Book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of St. John), the first of which–this one here–will show that this book makes Christ God in no uncertain terms. The next post, Christ willing, will attempt to answer the question of “Who is the woman?”. Then the third, if there is one, will have to do with the Mass and other Catholic-isms shown in the book.

The vision St. John received is nothing short of amazing.

I’ll show that the Son, Jesus Christ, is the one, true God. Starting with chapter 1…

“‘I am Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

It is rather unclear whether the speaker here is Jesus or the Father. The argument to say that this is not referring to Jesus goes like this: “Just earlier, the statement of ‘Who is, and was, and is to come’ was applied to the Father specifically (verse 4), so this must refer to Him specifically, too”. But I say, look at the phrase “Who is to come”. We are told in the previous verse that Jesus will be seen “coming in the clouds”. Coincidence? I think not. Even if this is not referring to Christ, but to the Father, it is still certain evidence for Christ’s divinity. Why? Because Christ does directly call Himself “Alpha and Omega” later on in Rev. 22:13. Alpha and Omega = Lord God and Almighty according to verse 8, so if Christ, too, is the Alpha and Omega, then He, too, is “Lord God” and “Almighty”!

“Alpha & Omega” is a title due to Almighty God alone

Moving down a little farther, three striking things occur when John sees Jesus: 1) John describes Jesus as having a voice “like the sound of many waters” (1:15), 2) John “falls at His feet, as though dead” (1:17), and 3) Jesus calls Himself “the First and the Last” (also 1:17). Let’s look at each of these.

Jesus having a voice “like the sound of many waters” looks like a reference to Ezekiel 43:2: “I saw the glory of God coming from the east, and His voice like the sound of many waters”.

John “falling at His feet as though dead” was a reaction which probably arose from the belief that the one who looked upon God would die.

“First and Last” is synonymous with “Alpha and Omega”, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and also references Isaiah 44:6: “This is what the Lord says, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and the last. Apart from Me there is no God”.

Pretty blatant, huh? Jesus is directly claiming to be the one God! Moving on…

The Lamb has things said of Him which can only be said of God.

In chapter 4, verse 11, those surrounding God’s throne say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive honor and glory and power“. Twice in chapter 5, a similar thing is said to or about the Lamb, i.e., Jesus. Firstly, in verse 9, the Lamb is told, “You are worthy, O Lord, to take the book and to open the seals thereof” and secondly, in verse 12, it is said that “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and benediction“. The second statement is strikingly similar to what was said to the Father above. Coincidence? Again, I think not.

But wait! There’s more! Chapter 5, verse 13, says that “to Him that sits on the throne (the Father) and to the Lamb be benediction and honor and glory for ever and ever”! There is no way that Jesus could just be a man or an angel or some “subordinate deity” when He is the object of perpetual worship along with the Father. No way at all.

Twice in Revelation, Christ is called “the Lord of lords”, in chapter 19, verse 16, and chapter 17, verse 14. This is a reference to Deuteronomy 10:17: “For the Lord your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of lords”. For a third time, coincidence? I think not.

He is “over all things, God, blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5)
Despite what modern Arians want you to think, it is absolutely senseless to call Christ our Lord “a god”.

Arius clearly hadn’t read this stuff, I guess.

God bless,

Mike

The Woman We Love

All things were made for the only-begotten Son of God (Colossians 1:16). The Father has prepared for Him a wedding banquet (Matthew 22:2) and created man to partake in His celebrations. Had this gone as planned, the whole of creation, in Heaven and Earth, would sing His praises eternally, and God would be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Unfortunately, the plan was messed up, starting with Satan and continuing with Adam & Eve. The creature rebelled against the Creator, and hope seemed lost.

Such was the sad state of man, as he became devoured by the beasts of rebellious passions.

Now what? The Holy Trinity, perfection by Itself, could have certainly left the human race in its sin. God created man, but He doesn’t need him by any means. He made him out of nothing, and didn’t need to make him at all. However, “God is love, in Whom there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Love Itself, desiring only what is best for all things, decided on a Plan B, so that sin would not be the final outcome. The Bridegroom, for Whom all things were created, Himself the spoken Word which brought order to the universe at creation, decided to once again bring about order by “emptying Himself, taking the form of a servant” and “becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross” so that He might “make all things new” (Philippians 2:7-8, Revelation 21:5).

The Father and Holy Spirit, agreeing with the Son’s plan, addressed Satan with the following statement: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. She will crush your head, and you will strike at her heel” (Genesis 3:15). [Note, most Bibles render it that He, the seed, will crush the head. Both are acceptable, however].

God, the master logician, determined that if sin was brought about by a woman, it must be undone by a woman. This woman would be sinless, since enmity would exist between her and Satan. Her seed, too, would be sinless for that same reason. It makes sense, really, that she would be sinless. Because in the plan of the Three Persons, God the Son, God the Orderer, would be the One to condescend to human frailty. Only a sinless mother would be at all fit to bear God for nine months, and raise Him in childhood and adolescence. If the incarnate Son really was “like us in all things but sin” (Hebrews 4:15), then He would have to obey the same commandments we do, specifically, honoring His mother, which involves obedience. If she were sinless, she would be perfectly attuned to the Father’s will, and so the Son could obey her perfectly in all things.

There was another reason that the woman, destined to be the mother of the Son, would need to be sinless. The Son, Who would make a new creation by His “Plan B”, would become a new Adam. Yet Adam and Eve go together, so if there was to be a new Adam, there would also need to be a new Eve. The two would be in utter contrast to the first Adam and the first Eve. The first sinned; the second would be sinless. The first brought death to the world; the second would bring life. The first Eve was brought forth from Adam, yet that order would be reversed in the case of the second Adam and second Eve. The second Adam would be brought forth from the new Eve, so as to fulfill most perfectly God’s prophecy.

This woman, this new Eve, is Mary. Isn’t she wonderful?

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, the one whom, as Elizabeth did, we call His mother.

God bless,

Mike

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome Homily by the Holy Father on the Eucharist

See title.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This evening I would like to meditate with you on two interconnected aspects of the Eucharistic Mystery: the worship of the Eucharist and its sacredness. It is important to take it up again to preserve it from incomplete visions of the Mystery itself, such as those which were proposed in the recent past.

First of all, a reflection on the value of Eucharistic worship, in particular adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is the experience that we will also live after the Mass, before the procession, during its development and at its end. A unilateral interpretation of Vatican Council II has penalized this dimension, restricting the Eucharist in practice to the celebratory moment. In fact, it was very important to recognize the centrality of the celebration, in which the Lord convokes his people, gathers them around the twofold table of the Word and the Bread of life, nourishes them and unites them to Himself in the offering of the Sacrifice. This assessment of the liturgical assembly, in which the Lord works and realizes his mystery of communion, remains of course valid, but it must be placed in the right balance. In fact – as often happens – the stressing of one aspect ends up by sacrificing another. In this case, the accentuation placed on the celebration of the Eucharist has been to the detriment of adoration, as act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus, really present in the Sacrament of the altar. This imbalance has also had repercussions on the spiritual life of the faithful. In fact, concentrating the whole relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus only at the moment of Holy Mass risks removing his presence from the rest of time and the existential space. And thus, perceived less is the sense of the constant presence of Jesus in our midst and with us, a concrete, close presence among our homes, as “beating Heart” of the city, of the country, of the territory with its various expressions and activities. The Sacrament of the Charity of Christ must permeate the whole of daily life.

In reality, it is a mistake to oppose celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. It is precisely the contrary: the worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament is as the spiritual “environment” in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth. Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration, can the liturgical action express its full meaning and value. The encounter with Jesus in the Holy Mass is truly and fully acted when the community is able to recognize that, in the Sacrament, He dwells in his house, waits for us, invites us to his table, then, after the assembly is dismissed, stays with us, with his discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices and offering them to the Father.

In this connection, I am pleased to stress the experience we will also live together this evening. At the moment of adoration, we are all on the same plane, kneeling before the Sacrament of Love. The common and ministerial priesthoods are united in Eucharistic worship. It is a very beautiful and significant experience, which we have experienced several times in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and also in the unforgettable vigils with young people – I recall, for example, those of Cologne, London, Zagreb, Madrid. It is evident to all that these moments of Eucharistic vigil prepare the celebration of the Holy Mass, prepare hearts for the encounter, so that it is more fruitful. To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his Sacrament, is one of the most genuine experiences of our being Church, which is accompanied in a complementary way with the celebration of the Eucharist, listening to the Word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the Bread of life. Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together. To really communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to hear him and to look at him with love. True love and true friendship always live of the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal not a superficial way. And, unfortunately, if this dimension is lacking, even sacramental communion itself can become, on our part, a superficial gesture. Instead, in true communion, prepared by the colloquy of prayer and of life, we can say to the Lord words of confidence as those that resounded a short while ago in the Responsorial Psalm: “O Lord, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. / Thou hast loosed my bonds./ I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving /and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 115:16-17).

Now I would like to pass briefly to the second aspect: the sacredness of the Eucharist. Also here we heard in the recent past of a certain misunderstanding of the authentic message of Sacred Scripture. The Christian novelty in regard to worship was influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the 60s and 70s of the past century. It is true, and it remains always valid, that the center of worship is now no longer in the rites and ancient sacrifices, but in Christ himself, in his person, in his life, in his paschal mystery. And yet, from this fundamental novelty it must not be concluded that the sacred no longer exists, but that it has found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, incarnate divine Love. The Letter to the Hebrews, which we heard this evening in the Second Reading, speaks to us precisely of the novelty of the priesthood of Christ, “high priest of the good things that have come” (Hebrews 9:11), but it does not say that the priesthood is finished. Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15), established in his blood, which purifies our “conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14). He did not abolish the sacred, but brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship, which is, yes, fully spiritual but which however, so long as we are journeying in time, makes use again of signs and rites, of which there will be no need only at the end, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will no longer be a temple (cf. Revelation 21:22). Thanks to Christ, the sacred is more true, more intense and, as happens with the Commandments, also more exacting! Ritual observance is not enough, but what is required is the purification of the heart and the involvement of life.

I am also pleased to stress that the sacred has an educational function, and its disappearance inevitably impoverishes the culture, in particular, the formation of the new generations. If, for example, in the name of a secularized faith, no longer in need of sacred signs, this citizens’ processions of the Corpus Domini were abolished, the spiritual profile of Rome would be “leveled,” and our personal and community conscience would be weakened. Or let us think of a mother or a father that, in the name of a de-sacralized faith, deprived their children of all religious rituals: in reality they would end up by leaving a free field to so many surrogates present in the consumer society, to other rites and other signs, which could more easily become idols. God, our Father, has not acted thus with humanity: he has sent his Son into the world not to abolish, but to give fulfillment also to the sacred. At the height of this mission, in the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood, the Memorial of his Paschal Sacrifice. By so doing, he put himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but he did so within a rite, which he commanded the Apostles to perpetuate, as the supreme sign of the true sacred, which is Himself. With this faith, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate today and every day the Eucharistic Mystery and we adore it as the center of our life and heart of the world. Amen.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Male and Female He Created Them

Often, when it comes to finding a Biblical argument against homosexual practice, the Old Testament will be used extensively. The homosexual (or the one who sees no problem with homosexuality) usually says that since the Old Law is no longer binding, so the arguments against homosexuality are no longer binding. He or she will then go on to say that homosexuality is only mentioned once or twice in the New Testament, and only “very obscurely” (this actually isn’t true; there’s no obscurity, but I digress), and in light of that the Christian should be more tolerant.

One of the anti-homosexual arguments I’ve seen used many times is the fact that Lord created humans “male and female” (Gen. 1:27) and said precisely that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Yes, it is true, this passage is from the Old Testament. But we need to consider a few things before it’s brushed off as worthless.

“The law,” St. John tells us in the first chapter his gospel, “was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ, we know, is the “Word become flesh” (John 1:14), the Word that “was with God and was God” (1:1). Do you see what’s happening here? Let’s rephrase the above quote from John. It’s as if he said, “The law was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by God.”

Now, I think, the distinction is clearer. It was not a law, but simply God Himself, not able to be misinterpreted or added to, Who declared “it is not good that man should be alone”. He said this before any law even needed to be established, since original sin had not yet entered the world. God declared man and woman’s need for each other at a time someone could view the world and “see how good it was”. Even if someone can’t find a convincing argument from any other place in the Bible, this one is very strong.

God, not just the Mosaic law, declared heterosexuality to be His desire for mankind. Who can argue with God?

His blessings to all,

Michael