Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

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2002, 2005, 2008 YEAR_A
2003, 2006, 2009 YEAR_B
2004, 2007, 2010 YEAR_C

YEAR A

Exodus 34, 4-6, 8-9; Daniel 3, 52-56; 2 Cor 13, 11-13; John 3, 16-18

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Blessed Trinity is the perfect community of life and love. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit live eternally, love eternally and pour out divine love and life in the world through the Body of Christ, the Church. We learn, thus, that God the Father’s love seeks to increase itself infinitely and embrace the whole world through the passion and death of His Son, reconciling us to Him, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life. The people of God, then, must be people of life. God’s perfect plan provides a place for life to come into the world: the marriage of man and woman in total self-giving. The self-donation of man and woman in the marital act brings about new life, thus marriage is the blessed earthly sign of Christ’s life-giving death on the cross that brings us new life through redemption.

Marriage is for life. Man and woman joined in matrimony are the privileged cooperators in God’s will that life should go on. In the marital act God joins both the life-giving and love-giving aspects of man and woman’s sexuality into one reality. “What God has joined man must not divide”, thus love and life in marriage must not be divided. The two have been brought together as one gift by God. The use of artificial contraception falsifies the act of self-giving between man and woman, intended by God in creating the marital act, by separating these two realities of life and love. Thus the intentional use of artificial means of contraception violates God’s holy will and, if done with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will, can be mortally sinful.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches clearly in this regard:
“Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ (Humanae Vitae, 14) is intrinsically evil: ‘Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.’(Familiaris Consortio, 32) “ (CCC 2370)
The Church does not leave couples alone to seek responsible parenthood. In cases where there are grave reasons for spacing or delaying births husband and wife have recourse to the natural methods, the most effective available. One organization within the Church which supports couples who seek to space, or delay, births is the Couple to Couple League International.

A visit to their website, www.ccli.org, reveals some of the following information.
“Couples worldwide are choosing Natural Family Planning (NFP) for its healthful and marriage-building qualities, as well as its usefulness to plan or postpone pregnancy. Many couples are also grateful to use a family planning method that is in harmony with their religious beliefs.
“Since its founding in 1971, CCL has also provided instruction through NFP classes taught by professionally trained, volunteer couples who teach in their local communities. You can also learn through our acclaimed Home Study Course, available for order.
“Learn how NFP works and its advantages in the About NFP section, and discover what the CCL organization is all about at About CCL. The Online Store contains many supportive books, videos, and audiotapes, as well as NFP materials. Finally, you can easily locate your nearest CCL Teaching Couple with our online search at Learn NFP.”
A visit to their site will be informative and bring hope and support to any couple seeking help in living out their call to be generous to new life. The website offers a basic explanation about two basic methods for spacing or delaying births.

“NFP - Two basic forms “CCL teaches two basic forms of Natural Family Planning (NFP) — the Sympto-Thermal Method and Ecological Breastfeeding.

“The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is based on daily fertility awareness; a couple charts the wife’s common signs of fertility day by day and uses that information to determine her fertile and infertile times. It can be used both to achieve and to avoid or postpone pregnancy. When used to avoid pregnancy, the couple abstains from marital relations (intercourse) during the fertile time.

Ecological Breastfeeding is actually the world’s oldest form of NFP. It is still widely practiced in certain parts of the world, and is used successfully to space children by many women in the United States. The key factor in Ecological Breastfeeding is frequent suckling. It usually requires minimal fertility awareness, especially in the early months, and, in the absence of signs of possible fertility, no periodic abstinence. The term ‘ecological breastfeeding’ was developed to sharply distinguish this form of baby care from ‘cultural breastfeeding’ which provides little or no natural infertility. Read more at Ecological Breastfeeding.”
Doing God’s holy will for marriage is the ground of all the efforts of CCLI on behalf of couples and families.

“Morality

“Couples choose to practice Natural Family Planning for a variety of reasons. Important to many people is the issue of morality. The services of the League are open to all regardless of religious affiliation or conviction, but that doesn’t mean that we teach NFP without moral and religious convictions.
“First, we believe that God is the Author of nature; He is the one who put together in the marriage act what we call ‘making love’ and ‘making babies.’ It is God who in His providence has allowed us to learn in the late 20th century about woman’s alternating fertility and infertility — and about Natural Family Planning — at the same time that other medical advances greatly increased the population survival rate. NFP allows couples to prudently regulate births without recourse to unnatural, immoral methods of birth control that interfere with the way God designed our fertility.
“As astonishing as this statement may seem, throughout history natural methods have never been less effective than the unnatural, non-surgical methods. (Moral methods may not be as convenient, and they do require self-control, but that is a wonderful and rewarding virtue to acquire, as many NFP couples will attest.) In the 1930s the Ogino-Knaus Rhythm Method of NFP was as effective as the most effective ‘new’ contraceptive barrier methods. In the 1960s, when the Pill launched the Sexual Revolution, the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP (as taught by CCL today) was as effective as the Pill.
“Religious and moral convictions guide anyone’s decisions about sexual behavior. We believe that when people are fully informed about the advantages of NFP they will see that this method best agrees with their convictions as well as their practical desires for happier marriages and healthier lives.
“NFP does not mean “Not for Protestants.” You don’t have to be Catholic to have strong convictions that it is wrong to use unnatural methods of birth control.  ‘Such “providentialists” should at least learn the rules for ecological breastfeeding, God's own way of spacing babies.’  For a better understanding of the moral issue of birth control and to find out the true position of the Catholic Church on this matter, please see Church Teachings on NFP and especially the full text of Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).”

The website for Couple to Couple League International, with information about teaching couples in your area, is www.ccli.org. Visit today and sign up for classes.
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YEAR B

Deuteronomy 4, 32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8, 14-17; Matthew 28, 16-20

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Resurrection. Fact or fiction?
The Resurrection of the Lord, the only Son of God the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit reveal the Trinity we celebrate today: three persons in one God. Christ taught the Apostles that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son" and so we profess this in the Creed. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus remains the cornerstone of Christian faith and life for by his Resurrection Christ's divinity is revealed and all his words and teachings are thereby guaranteed as true. The whole edifice of Christian faith, all that we believe about God fully revealed in Jesus Christ, stands or falls on the cornerstone of Christ's Resurrection.

It is fashionable in the literary and academic world today to "doubt" the Resurrection of the Lord, to revise and rephrase tradition, to reinterpet scripture in order to call the real bodily Resurrection into question. Knowing that men would call the truth into doubt, St. Paul wrote: "If Christ has not risen, your faith is in vain."

Some Christians propose the Resurrection was experienced only in the faith or credulity of the Apostles or first Christians, something they simply made up out of thin air. It is possible today to hear even Christian leaders say; "If they found the bones of Jesus, it would not shake my faith." It is the lesson of the Ascension of the Lord in scripture and the celebration of the liturgy of the Church that this is completely out of the question! We are left with the testimony of Scripture, and there we find record in several places that the Apostles doubted Christ's Resurrection. "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted." (Mt 28; 16-17) Are we to believe that the Evangelists recorded the doubt of some of their number even while creating a fiction of their own imagination? The liar is the first to recognize the stupidity of giving evidence contradicitng his own falsehood!

"Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. 'In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.' (Lk 24:38-41) Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee 'some doubted.' (Cf. Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17) Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the risen Jesus." (CCC 644)

We too experience doubts as part of our weak human condition. But we also directly experience the Lord Jesus in the proclamation of the Word and in his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Christ Himself, then, by these his works which give the grace of faith strengthens us to do the humanly impossible and declare with supernatural joy: "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia."
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/

(For further reading on today's Gospel see also these paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2, 80, 189, 232, 849, 1122, 1223, 1276, 2156, 2743.)

YEAR C

Proverbs 8, 22-31; Psalm 8, 4-5.6-7.8-9; Romans 5, 1-5; St.John 16, 12-15

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our omnipotent eternal God reveals his inner life of everlasting love through the incarnation and sacrifice of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. On this Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity, a truth about God that we could not know except it had been revealed. To know the truth of the Triune nature of God is the gift of God who reaches out to befriend and to save us, drawing us into the everlasting embrace of the Trinity through the real presence of the Son in the Eucharist and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

May religions invoke God as "Father." The deity is often considered the "father of gods and men." In Israel, God is called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world. (Cf. Deut 32:6; Mal 2:10.) Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, "his first-born son."(Ex 4:22) God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is "the Father of the poor," of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection. (Cf. 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 68:6.) (CCC 238)

Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Mt 11:27.) (CCC 240)

For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature." (Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3.) (CCC 241)

Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with the Father, that is, one only God with him. (The English phrases "of one being" and "one in being" translate the Greek word homoousios, which was rendered in Latin by consubstantialis.) (CCC 242)

 The Father and the Son are revealed by the Holy Spirit, sent in His fullness at the first Pentecost to give life and holiness to the Church as "Lord and giver of life."

Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets," the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth." (Cf. Gen 1:2; Nicene Creed (DS 150); Jn 14:17, 26; 16:13.) The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as anotherdivine person with Jesus and the Father. (CCC 243)

The sweetest gift of the divine person of the Holy Spirit is "the love of God which has been poured into our hearts" by the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. By this gift we enjoy the fruit of grace in love and receive the power and energy to pursue the holiness of the Christian life as, in and by love, we keep the Commandments with joy. For we know that "the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God."

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/

(For further reading on today's Gospel see also these paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 91, 243, 244, 485, 687, 690, 692, 1117, 2466, 2615, 2671,.)