Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Reflections for obligatory Holy Days
and Solemnities and Feasts which may be celebrated on Sundays


Select liturgy here

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God January 1

The Presentation of the Lord February 2

Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul June 29

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord August 6

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15

Holy Cross, September 14

ALL SAINTS, November 1

ALL SOULS, November 2

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, November 9

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8 

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Numbers 6, 22-27; Psalm 67, 2-; Galatians 4, 4-7; St. Luke 2, 16-21

Quickly after acclaiming the birth of the Messiah we turn with equal wonder in contemplation of his mother, immaculate and therefore "full of grace", who does not know man because she has vowed herself to perpetual virginity and whom all generations have called "blessed": the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We proclaim and preach the marvel God has brought forth in her, granting her a unique role in our redemption as "Mother of God".

"Mary is the Virgo Praedicanda, that is, the Virgin who is to be proclaimed, to be heralded, literally, to be preached. We are accustomed to preach abroad that which is wonderful, strange, rare, novel, important. Thus when our Lord was coming, St. John the Baptist preached Him; then, the Apostles went into the wide world and preached Christ. What is the highest, the rarest, the choicest prerogative of Mary? It is that she was without sin... This then is why she is the Virgo Praedicanda; she is deserving to be preached abroad because she never committed any sin...

"Preaching is a gradual work: first one lesson, then another. Thus were the heathen brought into the Church gradually. And in like manner, the preaching of Mary to the children of the Church, and the devotion paid to her by successive ages. Not so much was preached about her in early times as in later. First she was preached as the Virgin of Virgins--then as the Mother of God--then as glorious in her Assumption--then as the Advocate of sinners--then as Immaculate in her Conception. And this last has been the special preaching of the present century; and thus that which is earliest in her own history is the latest in the Church's recognition of her." (John Cardinal Newman)

Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus," Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord." (Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et. al.) In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos). (Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.) (CCC 495)

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

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  The Presentation of the Lord

Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Behold, this child is set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against..." Mary and Joseph present the infant Lord at the temple in loving obedience to God and Simeon boldly prophecies: Christ will be hated by all who reject the truth. As with Christ, so with all who bear his name in faith and action. Those in rebellion against God, who worship false gods, will seek in every age to attack him and all who belong to him.

The universal Church of Christ stands for the truth and so finds herself opposed by all who detest truth. Her members are called to heroic fidelity against those who deny God and his laws. The Body of Christ is now and will be a "sign that is spoken against" until the end of the world. As we grow in authentic Christian faith and life, we may be called to share in every sorrow and tribulation our Lord freely underwent for us, that we might share forever in the perfect happiness of God. In the conflict of good and evil, for some this will mean even death.

The Church must remain faithful to her Lord and so follows his example.

Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a 'sign of contradiction,' (Lk 2:34) but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply 'the Jews,' (Jn 1:19; 2:18;5:10) than for the ordinary People of God. (Jn 7:48-49) (CCC 575)

Many of the common Jewish people were open and sincere before God and so found a place in their minds and hearts for Christian faith. Through pride and power some in the Jewish nation had lost a humble desire for God and could not accept the Messiah while blinded with self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

In every age some hard-heartedly refuse to accept Christ as the fulfillment of the Law, the Temple "not made by human hands", the full revelation of the Triune God. Some government and religious leaders claim godliness, just as Jewish leaders did, but their actions often speak far differently than their words. A president claims to be Christian, quotes the Bible, and yet approves the slaughter of innocents as they enter the world from their mothers' wombs. Doctors, lawyers and elected leaders promote heinous laws which encourage abortion for use of fetal tissue, the equal of Nazi exterminations. Judges continue a vociferous assault upon God in the schools as great numbers of children suffer for lack of faith in God and his love. Parents claim Christianity yet fail to teach their children basic prayers or to bring them to worship. Catholics break their communion with God through fornication, marriage outside the Church or desecration of the Sabbath and compound their wrongdoing by hypocritical reception of Communion.

Many things are wrong with the world; sin is a constant reality for the sons and daughters of Adam, but pessimism is never the way for the members of Christ. As "signs of contradiction" we preach the truth about love and life to a forgetful world. We proclaim the reality of God's love which can break into our hardened hearts by redemption in Christ who is truly with us now and will never leave us.

The solution to sin is heroic acceptance of our vocation to love. Young men and women jeopardize their future marriage, as well as their souls, through fornication; they must be patiently told that their actions prove they do not love each other enough. Heroic love remains chaste outside of marriage, and builds a solid foundation of honesty with God, with self and others for a marriage based on generous self-giving and not selfish taking. Young boys and girls need generous parents who are willing to sacrifice money and career to give the time and attention no child can do without. When a child knows he is loved, he learns to cherish himself enough to avoid the danger of drugs and alcohol abuse. In authentic love priests must preach the whole doctrine of the Church, calling the moral evil of contraception by name and providing the means for couples to learn natural methods for the regulation of births.

Our Faith is a treasure beyond price, by the strength of which we stand boldly against the winds of fad and fashion, the culture of death that threatens happiness now and forever. Signs of contradiction, we share in the glory of the great host of martyrs who, when called by God, sacrificed all in trust and love of Him.

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



Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul, Apostles

Vigil: Acts 3, 1-10; Psalm 19; Galatians 1, 11-20; St. John 21, 15-19
During the Day: Acts 12, 1-11; Psalm 34; 2 Timothy 4, 6-8. 17-18; St. Matthew 16, 13-19

Christ the Lord bestows an abundance of gifts, a rich inheritance upon his people. In the Church we share continually in these riches which include the living tradition built upon the foundation stones of the Twelve Apostles. We celebrate today the two men who are chief among these twelve. The Apostles Peter and Paul are continuing witnesses to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic nature of the Church founded by Christ. They point the way to salvation for all who follow in the path lit up by their confession of faith and orthodox teaching.

Peter and Paul confessed the authority and divinity of Jesus Christ as "Son of God" which in the Old Testament did not necessarily imply divinity, but "Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as 'the Christ, the Son of the living God,' for Jesus responds solemnly: 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.' (Matthew 16:16-17) Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, 'When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles...' (Galatians 1:15-16) 'And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, "He is the Son of God." ' (Acts 9:20) From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ's divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church's foundation." (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; John 20:31; Matthew 16:18) (CCC 442)

Peter's primacy as teacher in matters of faith and morals is not an option for those who follow Christ. Acknowledging Peter as Christ's Vicar on earth, looking to him as earthly guide to salvation, is necessary for living in obedience to Christ himself and a part of the apostolic faith. Rejection of the authority of Peter and his successors, the Popes, is rejection of the will of Christ the Lord.

Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; (Cf. Mark 3:16; 9:2; Luke 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5) Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Our Lord then declared to him: 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.' (Matthew 16:18) Christ, the 'living stone,' (1 Peter 2:4) thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it." (Cf. Luke 22:32) (CCC 552)

Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: 'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' (Matthew 16:19) The 'power of the keys' designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: 'Feed my sheep.' (John 21:15-17; cf. 10:11) The power to 'bind and loose' connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Cf. Matthew 18:18) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom. (CCC 553)

Let us turn always with joy to Christ's vicar for absolution from our sins, for authoritative teaching in matters of faith and morals and for the loving discipline which constantly calls us back from our wandering in error and sin to the sure path of truth and salvation in Christ.

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

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(For further reading on today's Gospel see CCC 153, 424, 1444)



Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Daniel 7:9-10,13-14; Psalm 97:1-2,5-6,9; 2 Peter 1: 16-19; Mark 9:2-10

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Holiness is the best defense.

Military planners believe that conventional "over-there" warfare is a thing of the past. Enemies now will zap computer systems, plant bombs in civilian buildings, cultivate terrorist cells within the borders of their opponents, destroying them from within. Americans once prided themselves on their national security and internal peace. The UN building and Oklahoma City prove that those days are over; risk comes both from without and from within. Violence of all kinds is on the increase, and millions are spent in search of perfect security.

Recent lessons confirm the wisdom of the ages: the only true solution to man's slavery to fear of suffering and death does not come from this world. In the transfiguring glory which Christ reveals to the select few on the mountain is the answer to man's desperation. "...he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them." (Mk 9:3) His appearance reveals the eternal power of God, which comes not from this world and which no earthly power can vanquish.

Holiness is the answer.
Jesus Christ is the way for every man and woman. Security comes not from physical defense, for power ever escalates and the forces of nature are unpredictable. Weapons of destruction fall into evil hands every day and all of us live with the threat of violence. Peace cannot come through higher walls, more locks on the door or a move to the "country". The wise man will seek the security that can never be taken away: the fortification, the stronghold of God's grace, realizing that the only true threat is the evil that he embraces with his intellect and will, not that which he suffers at the hands of another.
The strength of a holy life is possessing and living Christ's own life, the Resurrection and the Life which is victorious over every evil. Jesus Christ is the only power which can promise us that, though we may sustain every torture or means of violence that man has sinfully devised for the destruction of the body, our heart, mind, soul and strength can yet be joined with God at every moment. No matter what may come in this life, no matter what the future may hold, we know and believe that a holy life is the only certain security, for in it lies the seed of heavenly glory.

Anything which destroys the glory of God in us is rejected as evil by those who sincerely seek holiness. The worst violence is the destruction of God's image through man's own complicity, at an epidemic level today. The culture of death is at once the most ignored and the greatest threat. The moral evil of surgical sterilization in voluntary vasectomy, hysterectomy, and tubal ligation is a violation of the human person, yet a growing means of regulating births. Abortion is not only the murder of a child, it is at the same time dehumanizing and degrading for the mother. Sin is most evil for it renders man and woman incapable of glorifying God in their bodies.

The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6) On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!" (Mk 9:7; cf. Deut 6:4-5) Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you." (Jn 15:12) This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example. (Cf. Mk 8:4) " (CCC 459)

We glorify God in our bodies through a self-offering configured to the Cross and consecrated in the glorified and risen Christ. He reveals his glory to strengthen us for our share in His suffering which comes with total rejection of evil.

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

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  Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1 Chronicles 15, 3-4.15.16; 16, 1-2; Psalm 132, 6-7.9-10.13-14; 1 Corinthians 15, 54-57; St. Luke 11, 27-28
Mass during the Day
Revelation 11, 19; 12, 1-6.10; Psalm 45,; 1 Corinthians 15, 20-26; St. Luke 1, 39-56.

In his love for mankind, the Lord has exalted him above all creatures by creating him in his image and likeness, but more so by raising him up in Christ to share divine life forever. Among all human creatures, it is our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom "all generations will call blessed" (St. Luke). Mary has been given the highest place among all of creation, and it is she, a woman, who ranks highest in the most important hierarchy: the hierarchy of holiness. The gift of God in her glorious Assumption into heaven is the fulfillment of his grace in her. She goes before us to intercede with her Son that we may join her in praising Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit forever in heaven.

"Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." (Lumen gentium 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950): DS 3903; cf. Rev 19:16.) The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death. (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition, August 15th.)

(CCC 966)

By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a preeminent and …wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus) (Lumen gentium 53; 63.) of the Church. (CCC 967)

Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace." (Lumen gentium 61.) (CCC 968)

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

(For more on the Blessed Virgin Mary see Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph numbers 969 and following.)
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The Feast of the Holy Cross

Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 78: 1-2, 34-38; Philippians 2: 6-11; St. John 3: 13-17

Rather than a sign of utmost ignominy, as many in the world see it, we see the Cross as the glory of God's redeeming love most fully revealed. This mystery remains a scandal, a stumbling block and a sign of contradiction raised up for all the world to see.

Jesus accepted Peter's profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man. (Cf. Mt 16: 16-23) He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man "who came down from heaven," and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Isa 53:10-12) Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross. (Cf. Jn 19:19-22; Lk 23: 39-43) Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus' messianic kingship to the People of God: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:36) (CCC 440)

The Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension of the Lord are brought together, revealed and made present for us here and now in the sacred Liturgy.

"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (Jn 12:32) The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands...but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." (Heb 9:24) There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him." (Heb 7:25) As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven. (Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4: 6-11) (CCC 662)

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

(See also CCC 219, 423, 444, 458, 661)

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 Solemnity of All the Saints  

Revelation 7, 2-4.9-14; Psalm 24, 1-2.3-4.5-6; 1 John 3, 1-3; St. Matthew 5, 1-12

When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those "who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God's favors." (Sacrosanctum concilium 104; cf. Sacrosanctum concilium 108, 111) (CCC 1173)

The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ's disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints. (CCC 1717)

The Beatitudes are the invitation fulfilled in the lives of all the saints who now intercede for us that we may follow in their glorious path to eternal happiness.

Looking forward to meeting here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph numbers 520, 544, 581, 1716, 1720, 2305, 2330, 2518, 2546.)
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 Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)  

( Rooted in ancient Christian tradition, as witnessed by Tertullian in the 2nd century A.D., St. Odilo of Cluny established a memorial of all the faithful departed in 988. It was accepted by Rome in the 13th century. An Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XV in 1915 granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses today for the following intentions: one Mass for a particular intention, another Mass for all the faithful departed, and a third Mass for the intention of the Pope. A stipend may be received only for the first intention mentioned above.)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We pray and offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice on this occasion for all of the "faithful" departed, of whom the Lord speaks in today's gospel.

For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6, 40)

In our day the greatest danger to the true faith is the error of relativism, according to recent comments by Cardinal Ratzinger. The belief that any way to approach God is as good or as true as any other is incompatible with the faith of the Apostles, expressed by Peter when he said, "Lord, to whom else shall we go, you alone have the words of eternal life." Christ himself taught: "I am the way." There is no other way to eternal beatitude with the Father in heaven except through his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Only the faithful departed, or those who through no fault of their own never came to know Christ and yet sought to love God, can hope for everlasting life. Only faith in the sole source of forgiveness of sins can bring that forgiveness by which we will be washed clean and so made acceptable to enter into God's presence.

Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. (Cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:36; 6:40 et al.) "Since 'without faith it is impossible to please [God]' and attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'but he who endures to the end.' " (Dei Filius 3: DS 3012; cf. Mt 10:22; 24:13 and Heb 11:6; Council of Trent: DS 1532.)

We pray on this feast for all of those souls who yet undergo their purification from sin made possible by the washing in the blood of the Lamb.

All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC 1030)

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820; (1547): 1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000.) The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, be reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: (Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7.)

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4, 39: PL 77, 396; cf. Mt 12:31) (CCC 1031)

In our liturgy today we pray as we believe. We pray for the dead inasmuch as the Church teaches the power of prayer to shorten their suffering and hasten their beatitude.

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." (2 Macc 12:46) From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. (Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 856.) The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead. (CCC 1032)

St. John Chrysostom speaks of this reality of our faith when he writes:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41, 5: PG 61, 361; cf. Mt 12:31.) (CCC 1032)

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

(See also CCC 161, 606, 989, 994, 1001, 2824)

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The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 84: 3-6, 8, 11; 1 Corinthians 3; 9c-11, 16-17; St. John 2, 13-22

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Though he showed the greatest respect for the temple in Jerusalem (CCC 583), as did all the prophets before him, the Lord made it clear that he was establishing a New Covenant, a new sacrifice and a new people who would worship God all over the world. No longer would Jerusalem be the only place where sacrifice could be offered to God. Jesus himself is the new temple, and his body, broken on the cross and raised again on the third day, is the perfect sacrifice and temple. "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." (Jn 2, 19) Jesus Christ is priest, altar and victim of the New an perfect covenant. Through the men who share his priesthood the sacrifice of his body would be offered and received in every time and place until he comes in glory.

The worship "in Spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any one place. The whole earth is sacred and entrusted to the children of men. What matters above all is that, when the faithful assemble in the same place, they are the "living stones," gathered to be "built into a spiritual house." (1 Pet 2:4-5) For the Body of the risen Christ is the spiritual temple from which the source of living water springs forth: incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit, "we are the temple of the living God." (2 Cor 6:16) (CCC 1179)

When the exercise of religious liberty is not thwarted, (Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae 4) Christians construct buildings for divine worship. These visible churches are not simply gathering places but signify and make visible the Church living in this place, the dwelling of God with men reconciled and united in Christ. (CCC 1180)

Throughout the history of the Church, God's people have made great sacrifices to build fitting temples in which this one true sacrifice could be gloriously and reverently offered. For two millennia the beauty of churches all over the world have raised countless minds and hearts to worship of the one true God. And these churches have proclaimed the one Church in a compelling and moving way.

A church, "a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the presence of the Son of God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial altar for the help and consolation of the faithful--this house ought to be in good taste and a worthy place for prayer and sacred ceremonial."(PO 5; cf. SC 122-127) In this "house of God" the truth and the harmony of the signs that make it up should show Christ to be present and active in this place. (Cf. SC 7) (CCC 1181)

There is one place of worship which is prior to all others, the Pope's own diocesan church. The Pope is the bishop of Rome and the Lateran Basilica is his diocesan church. All other churches in the world look to this Basilica with its title "omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput", for it is head and mother of every Church in the city of Rome and the world. Today we mark the dedication of the Pope's church, from which he exercises his immediate universal power to teach as Christ's vicar. From here his word goes out to defend the truth of Christ and the Church he has founded for the salvation of the world. And this church, as in every other in union with Rome throughout the world, is a true temple because within it is enshrined the Body of Christ, "the true temple not made by hands", the temple raised up on the third day. Greater by far than the temple in Jerusalem is any church which contains the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle.

If Christ himself demonstrated that the greatest of respect was due to his Father's house, which the old sacrifice was offered, and which was merely a sign of the sacrifice of Christ to come, how much greater is the reverence due to the Body of the Lord in the tabernacle, and to the church building which enshrines such a treasure?

The Church exercises her proper authority in mandating the proper furnishing and decorating of churches, and in accord with that, directs the placement of the tabernacle. "The tabernacle is to be situated in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor." (Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei: AAS (1965) 771.) The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. (Cf. Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium 128.) (CCC 1183) We truly see and seek in the Eucharist an infinite source of love when when we treasure our Eucharistic Lord enough to grant him a truly prominent and fitting place in our temples of worship, for "where your heart is there will your treasure be." (Publish with permission.)

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

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Genesis 3, 9-15. 20; Psalm 98, 1.2-3. 3-4; Ephesians 1, 3-6. 11-12; St. Luke 1, 26-38

The Church celebrates the birth of our Lady on September 8 and today, nine months prior, her Immaculate Conception.

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium 56.) The angel Gabriel at the moments of the annunciation saluted her as "full of grace." (Lk 1:28) In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace. (CCC 490)

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, (Lk 1:28) was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. (Pius XI, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854: DS 2803)

(CCC 491)

The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love." (Cf. Eph 1:3-4) (CCC 492)

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia) and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature." (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium 56.) By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (CCC 493)