Meeting Christ in the Liturgy Library

Reflections for obligatory Holy Days
and Immovable Feasts which supersede the Sunday Mass

Select liturgy here

Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul June 29

Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 14

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 15

The Triumph of the Holy Cross September 14

Solemnity of all Saints November 1

Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed November 2

The Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior (Lateran Basilica in Rome) November 9 

 Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Apostles

Epistle: Acts 12, 1-11; Gospel: 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)

Peter's authority takes a concrete and practical role in the Church: absolution of sins, pronunciation of doctrinal judgments, and disciplinary decisions.
"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)

 


 

 Vigil of the Assumption

Epistle: Ecclesiastes 24. 23-31; Gospel: St. Luke 11. 27-28

 


Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Epistle: Judith 13. 18-20, 15. 10; Gospel: St. Luke 1. 41-50


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

See also CCC 1293, 2083, 2603, 2822

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The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Epistle: Philippians 2: 5-11; Gospel: St. John 21: 31-36

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  

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

Epistle: Apocalypse 21. 2-5; St. Luke 19. 1-10

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. DH 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)

Some say "Where your heart is there will your treasure be." We truly see and seek in our Eucharistic Lord an infinite source of love when we treasure him enough to grant him a truly prominent and fitting place in our temples of worship.

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

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