Category Archives: Christology

God always wins


-by Br Isaiah Beiter, OP

What king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. (Lk 14:31–32)

The King is coming. And He will give you peace—if you call for it. This is a parable. But it is also a lightly-veiled description of the situation between us and Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. He is coming, and he will not fail to conquer all.

The fact is: God has enemies. Or at least, there are people who make themselves enemies of God. Saint Paul speaks of a time when we were all enemies—before we received Christ’s mercy (Rm 5:10). He tells us what it is to be an enemy of God: to set your mind on the things of the flesh. That mind is unable to submit to God’s law, unable to please God, and receives no reward but death (Rm 8:6–8; 6:23). The King in another parable has hard words for them:

As for these enemies of Mine, who did not want Me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before Me. (Lk 19:27)

The enemies will not withstand the attack. Christ’s victory is already announced, and really, already achieved: “I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33), Jesus says to His disciples, even though “we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him” (Heb 2:8).

Usually, when a king advances against his enemies, the whole situation is bad news for these enemies. And this is the difference between every other king and Jesus, the King of the Universe. His coming is good news to His enemies. He came to make friends out of His enemies.

While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. (Rm 5:10)

No man has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)

And if we receive Him—if we become friends of the King Who comes to conquer, we become conquerors, too. “Who is it that conquers the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God?” (1 Jn 5:5). In the Revelation given to John, Jesus makes many promises to “the one who is victorious” such as these:

I will give him to eat of the tree of life. (2:7)

He will not be harmed by the second death. (2:11)

I will give him authority over the nations. (2:26)

I will give him to sit with Me on My throne, as I Myself conquered, and I sat down with My Father on His throne. (3:21)

The fact is: Jesus is the King of the Universe, and He has enemies. The enemies have a choice. If they reject Him, they will face defeat and death [Ed. and already do/have]. If they seek peace, they will be His friends and reign with Him.

The King stands before His enemies, ready to give them peace. He is only waiting to be asked.”

The wicked mob screams out:
“We don’t want Christ as king!,”
While we, with shouts of joy, hail
Thee as the world’s supreme king.

May the rulers of the world publicly honor and extol Thee;
May teachers and judges reverence Thee;
May the laws express Thine order
And the arts reflect Thy beauty.

May kings find renown
In their submission and dedication to Thee.
Bring under Thy gentle rule
Our country and our homes.

Glory be to Thee, O Jesus,
Supreme over all secular authorities;
And glory be to the Father and the loving Spirit
Through endless ages. Amen.
-traditional hymn for First Vespers

Love, & Hail!! King of the Universe!!,
Matthew

The Kingdom of God & Grace


-by Br Dominic Koester, OP

“A meritocracy is a political system in which political power and economic goods are bestowed upon citizens based on their achievements rather than social standing or wealth. In short, people get what they deserve. We Americans tend to like this idea: people should not be rewarded just because they were born into the right family, but because they truly earned it! Many a medieval king gave wealth or choice property to friends; they bestowed important government positions to family. We look askance on this unenlightened political system. Rather, we assert that wealth ought to be a reward for hard work, not for friendship; government roles ought to be bestowed based on one’s competency, not one’s family ties!

Christ is a king, and like any king, He has a kingdom: the “Kingdom of God.” Is this Kingdom of God a meritocracy? One could be inclined to think so. Not just anyone gets into the Kingdom of God, but only those who live good and upright lives! The kingdom has laws one must follow if he is to be a citizen: give alms to the poor, know the faith well, don’t bury your talents, go to Mass on Sundays, do not eat meat on Fridays of Lent, etc. If you want to be saved, it’s not enough to be born into a Christian family or to inherit a Christian culture. No, you have to earn salvation yourself, right?

No, of course not. Salvation is a free gift. It is impossible for man to earn it. As St. Paul writes, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Here we have a classic case of trying to fit God into our human categories. A human king can bestow favors in response to the good works of his subjects, but he lacks the power to enable his subjects to do these good works. God, on the other hand, not only bestows favors after our good works, but also gives us the ability to do the good work in the first place so as to deserve the reward. Thus, in a certain sense, God’s kingdom is a meritocracy, for we do truly merit rewards from him on account of our good, free actions. However, at its core, God’s kingdom is not a meritocracy, for all our merits are principally God’s gifts. They stem from the grace He gives. The king Himself says to us, “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

For God, human categories break down. On the one hand, having status in His kingdom is about being in the right family. In making us His subjects, He adopts us into His own family without our deserving this gift. On the other hand, God is not guilty of nepotism, for He also transforms us in such a way that we are truly subjects worthy of our places in the kingdom. God does not want us to try to earn His love. Christian life in the kingdom is not principally about what we accomplish for God. Both our adoption and our merit follow upon the free gift of God’s grace. In response to His grace, more than anything else the Lord wants us to do simply this: rest and rejoice in His love for us.”

“Almighty and everlasting God,
Who in Thy beloved Son,
the King of the whole world,
hast willed to restore all things,
mercifully grant that all the families of nations
now kept apart by the wound of sin,
may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule.”
– traditional Collect for the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Love, & His love,
Matthew

I AM the Way!!

I LOVE St Thomas; yes, his incredulity. But, moreso, his crankiness. He is very easy to imagine as that ONE in any group who is THE negative Nel, apologies to all Nels out there, Bob Bummers, Debbie Downers, etc. He whines. He complains. WHAT a ray of JOY & LIGHT in a group, no?

Were it up to the Apostles, they would surely have thrown Thomas in a well or over a cliff, or whatever it took to get RID of him!!! Imagine waking up to hear, listen to Thomas complain, whine, albeit unrecorded, each morning!!! A REAL upper!!!!

If it weren’t for the miracles and Jesus, it would be a horrible existence to have to live with Thomas. His family must have been GLAD to get rid of him!!! Yet, the Boss, Jesus, knows him, loves him, calls hims, gives him, knowing Thomas, special status. Jesus KNEW Thomas would be the one to openly doubt after the Resurrection.

Some of the Apostles, the ingenues, the younger ones, John, may have believed right off the bat due to their youthful naivete’, or sincerely; but the older, more sodden with experience ones, understandably, were thinking what Thomas said out loud, and took the easy way out to let Thomas do it. See, there’s the rub. The annoying one also always does a great service. He gets to do unpopular work of asking the uncomfortable questions, to the benefit of the group. That is likely why any group keeps them around, to provide that good service despite being annoying.

Jn 11:16


-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“Where I AM going you know the way.”
Thomas said to Him,
“Master, we do not know where You are going;
how can we know the way?” (John 14:4-5)

“Here Thomas denies the two things that our Lord affirmed.” St. Thomas Aquinas’ first take on his namesake’s question finds St. Thomas the Apostle contradicting the Lord. Whatever St. Thomas the Apostle’s weaknesses, he at least had no trouble speaking his mind.

Jesus claims that Thomas knows the way. Thomas audaciously responds that he doesn’t. His reasoning is as flawless as that of Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

But lest we think that the disciple has bested the master, Aquinas reconciles Jesus and Thomas’ conflicting claims, stating that “both statements are true: for it is true that [the apostles] knew, yet they did not know that they knew.” The apostles know the way because they know Jesus, Who is the way. They know the destination because they know Jesus, Who is the truth and the life. “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Our destination is God. A life GPS set to anywhere else or to nowhere in particular will not lead us there. It is not an easy thing to go to God and see Him face to face. “No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18a). But there is one way: “The only Son, God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known” (John 1:18b).

It took St. Thomas a while to understand. The same boldness that urged him to object that he did not know the way would later specify the way he could come to belief: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). St. Thomas came to believe not only in the resurrection of Jesus, but also that Jesus is Himself the way and the goal: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Love,
Matthew

Counterfeit Christ: Socialism

The Huffington Post seems to think so – On Christmas 2016, HuffPost published the online article Jesus Was A Socialist

In the Stern Dining Hall of Stanford University there is a painting by Antonio Burciaga called The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes.

It’s an homage to Da Vinci’s Last Supper but with Hispanic heroes in place of Jesus and the apostles.

The mural has generated controversy because of its depiction of socialist revolutionary Che Guevara in the place of Jesus Christ. One outraged student wrote in a Stanford newspaper, “Che Guevara was a butcher and a tyrant. It is utterly disgusting, offensive, and ignorant for Casa Zapata to deify him on its walls.”

But many people think it’s entirely appropriate to compare Che to Jesus because both men were “socialists” who liberated the poor.

In her popular book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich says Jesus was a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist” whose inconvenient message about helping the poor the Church tries to suppress.

In 2015, Bolivian president and head of the Movement for Socialist party Evo Morales gifted Pope Francis with a “Communist crucifix.” It depicted Christ crucified on a hammer and sickle (the symbol of the communist party in the Soviet Union) in an effort to show that socialism and Christianity are compatible with one another.

Pope Pius XI said “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist,” but this counterfeit Christ says the exact opposite: the only good Catholics are true socialists. If you really cared about the poor, if you really accepted the call of Christ to care for the “least among us” (Matt. 25:40) then you would support socialist policies to eliminate poverty.

But how can that be true if . . .
…Jesus Did Not Preach Socialist Policies

If you define a socialist as “a person who wants to help the poor,” then Jesus was a socialist—but then so is almost everyone else. What makes someone a socialist is not his desire to help the poor but his belief about what kind of economy provides the most benefit to the poor.

Capitalism, for example, is defined in terms of private ownership of the means to produce goods and services. Usually, this kind of capitalism takes place within a “market economy” that allows for the free exchange of goods and services as a means to create profit. Capitalists believe that this voluntary series of exchanges makes everyone in the economy wealthier and that this is the most effective way to lift people out of poverty.

Socialism, on the other hand, refers to the collective or “social” ownership of the means to produce goods and services. There are several different kinds of economic models that have been called socialism, but according to The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, “By its very nature [socialism] involves the abolition of private ownership of capital; bringing the means of production, distribution, and exchange into public ownership and control is central to its philosophy.”

Socialists claim the best way to alleviate poverty is through a central authority like the government (as opposed to decentralized forces like the market) distributing a society’s wealth among its individual members.

If this is what is meant by “socialism,” then Jesus was not a socialist because Jesus did not seek to abolish the private ownership of capital (like money or natural resources) or the means of production like organized farms and manufacturing technologies.

According to economist Lawrence Reed, “The fact is, one can scour the scriptures with a fine-tooth comb and find nary a word from Jesus that endorses the forcible redistribution of wealth by political authorities. None, period.”

But even if Jesus didn’t preach socialist political policies, couldn’t we say he preached socialist values when it came to individuals? After all, he told the rich man that if he wanted to inherit eternal life he should sell what he had and give it to the poor (Mark 10:21). Doesn’t this mean that Jesus wanted the rich to give away all their money to the poor?

It should first be noted that giving away your money to the poor is a charitable value rather than a socialist one. Jesus’ commands for individuals to give alms to the poor (Luke 12:33) did not include whether those individuals should give that money directly to the poor, donate it to charities who serve the poor, or allow the money to be taxed and redistributed though government subsidy programs.

Helping the poor is a non-negotiable issue for Christians, but there can be reasonable disagreement among believers over which methods are the best way to reduce poverty.”

Love & freedom, and love of freedom,
Matthew

Cease!! The Heart of Jesus is with me!!!

“I say to myself, I will not mention His name, I will speak in His name no more. But then, it becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones, I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” -Jeremiah 20:7-10

It’s a difficult time to be Catholic.  The McCormick family has a very special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In it we find inexpressible joy and peace, no matter what is occurring to us, or in  the world around us.  A little spooky we wound up at a parish named Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary!! My mother had a badge of the Sacred Heart on a small length of “ball and chain” ring of 3, maybe four inches. She kept her religious medals on this ring. I still have it today.

“You woo me…
with birdsong in the morning
daffodils in the garden
gentle waves on the shore
gifts of glass from the sea
a warm breeze in the evening
a playful, loving family
friends who listen and share
the kiss of Eucharist on my tongue
daily, intimate, hour-long conversations in a silent church
drawing me ever more deeply into the fire burning
within Your Sacred Heart, allowing me to feel the pain of sin
that consumes you, letting me experience
Your intense suffering for love of me and all of Your children,
sharing Your sorrow
with the one You love,
this little nobody
that You woo
so expertly,
so divinely,
so sweetly

I can’t resist Your desire for me

I am wooed into Your eternal embrace
so tender and loving….

Never let go
I am Yours forever…”
Anne Bender, “Wooed by His Sacred Heart”

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, deign to take me into Your Sacred Heart. Grant that it may be the sanctuary where I may be recollected, sheltered, and find my rest.

MEDITATION

The liturgy of the Feast of the Sacred Heart presents to us the Heart of Jesus as the ark of salvation, our shelter and our refuge. “O Heart of Jesus, ark … of grace, pardon and mercy, O Heart, inviolable sanctuary of the New Law, Temple more sacred than the ancient ark!… Who would not want an eternal home in this Heart?” Sacred Heart our refuge(Roman Breviary). “Close to these blessed wounds in the Heart of Christ,” exclaims St. Peter Canisius, “I shall find refuge; in them I shall build my nest in full security.” This has always been the hope of contemplative souls, of interior souls: to take refuge in the Heart of Christ as in their chosen asylum. St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus wrote in her last resolutions: “My God, I wish to enclose myself now and forever in Your most loving Heart as in a desert, to live there in You, with You, and for You, a hidden life of love and sacrifice” (-Spirituality of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus). The soul who wishes to sound the depths of the mysteries of Christ and to understand something of His infinite love, will find no better way than to enter within His Heart or, as St. John of the Cross says, “to hide itself in the breast of its Beloved, for to these clefts He invites it in the Canticle of Canticles saying: ‘Arise, and make haste, my love, my fair one, and come into the clefts of the rock, and into the cavern of the enclosure” (Spiritual Canticle 31,5). Let us take refuge then, in the Heart of Christ and contemplate His mysteries and His love, but seek there, too, a shelter for our interior life. This is a place of retreat which is always at our disposal and we can retire there even in the midst of occupations and duties. When rumors, curiosity, gossip, and the vanities of the world threaten to overwhelm us, let us quickly retire by a swift interior movement to the Heart of Jesus; there we shall always find recollection and peace.

COLLOQUY

“O most sweet Jesus, the treachery of my sins would forbid my entering Your Heart. But since an inconceivable charity enlarged Your Heart, and since You, who alone are holy, can purify what is defiled, cleanse me from my faults, O good Jesus, and deliver me from my sins. When I am purified by You, I can approach You, O purest One, and enter and abide in Your Heart all the days of my life, to know and to do what You wish me to do.” (St. Bonaventure)

“Truly, where is there sure and lasting safety and rest for one who is weak if not in Your wounds, O my Savior? I dwell there all the more securely as You are powerful and can save me.

The world rages around me, the body weighs upon me, the devil lays snares for me, but I do not fall because I am founded on You, the firm rock…. If then, O Christ, the thought of Your wounds comes to my mind, if I recall such a powerful and efficacious remedy, I can no longer be terrified by the fear that any harm may befall me. Filled with confidence, I shall take what I need from Your Heart, O Lord, for mercies abound there, and Your wounds are open to permit these mercies to flow forth. They pierced Your hands and Your feet, they opened Your side with a spear; and through these clefts I am able … to taste and see how sweet You are, O Lord!…

The blade pierced Your soul and reached Your Heart so that You might know compassion for my infirmities. Through the wounds in Your Body, the secret of Your Heart, that great mystery of love, was revealed; the inmost heart of Your mercy was opened, through which You came to us from the heights of heaven. Where then can we see more clearly than in Your wounds, O Lord, that You are sweet, gentle and full of mercy? No one indeed shows greater mercy than He who gives His life for the condemned, for those sentenced to death. Hence, all my hope lies in Your mercy, O Lord, and I shall never be deprived of it so long as You are merciful.” (-St. Bernard)

Love,
Matthew

I AM the Way!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.”

“O Christ, eternal Truth, what is Your doctrine? And by what path do You direct us to the Father? I can find no other way but the one which You have marked out in virtue of the fire of Your charity. The path, O eternal Word, which You have marked with Your Blood is the way.

O loving, tender Word of God, You tell me: ‘I have marked the path and opened the gate with My Blood; do not be negligent in following it, but take the same road which I, eternal Truth, have traced out with My Blood.’ Arise, my soul, and follow your Redeemer, for no one can go to the Father but by Him. O sweet Christ, Christ-Love, You are the way, and the door through which we must enter in order to reach the Father” (St. Catherine of Siena).

Love,
Matthew

I AM the Truth!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.”

“O divine Father, You have opened the Book of Life, Jesus Christ, before us, Your children. In Him, the God-Man, we find all that we could wish to know. Reading in Him, we shall be filled with holy knowledge; we shall find all the doctrine we need for ourselves and for others. But, O my soul, if you want to be enlightened and instructed, you must not read this Book of Life hastily or superficially, but slowly and attentively; then you will be inflamed with divine love and you will know the truth.

Above all, O my soul, try to have a true knowledge of God and yourself; you can obtain this only by reading, meditating, and studying the Book of Life, Christ, Our Lord” (St. Angela of Foligno).

Love,
Matthew

I AM the Life!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.” Several other times in the Gospels we find Jesus using these words. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, where God uses the same intensive form to say, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God. In Matthew 28:20, as Jesus gave the Great Commission, He gave it emphasis by saying, “I AM with you always, to the end of the age.” When the soldiers came seeking Jesus in the garden the night before His crucifixion, He told them, “I AM He,” and His words were so powerful that the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:4–6). These words reflect the very name of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, which means “to be” or “the self-existing one.” It is the name of power and authority, and Jesus claimed it as His own.

“May my mind, my heart, my body, my life, be wholly animated by You, my sweet Life! I will love You Lord, my strength; I will love You, and will live, no longer through my own efforts, but through You.” (St. Augustine).

Love,
Matthew

Jun 7 – Suffering & Abandonment, Bl Marie-Therese Soubiran of the Sacred Heart (1834-1889), Religious, Foundress, Sisters of Mary Help of Christians

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, teach me to suffer with simplicity, without useless concentration on self, but in total abandonment to Your divine will.

MEDITATION

The secret of learning to suffer in a virtuous way consists chiefly in forgetting oneself and one’s sorrows and in abandoning oneself to God.

The soul that is absorbed in its own sufferings and concentrates its whole attention on them, becomes unable to bear them serenely and courageously. “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34), said Jesus, thus teaching us to bear calmly, day by day, moment by moment, whatever sorrows and crosses God places in our path, with no thought of what we suffered yesterday, no worry about what we shall have to endure tomorrow. Even when our suffering is intense, let us not exaggerate it, nor attach too much importance to it; let us not foster a morbid tendency to nurture our sorrow, to ponder over it, weighing and analyzing it under every aspect. To act in this way would result in the paralysis of our spirit of sacrifice, of our ability to accept and to act, and would make us useless to ourselves and to others. One who is oversensitive and preoccupied with his own suffering, often becomes insensible and indifferent to the suffering of others.

In order to resist these selfish tendencies which have been rightly defined by Father Faber as “the worm of Christian sorrow,” we must forget ourselves, go out of ourselves and our own sufferings, become interested in the sufferings of others and endeavor to alleviate them. This is a very effective way to regain in times of discouragement the strength to bear our own crosses. We should be mindful of the truth that we are never alone in suffering; that if our sufferings are great, there are always those who suffer incomparably more than we. Our troubles, often enough, are but a drop compared to the sea of sorrows in which mankind is engulfed, and are practically nonentities in comparison with the Passion of Jesus.

Those who are overly concerned with their own troubles eventually become exasperated by them. Drowned in their sorrows, they stifle every impulse to generosity. By contrast, those who know how to forget themselves, maintain their equilibrium, and take greater thought for others than for themselves. They are always open to charity and generosity toward God and their neighbor. These are simple souls who, because they are unmindful of themselves, can bear suffering magnanimously and derive much profit for their own sanctification.


-plaque on the house of Bourges where Marie-Thérèse de Soubiran lived from 1871 to 1874. Please click on the image for greater detail.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, grant that I may never cease to turn to You, and to look only at You. In consolation or desolation I shall run to You, stopping at nothing else; I shall run so quickly that I shall have no time to look at anything, nor to see the things of earth, because my pace will be so rapid. Therefore, out of love for You, I shall spurn pleasure, repose, dependence upon the judgment of men, satisfaction in their approval, dread of physical discomfort, sadness of spirit, and success or failure. In a word, I shall spurn everything that is not God.

I realize that my crosses have been permitted and willed by You, my God, to teach me to trust in You in spite of everything.

O God, be my sole strength in fear, weakness, and distress; be my confidant, or rather my confidence. Divine Guest, dwelling within me, on the throne of my heart, abide with me as my protector; You alone have dominion and power over my whole being; You alone are its love!

Why should I worry or fear? All is Yours, O God, and You will take care of my wants and provide for them. You are infinite Love, and You love the works of Your hands more than they can know and love themselves. Who would dare question Your power, or the loving, providential care You bestow on Your creatures from all eternity, and with the efficacy of Your love?

I believe that all You do and permit is for my good and my salvation, and I abandon myself to Your guidance with love and trust, and without anxiety, fear, or calculation.” (Bl. M. Thérèse Soubiran). Read her story. The order she founded and was calumniously expelled from, Sisters of Marie-Auxiliatrice, Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, endures to this day, under the patronage of their foundress, Bl M. Therese Soubiran of the Sacred Heart.

The Sisters of Mary Help of Christians are dedicated to various projects of assistance, especially for the poor, and young women, and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

They are present in:

Europe: France , Ireland , Italy , United Kingdom
Africa: Cameroon
Asia: South Korea , Japan , Philippines
Oceania: Micronesia

“Now, in the oblivion, inactivity, the most complete nullity, I shall be passionate about Our Lord Himself.” – Bl M. Therese Soubiran

“Be able to emerge life from death!” -Bl M. Therese Soubiran

Love,
Matthew