The New Tree of Life

November 9, 2010

I had an “ah-ha!” moment yesterday.  Now, I have to admit that my “ah-ha!”  discoveries aren’t as shocking to my cradle catholic brothers and sisters.  But they are exciting for me because I have one more piece of the puzzle; one more chapter to the story; one more taco on the combination plate.  And since my deck of cards is a little more complete, I celebrate. 

Earlier this week, I read Genesis Chapter 3 and saw a verse that I had completely forgotten about:

Then the Lord God said: “See!  The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad!  Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take the fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22)

So, to recap, God kicked Man out of the garden to keep him from eating from the tree of life.  Once Man chose to disobey God and eat from the tree of knowledge, the tree of life is no longer an option. Man could not eat from both trees.   So God had no choice but to kick Man out of the garden since Man cut himself off from the tree of life. 

Okay, so now read what Jesus says according to the Gospel of John (6: 35, 53-58).  He is talking to the crowd who is asking him for a sign.  They point out to Him that Moses provided a sign in manna from Heaven.  Jesus first tells them that God, not Moses, provided the manna, and that those who ate the manna still died.  Then he said:

 ”I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst……unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

I think the parallel here is so painfully obvious that it does not warrant an explanation.   How awesome it is that Jesus is offering us the food that Adam threw away?  Jesus has become the new tree of life.  And we are all invited to partake of this life giving fruit which he offers through his own flesh and blood in the Eucharist.  Wow.  How can we refuse that gift?

When I was growing up in the Baptist church, we were taught that what Jesus said during the last supper was not to be taken literally.  We learned that the bread represented his body and the wine represented his blood.  It never occurred to me to question that teaching because, let’s face it, the bread and wine actually changing into Jesus is a little far-fetched for our finite and human minds to grasp.  When I went to a Catholic church for the first time, I learned that they actually believe that the bread was Jesus’ body and the wine was His blood- it wasn’t a representation.  I was taken aback by that.  How could they believe in such a preposterous idea?  I even had to go a few times to be convinced that this is what they actually believe.  I thought that I could never believe that myself and stopped going for a little while.  But then my curiosity drew me back.  I got to thinking that this is what the people of the Catholic Church have believed for 2000 years.  That’s a long time.  And then I started to think about what great faith the Catholic people must have in order to believe in such a crazy thing.  I didn’t think I had what they had.  I didn’t have the faith to believe in what they believed in.  But I wanted to be around them.  I wanted to worship with them.  So I kept going to Mass.

And then one day, Mass was different.  I had just picked up a book about Eucharistic Miracles(Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz).  My boyfriend and I were in a Catholic book store and I happened to see it on the shelf.  Given my new found fascination I had with Catholics and the Eucharist, I couldn’t help but want to read that book.  Were there really miracles related to this idea of the Eucharist?  I had to know what it said.  I wasn’t ready to believe what was in the book, but I had to know what was in the book.  The very first chapter was about the miracle at Lanciano, Italy.  In this miracle, a priest was questioning the actual presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  This got my attention, because that was exactly what I was doing.  Then, at a mass he was presiding over, the host became an actual piece of flesh and the wine became real blood.  When I first read that, I was like, yeah right.  But, I kept reading and learned this miracle is preserved and on display to this very day.  AND they did some tests on the “flesh” and “blood” and determined that it was real human flesh and blood.  And that the flesh was muscle from the human heart.  That last part is what got me.  The flesh was from the human heart.  If it really was Jesus, then He was giving us a piece of His heart.

The Mass I attended after reading about this miracle was different.  I felt very connected to everyone around me.  It was if I knew their secret.  As the mass progressed, I became more and more focused on what was happening on the altar.  And when the Priest held up the host and said “This is my body, to be given up for you”, something clicked.  I didn’t hear “This is my body.”  Instead, I heard “This is my heart.”  If I hadn’t already been on my knees, I would have fell to them.  At that moment, my spirit explained to my intellect what was happening.  You see, all my life in the Baptist Church, I was taught that I should give my heart to Jesus.  In fact, that is what you do when you pray the special prayer to be saved – you  invite Jesus to live in your heart.  So, I grew up inviting Jesus to live in my heart.  I invited Him to be a part of me.  I wanted Him to live in me, and I liked to think that my heart was His.  And then, there He was, up on that altar, offering me His heart.  It was as if everything had come full circle and a whole new world was revealed to me.  The Lord was showing me a part of himself I had never seen.  My hunger for the Eucharist began that day.  On the way home from that Mass, I remember telling my boyfriend (who later became my husband) that I wanted to be Catholic.  He gave me a knowing look and then signed me up for RCIA.  And here I am.

Receiving the Eucharist is the highlight of my Christian experience.  There is a reason why the Bible describes the Church as the Bride of Christ.  The relationship we have with Christ is very intimate through the Eucharist.  When we receive Him in the Eucharist, He physically becomes part of us.  He nourishes us spiritually AND physically.  I think that this is a hard concept for us to understand because of what happened in the garden.  When Man chose to eat from the tree of knowledge, he separated himself, body and soul from God which destined Man to die.  This is what Adam passed along to us in original sin.  Out of His love for us, God himself came down to earth and died an innocent physical death, and then conquered death through the resurrection.   By this act, He creates a way for us to gain eternal life with him.  Through baptism and our faith, we become part of the Bride of Christ and are brought into His family.  And He tells us that our souls will be saved and our bodies will eventually be raised up, made new and reunited with our souls on the last day.  In all of this, we see that there is a connection between the physical and spiritual; a connection that died in the garden but then is reestablished through Christ.  This connection is nourished in us by Christ through His presence in the Eucharist.  Jesus becomes the new tree of life in the Eucharist.  How can we not fall to our knees and accept His gift?

Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and wife of a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com and is a volunteer columnist for www.new.catholicmom.com.

40 Days for Life Announces Milestone: 3,000 Babies Saved

October 13, 2010

By John Jalsevac

October 12, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Yesterday the 40 Days for Life campaign announced a significant milestone for the burgeoning pro-life initiative – its 3,000th baby saved from abortion since the first 40 Days campaign in the fall of 2007.

“To God be the glory for reaching this major milestone!” wrote Shawn Carney of 40 Days in yesterday’s update. “That’s a LOT of children and mothers spared from abortion. And that’s a lot of GREAT stories.”

Carney shared one such story from an abortion facility in Reno Nevada, where the abortionist has actually installed a sprinkler system aimed directly at the sidewalk where 40 Days participants stand and pray.

Carney relates that at the Reno site recently, “A woman driving out of the abortion center’s parking lot stopped to ask one of the local volunteer for her phone number. Shortly after, the volunteer received a text message.”

The woman wrote in the text message that the previous week she had gone to the abortion facility to drop off the payment for an upcoming abortion, at which point she saw the pro-life protesters out front.

“As I was driving away I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was another way. All this week I thought and prayed about it and I realized in my heart what the right thing to do was,” she wrote.

“I can’t help but think, that had you guys not been there that day to remind me that I had another choice, that maybe one more baby would have died today.”

She concluded, “Don’t stop what you’re doing. It matters. It did to me. From the blonde lady in the white SUV who picked up her money instead of aborting her baby today.”

Carney related another similar story from the 40 Days site in Houston. The pro-life volunteers there say that they recently saw a van pull into the Planned Parenthood parking lot, but then it drove around the lot and headed for the exit.

Carney writes: “As they reached the street, the van stopped and a woman rolled down the window. ‘Because you were here,’ she said, ‘my daughter has chosen NOT to have an abortion.’ The daughter was weeping in the back seat. ‘Thanks for being here and saving her baby.’”

“A short time later,” Carney writes, “a couple in an SUV went in and out of Planned Parenthood a couple of times. They finally drove out and they, too, told the volunteers that they could not go through with the abortion.”

“Praise God for these - and all — the 3,000 lives saved from abortion due to local 40 Days for Life campaigns,” concluded Carney. “And THANK YOU … for your prayers, your fasting, your steadfast response to God’s call.”

YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES, A SIGN OF HOPE FOR ALL ITALY

October 4, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - The evening of October 3rd, during the last event of his pastoral visit to Palermo, the Pope met with thousands of young people gathered in the city’s Piazza Politeama, to whom he spoke about Chiara Badano, beatified in Rome on 25 September.

Recalling how the blessed died young of an incurable disease, he said: “Nineteen years full of life, of love, of faith. Two years, the last two, also full of suffering but always in love and light, a light she irradiated around her and that came from within, from her heart full of God”.

After then highlighting how her parents “lit the flame of faith in their daughter’s heart, and helped Chiara keep it alight even in the difficult moments as she was growing up and especially in the long trial of suffering”, Benedict XVI noted how “the relationship between parents and children … is the torch of faith that is transmitted from generation to generation”.

“The family”, he went on, “is fundamental because it is here that the first perception of the meaning of life germinates in the human heart. It germinates in the relationship with the mother and father, who are responsible for their children’s life but also the first collaborators of God in transmitting the life of faith”.

In Sicily too “there are splendid testimonies of young people who [germinate and] grow like beautiful lush plants”, said the Holy Father. “Do not to be afraid to contrast evil”, he told his audience. “Do not give in to the lure of the mafia, which is the path of death, incompatible with the Gospel, as many of your bishops have said”.

Referring then to the theme of the next World Youth Day - “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” - the Pope said: “The image of the tree tells us that each of us needs a fertile soil in which to sink our roots, a terrain rich in nutritional substances which make the person grow”. These substances “are values, but above all they are love and faith, knowledge of the true face of God and awareness that He loves us infinitely, faithfully, patiently, to the point of giving His life for us.

“In this context”, he added, “the family is like a ‘little Church’, because it transmits God, it transmits the love of Christ by virtue of the Sacrament of Marriage. … And the family, in order to be a ‘little Church’, must be well inserted into the ‘great Church’; in other words, into the family that Christ came to create”.

In closing Benedict XVI referred to the difficulties the people of Sicily have to face. “Where there are young people and families who chose the way of the Gospel, there is hope”, he said. “And you are a sign of hope, not only for Sicily but for all Italy.

“I have brought you a witness of sanctity and you have offered me yours: the faces of so many young people of this land who have loved Christ with evangelical radicality. … The greatest gift we have received is to be a Church, to be in Christ a sign and instrument of unity, peace and freedom. No-one can take this joy from us. No-one can take this power! Courage, dear young people and families of Sicily! Be saints!”

During his journey by car from Palermo to the city’s Falcone e Borsellino airport at Punta Raisi, the Pope paused at Capeci, where an attack in 1992 cost the lives of Judge Giovanni Falcone and his police escort. The Pope descended from his car and placed a bunch of flowers at one of the memorial plaques, then prayed in silence for all the victims of the mafia and of organised crime. He then returned to his car and continued his journey to the airport.

Holy Father invites all to follow example of newly beatified Capuchin friar

September 13, 2010

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) — A Spanish Capuchin friar who was known across the city of Granada, Spain for his simplicity was beatified on Sunday morning. The Holy Father invited the faithful to follow his example and to love all people, “without exception.”

Brother Leopold de Alpandeire, born Francisco Sánchez Márquez, was beatified at an airfield  near Granada with an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. Prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the ceremony along with a number concelebrants including Cardinal Antonio María Cañizares and all the bishops of Andalusia, led by Archbishop of Granada, Javier Martínez.

The Capuchin friar, who lived from 1864-1956, was remembered in August by the general minister of the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor, Br. Mauro Jöhri. Br. Mauro wrote that the Blessed was “before all else a ‘man of God,’ steeped in His Spirit.”

For 50 years, he recalled, Br. Leopold walked the streets of Granada “distributing the alms of love, lending color to the sad days of many, creating unity and harmony, leading all to meet God and lending dignity to everyday tasks.”

In a pastoral letter written for the occasion,  the Archbishop of Granada said that in the “simple” spirituality and life of the friar “the word of the Gospel is once again fulfilled, ‘Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

“This is fulfilled in the world, in effect” he said, “and it is fulfilled in Br. Leopold. The contrast between the programs of the world with the categories and criteria of Br. Leopold cannot be more radical.”

“But Br. Leopold is not a utopia,” the prelate concluded, “he is a being in flesh and bone.”

Uniting himself with the celebrations in Granada after Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Benedict said that “the life of this simple and austere Capuchin religious is a song to humility and confidence in God and a luminous model of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary.”

He invited “all, following the example of the new Blessed, to serve the Lord with a sincere heart, so that we might experience the immense love that He has for us and which makes it possible to love all men without exception.”

Transfiguration Prayer

August 7, 2010

The prayer was inspired in adoration on the Feast of the Transfiguration  of our Lord.

Transfigure my mind, O Lord, transfigure my mind.  Change my thoughts to your perfect will.  Use my words to seek you out.  Give me wisdom so I may find you in the midst of this world.  Give me understanding so I may know your truth.  Give me knowledge so I may know you and know myself.  Rain down your light so I may see your path.  Take my mind, O Lord, and make it a worthy gift for the Father.

Transfigure my heart, O Lord, transfigure my heart.  Bring my stony heart to life.  Place my cold heart in the furnace of your divine love and allow your fire to melt the ice, soften the hardness and enlighten the darkness.  Infuse it with your love and mercy.  Give me courage to die to this humanity so that my heart may truly be yours.  Take my heart, O Lord, and make it a worthy gift for the Father.

Transfigure my soul, O Lord, transfigure my soul.  Have mercy on my unworthiness.  Have pity on my fallen nature.  Allow your body and blood to wash me as white as snow.  Clothe me in your salvation.  Give my dying soul your life.  I long to lose myself in you for eternity.  Take my soul, O Lord, and make it a worthy gift for the Father.

 Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and the children she loves on during the day at her home daycare.  She loving supports her Husband’s calling as a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com and is a volunteer columnist for www.catholicmom.com.

A Critical Distinction between Direct Abortion and Legitimate Medical Procedures

July 12, 2010

On June 23, 2010, the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine released a clarification entitled: The Distinction between Direct Abortion and Legitimate Medical Procedures. Since most folks don’t read every new posting on the vast USCCB web-site, this helpful statement could be overlooked.
The statement notes that “On November 5, 2009, medical personnel at the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, performed a procedure that caused the death of an unborn child. Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, the Bishop of Phoenix, has judged that this procedure was in fact a direct abortion and so morally wrong….”
When Bishop Olmsted spoke, many a commentator became a self-appointed expert on the Church’s moral teaching overnight.  The national media certainly caused confusion among Catholics and the general public as to what the Church teaches regarding illegitimate and legitimate medical procedures for addressing the risk to a mother’s health or even life during a pregnancy.

The Committee on Doctrine reminded us that “…. abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted… One may never directly kill an innocent human being, no matter what the reason… By contrast, in some situations, it may be permissible to perform a medical procedure on a pregnant woman that directly treats a serious health problem but that also has a secondary effect that leads to the death of the developing child… The difference can be seen in two different scenarios in which the unborn child is not yet old enough to survive outside the womb.”
“In the first scenario, a pregnant woman is experiencing problems with one or more of her organs, apparently as a result of the added burden of pregnancy.  The doctor recommends an abortion to protect the health of the woman… The surgery directly targets the life of the unborn child. It is the surgical instrument in the hands of the doctor that causes the child’s death.  The surgery does not directly address the health problem of the woman, for example, by repairing the organ that is malfunctioning… The abortion is the means by which a reduced strain upon the organ or organs is achieved. As the Church has said many times, direct abortion is never permissible because a good end cannot justify an evil means….”
“In the second scenario, a pregnant woman develops cancer in her uterus. The doctor recommends surgery to remove the cancerous uterus as the only way to prevent the spread of the cancer… The woman’s health benefits directly from the surgery, because of the removal of the cancerous organ. The surgery does not directly target the life of the unborn child. The child will not be able to live long after the uterus is removed from the woman’s body, but the death of the child is an unintended and unavoidable side effect and not the aim of the surgery. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with surgery to remove a malfunctioning organ. It is morally justified when the continued presence of the organ causes problems for the rest of the body.”
“Surgery to terminate the life of an innocent person, however, is intrinsically wrong… Nothing, therefore, can justify a direct abortion. No circumstance, no purpose, no law
whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”
May the Law of God, proclaimed by our Church and through our bishops, inspire each of us to work for the protection of every human person, mother and child alike.
To read the entire statement, go to:
www.usccb.org/doctrine/direct-abortion-statement2010-06-23.pdf
­­­­­­­­
Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Go to www.usccb.org/prolife to learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities.
For more information on the Texas Catholic Conference, visit www.TXcatholic.org.

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Pope calls for imitation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ devotion to Eucharist

June 23, 2010

Vatican City,  (CNA/EWTN News).- Basing his catechesis for a third and final time on the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict highlighted Aquinas’ “masterpiece,” the “Summa Theologica.” He referred to the saint’s devotion to the Eucharist, making the call for all people to “fall in love” with the Blessed Sacrament.

An estimated 7,000 pilgrims and faithful joined the Pope in the Paul VI Hall for Wednesday’s general audience. Among those in attendance was a group from Malawi in tribal dress who performed a traditional dance for the Holy Father from their seats in the packed auditorium.

Referring to the “masterpiece” of the “Summa Theologica,” Benedict XVI noted the saint’s “serene confidence in the harmony of faith and reason, and in the ability of reason, enlightened by faith, to come to an understanding of God and his saving plan.”

Through the work, said the Pope, the saint “illustrates the working of divine grace, which perfects our natural gifts and enables us, through the practice of the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to attain the eternal happiness for which we were created.”

In the collection of articles from which the “Summa” is composed, explained the Holy Father, the 13th century saint offers an extensive series of questions and answers through which he assists in deepening the teachings provided in Scripture and those from the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine. He examines three elements of the being and essence of God: that He exists in Himself as the beginning and end of all things, that He is present in life through His Grace and in Christian activity, and that he is present in a special way in the Person of Christ, still present in the sacraments.

Benedict XVI recalled the importance the saint gives to the sacraments, in particular to the Eucharist. Noting Aquinas’ enormous devotion to the Eucharist, the Holy Father cited the saint’s words from another work in which he spoke of the Blessed Sacrament as that of the “Passion of our Lord, (which) contains in it Jesus Christ who suffered for us.”

“Therefore,” he went on, “all that is the effect of the Passion of our Lord, is also the effect of this sacrament, it not being but the application in us of the Passion of the Lord.”

Through these words, said the Pope, we “understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated Mass while shedding tears of compassion, tears of joy and of gratitude, for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us.”

The Holy Father then exclaimed, “in the example of the saints, let us all fall in love with this Sacrament!

“Let us participate devotedly in Mass in order to obtain its spiritual fruits; let us feed from the Body and Blood of the Lord that we may be incessantly nourished by divine Grace; let us pause willingly and often in the company of the Blessed Sacrament.”

Pope Benedict XVI concluded the English-language portion of the catechesis by imploring that, “with the Angelic Doctor, let us pray for the grace to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbor, ‘in God and for God.’”

As Sacred Heart Mission Ends, Ministry Begins

June 11, 2010

124-1By Chad Simpson

I am on a spiritual high as I write this article; an article that I know will fall flat in its attempt to capture the awe-inspiring, grace-filled mission that just concluded at St. Gabriel the Archangel parish in McKinney, TX.  Let me begin with a little background on how we got to where we are today.  Sandra Palutis, the spiritual director for the spring 2009 women’s Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) ministry at St. Gabriel’s had a burning desire to begin a ministry of enthroning homes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  She answered this call from the Holy Spirit by reaching out to Monsignor John Esseff, who in turn urged her to contact two individuals who carry the torch of the fire lit by Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque nearly 400 years ago, Fr. Bill Gaffney, CSsR, and Mrs. Gloria Anson.

The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart Apostolate was founded in 1907 by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.  While the enthronement itself involves placing an image or statue of the Sacred Heart in a public place of honor within the home, it is much more than hanging a picture.  Enthroning your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus involves a consecration of the entire family to Mary by the mother of the family, as well as the father of the family consecrating the entire family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and proclaiming a covenant of love with Jesus.  There is much prayer and preparation the family does as well in the days leading up to the actual enthronement.  Since the process of enthroning a home to the Sacred Heart involves much more than the hanging of a picture, it is necessary to not only educate families on the ceremony but also to educate them on the 12 promises Jesus revealed to Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque for those who practice devotion to his Sacred Heart.

Gloria Anson has been evangelizing and educating families on the many graces of devotion to the Sacred Heart and home enthronement for over 30 years.  During her 30 plus years of ministry, Gloria has conducted over 5,000 enthronements, distributed Sacred Heart enthronement kits to all 50 states in the U.S. as well as the UK, Guam, the West Indies, the Philippines, and Nigeria.  Father Gaffney, who joined Gloria in the Sacred Heart Apostolate in 1996, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination this month.  Father Gaffney and Gloria rack up the frequent flyer miles as well as many miles on the car odometer travelling to parishes throughout the U.S.  Their busy travel schedule keeps them on the road about 50 percent of the time.

During the four-day mission at St. Gabriel the Archangel, they averaged over 200 people in attendance each night.  I witnessed almost full participation as over 200 sinners answered Father Gaffney’s call to partake in the sacrament of reconciliation during the second evening of the mission.  I watched and listened as Gloria used her personal testimony to bring us all closer to Christ’s Sacred Heart.  I smiled a toothy grin as Father Gaffney engaged the children throughout the glorious four-day mission in games and song.  I witnessed a man with a debilitating and degenerative disease go from barely being able to get out of bed, to walking with a cane, to standing cane-free and cooking all of the Sacred Heart ministry team dinner on the fourth night.  During the four-day mission, sixty families signed up to have their homes enthroned and twenty people signed up to be promoters who assist with the enthronement ceremony.

As I said, words cannot do justice to what I witnessed over the past four evenings.  I can say though that the mission put on by the Sacred Heart Apostolate should be done by all parishes in order to restore our love and faith in Christ and in each other.

THOMAS AQUINAS: HARMONY BETWEEN REASON, CHRISTIAN FAITH

June 3, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - In today’s general audience held in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI continued with his catechesis dedicated to the great saints of the Middle Ages, speaking on St. Thomas Aquinas, called the “Angelic Doctor” for the elevated nature of his thought and the purity of his life”.

The Pope explained that Thomas was born around 1225 to a noble family in Roccasecca, Italy near the Abbey of Montecasino. He was sent to the University of Naples at a young age where he first became interested in Aristotelian thought and felt a call to the religious life.

In 1245 he went to Paris to study theology under the guidance of St. Albert the Great who held this student in such esteem that he was asked to accompany him to Cologne, Germany to open a centre for theological studies.

“Thomas Aquinas, at St. Albert the Great’s school, carried out a task of fundamental importance in the history of philosophy and theology as well as for history and culture”, the Pope said. “He studied Aristotle and his interpreters in depth” and “commented on a great part of Aristotle’s works, discerning what was valid in it from what was doubtful or refutable, demonstrating its consonance with the facts of Christian revelation, using Aristotelian thought with great breadth and intelligence in presenting the theological writings he composed. In short, Thomas Aquinas demonstrated that a natural harmony exists between reason and the Christian faith”.

“His great intellectual endowment brought him again to Paris to teach theology. That is where he began his monumental literary output: commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures and the works of Aristotle along with his masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae”.

“There were a few secretaries who assisted in drafting his works, among whom was Reginald of Piperno [...] who was bound to him by a fraternal and sincere friendship characterized by great trust and reliance. This is a characteristic of the saints”, the pontiff observed. “They cultivate friendship because it is one of the most noble manifestations of the human heart and holds something of the divine within it”.

In 1259 Thomas Aquinas participated in the General Chapter of the Dominicans in Valenciennes, France to establish the order’s constitutions. On his return to Italy, Pope Urban IV charged him with composing the liturgical texts for the feast of Corpus Christi.

“St. Thomas has a profoundly Eucharistic soul”, the Pope affirmed. “The beautiful hymns that the liturgy of the Church sings to celebrate the mystery of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist are due to his faith and theological wisdom”.

In Paris, where he returned in 1269, a great number of students followed his courses, but the “Angelic Doctor” also dedicated himself to preaching to the people, who listened with attention. “It is a great gift that theologians know how to speak with simplicity and fervour to the faithful. The ministry of preaching, on the other hand, also helps those who are experts in theology to develop a healthy pastoral realism and enriches their research with stimulation”, the pontiff remarked.

In the final months of his life, St. Thomas — who died in 1274 at the Abbey of Fossanove, Italy when he was heading to Leon to participate in an ecumenical council — confessed to his friend Reginald of Piperno that, after a divine revelation, he considered his work as “so much straw”, writing nothing further afterwards.

“It is a mysterious episode that helps us understand not only Thomas’ personal humility but also the fact that all that we are able to think and say about the faith, as elevated and pure as it may be, is infinitely surpassed by the greatness and beauty of God who will reveal himself to us in the fullness of paradise,” Benedict XVI concluded.

Building A Bridge Through Song And Community

June 1, 2010

MetroCatholic — The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity gratefully share five special free song downloads this June as part of their “Bridge Radio” at the Franciscanized World www.fscc-calledtobe.org.

Enjoy a sample of writers and artists who volunteer their time, energy and creativity with proceeds and royalties donated to the Steel Bridge Fund held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The campaign to save the Steel Bridge in Door County, WI has become a large- scale musical event, inspiring artists and revitalizing a community in the process.

The June songs, originate from songwriting sessions at the annual Steel Bridge Songfest. St. Francis would feel at home in this event that builds even deeper bridges of the heart and spirit. Featured artists and songs include:

“Leavin’ It All Behind” by Todd Carey and Freedy Johnston, “Build Us A Bridge” by Kim Manning and Landon Capelle, “The Real Deal” by Tom Schriner- Schmitt, “There is An Answer” by James Hall, “He Walked on The Water” by Mo Rose.

About to “Build Us A Bridge”, singer-songwriter Kim Manning reflected “This song is about how we are all connected, everyone, and that by recognizing and honoring that connection we can rest assured that we are never alone, and that we can all grow strong, healthy, happy and holy…”

“We want to present our life as a viable option. Personal invitation is always best; however, we became convinced that real conversations can begin by using the language of images and music.” said Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF, Directress of Vocations for the Franciscan order.

Established in 1869, the Roman Catholic Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serve in Catholic health care, education and parish ministries in twelve dioceses throughout the United States.

CONTACT: Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan OSF 920-682- 7728
Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity
Holy Family Convent
2409 S. Alverno Road
Manitowoc, WI 54220
[email protected]
The World needs you. God Calls You. We Invite You. Catholic vocations.

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