Bread of Life

 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.


Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Monday, October 24, 2016


By St Teresa of Avila 


In which there are Two Chapters.


Treats of the beauty and dignity of our souls; makes a comparison by the help of which this may be understood; describes the benefit which comes from understanding it and being aware of the favors which we receive from God; and shows how the door of this castle is prayer.
While I was beseeching Our Lord today that He would speak through me, since I could find nothing to say and had no idea how to begin to carry out the obligation laid upon me by obedience, a thought occurred to me which I will now set down, in order to have some foundation on which to build.

I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms,[17] just as in Heaven there are many mansions.[18] Now if we think carefully over this, sisters, the soul of the righteous man is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes His delight.[19] For what do you think a room will be like which is the delight of a King so mighty, so wise, so pure and so full of all that is good?

I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity. In fact, however acute our intellects may be, they will no more be able to attain to a comprehension of this than to an understanding of God; for, as He Himself says, He created us in His image and likeness.[20]

Now if this is so -- and it is -- there is no point in our fatiguing ourselves by attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though it is His creature, and there is therefore as much difference between it and God as between creature and Creator, the very fact that His Majesty says it is made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul's great dignity and beauty.[21]

It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or from what country he came?

Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us so, that we possess souls.

As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are -- those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest is centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle -- that is to say, in these bodies of ours.

Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many mansions,[22] some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest mansion where the most secret things pass between God and the soul.

You must think over this comparison very carefully; perhaps God will be pleased to use it to show you something of the favors which He is pleased to grant to souls, and of the differences between them, so far as I have understood this to be possible, for there are so many of them that nobody can possibly understand them all, much less anyone as stupid as I.

If the Lord grants you these favors, it will be a great consolation to you to know that such things are possible; and, if you never receive any, you can still praise His great goodness. For, as it does us no harm to think of the things laid up for us in Heaven, and of the joys of the blessed, but rather makes us rejoice and strive to attain those joys ourselves, just so it will do us no harm to find that it is possible in this our exile for so great a God to commune with such malodorous worms, and to love Him for His great goodness and boundless mercy.

I am sure that anyone who finds it harmful to realize that it is possible for God to grant such favors during this our exile must be greatly lacking in humility and in love of his neighbor; for otherwise how could we help rejoicing that God should grant these favors to one of our brethren when this in no way hinders Him from granting them to ourselves, and that His Majesty should bestow an understanding of His greatness upon anyone soever?

Sometimes He will do this only to manifest His power, as He said of the blind man to whom He gave his sight, when the Apostles asked Him if he were suffering for his own sins or for the sins of his parents.[23]

He grants these favors, then, not because those who receive them are holier than those who do not, but in order that His greatness may be made known, as we see in the case of Saint Paul and the Magdalen, and in order that we may praise Him in His creatures.

It may be said that these things seem impossible and that it is better not to scandalize the weak. But less harm is done by their disbelieving us than by our failing to edify those to whom God grants these favours, and who will rejoice and will awaken others to a fresh love of Him Who grants such mercies, according to the greatness of His power and majesty.

In any case I know that none to whom I am speaking will run into this danger, because they all know and believe that God grants still greater proofs of His love. I am sure that, if any one of you does not believe this, she will never learn it by experience. For God's will is that no bounds should be set to His works. Never do such a thing, then, sisters, if the Lord does not lead you by this road.

Now let us return to our beautiful and delightful castle and see how we can enter it. I seem rather to be talking nonsense, for, if this castle is the soul, there can clearly be no question of our entering it.

For we ourselves are the castle: and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of "being" in a place.

Many souls remain in the outer court of the castle, which is the place occupied by the guards; they are not interested in entering it, and have no idea what there is in that wonderful place, or who dwells in it, or even how many rooms it has.

You will have read certain books on prayer which advise the soul to enter within itself: and that is exactly what this means.

A short time ago I was told by a very learned man that souls without prayer are like people whose bodies or limbs are paralysed: they possess feet and hands but they cannot control them. In the same way, there are souls so infirm and so accustomed to busying themselves with outside affairs that nothing can be done for them, and it seems as though they are incapable of entering within themselves at all.

So accustomed have they grown to living all the time with the reptiles and other creatures to be found in the outer court of the castle that they have almost become like them; and although by nature they are so richly endowed as to have the power of holding converse with none other than God Himself, there is nothing that can be done for them.

Unless they strive to realize their miserable condition and to remedy it, they will be turned into pillars of salt for not looking within themselves, just as Lot's wife was because she looked back.[24]

As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation: I do not say mental prayer rather than vocal, for, if it is prayer at all, it must be accompanied by meditation.

If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips.

True, it is sometimes possible to pray without paying heed to these things, but that is only because they have been thought about previously; if a man is in the habit of speaking to God's Majesty as he would speak to his slave, and never wonders if he is expressing himself properly, but merely utters the words that come to his lips because he has learned them by heart through constant repetition, I do not call that prayer at all -- and God grant no Christian may ever speak to Him so!

At any rate, sisters, I hope in God that none of you will, for we are accustomed here to talk about interior matters, and that is a good way of keeping oneself from falling into such animal-like habits.[25]

Let us say no more, then, of these parralysed souls, who, unless the Lord Himself comes and commands them to rise, are like the man who had lain beside the pool for thirty years:[26] they are unfortunate creatures and live in great peril. Let us rather think of certain other souls, who do eventually enter the castle.

These are very much absorbed in worldly affairs; but their desires are good; sometimes, though infrequently, they commend themselves to Our Lord; and they think about the state of their souls, though not very carefully. Full of a thousand preoccupations as they are, they pray only a few times a month, and as a rule they are thinking all the time of their preoccupations, for they are very much attached to them, and, where their treasure is, there is their heart also.[27]

From time to time, however, they shake their minds free of them and it is a great thing that they should know themselves well enough to realize that they are not going the right way to reach the castle door. Eventually they enter the first rooms on the lowest floor, but so many reptiles get in with them that they are unable to appreciate the beauty of the castle or to find any peace within it. Still, they have done a good deal by entering at all.

You will think this is beside the point, daughters, since by the goodness of the Lord you are not one of these. But you must be patient, for there is no other way in which I can explain to you some ideas I have had about certain interior matters concerning prayer.

May it please the Lord to enable me to say something about them; for to explain to you what I should like is very difficult unless you have had personal experience; and anyone with such experience, as you will see, cannot help touching upon subjects which, please God, shall, by His mercy, never concern us.


 17. [Aposentos -- a rather more pretentious word than the English "room": dwellingplace, abode, apartment.]

18. [Moradas: derived from morar, to dwell, and not, therefore, absolute identical in sense with "mansions". The reference, however, is to St. John xiv, 2.]

19. Proverbs viii, 31.

20. Genesis i, 26.

21. Here the Saint erased several words and inserted others, leaving the phrase as it is in the text.

22. [Moradas (see n. 18, above).]

23. St. John ix, 2.

24. Genesis xix, 26.

25. [Lit., "into such bestiality".] P. Graci�n deletes "bestiality" and substitutes "abomination." [I think the translation in the text, however, is a more successful way of expressing what was in St. Teresa's mind: cf. St. John of the Cross's observations on "animal penances" -- penitencias de bestias -- in his Dark Night, I, vi (Complete Works, I, 365-6.)]

26. P. Graci�n corrects this to "thirty-eight years." St. John v, 5.

27. St. Matthew vi, 21

Monday, October 17, 2016


A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Featured, Prayer

People ask, “If the Lord’s return is a foregone conclusion (Matt. 24:36), why is it important for me to pray for it” In this study we will answer this question, using the Parable of the Persistent Widow as our guide.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

Let’s Put This In Its Proper Context

The background for this parable is found in Luke 17:20-37. A pharisee had asked the Lord, “When will the kingdom come?” This question established that the context for all that follows is the coming kingdom. In response the Lord told him that he shouldn’t think of the kingdom as something he could watch for, because the kingdom is “within you.”

When Luke wrote this, the Holy spirit prompted Him to use an interesting word for the one we translate “within” because it also means “in your midst.” In the general sense I believe Jesus was speaking of phase one of the Kingdom, the “invisible” phase that consists of born again believers all over the world.

But in the specific sense He was also speaking to the Pharisee, telling him that the personification of the kingdom was standing right there in front of Him.

Then He told His disciples that one day soon they would long to see one of His days (days like this one when He was with them) but would not see it (Luke 17:22). He continued with an abbreviated description of events leading up to the time of His return. The rest of Luke 17 is sometimes called “the little apocalypse” because it speaks of end times events like it’s a summary of Matt 24.

After that He told them the parable of the persistent widow. His point was that if even a corrupt judge could eventually be persuaded by the persistence of a widow, someone without standing or influence in their day, how much more likely would the Lord be to respond to the persistent prayers of His people?

It’s Not The Only Time We’ve Been Told That

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul wrote in 1 Thes. 5:17. Good advice. Earlier the Lord had given us similar instruction.

“Ask and it will be given to you;” He said,“Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt; 7:7-11)

It’s funny in a way, how the Lord longs for our participation in His plan. He knows what we need before we ask (Matt. 6:8) yet He wants us to ask. He knew we were going to pray for salvation before He created the world, yet He wants us to say the sinner’s prayer (Romans 10:17).

His return is a foregone conclusion, yet He wants us to keep praying for it, and to never give up till the day it happens. It’s almost as if He’s saying our prayers could influence the timing.

If so, it wouldn’t be the only time. Through His disciples He told the Jews in Jerusalem that as the time for the Great Tribulation draws near, to pray that it will not begin on a Sabbath or in the winter (Matt. 24:20).

Does that mean He would alter the start date of the worst period of judgment ever to befall humanity to accommodate the needs of what will surely be a religious minority? Does prayer really have that kind of power?

To drive home the point He began in the widow’s story, the Lord closed with a question. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Though His return is certain, will there be anyone left with the persistence to still be praying for it when He comes?

Prayer Power

The prayers of righteous people are powerful and effective, the Bible tells us (James 5:16), sufficient to forgive sins and heal the sick. And, if the above examples are any indication, to influence the timing of God’s plan as well.

But the lack of persistence in our prayers can indicate a lack of desire as well as a lack of faith. Do people not pray for the Lord’s return because they don’t really want Him to return yet, or because they don’t think He’s going to, or both?

The widow hounded the judge to a point where he thought her obnoxious, and he answered her request just to get her off his back. Jesus was telling us God rewards our persistence as well. And Paul said there’s a crown in store for all those who long for the Lord’s coming (2 Tim. 4:18).

Pray without ceasing. Ask and it will be given to you. Be persistent, especially when praying for His return. Let the Lord know that at least in some hearts, there’s still faith on Earth. Maybe if enough of us persist in this, we can hasten the day of His coming. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah 04-26-14.

Friday, October 7, 2016


The Capital Sins: Part IV - ANGER

By Father Reginald Martin, O.P.


In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes,

If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.

These words are part of a larger instruction on the relations that ought to characterize Christians' dealings with one another. Elsewhere in his letter, St. Paul counsels the Ephesians - and us - to put away falsehood and speak only the truth, and to work not only to meet our own needs, but those of others. And then he adds

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good and edifying...that it might impart grace to those who hear...Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another...

Key to St. Paul's admonition is his understanding that although we have been created as individuals, we are part of a large, complex society. Living in a community, as we do, means we must consider the goals and goods of others, not simply our own. The gift of reason, which sets us apart from the rest of God's creation, provides the key that enables us to live in harmony with others.


When he considers the many challenges to our common life, one contemporary writer, Kevin Vost, observes, "[anger] is a failure of our reason to rein in our irascible appetite that seeks to fight back against things that thwart our desires." (The Seven Deadly Sins, p. 173) Our experience teaches us that sin and virtue stand at opposite ends of a moral spectrum, and Vost reaches out to St. Thomas Aquinas to lay an easily- grasped picture of what we seek when we sin.

St. Thomas observed that virtue seeks a single good. This means the many good things we encounter in life finally lead us to embrace the Supreme Good, which is God, the source of all good. Sin, on the other hand, abandons the singular goodness of God, to seek out and embrace the many lesser goods that capture our fancy.

Our regard for ourselves lies at the heart of either choice, and when he considers the Capital Sins, St. Thomas Aquinas notes, "Sin is caused by a self-love in which we turn toward things of the world and away from God." (ST, I-II, 72.7)

St. Paul was an apt observer of our human nature, and a very perceptive psychologist. To live with others means we will, at least occasionally, find our desires thwarted. The result is quite apt to be our experiencing a feeling of anger that we have not "gotten our way."

But if we are angry, St. Paul says, "let it be without sin." If we look back and take another look at anger's unsavory companions on St. Paul's list of things to avoid, we might wonder how anger could possibly not be sinful. And here both the Scripture and our theology come to our assistance.


In his letter to the Romans (13:3-4) St. Paul admonishes us to obey those in authority. The ultimate authority, of course, is God, and our obedience should be easy because "[he is] not a terror to good conduct, but to bad...[and] he does not bear the sword in vain..." A valid, earthly authority " the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer."

What we should notice here is that God sets the standard for anger. If we are angry, we must be angry as God is angry, which is to say, our anger must be within reason, and it must be properly directed.


The Ancients defined anger as a desire for vengeance, and this sounds quite terrifying. Until we consider that vengeance is different from vindictiveness. The dictionary defines vengeance as "the act of punishing another for a wrong or injury he has committed."

Vindictiveness, on the other hand, is "the intention to cause harm." If we are angry because a person has done wrong, or because a situation or institution is unjust, our anger is appropriate - so long as we properly identify the object of our anger, and employ our anger to restore the order that ought to befit the Christian community.


Jesus, who is our example in all things, offers an example of what St. Thomas Aquinas calls "zealous" anger when he drives the money-changers and livestock- dealers from the temple. Scholars can argue that these individuals were necessary for the temple sacrifices, but Jesus' point, apparently, is that they are practicing their trade in the wrong place.

And in St. Matthew's account, Jesus remarks some of the traders' shady business practices, which have turned the temple "into a den of thieves."


And here we might allow St. Thomas to observe two attitudes that render anger sinful. The first is to become angry too quickly, or without sufficient cause. The second is to allow our anger to linger. When St. John describes Jesus' anger in the temple he explains it with a reference to the Psalms, "Zeal for your house will consume me" (Ps 69.9) - a zeal that ought to consume us all.

Each of the evangelists records Jesus' encounter with the tradesmen, but in all the accounts, once the incident is over, it is over; the sun has set on Jesus' anger, and he is on his way.


Our Catechism places anger among the first of the ills we inherited as a consequence of our First Parents' sin.

In the account of Abel's murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. (CCC, #2259)

Jesus addresses this tragedy, in his Sermon on the Mount, when he says, "everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment." (Mt. 5:22) So important is reconciliation in our Savior's view, that he tells us we ought even to interrupt our worship to seek peace.

If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.


Anger is a sin opposed to the Fifth Commandment, which obliges us not merely to respect the lives of those around us, but to strive - as Jesus commands us - for the common good of our Church and civil society. Although civil authority may have no choice, on occasion, but to employ force or other severe means to maintain public order,

If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives...and to protect...the safety of individuals, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. (CCC 2267)

The point here is one we made earlier, vengeance may be necessary; vindictiveness has no place in Christian society. Thus, Thomas Aquinas observes, "[anger] may happen to be a mortal sin if through the fierceness of his anger a man fall away from the love of God and his neighbor." (ST, II-II, 158.4)


The example of Jesus demonstrates that virtuous, zealous anger has a place in Christian life. We may admire those placid individuals who never seem to be angry, but if this apparent calm is the result of ignoring ills that ought to be addressed, it comes at a cost, which may be just as harmful as disordered anger. St. John Chrysostom cautioned

He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but even the good to do wrong.


Dominicans are fond of quoting the maxim, In medio stat virtus, "Virtue stands in the middle." This is the spirit of moderation St. Paul urges us to embrace. And one aid to this goal is the virtue of meekness, which Jesus commends in the Beatitudes.

Meekness, like humility, is often misunderstood as a groveling, self-effacing attitude. In fact, it is far more, and has nothing to do with shyness, weakness of character, or a poor self-image. Meekness is the virtue that moderates anger.

Thus, when Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth, he tells us that the meek are the same individuals who might very easily have taken it by force but who allow themselves to be restrained by the example of Christ who is meek and humble of heart


When Jesus promised the earth to the meek he was undoubtedly identifying his own people, subject to foreign, pagan occupation. His words in the Beatitudes echo Psalm 37, in which the Psalmist rejoices

Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more... but the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

The apocalyptic rewards for patient endurance still inspire many individuals, and for the economically disadvantaged and the politically oppressed, the beatitudes are a strong and hopeful promise of redress.

But for most of us living in the developed economic world, circumstances are far different. For us to understand the blessing of meekness, we need to look at the world for just a moment from the point of view of the bullies.

St. Thomas says that "cruel and pitiless men seek by wrangling and fighting to destroy their enemies so as to gain security for themselves." Even if we are not talking about acres of land, who of us is not capable of wrangling and fighting until we get our way?

The goal is security, and meekness reminds us that we will not find security through anger. Either a better fighter will come along or, if we get what we want by arguing, we feel so guilty we want to give it back.


When he considers meekness, which moderates anger, St. Thomas Aquinas links it to the virtue of clemency, which moderates punishment. He finds immense value in these gifts, because - by enabling us to "resist evil inclinations" - they assist us in our quest for personal sanctity, as well as our striving for harmony with those among whom we live.

St. Thomas writes, "...anger, which is mitigated by meekness, is, on account of its impetuousness, a very great obstacle to man's free judgment of truth: wherefore meekness above all makes a man self-possessed." (ST, II-II. 157.4) Clemency, he observes, "...inasmuch as it mitigates punishment, it would seem to approach... charity, the greatest of the virtues, since thereby we do good towards our neighbor, and hinder his evil." (Ibid.)


When we were small we learned that sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ to give grace. This means that Jesus has chosen certain elements of our lives to go beyond whatever meaning they have in themselves to allow us to touch Him.

To meditate on the Beatitudes teaches us that to be poor in spirit, to mourn, and to be meek is to cultivate a sacramental attitude toward creation - to find signs of the Kingdom of Heaven in the things that surround us in our everyday lives - and, even if we must be angry, to nourish attitudes toward the created world that will make us the ministers, here and now, of the life we look forward to enjoying fully in the future.

This is the challenge Jesus lays down when he describes the "...faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants...Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property." (Lk 12:48)


In the gospel parables, the most trusted servant is the steward, who holds the keys that lock in whatever is valuable and lock out whatever is dangerous. To be God's stewards is an immense honor, but we must not forget Jesus' admonition, "much will be demanded of the one entrusted with much."

To be God's stewards means treating creation the way God does, and it means living each day not as if it were our last, but as if God's kingdom were already here, fully revealed in our midst.

This vocation, and its obligations, are worth pondering during this Year of Mercy. To embrace meekness means laying aside - or, at least, moderating - our anger, so our dealings with the world may more clearly resemble God's. In Misericordiae Vultus, his letter on the Year of Mercy, our Holy Father is quick to remark that mercy does not diminish the demands of justice.

However, Pope Francis stresses that mercy and justice are a united reality that result in love. By humbly accepting God's mercy, we progress on our spiritual pilgrimage, guided by God's love. Pope Francis writes, "...anyone who makes a mistake must pay the price. However, this is just the beginning of conversion, not its end...." (MV, 21)


Pope Francis is only the latest of the Church’s writers to reflect on Mary’s merciful role in our salvation:

Her entire life was patterned after the presence of mercy made flesh.... At the foot of the cross, Mary...witnessed the words of forgiveness spoken by Jesus. This supreme expression on mercy towards those who crucified him show us the point to which the mercy of God can reach.

Mary attests that the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception. (MV, 24) Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina...that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.

We may be forgiven, these days, if we approach the morning news with dread, and mercy is probably not our first thought when we read of terrorist attacks that claim the lives of shoppers in Germany or an aged priest celebrating Mass in France.

And yet, Jesus begged mercy for his executioners, and gave us his Mother as an example, that we might not forget how to beg - in meekness - that same mercy for those who wreak such havoc in our lives.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier

"Peace-Makers Needed"

So many in our world today are suffering from isolation, war and oppression. So much money is spent on the construction of armaments. Many, many young people are in despair because of the danger of nuclear war. Today as never before, we need communities of welcome; communities that are a sign of peace in a world of war.

There is no point in praying for peace in the Middle East, for example, if we are not peace-makers in our own community; if we are not forgiving those in our community who have hurt us or with whom we find it difficult to live. Young people, as well as those who are older, are sensitive to this vision of peace. It must continually be announced so that hearts and minds are nourished.

-Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 177


To look forward, to want life, means we have to be willing to look backwards and become more conscious of all those have hurt us, all that is broken in us and that has brought us inner deaths, hurts that we may have hidden and stifled. It means that we acknowledge the story of our origins, of our own lives, see and accept our brokenness and the times we also have hurt others. When we have accepted who we are and what we need in order to grow in compassion and peacemaking, we can move forward to give life. To forgive is a gift of God that permits us to let go of our past hurts.

-Jean Vanier, Finding Peace, page 47-48

"Hope and Love"

Loving someone does not simply mean doing things for them; it is much more profound. To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance; it is to understand them, understand their cries and their body language; it is to rejoice in their presence, spend time in their company and communicate with them. To love is to live a heart-to-heart relationship with another, giving to and receiving from each other.

-Jean Vanier, Seeing Beyond Depression, p 19

"Finding Happiness"

We are all so impatient. We want everything and we want it now! We want happiness, fulfilment and life. It is normal to want such things. But we have to learn to respect the rhythm of our being. Look at the plants and animals, look at the vegetables and the fruit trees. It takes time to grow and to bear fruit. There are the summers of rich harvests, the autumns with rain and falling leaves, the grey and cold winters where life seems to have stopped and then there are spring times when life is reborn.

It is the same with human life. We are like the fruit trees. We have been planted in the earth of our mother's being and we have grown. We are born, we developed in the sometimes rugged earth of our families. During our life, just as in the cycle of nature, seasons follow one another.

-Jean Vanier, Seeing Beyond Depression, p 41

"The Stumbling of the Adolescent"

In seeking excellence, recognition and power in a competitive way, the adolescent can hurt others. Without necessarily wishing to, he tends to create division, to reinforce the double world of strong and weak, winners and losers, rich and poor, those who are successful and those whose lives seem a failure..

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.247

"The Phases of Life"

Human life passes through very different stages on the way from weakness to weakness, from the mother's womb to the womb of the earth. We pass through phases of activity and light and phases of loss of activity and light, in other words, of suffering.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.246

"The Art of Reproaching"

Always avoid reproaching people out of your own anger and wounded state; wait until you are in a peaceful state. In one house in Trosly, for example, it had been decided that Pierre should be responsible for waking up the rest of the house and making breakfast at seven o'clock. At half past seven, the person in charge of the house turned up. Pierre was not there, the breakfast was not made and everybody was still in bed.

Furious, the person in charge went upstairs to Pierre's room, banged on the door and shouted angrily. But perhaps Pierre had been ill in the night.

It would have been better to wait peacefully and then, at a good moment, to ask with tenderness what had happened. Above all, it is better to ask for explanations than to hurl accusations. We need, first of all, to be sure of the facts and the reasons behind them..

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.241

"A Husband's Response"

A leader of one of our communities told me about his mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. But the person this man wanted to talk to me about was not his mother but his father.

He had been a strong, efficient, hard working man, more concerned with success than with people. But when his wife fell ill, he did not want to put her in hospital.

He kept her at home and it was he who cared for her. It was he who helped her to eat and who brushed her teeth. "And now," the man told me, "my father is completely transformed. He has become a man of tenderness and kindness."

This does not mean that the father was no longer capable of being efficient. He had begun to develop other aspects of his being; his tenderness for a defenseless person, his ability to listen, understand and be in communion with people.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.220

"The Good Father"

When I see a powerful efficient, competent man coming home from work and getting down on all fours to play with his children, laugh with them, become a child with them, I say to myself that this father is really human. He does not regard his children from on high, from some pedestal of authority and knowledge. He allows himself to be touched by their littleness.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.219

"The Nature of our Walls"

Behind our strong inner walls are hidden our primal fears and anguish, but also the source of life. The walls are made up of our selfish and self-seeking attitudes, our need to protect ourselves from everything that devalues us, and our need to have power, possessions and immediate pleasures.

It will take time for these walls to fall, as the hidden strength of life flows through us from our inner source, and permeates the whole of our lives. Once the transformation has begun, it requires perseverance and time. It will involve pain and suffering. In order for the vine to bear fruit, much fruit, the branches must be cut and wounded. They must bleed.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.216

"Praying as Self-discovery"

Prayer is not, first and foremost, saying prayers. It is opening the most intimate part of ourselves to God. It is discovering that in the deepest part of our body and our being there is a source, and that source is God. God is the power that unites the universe and gives everything meaning.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.215

"Learning to Live in Peace"

Inner healing and peace come gradually as we penetrate these shadow areas without being completely overwhelmed by them, as we learn to live with anguish without falling into depression or self-hatred, anger or guilt. On this road, it is important to continue to do things that give life to others, to work for justice knowing that our motives will always be mixed. They are mixed because we are human.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.209Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.206

"Complexity of Humanity"

Human beings are so complicated. We are body and spirit and we are heart and mind. We are searching for communion, but also for independence and success. Physically, we are close to the earth; but through our intelligence, we are close to what is cosmic. We each have our own personal history and our family roots. We are all a mixture of light and darkness, trust and fear, love and hatred.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.206

"Awareness as Starting Point for Change"

The awareness that we need to change grows out of an awareness of the gravity of the conflicts in the world, in society, at work and in our families. Are human beings condemned to continual conflict, to hatred and war? Is peace possible? How can we renounce the spirit of competition and criticism that leads to the use of force and looks on weakness and difference with contempt?

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.205 Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.205

"The Inner Damage of Prejudice"

There is disorder when we are prejudiced, when we make errors of judgment about others, when we are incapable of forgiving, or of listening to and welcoming strangers. We die inwardly when we shut ourselves off behind the walls that protect us. Life ceases to flow. We no longer give life to those around us.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.205

"The Desire to Change"

In order to change and to become more open to others, we must first recognize that we need to change. If we do not recognize this, if we consider ourselves perfect, then we are not going to set out on the journey towards inner healing. We only go to the doctor if we are ill and know it, or if we need a checkup.

In the same way, what gives us a desire for inner healing is an awareness of our prejudices, the difficulties we have with our sexuality and relationships, the divisions and blockages within us, the problems we have in communicating, and our fear of others and the anger they provoke in us.

This desire for change becomes stronger when we want to grow in love and compassion, to live communion and cooperation, to be true to ourselves and to choose peace.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.205

"We are Forgetting How to Celebrate"

The danger nowadays is that people no longer know how to celebrate and eat together. In some families, everybody eats at different times. They are all busy with their own projects and people they have to meet and they bolt their food down. In order to create unity, to live as a body, we need to know how to take time over meals, to eat well, with good wine or beer. We need to know how to tell stories, our own stories, and to laugh and sing together.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.201

The Ultimate Purpose

Celebrations are an expression of the ultimate purpose of humanity. We are made for communion and celebration, for the joy and blossoming of every person. The Bible talks of the end of time as a wedding feast between humankind and God where there is ecstasy, joy and celebration in God.

- Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p. 200

A Song of Gratitude

Celebration is, first and foremost, a song of gratitude, a thanksgiving. We are not alone. We are all part of the same body and there is no longer any rivalry or competition.

We are together in unity and love. The greatest of humanity’s riches does not consist in money or possessions but in loving and united hearts, the strong supporting the weak while the weak call forth the true humanity of the strong as they help them discover their hearts and their compassion.

So celebration is like a prayer that flows from unity between people; it is a sign and a source of unity with God and of the inner unity in each person. The Eucharist, which is at the heart of all Christian celebration, means 'thanksgiving.'

- Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p. 200

Finding Sexual Equilibrium

I am amazed to see how life in a mixed community, full of life-giving activities and of relationships full of love and celebration, is a source of equilibrium for many people with handicaps, how it helps them to integrate their sexuality. Slowly, men and women who have lived through all sorts of sexual experiences in psychiatric hospitals, and who have been deeply disturbed by them, recover their equilibrium.

- Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p. 197

Looking for True Relationship

In L'Arche we live together, men and women, assistants and people with handicaps in the same houses. Obviously, it is not all easy. We are not naïve. There are difficulties, especially for the younger assistants who have not yet worked through questions of sexual integration and who think that true relationship requires physical intimacy, even when there is not permanent mutual commitment.

Sometimes these young people come from broken families and this has caused a certain brokenness within them. It takes them time to discover the road to wholeness, the strength of communion of the heart and of a spirit stronger than sexual desire, and how community life, a spiritual life and a clear ethical code can help them on this journey.

- Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p. 196

"Difficulties in Sexual Integration"

Sometimes there is discord between the heart which thirsts for communion and for loyalty to one person, and sexual fantasies and desires. Many good husbands have spoken to me about the difficulties they have in this area, and their attraction to younger women.

The integration of genital sexuality is never an easy thing. It is a slow process which requires effort and clear choices, a communion in love, tenderness and concern for the other, and the help that comes from God.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.196

"Integration of Sexuality"

It is not easy for human beings to live their sexuality. In marriage, more than anywhere else, the integration of sexuality is achieved with the greatest harmony. In marriage, the body, spirit and heart, passion, tenderness and kindness, the ecstasy of the present moment, and security and faithfulness for the future, intimacy, communion and desire to give life all come together.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.195

"Peace as the Presence of God"

We must learn to rest in that peace which comes when God touches our hearts. We must know that this peace is the presence of God, that this is how God speaks to us--through this love which touches us at the core and flows through all our being and plunges us intosilence. We must be open to this peace.


Friday, September 16, 2016



Sexual immorality runs amok in our culture today. Temptations to depart from God’s sure path of blessing in the realm of sexuality are epidemic. The anonymity of the Internet and wireless technology has allowed people to pursue sexual immorality more than ever before.

Today, pornographic images and movies can be viewed with ease, sexually explicit music is common, and extramarital sexual activity is seen by many as normal. Perhaps more than at any other time, promiscuity both in thought and deed is accepted and condoned.

However, in sharp contrast to the trend of the world, God calls His people to be pure (1 Corinthians 5:1–13; Ephesians 5:3–17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7). They are to shine as lights of personal holiness and moral virtue for His glory (Matthew 5:13–16). The Lord designed sex as a wonderful expression of love between a husband and wife (Hebrews 13:4), but those who use sex selfishly and apart from the Lord’s design will experience untold heartache and personal ruin.

The Consequences of Sexual Sin

Christians are certainly not immune to temptations to lust and sexual sin. The consequences of repeated failure in this area are devastating, and a believer who sins sexually brings shame to the name of the Lord. A child of God must seek to reflect his Father’s true character (1 Peter 1:14–19).

Impurity in thoughts and actions is diametrically opposed to the purpose of God for salvation—to bring Him greater glory. The following are but a few examples of the far-reaching, destructive consequences of sexual sin.

A man who is unfaithful to his wife cannot serve as an elder in the church because the Lord intends him to be a model of godliness in all areas (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Peter 5:3). The most important qualification for a man who desires eldership is his being above reproach.

His reputation and example both within and outside the church must be exemplary (1 Timothy 3:2, 7). The importance of sexual purity among these qualifications is seen by its placement at the top of the list (1 Timothy 3:2). A man’s opportunity for service in the church can be permanently removed because of the lasting reproach of his sexual sin.

Sexual sin also causes intense personal pain. Proverbs repeatedly warns of the far-reaching and agonizing consequences of sexual immorality:

Death (Proverbs 2:19; 7:22–27)

Loss of wealth (Proverbs 5:10)

Enduring regret (Proverbs 5:11–14)

Entrapment (Proverbs 5:22)

Painful punishment (Proverbs 6:27–29)

Shame and destruction (Proverbs 6:32–35)

Within marriage, sexual immorality will also destroy trust between husband and wife and defile the sanctity of their own sexual intimacy.

Forgiveness and Hope

If you have already sinned sexually or are currently struggling with the temptation to lust, take heart! The Lord is always ready to forgive and cleanse those who turn to Him in confession and repentance (1 John 1:9), but understand that lasting holiness in your life will become a reality only as you faithfully pursue it according to the principles of God’s Word. The Lord promises, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), but you must be a willing and eager partner in His work of sanctification.

The follower of Christ must recognize there is divine help and hope for victory over the strong passions and evil desires associated with sexual sin. Scripture tells you there are powerful resources from God that enable you to conquer sin and live a life of purity (Philippians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:2–4). The mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your heart will enable you to faithfully pursue holiness.

The Gradual Process of Sanctification

Your heart is the first and most important battleground in conquering lust and sexual sin. Victory over sexual immorality begins with a new heart. Scripture tells us one of the ways we know if a person is truly a child of God is by looking at the pattern of his life. First John 2:3–5 says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” This doesn’t mean a child of God never sins, but it surely does mean a saved person will not continue in an unbroken pattern of sin. To do that would be unnatural for a child of God.

Many people become frustrated in their struggle to overcome sexual sin because they never seem to achieve lasting purity. Has that been your experience? Part of the reason you may not overcome sexual sin as quickly as desired is your misunderstanding about the location of the battle. The physical manifestation of sexual sin is simply the outworking of what has already been going on in the heart for some time. The focus of your struggle must be internal first and foremost.

The Holy Spirit immediately and permanently indwells each person He regenerates. Romans 8:9–10 is written to those who are saved: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Ephesians 4:22–24 instructs you “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

From where does the power come to reject sinful habits and to imitate the righteousness and holiness of God? Listen to the liberating truth taught in Romans 6:3–7: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

As a Christian, you have been given both the responsibility and the power to stop sinning. You are able to do that because you have been spiritually joined to Jesus in His death on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead. If you are genuinely saved, you have new and pure life by which you can please God.

The power that raised Jesus from the dead is recreating you into His likeness (Colossians 2:9–14). God has worked a miraculous transformation in your heart, and now He wants you to draw on the spiritual resources He gives you as you pursue holiness (see Romans 6:12–23; 2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 19:7–14; 119:9–11).

Fighting against sin and temptation, as well as pursuing greater obedience to God’s Word, is a process that happens gradually, day-by-day. The temptation to succumb to your struggle with sin—even sexual sin—is not unusual for the believer. The apostle Paul writes of his struggle with sin in Romans 7:14–25, speaking of it as “bondage to sin” (Romans 7:14).

While your fight against sin is constant and difficult, it is a battle you can win if you humbly rely on the resources the Lord gives you—meditation on Scripture, devotion to prayer, and fellowship in a biblical church. Experiencing and rejoicing in the gradual defeat of sin depends upon faithfully nurturing your heart toward purity.

A believer’s struggle with sin is like getting rid of weeds from a garden. If you keep cutting the weeds off at the ground level, they will keep growing and coming back. If you want to remove the weeds permanently, you must kill them below the surface of the ground—at the root level.

That is how it works with sin. You must see your sinful tendencies as dead remnants of your past life that must be rooted out, as Colossians 3:5 teaches: “Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

If you try to stop sinning merely in an external way—not dealing with the root problem at the heart level—you will not develop long-term holiness. As the great Puritan preacher John Owens wrote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

The key to consistent purity in your life is developing definite, tangible patterns of faithfulness in holiness (Galatians 5:16). It is when you begin to curtail patterns of prayer, diligent Bible study, and the pursuit of an intimate relationship with God, that you will be far more vulnerable to lustful temptation. Could it be that a season of sexual sin is the direct result of becoming lax in your pursuit of the Lord, especially after the remorse of the previous sin has begun to wear off?

You will grow in personal holiness in direct proportion to your intake of God’s Word and your commitment to prayer. In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Let your fight against sexual sin be the overflow of the love and devotion you have for your Lord and Savior.

Biblical Resources for Overcoming Sexual Sin

In Ephesians 6:10–17 you learn of the powerful weapons the Lord Jesus has given you for your fight against sin. The “sword of the Spirit,” the Word of God, is the greatest weapon for your fight against the devil (Ephesians 6:17). In Psalm 119:9–11 we read, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You. Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You.”

In addition to filling your heart with the Word of God, you must actively flee every temptation that seeks to threaten your purity. In 2 Timothy 2:21–22, Paul commands Timothy to continually flee sinful desires. It is utterly foolish to take the issue of sexual sin lightly or to overestimate your ability to resist temptation. Just as Joseph fled the daily seduction of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6–12), you too must avoid those times, places, and situations in which you know sexual temptation will arise.

In addition to reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible on a regular basis, please listen to John MacArthur’s sermon, “Aggressively Attacking the Sin in Our Lives.” It contains pertinent Bible teaching about overcoming habitual sins like sexual immorality.

You may also want to read this article on sexual sin and biblical sanctification.

Finally, to grow spiritually and to overcome temptation, you must regularly and actively participate in the ministries of a biblically-grounded local church. The Lord has designed our spiritual growth to be carried out through the loving, mutually edifying ministry of a church committed to expository preaching and regular accountability (Ephesians 4:11–16; Hebrews 10:23–25).

When you are pursuing temptation and self-gratification, your thoughts and efforts are consumed with selfishness. But taking initiative to serve others on your own or through the ministries of the church takes your attention off yourself. You must strive to develop the habit of loving and serving others instead of yourself. As you do this, you will become more like Jesus.


Sexual fulfillment expressed within a Christian marriage is a wonderful gift from God. The Lord has designed sexuality as a way to express love by a husband and wife, but when it is used selfishly and outside the bounds of His design, it will produce untold heartache. If you are a true Christian and have sinned sexually, please know the Lord has forgiven you on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross.

If you confess your sins and pursue righteousness, He is faithful to cleanse you from sin and give you a renewed desire to please Him. The Lord makes the following promise to all those who bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. . . . For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, 7–8). May the Lord empower you to have increasing victory over sexual sin for His glory and for your good.