There’s been a lot of turmoil in the church in recent days. We’ll use two of these things – the Theodore Cardinal McCarrick scandal and the Pope Francis declaration on the Death Penalty – to look at some basic principles which should give us a certain amount of reassurance and peace in troubled times.
The pouring out of animal blood in the Old Testament was a sign of contrition and a rendering of the life of the sinner who offered the sacrifice back to God. That means living for God. If your life has been given to God, your life is to be used as God sees fit. It’s not a token offering – “God, I offer you my life” – and then go about your business like nothing has changed. I can’t say I am giving you my car and not hand over the keys and let you use it as you see fit. The blood of animals itself had no power, of course, to wash away sin. But it was the contrition of the one offering the sacrifice which was pleasing to God. Contrition means conversion. One who does no agree to end his sinful ways is clearly not sorry for his sinful ways. Sorrow means amending our ways.
As our biological father gives life, our biological mother bears life. So God the Father gives life, His own life, so that we may live spiritually, Mary bears His life so that we may live spiritually. She is the mediatrix of all grace – grace is the life of God. As the source of grace, Jesus Christ came into the world through Mary, and so God chooses to continue to give the grace that He gives through her.
(Talk preached for an audience of Catholic men during a Silent Retreat)
God created all things, and among the things which he created are angels – non-corporeal persons. When we say non-corporeal, we mean that they do not, according to their natures, have bodies such as humans and lesser animals. When we say that they are persons, we mean that they are individuals of a rational nature. That they are created is a fact that distinguishes them from God, who is also non-corporeal and personal.
“After this I saw a great multitude which no man could number … clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” [Apocalypse 7:9-10] That’s what the saints are all about – giving honor and glory to God. And that vast crowd that no man could number, that’s us. That’s what we’re made for.
When the day comes that the sky is emptied of stars, and the sun is black, and the distraught winds have only the void for their lament, I am sure that somewhere men will be merry together, somewhere good hearts will greet good hearts, and somewhere our dreams of unbroken love and good talk and laughter will have come true. This is a glorious somewhere, and it is far nearer to us than the stars. There our Lady talks of children to unknown mothers who taught their many children the love of her single Son. There Saint Joseph is a man among peasants. There Xavier is home from his wars, and there Suarez and Aquinas have their arguments out. There Thomas more swaps jests with the older Teresa, while the younger Teresa gathers her roses. There Saint George boasts of his conquests of the dragon, and mayhap the good thief listens, or mayhap he hears little Saint Francis singing his songs. It is a good place, this somewhere. It has been called Paradise. It has been called the Tavern at the End of the World. And it has been called Home. It is only Catholicism that would ever allow the likes of me to hope some day to be there
From “Mr. Blue” by Myles Connolly
The commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a great opportunity to talk about the brown scapular. To Simon Stock, who is now a canonized saint, the Blessed Virgin said: “Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity, and for thee and for all Carmelites, a sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”
It’s for us to try to remember where we are when we come to Mass. This is the sacrifice of Calvary. We really offer to the Eternal Father His own Divine Son for the sins of the world.
Mary as our model – what does that mean? Can we learn from a better teacher than Mary? The mother is the first and best teacher for the children.
“For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’ s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise. ” [Galatians 3:26-29] From the most ancient of days, the feast held on January 1st has been a dual feast of both the circumcision of our Lord and the maternity of Mary. Baptism is the new circumcision, and by it we are set apart from the world to live for God and God alone.
The Feast of All Saints is a feast which teaches us about the theological virtue of Hope, which fills us with a confidence that we will obtain our heavenly end if we cooperate with the grace of God. This feast, then, is our day to enter by Hope into the heavenly banquet.