The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for January, 2009

Notes on Sunday’s Gospel (Completed)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2009


The Gospel text for the Ordinary is Mark 1:21-28.

Background:

Mark’s Gospel opens with a title (1:1), followed by a prologue (1:2-13). The prologue consists of two parts with the first (1:2-8) focusing on the Baptist, while the second (1:9-13) focuses on our Lord. The two parts have many similarities which in effect highlight the superiority of our Lord over John. For example, John is descirbed as “a voice of one crying out,” where as “a voice” comes from heaven declaring of Jesus to be the “beloved Son” (and) with you I am well pleased.” :Like the word one, beloved implies a uniqueness, but it is a uniqueness of an entirely different order and force. John is in the desert, and our Lord too will find himself in the desert; but whereas John is in the desert preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, Jesus is in the desert being tested by him who brought about the necessity of man’s need for repentance, namely, Satan. The prologue ends on this note of conflict, a conflict which continues in today’s reading.

Sandwiched between the conflict with Satan (1:12-13) and the confrontation with the unclean spirit (1:21-28) Mark records the beginning of Jesus preaching, followed by his call to discipleship and his promise of a future mission (1:14-20). Such sandwiching is common in Mark’s Gospel and today’s reading has such a structure (see under Notes On This Sunday’s Gospel below) and the message here could not be more clear: Just as Our Lord is tested by Satan and opposed by the demonic, so too will his followers (His Church) be.

After the prologue the body of Mark’s Gospel begins. The Gospel body is generally divided into two major parts (1:14-8:21 and 8:22-to the end). The first part has three subsections, the first consisting of 1:14-3:6. Since today’s reading is taken from this first subsection it will be useful to see an outline of it.

Double Introduction:

(A) Jesus comes preaching (1:14-15).
(B) The call to discipleship and the promise of mission (1:16-20).

The Body of Subsection One: (In two parts)

Part 1. The Ministry Begins in Galilee (1:21-45)

a. Confrontation and authority (1:21-28)
b. In Simon’s house his Mother-in law is raised up (1:29-31)
c. More cures at Simon’s house (1:32-34)
d. Mission to other towns (1:35-39)
e. Jesus heals a leper and show his faithfulness to the Law (1:40-45)

Part 2. Opposition Increases (2:1-3:6)

a. The Son of Man has Authority to forgive sins (2:1-12)
b. Sinners called to repent (2:13-17)
c. The new cannot be confined to the old (2:18-22)
d. The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (2:23-28)
e. The confrontation between life and death on the Sabbath (3:1-6)

Aspects Concerning the Above Outline in Relation to This Sunday’s Gospel:

1. Notice how part one opens (1:21-28) and closes (1:40-45). A major theme of the opening is Jesus authority to teach (1:22, 27) while the major theme of the ending is Jesus fidelity to the Law of Moses shown in his command to the leper to fulfill the requirements of the Law (1:44). The beginning and ending of the first half (1:21-45) of this subsection (1:21-3:6) prepares for the second half (2:1-3:6) of the subsection. As noted in the outline above, the second half of the subsection focuses on opposition to our Lord. Mark contrasts Jesus’ understanding and teaching of the Law being with the understanding and teaching of his opponents.

2. Notice how part one opens and how part two ends. In the opening of part one (this Sunday’s Gospel Reading 1:21-28) Jesus is in a synagogue, on a Sabbath, being confronted by evil. The evil spirit insists that he (they) have no connection with Jesus, and asks if He is going to destroy him (them). Part two ends with Jesus in a synagogue, on a Sabbath, being confronted by Jewish leaders who are looking to accuse Him over a question of Law relating to the Sabbath. The account ends with their seeking to destroy Him. Implicit in the leader’s activity is the fact that they have no connection with Jesus for they wish to keep the new wine in old skins (2:18-22). Like the unclean spirit in this Sunday’s reading they are in the realm of the demonic.

3. Notice how part one (1:21-28) has as a major theme our Lord’s authority to teach. This parallels the opening of part two (2:1-12) where a major theme is Jesus’ authority to forgive sins.

Notes On This Sunday’s Gospel:

The passage is structured as a “Markan Sandwich” but is a bit more developed than usual for Mark who usually prefers a simple sandwich such as that found in chapter 14:1-11. A1. Jewish leaders form a conspiracy against Jesus (14:1-2) B. A woman anoints Jesus for his death (14:3-9). B2. Judas joins the leader’s conspiracy against Jesus (14:10-11). Today’s reading is structured as follows:

A1. Jesus comes to Capernuam (1:21).

B1. Astonishment at Jesus’ authoritative teaching (1:22).

C. The exorcism (1:23-26)

B2. Amazement at Jesus’ authoritative teaching (1:27)

A2. Jesus’ fame spreads throughout Galilee (1:28).

A1 and A2 are basically place settings; while B1 and B2 focus on the crowds response to Jesus’ teaching. The focus on Jesus teaching is hinged around C, the purpose of this structure is to indicate that His teaching is not merely verbal, but includes his actions. The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously “by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other” 4 and shed light on each another (CCC 53).

1:21. Capernuam, on a Sabbath, in a synagogue. Capernuam is a fishing village on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Iit was the hometown of Simon Peter and Andrew whom the Lord had promised: “I will cause you to become fishers of men” (1:17, literal translation). Jesus would make this town (and probably Peter’s house) his home, and he would spend a great deal of time in this place showing his disciples how to fish for men. Sadly, much of His ministry in Capernuam was without effect, they wanted the glitter of His mighty deeds but not the gold of His moral demands (Matt 11:23-24; Mark 1:35-39).

The Sabbath will be the pretext for some controversy in 2:23-28 and 3:1-6. The Law of Moses forbade the labor of humans and animals on the Sabbath, but some Jewish leaders interpreted this so stringently that they turned the Sabbath into something detrimental to life and happiness. As Jesus teaches in the two texts just noted, human need and the value of life determine the significance of the Sabbath, not the interpretation of it given by his opponents.

In Mark the synagogue is a place where demons are found and conflict and unbelief are encountered (1:39; 3:1-6; 6:1-6. No doubt, however, that many of His followers first came into contact with him in such settings. Mark’s basically negative emphasis towards the synagogue probably reflects the break which had taken place between the synagogue and the followers of Jesus due to the instigation of the leaders (12:39; 13:9). But see the story of the synagogue official in 5:21-43.

In spite of the fact that Jesus performed the exorcism of the spirit the people do not approach him on behalf of their own illnesses or those of others; this stand in contrast to the next pericope which shows Jesus in Simon’s house being told of his sick mother-in-law and her subsequent healing (1:29-31) even though it is still the Sabbath. In contrast, the people of Capernuam wait until sundown, the end of the Sabbath, to bring the sick to our Lord.

1:22 Astonishment, wonder, awe, ect are typical responses to our Lord in Mark’s Gospel (34 times). The responses are usually negative (so it seems to me) but can lead to further enlightenment for those who are open to Jesus (10:23-27); or a hardening of heart and attitude against him (6:1-6). The people’s astonishment comes from a recognition that Jesus teaches with authority, unlike the scribes. For Mark this is not about Jesus ability (or the scribe’s inability) to teach, rather it is about His right to teach. This right is rooted in His very person; is based upon who He is and the reason why He was sent.

1:23-24. There was a man with an impure spirit in their synagogue; he cried out ‘What is there between you and us, you Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us ? I know you, who you are, the Holy One of God.’ (My translation)

The term impure (unclean) is cultic, implying a separation from that which is holy. It stands in stark contrast to the title the spirit gives to Jesus: “The Holy One of God.” The unclean spirit highlights the contrast in his very first words: “What is there between you and us, you Jesus of Nazareth?” The emphatic you Jesus of Nazareth also provides a contrast with the spirit, as does the emphatic singular the Holy One of God, for the spirit is identified as singular, yet he sometimes speaks in the plural: what is there between you and us? Have you come to destroy us? On whose behalf is he speaking? Perhaps other demons, but more likely he is being portrayed as the mouth-piece of those in the synagogue who would come to reject Jesus. If this is the case, then Mark is implying that the rejection of Jesus is the manifestation of demonic influence. Recall what was said above concerning this subsection of the Gospel; it ends with the Jewish leaders leaving a synagogue planning how to destroy Jesus (3:1-6). The conflict which began with Satan’s testing of Jesus in the desert includes human beings.

1:25-26 And Jesus censured him saying, ‘be muzzled! Come forth from him. Then the impure spirit caused him to spasm and crying out exceedingly loud came forth from him. (My translation)

censured is the Greek word epitimesen, which is usually translated as “rebuked;” but the word has judicial connotations which I believe censured brings out more clearly. Jesus is acting as a king/judge issuing a judgment against the spirit, thereby reclaiming for the man his own personality. In the Septuagint the term is used to translate the Hebrew word ga’ar, and is used for the rebuking of Satan in Zech 3:2. Jesus uses the word against demons in 3:12 and 9:25; against the wind (a hostile force) in 4:39; and in response to Peter who had rebuked Him in 8:30-33.

Be muzzled. The Greek phimoo has the sense of tie shut. In chapter 3:23-30 Jesus will portray Himself as one who must tie up the strongman Satan in order to plunder his house. The word used in that text is different than the one used here but can be taken as a synonym.

Come (exerchomai) forth from him. The spirit had asked Jesus if he had come (erchomai) to destroy “us”; here we see Jesus’ response: ex-erchomai. “I have come to destroy your hold on possessions not your own, so come out of the man.”

The spirit caused him to spasm. See 9:20, 26

And crying out exceedingly loud came forth from him. The loud cry of the spirit in verse 23 had been articulate, here it is just meaningless, inarticulate noise, for the spirit had been silenced from talking by Jesus.

1:27 And they were all amazed insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? What is this new doctrine (teaching)? For with power he commandeth even the unclean spirits: and they obey him. (Douay-Rheims Translation).

As already noted (see the catechism quote above) Jesus teaching is manifest in both word and deed, consequently one could say that the preaching of the Gospel is itself a breaking of Satan’s power. In Luke chapter ten Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand. Upon their return they noted that even the demons were subject to them, clearly and effect of the preaching. In 2 Tim 2 St Paul tells Timothy to teach and correct opponents as part of his ministry because perhaps “God may give them repentance to know the truth; and they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil by whom they are held captive at his will.” (2 Tim 2:25-26 Douay-Rheims)

1:28 and His fame spread. The word translated as fame is akoe which means “hearing”, thus literally: “the hearing of him spread.” This is an odd way of putting it; why not write “the news of him spread”? Akoe is the root of the word hypakouo=’a hearing under’, which is translated as obey in the previous verse and used of the unclean spirit’s response to Jesus. Hypakouo refers to something done in response to what is heard. Unlike the demon, many of the people who hear (akoe) of Jesus and, indeed, hear him issue commands, do not obey(hypakouo) Him. A minion of “the father of lies” shows himself to be more honest than a cafeteria Catholic. The former admits in honesty that there is nothing between himself and Jesus and obeys him; but the cafeteria Catholic seeks to establish (or rather claim) a relationship between himself and Jesus by bending the teaching of Jesus to fit his own will.

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What’s For Lunch?

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2009

We had Chinese take out.  The menu consisted of a Po Po Platter-or is it Pu Pu?-the menu spells it one way and the specials board spells it another.  Anyway,  it’s a two person appetizer serving and consists of 2 spare ribs, 2 beef on a stick, 2 sweet and sour shrimp, 2 spring rolls, 2 crab rangoon, and 2 chicken wings.    We also had hot and sour soup, which is great if your suffering from a sore throat, and, finally, pork fried rice.

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Summa Contra Gentiles Bk. 1, Ch 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2009

Text in red are my notations.

Chapter 12

Concerning The Opinion Of Those Who Say That The Existence Of God Cannot Be Proved, And That It Is Held By Faith Alone.

In chapter 10 the Saint presented the opinion of those who held that the existence of God was self-evident, and responded to those arguments in chapter 11. Here, as the title indicates, he is presenting (and responding to) the position of those who eschew reason in relation to the question can the existence of God be demonstrated? In chapter 13 he will give his famous “arguments in proof of God’s existence.”

The term quiddity is defined as follows: Quiddity = a synonym of essences by which one answers the question about a thing, “what is it?” (Quidditas = synonymum essentiae, quo respondetur quaestioni super rem “quid est ?’ SOURCE,see #95)

The Position that we have taken is also assailed by the opinion of certain others, whereby the efforts of those who endeavor to prove that there is a God would again be rendered futile. For they say that it is impossible by means of the reason to discover that God exists, and that this knowledge is acquired solely by means of faith and revelation. (St Thomas also deals with this issue in the ST. I, 2. This was the position of Moses Maimonides)

In making this assertion some were moved by the weakness of the arguments which certain people employed to prove the existence of God.

Possibly, however, this error might falsely seek support from the statements of certain philosophers, who show that in God essence and existence are the same, namely that which answers to the question, What is He? and that which answers to the question, Is He? Now it is impossible by the process of reason to acquire the knowledge of what God is. Wherefore seemingly neither is it possible to prove by reason whether God is.

Again. If, as required by the system of the Philosopher (Posterior Analytics II,9. 93b, 22), in order to prove whether a thing is we must take as principle the signification of its name, and since according to the Philosopher (4 Metaph IV, 7, This link is to Thomas’ commentary on Metaphysics, Lecture 16. see #391 and Thomas’ note at #733) the signification of a name is its definition: there will remain no means of proving the existence of God, seeing that we lack knowledge of the divine essence or quiddity.

Again. If the principles of demonstration becomes known to us originally through the senses, as is proved in the Posterior Analytics (I. 18 see footnote 1 below) , those things which transcend all sense and sensible objects are seemingly indemonstrable. Now such is the existence of God. Therefore it cannot be demonstrated.

The falseness of this opinion is shown to us first by the art of demonstration, which teaches us to conclude causes from effects. Secondly, by the order itself of sciences: for if no substance above sensible substances can be an object of science, there will be son science above Physics,, as stated in 4 Metaphysics (See book 4, chap. 2). Thirdly, by the effects of the philosophers who have endeavored to prove the existence of God. Fourthly, by the apostolic truth which asserts (Rom 1:20) that the invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.

Nor should we be moved by the consideration that in God essence and existence are the same, as the first argument contended. For this is to be understood of the existence by which God Subsists in Himself, of which we are ignorant as to what kind of a thing it is, even as we are ignorant as to what kind of a thing it is, even as we are ignorant of His essence. But it is not to be understood of that existence which is signified by the composition of the mind. For in this way it is possible to prove the existence of God, when our mind is led by demonstrative arguments to form a proposition stating that God is.

Moreover. In those arguments whereby we prove the existence of God, it is not necessary that the divine essence or quiddity be employed as the middle term, as the second argument supposed: but instead of the quiddity we take His effects as the middle term, as is the case in a posteriori reasoning: and from these effects we take the signification of this word God. For all the divine names are taken either from the remoteness of god’s effects from Himself, or from some relationship between god and His effects.

I tis also evident from the fact that, although God transcends all sensibles and sensed, His effects from which we take the proof that God exists, are sensible objects. Hence our knowledge, even of things which transcend the senses, originates from the senses.

Footnotes:

It is also clear that the loss of any one of the senses entails the loss of a corresponding portion of knowledge, and that, since we learn either by induction or by demonstration, this knowledge cannot be acquired. Thus demonstration develops from universals, induction from particulars; but since it is possible to familiarize the pupil with even the so-called mathematical abstractions only through induction-i.e. only because each subject genus possesses, in virtue of a determinate mathematical character, certain properties which can be treated as separate even though they do not exist in isolation-it is consequently impossible to come to grasp universals except through induction. But induction is impossible for those who have not sense-perception. For it is sense-perception alone which is adequate for grasping the particulars: they cannot be objects of scientific knowledge, because neither can universals give us knowledge of them without induction, nor can we get it through induction without sense-perception. (Source. Some copyright laws apply, see HERE).

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Prayers For My Uncle

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2009

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts my Uncle is suffering from pancreatic cancer.  Today we received word that he will probably not live another 24 hours.  Please pray for him and his family.

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Memeorial of St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2009

~by St. Thomas Aquinas

Christ himself is the way, and therefore he says: I am the way. This certainly is eminently right for through him we have access to the Father.

Since this way is not separate from its end, but joined to it, he adds the truth and the life; thus he is himself at once both the way and the goal. In his human nature he is the way, and in his divine nature he is the goal. Therefore, speaking as man he says: I am the way; and speaking as God he adds: the truth and the life. These two words are an apt description of this goal.

For this goal is the object of human desire, and a man desires two things above all. In the first place he wants to know the truth, which is peculiar to him; and secondly he wants to continue to exist, which is common to all things. Christ is the way by which we come to know truth, though he is also that truth: Lead me, O Lord, in truth, and I shall enter into your way. Christ is also the way to come to life, though he is also that life: You have made known the ways of life.

Therefore, he designated the end of this way by truth and life, about which we have spoken above with reference to Christ. First, he himself is life, for life was in him; then, he is truth, because he was the light of men, and light is truth.

If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because he himself is the way: This is the way; walk in it. And Augustine says: Make man your way and you shall arrive at God. It is better to limp along the way than stride along off the way. For a man who limps along the way, even if he only makes slow progress, comes to the end of the way; but one who is off the way, the more quickly he runs, the further away is he from his goal.

If you are looking for a goal, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the truth, where we desire to be. My mouth shall reflect on the truth. If you are looking for a resting place, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the life. Whoever finds me finds life, and receives salvation from the Lord.

Therefore hold fast to Christ if you wish to be safe. You will not be able to go astray, because he is the way. He who remains with him does not wander in trackless places; he is on the right way. Moreover he cannot be deceived, because he is the truth, and he teaches every truth. And he says: For this I was born and for this I have come, to bear witness to the truth. Nor can he be disturbed, because he is both life and the giver of life. For he says: I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly. (Source)

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A Great Homepage

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2009

myCatholic.com offers a great homepage. It offers many features such as links to the daily Mass readings, along with reflections on those readings. It reminds you of the saint of the day; gives a brief, daily excerpt from the catechism; a word of the day; Scripture verse of the day; a brief reflection from a saint; and a short meditation from St Jose Maria Excriva.

It provides links to Mass times in your area; your area yellow pages and your area weather. It allows you to customize content from a variety of news sources, including Catholic news organizations, other Christian news outlets, and secular news, along with business/financial news and sports. They provide a “Catholic News Alert” feature which brings to your homepage the latest news on whatever Catholic subject which might interest you. I have news alerts relating to Scripture and also the immigration issue. There is also a link field where you can list your favorite blogs and other sites (up to 20 links). I can’t reproduce my actual homepage here, however, I can give you an idea of the content options.  I’ve disabled some links to my blog dashboards.

Saint of the Day

St. Angela Merici (1474-1540)
At an early age, Angela was a Third-Order Franciscan. She founded two schools for the instruction of young girls in religion, and started the Ursuline Order.

Life in Christ: Catechism #2111

Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

Word of the Day

egoism (noun)
excessive concern with oneself; conceit

Scripture Verse of the Day

Matthew 24:42

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Reflections from the Saints

Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.

– St. Angela Merici

One Minute Meditations

Dazzled
Following the Master’s wishes, you are to be salt and light while being fully immersed in this world we were made to live in, sharing in all human activities. Light illumines the hearts and minds of men. Salt gives flavour and preserves from corruption.

That is why if you lack apostolic zeal you will become insipid and useless. You will be letting other people down and your life will be absurd.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #22
Semi-Annual Fundraiser $1400 raised / $2500 goal » Please support us.
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The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2009

I’ve provided links to Pope Benedict’s talks on St Paul as well as some stuff of my own. Needless to say the resources are of unequal value, but I’m sure the Pope is doing the best he can :).  There are also some links to other peoples stuff as well.

Here are the talks of Pope Benedict on St Paul which are part of his catechesis on the Apostles and the Apostolic Age:

PAUL OF TARSUS.

ST. PAUL’S NEW OUTLOOK.

ST. PAUL AND THE SPIRIT.

ST. PAUL AND THE CHURCH.

Here are Pope Benedict’s talks on St Paul which he has delivered so far in this, the year of St Paul:

On Paul’s World and Time

The World of St Paul

The Life of Paul

The Conversion of St Paul

Apostleship According To St Paul

St Paul’s relation to the Church and Apostles(1)

St Paul’s Relation to the Church and Apostles (2)

St Paul’s Knowledge of Christ

St Paul’s Teaching on the Church

On St Paul’s Christology: Pre-existence & Incarnation

On St Paul’s Christology: Theology of the Cross

Son St Paul’s Christology: The Decisiveness of the Incarnation

Eschatology: the Expectation of the Parousia (Second Coming)

The Doctrine of Justification: From Works to Faith

Paul’s Teaching on Faith and Works

The Relation Between Adam and Christ

Theology of the Sacraments

On Spiritual Worship.

On the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians

Here is the partial rough draft of a talk I gave in my parish about St Paul (It’s incomplete, I cannot find the rest of the files, nor the finished draft of the talk):

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

From EWTN: The Conversion of St Paul

From the Catholic Exchange

St John Chrysostom In Praise of St Paul (From Crossroads Initiative)

Artwork relating to St Paul

Father William Most: The Thought of St Paul

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St Francis De Sales Defender of the Faith

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2009

Online readings of some of the Saint’s apologetical works.

The Authroity of the Church.

On Purgatory.

Violation of Scripture by Heretics.

On the Mission of the Church.

On the Papacy.

On Faith and Reason.

The Source for these links can be found HERE.

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More on St Francis De Sales

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2009

This is my third post today on one of my favorite saints.

LETTER OF JOHN PAUL II
ON THE FOURTH CENTENARY
OF THE EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
OF ST FRANCIS DE SALES

To Bishop Yves Boivineau of Annecy

1. On 8 December, you will observe the fourth centenary of the episcopal ordination of your predecessor, St Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church, “one of the greatest figures of the Church and of history” (Paul VI, Angelus, 29 January 1967). Consecrated “Prince Bishop of Geneva” on 8 December 1602, King Henry IV honoured him with the title “the phoenix of Bishops”, because, he said, “he is a rare bird on this earth”. After renouncing the pomp of Paris and the king’s endeavour to give him a famous episcopal see, he became the tireless pastor and evangelizer of his native land, Savoy, which he loved above all. He explained, “I am a “Savoyard’ in every way, by birth and by obligation”. Guided by the Fathers of the Church, he found in prayer and in deeply meditated knowledge of Scripture the strength he needed to accomplish his mission and lead the people to God.

Like my Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, who wrote the Letter Sabaudiae gemma on the occasion of the fourth centenary of his birth (29 January 1967), I pray God to make flourish and shine forth in the Church a striking spiritual life through the teaching of the holy Bishop of Geneva who remains a source of light for our contemporaries as he was in his time.

Adviser of popes and princes, endowed with great spiritual, pastoral and diplomatic qualities, Francis de Sales was a man of unity in a period when divisions created a wound in the Church’s side. He especially took care to re-establish the unity of his diocese and maintain the communion of faith, founding his approach on confidence in God, the charity that can do all things, an ascetical lifestyle and prayer, as he underlined in a truly programmatic address after his ordination to the priesthood, for this is how one must live Christian discipline and behave as God’s true children (cf. Harangue pour la prévôté: Oeuvres complètes, édition d’Annecy, VII, p. 99, ff.). Later, he explained the true meaning of theological charity: “Charity is a love of friendship, a friendship of preference, a preferential love, but an incomparable preference, sovereign and supernatural, that is as a sun in the soul to enlighten it with its rays, in all the spiritual faculties to perfect them, in all one’s powers to moderate them, but in the will, as on its seat, to dwell there and to make it cherish and love its God above all things” (cf. Treatise of the Love of God, Book II, chap. 22, p. 125, translated by H.B. Mackey, Newman Book Shop, Westminster, Md., 1945).

2. Taking as his model St Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, he concentrated on spreading the teaching of the Council of Trent faithfully and creatively and on putting into practice its pastoral dispositions. He reorganized his diocese, which he visited twice in its entirety, suffering deeply from seeing the painful situation of Geneva, his episcopal see, which had gone over to the Calvinist Reform.

He took care of the formation of his priests, by having monthly conferences for them, so that he could give to the sheep without shepherds, merciful pastors capable of teaching the Christian mystery and of celebrating ever more worthily the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

He was particularly concerned to help his clergy and faithful discover that penance is a moment of encounter with the love of Our Lord, who welcomes all who come to him humbly asking forgiveness. He also took care to reform the monastic orders, as he wrote to Pope Paul V in November 1606 (Oeuvres complètes, XXIII, p. 325).

3. Doctor of divine love, Francis de Sales did not rest until the faithful accepted God’s love, to live fully in it, turning their hearts to God and uniting themselves with him (cf. Traité de l’amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes, IV, p. 40 ff.). This is how, under his direction, many Christians walked on the the path of holiness; he showed them that all are called to live an intense spiritual life, whatever their situation and profession, for “the Church is a garden filled with infinite flowers where there are flowers of different sizes, colours, fragrances: in brief, of different perfections. For they each have their price, their grace, and their substance, and make a most pleasing perfection of beauty in the gathering of of their rich variety” (Traité de l’amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes, IV, p. 111).

A man of great goodness and kindness, who knew how to express God’s mercy and patience to those who came to speak with him, he taught an exacting but serene spirituality based on love, for loving God “is the sovereign happiness of the soul for this life and for eternity” (Letter to Mother Marie-Jacqueline Favre, 10 March 1612: Oeuvres complètes, XV, p. 180). With great simplicity he formed each person in contemplative prayer: “You must prostrate yourself before God and remain there at his feet: he will certainly understand by this humble attitude that you are his and that you want his help even before you can speak about it” (Letter to Jeanne Françoise Frémyot de Chantal, 14 October 1604: Oeuvres complètes, XII, p. 325). He was concerned to lead souls to the heights of perfection, in his concern to unify the person around the heart of existence: a life of intimacy with the Lord, through which the human being can receive perfection and become better (cf. Traité de l’amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes IV, p. 49). He was desirous of enabling each person to return to Christ and to set out anew from Christ to lead a good life, for God has given each one the government of his faculties, which he must rightly place under the direction of the will (cf. Traité de l’amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes IV, pp. 23-24).

As St Jeanne de Chantal did, may we be able to listen to his exhortations to be faithful to meditation on the Life and Death of Christ: they are the gate of Heaven. In meditating on them often, we gradually learn the treasures they contain. The soul must remain in the contemplation of the Cross and meditation on the Passion (L’étendard de la Sainte Croix: Oeuvres complètes, II). Perfection consists in being conformed to the Son of God, in letting oneself be guided by the Holy Spirit, in perfect obedience (cf. Traité de l’amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes XI, 15, V, pp. 291 ff.). “Perfect abandonment into the hands of the heavenly Father and a perfect indifference as to what the divine will decides are the quintessence of the spiritual life…. All the setbacks in our perfection come only from the lack of abandonment, and it is certainly true that it is right to begin, to continue and to finish the spiritual life right there, in imitation of our Saviour who did this with an extraordinary perfection in the beginning, during and at the end of his life” (Sermon pour le Vendredi Saint, 1622: Oeuvres complètes, X, p. 389).

4. With a particularly voluminous correspondence, he also accompanied with great discernment and a gradual pedagogy adapted to each situation, appropriately using highly coloured images, the souls who entrusted themselves to his spiritual direction, so that each good act and each victory over sin might be as “many precious stones to be set into the crown of glory that God prepares for us in his Paradise” (Introduction à la Vie dévote, IV, 8: Oeuvres complètes, III, p. 307). Since he was passionately in love with God and man, his attitude to people was fundamentally optimistic and he never failed to invite them, to use his own words, to flourish where they were sown. Still today, and I am very glad of it, the works of Francis de Sales are part of our classical literature; it is the sign that his teaching as a priest and bishop finds an echo in the human heart and has an affinity with the deepest human aspirations. I invite pastors and faithful to learn from his example and his writings, which are always up to date.

On this occasion, how can we fail also to evoke St Jeanne de Chantal, with whom he founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, desiring, in an original and innovative way, to offer a form of religious life that was open to the greatest possible number of women who were ready to put contemplation first.

Giving thanks for the witness of the priestly and episcopal life of this Apostle of the Chablais, and for his written work, I ask the Lord to inspire in the contemporary world an ever greater number of men and women who know how to live Salesian spirituality and how to present it to our contemporaries, so that all may have a “watchful faith”, which “not only performs good works, but goes into and subtly and swiftly understands revealed truths”, in order to transmit them to the world (Sermon pour le jeudi après le premier dimanche de Carème, 1622: Oeuvres complètes, XI, p. 220).

5. Finally, my wish is the same as that of the Doctor of divine love: “May God alone be your repose and your consolation” (Letter to Mademoiselle de Soulfour, 16 January 1603: Oeuvres complètes, XII, p. 163).

As I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception and St Francis de Sales, I cordially impart an affectionate apostolic Blessing to you. I very willingly impart it to the bishops of the region, to the priests and the faithful of Savoy, of Switzerland and of Piedmont, to the women religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary, to the members of the different Salesian institutes and to all who live Salesian spirituality, to journalists, writers and to everyone who works in the media, whose holy patron is St Francis de Sales, and to all who join in the celebration of this anniversary. Source.

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Podcast On St Francis De Sales

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2009

From Father Hudgins’ Lectures come five episodes on St Francis.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

From EWTN comes audio from a 13 part series on the spirituality of St Francis entitled UNION WITH GOD.

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