September 21, 2008

True Man & True God - the dichotomy of Christ

He was born
-but He had been begotten.
He was born of a woman
-but he kept her a Virgin.
He was wrapped in swaddling clothes,
-but He took off the swathing bands of the grave by His rising again.
He was laid in a manger
-but He was glorified by Angels, and proclaimed by a star, and worshipped by the Magi.
He had no form nor beauty in the eyes of his people
-but to David He is fairer than the children of men.
And on the Mountain He was bright as the lightning,
-and became more luminous than the sun, initiating us into the mystery of the future.
He was baptized as Man
-but He remitted sins as God.
He was tempted as Man,
-but He conquered as God
He hungered
-but He fed thousands.
He thirsted
-but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.
He was wearied,
-but He is the peace of all that are sorrowful and heavy laden.
He prays,
-but He hears prayer.
He weeps,
-but He causes tears to cease.
He asks where Lazarus was laid,
-for He was Man;
And He raises Lazarus,
-for He was God.
As a sheep He is led to the slaughter,
-but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.
He is bruised and wounded,
-but He heals every disease and every infirmity.
He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree,
-but by the Tree of Life He restores us
He lays down His life,
-but He has power to take it again.
He dies,
-but He gives life and by His death destroys death.

---St. Gregory Nazianzen (Oration 29)---

September 12, 2008

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -- the same day that two churches built at the site of Calvary by Constantine were dedicated.

The observance of the Feast of the Exaltation (probably from a Greek word meaning "bringing to light") of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since. In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, apparently inspired by the recovery of a portion of the Cross, said to have been taken from Jerusalem the Persians, by the Roman emperor Heraclius in 629.

Christians "exalt" the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the God Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ -- all in one image.

The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the "little" Sign of the Cross on head, lips and heart at the reading of the Gospel; praying the Stations (or Way) of the Cross; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday by kissing the feet of the image of Our Savior crucified.

Placing a crucifix (the cross with an image of Christ's body upon it) in churches and homes, in classrooms of Catholic schools and in other Catholic institutions, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder -- and witness -- of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross.

We remember Our Lord's words, "He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it." (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves -- our souls and bodies -- with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory.

Antiphon for Afternoon prayer
Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life.
Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.


September 03, 2008

Do You Like Going to Church

Many people like to go to church. King David, an avid churchgoer, said, "Let us go to the House of the Lord" (Psalm 121 (122):1). Others, however, will visit the church very seldom. Not having found satisfaction in the attendance of church services they always look for excuses not to attend. The reasons for attending church are varied. Some attend church because of a feeling of being compelled by parents or their peers. Some seek the approval of friends or imaginary rewards. For example, they may feel that they do God some kind of favor by attending Church and, therefore, they expect a reward from God for their attendance at church. Habit and a social want to be part of some group or organization play a big part in attendance at services. Still, others go to church purely out of how they feel at a certain moment or how they are disposed at that moment. Come Sunday, or any holiday, they will always question themselves, "Should I not go to church or should I?"

The answer to this will always be based on how happy or sad they feel at that moment. To truly be happy in attending church we should consider those factors that make us happy, enthusiastic, and enjoy visiting other people and their homes. As a general rule we like visiting those that in some way bring spiritual, intellectual, or physical enrichment to our daily lives. It is anticipation on our part of time well spent. As we learn more about each other our friendship grows stronger and we want to visit each other more.

Therefore, if we think of God as totally enriching us in our daily lives we will be happy to visit Him in His house. But, on the other hand, if we feel that we don't need Him because we are completely capable of providing for ourselves and, in addition, we fear Him due to lack of knowledge of Him, we will avoid Him even more. As we grow in knowledge of all the good that God does for us, we like to thank Him personally; moreover, we like to publicly share with others the knowledge of the goodness that he has done for us (by letting others know how often we think of Him). We like to be in communion with the family of the faithful of God. So, although we sometimes feel that the service is too long, the words are not understood, or the proceedings complicated, we happily go to the House of God because we love Him and want to express publicly our thanks to Him.