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THURSDAY             July 23, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 143

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO


"Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil..."

     As part of our summer service to readers who may not have had the opportunity to read the earliest chapters of our on-going megaseries on the Church today, we repeat the early installments bringing you the third installment in which we speak of preparation in girding for battle with those forces that oppose Christ and His Holy Church. Without proper preparation through prayer and fasting, we will not be able to deflect the artillery of deceit, modern rationalization and worldly venues of the evil one. For the first installment, click on WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?.
Installment Three
      Continuing in our multi-part feature on the direction we as Catholics, as the mystical Body of Christ, are heading as the clock ticks down on the twentieth century, we will begin to delve on what avenues are available to us in our task of "road maintenance" on the way to Heaven on the greatest of all vehicles - the Roman Catholic Church.

PREPARATION IS PARAMOUNT

      The first step is to want to be holy. Achieving holiness does not come easy; one has to work at it and work hard for the more one strives to submit their own will totally to God's Will, the more they become a prime target of satan's wrath for their commitment to sanctity is a threat to all that the evil one is after. That is why we need to pray. Only prayer can buffer us from the slings and arrows the demon will hurl at us. Prayer will strengthen our resolve and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us gain wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is power! Not worldly power, but the power of the Word of God, which, if we truly know our faith, we will not only stay on the straight and narrow but be better able to help others through the detours and landmines of life.

      Yes, we need to be prepared. We must realize that these truths of God's protection do not necessarily mean we're not in for some serious times ahead. Au contraire, mes amis. We're in for the battle of our life and the life (souls) of others! We are coming into a time when we truly will fulfill our role in the Communion of Saints, comprising the Church Triumphant (souls in Heaven), the Church Suffering (souls in Purgatory) [Yes, Virginia, there is a Purgatory!] and the Church Militant.

GIRDING FOR BATTLE

      In order to be worthy and useful "soldiers of Christ" we need to don our battle armor as Saint Paul said in Ephesians 6:11-17, "Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of justice, and having your feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, in all things taking up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, the word of God."

      There it is, the spiritual fashion-plate for our battle fatigues. But before we can go into battle, we must be molded into "lean, clean machines." This means we must shed ourselves of the excess weight of vices, and, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) we become "clean" and restored to Sanctifying Grace. Then we must exercise spiritually to build our resistance to the enemy. It is also vital, during this "basic training boot camp" to go back to the basics of our faith and, if necessary, re-learn our faith through arduous study of the Catechism, be it the new updated Catechism of the Catholic Church, or for those who have a copy, the old Baltimore Catechism. After all, as we mentioned prior in this article, the teachings have not changed. The old, standard and comfortable Baltimore Catechism stood the test of time and why not? It was solid and simple to understand and act upon. No wonder the allies of the wicked one targeted this gem to minimize!

      Through studying and knowing Catholic Doctrine we can better persevere and preserve the Truths which have been given to us by Christ, and through the succession of the Popes since Saint Peter.

      If we do not know our faith, then it is all too easy to become a "lukewarm Catholic" who takes his/her place in the pew on Sunday Morning, heedless of what is being said at Mass, how the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being said, and nodding off during the homily which should be the time when we are "taught" about our faith from the pulpit, and not a place for the celebrant or deacon to be an "entertainer" telling stories, cracking jokes, or otherwise regale us with cute anecdotes about some funny happening in their life experience. We are there to get dogma and doctrine and the true meaning of the Liturgy of the Word. We are there to become saints, in union with Christ, and we can't do that if all we ever talk about is how human we all are. We need to talk about and be talked to about higher things...spiritual thoughts that will elevate our souls and our resolve to do God's Will.

      It may seem like we're criticizing priests with these last comments. That is never the intention, rather we are reminding them of what they were called to do in their calling as a servant of God in the sacred life of one given Holy Orders. We will have much more on this in a future issue.

      Knowing our faith feeds us in our hunger to become more holy which will enable everyone of us to be constantly vigilant over any corrupt doctrine that might infiltrate into the Church. Impossible you say? Hardly. Heresy has been rampant since Christ's time, and in the Jewish faith long before His birth. Today, as the Mother of God has reported to visionaries and locutionists alike, every heresy that has ever existed abides today in the Church. It's everywhere, and we need to look it straight in the eye, clothed with the truth of our faith and denounce it as such, if we are to persevere, and in our persevering, help bring the Holy Roman Catholic Church gloriously into the next millennium.

      We need also to be aware how clever heresy is: It is one thing to espouse satanic worship, which is clearly heresy and one so obvious that anyone who's striving to be God's child will oppose point blank. But it's quite another to be indoctrinated ever so slowly, so gradually, with half-truths that cover up the half-lie in the "new age" "humanist" and"liberation theology" of today's growing number of "Cafeteria Catholics" who predominate the media and make headway into the classrooms via books that become "best sellers" because they appeal to the mass-thinking appeal of "if it feels good it must be right" churchgoers.

      In the next installment, we will study how preparation through prayer and faith can help us gird for battle and guide us along the path toward true holiness. As true members of the One, True, Holy and Apostolic Church we need to make a decision to follow the right path. It won't be a popular one, but it will be the right one.


The altar is the table where we gather as one to be nourished by the Word and the Body of the Lord through the Ultimate Sacrifice of the Mass

     We continue with our marathon of installments on the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini released two weeks ago in order to bring the readers the entire document over the next several weeks, including footnotes at the end of each installment. Today we bring you Chapter Three - DIES ECCLESIAE - "The Eucharistic Assembly: Heart of Sunday" part three For the seventh installment on keeping the Lord's day holy, click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

The table of the word

39. As in every Eucharistic celebration, the Risen Lord is encountered in the Sunday assembly at the twofold table of the word and of the Bread of Life. The table of the word offers the same understanding of the history of salvation and especially of the Paschal Mystery which the Risen Jesus himself gave to his disciples: it is Christ who speaks, present as he is in his word "when Sacred Scripture is read in the Church".(60) At the table of the Bread of Life, the Risen Lord becomes really, substantially and enduringly present through the memorial of his Passion and Resurrection, and the Bread of Life is offered as a pledge of future glory. The Second Vatican Council recalled that "the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are so closely joined together that they form a single act of worship".(61) The Council also urged that "the table of the word of God be more lavishly prepared for the faithful, opening to them more abundantly the treasures of the Bible".(62) It then decreed that, in Masses of Sunday and holy days of obligation, the homily should not be omitted except for serious reasons.(63) These timely decrees were faithfully embodied in the liturgical reform, about which Paul VI wrote, commenting upon the richer offering of biblical readings on Sunday and holy days: "All this has been decreed so as to foster more and more in the faithful 'that hunger for hearing the word of the Lord' (Am 8:11) which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, spurs the People of the New Covenant on towards the perfect unity of the Church".(64)

40. In considering the Sunday Eucharist more than thirty years after the Council, we need to assess how well the word of God is being proclaimed and how effectively the People of God have grown in knowledge and love of Sacred Scripture.(65) There are two aspects of this that of celebration and that of personal appropriation and they are very closely related. At the level of celebration, the fact that the Council made it possible to proclaim the word of God in the language of the community taking part in the celebration must awaken a new sense of responsibility towards the word, allowing "the distinctive character of the sacred text" to shine forth "even in the mode of reading or singing".(66) At the level of personal appropriation, the hearing of the word of God proclaimed must be well prepared in the souls of the faithful by an apt knowledge of Scripture and, where pastorally possible, by special initiatives designed to deepen understanding of the biblical readings, particularly those used on Sundays and holy days. If Christian individuals and families are not regularly drawing new life from the reading of the sacred text in a spirit of prayer and docility to the Church's interpretation,(67) then it is difficult for the liturgical proclamation of the word of God alone to produce the fruit we might expect. This is the value of initiatives in parish communities which bring together during the week those who take part in the Eucharist - priest, ministers and faithful(68) - in order to prepare the Sunday liturgy, reflecting beforehand upon the word of God which will be proclaimed. The objective sought here is that the entire celebration praying, singing, listening, and not just the preaching should express in some way the theme of the Sunday liturgy, so that all those taking part may be penetrated more powerfully by it. Clearly, much depends on those who exercise the ministry of the word. It is their duty to prepare the reflection on the word of the Lord by prayer and study of the sacred text, so that they may then express its contents faithfully and apply them to people's concerns and to their daily lives.

41. It should also be borne in mind that the liturgical proclamation of the word of God, especially in the Eucharistic assembly, is not so much a time for meditation and catechesis as a dialogue between God and his People, a dialogue in which the wonders of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the Covenant are continually restated. On their part, the People of God are drawn to respond to this dialogue of love by giving thanks and praise, also by demonstrating their fidelity to the task of continual "conversion". The Sunday assembly commits us therefore to an inner renewal of our baptismal promises, which are in a sense implicit in the recitation of the Creed, and are an explicit part of the liturgy of the Easter Vigil and whenever Baptism is celebrated during Mass. In this context, the proclamation of the word in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration takes on the solemn tone found in the Old Testament at moments when the Covenant was renewed, when the Law was proclaimed and the community of Israel was called - like the People in the desert at the foot of Sinai (cf. Ex 19:7-8; 24:3,7) - to repeats its "yes", renewing its decision to be faithful to God and to obey his commandments. In speaking his word, God awaits our response: a response which Christ has already made for us with his "Amen" (cf. 2 Cor 1:20-22), and which echoes in us through the Holy Spirit so that what we hear may involve us at the deepest level.(69)

The table of the Body of Christ

42. The table of the word leads naturally to the table of the Eucharistic Bread and prepares the community to live its many aspects, which in the Sunday Eucharist assume an especially solemn character. As the whole community gathers to celebrate "the Lord's Day", the Eucharist appears more clearly than on other days as the great "thanksgiving" in which the Spirit-filled Church turns to the Father, becoming one with Christ and speaking in the name of all humanity. The rhythm of the week prompts us to gather up in grateful memory the events of the days which have just passed, to review them in the light of God and to thank him for his countless gifts, glorifying him "through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit". The Christian community thus comes to a renewed awareness of the fact that all things were created through Christ (cf. Col 1:16; Jn 1:3), and that in Christ, who came in the form of a slave to take on and redeem our human condition, all things have been restored (cf. Eph 1:10), in order to be handed over to God the Father, from whom all things come to be and draw their life. Then, giving assent to the Eucharistic doxology with their "Amen", the People of God look in faith and hope towards the eschatological end, when Christ "will deliver the kingdom to God the Father ... so that God may be everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15:24, 28).

43. This "ascending" movement is inherent in every Eucharistic celebration and makes it a joyous event, overflowing with gratitude and hope. But it emerges particularly at Sunday Mass because of its special link with the commemoration of the Resurrection. By contrast, this "Eucharistic" rejoicing which "lifts up our hearts" is the fruit of God's "descending" movement towards us, which remains for ever etched in the essential sacrificial element of the Eucharist, the supreme expression and celebration of the mystery of the kenosis, the descent by which Christ "humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross" (Phil 2:8).

The Mass in fact truly makes present the sacrifice of the Cross. Under the species of bread and wine, upon which has been invoked the outpouring of the Spirit who works with absolutely unique power in the words of consecration, Christ offers himself to the Father in the same act of sacrifice by which he offered himself on the Cross. "In this divine sacrifice which is accomplished in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once and for all in a bloody manner on the altar of the Cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner".(70) To his sacrifice Christ unites the sacrifice of the Church: "In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value".(71) The truth that the whole community shares in Christ's sacrifice is especially evident in the Sunday gathering, which makes it possible to bring to the altar the week that has passed, with all its human burdens.

TOMORROW: Part Nine of Dies Domini: Chapter Three, DIES ECCLESIAE The Eucharistic Assembly: Heart of Sunday part four.


Become flames of living prayer to illuminate the way for the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart

      That is the essence of the Blessed Mother Mary's words in her 169th and 170th messages to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart, which we bring you today. Our Lady urges her children to use the tools we have been given to "Pray! Pray! Pray!" Only by praying and uniting as one can we work together against the wiles of the evil one and help expedite the glorious Triumph. Click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."

Messages One Hundred Sixty-Nine and Seventy

Message One Hundred Sixty-Nine, March 22, 1992

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

Message One Hundred Seventy, March 23, 1992

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

LITURGY OF THE DAY

      Today is the feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden, Married Woman, Religious, and Mystic, while tomorrow is the Sixteenth Friday in Ordinary Time. For the liturgy, readings and meditations and vignette on St. Bridget, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.

Thursday, July 23, 1998

FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, WIFE, MOTHER, MYSTIC AND RELIGIOUS

Friday, July 24, 1998


PRAYERS & DEVOTION

     Today's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer of the Mass honoring Saint Bridget of Sweden:

     Lord, our God, You revealed the secrets of Heaven to Saint Bridget as she meditated on the suffering and death of Your Son. May Your people rejoice in the revelation of Your glory.


June 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

   Dear children! Today I desire to thank you for living my messages. I bless you all with my motherly blessing and I bring you all before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.



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July 23, 1998 volume 9, no. 143   DAILY CATHOLIC