Renewal in the Word

Dear Friends, I am beginning a semester of renewal in my religious life through the great kindness of my community. This means a "retreat" from social media" to enter into the mysterious mystery of God's silence, as Verbum Domini says, silence as an important expression of the Word of God. God's silence prolongs God's words. Blessings and prayers to all of you - as I will have more time to enter into prayer and gratitude to God for you.I meet you at the tabernacle, Love, Sr Margaret

PS If you live in the Boston area I invite you to join us for Cinema Divina - Lectio Divina through Film - beginning again in January every second Friday of the month at the Daughters of St Paul house in Jamaica Plain, MA. See us on Facebook.

Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.

Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Rediscover the central position of Christ, our “Holy Door.” by Mother M. Paola Mancini, pddm

Christ is our “Door”

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God! You have come into the world to triumph over death. You have come to illuminate human life through the Gospel. The Church greets you. You are our hope. You alone have words of eternal life.

You who came into the world on Bethlehem night, remain with us!

You who are the Way and the Truth and the Life, guide us!

You who came from the Father, lead us to him in the Holy Spirit, along the path which you alone know and which you have revealed to us, that we might have life and have it in abundance.

You O Christ, the Son of the living God, be for us the Door!

Be for us the true Door, symbolized by the door which on this night we have life and have it in abundance.

Be for us the true Door, symbolized by the door which on this night we have solemnly opened!

Be for us the Door which leads us into the mystery of the Father. Grant that no one may remain outside his embrace of mercy and peace!” John Paul II

Our meeting with the Divine Master, Way and Truth and Life, the only door to salvation, has concrete consequences in our daily lives.

We bear witness to the bond which exists between peace and solidarity with its origin in our vocation as members of a human family. We can all find ways to live this spirit by “sharing the joys and the hopes, the grief and the anxieties of the people of this age” (Gaudiem et Spes 1) within the charism of the Pauline Family, which is committed to “presenting to all the charity of the truth.”

The Eucharist remains the place from which our Divine Master teaches us to consume our lives in apostolic charity by directing all of our energy and resources to the communication of our Divine Master as the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life for the world. We hear our Divine Master, present in the Eucharist, continuously repeat these words: “Do not fear. I am with you. From here I will enlighten you. Have a contrite heart.”

The culture of forgiveness, which we are called upon to foster, also springs from the Eucharist. We can begin with the certainty that we have received God’s forgiveness in celebration and joy as presented in Luke’s Gospel (cf. Lk 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the return of the prodigal son).

A fervent examination of conscience in light of the Word of God will make us aware of our own sinfulness and need for forgiveness. This is attained in a special way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which finds its fullest expression in the indulgences. These convey the fullness of God’s mercy by pardoning the consequences of sin and restoring the believer to the life of grace.

May we live in “constant conversion,” enjoying the evangelical joy of a “contrite heart” in order to have the grace to communicate the spirit of reconciliation, within families, within society and among all nations.

The centuries progress and change that history of our fragile human freedom but he, the Lord, remains unchanged: yesterday, today and forever.

“Until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19

Vocation is a dynamic gift. It changes its focus and pattern over time, while continuing as a constant, intensifying calling. In our lives as adults we discover an evolving and changing pattern of relationships to persons, to institutions, and to causes that characterize our lives. As Christians we know that throughout the orchestra, throughout the mosaic of our lives, Christ is being formed in us through the power of the Spirit. In this time before the Eucharistic Master let us contemplate both the seasons of the adult life of Jesus and the seasons of our own life. In the mirror of Jesus’ life, we can seek the meaning of the seasons of our life, those of joy or sorrow, confusing seasons, seasons full of ministry and generativity, painful seasons of seeming failure…. For each of us the ebb and flow of seasons differs, but in all of us the Spirit is at work.

Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio: Gospel Reflections

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and he stood up to read. 18 "The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." 22 All spoke well of him. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you say: Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' " 24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. 13 When the LORD saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Jesus took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen;

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the LORD Jesus. "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!


“Love has no ceiling, so my vocation is, quite simply, the way that I will rise… Life –every life- finds meaning when lived as a response to God’s call.” Hahnenberg, Awakening Vocation

"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming." Romans 10:8

"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming." Romans 10:8


Mary made space for the Word to dwell. This is also our vocation. Mary abandoned herself in "the obedience of faith.” with her fiat to the Incarnation. At the foot of the cross she most completely "abandoned herself to God without reserve" (RM, 18). Bl. James Alberione refers to the two high points, in Mary's life of faith, as her “two annunciations”: announcing that she would be Mother of God and Mother of the Church. At the crucifixion Mary shared in Christ's own self-emptying. Her journey of faith did not end here. She was present when the Church's journey of faith began on the day of Pentecost. “The Church is the new incarnation of Jesus Christ, mystical but true and real” (Abbot Rolland). Mary's faith inaugurated the new and eternal covenant. Ratzinger submits that the chapter on Mary in Lumen Gentium, “rounds out the Council’s ecclesiology” by bringing it back to its Christological and Trinitarian starting point (152). Mary is type and exemplar of the Church, herself a mother, bringing forth to new and immortal life children, conceived by the power of the Spirit and born of God. (MC 19). Only when the connection between Mariology and ecclesiology is grasped, writes Ratzinger, will we have understood correctly the “picture of the Church the Council was trying to portray” (150).


A proper understanding of Mariology is a key to ecumenism. She made space in the world for God to dwell with us. “She carries within her the whole mystery” (151) of the unique and concrete existence of the Church - the body of Christ.


The Church is here in order that holiness, the dwelling of God with women and men, of men and women with God, may come about.  The Marian view of the Church and the ecclesial and salvation-historical view of Mary lead us back in the end to Christ and to God the Trinity; because here it becomes clear what holiness means, what the dwelling of God in man and in the world, actually is…” (152).


You have the 'Word of God so close to you, in your heart and in your mouth - this is the covenant promise of your baptism. How do you share faith with your family and your neighbors? Does this include "self-emptying" as well as "annuncation?"

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Mt. 10:7-8).

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Mt. 10:7-8).

Lectio (read)

This is a passage that inspired many holy men and women to ministry. Taking this passage at face value we wonder if we are call to heal the sick, raise the dead and cleanse lepers. On a deeper level we realize that we have been baptized into Christ. We can, as one dying person said, “fall fearlessly into love.” In this dying to self we announce the kingdom, we heal the sick and raise the dead. Lepers are cleansed. When we let go and let God our actions go toward others. Healing begins with presence. Raising those dying to life is being there as someone enters new life – being a midwife for souls. Hospice is an example of this. We are called to cleanse our eyes to see anew those who are marginalized. Casting out demons for others begins with casting out our judgments and accepting the legitimate suffering that comes our way so that the super-ego falls into God. When we go through pain and suffering, however inflicted, then we can be there with others who are demon-haunted. Our prayer is efficaciously united to Christ’s prayer. This early Christian hymn becomes our prayer: “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Instead he emptied himself….” Kenosis.

Meditatio (meditate)

According to the Vatican Document Lumen Gentium (LG, 46), every religious congregation makes visible a particular aspect of the mystery of Christ. What particular aspect of the mystery of Christ do Paulines make visible? Is this visibility dependent upon the means we use for mission? Can we simple sum up our gift in the church as “using the modern media to evangelize?” Blessed Alberione committed his life to the mission of evangelization with the new means of communication. At the same time he felt the inadequacy of his response. Mysteriously and surprisingly Alberione, as St. Paul before him, highlighted the aspect of Christ’s mystery that Paulines are called to reveal: His kenosis. Not to obtain emptiness, but to reach fullness of life.
Brother Al Milella explains that our Pauline priority is to constantly re-tune the witness of our specific face of holiness. “Our founder implored us”, he wrote, “to keep first in our apostolic life’s union with the Lord, a living relationship and vital knowing of Jesus. In this is our specific mission, a distinctive prayer response in the world of media.” As Alberione, we put no trust in our works but rely on an unfailing abandonment to the guidance of the Lord so that, as St. Paul tells us, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20).

Oratio (pray)

It takes courage to adapt the modern language of the press, film, radio, television, the Internet and digital media for the sake of the Gospel, which is the power of God that will save humanity.  Pray for the Spirits gift of courage and fortitude.

Actio (action)
Viewed from the perspective of power, technology represents human mastery over creation. Sometimes it is taken for granted that technological progress will lead to a better quality of human life. Advertizing can create needs in order to sell while ignoring the deeper longing of humanity. The communications culture is a culture that takes the self as a reference point. There is a multiplicity of choices presented to us.

“What is needed is witnessing,” says Fr. Silvio Sassi, “the type of witnessing that sustains the message with the example of one’s own dedication to an alternative, other-centered power. The more radical and counter-cultural the witnessing, the more effective it becomes. Apostles of communication do have to inculturate themselves in media culture, but paradoxically, they are also to challenge with their very lives whatever in that culture is opposed to the Gospel that they proclaim.”

Lectio Divina: Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

LECIO DIVINA: On the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians

With gratuitous love, God chose us from all eternity to announce the many-faceted riches of his grace. We are invited to reflect more deeply on this gift, taking as our point of departure the Letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

The central theme of the Letter to the Ephesians is the mystery of God’s universal plan of salvation, conceived from all eternity but hidden through the ages until it was brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ, revealed to the Apostle and proclaimed in the Church. This plan encompasses both heaven and earth. Its expansion from Christ, its head, up to the completion foreseen by God constitutes the vast prospect toward which the author directs the gaze of believers. The dynamics of this plan are expressed in images that interweave the growth of the body with the building up of the Church in Christ.

Written while Paul was in prison, the Letter is divided into two parts:

--Part I (chapters 1-3)

God’s marvelous plan of salvation, which brings together the Jewish and pagan worlds in the crucified body of Christ. The Letter presents the Church and the fulfillment of the divine plan; the heart of its message is the great work of God that was brought to completion in Jesus Christ.

--Part II (chapters 4-6)

The moral consequences of living in Christ. Urges the community to live in unity so as to build up the body of Christ and help it grow. The Church is defined as the People of God and the Body of Christ. The divine revelation of this mystery is realized through the Christian community. The Letter concludes with the plea to pray (6:18-20), several brief messages (6:21-22) and a final farewell (6:23-24)

Paul wants to help believers become more aware of the radical changes that have taken place in the world following the death and glorification of Christ. He evaluates and celebrates the gift of God that he now sees concretized in the Church.

The Letter to the Ephesians should not be viewed as the product of particular circumstances but rather as a lyrical and didactic exposition of the Christian Faith (cf. TOB Bible; Ecumenical Translation of the Bible, LDC, Turin 1999).

Blessed by the Father with every spiritual blessing in Christ
The first part of our theme leads us to better understand Paul’s profound grasp of the plan the Father had carried in his heart from all eternity: to make us his beloved children, chosen and redeemed in Christ Jesus.

Lectio: Reading the text

From the Letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians 1:3-14
• Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens.

• God chose us in him before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight.

• He predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ, such was his will and pleasure, that all might praise the glorious favor he has bestowed on us in his beloved.

• In him and through his blood, we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurable generous is God’s favor to us.

• God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ. A plan to be carried out in Christ, in the fullness of time, to bring all things into one in him, in the heavens and on earth

• And it is in him that we have received our heritage, marked out beforehand as we were, under the plan of the One who guides all things as he decides by his own will, chosen to be, for praise of his glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.

• Now you too, in him, have heard the message of truth and the Gospel of your salvation and having put your trust in it, you have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, for the freedom of the people whom God has taken for his own, for the praise of his glory.

Key to reading this text

This Christological hymn prompts us to reflect on the origins of our vocation: sons and daughters of St. Paul, “Chosen and loved by the Father in Christ Jesus.”

In the prologue to the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul expresses this profound reality in a key word that runs like a golden thread through all salvation history: “blessing.”
What does the Bible mean by “blessing” (“benediction”)?

The Latin root of “benediction” is bonus-dicere, meaning to speak well about someone or something.

A benediction or blessing is a life-giving expression of God’s goodness. His blessing is his gift of salvation, brought to fulfillment in Christ, his beloved Son and given to us through the Spirit (Rm 8:32; Co 1:17; Ga 3:8-9, 14). In fact, the Word of God is effective, that is: it does what it says (cf. Gn 1).

Blessings are effective words: when addressed to the head or founder of a family, they are fulfilled in that person’s descendents.

Paul begins his letter by turning his gaze to heaven, where he remains for the duration of the text (1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12), because it is from heaven that the “spiritual blessings” he speaks about are poured out on us from all eternity and it is in heaven that they will be brought to fulfillment at the end of time
• First blessing: We have been chosen. In Christ, the Father chose us before the creation of the world (1:4).

• Second blessing: Filiation. He destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ (1:5).

• Third blessing: Redemption. We have been redeemed through the blood of his beloved of his Son (1:7).

• Fourth blessing: Knowledge of the “mystery.” The Father has made known to us his plan to bring all things together in Christ: to make Christ the heart of the world (1:9).

• Fifth blessing: Inheritance. In Christ, we have been made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (1:11).

• Sixth blessing: The seal of the Spirit. In Christ, all of us who listened to the Word of truth and believed in it have received the seal of the Holy Spirit as a sign of our belonging to Christ, the pledge of our inheritance (1:13).

Why only six blessings, not seven?
In the language of the Bible, six is an incomplete number, while seven signifies completion, fullness. So why does Paul list only six blessings from God? Perhaps because he wants us to understand that when we welcome these six blessings (these six gifts of God) in such a way that they transform our lives and enable us to share the overflowing riches of his grace with others, then we ourselves become God’s seventh blessing: a blessing for one another and also for the new generations to whom we take the Gospel.

Meditatio: comparison

Compare Eph 1:3-14 with other Pauline texts:

• 2 Co 1:3-4: Blessed be God, who consoles us so that we can console others.

• Col 3:12-17: Holy and beloved by God, clothe yourselves with goodness.

• 1 Th 1:2-7: Loved by God and chosen by him, you became imitators of us and of the Lord.

Compare Eph 1:3-14 with our charismatic texts and with the Magisterium of the Church

In his goodness, God has bestowed overflowing riches of grace (blessings)  on the Pauline Family through Jesus Christ.

Such graces (blessings) are to be revealed in the centuries to come

by religious women and men (of the Pauline Family) these new angels of he earth.

With a wisdom equal to his love,

the Lord bestowed the many riches (blessings) that are in the Pauline Family:

so that, ‘through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God will be revealed.’

Everything is God’s: everything leads us to the Magnificat.
• Deus Caritas Est (17)

God has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling that we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love and since he has ‘loved us first,’ love can also blossom as a response within us.

God’s blessings are effective: when bestowed on the head or founder of a family, they are fulfilled in that person’s descendents.

Fr. Alberione is the head and founder of our family; we are his descendents: “Projecting himself mentally into the future, he felt that in the new century generous people would experience what he was feeling….”

(AD 17; also cf. AD 5,6).
With wonder and joy, I realize what an immense gift the Lord gave me by calling me to life, to the Faith and to the Pauline vocation.

What do I feel when I realize that I have been “chosen and loved” from all eternity?

Oratio: prayer

I am a Miracle of God

Divine Master,

your mercy is infinite;

I will never be able to fully understand it.

I want to adore it more than examine it.

How is it that you chose me,

a small creature,

a great sinner,

whom you already knew

would betray your expectations?

It was a complete act of mercy—wholly and entirely!

I am a miracle of God!

Your call of the twelve transformed them;

your call to me has made me a new person.

I am immersed in Christ:

his interests are my interests;

his doctrine, my doctrine.

My life is that of Christ.

I carry out his works,

or better, he carries them out in me.

( Blessed James Alberione, Paolo Apostolo, 18)

I offer God my personal hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the overflowing riches of grace (blessings) he has poured out on me and on the Pauline Family:

Contemplatio: I wait for and welcome God’s consolation

In the light of this Word, I evaluate the quality of my response to God, who has “loved and called me from all eternity.”

I come to a better grasp of what I am doing to communicate to others the love I have received so gratuitously from the Lord by evaluating the quality of my life and relationships: with the sisters of my community, with my superiors, with the receivers of my apostolate, etc.

Each of these persons, like me, has been chosen by God, love by his and blessed by him in Christ Jesus.

Actio: action

Enlightened by the Word of Paul, I return to my daily life, encouraged by our Founder’s invitation: “Let everyone consider herself or himself to be a beacon of light, a loudspeaker of Jesus, a secretary of the evangelists, of St. Paul….

Blessed is She Who Trusted That the Lord's Words to Her Would be Fulfilled. Luke. 1:45

"Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled" (Luke 1:45).  This is one of the first Beatitudes pronounced in the New Testament. It is an exclaimation of Elizabeth to Mary as Mary arrived at her home to asssit her. The baby we know as John the Baptist, leapt in Elizabeth's womb as Mary spoke. Mary brought Jesus with her - the messge of salvation. She continues to present Jesus to us in our day to day reality. "Mary participated in the divine mysteries", wrote Blessed Alberione. "Through her "yes" to the Incarnation Mary said "yes" to carrying and giving birth to all of us since we are "members of Christ's body" (Eph. 5:30).

 Since we are all children of Mary, mother of the members of Christ, she is always ready to listen to our prayers and prays to bring about our life in God (1 John 4:9). We are Christians through the "yes" of this woman who is model for our "yes." As mother, Mary stands on the doorstep waiting to receive all those who need hope and encouragement to return to their Father's loving embrace. Blessed Alberione even regarded Mary as a priest, "Who prepared the host and was the first to offer Jesus at the foot of the cross. She was redeemed by her son, beloved daughter of the Father and spouse of the Spirit. "

St. Augustine said: "Now, beloved, give me you whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself."

"Having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ" (St. Augustine, Sermo 25, 7-8: PL 46, 937-938).

Mary's response to the angel's annunciation was an act of trust and faith in the Word of God that brought about the greatest prodigy, the Word made flesh, Jesus our Savior and we as members of His body, the church (Cf Alberione; Mary, Queen of Apostles  p21).

Receive me, Mary, Mother, Teacher and Queen,
among those whom you love, nourish, sanctify and guide
in the school of Jesus Christ.
Jesus entrusted himself to you from the incarnation to the ascension.
I too place myself entirely into your hands.
Obtain for me the grace to know, imitate and love every more
the Divine Master, Way, Truth and Life.
Present me to Jesus, for I am an unworthy sinner.
Enlighten my mind, fortify my will, sanctify my heart
so that I may profit from this great mercy and may say:
"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."
(Blessed James Alberione, SSP) 

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:8

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Romans 6:8
Resurrection is Good News! Paul reminds us that the pattern of love includes life, suffering and death because love is such an amazing gift! To do away with it completely would be to choose the pattern of power over the pattern of love. There can be no love without suffering, because love always demands an element of self-sacrifice and will always bring with it renunciation and pain. Suffering and pain reshape us and free us from existential emptiness toward a fullness of life. This calls for a conversion that entrusts oneself to the love of the Other, a love that becomes the measure and the criteria of ones own life. As Christians we do not retreat into a private salvation for individual souls or shift the focus of human concern to the beyond. “The Christian is the one who unites the constantly experienced dispossession of self with the fundamental attitude of a being created for love, a being that knows itself to be safe precisely when it trust in the un-exacted gifts of love." “When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.” Jesus fulfilled the pattern of love beyond all expectation. Christ, the Exodus of God, does not die in noble detachment; he died in tears, in isolation and abandonment accepting the cup of being human, down to the last dregs. Pain and death are transformed into increase of life. Christ extinguishes their sting through the plenary power of unlimited love. Death is vanquished where people die with Christ and into him. “Jesus’ actions, words, sufferings, break the power of that alienation which lies so heavily on human life” bringing us into communion with God the locus of true life. Amen! Love is stronger than death! Love has released us for eternal Life.

Quotes from Joseph Ratzinger

We have died with Christ so that we may rise with Christ. Rm. 6:1-14; 1 Cor. 15

Death, Resurrection and Eternal Life Though my father is dead I continue speaking to him as present to me. In fact I set up a blog where our family can post memories and "talk" to dad. Is dad’s soul asleep while his body decays and awaits resurrection? With a new concept of time and a fresh understanding of the body Ratzinger explores the question with very hope filled words: “Whenever someone enters into the ‘I’ of Christ, he has entered straight away into the space of unconditional life.” “Faith, which is the contact between Jesus and myself vouchsafes here and now the crossing of death’s frontier." These words have a mystical connotation which allows us to consider that in baptism “we enter on a common destiny with that of Jesus and so with death….Suffering and dying with Christ means at the same time a participation in the hope of the resurrection." Paul says we have died with Christ so that we may rise with him (Rm. 6:1-14; 1 Cor. 15). The communion offered by God is life. “New life has already begun and will nevermore be snuffed out" and awaits future glory. The Eucharist is pledge of this future glory: “Feeding on Jesus’ word and on his flesh, that is receiving him by both faith and sacrament, is described as being nourished with the bread of immortality.”

The morning of the day dad died was a Saturday in Ordinary liturgical time. He died after 4 P.M. as the day transformed into the Vigil of the Birth of John the Baptist. He died in liturgical time while in chronos-time he offered his sufferings in the belief that the “God who has suffered, has become the final victor over all evil,” knowing in this sense heaven truly exists. In our vigil we remained watchful for the “Other who throws open the portals of time and death from the outside.” We spoke about relationship in the Trinity. As we spoke we both knew that death was not the end of relationship – God gives life in the midst of death.

Through self-emptying love eternal life breaks through. God is love, is in relationship, and so God is life. Even as Dad’s body diminished he remained a “whole man in his unity who moves toward eternity.” In the communion of saints, the body of Christ, eternity was accessible to him. “When human life is lived in Jesus it steps into the ‘time of Jesus’ that is, into love, which transforms and opens up eternity.” History concluded for Dad but he did not lose his relation to history. His final place in the whole can be determined only when the pasio and actio of history have come to their end. The resurrection of the body, a state in which matter and spirit will belong to each other in a new and definite way, remains the concrete content of the confession of the resurrection of the flesh. The trumpet of the Word is already summoning us, and yet it is still to be sounded. “The true frontier between life and death does not lie in biological dying, but in the distinction between being with the One who is life and the isolation which refuses such ‘being with....The borderline between Sheol and life runs through our very midst, and those who are in Christ are situated on the side of life, and that everlastingly....Only the mortal remains of our loved ones lie there in the tombs awaiting the final resurrection. Their souls, as Scripture says, are already 'in the hands of God'. And so the most appropriate and effective way to honor them is to pray for them, offering acts of faith, hope and charity.”

Quotes from Benedict XVI On Escatology

Offering & Making Holy - 2 Corinthians 5:19

2 Corinthians 5:19 "In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their transgressions against them and entrusting us with the message of salvation."

In preparation for my 25th anniversary of profession of vows (2003) my mother’s wedding ring was engraved with words from the Maronite Liturgy in honor our Maronite ancestry and in gratitude for my consecration. In Spirit of the Liturgy the chapter on the Body and the Liturgy expressed what I engraved on the ring in Syriac – “This is my body given up for you.” Since the Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy I asked the Bishop if this was permissible. My reasons were that the words of consecration were also my response to Christ’s offering.

Joseph Ratzinger expresses this so well as the whole event of the Incarnation, cross and resurrection present as the way God draws us into cooperation with himself. We pray that the Sacrifice of the Logos become our sacrifice so that we may be transformed. As a young professed I had many opportunities to enjoy liturgies where large number of priests were present. For want of room on the altar they would stay in the pews at the celebration. During the consecration all rose and prayed the Anaphora in close proximity to all of the faithful. During those moments I reflected on the offering we were all making. This was a wonderful visual of what was occurring in reality – we were all praying to be made the true Body of Christ .

The Maronite name for the Divine Liturgy is Qorbono in Syriac referring to the “offering” and focusing on the sacrificial acts of Christ offering himself and on our own willingness to give our lives as an oblation. In Arabic term Quddas means “making holy” referring to the fact that in the liturgy the gifts, and by analogy the participants, are divinized by the action of the Holy Spirit. The Preparation of the Gifts is an act of offering by the whole community. The bread and wine selected from among the gifts are chosen to become the Body and Blood of Christ. Similarly, our gifts and dedication to be of service to Christ are consecrated through the action of the liturgy.

“The Word leads us out of individualism into the communion of saints spanning all times and places." In our community when it is someone’s turn for Eucharistic Adoration, we use the words of Martha to Mary as an invitation to a sister for adoration: “The Master is here and he is asking for you.” When we will travel or transfer to another location we tell each other: “We will meet before the tabernacle.” These words serve to remind us that worship includes our whole life. “The true liturgical action is the deed of God, and for that very reason the liturgy of faith always reaches beyond the cultic act into everyday life, which must itself become 'liturgical', a service for the transformation of the world." Our bodies are trained, as we transform our wills in a communion of will with God, for the resurrection – as the liturgy is oriented toward the risen Christ.
This has implications for mission as well, in the call to transform the world. Transformation in Christ begins with us and also effects change in the world. Mission is a call to live liturgy which does not compete in the market place. It attracts others when it looks not at itself, but at God, when it allows God to enter and act. It is authentic inculturation as it interprets the world anew in the light of God –opening up men and women to their possibilities.

Quotes from Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger

extra-Ordinary time Acts 10:44

Acts 10:44 "While Peter was still speaking these things the Holy Spirit came upon all who were listening to the Word."

I am assisting in the Catechetical Certification Program for the Archdiocese of Boston. Today the guest speaker, a member of the Neo-Catechetical Movement (known as The Way), was invited to present Lectio Divina. Father began his presentation with his vocation narrative. Not unlike Peter when he visited the house of Cornelius. Cornelius was expecting him and had prepared the house summoning his friends and relatives. This was to be a big occassion. In fact Cornelius was so excited that he knelt at Peter's feet when he entered. The scripture passage even goes so far as to say "he fell at his feet and worshiped him." You can just imagine Peter the fisherman, still stinging from his denial of Christ and much more humble in his position as evangelizer, lifting Cornelius back up. "Get up! I am a man too!"  After Father pointed us toward Christ he opened the Bible. "Is this the Word of God?" he asked. Everyone nodded yes. Surprisingly he said "Not really - it is the Scripture but some people spend their lives looking up passages for scientific or historical study - they can read it over and over. What makes it the Word of God?" Then he called out a name "Andrew!" There happened to be someone called Andrew in our gathering. Andrew had raised his hand in response. "See the Word became alive just as when the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary "Hail, Mary! The Lord is with you!" "What happens to us when the Word reaches us - is directed to us," Father continued, "Is our response. The seed of the Word is planted and begins to grow. Who is the Word of God? Jesus."

In this reading from the Acts of the Apostles Peter was taken by surprise during his delivery of the Word. The Word became flesh in all of Cornelius's friends and relatives through the Holy Spirit. Even while Peter was still proclaiming the Word the Spirit enlivened the gathering. The Word grew in them and would continue growing through baptism, life in the body of Christ (the Church) and to the full stature of Christ. The Word would lead all of these Gentiles to life in the Holy Trinity "Until Christ is formed" as Paul said (Gal. 2:20).

As the Christmas season concludes and we enter the Church's Ordinary Time we reflect on how "extra-ordinary" all time is in Christ.

Read Acts Chapter10 (aloud if with a group).

WAY Meditate  How does Peter dialogue (pray) with God? Does it remind you of the prayer of Abraham or Moses? How does Peter deepen his understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

LIFE Pray  What invitations are you receiving from the Lord that invite you to relationship through sharing the love of Christ?

LIVE Act  If you receive the Pauline Cooperator magazine read the evangelization issue (January 2010) to live out of a Pauline style of evangelization. Why is the gospel "good news?" How do you witness Christ as Peter did? Do you identify with Cornelius in your search for a deeper faith?


Lord Jesus, Cornelius was at prayer and received a heavenly visitor who reminded Cornelius that his alms giving and prayer had been remembered before God. May all that we do be a pleasing sacra-fice (to make holy) as incense rising before you each moment of the day. When you call us through your Word and Sacrament may our ears be opened to obedience. When you invite us to extend hospitality in our daily meetings with others let us be filled with your Spirit. May we bear your Word upon the streets of the world. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.