Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 68




“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

68. Wealth ensures nothing. Indeed, once we think we are rich, we can become so self-satisfied that we leave no room for God’s word, for the love of our brothers and sisters, or for the enjoyment of the most important things in life. In this way, we miss out on the greatest treasure of all. That is why Jesus calls blessed those who are poor in spirit, those who have a poor heart, for there the Lord can enter with his perennial newness.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Monday, July 16, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 67




“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

67. The Gospel invites us to peer into the depths of our heart, to see where we find our security in life. Usually the rich feel secure in their wealth, and think that, if that wealth is threatened, the whole meaning of their earthly life can collapse. Jesus himself tells us this in the parable of the rich fool: he speaks of a man who was sure of himself, yet foolish, for it did not dawn on him that he might die that very day (cf. Lk 12:16-21).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 11 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 11 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD

The summation of the Law

61. In other words, amid the thicket of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother. He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands. He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces. For in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenceless and those in need, God’s very image is found. Indeed, with the scraps of this frail humanity, the Lord will shape his final work of art. For “what endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear? Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbour. These two riches do not disappear!”[65]

62. May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of gnosticism and pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness! These aberrations take various shapes, according to the temperament and character of each person. So I encourage everyone to reflect and discern before God whether they may be present in their lives.


CHAPTER THREE
IN THE LIGHT OF THE MASTER

63. There can be any number of theories about what constitutes holiness, with various explanations and distinctions. Such reflection may be useful, but nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23). The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.[66] In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.

64. The word “happy” or “blessed” thus becomes a synonym for “holy”. It expresses the fact that those faithful to God and his word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness.

GOING AGAINST THE FLOW

65. Although Jesus’ words may strike us as poetic, they clearly run counter to the way things are usually done in our world. Even if we find Jesus’ message attractive, the world pushes us towards another way of living. The Beatitudes are in no way trite or undemanding, quite the opposite. We can only practise them if the Holy Spirit fills us with his power and frees us from our weakness, our selfishness, our complacency and our pride.


66. Let us listen once more to Jesus, with all the love and respect that the Master deserves. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand a real change in the way we live. Otherwise, holiness will remain no more than an empty word. We turn now to the individual Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew (cf. Mt 5:3-12).[67]

[65] FRANCIS, Homily at Mass for the Jubilee of Socially Excluded People (13 November 2016): L’Osservatore Romano, 14-15 November 2016, p. 8.

[66] Cf. Homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, 9 June 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 10 June 2014, p. 8.

[67] The order of the second and third Beatitudes varies in accordance with the different textual traditions.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 66




GOING AGAINST THE FLOW

66. Let us listen once more to Jesus, with all the love and respect that the Master deserves. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand a real change in the way we live. Otherwise, holiness will remain no more than an empty word. We turn now to the individual Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew (cf. Mt 5:3-12).[67]

[67] The order of the second and third Beatitudes varies in accordance with the different textual traditions.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Friday, July 13, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 65




GOING AGAINST THE FLOW

65. Although Jesus’ words may strike us as poetic, they clearly run counter to the way things are usually done in our world. Even if we find Jesus’ message attractive, the world pushes us towards another way of living. The Beatitudes are in no way trite or undemanding, quite the opposite. We can only practise them if the Holy Spirit fills us with his power and frees us from our weakness, our selfishness, our complacency and our pride.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 64




64. The word “happy” or “blessed” thus becomes a synonym for “holy”. It expresses the fact that those faithful to God and his word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 63




63. There can be any number of theories about what constitutes holiness, with various explanations and distinctions. Such reflection may be useful, but nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23). The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.[66] In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.

[66] Cf. Homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, 9 June 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 10 June 2014, p. 8.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 62




The summation of the Law

62. May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of gnosticism and pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness! These aberrations take various shapes, according to the temperament and character of each person. So I encourage everyone to reflect and discern before God whether they may be present in their lives.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Monday, July 9, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 61




The summation of the Law

61. In other words, amid the thicket of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother. He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands. He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces. For in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenceless and those in need, God’s very image is found. Indeed, with the scraps of this frail humanity, the Lord will shape his final work of art. For “what endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear? Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbour. These two riches do not disappear!”[65]

[65] FRANCIS, Homily at Mass for the Jubilee of Socially Excluded People (13 November 2016): L’Osservatore Romano, 14-15 November 2016, p. 8.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 10 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 10 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD

CONTEMPORARY PELAGIANISM

An often overlooked Church teaching

55. This is one of the great convictions that the Church has come firmly to hold. It is so clearly expressed in the word of God that there can be no question of it. Like the supreme commandment of love, this truth should affect the way we live, for it flows from the heart of the Gospel and demands that we not only accept it intellectually but also make it a source of contagious joy. Yet we cannot celebrate this free gift of the Lord’s friendship unless we realize that our earthly life and our natural abilities are his gift. We need “to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom”.[61]

56. Only on the basis of God’s gift, freely accepted and humbly received, can we cooperate by our own efforts in our progressive transformation.[62] We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him who was there first, and entrusting to him our abilities, our efforts, our struggle against evil and our creativity, so that his free gift may grow and develop within us: “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1). For that matter, the Church has always taught that charity alone makes growth in the life of grace possible, for “if I do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2).

New pelagians

57. Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help and personal fulfilment. Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.[63]

58. Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the Spirit, the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few. This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting. The Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savour. This may well be a subtle form of pelagianism, for it appears to subject the life of grace to certain human structures. It can affect groups, movements and communities, and it explains why so often they begin with an intense life in the Spirit, only to end up fossilized… or corrupt.

59. Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channelled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the working of grace. Saint Thomas Aquinas reminded us that the precepts added to the Gospel by the Church should be imposed with moderation “lest the conduct of the faithful become burdensome”, for then our religion would become a form of servitude.[64]

The summation of the Law

60. To avoid this, we do well to keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the centre is charity. Saint Paul says that what truly counts is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). We are called to make every effort to preserve charity: “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law… for love is the fulfilment of the law” (Rom 13:8.10). “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (Gal 5:14).

[61] Lucio Gera, Sobre el misterio del pobre, in P. GRELOT-L. GERA-A. DUMAS, El Pobre, Buenos Aires, 1962, 103.

[62] This is, in a word, the Catholic doctrine on “merit” subsequent to justification: it has to do with the cooperation of the justified for growth in the life of grace (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2010). Yet this cooperation in no way makes justification itself or friendship with God the object of human merit.

[63] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 95: AAS 105 (2013), 1060.

[64] Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 107, art. 4.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 60




The summation of the Law

60. To avoid this, we do well to keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the centre is charity. Saint Paul says that what truly counts is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). We are called to make every effort to preserve charity: “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law… for love is the fulfilment of the law” (Rom 13:8.10). “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (Gal 5:14).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Friday, July 6, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 59




New pelagians

59. Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channelled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the working of grace. Saint Thomas Aquinas reminded us that the precepts added to the Gospel by the Church should be imposed with moderation “lest the conduct of the faithful become burdensome”, for then our religion would become a form of servitude.[64]

[64] Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 107, art. 4.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 58




New pelagians

58. Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the Spirit, the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few. This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting. The Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savour. This may well be a subtle form of pelagianism, for it appears to subject the life of grace to certain human structures. It can affect groups, movements and communities, and it explains why so often they begin with an intense life in the Spirit, only to end up fossilized… or corrupt.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 57




New pelagians

57. Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help and personal fulfilment. Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.[63]


[63] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 95: AAS 105 (2013), 1060.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 56




An often overlooked Church teaching


56. Only on the basis of God’s gift, freely accepted and humbly received, can we cooperate by our own efforts in our progressive transformation.[62] We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him who was there first, and entrusting to him our abilities, our efforts, our struggle against evil and our creativity, so that his free gift may grow and develop within us: “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1). For that matter, the Church has always taught that charity alone makes growth in the life of grace possible, for “if I do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2).


[62] This is, in a word, the Catholic doctrine on “merit” subsequent to justification: it has to do with the cooperation of the justified for growth in the life of grace (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2010). Yet this cooperation in no way makes justification itself or friendship with God the object of human merit.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Monday, July 2, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 55




An often overlooked Church teaching


55. This is one of the great convictions that the Church has come firmly to hold. It is so clearly expressed in the word of God that there can be no question of it. Like the supreme commandment of love, this truth should affect the way we live, for it flows from the heart of the Gospel and demands that we not only accept it intellectually but also make it a source of contagious joy. Yet we cannot celebrate this free gift of the Lord’s friendship unless we realize that our earthly life and our natural abilities are his gift. We need “to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom”.[61]

[61] Lucio Gera, Sobre el misterio del pobre, in P. GRELOT-L. GERA-A. DUMAS, El Pobre, Buenos Aires, 1962, 103.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 9 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 9 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD



CONTEMPORARY PELAGIANISM


A will lacking humility

49. Those who yield to this pelagian or semi-pelagian mindset, even though they speak warmly of God’s grace, “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style”.[46] When some of them tell the weak that all things can be accomplished with God’s grace, deep down they tend to give the idea that all things are possible by the human will, as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added. They fail to realize that “not everyone can do everything”,[47] and that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace.[48] In every case, as Saint Augustine taught, God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot,[49] and indeed to pray to him humbly: “Grant what you command, and command what you will”.[50]

50. Ultimately, the lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us, for no room is left for bringing about the potential good that is part of a sincere and genuine journey of growth.[51]Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once. That kind of thinking would show too much confidence in our own abilities. Underneath our orthodoxy, our attitudes might not correspond to our talk about the need for grace, and in specific situations we can end up putting little trust in it. Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift. Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively.[52] If we reject this historical and progressive reality, we can actually refuse and block grace, even as we extol it by our words.

51. When God speaks to Abraham, he tells him: “I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1). In order to be blameless, as he would have us, we need to live humbly in his presence, cloaked in his glory; we need to walk in union with him, recognizing his constant love in our lives. We need to lose our fear before that presence which can only be for our good. God is the Father who gave us life and loves us greatly. Once we accept him, and stop trying to live our lives without him, the anguish of loneliness will disappear (cf. Ps 139:23-24). In this way we will know the pleasing and perfect will of the Lord (cf. Rom 12:1-2) and allow him to mould us like a potter (cf. Is 29:16). So often we say that God dwells in us, but it is better to say that we dwell in him, that he enables us to dwell in his light and love. He is our temple; we ask to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life (cf. Ps 27:4). “For one day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps 84:10). In him is our holiness.

An often overlooked Church teaching

52. The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative. The Fathers of the Church, even before Saint Augustine, clearly expressed this fundamental belief. Saint John Chrysostom said that God pours into us the very source of all his gifts even before we enter into battle.[53] Saint Basil the Great remarked that the faithful glory in God alone, for “they realize that they lack true justice and are justified only through faith in Christ”.[54]

53. The Second Synod of Orange taught with firm authority that nothing human can demand, merit or buy the gift of divine grace, and that all cooperation with it is a prior gift of that same grace: “Even the desire to be cleansed comes about in us through the outpouring and working of the Holy Spirit”.[55] Subsequently, the Council of Trent, while emphasizing the importance of our cooperation for spiritual growth, reaffirmed that dogmatic teaching: “We are said to be justified gratuitously because nothing that precedes justification, neither faith nor works, merits the grace of justification; for ‘if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace’ (Rom 11:6)”.[56]

54. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us that the gift of grace “surpasses the power of human intellect and will”[57] and that “with regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality”.[58] His friendship infinitely transcends us; we cannot buy it with our works, it can only be a gift born of his loving initiative. This invites us to live in joyful gratitude for this completely unmerited gift, since “after one has grace, the grace already possessed cannot come under merit”.[59] The saints avoided putting trust in their own works: “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you empty-handed, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justices have stains in your sight”.[60]


[46] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 94: AAS 105 (2013), 1059.

[47] Cf. Bonaventure, De sex alis Seraphim, 3, 8: “Non omnes omnia possunt”. The phrase is to be understood along the lines of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1735.

[48] Cf. THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 109, a. 9, ad 1: “But here grace is to some extent imperfect, inasmuch as it does not completely heal man, as we have said”.

[49] Cf. De natura et gratia, 43, 50: PL 44, 271.

[50] Confessiones, X, 29, 40: PL 32, 796.

[51] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 44: AAS 105 (2013), 1038.

[52] In the understanding of Christian faith, grace precedes, accompanies and follows all our actions (cf. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF TRENT, Session VI, Decree on Justification, ch. 5: DH 1525).

[53] Cf. In Ep. ad Romanos, 9, 11: PG 60, 470.

[54] Homilia de Humilitate: PG 31, 530.

[55] Canon 4: DH 374.

[56] Session VI, Decree on Justification, ch. 8: DH 1532.

[57] No. 1998.

[58] Ibid., 2007.

[59] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 114, a. 5.

[60] ThÉrÈse of the Child Jesus, “Act of Offering to Merciful Love” (Prayers, 6).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.