Real cause of wars - the inside story

"1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet * and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." 

- James 4:1-3

Confession, according to the Fathers

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life…. On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure." – The Didache, A.D. 70-90

"Just as a man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit when he is baptized by a priest, so he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest." – St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 180)

"It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries [i.e. the Sacraments] is entrusted [i.e. priests]. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt 3:6]; but in Acts they confessed to the Apostles, by whom also all were baptized [Acts 19:18]." – St. Basil The Great (d. 379)

"Regarding confession, some flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness." – Tertullian A.D. 200

"In addition to these kinds of forgiveness of sins, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance…when he [the sinner] does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine." – Origen (A.D. 244)

"But the impenitent spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest…they do violence to his body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him." – St. Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 250)

"There have been those who would say that no penance is available for certain sins; and they have been excluded from the Church and have been made heretics. Holy Mother Church is not rendered powerless by any kind of sin." – St. Augustine (d. 430)

"Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter [i.e. priest] binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed." – St. Jerome (d. 420)

"It seemed likewise impossible for sins to be forgiven through penance; yet Christ granted even this to his Apostles, and by His Apostles it has been transmitted to the offices of priest." – St. Ambrose (d. 397)

"Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: “Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed” [Matt 18:18]. Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens…Whatever priests do here on earth, God will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decision of his servants. Did He not give them all the powers of heaven?" – St. John Chrysostom (d. 407)

(Compiled by William Hemsworth

To console, because we have been consoled

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a gentle Father and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows, SO THAT WE CAN OFFER OTHERS, IN THEIR SORROWS, THE CONSOLATION THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD OURSELVES.

"Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so, through Christ, does our consolation overflow."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The Holy Spirit - Like Sunshine

 The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realise that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.

  To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.
  The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
  Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
  The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
  As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
  From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations – we become God.

-- From the treatise On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the Great, bishop





















The Holy Spirit - Living Water

  The water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life. This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

  In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvellous.
  The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.
  The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.
  As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.

-From the Instructions to Catechumens by St Cyril of Jerusalem











Song 36 from the GITANJALI

Song 36 from the GITANJALI

By Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)

This is my prayer to thee, my lord -
strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly
to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength
to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength
never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind
high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength
to surrender my strength
to thy will with love.

St Thomas Aquinas' Prayer for an Orderly Life

O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in order, O my God.

Grant that I may know what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by
anything unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else
besides You.

May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not
centered in You be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may  ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful
without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.

O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away from You.
Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.
Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.
Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.
Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and
confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen.

LETTER TO DIOGNETUS (Christians in the world)

The Christians in the world 
"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. 

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.  

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. 

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments. 

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself. 
From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)  
Father of all holiness,
guide our hearts to you.
Keep in the light of your truth
all those you have freed from the darkness of unbelief.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 
Prepared by the Spiritual Theology Department
of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

God is forever young

Your years last from generation to generation:
in the beginning you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away but you will remain;
all will grow old, like clothing,
and like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed.
But you are always the same,
your years will never run out.
-- Psalm 102:25-27

St Catherine: I tasted and I saw

From the dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor
I tasted and I saw

     Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.

     I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.

     Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.

     You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!






Faith illustrated

{1} Once all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That's FAITH.

{2} When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
That's TRUST.

{3} Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up.
That's HOPE.

{4} We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.

{5} We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.
That's LOVE.

{6} On an old man's shirt was written a sentence I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.'

- John Mangun

Confession: prayer, discernment, formation

(Rome Reports) The pope met with dozens of present and future priests who participated in a course about confession. He reminded them that one becomes a good confessor by learning from life lessons. He shared three tips with them on how to do so:

- That they cultivate prayer to be friends of God. In this way, they will realize that they too are sinners, and will not deal harshly with penitents.
- That they be "men of discernment", and not apply the same prescription to everyone.
- That confession is a moment of formation. Give people advice that brings them closer to God.

"The confessor, in fact, is called daily to go to the peripheries of evil and sin - this is an ugly periphery! - and his work represents a true pastoral priority."

Before leaving, the pope asked them to always be available to listen to confessions. Do not be  priests who "only confess” on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays ", but rather every time someone asks for it, whenever it may be.

St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) on Confession

     The present time is the time for confession. Confess what you have done, whether by words or by actions, whether by day or by night. If you confess at the acceptable time, you will receive the heavenly treasure on the Day of salvation.
     Make yourself pure so that you may be a vessel of more abundant grace. Remission of sins is given equally to everyone but the sharing of the Holy Spirit is given differently to each man, according to the faith of each. If you have expended little labour, you will receive little in the way of reward; if, on the other hand, you have laboured greatly, great will be the reward you receive. It is for your own benefit that you are running this race: run hard, in your own interest.
     If you are holding anything against anyone, forget it, let it go. You have come here to receive forgiveness of sins, so you must first forgive whoever has sinned against you.

--St Cyril of Jerusalem, Instructions to Catechumens



     Tempus præsens est tempus confessiónis. Confitére quæ perpetrásti, sive verbo sive ópere, sive nocte sive die. Confitére in témpore acceptábili, et in die salútis súscipe cæléstem thesáurum.
     Munda vas tuum, ut grátiam cápiat abundantiórem; remíssio enim peccatórum ex æquo datur ómnibus, communicátio vero Spíritus Sancti, secúndum proportiónem uniuscuiúsque fídei concéditur. Si parum laboráveris, parum accípies; si vero multa operátus fúeris, multa erit merces. Tibi ipsi curris, tibi conveniéntia próspice.
     Si quid contra quemquam habes, remítte. Accédis, ut véniam peccatórum accípias: necésse est et te ei qui peccávit condonáre.

--Ex Catechésibus sancti Cyrílli Hierosolymitáni epíscopi

Why Joseph? Because he was a practical man -- Benedict XVI

Di Andrea Gagliarducci CITTÀ DEL VATICANO , 19 marzo, 2015 / 10:30 AM (ACI Stampa).- Perché Dio ha scelto San Giuseppe come padre putativo di suo Figlio? Perché era un uomo pratico, oltre che giusto. La straordinaria, logica, semplice e allo stesso tempo teologicamente fondata spiegazione dalla scelta l’ha data il Papa emerito Benedetto XVI, in una di quelle omelie che – come ha rivelato l’arcivescovo Georg Gaenswein, suo segretario particolare – tiene ogni domenica nella cappella del Monastero Mater Ecclesiae, dove risiede. Un rapporto, quello tra Joseph Ratzinger e il suo santo, strettissimo e vivo. Un rapporto che è bello ricordare nel giorno dell’onomastico del Papa emerito, che per una felice coincidenza coincide con l’anniversario della Messa di Inizio del Ministero Petrino di Papa Francesco. Ogni domenica, alle nove e mezza del mattino, il Papa emerito celebra, l’arcivescovo Gaenswein concelebra vestendo spesso una casula gemella a quella di Benedetto XVI, e assistono alla Messa le quattro Memores Domini e i pochissimi altri che riescono ad entrare nella cappellina, che può contenere massimo 12 persone. Durante la settimana, Benedetto XVI appronta il testo della sua omelia su un quadernetto, a mano, nella sua grafia minutissima e precisa. Ma poi, l’omelia la pronuncia a braccio, con la sua memoria di ferro che è rimasta lucidissima, e piena di idee. E in una di queste memorabili omelie – raccontate ad ACIStampa da chi ha avuto il privilegio di essere presente – tratteggiò proprio la figura di San Giuseppe. Aveva detto Benedetto XVI: “Perché Dio ha scelto Giuseppe? Perché Giuseppe era un uomo giusto, pio. Ma anche perché Giuseppe era un uomo pratico. D’altronde, ci voleva un uomo pratico per organizzare la fuga in Egitto, ma anche per organizzare il viaggio a Betlemme per il censimento, e per provvedere a tutte le necessità pratiche di Gesù”. E’ un tassello che si aggiunge ai tanti riferimenti alla figura di San Giuseppe di chi è stato pieno il pontificato di Benedetto XVI. Il 19 marzo del 2006 era una domenica, e il Papa ricordò la figura del suo santo sottolineando che “la grandezza di San Giuseppe, al pari di quella di Maria, risalta ancor più perché la sua missione si è svolta nell'umiltà e nel nascondimento della casa di Nazaret. Del resto, Dio stesso, nella Persona del suo Figlio incarnato, ha scelto questa via e questo stile - l'umiltà e il nascondimento - nella sua esistenza terrena”. Nei primi Vespri della festa di San Giuseppe del 2009, Benedetto XVI tratteggia quasi con stupore teologico la figura di San Giuseppe. “San Giuseppe – disse Benedetto - manifesta ciò in maniera sorprendente, lui che è padre senza aver esercitato una paternità carnale. Non è il padre biologico di Gesù, del quale Dio solo è il Padre, e tuttavia egli esercita una paternità piena e intera. Essere padre è innanzitutto essere servitore della vita e della crescita. San Giuseppe ha dato prova, in questo senso, di una grande dedizione. Per Cristo ha conosciuto la persecuzione, l’esilio e la povertà che ne deriva. Ha dovuto stabilirsi in luogo diverso dal suo villaggio. La sua sola ricompensa fu quella di essere con Cristo.” Chi era San Giuseppe? Il 19 marzo del 2011, Benedetto XVI spiegò che “san Giuseppe era giusto, era immerso nella Parola di Dio, scritta, trasmessa nella saggezza del suo popolo, e proprio in questo modo era preparato e chiamato a conoscere il Verbo Incarnato - il Verbo venuto tra noi come uomo -, e predestinato a custodire, a proteggere questo Verbo Incarnato; questa rimane la sua missione per sempre: custodire la Santa Chiesa e il Nostro Signore". E nell’omelia del 19 marzo 2009, Benedetto disse: “Giuseppe è, nella storia, l’uomo che ha dato a Dio la più grande prova di fiducia, anche davanti ad un annuncio così stupefacente” Ma la figura di San Giuseppe diventa centrale proprio nel periodo di Natale, quando Giuseppe diventa un personaggio importante nelle scritture. Il 30 dicembre 2012, giorno della Sacra Famiglia, Benedetto XVI chiede che "il silenzio di Giuseppe, uomo giusto (cfr Mt 1,19), e l’esempio di Maria, che custodiva ogni cosa nel suo cuore (cfr Lc 2,51), ci facciano entrare nel mistero pieno di fede e di umanità della Santa Famiglia. Auguro a tutte le famiglie cristiane di vivere alla presenza di Dio con lo stesso amore e con la stessa gioia della famiglia di Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe”. Giuseppe, per Benedetto XVI, è anche una figura da cui imparare. Nell’Angelus del 18 dicembre 2005, alla vigilia del suo primo Natale da Papa, Benedetto XVI invitò i fedeli a “lasciarsi contagiare dal silenzio di San Giuseppe.” “Ne abbiamo tanto bisogno, in un mondo spesso troppo rumoroso, che non favorisce il raccoglimento e l’ascolto della voce di Dio. In questo tempo di preparazione al Natale coltiviamo il raccoglimento interiore, per accogliere e custodire Gesù nella nostra vita”. San Giuseppe, uomo pratico, uomo dell’obbedienza silenziosa, uomo della storia e uomo giusto: sulla sua figura Benedetto XVI ha costruito anche la sua personalità, fedele all’idea che i santi di cui si porta il nome devono essere modello per la vita.