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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Angelus and the Gospel

It is amazing to me how much Church Teaching is hidden in prayers that we say.

I have spoken before about the connections between the Our Father and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Lately though, I have been thinking about the Angelus.

The Angelus prayer is said three times a day at 6 am, 12 noon and 6 pm. It recalls the Annunciation, or the message to Mary from the angel that she would give birth to Jesus. It also recalls the death of Jesus and our hope in a future resurrection.

I have been saying the prayer for years, but only as of late have I come to appreciate it more.

I realized that this prayer is the opposite of the Fall of our first parents in Genesis 3 and is like a miniature version of the Gospel.

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

How is this prayer the opposite of Genesis 3 and the Fall of our first parents?

In Genesis 3, a fallen angel approaches a woman and gives a message to the woman which she believes. Then, through the woman, the fallen angel also gets the man to sin. Here is how St. James describes falling into sin:
James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

In the Incarnation, another angel, the Archangel Gabriel, comes to another woman, Mary. Mary believes the message of the angel. Then because of her trust in God, Jesus is conceived in her womb.

So there are three characters in each story. An angel, a woman, and a man.

In the Fall, we have Satan, Eve and Adam.
In the Redemption, we have Gabriel, Mary, and Jesus.

This is remembered and proclaimed every time we say the Angelus.

Amen - this prayer - IS the Gospel.

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Also, when we pray the Hail Mary we are proclaiming a fulfillment of Genesis 3:15:

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you (the devil) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Notice here that the enmity, which means enemies, is between Satan and the woman, and between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman.

This woman of Genesis 3:15 in none other then Our Lady, and her seed is Jesus.

Now, in the Hail Mary we say, "Blessed are you among woman, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus."

Right there is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. The woman is Mary and the fruit of her womb, her seed, is Jesus.

So I encourage you to pray the Angelus everyday, and recall the great gift of salvation that we have from the Living God!

Monday, February 22, 2010

There is a way to love the Gospel even more!



Read this, and your love for the Gospel in the Rosary and in the Mass will grow.

If you like this Blog because of the tidbits, you will love this book.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lenten Reflections

During Lent we recall Jesus’ 40 days in the desert where He is tempted by the Devil. Yet Jesus was recapitulating the 40 years that Israel spent wandering in the desert. What are some lessons that we can learn from Israel’s time in the desert?

The first thing that should be pointed out is the language that is used to describe Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea.

Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

So waters were parted and dry land appeared. This is the same language used in Genesis during the Creation.

Genesis 1:9 God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear."

The use of the creation language lets us know that when Israel was crossing through the Red Sea, they were becoming a new creation. The same language is being used in both the creation and the exodus of Israel from Egypt.

Here is what St. Paul says actually happened in the crossing of the Red Sea:

1 Corinthians 10:1-2 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud. The glory cloud represented the Holy Spirit and the waters of baptism. Israel got baptized and became a new creation.

That same thing happens with us when we are baptized.
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” and 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

This is why we need the Holy Water fonts filled with Holy Water during this time and not with sand. We need to Holy Water to remind us of the life we left behind, the sinful life that was washed away in baptism, and the new creation that we have become.

Now that we are a new creation, will we commit the same sins that Israel committed in the desert? We could focus on any number of topics at this point, but I want to hone in on some of the blessings that Israel had before the Exodus and how they squandered them during their desert journey.

God told Moses that when the Israelites would leave Egypt, they would find favor in their Egyptian neighbor's sight, and the Egyptians would give them gold and jewels and riches. You can also imagine that after experiencing 9 of the 10 plagues the Egyptians would also fear the God of the Israelites.

Exodus 11:2-3 Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewelry of silver and of gold." And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.

Israel left Egypt with plenty of gold and jewels.

Next, something to note is that when they left Egypt they also had a lot of livestock.
Exodus 12:38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very many cattle, both flocks and herds.

Finally, the Book of Numbers sort of spoils the story, but you should know that the original plan was that the firstborn male from every family would become priests of Israel.

Now what do they do with the gold? They worship Baal with it when they make the golden calf.
- They were suppose to use it to worship God.
When they get out into the desert they say, "We have nothing to eat." What about those flocks and herds that they had with them? They worshipped those because they didn’t want to offend those false Egyptian gods.
- They were suppose to use these for food.
As far as the priesthood goes, all of the firstborn sons lost that and the priesthood was restricted to the tribe of Levi.
- This would have better prefigured the firstborn priesthood of Christ and our priests today.

Here is what I was hoping could be meditated on during Lent:

Do you have gifts and talents that have been given to you by God, yet they are squandered on the TV god? Or the facebook god? Time is a gift given to us by God. We are to use this time to prepare ourselves for the promised land of Heaven.
What if instead of going to blockbuster for a movie, you went to your local Catholic bookstore and got a movie about a saint that you could see, cheer on, and then imitate?
What if instead of spending too much time reading the newspaper about current events, you read your Bible about eternal events?
What if instead of calling your friend and talking about the weather, you talked about one of the great saints that you just read and were blown away by their holiness you so desired to imitate?
We have been given lots of gifts, let's use this time in the desert wanderings of this world to strive to make them serve the next.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jesus, the Door to Heaven

Now I didn't find this in the great commentary everyone should buy---> But...

With extreme weather conditions that we might face in any season, people, most of the time, feel safe inside of a building, especially a home. As Christians, we see Heaven as our home, because that is where the Father dwells. He not only dwells in Heaven, but also in our hearts. The part that defines the home the most is the door. When your hand has reached the door, you have reached home. What does the Bible say about doors?

While the word door is used quite often in the Bible, I am not sure if every mention of it is significant. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some, but I just don’t see it at this time. There does seem to be a running theme in the Bible that if you are inside or behind the door, then you are safe. This is salvation.

Exodus 12:22-23 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you.

Now, see part of the parable of the five foolish virgins who go off to buy oil for their lamps because they don’t have enough for when the bridegroom comes:

Matthew 25:8-13 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Notice also what is in this warning - the five foolish virgins are waiting for the bridegroom - who is Christ. So they are waiting for Jesus, and yet they were not prepared when He comes, and were thus denied entry. Just because you are waiting for Christ doesn’t mean that you will be ready when He comes.

Before I go any further I need to go to the end. The Book of Revelation gives us the "key" to the door, so to speak.

Revelation 3:7-8 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: `The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens. "`I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut;

I think the door theme is about grace and Heaven and Christ. The open door is the open invitation to Heaven and Eternal Life. Grace flows out of the door of Heaven to the world.

Revelation 3:20 - 4:1 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne….4:1 After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place after this."

There is a famous picture of Jesus knocking at the door, and if you look closely, you see that the outside has no doorknob. It must be opened from the inside.

It is as if God is saying, "Look, the gates of Heaven are open to you. Just open the door to your heart and let me in." Now, see "who" the door is.

John 10:1-2 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
John 10:7-9 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

From what I understand, a shepherd in Jesus’ day would have a pen of rocks for his sheep yet no physical door. There was a narrow path for the sheep to enter and to exit. The shepherd would sleep in that doorway to both make sure the sheep wouldn’t leave and detect if thieves or wolves would get in. To get into the sheepfold, you literally have to "go through" Jesus.

Luke 11:5-10 And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistent demand he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

The man that is being bothered here represents God the Father, who will give us what we need, even if the door is shut. He will open it if we call out.

Luke 13:23-27 "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!'

So, the door to us is open from Heaven. We can, in a sense, shut the door to Heaven through sin. When we repent, the door again opens, but there will be a time when the door will be closed forever.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Prayer, Fasting, Alms and Lent

You know year after year we hear of the famous three things that we are suppose to do during Lent and that is Pray, Fast, and Give Alms. Now while we are suppose to be doing these things during the rest of the year. During the season of Lent we are to do them with more intensity.

Here is a little background to why we pray, fast, and give alms during lent. This all goes back to the garden of Eden and the fall of our first parents. I recently found out that Eve was tempted with three temptations. Look at
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was a delight to the eyes,
and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,

Now the ancient Rabbi's called this the three Lusts.
The Lust of the Flesh
The Lust of the Eyes and the
Pride of Life.

St John in his first letter reflects this teaching when he says:
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh
and the lust of the eyes
and the pride of life,
is not of the Father but is of the world.

Here is the meaning behind the three Lusts:
Well the lust of the flesh would be for any disordered physical pleasure. In our Culture we are bombarded with magazines and shows that offer us physical pleasure. Or Drugs, or gorging ourselves with Food.
The lust of the eyes would be any disordered desire for material things. Some examples would be maybe a shopping spree, or the collection of great possessions.
The pride of life would a disordered desire for Power or social standing.

There are some other Characters in the Bible that displayed these disorders. I would have to say that King Solomon, It would appear systematically fell into these three great sins.
This is located in 1 Kings chapters 10 and 11.
First is the lust of the eyes - when King Solomon taxes the people 666 talents of Gold, and creates all of these lavish vessels for himself.
Then is the Pride of life, when he makes a standing army.
And the lust of the flesh is when he gets the 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Now what is also significant is with each of these sins. God had told Moses earlier that these three things are exactly what a king is NOT suppose to do.

Jesus himself gets tempted with three temptations.
We find this in Matthew Chapter 4.
The devil tempts Jesus first with changing stones into bread.
This is the Lust of the flesh. Now while it might seem not so tempting, except it would have been an entirely selfish gift to himself.
Next is when the devil takes Jesus to the top of the temple and says to cast himself down and the angels will catch him. This would have been very, very visible sign to everyone that Jesus was the Christ and a great display of power. This is pride of life. Look at me - I am the Christ, I can to tricks!!
Finally the devil offers Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world, without the cross. If only Jesus would worship him. This is the lust of the eyes.

But Jesus conquers all of these and he tells us how in Matthew chapter 6.
He gives us three solutions to these three lusts. Pray, Fast and give alms.
Praying is when we say that God is in charge and not me. Prayer is acknowledging that God knows what is best for us because he loves us and designed us. Praying is when we say not look at me, but look at God.
Fasting is when we tell our bodies that we are in control of them and not the other way around. Before the fall of Adam and Eve, their desires were ruled by their intellect. Now our intellect is ruled by our desires. By fasting we tell our bodies that we do not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.
By giving alms to the poor or those in need, we are conquering the lust of the eyes. Our eyes tell us that we need this and this and that and some or all of those. This is of course a lie. We are designed not to be filled with the good gifts of this earth, but with God himself. St. Augustine said that "our hearts are restless, until they rest in God." Also, you can' take all of this stuff with you when you go anyway, so you might as well give it to gave treasure in heaven.

You know what is also significant about these three things is when Jesus says them in Matthew Chapter 6 he says - WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast, WHEN you give alms. He is assuming that we are doing them.

Getting back to Jesus in the desert. Jesus was in the desert 40 days and nights. He was in the desert conquering where the Israel had failed during their 40 years. But many people don't know is that we are the New Israel in the desert, and we join Jesus these 40 days to get our minds, hearts, and actions refocused on where we are headed.
We, the Church are the New Israel that have passed through the waters of baptism (like they had in the red Sea).
We can be fed on the new manna of the Eucharist that comes to us daily. And we are here waiting to enter the promised land of heaven. So this 40 days is suppose to be a summery of our entire journey toward heaven the rest of the year. It is during this time that we are to get refocused on our journey to our heavenly home, which is best done by prayer fasting and giving alms.

Now prayer, fasting, and giving alms are related to something else.
We have heard how when people join a religious community, they take vows of obedience, celibacy, and poverty. Well these are just the greatest forms of prayer, fasting, and giving alms.

When we pray we are telling God we are not in charge, and being obedient to someone is giving them charge over you.
For those who are celibate, it is giving up intimate physical relations, which is a pretty big fast, and giving them to God.
Finally, it is in poverty that we own nothing and give away all things as alms.

Source: For the most part Dr. Brant Pitre - http://www.catholic-productions.com/store/audio/pitre/temptations.html

Any and all of his talks should be purchased!