Martha, Martha, Martha!

Since today is the memorial of St. Martha, here are 6 things about her –

1. She lived in Bethany with her sister and brother, Mary and Lazarus.

2. She is the prototype of the busy housewife from the episode in Luke 10:38-40 –

Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Johannes Vermeer - Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Johannes Vermeer – Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

3. She shows her great faith in Jesus Christ because she believed that He would raise her brother from the dead.

4. Tradition states that after the Ascension of Jesus Christ, she traveled with her sister and brother to France; Lazarus became Bishop of Marseilles.

5. Her relics were found in 1187 at Tarascon and placed in a beautiful crypt.

6. She is the Patroness of Cooks.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt

For the next seven weeks, which began last Monday, we are going to focus on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which are prayed and meditated upon in the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa. Last week we focused our attention on the first sorrow – The Prophecy of Holy Simeon. This week we continue our studies concentrating on the second sorrow, The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. To learn more about the Rosary and Litany, if you haven’t read my previous posts, I would highly encourage you to do so.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read,

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

The Flight into Egypt by the Holy Family recounts the typological connections between Jesus and some of the Old Testament figures that also fled into Egypt. In the Book of Genesis, we see Jacob and his entire family flee into Egypt (46:1-7). In the Book of Exodus, we see the entire Israel nation; descendants of Jacob (also known as Israel) come from the land of Egypt (12:37). Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel and is considered the New Israel. With him, the new People of God come into being as the Church. Furthermore, we see the connection between Jesus and Moses, both were saved through God’s divine will as infants only to lead and establish the Lord’s people (Ex. 2:1-10).

the-flight-into-egypt-1650

At the command of God, Joseph, as head of the Holy Family and protector of their lives, takes the child and his mother and escapes the onslaught of what’s to come due to Herod’s fury (see Mt 2:16-18). During the New Testament centuries, there were large Jewish communities in the Egyptian colonies of Alexandria and Elephantine where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph could hide and feel protected from the hand of Herod.

To fulfill what the Lord had spoken in Hosea, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son “(11:1), St. Matthew anticipates that return of Jesus as the Son as the fulfillment of this scripture verse in two ways. First, Hosea should make us think back to the Book of Exodus when God calls Israel his “first-born son” (4:22). It is here where Israel is freed from the slavery under Pharaoh. Second, it brings us forward knowing that Jesus is the eternal first-born son (Rom 8:29) who is delivered from the tyrannical rule of Herod and comes out of Egypt to return to Israel.

Regarding the Flight into Egypt (and the Slaughtering of the Holy Innocents), The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

“The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people” (#530).

As we continue our examination of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, let us pray for the intercession of the Holy Family that we may have the strength and courage to stand against all those who seek to destroy our lives as faithful Catholic Christians. Let us also ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, who was the Protector of the Child Jesus and Mary and is the Protector of the Holy Catholic Church.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Baptism

Over the course of my life, I have been blessed to be Godfather to a variety of my family and friend’s children on the day they receive the Sacrament of Baptism. After a very difficult beginning to 2015, this past month will be a month I won’t soon forget. Two weeks ago I was Godfather to my friend’s little girl, and this afternoon, on what would have been Dad’s 68th Birthday, I will be Godfather to my nephew, whose middle name is the same as Dad’s.

As one who prepares adults to receive the Sacrament of Baptism on the Easter Vigil each year, which is a moving experience itself, witnessing and being asked to be a Godfather is one of the best honors a Catholic can receive from either family or friends. Not that numbers matter, but with this month’s two baptism’s, I am now Godfather to five children. Even as I write these words, I shake my head thinking how unworthy I am to fulfill such an important role. It’s only through the grace of my own Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and the frequent reception of Reconciliation that I am able to fulfill such a duty.

Me being Baptized by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy's Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

My Baptism by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

Since I spoke about infant baptism above, I draw your attention to paragraph 1282 below and paragraphs 1250-1252 in the further reading section. Infant Baptism has been part of the tradition of the Church since the very beginning, but it’s on this subject that many non-Catholics disagree with the Church’s position to baptize infants claiming that a child has no sin and has no reason to be baptized. I can’t tell you how many people I have spoke to in my position at the parish in RCIA that wished they were baptized as children.

So with this all being said, I felt today was the perfect opportunity to give you what the Catechism of the Catholic Church quickly teaches on the Sacrament of Baptism –

Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ’s Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ. [#1275]

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). [#1276]

Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism. [#1277]

The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [#1278]

The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ. [#1279]

Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated (cf. DS 1609 and DS 1624). [#1280]

Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16). [#1281]

Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom. [#1282]

With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God’s mercy and to pray for their salvation. [#1283]

In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate’s head while saying: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” [#1284]

For further reading on the Sacrament of Baptism, I would highly encourage you to read paragraphs 1214-1274 in the Catechism. Please also pray for my nephew today on the day of his Baptism, pray for his parents, and pray for me.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Love of Husband and Wife (and NFP Awareness Week)

Since this past Sunday, July 19 and running through Saturday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is celebrating the National Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week. It’s a national educational campaign that helps married couples – man and woman as well as engaged couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church understand the importance of NFP and how beneficial it can be for the regulation of births naturally. How is it celebrated varies from diocese to diocese, but the week coincides with the yearly anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humane Vitae, which explains to us the Catholic Church’s teaches on human sexuality, conjugal love, and parenthood.

If you have never read the above encyclical, I would highly encourage you to do so. The words of the Holy Father are prophetic since everything he stated in this document has produced the modern ills we witness each day when it comes to the offenses against marriage – adultery, high divorce rates, contraception, and the overall destruction of human dignity. If these ills weren’t enough, now we must endure same-sex marriage, which in turn could potentially bring government laws that favor polygamy, incest, and other offenses against human sexuality and marriage.

With this being said, I found this week’s NFP Awareness campaign the perfect opportunity to give to you the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teachings on The Love of Husband and Wife, which includes, conjugal fidelity, fecundity of marriage, and the gift of a child.

The Catechism states,

The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble. [#2397]

Fecundity is a good, a gift and an end of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God’s fatherhood. [#2398]

The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception). [#2399]

To learn more on this topic, I would also suggest reading paragraphs 2360-2379, in particular #2370 which coincides with this week’s NFP Awareness week. Paragraph 2370 states,

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality…The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle…involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

To learn more about Natural Family Planning, I would check the USCCB link here, Natural Family Planning Info, and the Couple to Couple League. A great book to read or to give to friends is The Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. It answers questions on Natural Family Planning and much more.

Sts. Joachim and Anne with Mary

Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary…Pray For Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Prophecy of Holy Simeon

Over the past few weeks, I have focused our attention on the Rosary and Litany of the Mater Dolorosa, prayers I learned after attending a Miles Christi Silent Retreat. In case you have not read the previous posts, the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa meditates on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

In order to help you say the Mater Dolorosa Rosary with more fervor and prayer, I am going to explain teachings of the Seven Sorrows for the next seven weeks. I will also draw your attention to other blog posts that I have written that underline each sorrow and its theme. For this first week, we shall examine the Prophecy of Holy Simeon.

In the Gospel of St. Luke, we read,

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (vv. 25-35).

Yegorov-Simeon_the_Righteous

Simeon (along with Anna) is an elderly individual who stands in faithful anticipation for the coming of Israel’s Savior and Redeemer. They both give praise to God for allowing them to live long enough to see the hope they have waited for in the infant Jesus. In the above scriptural passage, we are introduced to Simeon, a man led by the Holy Spirit. Since it was revealed that he would see the Messiah before his death, anything that he professes is very significant. He says that Jesus is the Messiah Israel has been waiting for; he also states that He is mankind’s “light” and “salvation.” Along with these words of great hope, Simeon’s prophecy also states that Jesus’ birth will bring with it the rise and fall of many in Israel and his sign of salvation will be a sign that contradicts. It is at this point in the life of Christ that we see both sorrow and joy.

Not only would there be sorrow in the life of Christ, but Mary, the Mother of Jesus would endure great amounts of sorrow as well – “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Let’s clarify something – an actual physical sword never pierces Mary’s soul, but because of the great pains she would endure watching our Lord suffer in his sacrifice at Calvary, spiritually she suffers with Him. In her vocation as Mother, Mary must embrace a maternal suffering. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering” (#618).

The Catechism further states, “the sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had ‘prepared in the presences of all peoples’” (#529).

Furthermore, in his document, Redemptoris Mater, Pope St. John Paul II says, “Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful” (#16).

Through the Prophecy of Holy Simeon, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph learn that not only will their child bring glory to His people, but that he will also bring salvation to all of humanity.

This event in the scriptures is the seed that would blossom into what would eventually become the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As we conclude today’s post, let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ to allow us to always be ready to receive him in our hearts, allow us to share in his sacrifice, and allow us to bring Him to others as messengers through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.

Sources:

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. Ignatius Press, 2010.

The Navarre Bible – The New Testament Expanded Edition. Four Courts/Scepter, 2008.

Job Openings in the Diocese of Phoenix

At the request of my friends, here are three jobs that are currently open in the Diocese of Phoenix. Two are teaching positions at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix and the other job is at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Phoenix. Check out the listings below and apply if you feel called. The Diocese of Phoenix is a growing diocese with one of the best Bishops in the United States – Thomas J. Olmsted.

Spanish Teacher – 2015-2016 school year. All applicants must compete application available on-line at http://www.catholicschoolsphx.com

Biology and Anatomy Teacher – 2015-2016 school year. All applicants must compete application available on-line at http://www.catholicschoolsphx.com

Coordinator of Family Evangelization and Catechesis — Under the direct supervision of the Director of Evangelization & Catechesis, the Coordinator of Family Evangelization & Catechesis will be responsible for helping to build up a cultural of life within the parish boundaries, and for supporting the New Evangelization through the coordination of specific catechetical, social, and devotional apostolates, directed to the needs of the entire parish, but with a special emphasis placed on the Hispanic parish. Additionally, significant energies will be expended on evangelizing and catechizing entire families, beginning with parents. This will include catechetical instruction, catechetical methodology and assistance with rectifying nullity-related matters.

Essential Job Functions:Coordinate and implements Spanish/English language Children’s Religious Education process; coordinate Spanish/English language Ongoing Parent Religious Education; coordinate annual Vacation Bible Camp; engage in ongoing professional development; maintain a good working relationship with the wider civic community.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Required: Must demonstrate knowledge of the diversity within the Hispanic community; should possess basic theoretical knowledge and skills in planning, organizing, communicating, administering, managing and training; should be thoroughly familiar with established Diocesan polices affecting catechesis; must be bilingual and bi-literate in English and Spanish; must be flexible and willing to work evenings and weekends, as required; must have a valid driver’s license and the ability to travel as required; must have an ability to engage in ongoing professional formation, be able work well with people of diverse backgrounds; must have exemplary organizational and data inputting skills.

Minimum Qualifications:Must be an active, practicing Catholic in full communion with the Church; Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, Religious Education or a related field from a bona fide Catholic University; must have at least two years experience working in Religious Education at the parish or diocesan level, either as a paid staff member or volunteer.

To apply, please send application, cover letter, and resume to:
Mr. Michael Garibaldi
Director of Catechesis and Evangelization
mgaribaldi@stjoanofarc.com
Fax: (602)482-7930

“Mondays with Mary” – Marian Prayers of St. Bonaventure

Since Wednesday, July 15, is the memorial for St. Bonaventure in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, I found it quite fitting to share with you two of the Marian Prayers of the Seraphic Doctor. Along with St. Anthony of Padua, he is one of the greatest Franciscan minds and a Doctor of the Church.

Like so many of the saints before and after him, St. Bonaventure had a great love, devotion, and prayer life that was associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary. As you will see in the months ahead, and in previous posts on this blog already, many of the great saints had written their own prayers specifically directed towards the Blessed Mother. They knew how important her role was in Salvation History, which continues through the Catholic Church to this day.

Queen Mother

As I often do in many of my posts, I have given links to other blog posts that will lead you to understand theological ideas in these prayers by St. Bonaventure. It’s my hope that you will not only read this post, but also read the links as well in order to give yourself a better understanding of Marian theology completely.

The first Marian prayer is titled, Abandonment to Mary

Virgin full of goodness, Mother of Mercy, I entrust to you my body and soul, my thoughts, my actions, my life and my death.

O my Queen, help me, and deliver me from all the snares of the devil. Obtain for me the grace of loving my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, with a true and perfect love, and after him, O Mary, to love you with all my heart and above all things. Amen.

The second Marian prayer is titled, For a Peaceful Parting

Holy Virgin, I beg of you, when my soul shall depart from my body, be pleased to meet and receive it. Mary, do not refuse me then the grace of being sustained by your sweet presence. Be for me the ladder and the way to heaven, and finally assure me of pardon and eternal rest. Amen.

As always, feel free to share with this blog with your family and friends in the hopes that they may come to have a more complete understanding of Our Lord Jesus Christ through His Virgin Mother.