Saturday, October 27, 2012

30th Sunday: TO BELIEVE IS TO SEE!

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

This Sunday allows us to consider the story of one of the most fascinating characters of the Gospel. Of Bartimaeus, we don’t know much, except that he was blind, and that he is identified only in relation with his father, Timaeus. The episode of this Sunday’s Gospel affords us with a lot of avenues for contemplation, doors through which we are able to encounter Christ and listen to his words, and allow our daily lives to be transformed by his Word. Nobody may know exactly who Bartimaeus was, how he was before Christ walked into his life that day as he sat in his usual place outside Jericho. What we know certainly, however, is that in his story we see our own reflected. For though all of us are able to see and are well off because of it, nevertheless, we know that we too are handicapped at some point. Looking deep into our personal life, we can see that we ourselves are in darkness; there are some dark areas of our life which we dare not enter, areas which are touched by our rejection of God’s love. We know all to well that our lives are painfully touched by sin, by that darkness that comes from our willful rejection of God’s love and his plan for our life. it is a darkness that blinds us to what is true, that which is truly good, truly beautiful.

But we too are aware that like Bartimaeus, we are identified because of our relationship with our Father, whose name is beyond any other, and whose face shines in the human face of Jesus. Thus, the person of the blind man of Jericho brings out to us two important things about ourselves: our personal blindness and our need for light, for someone to take us by the hand, and the fact that our personal identity is marked by our relationship with our Father.

In Bartimaeus, this need for healing, this need for freedom from the darkness that enfolds him pushes him to cry out: Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! Having heard of Jesus’ approach, the blind man saw in his heart that it was precisely this person who could save him from his darkness. Looking back into our own lives, the consideration of our own wretchedness, of our own sinfulness, of our own darkness, should not push to despair and self-pity; rather, the knowledge of our sinfulness should push us to conversion, to tend toward Christ, to ask for his divine mercy, to grasp his hand, asking him to make us whole. The blind man was not content to remain in his blindness; we should not be complacent in our own sinfulness. This is true even when the world, the “crowd” pressures us to shut up, to desist in our struggle to respond to the call to conversion, to give up in our tending towards God. Bartimaeus was told to shut up by the crowd, but far from doing what they wanted him to do, he cried out all the more, calling out to the One who could save him: Son of David, have pity on me!, clearly alluding to his firm faith than the one who stood before him was the Christ, despite of the fact that he could not see Jesus.

The attitude of the blind man should inspire us to cry out, even though circumstances (and even persons) would tell us to give up. The chief enemies of our move towards holiness (the world, the flesh and the devil, and, also most often, the “old man” in us) would tell us that everything is futile, resistance to the force of gravity (that pulls us to the depths of our sinfulness) is useless. Sometimes we may even consider that they’re right, because we don’t seem to see Jesus with us. We might think that there’s no point in smiling on a cold, rainy day; why should we, since the sun hadn’t come out anyway?

But then the truth is, the Lord hasn’t abandoned us to our darkness. This is the same Lord who in the First Reading we see delivering his people, gathering them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst. He is the God of Israel consoles and guides them, leading them to brooks of water, and leading them on a level road, so that none shall stumble. This is the same Lord who says: For I am a father to Israel. How can he not hear the cry of the heart that is crushed by its sins, the cry of the sinner who has placed himself at the Master’s feet, asking for freedom? When Jesus asks the blind man what was it that he wanted, was it because he didn’t know? What more could a blind man ask, but that he be delivered from his blindess? What more could we ask from the Lord, but that we be brought back from the darkness of sin into the light of day, Jesus, the Day that knows no night?

The blind man pushes forward in his desire, despite of the fact that he does not see. This is what faith means: to move forward, not because we see clearly and are convinced of the way, but because we trust in the hand and in the voice that leads us on. What moves us to believe is not the fact that the revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who neither deceive nor be deceived” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 156). In the end, it was the faith of the blind man that allowed him to recover his sight. Faith is the condition that allows the grace of God to enter into our lives, transforming it, filling it with life. As the letter of the Holy Father at the start of the Year of Faith would suggest, faith is a door (porta fidei) that allows us to feel the caress of God. It is the sine qua non, that without which we cannot have a relationship with God. In the end, what is true is that to believe is to see, and not much seeing in order to believe.

The experience of Bartimaeus, and the incidence of this Year of Faith, invites us once again to be well-grounded in our faith in Christ. It is through faith that we are able to touch the face of God in Jesus Christ; it is through faith that we are able to see and contemplate the loving smile of the Father, through the human face of Jesus. It is only through faith that we can show it likewise to the world, in much need of the new evangelization.

In the Gospel we hear the words of the crowd surrounding Jesus: “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you”. We too have the responsibility of inviting those around us to see Jesus, that they too may be touched by his grace. This is what our role in the new evangelization entails: to show that face of Jesus, to encourage others to come into contact with him, and to live with the very life which the Lord gives as a gift. But this is only possible if Jesus has touched us ourselves. We can only make Jesus transparent to others, if our own eyes have seen him.

May Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, who constantly gazes on her Son, help us to be renewed by the freshness of the Gospel, so as to be evangelizers in this modern age, as each of us need to our part in the new evangelization. AMEN!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: NOT TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE

(NOTE: the following is the full text of the homily of Pope Benedict XVI on 22 October, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod and five others in St. Peter's Square. Yours truly was among the crowd.)

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving. On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the sacrifice of his life.

I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his same way of life. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)
These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints. With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose a life of service following the Lord. Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who “shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11); this Servant is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory. Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality. The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.

Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age. During his parish ministry, he had the burning desire to save souls. Becoming a Jesuit, he wished to journey through the world for the glory of God. A tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, then in Madagascar, he struggled against injustice while bringing succour to the poor and sick. The Malagasies thought of him as a priest come down from heaven, saying, You are our “father and mother!” He made himself all things to all men, drawing from prayer and his love of the sacred heart of Jesus the human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He died, saying “I prefer to die rather than renounce my faith”. Dear friends, may the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests that, like him, they will be men of God! May his example aid the many Christians of today persecuted for their faith! In this Year of Faith, may his intercession bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!

Pedro Calungsod was born around the year 1654, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In 1668, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the April 2nd 1672. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:22). With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives. María Carmelo Sallés y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so. Filled with hope in spite of many trials, she, on seeing the progress of the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, which she founded in 1892, was able to sing with the Mother of God, “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). Her educational work, entrusted to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, continues to bear abundant fruit among young people through the generous dedication of her daughters who, like her, entrust themselves to God for whom all is possible.

I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!

Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order. She came from a poor background so, in order to earn the dowry needed for acceptance into the cloister, she worked as a maid. One day she suffered a terrible accident and received incurable burns on her legs which forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. So her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.

Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer. With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he “is our help and our shield” and we invoke him saying, “may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:20.22). May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

After the Canonization Mass

Saturday, October 13, 2012



“I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me…yet all the good things came to me in her company, and countless riches in her hands”.

The words of the First Reading, taken from the book of Wisdom, brings to mind the episode in the book of Kings, when Solomon succeeded his father David, and had asked the Lord not for possessions, wealth and honor, but rather for the wisdom and knowledge in order to rule (cf. 2 Chr 1:11). Solomon’s petition is granted, and all of the rest that he had not asked for himself was granted besides. Wisdom is a deep understanding of the true nature of things. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who probes the depths of God and penetrates all things. Normally we could say that a person is wise, that he possesses wisdom, but scriptural tradition also mentions that she possesses the wise man. Whatever the case, wisdom, which comes as a perfect gift from on high, is something that allows us to see the true worth of things, and thus allows us to order our life’s search for the things that really matter. It distinguishes that which is vain and useless in this life, and allows us to head for that which could really make us happy. The Responsorial Psalm is a prayer in which we ask that we may be taught by God “to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart”. Wisdom does not merely mean intellectual brilliance. The sapientia cordis (wisdom of heart) which the psalmist asks is that which precisely allows man to head for that which really matters, one that makes man truly happy: union with God.

This wisdom of heart makes us more attentive to hear God’s word. In the Scriptures, this is precisely one characteristic of the wise: they delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate on his law day and night (cf. Ps 1:2). We encounter the Lord in our reading and reflection of his word in the Sacred Scriptures. This encounter is done in our private reading, and also in the public celebration of the liturgy of the Church, where God’s Word is proclaimed in the assembly. The Year of Faith, which we have just joyfully begun, should push us to resolve to read the Word of God more often, even daily, and listen to it, because it is not something that comes to us from the past, but something that is living and effective, as the Second Reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrew, tells us. It is a Word that challenges us whenever we come into contact with it, transforming us, affecting our way of life in our present circumstance. It is a powerful Word that cuts through our mediocrity and tepidity, pruning and probing the very depths of our life, so that we may become truly wise in our struggle to live according to the truth of God and live as sons and daughters of the light. It makes us wise and holy. May this Year of Faith allow us to be more familiar with God’s Word in the scriptures that we read and hear proclaimed in our assemblies.

The wisdom that is found in the reception and meditation of God’s Word leads us to God, who alone is good, as we hear Jesus declare in the Gospel of today (cf. Mk 10:17-30). In Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, we have a teacher who can teach us what true wisdom is, and the real happiness to which it leads. Jesus is the perfect teacher because He himself is the Truth, the Wisdom of the ages. True wisdom allows us to realize that it is important to follow the commandments of God; it impresses upon us the need to live a life that is morally coherent, one that is lived according to the Law of God. The Scriptures are clear in saying that true foolishness is found in the rejection of the Law: the fool is he who does not live according to the commandments of God.

But then, as we would see in the Gospel, living according to the commandments is not enough for one to be truly wise. Jesus says to the young man—who speaks for each one of us in our search for that which could truly give meaning into our lives—that for one to have treasure in heaven, one must go, sell everything one has to the poor, and then come and follow him. The Gospel records that at these words, the young man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. He had the audacity to search for that which would truly make him happy, but lacked the courage do what it took to attain it.

Wisdom of heart and true holiness springs also in following Jesus, imitating him as his true disciples, and living his life in us. This allows us to view the commandments and the demands of the moral law not as mere external impositions, but as something that sets us free as daughters and sons of God. This wisdom of heart that comes also as a fruit of our daily encounter with Christ in the Scriptures that we read and in the sacraments that we celebrate, drives us to live to the full the commandment of love that Christ has enjoined us to live. It does not leave us indifferent to the plight of our neighbors, of our brothers and sisters, but pushes us to do good works, both of prayer and service in the community.

The Year of Faith gives us a wonderful opportunity to live in our life these things that we have pondered upon in our reflection of the Sunday readings: a deeper familiarity with the Word of God in the Scriptures, a renewed decision to live a life in intimate union with Christ in prayer and the sacraments, and the renewed dedication to live the witness of a life lived according to the commandments, and lived in the service of charity in the community. May our daily communion with Jesus, Master, Lord and Savior, provide us with the strength to rise from our mediocrity and tepidity in order to proclaim Him in whom we have placed our trust in this Year of the Faith. AMEN!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A BLAST FROM THE PAST: The Opening Discourse of Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII
October 11, 1962
Mother Church rejoices that, by the singular gift of Divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned when–under the auspices of the virgin Mother of God, whose maternal dignity is commemorated on this feast–the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is being solemnly opened here beside St. Peter's tomb.
The Ecumenical Councils of the Church
The Councils–both the twenty ecumenical ones and the numberless others, also important, of a provincial or regional character which have been held down through the years–all prove clearly the vigour of the Catholic Church and are recorded as shining lights in her annals. In calling this vast assembly of bishops, the latest and humble successor to the Prince of the Apostles who is addressing you intended to assert once again the magisterium (teaching authority), which is unfailing and endures until the end of time, in order that this magisterium, taking into account the errors, the requirements, and the opportunities of our time, might be presented in exceptional form to all men throughout the world.
It is but natural that in opening this Universal Council we should like to look to the past and to listen to its voices whose echo we like to hear in the memories and the merits of the more recent and ancient Pontiffs, our predecessors. These are solemn and venerable voices, throughout the East and the West, from the fourth century to the Middle Ages, and from there to modern times, which have handed down their witness to those Councils. They are voices which proclaim in perennial fervour the triumph of that divine and human institution, the Church of Christ, which from Jesus takes its name, its grace, and its meaning.
Side by side with these motives for spiritual joy, however, there has also been for more than nineteen centuries a cloud of sorrows and of trials. Not without reason did the ancient Simeon announce to Mary the mother of Jesus, that prophecy which has been and still is true: "Behold this child is set for the fall and the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted" ( Lk. 2: 34 ) . And Jesus Himself, when He grew up, clearly outlined the manner in which the world would treat His person down through the succeeding centuries with the mysterious words: "He who hears you, hears me" (Ibid. 10:16), and with those others that the same Evangelist relates: "He who is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me scatters" (Ibid. 11 :23).
The great problem confronting the world after almost two thousand years remains unchanged. Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life. Men are either with Him and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars.
Ecumenical Councils, whenever they are assembled, are a solemn celebration of the union of Christ and His Church, and hence lead to the universal radiation of truth, to the proper guidance of individuals in domestic and social life, to the strengthening of spiritual energies for a perennial uplift toward real and everlasting goodness.
The testimony of this extraordinary magisterium of the Church in the succeeding epochs of these twenty centuries of Christian history stands before us collected in numerous and imposing volumes, which are the sacred patrimony of our ecclesiastical archives, here in Rome and in the more noted libraries of the entire world.
The Origin and Reason for the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
As regards the initiative for the great event which gathers us here, it will suffice to repeat as historical documentation our personal account of the first sudden bringing up in our heart and lips of the simple words, "Ecumenical Council." We uttered those words in the presence of the Sacred College of Cardinals on that memorable January 25, 1959, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the basilica dedicated to him. It was completely unexpected, like a flash of heavenly light, shedding sweetness in eyes and hearts. And at the same time it gave rise to a great fervour throughout the world in expectation of the holding of the Council.
There have elapsed three years of laborious preparation, during which a wide and profound examination was made regarding modern conditions of faith and religious practice, and of Christian and especially Catholic vitality. These years have seemed to us a first sign, an initial gift of celestial grace.
Illuminated by the light of this Council, the Church–we confidently trust–will become greater in spiritual riches and gaining the strength of new energies therefrom, she will look to the future without fear. In fact, by bringing herself up to date where required, and by the wise organization of mutual co-operation, the Church will make men, families, and peoples really turn their minds to heavenly things.
And thus the holding of the Council becomes a motive for wholehearted thanksgiving to the Giver of every good gift, in order to celebrate with joyous canticles the glory of Christ our Lord, the glorious and immortal King of ages and of peoples.
The opportuneness of holding the Council is, moreover, venerable brothers, another subject which it is useful to propose for your consideration. Namely, in order to render our Joy more complete, we wish to narrate before this great assembly our assessment of the happy circumstances under which the Ecumenical Council commences.
In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.
We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.
In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men's own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfilment of God's superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.
It is easy to discern this reality if we consider attentively the world of today, which is so busy with politics and controversies in the economic order that it does not find time to attend to the care of spiritual reality, with which the Church's magisterium is concerned. Such a way of acting is certainly not right, and must justly be disapproved. It cannot be denied, however, that these new conditions of modern life have at least the advantage of having eliminated those innumerable obstacles by which, at one time, the sons of this world impeded the free action of the Church. In fact, it suffices to leaf even cursorily through the pages of ecclesiastical history to note clearly how the Ecumenical Councils themselves, while constituting a series of true glories for the Catholic Church, were often held to the accompaniment of most serious difficulties and sufferings because of the undue interference of civil authorities. The princes of this world, indeed, sometimes in all sincerity, intended thus to protect the Church. But more frequently this occurred not without spiritual damage and danger, since their interest therein was guided by the views of a selfish and perilous policy.
In this regard, we confess to you that we feel most poignant sorrow over the fact that very many bishops, so dear to us are noticeable here today by their absence, because they are imprisoned for their faithfulness to Christ, or impeded by other restraints. The thought of them impels us to raise most fervent prayer to God. Nevertheless, we see today, not without great hopes and to our immense consolation, that the Church, finally freed from so many obstacles of a profane nature such as trammeled her in the past, can from this Vatican Basilica, as if from a second apostolic cenacle, and through your intermediary, raise her voice resonant with majesty and greatness.
Principle Duty of the Council: The Defense and Advancement of Truth
The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. That doctrine embraces the whole of man, composed as he is of body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on this earth, it commands him to tend always toward heaven.
This demonstrates how our mortal life is to be ordered in such a way as to fulfill our duties as citizens of earth and of heaven, and thus to attain the aim of life as established by God. That is, all men, whether taken singly or as united in society, today have the duty of tending ceaselessly during their lifetime toward the attainment of heavenly things and to use. For this purpose only, the earthly goods, the employment of which must not prejudice their eternal happiness.
The Lord has said: "Seek first the kingdom of Cod and his justice" (Mt. 6:33). The word "first" expresses the direction in which our thoughts and energies must move. We must not, however, neglect the other words of this exhortation of our Lord, namely: "And all these things shall be given you besides" (Ibid. ). In reality, there always have been in the Church, and there are still today, those who, while seeking the practice of evangelical perfection with all their might, do not fail to make themselves useful to society. Indeed, it from their constant example of life and their charitable undertakings that all that is highest and noblest in human society takes its strength and growth.
In order, however, that this doctrine may influence the numerous fields of human activity, with reference to individuals, to families, and to social life, it is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world, which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate.
For this reason, the Church has not watched inertly the marvellous progress of the discoveries of human genius, an has not been backward in evaluating them rightly. But, while following these developments, she does not neglect to admonish men so that, over and above sense–perceived things–they may raise their eyes to God, the Source of all wisdom and all beauty. And may they never forget the most serious command: "The Lord thy God shall thou worship, and Him only shall thou serve" (Mt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8), so that it may happen that the fleeting fascination of visible things should impede true progress.
The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.
Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries. The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.
For this a Council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.
How to Repress Errors
At the outset of the Second Vatican Council, it is evident, as always, that the truth of the Lord will remain forever. We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun. The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations. Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.
That being so, the Catholic Church, raising the torch of religious truth by means of this Ecumenical Council, desires to show herself to be the loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness toward the brethren who are separated from her. To mankind, oppressed by so many difficulties, the Church says, as Peter said to the poor who begged alms from him: "I have neither gold nor silver, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk" (Acts 3:6). In other words, the Church does not offer to the men of today riches that pass, nor does she promise them merely earthly happiness. But she distributes to them the goods of divine grace which, raising men to the dignity of sons of God, are the most efficacious safeguards and aids toward a more human life. She opens the fountain of her life-giving doctrine which allows men, enlightened by the light of Christ, to understand well what they really are, what their lofty dignity and their purpose are, and, finally, through her children, she spreads everywhere the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all.
The Unity of the Christian and Human Family Must Be Promoted
The Church's solicitude to promote and defend truth derives from the fact that, according to the plan of God, who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (l Tim. 2:4), men without the assistance of the whole of revealed doctrine cannot reach a complete and firm unity of minds, with which are associated true peace and eternal salvation.
Unfortunately, the entire Christian family has not yet fully attained this visible unity in truth.
The Catholic Church, therefore, considers it her duty to work actively so that there may be fulfilled the great mystery of that unity, which Jesus Christ invoked with fervent prayer from His heavenly Father on the eve of His sacrifice. She rejoices in peace, knowing well that she is intimately associated with that prayer, and then exults greatly at seeing that invocation extend its efficacy with salutary fruit, even among those who are outside her fold.
Indeed, if one considers well this same unity which Christ implored for His Church, it seems to shine, as it were, with a triple ray of beneficent supernal light: namely, the unity of Catholics among themselves, which must always be kept exemplary and most firm; the unity of prayers and ardent desires with which those Christians separated from this Apostolic See aspire to be united with us; and the unity in esteem and respect for the Catholic Church which animates those who follow non-Christian religions.
In this regard, it is a source of considerable sorrow to see that the greater part of the human race–although all men who are born were redeemed by the blood of Christ–does not yet participate in those sources of divine grace which exist in the Catholic Church. Hence the Church, whose light illumines all, whose strength of supernatural unity redounds to the advantage of all humanity, is rightly described in these beautiful words of St. Cyprian:
"The Church, surrounded by divine light, spreads her rays over the entire earth. This light, however, is one and unique and shines everywhere without causing any separation in the unity of the body. She extends her branches over the whole world. By her fruitfulness she sends ever farther afield he rivulets. Nevertheless, the head is always one, the origin one for she is the one mother, abundantly fruitful. We are born of her, are nourished by her milk, we live of her spirit' (De Catholicae Eccles. Unitate, 5).
Venerable brothers, such is the aim of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which, while bringing together the Church's best energies and striving to have men welcome more favourably the good tidings of salvation, prepares, as it were and consolidates the path toward that unity of mankind which is required as a necessary foundation, in order that the earthly city may be brought to the resemblance of that heavenly city where truth reigns, charity is the law, and whose extent is eternity (Cf. St. Augustine, Epistle 138, 3).
Now, "our voice is directed to you" (2 Cor. 6:11 ) venerable brothers in the episcopate. Behold, we are gathered together in this Vatican Basilica, upon which hinges the history of the Church where heaven and earth are closely joined, here near the tomb of Peter and near so many of the tombs of our holy predecessors, whose ashes in this solemn hour seem to thrill in mystic exultation.
The Council now beginning rises in the Church like daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light. It is now only dawn. And already at this first announcement of the rising day, how much sweetness fills our heart. Everything here breathes sanctity and arouses great joy. Let us contemplate the stars, which with their brightness augment the majesty of this temple. These stars, according to the testimony of the Apostle John (Apoc. 1:20), are you, and with you we see shining around the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, the golden candelabra. That is, the Church is confided to you (Ibid.).
We see here with you important personalities, present in an attitude of great respect and cordial expectation, having come together in Rome from the five continents to represent the nations of the world.
We might say that heaven and earth are united in the holding of the Council–the saints of heaven to protect our work, the faithful of the earth continuing in prayer to the Lord, and you, seconding the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order that the work of all may correspond to the modern expectations and needs of the various peoples of the world.
This requires of you serenity of mind, brotherly concord moderation in proposals, dignity in discussion, and wisdom of deliberation.
God grant that your labours and your work, toward which the eyes of all peoples and the hopes of the entire world are turned, may abundantly fulfil the aspirations of all.
Almighty God! In Thee we place all our confidence, not trusting in our own strength. Look down benignly upon these pastors of Thy Church. May the light of Thy supernal grace aid us in taking decisions and in making laws. Graciously hear the prayers which we pour forth to Thee in unanimity of faith, of voice, and of mind.
O Mary, Help of Christians, Help of Bishops, of whose love we have recently had particular proof in thy temple of Loreto, where we venerated the mystery of the Incarnation dispose all things for a happy and propitious outcome and, with thy spouse, St. Joseph, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, intercede for us to God.
To Jesus Christ, our most amiable Redeemer, immortal King of peoples and of times, be love, power, and glory forever and ever

Saturday, October 6, 2012


If we love one another, God dwell in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us”. (1 Jn 4:12)

It is a clear truth to the Christian that man’s basic and primary vocation is to love. He was brought into being by the Creator in His own image and likeness (cfr. Gen 1:27), a God whose very nature is Love (cfr. 1 Jn 4:8). A creature of God, man is sustained by God’s loving providence. This same God, who has spoken with and has revealed himself to man, calls his creature to an eternity of loving union with Him. In the depths of human nature, despite of the harm done to it by original sin, remains that indelible mark of love that can never be erased. Man is capable of love: it is his primary vocation.

This is seen in the First Reading, taken from the book of Genesis. Man was never meant to live alone, considering that he is called to love and be loved but he can only love and be loved by someone who is like him, and yet at the same time is distinct from him. Man’s yearning for love can only be satisfied by entering into a relationship of communion with a person like him. This is satisfied first and foremost by God, who is a communion of three Divine Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God only in whom man’s restless heart can find true satisfaction and repose (cfr., ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, Confessions, I, 1). But then, the human person also fulfills this vocation to love by entering into relationships with other human persons.

Among the many ways through which man is able to realize this vocation to love, marriage is one of the most significant and the most beautiful, as well as one of the most fulfilling. Our reflection in this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time directs us to consider once again the beautiful truth about marriage, both as a human institution (something that refers to our humanity) and as a sacrament (for the Christian, it is more than just an institution or a contract: it is also a sign of grace). It also directs to other significant truths very much related to it, since marriage is not an isolated reality, but one that should be understood in the context of life and love, sexuality, etc.

In the Gospel we see our Lord being confronted by the Pharisees, who have put out a trap for him, in the guise of a tricky question. Fully aware of their malice, Jesus not only answers their query, but transforms the Pharisees’ snare into a wonderful opportunity to affirm an important truth about man, something deeply founded in the truth of his being (in the law of nature), and revealed in Scripture. As Lord, he ratifies the teaching established ab initio, from the beginning, and raises the union between man and woman in marriage from a mere human bond into something that is touched by God. In the words of Jesus we can learn a lot concerning the truth of human sexuality and marriage.

In the first place, it is important to note that this truth does not depend upon what we make of it; we cannot change it just because we don’t agree with it, or because it doesn’t harmonize with our agenda. Neither does it come as a result of human consensus. The truth could only be proposed, and then accepted or rejected, but could never be changed. An embodied spirit, man has been created to love in a particular way—either as male or female. This distinction made from man’s origin shows that masculinity and femininity is a gift endowed upon the human person by the Creator, a gift that totally affects him. The human person is a sexuated and a sexual being; sexuality (the fact of being male or female) plays an essential role in how one relates with others, in how one perceives the world both outside and within him, and affects the way how the person loves. Man cannot love a-sexually; neither can he seek to love choosing to blur the lines of this essential distinction. It is a distinction that it very important. However, far from driving man away from woman, it rather brings them together, because it is a distinction that leads them to complement each other.

This complementarity is essential to the nature of marriage, which is a union between a man and a woman. This is another truth that we encounter, and this is something that no human legislation based on consensus could ever change, because it is something that is not only found in the nature of marriage as an institution, but in human nature itself. Only a man an a woman could ever constitute a true marriage. The complementarity between the two makes it possible for them to be una caro, one flesh. It is a union so intimate that, as the words of the Lord in the Gospel would express, only something as radical as death could ever separate them. No human law would ever unmake this bond, hence the reason for the practice of divorce as unacceptable, in view of the divine law: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mk 10:9). In this union, husband and wife need to live each for the other, both as equals in love, very much like what the lyrics of Charlie Landsbourough’s song expresses: “we’re just angels with one wing, we must cling together to fly”.

And fly upward they must. This consideration leads us finally to another truth in Christian marriage: far from just being human, the mutual union between a man and a woman in Christ must lead to Christ. Christian marriage is not just an end in itself: it is also a way to holiness. In fulfilling the responsibility to lead each other to perfection, and to be open to the gift of life that God gives to them, both husband and wife should sanctify themselves in their marriage. They have the Lord to depend on for His grace, most especially considering that married life is no mere walk through the park. It is a challenging life, not exempt from difficulties. This is why couples have to take advantage of the means to sanctity: the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance, daily personal prayer, attentive listening to the Word of God. They also have the mission to make their family into a domestic Church: a family that prays and loves, wherein the children given to them are raised as good Christians and citizens.

As we prepare ourselves to inaugurate the Year of Faith called for by the Holy Father this coming week, let us pray that this may be an opportunity for all Christian married couples to be strengthened in their special vocation, and for the Christian family to be protected from everything that endangers it, and be strengthened to give witness to the faith in Christ Jesus. May Mary, the Queen of the Family, and loving spouse of blessed Joseph, intercede for us all. AMEN.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Francis of Assisi without any doubt is one of the greatest and best-known in the catalogue of saints in that the Church has. As such, it follows that he is one of the most represented. One of the most frequent mental images that most could have of him probably would be him in harmony with nature, a poor man garbed in simple brown (or grey, as it really was at the start), surrounded by a variety of animals, a man very much in touch with nature. It is for this reason that he ahs been linked with ecology and in fact, if I am not mistaken, has been dubbed as the Patron of Ecology. This is totally true: the figure of the Poverello of Assisi was very much linked to the beauty of nature. In fact, perhaps his most famous utterance would be his Canticle to the Sun.

For many, however, the figure of the saint seems to find a dead-end there. Every 4th of October is an occasion for animals to be blessed, and the church, at least, becomes a veritable menagerie of animals, a type of impromptu animal show. But the message of the Poor Man of Assisi was not about the love of animals nor of nature per se. The feast that we celebrate this day ought to allow us to grow deeper in our estimation of the figure of Francis and his message, which certainly goes far beyond the birds and the flowers of the field.

If Francis delighted in the beauty of creation, it was because he delighted in the contemplation of the beauty of God. For him, creation was but a mirror which allowed him a glimpse of that glory which our human eyes are not capable of seeing, both because of the limits that our human nature has set, and also because of sin has made us incapable of being receptive of all this beauty. Everything in nature referred him to its Creator, and to the love which the Creator has lavished on his creatures, most especially man. His Canticle of the Sun is not done in praise of nature, but in praise of its Creator who, through the perfection and beauty of nature, has showered his love upon us. Without this important reference to God, even the beauty of nature loses its meaning, and it becomes a force to be feared, if not to be idolized.

But for Francis, there is an even greater transparency of God: far and above nature, he sees the beauty and the goodness of the invisible God in the human face of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Much of Franciscan spirituality and devotion is centered on the humanity of Christ, on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It was Francis who came up with the first manger scene, which nowadays we place almost everywhere. It was Francis who popularized the devotion of the Stations of the Cross. He was a man in love with God, a God who was so in love with man that he himself chose to become one. Our devotion to St. Francis leads us deep into the contemplation of the mystery of God’s love, in which he came down among us, taking our own nature.

This love for the sacred humanity of Christ would lead him to yearn to share in his Passion. This is another detail of his spirituality. The love of God, shown in nature, then in the mystery of the Incarnation, finds its supreme expression in the Cross. Francis’ love for the Crucified was such that the Lord gave him the special grace to bear his wounds physically: the stigmata. He is the first known person in history after Christ to bear the wounds of the Savior. Next to him is his spiritual son, St. Pío of Pietrelcina, another Franciscan (a capuchin, to be exact). Love finds its fullest expression whenever it seeks to replicate the love of the Savior on the Cross, a love that causes one to leave everything, to take up one’s cross and to follow Christ (cf. Lk. 9:23). For Francis, this was the greatest treasure: Christ. In him the words of the Apostle Paul find an echo when the Apostle says “I consider everything as loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted loss of all things and I consider them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (cf. Philippians 3:8).

Christ then, was the underlying secret of his joy in what the world considers as poverty. His possession of God, if it could be expressed thus, was at the very heart of another element of his spirituality. St. Francis shows us that perfect joy is only achieved in having Christ, in establishing a deep friendship with him in prayer and in the attentive reading of the Word of God, in the union achieved through the sacraments, and in sharing him in a life of charity. This is the greatest treasure, this poverty which at the same time is richness beyond compare.

The contemplation of God, fulfilled in the Crucified, leaving everything in order to have Christ as one’s sole possession, and a life of charity towards one’s neighbor as a necessary expression of this perfect joy that comes in having found Christ: this is what is at the heart of Francis of Assisi’s message. May his intercession make it ours as well. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Of Angels and Men

He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need."

These words of St. Bernard set the mood with which we celebrate this day, feast of the guardian angels. Most people would like to imagine them as cute, plump little babies with wings. I don't have that image of angels. What I have in mind is the image of someone strong and powerful, with or without wings. Yesterday in class we were just talking about them in class, within the intellectual world of Philo of Alexandria. He sees them As spiritual beings whose beauty and perfection could fittingly be described in terms of luminosity. They are beings of light. 

The devotion to the guardian angels has always been in the faith of the 
Church since the start. The Acts of the Apostles mentions that belief that the early Christians had in the ministry of the angels in the life of the early Church. The Church Fathers are not silent on this topic either. It is very much part of the Christian faith, this belief in the existence of angels and of their mission.

For my part, it was my mother who taught me this devotion since I was small. I pray quite frequently that prayer which she taught me to recite before bedtime, which I still do: "Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen." I've had brushes with my guardian angel in my life, the most memorable of which was when he gave me the push I needed in order to start in an exam in Fundamental Theology when I was still a seminarian. I had to work on the morning of the exam, and though I had studied the subject well, I was't sure if I really was prepared for the exam. When we started, and the test question was written on the board, my mind went totally blank, at least for five minutes or so. The words of the old prayer came to my mind, and suddenly, after having recourse to my guardian, the first words of what was supposed to be the answer to the question came flashing through my mind, very much like a neon sign. That gave me the start that I needed. From then on I remembered everything that I had studied. The exam went very well, and that small experience, hidden from the rest of the world at that time, was one that really convinced me of the angels' assistance and their presence in our lives. It wasn't a psychological thing...there was no way I could've remembered the answer on my own.

Today, being here in Pamplona, members of the Opus Dei are celebrating the anniversary of their foundation. The Work started precisely on this day in 1928, when the young priest Josemaría Escriva "saw" Opus Dei, on this feast of the guardian angels. St. Josemaría saw it as something significant, and since then he would have recourse more than ever to these angelic ministers.

This data impresses upon my mind the fact that angels also have their hand in the story of our vocation. The patriarchs of old have their vocations clarified to them in a way due to the work of the angels. Mary received the great news from Gabriel, and so on and so forth. Perhaps this would be one thoughts that could serve to guide us as we celebrate this day in their honor. We should turn to them for help in time of discernment, in time of doubt, in the struggle of fidelity, and in living the vocation to Christ that we have received. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


As we begin the month of October, I feel the need to offer some few thoughts concerning the Rosary, which is indisputably the queen of all Catholic devotions. I believe that this is a mere observation of mine, with which popes, saints and the rest of the faithful would agree. There is no other devotion more universal, more popular, and more endearing to the faithful than the Rosary. In the history of spirituality, there is no other devotion in which saints and lovers of God ahd found the surest way to holiness than in this devotion. Considering its importance and appeal, we make this central question: WHAT IS THE ROSARY?

·      IT IS A CHRISTOCENTRIC PRAYER. People, when asked about the Rosary, would surely respond without batting an eyelash that the Rosary is a marian devotion. This is correct, but I see the importance of placing this essential element in the first place. At the very heart of the prayer of the Rosary is the figure of Christ. In his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae (the latest  papal document among the many concerning the Rosary) Bl. John Paul II points out that “the Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer”[1]. It is one that is directed to Christ, and is about Christ, the mysteries of his life, mysteries which concern us because they are mysteries of our redemption. As such, it is a prayer that moves us closer to Christ, allowing us to get to know him better and thus, love him even more.

·      IT IS A MARIAN PRAYER. Not only is the Rosary about Christ, but also it considers the life and the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, from the Virgin Mary’s point of view. It is a prayer from the personal experience form the Mother of the Redeemer. There is a wise saying that goes that the best expert of a person’s history is his own mother. This is very true in Mary’s case. Who better than her can allow us a glimpse of the mysteries of the life of Christ? The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary; no one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as Mary[2], and the rosary is nothing else but walking with the Blessed Mother as she relives in her heart her convivence with her son.

·      IT HOLDS IN ESSENCE THE SECRET TO SANCTITY. Blessed Bartolo Longo, an ardent promoter of this devotion in his native Pompeii (Italy) and a fervent son of Mary, once said, “Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!” These words would only have sense when we understand the whole of Christian life as contemplation and the imitation of the life of Christ. These are two things that go hand in hand: the Christian is one who looks at the life of Christ, seeking to imitate it, to assimilate it, so that, once transformed by this very life, he could say along with St. Paul, it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. The Rosary is precisely the contemplation of the life of Christ, one that is never complete without the next logical step: emulation, imitation, making the Christ’s life one’s very own. This is what true devotion to Mary means, to use the title of one of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort’s works, a true masterpiece of spirituality. The Rosary is one powerful aid to achieve personal holiness.

·      IT IS A VERY POWERFUL SPIRITUAL TOOL. This has been lived and affirmed by many saints. In the first place, it is a spiritual tool against Satan, against the devil. The devil hates Mary and fears her so much that he can’t even bear to mention her name, as leading exorcists would attest. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary is a powerful spiritual weapon that defeats the devil and his work. We live in times wherein we could not help but see the master plan of the devil: the destruction of the family. This seems to be his top priority. More than ever do we see initiatives that aim to restructure this basic unit of society in ways that are far removed from what the natural family really is: a communion of life and love that springs from the generous and mutual love between a man and a woman. We see lobbies everywhere seeking to deform it, calling for the destruction of the integrity of the family through divorce, legalization of same-sex unions, for arrangements in which even three persons could be considered as a marriage and capable of being called parents! Behind these initiatives is the dark hand of the enemy.

·      This leads us to consider that the Rosary is a strong spiritual weapon for the protection of the family, and particularly of the Christian family. We are all familiar of the phrase “The Family that prays together, stays together”. This has been proved true in countless instances. In a family wherein the life of the Lord is called to mind through the assistance of Our Lady, the vocation to holiness thrives and is protected from the enemy. Wherever the banner and the sign of Mama Mary is raised and honored, there her protection resides.
·      It is a powerful weapon when we need to ask for favors, especially spiritual ones, which are the most important. This I can vouch for personally, along with countless other people who have benefited from this devotion. In time of need, the daughter or the son who approaches Our Lady through the Rosary never goes away empty handed. Are you struggling against a spiritual vice? Do you wish to increase in virtue? Are you in dire need of something really important? Are you experiencing hard times? Pray the Rosary, commend yourself to Mary’s protection and you shall be surprised by the power of her intercession. This has been proven true, from the time that St. Dominic’s friars were battling the Albigensian heresy in the 13th century, to the ships of the Christian fleet at the naval Battle of Lepanto, from the historic naval battle in Manila to the massive mass of people during the EDSA revolution. One thing that holds these events—historically distant from each other—in common is the recourse to the Rosary. Mary’s intercession is powerful, and under her protection, one is always victorious.

·      THE ROSARY IS A DEVOTION SUITED FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN. Contrary to what many may think, the rosary is not a thing reserved for manangs, beatas, or old women who have nothing else to do but stay in churches (which is not true: they do have something to do). Nor is it a woman’s thing alone. Considering the points that we have placed above, one could realize that it is everybody’s prayer, whether young or old, male or female, married, single, or especially consecrated to God. One could pray it on the way to work, after school, or whenever one can’t sleep. It could be meditated on in the morning,  during the lunch break, while enjoying the sunset, or in the silence of the night.

October is a splendid chance for us to rediscover this devotion, and the impact that it can have in our lives, for the better. The best way to live this month (and the rest of the months of the year for that matter) is to take time to pray the Rosary daily. Well done, it only takes as much as fifteen minutes.

[1] JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 16 October 2002, 1.
[2] Cfr., ibid., 10.