Breathe on me,
Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
and do what thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me,
Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until with thee I will one will,
to do and to endure.
Breathe on me,
Breath of God,
till I am wholly thine,
till all this earthly part of me
glows with thy fire divine.
Breathe on me,
Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with thee
the perfect life of thine eternity.
text by Edwin Hatch, 1835-1889
The Church’s proclamation on the family finds its foundation in the life and preaching of Jesus, who lived and grew up in the family of Nazareth. He attended the wedding at Cana, which he honoured by performing the first of his “signs” (cf. Jn 2:1-11) and presented himself as the Bridegroom who unites himself to his Bride (cf. Jn 3:29). On the cross, he gave himself up with a love to the very end and, in his resurrected body, established new relationships among people. By revealing the fullness of divine mercy, Jesus allows man and woman to recover that “principle” according to which God unites them in one flesh (cf. Mt 19:4-6) and for which — by the grace of Christ — they are enabled to be faithful to each other and love each other forever. Therefore, the divine measure of conjugal love, to which spouses are called by grace, has its source in “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (EG, 36), the very heart of the Gospel.
Jesus, in assuming human love, also perfected it (cf. GS, 49), giving man and woman a new manner of loving, which has its foundation in the irrevocable faithfulness of God. In light of this, the Letter to the Ephesians has identified in the married love between a man and a woman, “the great mystery” which makes present in this world the love between Christ and the Church (cf.Eph 5:31-32). A married couple possesses the charism (cf. 1 Cor 7:7) of building up the Church with their spousal love and the task of the procreation and rearing of children. United in an indissoluble sacramental bond, the spouses live the beauty of love, fatherhood and motherhood and the dignity of participating, in this way, in God’s creative work.
Throughout the centuries, the Church has maintained her constant teaching on marriage and family. One of the highest expressions of this teaching was proposed by the Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, which devotes an entire chapter to promoting the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. GS, 47-52). This document defined marriage as a community of life and love (cf. GS, 48), placing love at the center of the family and manifesting, at the same time, the truth of this love in counter distinction to the various forms of reductionism present in contemporary culture. The “true love between husband and wife” (GS, 49) implies a mutual gift of self and includes and integrates the sexual and affective aspects, according to the divine plan (cf. GS, 48-49). Furthermore, Gaudium et Spes, 48 emphasizes the grounding of the spouses in Christ. Christ the Lord “comes into the lives of married Christians through the Sacrament of Matrimony,” and remains with them. In the Incarnation, he assumes human love, purifies it and brings it to fulfillment. Through his Spirit, he enables the bride and groom to live their love and makes that love permeate every part of their lives of faith, hope and charity. In this way, the bride and groom are, so to speak, consecrated and, through his grace, they build up the Body of Christ and are a domestic Church (cf. LG, 11), so that the Church, in order to fully understand her mystery, looks to the Christian family, which manifests her in a real way.
-Instrumentum Laboris, par. 2,3, & 4-
“The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” (in preparation for the Synod on the Family this fall)
Jesus understood human life — all the messy physical realities of being human. Jesus wasn’t simply God playacting at being human. Here’s an earthy example: Last year a vicious stomach flu tore through my Jesuit community. Despite vigorous hand washing, it hit me one night. Without going into details, it was the sickest I have ever been… As I hunched over the toilet for the fifth time that night, I had a surprising thought: Jesus did this. Admittedly, he did not contract a norovirus in a Jesuit community, but Jesus certainly got sick. He got hungry. He ate. He drank. We know, explicitly from the Gospels, that he got tired, as when he falls asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The physical realities of human life were not unknown to him.
Fr James Martin, SJ, Jesus: A pilgrimage.
A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17: 22
I saw this short film a few years back. Someone I love needs to know this now. Maybe you do, too.
You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
from the introduction to the Youcat.
by George Herbert (1593-1633)
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here’:
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
’Who make the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
’My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ say Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
Take this to your next prayer time… imagining Jesus saying these words to you…
Become very quiet. Reach out your hand so that I might enfold it in both of mine. Do you feel the love and tender care transfer itself through this contact? Now, as if you were blind, turn with me to face the future, and step out knowing complete trust in me to leave you on your way. Relax in the peace of that assurance. When you have the least temptation to panic because of your darkness, quietly recreate this sequence in your mind to again realize the actuality of my guiding presence alight with love.
From Learn From Me.. He speaks, we listen, by Helen M. Ross
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.
And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.
The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me- generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?
St Augustine recalled incisively: “Let us consider, dear friends, the Resurrection of Christ: indeed, just as his Passion stood for our old life, his Resurrection is a sacrament of new life…. You have believed, you have been baptized; the old life is dead, killed on the Cross, buried in Baptism. The old life in which you lived is buried: the new life emerges. Live well: live life in such a way that when death comes you will not die (Sermo Guelferb. 9, 3).
The Gospel accounts that mention the appearances of the Risen One usually end with the invitation to overcome every uncertainty, to confront the event with the Scriptures, to proclaim that Jesus, beyond death, is alive for ever, a source of new life for all who believe in him.
This is what happened, for example, in the case of Mary Magdalene (cf. Jn 20: 11-18), who found the tomb open and empty and immediately feared that the body of the Lord had been taken away. The Lord then called her by name and at that point a deep change took place within her: her distress and bewilderment were transformed into joy and enthusiasm. She promptly went to the Apostles and announced to them: “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20: 18).
Behold: those who meet the Risen Jesus are inwardly transformed; it is impossible “to see” the Risen One without “believing” in him. Let us pray that he will call each one of us by name and thus convert us, opening us to the “vision” of faith.
Faith is born from the personal encounter with the Risen Christ and becomes an impulse of courage and freedom that makes one cry to the world: “Jesus is risen and alive for ever”.
This is the mission of the Lord’s disciples in every epoch and also in our time: “If, then, you have been raised with Christ”, St Paul exhorts us, “seek the things that are above…. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col 3: 1-2). This does not mean cutting oneself off from one’s daily commitments, neglecting earthly realities; rather, it means reviving every human activity with a supernatural breath, it means making ourselves joyful proclaimers and witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, living for eternity (cf. Jn 20: 25; Lk 24: 33-34).
General Audience, April 19, 2006