Monday, January 31, 2011

Sir 11, 14 Life and death are from the LORD

(Sir 11, 14) Life and death are from the LORD

[14] Good and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from the LORD.

(CCC 304) And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a "primitive mode of speech", but a profound way of recalling God's primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world (Cf. Isa 10:5-15; 45:51; Dt 32:39; Sir 11:14), and so of educating his people to trust in him. The prayer of the Psalms is the great school of this trust (Cf. Pss 22; 32; 35; 103; 138; et al.).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sir 7, 27-28 Of these parents you were born

(Sir 7, 27-28) Of these parents you were born

[27] With your whole heart honor your father; your mother's birthpangs forget not. [28] Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?

(CCC 2215) Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. "With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?" (Sir 7:27-28).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sir 5, 2 Rely not on your strength

(Sir 5, 2) Rely not on your strength

[2] Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart.

(CCC 1809) Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart" (Sir 5:2; cf. 37:27-31). Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites" (Sir 18:30). In the New Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety." We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world" (Titus 2:12). To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence) (St. Augustine, De moribus eccl. 1, 25, 46: PL 32, 1330-1331).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sir 3, 2-6. 12-13. 16 My son take care of your father

(Sir 3, 2-6. 12-13. 16) My son take care of your father

[2] For the LORD sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons. [3] He who honors his father atones for sins; [4] he stores up riches who reveres his mother. [5] He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard. [6] He who reveres his father will live a long life; he obeys the LORD who brings comfort to his mother. [12] My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. [13] Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. [16] A blasphemer is he who despises his father; accursed of his Creator, he who angers his mother.

(CCC 2218) The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus recalls this duty of gratitude (Cf. Mk 7:10-12). For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother (Sir 3:2-6). O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him.... Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord (Sir 3:12-13, 16).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sir 1, 22 Fear of the LORD is abomination to the sinner


(Sir 1, 22) Fear of the LORD is abomination to the sinner

[22] Among wisdom's treasures is the paragon of prudence; but fear of the LORD is an abomination to the sinner.

(CCC 2339) Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy (Cf. Sir 1:22). "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end" (GS 17).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wis 18, 13 The people was God's son

(Wis 18, 13) The people was God's son

[13] For though they disbelieved at every turn on account of sorceries, at the destruction of the first-born they acknowledged that the people was God's son.

(CCC 441) In the Old Testament, "son of God" is a title given to the angels, the Chosen People, the children of Israel, and their kings (Cf. Dt 14:1; (LXX) 32:8; Job 1:6; Ex 4:22; Hos 2:1; 11:1; Jer 3:19; Sir 36:11; Wis 18:13; 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 82:6). It signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular intimacy between God and his creature. When the promised Messiah-King is called "son of God", it does not necessarily imply that he was more than human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. Those who called Jesus "son of God", as the Messiah of Israel, perhaps meant nothing more than this (Cf. 1 Chr 17:13; Ps 2:7; Mt 27:54; Lk 23:47).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wis 16, 9-14 You have dominion over life and death

(Wis 16, 9-14) You have dominion over life and death

[9] For the bites of locusts and of flies slew them, and no remedy was found to save their lives because they deserved to be punished by such means; [10] But not even the fangs of poisonous reptiles overcame your sons, for your mercy brought the antidote to heal them. [11] For as a reminder of your injunctions, they were stung, and swiftly they were saved, Lest they should fall into deep forgetfulness and become unresponsive to your beneficence. [12] For indeed, neither herb nor application cured them, but your all-healing word, O LORD! [13] For you have dominion over life and death; you lead down to the gates of the nether world, and lead back. [14] Man, however, slays in his malice, but when the spirit has come away, it does not return, nor can he bring back the soul once it is confined.

(CCC 2520) Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God's grace he will prevail - by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart; - by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God's will in everything (Cf. Rom 12:2; Col 1:10); - by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God's commandments: "Appearance arouses yearning in fools" (Wis 15:5); - by prayer: I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know… that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you (St. Augustine, Conf. 6, 11, 20: PL 32, 729-730).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wis 16, 5-8 You are he who delivers from all evil

(Wis 16, 5-8) You are he who delivers from all evil

[5] For when the dire venom of beasts came upon them and they were dying from the bite of crooked serpents, your anger endured not to the end. [6] But as a warning, for a short time they were terrorized, though they had a sign of salvation, to remind them of the precept of your law. [7] For he who turned toward it was saved, not by what he saw, but by you, the savior of all. [8] And by this also you convinced our foes that you are he who delivers from all evil.

(CCC 2130) Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim (Cf. Num 21:4-9; Wis 16:5-14; Jn 3:14-15; Ex 25:10-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 7:23-26).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wis 14, 12 Source of wantoness is the devising of idols

(Wis 14, 12) Source of wantoness is the devising of idols

[12] For the source of wantoness is the devising of idols; and their invention was a corruption of life.

(CCC 2354) Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wis 13, 6-10 They are distracted by what they see

(Wis 13, 6-10) They are distracted by what they see

[6] But yet, for these the blame is less; For they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him. [7] For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. [8] But again, not even these are pardonable. [9] For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its LORD? [10] But doomed are they, and in dead things are their hopes, who termed gods things made by human hands: Gold and silver, the product of art, and likenesses of beasts, or useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.

(CCC 2112) The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, (of) silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them" (Ps 115:4-5, 8; cf. Isa 44:9-20; Jer 10:1-16; Dan 14:1-30; Bar 6; Wis 13: 1- 15:19). God, however, is the "living God" (Josh 3:10; Ps 42:3; etc.) who gives life and intervenes in history. (CCC 2129) The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure...." (Deut 4:15-16). It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time "he is greater than all his works" (Sir 43:27-28). He is "the author of beauty" (Wis 13:3).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wis 13, 2-5 How far more excellent is the Lord

(Wis 13, 2-5) How far more excellent is the Lord

[2] But either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods. [3] Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them. [4] Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them. [5] For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.

(CCC 216) God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world (Cf. Wis 13:1-9). God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself (Cf. Ps 115:15; Wis 7:17-21). (CCC 41) All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures - their truth, their goodness, their beauty all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures’ perfections as our starting point, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wis 13, 1 Foolish who were in ignorance of God

(Wis 13, 1) Foolish who were in ignorance of God

[1] For all men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;

(CCC 1147) God speaks to man through the visible creation. The material cosmos is so presented to man's intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator (Cf. Wis 13:1; Rom 1:19 f; Acts 14:17). Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his nearness. (CCC 32) The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world's order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe. As St. Paul says of the Gentiles: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made (Rom 1:19-20; cf. Acts 14:15, 17; 17:27-28; Wis 13:1-9). And St. Augustine issues this challenge: Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky… question all these realities. All respond: "See, we are beautiful." Their beauty is a profession [confessio]. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One [Pulcher] who is not subject to change? (St. Augustine, Sermo 241, 2: PL 38, 1134).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wis 11, 24-26 For you love all things that are

(Wis 11, 24-26) For you love all things that are

[24] For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. [25] And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? [26] But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls,

(CCC 301) With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence: For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living (Wis 11:24-26). (CCC 373) In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of "subduing" the earth (Gen 1:28) as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator "who loves everything that exists" (Wis 11:24), to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wis 11, 23 But you have mercy on all

(Wis 11, 23) But you have mercy on all

[23] But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook the sins of men that they may repent.

(CCC 270) God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty") (2 Cor 6:18; cf. Mt 6:32): finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wis 11, 21 Who can resist the might of your arm?

(Wis 11, 21) Who can resist the might of your arm?

[21] For with you great strength abides always; who can resist the might of your arm?

(CCC 269) The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the "Mighty One of Jacob", the "LORD of hosts", the "strong and mighty" one. If God is almighty "in heaven and on earth", it is because he made them (Gen 49:24; Isa 1:24 etc.; Pss 24:8-10; 135 6). Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will (Cf. Jer 27:5; 32:17; Lk 1:37). He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: "It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm? (Wis 11:21; cf. Esth 4:17b; Prov 21:1; Tob 13:2).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wis 11, 20 You have disposed all things by measure

(Wis 11, 20) You have disposed all things by measure

[20] Even without these, they could have been killed at a single blast, pursued by retribution and winnowed out by your mighty spirit; But you have disposed all things by measure and number and weight.

(CCC 299) Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: "You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight" (Wis 11:20). The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship with God (Col 1:15, Gen 1:26). Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work (Cf. Ps 19:2-5; Job 42:3). Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "and God saw that it was good… very good" (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 31) - for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world (Cf. DS 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wis 10, 5 She knew the just man

(Wis 10, 5) She knew the just man

[5] She, when the nations were sunk in universal wickedness, knew the just man, kept him blameless before God, and preserved him resolute against pity for his child.

(CCC 57) This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity (Cf. Acts 17:26-27), united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel (Cf. Wis 10:5; Gen 11:4-6). But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism (Cf. Rom 1:18-25).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wis 9, 9 With you is Wisdom, who knows your works

(Wis 9, 9) With you is Wisdom, who knows your works

[9] Now with you is Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world; Who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands.

(CCC 295) We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom (Cf. Wis 9:9). It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created" (Rev 4:11). Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made" (Pss 104:24; 145:9).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wis 8, 7 The fruits of her works are virtues

(Wis 8, 7) The fruits of her works are virtues

[7] Or if one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues; For she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these.

(CCC 1805) Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage" (Wis 8:7). These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wis 8, 2 I was enamored of her beauty

(Wis 8, 2) I was enamored of her beauty

[2] Her I loved and sought after from my youth; I sought to take her for my bride and was enamored of her beauty.

(CCC 1950) The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom. Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God's pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wis 8, 1 She governs all things well

(Wis 8, 1) She governs all things well

[1] Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.

(CCC 302) Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created "in a state of journeying" (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call "divine providence" the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection: By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, "reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well". For "all are open and laid bare to his eyes", even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures (Vatican Council I, Dei Filius I: DS 3003; cf. Wis 8:1; Heb 4:13).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wis 7, 25-30 She is an aura of the might of God

(Wis 7, 25-30) She is an aura of the might of God

[25] For she is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nought that is sullied enters into her. [26] For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness. – [29] For she is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars. Compared to light, she takes precedence; [30] for that, indeed, night supplants, but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.

(CCC 2500) The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself. Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect. But truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltations of the soul, the mystery of God. Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos - which both the child and the scientist discover - "from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator," "for the author of beauty created them" (Wis 13:3, 5). [Wisdom] is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness (Wis 7:25-26). For [wisdom] is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail (Wis 7:29-30). I became enamored of her beauty (Wis 8:2).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wis 7, 21 Such things as are hidden

(Wis 7, 21) Such things as are hidden

[21] Such things as are hidden I learned and such as are plain;

(CCC 216) God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world (Cf. Wis 13:1-9). God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself (Cf. Ps 115:15; Wis 7:17-21). (CCC 283) The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements… for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me" (Wis 7: 17-22).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wis 7, 17-20 Sound knowledge of existing things

(Wis 7, 17-20) Sound knowledge of existing things

[17] For he gave me sound knowledge of existing things, that I might know the organization of the universe and the force of its elements, [18] The beginning and the end and the midpoint of times, the changes in the sun's course and the variations of the seasons. [19] Cycles of years, positions of the stars, [20] natures of animals, tempers of beasts, Powers of the winds and thoughts of men, uses of plants and virtues of roots.

(CCC 2501) Created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:26), man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being's inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man's own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill (Cf. Wis 7:16-17), to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God's activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man (Cf. Pius XII, Musicae sacrae disciplina; Discourses of September 3 and December 25, 1950).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wis 4, 8 The age that is honorable

(Wis 4, 8) The age that is honorable

[8] For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.

(CCC 1308) Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity," we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need "ratification" to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this: Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: “For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years.” Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 72, 8, ad 2; cf. Wis 4:8).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wis 2, 23-24 God formed man to be imperishable

(Wis 2, 23-24) God formed man to be imperishable

[23] For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. [24] But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.

(CCC 391) Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy (Cf. Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24). Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil" (Cf. Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9). The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing” (Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800). (CCC 2538) The tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart. When the prophet Nathan wanted to spur King David to repentance, he told him the story about the poor man who had only one ewe lamb that he treated like his own daughter and the rich man who, despite the great number of his flocks, envied the poor man and ended by stealing his lamb (Cf. 2 Sam 12:14). Envy can lead to the worst crimes (Cf. Gen 4:3-7; 1 Kings 21:1-29). "Through the devil's envy death entered the world" (Wis 2:24): We fight one another, and envy arms us against one another.... If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ, where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ's Body a corpse.... We declare ourselves members of one and the same organism, yet we devour one another like beasts (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 2 Cor. 27, 3-4: PG 61, 588).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wis 1, 13 God did not make death

The Book of Wisdom

(Wis 1, 13) God did not make death

[13] Because God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.

(CCC 413) "God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living…. It was through the devil's envy that death entered the world" (Wis 1:13; 2:24). (CCC 1008) Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin (Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511). Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin (Cf. Wis 2:23-24). "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered (GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Song 8, 6-7 Set me as a seal on your heart

(Song 8, 6-7) Set me as a seal on your heart

[6] Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love, relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire. [7] Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away. Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love, he would be roundly mocked.

(CCC 1295) By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an oblect (Cf. Gen 38:18; 41:42; Deut 32:34; CT 8:6). Hence soldiers were marked with their leader's seal and slaves with their master's. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret (Cf. 1 Kings 21:8; Jer 32:10; Isa 29:11). (CCC 1611) Seeing God's covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People's conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage (Cf. Hos 1-3; Isa 54; 62; Jer 2-3; 31; Ezek 16; 23; Mal 2:13-17). The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, a pure reflection of God's love - a love "strong as death" that "many waters cannot quench" (Song 8:6-7).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Song 3, 1-4 I sought him whom my heart loves

(Song 3, 1-4) I sought him whom my heart loves

[1] On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves - I sought him but I did not find him. [2] I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves. I sought him but I did not find him. [3] The watchmen came upon me as they made their rounds of the city: Have you seen him whom my heart loves? [4] I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves. I took hold of him and would not let him go till I should bring him to the home of my mother, to the room of my parent.

(CCC 2710) The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty ant in faith.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Song 1, 7 Tell me, you whom my heart loves

The Song of Songs

(Song 1, 7) Tell me, you whom my heart loves

[7] Tell me, you whom my heart loves, where you pasture your flock, where you give them rest at midday, Lest I be found wandering after the flocks of your companions.

(CCC 2709) What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us" (St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8, 5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67). Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves" (Song 1:7; cf. 3:14). It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.