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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Isaiah, Chapter 63, verse 17
Why do you make us wander, LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we do not fear you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.

This chapter in Isaiah is called the Divine Warrior and Isaiah in this chapter refers to Christ as a warrior. Isaiah laments that we in our weak human nature have turned our hearts away from God and that we have no fear of divine justice. Have we become so enamored with the world and our own lives that when we look into the heavens at night we only see impressive specks of glittering rocks we call stars and not the love of the creator which made them? 

There is an expression, “Attitude is everything!” and so what should our attitude be during advent and why is Isaiah lamenting that Israel did not fear God? The answer lies in our attitude toward life. Holy fear is born out of love and is a response to the God the creator; it is a fear more closely related to awe. It is the loving fear of a child that does not want to disappoint a parent and goes to great lengths to please them. So during this season we should develop this sense of Holy fear doing what is right and good to please the Father. Remembering that, “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31).

During this season let us daily ask of our Lord to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of love thus making the winter brighter and our burdens lighter and bring cheer to the hearts of all we encounter. May we through love be brought to Holy fear enabling us to be careful in the practice of our faith and bring us to a spirit of penitence.

May we with the palmist say, “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.  (Psalm 80)

Intercession of the Saints[1]

All Christians are saints by virtue of their baptism. Christians are made holy not by anything we have learned or done, but by the indwelling of God. We are holy because we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Holiness—sainthood—is simply the common Christian vocation. To understand the Intercession of the Saints we must also understand the concept of the communion of the saints and ideas of Church militant and Church triumphant.

Question: When I learned catechism many decades ago, I was taught that there are three states of the Church -- the church triumphant, the church militant and the church suffering. Is this still a valid way of thinking?

-- William C., San Jose, Calif.

Answer[2]: What you were taught in your catechism classes is indeed still valid, although it is not commonplace today to hear the description of the various states of the Church as you describe them.

The church triumphant describes the Church in heaven. In the kingdom of God -- the realm in which the holy Trinity, the angels and saints, and the abode of all those who have reached the fullness of salvation in Christ -- the Church already exists. But it will have its fullest being at the end of time, when all of creation and (we hope) all human beings will be conformed to Christ and all reality will be one of divine praise and glory.

The term "church triumphant" underlines the truth that in the glory of heaven all human sin will have been transformed, death and suffering will be no more, and the glory of God will have triumphed over all the imperfections of human history.

The church militant refers to the Church on earth. The term "militant" can suggest an antagonistic relationship between the Church and the world. Nevertheless, it refers to an authentic reality: that the Church on earth works to overcome the imperfect and sinful dimensions of human existence.


The Church's mission is not to oppose the world and society, but to work for their transformation by the convincing preaching of the Gospel and by the edifying power of the good works and example of those who are baptized into Christ. The Church's best asset is the saintly activity and example of those who have chosen the Christian way of life.

The church suffering refers to the church in purgatory. Purgatory is not a kind of temporary hell. It is rather the threshold, the antechamber of heaven. In purgatory, all those -- whether Christian or not -- who have reached the gates of death without reaching the full perfection of life represented in Christ are cleansed in a kind of ongoing baptism and are purified by the enlightening fire of the Holy Spirit. The suffering of purgatory is not one of destruction, but the suffering that comes from leaving the old self behind and taking on the new.

Purgatory, as I have stated before, is not an isolated experience, but a communal one in which all our imperfect relationships are purified and made whole. Purgatory is a place in which, after death, we learn the fullness of divine praise.

To the saints on earth who share our calling, we give our love. To the saints triumphant we give a special honor called veneration (respect). We wouldn’t hesitate to ask our loved ones and friends to pray for us nor should we hesitate to ask help from those in heaven. We do not build altars to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs…We regard the martyrs with the same affectionate intimacy that we feel towards holy men of God in this life, when we know that their hearts are prepared to endure the same suffering for the truth of the Gospel.(St. Augustine of Hippo)


I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me will never die. (Jn. 11:25)



[1] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 30. Intercession of the Saints.

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