ST. BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS-BOOK
Luke, Chapter 19, Verse 20-21
Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it
stored away in a handkerchief, 21 for I was AFRAID of you, because
you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you
harvest what you did not plant.’
When I read this verse; I thought of Mathew Kelly’s writing from his book, “Rediscovering Catholicism.” Kelly speaks about the various attitudes and philosophies which shape and define the mindset of the modern secular world. He identifies three key lifestyles: individualism, hedonism and minimalism.
First, what’s individualism? Individualism is an attitude
whereby I come to see myself as the center of the universe. The individualist
will typically go through the course of his or her day asking himself or herself
one question: “What’s in it for me?”
Secondly, what’s hedonism? Essentially, it is an attitude
whereby I come to see the pursuit of my own personal pleasure as my primary
concern in life. The hedonist will typically ask himself or herself this question:
I maximize the amount of pleasure in my life while minimizing the amount of
pain and inconvenience which I must endure?”
Thirdly, what is minimalism? This is a attitude whereby I look
to put in the minimum amount of effort that I possibly can into life, while
reaping the maximum amount of reward. The minimalist will typically ask himself
or herself questions such as these:
“What’s the least amount I can possibly
do at the workplace and still keep my job?” Or perhaps:
“What’s the least amount I can possibly
do at school and still get a good grade?”
are many people in the world today who might “self-identify” as being
“Christian”, if not “Catholic”, who are still giving their hearts very much to
the so-called “spirit
of the world”; whether
we’re talking about the spirit of individualism, hedonism or minimalism. For
instance, we can say that there are many Catholics in the world who go to Mass,
say their prayers, and perhaps even occasionally eat fish on Fridays – who
still govern most of their conduct by asking themselves this one simple
question: “What’s in it for me?” Many of these
people might still be very “kind” and “generous” to certain persons that they
happen to know. Who isn’t from time to time? But perhaps, this sense of “kindness”
and “generosity” is still governed by a pervasive sense of selfishness and
self-interest. In other words: “I’ll be kind to you, but only insofar as you’re
being kind back onto me!” And what is that but the spirit of individualism.
Let’s take a different example. Again, we can say that there are many Catholics
in the world today who go to Mass, say their prayers, and perhaps belong to
certain religious clubs or organizations who still govern the bulk of their
conduct by asking: “How can I get through the course of my day while incurring
the least amount of pain or inconvenience to myself?” Many of these people might still
be saying their prayers, perhaps even every day, but what’s often the real substance behind
these prayers? “O Lord give me the things that I want, the things that I
desire, the things that I believe to be essential to my own sense of happiness
and well-being. But Lord, whatever you do: do not make me suffer, do not give
me inconvenience, and do not give me pain! In other words, do not give me the
that is the spirit of hedonism: the relentless and almost single-minded pursuit
of one’s own personal pleasure as one’s ultimate concern. This takes us to our
third example. Again, there are many Catholics in the world who go to church,
go to confession, and even follow the Commandments who still perhaps ask
themselves this question repeatedly: “How can I get myself into the kingdom of
heaven, while putting the least amount of effort into my relationship with God?” These people might try their very
best to avoid all sorts of serious sin. But, as we know from personal
experience, there is a huge difference between simply trying to avoid “serious sin”, and actually trying our very best
to please the Lord in all things, especially in those little details which
perhaps no one else would ever notice, except Christ Himself! But that’s really
the difference between being a “lukewarm Catholic” (or a “minimalist”) and
being a true disciple of the Lord.
St. Teresa Benedicta of
A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was fourteen, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Gottingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protege of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis. After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-1938), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Things to Do:
In the month of August we celebrate two martyrs
of Auschwitz, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta. We need to pray,
hard and often that our world does not return to the inhumanity to man. The
acceptance of euthanasia and abortion, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, are
the first steps to deciding who can live or who can die. Offer a Mass, say a
rosary, offer sacrifices, etc. to end abortion and other sins against mankind.
Read about Auschwitz and ponder the modern gas chambers in every state
of our Union and resolve to do all that you can to end the killing.
Read more about Edith Stein at this site.
To teach the children more about this saint,
discuss topics such as these at age-appropriate levels :
Definition of a martyr.
Discussion of the Jews as our older brothers and
sisters in the Faith. In the Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) we refer to
"Abraham, our father in faith."
Discussion of the call of Truth, its claim on us,
despite the cost.
Edith Stein's reason for taking the name
Discussion of patron saints and what it means to our
For younger children, discuss on simpler terms ideas
such as complete love of God; our daily crosses; meaning of sacrifice; and how
to make small but meaningful sacrifices for God.
Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) was a
philosopher and prolific writer. Her writings are available from ICS
Publications. Of special note is her Essays on Woman.
For more about Edith Stein, see Catholic
Culture's Search Engine and type "Edith Stein".
Book Lovers Day
From the scent of a rare first edition book found in an old-time
book collection, to a crisp, fresh book at the local supermarket, the very
sight of a book can bring back memories. Reading as a child, enjoying the short
stories, the long books and the ability to lose yourself in a story so powerful
that at the end your asking yourself where to get the next book in the series.
This is for the reader in all of us, the celebration of Book Lovers Day!
While the day’s origins
may be shrouded in mystery and rumor, the books themselves are not. Started
from carving on stone tablets, the book was designed to make portable the
writings and drawings of those that could not carry around stone tablets.
Originally it was parchment or vellum (calf skin, in case you were wondering)
was bound tightly with a wooden cover. Often the wooden cover was tightly
wrapped in leather to prevent the wood from getting wet and had clasps or
straps to hold it shut. In the more modern age, printing capabilities made
books cheaper, and easier, to print. The printing press, the typewriter, and
the computer all had an effect on the market of books. But more so than most,
is the upsurge in electronic devices that can be used to read on. Computers,
tablets, and most cell phones now have the ability to read books, making it
that much easier to carry around a small library to enjoy not matter where you
How to celebrate Book Lovers Day
In order to truly
appreciate Book Lovers Day, one must only find a story and read it. Maybe you
wish to dive into the unknown with a good mystery, or see magic in a high
fantasy setting, or be enthralled in a steamy romance. The individual genre of
your reading is not the big piece of this, just that you do read is. Maybe a
visit to your local library is in order? After all public libraries existed
even way back in the Middle Ages, but they didn’t really let many folks take
books home. The librarians in those days chained books to shelves or desks in
order to prevent theft of the carefully hand-written tomes. Many librarians
will gladly help you find a title to read, giving a brief explanation on what
it is about if they have read it, or giving it a little flip and reading about
it quickly in the synopsis. But no matter your preference, if you read it at
home with a cup of tea, share a book meeting with friends or go to the library
and make use of the wonderful pieces on those shelves, just enjoy your reading,
revel in the book and find a way to read during Book Lovers Day!
of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
ONE-THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
Article 3 THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
Sacramental Sacrifice Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence
1356 If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the
Eucharist and in a form whose substance has not changed despite the great
diversity of times and liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound
by the command the Lord gave on the eve of his Passion: "Do this in
remembrance of me."
1357 We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the
memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself
given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the
Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of
Christ. Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.
1358 We must therefore consider the Eucharist as: -
thanksgiving and praise to the Father;
- the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.
and praise to the Father
1359 The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished
by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the
work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by
God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of
Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in
thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation
and in humanity.
1360 The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the
Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all
his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption,
and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all "thanksgiving."
1361 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of praise by which the
Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation. This sacrifice of
praise is possible only through Christ: he unites the faithful to his person,
to his praise, and to his intercession, so that the sacrifice of praise to the
Father is offered through Christ and with him, to be accepted in him.
sacrificial memorial of Christ and of his Body, the Church
1362 The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the
making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the
liturgy of the Church which is his Body. In all the Eucharistic Prayers we find
after the words of institution a prayer called the anamnesis or memorial.
1363 In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not
merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works
wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events,
they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands
its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events
are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their
lives to them.
1364 In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning.
When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover,
and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross
remains ever present. "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by
which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the
work of our redemption is carried out."
1365 Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the
Eucharist is also a sacrifice. the sacrificial character of the Eucharist is
manifested in the very words of institution: "This is my body which is
given for you" and "This cup which is poured out for you is the New
Covenant in my blood." In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body
which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he "poured out
for many for the forgiveness of sins."
1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents
(makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and
because it applies its fruit:
our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by
his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting
redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the
Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave
to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man
demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all
on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the
world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we
1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist
are one single sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now
offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross;
only the manner of offering is different." "In this divine sacrifice
which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a
bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an
1368 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. the
Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head.
With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his
intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of
Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. the lives of the
faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of
Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ's
sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of
Christians to be united with his offering.
catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer, arms
outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his arms on
the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and intercedes
for all men.
1369 The whole Church is united with the offering and
intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the
Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named
as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. the bishop of the
place is always responsible for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the
bishop's name is mentioned to signify his presidency over the particular
Church, in the midst of his presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons.
the community intercedes also for all ministers who, for it and with it, offer
the Eucharistic sacrifice:
that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated under [the
presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted it.
ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in
union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is
offered through the priests' hands in the name of the whole Church in an
unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself comes.
1370 To the offering of Christ are united not only the members
still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In
communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints,
the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as
it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and
intercession of Christ.
1371 The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful
departed who "have died in Christ but are not yet wholly
purified," so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace
body anywhere! Don't trouble yourselves about it! I simply ask you to remember
me at the Lord's altar wherever you are.
pray [in the anaphora] for the holy fathers and bishops who have fallen asleep,
and in general for all who have fallen asleep before us, in the belief that it
is a great benefit to the souls on whose behalf the supplication is offered,
while the holy and tremendous Victim is present.... By offering to God our
supplications for those who have fallen asleep, if they have sinned, we . . .
offer Christ sacrificed for the sins of all, and so render favorable, for them
and for us, the God who loves man.
1372 St. Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that moves
us to an ever more complete participation in our Redeemer's sacrifice which we
celebrate in the Eucharist:
redeemed city, the assembly and society of the saints, is offered to God as a
universal sacrifice by the high priest who in the form of a slave went so far
as to offer himself for us in his Passion, to make us the Body of so great a
head.... Such is the sacrifice of Christians: "we who are many are one
Body in Christ" the Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the
sacrament of the altar so well-known to believers wherein it is evident to them
that in what she offers she herself is offered.
of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit
1373 "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the
dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us," is
present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church's prayer,
"where two or three are gathered in my name," in the poor, the
sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in
the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But "he is
present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species."
1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic
species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as
"the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the
sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist
"the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord
Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and
substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by
which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could
not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to
say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself
wholly and entirely present."
1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into
Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. the
Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the
Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this
conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the
Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. the
priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and
grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things
Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but
what the blessing has consecrated. the power of the blessing prevails over that
of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed.... Could not
Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing
things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things
their original nature than to change their nature.
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by
declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body
that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the
conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that
by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the
whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord
and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This
change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called
1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of
the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ
is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each
of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide
1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we
express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and
wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration
of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to
the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but
also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care,
exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in
1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of
the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and
those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his
Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent
adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this
reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in
the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and
manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to
remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take
his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his
sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save
us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us
"to the end," even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic
presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave
himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate
and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in
this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in
adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the
serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.
1381 "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ
and his true Blood is something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,'
says St. Thomas, 'but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For
this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 ('This is my body which is given for
you.'), St. Cyril says: 'Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive
the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
God is bigger than Elvis
Week (Memphis, TN)
Shake, rattle and roll! Memphis, TN, marks its annual Elvis Week
celebration each August. There's always something for Elvis fans, including the
big draw each year, the annual Elvis Tribute Artists contest. Who will be
crowned the King?
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
Litany of the Most Precious
Blood of Jesus
Freedom Ring Day 33
Killing the Legend