Homily on the Holy Family by Pope Paul VI

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing, some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being.


Text of Pope Francis’ homily at Christmas Mass

This is a beautiful Christmas homily.

There were two parts that particularly spoke to me:

(1) God is in love with our smallness… He made himself small so that we can encounter him.

(2) Do I welcome with warmth the difficulties and problems of those near me, or do I prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective, but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel?

In full: Lord Sacks speech that brought Vatican conference to its feet

Wow. I can see why Lord Sacks got a standing ovation! Dear Readers, please read the whole transcript of the speech. It is beautiful…

Rediscover Catholicism: Quotes (#51-75)

Quotes #1-21 from “Rediscover Catholicism,” by Matthew Kelly.

Quotes #22-50.

As I’ve said before, if you haven’t read it yet, you should.  It may set your soul on fire for our Catholic faith.

  1. There are certain disciplines that are associated with the lifestyle of an athlete that could also be compared with the lifestyle of a Christian.
  2. For the first Christians, Christianity was a lifestyle.
  3. There was unity and continuity between their professional lives and their family lives, between their social lives and their lives as members of the Church.
  4. Many people feel that they need to leave the values and principles of their faith outside certain activities in the same way you leave a coat in a waiting room.
  5. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.  Enkindle in us the fire of your love.  Send forth your spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
  6. The essence of Catholicism is dynamic transformation.
  7. You cannot become more like Jesus Christ and at the same time stay as you are.
  8. God constantly calls us to new life.
  9. As you journey toward your destiny, God intertwines your talents with the needs of others to allow you the privilege of touching them, serving them, and inspiring them as they make their own journey.
  10. [Quoting G.K. Chesteron:] “Christianity has not be tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
  11. “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you should also love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
  12. How I wish that when people discovered you or I are Catholic, they could immediately conclude that we are honest, hardworking, generous, loving, joyful, compassionate, temperate, humble, disciplined, prayerful, and generally in love with life.
  13. [In meeting with Catholic leaders around the world], the same issues seem to emerge consistently: Our parishes are emptying; we lack real contact with the youth; divorce is destroying families, dividing communities, and alienating whole families from Catholicism for generations to come; vocations to the priesthood and religious life are scarce; and the Church is facing a growing marginalization in the wake of an ever-intensifying secularity.
  14. As a Church, we have failed to show them how Jesus, the sacraments, the Gospel, the Eucharist, and Catholic spirituality in general can ease their pain, make them whole again, and bring meaning and purpose to their lives.
  15. The mission of the Church in this age is to share the life-giving gift of the Gospel with the people of our time.
  16. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and only when necessary use words.”  Our culture is hungry for authentic lives.  Let your life speak.
  17. Personal holiness is the answer to every problem.
  18. Holiness is simply the application of the values, principles, and spirit of the Gospel to the circumstances of our everyday lives, one moment at a time.  It is not complicated; it is disarmingly simple.  But simple is not the same as easy.
  19. [Saints] fashion Catholicism into a lifestyle, they listen attentively to the voice of God in their lives, and they passionately pursue their personal adventure of salvation.
  20. The Church… is not so much something we inherit from generations past… as it is something on loan to us from future generations.
  21. Everything the Church does is centered around a celebration.
  22. The spirit of Catholicism is predominantly one of celebration, which is the genius and the fundamental orientation of our faith.
  23. I believe the best way to defend life is to celebrate life.
  24. When Catholicism is the foundation of our family life, our social life, our intellectual life, our spiritual life, our community life, and our professional life, then we will have established an integrated life, a life of integrity.
  25. And if just a handful of people in one place and at one time will give their whole selves to seeking, discovering, embracing, and living this life, they will change the whole course of human history.

Rediscover Catholicism: Quotes (#22-50)

This post is a continuation from the one I published earlier.  Again, if you haven’t already gotten a copy, I highly recommend Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism.”  This book may very well revitalize your love for our faith.  There is genius in Catholicism:

  1. We often do things that we think will make us happy, only to discover that they end up making us miserable.
  2. These moments of happiness are of course real, but only as real as a shadow: A person’s shadow is real, but it is nothing compared to the actual person.
  3. God gave us this yearning for happiness that constantly preoccupy our hearts.  It seems he has placed this yearning within each human heart as a spiritual navigational instrument designed to lead us to our destiny.
  4. The philosophy of Christ is the ultimate philosophy of human happiness.
  5. It is easy to be a follower, but to be a disciple means to be a student — to be humble, docile, and teachable, and to listen.  All this requires discipline.  Christ invites us to a life of discipline not for his sake, but for our sake; not to help him, but to help us; not to make him happy, but to allow us to share in his happiness.
  6. There are four major aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
  7. Christ proposes a life of discipline… as the key to freedom.
  8. We find ourselves enslaved and imprisoned by a thousand different whims, cravings, addictions, and attachments.
  9. [Our culture subscribes to] the adolescent notion that freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want, without interference from any authority.
  10. Freedom is the strength of character and the self-possession to do what is good, true, noble, and right.
  11. Love is the core of Jesus’ philosophy.  But in order to love you must be free.  For to love is to give your self freely and without reservation.
  12. [To] give your self — to another person, to an endeavor, or to God — you must first possess your self.  This possession of self is freedom.  It is a prerequisite for love, and is attained only through discipline.
  13. Before Jesus, the sick were left on the side of the road, left there to rot and die by relatives who feared for their own health.
  14. Education was only for the nobility until the Church recognized and proclaimed the dignity of every human person and introduced the idea that every person deserved an education.
  15. All the worldly success of Christ and the Church are insignificant compared to the change Christ wants to have in you and your life.
  16. Love is our origin and our destiny.
  17. Our quest for happiness is a quest for God.  This is the genius of God.  [It] is the ultimate homing device, designed to draw us gently toward our eternal home.
  18. [Quoting St. Augustine:] “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Lord.”
  19. Christ did not entrust the Church with a social, political, or economic mission, but with a mission that is primarily spiritual.
  20. When we allow the Gospel to transform the way we live and love and work, it elevates every honest human endeavor and every aspect of society.
  21. [God] wants to deliver you from everything that stands in the way of becoming the-best-version-of-yourself.
  22. [God reveals to us our unique pat of salvation through] the relationship between our legitimate needs, our deepest desires, and our talents.
  23. One of the most ancient practices of Christian spirituality is the unveiling of the deepest desires of our hearts through contemplation and reflection.
  24. It is through prayer, reflection, the Scriptures, the grace of the Sacraments, the wisdom of the Church, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we discover and walk the path that God is calling us to walk.
  25. The world and all it has to offer [i.e. pleasure, possessions, power] can never content the human heart.  God alone can satisfy the deepest cravings of our hearts.
  26. It is the task of the Church to introduce us to our destiny by unveiling for us the mystery of God, who is our ultimate end and our destiny.
  27. God invites us to live, and become the-best-version-of-ourselves.
  28. Let us never forget that people do not exist for the Church — the Church exists for people.
  29. It is your task and mine to introduce others to their destiny by unveiling the mystery of God for them.  It is your task and mine to assist all those who cross our paths to fulfill their destiny.  This is one of the brilliant and beautiful ways that God has tied us all together.
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