By CUF Staff | September 3, 2013
General: That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.
Mission: That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may by their witness be prophets of Christ’s love.
By CUF Staff | August 29, 2013
When John began preaching repentance, many were probably not sure exactly why. There were many messianic and apocalyptic expectations among the Jewish people of this time, and seeing a striking figure like John would raise the question, “Is he the one we expect? On what authority does he act?”
“Who are you?” the priests and Levites ask. John immediately says that he is not the Christ, i.e., the Messiah. He has not come to redeem or deliver the people, but to prepare them for the One Who will: Jesus. This provokes the next question.
“What then? Are you Elijah?” Certain interpretations of Malachi 4:5 and Sirach 48:1-10 led to the popular belief that Elijah would literally return to anoint the Messiah. John denies that he is Elijah literally returned, in spite of the probable resemblance, based on an extended stay in the desert, his clothing, and his zeal. John is the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:57-63) and not Elijah actually returning from the sky in a fiery chariot (cf. 2 Kings 2:11).
When Jesus calls John “Elijah,” He means that John fulfills the words of Malachi and Sirach. John is a “new” Elijah, proclaiming with fiery zeal the advent of Christ and the need for repentance. John emulates Elijah in spirit and as prophet (Lk. 1:17), but he is not the historical figure of 2 Kings.
“Are you the prophet?” Based on Deuteronomy 11:15, many expected the Messiah to be a “new Moses” who would teach the law of God to His people. John, although he is truly a prophet in the spirit of Elijah, rightly denies that he is the new Moses. The prophet is actually Jesus, whom Moses and others foretold. Jesus perfectly fulfills the Mosaic role, preaching the law of charity (e.g., Matthew 5-7, 22:37-40) and redeeming the world through His own life-giving act of charity (cf. Jn. 15:13; Is. 53).
Church Fathers, like Pope St. Gregory the Great, have always held up John as an example of great humility and truth. Although he was the prophet of the Messiah’s advent, he did not make arrogant claims about his unquestionably important role; rather, he simply called himself “the voice crying out in the wilderness,” the herald of deliverance from captivity (cf. Is. 40:3). Such a voice is heard, but gives way or bows to the event greater than the voice. Deliverance is greater than the message that deliverance is coming, so St. John the Baptist humbly states, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:27-30).
This Faith Fact can be accessed here at cuf.org.
By CUF Staff | August 28, 2013
Emmaus Road author Dan Burke was recently interviewed on an episode of EWTN’s Bookmark to discuss his book Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God.
For more information on ordering this bestseller, click here.
By CUF Staff | August 28, 2013
Today is the feast of St. Augustine, a Doctor of the Church and author of one of the most widely-read works on spirituality, Confessions. Over the years, some mainline Protestant theologians have tried to attribute to Augustine a theology of the Eucharist that denies the belief of Christ’s true presence. Is this reading of Augustine at all accurate?
CUF’s Faith Fact “St. Augustine’s Real Faith in the Real Presence” addresses the question thoroughly.
Catholics believe, and have always believed, that Christ is present spiritually and symbolically. The difference is that neither ancient nor modern Catholics hold that the Presence is merely spiritual or symbolic in the Protestant sense. Jesus Christ is present in body, blood, soul, and divinity as the Eucharist — or more simply, the Eucharist is Jesus Christ (c.f. Catechism nos. 1373-1381). If the “spiritual” and “symbolic” passages from the writings of the Church Fathers were returned to their larger context, the misunderstanding would be solved.
Specifically regarding St. Augustine, the previous quotes and those noted below provide the larger context and meaning of his teachings. St. Augustine certainly believed that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Christ was carried in His Own hands when, referring to His Own body, He said, “This is My body.” For He carried that body in His hands (Explanations of the Psalms 33, 1, 10).
[Jesus] received earth from earth; because flesh is from the earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he first adores it… and not only do we not sin by adoring [His flesh], we do sin by not adoring (Explanations of the Psalms 98, 9).
I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table, which you now look upon and of which last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the Word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the Word of God, is the blood of Christ…. What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ (Sermons 227).
The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ’s body (Sermons 234, 2).
St. Augustine did not endorse idolatry when he taught his readers to adore the Eucharist before eating — which the Church still does today (Catechism no. 1378). He really believed and taught that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. Because of the Real Presence, we must adore Him.
Read the Faith Fact in its entirety here.
By CUF Staff | August 27, 2013
Emmaus Road Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of our newest title: Chesterton is Everywhere by David Fagerberg. In this charming collection of essays, the author looks at life through the lens of a most beloved Catholic writer: the incomparable Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
Examining topics ranging from domesticity to dogma, Fagerberg introduces readers to the marvelous mind of G.K. Chesterton and reveals our indebtedness to the man who has helped hundreds of Catholics and converts alike grasp more firmly truth, beauty, and goodness–ultimately found in the perfection of God.
Chesterton is Everywhere is a sheer joy to read! Click the link for more information: http://www.emmausroad.org/Chesterton-Is-Everywhere–P11950.aspx.
By CUF Staff | August 23, 2013
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Rose of Lima, who dedicated her life to prayer and severe mortifications. Not surprisingly considering her beloved model of faith was Catherine of Siena, Rose became a Third Order Dominican and took a vow of celibacy, despite her parent’s urgent wish that she marry.
According to her biography found here:
For many years Rose lived virtually as a recluse. There was a little hut in the family garden, and this she used as an oratory. She often wore on her head a circlet of silver studded on the inside with sharp points, in memory of the Lord’s crown of thorns. Other forms of penitence which she inflicted on her body were floggings, administered three times daily, the wearing of a hair shirt, and the dragging of a heavy, wooden cross about the garden. She rubbed her lips with gall and often chewed bitter herbs to deaden the sense of taste. Both eating and sleeping were reduced to a minimum. Naturally her health was affected, but the physical disorders which resulted from this regime-stomach ailments, asthma, rheumatism, and fevers-were suffered uncomplainingly. This manner of life offended her family, who preferred their daughter to follow the more conventional and accepted ways of holiness. Finally, when Rose began to tell of visions, revelations, visitations, and voices they deplored her penitential practices more than ever. She endured their disapproval and grew in spiritual fortitude.
Rose died at the age of 31.
As patroness of America, St. Rose of Lima is a special intercessor for us. By her intercession, may the people of the Americas grow in love and devotion of our Lord and increase in the virtues that were so beloved of St. Rose.
By CUF Staff | August 1, 2013
General: That parents and teachers may help the new generation to grow in upright conscience and life.
Mission: That the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice.
By CUF Staff | July 30, 2013
Eric Stoutz, director of CUF’s Catholic Responses department, has recently been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Eric and his wife Monica both want God to bring great good out of their situation. They ask for prayers for their eight children as they learn to carry this burden.
Please join Catholics United for the Faith in praying for our dear friend who has faithfully served Christ through the past 17 years in this apostolate.
Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God’s Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen.
By CUF Staff | July 29, 2013
Is your family trying to fit in one last excursion before the end of summer? Homemaker and mother Mary Ann Kuharski shares a few ideas for families who want to make the most of the season. Whether the plans are simple or extravagant, here are some tips she and her family have learned to keep leisure in their lives:
- Reserve Sundays to pray and play together. Attend Mass as a family, and then plan something special-even if it’s just an evening together with cards or games after dinner.
- If you can’t afford a trip away, try visits to a local park, pool, lake, museum, or zoo. Your children will remember it.
- If your vacation days are few, don’t let outsiders interfere. This is your time with your children. Don’t let them pair off with friends and miss the opportunity of being with you!
- Children, even the very young, can help save for a family outing. It gives them a sense of participation and responsibility. Plus, they’re far more frugal when they’re paying!
- Education can be interesting and fun! Even kids get tired of amusement parks and wave pools. They enjoy the historical and cultural (if not overdone). What better way to learn about history, geography, and social studies!
- Experiencing America’s history reveals the depth of our founders’ patriotism-a freedom they were willing to die for-as well as their deep faith in Almighty God. Our founders and early settlers sought God’s assistance in all that they undertook. If we don’t tell our children, how will they know?
- Pray as you go. This is the best witness we can give to our children about our own faith and gratitude for all that God has bestowed on us. If possible, begin your travel days with daily Mass and say the Rosary in the car as you travel (nothing like a captive audience, and it adds calm to a car ride!). Watch for the miracles! God will never be outdone in generosity!
- Visit MassTimes.org to find parishes in your vacation area. Be sure to double check that the Mass schedule is current by visiting the parish’s website or calling ahead of time, as the times listed on MassTimes.org are not always up-to-date.
From the Lay Witness archives.
By CUF Staff | July 11, 2013
This issue provides commentary and guidance on one of the greatest cultural battles of our time: Marriage. William B. May, author of the award-winning Getting the Marriage Conversation Right, contributes to this issue, as well as Bishop Michael Sheridan, David Prosen, Maura Colleen McKeegan, and many more.