John Paul II on “God is Love”

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“God is love.” These words are contained in the First Letter of St. John (4:16). They are the keystone of the truth about God. That truth is revealed through numerous words and many events until it reaches the full certainty of faith with the coming of Christ. These words faithfully echo Christ’s statement: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Church’s faith reaches its peak in this supreme truth: God is love! In Christ’s Cross and Resurrection he revealed himself definitively as love. “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). The truth that God is love constitutes the apex of all that has been revealed “by the prophets and in these days by the Son,” as the Letter to the Hebrews states (1:1-2). This truth illumines the whole content of Revelation, and particularly the revealed reality of the creation and of the covenant. Creation manifests the omnipotence of God the Creator. But the exercise of omnipotence is definitively explained by means of love. God created because he could do so. But is omnipotence was guided by wisdom and moved by love. This is the work of creation. Redemption has a more powerful eloquence and offers a more radical demonstration. Love remains as the expression of omnipotence in the face of evil, in the face of sin. Only omnipotent love can draw forth good from evil and new life from sin and death.

– St. John Paul II, Discourse at the Vatican, October 2, 1985

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Benedict XVI on Marriage and the Family

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Marriage and the family are not in fact a chance sociological construction, the product of particular historical and financial situations. On the other hand, the question of the right relationship between the man and the woman is rooted in the essential core of the human being and it is only by starting from here that its response can be found. In other words, it cannot be separated from the ancient but ever new human question: Who am I? What is a human being? And this question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God: Does God exist? Who is God? What is His face truly like? The Bible’s answer to these two questions unties them, and makes one a consequence of the other: the human being is created in the image of God, and God Himself is love. It is therefore the vocation to love that makes the human person an authentic image of God: Man and woman come to resemble God to the extent that they become loving people.

– Benedict XVI

Thoughts on Mercy from Nadia Bolz-Weber

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The adjective so often coupled with mercy is the word tender, but God’s mercy is not tender; this mercy is a blunt instrument. Mercy doesn’t wrap a warm, limp blanket around offenders. God’s mercy is the kind that kills the thing that wronged it and resurrects something new in its place. In our guilt and remorse, we may wish for nothing but the ability to rewrite our own past, but what’s done cannot, will not, be undone.

But I am here to say that in the mercy of God it can be redeemed. I cling to the truth of God’s ability to redeem us more than perhaps any other. I have to. I need to. I want to. For when we say “Lord have mercy,” what else could we possibly mean than this truth?

And to say “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” is to lay our hope in the redeeming work of the God of Easter as through our lives depended on it. Because they do. It means that we are an Easter people, a people who know that resurrection, especially in and among the least likely people and places, is the way God redeems even the biggest messes we make…

– Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, stay tuned for book review next week

St. John Chrysostom: What is true beauty?

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“That He might sanctify it having cleaned it,” he continues, “by washing of water with the word; that He might present the Church to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:26-27)

“By the washing or later,” He washes away her impurities. “By the word,” says he. What word? “In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) And He has not simply honored her, but He has made her “glorious, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Let us also, then, strive to attain this beauty ourselves, and we shall be able to create it.

Do not look in your wife for those things which she is unable to possess. Do you see that the Church had all things at her Lord’s hands? By Him she was made glorious, by Him she was made pure, by Him she was made without blemish. Do not turn your back on your wife because of her defects. Listen to what the Scripture says, that ” The bee is little among such as fly, but her fruit is the chief of sweet things.” (Eccl. 11:3) She is made by God. You are not condemning her, but rather the One who made her; what can the a woman do? Do not praise her for her beauty. Praise and hatred and love based on personal beauty come from impure souls. Search after the beauty of the soul. Imitate the Bridegroom of the Church.

Outward beauty is full of conceit and licentiousness, and makes men jealous, and it often makes you imagine monstrous things. But does it give any pleasure? For the first or second month, perhaps, or at most for the year: but then no longer. The admiration fades away through familiarity. Meanwhile the ills which arose from the exterior beauty still remain; the pride, the foolishness, the contemptuousness. However, in one who is not beautiful, none of this is to be found. The love that began on honest grounds still continues ardently, since its object is beauty of the soul and not the body.

What better, tell me, is there than heaven? What better is there than the stars? Describe any body you choose, yet there is none so fair. Tell me of any eyes you want, yet there is none so sparkling. When these were created, the very angels gazed in amazement, and we gaze with wonder now; but not with the same amazement as we did at first. Such familiarity; things do not strike us in the same degree. How much more in the case of the wife! And if by some chance disease comes, too, all is immediately lost.

Look for affection, humility, and gentleness in a wife; these are the signs of beauty. But loveliness of physical features let us not seek, not chastise her for lack of these points over which she has no control. No, rather let us not chastise her at all nor be impatient, nor morose. Don’t you see how many men, often living with beautiful wives, have ended their lives despicably, and how many, who have lived with those of no great beauty, have lived on to extreme old age with great enjoyment? Let us wipe off the “spot” that is written, let us smooth the “wrinkles” that are within, let us do away with the “blemishes” that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires. Let us make her fair in God’s sight not in our own.

– St. John Chrysostom

A Call To Mercy from Mother Teresa

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This lovely book published just in time for the Year of Mercy and Mother Teresa’s canonization contains many previously unpublished stories and quotes by and about the world famous saint. When I read it this weekend, I honestly didn’t know much about her aside from the basic outline of her life and a very short book of quotes from her I read in college. I feel I know her much better now and have some practical tools for how to imitate her in my everyday life.

That might sound strange coming from a stay-at-home mom in New York, but bear with me. This book refers to Mother Teresa as nothing other than “Mother.” Seeing how she interacted with everyone, from the sisters in her order to the poorest person on the streets, there is actually a lot that a biological mother can relate to in this book.

Her example of patience and love can teach a biological mom just as much as it can a spiritual mom. Her struggles are much like our own. For example, several of the stories in the book feature Mother Teresa being up late at night to care for one of the sisters or for one of the poor or sick in their homes. Every biological mother can relate to that!

For everyone, the author, one of her spiritual children Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, breaks down the 7 corporal and the 7 spiritual works of mercy and shares insights from Mother Teresa and about Mother Teresa on how best to live out the calling of Christ.

This would be a great book to take a couple weeks and really meditate on each chapter. Since I did not have that luxury this time around, I can also say that reading it more quickly is also not without merit. I hope to return to this book sometime later, but this time was not a waste.

I got the opportunity to read this book through my membership in Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone. And perhaps buy a copy for your mom or mom-friends as well.

The Name of God is Mercy: A review

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If you haven’t already read it, you should. If you didn’t even know this book was published, what rock have you been living under? I read this book quite a while ago and only came to the realization recently that I had yet written anything about it.

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This picture was taken at my local grocery store, for crying out loud. Can you recall the last time a book by the Pope was sold at a grocery store?

This interview with Pope Francis should be required reading for this Year of Mercy. For people who are very familiar with Pope Francis and already read everything written about him, some of the stories and reflections made in this book will come as no surprise. However, even in these familiar stories, there are new details and there is nothing like hearing these stories in the Pope’s own words.

 

Unfortunately for a generation in search of sound-bites, this book unlike Pope Francis’ speeches doesn’t have very many one-liners. As someone who works in social media, I remember being very disappointed with that. But that is not to say that the book isn’t rich and could serve as a good source of meditation in your prayer time.

It is a good reminder of something we all need to keep in mind: God is love and completely abounding in mercy.

This book is available just about anywhere. It might even still be at your grocery store somewhere. Pick it up and read it, especially before the end of the Year of Mercy.

 

 

Theology of the Body Thursday # 37:Women Need Abortion?

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I’m currently working on a blog enumerating the many, many ways that the assertion that “Women need abortion in order to be successful” is unspeakably insulting to… well… everyone, I want to concentrate today on that assertion from a Theology of the Body perspective.

Where do I start? The statement is so irredeemably screwed up. So, I’m going to limit myself to the idea that we are made to be gifts. An abortion is in many ways a refusal of the gift.

It is a refusal of the gift of the male who gave himself to the woman in the sexual act.

It is a refusal of the gift of fertility, that women were made with the awesome ability to bring new life into the world.

Of course, most obviously, it is a refusal of the child, a gift from God violently sent back to its Maker because it wasn’t the right time or the couple had “better” things to do.

“This likeness [to God] reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”

-Gaudium et Spes

The statement that “Women need to have the right to an abortion in order to be successful” is a huge insult to the gift. It says implicitly that women don’t want the gift of fertility. They certainly don’t want the gift of a child. That children are a burden and motherhood is a pointless endeavor. That our plans and desires are more important than morality and success can only be measured by dollar signs and fancy titles.

This idea cannot be any more incompatible with the fact we can only find ourselves through a sincere gift of ourselves.

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