The Love of God Contrasted with the Love of the World

Leo the GreatSt. Leo the Great: “There are two loves from which all wishes proceed, and they are as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. Therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, so that as sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us….

“As the world attracts us with its appearance and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37),’ He wishes us in nothing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbor also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does. For although ‘we are God’s fellow workers and God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9),’ and ‘neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7),’ yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, so that he who bears God’s image may do God’s will.

“For this reason, in the Lord’s prayer we say most devoutly, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).’ For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and that as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men. And in seeking this we love God, and we also love our neighbor; and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule.” (Leo the Great, Sermon XC, ch. 3, Scripture: RSVCE)

Ecumenism is NOT, by John Paul II

John Paul II“…the Decree on Ecumenism mentions the way of formulating doctrine as one of the elements of a continuing reform. Here it is not…

✝ altering the deposit of faith,
✝ changing the meaning of dogmas,
✝ eliminating essential words from them,
✝ accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age,
✝ or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today.

The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety.

✝ In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth.
✝ In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?”

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On Commitment to Ecumenism
Blessed John Paul II, May 24, 1995
READ THE FULL CHAPTER

“A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers His communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.” John Paul II

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Beauty in the Worship of the Church

The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).”

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“There is so much beauty in the worship of the Church, so much power to fill the mind with great thoughts and lift up the heart to heavenly things, that one who worships within the Mass with devotion cannot but feel in his soul an impulse to holier living. Such is the experience of those especially who begin each day by attending at Mass…they will grow in faith and fervor, and their holiness will be for all a source of edification.

“It is likewise consoling to see in our time a revival of the spirit which, in primitive ages, led the Christian to receive each day “the Bread that came down from heaven (John 6:32-35).” In the Holy Eucharist, the love of Jesus Christ for men passes all understanding. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). A worthy communion unites us with our Saviour, and even transforms our spiritual being, so that we may say with the Apostle: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). As by His continual abiding within the Church, the Church is holy and without blemish, so does the presence of Christ in each soul purify it even as He is pure, and give it power to do all things in Him who strengthens it (Phil. 4:13).

“The sense of our unworthiness may incline us to draw back from the Holy Table; but, as St. Paul tells us: “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). Only sin can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and for sin He has provided a remedy in the Sacrament of His mercy. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Through these two Sacraments, the one given for the healing of our souls, the other for their nourishment, we are established in the life of grace and are “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19). (U.S. Bishops assembled in conference, September, 1919. )

Prayer, Humility and Kindness in the Midst of Affliction

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).

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Ignatius_of_AntiochIgnatius of Antioch: “Pray without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of repentance that they may attain to God. For “cannot he who falls rise again, and he who goes astray return (Jer. 8:4)?” Permit them to be instructed by you. Be the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. For thus says the Lord, “If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth (Jer. 15:19).” Be humble in response to their wrath; oppose their sacrilege with your earnest prayers; while they go astray, be steadfast in the faith (Col 1:23). Conquer their harsh temper by gentleness and their passion by meekness, for “blessed are the meek (Matt. 5:5).” Moses was meek above all men (Num. 12:3), and David was exceedingly meek (Psalm. 131).

“Paul exhorts as follows: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose (2 Tim. 2:24, 25).” Do not seek to avenge yourselves on those who injure you (Rom. 12:19)…” Let us make them brethren by our kindness… let us imitate the Lord, Who “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten (1 Pet. 2:23).” Jesus prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” If any one, the more he is injured, the more he displays patience, he is blessed. If any one is defrauded, if any one is despised, for the name of the Lord, he is truly the servant of Christ. Take heed that no plant of the devil be found among you, for such a plant is bitter. Watch therefore, be sober in Christ Jesus. (Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians in Ephesus, approx. 107-108 A.D., Ch. 10; expanded version of earliest text)

✝ St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pray for Us ✝

The Eucharist: God’s Grace Has More Power Than Nature

“Do not consider the merits of individuals, but the office of the priests. Or, if you look at the merits, consider the priest as Elijah. Look upon the merits of Peter also, or of Paul, who handed down to us this mystery which they had received of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-25). Consider not the bodily forms, but the grace of the Mysteries*. Believe that the Lord Jesus is present at the invocation of the priest… (St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 374-397)

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St. Ambrose: “Perhaps you will say, ‘I see something else, how is it that you say I receive the Body of Christ?’ First of all, the Apostle taught you to, “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).”

Holy-Communion

“…Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and that the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

“Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod (Ex. 4:3, 4). You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. …The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock and water flowed out of the rock (Ex. 17:6). Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water and the water lost its bitterness, which grace suddenly tempered (Ex. 15:25). In the time of Elisha the prophet, one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam (2 Kings 6:3-6). This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

“We see, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet’s blessing. If the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that Divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. If the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:37-39), shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: ‘He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created (Ps. 33:9 LXX**).’ Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to create out of nothing that which never existed, be able to change things which already exist into what they were not? For it is no less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

“Let us use the example… of the Incarnation to prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which was crucified and buried, this then is truly the Sacrament of His Body.

“The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: ‘This is My Body (Matt. 26:26).’ Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood, [‘this is My blood of the covenant] (Matt. 26:28).’ Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood; and when partaking you say, Amen; that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.” (St. Ambrose, excerpts from Concerning the Mysteries, Chapters 2, 3,  5 & 9. Presented during Lent with a possible date of 387 A.D.)

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* Mysteries: The name Mysteries was that by which the sacraments were commonly known in the Early Church. The word Mysteries is still used in the eastern Orthodox Churches and is the equivalent of our word Sacraments. St. Ambrose uses the words interchangeably.

** LXX: Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was the primary Scripture of the early Church and Fathers.