Monthly Archives: September 2013

Vatican Council II – Revisiting its Documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium Part III

This is a multi-part series honouring the Vatican Council II by reviewing its documents.  We continue with a review of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  Previous segments can be found by clicking on Part I and Part II.

Part III: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

Chapter 1: General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of 
the Sacred Liturgy

As mentioned last week, Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was intended to provide practical direction for those assigned to reform the Liturgy, while Mediator Dei sought to educate those celebrating the Liturgy and making decisions in its regard, especially Bishops and the leaders of the Liturgical Movement. Consequently, Mediator Dei provided a rather thorough and practical explanation of the nature and purpose of the Liturgy and the theology behind it. It it’s turn, the Constitution focused it’s liturgical theology on Scripture and the Liturgy as the celebration of the Paschal Mystery — that is, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ —, a theme that flows throughout the document.

The term ‘Paschal Mystery’ comes from Biblical language, and is most often used to describe the Mass, which is the celebration and memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. It’s used to more clearly describe Christ’s redemptive act, which is continued in the activity of the Church. The term underlines the victorious character of Easter at the heart of Christianity and of the work of the Church.

Now, Mediator Dei had already clearly defined Liturgy (no. 20) and explained its Christological origins (nos. 1-3, 17-20). This had been necessary in virtue of the uniqueness of the document, as well as to fight the errors and excesses in certain aspects of the Liturgical Movement. What it said wasn’t new, but it needed to be said clearly, in a way all could understand, in a document all could access. Mediator Dei defined the sacred Liturgy as: “The public worship which our Redeemer as Head of the Church renders to the Father as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through Him to the Heavenly Father” (no. 20).

The Council’s Constitution seems to presume this definition in its own description: The “sacred liturgy is principally the worship of the divine majesty” (no. 33). “[I]t is an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church […by which…] we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy” (no. 7).It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs” (no. 7). Through it, “the faithful are enabled to express their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church” (no. 2). (To be continued…)

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Homily – Sunday OT 25 C

Amos 8:4-7
Ps 113       R/.  Praise the Lord who lifts up the needy.
1 Tim 2:1-7
Lk 16:1-13

Of all the parables Luke gives us in his Gospel, today’s is likely the hardest to understand.  Even Biblical scholars find it hard to fully grasp.  That’s because Jesus is a bit confusing.  He tells us to be good stewards of the gifts God gives us (cf. Lk 19:11-27), yet here we find Him praising the dishonest manager (cf. Lk 16:8-9).

Well, like any passage in the Bible, when we take it on it’s own, it’s confusing and open to manipulation.  But if we keep it within it’s context, within the whole Book from which it comes, within the whole of the Bible itself, then it opens up to a deeper meaning.  When we read today’s Gospel in the context of Luke’s entire Gospel, the parable becomes clearer.

In calling us to make friends … by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes (v. 9), Jesus isn’t asking us to be dishonest or immoral.  It doesn’t make sense for Jesus to ask us to sin.  What He is telling us is to use our gifts, wealth, talents, time, to the benefit of our salvation.  A few weeks ago in chapter 14 of Luke, we heard Jesus telling His disciples: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous’ (Lk 14:12-14).

And in chapter 19 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we must ‘invest’ our gifts to make them multiply.  Not so that we might become wealthy in earthly terms, but so that we might become wealthy with God’s grace.

You see, Jesus is inviting us to be generous with our material possessions so as to make friends who will repay us at the resurrection.  He means that by sharing our gifts and possession with the poor, we gain ‘important debtors’ who will repay us with love, with gratitude, with prayer.  He means that by being generous now, in this life, we gain important friends who will speak on our behalf when we’re called to judgement, because God hears the cry of the poor, [He] raises [them] from the dust … to make them sit with princes (Ps 113:7, 8).  We cannot be attached to this life, to riches, to our possessions, and ignore the poor.

How we live now will determine where we live after death.  Jesus makes it clear throughout the Gospels that there is no place in Heaven for the greedy, the selfish, the hateful.  By being generous, by serving, and by loving, we grow in charity and the Kingdom of God is built within us and through us.

By serving God with our whole being — with our actions, our words, our gifts, our talents, our possessions — we devote ourselves to Him and will be rewarded with the gifts of salvation and eternal life.  Now this isn’t about being self-serving, about giving so that we might receive.  The fact that God will bless us when we’re generous to others in their need is simply God’s math; it’s the economics of salvation.  Sowing generosity and charity produces a harvest rich in righteousness and holiness.

But this generosity must be done as a response to God’s love.  We have because God’s given to us, and He gives to us so that we might participate in His work of blessing others.  Are we, then, sharing the blessings God has given us?  Are we sharing them enough?  Are we being shrewd in our investments for eternal life?  Are we investing in the poor around us?  Or are we simply working for more money, and more possessions for ourselves?

Too often we get caught up in the immediate material realities of this world, in the spirit of this world.  May we not forget that we’re made for generosity, love and holiness; that we’re destined not for earth bur for Heaven; that we’re to live now in Christ so as to be with Him for eternity.  May this be the treasure of our hearts, the ambition of our lives.  Amen.


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Vatican Council II – Revisiting its Documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium Part II

This is a multi-part series honouring the Vatican Council II by reviewing its documents.  We continue with a review of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Part II: Historical Background, Pius XII and Mediator Dei

In 1947, Pope Pius XII issued Mediator Dei (Mediator of God), an encyclical devoted entirely to the sacred Liturgy. It was both a push forward for renewal and a correction of the frequent excesses of some reformers in the Liturgical Movement. As a corrective and steering document, it gave much attention to the theological aspects of the Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Priesthood, and pious devotions. The Pope wanted to educate his readers on the origins, the nature, and the reasons behind established liturgical norms and practices, and to correct false activities and beliefs by providing sound teachings and direction for everyone to follow.

The encyclical is divided into four topics: a) the nature and source of the Liturgy; b) the Mass; c) the Divine Office and the liturgical year; and, d) pastoral directives regarding renewal.

As a result, the Liturgical Movement grew stronger. Proper renewal could now be carried out with full Magisterial support, provided it followed sound theology and the new guidelines. Fifteen years later, during Vatican Council II, the Liturgical Movement was, in a sense, fulfilled. The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, issued in December 1963, didn’t so much provide education and corrections like Pius XII, but instead created norms for liturgical reform.

Intended for a kind of ‘reform committee’, the Constitution, at first glance, seems to lack much of the theological discussion found in Pius XII’s letter. It’s not that theological language is absent in the Constitution, but that it’s less definite and more subtle. That’s because, in terms of Liturgy, the Council set out to deal not with theology and doctrine, but with practice. Nonetheless, the Constitution is a profound document that has had a more visible impact on Liturgy than Mediator Dei — an even greater impact, I think, than what the Council Fathers themselves had envisioned.

The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy is divided into seven chapters: a) general principles for restoration; b) the Eucharist; c) other Sacraments; d) the Divine Office; e) the liturgical year; f) sacred music; and, g) sacred art.

As the topics reveal, both documents dealt with similar issues, at times even saying similar things. In fact, in certain aspects of theology, it’s obvious that the Council presumed the contents of Mediator Dei, not troubling to repeat them, and at times even building upon them, but without ever mentioning it. In the following weeks, I will summarise the contents of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (To be continued…)

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Homily – Sunday OT 24 C

It was my Deacon’s turn to preach this weekend, so I didn’t give a homily.  Nonetheless, I thought it would be good to post the homily I gave 3 years ago on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, year C.

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14
Ps 51:1-2, 10-11, 15, 17         R/.  I will get up and go to my Father.
1 Tm 1:12-17
Lk 15:1-10

I’m glad that I get to preach this weekend, because rarely do we get readings that fit so well together as they do today.  In the four pieces of Scripture — the first reading, the Psalm, the second reading, and the Gospel — we find the essence of the on-going drama of the human story: the dynamic of sin and conversion.

Sin has deeply wounded our capacity for love and joy, and we often find ourselves looking for them in all the wrong places.  Like the Israelites, we, too, are quick to set up idols hoping they’ll bring us happiness.  Maybe we don’t cast golden calves anymore, but how often do we find ourselves looking for happiness in money, power or sex?  Sin has scarred us so deeply that we don’t even have to try for this to happen; it’s become almost ‘natural’ for us to turn away from God.  We, too, are often a stiff-necked (Ex 32:9) people.

But we shouldn’t let this destroy our hope; like the Israelites in the desert, we’ve got someone who implores God on our behalf, and someone who’s far greater than Moses (cf. Ex 32:11f).  Jesus has shown us the One True God and that it is possible, with His grace, to remain faithful to God’s love.

God loves us, and wants us be with Him — not only later in heaven, but now, here, on earth.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tm 1:15); He came to save us, not to condemn us (cf. Jn 12:47).  He welcome[d] sinners and [ate] with them (Lk 15:2) not because He was ‘non-judgemental’ and ‘tolerant’, but because He loved them and was calling them to conversion.  Eating with them was a way of showing that He valued them and loved them.  It was a concrete way of going after the lost sheep, of searching for the lost coin.

Each one of us, no matter what we’ve done, is far too precious in the eyes of God to be abandoned to the darkness of sin.  Jesus died on the Cross for every person, throughout all of history, including each of us here today.  Each of us is precious and valuable in the eyes of God, and He wants us to be with Him, to turn back to Him: He went even to the depths of Hell to bring His lost sheep home.

In seeking us out, Jesus calls us to conversion and wants to strengthen us with His grace.  But conversion isn’t so much an event as a process, an encounter that turns into a relationship.  If we look at Paul’s dramatic conversion, it took place not so much because he saw the Risen Jesus and heard His voice, but because He listened to His voice and responded to it.  Paul spent time with Jesus and came to know Him, and so was able to give Him his heart and remain in His love.  ‘Remaining with Jesus’, this is the essence of conversion, and it requires a choice, an on-going choice: everyday we need to turn to Jesus, and, unlike sin, we need to put some work into it.

Grace isn’t magic, it builds on nature, so for grace to be really effective we need to work with it and allow it to work in us.  To be converted, we need to let ourselves be brought back; we need to turn our hearts to God, and work with His grace to remain faithful to His love.  In order to do that, we need to meet with Him, to listen to His voice; we need to make ourselves available for His love and grace to work in us.  Making time for prayer and reading Scripture, and going to Confession on a regular basis will go a long way in this process.  There’s also Eucharistic Adoration, spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  This week we begin our regular weekly Thursday time of Adoration.  The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed from 10am to 10pm, and I strongly encourage you to come and spend some time with Jesus, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

There is indeed joy before the Angels of God over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:10), and there should be joy in our hearts, too, when our lost brothers and sisters return to God.  (We shouldn’t be grumbling like the Scribes and Pharisees.)  But we don’t need to wait for them to be brought back: we can help Jesus seek out His lost sheep.

Along with making ourselves available for meeting Jesus, we also need to allow our love for Him to be expressed.  Now this can be done in a variety of ways, but whether it’s through acts of service or some other form, what’s important is that we receive others with love and acknowledge their value and dignity as children of God.  God loves everyone and finds them precious, so much so that He gave His only Son for them; we need to love them and see them as precious, too.  By following Jesus’ example and treating everyone we meet with love and dignity (because God loves them), we become instruments of His saving work.

The grace of our Lord really does [overflow] … with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Tm 1:14).  By our own conversion, may we become channels of that grace.  Amen.

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Vatican Council II – Revisiting its Documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium Part I

The following is the first of a multi-part series that I’m writing for my weekly parish bulletin, in which I review and summarise the documents of Vatican Council II  in honour its 50th anniversary.  It’s by no means comprehensive!  I have limited space in the bulletin, and its intended to be a rather basic overview of the documents.  The summaries are rooted in research papers I wrote while at the seminary, but as they’re basic, I’m not including footnotes or references.  I would be happy to receive any feedback, or even corrections, should I be unclear or in error.

I begin with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

*        *        *

On October 11, 1962, the second Vatican Council was launched. Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of this event.  This December we celebrate the promulgation of the Council’s first document: the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, a document that impacted us greatly.  With that in mind, the next several Pastor’s Messages will unpack its content.

Part I: Historical Background

The French Revolution left a great spiritual void in Europe.  The two previous centuries focused almost exclusively on man and his ability to think, ignoring his spiritual needs.  From this barren soil, counter-movements began to sprout and heresies were revived.  The Neo-Gallican movement promoted vernacular liturgies, and rejected Papal authority and Church universality, opting instead for an essentially ‘local Church’.  Jansenists taught predestination, greater local authority, and promoted a fervent rigorism to the detriment of the Sacraments.  In the midst of all these currents, grew the seed of what is now known as the Liturgical Movement.

Dom Prosper Guéranger, osb.

Dom Prosper Guéranger, osb.

A diocesan Priest turned Benedictine monk, Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875) sought to renew the Roman Liturgy according to the intentions set out by Tradition and by the Council of Trent, and in doing so, to counter the errors of his day.  Beginning with his own monastery, he restored the choral recitation of the Divine Office, and the use of Gregorian chant and Latin as proper to the Liturgy.  He also worked to deepen the theological understanding of Liturgy and the Sacraments, and strongly proposed the Liturgy as something to be lived.  This was accompanied by a study of the Church Fathers, Scholastic thought, and Scripture.  His zeal and agenda quickly spread to other monasteries across Europe.

Though the Movement’s intention was to restore and renew the Liturgy, many over the next century wandered from this and began to experiment and re-form.  New concepts were introduced and Traditions were ignored.  Neo-Gallicanism greatly damaged the concept of Church universality, and Jansenism all but forbade the reception of Communion.  For others, too much emphasis on the Liturgy as public prayer discouraged and even removed devotional practices.  This was the beginning of a liturgical minimalism that has lasted up to recent years.

In 1903, Pope St. Pius X intervened to bring balance back to the movement.  He wrote three documents and made Gregorian Chant the official style of music for Mass, encouraged congregational singing, encouraged frequent reception of Communion, and reformed the Breviary.  Pius XII issued Mediator Dei (1947), the first encyclical devoted to the Liturgy.  Though often criticised as being late, it set out to validate the Liturgical Movement and set parameters for its work.  It was both a push forward for renewal and a correction of the frequent excesses of reform.  (To be continued…)

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Homily – Sunday OT 23 C

In my homilies I always try to stick very closely to the Scriptures of the day or to the special feast or season being celebrated.  But this weekend, given the extraordinary nature of the Pontiff’s call to fast and pray for peace in Syria (and throughout the world), and given the strength and beauty of his words, I am not giving my own homily.  Instead I have chosen to read Pope Francis’ homily from the prayer vigil.

His words are the strongest, most emotional, call for peace that I can remember hearing in my short lifetime; they moved me to tears.  After reading this homily, I can’t think of anything else I would want to say to my parishioners.  Below is the official English translation taken from Vatican Information Services.  May we all ponder on these words for many days, months, years to come.  May peace and love reign in our hearts!  Mary, Queen of Peace: pray for us!

*        *       *

“’And God saw that it was good’. The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: ‘it is good’. This, dear brothers and sisters, allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message. We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?

“It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the ‘house of harmony and peace’, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel ‘at home’, because it is ‘good’. All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation. God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

“But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also ‘violence, division, disagreement, war’. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.

“When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict. This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid, he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh; he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to ‘disharmony’? Can we say this: that from harmony he passes to ‘disharmony’? No, there is no such thing as ‘disharmony’; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear.

“It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’. We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill. What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us! And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!

“After the chaos of the Flood, when it stopped raining, a rainbow appeared and the dove returned with an olive branch. I think also of the olive tree which representatives of various religions planted in Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires, in 2000, asking that there be no more chaos, asking that there be no more war, asking for peace.

“And at this point I ask myself: Is it possible to walk the path of pace? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow – I think of the children, look upon these – look upon your brother’s sorrow, and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this not by conflict but by encounter! May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: ‘No more one against the other, no more, never! … war never again, never again war!’. ‘Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love’. Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! Amen”.

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Homily – Sunday OT 22 C

Sir 3:17-20, 28-29
Ps 68   R/.  In your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a
Lk 14:1, 7-14

One of the major themes that flow from this Sunday’s readings is humility.  It’s mentioned four times in the first reading, and it’s at the core of the story Jesus recounts in the Gospel.  Humility, a word we don’t hear enough these days.  Well, that’s probably because we too often misunderstand it, and we don’t like it because of that.

You see, for most people today, humility means self-abasement or self-degradation; it means thinking poorly of yourself.  I think we too often confuse it with low self-esteem and belittling.  And that’s too bad!  Because that’s not at all what humility is!

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the root-word of humility was humus, which is Latin for soil.  And maybe this is where the misunderstanding began, as people thought Thomas spoke of humility is being like dirt.  But that’s not what Thomas meant.  He meant that humility is being lowly, keeping close to the dirt, not because one is like dirt, but rather in opposition to being lofty, or exalted.  And when we understand this, then we can begin to properly understand the true sense of the virtue of humility.

The dictionary defines humility as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance”, and this is true, but it’s really only half of it.  Humility, in a Catholic sense, means recognising and accepting the truth, the truth of who we are before God.  It means recognising our talents, but also our weaknesses; it means accepting our successes, but also our failures.  It means not thinking better (or lesser!) of ourselves than we are, but accepting ourselves, without any pretensions, recognising that our talents and successes are gifts of God, and not of our own makings.

Humble  Christ

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, emptied himself (cf. Phil 2:5-11).

This is why humility is a remedy to both pride and lack of self-worth; it balances them out with truth and modesty.  This is why Sirach tells us to perform [our] tasks with humility (v. 17), or why he says that, The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself (v. 18).  Humility keeps us in the truth about ourselves, and it opens us up to God.

As we recognise that our talents, strengths, and even opportunities are gifts of God, and that we have significant weaknesses and faults, then we also begin to recognise honestly our need for God’s grace.  As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (1 Cor 4:7).

And now we can begin to see why humility is such an important virtue.  It keeps our hearts and minds fixed on the grace of God as the source of our strengths, and the source of help in our weakness.  Humility makes it possible for us to rely on God, and it makes it possible for His grace to work in us.  This is why elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus tells us: learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29).

The more we grow in humility, the more we are open to grace and the gifts of God, and the more capable we are of being charitable to others.  So the question, then, is how do we grow in humility?

Well, like any virtue, it’s something that built up through grace, effort and practice.  So, like in all things spiritual, then, the first step toward humility is prayer; spending time with God to get to know the depths of His love for us, the immensity of His mercy and forgiveness.  This will open our hearts to God’s love and help us to learn to trust Him.

Tied to this is the second step: a daily examination of conscience.  By daily looking at our actions and our heart we come to recognise our sinfulness, which helps us to know how much we do in fact need God’s grace and mercy.

The third step is Confession, which flows from this last.  Once we recognise our sins, then we need to confess them, sacramentally.  This gives us grace, and by confronting our sins and taking responsibility for them, we also grow in our capacity to recognise and accept our weaknesses.  When we take our faith life seriously, regular Confession should happen about once every 6-8 weeks; more if we’re dealing with a particular issue.

Humility is a virtue that keeps us to close to God, by keeping us in touch with reality.  It helps us to recognise our weakness, but also God’s love, and it helps us to depend completely on this love.  That’s why the Saints have told us that this virtue is necessary for salvation: there are no proud people in Heaven, only humble saints.

May we grow, then in this virtue, as commend ourselves to the grace and mercy of Christ.  Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine!  Amen.

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