In his Angelus address, Pope Francis said: “the Eucharist is like the ‘burning bush’ in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates itself.” The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Trinitarian Love, where God humbly makes himself present to us.
In the Eucharist, God the Father “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world… that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). The Father feeds his children by giving them true bread from heaven, which is Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:32), under the appearance of ordinary food. Secondly, God the Son shows us the greater love, that he lays down his life for us on the Cross (John 15:13), re-presented to us in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Finally, God the Holy Spirit bonds us to Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, where we enter into and experience the Father’s love for Christ, Christ’s love for the Father, and their love for each one of us.
We need to correspond to this love. We correspond to the Father’s love by making many acts of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. One way we can do this is by stopping by the church sometime during the day to greet our Lord in the tabernacle or to spend some time in silent adoration. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time, just long enough to show the Father that we believe in the real presence of Christ in the Host: “he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:37,47). By this we experience the Father’s great love for each one of us, and we will sense that he is actively providing for our needs and protecting us from all dangers.
We correspond to the Son’s love for us by attending Holy Mass with great faith and piety. How much it means to our Lord when we go to just one extra Mass during the week. It is a sacrifice, but how can we compare it to the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us by dying for us on the Cross. If he loved us in this way, I can assure you that he will more than repay us for the sacrifice we make by attending Holy Mass. Efforts to attend Mass with greater attention and devotion will manifest that love even more.
And what better way is there to correspond to the Holy Spirit’s love for us in Communion that to receive our Lord well? Making a good confession—cleaning up our soul—embracing a life of virtue, and offering spiritual sacrifices such as work offered to God out of love, invites our Lord into our soul and into our body with an attractive disposition. Frequent confession and fighting temptations to sin, tells our Lord that we are united in heart and spirit to him. Then there will be no barriers to that spiritual oneness as we become one body with him in Holy Communion.
Making Spiritual Communions is a wonderful devotion, wherein we manifest our faith in the Real Presence—thus we feed our soul and prepare ourselves spiritually to receive him. Another way to prepare ourselves to receive him well is by arriving early to Mass and to unite our sacrifices and our intentions to the gifts to be offered on the altar. In this way we offer our body, our work, our efforts to live our faith so that the Holy Spirit may unite that all to Christ at Holy Communion.
Corpus Christi is the feast of our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity really present under the appearance of bread and wine. It is a feast of thanksgiving for the Sacrament of Trinitarian Love for each of us. Let us discover how to correspond to this great gift of Love!
Fr. John R. Waiss
We celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the day when God the Father communicated the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in Christ’s name (see John 14:26), and, just a few days ago, some of our parishioners, school and CCD students received His outpouring in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
After the gift of Baptism (whereby we become God’s children) and the Eucharist (whereby we become one body with Christ), Confirmation is the greatest Gift—the gift of God’s Spirit—whereby God’s New Life comes to dwell in us, conferring upon us a share in Christ mission. This Sacrament gives our lives purpose, a reason to keep living as Confirmation calls us to nurture the new life of grace in us so as to bring others to the joy of knowing true Love: Jesus Christ.
Consider the apostles’ joy on Pentecost. They were “drunk” with the Holy Spirit. All fear and sadness had disappeared as the Holy Spirit moved them to preach the Gospel with boldness to their fellow Jews (see Acts 2). He gives us this same joy at Confirmation as we are sent forth. This joy keeps arising in us over and over again as we serve others, especially when we share our Faith with others; when we see our shared Faith take root in them, bringing them the joy we have received. Graduation is a similar kind of moment. We have eighth graders graduating on to high school, seniors graduating on to college, and college students graduating on to “real” life. This fills them and their families with great joy. With graduation there is a real sense that each on of them is being sent forth anew; they are now ready for new challenges and new opportunities to witness to Christ in a world antithetical to their Catholic Faith.
Just as our Lord prepared his disciples to take on the responsibility to bear witness to him (see John 15:26-27), St. Mary of the Angels’ families and school has been preparing our young people for their mission in the world as witnesses to Christ. Along with the Faith, we have been preparing our young men and women by teaching them the three R’s: “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic” as well as a smattering of History, Science, Foreign or Classical Languages, and perhaps Calculus, in due time. These give our young people the ability to speak to and to engage the world on its own terms.
As we share the joy of our young people as they are being sent forth, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide them and set them on fire with love for God and their neighbor. May Today’s good citizens of the family, community, and Church become Tomorrow’s good spouse-parents, friend-leaders, and saint-apostles. May they too have an impact on their family, friends, and the world.
Fr. John R. Waiss
Your Feedback is Needed!
Fundraising Feasibility and Planning Study… Beginning May 28 – closing on June 4th
St. Mary of the Angels is contemplating a major capital campaign to raise the funds to finish the restoration of the church, and of the school building. We are asking all of our parishioners to participate.
Please go on the online webpage to read about our proposed project and complete a brief, online questionnaire. *Please complete only one survey per household
A very special thank you……
Thank you for your ongoing support of our church and for your helpful feedback. This will enable us to do God’s will and work more fully, realizing our God-given potential as a family of faith.
St. Mary of the Angels, 1850 Hermitage Ave Chicago, IL 60622, 773-278-2644, www.sma-church.org
Ignorance is bliss… so think many. But they say this because they really want to do what they want to do. Ignorance only excuses a person who has invincible ignorance, which happens when a person has no possibility of knowing about the morality of an action. This is most common among children and very uneducated people.
What if an engineer said ignorance is bliss? He designed a built a beautiful bridge, a design that everyone praises. Then an earthquake strikes the city, the bridge collapses, and many lives are lost. In the enquiry after the event, the judges discover that the engineer didn’t do a seismic study of his design before building the bridge… because he didn’t know how. Would everyone excuse him for his ignorance? No, of course not. He should have known, that was his job. At least he should have hired a consultant who could have done the seismic study for him. The same is true about doctors who diagnose illnesses: it is their job to know.
To have the freedom to make good moral decisions, each is obligated to form his/her conscience well. The duty to form the conscience takes priority over the duty to follow the conscience enlightened by truth. Formation is God’s way to enlighten the conscience. As Jesus says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). Truth frees our conscience.
Discovering and Overcoming Ignorance and Bad Formation
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches what happens without reliable formation:
“Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct” (CCC 1792).
“If… the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience” (CCC 1793).
If a person is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the person does not bear the guilt of the evil act. Yet the act itself remains evil, and the person eventually must confront the evil and take responsibility for his acts.
per example, there was a handsome young college student who had been a good athlete in high school. His father taught him that the way you deal with women is to conquer them. This is what he did throughout high school and college.
One day this student met a girl who—as he described her—was beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside. He realized that if he were to conquer this girl he would destroy her beauty. It was at that moment that he fully discovered the erroneous formation he had received. He began to rediscover and study his faith, which totally changed his life. He learned the freedom of true love.
So, true and certain knowledge—good formation—is freedom. It allows the conscience to choose what is good. This is why it is so important to form one’s conscience well, to acquire true knowledge of what is good or evil, of what will make us free. Freedom of conscience mean freedom to follow one’s well-formed conscience, freedom to do what is right—no one should be force to act against his conscience (see CCC 1782), which is freedom to love.
Fr. John R. Waiss
The Church highly values and respects God’s gift of conscience. Through the conscience God lights up the pathway to doing his will with the light of truth, the truth of the goodness and evil of our actions.
When we seek to follow God’s will, the light of truth shines upon the conscience. This is why we are obliged to follow its certain judgments, as the Catechism explains: “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself” (CCC 1791).
The judgment of the conscience is certain when the human will can place confidence in the moral judgment, which usually comes with knowledge and experience. This is also true with other types of mental judgments. For example, when a mother is reviewing the times-table with her child and asks the child, “what is 7 times 8?” The child may make the correct judgment and say, “56…” and then look to his mother to make sure: “…that’s right, mom, is it not?” The child is uncertain about the answer, even though s/he has made the right judgment. This also happens with a child making simple judgments about right and wrong: the child lacks certainty (confidence) because s/he doesn’t yet have confidence in the judgment.
We grow in certainty in our judgments when we grow in confidence in the formation needed for true judgments. A well-formed intellect will make true and infallible judgments. Returning to our example: if a person has well-formed ideas of “seven,” “eight,” “fifty-six,” “times,” and “equal,” then his judgment, “7 times 8 equals 56” will be correct. When ideas are perfectly formed the mind’s judgment are infallible.
A child often lacks formation—is ignorant—and must learn words and concepts and thus receive formation until he can make true and certain judgments. If he receives good formation he will make good judgments; if he receives bad formation he will make bad judgments.
Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed (CCC 1791).
Suppose a child has a depraved mother who teaches the child erroneously. When the mother points to yellow objects, she tells her child it’s “red;” when she points out red objects, she says they are “blue;” and blue objects are “yellow.” If she does this in a consistent manner, the child will have erroneously formed ideas of color. Later, when the child goes to school, his teacher may hold up an apple and ask: “What color is this apple?” The boy answers as he has been formed: “It’s blue!” As the other children laugh, his teacher says, “No, Johnny, it’s red.” Johnny is confused and little by little discovers the error in his formation; eventually he should even discover the source of his erroneous formation—his mother’s depravity.
By this we see how important formation is for making right judgments of conscience. If we have good formation, our conscience will make infallible judgments about what is right and wrong. We can trust our conscience—we can be certain—to the extent we can trust our conscience’s formation. As St. Josemaría says: “With sincerity, a right intention, and a minimum of Christian formation, our conscience knows how to discover Gods will” (Conversations, 93).
We must always follow our conscience when it is certain in judging that we must do something or that we must not do something. To go against our conscience is to go against the voice of God speaking to us in the core of our being (see CCC 1790, 1800).
Man has a right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be found to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters” (CCC 1782).
So, we ought to respect the great dignity of the faculty by which man discovers the light of truth that leads to his true good and well-being.
Fr. John R. Waiss