March 3, 2013 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Published by:

March 3, 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent

 “But I tell you, if you do not repent,                                                                                       you will all perish as they did!”

Reasonable Faith in God

Can we know God?   We observe the world and  can understand the order of creation.  There are mere material beings: rock, fire, water.  We also observe living creatures that have a higher level of being, creatures that are animated; they grow, not by accumulation like a rock, but by assimilation: the acorn grows into a tree by assimilating the sun, soil, water, air; and it grows of its own proper nature while maturing to adulthood.

Animals are a higher level of being, and they are more responsive to their environment: foxes dig dens and carry their cubs away from a forest fire.

Human beings are a higher level of life and also move children away from danger, but we also observe that the fire stops at water.  Unlike animals, we are able to make an inference:  “Water is more powerful than fire,” and we plan to stop the fire.

This ability to infer is spiritual, indicating the human soul can transcend space and time through words.  If the words are true they reflect the true stability of things, the natural law.  Thus, we can see the progress of crude instruments of firefighting becoming fire trucks.  Since there is progress, there is natural law, and since natural law, there must be a Lawgiver-God. Our culture can improve, but only if we are true to natural law and to “nature’s God”.

With this experience of transcendence and true progress, we can know God as the giver of life and of natural law, and that we participate in it through our spiritual souls that will go on forever, even after death.  Furthermore, we infer that God must be “eternal” who can sustain our souls forever. For this reason the Founders of our nation refer to God four times in our Declaration of Independence: Creator, God, Providence and Supreme Judge.

The question becomes, “What does God want from us?”

God wants us to love his Divine Word, repent of our sins and follow his Word fully manifested in Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…  And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” Jn 1:1, 14

To faithfully follow Jesus – God the Father’s Word made flesh in Mary – is to know the certain path of salvation.  Jesus taught, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”  Mk 10:6-9.  For this reason we must oppose homosexual activity and so called homosexual “marriage”.

Believe in this reasonable faith, share it and live together in the love and truth of God with Jesus and Mary, and all his faithful followers who are on the way to heaven.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

February 24, 2013 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Published by:

February 24, 2013

2nd Sunday of Lent

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Why does the liturgical season of Lent have forty days (not counting Sundays) of intensified prayer and fasting?  God has prepared us for the Lenten season in the Old Testament which prepared all of mankind for the New Testament ushered in by his Son, Jesus Christ.

Forty takes on significance in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. God was displeased with men because they were falling into sin and never repenting of it.   God did, however, recognize one man who did repent of sin, Noah.  God therefore communicated to Noah about an impending punishment to cleanse the earth of wicked people, people who would not repent of their sins.

Forty days and forty nights the rain fell, but Noah and his family were saved because they listened to God and built the ark.  God purified the earth for them and set a rainbow in the sky as a reminder of his covenant.

Another person sent by God to prepare us for Lent is Moses.  Moses saw God’s chosen people oppressed by the wicked Pharaoh’s enslavement.  God then leads the people out of Egypt through Moses to Mt. Sinai.  Moses climbed the mountain and communicated with God for forty days and forty nights before receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12-18)

Upon coming down with the stone tablets Moses realized that the people had rebelled against God and made an idol out of the golden calf.  He smashed the stone tablets as a sign of their breaking their covenant relationship with God.  He climbed the mountain again.  “So Moses stayed there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 35:27-28).

Even after this, some of the chosen of God rebelled and they wandered forty years, one generation, in the desert.  King David picks up on this when he is inspired to write Psalm 95, the Word of God, which states:

Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: ‘This people’s heart goes astray, they do not know my ways.’  Therefore I swore in my anger: ‘They shall never enter my rest.”

King David put on sackcloth and ashes when he mourned his sins against God.

Moses and King David were sent by God to prefigure the role that his Son, Jesus Christ, would fulfill.

Jesus begins his public ministry shortly after he is baptized, but before that “the Spirit drove him out into the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1:12)

The Gospel of Luke records that during those forty days “He ate nothing during those days.” (Luke 4:1-2)

Jesus does not need to be baptized to be cleansed of Original Sin, nor does he need to fast and pray in reparation of his sins, because he is God the Son.  However, Jesus is also a man and wants to be a perfect example for all who would follow him into heaven. He is in fact tempted in every way we are, but shows us through prayer and fasting we can grow in holiness.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

February 17, 2013 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Published by:

February 17, 2013 

1st Sunday of Lent   

“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”.

                                                                                                                                        

LENT

 “Excuse me, there’s a smudge on your forehead.”  “Thank you, but those are ashes.”  “Why do you put ashes on your forehead anyway?” 

Ashes remind us that we are mortal creatures, created by God our Father.  We owe every second of our existence to a loving God who sustains us and calls us to faithfully follow Jesus. 

Lent is a time to review our life, to ask important questions about our relationship with God and our neighbor.

Lent–A time of new beginnings!  Lent is associated with springtime because it comes from the Old English word “lengthen” as in “lengthening of days.”

Lent is now a word that designates the liturgical season of renewal. It is a time to turn to God with greater knowledge and sorrow of our sins so to receive ever new gifts of his purifying forgiveness and blessing from his generous hands.  This allows us to rejoice more so in God’s mercy and compassion.

Of course, all these gifts come with a price – namely the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  His total self-denial made him poor that we might become rich in grace – God’s divine life.  We are called to give alms to the poor and share our faith, and so follow his example.

Jesus’ total self gift to God the Father was done out of complete love for us that we might share God’s life.  We therefore pray with greater fervor and self abandonment, fasting that our prayers and souls would be less attached to this world and more fixed on the things of heaven. 

During this holy season we enter more deeply into the life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ, for this is how he redeemed the world.  This time of preparation will bring us to Holy Week when we live the three holiest days of the liturgical year – TRIDUUM – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, that we might celebrate the Mother of all Sundays, Easter. For this reason all Fridays throughout the year are days of penance and all Sundays are days of worshipping God as a community.

May we persevere in our Lenten resolve to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” by following Jesus Christ.  He lived the Gospel perfectly and calls us to proclaim him our Lord and Savior of the world that we might share in the joy and glory of his RESURRECTION!

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

February 10, 2013 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

February 10, 2013

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Marriage Day

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”                                                                                                                                                      

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, we hear in the second sacred reading today that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is saving us because we are here to receive the Catholic faith with sincere, humble and grateful hearts.  The word “saving” helps us understand that our journey to salvation is an ongoing relationship with God and his Church that brings us to Jesus in his Sacraments and finally to heaven.

     Some people only focus on the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead for us, which indeed gives us the hope of eternal happiness with God in heaven.  Yet, many forget that Jesus had to be sent out into the desert for forty days to do penance, to be tempted by the devil and to be an example for us.  Jesus then began his public ministry by calling his disciples to pick up their cross and follow after him.

     Why did Jesus suffer penance and die on the cross, and why should we follow after him?  Jesus and we, his followers, want what God wants, the salvation of souls.  That is why we go out of our way, when convenient and inconvenient, to speak with love the truth of salvation found fully in Jesus’ Catholic Church.

     We are about to enter into the desert with Jesus through the Liturgical Season of Lent.  The Archdiocese ofSaint Pauland Minneapolis Office of Worship has given us a reminder of how to live out these forty days of the Lenten Season of grace fruitfully:

     “Penitential days – The penitential days for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13, 2013) and concludes with the celebration of the Paschal Triduum (March 28-30, 2013).  During this time the whole Church is invited to do penance in order to purify our hearts in preparation to celebrate the renewal of our baptismal promises on Easter Sunday (March 31, 2013).

+The following regulations should be observed by Catholics during Lent:

     “Abstinence – Catholics 14 years of age and older must abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  On these days one full meal is allowed.  Food may be taken at two other times during the day, in order to maintain strength according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal.  Eating between meals is not permitted.  Liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed.

     “Sacrament of Penance – All the faithful who have reached the age of reason (second grade) are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year.  Lent is a good time to fulfill this precept of the Church.  Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion without previously having been to sacramental confession (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1457).  Of course, frequent confession, even of venial sins, is highly recommended to grow in God’s grace (CCC, #1458).

    “Other Lenten Observance – Each weekday of Lent, with the exception of Solemnities (Sundays), is also an obligatory day of penance and should be marked by prayer and increased devotion to spiritual practices.  Some recommendations to fulfill this obligation include the participation in daily Mass, increased personal prayer time or spiritual study, self-imposed fasting or abstinence, works of charity, financial generosity to programs which benefit others, especially the poor, and participation in traditional Lenten Devotions (Stations of the Cross, Rosary, Retreats, Parish Missions, etc.)

     “The goal of all our Lenten disciplines is the conversion of our hearts.  As the Catechism states, however, “interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance”(CCC, #1430).  These penances help us to “repent” as the Lord asks, by redirecting our whole life toward God and away from the sin and evil which wounds our nature (CCC, #1430-1439), and our relationship with God, others and ourselves.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Thomas McCabe    

 

February 3, 2013 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

February 3, 2013 

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Day for Consecrated Life

Boy Scout Sunday 

 

“Amen I say to you, no prophet is accepted

in his own native place.”

                         We thank God for all those volunteers who help with our ministries done in Jesus’ sacred name.  All for the glory of God!

As Unto Me

Others may not notice your efforts or give you recognition for something you’ve done. 

The credit may even go to someone else.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I am pleased by your service and will honor your obedience. 

 

There may be times when a job you have done will be rejected. 

Something you have prepared may be delayed or cancelled.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I see all things and will bless the work of your hands.

 

You may do your very best but have your labors fail. 

You may sacrifice time and money to help someone and receive no words of appreciation.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I am your reward and will repay you

 

There may be times when you go out of your way to include others and later they ignore you.

 You may be loyal on your job and still have someone promoted ahead of you.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I will not fail you or make you be ashamed.

 

You may forgive others only to have them hurt you again. 

You may reach out to bless others only to have them take advantage of your kindness.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I know your heart and will comfort you. 

 

You may speak the truth but be considered wrong by others. 

You may do something with good intentions and be completely misunderstood.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I understand and will not disappoint you.

 

There may be times when keeping your word means giving up something you would like to do.  There may be times when a commitment will mean sacrificing a personal pleasure.

Do it anyway, as unto Me, for I am your friend and will bless you with My presence.

 

-Roy Lessin

January 27, 2013 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK

Published by:

January 27, 2013

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 

“Today this scripture passage is

fulfilled in your hearing.”

I am grateful for the Declaration of Principles signed by many pro-life groups.  May we pray that all government officials and citizens become pro-                                             life.

Letting the Pro-Life Light Shine

Truth exists.

Truth cannot change.  It cannot be destroyed.

More than four decades of pro-abortion rhetoric have not, cannot, and will not alter fundamental truth; from the beginning of her existence, (at conception) the preborn child has an unalienable right to life.

It is incumbent then upon the pro-life movement to hold fast to the truth and to shine a light upon it for all to see.

We know that each human being is a person fully known to God the Creator while in their mother’s womb.  The Bible tells us this is true.

We know each human being’s life begins when a human egg and sperm unite.  Science tells us this is true.

We know that when a “right” is inherent in human nature, every single human possesses that right.  Logic tells us this is true.

To contradict any of these facts, then, is to contradict the truth.  To contradict the fact that every human being has a right to live is also to discriminate.

It is discrimination not to recognize a person’s inherent rights for reason of race, sex, ethnicity, disability, circumstance of creation, or any other arbitrary classification.  Logic dictates, then, that it is discriminatory to attempt to deny a child her right to life because of classifications over which she has no control.

It is discriminatory and untrue to say that everyone has a right to life except a child conceived by rape or incest.

It is discriminatory and untrue to say that everyone has a right to life except a child, who later in life may require medical attention, a wheelchair, or special education.

It is discriminatory and untrue to say that everyone has a right to life except a child who is not old enough to have yet implanted in their mother’s uterus.

Because it is morally, scientifically, and logically untenable to argue for the right to life of the preborn and, at the same time, to discriminate against certain babies, we hereby call for equal protection and respect for human beings in all life’s stages and in every condition.

While truth is a cornerstone that cannot be destroyed, it can be ignored or obscured.  But to ignore or obscure truth is to try to construct a false reality, one that cannot stand.  For this reason, the pro-life movement must, by our statements and by our actions, recognize and speak the truth about abortion in all its forms.

We will educate Americans that direct, intentional abortion is never necessary for any reason; that treatment to save a mother’s life which as indirect, unintended, and unavoidable consequence or “double effect” causes the baby to die is not “abortion.

Finally, we can call for an end to discrimination against the preborn as a class and as individuals.  Every human being possesses an unalienable right to life.

Sincerely, Father McCabe

January 20, 2013 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

January 20, 2013 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time  

“Woman, how does your concern affect me?                                                         My hour has not yet come.”                                                                

Spirituality is what a person or community believes and how they act on that belief.  As Catholics we believe that God is the Author, Sustainer and Goal of every human life and so every human life should be protected at conception. 

   We believe that a person can discover the basic dignity of every human being at any stage of life by reasoning with the natural light of truth.  This is what the Founders of America did.

   The pilgrims of the thirteen original colonies came toAmericamostly to get away from tyrannical officials who oppressed those less powerful.   Many rulers, Catholic as well as Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, ignored the Church’s teaching and God’s natural law and disrespected the dignity of those less powerful than themselves.  This is sinful, and if it is of grave matter that is placed into law it becomes “institutional sin” for the society.  Unfortunately that is the state of our country with regard to abortion, and some states that allow for homosexual marriage.

   Our Founders inscribed in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Our country was founded on principles that call for respect for every person and their freedom, so long as they respect the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” in that divine order.

   The Founders of our country were educated in the natural rights of mankind and knew that God established them through natural law for the freedom of each individual as well as for a people.  They asserted this truth when they wrote that the colonists would take their “separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them…”  Of course, abortion and homosexual activity is contrary to God because contrary to God’s laws of nature. 

   These natural laws reflect that God is the Creator of natural rights and responsibilities of which mankind is called to participate, and also that God is the “Supreme Judge of the world”, not the imperfect courts of man, including the Supreme Court of this country which failed to protect black people in the Dredd Scott decision in the past, nor has it protected unborn babies with their faulty decision of the recent Roe v. Wade decision that makes it illegal to make abortion illegal. 

   The Founders could have used natural reason to discover these natural laws and thus could reason, as any reasonable adult person can, that there must be a Lawgiver, namely God.  However, since people can choose to follow or break theses natural laws, God calls us to participate in protecting and promoting these self-evident truths, especially for those without any power like unborn babies.  This is clearly revealed in the Divine Revelation of Sacred Scriptures which upholds and builds upon natural law, both of which come from the heart of God. 

   The Founders also relied on God to provide for the victory of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that flows from God, but not without their struggles and sacrifices.  The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence reads: “And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” 

   To be pro-life and pro-marriage as God intended, we must measure candidates for public office with this standard and do our part in participating in the protection and promotion of God’s will by upholding the principles of our country.  To do less is to watch our country sink further into sin and thus jeopardize our salvation.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

January 13, 2013 – BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Published by:

January 13, 2013 

BAPTISM OF THE LORD

National Vocation Awareness Week 

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

                                                               

  “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son…”

 What an incredible honor and privilege to be called to the vocation of Christian Marriage, and to be blessed by God with children.  The Holy Spirit works with the couple to create immediately and directly a new human being at conception.  God creates every human being in his spiritual “image and likeness”, and wraps this precious soul in the material DNA from both parents to bring about a physical image and likeness of each parent.

    It is no wonder God has designed the family to be the natural foundation of society.  Marriage, lived out in the purity and affection of God’s design, is the key to a world of harmony, authentic progress and sanctity.  Studies have shown the incredible advantage to children and society of following God’s plan.

     The following is a pastoral letter Marriage and the Family that holds true today, until our new Archbishop writes anything differently.

“In order to help ensure that all those preparing for marriage understand the great dignity of their vocation, I am calling upon all parish-based and Archdiocesan marriage courses to address the following:

I. A clear understanding and vision of the sacramental nature of Christian  

   marriage, including, but not limited to:

   *A Christian understanding of the human person.

   *Redemption of man and woman in Christ.

   *How marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church.

   *A practical understanding of the Canonical promises – fidelity,     

    permanence, openness to life.

II.   A clear understanding of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality,  

      including:

      *Instruction on NFP – at least two introductory classes.

      *Understanding of the morality of various reproductive technologies.

III.  Marriage preparation will begin at least one year and not less than six

      months prior to the wedding date.  A minimum of five sessions with a

      priest, deacon or other qualified person or couple.  This should include a

      Marriage Inventory and subsequent discussions of the results.

IV.  Encourage parishes and current marriage preparation providers to

      develop ongoing programs and support for newly married couples

      especially in the first three years.  This may include a series of classes or

      parish day of reflection.

     Finally, ….(these) will be fruitful  to the extent that a couple develops their own relationship with the person of Christ through prayer, forgiveness and service.     Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn”    

     The sacred dignity of the Sacrament of Marriage is God’s gift to his bride the Church.  If you know of anyone at the age of marriage please tell them that Marriage Preparation should begin one year before the tentative wedding date.  The completion of the preparation and sincere practice of the faith of the couple will determine whether to set the date permanently or not. 

     The reason the groom and bride dress in black and white is very symbolic.  Black is a symbol of dying to oneself, as Christ died perfectly for his bride the Church.  The bride wears white as a symbol of the Church, which has been made holy by the waters of baptism.  The wedding rings are a symbol of God’s never ending love wrapped around the life of the married couple, who are willing to wear the grace that Jesus won for us by dying and rising to new life!    

     I thank God for all couples who strive to know God, his only begotten Son Jesus Christ and his bride the Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

January 6, 2013 – THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

Published by:

January 6, 2013 

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK 

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews.  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”                                                                  

     There are three significant “epiphanies” in Jesus’ life.  “Epiphany” means to make known.  We celebrate the three kings who gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus to make known who this child is.  Gold is a symbol that Jesus is the King of kings.  Frankincense symbolizes that he is the High Priest of God.  Myrrh is oil that is used to anoint the deceased of God, especially his prophets, and thus it symbolizes that Jesus will die a prophet’s death.

     Around this time the Church also celebrates the Baptism of the Lord.  John the Baptizer is called by God to participate in this “epiphany” by baptizing Jesus, although Jesus has no sin from which to repent.  Rather, God uses this moment to send the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove to hover over Christ.  Meanwhile God declared to all who would believe “This is my beloved Son.  My favor rests on him.”

     To those well versed in the Old Testament, one can see that God foreshadows this event in the story of Noah’s ark.  After God cleansed the world of sin through the flood water, Noah’s dove brings back an olive branch as a sign of peace.  Olive oil is used for anointing, and so in this Baptism of the Lord we can see that God reveals the Holy Spirit as a dove who anoints Jesus, God’s “beloved Son,” that the fullness of peace would come to those disciples who hear and follow his holy doctrines.

     The next significant “epiphany” is the wedding feast atCanawhen Jesus changes water into wine.  The wedding atCanais a celebration of a man and woman becoming one in God through the sacred gift of marriage.  Jesus’ presence at this celebration reaffirms God’s natural gift of marriage and raises it up to a holy sacrament, a supernatural gift.

     Just as the water was used for “purification” by the Jews at the wedding feast, so Jesus purified the waters that would be used for the Sacrament of Baptism.  And just as a man and a woman become one at a wedding, so God unites himself to the soul of any human being that would be Baptized into Jesus Christ and follow him as a disciple.

     When we are baptized into Christ we are called to witness to Jesus as the Kings of kings, High Priest and Prophet of God.  Jesus is our King and Brother, and we have been adopted into God’s royal family as princes and princesses.  Our mission as members of God’s royal family is to rejoice in his generous governance over us that protects our dignity and the sacred dignity of our Baptism.  Flowing from this mission, we are called to protect the dignity of others by guarding the natural and supernatural gifts and truths of God for all people.

     Christ is the High Priest.  Through our baptism into him we begin to share in the ministry of Jesus as members of the “common priesthood of Christ” and offer prayers and sacrifices, especially at Mass with the “ordained priest”, in order to sanctify our lives and bring blessings upon our loved ones.

     By our Baptism and our reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are called to pass on God’s love and truth and thus share in Jesus’ prophetic role.  Not many of us will be called to lay down our physical life for the love and truth of God, but the Church celebrates the Martyrs who gave their lives for God’s love and truth.  We are called to die to our selfishness and thus be prepared to do the same – and thus share in God’s love and truth forever in the perfection of God’s infinite love and happiness in heaven.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

December 30, 2012 -The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Published by:

December 30, 2012

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

“Why were you looking for me?   Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”                                                             

 What a joy to be surrounded by family and friends over the Twelve Days of Christmas.  God the Father rejoices to see families growing together in the  gifts and grace of his Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit is the Divine Spouse of our soul who chose Mary to be the perfect model for all Christians so that Jesus might dwell within us in a supernatural way.

This supernatural indwelling of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit is the basis of the interior life of Christians.  This is the life we receive at Baptism of which we cannot earn but need to appreciate, protect and nourish.  It is this life of sanctifying grace that God gives in order that we may attain our heavenly homeland.  At our baptism through our parent’s faith, we became adopted sons and daughters of God through Jesus, and the Father nurtures and protects this divine gift through Jesus’ Church and her sacraments, and our sincere and correct response to these gifts.

Starting with the head of the first family, God gave Adam clear responsibilities –cultivate and care for the garden – as well as giving him boundaries and consequences. “You can eat from any trees of the garden, even the Tree of life, but do not eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  If you do you will die.”  Parents also give children responsibilities, boundaries and reasonable consequences in order to direct them to a life of happiness and virtue, a life of reverence and salvation

However, since Adam did not get rid of the serpent when it tempted Eve, they both ate the forbidden fruit and fell away from God’s commands by taking things into their own hands.  They tried to be like God and tried to become the author of what is good and evil, but this Original Sin separated them from God.  They lost sanctifying grace, falling away from the fullness of life, and life became very difficult and dangerous because sickness, disorder, violent sins and eventually physical death entered the world.

Although God punished Adam and Eve out of justice and love, God gave them hope through a promise that they would not be separated from him forever when they repented and sincerely followed his design of salvation, because a savior would be born for them.  A woman will give birth to a child who will crush the head of the serpent, even as the serpent is biting his heels: this is the proto evangelium (Gen. 3:15), the first mention of the Gospel that Jesus will die on the cross with nails in his heels.  

Only God can forgive sins and restore mankind to sanctifying grace and he did this through Jesus, born of Mary, and continues this ministry through his Apostles and priests.  Thus, Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise and is the New Adam, the head of God’s Church and of all creation, while Mary is seen as the New Eve. 

Furthermore, God chose Joseph, although imperfect, to be the guardian and head of the Holy Family.  Joseph provides and protects Mary and Jesus by leading them toEgyptand then back toNazareth, to avoid King Herod’s slaughter of the Holy Innocents.  The only way to overcome temptation and sin is to follow the Holy Family’s example of Christian holiness and mission, and thereby enter into heaven when God calls us.

What joy to see parents providing and protecting, nurturing and nourishing their family’s interior life of the Spirit by participating in prayer, the Holy Sacraments, Christian service, reasonable discipline and the joy of welcoming and sharing the faith with others.

God bless you all! Happy New Year! 

Fr. Thomas McCabe