Friday, May 29, 2015

FUNERAL - REQUIEM MASS FOR ANNE MAHON

Anne sang for many years in the choir directed by the patrimonial composer and music director Healey Willan.

Her husband Albert was cantor from "the Doc" as Willan was known.

A faithful Christian, mother of five and choir member, Anne has been a friend and inspiration to many with her kind and quiet witness.

Received into the full communion of the Catholic Church she had attended STM with Albert and was delighted to hear her son, daughter-in law and grandchildren singing regularly in the choir.

Her Requiem Mass will be Saturday, June 20 at 11:30 AM at STM/ Sacré-Coeur Church, 381 Sherbourne St., Toronto.

SUNG MASS FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

TRINITY SUNDAY, 
May 31 at St. Thomas More, Toronto


SUNG MASS
Missa Brevis in F, Sumison
Motet: Hymn to the Trinity, Tchaikovsky

S.T.M.  BALDWIN  ACADEMY 

Home-schooling Network
Thursday, June 4 
Pot-luck Lunch and Meeting 
Meet after  
12:15 Mass 
 Newman Centre Chapel 
Hoskin Ave. at St. George
TORONTO

The purpose is to bring home-schooling families together to discuss the way forward for Baldwin Academy in the Fall. 

We are looking to network with other home-schooling families to see when and where we can meet for one or two days per week for tutoring in various subjects, choral music and for mutual support. 

Contact us for the June 4 meeting location: thomasmorechurch@rogers.com and stay posted for developments.

REQUIEM MASS - The Communion of Saints and Prayer for the Dead in Scripture, Church Teaching, Liturgy and Practice

“For that is not first, says he, which is spiritual, 
but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.”      
1 Corinthians 15:46

When we consider the Funeral liturgy of the Church for which a Requiem Mass is the norm, we need to take into account the Church's magisterial teaching about the "Last Things" i.e. The Last Judgement, Heaven and Hell. 

In addition we consider Purgatory or as it is known in the Anglican Patrimony - "The Intermediate State" or the state in which the lingering wounds and effects of sin which has been forgiven are finally purged.  This, of course, raises the matter of prayer for the dead, the intercession of the saints, indulgences and other matters relating to our journey to be finally with God.

So, let us consider the sources for requiems and prayers for the dead:


A)  The Bible


For over 3000 years, prayers for the dead have formed an essential part of the Jewish worship based upon the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The prayers offered on behalf of the deceased were familiar to Jesus: Recitation of Psalms and reciting a thrice daily communal prayer Kaddish which actually means "Sanctification" (or "Prayer of Making Holy").  The form contains the following passage: "Have mercy upon him; pardon all his transgressions . . . Shelter his soul in the shadow of Thy wings. Make known to him the path of life."
The Last Judgement
Church of Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi or Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, Syria (c. 11th century)
Another Hebrew prayer which has informed Christian practice and which Jesus may himself have prayed:  “God, filled with mercy, dwelling in the heavens' heights, bring proper rest beneath the wings of Thy Shechinah, amid the ranks of the holy and the pure, illuminating like the brilliance of the skies the souls of our beloved and our blameless who went to their eternal place of rest. May Thou who art the source of mercy shelter them beneath Thy wings eternally, and bind their souls among the living, that they may rest in peace. And let us say: Amen.”

The sayings of Jesus recorded in the New Testament are most naturally interpreted as containing an implicit understanding of prayer for the dead and are at the basis of Christian teaching about the Communion of Saints i.e. communion in prayer of the living with the dead.

Jesus promises forgiveness for all sins that we commit, except the sin against the Holy Spirit, which "shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come" (Matthew 12:31-32).

May sins be forgiven in the world to come? Jesus’ hearers clearly believed in this possibility. Had Jesus wished to deny it, he would hardly have used a form of expression that they would naturally take to be an admission of their belief in prayer for the dead. Precisely the same argument applies to the words of Jesus regarding the debtor who is cast into prison, from which he shall not go out until he has “paid the last farthing” (Luke 12:59).

St. Paul's Epistles also bear directly on the question of prayers for the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:29 is an argument for prayer for the dead. St. Paul argues in favour of the resurrection: "Otherwise what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? Why are they then baptized for them?" Assuming that the practice here referred to, baptism for the dead, was superstitious, the passage furnishes historical evidence of the prevalent belief in the efficacy of prayer for the dead. 

The Apostle Paul's reserve in not directly disapproving of this action on behalf of the dead is more intelligible if we see that he recognized the truth of the principle of prayer for the departed. This form of prayer was something to which the Apostle gave his tacit approval; not to the baptism of the dead but to the understanding that prayer for the dead was possible.

In his Second Epistle to Timothy (1:16-18; 4:19) St. Paul speaks of Onesiphorus in a way that obviously implies that the latter was already dead: "The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus" — to a family in need of consolation. Then, after mention of the loyal service he gave to the imprisoned Apostle Paul in Rome, comes the prayer for Onesiphorus himself, "The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day" (the day of judgment). Finally, in the salutation, "the household of Onesiphorus" is mentioned once more, without mention of the man himself.


B)  Objections by some Protestants

Only in the sixteenth century were texts of the Old Testament and the parable of Dives and Lazarus in the New were used to oppose the universal practice of prayer for the dead. Most modern commentators whether Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox, consider these dated objections to be irrelevant in light of history and of the fact that objections to abuses from 400 years ago have been answered by reform and development.

The saying of Ecclesiastes 11: 3 for instance, "if the tree fall to the south, or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be", even if it is understood as the fate of the soul after death, it can mean nothing more than what Catholic teaching affirms, that the final issue — salvation or damnation — is determined irrevocably at death.  Christian prayer for the dead is not for those who have ultimately rejected God. Rather, it is for those who are Christians but not perfect at the time of death – most of us.

The imagery of the parable of Lazarus is too uncertain to be made the basis of Christian teaching in the face of the universal Christian practice of 15 centuries which was questioned only 450 years ago at the Protestant Reformation.  Can the millions of Christians (the vast majority) until that time have been wrong?

Last Judgement - Fra Angelico

C)  Inscriptions on Early Christian Gravestones

The inscriptions in the Roman Catacombs range in date from the first century (the earliest dated is from A.D. 71) to the early part of the fifth. Many inscriptions are simple (PAX, IN PACE, etc.) frequently amplified into prayers (PAX TIBI, etc.). The benefits most frequently prayed for are: peace, the good (i.e. eternal salvation), light, refreshment, life, eternal life, union with God, with Christ, and with the angels and saints — e.g. PAX (TIBI, VOBIS, SPIRITUI TUO, IN ÆTERNUM, TIBI CUM ANGELIS, CUM SANCTIS); SPIRITUS TUUS IN BONO (SIT, VIVAT, QUIESCAT); ÆTERNA LUX TIBI; IN REFREGERIO ESTO; SPIRITUM IN REFRIGERIUM SUSCIPIAT DOMINUS; DEUS TIBI REFRIGERET; VIVAS, VIVATIS (IN DEO, IN [Chi-Rho] IN SPIRITO SANCTO, IN PACE, IN ÆTERNO, INTER SANCTOS, CUM MARTYRIBUS).  For detailed references see Kirsch, "Die Acclamationen", pp. 9-29; Cabrol and Leclercq, "Monumenta Liturgica" (Paris, 1902), I, pp. ci-cvi, cxxxix, etc.

Again there are prayers of a formal character, in which survivors address their petitions directly to God the Father, or to Christ. The benefits prayed for are those already mentioned, with the addition sometimes of liberation from sin. Some of these early prayers read like excepts from the liturgy: e.g. SET PATER OMNIPOTENS, ORO, MISERERE LABORUM TANTORUM, MISERE(re) ANIMAE NON DIG(na) FERENTIS (De Rossi, Inscript. Christ., II a, p. ix).

Sometimes the writers of the epitaphs request visitors to pray for the deceased: e.g. QUI LEGIS, ORA PRO EO – Whoever reads this, pray for me. (Corpus Inscript. Lat., X, n. 3312). Sometimes again the dead themselves ask for prayers, as in the well-known Greek epitaph of Abercius (see INSCRIPTION OF ABERCIUS).  Christian people from the very beginning often visited the tombs to pray for the dead, and sometimes even inscribed a prayer on the monument. This also clear from a variety of indications (see examples in De Rossi, "Roma Sotteranea", II, p. 15).

In a word, the witness of the early Christian monuments in favour of prayer for the dead is so overwhelming that no serious historian any longer denies that the practice and the belief which the practice implies were universal in the early Christian community. There was no break of continuity in this respect between Judaism and Christianity and none until the Protestant Reformation.



D)  Early worship/ liturgies

The testimony of the early liturgies is in harmony with that of the monuments. Nestorian and Monophysite as well as Catholic liturgies in the Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic languages as well as those in Greek and Latin — all contain the commemoration of the faithful departed at the Eucharist, with a prayer for peace, light, refreshment and the like, and in many cases expressly for the remission of sins.

The following, from the Syriac Liturgy of St. James, is a typical example: "we commemorate all the faithful dead who have died in the true faith . . . We ask, we entreat, we pray Christ our God, who took their souls and spirits to Himself, that by His many compassions He will make them worthy of the pardon of their faults and the remission of their sins" (Syr. Lit. S. Jacobi, ed. Hammond, p. 75).



E)  Early Christian Sermons and Literature

Turning to early literary sources, we find evidence in the apocryphal "Acta Joannis", composed about A.D. 160-170, that at that time yearly anniversaries of the dead were commemorated by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Lipsius and Bonnet, "Acta Apost. Apocr.", I, 186). The same fact is witnessed by the "Canons of Hippolytus" (Ed. Achelis, p. 106), by Tertullian (De Cor. Mil., iii, P.L., II, 79), and by many later writers.

+ Tertullian (A.D. 155 – 240) also testifies to the regularity of the practice of praying privately for the dead (De Monogam., x, P.L., II, 942); and of the host of later authorities that may be cited, both for public and private prayers, we must be content to refer to but a few.

+ St. Cyprian (A.D. 200 – 251) writes to Cornelius that their mutual prayers and good offices ought to be continued after either should be called away by death (Ep. lvii, P.L., III, 830 sq.).

+ St. Ambrose of Milan (A.D. 340 – 397)  In his funeral oration for his brother Satyrus, St. Ambrose, an early bishop of Milan and mentor of St. Augustine of Hippo, beseeches God to accept propitiously his "brotherly service of priestly sacrifice" (fraternum munus, sacrificium sacerdotis) for the deceased ("De Excessu Satyri fr.", I, 80, P.L., XVI, 1315).  Ambrose says that he will let no day or night go past without remembering the dead in his prayers and at the altar ("De Obitu Valent.", 78, ibid., 1381).  

+ St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) who is widely quoted by Luther, Calvin and other Protestants, speaks of prayers for the dead: "The universal Church observes this law, handed down from the Fathers [Apostles and early bishops], that prayers should be offered for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ.” (Sermon clxxii, 2, P.L., XXXVIII, 936).

+ St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 449-407) - Universally acknowledged as a pastor and teacher of the early Church by both Catholics and Protestants.

HOMILY 41 by St. John Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 15:46
“For that is not first, says he, which is spiritual, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.”

“For not unmeaningly have these things been devised, nor do we in vain make mention of the departed in the course of the divine mysteries [Eucharist], and approach God in their behalf, beseeching the Lamb Who is before us, Who takes away the sin of the world—not in vain, but that some refreshment may thereby ensue to them.

Not in vain does he that stands by the altar cry out when the tremendous mysteries are celebrated, For all that have fallen asleep in Christ, and for those who perform commemorations in their behalf.  For if there were no commemorations for them, these things would not have been spoken: since our service is not a mere stage show, God forbid!  Yea, it is by the ordinance of the Spirit that these things are done.

Let us then give them aid and perform commemoration for them. For if the children of Job were purged by the sacrifice of their father [Job 1:5], why do you doubt that when we too offer for the departed, some consolation arises to them? Since God is wont to grant the petitions of those who ask for others. And this Paul signified saying, that in a manifold Person your gift towards us bestowed by many may be acknowledged with thanksgiving on your behalf. (2 Corinthians 1:11)

Let us not then be weary in giving aid to the departed, both by offering on their behalf and obtaining prayers for them: for the common Expiation of the world is even before us. Therefore with boldness do we then entreat for the whole world, and name their names with those of martyrs, of confessors, of priests. For in truth one body are we all, though some members are more glorious than others; and it is possible from every source to gather pardon for them, from our prayers . . .

"The Christian meaning of death is revealed in the light of the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ in whom resides our only hope. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is 'away from the body and at home with the Lord' (2 Cor 5:8)."
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1681

SUMMARY

Recognizing, as we must, that few are without stain of sin at their time of death, Christians have, over 2,000 years, prayed for departed family and friends. Given the overwhelming evidence, there is no reasonable challenge to the fact that the early and continuing practice and teaching of the Christian Church was to encourage prayer for the dead. On the contrary, as we have seen, the presumption in its favour is based upon all kinds of evidence.

Sixteenth century Protestant objections, in spite of 1,500 years of uninterrupted Christian prayer for the dead, are based upon political objections and were forwarded in reaction to certain abuses in the Church which no longer exist e.g. the selling of Indulgences.

John Wesley (1703-1791) taught prayer for the dead. (Holden, H. W. (1872). John Wesley in Company with High Churchmen. London: J. Hodges. p. 84).  In the late nineteenth century in response to overwhelming pastoral need, the Anglican Communion widely promoted prayers for the dead as part of the official worship if the Church. This has increased since World War I.  Other Protestant bodies have done likewise and so there is growing convergence in favour of prayer for the dead, once again, after the Reformation breach.

The vast majority of Christians today, as in the first 15 centuries since the Resurrection of Jesus,  join with the multitude who have gone before us in faith –  “so great a cloud of witnesses” – in affirming the teaching of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds regarding the Communion of Saints. In so doing, we are united in prayer with those both living and dead as we pray for those we love but see no longer.

                                                                                          Compiled by J. L. Hodgins from various sources

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fr. Ian Ker's: "NEWMAN ON VATICAN II"

This recent book considers how the documents of Vatican II have been distorted through exaggeration, and how Newman's own anticipation of their teachings provides a corrective hermeneutic.

Fr. Ker analyses the post-conciliar Church and the need for the New Evangelization in light of Newman's work. 

He looks at the so-called charismatic dimension of the Church, an important rediscovery that has also been largely ignored or misunderstood in the years after the Council.

Often described as 'the Father of the Second Vatican Council' Newman anticipated most of the Council's major documents, as well as describing the seven notes or criteria for the development of doctrine in keeping with the original deposit of Faith.

Ker offers illuminating commentary both on the teachings of the Council and the way these have been implemented and interpreted in the post-conciliar period. He does so applying Newman's seven notes to both the documents and to Newman's own personal development and entry into full communion with the Catholic Church.

This book is the first sustained attempt to consider what Newman's reaction to Vatican II would have been. As a theologian who on his own admission fought throughout his life against theological liberalism, Newman is best described, Fr. Ker maintains, as a conservative radical.
At the time of the First Vatican Council, Newman adumbrated in his private letters a theology of Councils, which casts much light on Vatican II and its aftermath.

A noted Newman scholar, Ian Ker argues that Newman would have welcomed the reforms of the Council, but would have seen them in the light of his theory of doctrinal development, insisting that they must be understood not so much changes as developments in continuity rather than in discontinuity with the Church's tradition and past teachings.

Fr. Ker holds that Newman would have endorsed the so-called 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' with regard to Vatican II; a hermeneutic first formulated by Pope Benedict XVI and now endorsed by his successor, Pope Francis I. He further insists that Newman rejects both 'progressive' and ultra-conservative interpretations of the Councils while noting that Newman increasingly saw the essential and balancing role of the Petrine ministry in the enunciation of developed doctrine. 

Newman believed that what Councils fail to speak of is of great importance, and so in a final chapter Fr. Ker considers evangelization — a topic notably absent from the documents of Vatican II. This critical element is looked at in the face of secularization.  The development of the New Evangelization is looked at in light of Newman's overall contribution to theology and ecclesiology.

Praying for Peace in Burundi and for the witness of the Catholic Church


Archbishop Simon Ntamwana


VOTIVE MASS FOR PEACE IN BURUNDI
St. Thomas Chapel, NEWMAN CENTRE, 
University of Toronto
St. George at Hoskin Ave.
5:30 P.M. Tuesday, June 2

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Young People: July 5 - 10

A Summer Session in

Lafayette, Louisiana



The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and he invites us to follow him into the world that he has come to save. Catholic students and young professionals (18-35 years of age) who desire to follow Christ more closely through their professions and disciplines (e.g. law,medicine, architecture, journalism, education, etc.) are invited to come together from July 5 through 10 to reflect on “following Christ into the heart of the world” using the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar as a guide. The session will be directed by Fr. Jacques Servais, S.J., a Jesuit who resides in Rome where he serves as the rector of the Casa Balthasar, a house of discernment for young adults.

For more information and to apply, please visit:

Following Christ into the Heart of the World


The “Following Christ into the Heart of the World” summer session will focus on the theme of how Christ, in his humanity, grounds every Christian commitment in this world. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that every individual may enter, in an unrepeatable way, into the time of Jesus Christ. Participants will have an opportunity to pray, study, and reflect on this theme, so that they might come to a deeper sense of God’s call and the grace that God offers to those who follow him in all walks of life.

Each day of the session will begin with silent meditation using points for prayer taken from Sacred Scripture. Afterwards, Fr. Servais will offer an introductory presentation on the day’s material, and participants will be
given ample time to read over the day’s selected texts from Balthasar. In small group discussions, Jesuits will work with participants to draw out the existential implications of the texts and to see how the texts call one to a more profound following of Christ. 

Afternoons will be devoted to cultural excursions and group activities. During this time, Fr. Servais will also be available to meet individually with participants for spiritual direction. Mass will be offered each day in the late afternoon in the chapel of Our Lady of Wisdom. 

Participants will have many opportunities to socialize with one another during dinners and post-dinner activities. To close each day, sung Compline (night prayer) will be available in the chapel.

Please note that no prior theological knowledge is required to participate. Parents of young children should inquire with the organizers about the availability of qualified sitters. For those interested, optional single and double occupancy housing is available on the campus of the University of Louisiana at reasonable rates. Participants are also welcome to make their
own arrangements for housing.

Sample Quotations from 

Hans Urs von Balthasar


Miracles for Today

“Miracles happen along this path. Apparently insignificant miracles, noticed by hardly anyone. The very finding of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger—is this not a miracle in itself? 

Then there is the miracle when a particular mission, hidden in a person’s heart, really reaches its goal, bringing God’s peace and joy where there were nothing but despair and resignation; when someone succeeds in striking a tiny light in the midst of an overpowering darkness. When joy irradiates a heart that no longer dared to believe in it. Now and again we ourselves are assured that the angel’s word we are trying to obey will bring us to the place where God’s Word and Son is already made man. […] Once and for all God has started out on his journey toward us, and nothing, till the world’s end, will stop him from coming to us and abiding in us.”

The Father’s Proposal: A Human Heart for His Son


God created a Heart for himself and placed it at the center of the world. It was a human Heart, and it knew the impulses and yearnings of human hearts, was experienced in all the windings and wandering, changes of weather and drives—in a word, experienced in all the bitter joy and joyful bitterness which any human heart has ever savored. The human heart: most foolish, most obstinate, most fickle of all creatures; the seat of all fidelity and of all treachery; an instrument richer than a full orchestra and poorer than a grasshopper’s empty chirping; in its incomprehensibility a mirror image of God’s own incomprehensibility. This is what he drew from the world’s rib as it slept, and he fashioned it into the organ of his divine love…

But God housed in a heart! How easy he now was to reach! How swiftly he could be hurt! More easily than a man, for a man is not only a heart, but bones and cartilage, tough muscle-fiber and hardened skin: one must really have a grim intention to wound a man. But what a target a heart is! What an enticement! The gun points almost unconsciously in that direction. How exposed God had made himself! What folly he committed! He had himself betrayed the weak spot of his love…

Nor will his unprotected Heart protect him. For a heart has no understanding: it does not know why it is beating. His Heart will not stand by him. It will (every heart is faithless) betray him. For, indeed, it never stands still: it always goes on, it runs. And because love always runs over, his Heart will also run over—over to the enemy as a deserter. (Heart of the World, pp. 44-45, 47-48)


I Created You for Freedom


My child, between midnight and morning frost, when they dragged me to the second trial, I sojourned in your prison. I sat fettered to a tent-peg—lonely, beaten, disgraced—and I thought of you and of the rising day. I have tasted your prison; nothing of its bittersweet smell of decay was spared me. I have wandered through even the deepest chamber of all the prisons of all those who, in despair, have struggled against God’s freedom… Quietly, without your noticing it, I have cleaved you open and thus given you unity….

You would not be my creature if you had not been created open. All love strives to go out of itself into the immeasurable spaces of freedom. It seeks adventure and, in so doing, forgets itself. I do not say that you were able to free yourself, for it was for this that I have come. Nor am I saying that love’s freedom lay contained within yourself, for I have given it to you. The Father has drawn you to me.

You are free. The angel nudged you on the side, the clamps fell from your wrists, the gate flew open on its own, and the two of you floated out past the sleeping guards until you reached freedom. You still think it was a dream. Rub the sleep out of your eyes. You are free to go wherever you please.
But look: many of your brothers are still languishing in prison. Are you going to enjoy your freedom while they suffer? Or do you want to help me loosen their shackles, and together with me to share their prison? (Heart of the World, pp. 142-44)

A Seducer of Hearts

If you have a fire in the house, guard it well in a fire-proof hearth. Cover it up, for if only one spark escapes and you fail to see it, you and everything that is yours will fall prey to the flames. If you have the Lord of the World in you, in your fireproof heart, fence him in well, be careful as you carry him about, lest he begin to make demands and you no longer know whither he pushes you. Hold the reins tightly in your hand. Don’t let go of the rudder. God is dangerous. God is a consuming fire. God intended this for you. Take heed of his words: “Whoever sets his hand to the plough and looks back, is not worthy of me. Whoever does not love me more than father and mother, more than beloved and country, more than even himself, is not worthy of me.” 

Watch out: he is a good dissembler. He begins with a small love, a small flame, and before you realize it he has gotten total hold of you and you are caught. If you let yourself be caught you are lost, for heavenwards there are no limits. He is God—accustomed to infinity. He sucks you upwards like a cyclone, whirls you up and away like a waterspout. Look out: man is made for measure and limits, and only in the finite does he find rest and happiness. But this God knows nothing of measure. He is a seducer of hearts. (Heart of the World, 117-18)

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on Hans Urs von Balthasar:

“What Balthasar wanted may well be encapsulated in a single phrase of St. Augustine: ‘Our entire task in this life, dear brothers, consists in healing the eyes of the heart so they may be able to see God.’ That is what mattered to him, healing the eyes of the heart so they would be able to see the essential, the reason and goal of the world and of our lives: God, the living God.”

“What the Pope [St. John Paul II] intended to express by this mark of distinction and of honour [the conferring of the rank of cardinal], remains valid: no longer only private individuals but the Church itself, in its official responsibility, tells us that he is right in what he teaches of the faith, that he points the way to the sources of living water—a witness to the Word which teaches us Christ and which teaches us how to live.”

For more information on Hans Urs von Balthasar, please see:

http://www.ignatius.com/promotions/balthasarbooks/balthasarbooks.asp

Fr. Jacques Servais, S.J.

Fr. Jacques Servais, a native of Belgium, entered the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979. He studied at the universities of Namur, Heidelberg, and Louvain, earning degrees in philosophy and psychology. He made his theological studies in Brussels and Rome and has a doctorate in dogmatic theology. Since 1985, Fr. Servais has resided in Rome where he has taught systematic spiritual theology at the Gregorian University. He is also the administrator of the Casa Balthasar, a school of discernment
and formation for young lay Christians. Fr. Servais is especially known for his expertise in the Spiritual Exercises of 

St. Ignatius of Loyola and has directed many young people in these exercises during his time as rector of the Casa Balthasar.

In addition, Fr. Servais is the president of the Lubac-Balthasar-Speyr Association, which was begun in Rome in 1991 by disciples of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar under the patronage of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Fr. Servais has published various works and articles on Hans Urs von Balthasar and the spiritual sources of Balthasar’s thought, in particular St. Ignatius of Loyola and Adrienne von Speyr. He has also written on the thought and contributions of Bl. John Henry Newman,
Maurice Blondel, Louis Bouyer, and Ferdinand Ulrich, among others.

“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.”


–Hans Urs von Balthasar

Monday, May 25, 2015

Reception and Confirmation of new members at STM, Toronto





Pentecost Homily - Mass with Sacrament of Confirmation (Part 2 - Unity of the Catholic Church)

 STM  Toronto, May 25, 2015


“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”  1 Cor. 12:12

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

At the time of Jesus, all devout Jews went to Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Pentecost as they celebrated the birth and the origins of God’s chosen people. In this way they recalled and celebrated the Covenant  given to Moses at Mount Sinai (Lev. 23:15-21; Deut. 16:9-11).

In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles the mysteries foretold in that feast are fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles (Acts 1:14).

The Holy Spirit sealed the new Law and the new Covenant that were established by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets had promised (2 Cor. 3:2-8; Rom. 8:2) so that all may be one, united in one body by the one Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which God made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm: “When thou lettest thy breath go forth, they are made / and thou renewest the face of the earth”

In the beginning, the Holy Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth as we are told in Genesis (Gen. 1:2)  

In the new creation of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the earth and to give humanity the gifts by which we are fulfilled and through which we become what we were created to be:  

1.  Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of the theological virtue of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of the Catholic Faith are more important than the things of this world. Wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake and bring us into the unity of Faith in the bond of peace.

2.  Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us to grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith.

3.  Counsel is the third gift of the Holy Spirit and the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act intuitively. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.

4.  Fortitude is sometimes called courage, but it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to witness to Christ to the point of death. It is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a cardinal virtue.

5.  Knowledge is the fifth gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of knowledge is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is based upon the perfection of faith. Wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to Faith, but knowledge is the actual gift to judge correctly. Like counsel, the gift of knowledge is aimed at our actions in life. Knowledge allows us to see our life the way that God sees it. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God's purpose for our lives and live accordingly.

6.  Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is not just the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. The spiritual gift of Piety takes us beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve God and others out of love, the way that we desire to honour our parents.

7.  Fear of the Lord: This is the seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit.  No other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us with the grace that we need in order to keep the commandments.

Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are listed in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  He says:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23 

Catholic tradition has added three more fruits including: generosity, modesty and chastity.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit work together as a choir where many distinct voices come together in harmony to the honour of God and the betterment of the New Israel, the Church.

Love - Agape or in Latin caritas has to do with our will not our emotions.  This kind of love or true charity, caritas denotes a really undefeatable benevolence, an unconquerable goodwill, that always seeks the highest and best for the other person, no matter what he or she has done or will do. It is kenotic or self-giving, self-emptying love that gives freely without asking anything in return. This love does not consider the worth of its object does not evaluate but simply gives. Again, Caritas works  from our will rather than from feeling or emotion. Caritas is the unconditional love God has for the world and it is a gift from God for the unity of the Church.

Paul, of course, describes love in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love caritas is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (caritas) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love  - caritas never fails.

Evelyn Underhill, the great writer of our Anglican patrimony, considered love to the "budding point" from which all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit come. She based this upon 1 John 4:16, "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”

As God fashioned Ad-am (human) from dust and breathed life into him (see Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam (Jesus) who has become one with the life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (1 Cor. 15:45,47).

As J. H. Newman insisted, the Holy Spirit indwells each person both justifying and sanctifying the individual for the benefit of the whole Church (Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification 154). We receive and are strengthened by that same Spirit in the sacraments. We are made a “new creation” in Baptism (2 Cor. 5:17) and then sealed, with the chrism of anointing by the Holy Spirit at Holy Confirmation.

We then drink of the one Spirit in the Holy Eucharist (1 Cor 10:4) as we share in Holy Communion with Jesus and the Eternal Father through the action of the Holy Spirit. 

In Christ we are a united new humanity - fashioned from every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race. The Church, the new Israel is a people born of the Holy Spirit – Jews and Greeks,  bond and free from all nations called into the unity of the one Holy Spirit in the bond of peace.

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”  1 Cor. 12:12

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.