Fr. Bryan Recommends
Daughter Zion by Pope Benedict XVI
Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Munich in Germany in 1951. In 1977 he would become the Cardinal Archbishop of that diocese, but he would only stay in that post for four years. In 1981, Pope St. John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger as head, or Prefect, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. His job as Prefect of the CDF was to promote and defend the teaching of the Catholic Church on faith and morals. As Prefect, he would work closely with Pope St. John Paul II on numerous projects, such as putting together the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ratzinger retired from this post on April 2, 2005, only to be elected Pope himself 17 days later. He took the name Benedict XVI.
As a renowned theologian and biblical scholar, he wrote many books and articles. One of my favorites, however, is Daughter Zion, which is about Mary, the Mother of God, and the Church’s teachings about the Blessed Virgin. He explains how Mary is both Virgin and Mother, how she was kept free from original sin, and how she was assumed bodily into heaven using passages from the Bible and the great teachers in the history of the Church, and he does it in a way that is easy to follow but will give everyone who reads it something to think about.
It may be a good time to read up on Mary, since we’re getting close to the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15.
Next Week: To be decided.
Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West
I’ve just finished up the series of bulletin articles on the seven sacraments that I began in August of last year, and throughout the series I’ve tried to recommend books and other resources to help further deepen your knowledge of the sacraments. Today, I’m recommending a book by Christopher West called Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching. Christopher West teaches at the Theology of the Body Institute in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He’s written many books explaining Pope St. John Paul II teaching on marriage and sexuality as it’s found in the Bible. This teaching is called “the Theology of the Body.”
This book is very easy to read and down to earth, answering questions that most people have in a way that shows how the teachings of the Jesus Christ are indeed good news for the world. Christopher West covers topics such as Church authority, the basics of marriage in the Church, chastity outside of marriage and inside of marriage, contraception and reproductive technologies, and the celibate vocation.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the teachings of the Church on human sexuality and marriage, who wants to learn how to explain these teachings to other people, and to parents who are getting to the point of having to explain these things to their children.
Next Week: Showing God Reverence at Mass
The Divine Mercy devotion was revealed by God to a young nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, Poland, St. Faustina Kowalska. In 1931, the Lord Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and instructed her to have an image painted of what she saw, that image is what we know as the Divine Mercy image. He would speak to her a lot about His desire to pour out His mercy upon the world, if only we would ask for His mercy and show mercy to others. In the image Jesus has one hand raised in blessing and the other is pointing at His heart. There are two rays of light coming from His heart, representing the blood and water that flowed from His side when He was pierced by the soldier’s lance as He hung upon the Cross. The light ray is the water, representing the healing waters of Baptism, and the red is the blood, which “is the life of souls,” and represents the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord.
St. Faustina’s spiritual director instructed her to write a diary about all of her visions of Jesus and everything that He revealed to her. The devotion to the Divine Mercy had began to spread in the 1930’s, even before her death in 1938. On April 30, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina, and declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday for the Church throughout the world. The devotion had begun to spread throughout the world in the 80’s and 90’s, but now it would really take off.
There are three parts of the devotion. The first part is the image, which is meant to help us to meditate on the mercy of God, and on our need for His mercy. The second is the novena, which is prayed from Good Friday through Easter Saturday. The Divine Mercy chaplet can be prayed throughout the year, but it is recommended to pray it during the 3 o’clock hour, the hour of mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina, “At three o'clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy.”
This devotion reminds us of the great mercy of God and that God is always ready to forgive the sins of those who ask. No sin is greater than God’s mercy. We may think that our sins are too great or that we aren’t worthy of forgiveness, but remember that Jesus even forgave the very people who put Him on the Cross, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Being reminded of the mercy of God also reminds us that we do, in fact, need mercy and forgiveness. God won’t force anything on us, even forgiveness. We have to recognize that we have sinned, that we have offended Him, and that we are in need of forgiveness, and ask for it. If you want to learn more, click on the "News" tab on the sidebar.