Saint Michael Center Travel Ministry
Inspirational Videos
Grow Your Parish
Tell a Friend Donation
Subscribe for e-Newsletter Here

Download Center
Videography Services Travel Ministry Media Services Stewardship Youth Center Online Book Center
St. Michael
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. Advertise Now

ABOUT ARCHANGELS

PHOTO OF THE MONTH

PHOTO OF THE MONTH

REFLECTIONS

"Jesus' Baptism"

Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John's baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God? Read More »

The Secret of Love, According to Benedict XVI

Pope Explains Encyclical to Readers of Italian Magazine

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Breaking with tradition, Benedict XVI decided to present personally his encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" to readers of Famiglia Cristiana, the biggest weekly magazine in Italy.

The Pope wrote the lines which follow, taking advantage of the decision of the magazine's editors, St. Paul's Publications, to give readers a copy of the document with the Feb. 5 issue.


Dear Readers of Famiglia Cristiana

I am very pleased that Famiglia Cristiana has sent you at home the text of my encyclical and has given me the possibility to accompany it with some words to facilitate its reading. Initially, in fact, the text might seem a bit difficult and theoretical. However, when one begins to read it, it becomes evident that I only wished to respond to a couple of very concrete questions for Christian life.


The first question is the following: Is it possible to love God?; more than that: Can love be something that is obligatory? Is it not a feeling that one has or does not have? The answer to the first question is: Yes, we can love God, given that He has not remained at an unreachable distance but has entered and enters into our lives. He comes to meet each one of us: in the sacraments through which he acts in our lives; with the faith of the Church, through which he addresses us, making us meet with men touched by Him, who transmit light to us; with dispositions through which he intervenes in our lives; also with the signs of the creation he has given us.


Not only has he offered us love, above all he lived it first and knocks on the door of our hearts in many ways to elicit our response of love. Love is not only a feeling; to it also belong the will and the intelligence. With his Word, God addresses our intelligence, our will and our feelings, so that we may learn to love him "with our whole heart and our whole soul." We do not find love, in fact, suddenly all ready; instead, so to speak, it matures. We can learn to love gradually, so that love will involve all our strength and will open the way to an honest life.


The second question is the following: Can we really love our "neighbor" when he is strange or even disagreeable? Yes, we can, if we are God's friends, if we are Christ's friends and, in this way, it becomes ever clearer that He has loved and loves us, though we often turn our gaze from Him and live according to other criteria. If, instead, friendship with God becomes for us something ever more important and decisive, then we will begin to love those whom God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends of his friends and we can be so, if we are interiorly close to them.


Finally, this question is also posed: With her commandments and prohibitions, does not the Church embitter the joy of "eros," of feeling ourselves loved, which pushes us toward the other and seeks to be transformed into union? I have tried to show in the encyclical that the most profound promise of "eros" can mature only when we do not seek transitory and sudden happiness alone. On the contrary, together we find the patience to discover the other increasingly in the depth of his person, in the totality of body and soul, so that, finally, the other's happiness is more important than our own. Then, we no longer want to receive something but give ourselves and in this liberation from his "I" man finds himself and is filled with joy.


I speak in the encyclical of a journey of purification and maturation necessary so that the true promise of "eros" may be fulfilled. The language of the tradition of the Church has called this process "education in chastity," which, in the end, means nothing other than to learn the totality of love in the patience of growth and maturation.


In the second part there is talk of charity, in the service of the communal love of the Church toward all who suffer in body or soul and are in need of the gift of love. Two questions arise here above all: Can the Church leave this service to other philanthropic organizations? The answer is no. The Church cannot do so. The Church must practice love toward the neighbor including as a community; otherwise, it would proclaim the love of God in an incomplete and insufficient way.


The second question: Would it not be better to promote an order of justice in which there are no needy, and charity would become something superfluous? The answer is the following: Undoubtedly the end of politics is to create a just order in society, where what is proper to each one is recognized and where no one suffers from abject poverty. In this case, justice is the true object of politics, as peace cannot exist without justice. By her very nature, the Church does not engage in politics in the first person; rather, she respects the autonomy of the State and of its institutions.


The search for this order of justice corresponds to common reason, just as politics is something that affects all citizens. Often, however, reason is blinded by interests and the will to power. Faith serves to purify reason, so that it may see and decide correctly. Therefore, it is the task of the Church to cure reason and reinforce the will to do good. In this connection, without engaging in politics, the Church participates passionately in the battle for justice. It corresponds to Christians involved in public service to always open, in their political action, new ways for justice.


However, I have only answered the first half of our question. The second half, which I like to stress in the encyclical, says thus: Justice never makes love superfluous. Beyond justice, man will always need love, which alone is able to give a soul to justice. In a world so profoundly wounded, as the one we know in our days, this affirmation does not need demonstrations. The world expects the testimony of Christian love that is inspired in faith. In our world, often so dark, the love of God shines with this love.

Benedict XVI [Translation by ZENIT] www.zenit.org


ENCYCLICAL LETTER

DEUS CARITAS EST
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
BENEDICT XVI
TO THE BISHOPS
PRIESTS AND DEACONS
MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS
AND ALL THE LAY FAITHFUL
ON CHRISTIAN LOVE

INTRODUCTION

1. “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” ( 1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.


We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of love for neighbour found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.


In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both timely and significant. For this reason, I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others. That, in essence, is what the two main parts of this Letter are about, and they are profoundly interconnected. The first part is more speculative, since I wanted here—at the beginning of my Pontificate—to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love. The second part is more concrete, since it treats the ecclesial exercise of the commandment of love of neighbour. The argument has vast implications, but a lengthy treatment would go beyond the scope of the present Encyclical. I wish to emphasize some basic elements, so as to call forth in the world renewed energy and commitment in the human response to God's love.


PART I
THE UNITY OF LOVE
IN CREATION
AND IN SALVATION HISTORY

A problem of language

2. God's love for us is fundamental for our lives, and it raises important questions about who God is and who we are. In considering this, we immediately find ourselves hampered by a problem of language. Today, the term “love” has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings. Even though this Encyclical will deal primarily with the understanding and practice of love in sacred Scripture and in the Church's Tradition, we cannot simply prescind from the meaning of the word in the different cultures and in present-day usage.


Let us first of all bring to mind the vast semantic range of the word “love”: we speak of love of country, love of one's profession, love between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love between family members, love of neighbour and love of God. Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison. So we need to ask: are all these forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?


“Eros” and “Agape” – difference and unity

3. That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks. Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it at all: of the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of friendship) and agape, New Testament writers prefer the last, which occurs rather infrequently in Greek usage. As for the term philia, the love of friendship, it is used with added depth of meaning in Saint John's Gospel in order to express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love. In the critique of Christianity which began with the Enlightenment and grew progressively more radical, this new element was seen as something thoroughly negative. According to Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity had poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing, gradually degenerated into vice.[1] Here the German philosopher was expressing a widely-held perception: doesn't the Church, with all her commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn't she blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator's gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the Divine?


4. But is this the case? Did Christianity really destroy eros? Let us take a look at the pre- Christian world. The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness. All other powers in heaven and on earth thus appear secondary: “Omnia vincit amor” says Virgil in the Bucolics—love conquers all—and he adds: “et nos cedamus amori”—let us, too, yield to love.[2] In the religions, this attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the “sacred” prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine.


The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion, which represents a powerful temptation against monotheistic faith, combating it as a perversion of religiosity. But it in no way rejected eros as such; rather, it declared war on a warped and destructive form of it, because this counterfeit divinization of eros actually strips it of its dignity and dehumanizes it. Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited. An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in “ecstasy” towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.'


nextpage 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

TYPE KEYWORDS OF THE MONTH
ROSARY FATIMA JUDE

Google

www Saint Michael Website

LIVES OF THE SAINTS

AUGUST 1
ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI

St. Alphonsus was born near Naples, Italy, in 1732. Read More »

AUGUST 2
ST. EUSEBIUS

St. Eusebius was born on the island of Sardinia, Italy, around 283. Read More »

AUGUST 3
ST. PETER JULIAN EYMARD

St. Peter Julian Eymard was born in a small town in the diocese of Grenoble, France in 1786. Read More »

AUGUST 4
BLESSED FREDERIC JANSSOONE

Blessed Frederic Janssoone was born in Flanders in 1838. Read More »

AUGUST 5
DEDICATION OF ST. MARY MAJOR

St. Mary Major is important to Christendom for three reasons: Read More »

AUGUST 6
THE TRANSFIGURATION

St. Mary Major is important to Christendom for three reasons: Read More »

AUGUST 7
ST. CAJETAN

St. Cajetan was born in Vicenza, Italy, in 1480, the son of a count. Read More »

AUGUST 8
ST. DOMINIC

St. Dominic was born in Castile, Spain, in 1170. Read More »

AUGUST 9
BLESSED JOHN OF RIETI

Blessed John lived in the first half of the fourteenth century. Read More »

AUGUST 10
ST. LAWRENCE

St. Lawrence, the famous martyr of Rome, lived in the third century. Read More »

AUGUST 11
ST. CLARE

St. Clare was born around 1193 in Assisi, Italy. She lived at the time of St. Francis of Assisi.Read More »

AUGUST 14
ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

Raymond Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. Read More »

AUGUST 15
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

This feast of Mary celebrates a special privilege of Mary, our Mother.Read More »

AUGUST 16
ST. STEPHEN OF HUNGARY

St. Stephen was born around 969 in Hungary. This saint's name.. Read More »

AUGUST 17
BLESSED JOAN DELANOUE

St. Joan Delanoue was born in 1666. Her family had a small but..Read More »

AUGUST 18
ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL

St. Jane was born in Dijon, France, in 1572.Read More »

AUGUST 19
ST. JOHN EUDES

St. John Eudes was born in Normandy, France, in 1601.Read More »

AUGUST 20
ST. BERNARD

St. Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France.Read More »

AUGUST 21
ST. PIUS X

St. Pius X, the great pope, was named Joseph Sarto. He was born in 1835, the son of a mailman in Riese.. Read More »

AUGUST 23
ST. ROSE OF LIMA

St. Rose, the South American saint, was born in Lima, Peru, in 1586.Read More »

AUGUST 24
ST. BARTHOLOMEW

"Bartholomew" was one of the first followers of Jesus.Read More »

AUGUST 25
ST. LOUIS OF FRANCE

St. Louis was born on April 25, 1214. His father was King Louis VIII of France and his mother was Queen..Read More »

AUGUST 25
ST. JOSEPH CALASANZ

St. Joseph was born in 1556, in his father's castle in Spain. He went to college and became a lawyer.Read More »

AUGUST 26
ST. ELIZABETH BICHIER

St. Elizabeth was born in 1773. As a little girl, her favorite game was building castles in the sand. Read More »

AUGUST 27
ST. MONICA

St. Monica, the famous mother of St. Augustine, was born in 332 in Tagaste, northern Africa. Read More »

AUGUST 28
ST. AUGUSTINE

St. Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria on November 13, 354. This famous son of St. Monica spent many years in wicked living and in..Read More »

AUGUST 29
BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus. His mother was St. Elizabeth and his father was Zechariah. Read More »

AUGUST 30
ST. PAMMACHIUS

"St. Pammachius was a distinguished Christian layman who lived in the fourth century.Read More »

AUGUST 31
ST. AIDAN

St. Aidan was a seventh-century Irish monk. He lived at the great monastery of Iona, which St. Columban had founded.Read More »

NEWS ARCHIVE & ACTIVITIES