Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

JESUS, THE BREAD OF LIFE

White bread, rye bread, wheat bread, pita bread, zucchini bread, and pumpernickel! Perhaps no food comes in as many varieties as bread, known as the staff of life. Because bread is so basic to our life, God was wise to nourish us with divine life in the form of bread, the Eucharist.

Jesus foretold this marvel when he claimed, “I am the bread of life….I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:48, 51). This was not just a figure of speech.

Jesus meant the words literally. At the Last Supper the night before he died, he held bread in his hands and said to his friends, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24).

Ever since then Christians have been celebrating the breaking of the bread. We come together to share a meal and be fed with the bread and wine that is Jesus. The Eucharist is a gift of Jesus' love through which we remember his death and resurrection and share in them.

When Jesus called himself the bread of life, his listeners no doubt thought of Moses. Through Moses God sent down manna, bread from heaven that fed the chosen people for 40 years before they reached the promised land. Jesus explained, “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die” (John 6:49-51).

God prepared us for the mystery of the Eucharist in several ways. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town whose name means “House of Bread.” His mother laid him in a manger, a feeding trough, a hint that someday he would be bread for the world.

All four Gospels tell the story of the miraculous feeding of crowds, which foreshadows what happens at Mass. Jesus fed thousands of people by having the disciples distribute five barley loaves and two fish. After everyone had enough to eat, there were still 12 baskets of leftovers (and in some accounts seven).

Even the time Jesus gave us the Eucharist was a clue to its meaning—the time of Passover. At this feast the Jewish people celebrate their salvation from death in Egypt by a meal that includes unleavened bread and wine.

When we partake of the Eucharist, Jesus feeds us with his body and blood. We enter into communion with him and with one another. Unlike other food, which becomes part of us, Jesus in the sacred bread and wine makes us more like him. Therefore we, too, are to be bread for the world.

The living bread sustains us and prepares us for that day when we will come to the heavenly banquet. It is a pledge of future glory. It is the means by which Christ fulfills his promise, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

† Give us this day our daily bread! †

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

THE COUNCIL OF NICEA

"What occurred at the Council of Nicea?"

Answer: The Council of Nicea took place in AD 325 by order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine. Nicea was located in Asia Minor, east of Constantinople. At the Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine presided over a group of church bishops and other leaders with the purpose of defining the nature of God for all of Christianity and eliminating confusion, controversy, and contention within the church.

The Council of Nicea overwhelmingly affirmed the deity and eternality of Jesus Christ and defined the relationship between the Father and the Son as “of one substance.” It also affirmed the Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were listed as three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.

Constantine, who claimed conversion to Christianity, called for a meeting of bishops to be held in Nicea to resolve some escalating controversies among the church leadership. The issues being debated included the nature of Jesus Christ, the proper date to celebrate Easter, and other matters.

The failing Roman Empire, now under Constantine’s rule, could not withstand the division caused by years of hard-fought, “out of hand” arguing over doctrinal differences. The emperor saw the quarrels within the church not only as a threat to Christianity but as a threat to society as well.

Therefore, at the Council of Nicea, Constantine encouraged the church leaders to settle their internal disagreements and become Christlike agents who could bring new life to a troubled empire. Constantine felt “called” to use his authority to help bring about unity, peace, and love within the church.

The main theological issue had always been about Christ. Since the end of the apostolic age, Christians had begun debating these questions: Who is the Christ? Is He more divine than human or more human than divine?

Was Jesus created or begotten? Being the Son of God, is He co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, or is He lower in status than the Father? Is the Father the one true God, or are the Father, Son, and Spirit the one true God?

A priest named Arius presented his argument that Jesus Christ was not an eternal being, that He was created at a certain point in time by the Father. Bishops such as Alexander and the deacon Athanasius argued the opposite position: that Jesus Christ is eternal, just like the Father is. It was an argument pitting trinitarianism against monarchianism.

Constantine prodded the 300 bishops in the council make a decision by majority vote defining who Jesus Christ is. The statement of doctrine they produced was one that all of Christianity would follow and obey, called the “Nicene Creed.” This creed was upheld by the church and enforced by the Emperor.

The bishops at Nicea voted to make the full deity of Christ the accepted position of the church. The Council of Nicea upheld the doctrine of Christ’s true divinity, rejecting Arius’s heresy. The council did not invent this doctrine. Rather, it only recognized what the Bible already taught.

The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah should be worshipped, which is to say He is co-equal with God. The New Testament forbids the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8, 9) but commands worship of Jesus. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9; 1:19).

Paul declares Jesus as Lord and the One to whom a person must pray for salvation (Romans 10:9-13; cf. Joel 2:32). “Jesus is God overall” (Romans 9:5) and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Faith in Jesus’ deity is basic to Paul’s theology.
John’s Gospel declares Jesus to be the divine, eternal Logos, the agent of creation and source of life and light (John 1:1-5,9); "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6); our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1-2); the Sovereign (Revelation 1:5); and the Son of God from the beginning to the end (Revelation 22:13).

The author of Hebrews reveals the deity of Jesus through His perfection as the most high priest (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 7:1-3). The divine-human Savior is the Christian’s object of faith, hope, and love.

The Council of Nicea did not invent the doctrine of the deity of Christ. Rather, the Council of Nicea affirmed the apostles’ teaching of who Christ is—the one true God and the Second Person of the Trinity, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Recommended Resources: Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns and Logos Bible Software.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

THE BEST MEISTER ECKHART QUOTES

This list is arranged by which famous Meister Eckhart quotes have received the most votes, so only the greatest Meister Eckhart quotes are at the top of the list.

All the most popular quotes from Meister Eckhart should be listed here, but if any were missed you can add more at the end of the list. This list includes notable Meister Eckhart quotes on various subjects, many of which are inspirational and thought provoking.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best Meister Eckhart quotes?" and "What is the most famous Meister Eckhart quote?"

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.
There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.
To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.
Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than time: and not only time but temporalities, not only temporal things but temporal affections, not only temporal affections but the very taint and smell of time.
God is at home, it's we who have gone out for a walk.
A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.
The more we have the less we own.
We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity.... But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.
Jesus might have said, I became man for you. If you do not become God for me, you wrong me.
God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you should come out of yourself in so far as you are a created being made and let God be God in you.
To be right, a person must do one of two things: either he must learn to have God in his work and hold fast to him there, or he must give up his work altogether. Since, however, we cannot live without activities that are both human and various, we must learn to keep God I everything we do, and whatever the job or place, keep on with him, letting nothing stand in our way.
He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment
What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.
The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.
All God wants of man is a peaceful heart.
Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.
Man goes far away or near but God never goes far-off; he is always standing close at hand, and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door.
The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.
To be sure, this requires effort and love, a careful cultivation of the spiritual life, and a watchful, honest, active oversight of all one's mental attitudes towards things and people. It is not to be learned by world-flight, running away from things, turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, one must learn an inner solitude, where or with whomsoever he may be. He must learn to penetrate things and find God there, to get a strong impression of God firmly fixed on his mind.
Every creature is a word of God.
No-one knows what the soul is...But what we do know is, the soul is where God works compassion.
The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge.
What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

SEEING CHRIST IN ALL PEOPLE

by Karen Lynn Krugh

In my view, a study of one's childhood does tell more than anything else about one's whole life," said Caryll Houselander, commenting on her autobiography, "A Rocking-Horse Catholic."

"I mean that in the childhood lies the whole life, hidden like the life of a flower or a tree in the seed. Certainly we can't always read its secrets, but they are there."

Caryll Houselander, perhaps the most popular spiritual writer of her day, had an unusually difficult childhood, due both to lingering poor health and the strained relationship she had with her parents.

But it was precisely this time of trial that paved the way for her career, as a writer, artist, poet, mystic and amateur healer of neurotics. Houselander used the unique insight she had gained not only to peer into the lives of others, but into the life of Christ, and even into her own soul.

Today, many of her classic works, most notably "Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross" (formerly the "Passion of the Infant Jesus") are getting a new read. Composed with the mind of an artist and the sensitivity of one exposed, not just to the struggle of an unhappy childhood, but also to the horrors of war, Houselander's books speak movingly to people of any age of the virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Frances Caryll Houselander was born in England to Gertrude Provis and Willmott Houselander on Oct. 29, 1901, the second of two daughters, and was considerably unlike the outgoing, attractive and athletic parents who bore her.

She was not expected to survive for more than a day, and so was baptized in haste at the insistence of her uncle, a gynecologist who assisted with the birth.

She was named after this uncle, and the yacht, "Caryll," upon which her mother had spent the last several months of her pregnancy. She went on to survive her first day, and indeed many more after that, though her health continued to be poor throughout her life.

When Houselander was 6 years old, a family friend persuaded Gertrude to have the children baptized Catholic, though the practice of the faith did not begin until some years later.

It was from this late entrance into the Church that Houselander fashioned the name of her autobiography, as she was more accurately a "rocking-horse Catholic" than she was a "cradle Catholic."

No formal religious education followed her reception into the Church, though her mother did require a strict piety from the girls, forcing them to construct small altars and repeat endless prayers for the benefit of visiting clergy.

Amidst this forced digestion of beliefs, Caryll developed an intense love for the Lord, which ultimately led her to seek, on her own, the earliest possible reception of her first Communion. And so at the age of 7, on the feast of the Precious Blood, she made her first Confession and received her first Communion.

Houselander greatly desired to frequent the sacraments, but a sudden and serious, though mysterious, illness put her in bed for months. Though she begged to receive the Eucharist, it was not until she seemed to be approaching death that her mother brought in a priest to administer last rites to the child.

Immediately upon receiving the Blessed Sacrament, she sat up and recovered, leading those present, her mother and the priest included, to question the legitimacy of her illness. For Houselander, however, it was the beginning of a lifelong love for Christ and for His Church.
When she was 9, her world was shattered when her parents announced their intention to divorce. Though they were never formally divorced, the separation which began at this time was to be a permanent one. For the next several years, she changed homes and schools, never fully settling in one place before she was moved to the next.

Her erratic health in various convent schools had led her doctors to advise that she avoid all class work, and, amazingly, the schools agreed. Thus, apart from the philosophical espousals of a family friend, whom the children lovingly referred to as "Smoky," by the time Houselander returned home in 1917, her formal education was virtually nonexistent.

She was a mystic, and the first of three visions came during her years in the convent schools while she was still a young girl. Though they varied greatly in imagery, the substance remained the same. Over and over again, she was being called to see Christ in all people. This principle would permeate all of her work, of writing, counseling, sculpting and volunteering.

Having survived London's Zeppelin raids in World War I, Houselander returned again to school, receiving a full scholarship for art school. It was during this period that she drifted from the Catholic Church for the only time in her life.

She soon found that no other religion could take the place of that which she had grown to love, and yearning again for the Eucharist, she returned to the Catholic Church at age 24.

Through her confessor, she quickly came into the friendship of Father Bliss, editor of The Messenger of the Sacred Heart and The Children's Messenger, who advised her to put away all other efforts and concentrate on her writing.

Houselander soon began to do articles and illustrations for his magazines, which ultimately led to her making the acquaintance of Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward. Sheed and Ward would become the largest publishers of Houselander's books.

Through her prolific articles and books, Houselander gained tremendous popularity and acclaim, a status she would have never sought for herself. Always one to open her home and her heart to those in need, she was frequently overwhelmed physically, emotionally and mentally by those who sought her for counsel and spiritual direction, yet she remained reluctant, despite illness or exhaustion, to turn people away.

She did on occasion seek refuge in the countryside, but she always found herself migrating back to London, invariably the place where she would be most beset by these callers. Msgr. Ronald Knox, a contemporary, and admirer of Houselander, recognized her tremendous gift of insight.

"She seemed," he said, "to see everything for the first time, and the driest of doctrinal considerations shone out like a restored picture when she had finished with it."

Her popularity and success in healing the hurts and the hearts of many became a formal work when Dr. Strauss, later President of the British Psychological Society, began to send patients to her for healing. Her gift? "She loved them back to life," he said.

Houselander seemed to possess a well that never ran dry for anyone but herself. She gave of her food to feed the hungry, her time to counsel those in need, her energy to write countless letters, articles and books, and ultimately her health for the health and well-being of others.

She spent years attending to the rigorous demands of her ailing parents, and, having been plagued by ill health her entire life, had become accustomed to pain and slow to address her own physical ailments.

Her lack of self-concern, however, which extended to everything from her looks, to her diet, her sleep, her health, her living quarters, etc., became her doom when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that had just taken her mother.

During her last years, Houselander worked tirelessly to complete books, write letters, strengthen the works of charity she had begun, and minister to the many mentally ill children who were sent her way. She died on Oct. 12, 1954, after a prolonged period of suffering.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

THAT DIVINE ECCENTRIC: CARYLL HOUSELANDER

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) was a British mystic, poet and spiritual teacher who wore a pair of big round tortoiseshell glasses, and lived in London during the Blitz, and her whole life, till she died at 53 from breast cancer, apparently barely slept or ate.

A friend observed: “She used to cover her face with some abominable chalky-white substance which gave it quite often a the tragic look one associates with clowns and great comedians.”

From the dustjacket of her 1951 book Guilt: “Caryll Houselander lives on the top floor of a high apartment building. Her rooms are color-washed, bare but for the essential furniture, many books, and two or three gleaming ikons: the windows look out on a view of the city.

As well as writing, Miss Houselander’s interests include working with children, wood carving, drawing and painting, and the study of Jungian psychology, Hebrew, and Russian spirituality.”

How can you not want to meet this woman?

Guilt has several short (3-4 page) reflections, plus grainy black-and-white pulsatingly weird head shots of, among others, Leopold and Loeb, Peter Kürten (the Monster of Düsseldorf), Hans Christian Andersen, Rimbaud, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Rilke, who according to Caryll, did not fulfill his potential, neglected his wife and daughter, and turned into a mooch of rich dowager benefactresses to whom he could, eventually, no longer deign to speak, merits no photo at all.

Kafka’s photo is heartbreaking. He’s probably 4, and has been dressed in a vaguely military velvet pantsuit. In his left hand he clutches a broad-brimmed hat many sizes too large for his head, in his right he carries a kind of plume-topped baton, and he has been made to stand before one of those dreadful aspidistra-draped Victorian backdrops.

His little feet are smartly shod in pumps with grosgrain bows, one tiny elbow rests awkwardly on a plant stand, his hair is neatly parted in the middle, exactly as it is in that photo on the front of Collected Letters where he looks uncannily like an insect, and the eyes—the eyes whose depths are already suffused with the pain of the ineffective mother and the father who all his life he would loathe, fear, resent and adore—plead mutely, desperately, without hope, for help.

Caryll swore, drank, had an affinity for wounded children (her own childhood was nightmarish), was a Catholic convert, and wrote many books on spirituality, among them The Reed of God, A Rocking-Horse Catholic, and The Risen Christ.

"[Christ] did not teach in terms of right and wrong, but of joy and sorrow. Blessed…joyful, are the poor in spirit; woe, sorrow, to you rich. The only answer to the mechanical masses [i.e. the attractive, healthy, energetic, let’s-get-things-done folks] is the saint, for the saint is the only true individual, and in him we see Christ, and see His values, not as something forced on us by school teachers, but as something to envy.

Take St. Francis of Assisi, whom the whole world, not Catholics only, thinks of in connection with poverty. He lived in an age as worldly as ours; times change, but human nature never. St. Francis changed the outlook and the lives of countless people, not by scolding them, but by showing them, not by being a reformer, but by being a poor little man in love with all created loveliness.

The reason is so simple: he reflected on Christ, on whom his eyes were fixed; and when he lifted up his arms in ecstasy to receive his Lord’s wounds in his own body, the shadow that he cast on the white roads of Italy was the cruciform shadow of Christ."

--Caryll Houselander, from the novel A The Dry Wood:

"[The grain of wheat] must be buried in earth, that is, in us, who are made from the earth. The seed of Christ is not buried in angels, but in men. It is to flower and bear fruit through human experience: through our loves, our work, our sorrows, our joys, our temptations. It is to be literally our living and our dying.

We are the soil of the divine seed; there is no other. The flowering of Christ in us does not depend upon pious exercises, on good works outside our daily life, on an amateur practice of religion in our leisure time. It is in the marrow of our bones, in the experience of our daily life.

The seed is in darkness: the darkness of sorrow, the darkness of faith." --Caryll Houselander, from I don't know where *** From That Divine Eccentric, Maisie Ward's autobiography of Houselander:*

"The sure cure for bitterness, Caryll comments, is to pray and do penance for the person: love will grow in proportion. “It is not according to how much penance I do or how many prayers I say, but how much love I put into it.”

In a little country church she heard a priest preach on the Eucharist—and his teaching seemed somehow the more memorable because he was hideously ugly—resembling, said Caryll, “a florid pig.” He died a few weeks later. “Between the sermon and his death I was one day talking to him.

I was running someone down, saying beastly things of him. Suddenly I noticed that his eyes were shut. “You are not listening,’ I said. He replied, ‘I cannot—not to that; you see we are both present at the Mass. Whilst you were trying to make me think ill of X, Christ our Lord was offering Himself up to God to redeem them’”

“But we are not at Mass,” I said…and he said, “When your thoughts are hard or bitter or sad, let the sanctuary bell silence them. It is always ringing.”

“When you have done something really healing,” she wrote to a friend, “it happens so often that the only way you know it at first is by your own feeling of emptiness. Even Our Lord experienced this; when the woman who touched the hem of His garment was healed, He knew it by the sense of something having gone out of Him, an emptying ‘[power] has gone out of Me.’

It is the same for His followers—we know the moment of healing, not yet evident, not by exaltation and triumph but by emptiness and a sense of failure! That demands huge faith, but you have it!”

By the “huge faith” required of us she meant the faith that we can throw ourselves totally on Christ. But even He needed to pray to His Father in a desert place apart; to commune with His special friends, His Apostles; to leave the crowd that thronged and pressed around Him for their healing—and from curiosity.

As members of Christ’s Mystical Body we owe to our fellows what help we can give them, but we do not owe to them neglect of our work, or our prayer, of others who may need us more. We do not owe our time to those who want merely to waste it. If Caryll had attempted to help everybody who came, she would have ended by helping nobody."