Triduo Teresiano: Oremos juntos por Mons. Báez — Día 3

PRIMERA LECTURA

Lectura del Evangelio según San Marcos, 7, 31-37
Qué bien lo hace todo

En aquel tiempo, salió Jesús de la región de Tiro y vino de nuevo, por Sidón, al mar de Galilea, atravesando la región de Decápolis. Le llevaron entonces a un hombre sordo y tartamudo, y le suplicaban que le impusiera las manos. Él lo apartó a un lado de la gente, le metió los dedos en los oídos y le tocó la lengua con saliva. Después, mirando al cielo, suspiró y le dijo: “¡Effetá!” (que quiere decir “¡Abrete!”). Al momento se le abrieron los oídos, se le soltó la traba de la lengua y empezó a hablar sin dificultad.

Él les mandó que no lo dijeran a nadie; pero cuanto más se lo mandaba, ellos con más insistencia lo proclamaban; y todos estaban asombrados y decían: “¡Qué bien lo hace todo! Hace oír a los sordos y hablar a los mudos”.

 

SEGUNDA LECTURA

Del Castillo Interior de santa Teresa de Jesús, virgen y doctora de la Iglesia
(Moradas Segundas – Capítulo Único)
Su Majestad es muy buen vecino

Ahora vengamos a hablar cuáles serán las almas que entran a las segundas moradas y qué hacen en ellas. Querría deciros poco, porque lo he dicho en otras partes bien largo, y será imposible dejar de tornar a decir otra vez mucho de ello, porque cosa no se me acuerda de lo dicho; que si lo supiera guisar de diferentes maneras, bien sé que no os enfadaríais, como nunca nos cansamos de los libros que tratan de esto, con ser muchos.

Es de los que han ya comenzado a tener oración y entendido lo que les importa no se quedar en las primeras moradas, mas no tienen aún determinación para dejar muchas veces de estar en ella, porque no dejan las ocasiones, que es harto peligro…

Estos, en parte, tienen harto más trabajo que los primeros, aunque no tanto peligro, porque ya parece los entienden, y hay gran esperanza de que entrarán más adentro. Digo que tienen más trabajo, porque los primeros son como mudos que no oyen, y así pasan mejor su trabajo de no hablar, lo que no pasarían, sino muy mayor, los que oyesen y no pudiesen hablar. Mas no por eso se desea más lo de los que no oyen, que en fin es gran cosa entender lo que nos dicen. Así éstos entienden los llamamientos que les hace el Señor; porque, como van entrando más cerca de donde está Su Majestad, es muy buen vecino, y tanta su misericordia y bondad, que aun estándonos en nuestros pasatiempos y negocios y contentos y baraterías del mundo, y aun cayendo y levantando en pecados (porque estas bestias son tan ponzoñosas y peligrosa su compañía y bulliciosas que por maravilla dejarán de tropezar en ellas para caer), con todo esto, tiene en tanto este Señor nuestro que le queramos y procuremos su compañía, que una vez u otra no nos deja de llamar para que nos acerquemos a El; y es esta voz tan dulce que se deshace la pobre alma en no hacer luego lo que le manda; y así -como digo- es más trabajo que no lo oír.

 

ORACIÓN

Señor Dios nuestro,
que por tu Espíritu has suscitado a santa Teresa de Jesús,
para mostrar a tu Iglesia el camino de la perfección,
concédenos vivir de su doctrina y enciende en nosotros
el deseo de la verdadera santidad.
Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

 

Les invitamos a dejar un comentario y a ofrecer su promesa de rezar el rosario, de ayunar o de hacer una obra de misericordia por las intenciones de Monseñor Silvio José Báez.

 

MEDITACIÓN

Homilía del XXIII Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario—Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel de Managua
9 de septiembre de 2018

Lecturas:
Is 35, 4-7a; Salmo 145, 7. 8-9a. 9bc-10; Sant 2, 1-5; Mc 7, 31-37

Triduo Teresiano: Oremos juntos por Mons. Báez — Día 2

PRIMERA LECTURA

Lectura del primer libro de Samuel 15,22
Desobediencia de Saúl

¿Se complace el Señor tanto
en holocaustos y sacrificios
como en la obediencia a la voz del Señor?
He aquí, el obedecer es mejor que un sacrificio,
y el prestar atención, que la grosura de los carneros.

 

SEGUNDA LECTURA

De Las Fundaciones de santa Teresa de Jesús, virgen y doctora de la Iglesia
(Capítulo 5)
Entre los pucheros anda el Señor

Así lo estaba una persona que ha pocos días que hablé, que la obediencia le había traído cerca de quince años tan trabajado en oficios y gobiernos, que en todos éstos no se acordaba de haber tenido un día para sí, aunque él procuraba lo mejor que podía algunos ratos al día de oración y de traer limpia conciencia. Es un alma de las más inclinadas a obediencia que yo he visto, y así la pega a cuantas trata. Hale pagado bien el Señor, que, sin saber cómo, se halló con aquella libertad de espíritu tan preciada y deseada que tienen los perfectos, adonde se halla toda la felicidad que en esta vida se puede desear; porque, no queriendo nada, lo poseen todo. Ninguna cosa temen ni desean de la tierra, ni los trabajos las turban, ni los contentos las hacen movimiento. En fin, nadie la puede quitar la paz, porque ésta de sólo Dios depende. Y como a El nadie le puede quitar, sólo temor de perderle puede dar pena, que todo lo demás de este mundo es, en su opinión, como si no fuese, porque ni le hace ni le deshace para su contento. ¡Oh dichosa obediencia y distracción por ella, que tanto pudo alcanzar!

No es sola esta persona, que otras he conocido de la misma suerte, que no las había visto algunos años había y hartos; y preguntándoles en qué se habían pasado, era todo en ocupaciones de obediencia y caridad. Por otra parte, veíalos tan medrados en cosas espirituales, que me espantaban. Pues ¡ea, hijas mías!, no haya desconsuelo cuando la obediencia os trajere empleadas en cosas exteriores; entended que si es en la cocina, entre los pucheros anda el Señor ayudándoos en lo interior y exterior.

 

ORACIÓN

Señor Dios nuestro,
que por tu Espíritu has suscitado a santa Teresa de Jesús,
para mostrar a tu Iglesia el camino de la perfección,
concédenos vivir de su doctrina y enciende en nosotros
el deseo de la verdadera santidad.
Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

 

Les invitamos a dejar un comentario y a ofrecer su promesa de rezar el rosario, de ayunar o de hacer una obra de misericordia por las intenciones de Monseñor Silvio José Báez.

 

MEDITACIÓN

Homilía del Segundo Domingo de Cuaresma—Parroquia Nuestra Señora de La Asuncion de Managua
17 de marzo de 2019

Lecturas:
Gen 15, 5-12. 17-18; Salmo 26, 1. 7-8a. 8b-9abc. 13-14; Fil 3, 17–4, 1; Lc 9, 28b-36

Triduo Teresiano: Oremos juntos por Mons. Báez — Día 1

PRIMERA LECTURA

De la carta del apóstol san Pablo a los Filipenses 2,5-11
La actitud de los seguidores de Cristo

Tengan los mismos sentimientos de Cristo Jesús.

El, que era de condición divina,
no consideró esta igualdad con Dios
como algo que debía guardar celosamente:
al contrario, se anonadó a sí mismo,
tomando la condición de servidor
y haciéndose semejante a los hombres.
Y presentándose con aspecto humano,
se humilló hasta aceptar por obediencia la muerte
y muerte de cruz.

Por eso, Dios lo exaltó
y le dio el Nombre que está sobre todo nombre,
para que al nombre de Jesús,
se doble toda rodilla
en el cielo, en la tierra y en los abismos,
y toda lengua proclame para gloria de Dios Padre:
«Jesucristo es el Señor».

 

SEGUNDA LECTURA

De Las Relaciones de santa Teresa de Jesús, virgen y doctora de la Iglesia
(Capítulo 36)
El camino del sufrimiento y del amor

Esto me dijo el Señor otro día: «¿Piensas, hija, que está el merecer en gozar? No está sino en obrar y en padecer y en amar. No habrás oído que San Pablo estuviese gozando de los gozos celestiales más de una vez, y muchas que padeció, y ves mi vida toda llena de padecer y sólo en el monte Tabor habrás oído mi gozo. No pienses, cuando ves a mi Madre que me tiene en los brazos, que gozaba de aquellos contentos sin grave tormento. Desde que le dijo Simeón aquellas palabras, la dio mi Padre clara luz para que viese lo que Yo había de padecer. Los grandes santos que vivieron en los desiertos, como eran guiados por Dios, así hacían graves penitencias, y sin esto tenían grandes batallas con el demonio y consigo mismos; mucho tiempo se pasaban sin ninguna consolación espiritual. Cree, hija, que a quien mi Padre más ama, da mayores trabajos, y a éstos responde el amor. ¿En qué te le puedo más mostrar que querer para ti lo que quise para Mí? Mira estas llagas, que nunca llegaron aquí tus dolores. Este es el camino de la verdad. Así me ayudarás a llorar la perdición que traen los del mundo, entendiendo tú esto, que todos sus deseos y cuidados y pensamientos se emplean en cómo tener lo contrario».

 

ORACIÓN

Señor Dios nuestro,
que por tu Espíritu has suscitado a santa Teresa de Jesús,
para mostrar a tu Iglesia el camino de la perfección,
concédenos vivir de su doctrina y enciende en nosotros
el deseo de la verdadera santidad.
Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

 

Les invitamos a dejar un comentario y a ofrecer su promesa de rezar el rosario, de ayunar o de hacer una obra de misericordia por las intenciones de Monseñor Silvio José Báez.

 

MEDITACIÓN

Homilía del Domingo de RamosParroquia de Esquipulas, Managua
14 de abril de 2019

Lecturas:
Is 50, 4-7; Salmo 21, 8-9. 17-18a. 19-20. 23-24; Flp 2, 6-11; Lc 22, 14–23, 56

 

Mary, Mother of God: Her face speaks peace — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Solemnity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of God
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
1 January 2020


Gospel
Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On the first day of the new year, we have the joy and grace of celebrating the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and at the same time the World Day of Peace. Gathered as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist around Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary and our true peace, we welcome with emotion the words of the ancient blessing that the priests imparted on the people of Israel: The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! (cf. Nm 6:26).

We have heard, both in the first reading—taken from the Book of Numbers—and in the responsorial Psalm, some expressions that contain the metaphor of the face in reference to God: “The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!” (Nm 6:25); “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2, NRSVCE). The face is the expression par excellence of the person, which makes him recognizable; through it, the feelings, thoughts, and intentions of the heart are shown. God, by his nature, is invisible; however, the Bible also applies this image to him. Showing his face is an expression of his benevolence while hiding it indicates his anger and indignation. The Psalms present believers as those who seek the face of God (cf. Ps 27:9; 102:2, NRSVCE) and who aspire to see it in worship: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:2, NRSVCE).

We begin this year with the deep conviction of our faith that the Lord wants to show us his face and that this is a reason for trust and hope. We trust that this year the Lord will look upon us as we journey and that he’ll gaze upon us with infinite kindness. We know that he’ll never turn his face away from us because he is the faithful one and he loves us dearly. We do not know what will happen in this new year, but we’re sure that the Lord will continue to show us his gentle, loving, welcoming face, assuring us that he is with us. The face of the Lord who is looking upon us will overcome our loneliness.

Biblical history as a whole can be read as a progressive revelation of the face of God, until it reaches its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. “When the fullness of time had come,” the Apostle Paul reminded us today, “God sent his Son” (Gal 4:4). And immediately he adds, “born of a woman, born under the law.” The face of God took on a human face, allowing Himself to be seen and recognized in the son of the Virgin Mary, whom we, therefore, venerate as “Mother of God.” She, who kept in her heart the secret of divine motherhood, was the first to see the face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb. The mother has a very special, unique and in some ways exclusive relationship with her newborn child. The first face the child sees is that of the mother, and this look is decisive for his relationship with life, with himself, with others, and with God.

Through her face, Mary “gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son (…) and sensing “the maternal tenderness of God”. At the same time, in contemplating the face of Mary, “the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles, the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise” (Pope Francis, Homily 1 January 2017). Seeing his mother’s face, Jesus recognized himself to be a son and a brother, as the Son of God and as the brother of all people. The mother’s serene gaze communicates security and peace, giving an awareness of being a person and strengthening the ability to relate to others and to God with maturity and generosity. Today too, the face of the Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us feel like children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.

The face of Our Lady, whose heart was always full of God’s loving presence, allows us to feel that God is close to us and loves us, it instills in us the certainty that God never leaves our side, and that he cares for us and always forgives us. Our Lady’s face also helps us to look at each other as sisters and brothers. It teaches us to see as she does, and it enables us to have a caring vision that seeks to welcome, to accompany, and to protect. Let’s learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary. May she help us this year to show a kind and welcoming face to all. Let’s not be afraid to go out and look at our brothers and sisters with Our Lady’s eyes, to let her face be seen in our faces. Her face speaks peace to us and makes us capable of being peacemakers.

Peace has much to do with the face, with our own face and the faces of others. Peace begins with a respectful look that recognizes a real person in the face of the other individual, whatever the color of their skin, their nationality, their language, and their religion may be. In this New Year, may people who see our face have no fear, neither let them feel ignored or rejected, because “mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace” (Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2020).

Peace is destroyed when we live in faceless, anonymous societies where the law that seems to dominate our coexistence is “every man for himself,” all of us being submerged in the sea of selfishness and indifference. We contribute to peace when we fill our lives and our hearts with faces—with faces that have names and stories, with faces that make our hearts beat with charity and solidarity, that move us with tenderness and goodness.

In many of our countries, injustice and violent repression continue to sow terror and death because we have not learned to recognize human beings who deserve dignity and respect in the faces of others, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Peace will be possible for our people only through “a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honor the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance” (World Day of Peace 2020).

The ancient priestly blessing of Israel concludes with these words: “The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace” (Nm 6:26). The human face of God who imparts his peace to us is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, at the beginning of this New Year, to prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessing in Christ and to be peacemakers, let us run back to the manger like the shepherds (cf. Lk 2:15-26) and confidently turn our faces to the face of the Mother who carries God in her arms. May she, whose face reflects God’s maternal tenderness, preserve our hearts in peace and help the whole of humanity to walk in the pathways of peace.

 

Theotokos BAEZ fave
Credit: Desde dentro…

 

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

Quote of the day: 30 December

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.

Matthew 2:13-14


The gospel text that we heard reminds us that Jesus’ family was a family like many of our families today, forced to move to foreign lands to save their lives and survive. As soon as Jesus is born, he suffers opposition from the mighty of this world, as will be the case throughout his life. The servant Messiah, devoid of power, always will be spied upon, persecuted, and harassed by the leaders of religion and politics who are governed by selfishness, ambition, and violence. The powerful are afraid of God’s people and respond to the gifts of God with intimidation and terror.

King Herod, who ruled in Judea, fearing the “king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2), who according to the testimony of the Magi was just born in Bethlehem, decided to take drastic measures to eliminate the child. Those who exercise power like despots in an authoritarian manner always live in fear of losing their power. Ambitious and thirsty for power, Herod is afraid and orders the murder of all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). Like the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, like the tyrants of today who dominate by repression and the shedding of innocent blood, Herod chooses to kill rather than lose his power and privileges. History repeats itself.

An angel, a messenger of the Lord, appeared in a dream to Joseph and commanded him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph promptly obeys, takes Mary and the newborn with him, and goes to Egypt where they experience the dramatic conditions of refugees, characterized by fear, poverty, uncertainty, and discomfort (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these difficulties so that no one would feel excluded from God’s loving presence. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is there wherever people are in danger, wherever they suffer, wherever they are forced to flee, and wherever they experience rejection and abandonment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced what it means to leave your own land and become immigrants, to have to flee and take refuge in a foreign country. In the midst of such a painful drama, Mary’s maternal heart and Joseph’s attentive heart always held onto the trust that God never would abandon them.

Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

 

Rest on the flight into Egypt MERSON Luc Olivier MFA Boston SC370988
Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Luc Olivier Merson (French, 1846–1920)
Oil on canvas, 1879
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Gallery Label
Fleeing persecution at the hands of Roman authorities, the Holy Family takes refuge in Egypt. Joseph dozes beside a dying campfire while his donkey grazes on sparse desert grass. At left sleep the Virgin Mary and infant Christ, crowned with a halo of light. They lie in the arms of a sphinx, its eyes turned to the heavens, where the first stars begin to appear. A successful Academic artist, Merson never traveled to North Africa, but his use of archeological detail creates the illusion of an eyewitness account, breathing new life into a time-honored subject.

 

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

The Holy Family: The fiber of humanity — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
29 December 2019


Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.

Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which reminds us of a particular dimension of the mystery of God’s becoming human in Jesus Christ: the Lord wanted to live in the very heart of a family. He entered the world as a child, born of the Virgin Mary and, through Joseph he received a legal father, was lovingly welcomed and protected by his parents, and was educated by them in the best human and religious values of his people. Ever since then the family, every family, has a certain sacredness. The Son of God sanctifies and gladdens every family with his presence and enables families to experience tenderness, reconciliation, and hope by sustaining them with his tender and merciful love.

The gospel text that we heard reminds us that Jesus’ family was a family like many of our families today, forced to move to foreign lands to save their lives and survive. As soon as Jesus is born, he suffers opposition from the mighty of this world, as will be the case throughout his life. The servant Messiah, devoid of power, always will be spied upon, persecuted, and harassed by the leaders of religion and politics who are governed by selfishness, ambition, and violence. The powerful are afraid of God’s people and respond to the gifts of God with intimidation and terror.

King Herod, who ruled in Judea, fearing the “king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2), who according to the testimony of the Magi was just born in Bethlehem, decided to take drastic measures to eliminate the child. Those who wield power like despots in an authoritarian manner always live in fear of losing their power. Ambitious and thirsty for power, Herod is afraid and orders the murder of all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). Like the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, like the tyrants of today who dominate by repression and the shedding of innocent blood, Herod chooses to kill rather than lose his power and privileges. History repeats itself.

Because he’s just a little child, Jesus is not able to take care of himself and protect himself from danger and it’s only thanks to Joseph and Mary’s care that his life is saved. Salvation history, woven by God with the fiber of humanity, passes through the daily events of families who are called to protect life by keeping love alive and seeking relationships of closeness and affection.

An angel, a messenger of the Lord, appeared in a dream to Joseph and commanded him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph promptly obeys, takes Mary and the newborn with him, and goes to Egypt where they experience the dramatic conditions of refugees, characterized by fear, poverty, uncertainty, and discomfort (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Unfortunately, thousands of families in our Latin American countries can see themselves in this sad reality. I’m thinking especially of Cuba, Venezuela and, more recently, my beloved people in Nicaragua. How many people in our countries, children, women and the elderly included, have to leave their homeland because of hunger or violence in search of an existence with greater dignity or simply to save their lives! I’m thinking today especially of the approximately 80,000 Nicaraguans who’ve had to flee our country, persecuted by a dictatorial government and its dark forces of death, in search of safety, trying to survive at all costs by exposing themselves to all kinds of risks and dangers!

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these difficulties so that no one would feel excluded from God’s loving presence. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is there wherever people are in danger, wherever they suffer, wherever they are forced to flee, and wherever they experience rejection and abandonment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced what it means to leave your own land and become immigrants, to have to flee and take refuge in a foreign country. In the midst of such a painful drama, Mary’s maternal heart and Joseph’s attentive heart always held onto the trust that God never would abandon them. Through their intercession, may this same conviction be rooted in your hearts, dear brothers and sisters, most of you who are immigrants and refugees who have left our countries. Don’t sink into sadness or let yourselves be overcome by despair in the face of difficulties; put your trust in the God who is the protector of the weak and vulnerable and who will never abandon you; live out your exile in communion with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who will accompany you with their love and help you to envision ever-new horizons.

After some time following Herod’s death, an angel reveals to Joseph—once again in a dream—that he can return to Israel. The situation is as yet uncertain because Archelaus, Herod’s son, reigns over Judea. This is why Jesus and his parents are going to Galilee. Joseph, the great dreamer of the dreams of God, also dreams in Egypt, in a foreign land, and Mary and Jesus share those dreams with him. Exile is a time to welcome the dreams that are born from trust in God. God is also there where men and women dream, where they hope to return to their homes in freedom, and where they plan and make choices in favor of life and dignity for themselves and their families.

Exile, even when forced by socio-political circumstances, can become a time of salvation, an authentic experience of God in darkness and pain. The great majority of you, who are either immigrants or refugees because of egotism, corruption, and violence, have a special place in the heart of God. He comforts, protects and invites you not to reproduce the same dehumanizing patterns of behavior of those who forced you out of your own country. Those who live outside their land are called to behave honestly in public life in the country that welcomes them, to respect its laws and to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of life. But that isn’t all. Immigrants and refugees must cultivate selfless friendships and fraternal charity towards one another, you must help each other in times of difficulty and, as far as possible, create networks of humanitarian aid and support among yourselves.

The family of Nazareth, which knew exile with all its difficulties and was protected by God, returned to its land and invites all exiles and refugees to feel loved and protected by God. Don’t lose hope that a safer future is reserved for you, too. Let us ask Jesus, Joseph, and Mary that you always may find an outstretched hand to help you and that you may experience fellowship, solidarity, and the warmth of friendship. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t forget your country, because as our great Rubén Dario said, “if the homeland is small, a great one can dream of it.” To my Nicaraguan compatriots outside the homeland, I remind you that Nicaragua is made for freedom, not for living like hostages. From now on, let us dream and strive to build a more dignified country for everyone, one that is free, just, peaceful and democratic. God is with us.

 

 

"Holy Family" by Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649) is licensed under CC0 1.0
Holy Family
Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649)
Etching, 1633
Cleveland Museum of Art (Licensed under CC0 1.0)

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

Jesus: God’s love story — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Day
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
25 December 2019


Gospel
John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of 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.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Christmas Day, the gospel that we heard is the prologue of the Gospel of John, which is a solemn poem, an authentic canticle dedicated to the Word of God, a hymn that from the earliest centuries helped Christians to delve into the mystery enclosed in Jesus of Nazareth.  If on this Christmas day we all listen to this gospel with simple faith and openness to God, it also can help us to believe in Jesus in a deeper way. Given the great richness of the Gospel text, we will try to dwell only on some of its central affirmations.

In the beginning was the Word

“In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was with God” (Jn 1:1). The prologue of John’s gospel starts with these words. It speaks of the beginning. Not the beginning of human history, but rather of the absolute principle from which everything has sprung. It affirms that from eternity “the Word” already existed. At the beginning of it all, there is no chaos, no absolute disorder; at the beginning of it all, there is no absurdity, darkness or nothingness. No. A word and a reason exist.  There is a divine “why” that brings everything into being and justifies everything that exists, a desire and a plan of God’s love that creates and guides everything. It’s a kind of divine wisdom (cf. Prov 8) that has created the universe and wisely maintains and cares for everything with tenderness and love.

Only if we trust that there has always been an eternal word from God that lovingly guides and directs everything for our good, can we ever overcome despair, moments of anguish, the unmanageability of our very lives, social and personal uncertainties, and the darkness in which everything seems to lose meaning.  Beyond all this, there is a logic, an eternal word, a divine reason, which is love. We can live with serenity and trust because God’s love, which is his eternal Word, which has always existed, enfolds, guides and protects us.

The Word of God became flesh

Today’s gospel has reminded us that God is not mute. From all eternity God has a word that he has wanted to speak, to communicate. He hasn’t remained silent, enclosed within himself. Throughout the course of history, that eternal word has been communicated to us: through creation, through revelation to the people of Israel, and through the cultures of all the peoples. God has always wanted to speak to us: to tell us how much he loves us, to reveal and explain his Word to us and his loving plan for us.

Today, we heard in the Gospel that this Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). The eternal Word became human, took on substance and entered history as a human being. Jesus of Nazareth is that Word that God has always wanted to speak to us. Jesus, the Word made flesh, incarnates God’s eternal plan; he embodies God’s infinite and gracious love for humanity and for each one of us.

God has not conveyed Himself to us through sublime concepts and doctrines. His Word has been incarnated in the intimate and simple life of Jesus so that even the most ordinary people can understand it. The eternal Word has been incarnated silently in the manger, like a child in need, so that we can welcome it and embrace it with love. In those days, the Word shone in Jesus’ humanity and was revealed in his works and words: when he healed the sick; when he offered God’s mercy and forgiveness to sinners; when he dedicated himself to acts of kindness by embracing the children on the streets, because he didn’t want anyone to feel like an orphan; when he blessed the sick, because he didn’t want them to feel forgotten by God; when he caressed the skin of lepers, because he didn’t want them to be excluded; and, when he died on the cross to teach us that no one has greater love than the one who gives his life for those whom he loves. The entire life of Jesus is the greatest book alive in which we can read the Word of God.

He made his dwelling among us

This Word of God “made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). The distances have vanished. God became “flesh”; he became human like us out of love. Since his birth in Bethlehem, he has lived among us. He has fallen so intensely in love with humanity that he hasn’t departed from our midst. That is why to meet God we don’t have to go outside the world, but rather we need to approach Jesus and let ourselves be touched and invaded by the love of God that has been revealed in him. It’s up to us to allow ourselves to be surprised and embraced by this love on a daily basis.

It’s a pity that God has come down to the depths of our existence, yet life still seems empty to us; it’s a shame that God has come to dwell in the human heart, yet at times we feel an unbearable inner emptiness; and, it is a tragedy that God has come to reign among us, but seems to be totally absent from our interpersonal and social relationships.

When we don’t understand the sacred value of that which is material and human since God became man, we become indifferent to the hunger of the poor, or indifferent to the disrespect for human rights, the violence of war, or the destruction of the planet. When we don’t understand that God has taken on that which is material, we make the beauty of sex into an experience of slavery and deceptive pleasure. Because we don’t take seriously the fact that God took on all that is human, we don’t know how to accept our human limitations with humility, nor do we live with joy and patience the necessary journey of maturity and aging. Only when we lovingly take on our human condition do we fully accept God and allow Him to transform us with His infinite love.

No one has ever seen God

The text of today’s gospel ends with this statement: “No one has ever seen God: it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known”. Jesus has been like the great narrative of God’s love. He did not make Him known through theory but through a story of goodness and forgiveness, which culminates in the cross and resurrection. The story of Jesus is the story of God among us. Only Jesus has “told” us what God is like.

Everything changes when we grasp that Jesus is the human face of God. Everything becomes clearer, simpler, and more attractive. By contemplating Jesus we know how God looks upon us when we suffer, how he looks for us when we are lost, and that he understands us and forgives us when we deny him. In Jesus, the “grace of the truth” of God has been revealed to us. We still won’t see God. You can’t see him. But Jesus helps us to overcome this impossibility of seeing God. The only way to see God is to listen to Jesus, to follow Jesus, and to live in communion with Jesus. He himself will say later: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. May we welcome Jesus, may we be transformed by his love, and may we become not only holier but more human.

 

In the beginning Shkolnik ICON FrTed Flickr S5504096566_f9119d89ea_o (straighten-fx)
Creation of the Cosmos (detail)
Written by Dmitry Shkolnik
St. Paul Orthodox Church
Dayton, Ohio

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, he currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

St. Joseph: Silence, Humanity and Love — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
22 December 2019


Gospel
Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, on the eve of the Christmas celebration, the liturgy of the word is centered on the person and experience of Saint Joseph, a young worker from Nazareth engaged to Mary, whom he loved and who he was going to marry. Before living together, Joseph discovers that she is expecting a child whose paternal origin is not entirely clear to him. The Gospel says that Joseph was “just”, that is, he faithfully fulfilled the law of the Lord; and not wishing to disown her in public, he decided to do so in private, sending her away quietly (cf. Mt 1:19). Was he surprised to see that Mary was pregnant since they had not had relations? Is it possible that his fiancée didn’t involve him in the event by sharing with him what she had understood from God about this birth?

Something unexpected and unpleasant is interjected in the marriage plans of the two young people. That pregnancy could only be the fruit of betrayal and, from the point of view of the cultural and religious customs of the time, Mary was considered an adulteress and according to the Law of Moses, she was to be stoned to death for her infidelity. Adultery was a break with the patriarchal order that dominated society; since the woman was deemed as belonging to the husband, so the aggrieved husband could denounce her and have her killed for her sin.

Joseph was just, that is, a faithful observer of the Lord’s law, but not in the style of the Pharisees, attached to the letter of the law. Joseph fulfills the law of the Lord by acting with profound humanity. With Joseph, justice means humanity, as the Book of Wisdom says: “the righteous must be kind” (Wis 12:19). He breaks with the logic of domination and possession. The other person is not first and foremost a sinner, a personified error, or a traitor, but a human being who has received life as a gift and commitment; a person who has the right to make changes and to live. Joseph proves to be truly just.

Joseph is not ashamed, he doesn’t belittle Mary and he doesn’t act in such a way as to expose her to shame and death. He doesn’t react in an impulsive and disciplinary fashion, but he looks for a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. Joseph’s justice is manifested in the fact that he was “unwilling to expose her to shame”, in not acting as if he owned her by deciding that she had to suffer and die. Nor does he care about his image as a man whose honor has been tarnished and whose rights have been violated by his future wife. Joseph acts with humanity and love.

Joseph’s actions were a huge, painful inner struggle for him. How many questions, how many doubts, how much uncertainty assail Joseph! It’s at this moment that God intervenes by revealing to Joseph in a dream the mystery of the conception of Mary’s son: it is the work of the creative power of God’s Spirit (v. 20-21). That dream obviously not only tried to resolve the conflict that had arisen between two spouses, but its ultimate aim was above all to reveal the identity of the child that was growing in Mary’s womb. Her child is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit; he is a creature that only God could give us. Joseph, accepting divine revelation about the divine origin of Jesus and accepting his role as the legal father of the child, presents himself as a “just” man, again not on the ethical-legal level of the old covenant like the Pharisees, but in the evangelical sense of the new covenant, as one who thoroughly fulfills the divine will—even without thoroughly understanding it—with absolute trust in God. He is the just and obedient man, open to God’s ways and docile to his will.

Joseph—who never speaks, of whom the Gospel doesn’t recall even one word, a silent and strong man, simple and energetic, practical and free—is also a dreamer.  The fate of the world was entrusted to his dreams because the just man has the same dreams as God. Today we need dreamers who are committed to making their dreams come true. It takes courage to dream, not mere imagination. Dreaming means not being content with the world as it is, but rather having the courage to see and imagine the most humane and the happiest future for everyone. Shakespeare said that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 1887-1889).

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). He doesn’t hesitate. Now he knows that God is asking him to do the hardest, not the easiest thing, and he decides not to leave Mary—not to run away; he abandons his doubts and decides to do God’s will (Mt 1:24). Maybe he knew the saying of his wife, Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) because in silence he repeats the same thing with his attitude when he gets up: “Here is your servant. Use me”. His willingness to choose God’s will, even if it is the most difficult and incomprehensible, his courage of faith not to run away but to stay and collaborate with God, changes Saint Joseph’s life forever. It will be his rule of life. Saint Joseph is like Abraham. He always walked without knowing where God was taking him, but he journeyed in serenity, knowing that he was in God’s hands.

Joseph accepts the legal paternity of the child; he will give him his last name. In this way, Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is directly linked to the dynasty of King David. The Son of God is now also the son of David. He receives his name from his legal father. Joseph names him as the angel has indicated: Jesus, in Hebrew yehoshua, means “The Lord saves”. The divine origin of Jesus and his saving mission are wonderfully condensed in his name. That is why he was born, that is why he came into the world, as the angel explained to Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). From now on Joseph will be the father of Jesus. He will walk in faith before the mystery of that son who is growing up before his eyes, who was his own but at the same time was not, welcoming the mystery of God in him through loving care and the silence of faith.

Saint Joseph’s life isn’t the life of a man who seeks his own fulfillment no matter how much it costs, who wants to do what’s convenient for him, whatever he pleases, and whatever sets him apart; but rather, his is the exemplary life of a man who denies himself, who doesn’t run away in the face of difficulties, and who humbles himself to let God lead the way. He hasn’t allowed himself to be paralyzed by doubt and fear in the face of the incomprehensible, nor has he allowed himself to be guided by a reasonable plan that he himself organized in human terms; rather, responding to God’s wishes, he has renounced his will in order to give himself over to the will of the Other, to the magnificent will of the Most High. In this way, he shows us that a person is completely fulfilled through this complete renunciation of self in order to do God’s will.

This Christmas we contemplate Saint Joseph, with the Virgin and the Child in the manger; Joseph—who had an unwavering trust in God, which allowed him to accept a situation that was difficult in human terms and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible. May he teach us that to be righteous is to be human; that to be a believer is to trust and obey God; and, that to be a believer it isn’t necessary to speak much. Joseph never spoke in the Gospel, because, as Saint John of the Cross says, “what is wanting, if anything is wanting, is not writing or speaking—rather these usually superabound—but silence and work.”

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome, and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, he currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

 

RIZI-Francisco_Dream of St Joseph_IMA
The Dream of St. Joseph
Francisco Rizi (Spanish, 1608-1685)
Oil on canvas, about 1665
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Gallery label

In a subject that became popular in Spain during the 17th century, an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary has miraculously conceived a child. The luminous angel points to a vision of Mary with the infant Christ in her womb and the dove of the Holy Spirit above her. The veneration of the expectant Virgin as protectress of women in childbirth was prevalent at the Spanish court.

The artist’s forceful draftsmanship, fluid brushwork, and radiant color exemplify the most important tendencies of late Baroque painting in Madrid.

Rizi was born in Spain, the son of a Bolognese painter who worked for Philip II at the royal complex of El Escorial. In 1656 Rizi became royal painter to Philip IV. He was also a stage designer.

Learn more about this painting here. Learn more about Francisco Rizi here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

Our Lady of Joy — Homily for The Immaculate Conception | Silvio José Báez, O.C.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Homily for the Solemnity

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Most Reverend Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua 

 

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
December 7, 2019


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Tonight we celebrate the Eucharist on the Solemnity for the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which will be followed by the joyful and heartfelt Nicaraguan feast of the Gritería. We Nicaraguans have grown up singing to the Virgin, feeling our hearts pounding with emotion at the cry of “Who causes so much joy? The Conception of Mary!”, turning our gaze to the Mother of the Lord, awaiting Her loving protection, with the certainty shouted at the top of our lungs in churches and in homes in our country: “Mary of Nicaragua, Nicaragua of Mary”.

In tonight’s Gospel, we heard that God sent the angel Gabriel to a house in Nazareth, who upon entering, greeted a young virgin named Mary, saying, “Rejoice, full of grace. The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). The first word that the angel utters is: “Rejoice!” God has chosen Mary to welcome the joy of the Messiah’s salvation in the name of all humanity. She receives from God the proclamation, “Rejoice!” because of the Savior’s coming. God invites her to rejoice even when she is a young woman of scarce resources, belonging to an almost unknown town in Galilee, even when she is part of a people who are subjugated, oppressed and bereft of hope. In this humble young woman of Nazareth, God causes messianic joy to emerge and she, welcoming it, makes it her own to be experienced every day.

Recently the Bishops of Nicaragua stated in this year’s Advent message that “experiencing joy is a challenge for the people who live in Nicaraguan society because we live in a Nicaragua that is ravaged by deep divisions and ruptures, where the abundance of gloomy faces are an eloquent testimony to the deep despair, suffering and sadness that Nicaraguan men and women are going through today.

It’s true. Our Nicaraguan society is bleeding, her heart is wounded, and we have shed tears of sorrow and helplessness; in the people who live on the streets and in the homes of our country and in those of us who live abroad, gloomy faces and troubled hearts abound, expressing sadness, powerlessness, and uncertainty. We can’t deny it. Moreover, we mustn’t deny it, for the joy that the Messiah brings us is born and reborn again and again in the midst of pain and despair.

The Virgin Mary, the first recipient of Messianic joy, reveals to us the secret of this joy, which is possible to experience even in the midst of the night of helplessness and anguish. In today’s Gospel, the angel, after inviting Mary to rejoice, went on to say to her: “The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). It is a very short phrase, but it expresses in synthesis the foundation of our faith and hope. This is the secret of Christian joy: God is in our midst as a powerful Savior. Mary rejoices because she is the bearer of Emmanuel, of ‘God with us’, and this presence causes her to exult with joy. This certainty allows us, like Mary, to sing and exult with joy. She lived with this joy that no one could take away from her, neither poverty, nor the darkness of faith, nor the pain of her son’s crucifixion. The Most Pure Virgin Mary is “Our Lady of Joy”. “The Lord is with you”: this is the secret of the Virgin’s joy and of our joy, for as St. Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us”? (Rom 8:31). Let us rejoice, the Lord is with you, Nicaragua! The Lord is with us, dear Nicaraguan sisters and brothers!

Without joy we remain paralyzed, slaves of our sorrows, weakened by the problems of life and the challenges of the times, unable to dream and build a better world. Our Lady teaches us that true joy does not belong exclusively to the realm of affections and feelings, but is rooted in the experience of faith and trust in the Lord’s love. To be happy or sad is a matter of faith when all is said and done. In her prayer of the Magnificat, Mary once again reveals to us the secret of her joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior because he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant” (Lk 1:48).

From her littleness and poverty, she contemplates the greatness of God who has gazed upon her with love. Despite her problems, which were not insignificant, she lives with joy because she trusts completely in the Lord and feels loved and cared for by Him. God fulfills all her longings. She needs nothing other than God to live with joy, to be joyful. Our Lady teaches us something as simple as letting ourselves be looked upon by God, always trusting in him; feeling welcomed and enfolded in his tenderness, cared for with a love that is attentive and caring, as we are continually forgiven with mercy. This fundamental feeling that is at the root of faith, by infusing us with joy, gives us a new capacity to overcome with faith the most painful and difficult moments; it makes us able to act with mercy towards others, serving and caring for one another; and, it also gives us the strength and creativity to imagine and build a new society founded on freedom, social justice and respect for human dignity. When we are sad, none of this can be done.

Our Lady of Joy is also the Mother of Joy. At the birth of her son, a great joy is announced to the shepherds: “he announced to them a great joy: to them is born this day in the city of David the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:11). Mary not only gives birth to her son Jesus, but she also gives birth to a new joy, which never ends and of which we can always partake, on the condition that we live in communion with her son Jesus, the Messiah who has brought us joy, by “doing what he tells us” (Jn 2:5), as the Virgin at Cana in Galilee advised to do. Let there be no doubt. To think and act according to Jesus’ standards; to incarnate the Gospel in our personal and social life; always seeking and accepting God’s will, even at the cost of sacrifices and often without understanding everything that is happening to us, that is the pathway of joy. Let’s not fall into the temptation to think that those who ignore or reject God, those who live locked up in their egotism and trample on the dignity of other human beings, are living a joyful life. No. That is not the pathway of joy.

The perfect joy to which we are called follows a different trail and Mary, Our Lady of joy, assures us that it is possible to follow this path when we accept our littleness with serenity and abandon ourselves with trust into God’s hands. It is precisely the mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception that gives us the certainty that this joy is possible, for the loving will of a God who has always desired to give us perfect joy has been revealed in Mary, molding each of us in the image of His Son. She, the All Beautiful One, is that beautiful and luminous first fruit of the redemption of Christ, who in the Immaculate Conception of his Mother, the one “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), has brought forth the seed of the joy of a new world in the midst of the history of sorrow and the sin of humanity.

 

Immaculate Conception - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo PRADO
The Immaculate Conception
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
Oil on canvas, 1767-1769
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Gallery label (excerpt)
This majestic image was part of a cycle of seven altarpieces commissioned in 1767 for the new royal church of San Pascual Bailón at Aranjuez, founded by Charles III in the same year. The symbols in the altarpiece refer to the virtues and significance of the Virgin. Read more here. Copyright © Museo Nacional del Prado. Used by permission.

 

Abrahán, Modelo de Esperanza — Vida Religiosa

Por Monseñor Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

El modelo de la esperanza es Abrahán, que «creyó, esperando contra toda esperanza» (Rom 4,18), expresión en sí misma contradictoria, pues no se puede esperar en modo sensato cuando no hay razones sufientes para hacerlo. Abrahán logra esperar porque cree. Su fe la vive como esperanza y su esperanza es confianza ilimitada.

Pablo describe así la fe de Abrahán: «No vaciló en su fe al considerar su cuerpo ya sin vigor…

Leer más sobre Abrahán, Modelo de Esperanza Vida Religiosa

 

PalmSunday2019_Esquipulas_CARLOSHERRERA-04
Carlos Herrera / Confidencial (Used by permission)

 

Quote of the day: 9 August

Passion Sunday, 26 March 1939

Dear Mother, please, will Your Reverence allow me to offer myself to the Heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of propitiation for true peace: that the dominion of Antichrist may collapse, if possible, without a new world war, and that a new order may be established? I would like it [my request] granted this very day because it is the twelfth hour. I know that I am a nothing, but Jesus desires it, and surely He will call many others to do likewise in these days.

Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
A stained glass window in Eindhoven, Netherlands seems to offer a fitting tribute to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein. Her lifelong journey with God from the family’s Jewish hearth to the heart of God by the path of total immolation for Christthrough the bonds of the Teresian Carmelprovides a stirring witness to the Church today. May we be inspired by her example and aided by her intercession. | pedrocaetano / Flickr

 

Edith Stein addressed Letter 296 to her prioress in the Carmel of Echt, Mother Ottilia a Jesu Crucifixo, O.C.D. (Maria Margaret Thannisch) on Passion Sunday, 1939. In her letter, we see profound continuity with Teresian spirituality; we offer for your reflection a few salient points.

Obedience

Edith’s obedience to her prioress prompts her to seek permission to make this solemn offering, rather than to enter into such a life-changing commitment by herself, a decision that could have consequences for her entire community.

Obedience is a cornerstone of all Carmelite life, beginning with the Rule of St. Albert of Jerusalem, which states, The first thing I require is for you to have a prior, one of yourselves, who is to be chosen for the office by common consent, or that of the greater and maturer part of you; each of the others must promise him obedience — of which, once promised, he must try to make his deeds the true reflection…” (Rule, 4)

St. Teresa of Avila takes up the refrain when she writes, “in matters touching on obedience He doesn’t want the soul who truly loves Him to take any other path than the one He did: obediens usque ad mortem” (Ph 2:8). (Foundations, 5:5)

 

Notting Hill Profession 2019
On 4 August 2019 Sister Sarah of Notting Hill Carmel made her First Religious Profession, and pronounced her vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience during Mass, in the presence of witnesses of the Church. This photo shows her pronouncing her vows as she kneels before her prioress, who receives them as God’s representative. | Photo: Carmelite Nuns in Britain / Facebook (used by permission)

 

Self-Offering

In comparison with the Discalced Carmelite martyrs of Compiègne and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus who preceded Edith in choosing a life of radical, holocaust offering to God, we note the following similarities and differences:


🞧  The Discalced Carmelites of Compiègne made their offering after their prioress proposed making an act of consecration “by which the community would offer themselves in holocaust to appease the wrath of God and to obtain that, through the sacrifice of their very selves, peace may be restored to the Church and to the State.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

 

🞧  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus was motivated by “ardent desires… to save souls” when she made her holocaust offering to merciful love on 9 June 1895. (CJ, 30 Sep 97) She wrote, 

“O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love you and make you loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory you have prepared for me in your kingdom… In order to live in one single act of perfect love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to your merciful love, asking you to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within you to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of your love, O my God!” (Pri 6)

 

🞧  St. Teresa Benedicta offered herself to the heart of Jesus, a gesture of self-immolation in the furnace of the infinite love of Christ. Like St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of Compiègne, St. Benedicta understood that a holocaust is consumed in the flames that spring forth from the Sacred Heart, echoing the sentiment of Thérèse: “O my Jesus! let it be me this happy victim, consume your holocaust through the fire of your Divine Love.” (Ms A, 84r)

Further, the propitiatory nature of St. Benedicta’s self-offering aligns with the consecration of the proto-martyrs of Discalced Carmelite nuns, Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine and her companions “so that peace may be restored to the Church and to the State.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

 

Adoration_of_the_Kings_Cologne Cathedral window_Robyn Fleming Flickr
This stained glass window depicting the adoration of the three kings in the Cathedral of Cologne would have been familiar to Edith Stein; the cathedral holds a reliquary which, according to tradition, contains the bones of the magi, seen here. Did Edith see her self-sacrificial offering in reference to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offered by the travelers from the East? | Robyn Fleming / Flickr

 

Nothingness

“I know that I am a nothing,” Edith wrote. This is an ancient tune in the Teresian Carmel, beginning with St. Teresa of Avila herself: “I realized I was a woman and wretched and incapable of doing any of the useful things I desired to do in the service of the Lord.” (Way, 1:2)

Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine counseled abandonment as a remedy to her daughters and directees: “I’m speaking of perfect abandonment to the divine wishes of our good Master. We are in his hands like children in the arms of a tender Father, who knows well what we need” (Letter 4 from Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine to Mademoiselle de Grand-Rut, Holy Thursday, April 1790). (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 137)

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, immersing herself within her own Carmelite identity“of the Child Jesus”through spiritual childhood,  explores the frontier of nothingness through love. While she stated in Manuscript A that it is “the property of love… to lower itself,” (Ms A, 2v) in her magisterial Manuscript B, she plumbs the abyss: “So that Love may be fully satisfied, it must lower itself, lower itself all the way to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire.” (Ms B, 3v)

Are these three Carmelite martyrs exaggerating? No, insists the Discalced Carmelite friar who is the foremost expert on the theology of the saints, François-Marie Léthel, OCD—professor of the same at the Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”. His teaching is crystal clear:

It is “a rule in the theology of the saints: the saints never exaggerate, but simply tell the truth in dimensions that always seem exaggerated to us as they do for all those who aren’t yet saints!” (Léthel 2011, p. 144)

 

Star Cluster NGC 6611 Hubble star clusters NASA Hubble Flickr
This collection of dazzling stars is called NGC 6611, an open star cluster that formed about 5.5 million years ago in the well-known Eagle Nebula (or Messier 16). It is a very young cluster, containing many hot, blue stars, whose fierce ultraviolet glow make the surrounding Eagle Nebula glow brightly. Astronomers refer to areas like the Eagle Nebula as HII regions. This is the scientific notation for ionized hydrogen from which the region is largely made. Extrapolating far into the future, this HII region will eventually disperse, helped along by shockwaves from supernova explosions as the more massive young stars end their brief but brilliant lives. In this image, dark patches can also be spotted, punctuating the stellar landscape. These areas of apparent nothingness are actually very dense regions of gas and dust, which obstruct light from passing through. Many of these may be hiding the sites of the early stages of star formation, before the fledgling stars clear away their surroundings and burst into view. For more information, visit: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1101a/ |ESA/Hubble & NASA / Flickr

 

Divine Will

St. Teresa Benedicta minced no words when she declared her firm belief that God was calling her to make this radical self-sacrifice: “Jesus desires it.”

St. Thérèse was more poetic:

Divine Word! You are the Adored Eagle whom I love and who draws me! It is you who, soaring toward this land of exile, willed to suffer and die in order to draw souls into the heart of the Eternal Home of the Blessed Trinity. It is you who, ascending once again to the inaccessible Light, which will be henceforth your abode, still remain in this vale of tears, hidden beneath the appearance of a white host.

Eternal Eagle, you desire to nourish me with your divine substanceme, poor little creaturewho would return to nothingness if your divine gaze did not give me life each and every moment.

O Jesus, in the excess of my gratitude, let me tell you that your love is crazy. Given this craziness, how can you not want my heart to soar to you? How can my trust have any limits? 

Ah! For you, I know, the saints have done some crazy things, they’ve done some great things because they were eagles… Jesus, I’m too little to do great things… and my own craziness is to hope that your Love will accept me as a victim… My craziness consists in begging the Eagles my brothers, to obtain for me the favor of flying toward the Sun of Love with the Divine Eagle’s own wings… (Ms B, 05v)

For Blessed Thérèse of Compiègne, the divine inspiration to make the act of consecration came to her during mental prayer, those moments in the life of every Discalced Carmelite nun where even in the midst of dryness and darkness, she communes with God alone.

Mother Thérèse shared an apartment with the most senior members of the monastic community in Compiègne city after they were expelled from their cloister by the secularizing legislation of the French revolutionary government. It was to these most mature members of the community that one morning she first proposed a community act of holocaust consecration (probably in 1792); but their immediate reaction was to recoil in fear.

Historian William Bush notes that their reaction startled the prioress and she immediately regretted the proposal. Yet, after an entire day of contemplation, here were “two tearful 76-year-old nuns coming to ask forgiveness of their prioress for their lack of courage.” (Bush 1999, p. 107)

Again, what did Edith say? “Jesus desires it.”

 

Ratgeb martyrdom of the Carmelites
“Deus Vult” (God wills it) was the rallying cry associated with the Crusades, in particular the first crusade in the 11th century. The first Carmelite hermits, for whom St. Albert of Jerusalem wrote his Rule of Life, were believed to be crusaders who chose to lead a life of penance and prayer on the Mediterranean slope of Mount Carmel, rather than return to their homes in Europe. Ultimately, many of them gave their lives as witnesses to Christ when they were martyred at the hands of the Saracens in 1291.
Martyrdom of the Carmelites
Jörg Ratgeb (German, 1480-1526)
Wall painting, 1517
Carmelite Cloister, Frankfurt

 

Universal Call

When Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine proposed the act of consecration to the entire community, she reminded her nuns in Compiègne to “note well, my Sisters, that we didn’t enter religious life except to put ourselves to work on our sanctification through the total immolation of our selves, which are so precious to us.  It shouldn’t cost us much to do this.” (Sr. Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, p. 67)

With her typical audacity, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus dared to ask this of the Lord: “I beg you to lower your divine gaze upon a great number of little souls. I beg you to choose a legion of little victims worthy of your love!” (Ms B, 5v)

Yes, St. Thérèse begged for holocaust victims; and, St. Benedicta felt certain that Christ would call others to follow such a rugged path that she trod: “surely He will call many others to do likewise in these days.” (Stein, E 1939, Letter 269)

 

OLMC Haifa 2019 Procession photo OCDinform 01
Thousands of pilgrims accompanied the Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the slow, arduous climb from Saint Joseph Latin Catholic Parish in the City of Haifa up to the Stella Maris Church and Monastery of the Discalced Carmelite friars on the promontory of Mount Carmel on 5 May 2019. It was the 100th anniversary of the procession, which began as an act of gratitude for the liberation of the city from Turkish rule at the end of the first World War. | Discalced Carmelite General Curia / Facebook (used by permission)

 

“In these days…”

In our time, self-sacrifice and courage never must be lacking. “Jesus desires it” still today. What time is it now? Is it still “the twelfth hour”? Are we too late to respond to his call? In the words of a meditation written for the Elevation of the Holy Cross, 14 September 1939, Saint Edith Stein still speaks to us today:

The world is in flames. Are you impelled to put them out? Look at the cross. From the open heart gushes the blood of the Savior. This extinguishes the flames of hell. Its precious blood is poured everywhere—soothing, healing, saving.

The eyes of the Crucified look down on you—asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness? What will you answer him?

“Lord, where shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”

Ave Crux, Spex unica!

 


Reference List

Agnès of Jesus, 1897, The yellow notebook of Mother Agnès, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/carnet-jaune/2385-carnet-jaune-septembre>.

Albert of Jerusalem, c. 1206-1214, The Rule of St. Albert, Carmelnet, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://carmelnet.org/chas/rule.htm>.

Bush, W 1999, To Quell the Terror: The True Story of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Foley, M., & Teresa. 2012, The book of her foundations: a study guide, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C.

Gelber, L, Linssen, M & Stein, E 1992, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essay, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Kavanaugh, K, Rodriguez, O & Teresa 2000, The Way of Perfection, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Léthel, F-M 2011, La Lumière du Christ Dans le Coeur de l’Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints, Éditions Parole et Silence, Les Plans-sur-Bex.

Marie de l’Incarnation 1836, Histoire des religieuses carmélites de Compiègne conduites a l’échafaud le 17 juillet 1794, Ouvrage posthume de la soeur Marie de l’Incarnation, Thomas-Malvin, Sens.

Stein, E. 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1895, Manuscript A 02v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/02-10/02/02-verso>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, 1895, Manuscript A 84r, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/81-86/84/84-recto>.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1896, Manuscript B 03v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/b03/b03v>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face 1896, Manuscript B 05v, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/b05/b05v>

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, 1895, Prayer 6 from Thérèse of Lisieux, Archives du Carmel de Lisieux, viewed 8 August 2019, <http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/index.php/pri-6>.

 


Sine qua non

The blogger wishes to acknowledge the invaluable guidance, instruction, example, encouragement, and friendship of the following Discalced Carmelites:

Bishop Silvio José Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Sister Marie Josephine Fagnoni, Carmel of Haifa
Father Emilio José Martínez González, Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”
Father François-Marie Léthel, Pontifical Theological Faculty “Teresianum”
Sister Thérèse Wilkinson, Thicket Priory

Orar: Dejarnos transfigurar

Orar es subir a una montaña, no físicamente, sino entrando en lo más profundo de nuestro ser en donde encontramos el corazón de luz de Dios.

Se sube a la montaña entrando en nosotros mismos, más allá de sentimientos y razones, más allá del vaivén de la vida diaria llevando en el corazón los grandes problemas del mundo.

Orar es entrar en nosotros mismos, con las manos llenas de rostros y de historias, y dejarnos iluminar, transfigurar por la amorosa y apacible luz de Dios que nos habita el corazón, «en su más profundo centro». Efectivamente, mientras Jesús rezaba su rostro cambió de apariencia.

 

Divine Mercy Church Anniv Mass 13July19_N3A5472 48376301777_e9da9e1b01_o Jorge Mejia Peralta Flickr
Misa Aniversario Ataque Iglesia Divina Misericordia, Managua, 13 de julio 2019 | Jorge Mejía Peralta / Flickr

 

Orar transforma: te convierte en lo que contemplas, en lo que escuchas, en lo que amas, llegas a ser como Aquel quien rezas. Dice el Salmo 34: «¡Contemplad el rostro de Dios y quedaréis radiantes!» (Sal 34,6).

¡Cuanta necesidad tenemos de subir al monte en nuestra sociedad, para tener una mirada más amplia sobre la historia, para liberarnos del miedo, para superar la irracionalidad y la ideologización!

¡Cuanta necesidad tenemos de ser, transfigurados!

Monseñor Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Obispo Auxiliar de la Arquidiócesis de Managua

 

 

Transfiguration icon by Theofan the Greek Blogfeatimage
Icono de la Santa Transfiguración por Teófano el Griego, Galería Tretyakov, Moscú (detalle)

 

 

Quote of the day: 20 July

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kg 19:4).

The previous verse tells us why Elijah decides to go to the desert and wants to die: “He was afraid; he got up and fled for his life” (1 Kg 19:3).

Elijah was a great prophet, a man of God, and a giant of the faith. Even the great men of God can suffer moments of crisis and fear, as in this case with the prophet Elijah, who flees in fear before the threats and persecution of the powerful Phoenician queen Jezebel.

The prophet’s crisis, however, becomes a moment of grace because God approaches him in the desert and feeds him, giving him new strength to live.

Elijah goes to the desert, lies down and goes to sleep. He’s just waiting to die. “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4). Like so many other believers in the Bible, Elijah complains before God. All that remains is to throw in the towel; everything has been useless.

And further, now Elijah is afraid. Fear leads Elijah not only to run away but also to fall asleep. Falling asleep is to remain unconscious, in a certain way: it’s an escape from reality.

However, when things turn dark; when what’s transpired becomes indecipherable and the future, uncertain: that’s when we have to be wide awake.

 

BAEZ - We must not turn off the light IGsize

 

We must not turn off the light of conscience and discernment, for that is when we must be more clear-headed than ever.

The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God, because God doesn’t want anyone to be asleep and fearful.

The prophet turns to hear the word of the Lord through an angel, saying two times: “Get up and eat” (1 Kings 19:5).  After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep.

Sometimes the crisis is so great
and the discouragement is so strong
that it is difficult to get up and walk.

But God is not overcome by our weakness; God insists for the second time in feeding Elijah: “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” (1 Kings 19:7). God doesn’t want us to feel fearful, neither does he want us to sleep.

God offered Elijah—through his messenger—frugal and simple food: a pilgrim’s meal (“a cake baked on hot stones” and “a jar of water”, 1 Kings 19:6). At that moment you don’t need a succulent feast, but effective nutrition. That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide. Elijah ate and “he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

Before eating, the prophet’s flight was headed toward death; after being fed in the desert, that miraculous meal takes him to Mount Horeb or Sinai, where Moses met the Lord, where Israel first made a covenant with its God. God began everything on that mountain.

 

Sinai Sunrise Richard White Blogfeatimage
Elijah goes to that mountain—where the whole history of the covenant started—to begin again, renewed by God’s strength, and to be able to continue as a man, as a believer, and as a prophet.

 

Elijah fought against the injustice and arrogance of the powerful, the manipulation of religion, the violent repression, and the use of fear as a form of domination. All of these shady schemes are opposed to God’s plan.

Elijah gave everything. In the end, in self-imposed exile, escaping to protect himself from the death threats of Queen Jezebel, he falls down, tired and hopeless, in the desert. He was tempted not to keep fighting, dreaming, and hoping. It can happen to anyone.

The biblical text, however, gives us the certainty that God’s nourishment allows us to come out of our unconscious state and overcome fear—not letting anyone deprive us of hope. The bread that God gives us in the desert is more powerful than the wiles and threats of the shadowy structures of oppression and death.

Today, too, we need a bread that is mysterious and effective, that allows us to walk with strength and hope.

That bread is Jesus, who today has told us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51). Jesus offers to nourish us so as to give us strength, light, hope, and the breath of life that come from the same God, the creator of life.

If Jesus nourishes us with his love and kindness, with his light and with his strength, nothing can take away our joy and hope. In our interior, in the depths of our heart, God feeds us with his Son, the Bread come down from heaven.

 

Divine Liturgy Eucharistic Prayer St Petersburg Theological Academy Flickr
In our interior,
in the depths of our heart,
God feeds us with his Son,
the Bread come down from heaven
Saint-Petersburg Theological Academy / Flickr

 

We have heard Jesus say: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” The Father mysteriously draws us to Jesus; he makes Jesus attractive to us. And if Jesus presents himself again to us—attractive, fascinating, familiar in the depths of our being—we are attracted to the good, the beautiful, the noble.

If Jesus makes us attractive, we will be fascinating and attractive, which does good for the human person—which builds a better world.

 

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Homily, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (excerpts)
12 August 2018 

 

You can read the full text of the homily on our blog here.

Elijah: Fear and Hope

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Homily of H.E. Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Parish of San Anthony of Mount Tabor, Managua
12th August 2018


Today’s first reading (1 Kings 19:4-8) tells us about the prophet Elijah, who one day is filled with fear and goes to the desert because, disappointed in himself, in religion, and in the society in which he lives, he wants to die: “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kg 19:4).

The previous verse tells us why Elijah decides to go to the desert and wants to die: “He was afraid; he got up and fled for his life” (1 Kg 19:3). He had made a great effort for years to show the people the true face of God; he had committed himself completely so that the people of Israel would keep the faith intact against the religion of the false god Baal and defend the poor against the acts of violence and injustice of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, the royal couple who ruled at that time.

Elijah was a great prophet, a man of God, and a giant of the faith.

After having defeated the false prophets of the queen, unmasking the religious deceptions of the royal couple with which they dominated the people, and having denounced the great acts of injustice they committed, the queen had persecuted him and threatened to kill him. The prophet is afraid and runs away. Nelson Mandela said that “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Even the great men of God can suffer moments of crisis and fear, as in this case with the prophet Elijah, who flees in fear before the threats and persecution of the powerful Phoenician queen Jezebel who ruled at that time in Israel. A prophet of God was running away from a soulless woman, whose will was supposed to be the law; who was the manipulator of religion; she who was the unjust and violent one. The prophet is afraid and flees to the desert.

 

Leighton, Frederic, 1830-1896; Elijah in the Wilderness
Elijah in the Wilderness
Frederic Leighton (British, 1830–1896)
Oil on canvas, 1877-78
Walker Art Gallery

 

The prophet’s crisis, however, becomes a moment of grace because God approaches him in the desert and feeds him, giving him new strength to live.

Elijah goes to the desert, lies down and goes to sleep. He’s just waiting to die. The fact that Elijah lies down and wishes for death shows the drama of the moment he is experiencing: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4).

Like so many other believers in the Bible, Elijah complains before God and goes on about the weariness of his life, the fatigue of the struggle, the temptation to make the final withdrawal. All that remains is to throw in the towel; everything has been useless. He has probably experienced that his prophetic ministry and his efforts to fight against Baalism and against the injustice of the system in Israel have proved to be of little value.

In reality, nothing has changed and now his life is threatened.

And further, now Elijah is afraid. The powerful queen has intimidated him and threatened to take his life. To dominate others, fear is the most effective instrument. It is the preferred weapon of oppressors. Fear leads Elijah not only to run away but also to fall asleep. Falling asleep is to remain unconscious, in a certain way: it’s an escape from reality.

However, when things turn dark; when what’s transpired becomes indecipherable and the future, uncertain: that’s when we have to be wide awake. We must not turn off the light of conscience and discernment, for that is when we must be more clear-headed than ever. Poor Elijah. Defeated. Full of fear, running away from Queen Jezebel, running away from reality, and running away from himself.

 

BAEZ - We must not turn off the light IGsize

 

The biblical story tells us that Elijah was awakened and fed by God, because God doesn’t want anyone to be asleep and fearful. Precisely at the moment of the greatest darkness and fatigue is when the prophet turns to hear the word of the Lord through an angel, saying two times: “Get up and eat” (1 Kings 19:5).  After eating the first time, Elijah goes back to sleep. Sometimes the crisis is so great and the discouragement is so strong that it is difficult to get up and walk.

God is not overcome by our weakness

God insists for the second time in feeding him: “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” (1 Kings 19:7). God doesn’t want us to feel fearful, neither does he want us to sleep. That is why he feeds the prophet, as he feeds all of us when we feel fallen, frustrated, and hopeless. God makes the boundary seem like it becomes a new horizon; what is experienced as death is transformed into the beginning of a new life.

 

Leighton, Frederic, 1830-1896; Elijah in the Wilderness
That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide.

 

God offered Elijah—through his messenger—frugal and simple food: a pilgrim’s meal (“a cake baked on hot stones” and “a jar of water”, 1 Kings 19:6). At that moment you don’t need a succulent feast, but effective nutrition. That kind of effective nutrition to recover strength and hope, only God can provide. Elijah ate and “he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

Before eating, the prophet’s flight was headed toward death; after being fed in the desert, that miraculous meal takes him to Mount Horeb or Sinai, where Moses met the Lord, where Israel first made a covenant with its God. God began everything on that mountain. Elijah goes to that mountainwhere the whole history of the covenant startedto begin again, renewed by God’s strength, and to be able to continue as a man, as a believer, and as a prophet.

 

 

SONY DSC
God began everything on that mountain. | Phillip Marsh / Flickr

 

We who are living in the current drama of our society know about the injustice and arrogance of the powerful, the manipulation of religion, violent repression, and the use of fear as a form of domination. All of these shady schemes are opposed to God’s plan.

Elijah fought against all of this. He gave everything. In the end, in self-imposed exile, escaping to protect himself from the death threats of Queen Jezebel, he falls down, tired and hopeless, in the desert. He was tempted not to keep fighting, dreaming, and hoping. It can happen to anyone.

 

BAEZ - Elijah was tempted not to keep fighting TWsize

 

The biblical text, however, gives us the certainty that God’s nourishment allows us to come out of our unconscious state and overcome fearnot letting anyone deprive us of hopeto keep moving forward to build a freer and more democratic country. The bread that God gives us in the desert is more powerful than the wiles and threats of the shadowy structures of oppression and death.

We have the right to dream of a Nicaragua without rulers who oppress the people, where the dignity and rights of every person are respected, where we put off particular interests to share our goods and concerns in peace and justice, and where dissent from power is not a crime.

 

BAEZ - I dream of a Nicararagua

 

Today, too, we need a bread that is mysterious and effective, that allows us to walk with strength and hope.

That bread is Jesus, who today has told us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51). Jesus offers to nourish us so as to give us strength, light, hope, and the breath of life that come from the same God, the creator of life.

If Jesus nourishes us with his love and kindness, with his light and with his strength, nothing can take away our joy and hope. In our interior, in the depths of our heart, God feeds us with his Son, the Bread come down from heaven.

 

Divine Liturgy Eucharistic Prayer St Petersburg Theological Academy Flickr
In our interior,
in the depths of our heart,
God feeds us with his Son,
the Bread come down from heaven
Saint-Petersburg Theological Academy / Flickr

 

We have heard Jesus today who told us: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” The Father mysteriously draws us to Jesus; he makes Jesus attractive to us. And if Jesus presents himself again to us—attractive, fascinating, familiar in the depths of our being—we are attracted to the good, the beautiful, the noble; we will prefer honesty instead of corruption, truth instead of lies, peace rather than violence.

If Jesus makes us attractive, we will be fascinating and attractive, which does good for the human person—which builds a better world.

 


Ocupa INSS protest 20jun13
† Silvio José Baez, O.C.D. is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua; when he speaks of the “current drama of our society” he refers to the regime of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. The Organization of American States commissioned a Group of Independent Experts to study the violence that occurred during the first six weeks of protests in 2018 after the government announced cutbacks to Social Security pensions. The official report was clear-cut: the Ortega-Murillo police and paramilitary forces committed crimes against humanity. However, the grievances of the people are not recent; in this photo, the youth turned out to support older adults when Social Security pension cutbacks were first announced in June 2013. The sign says, “in Ortega and Murillo’s government, senior citizens have no rights.” Learn more about the 2013 protests here. Learn more about the 2018 unrest and the challenges for the Catholic Church in Nicaragua here. Listen to Bishop Báez deliver this homily in Spanish at San Antonio en Monte Tabor parish here.| Jorge Mejía Peralta / Flickr

 

This English translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

Quote of the day: 25 June

A Christian must distinguish himself by a very clear stance in favor of human dignity. Let’s not forget: God became man and died to save us. That’s why for Christians this commitment in favor of humanity is decisive, their ability to create relationships based on a sense of community, working to build more peaceful societies, more just, more human… taking care of the planet, because the faith has an ecological dimension.

 

March in support of CEN 28jul2018
A sign at the procession to the Cathedral of Managua, Nicaragua 28 July 2018 reads, “Blessed are those who weep, for they shall be consoled.” (Cf Mt 5:4) | Jorge Mejía Peralta / Flickr

 

In a nutshell: the Christian fights so that human beings may live with greater dignity, and it is in this relationship with others that we express our faith in a concrete way. We also must work in social media so that this option for the human being may be rediscovered, which is summarized in this simple message of Jesus: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Faith that cuts deep: An interview with Bishop Silvio Báez

 

Quote of the day: 24 June

I dream of a Church that is not the sole proprietor, but the servant of the truth, of a truth that we seek in all areas of life:

  • a Church much more prophetic than diplomatic, one that doesn’t make peoples’ lives more difficult, but seeks to heal their lives, down to the root of their problems;
  • a Church conscious of being at the service of something much greater than she, at the service of the Kingdom of God; and,
  • a Church that doesn’t exist just to satisfy the people’s religious sentiment, but rather a Church at the service of a meaningful, fulfilling human life, with just and peaceful relationships, a Church that cares for nature.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Faith that cuts deep: An interview with Bishop Silvio Báez

 

Pilgrimage for CEN 28jul18 Jorge Mejía peralta Flickr
A member of the faithful carries an image of St. Michael the Archangel during a pilgrimage 28 July to the Cathedral of Managua in support of the bishops of Nicaragua during the bloody summer of 2018 | Jorge Mejía Peralta / Flickr

Quote of the day: 23 June

photo of woman smiling while siting on stairs and using white smartphone
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This virtual presence in social media is as real as physical existence. One is as present in the digital world as one is in the physical world. It isn’t an isolated world: there are also people there, there are feelings, there are sorrows …  In social media, I introduce myself just as I do in person. My presence in social media reflects my convictions, just as I am in life. In social media, in addition, communication is given equal to equal, never from top to bottom. I speak as a friend.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Read more: Faith that cuts deep: An interview with Bishop Silvio Báez

Quote of the day: 22 June

In the first place, a Christian must distinguish himself by a very clear option for human dignity. Let’s not forget: God became man and died to save us. That’s why for a Christian this commitment in favor of humanity is decisive, this ability to create relationships based on a sense of community, working to build societies that are more peaceful, more just, more humane…

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Mater Purissima Review, June 2019

 

Baez World Day of the Sick 2019
Bishop Báez greets the faithful on World Day of the Sick, 2019 | Photo credit: +SJB / Facebook

Don’t feed the beasts

Loving our enemies is not feeling sympathy and caring for those who have hurt us. It’s about not feeding hatred and thirst for vengeance (which doesn’t exclude a demand for justice) and being ready to do good to those who have harmed us. This is how to conquer evil.

Bishop Silvio J. Báez, O.C.D.

man person face portrait
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

«Amad a vuestros enemigos» (Mt 5,44). No es sentir simpatía y cariño por quien nos ha dañado. Se trata de no alimentar odio y sed de venganza (lo cual no excluye exigir justicia) y estar dispuestos a hacer el bien a quienes nos ha hecho mal. Así se vence al mal. 
@silviojbaez

Quote of the day: 10 June

Watercolor Day 266 of 365 - Jinho Jung Flickr
266/365 성모상1 | Jinho Jung / Flickr

 

Let her gaze at you.

The gaze of Mary is God’s gaze directed at each one of us. She looks at us with the same love that comes from the Father and blesses us.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homily for the Immaculate Conception, 2018

 

Homily translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission

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