Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Low Sunday 23 April AD 2017
Ave Maria!


[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Text]
[Latin Text]

“This is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.”[1]

    Coming so soon after Easter it is not surprising that today’s Epistle refers to “the spirit, and the water, and the blood.”  You will recall that we blessed the Baptismal water for the coming year’s Baptisms at the Easter Vigil.  In the early Church it was very common for adults to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, and then to receive the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and during the Vigil Mass to receive their First Communion—the water, the Spirit, and the (body and) blood of Jesus Christ.

    All of these things relate to the faith of the newly baptized.  Baptism is the “seal” of the faith an adult has to have before deciding to become a Catholic.  Confirmation implies faith in the Holy Ghost, even though He is never seen.  Holy Communion relies on faith so that we may appreciate the reality of eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ, even though It always appears to be nothing more than a small round of bread.  Those of us who were Baptized as children go through the same progression of faith, although it is spread out over a number of years—and usually we receive Confirmation after First Communion, and have had a few years to grow in the knowledge of God and in faith in what He has revealed.  Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation.

    Of course a fourth Sacrament must come into play, for rarely do people live out their lives without losing their Baptismal innocence—Jesus Christ and His Blessed Virgin Mother are the only known examples to human sinlessness—and today’s Gospel tells us about the Apostles receiving the power to hear Confessions and to forgive sins.[2]

    You will notice that these are the same men who received the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Holy Thursday—the power to forgive sins is not something added on to the priesthood, for by definition a priest is an intercessor between God and man.  Just as our Lord did, the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice precisely so that sin may be forgiven.  In Confession this forgiveness is more specific, for the Sacrifice of the Cross is offered for the general redemption of all mankind, while the forgiveness of Confession is applied only to the repentant sinner. 

    In the traditional rite of ordination, the bishop confers the priesthood by reciting the essential form and laying his hands on the head of each candidate.  Toward the end of Mass there is a second laying on of hands, with the bishop saying to each new priest, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”[3]  The new priests already possessed this power, but this ceremony follows the example of Christ, who told the Apostles of their power some time after their ordination on Thursday night.  Notice that there is no mention of Saint Thomas (who was away on this night) receiving the power to forgive sins when our Lord came to the Apostles the second time.

    What we do hear about Saint Thomas is of utmost importance.  He was able to touch the body of our Lord and to probe His wounds.  He was able to resolve any doubts he had about this being the same Jesus who died on the Cross, now resurrected from the dead, a tangible living Person.  And by doing so, Saint Thomas left a testimonial for all of us who follow—his resolved doubts, insure our faith.  In the night Office, Pope Saint Gregory the Great put it this way:

All these things were not accidental, but Providential. It was a wonderful provision of Divine mercy, that this incredulous disciple, by thrusting his fingers into the bodily Wounds of his Master, should apply a remedy to the spiritual wounds of unbelief in our souls. The doubts of Thomas have done us more good than the faith of all the disciples that believed. While he feeleth his way to faith, our minds are freed from doubt, and settled in faith.[4]

    It is not coincidental that the Church encourages us to make the words of Saint Thomas our own, at a time when faith is most essential.  When the priest elevates the Host just after It is consecrated, we should look up at It and repeat Saint Thomas’ words: “My Lord and my God.”  This is an act of faith on our part—that in spite of all the naysayers who deny the Real Presence, we believe what God has revealed to us—we believe because we have the true Faith, taught by Jesus to the Apostles.  We have the true Faith, and “this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.”



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