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Wednesday 27 April 2016

Michael Coren's latest plea for attention

In his most recent, and obviously hurriedly composed book (Epiphany), social commentator and former Catholic Michael Coren recounts once again the case for the social normalization of homosexual relationships and the re-definition of marriage. There is nothing new or perceptive here. 

Amidst half-truths about the Catholic Church, like the claim that the annulment of a marriage is really just Catholic divorce, Coren puts on full display his animus towards those who have taken his rejection of the Catholic faith seriously.

A long litany of the mean words written and spoken about him makes up the first third, at least, of the book. Coren seems to have forgotten the maxim that the least convincing defender of one’s actions is oneself. The actual issue of homosexual marriage seems to be something of a backdrop to the recounting of the wounds inflicted upon Coren who displays himself as a conscience-driven martyr to the cause.

Between the lines, however, one might read that Coren's career, his speaking engagements, etc., has not been going so well since he jumped ship.  There are plenty of “gay” advocates out there and they are in the ascendency at the moment.  An aging former archconservative (and a pretty vituperative one at that) who has “seen the light,” or at least something of the romantic evening glow, is not so much in demand on radio, T.V. and the lecture circuit. Surprised?

Perhaps Coren’s least convincing special pleading is seen in his attempt in this book to resurrect the canard about the close friendship between Blessed John Henry Newman and Fr. Ambrose St. John.  He ignores the distinguished scholarship of Ian Ker in his definitive biography John Henry Newman: A Biography as well as the conclusions of others including the often Catho-phobic John Cornwell.  The scholars have dealt with the evidence and concluded that the Newman/ St. John friendship was just that: friendship; Coren presumes to know better. 

Overlooking the Victorian context of close male friendships and without advancing any new evidence Coren simply asserts that since Newman and St. John were close friends in a celibate community they must have been in some kind of perhaps repressed sexual relationship. This comes after Coren has just spent pages complaining that the conjectures of others are unfair when they have presumed to speculate about his own sexual history. 

What this attack on Newman could possibly have to do with the sacrament of marriage leaves Catholics querulous and Coren looking like an increasingly desperate debater looking for a hook to hang his ideas on.

The Newman case along with Coren's use of gay jargon in recounting the stories of several disaffected and laicized priests offers nothing new. It's the same old narcissistic argument: I should be able to do what I want to do and society should conform to my choice. 

Coren argues his case for the redefinition of marriage in the same way in which he used to throw around right-wing cant.  There is nothing new and little of interest apart from self-interest coming from a journalist who has rejected what he recently claimed in one of his books: “Why Catholics are Right.”

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Science can neither prove nor disprove God - that is not its purpose

The late Fr Stanley Jaki OSB, was a world-ranking authority on science and religion. He was the author of more than 50 books and over 400 articles. 
The following is excerpted from a recent article by John Beaumont in the Catholic Herald. 
We start with his appreciation of the nature of science, by which Fr Jaki means exact science: physics, astronomy and chemistry.
“Science derives its exactness from measurements which is the application of quantities, or numbers. Numbers are the specifically exact notions among all notions the human mind is capable of forming. An action may be more or less emphatic, goodness admits grades and shades but, say, the number five cannot be more or less five. Herein lies the crux of all talks about science and religion, and even about science and any non-scientific field of inquiry.”
Exact science, then, is about quantities, nothing more and nothing less than just quantities. So, can the existence of God be proved by science understood in this sense? Of course not.
“Since a scientific proof must rest on measurements, the proof would imply that God can be sized up by callipers, weighed in balance, confined to a test tube, scanned by photon beams, pictured in holographs, and, for good measure, described in tensor equations.”
But whenever an assertion contains non-quantitative propositions, and it does so often, science becomes irrelevant. 
Exact science, then, is extremely limited in its applicability, although it is applicable everywhere where there is matter (and we must not forget the massive role that science plays in this area).
Here is the answer to the New Atheists, who are making the mistake of dealing with matters outside their field of exact science. It is essential, then, that they are relentlessly pressed whenever they bring science into connection with a non-scientific subject, such as God.
“Scientists should be viewed as acting in a most arbitrary manner when they touch on matters that are not quantitative. If scientists want to grasp the purpose of anything, they sin against the logic of science if they try to fathom purpose through science, unless they find a way to measure purpose. The question of free will is not something for science to handle. There are no quantitative units in which to measure free will. There are no two grams of purpose and five nanoseconds of free will.”
So the most fundamental rule which should govern all reasoned talk about the relation of science and religion is that quantities form one conceptual domain, and all other concepts another.
The question of origins can be dealt with in the same way. Coming into existence and going out of it would become a scientific topic only when a method of measuring the ‘nothing’ is invented. Thus, it is clear that science, so fruitful in its own field, can say nothing about many matters that are most important for man.
It follows, then, that neither can science disprove the existence of God. What it can do, and this is important in the present context, is to provide us with ever vaster amounts of quantitative data about specific things. It is for philosophy alone to provide the reasoning which shows that the specific nature of things as seen everywhere is tied to a coherent totality, just as specific, and that it can therefore be accounted for only by a primordial creative act of God.
Moving in this way from finite, contingent things to an infinite reality as the ground of the former’s existence is admittedly not a proof in the sense in which proofs are meant in science. It is rather something from which an inference may be drawn. Not a knock-down argument, then, but nevertheless a powerful process of reasoning.
It is inevitable that the topic of Darwin and Darwinism figures significantly in the media’s portrayal of this subject area. Some contributors go as far as to say that Darwin’s theory of evolution disproves the existence of God. It does nothing of the sort.
Again the key to understanding is to appreciate the nature of science and its relationship with other disciplines. The theory is a scientific one, because, in principle at least, its two main factors (that the offspring are always slightly different from the parents, and that the physical environment has a differential impact on the offspring) can be evaluated quantitatively. Quantities make a science exact. Anything else in it is philosophy.
So, this is the reason, according to Fr Jaki, why credit should be given to Darwin for putting evolutionary speculations on the road toward the status of exact science. Are there any weaknesses in Darwinism? 
He instances the fact that Darwin’s theory leaves no room for the mind, to say nothing of love. He points to the statement of another Darwinist, J.B.S. Haldane: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
The major factor in the present context is that when the New Atheists use Darwin’s theory as a stick with which to beat the religious viewpoint, as a means of showing that there is no purpose in the universe, they are using it not as a science, but as an ideology. In fact they are contravening the very principles of science. Once again, it is the non-quantitative matters that are being referred to and these are not amenable to the scientific method.
As Jaki points out, “For all its value as a scientific theory of evolution, Darwinism, if taken consistently, cannot say anything about existence, purpose, and mind.” But Darwinists will not grant this, precisely because for them the theory is also an ideology, and one that is, by definition, materialistic.
It is amusing here to note the remark made by A.N.Whitehead regarding the approach taken by Darwinists of the kind referred to here, namely that “those who devote themselves to the purpose of proving that there is no purpose constitute an interesting subject for study.” 
When Darwinism is taken as ideology, it cannot be reconciled with Christian belief, whereas the scientific theory can, because, by its very nature, it does not touch on the basics of that belief.

To Fr Jaki, the present problems faced by the Church were so serious that “one has only one choice: to fight”. He worked ardently to give Catholics the weapons with which to counter secular materialism and promote the Catholic faith.
For more details, see especially Stanley L Jaki’s books, Questions of Science and Religion (2004) and The Purpose of it All (2005), plus three of his booklets: Science and Religion: A Primer (2004), Evolution for Believers (2005) and Intelligent Design? (2006). All are published by Real View Books (see sljaki.com and realviewbooks.com)

Faith and Particle Physics

The following is excerpted from the Catholic Herald article by Fr Andrew Pinsent, physicist and priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, UK. 
Fr Pinsent is Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University. He was formerly a particle physicist at CERN. 
Fr. Pinsent is co-founder, with Fr Marcus Holden, of the Evangelium Project, which is dedicated to improving the quality of Catholic education. See www.evangelium.co.uk.
Fr. Pinsent outlines the contributions made by individual Catholics to science and sets them in the context of Catholic teaching which has allowed for the development of Science and Western Culture which is only truly understood through the application of Faith and reason together.

1. Light and the cosmos
The Opus Maius (1267) of the Franciscan Roger Bacon (d 1292), written at the request of Pope Clement IV, largely initiated the tradition of optics in the Latin world. The first spectacles were invented in Italy around 1300, an application of lenses that developed later into telescopes and microscopes.
While many people think of Galileo (d 1642) being persecuted, they tend to forget the peculiar circumstances of these events, or the fact that he died in his bed and his daughter became a nun.
The Gregorian Calendar (1582), now used worldwide, is a fruit of work by Catholic astronomers, as is the development of astrophysics by the spectroscopy of Fr Angelo Secchi (d 1878).
Most remarkably, the most important theory of modern cosmology, the Big Bang, was invented by a Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître (d 1966, pictured), a historical fact that is almost never mentioned by the BBC or in popular science books.
2. Earth and nature
Catholic civilisation has made a remarkable contribution to the scientific investigation and mapping of the earth, producing great explorers such as Marco Polo (d 1324), Prince Henry the Navigator (d 1460), Bartolomeu Dias (d 1500), Christopher Columbus (d 1506) and Ferdinand Magellan
(d 1521). Far from believing that the world was flat (a black legend invented in the 19th century), the Catholic world produced the first modern scientific map: Diogo Ribeiro’s Padrón Real (1527). Fr Nicolas Steno (d 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata which is one of the principles of geology.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d 1829), a French Catholic, developed the first theory of evolution, including the notion of the transmutation of species and a genealogical tree. The Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel (d 1884, pictured) founded the science of genetics based on the meticulous study of the inherited characteristics of some 29,000 pea plants.
3. Philosophy and theology 
Catholicism regards philosophy as intrinsically good and was largely responsible for founding theology, the application of reason to what has been revealed supernaturally. Great Catholic philosophers include St Augustine (d 430), St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274), St Anselm (d 1109), Blessed Duns Scotus (d 1308), Suárez (d 1617) and Blaise Pascal (d 1662). Recent figures include St Edith Stein (d 1942, pictured), Elizabeth Anscombe (d 2001) and Alasdair MacIntyre. On the basis that God is a God of reason and love, Catholics have defended the irreducibility of the human person to matter, the principle that created beings can be genuine causes of their own actions, free will, the role of the virtues in happiness, objective good and evil, natural law and the principle of non-contradiction. These principles have had an incalculable influence on intellectual life and culture.
4. Education and the university system
Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system. Early Catholic universities include Bologna (1088); Paris (c 1150); Oxford (1167, pictured); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca (1218-1219); Padua (1222); Naples (1224) and Vercelli (1228). By the middle of the 15th-century (more than 70 years before the Reformation), there were over 50 universities in Europe.
Many of these universities, such as Oxford, still show signs of their Catholic foundation, such as quadrangles modelled on monastic cloisters, gothic architecture and numerous chapels. Starting from the sixth-century Catholic Europe also developed what were later called grammar schools and, in the 15th century, produced the movable type printing press system, with incalculable benefits for education. Today, it has been estimated that Church schools educate more than 50 million students worldwide.
5. Art and architecture
Faith in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh and the Sacrifice of the Mass have been the founding principles of extraordinary Catholic contributions to art and architecture. These contributions include: the great basilicas of ancient Rome; the work of Giotto (d 1337), who initiated a realism in painting the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, which helped to inspire three-dimensional art and drama; the invention of one-point linear perspective by Brunelleschi (d 1446) and the great works of the High Renaissance. The latter include the works of Blessed Fra Angelico (d 1455), today the patron saint of art, and the unrivalled work of Leonardo da Vinci (d 1519), Raphael (d 1520), Caravaggio (d 1610, pictured), Michelangelo (d 1564) and Bernini (d 1680). Many of the works of these artists, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, are considered among the greatest works of art of all time. Catholic civilisation also founded entire genres, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil and the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona show that the faith continues to be an inspiration for highly original art and architecture.
6. Law and jurisprudence
The reforms of Pope Gregory VII (d 1085, pictured) gave impetus to forming the laws of the Church and states of Europe. The subsequent application of philosophy to law, together with the great works of monks like the 12th-century Gratian, produced the first complete, systematic bodies of law, in which all parts are viewed as interacting to form a whole. This revolution also led to the founding of law schools, starting in Bologna (1088), from which the legal profession emerged, and concepts such as “corporate personality”, the legal basis of a wide range of bodies today such as universities, corporations and trust funds. Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilisation and jurisprudence.
7. Language 
The centrality of Greek and Latin to Catholicism has greatly facilitated popular literacy, since true alphabets are far easier to learn than the symbols of logographic languages, such as Chinese. Spread by Catholic missions and exploration, the Latin alphabet is now the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Catholics also developed the Armenian, Georgian and Cyrillic alphabets and standard scripts, such as Carolingian minuscule from the ninth to 12th centuries, and Gothic miniscule (from the 12th). Catholicism also provided the cultural framework for the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), the Cantar de Mio Cid (“The Song of my Lord”) and La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland), vernacular works that greatly influenced the development of Italian, Spanish and French respectively. The Catholic Hymn of Cædmon in the seventh century is arguably the oldest extant text of Old English. Valentin Haüy (d 1822), brother of the Abbé Haüy (the priest who invented crystallography), founded the first school for the blind. The most famous student of this school, Louis Braille (d 1852), developed the worldwide system of writing for the blind that today bears his name.
8. Music 
Catholic civilisation virtually invented the western musical tradition, drawing on Jewish antecedents in early liturgical music. Monophonic Gregorian chant developed from the sixth century. Methods for recording chant led to the invention of musical notion (staff notation), of incalculable benefit for the recording of music, and the ut-re-mi (“do-re-mi”) mnemonic device of Guido of Arezzo (d 1003). From the 10th century cathedral schools developed polyphonic music, extended later to as many as 40 voices (Tallis, Spem in Alium) and even 60 voices (Striggio, Missa Sopra Ecco).
Musical genres that largely or wholly originated with Catholic civilisation include the hymn, the oratorio and the opera. Haydn (d 1809), a devout Catholic, strongly shaped the development of the symphony and string quartet. Church patronage and liturgical forms shaped many works by Monteverdi (d 1643), Vivaldi (d 1741), Mozart (d 1791, pictured) and Beethoven (d 1827). The great Symphony No 8 of Mahler (d 1911) takes as its principal theme the ancient hymn of Pentecost, Veni creator spiritus.
9. The status of women
Contrary to popular prejudice, extraordinary and influential women have been one of the hallmarks of Catholic civilisation. The faith has honoured many women saints, including recent Doctors of the Church, and nurtured great nuns, such as St Hilda (d 680, pictured) (after whom St Hilda’s College, Oxford, is named) and Blessed Hildegard von Bingen (d 1179), abbess and polymath. Pioneering Catholic women in political life include Empress Matilda (d 1167), Eleanor of Aquitaine (d 1204) and the first Queen of England, Mary Tudor (d 1558).
Catholic civilisation also produced many of the first women scientists and professors: Trotula of Salerno in the 11th century, Dorotea Bucca (d 1436), who held a chair in medicine at the University of Bologna, Elena Lucrezia Piscopia (d 1684), the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1678) and Maria Agnesi (d 1799), the first woman to become professor of mathematics, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XIV as early as 1750.

Monday 11 April 2016

New Ordinariate Missal - A Spiritual Force for Unity

Thanks to a gift from Bishop Lopes, the clergy of OCSP are currently reading and contemplating the latest edition of ANTIPHON, the Journal of the Society for Catholic Liturgy.
Bishop Steven Lopes at the Ordinariate Chancery in Houston, TX
The entire edition ( Vol 19 No. 2015) is dedicated to exploring the history, theology and liturgical principles with which Divine Worship: The Missal (DW) was assembled for worldwide use by the Ordinariates -- Anglicans and others received into full communion with Rome since 2009.

Dominican Archbishop Di Noia (left)
Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offers a very useful introduction to the volume as he recounts from his experience as co-chairman of Anglicanae Traditiones, the inter-dicasterial commission which developed Divine Worship, the patrimonial liturgy of the Ordinariates.

Archbishop Di Noia concludes with a quotation from the 2010 address by Cardinal Levada at Queens University, Kingston, ON. Canada in which he said that Divine Worship is a gift to the whole Church: 

Abp Di Noia (left) with Cardinal Levada 
"When their particular [Anglican] expression of faith adds harmony to ours, and ours add harmony to theirs, the logical step is to pass from talking longingly about unity to living in unity."

Bishop Lopes offers authors the first article in which he recounts the ratio by which Anglicanae Traditiones,  the commission set up to compose the Ordinariate Missal, worked. The principles that were set forth for the work of the commission include:

+  Preserving Anglican patrimony in communion with Rome

+  Including doctrinally sound elements of the Books of Common Prayer and the Anglican and English Missals

+  Harmonizing distinctly Anglican ritual with the shape of the Roman Rite

These principles culminate in the final principle which links of all aspects of Anglican Patrimony with the central mission of the Church expressed in evangelization and the ministry of calling to unity  with the Chair of Peter all those baptized into the Body of Christ. 

Dr. Clinton Brand, in his essay, Very Members Incorporate: Reflections on the Sacral Language of Divine Worship, offers insightful background on the importance of the sacral language selected for use in Divine Worship; language that embodies, in the words of Pope Benedict, "the precious gift of nourishing faith." Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC) Art. 2.Reflecting on liturgical language as used in the Ordinariates through the use of DW, Dr. Brand holds that good liturgical language acts as a "focussed, concentrated instrument of mediation to effect, to incarnate, our participation in the saving mysteries of our faith . . . "
Dr. Brand (centre) with Bishop Lopes

Dr. Brand emphasizes that liturgical language cannot serve its purpose in a vacuum or be preserved in timeworn isolation under constant threat of the zeitgeist.  Sacral language is not simply for those who appreciate a traditional idiom as a cultural icon.  As he puts it:

" . . . it needs emphasizing that liturgical speech by itself, even at its best and richest, cannot achieve these ends without the necessary structures of authority, authentic unity of intention and manifest bonds of communion that are more than notional or aspirational, something more than wishful thinking."

The language of liturgy cannot flourish apart from the crucial structural, symbolic and evangelical elements which must all be present in order to further the spread of the Gospel and the mission of unity in the Church. 

In his essay "Unum Baptisma" Fr. Edward Maxfield Jr. builds upon the theme of unity at the core of the Ordinariates' mandate. He examines the parallels and the differences between the The Order of Holy Baptism in  Divine Worship: Occasional Services (OS) and the English version of the Baptism rite in the Rituale Romanum.
Recently ordained Fr. Maxfield (centre) 
as a seminarian

By highlighting the English sources from Sarum to the various iterations of the Book of Common Prayer, Fr. Maxfield brings into focus the absolute centrality of unity in the mission, ministry and catechesis of the Catholic Church as it relates to other Christian bodies and to the secular world.

Fr. Maxfield emphasizes the catechetical genius of the baptismal rite and of a sacramentality which takes seriously the path of faith.

As he says:
"The whole logic of initiation, and indeed the whole Christian life, is adapted to the senses of man who learns things gradually. The  Church as a good mother does, explains the meanings of all her actions gradually and repeatedly."

Dom John-Bede Pauley, OSB is the final contributor to this number of Antiphon.

Dom John-Bede Pauley, OSB
His essay, entitled, "The Anglican Choral Heritage and Lectio Divina" gives us a monastic insight into the Benedictine shape of  Anglican patrimony.

With a brief summary of the various influences within Anglican patrimony including the high, low and latitudinarian groupings, Dom Pauley focuses upon the elements of text and music which have persisted in being truly consonant with Catholic faith and teaching.

Emphasizing the "listening" component in worship, the author notes that the audible art form: music, plays a crucial role in the Ordinariate as a critical part of the Anglican patrimony that is being brought home to the wider Catholic Church. In fact, he notes that if the Extraordinary Form can be said to focus the eye on the visual elements of the Mass and the Ordinary Form emphasizes the Word then we could reasonable say that Anglican patrimony and Divine Worship can be noted for attention to listening. Listening to the cadences of traditional English in the Coverdale Psalms, listening to Anglican Chant and to the English Choral tradition generally.

Of course many of us "Benedictine sympathizers" are ready to cheer. This is not because Fr. Pauley is trying to set up a definite opposition between the Scholastic approach to Scripture and the Benedictine.  Rather, he is pointing out that the two may be distinct and at the same time complementary. 

What would an Ordinariate essay be without a reference to the inimitable Fr. Hunwicke?  In this instance he directs Fr. Pauley to a quote from Cardinal Manning bemoaning Newman's efforts to bring an "old Anglican, Patristic" tone into the Catholic Church. 

After some very pertinent reflections upon Lectio Divina in relation to Anglican spirituality, liturgy and the daily office, the author then takes us on a brief guided tour of the history of music in the Anglican and English world from the pre-Renaissance era to the Tudor/Renaissance, the Early Baroque, Early Gregorian/Late Baroque to the Late Georgian/ Classical period.  

Fr. Pauley concludes his masterful summary with this statement:

"This spirituality has been humming along - - with its own developments, its own fits and starts for five centuries in the Anglican Communion. "Patristic, literary" liturgical music was and, thanks to Anglicanorum Coetibus, unquestionably is Catholic."

“Jesus said: Follow me.” A homily for Easter 3C

Today’s Gospel illustrates how essential humble obedience and trust in the Lord is. John tells us that Peter, Thomas, and the others did not recognize the risen Jesus on the shore, yet perhaps, they intuited his presence at a deeper level. Why else would they obey a stranger’s instructions, and simply drop their nets on the other side of the boat, in essentially the same waters that yielded nothing all night long? Their trust is rewarded with a haul so large they must drag the net ashore.

There are two places in Scripture where the curious detail of a "charcoal fire" is mentioned. One is in today's Gospel, where the Apostles return from fishing to find bread and fish warming on the fire.  The other is in the scene in the High Priest's courtyard on Holy Thursday, where Peter and some guards and slaves warm themselves while Jesus is being interrogated inside (John 18:18).

At the first fire, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. ( John 13:38; 18:15-18, 25-27). Today's charcoal fire becomes the scene of Peter's repentance. Three times Jesus asks him to make a profession of love. Jesus' repeated command "feed My sheep" shows that Peter is being appointed as the shepherd of the Lord's entire flock, the head of His Church also (Luke 22:32).

For Peter, a verbal profession of love was not sufficient. Jesus challenged Peter to prove his love in action by feeding his lambs and tending his sheep. Peter obeyed Jesus. I humble obedience Peter discovered who he truly is.  St. Ignatius Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, writes that: “love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words”  

The saintly Fr. Zossima, from Dostoyevsky’s classic The Brothers Karamazov, says at one point in the novel that “love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” Christian love goes beyond dreamy, romantic feelings, the silver screen of Hollywood and saccharine words. Real love requires to sacrifice and acts of charity in imitation of Christ. By their lives and deaths, Peter and the Apostles showed, in their actions, their love for the Lord.

Jesus' question: "Do you love me more than these?" is a pointed reminder of Peter's pledge to lay down his life for Jesus, even if the other Apostles might weaken.
Jesus then explained just what Peter's love and leadership will require, foretelling Peter's death by crucifixion ("you will stretch out your hands"). Before His own death, Jesus had warned the Apostles that they would be hated as He was hated, that they would suffer as He suffered (Matthew 10:16-19,22; John 15:18-20; 16:2).

We see the beginnings of that persecution in the First Reading. Flogged as Jesus was, the Apostles nonetheless leave "rejoicing that they have been found worthy to suffer."

Their joy is based on their faith that God will change their "mourning into dancing,"

A scene glimpsed in today's Second Reading reveals that by following the Lord through suffering they, and we, will be counted worthy to stand in the kingdom of God before "the Lamb that was slain." ( Revelation 6:9-11).