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Reflections: Good News Section

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Good News / The Church

Miracles

The Prodigal Son

Sharing Others' Joy

Trust in God

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Quotation

Good News / The Church

"We know very well, Venerable Brethren, that all these efforts will come to naught, since without doubt, and in His own appointed time, 'God shall arise, and his enemies shall be scattered' (Ps. Ixvii. 2); We know that the gates of Hell shall never prevail (cf. Matt. xvi. 18); We know that Our Divine Redeemer, as was foretold of Him, 'shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth' (cf. Isaias xi. 4); and there will be a dreadful hour for those wretched men, when they shall fall 'into the hands of the living God' (cf. Heb x. 31). Our unshaken hope in this complete victory of God and of the Church receives daily confirmation (such is the infinite mercy of God!) from the noble ardor of innumerable souls whom we see turning themselves to God, in every country and in all classes of society. For most certainly a very powerful afflatus of the Holy Spirit is rushing through all lands, and is moving the hearts, especially the hearts of the young, to mount upwards to the highest summits of the Christian law, and, raising them above the vain observance of men, makes them ready to undertake even the most arduous deeds." (Pope Pius XI, "Caritate Christi Compulsi", 1932)

"It is, indeed, a great comfort to us, looking back over the long years of Our pastoral charge, troubled as they have been by daily worry, that We are still engaged in ruling the whole Christian flock. During that time We have had, as happens in men's lives and as the mysteries of Christ and Mary illustrate, reasons for joy mixed with reasons for many and bitter sorrows, as well as occasions to glory in gains won for Christ. All of this We, with a mind submissive to God and with a grateful heart, have tried to turn to the good and the honor of the Church. And now - for the rest of Our life will run a course not unlike the past - should new joys come to gladden Our heart, or sorrow to threaten Us, or honors to glory in, We, steadfast in the same heart and mind, yearning only for the heavenly glory which God confers, say with David: 'Blessed be the name of the Lord'; Not to us, but to thy name give glory.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Magnae Dei Matris", 1892)

"Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives." (Pope Pius XII, "Munificentissimus Deus", 1950)

"[O]ur Savior Himself sustains in a divine manner the society which He founded... He so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. The Doctor of the Gentiles, in his letter to the Corinthians, affirms this when, without further qualification, he calls the Church 'Christ,' following no doubt the example of his Master who called out to him from on high when he was attacking the Church: 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943)

"Moreover, from heaven Christ never ceases to look down with especial love on His spotless Spouse so sorely tried in her earthly exile; and when He sees her in danger, saves her from the tempestuous sea either Himself or through the ministry of His angels, or through her whom we invoke as Help of Christians, or through other heavenly advocates, and in calm and tranquil waters comforts her with the peace 'which surpasseth all understanding.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943)

"The Church of Christ, built upon an unshakable rock, has nothing to fear for herself, as she knows for a certainty that the gates of hell shall never prevail against her. Rather, she knows full well, through the experience of many centuries, that she is wont to come forth from the most violent storms stronger than ever and adorned with new triumphs." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931)

"[T]he Church; which being united to Christ her spouse in intimate and unchangeable charity is also joined to Him by a common cause of battle and of victory. Hence We are not, and cannot be anxious on account of the Church" (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

"And, if by this power [the Church] has freed the world grown old in vice and lost in superstition, why should she not again recover it when gone astray?" (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

"[R]ecently the representatives and rulers of practically every nation, motivated by a common and instinctive desire for union and peace, have turned to this Apostolic See in order to bind themselves closer to Us or to renew in some cases the bonds of amity and friendship which had joined us together previously. We rejoice at this fact, not merely because it increases the prestige of Holy Church, but because it is becoming increasingly evident on all sides, and especially from actual experience, what great possibilities for peace and happiness, even here below, such a union with Us possesses for human society. Although the Church is committed by God, first of all, to the attainment of spiritual and imperishable purposes, because of the very intimate and necessary connection of things one with another, such a mission serves likewise to advance the temporal prosperity of nations and individuals, even more so than if she were instituted primarily to promote such ends." (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922)

"With heart deeply grateful to the Father of Light, from Whom descends 'every best gift and every perfect gift,' We see on all sides consoling signs of this spiritual renewal. We see it not only in so many singularly chosen souls who in these last years have been elevated to the sublime heights of sanctity, and in so many others who with generous hearts are making their way towards the same luminous goal, but also in the new flowering of a deep and practical piety in all classes of society even the most cultured, as We pointed out in Our recent Motu Proprio In multis solaciis of October 28 last, on the occasion of the reorganization of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"And indeed that saying of the Apostle: 'Where sin abounded, grace did more abound' (Romans v, 20) may be used in a manner to describe this present age; for while the wickedness of men has been greatly increased, at the same time, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, a marvelous increase has been made in the number of the faithful of both sexes who with eager mind endeavor to make satisfaction for the many injuries offered to the Divine Heart, nay more they do not hesitate to offer themselves to Christ as victims." (Pope Pius XI, "Miserentissimus Redemptor", 1928)

"On the one hand We have to lament the loss which the Catholic religion has suffered and continues to suffer in certain districts. But the many victories which the unconquerable constancy of Catholics and their priests has won and continues to win even in those districts gives us ground for joy. We rejoice greatly also at its marvelously abundant gains despite so many hindrances. This proves even to our enemies that oppression of the Church frequently contributes to its glory and strengthens the faithful." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Probe Nostis", 1840)

"If the Lord wishes that other persecutions should be suffered, the Church feels no alarm; on the contrary, persecutions purify her and confer upon her a fresh force and a new beauty." (Pope Pius IX)

Also See: Why I Love Being Catholic | Catholic News Links Section

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Miracles

"Where God does anything against that order of nature which we know and are accustomed to observe, we call it a miracle." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The Incarnation is the most stupendous event which ever can take place on earth; and after it and henceforth, I do not see how we can scruple at any miracle on the mere ground of its being unlikely to happen." (Cardinal Newman)

"For we cannot listen to those who maintain that the invisible God works no visible miracles; for even they believe that he made the world, which surely they will not deny to be visible." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The Gentiles, who have attacked the Church, are in the habit of objecting to us, that we have never had full faith in God, for we have never been able to change mountains. It could, however, be done, if necessity called for it, as once we read that it was done by the prayers of the blessed Father Gregory of Neocaesarea, Bishop of Pontus, by which a mountain left as much space of ground for the inhabitants of a city as they wanted." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in Sacred Scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

"God gives not help to those who tempt Him, but to those who believe on Him. Christ therefore did not show miracles to them that tempted Him, but said to them, An evil generation seeks a sign, and no sign shall be given to them." (St. Cyril, Doctor of the Church)

"We know that our Jesus has no need to come down from heaven to earth, in order to give efficiency to the commands of His gracious will. If He deign to multiply signs and wonders around us, we will rejoice at them, because of our brethren who are weak of faith; we will make them an occasion for exalting His holy name; but we will lovingly assure Him that our soul has no need of new proofs of His power, in order to believe in Him!" (Liturgical Year)

"Passing over the miracles which they were to perform, He makes love the distinguishing mark of His followers; 'By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn. 13:35). This it is that evidences the saint or the disciple, as He calls him." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Consider the Divine mercy, how it confers on us, if we approach Him in faith, the power of miracles, which He Himself possesses by nature, so that we should be able even to change mountains." (St. Theophylact)

"But it is to be known, that, as often the faith of him that draws near to receive supplies the miraculous virtue, so often the power of those that work the miracle is sufficient even without the faith of those who sought to receive. Cornelius and his household, by their faith, attracted to them the grace of the Holy Spirit; but the dead man who was cast into the sepulcher of Elisha, was revived solely by virtue of the holy body. It happened that the disciples were then weak in faith; for indeed they were but in an imperfect condition before the cross; wherefore He here tells them, that faith is the mean of miracles, I say to you, if you shall have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence, and it shall remove." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"This has been and continues to be our experience in Rome and in other capitals, where zealous parish communities are being formed as new churches are built in the suburban districts, and real miracles are being worked in the conversion of people whose hostility to religion has been due solely to the fact that they did not know it." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"Januarius is ever preaching the Gospel to every creature; for his miraculous blood perpetuates the testimony he bore to Christ. Let those who say they cannot believe unless they see, go to Naples; there they will behold the martyr's blood, when placed near his head which was cut off sixteen hundred years ago, to liquefy and boil as at the moment it escaped from his sacred veins. No; miracles are not lacking in the Church at the present day. True, God cannot subject Himself to the fanciful requirements of those proud men, who would dictate to Him the conditions of the prodigies they must needs witness were they will bow before His infinite Majesty. Nevertheless, His intervention in interrupting the laws of nature famed by Him and by Him alone to be suspended, has never yet ailed the man of good faith in any period of history." (Liturgical Year)

"The miracles which Christ worked were a sufficient proof of His Godhead in three respects. First, as to the very nature of the works, which surpassed the entire capability of created power, and therefore could not be done save by Divine power. For this reason the blind man, after his sight had been restored, said (Jn. 9:32,33): 'From the beginning of the world it has not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, he could not do anything.' Secondly, as to the way in which He worked miracles - namely, because He worked miracles as though of His own power, and not by praying, as others do. Wherefore it is written (Lk. 6:19) that 'virtue went out from Him and healed all.' Whereby it is proved, as Cyril says (Commentarium in Lucam) that 'He did not receive power from another, but, being God by nature, He showed His own power over the sick. And this is how He worked countless miracles.' Hence on Matthew 8:16: 'He cast out spirits with His word, and all that were sick He healed,' Chrysostom says: 'Mark how great a multitude of persons healed, the Evangelists pass quickly over, not mentioning one by one...but in one word traversing an unspeakable sea of miracles.' And thus it was shown that His power was co-equal with that of God the Father, according to John 5:19: 'What things soever' the Father 'doth, these the Son doth also in like manner'; and, again (John 5:21): 'As the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life, so the Son also giveth life to whom He will.' Thirdly, from the very fact that He taught that He was God; for unless this were true it would not be confirmed by miracles worked by Divine power. Hence it was said (Mk. 1:27): 'What is this new doctrine? For with power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Nowadays there is much talk about the necessity of reasoning in order to persuade men as to the reality of divine things: but that is forgetting Scripture and history; nay, more, it is degenerating. God has not deemed it consistent with His majesty to reason with us. He has spoken; He has said what is and what is not; and as He exacts faith in His word, He has sanctioned His word. But how has He sanctioned it? After the manner of God, not of man; by works, not by reasons: non in sermone, sed in virtute, not by arguments of a humanly persuasive philosophy; non in persuasibilibus humanae sapientiae verbis, but by displaying a power altogether divine: set in ostensione spiritus et virtutis. And wherefore? For this profound reason: Ut fides not sit in sapientia hominum, set in virtue Dei, that faith may not rest upon the wisdom of man, but upon the power of God. But now men will not have it so: they tell us that in Jesus Christ the theurgist wrongs the moralist; that miracles are a blemish in so sublime an ideal. But they cannot reverse this order; they cannot abolish the Gospel, nor history. Begging the pardon of the learned men of our age and their obsequious followers: not only did Christ work miracles, but He established the Faith upon the foundation of miracles." (Cardinal Pie)

"Just as prophecy extends to whatever can be known supernaturally, so the working of miracles extends to all things that can be done supernaturally; the cause whereof is the divine omnipotence which cannot be communicated to any creature. Hence it is impossible for the principle of working miracles to be a quality abiding as a habit in the soul. On the other hand, just as the prophet's mind is moved by divine inspiration to know something supernaturally, so too is it possible for the mind of the miracle worker to be moved to do something resulting in the miraculous effect which God causes by His power. Sometimes this takes place after prayer, as when Peter raised to life the dead Tabitha (Acts 9:40): sometimes without any previous prayer being expressed, as when Peter by upbraiding the lying Ananias and Saphira delivered them to death (Acts 5:4,9). Hence Gregory says (Dialogorum ii,30) that 'the saints work miracles, sometimes by authority, sometimes by prayer.' In either case, however, God is the principal worker, for He uses instrumentally either man's inward movement, or his speech, or some outward action, or again the bodily contact of even a dead body. Thus when Joshua had said as though authoritatively (Joshua 10:12): 'Move not, O sun, toward Gabaon,' it is said afterwards (Joshua 10:14): 'There was not before or after so long a day, the Lord obeying the voice of a man.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"God enables man to work miracles for two reasons. First and principally, in confirmation of the doctrine that a man teaches. For since those things which are of faith surpass human reason, they cannot be proved by human arguments, but need to be proved by the argument of Divine power: so that when a man does works that God alone can do, we may believe that what he says is from God: just as when a man is the bearer of letters sealed with the king's ring, it is to be believed that what they contain expresses the king's will. Secondly, in order to make known God's presence in a man by the grace of the Holy Ghost: so that when a man does the works of God we may believe that God dwells in him by His grace. Wherefore it is written (Galatians 3:5): 'He who giveth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you.' Now both these things were to be made known to men concerning Christ - namely, that God dwelt in Him by grace, not of adoption, but of union: and that His supernatural doctrine was from God. And therefore it was most fitting that He should work miracles. Wherefore He Himself says (Jn. 10:38): 'Though you will not believe Me, believe the works' and (Jn. 5:36): 'The works which the Father hath given Me to perfect...themselves...give testimony to Me.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Properly speaking..., miracles are those things which are done outside the order of the whole created nature. But as we do not know all the power of created nature, it follows that when anything is done outside the order of created nature by a power unknown to us, it is called a miracle as regards ourselves. So when the demons do anything of their own natural power, these things are called miracles not in an absolute sense, but in reference to ourselves. In this way the magicians work miracles through the demons; and these are said to be done by private contracts, forasmuch as every power of the creature, in the universe, may be compared to the power of a private person in a city. Hence when a magician does anything by compact with the devil, this is done as it were by private contract. On the other hand, the Divine justice is in the whole universe as the public law is in the city. Therefore good Christians, so far as they work miracles by Divine justice, are said to work miracles by public justice: but bad Christians by the signs of public justice, as by invoking the name of Christ, or by making use of other sacred signs." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Some miracles are not true but imaginary deeds, because they delude man by the appearance of that which is not; while others are true deeds, yet they have not the character of a true miracle, because they are done by the power of some natural cause. Both of these can be done by the demons... True miracles cannot be wrought save by the power of God, because God works them for man's benefit, and this in two ways: in one way for the confirmation of truth declared, in another way in proof of a person's holiness, which God desires to propose as an example of virtue. In the first way miracles can be wrought by any one who preaches the true faith and calls upon Christ's name, as even the wicked do sometimes. In this way even the wicked can work miracles. Hence Jerome commenting on Matthew 7:22, 'Have not we prophesied in Thy name?' says: 'Sometimes prophesying, the working of miracles, and the casting out of demons are accorded not to the merit of those who do these things, but to the invoking of Christ's name, that men may honor God, by invoking Whom such great miracles are wrought.' In the second way miracles are not wrought except by the saints, since it is in proof of their holiness that miracles are wrought during their lifetime or after death, either by themselves or by others. For we read (Acts 19:11,12) that 'God wrought by the hand of Paul... miracles' and 'even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs... and the diseases departed from them.' In this way indeed there is nothing to prevent a sinner from working miracles by invoking a saint; but the miracle is ascribed not to him, but to the one in proof of whose holiness such things are done." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]hose transformations which cannot be produced by the power of nature, cannot in reality be effected by the operation of the demons... And if at times something of this sort seems to be effected by the operation of demons, it is not real but a mere semblance of reality. Now this may happen in two ways. Firstly, from within; in this way a demon can work on man's imagination and even on his corporeal senses, so that something seems otherwise that it is... It is said indeed that this can be done sometimes by the power of certain bodies. Secondly, from without: for just as he can from the air form a body of any form and shape, and assume it so as to appear in it visibly: so, in the same way he can clothe any corporeal thing with any corporeal form, so as to appear therein... This not to be understood as though the imagination itself or the images formed therein were identified with that which appears embodied to the senses of another man: but that the demon, who forms an image in a man's imagination, can offer the same picture to another man's senses." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[I]f we take a miracle in the strict sense, the demons cannot work miracles, nor can any creature, but God alone: since in the strict sense a miracle is something done outside the order of the entire created nature, under which order every power of a creature is contained. But sometimes miracle may be taken in a wide sense, for whatever exceeds the human power and experience. And thus demons can work miracles, that is, things which rouse man's astonishment, by reason of their being beyond his power and outside his sphere of knowledge. For even a man by doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another, leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way he seems to that man to have worked a miracle. It is to be noted, however, that although these works of demons which appear marvelous to us are not real miracles, they are sometimes nevertheless something real. Thus the magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"... the Apostle says (2 Thes. 2:9) that the coming of Antichrist will be 'according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders.' To quote the words of [St.] Augustine (De Civitate Dei xx,19), 'it is a matter of debate whether they are called signs and lying wonders, because he will deceive the senses of mortals by imaginary visions, in that he will seem to do what he does not, or because, though they be real wonders, they will seduce into falsehood them that believe.' They are said to be real, because the things themselves will be real, just as Pharaoh's magicians made real frogs and real serpents; but they will not be real miracles, because they will be done by the power of natural causes...whereas the working of miracles which is ascribed to a gratuitous grace, is done by God's power for man's profit." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Miracles are always true witnesses to the purpose for which they are wrought. Hence wicked men who teach a false doctrine never work true miracles in confirmation of their teaching, although sometimes they may do so in praise of Christ's name which they invoke, and by the power of the sacraments which they administer. If they teach a true doctrine, sometimes they work true miracles as confirming their teaching, but not as an attestation of holiness. Hence [St.] Augustine says (QQ. 83, Q79): 'Magicians work miracles in one way, good Christians in another, wicked Christians in another. Magicians by private compact with the demons, good Christians by their manifest righteousness, evil Christians by the outward signs of righteousness.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The word miracle is derived from admiration, which arises when an effect is manifest, whereas its cause is hidden; as when a man sees an eclipse without knowing its cause, as the Philosopher says in the beginning of his De Metaphysica. Now the cause of a manifest effect may be known to one, but unknown to others. Wherefore a thing is wonderful to one man, and not at all to others: as an eclipse is to a rustic, but not to an astronomer. Now a miracle is so called as being full of wonder; as having a cause absolutely hidden from all: and this cause is God. Wherefore those thing which God does outside those causes which we know, are called miracles." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"A miracle properly so called is when something is done outside the order of nature. But it is not enough for a miracle if something is done outside the order of any particular nature; for otherwise anyone would perform a miracle by throwing a stone upwards, as such a thing is outside the order of the stone's nature. So for a miracle is required that it be against the order of the whole created nature. But God alone can do this, because, whatever an angel or any other creature does by its own power, is according to the order of created nature; and thus it is not a miracle. Hence God alone can work miracles." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Miracles lessen the merit of faith in so far as those are shown to be hard of heart who are unwilling to believe what is proved from the Scriptures unless (they are convinced) by miracles. Yet it is better for them to be converted to the faith even by miracles than that they should remain altogether in their unbelief. For it is written (1 Corinthians 14:22) that signs are given 'to unbelievers,' viz. that they may be converted to the faith." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For it is natural to man to arrive at the intelligible truth through its sensible effects. Wherefore just as man led by his natural reason is able to arrive at some knowledge of God through His natural effects, so is he brought to a certain degree of supernatural knowledge of the objects of faith by certain supernatural effects which are called miracles. Therefore the working of miracles belongs to a gratuitous grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The working of miracles is ascribed to faith for two reasons. First, because it is directed to the confirmation of faith, secondly, because it proceeds from God's omnipotence on which faith relies. Nevertheless, just as besides the grace of faith, the grace of the word is necessary that people may be instructed in the faith, so too is the grace of miracles necessary that people may be confirmed in their faith." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Nothing is called a miracle by comparison with the Divine Power; because no action is of any account compared with the power of God... But a thing is called a miracle by comparison with the power of nature which it surpasses." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Although Christ came 'in the infirmity' of the flesh, which is manifested in the passions, yet He came 'in the power of God' (2 Corinthians 13:4), and this had to be made manifest by miracles." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[S]ince it is proper to God to work miracles by His own power, any single miracle worked by Christ by His own power is a sufficient proof that He is God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"No creature can work miracles as the chief agent, yet it can do so instrumentally, just as the touch of Christ's hand healed the leper." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Jesus' Miracles & Signs (Scripture / Parables Section) | Our Father's Love Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Prodigal Son

"I'm certain of this - that if my conscience were burdened with all the sins it's possible to commit, I would still go and throw myself into our Lord's arms, my heart all broken up with contrition; I know what tenderness He has for any prodigal son of His who comes back to Him." (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

"How merciful! He, though offended, disdains not to hear the name of Father [from his prodigal son]. 'I have sinned' (Lk. 15:21); this is the first confession of sin to the Author of nature, the Ruler of mercy, the Judge of faith. But though God knows all things, He yet waits for the voice of your confession. For with the mouth confession is made to salvation, since he lightens the load of error, who himself throws the weight upon himself, and shuts out the hatred of accusation, who anticipates the accuser by confessing. In vain would you hide from Him whom nothing escapes; and you may safely discover what you know to be already known. Confess then rather that Christ may intercede for thee, the Church plead for you, the people weep over you: nor fear that you will not obtain; your Advocate promises pardon, your Patron favor, your Deliverer promises you the reconciliation of your Father's affection. But he adds, 'Against heaven and before you.'" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"After that he had suffered in a foreign land all such things as the wicked deserve, constrained by the necessity of his misfortunes, that is, by hunger and want, [the prodigal son] becomes sensible of what had been his ruin, who through fault of his own will had thrown himself from his father to strangers, from home to exile, from riches to want, from abundance and luxury to famine; and he significantly adds, But I am here perishing with hunger, As though he said; I am not a stranger, but the son of a good father, and the brother of an obedient son; I who am free and noble am become more wretched than the hired servants, sunk from the highest eminence of exalted rank, to the lowest degradations." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"For [the prodigal son] was lying down. ' And I will go', for he was a long way off ' To my father', because he was under a master of swine. But the other words are those of one meditating repentance in confession of sin, but not yet working it. For he does not now speak to his father, but promises that he will speak when he shall come. You must understand then that this 'coming to the father' must now be taken for being established in the Church by faith, where there may yet be a lawful and effectual confession of sins. He says then that he will say to his father, 'Father'." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Who after that [the prodigal son] said, ' I will go to my father', (which brought all good things,) tarried not, but took the whole journey; for it follows, ' And he arose, and came to his father.' Let us do likewise, and not be wearied with the length of the way, for if we are willing, the return will become swift and easy, provided that we desert sin, which led us out from our father's house. But the father pities those who return. For it is added, ' And when he was yet afar off.'" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"He runs then to meet you, because He hears you within meditating the secrets of your heart, and when you were yet afar off, He runs lest any one should stop Him. He embraces also, (for in the running there is foreknowledge, in the embrace mercy,) and as if by a certain impulse of paternal affection, falls upon your neck, that he may raise up him that is cast down, and bring back again to heaven him that was loaded with sins and bent down to the earth." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"For what else means it that he ran, but that we through the hindrance of our sins cannot by our own virtue reach to God. But because God is able to come to the weak, he fell on his neck. The mouth is kissed, as that from which has proceeded the confession of the penitent, springing from the heart, which the father gladly received." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"As then with respect to the condition of his sins, he had been despaired of; so in regard to human nature, which is changeable and can be turned from vice to virtue, he is said to be lost. For it is less to be lost than to die. But every one who is recalled and turned from sin...becomes an occasion of joy" (St. Theophylact)

"For before that [the prodigal son] perceived God afar off, when he was yet piously seeking him, his father saw him. For the ungodly and proud, God is well said not to see, as not having them 'before his eyes'. For men are not commonly said to be before the eyes of any one except those who are beloved." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"To the affection of a son, who doubts not that all things which are his father's are his, he by no means lays claim, but desires the condition of a hired servant, as now about to serve for a reward. But he admits that not even this could he deserve except by his father's approbation." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"The father does not direct his words to his son, but speaks to his steward, for he who repents, prays indeed, but receives no answer in word, yet beholds mercy effectual in operation. For it follows, But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he prodigal son...becomes a particular good for his father: the father sees so clearly the good which has been achieved thanks to a mysterious radiation of truth and love, that he seems to forget all the evil which the son had committed." (Pope John Paul II)

"But being cast down, he must by no means exalt himself. Hence he adds, ' I am no more worthy to be called your son.' And that he might be raised up by the merit of his humility, he adds, ' Make me as one of your hired servants.'" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Now the father perceiving his penitence did not wait to receive the words of his confession, but anticipates his supplication, and had compassion on him, as it is added, and was moved with pity." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"His meditating confession so won his father to him, that he went out to meet him, and kissed his neck; for it follows, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"Now this prodigal son, the Holy Spirit has engraved upon our hearts, that we may be instructed how we ought to deplore the sins of our soul." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion." (Pope John Paul II)

"That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is due to him and leaves home to squander it in a far country 'in loose living,' in a certain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the covenant of love, every loss of grace, every sin. In this analogy there is less emphasis than in the prophetic tradition on the unfaithfulness of the whole people of Israel, although the analogy of the prodigal son may extend to this also. 'When he had spent everything,' the son 'began to be in need,' especially as 'a great famine arose in that country' to which he had gone after leaving his father's house. And in this situation 'he would gladly have fed on' anything, even 'the pods that the swine ate,' the swine that he herded for 'one of the citizens of that country.' But even this was refused him. The analogy turns clearly towards man's interior. The inheritance that the son had received from his father was a quantity of material goods, but more important than these goods was his dignity as a son in his father's house. The situation in which he found himself when he lost the material goods should have made him aware of the loss of that dignity. He had not thought about it previously, when he had asked his father to give him the part of the inheritance that was due to him, in order to go away. He seems not to be conscious of it even now, when he says to himself: 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger.' He measures himself by the standard of the goods that he has lost, that he no longer 'possesses,' while the hired servants of his father's house 'possess' them. These words express above all his attitude to material goods; nevertheless under their surface is concealed the tragedy of lost dignity, the awareness of squandered sonship. It is at this point that he makes the decision: 'I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'' These are words that reveal more deeply the essential problem. Through the complex material situation in which the prodigal son found himself because of his folly, because of sin, the sense of lost dignity had matured. When he decides to return to his father's house, to ask his father to be received - no longer by virtue of his right as a son, but as an employee - at first sight he seems to be acting by reason of the hunger and poverty that he had fallen into; this motive, however, is permeated by an awareness of a deeper loss: to be a hired servant in his own father's house is certainly a great humiliation and source of shame. Nevertheless, the prodigal son is ready to undergo that humiliation and shame. He realizes that he no longer has any right except to be an employee in his father's house. His decision is taken in full consciousness of what he has deserved and of what he can still have a right to in accordance with the norms of justice. Precisely this reasoning demonstrates that, at the center of the prodigal son's consciousness, the sense of lost dignity is emerging, the sense of that dignity that springs from the relationship of the son with the father. And it is with this decision that he sets out. In the parable of the prodigal son, the term 'justice' is not used even once; just as in the original text the term 'mercy' is not used either. Nevertheless, the relationship between justice and love, that is manifested as mercy, is inscribed with great exactness in the content of the Gospel parable. It becomes more evident that love is transformed into mercy when it is necessary to go beyond the precise norm of justice - precise and often too narrow. The prodigal son, having wasted the property he received from his father, deserves - after his return - to earn his living by working in his father's house as a hired servant and possibly, little by little, to build up a certain provision of material goods, though perhaps never as much as the amount he had squandered. This would be demanded by the order of justice, especially as the son had not only squandered the part of the inheritance belonging to him but had also hurt and offended his father by his whole conduct. Since this conduct had in his own eyes deprived him of his dignity as a son, it could not be a matter of indifference to his father. It was bound to make him suffer. It was also bound to implicate him in some way. And yet, after all, it was his own son who was involved, and such a relationship could never be altered or destroyed by any sort of behavior. The prodigal son is aware of this and it is precisely this awareness that shows him clearly the dignity which he has lost and which makes him honestly evaluate the position that he could still expect in his father's house." (Pope John Paul II)

"Going on, one can therefore say that the love for the son the love that springs from the very essence of fatherhood, in a way obliges the father to be concerned about his son's dignity. This concern is the measure of his love, the love of which Saint Paul was to write: 'Love is patient and kind love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful...but rejoices in the right hopes all things, endures all things' and 'love never ends.' Mercy - as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son - has the interior form of the love that in the New Testament is called agape. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and 'restored to value.' The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been 'found again' and that he has 'returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father's son; it also indicates a good that has been found again" (Pope John Paul II)

"By sin, man loses a twofold dignity, one in respect of God, the other in respect of the Church. In respect of God he again loses a twofold dignity. One is his principal dignity, whereby he was counted among the children of God, and this he recovers by Penance, which is signified (Lk. 15) in the prodigal son, for when he repented, his father commanded that the first garment should be restored to him, together with a ring and shoes. The other is his secondary dignity, viz. innocence, of which, as we read in the same chapter, the elder son boasted saying (Lk. 15:29): 'Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandments': and this dignity the penitent cannot recover. Nevertheless he recovers something greater sometimes; because as Gregory says (Hom. de centum Ovibus, Hom. 34 in Evangelia), 'those who acknowledge themselves to have strayed away from God, make up for their past losses, by subsequent gains: so that there is more joy in heaven on their account, even as in battle, the commanding officer thinks more of the soldier who, after running away, returns and bravely attacks the foe, than of one who has never turned his back, but has done nothing brave.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"This exact picture of the prodigal son's state of mind enables us to understand exactly what the mercy of God consists in. There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy the figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is faithful to his fatherhood, faithful to the love that he had always lavished on his son. This fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to welcome him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is expressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and hatred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home." (Pope John Paul II)

"We read, in fact, that when the father saw the prodigal son returning home 'he had compassion, ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.' He certainly does this under the influence of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that generosity which so angers the elder son. Nevertheless, the causes of this emotion are to be sought at a deeper level. Notice, the father is aware that a fundamental good has been saved: the good of his son's humanity. Although the son has squandered the inheritance, nevertheless his humanity is saved. Indeed, it has been, in a way, found again. The father's words to the elder son reveal this: 'It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found.' In the same chapter fifteen of Luke's Gospel, we read the parable of the sheep that was found and then the parable of the coin that was found. Each time there is an emphasis on the same joy that is present in the case of the prodigal son." (Pope John Paul II)

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 15:8-10)

Also See: Parable of the Prodigal Son (Scripture / Parables Section) | More Scripture / Parables

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Sharing Others' Joy

"It belongs to the same virtue to love a man and to rejoice about him, since joy results from love... wherefore love is reckoned a virtue, rather than joy, which is an effect of love." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[W]hen many rejoice together, each one has more exuberant joy, for they are kindled and inflamed one by the other." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

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Trust in God

Also See: God (Topic Page)

"Alas! If we put all our trust in God, how much happier we should be!" (St. John Vianney)

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