Jan 192016
 

“What is countenance, and why yours is important to the Church?”

The Council Fathers tell us that by proclaiming the Gospel we will be able to bring the light of Christ to all. When we are doing what we should be as Church, Jesus light will be seen in the countenance of the Church.

The purpose of this episode is to discuss what is the countenance of the Church and what we can do to make the light that shows it burn brighter.

Our episode quote comes from Pope Benedict XVI and the recommendation is for a book from George Wiegel on Saint John Paul II.

Objectives

After listening to this podcast, you will be able to:

  • Explain what is the Angelus prayer.
  • Explain what is a countenance.
  • Tell how each Christian’s countenance affects the Church.
  • List four ways to have a cheerful countenance.

Lumen Gentium Text

This text from Vatican II document Lumen Gentium is the basis for the content of this episode:

“…the Holy Spirit eagerly desires—by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature—to bring the light of Christ to all, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.” §01 ¶01

Episode Quote

Saint John Vianney “The Church is the bride of Christ…this bride, made up of human beings, is always in need of purification. And one of the gravest faults that disfigures the countenance of the Church is the injury to her visible unity, in particular the historical divisions that have separated Christians and that have not yet been overcome.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

The Angelus Prayer

[Leader] The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary,
[Faithful] And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
[All] Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
[Leader] Behold the handmaid of the LORD.
[Faithful] Be it done unto me according to thy word.
[All] Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
[Leader] And the Word was made flesh.
[Faithful] And dwelt among us.
[All] Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
[Leader] Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
[Faithful] That we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
[Leader] Let us pray,
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, LORD, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
[Faithful] Amen.

Countenance

Countenance is the look on your face indicating your mood or your emotion.

When Our Countenance is Dark

  • Cain and Able. Genesis 4:6-7 and Hebrews 11:4.
  • God encourages Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
  • When we invite sin in — like Cain did — we become a darker people.
  • When we take control of the Church rather than letting the Spirit drive, scandals occur, parishes dry up and close, divorce rates go up, and participation in the sacraments drops.
  • We must set our minds on the things of God and not on the things of earth we will have “a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.”

A People With A Cheerful Countenance

1. Reflecting the salvation message of Christ.

  • God’s perfect justice demands punishment for sin.
  • Death is separation from God.
    • Those who sin cannot be in God’s presence; therefore, they are sentenced to death.
    • This was the punishment given to Lucifer and his followers.
    • Out of God’s love for them — and for us — God created a place where they could have what they wanted and spend forever away from God.
  • For those who wanted to atone for their sins, God’s law given to Moses had a solution.
    • Human sins were put on animals who would suffer physical death.
    • Most commonly the animals were lambs but they could be goats, bulls, or birds.
    • By the blood of the lamb, human sins were forgiven.
    • An atonement had to be offered for each sin.
    • Following the teachings in Leviticus 16 and Leviticus 23:26-32, the Jews celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which — like Easter is to us — is their holiest day of their liturgical calendar.
  • To fulfill the punishment required by God’s perfect justice for sin, God — in the form of Jesus — took our place and our punishment.
  • With His blood — the blood of God — He atoned for all sins ever committed and those that would be committed. This is why He is called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
  • Today we are concerned about the dignity a criminal has when being executed. In the first century, part of the punishment was to take away human dignity and to treat the criminal no better than an animal. This is why Jesus endured this death that He did.
  • When Jesus rose on Easter, He earned for us direct access to the Father, which is something the Jews do not have.
  • The message of our salvation is that of hope that brings life.
    • We have direct access to this hope when we “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’” (Romans 10:9-11)

2. Becoming attractive to the world.

  • When we are doing what Jesus calls us to do, the world sees the hope they are looking.
  • We are not attractive to the world when we are like the world.
    • We are to be holy, which means to be set apart.
    • Christians should stand out from others in the way we live and especially in the way we treat each others.
  • Those looking for hope need authentic Christians.
    • They want to see how we react when under pressure.
    • Being an authentic Christian is living the life Jesus lived, teaching what Jesus taught, and loving as Jesus loved.
    • Not easy but possible, as we see in the lives of the saints.
  • Blessed Mother Teresa is the world’s hero not only because she did great things but because people saw in her a glimmer of who each of us could be.
  • Saint John Paul II gave us a mandate for the 21st-century called The New Evangelization.
  • The greatest compliment to any Christian is, “when I look at you, I see Jesus.”

3. Converting souls to Christ.

  • Evangelism is bringing people to Jesus. This is how Christianity spread across the world rather than by the sword as Islam did.
  • The New Evangelization is bringing Christians back to Christ who have turned away from His light toward the darkness of despair and sin.
  • See why the New Evangelization is important by access the Center for Applied Research in the Apostate (CARA) at Georgetown University report: Global Catholicism: Trends & Forecasts.

4. Struggling in our Christian walk.

  • Being a Christian was never supposed to be easy.
  • Jesus promised “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)
  • Saint Paul confirms the teachings of Jesus by telling the Church “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
  • Christianity is an offensive religion because it is based on an unchanging standard of truth.
  • The greatest in our history are the ones who overcame adversity by dying to themselves and living for Jesus. We call them saints.

Book Recommendation – The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II by George Weigel

the end and the beginning. george weigel, saint john paul ii, pope john paul ii, book review

  • Detailed biography of Saint John Paul II’s life before during his papacy, and the legacy he left us.
  • Recommend the audio version for those of us not skilled with Polish and Russian names.
  • Wonderful stories of his influence on Vatican II and how he saw his mission to implement its teachings.
  • My full review of this book.

Homework

Study one of the Gospels

  • If you are new to the Bible I recommend reading Mark first to get a good overview of Jesus. Next study John to understand Him as a loving Savior.
    • Matthew is a first-hand account written to explain to a Jewish reader why Jesus is the Christ. Matthew expounded on what Mark giving his insight on the events of the life of Jesus.
    • Mark was the first written, it is the shortest, and is from Saint Peter’s perspective. Jesus seems to be in a hurry a little grumpier than the loving Jesus most of us have come to expect.
    • Luke is written from Mary’s and Saint Paul’s perspective to a Gentile audience. It is the first of two books Luke wrote, with Acts being the second.
    • John is the other first-hand account written perhaps 70 years after Jesus accession. The first three gospels are called the synoptics because they tell the story of Jesus in a chronological order where John is more of a reflection on the critical events and teachings of Jesus.
  • I have excellent experience with these Bible studies:

Do What You Can Do To Bring Unity

  • Find some small act that you can start that will help in bringing unity in your parish.
  • Encourage others to do the same.

Blessing

May you be open to receiving the blessings that the Father has for you.
May you be open to conforming yourself to the image of Christ, the light of nations.
May you be open to the boldness of the Holy Spirit guiding you to live a life worthy of your calling.
May you be seeking God’s will for your life and doing what brings Him greater glory.
And I for these blessing on you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Saint George Preca, pray for us!