Saturday, August 18, 2018

John 6;51-58. Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. August 19th, 2018

Today in our first reading from Proverbs we are told that “Wisdom has built a house, she has set up her seven columns…(Prv 9;1) The House that Wisdom has built is the Holy Catholic Church. In Her, we can receive all the instruction we need on how to live a virtuous life, a life of faith that leads to happiness, to flourishing and so to salvation and eternal life. In Her we receive as well, the strength we need in order to life this abundant life through Her Seven Columns, that is, through the Seven Sacraments in which we receive not only the gifts of the Holy Spirit but also the very Person of the Holy Spirit in order to lead us into Divine Love.

In this Household, uncreated Wisdom-who is Jesus Himself, has taken flesh by created wisdom-the Blessed Virgin Mary. And Jesus has set forth Bread and Wine in order to become a sacred feast, in which ordinary bread and the wine become His true flesh and His true blood that He took from the same Virgin Mary.

At this Sacred Feast is present as well the Martyrs whose blood is mingled with the Precious Blood of Jesus through their faithful witness of Him and His Household-the Church, as well as their faithful witness to her Seven Columns and Sacred Feast, even unto the shedding of their own blood—this is the wine that Wisdom has mixed.

The Seven Columns of the Household rest upon 12 foundational Pillars; and by these Foundational Pillars which are, better yet, who are the 12 Apostles and their successors, that is the bishops and priests, the invitation from mouth of Divine Wisdom goes out over the city, that is out over the city of mankind; it is an invitation to come into the House of God and share in the Sacred Feast.
Through the Pastors of the Household of the Church this invitation to “come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed,” is sent forth to the ends of the earth, so that no one might plead ignorance by not “forsaking foolishness that you may live; (and) advance in the way of understanding.”

Only the children can come, that is only the childlike, who live not in the foolishness of the pleasures of this world alone, but instead live as children of God, innocent and pure, with ordered lives: lives lived with integrity of faith; that is, lived with faithfulness to the all the Commandments and teachings of God Himself contained in their fullness in this same Household of Wisdom—the Holy Church, in and through which all men can still be taught by God Himself.

Here, in this Household of faith, we do not receive ordinary food, we do not receive ordinary bread and wine which is merely assimilated into man, into our flesh and blood. No, here we receive at Holy Communion the true Food from Heaven in which man is assimilated into the Bread of Life, into Jesus, that is into God Himself.

Consequently, if we do not feed on the bread of life, if we do not in faith, while adoring trusting and loving Him, feed on His flesh, if we do not feed on Jesus, then even though we may be alive physically, we do not have life in us and we are deader than dead.

The Holy Eucharist can only be understood in the knowledge of Love; in the knowledge of the love that God has for each of us; in the knowledge that He, who is Love itself, has truly come in the flesh, and has suffered, died and resurrected in order to be able to continue to come in the flesh and give us Himself as our true food so that we may live intimately in Him, now and forever. It is consuming this God who is Love truly present in the flesh in the Holy Eucharist, that we can be consumed and become united in love with Him, but again not before we truly Believe, Adore, Hope and love Him in the Holy Eucharist and offer ourselves and our all to Him in return. Only Love can understand how it is possible that Jesus gives us himself as our true Food and our true Drink.

In the light of this great truth-the Mystery of our Faith, may our faith in the Catholic Church, the Household made by Wisdom, and our faith in her Seven Sacraments, especially the Most Blessed of these Sacraments which is the Holy Eucharist who is Divine Wisdom Himself-Jesus, may our faith lead others to the Sacred Banquet, the Holy Mass, may our faithful witness lead all the little Children to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist where He waits for them as a prisoner of Love.

Jesus in the Holy Eucharist says, let the little Children come unto me, do not hinder them. In order to not hinder them, in order for us not to be a stumbling block for them, let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us ask her as well to help us to increase our faith, hope, and love so that we will not let anyone or anything take us away from the Holy Eucharist, away from Jesus. Wrapped in Her heavenly mantle (as symbolized by wearing of the Brown Scapular) we will be able to not let any scandal, any Judas priest or bishop or any other unfaithful member of the Household, or any unbeliever outside of It, take us away from the Bread of Life and so away from His Sacred Feast which is the Holy Sacrificed of the Mass; for unless they repent, it would be better that they would never have been born (cf. Mt. 26:24).

In the Household of God, the Holy Catholic Church there has been and always will be scandals, great and small, but woe to those by whom scandal comes to this Household built by Wisdom. For those who hurt the little ones through these scandals, through these grave mortal sins, and so cause any of these same little ones to leave the Household of faith, to leave the Holy Eucharist, who is Jesus still among us in the flesh for our Food, it would be better for them to have a great millstone fastened around their neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Mt. 8;6).

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mark 6;1-4. Fourthteen Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 8th, 2018

Today, again, as throughout his Gospel, St. Mark wants to teach us to have faith in Jesus, a living and active faith. As our soul vivifies our body, so too our faith life has to vivify, permeate our daily life, in all that we say, think and do. And so, our readings speak to us of a serious obstacle to true faith-the obstacle of complacency. The dictionary defines complacency as being satisfied in one’s self in an unreflective way and without being aware of the possible dangers this smugness causes. It is a form of self-righteousness in which one doesn’t even bother to see areas where he or she needs to improve.

This message of lack of faith caused by complacency is clearly given both in our first reading and our Gospel. In our reading from the book of Ezekiel, we find the Israelites have been sent into exile because of their unfaithfulness to God, because of their complacency. Before their exile from their homeland, they had the great temple and the presence of the Word of God in it and so life was good. They had a strong walled city &God was with them, what could possibly go wrong.
What went wrong was they fell into complacency because they failed to allow their faith in God to permeate their lives, and so began to become blind and even to turn away from their love of God; they turned to love of things and self instead. In their prosperity and luxury, they had become complacent and self-righteous. They were like a husband who becomes complacent with the love of his life and so in his complacency fails to see his relationship with his wife slipping away.

God in His mercy, however, wanted to show Israel how far their hearts had strayed from a correct relationship with Him, in order that they could repent and turn back to Him. So, He sent prophet after prophet to turn the hearts of the people back—but the people still, were content with their lack luster relationship with the True God—they instead wanted to love and follow God on their own terms, without any discomfort or sacrifice…they wanted to worshiped God only to feel good and even to be entertained and so they failed to adore Him in Spirit and in Truth, yet all the while thinking they were “good people.”

So they find themselves in exile; but even worse, they are exiled from the Word of God, the presence of God in the temple. They have lost not only the great temple, but that special presence of God available to them in the temple. Still, they fail to see their faults. They didn’t have a living faith in God in good times and now that the bad times have arrived, they lose any faith they might have had—“how could God allow this to happen to us.” They failed to see that their exile was a trial that God was allowing to shake them out of their complacency. But still their hearts continue to rebel against God and so they ignore the words of His prophet Ezekial, so Ezekial says to them, Thus says the Lord God! “And whether they heed or resist, for they are a rebellious house- they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”

St. Mark reports to us the account of Jesus’ return to His home in Nazareth. A similar situation existed there as in the time of Ezekiel-complacency. The extended family of Jesus was there along with his townsfolk. These cousins and townsfolks of Jesus knew Him only in a human way. They knew his mother Mary and believed Jesus was just an ordinary carpenter, just an ordinary cousin and neighbor- so they were thinking, “who does he think he is doing all of these miracles and teaching with such wisdom? We know him, we have Him all figured out. They just could not, would not, believe it was Jesus who was doing and teaching such divine things. Because they themselves had grown complacent, they failed to see His divinity. God was standing right before them and they were completely unaware of it and so Jesus was astounded at their lack of faith.

In these two lessons today, complacency is the common obstacle to the people’s faith, both the Israelites in exile and the extended family of Jesus had grown complacent in their faith. The routine of daily life, coupled with a weak faith produced this complacency. This is always a temptation for the People of God. Complacency then, can be a problem for us today as well, both as individuals and as a church family. We can say to ourselves, “I go to Church on Sundays, my life is comfortable.” And so, we can fail to see that we need to believe more deeply- we can fail to see that we are becoming too attached and too comfortable with the things of the world, with the way things are now. We can take the attitude of the Israelites and say, “I have peace and prosperity now, I don’t care what will happen tomorrow.” We can say, we have the Church and her priests to give us the sacraments and we can attend Mass any time we wish and so our faith life is comfortable. We can wind up falling into a heartless routine and so fail to believe in God fully, fail to love Him with our whole hearts, minds and wills; we can begin to think it doesn’t even matter if I go to Holy Mass every Sunday, God still loves me regardless.

With regards to the Holy Eucharist, we too can become complacent and like Jesus relatives, fail to see God literally standing before us! We can think we have the Eucharist and so our faith life is comfortable, and like the Israelites who had the temple, begin to think there is no chance of losing this presence of the Word of God among us. Complacency here again, is an obstacle to our faith in the divinity of Jesus and that this divine Jesus is still present among us with His human body and blood, his human heart in the Eucharist—

What people have their god as close to Him as Our God, the True God is to us in the Holy Eucharist! Complacency leads to a lack of faith that the Eucharist is Jesus, true God and true man still among us. If we, His own People, don’t believe and love Jesus in the Eucharist, He is a prefect gentleman and will not stay where He is not worshiped and adore. Like the Israelites, He will allow His people to be exiled from His Eucharistic Presence available the temple of the Church.

The cure for complacency is to make an all-out effort to grow in our faith. There are two ways we can grow in our faith. The first and most common way is by study. Study is a sure way we can grow stronger in our faith- maybe it is only studying a paragraph in the Holy Scriptures or the Catechism, but we must make the effort to expand our knowledge of the faith. To grow in knowledge of our faith actually helps us in the second way we can grow in our faith, and that way is through trials.
Accepting the trials, the crosses in our lives with the help of God’s grace is one of the greatest ways for us to grow in our faith. God in His mercy actually allows us to be tested with these crosses in order to awaken us from our complacency. Sometimes He even allows us to feel like He is distant from us and has abandoned us. This is also true in our trials in believing Jesus is really in the Eucharist.

The difficulty and struggle to believe that He is really there in the little white host, far from being detrimental, can actually increase our faith if we turn to God for strength, “God I believe, help my unbelief.” In our reading from St. Paul, we read where St. Paul prayed for the trials in his life be taken away. God’s response is clear, “my grace is sufficient for you.” Trials, both in our daily lives and in our lives of faith have a way of strengthening our faith. Again, the relationship between faith life and daily life is like the relationship between body and soul both are intimately and substantially connected.

As we approach the Holy Altar to receive Jesus, let us beg Him to strengthen our faith that the little white host we receive is really Him. Let us beg Him to shake us from our complacency and so receive Him in manner that expresses our belief that, “it is the Lord that we are dealing with,” in order that we don’t lose this true presence of the Word of God become flesh among us. With our faith strong in Him we will love him and believe in him whether we are in good times or in bad, easy times or times of trial and even in our great weakness! Let us turn to our Lady for her help as well. Hail Mary, Mother of our Faith, Pray for us. Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit, that intimate Divine Guest of our soul, to come and help us with all of his gifts

John 20: 19-23. Pentecost Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Today we celebrate the birth of the Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Twelve Apostles in the upper room; but not before they had spent the previous nine days in intense prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary. In that upper room, the Holy Spirit first came upon the Virgin, and then from her proceeded to fall upon the twelve. The Holy Spirit first came upon the Virgin for she is His spouse, as Jesus was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel today, we read of the apparition of Jesus on Easter day. The disciples were locked in the upper room for fear of the hostile people who had just crucified their master. The twelve were full of anxiety and outright fear; and it was a real fear, they weren’t being paranoid, for people were truly out to kill them.

A similar fear is experienced by many who desire to give themselves to Christ fully and unreservedly; however, it can be fear that stems not just from the prospect of dying for Jesus physically, but of dying totally to self for love of Him, of offering Him everything, for fear He just might take it. This is fear that originates from an imperfect love—for perfect love cast out all fear!

Perfect love never counts the cost, it never fears to give the one it loves the gift of its whole self, especially the gift of its whole self to Jesus…“ for no greater love has a man than this, for him to lay down his life for his Friend…”, the greatest of which is Jesus.

Knowing their fear then, knowing their imperfect love, Jesus’ first words to Twelve were of peace, “peace be with you” or simply in Hebrew, Shalom!” This is the peace that Christ alone can give, a peace that goes beyond the peace of this world. It is a peace that emanates not from the absence of conflict or even the absence of suffering, but from the secret depths of the Pierced Heart of Jesus. Then Jesus tells them, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then Jesus makes an interesting gesture, He breathes on them, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” I would like to concentrate today on this profound gesture of Jesus- breathing on the apostles; and then his words, “receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus first breaths on His apostles. It is a curious gesture, but indeed significant. Breathing is absolutely necessary for human life- it is most fundamental. Until the invention of artificial respirators, when a person stopped breathing, they died. Breathing, therefore, means life, no breath means death.

Before Jesus breathed on the apostles, they in a sense were dead. They hadn’t believed the words of Jesus about his passion, death, and resurrection. They were full of sorrow over their betrayal of Jesus--over their great weakness, they were afraid of the cost and demands of love of Jesus; their love was in sense very much in need of “life support.” And so Jesus, the Divine Physician, breaths life into them, the true Life that comes from the Divine Respirator—the Holy Spirit; He Who is the Perfect Love between the Father and the Son. The Love between the Father and the Son, the total gift of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father, is so perfect it is another Divine Person.

Today at this Holy Mass, Jesus again comes to us, no less as He did to the Twelve in the upper room. By the power of the Holy Spirit first coming upon the person of the priest, Jesus comes again in order to lay down His life anew for love of us. He comes again truly present in His resurrected and glorified body in the Holy Eucharist which also contains His Pierced Sacred Heart from which all grace and mercy flow, from which flows the Living Water which, if we drink of it deeply, gives us Life and through us gives life to the world.

We receive the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist at Holy Communion but we can drink in the living water flowing from it only if we have first received Jesus’ peace through the forgiveness of our sins before His representative the priest to whom Jesus alone has given the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, when he said, to the apostles the first priests, receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, whose sins you retain are retained. And we drink deeply of the living water only to the extent we have first offered on this altar the complete gift of ourself in a loving sacrifice of adoration to the Father through the Son.

After having received Him thus, Jesus stays with us for only a little while in an intimacy that even the angels cannot comprehend. But before He leaves us in His Sacramental presence, “for it is better for us that He goes,” He desires to breathe on us anew the Holy Spirit, the advocate.

The Holy Spirit brings with Him, His sevenfold gifts, of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Holy Fear of the Lord along with His sevenfold Gifts. With these gifts from on High, the Holy Spirit takes away all our fear by perfecting us in Divine Love. This perfecting us in divine love is no less than the Holy Spirit conceiving in our souls Jesus, in the order of divine grace, making us into other “Christs” so that we might not to just imitate the life of Christ, but live the life Christ, thus becoming His witness throughout all the whole world, taking Jesus and his love out into the world and leading many souls along with us into the intmacy of a divine union with God, the Father, and the Son, in the unity and love of the Holy Ghost, thus living out Jesus promise, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit, that intimate Divine Guest of our soul, to come and help us with all of his gifts. How we need these gifts so very much, for we are so very weak and afraid. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help us be always docile to the Spirit’s Divine inspirations, putting them into action in our life. Veni Creator Spiritus! (Come) Holy Spirit! I ask you for the gift of Wisdom to better know You and your Divine perfections; for the gift of Understanding to clearly discern the spirit of the mysteries of the holy Faith; for the gift of Counsel that I may live according to the principles of this Faith; for the gift of Knowledge that I may look for counsel in You and that I may always find it in You; for the gift of Fortitude that no fear or earthly preoccupations would ever separate me from You; for the gift of Piety that I may always serve Your Majesty with a filial love; for the gift of the Fear of the Lord that I may dread sin, which offends you, O my God. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit come by means of the powerful intercession of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy well-beloved spouse. (3x). Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The ascensions of Jesus was necessary at the level of love.

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord
May 13, 2018

These past seven weeks of Easter have been a time for us to enter into the secrets of the Heart of Jesus. We have listened to Jesus words given to us by St. John, words which communicate the truths of our beautiful Catholic faith, truths which revealed to us the very secrets of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity-God. Jesus has revealed to us that God is Love and God has created us to share in that love--to share in God’s own nature. And this brings us to the secret of love, which is the Ascension.

The ascensions of Jesus was necessary at the level of love. Love by its very nature moves toward unity. Think about this in your own life—when you love someone, really love them for their sake not your own, you want to be one with them, so much so, you desire to be of one heart and mind. This is symbolized in marriage between a man and a woman; they express their desire for oneness the night of their wedding in the marital act in which the two become one flesh. In the light of love, we can then begin to understand why the humanity of Jesus at the Ascension, necessarily moved toward oneness with the Father, toward the right hand of the Father in Glory.

Jesus, as Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, was, is and always will be at the right Hand of the Father, that is equal to the Father in Majesty. But now, the human nature, the body and blood that Jesus took from the Virgin Mary, along with His human soul, is now present as well at the right hand of the Father. Because of the ascension of Jesus’ human nature, a nature He shares with all men, now gives all human nature, including you and me, the possibility of sharing intimately and eternally in this perfect unity of Love between Jesus and the Father. Christ, still bearing the marks of his passion, which brought about our redemption, has gone before us to prepare a place for us, so that where He is, we may also be.

If we truly love God, we too necessarily will move to union with Him, necessarily will move to return to the Father. Love for Christ then, desire for Christ, who is the only way to the Father, is the greatest good anyone could ever desire. We all should desire that which is the greatest Good, namely Christ; He is our true End. A person who does not to love Him and desire unity-friendship with Him is missing out on the One thing that matters. As the great orator and radio and television star, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen taught, this is why the saints, far from being the abnormal persons that the world likes to portray them, were actually the most normal and content people the world has ever seen. Why? Because he said, normalcy works for a goal, a purpose, and a end. Abnormalcy looks for an escape mechanism, excuses or rationalizations in order to avoid discovering our true human end, which is Christ.

Bishop Sheen said, A normal person sets for himself a target, goals for this life, his vocation what he has been created for, his vocation in this life. But there is more beyond this. Suppose his vocation is to become a doctor, and then to get married, and then to have children and then to give money to his children and then. The normal person sees that there is an end to “and then, ” Sheen said. He knows that He has been created for something, someone beyond just the goals of this life. He realizes in the end that the goals in this life are really just meant to obtain our ultimate, “and then” which is heaven.

The abnormal person is just the opposite. The abnormal person is locked up inside of himself, within his ego, said the bishop. He is like an egg that has never been hatched; he refuses to submit to a certain amount of divine incubation in order to arrive at a different life than he has, so he has to escape from reality—this is how he spends his time. If he wants to go from Chicago to New York, he is not concern about getting to New York but with giving excuses about why he doesn’t go to New York. In other words, he has lost his goal, his end, his destiny and he refuses to look at the roadmap and take the necessary actions to get there. He goes in circles

Our society too has become abnormal. It has lost its true end, its true purpose. Many either don’t realize or know they are created by God, for God or they just aren’t concerned. Some want to go to God, but they don’t want to look at the map and make the necessary changes and actions in their life to get there. In other words, they refuse to submit to the divine roadmap, which is the Will of God and His Commandments. They become like ships without a port, lost at sea, adrift—yet they desire never to found, desire never to reach the port but only to stay forever on the ship.

Our society’s loss of its true purpose, its true end is shown in many abnormal ways. Our society has many escape mechanism and rationalizations to avoid the truth. One of the symptoms of this loss of an end, is our love for excessive speed. A lot of people don’t know where they are going, but they certainly are in a hurry to get there. Another symptom is the rise of suicide, especially among the young, but not only among them. Suicide is at a level never before seen the annual of human history—is is epidemic. Life with out an end is hopeless. So many people have an unconscious or half-conscious desire to end life because it is without purpose, without meaning. Surely this is also what is behind the push for physician-assisted suicide. We moderns try to fill in this loss of desire for our True End, our desire for God, with immoral sex, alcohol and drug abuse, materialism or just plain death.

Additionally, Many people throw themselves into their jobs or business in an abnormal way. This is where many people are today, they have become slaves to efficiency. They look upon the other and are looked upon only in relation to how well they can perform and produce, how well they can make money and be an asset to the economically minded business world. This is not a true human end.

People are alone today, they are losing hope. They are working, working. Where are we humans going? Who is going to give to us and our society an end-a true human end? Is it a true human end to just earn money? Of course not, but yet that’s the only end that so many want to achieve.
The great Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the goal that People are the most seeking after on earth is Human glory or fame-to be somebody. He said to reach it you need two wings, money and power. When you have money you have power. And with both you can reach human glory and that is what people are aiming at if they don’t know Christ their true end. But this is totally abnormal. The world must leave this notion of efficiency, this perpetual pace, this crazy pace going nowhere, there is no end.

There is no end because quantitatively I spend a lot of time working. But qualitatively where is my life going, what is the end. The end gives the quality if the end is human. But money cannot give any quality to my life. Power cannot give any quality to my life. Human glory is vain=it is passing I can die today- Sic transit gloria mundi-so passes the glory of the world. So, all this false trinity of power, money, and fame condemns human beings to nothingness, we want to discover the true Trinity through Christ. through the Son and the Holy Spirit to go to the Father, yet there is so much in our society today that is an oppressing power that prevents us from discovering our true Father (our true end). But all is not hopeless!

The truth of the Ascension that we celebrate today renews our hope because it again gives us our true End. It points us to our true purpose in this life, which is to love God, to love our neighbor for love of God and after giving ourselves totally in a sacrifice of love, for love, to return to Love--God Himself, for God is Love.

But because our Christian Hope is not just a, “I hope so,” or a, maybe someday,” friends of Jesus, that is those who keep His Commandments can begin to possess now, already while still in the valley of tears, that for which they hope. It is the Holy Mass that makes it possible to us.
At the Holy Mass God continues to love us first, through His Son in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the Holy Eucharist is the Risen and Ascended Lord sitting at the Right Hand of the Father in Glory; the Holy Eucharist is our true End because it is Jesus in His Human Nature, risen and ascended, and so when we are before the Holy Eucharist we are already in Heaven. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus fulfills His promise of hope, “Behold I am with you even until the end of the world!” The Holy Eucharist is our only way to the Father because it is the door to heaven because it is Jesus, who is our heaven.

At Holy Communion Jesus continues to draw near to us in love by offering us His complete self on this altar. This love necessarily demands a response on our part, will we rise up and draw near to Him our true End by offering Him our complete self, all we possess, all our love so He can take us to where HE is, One with the Father, in the unity and love of the Holy Spirit. Let us the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hope to help us. Let us pray:

Prayer to Our Lady of Hope

O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with a heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fears and temptations of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death.
O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of the Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you?
Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God's Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus. Above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life's darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Savior, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.

Mary, our Hope, have pity on us.
Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

John 15; 9-17, Sixth Sunday in Easter. May 6, 2018

It is has been said that the whole of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can be explained in the following words—“It is all about love!” And so it is! Yet, in our day “love” is a very broad notion. And because it is used so broadly, and one could say in many cases so carelessly (for example, I love ice cream, I love flowers, I love fishing), the word “love,” seems to have become devoid of its deeper meaning. Yet, each one of us and every human being has been created by Love—for Love. We can truly say, “Love is our only happiness!”

Today Gospel from St. John, along with the second reading from the First Epistle, also from John, reminds us what love really is, and what is the deepest meaning of the expression, “to love.” We are told that, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as expiation for our sins. In this we discover that Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love that the divine Persons have for one another and for all men (Navarre bible, commentary on John pg 196).

This profound truth, “that God Loves you,” is the source of Christian Joy, but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part. This response should take the form of a fervent desire to do God’s Holy Will in everything, that is, to keep His Commandments in imitation of Jesus Christ, who always did the Will of His Father (pg 197). Therefore, those who keep the Commandments of God, are Friends of Jesus--friends of God Himself. They are no longer slaves, but instead beloved sons and daughters of God Himself, Children who love others as Jesus has first loved them.

In light of this profound truth what does this love look like in action? And how do we respond to this love and put it into action in our own lives? To answer these questions, we first examine the actions of Christ, and then the actions of the saints.
How has Christ loved us? We look to the crucifix to see. He has loved us to the very end! He has loved us by sacrificing His own life for our sake, so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. He has become an expiation for our sins, to free us from sin and the result of sin, which is death, all so that we could have the possibility of entering into an eternal union with Love Itself—The Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus’ whole life on earth was in a sense a crucifixion that merely culminated on the cross. He, who was true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father, took on the nature of the very creatures He created—he became true man while setting aside the power of His divinity. He became like us in all things but sin. And He lived His entire life on this earth entirely for us, so much so, that there was not one ounce of selfishness, self-interest or self-seeking in anything He ever did. His entire life, every action no matter how seemingly insignificant, was carried out in a spirit of total dedication for each one of us, carried out in loving sacrifice of Himself for you and for me, and for all men.

By His entire life, Jesus, showed us what the greatest of all love is, for a man to lay down his life for his friends. And because of His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus continues to show us this love by sacrificing Himself anew at the Holy Mass and in the gift of the Holy Eucharist, in which He offers and gives Himself totally to us as the Food of Love.

Also, to discover love we look to the actions, the lives of the Saints. The closest friends of Jesus—the saints, show us that it is possible for each one of us to live the life of Jesus in our own lives, to love as Jesus commands, to love like Him for Love of God and love of neighbor for love of God. The martyrs immediately come to mind here, those men, woman and even children who gave their live for love of Jesus and for His Church and Her members. Take for instance Father Maximillian Kolbe, who in a Nazi concentration camp voluntarily stepped forward to take the place of a fellow inmate-a husband and father who was about to be starved to death.

Taking the place of the husband in the starvation bunker, Father Kolbe lead the other condemned prisoners in joyful songs and praise to God as each one of them slowly and agonizingly died. Father Kolbe the last to be still alive, and his captured being perturbed with his joy and failure to die, was finally injected in the neck with acid, his dead body being thrown in one of the ovens of Auschwitz to be incinerated (we don’t have any first class relics (bones) of Kolbe).

Also, one thinks of the martyrs like St. Isaac Jogues, and the other North American Martyrs, who gave their lives to bring Christ, His Church and His Gospel of truth and love, to the Americas. Father Jogues, friend of the Huron Indians was eventually captured by their enemies the Iroquois. He was tortured by first flaying strips of his skin off, then by having his priestly sacred digits, thumb and forefinger, cut off so that he couldn’t celebrate Holy Mass. As they cut off His fingers he began to praise God out loud in front of his tormentors until one of the men suffering with him told him to stop because the Iroquois were known to make their victims eat the parts that were cut off.

Father Jogues later escaped and was able to flee to France to recuperate. He was offered a life of retirement by his superiors but refused. For love of Christ and neighbor he wanted to go back to the Indians who Christ loved and who Jogues loved, not only for the Huron but also for the Iroquois from who Christ die for as well. Shortly after arriving, as he walked out of a tent, Fr. Jogues was bludgeoned over the head by the same Iroquois, thus giving His life in love and as a witness to Love.

Although we may not be called to witness to love in this extraordinary way, we are all nonetheless called to that greatest of all loves—"for a man to lay down his life for his friends.” For us, this can be done by what is known as crucifixion by pinpricks; that is, by living our daily lives in total dedication to Christ, to His Church and to others. We do this through our faithfulness to the duties of our state in life—this includes for example, doing our jobs well; being obedient to our parents; treating others fairly, as we would like to be treated; standing up against and trying to correct injustices; and fulfilling our spiritual duties of daily prayer and study. Along with fulfilling our daily duties, living the Commandments and the teachings of the Church; setting aside what we “feel” is true and right, and instead accepting the truth that comes not from us, not from any man, but from God, the truth that ensures us the freedom to love. In all of these way and countless other little ways, we are witnesses to this truth of love, at our jobs, in our families or even during our times of play and entertainment. This may give us the opportunity to, like Christ and His saints, bear the ridicule of the godless in this world who have created their own truth and reality, and to bear it all for love of them, so that they too may not be lost but may become friends of Christ and so obtain eternal life and union with the God who is Love.

To illustrate this “ordinary witness,” I think of the example in this country of a seemingly ordinary life of St. Pierre Toussaint. He was a former slave who having obtained his freedom opened a hairdressing salon in Old Manhattan. Yet, coming to this salon in order to be close to this true friend of Christ the socially elite would gather, in order to hear Pierre’s wisdom and to receive his direction in their lives. After work, Pierre would not go home, but would spend the night nursing the sick and dying, feeding the hungry, counseling the confused, teaching the ignorant and admonishing sinners to repent of their sins and turn their lives more and more to Christ—their truest friend, by following His commandments. Totally dedicated to Christ and to others, Pierre Toussaint, hardly ever thought of Himself—He was a slave to Christ, a slave of Love for love, totally free from the worst bondage, the bondage of sin; he was indeed a true friend of Christ.

A life of laying down one’s life for the sake of one’s friends begins for us at the Holy Mass. Jesus is truly our dearest friend who has lay down His life for each one of us, and Who continues to lay down His life for us on this sacred altar. The only appropriate response on our part is to lay down our lives for Him.

We do this beginning at Holy Mass by laying down our heart, our lives, our everything on this altar for love of Jesus. Not to be outdone in generosity and love, Jesus leaves the altar and gives us His own Sacred Heart at Holy Communion in order for us to be able to love with. This is the fruit of the Resurrection, to be able to love the Father with the Heart of Christ beating alive in us. And with this same Heart of Christ in us, loving those to whom we come in contact with on a daily basis. Most of the time, as we have said, this is carried out in the ordinary acts, but ordinary acts which now become acts of divine love, for we are truly able to carry out Jesus’ command to, “love one other as He has loved us,” for it is Jesus Himself who loves others and serves others through us. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help us, like the saints, to dedicate our lives totally to Jesus and to live out this self- dedication by our faithfulness to all of the Commandments and to the Fathers Holy Will.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

But the devil will come. He will lie to us He will tempt us with the things of this world—to seek happiness in this world alone. He will tempt us with fear, tempt us with the fear of what it will cost to follow Jesus fully, tempt us with the fear of giving up, of offering up everything to Jesus.

Mark 1; 12-15. First Sunday in Lent. February 18th, 2018

“Repent and Believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at Hand.” These words of our Blessed Lords that are found in today’s Gospel are at the very heart of our Lenten Observance. In fact, they are at the very heart of the entire Gospel.

Repent, that is turn away from those things that are keeping you from fully embracing Jesus, for He is the Kingdom of God Personified. Repent---turn away from sin and selfishness, from pride and error and turn to--embrace the Truth of the Gospel expounding fully in the Teachings of the Church. Live this Truth, so that give yourself more completely to Jesus—He who is the Truth, and be more perfectly and intimately united with Him in His Kingdom.

Repentance therefore, is more than just a turning away from Sin, it is even more than merely changing our lives for the better. Repentance is first a foremost a turning to Jesus more fully, giving ourselves and our lives to Him more completely, so as to live the Will of God already on earth as it is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is what is at the heart of our “giving up” something during Lent. We give up something we desire, some good, in order to increase our desire, our spiritual desire for the only One that is truly Good—Jesus. Jesus is the only One that can satisfy our true Hunger and thirst. And so, our fasting during Lent, is only successful if leads us closer to Jesus.

At the end of Lent, we can say, I succeeded in giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent, look how “good” I am. But can we say that being successful in giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent has changed me? Or did it just cause me to become grumpy with my family while I was trying to go without these things to prove how good I am. Will we be able to say, that our Lenten sacrifice has lead us to a deeper repentance from sin and to a turning more fully and offering our heart, our life and all that we are and have more trustfully and more completely to God, from Whom all good things come?

A truly successfully Lent then, as well as a truly successfully life with Christ, always begins and ends with Holy Mass. The Mass is that one place, like no other, where we can truly encounter the Kingdom of God in Person in the Holy Eucharist. It is here, where after we have repented of our sins and confessed them in the Sacrament of Confession before a priest, that we can turn more fully toward the Lord who comes to us in the Holy Eucharist, through His Passion, death and Resurrection. The Holy Eucharist is our Heavenly Food, because it is truly Jesus; therefore, the Holy Eucharist alone can satisfy our hungry heart.

But before we can grow in our desire for the Holy Eucharist and receive it more fruitfully-so it can transform us in to other Christs, we must, like in Lent, “give up” something--namely Ourselves and offer all we have on the altar with Jesus to the Father. We must give up everything, placing it on the Altar in a loving and trusting sacrifice to the Lord.

But we must not only give up to Him our whole heart and all that we have and possess, but we must also give up to Him our sins as well—we must place all our sins on the altar.

There too on that altar, we must place our failure to Love Him above all else, and give up to Him those areas of our lives that we love too much and are reluctant to offer up to Him right now, or are too scared to give up to Him because we are afraid He might take them from us in this life. We must give up to Him our petty grudges, our refusals to forgive, our cherished ways of doing things, our fixed perceptions of others, our stubborn refusal to change, or even to admit, those aspects of our lives that are displeasing to the Lord. We must give up to Him all of our fears as well, placing them on the paten at Holy Mass and totally surrendering ourselves in complete abandonment to His Holy Will; His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy Itself.

Speaking of fear. The Liturgical time of Lent reminds us that soon there won’t be anything to be scared of, because Easter is Coming. At Easter Jesus has conquered our fear. He has conquered sin and that greatest of all fears death; not just the fear of earthly death, but of eternal death, of eternal separation from God.

Jesus has triumph over the grave. And through the sacraments He has left us, we too can share in His victory; through the power of Holy Mass, which is the power of Divine Love, we too can conquer sin and so conquer fear and death. All provided we give up all to Jesus.

But the devil will come. He will lie to us He will tempt us with the things of this world—to seek happiness in this world alone. He will tempt us with fear, tempt us with the fear of what it will cost to follow Jesus fully, tempt us with the fear of giving up, of offering up everything to Jesus. To those who fall into his temptations and try to hang on only to the things of earth, afraid to lose their lives for Jesus, they will lose both earth and heaven and eternal life besides.

But for those who give up the things of this world, for those who give up their life to Jesus, they will gain heaven and earth, and eternal life besides, because they will obtain Jesus, and through Him, they will obtain the Father and the Holy Ghost and so the fulfillment of all their hopes and desires. And then all that they have given up to the Lord, all that they have entrust to His safe keeping, will be return to them a hundredth fold besides.

Let us turn to the virgin for help, she is our Lady of Perpetual help. She will help us to overcome the temptation of the devil. She will help us to overcome all of our fear. If you look at the image of our Lady of Perpetual help closely, you will notice that the sandal of the child Jesus in her lap is hanging on to Jesus foot only by a strap. You see, Jesus was out playing in the yard and two angels appeared holding the instruments of the passion—the cross, the nails, the crown of thorns. Little Jesus is so scared, and He runs so fast to His mother that his sandal slips off his foot and dangles as He jumps into the waiting outstretched arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Her arms are outstretched for us as well. Let us run to her as fast as did Jesus. There in her loving and safe embrace, let us ask her to help us overcome fear and through her Immaculate Heart, give up everything, EVERYTHING on this altar at this and at every Holy Mass, trusting it all to the Lord God from Whom it all came anyway. Let us ask the Mother of God, to help us to cut the strings, to undo the knots that bind us from loving Jesus above all things and living for Him alone. Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Our Lady undoer of knots, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted. It is He who lifts up the lowly. And how does He do it? just as He healed Peter’s Mother-in-law in today’s Gospel. He does through the touch of His Healing Hand.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 4th, 2018

In our first reading today, we hear of the great trial of Job. Job who was the most faithful to the Lord, has now it seems, fallen out of favor with the Lord and even incurred His wrath. Job is experiencing almost every type of suffering there is. He has lost his great fortune and his home; he has lost his prestige and has become a mockery to his neighbors; he is enduring a horrible illness and is suffering on a bed of misery and pain. And even worse, He has lost loved ones—close family members. Job is at the brink of total despair: He says, “I will never see happiness again.”

There are many in our world today that are like modern day "Jobs." They have lost jobs, savings and homes. So many, like Job are facing or experiencing serious illness or declining health, and are facing death. In the last few years so many have faced unbelievable suffering, misery and loss through natural disasters and wars…How many there are who are in bondage and slavery, physical slavery yes, but even more so, how many are suffering of the bondage of the greatest of all slavery-sin and its effects. So many there are who are broken in spirit and are at the “end of their rope,” so to speak. They are at the verge of or have already fallen into despair. From where will come their deliverance, from where will come their hope—who will heal the brokenhearted in our world today. …

Our psalm today gives us the answer…It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted. It is He who lifts up the lowly. And how does He do it? just as He healed Peter’s Mother-in-law in today’s Gospel. He does through the touch of His Healing Hand.

For those who humble themselves before the Lord, the Lord grasps them by the hand and helps them up, heals them and saves them. It can never be said enough that the Lord saves through healing, the healing of the spirit, the healing of the whole person, the healing of the soul and yes even the healing of the body, (if not in this world, certainly in the next).

This healing of the Lord is not just some quaint metaphor or analogy. His Healing Hand can take the form of a very tangible touch. It is still possible for the lowly, for those who humble themselves before the Lord to experience the touch of the human healing hand of Christ in ordered to be lifted up (for those who humble themselves shall be exalted…).

I remember a young woman, with whom I was very closed, who was suffering from a terminal illness--cancer. At her diagnoses, she was only 23. She was terrified, not only afraid to die, but afraid of the great physical suffering that would come along with her disease and eventual death. Her days, like Job’s, were truly “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, they were coming to an end, and it seemed without hope.” It was then that I myself, experienced the Lord come to her and grasped her by the hand and lift her up and heal her.

How did the Lord come to her…how did He touch her? How did He heal her? It was through the great Sacraments of the Church known as Confession and the Anointing of the Sick and especially and substantially in the Holy Eucharist.

Like in all the Sacraments, it is truly the Lord who we are dealing with. In the person of priest, Jesus came to her, truly and really, lovingly and mercifully. For her part, this young woman lowered herself before the Lord, and placed her trust in His Divine mercy by humbly, truthfully and contritely confessing her sins to Jesus, through His priest. And through the hands of that same priest, Jesus forgave this dying young woman with His own hands in the absolution, laid His own hands upon her head to heal her, anointed her brow with the oil of His tenderness and compassion, grasped her trembling hands and anointed them as well, healing her broken heartedness and healing her soul.

From that moment on, I saw in this young woman an incredible change. She went from a fearful and hopeless “Job,” to a young woman strong in the Fear and Love of Lord. She began not only to embrace her sufferings but even to offer them joyfully for the sake of others, for the salvation of others, especially her family. Like St. Paul, in her weakness she became strong.

After, when friends would come to visit her in order to cheer her and lift her up, she instead would lift them up and give them hope…In the end, I am totally convinced she beat her cancer…maybe not physically but she most certainly beat it spiritually. It may have destroyed her body in this life, but it did not destroy her soul. And in her sufferings and even in her death, she became for others a way to the Healing Hands of Jesus by preaching the Gospel with her life and even with her death. Jesus lifted her up in soul to Himself, and on the last day, I have no doubt, He will also lift up her healed body as well at the resurrection of the dead…Praise the Lord!!!

Interestingly, has he did when he first visited this young girl, whenever this priest would visit her during her illness he would always grasp her hand and hold it has he talked to her about the Lord, the cross and redemptive suffering, and as he prayed with her and for her. And as he would go to leave, she would always say the same thing, “Thank you for coming Father, you go ahead and go, just leave me your hand!” After her death, I heard this same priest give the funeral homily for her…He mentioned this, about her wanting him to leave his hand with her when he left. And He said to all those present at this now 24-year old’s funeral…”it was not my hand she wanted me to leave, but it was the Lord’s Hand…It was Jesus hand—His healing hand!” Praise the Lord!!!

Now as a priest, whenever I have the great privilege to visit the sick here in the hospital and administer the Sacrament of the anointing…I am always well aware, and I always remind those present, that it is not my hand that is about to touch you, but it is the Healing Hand of the Lord that is about to touch you.

I have I seen, God be praised and not this sinner, I have seen the faith of the humble before the healing hand of the Lord, and I have seen Him lift them up and heal them, giving them hope, giving them health and giving them life. In the Sacraments, it is the Lord we are dealing with, the priest is merely His burro, unworthy, so many times not very faithful and himself beset with weakness and fear. But nonetheless, it is this burro that the Lord uses to come to the soul—the ways of the Lord are not our ways.

In confession, the Lord comes to the humble and contrite heart, to the brokenhearted and offers His healing hand—this is why confession is an integral and necessary part of the anointing of the sick (unless the person is physically unable to confess-only then does the anointing take away serious sin without confession)…. Do you know that more miraculous healings take place in the confessional than anywhere else, even more than occur at Lourdes or other religious shrines? Spiritual healings yes, but even sometimes miraculous physical healings—more in the confessional than anywhere else!!!—when the soul is healed sometimes the Body follows, if it be God’s Holy Will.

And at the Holy Mass the Lord comes in His resurrected and glorified—healed body, which once was dead but now lives again. He comes to each of us and if we humbly open our hearts to Him, He lifts us up as He is lifted up in the Holy Eucharist. He wishes to come to us, not only to heal us and save us, but He wishes to transform us, so that each of our hands can become his healing hands to others…

Yes, the Lords healing powers come through the priestly ministry, firstly and primarily. But from there, this Power can also work through you and through your hands as you go forth from this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and strive with His help and His Blessed Mother’s help, to live the Gospel with your very life—with your life, whether in health or sickness, in suffering and even in your death.

He wishes through you, with you and in you, to come and "touch" to those who are brokenhearted, who may be in your own family, at your work or school, and even at your places of recreation and sport…Not all of the poor, that is the brokenhearted, are in the shape of the material poor (which is the error of secular humanism), some of the poorest of the poor may be very rich material speaking but very poor spiritually speaking (how many of the rich and famous commit suicide). The Lord may place some of the most brokenhearted in this world in your path this very day to offer them His healing touch so HE can begin to mend their brokenheart; He wants to use you to bring them into the fold of Holy Church so He can touch them in the Great Healing Sacraments of His Merciful Healing Sacred Heart.

But before you go to them, before we go to them, first we must come to Jesus, and we ourselves must receive His Healing Touch frequently, both in the confessional accepting His Divine Mercy through the confession of our sins. And then we must come to Him in the Holy Eucharist and ask the Virgin, by placing our heart in her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, to place our brokenheart into the Pierced Eucharistic Heart of Her Son. Before we can be used to console others, we must first be consoled by the Lord in the Sacraments and then we will be empowered to console others with the same consolation we have received from Him.

Let us pray: O God in Whom Mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your Mercy in us, so that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is Love and Mercy Itself. Jesus, I trust in You! Jesus, I trust in You! Jesus, I trust in You! Our Lady of Perpetual Help pray for us! Amen.