Sunday, October 16, 2016

we can say without qualification that, “God is constantly with us”; He never leaves us and longs to enter into intimate conversation with us, not just once in while, but always.

Luke 18; 1-8. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 16th, 2016

In our readings, the Holy Spirit speaks to us today about the need to pray constantly and to preserve in our prayers in order to maintain our Faith, our hope and to grow in our love of our loving Father God. We are told of Moses and how as long as his hands were held up in supplication toward our God, things went well in the heat of the battle.

In our Gospel, Jesus uses the image of a widow in great need; she persistently bothers the unjust judge who because of her constant supplication finally gives into her request. Jesus makes a contrast here between the judge and our Heavenly Father; if even this unjust Judge will grant the widow’s request because of her perseverance, how much more will the Just Judge, Our Father in heaven who loves us, grant our requests when we persevere in our prayer to Him. The lesson is of course this, we must pray constantly, without ceasing or becoming weary trusting always that God hears and answers every one our prayers, even when it seems He is delaying doing so.

At the end of our Gospel today, Jesus questions whether He will find any faith on earth when He returns in glory. Without faith, hope and love we cannot make it to heaven. And there is a direct connection between the level of our faith, hope and love and the amount we pray. This is so because the source of these supernatural virtues is of course God Himself. Prayer is that action which put us into direct Contact with the living God. And by the greatest act of prayer, our adoration, we acknowledge our awareness that God is the Source of our being and hence we acknowledge at the same time in humility that every thing we need depends on him (we are like the widow really in great need, whether we know it or not).

God has allowed difficulties in our lives for this very reason. When we are in times of need, especially great need, we realize much more deeply, than when everything is going well, that we need God and his grace to help us in these trying times. The more we turn trustingly to him and petition Him with our prayer the more we see more clearly that his is a trustworthy God, always reading to answer those who but call out to him with constant prayer.

Saint Paul instructed echoing our Lords words in today Gospel, “pray without ceasing.” (1 THess. 5:17) But how does one pray without ceasing? What does the Holy Spirit mean by “pray without ceasing?” Let’s take a look at some ways we can pray ceaselessly.

Ceaseless prayer is simply living in a personal, constant union with God. It doesn’t mean spending all day in church, and it certainly doesn’t mean neglecting our daily duties of life in order to pray. No, ceaseless prayer is fulfilling our duties with out mind and heart centered on God and on our love for Him and His love for us; in this our daily duties, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, become themselves a prayer offered to God.

Ceaseless prayer has to do with the desire of our heart. It’s not about calculating the time of prayer; does a mother ask how often she should love her child, or a friend how often he should love a friend? St. Augustine says that the essence of prayer is desire. If the desire for God is constant, so also is prayer, but if there is no interior desire, then you can howl as much as you want – to God you are mute.

Jesus himself gave us the example of unceasing prayer. Of him, it is said that he prayed during the day, in the evening, early in the morning, and sometimes he passed the whole night in prayer. Prayer was the connecting thread of his whole life. In his humanity Jesus shows us definitively that pray consists in love for the Father.

But Christ’s example tells us something else important. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can pray always, that we can make prayer a kind of respiration of the soul in the midst of daily activity, if we do not set aside fixed times for prayer, times when we are free from every other preoccupation. And so, part of our ceaseless prayer are those specific times of our day which should be devoted to contemplation and private prayer; It is during these times that we come to know God’s will for us and are strengthened to perform our daily duties in a way that is pleasing to Our Lord, as well as being redemptive for ourselves and others.

Prayer then should be the first act of our day and the last of act of our day, along with times in between to pray as well, especially before and after meals, even in public. Also an essential part of our scheduled daily prayer is the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Pope John Paul II wrote, “The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of ‘ceaseless’ prayer. On Thursday we celebrated the 99th anniversary of the last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. There the Mother of God asked us to pray the rosary daily. The three little shepherds (at Fatima) understood the value of the Rosary as a call to prayer and an easy way of responding to Jesus’ call to us to pray always. Sister Lucia, one of the visionary of Fatima wrote,

“Those who say the Rosary daily are like children who, every day, manage to find a few moments just to be with their father, to keep him company, to show him their gratitude, to do some service for him, to receive his advice and his blessing. It is an exchange of love, the love of the father for the child and the child for the father; it is a mutual giving.”

In the Rosary, Our Mother leads us by the hand to a deep intimate loving encounter with her Son, Jesus. And so, the Rosary is really a Eucharist prayer; if it is prayed correctly and with love and devotion it leads us to Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Holy Eucharist is the most essential part of our ceaseless prayer. And so in our prayer of the Holy Rosary, we discover that ceaseless prayer is absolutely impossible without the Holy Mass.

And so it is essential for our prayer that we set aside, as the Church as always done, a special day dedicated to worship and prayer: Sunday. In light of our present day persecutions, we modern Christians should take our inspiration from the words that, in 305, St. Saturnius and his fellow martyrs addressed to the Roman judge who had them arrested for participating in the Sunday Mass: “The Christian cannot live without the Sunday Eucharist. Do you not know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian?

We have to end by saying that daily prayer is hard, praying without ceasing takes effort and the devil tries to keep us from it, especially our prayer at Holy Mass. John Henry Newman, the great convert from Anglicanism, says: “Nothing is more difficult than to be disciplined and regular” in our prayer life. It is easy to be religious in fits and starts…at times we “feel” spiritual, but to be regular at prayer is a trial, he says because we are so weak and inconstant. Newman stresses that Satan “perceives well that daily private prayer is the very emblem and safeguard of true devotion to God.” and of maintaining us in a course of good conduct, of holiness of life. That is precisely why the Devil will use any and every means to prevent us from praying regularly.

Perhaps, we can take a lesson from St. John Vianney; The Cure of Ars (Doctor of souls) taught: it is not surprising the devil does everything in his power to get us to lessen the time of our personal dialogue with the Lord or to do it poorly. Look at the senseless set of reasons the enemy gives you for abandoning your prayer. ‘I have no time’ – when you are constantly wasting it. ‘This not for me.’ ‘My heart is dry…’ Prayer, St John Vianney says, is not a question of what you say or feel, but of love. And you love when you try hard to say something to the Lord, even though you might not actually say anything.” And when you love you want to be with the one you love constantly.

Many of our difficulties in prayer disappear when we pause to consider that we are in the presence of God. He is at our side as much as with the ones who heard and spoke to him in today’s Gospel. In fact we can say without qualification that, “God is constantly with us”; He never leaves us and longs to enter into intimate conversation with us, not just once in while, but always. Let us turn to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary to help us to pray. “Lovely Lady dressed in blue teach us how to pray, for God was just your little boy tell us what to say.” Amen.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the prophet Habakkuk, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” But you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” These lines from Sacred Scripture seem to be written for our own day.

In these our times, we are experiencing violence on a level never seen before in the history of the world, never seen before! We see increasing terror attacks. And shootings are in the headlines every day; 19 homicides already this year here in Rockford surpassing all of last year; in Chicago, last years total number of shooting homicides, 509 was surpassed already as of September 1st. Currently it stands at 565 dead.

It is clear that our world is descending more and more into a world of incredible violence and misery, producing so much ruin and leaving so many victims in misery. It is clear to see that the life and dignity of the human person is no longer respected, but is now easily discarded, the result, as Pope Francis said, of a “throw away society.”

On this Pro-life Sunday, we acknowledge all of those who have worked so hard to end the threats against life, even through it seems the threats grow stronger and even more violent. Those who truly understand the importance of the Prolife movement know that the escalation of violence in our society will only continue to increase until the life and the dignity of ALL human persons is upheld and protected; this is especially true with regards to the life of the unborn person. Violent begets violence and there is nothing more violent than abortion (the dismemberment and the ripping out of unborn baby from its mother’s womb); not to mention, the great wounds and scars it causes to lives of the women and men who participate in it, albeit sometimes desperately.

In light of the ever-increasing violent threats against life, it is easy to become discouraged, easy to lose hope that things will ever change. Our efforts to defend and promote the life and the dignity of every human person can seem to be having no effect. We, like Habakkuk, can want to cry out to God, “Violence, but You do not intervene!”

Today, God doesn’t want us to become discourage by our seemingly lack of success in the pro-life movement, for we see in the readings of today’s Holy Mass the unstoppable power of Faith, Hope and Charity. The prophet Habakkuk, who was so despairing, receives a wonderful vision from God- faith is not without hope. “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” In the end, it is not just that Love will triumph, but that the Love of Jesus will triumph over our culture of violence, over our culture of death!

In this month of pro-life activities, we are reminded as Pope Francis once said, “always have hope in Christ!” Our hope in Christ points, not only of physical life, but to spiritual life as well – to our life in Christ that has the power to transform us; and through us, to transform our culture and world. It is the power, the power of Divine Love, to heal and to save lives, not just earthly lives but more importantly eternal life-souls for all eternity.

By opening our own hearts more fully to His love and mercy, we let Christ dwell in us more powerfully, and we see then more deeply the intricate and unique beauty of each person, made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the most Precious Blood of Jesus who is God Himself. And through our holiness of life, through our faithful discipleship, others will come to see more deeply this perennial truth as well. They will see the sacredness of every human life, no exceptions.

And so God will surely act, but we need to do our part, for it is God’s desire that we become his faithful disciples. And faithful disciples are those who are His faithful witnesses to the truth about the value and worth of each and every human person no matter their particular situation. And so today, we need to, in an ever-deeper way, ask Our Loving God what He wants from each one of us in order for life to become sacred again in our land.

Allow me to offer some suggestions:
To start with, we can make an effort to come to know our faith better in order to give a more effective witness of our Christian life. We need to know our faith better in order to live it and so witness to it. Too often, we can only think about nourishing our emotions and feelings and fail to do the hard work of continuing to form our intelligence and our conscience by the Teachings of the Church, which are literally the Truth that comes from God. Learning the truth is hard work, and it isn’t always enjoyable, yet, it is vital for us in order to be effective and to bring the light of Christ to the world and to the poor souls who have been affected by it’s darkness.

Better understanding of our faith helps us to defend its unchanging truth and live it more fully in our lives. Our words testifying to the value of all human life do no good if we are not living our lives in witness to this value. This witness is shown in our own marriages and families by our openness and generosity in the number of children we bring into the world, by our practice of the Church’s moral teaching with regards to the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act, by our refusal to use artificial contraception which divides these two essential elements of God’s plan for sex, and by using Natural Family Planning only in cases of serious reason. We have to always keep these two aspects, unitive and procreative, intact. And so, we also show our openness by our refusal to use In-vitro Fertilization, surrogate mothering and other practices, such as homosexual acts and so-called homosexual “marriage” which also go against God’s natural and moral law. The teachings of the Catholic Church give an absolute clear defense of life, but they must, if we are to have life, they must be believed and understood, celebrated, and with the help of God’s grace, lived in our daily lives as a witness to their truthfulness and life-giving-ness. In this we become faithful witnesses to Life!!!

The second thing we can do is to offer acts of atonement and reparation for all crimes against the human person, those just mentioned, as well as for poverty, false accusation and for all forms of murder and violence. We can offer everything we do each day to Jesus in love for Him and for souls. We can make spiritual acts of reparation every day, little acts of love we perform each day to try and repair the damage done by all sins, especially ones so heinous as crimes against the human person.
We can offer our daily sufferings, big or small, in atonement for those who commit the sins against life, crimes that cry out for vengeance before the Almighty God.

This brings up another suggestion on how we can carry out God’s will for us to be effective witnesses to life. And this is by humble heartfelt prayer, especially before He who is Life Itself, Who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. This type of prayer is essential. It is in our personal time in faith before our Eucharistic Lord that He Himself nourishes and renews our faith and hope, so we can “always hope in Christ;” and it is before Him that we can beg Him who is the Fount of Life and Unfathomable Mercy to envelope the whole world and open Himself out upon us.

Before Jesus truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament, we can beg our Lord for the conversion of all those who desire to destroy life, destroying themselves and our world in the process. It is there that we can bring all that we are and have and offer them to God in supplication for what we need and desire. It is also before Jesus in the tabernacle that we can obtain grace, the grace of conversion to change our sinful world steeped in a culture of death. There we can open our hearts to the Divine Mercy of God in Person, and become instruments of that mercy to others so they too can see the unique beauty of each person; in this, we can be used
to transform our culture to a culture of life.

Before the living Jesus, hidden in the little white host, we can as well call down graces and mercy upon all of those who have been involved in crimes against life in order to shower them with the love of God and the Mercy of God so they can seek the forgiveness of God through their sincere repentance. When was the last time you and your family prayed on hour before Jesus in the tabernacle asking, begging, for an end to the crimes against life in order to destroy our culture and death and turn it into a culture of life?

God in His divine providence has allowed us to be alive at this place in human history, where human persons are thrown away at will. He offers us an opportunity to show Him our faithfulness and love by doing all that we can to end all the crimes against life most especially through our spiritual acts of prayer. This Friday October 7th, is the feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary.” The original title of this feast day was, “Our Lady of Victory.”

The feast of Our Lady of Victory, celebrated the Holy Roman Empire’s great and miraculous naval victory over the vastly superior fleet of the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the most spectacular conflicts in naval history. In this battle known as the Battle of Lepanto, the Christian fleet of the Holy Roman Empire was outnumbered three to one by the Ottoman Empire’s mighty navy; it should have been a complete slaughter. Had the Christians lost they would have lost control of the Mediterranean, and the Turk’s boast that he would make a mosque out of Saint Peter’s Basilica—as his forebears had done with Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia—could have become a definite reality; the stakes couldn’t not have been higher.

The Dominican Pope, Pope St. Pius V, saw the seriousness of the situation clearly and so instructed all the Churches of Italy to pray the rosary as the battle began. Through the faithfulness of so many Christians praying the most powerful spiritual weapon of the Rosary, a miracle occurred which allowed the Christian fleet to win an absolutely impossible battle. The pope, correctly attributing the win to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory the following year, which would eventually be renamed the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Our present day battle for life, like the Battle of Lepanto, seems to be against invincible forces. This brings up my final suggestion: In our Pro-life efforts, let us invoke our Lady under her title, “Our Lady of Victory.” The Virgin Mary is described in one biblical verse, “as she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” If enough Catholic Christians would unite in prayer under the banner of our Lady, if the parish church families and individual families of our Country would together pray her Rosary, most especially before the Blessed Sacrament, we would quickly win this present day battle; which by the way, makes the Battle of Lepanto look like children playing in a swimming pool.

We like Pope St. Pius V, need to see clearly the seriousness of our modern day situation and like the faithful of Italy, act decisively with faith; the sakes could not be higher, literally million of souls hang in the balance. In this great modern day battle, which is the battle for life itself, our faithfulness and steadfastness will not decide the outcome of the battle, for battle for life will succeed, but our faithfulness will decide the outcome of the destiny of our country and the eternal destiny of millions and millions of souls.

In the end, the Blessed Mother has promised us that her Immaculate Heart will triumph over our culture of sin and death, and an era of peace will ensue. For the triumph of the Immaculate heart will be a triumph of love, a triumph of love brought about by those faithful sons of daughters of God who pray the rosary with devotion, and wear the brown scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel as a sign of their consecration, that is as a sign of our setting aside, of their hearts and their wills to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.

Like the prophet Daniel, let us, at this Holy Mass, cry out before the Lord, “We have sinned against you!” We may not be directly responsible for the crimes of our day, but here we can implore God Divine Mercy to forgive these sins by sending His graces of conversion on those who have committed them so that they may be reconciled with God and with the human race. “Eternal Father, I offer to Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, along with the offering of my own heart, body, blood and soul on the paten at this Holy Mass, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Today, Jesus keeps on the theme of faithful discipleship. He tells us a very interesting parable about a dishonest steward. However the situation is not so cut and dry at it seems. Our Lord here isn’t condoning the steward’s behavior, which was obviously unjust and dishonest, but Jesus is emphasizing and praising the steward’s shrewdness and effort. In this parable, our Blessed Lord wants us to apply at least the same ingenuity and effort to serve Him as people put into their worldly affairs or in their attempts to attain some human ideal.

At times however, sadly we must admit, it seems too often as if the children of this world are more resolute in the pursuit of their goals than we Christians. All of us have become accustomed to seeing people make unbelievable sacrifices in order to improve their life-style or standard of living. At times we may even be shocked by the great lengths people will go to acquire more wealth, power or fame. In Charity, we Christians must be willing to put at least the same amount of zeal and effort into the service of God and neighbor, offering everything we do all for the glory of God, not our own. Only by this type of humble and dedicated service we will acquire salvation for ourselves and for our neighbor whoever he or she may be.

For their part, the children of the world live as if there existed only what is here below, and they single-mindedly focus their attention on obtaining what they think will make them happy in this world. They focus on acquiring the good things of this world more than on possessing and being possessed by the One Who is Goodness Itself and from Whom all good things come. And as result they fail to realize what is really important. And that is, our eternal destiny and whether we will spend it forever in heaven united with God in an intimate union of love or in hell separated from Him forever.

However, it is not just the children of the world that forget what is really important, even more scandalous, the children of God, us Christians too often forget. Because of this forgetting about what is really important, and the loss of charitable zealousness that results, Jesus says sadly, “… the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

For our part, the Lord wants us to make as our primary concern, our growth in intimacy and friendship with him, better known as holiness and sanctity. And then in sanctity and holiness, living our lives in order to lead others to Him and His love, in order that they may be not only saved but enter into a loving union with Him as well, now and for all eternity. We should have at least the same level of determination as that with which others engage in worldly concerns.

In fact, if you really think about, nothing on this earth is more important that Adoring and Worshiping God, in order to come to know Him more, love Him more so that we can serve Him in order to be truly happy in this life and forever in the life to come. Nothing is more important that being His faithful disciple in order not only to save our soul but also being used to save the souls of others, both those we love and those of our enemies. All of the things of this world, all of our talents, all that the Lord as given to us, should be used primarily for this.

God has given us all so many gifts and He waits patiently to see what we will do with them. Will we treat them as ends or will we use them as means. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We have only one Lord. We must serve Him with all our heart, using all that He has given to us, whether it be our treasures, our talents or our time. We must direct everything toward Him: our work, our plans, our leisure, without holding anything back. Even the ordinary mundane duties of everyday life must be done for God alone, nothing is considered inconsequential.

The faithful Disciple is not one however, who lives with his head in the clouds, but the one who loves God and neighbor by struggling to be faithful in the little details of everyday life; it isn’t that He is perfect but that he is, with the help of God’s grace, striving for perfection…to be perfect as Your Heavenly Father is perfect. It is perfection of Love!!! Even little things if done for love of God become powerful and useful for our salvation and that of our neighbors; in fact, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” We must do everything primarily for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls—“Even in eating and drinking do everything for God’s glory.”

Our resolution to put God and His affairs first in our lives begins right here at Holy Mass. Coming to, and fully, actively and consciously participating in Holy Mass is a matter of grave Justice; it is recognition of what is owed to God as our Creator and sustainer. And what is owed to Him is our worship and adoration, our complete trust and love. Not to make Holy Mass, which is the greatest act of adoration of God (because Holy Mass is the Adoration of the Son to the Father on our behalf; it is God adoring God for our sakes)…not make Holy Mass the most important event in our life is to fail in justice toward our God. Not to offer ourselves at Holy Mass to God in response to the offering of Himself to us, is to fail not only in justice, but also to fail in our love for Him; for love is always and exchange of persons. Our love and participation at Holy Mass is therefore the greatest act of Charity we can perform; and only from the Mass then can we truly act in Charity to others.

In justice and in love for God and neighbor, we must come to Holy Mass every week, at least, and humbly adore the God who is truly present there, the God who has given us everything we have even our very existence and the existence of those we love. In this, we realize that by being present at Holy Mass we aren’t doing God a favor, He is doing us a favor; He is blessing us by even allowing us to be in His Holy and Sacred Presence, along with all the angels and saints of heaven bowing our hearts before Him crying out, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty…Blessed are we who are called to His supper.

In profound thanksgiving and appreciation, we must then take what we receive at this Mass, namely Jesus in the Holy Eucharist—His power and His Love known as Charity, out with us as we live our mission to bring the love of Christ to the world around us, for we can’t be a follower of God on Sunday’s and devoted to the business of this world the rest of the week. We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be faithful disciples of our Lord.

Let us then offer everything we have at this Mass in order to adore God. Let us acknowledge our failure in the past to serve Him as we ought; let us thank Him for all the many blessings that He as given to us; and let us ask Him for the grace and the strength to serve Him single mindedly and faithfully all the days of our lives. Holy Mary, perfect Disciple of the Lord and Mother of all the disciples of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Luke 15; 1-32. Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 11th, 2016

The parables of the Gospel today, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, are all very familiar to us. The parables of the lost sheep and prodigal son are so popular that you can see in many people’s homes pictures of Jesus with a sheep on His shoulders or of the Father receiving and embracing the prodigal son. We have heard some fairly difficult Gospels the last few weeks on discipleship. Topics like humility two weeks ago, and last week's taking up your cross each day, are not easy ones to hear, much less put into practice.

In light of the seriousness of these topics, certainly, many of us have tried to respond anew, and with greater intensity to Jesus’ call to become more fully His faithful Disciples. However, even though in our hearts we long to follow Christ more fully we know we are very weak and that we live in world where it is so very difficult to do the right thing. It’s so easy to become discouraged in our efforts and to just give up and say “Oh, what’s the use- I’ll never get this right!”

Well today, through the readings, God speaks to our discouragement. He offers us His grace; that is, offers us His Divine help so that we might fulfill our desire to be good and faithful disciples. He wants us to know that He is merciful God, a God who is patient and kind. He is a generous and understanding God; quick to forgive those who are humble and contrite of heart. He is a God who never keeps score or tallies our iniquities.

No, God is not a “scorekeeper” but a “promise keeper.” Being well aware of our human weakness, He prefers not to condemn us; after all He has presented us with his greatest gift imaginable, the gift of His only Son, who He continues to offer to us in and through all the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist because it is Jesus in the flesh.

In each of the parables in the Gospel today, the central figure is then God Himself. He is God who is on a “search and rescue” mission. He is a God who does everything He can to seek out and recover those of His children who have succumbed to temptation and so have separated themselves from Him and His love for them.

God is in fact, the Good Shepherd who misses the sheep gone astray by sin, seeks it out in order to bring it back to the fold. Once He has found it, He carries it on His shoulder, since it is trembling and weak from its disobedience and the great burden of its sins. God also seeks us, similar to the actions of a woman who having lost a coin of great value, lights a lamp and searches the whole house diligently and patiently until it is found. As well, God is a loving father who longs for the return of His son, going out daily, scanning the horizon to see if His son is coming so that as a Father He can run to His returning son and throw His arms around him and cover him with kisses.

Yes, these beautiful images of God are given to us to encourage us in our daily struggles. But at the same time they are given to us as an example to follow in our discipleship. They let us know that discipleship involves nothing less, nothing less, than taking into our hearts the qualities of God Himself-we are called to be God-like through divine grace. In other words, we are call to love like God, to actually love with God’s own love; we are called to have a merciful, forgiving heart like God, a heart that desires that none be lost, that all be found and saved.

And so, if we are to take on the qualities of the Father's heart, our discipleship then also includes a sharing in God’s own mission, which again is a search and rescue mission. It is a sharing in the mission of the Father, through, with, and in the Sacred Heart of His Son, of finding the lost sheep and bringing them back into the One Fold, to His one true Church.

Holy Mother Church applies the image of the Good Shepherd, and so this search and rescue mission, especially to priests when it states: “They (the priests) should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the Truth and of the Life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith.”

But the Church doesn’t limit this rescue mission merely to priests. It reminds us that we have all been the lost sheep at some time in our lives. And because we have all been searched for and found by the Mercy of our God, we too should want all souls to experience the healing and saving power of the Sacraments in which the Father through Jesus embraces us and covers us with His Kisses.

And so our sharing in God's search and rescue mission for lost souls is also a necessary requirement of the Lord for all of us in our faithful discipleship. Fulfilling this requirement of faithful discipleship in order to bear the fruit of bringing lost souls into the embrace of the Father, requires nothing less as well, than our full, active and conscious participation at Holy Mass; only then can we take on the qualities of God.

In the first reading today, we hear of Moses, after climbing the Mountain of Holiness, interceding before the face of God on behalf of his people that had gone astray, so they would not be destroyed would not be lost. So too at Holy Mass the “New Moses” Jesus climbs the mountain of true holiness, Mount Calvary. And there before the Face of the Father, Jesus continues to intercede by pouring himself out for the salvation and sanctification of all souls.

Even though, principally it is Jesus who is the “one intercessor to the Father on our behalf, He wishes that we too join in this intercessory role of the Son on behalf of all souls. We too, at Holy Mass, are to offer ourselves in love to Father, to offer our body and our blood. In other words, we too are to pour out our life for the sake of others, so that the lost may found and all may be saved through us. We too, through, with and in the Son are to intercede before the continence of the Father, that is, before the face of the Father as well, crying out, “Eternal Father, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Let us not be discouraged in our weakness and our sinfulness, but with humble and contrite hearts and with the Help of the Virgin Mary, join in this self-offering of Jesus by offering our self and all we have fully and with great trust to Jesus and through Him to the Father. And as the bread and the wine that is being offered is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may our hearts too, by the same Spirit be transformed into images of this same Sacred Heart. Then becoming one with the Heart of the Son, we will truly be able to share in the search and rescue mission of the Father becoming His instruments of grace and mercy for the world, so that it may escape the destruction for by its sins it so justly desires. Let us pray:

Eternal Father, at this Holy Mass, I offer to Thee the Body and the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, along with my own heart, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world…

Sunday, September 4, 2016

In today’s Gospel we again hear Jesus asking us to become His faithful disciples. In fact, each and ever day when we wake up, if we listen closely, we can hear Jesus asking us to be his disciples to a greater degree than the day before. Are we willing to put our faith, adoration, trust, our love and obedience to Jesus, before anything or anyone? Will we love Jesus today even more than our closest loved ones, our father, mother, wife, brothers and sisters, children and even ourselves? Are we willing today to pick-up the cross that He gives us and follow after him? Will we renounce all of our possessions for Him, sacrifice ourselves by loving others for love of Him-will we live for Him alone?

These questions come up in the events of each and every day, and they remind us that it is important that we calculate not only the cost of being a faithful disciple, but what we need to do in order to succeed in becoming one. It takes great effort to be a faithful disciple of Jesus; it takes a daily struggle.

Our Gospel today teaches us three main aspects or actions, which we must struggle to carryout on a daily basis. They are; Adoration—that is daily loving God first; Carrying our cross in imitation of Jesus; and Renunciation, that is, putting nothing before God and our Love for Him. Let’s look a little closer at each one.

First, Adoration. Practically, this aspect of our daily struggle begins first thing in the morning when we wake up. Do we put our love for God first in our day? We struggle with getting out of bed and we struggle even more to do that first act of adoration of our day. Our minds can quickly turn to other things- like “I’ve got to get everyone else up and breakfast prepared.” “What time is that first appointment of the day—better to just hit the snooze alarm one more time?

Suddenly our minds are filled with the preoccupations of the day. These things are important, but will we love God first and put Him first in our day? The very first thing our minds should focus upon, immediately when awaking, is on God. Making the sign of the cross, we should make a sacrifice to get out of bed quickly and immediately kneel down, even touching our forehead to the ground in order to make our first act of the day an act of adoring God. “God, Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I adore and I love Thee. Please help me to adore Thee and love Thee more this day.” We have to make the effort to start off each day putting God first if we are to keep Him first throughout our day and so in our lives. To help us adore him daily, do we, whenever we can, spend intimate time with Him truly present in the tabernacle or during Holy Hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

The second aspect of our daily struggle; We must be willing to pick up the crosses that Jesus gives us each day? All of us have some sort of suffering in our lives and these are our crosses. If there is anyone who is free from suffering here, I’d love to meet them. Some crosses are big; most are small. Perhaps ours is larger—an illness, or an illness in the family. Maybe it’s troubles in the family- the children are misbehaving, a relative in trouble. Or maybe it’s troubles at work- that bothersome coworker, heavy workload, being out of work. Maybe our cross is smaller—just the hum drum of everyday life, or even the little trips, snares and snags that occur each and everyday, such as when we drop things, clothing snags on a door knob, we can’t find our keys or the car won’t start.

Whatever our sufferings may be, they are something that God has allowed in our life, and if we carry them for love of Jesus; they can make us into great saints—that is great friends of Jesus. Instead of saying, “Why me, we can say “why not me.” And so we ask Jesus to help us to see that our sufferings are the very things that He has allowed in order that we can draw closer to him in love; carrying our cross far from being a negative, can be the most positive thing in our lives, if we carry it for love of Jesus, it is the royal way that leads to salvation, ours and other’s as well.

If we ask Him, Jesus will give us the grace to handle our cross along with it’s many sufferings that come into our lives, not only to just endure these sufferings, but even to endure them with great joy and peace, “for his yoke is easy and his burden light for those who love him dearly.” But we can’t try to carry the cross on our own; we need his help—daily. So do we ask for this each day in our morning prayer? Do we think about Him during our work, asking him for his help and strength throughout the day? Do we seek the help of His grace by praying each and ever day.

And the third and final aspect or action: we must renounce all of our possessions do be His disciples. However, before we can do so, we must first understand what it means to renounce all of our possessions. Possessions are anything, anyone that might separate us from God. The list can be long. We immediately think of material goods. The question we can ask ourselves to see whether or not we have renounced them is, “do I possess this thing or does it possess me?” Does it possess me to the point that my heart is more attached to it than to God? Our world is so full of materialism and consumerism that it is a struggle to not be possessed by the things of this world.

Another area of possession, perhaps the most difficult, is the riches we hoard in our own hearts. One of the greatest riches is not money but our stubborn will. We love to have things our own way. Interiorly, we can all sometimes act like spoiled children; “It’s my way or the highway.” And so, do we make daily sacrifices for others for love of God? Do we submit ourselves to the church and her representatives in our beliefs and our practices? Do we make sacrifices for our family and for our Church family?

Another type of possession can be our memories. Memories can be another form of “wealth.” An example of this is our grudges. If someone in the past or present has hurt us, do we allow the memory of the hurt to possess us so that we refuse to forgive that person and even refuse to talk to or pray for that person? I think this occurs most often in families. Grudges can possess our heart and make them heavy and hard. And so, we need God’s grace to let go, to forgive, to reconcile. Each and everyday we need to ask God in prayer to help us in our struggle to forgive and to reconcile. We need especially the grace from the Sacrament of Confession to help us to forgive others who have hurt us, especially if it a very deep hurt. When we let go of our possessions and being possessed by them, we possess and become possessed by Jesus Christ our true Joy, and nothing could be better than this.

So to sum up the three points to following Jesus more faithfully: First each and everyday, we must make an act of adoration to God, in which we give to Him all that we are and all that we have. Connected to this is accepting and carrying our daily crosses with great love for Jesus and for our neighbor out of our love for Jesus. This is our we live adoration. And in those things, which are most difficult to let go of, those things that hold possession over our hearts more than the Blessed Trinity, we ask the Holy Spirit to slowly help us to renounce them.

In order to be able to carry out each of these in our daily life it goes with out saying that we must begin our week by fully, actively, consciously participating in the Holy Mass in order to obtain its infinite fruits in our lives. The Holy Mass the source of all graces; it is the source and summit of the Christian life.
It is only at Holy Mass that we begin to truly adore God. For only there can be we present at the passion and death—the Crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary and join our imperfect adoration to the perfect adoration of Jesus to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
And so, it is here at the Holy Mass that we can more fully renounce all of our possessions by offering them along with our whole heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that she that she may place them on the Paten as loving sacrificial offering to God.
And it is at Holy Mass that we can receive from the Eucharistic Jesus the Holy Spirit, in order to daily carry our cross in imitation of Jesus, becoming His instruments of love and mercy to the world. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us; St. Joseph pray for us; St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta; Pray for us. Amen

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It is at Holy Mass that we can approach without terror and trembling but nonetheless with great humility “Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering (Heb. 12;22.

The readings today speak to us about an important virtue-the virtue of humility. It was the Blessed Mother who said to St. Faustina, the apostle of Divine Mercy, that the three most important virtues in the Christian life are: number one-Humility; number two-humility; number three-humility.

However for the most part, it seems humility is not a very popular virtue these days. In fact, I wonder if most view humility more as vice, as a type of weakness. In other words, the more humble we are, the more others will take advantage of us. Surely, in our world there are many people trying to take advantage of us (fraud is a common crime these days), but true humility is not this. Humility is not being a floor mat; it is not a weakness, but instead a great strength.

Humility is of course, the virtue that opposes pride in our heart. Humility comes first and foremost with our correct relationship with God and then flows out to our correct relationship with others and then ourselves; it is knowing the truth about ourselves and about God.

Simply, Humility recognizes that God is God and we are not. He is our Creator and Lord, and as such we must come to know Him in order to love Him by serving Him so that we may be happy in this life and in the life to come. This begins by knowing and obeying His Commandments and His teachings in our lives. And perhaps most difficult, to be humble we are to obey those whom God has placed in legitimate authority over us, as well as serve and love others for Love of God whoever they may be.

Perhaps to better understand humility we can compare it with its opposite-the vice of Pride. While humility is the truth, pride is a lie. Pride can manifest itself in a couple different ways.

First, pride can lead us to think ourselves above God and that we know better than God. We place ourselves above His Commandments and the teachings of His Son, Jesus. There are of course innumerable ways people justify this, like saying God doesn’t exist, or the Commandments are just a religion thing so don’t push your beliefs on me, or the Church needs to get with the times; after all, everyone is doing it.

In this first manifestation of pride, it is the self that becomes the determinant of the truth. But in the end, it is an act of pride, because it is lie. This was the real temptation in the garden, the devil said, you will know the difference between good and evil, in other words, you can choose for yourself what is true and false what is good and evil apart from God and His truth which is proclaimed by His Church.

The truth is of course that God is the only one who determines truth and He has revealed it to us in its fullness through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God, and so He is Truth Itself who continues to speak to us through the teaching office of the Church He founded. And so, humility recognizes that Right is right even if no-one is doing it, and wrong is wrong even if every is doing it.

The other manifestation of pride is the opposite of the above; it is when we judge ourselves to be less than the dignity that God has given to us as His beloved child made in God’s own image and likeness and redeemed by the precious Blood of His Son. This type of pride can come out like this, “how could God ever love me, I did this terrible thing and He could never forgive me.” Or “The teachings of the Church are too hard to follow, so why even try.” This manifestation of pride is a type of false humility in which we look at our weakness more than we look to God’s mercy and His grace in order to over come our weakness. This can also lead us to deny any good work that through grace, God has accomplished through us or can accomplish through us.

In contrast, true humility recognizes that we have all sinned, and we continue to sin and so fall short of the glory of God in our thoughts, words and deeds. We are all too weak on or own power to live our lives according to the truth, but we are indeed nevertheless loved by God more than we can imagine. He desires to forgive us of any or our failure to live the truth—our sins, if accept His mercy by truthfully, sorrowfully and humbly ask for His forgiveness by confessing them fully before His personal representative in the Sacrament of confession as we make a firm purpose of amendment with the help of His grace to sin no more. And God is always ready to give us the strength we need to humbly follow Him if we but, in humility call upon His Holy and Powerful Name through prayer and the Sacraments of His Church, which are the sources of grace for us.

Pride in all of us can be very strong. Just when we think we have lost some of our pride, it is then when pride can be the most powerful in us. Those who don’t think they are prideful are in fact the most prideful. Humility is the only antidote to pride. Humility is truth; it is being truthful about ourselves, both in what is good about us, and in what is bad about us. As someone once said, “True humility is being aware of our self worth, but not our self importance.”

Humility is actually an internal choice we make in the silence of our hearts. The essence of this choice & act of humility is adoration. We bow ourselves under the hand of the Creator, we submit our wills to His, we die to our self, that is to our self-will, our self-reliance and to our own ideas. We have received everything we are and everything we have from God, so we desire to offer it all back to Him in a loving sacrifice of thanksgiving. We bow our hearts, minds, and yes even our bodies, bending our knees before the majesty of the Almighty, all Powerful, and ever-living God—this is humility!

Humility then, always starts with what is most basic, adoration. The deeper our adoration of God, the more we realize our complete dependence on God, the greater we grow in our relationship with God & hence the more we grow in humility. This brings us to why we need the holy Mass.

It is at Mass that we can approach without terror and trembling but nonetheless with great humility “Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering (Heb. 12;22) . However, just like we can’t not pray as we ought with out the Holy Spirit, so too without Him we cannot adore the Father as we ought without the Holy Spirit.

At Holy Mass, Jesus-“the mediator of the new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel” (Heb. 12;24), through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the sacred priesthood, Jesus comes down onto the altar anew and offers His self-same sacrifice of Calvary to the Father as a perfect act of adoration on our behalf. We for our part, with the power of the same Spirit can offer ourselves in an imperfect act of adoration to the Father, through, with and in the perfect offering and adoration of Jesus. Let us turn to the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, to help us place our hearts humbly, that is, totally, completely and with great trust and love on the paten at this Holy Mass.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Peace is always the fruit of accepting the truth—while rejection of the truth, ultimately, is the source of all division and disunity.

Today, Jesus seems to be saying to us some very divisive and even intolerant words. He tells us to strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many will try to enter and will not succeed.” He says, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” and “Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth…” Jesus words seem like swords to our modern age of tolerance, as well as disrupting to our apparent peace; after all, “can't we just get along!” But here again, Jesus speaks the truth, the hard truth and yes the sometimes-divisive truth. Remember last week He said, “I have come to bring division…”

When hearing the tough truth of the Gospel, we can have the tendency to want to soften it, to remove those things that seem to us to be difficult--divisive or intolerant. Like parents who don’t want to destroy the peace by correcting their children, we can begin to think that to bring people together in peace and unity we should just drop the teachings of the Church that seem to lead to division and so a lack of peace. But it never works trying to preserve the peace by denying the truth; it may give us a false sense of peace, but only for a while because it is an illusion. Peace is always the fruit of accepting the truth—while rejection of the truth, ultimately, is the source of all division and disunity.

A good example of this false notion of the preserving the peace and so preserving a false perception of unity has been seen in the last fifty years in the Ecumenical dialogue trying to reunite Christian communities and Churches. After many early successes in ecumenical dialogue after Vatican II, the “spirit of the age” has rendered it for the most part uninspiring and unfruitful. Why? Because too many Christians, especially Catholics involved in the discussions are afraid of offending, “better to get along.” And so, much of the effort has been spent in trying to reach the goal of "getting along".

Now, it’s good for us to want to “get along,” of course; however, the trouble is when getting along is the main goal, many of our significance differences are ironed over and ignored and the fullness of the truth is set aside. Many of our separated brothers and sisters, not to mention many Catholics, even some priests and religious, have frankly abandoned the full truth of the Gospel for a political correctness, teaching incorrectly for example that abortion and contraception are morally correct or that traditional marriage should be abandoned, and divorce and remarriage, or even so-called homosexual "marriage" should not only be allowed but embraced.

More and more Christians are abandoning faith in the Gospel and its unchanging Truth. So many try to cover up this lack of faith and acceptance of grave errors under the umbrella of “tolerance or inclusivity.” But this rejection of God’s truth, and this rejection of reality and the way God has made it, does nothing but lead to a false sense of unity and peace and to just more division, and eventually to outright chaos and destruction.

A few years ago there was an instruction that came out from Rome, by Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI; It was entitle, "DOMINUS IESUS"
OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH. When released it cause a huge backlash in the Christian Church and beyond. In this instruction, the future Pope pointed out why the fullness of Christ Church and so the fullness of Christ’s truth--God’s truth, subsists only in its fullness in the Catholic Church.

Afterwards, as you could image, many commentators condemned Pope Benedict for being divisive and hurtful, and for damaging the efforts to “get along” with others. Surprisingly, (or not surprisingly) some of the harshest critics of the future Holy Father were so-called Catholic Theologians. They claimed this instruction “set-back” the efforts to unite the other Christian “churches” by decades, not to mention the damage, they claimed, it cause to unity with the other non-Christian faiths. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

In the instruction from the future Pope, far from condemning the other Christian communities, merely proclaimed to them the truth in love in order to bring about true unity and true peace, not only among all Christians but also among all men of good will. He wasn’t trying to say that other Christians were evil or that they had no truth; nor, was he saying that there was no way they could get into heaven. No, Benedict, was only saying that they were and are missing some of the vital necessary truths that Jesus Christ came to give us in order for us to be able to succeed in entering through the narrow gate into life. And the most vital of these necessary truths that is missing, leading to serious defects within these communities, is a correct understanding and so belief in the Holy Eucharist.

Only the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches claim to have, and truly have, the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus who is the True and Living God among us. All the other Christian communities believe the Eucharist is merely symbolic or spiritual or that Jesus is somehow present among the elements of bread and wine, but not as the Catholic Church believes, that it is truly the flesh of Jesus, the fullness of His human nature along with the fullness of His divinity truly present in the world in His resurrected body.

Even if some Christians claim to believe in the Eucharist in the correct way, according to Catholic teaching and the reality of the situation, it would not be possible for them to have the Eucharist-Jesus the incarnate Lord. Why? Because only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have, claim to have, and can claim to have, Apostolic Succession.

Apostolic Succession is the truth that the divine power to confect the Holy Eucharist was given to the Twelve Apostles, and only the twelve, at the Last Supper when Jesus literally laid His hands on them and ordained them priests and bishops, telling them to do this, “in commemoration of me.” In this “laying on of the hands true power, the power of God Himself was placed into their very person. No Christian denied this perennial truth of our Faith until the Sixteenth Century, but now sadly millions do.

This divine power to make present the sacrifice of Calvary and the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and so Holy Communion with God possible, this power was then passed on to the successors of the Apostles also by the Laying on of the hands. Only the Catholic Church and orthodox Churches have keep intact Apostolic Succession and so have, in reality, throughout the centuries passed on this divine power of Jesus. As a result, only the Catholic Church can claim to have the Holy Eucharist--Jesus in the fullness of His Divinity united to the fullness of His Humanity. And so as Pope Emeritus Benedict proclaimed in his instruction, the fullness of Christ’s Church and the fullness of His truth subsists only in the Catholic Church because only She has, truly and really, the Holy Eucharist, which is, better yet, Who is Jesus, Who is the Truth, the Way and so the Life.

Jesus in our Gospel today and through the teachings of the Church is giving us the hard truth, but only because He loves us and wants our salvation and our happiness, not our condemnation or the condemnation of any man—God desires that all men and women be saved. The truth matters with regards to our eternal salvation, especially the truth of the Holy Eucharist. Only the Person of Christ can save us and, the Eucharist IS the Person of Christ available to us on earth. So, how can we as Catholics possibly say, as did Pope Emeritus Benedict, that other Christian faiths who do not have the Eucharist are not defective; how can we in order to just get along, say they are not missing something vital to life?

Only through an honest and straightforward dialogue about our differences with other Christian communities and people of other beliefs can we ever hope to have unity and peace. Even more, if we love other Christians and even people of other non-Christian faiths, our own children and family members who have left the Church (and even those in the Church who no longer believe), how can we not want them to have the truth of the Church's moral teachings which give life, how can we not want them to have the truth of the Holy Eucharist, which is not only necessary for salvation, but which is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh still among us, Love itself still among us, in order to Love us, help us, heal us, to save us...

Today, Jesus tells us that only through our acceptance and living the truth will we finally enter into the Kingdom of God in heaven. Jesus makes it clear however, that to accept the full truth of the Gospel is hard, and to conform our lives to it is even harder; it is the narrow way…this is especially the case with regard to the truth of the Holy Eucharist.

Again, last week Jesus said He has come to bring division. The Holy Eucharist is primarily how Jesus in our day continues to bring division. It’s is not that the Holy Eucharist—Jesus causes division, but that division is caused because so many reject or don’t know the truth that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus in the flesh still among us—In other words, lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist is the cause of division in our world. However, the Good News for us today is, is that contrary is even more true.

Our Faith in the Holy Eucharist can and will bring unity. True faith in the Holy Eucharist will, as the Blessed Mother said at Fatima, establish peace in our hearts, in our families, in our Churches and in our world. It is through our faith in the Holy Eucharist that you and I can receive the Power, the power of Jesus to be enabled to enter through the narrow gate and actually become a way for others to enter in as well. At this Holy Mass let us again offer ourselves totally to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by offering ourselves totally to Mary, so that we may used as her little ones to convert the whole world to authentic faith in the Holy Eucharist thus bringing it mercy and love, and true unity and peace. Amen.