Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 11th, 2018. St. Anthony's Hospital Chapel.

Today in our Gospel, St Mark continues the theme of the Gospels of the last quite a few weeks, that of giving all of our wealth to the Lord. And so, today we hear the tale of two widows, one from the Old Testament times and one from the time of the Gospel. In both times, Old and New, there was not too many other people that were more destitute than a widow. Remember, before Christianity, and the rise of Western Christian Civilization, the dignity of woman was understood as being less than that of the household slave. So, in both of these cases the action of these two women point out something much deeper than just their great generosity, it points to the women’s motivation behind their actions.

The first widow by giving to this man of God, the great prophet Elijah, what little food she has, results in her being incredibly rewarded; in fact, her entire family is blessed through her. Same too with the widow in our gospel, by giving what little money she had in the temple, Jesus says of her, that her contribution though seemingly of insignificant value was actually worth more in the eyes of God than all those who gave of their surplus wealth, for she contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.

But what was it about both of these woman’s contribution that made them so acceptable in the eyes of the Lord? It surely wasn’t the amount or the worth of the gift! What was it that these women were actually contributing?
Isn’t it true that, each of these women’s gift represented much more than the gift of a thing, that what they were really giving was worth much more than a thing? For the gift that each of them really gave was the gift of their self to the Lord.
As a result, these women are blessed not by the value of the material gift, but by the value of the gift it signified, the gift of everything they had, and are, back to God. In the case of the woman in our first reading shown by giving food to the man of God, Elijah; in other words, by giving everything to the one who represented God on earth she was indeed giving everything to God. And the woman in the Gospel, her gift given to God in the temple, which was the symbol of Jesus on earth, she was giving everything to God.

God does not desire things from us. When, He says, as he did to the rich young man, that he desires that we sell everything we have and give it to the poor, his words are not about things per say. God is not about things, but about person. And so strictly speaking, He doesn’t want things from us; he doesn’t even want good works from us, for the sake of the good works, but instead, he wants what those goods works of donation, of time, talent and treasure should represent, our interior motives behind them, which is to love Him, and to love others for love of him; in other words, to show by our actions that we wish to give to God ourselves in an act of self-donation, freely given, acts of self-giving Love, to show our motive to give our self to God, totally.

Perhaps to even understand this in a deeper way we need to look at the very nature of God, Who God is. God is pure act. He is always acting as who He is. And who He is, is Pure Love. Love is an act of self-donation, and so God is always acting in self-donation for the sake of the other. This is the love between the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, their love is always in Pure Act. Always acting in an act of totally self-donation of love to the other. And this Act of God, this Love of God is what we are all called to enter into, beginning here on earth. With the help of God’s grace we are call to live our entire life, using everything we have, everything we do, think and say, according to the will of God in act of self-donating love. Even we give unto others, even if it be all that we possess—even if we lay down our life for them, the motive behind this act must be--giving this, doing that, as exterior act in order to express our interior motivation of total self-donation to God, total self-gift to God.

Another important aspect of the loving self-gift of these woman to God, was that it occurring precisely during great hardship and suffering in their life; in others words, at a time in their life when they were encountering the cross. Their actions also show that they were saying yes, to the cross and yes to the sacrifice of love that it represents.

By His own accepting of the cross, by suffering and dying on the cross, as one of us, Jesus shows us perfect love--offering one’s entire self for sake of his friends—Us. This is why the crucifixion of Christ points to the gift of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus died on the cross in order to give us Himself in love, for God to give Himself to us in the holy Eucharist; in this He gives us everything He has. In this, Jesus makes present the Trinitarian eternal Act of Love, of self-donation that occurs between each of the three divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. And because this act of Jesus on the cross is an act of one of those Three Persons—namely Jesus, this sacrifice of Jesus can become actualized in our midst, truly present in our midst on this altar at this Holy Mass.

And through this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by our full and actual participation in it; that is our interior motivation to offer our self in union with Jesus to the Father, we can literally share in the power of God’s pure eternal Act of Love, and actualize this love in our life, experience it on a daily basis and share it with others—this goes beyond emotion and feeling, because we live this most especially in midst of suffering, in the midst of the passion, in the midst of the cross…in fact, nothing good comes to us but by way of the cross in our lives, that is if we say yes to it. And if we do open our self, by our act of faith and of trust, we open ourselves up to the grace that God wishes to give us through the cross, and we become truly blessed, and others are blessed through us, for we truly become Christ-like.

And this brings us to our motives at Holy Mass, and our motives for how actions in everything we think, say or do in our life. The Second Vatican two said, Man cannot find himself except through a sincere gift of self-donation. This gift of self begins at Holy Mass, if we choose to freely say yes, and offer our self on the Altar. This act of self-donating is made possible by the Grace of the Holy Mass and it can only come to completion in perfection in our lives, through the Holy Mass.

In light of this great truth of our faith, and in light of the actions of the widow in today’s readings, let us examine our motives for being here? and Let us examine our motives behind the way we live our life. Why are we here today at Holy Mass? Is it because of an establish routine of our life, out of habit alone? Is because we feel bad, as we say, if we don’t get to Holy Mass on Sunday? Is it merely that? Is it chiefly because we adhere to a tradition rooted in our ancestry or ethnic background or family habits? Why are we here; why do we participate? And what are our motives behind how we participate? It is merely to express our self-righteousness? After all, “I am not like the others who don’t go to church on Sundays!!!” Additionally, why do I do the good deeds that I do in my life, give to the Church, or give to the poor? Is it for the same types of motivation? It is not sacrifice and oblation that the Lord wants, but the gift of pure heart, one that desires to do God’s Holy Will. And I said, “I have come to do your will Oh Lord, as a way to show love, as a way to answer in love to You—You who are Love, as a way to offer myself back to You, who as Pure Love, has offer to me, and continues to offer to me everything, including your very self.

Prayer to Our Lady of Hope
O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with 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 (especially fear of the cross). 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.
But 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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Homily for Mark 10:46-52
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 27th, 2018

For the last couple of weeks, Our Lord has passionately challenged us. A couple of weeks ago, we were asked along with the rich young man, to give up everything and follow Jesus; in other words, we were asked to live our lives in imitation of Jesus, not paying attention to anything that doesn’t draw us closer to God. Last week, we were told to give up our pride and our desire for power and domination over others in order to serve them as if we were slaves of love, slaves of Christ. Today, Jesus again challenges us to believe and be converted more fully.

But again, we can say, I have already been converted; I am already a good person. Yet, today’s Gospel continues to call for a more intense daily conversion by allowing God to transform our life more completely to the way things really are—to God’s way. And so, the story of a physical healing of blindness in the Gospel manifests to us a spiritual conversion and healing it brings about.

Bartimaeus was blind and so he couldn’t “see” Jesus. But he heard the truth about Him from others and as a consequence, Bartimaeus begins to beg along the road that Jesus is coming on; this begging is a sign of his opening his heart to the gift of faith. Consequently, when Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is near, he cries out to Jesus.

Bartimaeus acts in a bold way; however, the others viewed it as nothing but rude behavior so they tell him to be quiet. Here in these others, we see manifested to us the difficulty of conversion and the resistance of the human heart to it. Contrastingly, however, it is in seeing his own sinfulness and his own great need for Jesus, followed by crying out from the depths of his heart for help, that Bartimaeus is able to break through the resistance of his own heart. Bartimaeus accepts the reality of his situation, accepts that he is totally dependent on Jesus; and in his utter poverty Bartimaeus cries out with great trust and with a great profession of Faith in Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David have pity on Me.”

Bartimaeus accepts in humility the truth and reality that he is a poor sinner. (Recall at the time of Jesus, people believed that illness was a direct result of personal sin. Bartimaeus may not have been directly culpable for his blindness, but he, like all of us sinners, was not without guilt). Yet, even so, Jesus stops and commands his disciples to: “Call him, call Bartimaeus.” It is always this way with the mercy of God; God in His Divine Mercy always reaches out to the sinner who humbly calls upon His Mercy, and he always opposes the rich, that is those who in their self-righteousness, think their own goodness is sufficient. For Bartimaeus then, Jesus rewards his humble trust and faith by saying, “What do you want me to do for you?”

It’s interesting that we are told that Bartimaeus’ faith is so great, that in response to Jesus, Bartimaeus literally “throws aside his cloak.” This seemingly minor detail is one that we could easily miss; it is however very significant. Here Bartimaeus, willingly and even with joy, gives up his most prized possession—his cloak, in order to be with Jesus.

To understand this fully, we have to “see” that the cloak of a poor person was his sole source of warmth, his sole source of protection from the elements, and of bedding for night’s sleep—it was usually their only physical possession. Bartimaeus’ jumping up and running to Jesus indicates that he seeks all his strength, security and solace in nothing but the Lord (in other words, not in any so-called security blanket of the world). Bartimaeus believes from his heart that Jesus will provide everything, everything he needs-and so he gives Jesus everything.

Every Christian, every human being, whether they know it or not, longs to hear the question that Jesus puts to Bartimaeus next, “What do you want me to do for you?” We would think that Bartimaeus would ask for money and for material possessions, for a way out of his poverty, to win the lottery, or even to overcome his enemies. But instead, all Bartimaeus ask of Jesus is to be able to “see”. At first, we might think that request is all about Bartimaeus and about his wish to see physically, but it isn’t.

Bartimaeus asks for his sight, but only so that he could “see” through the eyes of faith, in order to follow Jesus truly. Note well here that as Jesus heals him, Jesus also gives him a free choice. Our Lord says, “Go on your way.” Bartimaeus is now free to do as he pleases. Jesus doesn’t command Bartimaeus to follow Him, as was Jesus’ custom (Remember the rich young man). Unlike the rich young man, however, here the poor man, has thrown aside everything already, and so when given the choice, follows Jesus naturally. He has a healing that goes far beyond the physical and so he truly sees in faith what he is to do- He knows this from the heart- a heart full of faith and trust. The healing of his physical sight manifests the inner conversion of his heart and the healing of his spiritual blindness. And so now, being able to see Jesus with faith, Bartimaeus follows Jesus up the road…

Paradoxically, in the end, Bartimaeus who is blind comes to have faith—to see and believe the Truth, while the crowd around him, although physically able to see, nonetheless will not “see,” that is, will not believe and accept that they need radical conversion--they thought they were the good people, but they were the blind ones-they did not see who Jesus really was—the true and living God in the flesh.

The point for us here today in this beautiful story of Divine Mercy, is that we too, like Bartimaeus need Jesus to heal us of our blindness so that we can toss our cloak away; that is, toss away all those riches that we cling to besides Jesus; again, not only material riches but to throw away the cloak of pride and self-righteousness that has spiritually blinded us to our sinfulness and so blinded us to our great need for Jesus and his continual healing and forgiveness available to us in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Spiritual blindness is far worse than physical blindness, because spiritual blindness blinds us to reality, blinds us to the way things really are; it blinds us to the way we really are. It’s clear then, we all, in humility, need to ask, as poor beggars, for Jesus to open our spiritual eyes in order to see ourselves as we are, to see reality as it is, not as we would like it to be or feel it is.
With our spiritual eyes open, we see, if we are honest, that one of the most, if not the most common trait of every one of us fallen human beings is an ever-present and all-encompassing egocentrism. This trait is very connected with the lust for power in order to have others serve us and fall at our feet; it’s the all about Me attitude- the “going my own way, doing it my own way” attitude of so many. But each of us must also admit to some degree, “Yes, my thoughts and desires and inclinations are spontaneously focused not on God or others for love of God, but on myself; my conveniences, my pleasures, my preferences, my possessions, my prospects, my plans, my sufferings, my desires, my aspirations, my reputation, my freedom.” Anyone who reflects a bit, who is honest, knows this to be true. All too often, we want to see things our way and not the way of Jesus.

One writer said that in this concentration on “me” many times we stubbornly cling to how we view things even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. When someone confronts us with the truth, with strong evidence on how reality really is we say, “I am right because this is my preference and so I don’t need to consider your reasons and arguments seriously.”

It is at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, however, that we can confidently “approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” It is here, that Jesus asks each one of us, “What is that you want from me?” Jesus, I want you to heal my blindness so I can to see that you are the One that I really seek, for you alone can heal me and fulfill the deepest longing of our human heart. Help me to see not only my sins but to see you and to see the goodness that you have placed within me. And help me to see through the eyes of faith that soon, on this Sacred Altar you and your once and for all Sacrifice will become truly present before me for the sins of the whole world.

Through your heavenly mother we throw away our cloak, all that we have placed before you our God, including the false front with which we so often present ourselves before you, and in trust, we offer everything to you so that you would present it before the Face of Your Heavenly Father and ours. Jesus, You have given your everything for us in order to be able to come into us in the Holy Eucharist at Holy Communion, help us to receive you fully so as to possess you and be possessed by you fully. Give us your Holy Spirit so that we may follow you on your way, telling others about you--and not about ourselves, saying to them “Take courage, get up. Jesus is calling you? Go to him and tell him what you want him to do for you.” Finally, Jesus, son of David, Have Mercy on Me, a poor miserable sinner. That I may see. Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. October, 7th, 2018

If today, October 7th, hadn’t fallen on a Sunday we would be celebrating the Solemnity of “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary." Considering the focus of the Gospel today is Marriage, and so also the family and life, I think it would be good to speak about the Holy Rosary, for the Holy Rosary is truly The Marriage and Family Prayer. The original title of this feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary was actually, “Our Lady of Victory;” the title was changed after Vatican II.

The feast of Our Lady of Victory was inaugurated to commemorate the miraculous naval victory of the fleet of the Holy Roman Empire’s, led by Don Juan, over the vastly superior fleet of the Ottoman Empire. It is a critically important historical event, one that we need to be aware of, particularly in light of current events. For if the battle of Lepanto had been lost, your life and mine, and our society, our country, would be very different today.

The battle of Lepanto took place on October 7th, 1571, and involved over 400 ships the largest in history till that time. The Christian fleet was outnumbered three to one, and any chance of victory was impossible by mere human strategic maneuvers. The stakes couldn’t have been higher as one of the Turkish leaders boasted that after the conquest, the first thing he would do would be to turn St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome into a mosque. And it wasn’t an empty boast, for his forebears had done this exact thing with the “St. Peter’s” of the Eastern Church—the Great Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia was located in what was the “Rome” of the Eastern Church, the great Christian City of Constantinople. Christian Constantinople is now present-day Islamic Istanbul, and Hagia Sophia is indeed a Mosque and all Christian symbols have been removed and defaced (remind them of this Church that they have all seen in movies etc).

So clearly, if the Battle of Lepanto had been lost, not only would this boast have most certainly become a reality—St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome being turned into a mosque, but all of Europe, then and even to the present day, including all of us in America, would be speaking Aramaic; in fact, American would not exist. Western Civilization would most likely have been wiped out, along with all its positive achievements, for which so many fail to give it credit and take for granted; for example, the founding of hospitals and the great advancements in healthcare; the creation of the university system; orphanages; the equality of women through the Indissolvability of Marriage, woman who before were treated worse than the household slave; the understanding of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of life, made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ; the notion of a justice system that sees every person innocent until proven guilty (not guilty until they prove themselves innocent), along with justice tempered with mercy and love even toward our enemies, all of this would have been gone, along with all the intellectual achievements of Judeo-Christian Western Civilization.

Thank God, that at the time of the Battle of Lepanto, a great Dominican Pope, Pope 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. The people responded. And through the faithfulness of so many Christians praying, from their heart and on their knees, the most powerful of all weapons—the weapon of the Rosary, a true miracle occurred, one which allowed the Christian fleet to win a miraculous battle against an almost invincible army, which was on the verge of subduing and oppressing all of Europe.

I think it is easy for us moderns to underestimate the power of the Rosary. Surely none of us here, but many other Catholics dismiss the Rosary as some outdated pious devotion which was done away with by Vatican II—thank God!” They say-we’re beyond that sort of thing. Those with this erroneous idea have never read the documents of Vatican II; and even more so, they have no faith.

Some other non-Catholic Christians can see the rosary as not scriptural but as an idolatrous addition to the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Actually, however, as you know, the Rosary is entirely Scriptural; it consists of the Salutation of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin of Nazareth, whom the Angel address not as Mary, but by the title, “Full of Grace;” and as well, of the greeting of Elizabeth, “Blessed is the fruit of thy Womb!” In the prayer of the Holy Rosary, let us not forget with whom we are dealing; we are dealing with the Great Mother of God, Mary most holy, whom we address directly as, “Holy Mary, Mother of God.

In the “Song of Song,” in the Old Testament, the question is asked, “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” Who is she?

She is the Woman that is mentioned in the Proto-Evangelium—the Pre-Gospel found in Genesis 3:15. Here, after Adam and Eve fell and were both expelled from Paradise, their relationship between God and each other having been severely ruptured, God gives satan his punishment, “I will put enmity between you and the Woman, between her seed and yours; you will lie in wait for her heal, and she will crush your head.” The only way there could be enmity between this Woman and satan is for the Woman to be “Immaculate, that is without sin from the first moment of her conception, never under satan’s power; another way to say this is, “Full of Grace.”

It is the Virgin Mary who will crush satan’s head; her humility will overcome his pride and his power over the earth and its inhabitants. This is why so many Statues of the Virgin depict her foot on the serpent’s head. This is not just pious imagery but soon to be historical fact. Jesus has defeated Satan, the death sentence has been pronounced, but not yet carried out; it will be carried out by Jesus own mother.

How much we need the Rosary in the great struggle that we are facing in our world today. The battle we are facing in our times is many many times greater and more important than the People of God and the world faced during the Battle of Lepanto-it is a battle for eternal life.

St. John Paul II, while he was still a cardinal, Karol Wojtyla, visited the United States back in 1976, in Philadelphia on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of independence. At that moment, the future pope and saint prophetically said,

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church, in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”

We see this battle even within the Church. We see it not only in the crimes of the predator homosexual priests but in those bishops who not only covered up their crimes but in those who are homosexual predators themselves, and then as foxes in the hen house, deflect the attention from their own crimes by removing good innocent priests. And doing so without due process, destroying the priest's reputations and even their lives. At least supreme justice, Kavanagh, who too was judged guilty without due process, got to defend himself publically, these priests are denied that human right. We see it as well in the prelates around the world who are trying to change the Church’s teachings on Marriage and the family; for instance, calling for those who are living in adulterous unions to be allowed to receive our Blessed Lord through Holy Communion, the very Lord who in today’s Gospels called their unions, “Adulterous.” We see it in the leaders of the Church who emphasize the protection of the environment more than the salvation of souls.

We, our families, and our world, need the Rosary now more than ever. This is why Our Lady came to Fatima; she came to give us the secret to winning the battle of all battles that is raging right now in our country, in our world and our Church and family. Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray the Rosary daily-she said it had the power to end wars. At Fatima, along with the
Rosary, she also offered us the Brown Scapular, worn as a sign of our total Consecration to her. These two indispensable spiritual weapons are actually the most powerful weapons in the world, they are means to an end, and that end is full, actual, conscious, and fruitful participation in the Holy Mass.

The Scapular worn with faith is a symbol of our consecration to Jesus through Mary. By wearing it, we ask the Blessed Mother to help us give our hearts totally to Jesus. We can do this anytime spiritually, but it is at the Holy Mass that we are called to do it definitively, by placing it, offering it, on the altar through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with St. Joseph. And by the prayers of the Holy Rosary, we ask Mary to help us and obtain for the grace we need to live out this self-offering in all the many aspects of our daily life, in everything we think, say or do. Then, all that we do will be done with Jesus, in Jesus and for love of Jesus, and for the love and salvation of our neighbor. This is to be the fruit of our Holy Communion, becoming one with Jesus, one with God and one with one another in God. This, and not politics or other human endeavors or weapons is how the world will be renewed, division ended, relationships mended, peace restored in our hearts, in our families, parishes, in our nation, and among nations, and most importantly, this is how souls will be saved and reunited with God forever and ever.

If we are not doing so already, let us commit today, October 7th, 2018, the Anniversary of the Victory of the Christian Fleet at Lepanto and the feast of Our Lady of Victory, to pray the rosary daily, as individuals, and also as families--"for the family that prays the rosary together stays together." Let us as well return to wearing the Brown Scapular as a sign of our consecration to Jesus through Mary.

I want to share with you quickly, something that I mentioned to many of the patient and families I serve in the Hospital. I ask, “Where is the Rosary explicitly mentioned in the Bible?” I then give them my theory, which by the way, if it is right, it has been mentioned before, but if it is wrong, then I am wrong…but I don’t think I am wrong. I say, the Rosary is mentioned in the last book of the bible which tells us that in the end Satan will be chained in hell. Satan is an angel, fallen, but still an angel. Angels are pure spirits, so that means they have no physicality, that is no body. So, if Satan has no body, what kind of chain are they going to use?

I say it is the Chain of the Holy Rosary. In other words, it will be the prayers of those little ones who accept the Kingdom of God as a child and who don’t “poo-poo” such things as the Holy Rosary. But instead, pray the Rosary daily while meditating on its mysteries, the mysteries of the life of Christ, so as to imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise—Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, and the Son of God, truly Present on earth in the Holy Eucharist, and eternally possessing Him forever. It will be these little ones, who also wear the scapular as a sign of giving their heart totally and with complete trust, to Jesus through Mary. It is these true children of Mary, that she will use as her cohort, her army, to chain satan up in their families, in the Church, and in the world, bringing an end to satan and all the evil spirits prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

In this great battle being waged in our midst against souls, it is only our faithfulness and steadfastness to the Lord that will decide the outcome. I don't mean will decide the outcome of this battle, for eventually, Mary’s Immaculate Heart will triumph as she promised, but our faithfulness will decide the outcome of our own eternal salvation, as well as the eternal salvation of millions of other souls. The stakes could not be higher, but we have hope for we have the secret to Victory-the Secret of the Most Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Victory, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Cause of our Joy, Gate of heaven, Hope for the hopeless, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Totus Tuus! Amen.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 30, 2018

October is quickly upon us. I mention this because, in October, we celebrate Pro-life month. We celebrate the gift of life given to us by God through Jesus—the image of the Father. Indeed, then Life is something to celebrate.
When we think of Pro-life, when we are called to promote life, we can, however, easily slip into the tendency to think of all the things the Church is against. Many there are who today speak of the current pro-life movement, not a “pro,” but as an “anti-movement,” i.e., anti-choice, anti-abortion, movement, etc., etc., etc.

Now, it is essential to know all the things the Church is against - we are against the evils of abortion, we are against in-vitro fertilization, experiments on human embryos, embryonic stem cell research, we are against euthanasia, artificial contraception, abuse of any kind, and against any sin against the life of the human person. By why are we against these things? The reasons have to do with so much more than prohibitions or thou shall not’s. In fact, when one understands the Church’s teachings correctly, one actually desires to follow them, for they are Spirit and Life.

I remembered a beautiful pro-life talk given by Pope Emeritus, Benedict, when he celebrated a family life conference in Spain, shortly after being named Pope. In this talk, Benedict never once spoke of prohibitions, the things that the Church is against. Instead, he spoke of the beautiful love of family life, which is the beginning of life for the whole human race. He was asked by the reporters why at the conference he was not speaking of those things the Church condemns, the evils she speaks out against? Pope Benedict responded by saying that he desired to put the conversation on, the wonderful riches of family life.

Pope Benedict back then was reminding us all that we have much to say in the wealth of our teachings about life and the family, and not just the negative restrictions-Pope Frances does the same. Actually, if we cannot understand the beauty of the life of the family—the domestic Church, which is called to be a school of love, then we cannot understand why the Universal Church is against certain things, certain things which actually destroy the family, as intended by God, and leads to a destruction of the abundant life that God wishes to bestow on all human persons.
So Today, on the threshold of the month dedicated to family and life, I’d like to again stress the wonderful good news of family life. Even though this message is often neglected in our world, today the Church wants to give us the good news of life—the Gospel of Life!

The first good news about life is that we have been created by Love, in Love, and for Love. In the beginning, Adam was created alone. This being alone did not only mean that Adam was alone without eve, but that the human being (both male and female) was alone amongst all the other creatures of the earth. The Human being was alone because he was different from the animals. Only the human being was made in God’s image and likeness, and so only the human being was and is given freedom. But what is this freedom of the human person?

It is the freedom to choose to the good and not the evil, the truth and not lies, life and not death, the freedom to choose to love and not hate, the freedom to offer oneself as a gift to the other—which is the fundamental truth about love. In this freedom, man is self-determining, in other words, he can choose to love or to sin, and by his free choice he actually creates or determines who he becomes and whether he will live a truly authentic human life in happiness, not only in heaven but beginning here on earth.

Here we discover that choice is what defines Man. To love is to freely choose our friend, to live for the other more than our self-to freely choose to give our self as a gift to our friend! This choice to love our friend begins with our relationship with God; Our Lord said in the Gospel of St. John- (15:15-16), “…I have called you friends, ...You did not choose me, I have chosen you.” I want here to emphasize the word choose or choice.

Each one of us through the grace of baptism has entered into friendship with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. We are grafted into the Life and Love of the Most Holy Trinity, because this God, out of love, chose us while we were still sinners; as a result, the Blessed Trinity at our baptism actually began to live within us. For us humans then, the greatest act of freedom for us is not only to choose our friend-but to choose our highest friend, who is God. We choose him by giving Him the gift of our self, in and through all of the actions of our life, freely chosen. St. Pope John Paul II, stressed this over and over again in His teaching on family life. He never wanted us to relinquish our stance as pro-choice but understood in this correct way.

So, for us then, we Catholics are anything but anti-Choice. But we must use our choice correctly, because it is possible for us to chose wrongly, to chose things knowingly or unknowingly that actually destroy our freedom, happiness, and even our eternal life. We must always use our freedom of choice, to choose the truth in love. We must use our freedom to choose the path of life, not death; this is what pro-choice really means.

Choice is a word we as Catholics do not want to surrender to the modern culture, which chooses “self” over the other, which chooses death over life. It elevates selfish “choice” above everything else. And by doing this we are really elevating ourselves--the one who makes the choice, and putting ourselves as equals with God. Then we apart from God, begin deciding what is good and what is evil-true & false, what is a good choice and what is a bad choice. We then deny that we can make bad Choices, choices which on the surface appear good but which are bad because they go against reality, against God’s original design and purpose for life

We, as Catholics, want to tell the world that the choice for love is the greatest act of freedom for the human person. We are only truly free when we freely choose to love by choosing life. However, we destroy human freedom when we make bad choices such as to kill the unborn child, the mentally or physically disabled, the sick or elderly person. But I would argue, these bad choices can be the result of a misunderstanding of Human life at its very source, the sexual embrace.

The most visible human choice of love is that of a friend- to choose a lifelong spouse. The Church considers this choice of love between a man and woman, a Sacrament. The spouses promise to love, honor and obey each other freely for the rest of their lives, to freely give of themselves as a gift to each other, to lay down their lives for the sake of the other. They then carry out this oath before God and His Church by consummating it in a Sacramental marital embrace where the two literally become one flesh. In this act, God Himself wants to be present so much so, that in this act of love, a new, unique and unrepeatable life is conceived. The Church therefore, is not against sex, it is pro-sex; it has raised sex the level of the Sacred, to the level of a Sacrament. But just like anything sacred it must be used in a sacred way, that is in accordance with God’s design and God’s plan or otherwise it becomes profane, secular and dirty.

This choice of love within marriage is a covenant, which means it symbolizes the very love that Christ the bridegroom has for His bride the Church. This a love in which Christ offers Himself, His life, totally to each member of the Church. And just as mysteriously, married love somehow reflects the very love and union between the members of the Holy Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who eternally give of themselves totally one to the other.
The married couple, of course, struggles to live out this love-it entails much self-sacrifice. The great fruit of this work however, is their children, conceived in the physical act, yes, but an act which expresses their intimate love for one another (but by the way does not cause it). The husband and wife welcome new life into the world as a blessing, not as a curse.

As a priest, I have had the privilege to observe families as they welcome a new life into this world. As they asked me to bless this new life, my heart was filled with joy at seeing the new mom and dad absolutely amazed at the miracle of their baby. All of their self-sacrifice, their self-denying, for love of one another, as born fruit in life-a new creation, made in God’s own image and likeness.

I have also seen this love in couples unable to have their own children. In the face of such suffering, these couples had a difficult choice to make. In reflection and prayer, they decide to follow the wisdom of the Church by adopting children. They decide they do not want to use their choice to conceive children in a way that goes against God’s beautiful plan for the sexual embrace; they refuse to allow misdirected science to replace a child conceived within the sacramental, loving, self-giving marital embrace of a man and women.
The adopting couple know that to go outside of this Marital embrace, even if done so with the best intentions, removes conceiving a child from the act of a free choice between the husband and wife expressed in the self-giving act of love where two become one flesh. They know, with the Church, that new life can never be separated from the gift of self-giving expressed in the marital sexual act.

The sorrow of not being able to have their own child gives way to the joy of true parenthood. The joy and love of taking a child, who might have had a lonely or abusive life, and bringing that child into their home is wonderful. I have seen these adopted children drink in, soak in the love of their parents, truly becoming a son or a daughter who realize their adopted parents as their real, true parents, all of them together becoming a true family.

I have also seen the great gift of love in long married grandparents, even in their last days that are filled with sickness and sorrow. I recall reading about a man who cared for his wife during her long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. This man cared for his wife at home with the help of some family and friends. Towards the end of her life, the poor wife even forgot who her husband of more than 60 years was. Yet, the man said that he loved his wife in her pitiable state even more than the day they married. She was still the apple of his eye, his beloved wife. She later died in his arms, gently falling into the sleep of death. What a beautiful testimony of the choice of love, the choice of life.

Today the Church recalls us to the greatness of the love of family life. How beautiful the love of the family is, how many riches it holds; that is, the family lived in imitation of the family of the Blessed Trinity, always choosing to love, always choosing to be open to life, the members always struggle with the help of God’s grace to offer themselves as gift to the other. Truly, authentic Christian family life gives life to the world!

The Church too, in celebrating life, wants to speak to the hearts of those who have used their choice wrongly, whether intentionally or unknowingly. For those who have made mistakes and failed in the choice for love and for life, the Mercy of God is available to you! God’s mercy is always greater than any of our sins, if we but only seek it through sincere repentance. The redemptive power of Christ, who came not to condemn but to give life, is available to all of us in the Sacrament of Confession. In the Sacrament, there is healing for your pain and sorrow… Behold, in Christ, all things are made new.

Beginning today, and throughout the coming month of October, let us pray, in a special way, that family life would be strengthened and sanctified. The bonds of love lived out in authentic choice have been attacked in our culture of death; it is a culture of anti-life; but we are not, we are pro-life and pro-choice, we stand for the beauty and life-giving love of the family, we stand for and defend love, and offer ourselves as gift for the life of every human Person, from conception to natural death. Let us turn to the Holy Family for help.

Let us pray: Jesus Mary and Joseph of mercy on our families. Jesus Mary and Joseph, heal our families. Jesus Mary and Joseph, save our families! Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Who do YOU say that the Son of Man is?

Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 16th, 2018

This past Friday we celebrated the feast day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. It reminds us that it is by the Holy Cross of Jesus that we are saved. Jesus, true God from True God, begotten, not made, one in being with the father, from Whom, in Whom and through Whom, the Eternal Father created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, reached down to earth as one of us, in all things but sin, yet still remaining Who is He was, is and always will be, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity—The true and Living God. This Divine Person, allowed Himself to be betrayed by His own, suffer His Passion, and be crucified. He died and was buried, but on the third day rose again in the body in order to be present in the body in the Holy Eucharist as our Heavenly Food, our only Food, for eternal life.

In light of this Eternal Truth, today, Jesus ask us, as he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” Each of us can come up with our own answers to this question? But today Jesus also is asking us the next question that he posed to his disciples, “Who do YOU say that I am?

The answer to this question may require deeper reflection than we may at first suppose. We, who believe the above-mentioned statement—that Jesus was and is the Son of the Eternal Father, who died for us, can quickly reply with the words of Peter, “You are the Christ!”

I would like to suggest that today, Jesus is asking these same questions to you and me in a different way, precisely to get us to reflect more deeply. In a different way, yes, but yet, the answers to these questions posed differently are inseparable to our answer to, “who Jesus really is?”

And so, in a different way, the first question; Who do men say is the Catholic Church? Now, we could answer; “Some say, merely a human institution, created by men, to be the opium of the people and keep them down; others, it is an institution from which sprang Western Civilization, which is and has been the cause of all the atrocities in the last two thousand years and which has and is preventing the building up of the Kingdom of men, and so peace on earth;” Others, say, an organization, that though it has done some good things in the past, nevertheless, its time has come and gone?” And finally, others, “it is a corrupt, evil organization, filled with sexually perverted priests, and the bishops who cover for them, and it needs to be wiped off the face of the earth and done away with once and for all!”

And now the Second Question posed to us today, in a different way; Who do YOU say is the Catholic Church? The answer to this question as I said, is intricately connected to the answer to, “who is the Person of Jesus Christ?” And Jesus requires that each of us give him an answer. Today, has as always been the case in the Last two thousand years, it is impossible to be indifferent to his question personally posed to each of us.

For my part, today, I answer, “The Catholic Church is truly the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, inseparable from Her Head, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father. She is the Immaculate Bride of Christ, spotless and undefiled; She came forth from the pierced side of Jesus as He hung on the Cross, as Eve was brought forth from the side of Adam; And so, She is a Divine Institution, but made up of human children, who though sinners, some great, some small, have come forth from her maternal womb, the baptismal font, by being immersed in the blood and water still flowing from the Living Sacred Heart of Her Divine Spouse.

And so, She is our true Mother on earth. And Her faithful children love her no matter what evil some of her sinful members may be guilty of, for She is our Mother who from Her own breasts feeds and nourishes us through Her Sacraments of salvation, especially the most Blessed of which is Jesus, Her Risen Head, in the flesh, and so still present on earth in His body.

These same Sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself, and are administered by Him, to us her children, through the hands of sinful instruments like me; that is, through the men that He Himself has mysteriously chosen, and ordained and consecrated to be His Alter Christi on earth—His other selves, the priests and the bishops. The first twelve of whom, He posed the questions we heard in the Gospel today. And to the one who answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father,” Jesus chose him to be the head of the rest, the first Pope, St. Peter, who though he would go on to deny Jesus publically, nonetheless repented and followed where his master trod, himself being hung on a cross, albeit upside down. But also from whom, these first twelve bishops and priests, sadly, came Judas-a bishop and a priest and the one who would betray Jesus in secret, and with a kiss, abandoned Him up to the those who would crucify Him.

Today, Jesus begins to teach us anew, that like Him,

the Catholic Church must suffer greatly
and be rejected even by the elders, the bishops, and the priests,
and be killed, and rise after three days.

He speaks this today openly to all of us.

As His Mystical Body, The Catholic Church and her faithful members, especially Her faithful priests and bishops, will surely go where He Himself as trod. She too, and her faithful members, especially her faithful priests and bishops, like Her head, will be abandoned by their own, rejected by their own, betrayed by their own. She and her faithful members, especially her faithful priests and bishops, will enter into Her passion, and be crucified; for, Where I am there, surely there will my Disciples be. Jesus, as the Head, has suffered His passion and crucifixion, so too, the Holy Church.
But then, She, appearing to be dead to all the world, will rise again in glory and then through Her, as never before, Jesus, will draw all men to Himself, in and through the Holy Eucharist in which He is contain in all the fullness of His Humanity and in all the fullness of His Divinity.

The Church in these recent years has been truly been suffering her passion, and now it intensifies as never before, for Her crucifixion is near. She is, right now, truly being betrayed from within, from her own members, not only Her clergy but Her laity alike. But woe to whom the Holy Church, the bride of Christ is betrayed, “it would be better for them if they had never been born,” for betrayal of Her, is betrayal of Him (cf. Mt. 26;24). Being ransacked are Her sacred altars on which Jesus continues to pour out His precious blood as an offering to the Eternal Father for the sins of the whole world; Her tabernacles in which He waits day and night as a prisoner of love for souls to come to Him, are being abandoned….I ask you, “has there ever been a greater betrayal of love, of He who is Love, than this!

May we not be like Peter, and take Jesus aside and rebuke him: “Heaven forbid Lord that this happen to your Mystical Body. For Jesus will turn to us and rebuke us and say, "Get thee behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as men do."
In this light, if we are to remain faithful, Jesus summons us and tell us,

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it."

It is impossible to love the Head without loving His Body, the Church. And he who does not have the Church for his Mother cannot have God for his Father (cf. Cyprian of Carthage, 258AD). Consequently, He who is not willing to give his life for his Mother is surely is not willing to give his life for Her Spouse--Jesus. And so, in persona Christi et capitis—acting in the Person of Jesus the Head, I ask you again, “Who do you say is the Catholic Church?”

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.