Sunday, November 20, 2016

Solemnity of Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King. November 19th, 2016

The past few weeks, our readings have been about the end times. And the ultimate end of these readings, and the ultimate end of everything for that matter, is the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ. And so, this week’s Solemnity of Christ the King brings the Church’s “Liturgical time” or Liturgical year, to a close.

Over the past months of time we have celebrated the mysteries of the life of the Lord. Pope St. John Paul II taught that, “While the feast of the Epiphany, Easter, and the Ascension all relate to Christ as King and Lord of the Universe, the Church has desired to have this great feast to be a special remembrance to modern man, modern man who seems somewhat indifferent to truth and his supernatural destiny, that his earthly life, all earthly kingdoms, and all time, will end in front of the Kings of kings.”

So on this special feast day, we now contemplate Christ in his glorified state as King of all creation and as King our souls. This feast day serves as a reminder to us that the Lord should truly reign in our life and over every aspect of it. The Lord Jesus needs to be sovereign over our hearts and minds, by being present in our families, among our friends, neighbors, and with our colleagues at work.

Christ’s kingship in our daily lives should be a witness against those who would reduce religion to a set of negative statements or to some kind of “pick and choose” Catholicism. Many would like to limit Christ’s sovereignty to just a corner of their lives and make their faith solely a private affair, claiming that they can’t take their faith in Christ out into personal relationships or out into the public and so political sphere. Contrastingly, this feast day is a call to each of us that we must affirm with our words and especially with our deeds, that we aspire to make Christ the King, reign indeed, over all hearts, both our own and other’s as well.

When we think of a sovereign, we can easily think of an absolute monarch or dictator, who commands without question. We are reminded about the crimes against humanity, the many injustices that these types of tyrants have committed and we can immediately think that sovereignty is a bad thing. Certainly, the foundation of our own country was against a sovereign; and in fact, this week we will celebrate thanksgiving and the blessings of freedom in our country. Jesus is a sovereign, it is true, but not in the way of earthly tyrants, for He has come to serve and not to be served.

Jesus established a kingdom of divine love and truth, whose demands go much farther than mere justice to mercy. Love demands that we give our all, without ever counting the cost. Mercy demands that we put the other before ourselves. This is difficult of course, because it means that we must give up our own self importance and self will and ascent to Jesus’ truth and His Will in order to open our hearts to receive His Divine Love. And Mercy demands that we share this Love and so this Truth with others.

The call to make Jesus our sovereign King can then make us hesitate. In fact, this call goes against our modern society. We live in a society that has dethroned God that no longer sees Him as Almighty (for an almighty God has a claim on our lives, a claim which demands absolute obedience to His Will and to His truth). But our world is one that has all but abandoned God, has especially abandoned Jesus Christ as King, maybe not in word, but in deed. If anything at all, it pays Jesus lip service.

It is a world that, not only no longer searches for the truth, it has abandoned any notion of absolute truth. For modern society based on radical individualism, truth has been replaced with feelings, emotions, and opinions; it is all about one’s personal “feelings” or one’s personal opinions. Deep within our society is a hatred for the very notion of kingship, of serving Christ the King by serving others; in stead it is, “I want to be king; I want to be served, I want to define truth.” It is no longer about obedience to the Holy Will of God, it is now about the “will of the people,” about our own will over and above the Holy Will of God and others. It is the kingdom of man without any reference to the Kingdom of God (a good definition of Atheistic Communism).

Jesus, however, manifests to us the Will of His Heavenly Father by obediently accepting death, even death on a cross. Hence, the cross is Jesus’ throne, the crown of thorns His royal diadem. While all those at the foot of the cross expected Christ to show a spectacular demonstration of His Royal claims by coming down off the cross, Jesus instead shows forth his divine authority by commanding the forgiveness of sins, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do. While Jesus in His sacrifice atones for all of the sins committed by mankind, He chooses to manifest the greatest act of sovereignty the world as ever seen by being concerned with just one man, and a criminal at that. “Jesus remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise. In this Jesus shows, not just strict justice, but Divine Mercy!

And so, the most important question one must ask on this Feast of Christ the King is not whether He does or does not reign in the world, but does He or does He not reign in me; not if His royalty is recognized by states and governments, but is it recognized and lived by me. Is Jesus Christ, truly King and Lord of my life? Who reigns in me, who sets the objectives and establishes the priorities in my life: Is it Christ or another? To live "for the Lord," means to live in view of Him, to live solely for love of Him, for His glory and honor, and for the spreading of His Kingdom on earth, which subsists fully in the Holy Catholic Church.

Consequently then, The reign of Christ extends so far as there are men and women who understand themselves to be children of God, who are nourished by Him through His Holy Catholic Church and her great Sacraments, children who live only for Him; and as a result, want others to share in this Family of God under the Kingship of Christ and His sweet yoke.

However, it must be clear that, the reign of Christ extends only as far as there are those who realize it is only in being obedient to the Holy Church, to Her leaders and to Her divine teachings, that one is truly obedient to Christ the King.
Holy Mother Church gives us this feast at the end of the Church year, and this end of the Church’s year should be a type of spiritual death for all of us, a death to sin and selfishness, a death to our self will, and a rising to a new beginning, a new life in Christ and in His Holy Will. And just as natural death brings with it the prospect of seeing and standing before Jesus Christ our sovereign king, the end of this Church year brings us this opportunity to stand before Christ the king who is truly, physically, substantially present in the Holy Eucharist and allow Him to renew His divine Kingship over us…This is the Eucharist Reign of Christ the King. (As an aside: the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart as promised by Our Lady of Fatima will be the conversion of the world to true faith in the Holy Eucharist; and so, it will be the coming of the Eucharistic Reign of Christ on earth (conversion of Islam, Judaism and al faiths to the Holy Eucharist as Sacrament of Sacrifice, Sacrament of true Presence and Sacrament of Communion). This will begin a time of great peace on earth, peace that the world had not yet experienced).

Let us pray, “Jesus our Sovereign King, so many times we have been thieves by stealing your sovereignty over our lives. You always grant more than we could ever ask or imagine. The good thief only asked you to remember him but instead You granted Him paradise. So in your infinite mercy, King Jesus, “Remember us when you come into your kingdom. Holy Mary, mother of the King of kings, Queen of heaven and earth, and our Mother and our Queen, Pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen. May God bless you and Viva el Christo Rey…Long live Christ the King!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

It is the way we live our faith each day that is most important.

As we see the leaves of the trees fall and feel the cold weather coming, we are reminded that we are beginning to wind down another year. We see starting already ads and displays for Christmas, even though Advent is still a few weeks away. The Church, in choosing the readings for this time of the coming of the ending of the year, is helping us to look towards the coming of the end of our life, and so, the four last things of our life -Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell.

Our death is that moment that each one of us will stand before the Jesus when He comes again as Judge of the living and the dead, as Judge of our own life. We, of course, will speak much more of the Second coming of Christ during the Advent season, but we are being prepared for this focus with our readings today.

Holy Mother the Church, like a good Mother, wants us to realize that nothing, nothing in this life is more important than our faith in Jesus Christ. And nothing is more important than living our life in faithfulness to Him, and friendship with Him as a preparation to meet Him face to face. Now is the time of mercy, but soon will come the time of Judgment. Jesus comes to us now in the Sacraments as Divine Mercy, but at the end of our life He will come as Divine Judge.

To emphasize the importance of our faith in Jesus and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, this same Holy Church—who is our Mother, this same Church in our first reading, gives us the incredible, moving and true story of another mother who realized the importance of faith. She was willing to see all seven of her sons killed before her eyes rather than see them deny their faith. She like a good mother loved her sons enough to know that their eternal salvation was more important than life in this world or anything this world as to offer. Holy Mother the Church knows this as well.

The modern popes have reminded us that martyrdom, dying in witness for our Catholic Faith in fidelity to Jesus and His Catholic Church is always a distinct possibility for the true believer in any age and in every age. Our pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI said once that, “The possibility (to be martyr) does not seem to be immediate (to us), however, how we should be prepared to die for Christ.”

Sometimes we dismiss this idea for our times, perhaps because it has been so easy for us to practice our faith in the past. How many of us here have had to risk our life or imprisonment in order to make it to Sunday Mass, for example? How many of us have lost all of our possessions for being Catholic? How many of us have seen a member of our family or a brother or sister in Christ killed before our eyes.

The fact is, however, more Catholics today are suffering and dying for their faith than ever before in history, just look at the Middle East…thousand dying for their Catholic Faith. Mothers and fathers seeing even their young children-babies, die for the faith, just like the mother in our first reading. Our age, which will definitely go down in history as the “Age of Martyrs.”

In speaking about the distinct possibility of Martyrdom we Catholics face, Benedict emphasized that it is the way we live our faith each day that is most important.

It is the way we live our faith each day that is most important. This is the point that Jesus is trying to teach us in our Gospel today. Jesus corrects the Scribes and Pharisees because they failed to see how important is the way that one lives one life here and now with regards to how and where one spends eternity. The question regarding marriage in the afterlife was asked to Jesus; “Who of the seven husbands would the one woman belong to?” Jesus tells them that they missed the main point. And the main point is: the way we live today in our life of faith will be the way we will live life forever. In other words, how we live today and every day will determine how we will live in the next.

On a daily basis, we may not be brought before magistrates to witness to our faith (although that might becoming sooner than we may think) but we are called to witness to the truth by living our Catholic Faith. This means of course much more than just coming to Holy Mass. It means this of course, but it also means conforming our lives more and more to the all of the Teachings of the Catholic Church; teachings that come not from man, not from the pope, bishops or priests, but that come from God Himself. The teachings of the Catholic Church are the teachings of God.

One such example of how we live our catholic Faith, that is relevant in this election week, is by how we vote and our responsibility to vote ethically. We live our Catholic faith by the way we vote. I recently read an article by a priest who is a prolific thinker and author. In speaking about the upcoming election he said:

It is incorrect to say that the coming election poses a choice between two evils. For ethical and aesthetic reasons, there may be some bad in certain candidates, but badness consists in doing bad things. Evil is different: it is the deliberate destruction of truth, virtue and holiness. While one may pragmatically vote for a flawed candidate, one may not vote for anyone who advocates and enables unmitigatedly evil acts, and that includes abortion. “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it'" (Evangelium Vitae, 73).

 At one party’s convention, the name of God was excluded from its platform and a woman who boasted of having aborted her child was applauded. It is a grave sin, requiring sacramental confession and penance, to become an accomplice in objective evil by voting for anyone who encourages it, for that imperils the nation and destroys the soul.

By the way, the priest went on to rightly say:

“It is also the duty of the clergy to make this clear and not to shrink, under the pretense of charity, from explaining the Church's censures. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are dangerous, but worse are wolves in shepherd’s clothing. While the evils foreseen eight years ago were realized, worse would come if those affronts to human dignity were endorsed again. In the most adverse prospect, God forbid, there might not be another free election, and soon Catholics would arrive at shuttered churches and vacant altars. The illusion of indifference cannot long be perpetuated by lame jokes and synthetic laughter at banquets, for there is handwriting on the wall.” (Fr. George Rutler, Pastor of the Church of St. Michael, from his weekly Column of October 30, 2016)

Today the Church as a mother, as our Holy Mother, is even more concerned about the eternal salvation of Her sons and daughters than the mother in our first readings; She wants us to realize what this life is really all about. In fact, Holy Mother Church’s prime consideration, the reason for her very existence and for everything she does, is for the Salvation of Souls (Cannon 1752). Today she is reminding us that the most important thing in this life is our beautiful Catholic faith and our living it out each day faithfully in love, in charity so that we may reach heaven and help others reach it as well.

Like any mother, the Church doesn’t want to instill in us fear. She doesn’t remind us about the last things, Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell in order to instill fear in us; fear doesn’t lead to authentic freedom and so fear doesn’t lead to true love. Faith is not about fear, but about responsibility and love. Our Holy Mother want us to realize that what is needed is responsibility and accountability shown in our concern for our salvation and the salvation of the souls of our neighbor whoever they may be (even if they be our enemy).

Soon it will be night, and we will be questioned about our love. Love is shown not in sweet words, nor in lofty thoughts, not in warm fuzzy feelings or emotional highs. No, love is shown by deeds; Love is shown by how you and I live our Beautiful Catholic faith on a daily basis.

The level of our love with which we die, will be the level of our love for all eternity. If our love is great, then our love in heaven will be great. If our love is cold here on earth, it will be cold in the next, cold not in heaven, but cold by being separated from heaven; that is, separated for ever from the God who is Love (Deus Caritas est—God is Charity 1 Jn 4:8).

It is love of Christ alone, which give the martyrs the strength to face cruel deaths; it is this love that will be lived forever provided we begin to live it more intensely today. And this love can be lived only to the extent we live out our Beautiful Catholic faith on a daily basis. The source of this love is the Holy Eucharist, because the Holy Eucharist is Love incarnate, Jesus the One who truly loves us beyond our imaginings. It is the Holy Eucharist that gives us the strength to live the Church’s teachings, it is the Holy Eucharist that gives us the strength to witness our faith even unto death. Holy Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of the Church, Mother of the Martyrs, be today ever more our Mother. Holy Mary, pray for our beloved country, pray for our parish, pray for our families, pray for us. Amen.

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