Saturday, September 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, September 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

We continue today with our theme of prayer and it’s urgency for our lives. Last week a man approached Jesus to settle an argument he was having over the inheritance. Jesus pointed out what was most important- an intimate relationship with God. Nothing and no one is more important than possessing and being possess by the God who is Love. And so, Jesus makes it even clearer to us in our Gospel today- “sell your belongings- for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Jesus then tells a couple of parables to emphasize this sense of urgency.

One of the main truths of our existence is that we are only here on earth to learn how to love, to learn how to love as God loves us so that we might be intimately united with Him here on earth and forever with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. Live is very short, and so more than anyone or anything else, is our heart set on the One thing that matters…Jesus and an intimate self-sacrificing relationship of love with Him? Is our heart set on Him alone or is it divided?

Jesus knows us well and so today He starts His words to His disciples and to us with “Do not be afraid.” There is a great temptation- to withdraw from God because we are afraid, afraid of the unknown, afraid of the future, afraid of what all out love of God may cost us, afraid to offer everything to God because He might take it.
And so today, Jesus again is asking us a very important question - are we really ready? Have we really taken the time to examine our readiness? Are we truly, truly ready to meet him when we die? Do we love Him enough to want to right now, spend an eternity intimately united with Him. If He came for us tonight or even at this Holy Mass, would we really want and even desire to go with Him?

Sadly, many souls live their lives in denial of the reality of death, whether from fear or presumption. As a result, they fail to take seriously the Four Last Things; that is, Death, then Judgment, then Heaven or Hell. They naively and ignorantly believe that everyone goes to heaven, even though many there are who do seek the truth--do not seek Jesus and so do not find Him, come to know Him and love Him. But, how can anyone possibly expect to spend forever intimately united with Jesus in love, in an eternal marriage of their soul with God, if they have not have not strived for an intimate relationship with Him here on earth?

A while back a priest I know share with me of a man in his parish who happened to be rather obnoxious during Mass one Sunday. During his homily, which was about being prepared for death by loving God now, this person caught the priest attention because he talked with his neighbor throughout the whole homily and as he did so even grinned in mockery at the message of the priest. He came up to receive Jesus at Holy Communion with the same mocking attitude, grinning, really more like sneering at the priest. Apparently he didn’t like the priest or more likely didn’t like the message. That very night the priest was called to anoint this person. He had electrocuted himself with a hair dryer and he was dead. Was this person ready to die?

Another priest friend told me the story of another man he knew. This man tried to live his Christian life with much fervor out of love for Jesus. Two of his sons became priests. After the death of his wife, he joined his sons in the monastery. On Christmas day, he was at Holy Mass. He received Holy Communion and returned to his pew for his thanksgiving prayer to tell the Jesus truly present in soul how much he loved Him. He died right there in the pew with Jesus still bodily present in his soul.

Which of these two men were really ready to die—which one of these were ready for a eternal marriage with God in Heaven?...

Now I am not saying we have to join a monastery, but the point is we do have to be ready. So then how do we know that we are ready? Well, Jesus gives us clues to the answer to this question in the first part of the Gospel today. Jesus tells us we should not be afraid, fear is actually a sign that we are not ready. We heard these same words of Jesus repeated by our St. John Paul II, immediately after he was elected Pope—“Be not afraid!” John Paul knew then and we know now that we truly live in a world of fear.

We truly have much to fear in our day and with good reason. Everything from crime, to economic uncertainty, from continued terrorist attacks to a priest getting his throat slashed during Holy Mass; these things blanket the newspapers and television today. What will happen next? This fear touches our lives very deeply, whether we want to admit it or not—“what will happen to our families, our children?” And so it is very easy to fall into despair, overwhelmed by feeling afraid; it is very easy to bury our heads in the sand so to speak to the reality around us. While it is true that we need to be cautious because of the very real dangers we face, we cannot however have the dread of this fear dominate and control our lives and take our trust in God away.

So too, when we hear the seriousness of the words of Jesus spoken directly to each one of us today, they are serious words, words warning us to be ready to meet him. Upon hearing these words we can become even more fearful. We fear not being ready to meet Christ--We fear the judgment day. While this can sometimes lead to an irrational fear, fear of Judgment is normally a good thing because it can knock souls out of their complacency and turn them back to God saying, “I am sorry because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.”

A good fear of judgment St John Paul II wrote, is a sincere and reverential feeling that a person experiences before the tremendous majesty of God, especially when he reflects upon his own infidelity and the danger of being "found wanting" (Dan 5:27) at the eternal judgment which no one can escape. The believer goes and places himself before God with a "contrite spirit" and a "humbled heart" (cf. Ps 50 [51] :19), knowing well that he must await his own salvation "with fear and trembling”.

Jesus however, desires us to even rise above this type of reverential fear of God and His divine Judgment. He wants us to fear, not so much hell, but instead fear offending the Father because we love Him even more than we love ourselves…I am sorry most of all because by my sins I have crucified my loving Savior, Jesus Christ and offended Thy infinite mercy. Jesus desires our salvation because He loves us so much. He wants us to fear hell, not so we will be forced into loving Him out of fear, but only because it would be an eternity away from Him and intimacy with Him. Jesus wants us to know that united with Him in Love we have nothing to fear in this life or in the life to come, for nothing can separate from the love of Christ. Without Jesus however, sin and fear dominates and controls our lives. But with Jesus there is no fear only love, and “…perfect Love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4;18)

It is for this very reason Jesus comes to us in and through the Holy Eucharist, which is…Who is, the fullness of the Kingdom the Father is please to give us. In the Eucharist, Jesus our Lord and God is intimately with us in order to ease our fears by helping us to become prepared for anything this world has to offer. But we for our part must have faith.

Faith is believing in that which we cannot see, and being certain it is there. We cannot see Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with our human eyes, we can only see Him through the eyes of faith, and faith brings us certainty that He is truly there—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And His True Presence there enlightens the darkness of our journey here on earth. Faith in this presence of Incarnate Love brings with it an increase of…Hope!

And so, along with faith, we must not only receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, but we must offer ourselves totally to Him with great trust and love. Only in this way can He work in our hearts to rid them of all fear and fill them with His love instead. And so to the degree we Believe, Adore, Trust and Love Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, giving ourselves and everything we have totally to Him at Holy Mass, to the degree we do this, is the degree we will be ready to meet Him when He comes for us.

Let us ask in today’s Mass, for our Blessed Mother to obtain for us from the Holy Spirit the “Gift of Holy fear” in order to move us to a stronger belief, adoration, love for and trust in Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit, to slowly but surely, take away all the other treasures we cling on to, particularly the treasure of our own wills and sin, so that for us our only treasure is to be one with Jesus and His Sacred Heart truly present in the Holy Eucharist. And where our treasure is, so to will our heart be and nothing on this earth will our hearts cling to, and we will trustingly place everything, lovingly sacrifice everything, offering it all to God on the paten at this Holy Mass. Then instead of being full of fear of death, we will be ready, actually longing for our last day on this earth in order that we can finally be with our beloved Jesus. When He comes for us we will not be afraid, but will run into His arms and be united fully to Him, and with Him to the Father and the Holy Spirit along with the Virgin Mary our Mother, St. Joseph, our guardian angel and all the Angels and Saints forever. Amen. God Bless you.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Gospel last week reminded us of our need to pray and so Jesus taught us the “Our Father.” Prayer is the breath of our soul. Prayer is the source of all true power—the power of love, for prayer puts us into contact with Love Itself—God, the Most Blessed Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit.

But we for our part must not only pray, but also pray with humility, persistence and trust, which comes from the realization that our heavenly Father loves us as His beloved Children—and so we are. He already knows what we need and so will only give us the good things we need, not necessarily the things we want, and at a time that is best. And for our prayers to be answered we need to forgive others, to show mercy if we are to receive Mercy.

The Line of the Our Father which says, “give us this day our daily Bread,” reveals the secret of prayer. Our “Daily Bread,” refers primarily to the Holy Eucharist (this is why for centuries in the Liturgy the priest look at the Holy Eucharist as he prayed the “Our Father”). The secret of the prayer of the saint, (that is, the one who is the most intimate friend of Jesus), is prayer in front of the tabernacle, prayer in front of the Holy Eucharist, Who is Jesus. The Eucharist is literally Jesus in His human body with His human heart. And the Human heart of Jesus is the way to the Father’s heart, and so the Father’s mercy and love.

Today the Holy Spirit wants to slap us out of our complacency. In the words that the Holy Spirit, Himself inspired, we hear that all things in this world are vanity. The wise man writing in our first reading is confronting the evils of this life- in particular suffering and death. And it all makes no sense to him. The author has long observed that both the good and the evil man will face suffering and death. This is why he can conclude that the pursuit of earthly things is vane. All is vanity.

What he is really trying to point out is that all the things of this earth that takes us away from an intimate relationship with God are worthless. All the things in this world will have to be left behind, including those we love—so why do we strive to make this world our permanent dwelling especially when it is such a vale of tears…in this life all must suffer both the good and the bad.

In this life then, we must strive for the higher things, the things of the Spirit; it is this Spirit that the Father wishes to give to those who ask (cf. Lk 11;13) Our earthly desires and passions will only take us away from our heavenly calling if we seek to fill them with created things instead of God. Comfort and pleasure, not to mention sinful pleasure, are obstacles for us to reach God if we set our hearts on them. Our hearts are made for God, not for things of this world, whether it be the riches of this world or the comfort or pleasures of this world. Only God can fulfill the deepest desires of our heart, of all hearts. And so our heart will never rest until they rest in our God alone.

It is this wisdom of our first reading that Jesus, in our Gospel today, uses in His advice to the man who approached Him. The death of a father had just taken place and the two sons were arguing over the inheritance. The reality of death confronts them, not only their father’s death but their own, and yet the one wants more of the inheritance than what he has received. He appeals to Jesus to intervene on his behalf- after all it’s only fair…This is a familiar situation. How many families are torn apart by fighting over the inheritance after a funeral (and sometimes even before the funeral, even before death)?

Jesus reads this man’s heart- and finds there, greed. In the face of his apparent suffering from injustice, this man thinks that more material goods will fill the void in his heart. And so Jesus responds to the request by telling him a parable. “Where is your treasure?” Jesus asks. Is it in the things of this world or the things of heaven…are you worried more about possessions than you are about your eternal salvation…are you worried more about money than obtaining the greatest of all treasures, Jesus Himself.

Jesus here want us to seriously reflect that this life is short and heaven is long, eternally long; are our hearts then really set on obtaining heaven...are we really taking our conversion and salvation seriously enough? Death comes for us all sooner or later (sometimes sooner), then judgment, then heaven or hell. Are we willing to risk living an eternity separated from the Love of our heavenly Father by taken it all for granted.

And so, Jesus again speaks of the necessity of prayer, the necessity of forming that intimate union with our God—our life does not consist of possessions, but in obtaining and possessing God and being possessed by Him.” If we instead make the object of this life the values and things of this world, our relationship with Christ, our lives will lose meaning. With our hearts set on things we slowly become stupefied in the sleep of indifference. And in this indifference we will no longer be able realize the greatest gift in this life is the Holy Eucharist which is Jesus, the way to the Father.

If we don’t center our lives on Jesus in the tabernacle we may think that we are living good Christian lives, but we are not living Holy Christian Lives. We will take our eternal salvation for granted; we will even presume every one goes to heaven when they do not. Away from the Holy Eucharist, and belief, adoration, trust and love in the God who is present in the flesh there, we will become slave to our senses—wanting only comfort and pleasure; we will think only of the things of earth and not of the things of heaven. We will want for only material things and so will become attached to the created things of this world instead of the Creator of the world. In the end, all will be vanity, for we will have sought in created things that which they can not give and we will lose hope, and all will be vanity.

Let us realized that if we are going to bear fruit in our lives, the fruit of salvation, for ourselves and others, then we must place our hearts often next to the tabernacle, which is under the cross. The Holy Eucharist is Divine; it is a Divine Person; it is Jesus; it is God. Therefore, the Holy Eucharist is not only the secret of prayer; it is the one and only door way to Our Father who Art in Heaven; in fact it is Heaven for it is Jesus—The Eucharist is then the greatest of all Treasures; it is where our heart should be; better yet, He is where our heart needs to be, now and forever.

Before the Holy Eucharist alone will we find the consolation we desire and the strength in the Lord we need to survive the trials of this life. There alone will we find fulfillment to the deepest desires of the human heart and reach a union forever with the God who is love.

Only Jesus in the Holy Eucharist knows how difficult it is for us to leave this world behind, only He knows our weakness, only He knows our heart. Let us turn to Him in a greater way at this Holy Mass. May we pray today for the grace of heeding the words of Jesus. Let us pray for the grace to discover that our hearts will only be satisfied with union with our Lord. May our Holy Communion today be an occasion where this union with our Lord grows and is perfected. May we be one with the Holy Eucharist and so one with Jesus and so begin to obtain heaven already here on earth.