Saturday, February 3, 2018

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

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

we are not souls held captive in the body, seeking to escape the confines of the evil body forever. We are body and soul, substantially united in one person and we will be for all eternity.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 14th, 2018

“Behold the Lamb of God.” With these words, John the Baptist announces the coming of Jesus, as he—Jesus, begins his public ministry, and begins to call disciples to Himself. I want to stop and reflect on these words- “Lamb of God,” and how they related to the Body of Christ and our own body.

We have just celebrated the mystery of the coming of the Lamb of God—Jesus. Jesus, the invisible God, second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Creator and Sustainer of everything, comes into the world in the flesh, in a human body. And, it is through His body that He offered himself, and continues to offer Himself, to His Heavenly Father, as the true Lamb of Sacrifice, for the salvation of mankind. God has become incarnate and everything, EVERYTHING has changed.

It is important to remember that the incarnation of Jesus did not end with the death of Jesus. Jesus resurrected and He did so in the flesh. His resurrection was a bodily resurrection, a physical resurrection—He said: “touch me Thomas, see I am not a ghost!” He ate and drank after His resurrection. Jesus still has a fully human nature united to His divine nature—He is still true God and true Man; He still has a human body, albeit a resurrected body.

This is why Jesus came to earth as a little baby in Bethlehem, He came so that He could die in His body, in order that He would be able to give us this body as our True Food to save us. The resurrection makes it possible for Jesus at Holy Mass, to continue to offer His body in order to continue to give us His Body. This is the Body, that before we receive It, the priest holds up and proclaims, “Behold this is the Lamb of God. Jesus is still in a body and it is this sacred body of Jesus that will save us, if we believe, adore, hope and love Jesus in His Sacred Incarnated Body.

It is also through the Incarnation, God coming in the flesh, then that Jesus also reveals to us who we are. We too are called to live out our lives in holiness in the flesh—in a body, just as Jesus did. In fact, because of Jesus, our bodies can now actually become real temples for the living and true God to dwell in. As St. Paul says to us today, our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit- In Baptism, as our bodies were immersed into the life giving waters, we died with Jesus and rose with Him; we are reborn—regenerated from above, and we actually became living temples of the living God.

This image is not just a spiritual one- we are reunited to the Father and become children of God, literally this means to have the Life of God alive in our souls—it means to actually share in God’s own Divine Nature. This has huge consequences, not only for our souls but for our bodies as well. We are indeed true sons and daughters of God- this is truly who we are. And so, as sons and daughters of God we are to live our lives in a way which shows forth this great truth to all around us—we are to live the life of Christ in our own flesh for the life of the world.

This brings us three important considerations all having to do with the body as temple of the Holy Spirit. And how a failure to understand the holiness of the body leads to all sorts of desecrations and one could even de-sacrilization of the body. First, the subject of married love, second how do we take care of the building of the temple and thirdly, how do we treat the body after death.

In the sacrament of marriage our physical bodies reach their finality, meaning what they were designed for, when they are united to another body of the opposite sex. When they are used properly our bodies will be fruitful, and the fruit will be children who are one of the greatest gifts of God and who are destined to become sons and daughters of God as well. Our culture degrades the body, especially in this area, in the area of sexual morality.

Next, the second point, how we dress our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, holy and sacred objects were always, always, veiled. The veil reminded the view that that which lies behind or under the veil was sacred, only and belonged to God. And because it was holy it could not be looked upon with ordinary eyes and a casual glance. IN other words, it could not be look upon as ordinary or secular but as something holy and sacred to the Lord God or else it would be profaned. An example from Holy Scripture: The holies of holies containing the Ark of the Covenant was hidden always behind a veil and no one could look behind the veil except one appointed by god, the priest. Later in the New Testament, the chalice and paten which would hold the Body and blood of Christ would be veiled until the appropriate time during Holy Mass; and the Tabernacle was always veiled to remind us that what it contained was not just Holy, But HOLY, HOLY, HOLY (the Holiest of holies, Jesus, in His Body).

The human body itself was veiled (by clothing) as well, because it was holy and Sacred. This by the way is the where the ideal of veiling woman came from at Holy Mass. It was not that the woman was less, but that she was more. The woman’s body is holy and sacred and one was not to look upon it with eyes of lust and filth. Only the husband who body belongs to the woman because he consecrated himself by a sacred oath to her and she to Him, only he could remove the veil and see the sacredness and beauty behind (in fact it was her father on the day of her wedding, who acting in the place of the heavenly Father, symbolic showed permission by lifting her wedding veil before he gave her hand to her soon to be husband..

Because our modern society as too often removed the veil outside the marital bond the body as become something dirty and filthy. Why is there the modern attempt to piece, tattoo and surgical alter the body? Is not this a sign that body is now hated so much that it is mutilated and changed, in order to try to make it more sexually desirable.

Let’s move to the third point, the end of life. Never before have we seen the sacredness of the body more disregarded at death than in our day. The Church and society informed and formed by the Church and her teachings, has always in the past seen to it that the human body received a proper burial. In fact, one of the corporal works of mercy (on which we will be judged) is to bury the dead. This practice presupposed a belief in the sacredness of the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit; and as well, a belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead on the day of Judgment.

While Today the Church allows cremation, it will not permit a Catholic funeral it if the person is being cremated because he doesn’t believe in the resurrection of the body or if the cremated body is not going to be buried. It must be said that Church certainly doesn’t prefer cremation, it merely puts up with it so to speak. The Church would rather have the body intact at burial and for sure, the body present and intact at the funeral Mass. The main problem with cremation in our day is not so much because of the outright denial of the Body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, but because families are not burying the body. They are dumping the cremated body at sea, keeping it on their fire place mantel, and even making it into jewelry. This is really, knowingly or unknowingly, a denial of the sacredness of the body. A cremated body must be treated as it is, a former temple of the Holy Spirit; and so, the body in cremated form needs to be buried, not kept in the home for any reason (we just don’t keep dead bodies in our house!)or scattered somewhere. To Bury the Dead is one of the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy which along with the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy we will be judged at the Last Judgment!

To sum it all up, we are not souls held captive in the body, seeking to escape the confines of the evil body forever. We are body and soul, substantially united in one person and we will be for all eternity. What we do in our bodies affects our souls-what we do in the body determines who we are as persons. For example, one can say (as many in our modern age of sexual scandals say), “What I did wrong is not a reflection of who I am as a person”…in other words, “what I did in the body doesn’t show who I am in my soul.” But this is not so, for if in our bodies, we commit theft we are a thief, that is who we are; if we gossip then we are a gossiper, if we commit abuse, then we are abusers. Yes, we can repent, but then we are a repentant thief, a repentant abuser etc. Because of our Baptism, our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit, holy and sacred instruments, never to be desecrated by unholy acts or in other ways that are displeasing to God.

And so what we do in the body also determines our eternal destiny.. At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead, our souls will be reunited with our bodies, our bodies will rise from the grave. We will then be judged for the acts we did, both bad and good in and through our bodies, as well as for acts we fail to do, in and through our bodies. And depending on the outcome of that judgment we will spend eternity in our bodies in one of two places, either in eternal bliss of heaven united with God forever, or eternal misery of hell separated from God forever. So, St. Paul states very emphatically, because our bodies are holy, temples of the Holy Spirit, our bodies are not to be instruments of sins-our bodies are not for fornication, but sacred instruments whereby God wishes to use us for holiness, for His honor and glory and for the sanctification and salvation of souls.

We need to change our attitudes and behaviors to reflect the reality to which we have been baptized into- we are all uniquely children of God. With this confidence, we can then use our bodies always and in all ways to glorify God. This includes especially in using our body in the worship and adoration of God at Holy Mass.

We use our bodies to genuflect, kneel and bow in order to show the interior desire of our soul to adore God. This use of our body should also be reflected in how we dress our bodies. We should dress modesty, always wearing our Sunday best, always dressed for the weddings of all Weddings which is the Holy Mass, the place where our souls are called to be wedded to the Lord through the offering of ourselves. And because we receive Jesus in His Body and Soul in to our Body and Soul at Holy Communion which is the marital act of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, in order for the consummation to be fruitful, our souls must be dress in the proper wedding attire as well, made pure white by a good Sacramental Confession in which we confessed those sins, those things we have done and have failed to do in body and soul.

But we are also to adore God in our bodies outside of Mass by living upright, moral and holy lives, not only by not sinning in the body as St. Paul says, but also by respecting and veiling the Body through proper modest dress, never desecrating it by using it for fornication or by putting graffiti on it, and by always burying the Body when dead as to honor it as a former temple of the Holy Spirit.

In a just few moments, we will begin the Eucharistic prayer. In the Communion Rite, I will elevate the True Sacred Body and Blood of Christ and say again, “Behold—Look upon the Lamb of God. When we receive this Body of Christ- it is truly the Flesh and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus—His whole Person, we can be transformed in body and soul.
The Holy Eucharist, the Body of Christ will give us the power we need to live lives of purity and holiness in the body. By receiving Jesus, if we surrender to Him He will transform us into living members of His Mystical Body, images of Himself for the sake of the whole world. May we be open to the graces we need to live out this high calling as disciples of our Lord, not only in the soul, but in the body as well, so that at the resurrection of the dead, our bodies along with our souls, will be with us in heaven for eternity, reflecting the Vision of the Glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Hail true Body, Holy Body, born of the Virgin Mary, who truly suffered and was sacrificed on the cross for men. From your pierced side, streamed blood and water. Be a foretaste of heaven to us in our death agony. O dear Jesus! O kind Jesus! O Jesus, Son of Mary. Amen

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Let us ask the Virgin to help us adore in a deeper way the Christ Child this Christmas.

Fourth Sunday in Advent December 23rd, 2017

In the past three Sundays of Advent we have heard differing themes about Staying awake, preparing the way for the Lord, and the Joy that can only come from being close to Jesus. And now, we come to the last of the four Advent Themes, “Jesus desires to be born again, not in a crib in Bethlehem but in us, through the “Obedience of Faith, that is living out the truths of our beautiful Catholic faith.”

Around the turn of the 20th century, that is around the year 1900, many in the Church began to notice that the world was beginning a great downward spiraling of morality and a departing from the protection and mercy of God through disobedience to His Commands. They saw already the beginning of the current evils that are beseeching us in our own times. They saw already the loss of authentic fatherhood and Christian family life, they saw great and terrible wars, unlike any in history on the horizon, they saw as well, great new ideological errors, such as totalitarianism, fascism, socialism and communism. In response, they begin to ask the following questions, “If we Catholics have the Holy Mass—the Sacred Liturgy, which is very source of all grace and mercy and all goodness and love in this world, what is going on? If one Holy Mass offered makes present the power to save the whole world past, present and future, because it is the work of the Head—Christ, Himself, why is the balance between good and evil becoming so grossly unbalanced?

Through the great prophets of the day, the Holy Spirit began to answer for us these and other such questions. Men such as St. Pope Pius X, Dom Prosper Gueranger and later Pope Pius the twelve and others, began to point out that the problem was not with the Sacred Liturgy or with how it was being offered, in what language it was said in, or even in what direction the priest was facing. They rightly taught the Sacred Liturgy and how it was being offered at the time, had been received by Moses from God on Mount Sinai (along with the Ten Commandments), it had been fulfilled by Christ at the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, it had been developed and perfected throughout the 1900 years since. So no, the problem was not with how the Liturgy was being offered (excepting for abuses in the Liturgy). No, the problem was somehow with the Mystical Body of Christ and how its members were attending the Sacred Liturgy—the Holy Mass.

This was brought out very nicely in 1943, in an encyclical letter by Pope Pius the XII entitled, “The Mystical Body of Christ.” In this encyclical, the Pope again said that the Sacred Liturgy, because it is primarily the work of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, and because it makes His once and for all Sacrifice of love on Calvary present in time wherever and whenever it is being offered, and because it is God-Jesus adoring God the Father on our behalf, one single Mass makes present, truly and really, unlimited grace and an ocean of infinite mercy. However, the Pope said, God in His divine providence has declared that none of the mercy and grace goes forth from the Holy Mass into the world except through the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, that is through members of the Baptized participating in the Holy Mass. And so, if the world is spiraling downward toward hell, the reason is that not enough members of the Church understand the true nature of the Holy Mass, and so no longer know how to participate in it with full, actual, conscious, participation, (which he pointed out is primarily an interior participation in which we offer our hearts—our everything, totally and completely on the paten). And so, they longer bear and bring the fruit of the Holy Mass into the world because they are not being transformed by the Mass into another Christs for the world.

And this brings us to our theme in this fourth Sunday of Advent…for another way of saying being transformed into other Christ’s is to say allowing Christ to be born anew in us in order to live anew in us. And this new birth of Jesus into the minds, hearts, souls, bodies and lives of the Faithful in order to live anew in them reveals to us as well the true meaning of Christmas…

Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of the Father and the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity was born into this world according to the flesh, as true Man, as one of us, like us in all things except sin, yet still remaining true God. At this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass He is reborn again in the flesh on this and every sacred Altar and present in every Tabernacle of the world. But He is not content to stay there. Jesus wants to be born anew in us, He wants to live again in us, suffer in us and die in us in order to show the world, through our lives, His love and His Infinite Mercy, in order to bring his redemption to the souls in the world today through us…in this way and only through this way are souls brought to Christ so that He may redeem them, heal them, save them and bring them into intimacy with Him so they may also share in the joy that is ours.

This brings up another important meaning of Christmas than can easily be overlooked. Celebrating Christmas means then a dying to ourselves so that Jesus may live in us and we may live solely for Him and for others. This is the basis of the JOY of Christmas—Jesus, Others, and then Ourselves.

Immediately after Christmas, on the 26th we have the feast day of St. Stephen the first Christian Martyr, then feast of The Holy Innocents, and St Thomas Beckett—all Martyrs—all who gave their lives for the love of God and to give testimony to the truth of the Gospel. In light of these feasts, at Christmas we can easily say very Martyr Christmas.

The Martyrs show us in their deaths, that Love is an exchange of the gift of Oneself to the beloved—the meaning of exchanging gifts at Christmas. The gifts symbolizing the offering of our love, the offering of ourselves to the ones we love, they show of our desire to sacrifice our self-interest for their sake, to live for the sake of them, the ones that we love. However, the deeper meaning of the giving of gifts to one another is they symbolize or should symbolize our desire to give ourselves in love to the (number) One we Love (capital O) -Jesus.

The first ever gift of Christmas was Jesus giving us the gift of Himself by becoming Man…He gives up everything for love of us, by coming to earth as one of us and by offering His life for us even to the shedding of His blood. The only appropriate response on our part is one of love…offering our everything to Him in return. Hence, the only really necessary gift this Christmas, and at every Christmas and at every Christ Mass, is the one we give to Jesus—the gift of ourselves. In fact, it is only to the degree that we give ourselves to Jesus that He can be born again in us, and take His grace and mercy through us out into the world..

This is why we must turn to the Mother of God for help and why Advent is time to spend close to Mary who bore Jesus in her womb that first advent. Before she gave birth to Jesus, even before she conceived Him in her womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, by the Same Holy Spirit she conceived Jesus in her soul and gave birth to Him in her life.

And so, the rebirthing of Jesus in our souls and in our life can only occur in the same way through the work of the human and the divine, through the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit….the Bride and Her spouse will help us to offering ourselves to the Divine babe in a new way and deeper way this Christmas and at every Holy Mass. Mary and the Holy Spirit will help then help us to do the hard work of birthing Him fully in our lives by ridding ourselves of selfishness and sin, of dying to our wills in order to do the will of God, which includes living our lives according to the truths, to all of the teachings of our beautiful Catholic Faith.
Let us ask the Virgin to help us adore in a deeper way the Christ Child this Christmas season. Amen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pray without ceasing to Jesus who is the One who has come, who is coming and who will come again.

John 1; 6-8,19-28. Third Sunday in Advent. December 17th, 2017

Already we have come to the third week in Advent, how quickly time flies; and our quickly the advent of our life flies… “soon it will be night and we will be questioned about our love!”

If you remember, the theme for the First week in Advent was, Be Watchful! Be Alert! Watch for the Lord; don’t fall into slumber! That is, don’t’ fall into the temptations of the, “lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes” and “pride of life.” In other words, don’t be so focused and fascinated on the passing things of this world, so as to be blinded and unprepared and miss His coming.

The Second Week of Advent was Prepare the Way for the Lord, for He will come quickly as Divine Judge, so now is the time to draw closer to Him as Merciful Redeemer-for God promises us mercy not tomorrow, examine your life and your conscience in order to see those things which you have done or fail to do which are displeasing to the Lord, namely your sins and make a good Sacramental confession to prepare for His coming.

And the theme for this Third week in Advent is, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray without ceasing to Jesus who is the One who has come, who is coming and who will come again. Pray always so has to grow in our intimacy and friendship with Jesus, so as to desire Him above all things and become one with Him in love.

This third week of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday, or “Rejoice Sunday!” St. Paul tells us to Rejoice in the Lord Always! Saint Catherine of Siena said that all the way to Heaven is already Heaven for those who love the Lord. To keep Advent is to peek into Heaven especially on “Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday,”

The Rose Color Vestments, Rose being a symbol of Joy, remind us of why we Christians rejoice, why we should always be joyful. And the reason is, is that the Lord is near to us. Yes, He came as a man two thousand years ago and we long for Him to come again at the end of time, but through the Sacraments of the Holy Church He has found a way to be with us still, to remain with us always as Emmanuel—God is truly with us, not just in our mind, not just in our hearts, and not just spiritually, but He is with us substantially, physically, in the same body born of the Virgin Mary in the crib at Bethlehem.

For this reason, Advent as we have said is a time of hope; it is a time of rejoicing and happiness. Yes, we are preparing for the coming of Jesus liturgically at Christmas, but our hope lies in the fact that He comes at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass in the Holy Eucharist and pours out a new His Unfathomable Love and Infinite Mercy for us on the Altar. Every Mass is therefore Christ Mass—Don’t miss is coming here!

From this center, which is the Heart of Christ offered for us and to us, all grace and mercy flows out to all of the other Sacraments. If we receive the Sacraments with the proper disposition, they will strengthen our Closeness to Jesus, and lead us more and more into a perfect union of love with Him, and through Him to the Father. But we for our part must prepare ourselves and try to offer ourselves in love totally to the One, Jesus who in the Sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist, offers Himself and His love totally to us.

The Truth is, is that Joy and Happiness come from being close to Jesus, and it is the Sacraments that make this closeness possible. Sadness on the other hand is to be away from Jesus and so away from His Sacraments. Jesus does not wish us harm or sorrow, but only His peace and Joy—the sorrow in this world comes from us, not God; it comes from thinking we are self-sufficient apart from God, from thinking we can love and serve our neighbor without first worshiping and adoring God; it comes from doing our own self-will instead of God’s Holy Will; in a word, all the sorrow and unhappiness in this world comes from sin.

In this season of advent, and in the advent of our lives, we may be more or less comfortable or more or less fill with suffering and difficulties, but Jesus promises a joy that no one and nothing can take from us, that is, as long as we cling to Jesus with faith in and through the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Most Blessed of Sacraments the Holy Eucharist. There we will find the antidote to Sadness. There will find the strength to become better, to overcome our self-centeredness, which only leads to despondency and despair. There we will find the strength to break out of seeking only our self-interest in order to Love and serve God above else and to love and serve our neighbor for Love of God.

Through the power of the Sacraments we will then be enable, empowered to live our daily life only for Jesus, all of our daily duties will be done for Him primarily, we will do all things well for Him, we will become like Him. And as other Christs for the world, we will serve others and even bear their burdens. This is how we will pray constantly and rejoice always for all we do, no matter how small will be done for love of Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus and through Jesus. Then others will be attracted to the joy they see within us and they will trace the source of our Joy back to Jesus. And they too will discover the definition of Joy…J.O.Y. ---to put Jesus first, then Others and then finally Ourselves.

At this and every Holy Mass, Jesus comes anew to give us peace, to give us Joy, by giving us Himself in the Holy Eucharist, let us rejoice and lovingly and joyfully and through the Virgin Mary, offer ourselves to Him in return.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

the four main themes of each of the Four Weeks of Advent

Mark 13; 33-37. First Sunday in Advent. December 3rd, 2017

Today with this First Sunday in Advent, we celebrate New Year’s Day in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. A New Year is a time of Renewed Hope and Advent is at its heart a season of Hope. It is a season for Joyful Preparation for the reason of our Hope, the Coming of the Lord.

And so, Advent culminates in the Feast of the Coming of the Lord which is Christmas. At Christmas, we celebrate the historical Fact that Jesus the Lord God, has come in the flesh already some 2,000 years ago. But Advent reminds us that He desires to come again spiritually anew into our hearts, and through our hearts anew into our families and out into our world.

And so, in order to help to ring in the New Year right, let us look closer at our Advent Preparation for Christmas. Christmas is so important that we are giving four full Weeks to prepare for it. And since our most important preparation for Christmas, is not a material preparation but a spiritual preparation, I thought it would be helpful to mention ahead of time the four main themes of each of the Four Weeks of Advent.

The theme for this first Sunday in Advent is, “Be Watchful! Be Alert! Watch for the Lord. Don’t slumber, skipping your preparation and so as to miss the Lord’s coming as so many did that first Christmas.

And so, the Next Week, the Second Sunday in Advent’s theme is, “Prepare the Way for the Lord…While it seems He is delayed, He is not…He will come as a “thief” in the night…God promises us mercy but not necessarily tomorrow, so now is the time to accept Him into our hearts by accepting His Mercy by truly confessing our sins; that is, confessing truthfully and fully those things we have done and those things we have not done which have displeased the Lord and so have prevented His deeper coming into our lives.

The theme for the Third week of Advent is, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray without ceasing to Jesus who is the One who has come, who is coming and who will come again. Pray always so has to grow in our intimacy and friendship with Jesus so as to desire Him above all things and become one with Him in love.

And so, the theme for the fourth and final week of Advent is Jesus desires to be born again, not in a crib in Bethlehem but in us, through the “Obedience of Faith!” That is, born in us through not just believing in Jesus, but believing in everything He has revealed to us about God and Man which is contained in its fullness in the Teachings of the Catholic Church, and then living out those teachings with the Grace that comes to us primarily through that Same Church in Her Sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist and Confession.

Those are the four main themes of the season of Advent. They are the main themes of the Advent of our entire life. Now let’s quickly look closer at the Theme for this First Week in Advent. Be watchful…Be Awake. Don’t Slumber. How do we fall into slumber and avoid being prepared? We can do so as St. John tells us, through the “Lust of the flesh,” and the “Lust of the eyes,” and the “Pride of life.”

Lust has to do with so much more than just desiring something of a bodily nature that we shouldn’t… Lust of the flesh has to do with an inordinate love of comfort, to not even want to stir ourselves in order to be Watchful. It is the tendency within all of us to take the easy way out, to not even want to make the effort to do the necessary and many times difficult things to Love God first and foremost by putting Him and His holy will first in our life. It is in a nut shell to want Christianity without the cross.

And, “Lust of the eyes,” is a greed that desires to possess only the beautiful things of this world. Then enamored by our possessions, our desire and great need for God becomes more and more dulled. In our blindness, we become more and more self-sufficient no longer seeing our need for the grace of the Sacraments in order to live our life pleasing to God. We begin more and more to reject with our intellect the Truth of the Gospel which is given to us in its fullness in the teachings of the Catholic Church. We ourselves then become the determiners of what is true and what is false, what is good and what is evil (which was the original sin of Adam and Eve in the garden—you shall be as God). As a result, the teachings of the Church, which come from Jesus, become burdensome and out dated; we see them and all of the Commandments of God as oppressive and as threats to our freedom instead of protections to our freedom and the way to Life.

With our heart set only on this present world, and in our self-sufficiency we fall into the third and worst way that we are tempted to slumber and so fail to be awake and prepared for the coming of the Lord, and that is by “Pride of the life.” We then become the center of the universe and our self-love overtakes Love of God and love of neighbor; we desire to be serve instead of to serve. Instead of “Thy Will be done,” it becomes only, “My will be done.”

Again, Next week our theme is, “Prepare the way for the Lord…we best do this by making a good Sacramental Confession. Perhaps we could us this week to prepare ourselves to do so by making an in-depth examination of conscience. According the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an examination of conscience is a “prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God” There are so many guides available on the internet to help us examine our conscience. I recommend the one available on E.W.T.N.—The “Eternal Word Television Network,”…the website is ewtn.com. and in the search box type in “Examination of Conscience.”

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to help us in our advent preparation. She was the one who was fully ready for the coming of the Lord, He Who was Born of Her in the Crib at Bethlehem that first Christmas. She is then the Mother of our Hope. She will help us keep our eyes open, fixed on her divine Son alone. With her we can overcome the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and pride of life. Through her we can be fully awake, and so fully prepared for the coming of her Son, who comes to us as Merciful redeemer in Confession, to us spiritually as the divine child through the liturgy this Christmas, to us physically as our Savior at this Holy Mass in the Holy Eucharist, and finally who will come to us as our Divine Judge, at the end of our advent time in this world.

Our Lady Mother of the New Advent, Mother of Our Hope, Pray for us! Amen!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

To not know and understand God as a Father who cares for us intimately and not to invoke Him for His help is to become orphans without hope.

Matthew 23; 1-12Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 5th, 2017

One of the lines in the Gospel today is used by Bible Fundamentalist to try and prove the Catholic Church is “unbiblical.” “Call no man on earth thy Father, for thou hast only one Father, who art in Heaven.” Sadly, many of these folks are ex-Catholics. But I would argue, Ex-Catholics who left a Church and her teachings that they never really knew, even though they may think they know them. But this passage nevertheless does seem to support a “anti Catholic” position on the part of many Christians.

For if the bible said what it says, how can we as Catholics, call the priest, “Father?” Before we take closer look at this verse, its important to state a very important rule when reading, praying and studying the Bible--Sacred Scripture, and that is, you can’t take a few verses out of the bible without looking at the whole. Our fundamentalist bible friends may seem to know the bible, but what they usually know is just a handful of verses taken out of context, and mostly of which seemed to go against the Catholic Church. Anyone can, in fact, make the bible say anything that want when it is read it apart from the Catholic Church from whence it came.

A good question to ask those who use this verse in a decidedly anti-Catholic way is, “Don’t you call the man who is the biological source of your being, dad. Isn’t that the same thing as “Father.”? Or don’t you call the person at school who helps you to learn, “teacher,” for Jesus also said, “Call no man on earth your teacher.” So obviously, Jesus did not and could not mean that you could not call someone on earth your father or your teacher. And as a matter of fact, we hear St. Paul in 1st Corinthians 4:14-16. St. Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth, addresses them as “my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then to be imitators of me.” Does this mean that St. Paul sinned by claiming to be a “Father in Christ?” Of course not, because St. Paul himself was a Catholic Priest, in fact, a bishop. And as such, he, Father Paul, was actually the origin of their spiritual childhood. In other words, when Bishop Paul preached the Gospel and baptized them, he literally became their spiritual father, a father in a greater and deeper sense than their own biological fathers—for he is the source of their eternal life, the way they were birthed into eternal life.

This leads us to the deeper meaning of this Gospel text and others like it. Matthew uses the word Father to describe God 44 times, and St John uses it 115 times. Jesus is really reminding those present when he spoke these words of today’s Gospel that God the Father is the source and origin of all fatherhood. All fatherhood and all authority have their source in God the father, just as all of life has its source in Him. Consequently, all true fatherhood and all true authority must keep God the Father as its origin and guide or it becomes corrupted. Authentic Fatherhood comes from God, who the Son revealed as, “Our Father.”

Jesus tells this to the people because the Pharisees lived a life of false piety, meaning that they lived piety on the outside but not on the inside, on the inside their hearts were far, far from God. They were full of pride, they were rich, that is, self-sufficient. In other words, they were full of themselves, not humble before the Lord—Consequently, They did not know the Father! Consequently, they didn’t realize that their spiritual fatherhood and authority over the people, both to rule and to teach, stemmed from God the Father.

So much could be learned from these words of Jesus, which are also addressed to the world today, which is really in a crisis of “Fatherhood.” They (Jesus’ words that is) speak of the interior life, that we must be connected to the God the Father not only by appearances or in name, but we must be united to Him on the inside, our hearts must be converted to Him in and through Christ Jesus.

And so, through today’s Scripture passage, Jesus speaks to all Christians today and warns us about being hypocritical. He warns us that to be Christian means more than just being born into a faith or claiming the name, but that the inward person must be more and more deeply renewed and converted to God, God who is not only a father, but THE FATHER. A faithful child of God the Father must struggle to carry out in heart, mind and deeds what he says and claims to be. And a faithful child of God must humbly realize that the source of their divine filiation, that is their divine childhood, has it source and origin in the source of all paternity--God the Father.

While God enjoys the fullness of Paternity, earthly fathers can too participate in this Paternity when they are open and contribute to new life. Similarly, the Church teaches us that all of those who foster the true faith through baptism and preaching should also been seen as parents in faith. Anyone who helps to foster true faith and love of God, by words and most especially in deed (i.e. love of neighbor) can participate in this paternity, by begetting others in the faith. However, one can only participate in this divine paternity of God to the degree that they have allowed themselves to be converted to the love of God the Father through Christ Jesus His Son.

In a world where half of the child born today have a chance of not having a father at home by the time the reach their 18th birthday, we are truly in a crisis of fatherhood. It is hard to know God our Father if we do not know an earthly father. And earthly fathers will only be as successful in fathering their children to the decree they have allowed themselves by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be converted to Christ Jesus who reveals to us the Heavenly Father. Bad fathers will give children a wrong notion of the Fatherhood of God. If a father tells his child to forgive others, does him himself forgive? If he tells a child not to steal or to lie, does he himself steal or lie? If he tells his child to be kind is he himself kind to others. And if he tells the child to love God, does he himself love God with his whole heart, soul and mind. The same goes for mothers, of course.

Just as earthly fathers can only give what they have, spiritual parents can only give to others what they themselves have received, they can only give what they themselves live—this goes as well for us spiritual Fathers—us priests. Words only or piety only, cannot do it today any more than they could for the Pharisees. Our hearts must be converted on the inside, if our words are going to have any effect they must be followed by deeds flowing from a true conversion to the truth of Jesus Christ and taught by His Church, through our spiritual fathers in Christ, the pope, bishops and priests.

We all must grow in our faith and realization that God is truly our Father and we are truly His children. A small child totally trusts his father. He follows him around all day and constantly asks him for his help. A child lets nothing keep him from his father, not even his mistakes. We too must trust our Father God like this—we must be as a child. We must humbly follow Our Father around all day long. And when we make mistakes, namely sins, we must immediately without hesitation run into the Father’s arms and there in the confessional, tell Him the truth about what we have done-no excuses, and that we are truly sorry and that we will try to do better with His help of course.

To not know and understand God as a Father who cares for us intimately and not to invoke Him for His help is to become orphans without hope. Denial of the Fatherhood of God is to create a culture of death. It is by the Fatherhood of God that all fathers and all families, biological and spiritual are understood. Even if we have been hurt by fathers, biological or spiritual, we must seek to forgive them and know that Our Father in heaven is not like that, He loves us even when no one else does-He is ever faithful.

Let us turn to the intercession of St. Joseph to help us. He is the perfect example of earthly fatherhood for all fathers and those in authority. HE was the humble servant, who used his authority and father in service to others. He will help lead us to Jesus, asleep in his arms. Jesus lead Joseph to perfect union with the Heavenly Father, hence he could be a father to Jesus and an example and source of help to all Christians who are called to share in the paternity of God the Father by leading others to Him, thus begetting spiritual child in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

“Render to God the things of God…” and the human person belongs to God!

Matthew 22; 15-21. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 22nd, 2017

Today’s Gospel brings out the darkness of the hearts of those who opposed Jesus intrusion into their lives—they were religious in only appearance, but in their hearts they sought to live a life far apart from God—they refused to give to God what belong to Him, namely their lives, their hearts, their everything in joyful thanksgiving and adoration.

And so, these so-called religious folks try to trap Jesus in catch 22. They pose a very clever question. If Jesus would answer “that the tax should be paid, they would accuse Him to the people of collaborating with the Romans. Because the people saw paying taxes as nothing less than financing Rome’s continual domination of the nation of Israel, the people would then turn against Jesus and no longer follow Him. If Jesus would answer not to pay the taxes, then the ill willed Herodians would have grounds to turn Jesus over to the Romans for His opposition to the state, for his, “Trying to stir up rebellion among the people.”

For His part, Jesus however, gives His enemies a very clever and profound response, a response which goes far beyond their twisted expectations. He doesn’t just give them a yes or no answer; He gives them the true perspective and so thwarts their cunning words—“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. In other words, Jesus teaches them and us the correct relationship between the Church and the state, and of our obligation to support both the Church and the state, but in proper order.

We are to give to the state what is due to it…namely, the payment of legitimate taxes necessary for legitimate state expenses; and obedience to just laws (and the key word here is “just”)…but nothing more, for we are to also, and first and foremost, to give to God what belongs to God. Jesus thus puts back into order what was out of order. First and foremost, Jesus taught the Herodians and all those who were listening, that God is always first.

Jesus teaches us as well then, that the state does not enjoy absolute power and dominion. Yes, it has its own dominion; however, the rights of the state cannot usurp the rights of God and the rights of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. God has revealed what is right and wrong; the government is called to uphold this order. The laws of the state should not contradict the Laws of God: the principles of God should guide the laws of state. By the way, the political debate should be the means, the method, we use to ensure God’s law is respected. And this is why we are obliged, even from the pulpit, to oppose unjust laws-laws which go against the common good of all (yes, politics from the pulpit).

Christians do indeed have a duty to give to the state whatever material and personal services they can in order to support the common good. But the state then has the corresponding responsibility to enact laws and govern with the greatest respect for the common good of all people including, and most especially, the most vulnerable of society. This includes the protection of human life from the moment of conception, the defense of the family and consequently the protection of marriage between one man and one woman, the protection of religious liberty, the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children, along with their right to provide for their children, including: receiving a just wage; to keep what they earn from their labors-and so, just taxes; along with the right to private ownership of land, privacy and the right to protect their family even with arms.

So, while we must support the state so it can fulfill its earthly natural purpose or end, which is domestic peace and harmony, Jesus also points out our higher obligation to support the Church so that it may carry out its supernatural purpose or end: which is to bring about eternal peace and harmony-better known as the Kingdom of God. One aspect of this support of the Church is that Christ’s faithful have the obligation to provide for the temporal needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to It, those things which are necessary for the prescribed Divine Worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the worthy support of priests.

However, this duty goes far beyond just the gift of treasure or tax to the support of Christ’s Church. We must always remember that the collection at the offertory is meant to represent the offering of ourselves to the Father in union with Christ’s Sacrifice on the Altar. This is why the priest says, “Pray brethren that our sacrifice, mine and yours, may be acceptable to God our Father.” We are not asking the Father to accept the Sacrifice of the Mass, that is Jesus’ sacrifice, of course that’s acceptable. We are asking Him to accept our individual sacrifice, not just our money but more importantly what the gift of our money should stand for, that is, the gift of ourselves, all that we have and are, especially our will.

This brings up what Christ does not mean by this verse, “give to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Christ doesn’t, does not, mean that we relegate our service to God, that is our faith only to the private sphere. Christ did not intend to relegate religion to a private affair only carried out in the temple, but not in daily life in the world, as if the world could somehow develop apart from God’s law and Christian law and morality. Of course, that is an illusion; the world trying to go along without God’s law is doomed to failure and collapse—God is God, he pervades the entire world—it is His and He gave us organized religion.

Every Christian, each one of us is called and challenged to be light and salt in the middle of the world. We are called to be witnesses. We are all called to go live our mission…Ite missa est!!! Go live your mission, take what you have received in the Holy Eucharist, namely Jesus, and through Him, with Him and in Him, transform the world in which you live and work. We are, each one of us called to transform the world and all men by our holiness of life, thus making the world more humane, more human.

We are called to live as children of God in the halls of our schools, of our governments, our jobs as well as in the living rooms of our friends. We truly do have the answer for our modern age’s terrible moral and religious void and consequently its spiritual darkness. We are the ones called to transform the world we live in, to stand up in defense of human life from its conception, and the marriage between man and women in which every child has a right to be conceived, to speak out against experimentation on human life, poverty or anything else which degrades the human person… “Render to God the things of God…” and the human person belongs to God.

The Lord is the life of every human person from the moment of conception. The Lord sanctified family life in Nazareth and later taught us to respect the sanctity of marriage, its indissolubility and it continual openness to life. Jesus brought the light of these truths to the people of His time even though many did not want to hear them, and now He expects us to bring them to the people of our time even though many don’t want to hear them and may oppose us and even persecute us.

We Christians have so much to give for the good of our society. But we must ourselves believe more firmly and show others more clearly that the teachings of God and His Holy Catholic Church are not an obstacle to human welfare or scientific progress. They are rather a sure guide for the realization of those worthy goals. We Christians must be absolutely convinced that we have a most precious and necessary light to offer amidst so much darkness-the only Light that can penetrate the darkness, Jesus Christ the Light of the World.

Let us with the help of the blessed Virgin Mary mother of all nations, give unto God what belongs to God, our entire life and everything in it, for His honor and glory and for the sanctification and salvation of souls, let us trustingly offer our lives on this sacred altar, for we are His and to Him we belong and are called to return. Amen.